Who Should Have an STD Test and How Often?

Sex is one of the most joyful experiences in life, and yet any kind of intimate skin-to-skin contact with another human being increases your risk for a sexually transmitted disease (STD). 

Though STDs still carry a lot of stigma, they’re common: The American Sexual Health Association estimates that one in two people contract an STD before the age of 25. Although young women and men are most vulnerable, STDs are increasingly affecting those over age 50, too. 

At OBGYN Care in Houston, our caring and compassionate team knows that you may feel uncomfortable speaking about STDs. That’s why we recommend testing for STDs at least once a year as part of your well-woman exam. 

Who should be tested?

As long as you’re sexually active, you should be tested for STDs at least once a year. If you have more than one partner, share intravenous (IV) needles, or don’t always practice safer sex by using a condom each time you have intercourse, you should be tested every three to six months.

When caught early enough, most STDs are treatable and even curable. Those that aren’t curable can be managed once you know you have them.

What’s included in STD testing?

During your well-woman exam, we take a Pap smear, which is a test that checks for signs of cellular changes on your cervix that could indicate the beginning of cervical cancer. These changes are usually the result of an infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the most common STD. 

We also do blood tests to check for gonorrhea and syphilis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting tested at least once for HIV if you’re between the ages of 13 and 64, even if you’re not in a high-risk group. We may also test for:

If you have symptoms such as vaginal discharge, itching, or blisters, we may recommend other tests, too.

When should I be tested?

If you had unsafe sex, you may need to wait a few weeks before getting a test. Some viruses, such as HIV, don’t show up right away. Ask our medical staff about when the best time for a test is and schedule it now, so you don’t delay getting treatment if you need it.

If you have any symptoms that you think might be an STD or another type of infection, call our office right away.  Waiting until your symptoms resolve may make the results unclear.

Should I get tested if I want to get pregnant?

If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant or if you’re already pregnant, we want to test you for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B as soon as possible. We may also recommend testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea if we didn’t do that during a recent well-woman exam.

If you engage in high-risk activities, such as having multiple partners, we may recommend testing for STDs frequently throughout your pregnancy. Some infections could be passed on to your baby.

What if I have symptoms between my tests?

Women’s sexual organs are mostly internal, so you could have an infection but not notice any symptoms. That’s why regular testing is essential to your health. 

If you do have any kind of unusual or uncomfortable symptoms between your well-woman exams, you should come to OBGYN Care of Houston for an STD test. Symptoms of STDs include:

An STD can also cause symptoms throughout your body. Contact us if you:

If you have an STD, we may recommend antibiotics or other treatments. If you have a viral infection, such as herpes, you can take antiviral medications to minimize outbreaks. 

How can I prevent STDs?

The only way to avoid an STD completely is by abstaining from sex and skin-to-skin intimacy. Some STDs, such as HPV, are transmitted through intimate contact, even without intercourse. You can reduce your risk of an STD by adopting safer sex practices, such as:

To set up an STD test, reach our office today by phone or by using the online contact form.

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