STD Testing: Just Do It (especially up to age 25)
A lot of people think that they can tell if they have an STD, but most people with STDs don’t have any symptoms. That means that even if you have been with the same partner for two years, even if they have never cheated on you and you have never cheated on them, you can still give each other STDs that you don’t even know you have. And even if you haven’t had sex in nine months – getting and STD test is a good plan.
The most common, reportable STD is Chlamydia. The infection is caused by bacteria that can live in the cells of the female cervix, or the male or female urethra, rectum, or throat. Chlamydia is spread by oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Using condoms with every sexual act can prevent the spread of Chlamydia.
The Center for Diseases Control is the leading organization in STD prevention, treatment and testing, and for many years has recommended yearly Chlamydia testing for all sexually active women aged 14-25. The test for Chlamydia is a simple urine test. A pelvic exam is not required! Even women who have had the same partner for many years or even women that haven’t had sex in awhile should still be tested if they are 25 or younger. Sometimes even health providers need to be reminded about Chlamydia testing. Do you know if you’ve had a Chlamydia test in the last 12 months? If not, be sure to make an appointment to see your provider (or find one with our health center finder, or just call and tell them you’d like to drop off a urine sample to be tested.
And what about other STD testing? Chlamydia is the only test that is routinely recommended for all sexually active young women. It’s common to also do a test for gonorrhea – because that can be done from the same urine sample. The CDC also recommends that all sexually active people have an HIV test at least once, but not necessarily every year unless there are other risk factors (like many different partners, partners who use IV drugs, or partners who are men that have sex with men). Testing for herpes is not recommended unless you think you may have it (because you get painful ulcers) or because you know your partner has herpes. And other STDs- like hepatitis and syphilis- are also only recommended for people with other risk factors. To learn more about the STDS, uncover the facts on our website. Finally, HPV (human papilloma virus) testing is not recommended for anyone younger than age 30; instead, get a pap smear starting at age 21 and then about every 3 years.
April 17, 2012