You don’t skydive without checking your parachute first.
You don’t scuba dive without testing the oxygen tanks. And you definitely don’t want to have sex without a condom before you and your partner get tested for STIs.
Here is where you can learn the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How for all your testing questions.
Should I get tested?
You should get tested if:
- You and your partner are planning to start having sex
- You have sex with a new partner
- You or your partner have been sexually active and have not been tested
- You know your current or past partner has an STI
- The condom breaks or you have sex without one
- You or your partner has shared needles for drugs, tattooing, or piercing
- You or your partner has any STI symptoms
- You have been or think you might have been forced to have sex
When you are sexually active, get tested once a year, even if you haven’t had sex for a while.
Is testing and treatment free?
Testing is free for residents of Manitoba. Take your health numbers with you if you are going to a new doctor, nurse practitioner, or nurse.
What if I don't have my health number?
If you don’t know or don’t have your health number many clinics will see you anyway. If your health care provider saw you before, they should have your health number on file. Call ahead or ask if you don’t have your health number.
There are two numbers you should keep with you in case you need emergency or personal health care. They are on your own or your parent’s Manitoba Health Registration Certificate. The certificate is a white paper card with purple and red print.
- The certificate has a ‘Registration Number’ that may apply to your parent or guardian and their children.
- There is a ‘Personal Health I.D. No.’ that applies only to you.
Is testing confidential
Regardless of your age, health care providers are not allowed to tell anyone about your visit unless they:
- Have your permission;
- Feel you are not able to understand medical advice or the consequences of your decisions; or
- Suspect that you’ve been abused (if you’re under 18), in which case they are required by law to report to Child and Family Services (CFS).
If you don’t trust the doctor, nurse practitioner, or nurse, you can leave.
What will happen when I go for testing?
Tell your health care provider what tests you are and are not comfortable having done. Most doctors, nurse practitioners, and nurses will understand that it is difficult going for sexual health care the first time. Tell your health care provider if you want to have some parts of the testing done at a later time. You might choose to have a blood test or an internal exam at another appointment.
The health care provider will talk to you about concerns you may have, body parts (throat, vagina, penis, anus) that need to be examined, symptoms, and condom use. The health care provider will ask you to undress from the waist down and will give you a drape to cover yourself.
A good sexual health examination includes the following:
- Examine the outside of the genitals.
- Take a urine sample.
- If you have had oral or anal sex, take a swab from the throat or anus.
- Take a blood sample.
- For male bodies, feel the testicles and penis.
- For female bodies, an internal exam includes putting a speculum into the vagina to look inside of the vagina and cervix, a Pap test (they take samples from the cervix to check for changes) and a bimanual exam (the health care provider places one or two fingers inside the vagina and their other hand on the lower abdomen in order to feel the ovaries and uterus)
If you feel more comfortable with someone else in the room, whether you are male or female, you can tell the health care provider. Most male health care providers will ask a female to enter the room when they examine a female’s genitals.
Remember, you are the one who has asked for testing. You have the right to ask the health care provider to do only those things you are comfortable with.