• How Often Should You Be Tested for STDs?

    on Jul 20th, 2018

As if you needed more reasons to maintain your annual wellness visits, here’s another: regular sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing. Even if you’re in a monogamous relationship right now, you may not know your partner’s full sexual history, and some STDs can remain symptom-free and undetected for years without regular testing.

Untreated STDs can cause infertility, increase your risk for HIV, infect your partner, and damage your relationship. It’s better to be safe than sorry; plus, many STDs are highly treatable, especially if caught early.

STD testing should be a part of your annual physical

Getting tested is easy and quick. During your annual wellness checkup, your Rose City physician discreetly discusses your sexual activity and administers any appropriate tests.

Any woman or man who is sexually active should get tested for STDs at least once a year; in some cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends more frequent testing, which we’ll discuss below.

If your doctor doesn’t automatically suggest an STD test during your checkup, you might ask about being tested for the following STDs:

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is perhaps the most common STD; it’s estimated that as much as 75% of sexually active adults in the United States have contracted some form of HPV. The virus takes on many forms and often has no symptoms. In some cases, however, HPV can cause genital warts in both men and women, and cervical cancer in women.

Many well-woman exams include a Pap test to check for signs of HPV and cervical cancer. It’s generally recommended that women of reproductive age get a Pap test every three years.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is another common STD; it’s also highly curable. Chlamydia can affect your genitals as well as your eyes; in fact, it’s a leading cause of blindness in third world countries, and a leading cause of infertility worldwide.

Many women and men infected with chlamydia show no symptoms but can still pass the disease onto a partner. This is an important reason to get tested regularly, especially if you’re a sexually active woman 25 or younger, you have risk factors such as new or multiple partners, or you’re a gay or bisexual man.

Gonorrhea

Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious health problems including miscarriage, infertility, septic arthritis, and blindness in men and women. In women, it can be transmitted from mother to baby when the baby passes through the birth canal.

Testing every year is especially important for sexually active women under 25 or older women with new or multiple partners, as well as gay or bisexual men.

Syphilis

Like gonorrhea, syphilis can be transmitted to your baby during childbirth. As with chlamydia and gonorrhea, testing for syphilis is especially important for sexually active women under 25 and older women with new or multiple partners, as well as gay or bisexual men.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes causes painful sores inside the vagina, and on the penis, the anus, and the surrounding external skin. Like syphilis and gonorrhea, this disease makes you more susceptible to HIV, and if you’re a woman, you can transmit it to your baby during childbirth.

When is more frequent STD testing necessary?

In addition to an annual checkup, certain circumstances require more frequent testing.

HIV testing

All individuals ages 13-64 should be tested at least once for HIV. Anyone who shares drug equipment or has unprotected sex should get tested annually, and if you engage in sex with anonymous or multiple partners, you should be tested for HIV and other STDs every three to six months.

STD testing during pregnancy

At-risk pregnant women should be tested for STDs as soon as they learn they’re pregnant, and chlamydia and gonorrhea screening should continue as needed throughout the pregnancy to protect mother and baby. All pregnant women should receive testing for STDs, specifically chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B.

If you’re sexually active or have been sexually active, don’t hesitate to get tested. You can still pass along an STD even when you’re not experiencing symptoms. If you’re overdue for an STD check, call or book an appointment online with Rose City Urgent Care & Family Practice today for peace of mind.

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