If you are sexually active, you might be wondering how often you should get tested for STDs.
One of the most important things you can do to protect your health when sexually active is to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
STDs, also referred to as STIs (sexually transmitted infections), are common, especially if you have had sex with multiple partners. Many STDs do not show symptoms, but some can be treated if caught early on.
Should I be tested for STDs and how often?
How common are STDs?
Why is getting tested important?
Getting tested for STDs is not only important for your health, but also for the health of your sexual partner(s) and future fertility.
Untreated bacterial STDs can lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, an increased risk for an ectopic pregnancy, and risk of cervical cancer. Untreated STDs in pregnant women can lead to miscarriages, preterm deliveries, and affect the baby during birth.
Since many STDs show no symptoms, the best way to know if you have one is to get tested.
Do I need to be tested for STDs?
If you are sexually active (including vaginal, oral, and anal sex), especially if you have had more than one partner, you should consider getting tested for STDs.
Using condoms or other barrier methods can reduce your risk of STDs but does not protect you completely.
If you are not currently sexually active but have been in the past, you may still want to consider getting tested for STDs since they can be dormant.
How often should I be tested for STDs?
How often you should be tested for STDs depends on your age, sexual activity, and other risk factors.
You should get tested for a broad range of STDs each time you change sexual partners, or if your partner has had sexual contact with another person.
Yearly screening for common STDs (like chlamydia and gonorrhea) is recommended if:
- You are under 25 and sexually active
- You are older than 25 and are having sex with a new partner or multiple partners
- You or your partner have HIV
- You have been forced to have intercourse or engage in sexual activity without consent
All pregnant women should be tested early in pregnancy for:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
If you regularly visit a healthcare provider and receive a Pelvic exam or Pap smear, it doesn’t mean that they have checked you for STDs. If you need to be tested for STDs, make sure to vocalize your needs and any specific testing you think you might need.
I think I might have STD symptoms, what do I do?
If you suspect you may have an STD, or you haven’t been tested recently, get tested as soon as possible. STDs caught early on are generally more easily treatable.
Common symptoms of STDs:
- Sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area
- Painful or burning urination
- Unusual or odorous vaginal discharge
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the groin but sometimes more widespread
- Lower abdominal pain
- Rash over the trunk, hands or feet
It’s important to remember that many STDs do not present symptoms. If you are sexually active, you may want to consider getting tested.
Can I get an STD if I’m not sexually active?
Yes, you can get an STD without having sex. Because some STDs, like herpes and HPV, are transmitted by intimate genital contact, you don’t have to have vaginal intercourse to contract an STD. STDs can also be passed by oral sex.
How much does STD testing cost?
STD testing ranges in price depending on where you live, what clinic you go to, what STD you’re screening for, and whether your insurance covers it.
At LifeSpring, we offer free STD/STI testing and treatment for women. Our services are free and results are confidential. We have referral connections if further treatment is needed. Contact us to see what testing you might need and schedule an appointment.
Where can I find STD testing near me?
If you think you need to be tested for STDs, a great place to start is at LifeSpring. We offer a non-judgmental space for you to ask our licensed medical professionals any questions you might have. All test results and treatments remain confidential. We care about you and your health.
Contact us to schedule an appointment and get free STD testing today.