When it comes to sex, the maxim “Better Safe than Sorry” always rings true. Aside from the necessary protective measures, one way to be safe when you engage in sex often is to get yourself tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs); also known as Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Regular STI/STD Testing is one of the cornerstones of Reproductive Health for Women. However, they are not really standard tests that are given to you when you have your physical: depending on your personal sexual history, the doctor may suggest certain tests; such as STI/STD Screening; which includes HIV and syphilis testing. Some women actually make use of “home tests” to check for STIs/STDs, but these tests are sometimes inaccurate; so the best (and safest) course of action is to go to an actual doctor or health provider and get tested. But what STI/STD tests do you need, and when? Your medical team at Parkmed.com would like to help you out by providing some basic guidelines for STI/STD testing. There are three main factors that determine the type of tests you need: these are your age, your level of risk and frequency with regard to sexual activity, and which specific STIs/STDs (if any) you’re screening for.
As a rule of thumb; if you’re younger than 25, you’ll need to get tested as soon as you as you have sex. Once you hit 25 years of age; you should get tested before starting any sexual activity with a new partner. You should also get tested if you engage in multiple-partner sex, or if you have a tendency to perform risky sexual behavior such as unprotected sex. Here are the basic STI/STD tests you should consider taking; as well as some guidelines about when to take them:
HPV Screening and Pap smear Tests – Pelvic exams should be performed annually by a qualified doctor or health care provider when you turn 21. A Pap smear test that checks for the presence of cervical cancer should be included in that exam every three to five years until you turn 65. At age 30 (or upon the incidence of an inconclusive Pap smear test), you should also consider HPV Screening, which checks for the human papillomavirus, and have yourself tested every five years. HPV is the most common STI which; if untreated, can cause genital warts and could lead to cervical cancer.
Syphilis, HIV, and Hepatitis Tests – You should be tested for these infections at least once between the ages of 13 and 64; or if you test positive for other STIs/STDs like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Also, consider testing for Syphilis, HIV, and Hepatitis if you have had multiple-partner sex since your last tests; or if you have taken any intravenous drugs. These tests may also be offered to you during pregnancy, as they can infect both you and your baby. Hepatitis causes acute and long term liver problems; while Syphilis causes genital sores and, during the tertiary stages, can affect the heart, brain, and other organs. HIV weakens the immune system and may lead to AIDS.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Tests – These tests should be taken if you are sexually active and are under the age of 25. Definitely get tested for these infections if you have a penchant for risky sexual behavior or engage in multiple-partner sex. These diseases need to be detected and treated early with antibiotics, because neither of these STDs/STIs have any visible symptoms at first. If left unchecked; they can cause pelvic infections, infertility, and permanent damage to your fallopian tubes. They also increase the risk for ectopic pregnancy and may even infect infants during the pregnancy stage.
STDs /STIs are no mere annoyance: they can pose serious health problems to you and (if you’re pregnant) your child. Therefore, timely testing and treatment are essential to be able to keep yourself risk-free. Avoid them at all costs by practicing safe sex, refraining from sharing towels, underclothing, and syringes; as well as by sticking to one partner, and observing proper bodily hygiene. Otherwise, get yourself tested regularly to keep yourself out of harm’s way. Remember: “Better Safe than Sorry”.
Are you in need of STD/STI Testing? Parkmed.com offers rapid STD/STI testing in NYC with a simple appointment. Best of all, these tests can be integrated into your annual of biannual checkup. If you feel that you may have been exposed to an STD/STI but are in between your regular exam schedules; you may also request and book them as a separate appointment. Give us a call at 212-686-6066, or contact us online for all of your STD/STI testing and treatment questions, or to find out more about our services.