At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard someone say: If you’re sexually active, you need to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But you may think: Well, I don’t have any symptoms, so I must be OK, right? No, you actually may not be.
You’re not alone if you’re embarrassed about getting tested for STDs, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to stay on top of your health. At All Day Medical Care Clinic here in Gaithersburg and Rockville, Maryland, our team wants you to be educated on STD testing and understand how often you should get tested-- so you can protect yourself and your sexual partner.
Could I have an STD and not know it?
Yes, you could absolutely have an STD and not know it. Most don’t cause any symptoms, especially during the early stages of an infection. If you have any qualms whatsoever you should get tested. Having an STD and not knowing it not only affects your health but the health of your sexual partners, too.
Some of the most common STDs that we test for include:
- Gonorrhea and chlamydia
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Genital herpes
While STDs don’t usually cause symptoms, if you’re experiencing any of the following, you need to get tested right away. Common signs and symptoms that may indicate an STD include:
- Genital burning or itching
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain during urination
- Abnormal genital discharge
- Appearance of genital sores or warts
- Pelvic pain
STDs affect both men and women, but the health risks are greater for women and may lead to infertility or even cancer.
When should I get tested for STDs?
As noted above, if you’re sexually active, you should be getting tested for STDs. But the types of testing you need and frequency may depend on your age, sexual activity, and specific risk factors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested for HIV at least once during their lifetimes. You may need to be tested for HIV more often if you have multiple partners or you’re a gay or bisexual man.
Women who are sexually active and 25 or younger, or over age 25 with multiple partners, should get tested every year for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Pregnant women also need to be tested for various STDs including HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B, as well as chlamydia and gonorrhea for those women at risk.
All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested every year for syphillis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. You may need additional testing for these STDs, once every 3-6 months, if you have multiple sexual partners.
Here at North City Urgent Care, we can test for any STD you may have concerns about using a blood test, urine test, or genital swab. We ask you very specific questions about your sexual history and health so we know exactly what to test for.
What if I test positive
Testing positive for an STD may cause a range of feelings, but we can provide the most appropriate treatment to either cure your STD or help you manage the symptoms. We prescribe antibiotics to treat and clear up bacterial and parasitic infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. For viral STDs, such as HIV or HPV, we prescribe medications that help you manage your symptoms. Currently, there are no cures for viral STDs.
We also spend a lot of time talking to you about your STD, and our provider counsels you about the steps you need to take to keep yourself healthy.
STDs are more common than you might think. The only way to protect your health when you’re sexually active is to get tested. For nonjudgemental STD testing from a compassionate team of providers, call the location nearest to you or book an appointment online today. Walk-ins are also welcome.