Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain STDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24 including men and women.
Do you need to be tested for STDs?
No one likes to think he or she may have contracted an STD, but if you are sexually active and are not sure if your partner has only been with you—and absolutely no one else – you should get tested for STDs. That may sound severe, but even if you are in a monogamous relationship, you need to protect yourself if your partner has been sexually intimate with even one person before you. That one person may have had a serious STD and now you and your partner may have it. It’s important for all sexually active people to get tested unless they are sure they are in a monogamous relationship with a partner who also has undergone screening or has not been sexually involved with anyone else. If you and your partner have both undergone testing and you are in a monogamous relationship, it is safe to forego further STD testing until either of you engages in sexual behavior with a new partner.
When should you undergo STD testing?
The following are conditions under which you should get tested for STDs:
Before starting a new relationship. Ask him to get tested, too!
If you have any symptoms of an STD such as genital irritation, itchiness, sores, blisters, or unusual discharge.
Many STDs may not cause any symptoms. If you get symptoms caused by a STD, you may think you have another infection, since STD symptoms are similar to those caused by other diseases. Symptoms vary for each STD, but they include sores or blisters on or around the genital area or in the mouth, pain or burning during urination, unusual discharge from the vagina, itching, swelling, pain in or around the vagina, pain in the pelvic area or abdomen (sometimes with fever or chills), or bleeding other than your menstrual period. If you have any of these symptoms, you could have a STD.
If STDs aren’t treated, they can have serious side effects such as: