STD & STI Testing: What Test is Right For You?

STD and STI testing are very important for your health. We talk about what test is right for you.

Here’s some disgusting news: each year in the US, there are about 450 reported cases of chlamydia per 1,000 people. Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the US, affecting more women than men. 

However, both men and women should get tested regularly STIs if they’re sexually active. Are you concerned you might have an STI or just wish to be careful and informed? 

Some STIs may not present symptoms, so you should be aware of STIs and what you can do about them. 

Below we’ll discuss the importance of STI testing and which tests are right for your needs. 

Are You Sexually Active? 

The first thing you should consider is whether or not you’re sexually active. If you’re not, there’s probably no need to think you have an STI. If you are, you’re at a much higher risk for infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. 

Sex is a perfectly normal and natural part of human existence. Don’t be afraid to talk about these issues with your doctor. If you want a more anonymous experience, a quick search for STD testing near me will do the trick. 

It’s especially important to get tested for STIs in the following situations: 

  • you’re in a non-monogamous relationship 
  • you’re about to start a new monogamous relationship 
  • you or you’re partner has cheated 
  • you and you’re partner are considering not using condoms 
  • you have symptoms of an STI 

If you’re a gay or bisexual man, you should get tested frequently. STIs have been rising among gay and bisexual men. Some believe this is due to the availability of Truvada, a brand name drug used to prevent HIV transmission. 

Keep in mind sexual activity doesn’t stop at vaginal or anal sex. Those who engage in oral sex or genital touching are at risk of all STIs. Any mucous to mucous membrane contact could result in STI transmission. 

What to Look Out For 

In many cases, an STI will appear asymptomatic, meaning without symptoms. Even if you don’t present symptoms of an STI, you can still transmit it to a sexual partner. 

If you do present symptoms, you may notice abnormal discharge, itching, painful urination or bowel movements, and more. 

If you think you may be at risk for HIV, you should especially consider testing and watch for symptoms. An HIV infection can go undetected for years, because symptoms may be written off like a bad case of the flu. 

HIV symptoms may include fatigue, fever, headache, and swollen lymph glands. See how easy these are to overlook? 

Later stage HIV infections can cause severe diarrhea, weight loss, persistent fatigue, and abnormally high fever. If left untreated, HIV can leave you vulnerable to infections that would normally be no big deal. 

People who are most susceptible to HIV infections include gay and bisexual men, sex workers, and intravenous (IV) drug users. 

What Should You Get Tested For? 

If you’re sexually active, it’s a good idea to get tested for everything. You may not want to entertain the idea of syphilis, but the trust is it happens. 

If you talk to your doctor about your risk factors and sexual behavior, they may recommend different tests. They may recommend one or more of the following STI tests: 

  • gonorrhea 
  • chlamydia 
  • syphilis 
  • hepatitis B 
  • trichomoniasis
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

If you want to get tested for herpes, you may have to ask your doctor specifically. Otherwise, they may not readily offer the test. In the US, an estimated 20% of the adolescent and adult population has genital herpes. 

Talk To Your Doctor About STI Testing 

There is a lot of stigma surrounding STIs. Many people will tell you they’re disgusting and dirty. STIs don’t just impact prostitutes and promiscuous men and women.

They’re increasingly common, and you are at risk as anyone else. 

Knowing about STIs is just as important to maintaining overall health as eating right. If you think you’re at higher risk or just want to be better informed, talk to your doctor. 

It may be an uncomfortable conversation at first, but your doctor is used to it. STIs aren’t much different from other viral or bacterial infections. 

Humans commonly give each other colds. Humans commonly give each other gonorrhea. The biggest difference is how these two infections are transmitted. 

Don’t let the stigma surrounding STIs deter you from regular STI testing. If you get tested regularly, you can be more confident the next time you want to go out and mingle. 

It’s a good idea to discuss your risk factors with your doctor. They can help you decide which tests you might get and how often. 

How Often Should You Get Tested? 

To answer this question, you’ll need to look at your behavior. As yourself questions such as the following: 

  • Do you regularly use condoms? 
  • Do you frequently have sex with people you don’t know or trust? 
  • Do you have multiple sex partners? 
  • Have you been tested before? 

If you’ve never been tested in your entire life, now is the time. If you never have sex without a condom, your risk is much lower. However, you should still be aware of your sexual health. 

Those with multiple sex partners or who have anonymous sex are at a higher risk. 

The CDC recommends getting tested at least once a year. However, if you engage in riskier sex practices, you could benefit from more regular testing. 

For example, gay and bisexual men might benefit from testing every three to six months. This is because these men are more likely to engage in riskier sexual behaviors. This includes condomless sex and hooking up. 

Go Get Tested!

If you want to be a sexually responsible human being, you need to get tested regularly. What defines regular may be a bit subjective. 

Discuss your risk factors with your doctor and be honest. Don’t let STI stigma get in the way of your judgment. Having an STI doesn’t make you dirty or disgusting. 

Most clinics and doctor’s offices provide STI testing. You just need to ask. 

Maybe you need a little motivation to go to the doctor and get tested. Check out this section of our blog!