If you’re sexually active, you may wonder how often you should get tested for STDs. This is an especially important thing to think about now since April is STD Awareness Month. After all, STDs are not going anywhere—actually, they are on the rise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noticed an significant increase in STDs back in November 2015, stating that there were approximately 20 million new infections per year for people 15 to 25 years old. They also found that syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are growing resistant to antibiotics.
Yup—that means it’s more important than ever to get tested for STDs regularly.
To get the inside scoop on the pressing topic of STDs, HelloGiggles spoke to two experts, who had a few things to say on the matter. Dr. Sherry A. Ross, women’s health expert and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period., tells HG, “It’s best to get tested for STIs once a year, after unprotected sex, and in between new partners.”
“Many STIs do not have any symptoms, so getting tested regularly is important to avoid future gynecological problems,” she also tells us.
Dr. Ross says HPV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea can be detected on routine pap smears or STI screenings, but “you may have to ask your health care provider directly to have an STI screening, as it may not be included in your yearly exam.” Good to know.
We know you might be wondering: STDs, STIs—what’s the difference? Here’s the short answer. Not all STIs turn into STDs, so someone can get infected, yet they won’t have symptoms or develop the disease—the “d” in STD, of course.
Dr. Michael Krychman, MD, OB/GYN, sexual medicine gynecologist and the executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, agrees with Dr. Ross.
“Anyone who is sexually active should get tested at least once a year for the big guns like hepatitis, syphilis, and HIV,” Dr. Krychman told HG.
“Of course, another important milestone: after ANY unprotected sex,” he says. “Plus, if you have a new sexual partner. For instance, many couples both get tested before engaging in sexual activity.”