Whether you’re sexually active, in a monogamous relationship, or haven’t had intercourse yet, you can develop a sexually transmitted infection (STI), also called a sexually transmitted disease (STD). An STD may take time to develop and may never create noticeable symptoms. And yet, it could severely impact your health and your fertility.
Even though nobody wants to take an STD test, and nobody wants to test positive, it’s better to know your STD status as soon as possible. Early detection increases the chances of successful treatment and prevents serious complications. In the case of some STDs, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), early detection could save your life.
Rafiq Mian, MD, a caring and discreet OB/GYN, recommends STD testing for all of his patients who are sexually active. Which tests you need, and how often, vary by your circumstances. Below are guidelines on who should be tested for STDs and at Mian OB/GYN & Associates in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested at least once in their life for HIV. HIV can be transmitted from mothers to children during childbirth.
Although at one time, HIV inevitably developed into autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and led to early death, effective treatments now control HIV and prevent it from developing into full-blown AIDS. People born between 1945 and 1965 should also be screened at least once for Hepatitis C.
If you’re a female who’s 25 or younger and are sexually active, you should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. If you’re older than 25 but have risk factors, such as multiple or new sexual partners, continue with your annual gonorrhea and chlamydia tests.
Depending on your age, we also schedule you for regular Pap tests, which check for cervical changes that could indicate cancer caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). We may also recommend separate HPV testing, particularly if your Pap smear is abnormal.
If you’re pregnant or hope to become pregnant, STD tests help keep your baby safe. All women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B and C in the early stages of their pregnancy. If you have multiple partners or your partner has multiple partners, you should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea throughout your pregnancy, as needed.
Couples may assume that they’re in a monogamous relationship and so don’t need STD testing. However, one or more partners may “cheat” and put the other at risk.
Some STDs have no symptoms, so you or your partner could have an STD and not know it. You might also not develop symptoms from an STD until years into the relationship.
Ideally, you and your partner should agree to STD tests before you become sexual, so you’re sure of each other’s status. Even in long-term relationships, if you haven’t been tested in awhile, an STD test assures you that you’re both healthy and safe.
Counterintuitively, you may have an STD even if you’ve never had sexual intercourse, and so can your partner. Some STDS, including herpes and HPV, are transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact.
Oral sex or fingering can spread an infection to your genitals. Cold sores that you might have developed on your mouth as a child, for instance, could be transmitted to your partner’s genitals during sex play.
Even wearing a condom can’t protect against herpes or HPV. However, you should always wear a condom to protect against other types of infections.
If you engage in any kind of sexual play, be sure to request STD testing during your annual physical exam. Contact us immediately if you notice any symptoms, such as blisters or sores on your genitals.
Having unprotected (i.e., no condom) sex, using intravenous drugs, and having anal sex all increase your risk for STDs. If you have unsafe sex or share syringes, get tested for HIV once a year. If you and your partner practice anal sex, ask us about tests for your throat and rectum.
Stop worrying about STDs and get the information you need to feel healthy and confident by booking your STD test today. Reach us at Mian OB/GYN & Associates by phone or through our online booking form.