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Who Should Be Tested for STDs and How Frequently?

Who Should Be Tested for STDs and How Frequently?

Sex is an important part of a happy, healthy life, but it’s not without its risks. Every year, about 20 million Americans find out that a sexual encounter has left them with an infection. While sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are nothing new, what is new is the dramatic uptick in cases between 2015 and 2019, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

In 2018 alone, there were more than 26 million new cases of STDs reported, and about half of them were teens and young adults between the ages of 15-24. While many STDs can be treated or managed, some are asymptomatic, which means you can be infected — and infect others — without knowing it.

That’s why it’s so important to get tested regularly, so you can keep yourself and your partner (or partners) safe and healthy. At Central Clinic in Spring Hill, Florida, Dr. Poonam Malhotra offers discreet and thorough STD testing to give you peace of mind and an early warning should you contract an infection. Here’s what you need to know if and when you need to get tested.

Reasons for regular STD testing

All sexually active people need to be tested for STDs regularly. It’s a myth that only people with multiple partners and those who don’t use protection are at risk. Even if you always use a condom or you’re in a monogamous relationship, regular STD screenings should be part of your normal preventive health care routine for three important reasons:

  1. Testing is the only way to detect asymptomatic or dormant STDs
  2. Regular STD testing gives you a chance to treat new infections before they can cause long-term health complications or impact your fertility
  3. Knowing your STD status enables you to prevent the spread of infection

If we diagnose an STD, you should inform all your sexual partners — past and current — so they can get tested, too. Some STDs can’t be cured, but you can take steps to protect your partners.  

How often to get tested for STDs

In general, if you’re in a monogamous relationship with a partner, you only need to get tested annually. But if you have several sexual partners and don’t use protection, you need to get tested more frequently. Dr. Malhotra can let you know the best schedule for you based on your level of sexual activity and risk factors.

Committed couples may be able to safely stop regular STD testing if they get consistently negative results, but if your relationship status changes, or if your partner has been sexually active outside of your relationship, it’s best to get tested again.

Yearly STD testing is typically sufficient if you only have sex infrequently and you use protection each time. Any time you fail to use protection during sex, however, you should plan to be tested after each new partner.   

If you’ve never been tested for STDs, but you’ve been sexually active in the past, you should get screened before you have sex again. 

Are you at high risk for an STD? 

Certain populations are considered at high risk for STDs, and if you belong to one of them, it’s important to get tested regularly. Because STDs are especially prevalent among young people, all sexually active people under age 25 should be tested at least once a year, whether you’re male, female, straight, gay, or bisexual. 

Regardless of your gender, age, or sexual orientation, you should plan to get tested every 3-6 months if you have multiple sex partners, particularly if you rarely or never use protection. If your current partner has an STD — even if they’re receiving treatment — you should be tested frequently. 

If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, it’s important to find out if you have a sexually transmitted disease, because some of them can pose a serious threat to your unborn child. Get tested during your first trimester, and get repeated testing if you’re sexually active throughout your pregnancies, particularly if you have new or multiple partners.  

The good news is that many of the most common STDs can be cured with medication, and those that can’t be cured can often be successfully managed with the right treatment. 

If you’re ready to schedule a comprehensive STD screening test, call us today at 352-254-5649, or book an appointment online

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