Who Should be Tested for STDs and How Often?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are very common and nothing to be ashamed of. Millions of people acquire them each year in the United States. In fact, you’re more likely to have one than not at some point in your life. Taking steps to lower your risk for them is important, but even then, no protection is 100% foolproof and everyone makes mistakes. For these reasons and because early treatment can help save you from more serious problems down the road, getting tested for STDs is important if you’ve been or remain sexually active. 

To learn more about your own risks and what tests might benefit you, call First Med Marin or request an appointment with Dr. Barry Landfield on our website.

STIs versus STDs

Many people use “STI” and “STD” interchangeably, but they’re technically a bit different. An STI, or sexually transmitted infection, is an infection that can be transmitted through sexual activity. Over time, it can progress into an STD, or sexually-transmitted disease, as the harmful bacteria or virus multiplies. 

You can have human papillomavirus (HPV), for example, without any noticeable symptoms. This means you have an STI. If the HPV were to lead to cervical cancer, you’d have an STD. Gonorrhea and chlamydia, too, are infections that can lead to a disease, known as pelvic inflammatory disease.

How often to get STI and STD tests

Anyone who’s been sexually active should get routine STI and STD tests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests these tests, in particular:

If you have multiple partners, engage in unprotected sex, learn that your partner has an STI or STD, or develop unusual symptoms, such as sores around your genitals, don’t wait for your annual physical to get tested. Some sexually active people with multiple partners benefit from tests every 3-6 months. Many STIs cause no symptoms for some time, and early testing and treatment can help prevent complications. 

What STD tests are like

Most tests for STIs and STDs are quick, simple, and painless. Each infection and disease requires its own test, so it’s important to be honest about your sexual history and practices at your exam. This will help Dr. Lanfield determine your ideal tests, which may include a:

Learn more about STDs and other sexual health issues by contacting our office in Greenbrae, California. Our team would love to answer your questions and help you stay on track with your wellness needs.

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