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Who Needs STD Testing, and How Often?

If you’re sexually active, you’re at risk for a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or a subsequent sexually transmitted disease (STD). An STI means you have an infection but may not have symptoms; an STD includes the presence of symptoms.

About 20% of women, men, and teens in the United States have an STI, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Even if you’re in a monogamous relationship, you may not be safe. Your partner may have cheated. Or, they could have an STD that’s symptomless and undetected.

At OB-GYN Associates of Marietta in Marietta and Woodstock, Georgia, our physicians and midwives recommend regular STD testing if you’re sexually active. When you should be tested for STDs, and how often, depends on a number of factors. 

Have you noticed unusual symptoms?

If you’ve noticed changes in the look of your vulva or anal area — including changes in your vaginal fluid — you should get an STD test as soon as possible. An STI can be symptom-free for years. However, if an STI isn’t treated, it could develop into an STD with symptoms such as:

Don’t second-guess an inclination to get an evaluation or wait for the condition to resolve on its own. Many STDs can be cured with antibiotics if caught in time. Others, such as those caused by viruses, are better managed the earlier they’re detected.

Have you ever had sex?

Even if you’re currently celibate, you may have contracted an STD at an earlier time of your life. 

If you’re between the ages of 13-64 and haven’t already been tested for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), please call us. All sexually active people between those ages should be tested for HIV at least once in a lifetime. 

Are you currently sexually active?

If you’re under the age of 25, you should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia at least once a year. We would also recommend testing for syphilis at that time. These STIs are caused by bacteria, which can be cured by antibiotics. 

In addition, during a Pap test, we may test for human papillomavirus (HPV). Infection with HPV is the major risk factor for cervical cancer. You can contract HPV even if you’ve never had sexual intercourse. Intimate touch, such as fingering and oral sex, can transmit HPV.

If you’re over 25 years old, you may still consider annual STI tests. They’re especially important if you have one or multiple new sex partners. If your current partner has an STI or STD, please call us for a screening right away.

Do you have oral or anal sex?

If you engage in oral or anal sex, you may benefit from further tests, such as a throat swab or urine test. You can develop an STI in any mucous membrane in which you’ve experienced intimacy, or that you’ve touched during an intimate act, including your:

Although an oral antibiotic would clear any bacterial infections, you may need to apply anti-fungals to areas other than your genitals if your infection has spread.

Do you engage in risky behaviors?

If you have multiple or anonymous partners, we recommend getting tested for STDs every 3-6 months, especially if your partners are bisexual men. If you share intravenous drug equipment, get tested for HIV at least once per year. 

Are you pregnant?

If you’re pregnant and have an STD, you could pass it to your baby during vaginal birth. Part of responsible prenatal care includes testing for STDs so we can plan treatment and a healthy birth for your baby.

Don’t second-guess symptoms or delay an STD test. They’re simple, fast, safe, and get you the answers you and your doctor need to keep you and your partner safe.

To schedule your STD test, contact our friendly and discreet team today at the office nearest you by phone, or book your appointment online.

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