Every year, some 20 million Americans discover that they’ve contracted a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection. The majority of these illnesses occur through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. However, some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including herpes and syphilis, can be contracted through skin-on-skin contact.
Some people exhibit obvious symptoms, but not everyone. Many men and women have STDs and don’t know it, naively passing them on to others. For that reason, it’s essential to take have routine STD screenings. Rickie Guida, WHNP-BC, of Alpenglow Gynecology in Littleton, CO, explains everything you need to know about testing protecting your sexual health from STDs.
The importance of regular STD testing
If you’re sexually active, regular STD screenings should be part of your preventive health care routine.
The importance of this is three-fold. First, it’s the only way to detect an STD that is asymptomatic Also, screening regularly provides the opportunity to treat new infections before they can cause long-term health issues, including impact your fertility. Thirdly, awareness of your STD status is key to prevent spreading infection. If you have a positive STD status, always inform your past and current partners about it, so they can get tested, too. If your STD is not curable, learn what steps to take to protect current and future partners.
STD testing guidelines
Your risk of contracting an STD, and therefore how frequent you should be tested, is largely determined by your sexual activity. This includes the number of partners you have and whether you use protection. Generally, the more complicated your sex life, the more frequently you should be tested.
If you’re not sexually active more than a few times a year and you use protection each time, annual STD testing may be sufficient. If you don’t use protection, however, you should plan to be tested after each new partner.
If you’ve been sexually active in the past but haven’t been tested since you should get screened before you find your next partner or dive into your next relationship.
Testing those who are at high-risk
Teens and young adults, make up 50% of all new STD infections, or approximately 10 million cases per year in this country. If you’re sexually active and under age 25, you should be tested at least once a year, regardless of your sexual orientation. It’s especially important that anyone at high-risk undergoes screening for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, as these are the most commonly reported STDs among sexually active teens and young adults.
Regardless of your age, gender, or sexual orientation, you should be tested more frequently (every 3-6 months) if you have multiple sex partners, particularly if you rarely or never use protection. More frequent testing is advised for anyone whose current partner has an STD.
Given that some sexually transmitted infections can pose a serious threat to unborn babies, you should undergo standard STD testing during your first trimester of pregnancy.
The bottom line
No matter how conscientious you are about using protection or how committed you may be to your partner, if you’re sexually active, you should get tested.
Remember, many of the most common STDs can be cured with medicine, and those that can’t be cured can often be successfully managed with the right treatment.
If you’re ready to schedule a comprehensive STD screening, contact Alpenglow Gynecology in Littleton, CO. Call us at (303) 219-9143, or request an appointment using the online booking tool.