When am I supposed to get tested? How often am I supposed to get tested? How many infections should I be tested for? Questions like these are common, and it is important to know the answers to them in order to have a healthy sex life and to protect you and your partner(s) from sexually transmitted infections.
The general rules for being screened for STIs are:
- If you experience any itching, burning, sores or other STI symptoms
- If you have multiple partners
- If you have sex with a new partner whose sexual history you don’t know
- At least annually
Here are more tips for specific infections:
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a very common STI which can cause genital warts and cancer, so it is very important to get screened and vaccinated for it. Doctors can detect a possible HPV infection through your annual Pap Smear. If you do not have HPV, you should get vaccinated, although these vaccines work better before sexual activity begins.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
These two infections sometimes do not show signs or symptoms, so your partner could potentially pass it on to you without knowing they even had it in the first place. You should get tested for these annually if you are a sexually active woman under 25 or if you are a woman over 25 but have STI risk factors such as new partners, or if you have HIV.
Genital herpes can be transmitted even when the person with herpes is not having an outbreak. An outbreak of herpes is when the person’s genitals develop painful, itchy blisters and sores. To diagnose herpes, the doctor would have to take either a blood test or a culture from the blisters. It is recommended to request screening for herpes if you are experiencing herpes-like symptoms, if you have or had a partner with herpes or if you want to be tested for all STIs.
HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis
For these three, you should request screening for them if you test positive for a different STI, use intravenous recreational drugs, if you have multiple partners or if you are trying to become pregnant. If you were born between 1945 and 1965, it is recommended that you get screened for hepatitis.
In many cases, there will be no signs or symptoms of an STI, which makes them easier to spread. This is why it is so important to get screened and to tell your previous and current sexual partners if the results of any STI test come back positive. Make sure to always be honest and open about your sexual history with your doctor, as that affects which infections he or she will screen you for. If you have any questions or would like to be screened for STIs, call us today to make an appointment or schedule one online.