Getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, is an easy way to stay on top of your health and to be sure you’re keeping the ones you love safe. However the stigma around STD testing still exists, causing many people to avoid testing for fear of others finding out. These fears are not worth the risk. Some estimates show that up to 50% of sexually active individuals under the age of 25 will contract an STD. If left untreated, some STDs can turn into very serious medical problems, so testing and early diagnosis is critical.
Do I need to be tested for STDs?
You may think that if you only have one sexual partner, or if you always use protection during intercourse, that you don’t need STD testing. However, medical authorities agree that anyone who is sexually active should be tested for STDs on a regular basis. Some demographics and populations of people are more susceptible to contracting STDs and should be monitored closely, including:
- Women under the age of 25
- Males who engage in intercourse with other men
- Anyone who has unprotected sex
- IV drug users who share needles
Women considering getting pregnant should also get tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C before conception or at the beginning of the pregnancy. Repeat testing during pregnancy, including gonorrhea and chlamydia testing, is recommended for women who have high-risk sex practices.
How often should I get tested for STDs?
Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime, even if they’ve never had sex. Sexually active individuals should be tested for STDs at least once each year, assuming they only have one partner and use protection. If you have unprotected intercourse, wait at least one month before being tested to give the disease time to appear in your lab work. People who engage in high-risk sex activities should be tested at least every three months. These high-risk activities include:
- Unprotected intercourse
- Multiple partners
- Anal sex without the use of a condom
- Oral sex
- Intercourse between two men
- Sexual activity before the age of 18
- Sex work trades
- Sex with a male who has previously engaged in intercourse with other males
Contact your physician’s office for testing if you have symptoms of an STD, even if you are tested regularly. Symptoms to look out for include:
- Foul smell from the genital area
- Unusual genital discharge
- Itching on the genitals, mouth, or anus
- Irritation, bumps, or blisters on the genitals, mouth, or anus
- Dark urine
- Spotting not associated with menstruation
- Painful urination
- Painful intercourse
If you have any of these symptoms, contact a doctor immediately. If you need a physician in the Tampa Bay area, the medical professionals at AFC Urgent Care in Tampa will handle your STD concerns discreetly and without judgment. You will receive all necessary treatment for your comfort and education on how to prevent future issues. Call us at (813) 960-1100 to schedule your routine STD testing appointment today!