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Who should get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

When you get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) depends largely on how old you are, which STDs you're screening for and how active you are sexually. It's important to remember that sexual activity includes anal and oral sex as well as vaginal sex.

If you're younger than age 25, you should start getting tested for STDs yearly as soon as you start having sex. After age 25, you should get tested whenever you're about to start sexual activity with a new partner, are engaging in sex with multiple partners or are involved in high-risk sexual behaviors like unprotected sex.

Additionally, you should get tested as soon as possible if you ever experience STD symptoms. This might include a burning sensation when you urinate, excessive or unusual vaginal discharge, itching, genital sores, vaginal bleeding, pain during sex or pain in the lower abdomen.

If you are sexually active, talk to your doctor about STI screening. Which tests you might need and how often depend mainly on your sexual history and your partner's. Talking to your doctor about your sex life might seem too personal to share. But being open and honest is the only way your doctor can help take care of you. Also, don't assume you don't need to be tested for STIs if you have sex only with women. Talk to your doctor to find out what tests make sense for you.

This answer is based on source information from The National Women's Health Information Center.

Angela Lowery
Family Medicine
Anyone having unprotected sex with multiple partners should get tested for sexually transmitted infections. Persons who are not in long term monogamous relationships should also be tested for STIs. If you are sexually active and there is uncertainty, you should be tested for STIs.

Everyone who is sexually active should get tested.

Regular testing should be done every 6 months if you are sexually active with more than one partners whether you use protection or not.

If you are in a monogamous relationship and have been tested at the start of your relationship, you don't have to be concerned about periodic testing. 

Women in the age range for getting regular Paps done 21 to 69 are probably swabbed for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea as part of the Pap procedure. Ask your physician.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.