If you are sexually active, it is essential to take care of your sexual health by practicing safe sex and getting tested for a sexually transmitted infection. This is especially important because many sexually transmitted infections have nonspecific or no symptoms, making them hard to notice. The stigma around STIs also makes many people embarrassed to seek medical help, but if untreated, STIs can cause serious health issues, including infertility. For this reason, Abigail S Tyler CRNP recommends STI testing; how often you need screening depends on your age, sexual behaviors, and other risk factors.

What is the difference between STDs and STIs?

The terms STDs and STIs are often muddled, but there is a clear difference between the two. A sexually transmitted disease (STD) results from a sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, having an STI does not necessarily mean developing a disease. An infection occurs when parasites, bacteria, or viruses enter the body; this happens before a disease develops. As mentioned, some infections are asymptomatic, making testing significant in preventing the spread of STIs. Although infection may cause no symptoms, a disease has clearer signs and symptoms.

When should I get tested for an STD?

STD testing is vital for any sexually active individual because one can have an infection without obvious symptoms. Testing is also important if you are about to begin a new relationship, you have multiple partners, your partner is unfaithful, or you have symptoms of an STI. You also want to get tested if you and your partner are thinking of not using barrier methods of birth control.

If you and your partner were tested before entering a mutually monogamous relationship, regular testing might not be necessary. However, many people in long-term relationships were not tested before getting together. In such cases, one or both of you may have been living with an undiagnosed sexually transmitted infection for years. Therefore, the safest choice is to get tested.

What STD testing is right for you?

There are several sexually transmitted infections, but to learn the one you want to get tested for, consult your doctor. Your healthcare provider may recommend getting tested for HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, syphilis, or trichomoniasis. Unless you have a known exposure or request for the test, your doctor might not test you for herpes.

Many physicians don’t test patients for STIs, so it is best to ask for testing and ask which one they plan to do. If you are concerned about a particular symptom, talk to your doctor; taking care of your sexual health is important and nothing to be shy about. Although the conversation might feel invasive, you want to be as honest as possible to receive better treatment.

Holding back information can cause your doctor to skip certain tests; this could result in undiagnosed STIs. Testing might be nerve-wracking, but it is normal to feel anxious. Remember that sexually transmitted infections are common and treatable.

If you have questions about STD testing, consult your healthcare provider at Penn’s Rock Primary Care.

By Johnson