When To Consider STD Testing

It is almost always impossible to determine whether a person has an STD without testing. A physical examination may sometimes be all that is required, but this is not always the case and even a physical exam is considered STD testing. It is common to think that STD testing is unnecessary, particularly among younger age groups who see themselves as invincible. In reality, however, anyone who is sexually active could benefit from testing and it should be strongly considered in certain situations.

Following Unprotected Sex

The most important time to consider STD testing is following unprotected sex or sexual contact of any kind. This includes both if you have had unprotected sex and if your partner has. You should also strongly consider STD testing if you are forced to engage in any sexual activity, including intercourse, against your will.

Regular Screenings

Anyone who is sexually active, regardless of their commitment level or protection used, should at least have occasional screenings for STDs. These may not be necessary after a period of time in a monogamous relationship, but you should always consult with your doctor. There are also specific guidelines for those who should be screened regularly and for which diseases. Women under 25 or over 25 who at risk, gay men, or those with HIV should be screened annually for gonorrhea and chlamydia, according to MayoClinic. According to them, the CDC also recommends being tested for HIV at least one time in your lifetime.

Testing for hepatitis, syphilis, or HIV should be requested if you have had multiple sexual partners, use IV drugs, have another STD, or are pregnant or hoping to conceive.

Understanding The Windows

While annual testing is effective for catching most STDs or for those who typically practice safe sex, additional testing may be required. This is due to the fact that each STD has a particular window in which the testing is accurate. In the majority of cases, the accuracy of testing increases as more time passes since the potential exposure to the disease.

A chlamydia urine test, for example, may detect the illness within a week, but detection becomes more likely two weeks after intercourse, with the highest accuracy at four weeks. The length of time required for increased accuracy depends not only on the STD in question, but also on the testing method. The HIV antibody test, for example, can be attempted at 3 weeks, with most likely detection from 4 to 6 weeks and highest accuracy at 12 weeks. There is, however, an HIV early detection test, which can be done in as little as one to two weeks, with detection improving at 3 weeks and being most accurate at 3 to 4 weeks.

Consult Your Physician

If at any point in time you experience doubts as to whether you should be tested for STDs, discuss the matter with your doctor or a specialist at an STD clinic. They will be able to advise you as to your risk level of contracting a sexually transmitted disease and guide you through the testing process.