Should I get tested for STDs?
Most of the time, STDs have no symptoms. Testing is the only way to know for sure if you have an STD. So if you’ve had any kind of sexual contact that can spread STDs — like vaginal, anal, or oral sex — talk with a doctor or nurse about getting tested.
If you’ve had sexual contact with another person and notice any signs of an STD, talk to a doctor or nurse about getting tested. STD symptoms can come and go over time, but that doesn’t mean the STD is gone. It’s common for STD symptoms to be so mild that they don’t bother you, but you should still see a doctor or nurse if you notice anything that feels off.
Different STDs have different symptoms. Signs of STDs include:
sores or bumps on and around your genitals, thighs, or butt cheeks
weird discharge from your vagina or penis
burning when you pee and/or having to pee a lot
itching, pain, irritation and/or swelling in your penis, vagina, vulva, or anus
flu-like symptoms like fever, body aches, swollen glands, and feeling tired.
All of these symptoms can be caused by things that aren’t STDs (like pimples, UTIs, or yeast infections). So getting tested is the only way to know for sure what’s going on. Your nurse or doctor will help you figure out what kinds of testing or treatment you may need. Tell them about:
What kind of sexual contact you’ve had (like vaginal, anal, or oral sex, or anything that involves skin-to-skin genital contact or passing sexual fluids)
Whether you use condoms and/or dental dams.
It’s really important to get tested if you think you have an STD, because some STDs can cause serious health problems if you don’t treat them. Also, having an STD makes you more likely to get other STDs, like HIV. And it’s best to find out right away if you have an STD, so you can avoid giving it to other people.
The idea of getting tested may seem scary, but try to chill out. Most common STDs can be easily cured with medicine. And STDs that can’t be cured often have treatments to help you with symptoms and to lower your chances of giving the STD to anyone else. So the sooner you know you have an STD, the faster you can start taking care of yourself and your partner(s).
I don’t have any symptoms — do I still need to get tested?
You can’t tell if you have an STD just by the way you look or feel — most of the time, people with STDs don’t have any symptoms. So the only way to know for sure if you (or your partner) have an STD is to get tested.
It’s extra important to get tested if you’ve had unprotected sexual contact, or if you find out your partner has an STD. A doctor or nurse can tell you whether or not you should be tested for STDs.
If you DO have an STD, it’s best to find out as soon as possible. Some STDs can cause serious damage over time, even if you feel totally fine right now. STDs can also spread to other people you have sex with, whether or not you have any symptoms.
The best part about getting tested for STDs? Once you get it over with, it can really put your mind at ease. STD testing is a regular part of being responsible and taking care of yourself. Plus, STD tests can be quick, painless, and sometimes even free.