STD Testing: Is It Right for Me and How Often Should It Be Done?

Apr 05, 2023
STD Testing: Is It Right for Me and How Often Should It Be Done?
If you’re sexually active, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) always present some level of risk. But testing varies from person to person based on your risk for specific conditions. Read on to find out more.

Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are a major health concern that’s on the rise with chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis showing a significant increase since 2021 with a total of 2.5 million cases of all three in that year alone. In many cases, you may not realize you have an STD, which increases the risk of you giving it to someone else.

Getting tested for STDs is vital for diagnosis and treatment. If you live in the Chicago, Illinois, area and you think you may have an STD, our team at Michigan Avenue Primary Care can help.

Different groups of people can have risk factors for different diseases, so to understand more about the type and frequency of your STD testing, let’s examine the common diseases to look for, the factors that determine which you should be tested for, and how often you should get tested.

Common STDs to look for

There are a lot of STDs out there, but these are among the most common:

  • HPV: short for human papillomavirus; spread through oral, anal, or skin-to-skin contact
  • Chlamydia: spread through vaginal or anal sex; only about 25% of women and 50% of men show symptoms
  • Gonorrhea: causes unusual vaginal discharge and pain or burning sensations during urination
  • Syphilis: has four stages that progress over many years if not treated; late stages can cause nerve damage and affect brain function
  • Genital herpes: can lead to painful blisters around your genitals or anus
  • Trichomoniasis: caused by a tiny parasite; more common in women than men
  • HIV/AIDS: leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome and compromises your ability to fight infections

STD tests you should get and how frequently

The tests you should get depend on your age, gender, and sexual orientation. Guidelines to follow include:

Ages 13-64

Anyone in this wide age group should be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime.

Sexually active women

If you’re a sexually active woman under 25, gonorrhea and chlamydia testing is highly recommended annually. If you have multiple partners, they should be tested as well.

Pregnant women

You should be tested for STDs like syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C early in your pregnancy to reduce the risk of passing any of them on to your child.

Sexually active gay, bisexual men

You should be tested for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea annually. HIV should be tested for every six months, and if you have HIV, you need a hepatitis C test annually.

Risky sexual behavior

If you engage in risky sexual behavior, you’re most vulnerable to HIV, although it also increases your risk for many other STDs. If you’re participating in this lifestyle, get tested annually.

Other specific situations like oral or anal sex require rectal and throat testing for various STDs.

There are many STDs you could end up with if you’re not careful, so practicing safe sex and getting regular screenings can make a huge difference in keeping yourself and your partner safe. 

For questions or concerns about sexually transmitted diseases, make an appointment with the medical team at Michigan Avenue Primary Care today. Call our office or schedule your visit online.