Who Should be Screened for STDs and How Often?

Apr 08, 2022
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Who Should be Screened for STDs and How Often?

As many as one-in-five people have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) at any given point in time. If you’re sexually active, that means you’re at risk of acquiring one, too. 

At St. Michael’s Elite Hospital, located in Sugar Land, Texas, we recommend regular STD testing. Here are some factors to consider when scheduling STD testing and screening.

Who needs a test?

Anyone who is sexually active benefits from having an STD test once per year. If you have multiple partners, and especially if you don’t practice safe sex by using a condom, schedule a test every 3-6 months. 

Also, get tested if you share IV needles. Men who have sex with men, people who have HIV, or people who have had forced intercourse or sexual activity also need an immediate test. 

Don’t assume that you were screened for STDs at your most recent physical or well-woman exam. You usually have to specify that you need testing.

People born between 1945 and 1965 should prioritize screening for hepatitis C. The disease is common in this age group but often doesn’t show symptoms until advanced. 

Really though, anyone of any age has the potential to contract an STD. It’s your behaviors, not your age, that put you at the greatest risk of infection.

What symptoms suggest I should get tested?

Don’t wait for a scheduled test if you experience symptoms of an STD. These may include:

  • Pain during urination
  • Unusual odor in vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal itching
  • Discharge or itching from the penis
  • Sores or bumps in the genital or rectal area

These symptoms are signs that you’ve been exposed to and contracted an STD. Testing confirms your diagnosis so you can get treatment that might include refraining from sex for a few weeks, antibiotics, or other interventions.

What happens during an STD test?

STD tests often involve taking a swab of vaginal or penile secretions. The test can help us detect gonorrhea or chlamydia. Tests for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis usually involve a blood test. 

Regular Pap smears and HPV (human papillomavirus) tests in women can help them understand if they have this incredibly common STD. HPV often causes no symptoms, but certain strains are associated with the development of certain reproductive organ cancers, including the cervix. Early detection can prevent these devastating complications.

What if I test positive?

If you test positive for an STD, get treatment. Inform your sexual partners as well. If you’re not careful, you’ll just pass the infection back and forth. Letting your partners know also helps you protect the greater community. 

It’s okay to feel angry or ashamed if you have a positive STD test. Remember that getting tested was the right thing to do and helped prevent any further spread or medical ramifications.

STDs are an almost inevitable result of frequent sexual activity. The smartest thing to do is to protect yourself from STDs and to get tested regularly to catch disease early and prevent the spread or complications. Contact St. Michael's Elite Hospital in Sugar Land, Texas to get your STD testing set up, or use this website to reach out.