A Helpful How‑To Guide to Getting Tested

Need an STD test, but aren’t sure how to go about it? No problem. Getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (also called sexually transmitted infections, or STIs) is typically quick, easy and affordable. If you are sexually active, it is recommended that you get regular tests until the age of 25, and then afterwards if you change partners, increase your risk factors or think you may have been exposed.

Keep in mind that using condoms is the best way to prevent the spread of STDs, but it only works when you use them EVERY SINGLE TIME and they are not 100% effective. The good news is: even if a condom breaks, you don’t use one or you just feel like you want to know that you’re STD-free, tests are available for all STDs (except for HPV in men).

So now that we’ve covered the basics, here are some quick tips for what to do when it’s time to get tested:

Tip #1: Don’t Panic

Most STD tests are super simple. You’re either dealing with a urine test, genital swab/sample, blood test, visual examination or a pap smear. If you need to be tested for HIV, there’s even an at-home rapid oral swab test called OraQuick that you can buy at a pharmacy. If you test positive using OraQuick, we strongly encourage you make an appointment with your health care professional right away so you can get a lab blood test and find out for sure. And that leads us to our next tip…

Tip #2: Don’t Delay

If you have symptoms of an STD, it’s important to make an appointment at your physician’s office or visit a clinic as soon as possible. Some STDs can lead to serious discomfort, reproductive damage and even infertility if left untreated.

Tip #3: Go to a Clinic

If you’re just looking for some routine tests or need to get in quickly, a great bet is to find a local health care clinic. We have a handy clinic locator tool that can help you track down locations in your area, and it even identifies low-cost clinics if you’re on the lookout for the most affordable options.

Tip #4: Make It a Habit

Most people with STDs don’t have any symptoms, so if you are sexually active, it’s important to keep tests in your routine. Note: Since it is so common and typically has no symptoms, routine Chlamydia tests are recommended for all sexually active young women. Other than that and every-three-year pap smears after you’re 21, there are really no other no hard and fast rules. Find a health care provider or clinic that you like and trust so that you’re more likely to return without hesitation.

Lastly, if you are scared or worried about getting tested, just remember that you’re not alone. It’s completely normal to feel like you’re in uncharted waters with this stuff, and a great way to fight through is to just talk about it. Talk to your friends, family, partner and health care provider about your concerns, and we bet you’ll find that once everything’s out in the open, it doesn’t seem so scary after all.