The American Sexual Health Association reports that one in two sexually active Americans will contract an STD by the time they turn 25 years old. It’s crucial for people to understand the importance of getting an STD test, as well as understand how often they should get tested. If you are a sexually active woman who has never been tested before or has questions about STD testing your OB-GYN is the perfect person to talk to.
Here’s when you should get an STD test,
You are noticing symptoms
This might seem like the most obvious reason to get an STD test but it’s still important to acknowledge. If you notice any symptoms of an STD including any bumps or sores on the genitals, changes in discharge or other changes in your body then you should see your gynecologist as soon as possible to discuss your symptoms and to see if you should get tested.
You have a new partner
Before becoming sexually active with a new partner it’s a good idea to know both of your sexual health statuses. That’s why your OBGYN will always recommend getting an STD test before starting a new sexual relationship. There is nothing better than knowing that both you and your new partner are healthy and STD-free.
You aren’t practicing safe sex
While birth control pills can certainly protect against unwanted pregnancies, most forms of hormonal contraception will not protect against STDs. This is why you will still want to use a condom every time you have sex. If you aren’t practicing safe sex then you should get tested twice a year (or, at the very least, once a year).
You have multiple partners
If you or your partner have other sexual partners, it’s a good idea for both of you to get regular STD tests about every 3-6 months. There is a window period between getting the infection and when the results will appear on an STD test so it’s also important not to test too early. Here’s a great resource to show you when symptoms may appear and when to get tested for what STDs.
It’s a good rule of thumb to get tested at least once a year since many STDs do not produce any symptoms at all, so you could have an STD and not even know it. If you need to schedule an STD test, your OBGYN can often provide you with comprehensive testing right here in their very own office. This is a great option for many women because they have already established a rapport with their doctor and may feel more comfortable undergoing a more sensitive procedure such as an STD screening with a gynecologist they know and trust. Knowing your health status doesn’t just protect you, it also protects your partner.