Let’s Talk About Tests, Baby

It’s alarming how many women, on and off of Furman’s campus, do not know their sexual health status. We’ve heard a myriad of reasons from female peers as to why they have avoided getting tested:

“Oh, I’m fine. I mean, I feel fine.”

“I don’t know how to do it.”

“There are no signs that something could be wrong.”

“Those infirmary workers are so judgmental.”

Whatever narrative you have playing on loop in your head that keeps you from getting yourself tested, we’re here to change it. When it comes to your health, ignorance certainly is not bliss. It’s time to put your big girl panties on and find out your sexual health status. Good news is, it’s not as confusing or judgmental as you think.

 

On-Campus Testing

Furman’s Infirmary offers full STI testing, which can be completed by either a nurse, doctor, or a gynecologist here on campus. Appointments with a nurse or doctor are easier to schedule since they are consistently here throughout the week. If you would feel more comfortable getting tested by a gynecologist, you would have to put a little more work into the scheduling process. The gynecologist only comes to campus once a month on Tuesday afternoons. (Call 864-294-2180 to schedule an appointment.)

Once you have an appointment, you’ll go to the Infirmary and head back to a private exam room to consult with whomever you scheduled your appointment with. We know it can be awkward to talk to strangers about your “bits and pieces”, but it’s important to be honest with them and try to answer their questions as accurately as you can.

They will start off with asking you a few questions. For example, how long you have been sexually active for, an estimate of the number of people you have has sex with, and if you are using any forms of contraceptives.

From there, you can request for a “full panel” which means you will be tested for all sexually transmitted infections. You will then be asked to undress the lower half of your body and cover yourself with a cloth. Once you have completed this, you will scoot to the edge of the exam table and lift your legs in the air while you rest your feet in stirrups.

Whomever is examining you will insert a small speculum into your vagina (don’t worry, they use lube!) You will then be swabbed (the swab resembles an elongated Q-tip) which is used to check for chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and gonorrhea (chlamydia and gonorrhea can be detected in a urine sample as well). This swab tickles slightly — no pain should be felt. If you do feel pain, this could be a sign of something more serious. If you have participated in oral sex, be sure to ask for an oral swab.

We also recommend getting a pap smear to check for cervical cancer cells. A pap smear sounds scary, but all it is consists of is another simple swab taken through the speculum. It is recommended for people 21+, but it is never too early to start checking and does not come with any negative consequences.

Once the swab is over, you will be asked to get dressed. Your blood will be taken — sorry for the needle-squeamish ladies out there but, your pussy will thank you! The blood work will test for HIV, genital herpes, syphilis, and hepatitis type A, B, and C.

After completing the swab and blood work, your labs will be sent off to be processed externally. The rate at which your results come back depends on the payment method you choose.

If you are comfortable with your parents knowing, then insurance will most likely cover the cost and your results will be back in around 4-7 days. We encourage this option because we are all broke college students and your parents will be impressed with the agency you have shown for staying healthy!

On the other hand, if you are not comfortable with your parents knowing you got tested, a full panel will cost $40. The results will come back in around 10-14 days. You will be charged for this through the Furman Billing office. The Infirmary will send you a formal bill in the mail that you’ll get at the P2X.

Once your results come back, you will receive a call from whomever tested you, letting you know your results. You will be encouraged to schedule a follow up appointment if your results are abnormal.

This process really isn’t complicated. The Greenville Health System has taken over the infirmary and everyone is very kind and understandable. They try to make this experience as comfortable and easy as possible. We recommend getting tested every few months — knowledge is power.

 

Off-Campus Options

If you don’t feel comfortable seeing familiar faces on your way to get tested, there are plenty of options here in the Greenville area. STDcheck.com is an easy and accessible resource to help you find a nearby lab or clinic and even helps you schedule appointments online.

The pricing varies on clinic to clinic and test to test, but the average 10-test panel will cost about 198 dollars out of pocket. This test covers testing for the same infections that the infirmary does.

 

Whether you opt for testing on campus or off, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to take charge of your sexual health. Ignoring this so-called “chore” is no longer an option, ladies. So, on your marks, get set, go get tested!