Sexually transmitted diseases often cause no symptoms, making regular screenings important if you're not in a monogamous relationship with an uninfected person. Here's how you can get tested for STDS.
Step 1: Know the guidelines Know the guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control recommends an annual chlamydia test for sexually active women under age 26 and for older women with a new or multiple sex partners, and an annual HIV test for sexually active men and women who are not in a long-term, monogamous relationship. Men who have sex with men and are not in a monogamous relationship should also be tested annually for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. If there’s a possibility you've been exposed to any STD in the past year, you should get tested.
TIP: The CDC recommends that females between the ages of 11 and 26 be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, some strains of which can lead to cervical cancer.
Step 2: Ask to be tested Ask your doctor to test you for STDs. STD tests are not a routine part of annual physicals, and having a pap test does not mean you've been screened. If you don't have a doctor or you can't afford to see one, contact Planned Parenthood or your local health department for information on free clinics.
TIP: Use your zip code to locate an STD testing location at findSTDtest.org.
Step 3: Be honest Be honest with your health care provider about your sex life and any behaviors that put you at a higher risk for an STD. If you're worried your parents may find out that you're sexually active, ask the doctor about their confidentiality policy. In many states, doctors cannot share information about your reproductive health without your permission unless they think you've been sexually abused.
Step 4: Know what to expect Know what to expect. Your doctor will likely examine your skin, throat, and genitals for signs of infection, and collect blood or urine for testing. They may also swab genital discharge, tissues, cells, or saliva. There is no single test that can check for every STD.
Step 5: Follow doctor's orders If it turns out you do have an STD, follow your doctor's instructions and finish any medicine prescribed, even if the symptoms go away before you're done. Tell your sexual partners so they can be tested, too. Refrain from sexual activity while you are being treated.
TIP: If there's any chance you may be pregnant, tell your doctor before taking any medication.
Step 6: Get a follow-up If you were treated for an STD, have a follow-up visit to make sure the infection is gone. And continue to protect your health with regular screenings.
FACT: 1 out of 4 teens in the United States becomes infected with an STD each year.