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April is STD Awareness Month, and this month (like all months) we’re focused on helping people take control of their sexual health. STD rates are climbing across the U.S., with the number of cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis increasing in St. Louis. With St. Charles County and Joplin losing crucial STD testing clinics, it’s more important than ever to take control of your sexual health and get tested for STDs. Testing prevents future health problems, but it’s also a great way to put your body and yourself first.

Getting tested for STDs is usually quick, easy, and painless. For example, rapid HIV tests can provide results within 20 minutes from just a swab inside the mouth, and many STD tests can be done with a urine sample. Early treatment can help prevent serious, lifelong health problems resulting from untreated STDs. All STDs, even HIV, are treatable if not curable.

So why are so many people afraid of getting tested?

Many people simply don’t know they need to get tested, but anyone who ever has vaginal, anal, or oral sex could get an STD. You can’t tell if you have an STD based on whether or not you have symptoms. Most of the time there are no symptoms, so the only way to know for sure is to get tested. The best time to get tested is before you start having sex with a new partner.

Having an open and honest conversation about STDs can bring you closer, and even make sex more enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, either. You can start by saying, “I'm a little nervous to bring this up. But, I want us to be healthy and I think it's important.” Your partner may be so relieved you brought it up that getting tested will be no big deal. If you need tips for having these conversations, Planned Parenthood has some videos that might help!

Need to get tested?

If you’re not sure where to go for STD testing or treatment, Planned Parenthood has you covered. Our health centers provide STD testing for chlamydia, genital warts, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, herpes, HIV, syphilis and trichomoniasis. We provide treatment for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, with treatment referrals for the rest. You can even make an appointment online!

Planned Parenthood believes that everyone deserves a sex life that’s healthy, shame free, and safe. So get yourself talking, get yourself tested, get yourself treated, and keep yourself healthy.

Allison Reilly is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator with Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

Tags: STDs, STIs, stdtesting, stiawarenessmonth, getyourselftested