STD Testing and Sexual Health

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also called sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We’ve all heard about them, but how common are they?

Much more than you probably think.

To help us grasp how far reaching the issue is, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published data reports:

  • 20 million new infections each year
  • 110 million total infections (new and existing) at any given time
  • $16 billion – what STDs are costing us in medical expenses

If you’re sexually active, you can get an STD.

The only way to completely protect yourself is to remain abstinent.

Understanding STDs

STDs are infections that come from viruses that can spread from vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

Although anyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting one, those at a higher risk include:

  • Adolescents (starts in early teens) and young adults (age 18-40)
  • Homosexual men (gay, bisexual) and men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • Some racial and ethnic minorities

The United States Preventive Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening in adults and adolescents ages 15-65,

How to decrease your chances of getting an STD

There are many ways to lower your chances of getting an STD, even if you plan to still have sex:

  • One partner – if you only have sex with one person, you’ll lower your chances of getting an STD, especially if that person has tested negative for an STD.
  • Known partner – sleeping with anonymous partners will increase your chances of getting an STD.
  • Use protection – proper use of a latex condom will decrease the chances of getting an STD.

STDs can be asymptomatic. This means you could have one without ever showing signs or symptoms.

Common symptoms of an STD

All STDs are different and come with a variety of signs and symptoms. It becomes even harder to detect when certain diseases start with having no symptoms at all. Whether you currently have symptoms or not, it’s important to visit a testing center or contact your healthcare professional immediately. Signs of an STD include:

  • Sores or bumps on and around your genitals, thighs, or butt cheeks
  • Odd smelling discharge from your vagina or penis
  • Experiencing a burning sensation when you pee or having to pee often
  • Itching, irritation, pain, and/or swelling around your penis, vagina, vulva, and/or anus
  • Fever, body aches, swollen glands, and fatigue

Most of these symptoms can be caused by more common issues such as urinary tract infections (UTI) or yeast infections, so STD testing is the only way to know for sure what’s going on with your sexual health. Over time, certain STDs can cause serious health problems if they aren’t treated properly. It’s also true that having an STD makes you more likely to contract other STDs, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). 

STD testing can seem like a nerve-wracking experience; however, most of the common forms of STDs can be cured with medication quickly and easily. There are also treatments for the STDs that aren’t curable (such as Herpes and HIV) to make them more manageable. The sooner that you know you have an STD, the faster you can start taking care of you and your partner's sexual health.

When to get tested for an STD?

Screening recommendations for STDs vary based on your age, sexual history and sexual partners.

If you’re sexually active, you’re at risk of STDs and should be tested annually an STD. Those at higher risk of STDs (multiple partners, anonymous partners, unprotected sex) may need screened more often.

Whatever your reason for STD or Sexual Health testing, Test Smartly Labs is here to provide accurate and confidential services.