No matter your relationship status, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) should be on everyone’s health radar. STI rates are higher than ever before in the US, and both chlamydia and gonorrhea have the potential of becoming antibiotic-resistant. While there may be stigmas surrounding STIs that need to be banished, it is important that you are knowledgeable about STIs, their prevalence, and how they can affect you. Too few women are seeking out screening for sexually transmitted diseases.
You should not feel ashamed about your sexual activity or STI status, but rather you should take responsibility for your health and safety and that of your sexual partners. The answer to how often you should get tested for STIs may surprise you.
Getting Tested for STIs
Because STIs are so common, it’s a safe bet to get tested once a year, even if you’re practicing safe sex and using protection. Your doctor may not automatically test you at every appointment so make sure to ask about it if they don’t offer it.
Here are some testing recommendations for prominent STIs:
STI Testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia
- If you have HIV.
- If you are sexually active and at risk for STIs, which can include new or multiple sexual partners.
Testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia is done using a cervical swab or a urine test which is then taken to a lab and analyzed.
STI Testing for Hepatitis, Syphilis, and HIV
While these infections are not as prevalent, you should still get tested for them annually. These are checked with a blood test.
STI Testing for HPV
Certain types of HPV can develop into cervical cancer while other types of the virus can manifest as genital warts. Many people that are diagnosed with HPV in their lives never develop symptoms and the virus typically leaves the body within two years.
Women may be tested for HPV through a Pap smear or an HPV test. If your pap smear shows abnormal results, your doctor will likely recommend further testing and your doctor may check your cervix for HPV or cancerous cells.
You should get tested for HPV every few years if you have had an abnormal pap smear in the past.
STI Testing for Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a bit harder to test for because there are no concrete tests that can be done to detect genital herpes. A culture of a genital sore may be taken but usually only when you have symptoms. A blood test may be able to help detect a herpes outbreak, but the results are often inconclusive because it will not show if you had exposure to oral or genital herpes.
The dedicated health professionals at Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care want to restore your peace of mind. If you or a loved one has any questions about STIs or are looking to get treated for them, please contact us today.