Let's Talk About Sex(ual Health)

Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise. So are their myths and misconceptions. Let's clear that up.

Diagnostics Testing|May.04, 2022

Let's talk about sex(ual health).

We've been committed to helping millions around the world live their healthiest lives for decades. It's at the core of who we are.

Sexual health is health. That's why we're aiming to make testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) simpler, accessible and efficient.

The bad news: STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis ("trich") are on the rise in the U.S.

The worse news: Testing has fallen

STIs are often shrouded in taboo. The conversation around them can be difficult. But myths and misconceptions — compounded by misunderstanding — create barriers. We’re here to help clear them.

Myth #1: STIs Aren't That Common
An estimated 1 in 5 people have an STI. Surprised? Stigmas surrounding STIs may be partly to blame. Shame surrounding STI status can impact whether people are willing to seek testing and notify their partner(s) and has been found to impact the communication process of talking about sex and STIs as a whole, meaning that those who may have an STI are facing personal and societal barriers to opening up. Meanwhile, STIs have recently reached an all-time high, even amid social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Myth #2: "I Don't Need to Get Tested, Because I'm _____"
The hard truth: Almost anyone can have an STI. If you are, or have been, sexually active, testing is key. Many of us may remember a certain "talk" we had with our parents when we were younger. With one study finding that less than a quarter of those aged 65 and older reported using condoms, many may need a refresher, regardless of age. Though STIs are often socially associated with younger people with multiple sexual partners, some states saw the highest instance of STIs among populations 55 and older, and one study found that people in monogamous relationships aren't at any lower risk of STIs than those in non-monogamous relationships.

Still not convinced?

STIs can also lay dormant or undetected, with symptoms appearing weeks, months or years later, or never developing at all. About 50% of men and 70% of women with chlamydia and 50% of those with trichomoniasis do not have any symptoms. This could mean months or years after last engaging in sexual activity, testing remains critical.

Myth #3: STIs Aren't That Serious
Sexual health is a major contributor to your overall health. Over time, untreated STIs can have serious, long-term impacts on your health, like chronic abdominal pain, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and congenital abnormalities, but they don't have to. Treatment, sometimes even in a single dose, can cure STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis, if they are caught early enough.

They only way to catch them at all is by knowing your status.

It not only can help to prevent further spread of STIs, but provides a window into your treatment options, helping to get you back to living your healthiest life. 

Even as STI cases are at a peak, barriers to STI testing are keeping thousands from knowing their status. We get it — taking the time to seek testing for multiple STIs with factors like access to care, stigma and COVID-19 isn't easy. We're aiming to make it easier.

Our Alinity m STI assay can detect Chlamydia trachomatis (chlamydia), Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonorrhea), Trichomonas vaginalis ("trich") and Mycoplasma genitalium (MGen) with just one swab or urine sample and can help improve lab efficiency and shorten result turnaround times.

Still, we know that a trip to the lab isn't always ideal. We've seen how COVID-19 has highlighted the value of having testing solutions at home, and we're working toward a future where that level of convenience and discretion is a reality for STI testing.

Now that you know the facts, know your status. Don't be coy, avoid, or make void the topic.