A guide to getting tested for STDs
Are you sexually active? A good rule of thumb is to get tested at least once a year for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. If you have multiple partners, it’s good to get tested more frequently—every three to six months. Here’s a quick guide to getting tested for STDs.
Chlamydia is a common STD passed during anal, oral, or vaginal sex.
Testing for chlamydia requires collecting a sample from any body part that may have come in contact with the infection, such as the throat, anus, penis, or vagina. This is often done by swabbing the area or performing a urine test. If you’ve had sexual contact with more than one of these body parts, you’ll need more than one sample.
Chlamydia is cured with antibiotics, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be immune to it. You can get chlamydia again anytime you come in contact with it.
Gonorrhea is a common STD passed during anal, oral, or vaginal sex.
Testing for gonorrhea requires collecting a sample from any body part that may have come in contact with the infection, such as the throat, anus, penis, or vagina. This is usually done through swabs or by testing urine. If you’ve had sex using more than one of these body parts, you’ll need more than one sample.
Gonorrhea is cured with antibiotics, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune to it. You can get gonorrhea again anytime you come in contact with it.
Syphilis is an STD common among men who have sex with men. It is passed through any kind of sexual contact with a syphilis sore (often not visible) or rash (often overlooked).
Syphilis can be detected through a blood test, although your doctor may also perform a physical exam.
Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune to it. You can get syphilis again anytime you come in contact with it.
Herpes-1 (HSV-1) and herpes-2 (HSV-2) are infections that may be passed during any kind of sexual contact between the genitals and/or the mouth, even if there’s no penetration.
HSV-1 is most often transmitted orally (not just through sex) and causes cold sores or fever blisters on or near the mouth. It’s important to note that HSV-1 is not strictly limited to the mouth. The infection can be passed from the mouth to someone’s genitals, for example.
HSV-2 is often transmitted sexually and causes sores or lesions on the genitals, anus, or upper thighs.
Your doctor can perform tests to detect both types of herpes, If you have blisters, your doctor may also take a sample from them for testing.
Neither type of herpes is curable, yet prescription medications can help reduce the severity of symptoms and reduce the frequency and/or shorten the length of outbreaks.
Hepatitis B (Hep B) is an infection that affects the liver. A vaccine to prevent Hep B is available, yet you must get the vaccine prior to exposure to the virus for it to work.
If you haven’t been vaccinated, a simple blood test can detect hepatitis B. If you have been vaccinated, there’s usually no need to get this test.
Hepatitis C (Hep C) is also an infection that affects the liver. The virus is most frequently passed through sharing needles or drug equipment, yet it’s also possible to get Hep C through sexual contact. Prior to 1992, Hep C was also passed through blood transfusions.
A simple blood test can detect Hep C. While there is no vaccine for Hep C, there are medications that can cure the virus in as little as eight weeks.