Who Should Be Tested for STDs and How Often?

The most recently reported statistics show that reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have been climbing for the greater part of the last decade. Some of the highest numbers concern chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, including congenital syphilis which is passed from mother to child.  Many people have an STI (sexually transmitted infection) and don’t even know it, because they don’t have symptoms. By the time the STI progresses to an STD they could have infected several partners. That’s one reason why it’s so important to be tested if you are having sex with anyone.

At Lakewood Ranch Health in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, Dr. Leo Kao has created a safe, non-judgmental space where you can come and get STD testing as well as many other health services. An STD or STI can make you extremely sick, so consider testing not just a sexual health precaution, but part of your complete approach to whole-body health.

Why routine STD testing is important

If you’re sexually active, regular STD screenings should be part of your health care routine. Period. That’s because even if you are in a monogamous relationship or you always practice safe sex with every partner, you can still contract an STI. 

STIs can lie dormant and you or a partner could be asymptomatic for months or years then suddenly become able to transmit an infection. Having regular STD tests can help you protect yourself and others, even unborn children.

STD testing  frequency

How often you should undergo routine STD testing depends on your sex life. Ask these questions:

How many people do you have sex with?

The more people you have sex with, the more often you need testing. If people you have sex with are also having sex with other people, the need for testing becomes even more important. If you only have sex with one person, you may choose to get tested once a year, or if you know or suspect they have had sexual contact with someone else.

What kind of protection do you use?

If you use a barrier form of protection such as a condom, female condom, or dental dam every time you have sexual contact (for vaginal, anal, and oral sex) you can be tested less frequently than if you don’t use protection. If your protection breaks or fails, you should get tested.

Have you had sex with someone who has an STD?

If you find out you had sex (protected or unprotected) with someone who has an STD or STI, you should get tested as soon as possible and be prepared to notify any partners you have had since in case you need to warn them. 

Do you have STD symptoms?

If you have any STD symptoms such as genital bumps, warts, discharge, itching, burning when you pee, or flu-like symptoms such as fatigue and swollen glands that won’t go away, you should get tested. 

What to get tested for and when to test

Standard STD testing includes tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. HIV is another common test to be added to this lineup, and so is hepatitis if you’ve potentially been exposed.

You don’t have to have sex to get an STI. If you are a health care worker, you can also get an STI from a needle stick if it is contaminated with someone else’s blood. If you use injectable drugs and share needles you are also at risk.

If you are or have been sexually active in the past 12 months, an annual test is a bare minimum you should aim for. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should get tested because there is a risk you can pass some STIs to your baby.

Ready to get peace of mind? Call our office at 941-212-1714 to schedule testing or book an appointment online today. 

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