Most of the time, STDs (also called STIs) have no symptoms. So, the only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested. Using things such as condoms and dental dams can reduce your risk of getting an STD but they do not protect against this risk entirely. The only sure way to avoid the risks of STDs is not engaging in sex until you are in a committed relationship with a committed partner.
If you’re wondering, “Should I get tested for STDs?” here are some things to consider:
I think I have STD symptoms
Common symptoms of an STD/STI include:
- Sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area
- Painful or burning urination
- Discharge from the penis
- Unusual or odorous vaginal discharge
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the groin but sometimes more widespread
- Lower abdominal pain
- Rash over the trunk, hands, or feet.
These symptoms can appear shortly after exposure or take years to develop. Having these symptoms does not mean you have an STD, so it’s always best to get tested.
I don’t have symptoms but am wondering if I should still get tested
You can’t know if you have an STD/STI based only on symptoms (or lack thereof). Women should get tested for the most common STDs (such as chlamydia and gonorrhea) on a yearly basis if:
- You are a sexually active women under age 25;
- You are a woman over the age of 25 and engaging with a new partner or multiple partners;
- You have HIV; and/or
- You have been forced to have intercourse or engage in sexual activity against your will.
The frequency of testing really depends on your sexual activity and risk of exposure. If you are having frequent changes in partners and/or anonymous partners, you are at a higher risk of exposure. If you recently started having sex (or are having sex with a new partner), it might be too early to test, and you could have a false negative. We’re here to answer any questions you have, so if you are not sure when would be the best time to schedule testing, just contact us.
Free STD Screening
We offer free testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea at our numerous clinics located throughout the Puget Sound area. Click here to learn more.
Untreated STDs can lead to infertility and chronic pain. So, if you are wondering if you might have an STD, don’t hesitate to contact us for an appointment.
We offer free screenings for women for the most prevalent STDs in our geographical area. Testing is completely free. We work in collaboration with the Health Department and refer our patients to them for additional STD screenings when needed. If your test is positive, referrals can be given for your partner to be tested and treated.