How Do I Know When to Get Tested for STDs?
With STD rates on the rise, the question on everyone’s mind is: “How do I know when to get tested for STDs?” According to the Center for Disease Control, rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis cases have all shown significant increases since 2014. Similarly, there has also been a massive spike in HIV cases.
Sexual activities can have serious consequences for anyone who chooses not to get tested. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever before to get screened from the comfort of home. myLAB Box tests for a wide array of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, including:
- Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
- Genital Herpes
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma
- Hepatitis C
That’s a lot of potential infections!
The Big Question: “How Do I Know When to Get Tested for STDs?”
If only we could all have sex without risk! Sadly, this is not a perfect world.
The Short Answer
With all these viruses and bacteria out there, it pays to stay vigilant! How often should you actually be getting tested to make sure you stay STD-free? No matter what, the answer should be “more than once.” Regular testing is the key to a clean bill of sexual health.
- We recommend that sexually active adults get screened every 3-6 months.
- At the very least, get tested for STDs once per year.
While you should never feel ashamed if you contract an infection, you’ll definitely be happier without them. While most STDs are curable, leaving an infection untreated can have brutal consequences. These may include infertility, permanent chronic illness and even death.
The Slightly More Complicated Answer
The recommended frequency of testing will always vary depending on your lifestyle and frequency of sexual activity. Again, as a blanket rule, everyone should get tested at least once a year.
For example, factors that put you at higher levels of risk, such as having recently had sex with a new person or having more than one sex partner since your last test, you should think about a more vigorous screening schedule. If you are in an open relationship, you may require more frequent testing depending on your specific situation. Gay men and transgender individuals are typically at higher risk for certain STDs as well.
The CDC reports that half of the adults in the United States between the ages of 18 and 44 have never been tested for anything except HIV. That’s a massive number of unscreened infections. Additionally, many people will get tested for HIV (often only a single time) and incorrectly treat this as a permanent clean bill of health. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is important and necessary to get treated for a full spectrum of possible infections on a regular basis.
As a general rule, get tested right away if any of the following apply to you:
- Have you had sex within the past 6 months?
- Have you had unprotected sex between tests?
- Have you never been tested at all? (Better late than never!)
- Are you starting a new relationship? There’s no better time for you and your partner to be 100 percent certain about your sexual health. Test together!
- And of course, if you’re experiencing any itching, burning, or other worrisome symptoms down below, it’s time to get tested!
You’re Not As Safe As You Think
Many people wrongly believe that because they are in a monogamous relationship they are free-and-clear from the risk of STDs. This may not always be the case. People in steady relationships can test positive as well. STDs affect everyone. For one, you can never be sure that your partner has been absolutely faithful. Regardless of cheating, some symptoms don’t show themselves right away (or at all!), so symptoms from a past relationship can still rear their ugly heads.
Put simply: it’s better to be safe than sorry. Testing is about taking care of your body. We don’t stop showering when we get married, so we should not stop testing either.
Test and RE-test
If you tested positive and were treated for your infection, congratulations for taking the proper steps. But be aware that you’re not out of the woods yet. myLAB Box highly recommends that everyone who receives a positive result re-test within 21-28 days after completion of treatment. This double-check makes absolutely sure that the infection has totally cleared. The odds are high that this re-test will return a negative result. That’s a good thing!
If you do not re-test to confirm successful treatment, you may risk infecting your partners and you risk getting re-infected yourself.
Fortunately, myLAB Box is here to help. Our simple testing process will let you test any time, any place. If you have any questions, myLAB Box has a wealth of resources, including online customer assistance and a page of Frequently Asked Questions.
Reviewed by Luis Ferdinand M. Papa, MD, MHA