As enjoyable as sex is, it also comes with a potential downside. The bodily fluids that you share with your partner may contain bacteria and viruses that can lead to serious complications, including infertility, blindness, damage to your organs, and even certain cancers.
These sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) come in various forms and have different symptoms, but they’re also often asymptomatic, so you may not even know you’re infected. The best way to protect yourself and others is to practice safe sex and get tested.
Here at Women’s Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey, Dr. Khashayar Shakiba helps women and men of all ages and all walks of life find peace of mind through STD testing. One of the questions our patients ask most often is: When do I need to get tested for STDs?
That’s why Dr. Shakiba and our team have gathered a list of the most common scenarios that signal the need to get tested for STDs such as chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, trichomoniasis, and HPV.
Get tested if you have symptoms
Again, not all STD symptoms show up right away, and they can differ from person to person. That said, when symptoms do appear, it’s a clear sign that you should come in to find out what’s going on. Here are some signs to watch for:
- Vaginal or penile discharge (especially if it smells bad)
- Pain or burning when you urinate, or frequent urination
- Painful sex
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Sores, bumps, or lesions on your genitals, buttocks, or thighs
- Redness, itching, or swelling of the genitalia
- Flu-like symptoms: fever, body aches, fatigue
This is not an exhaustive list, but it contains some of the top signs of STDs. However, these same symptoms may indicate other conditions, such as urinary tract infections, yeast infections, etc. That’s why STD testing is critical for an accurate diagnosis and the proper treatment.
Get tested if you have multiple partners
Having sex with multiple partners puts you in a high-risk category for STDs because it increases your exposure. It’s important to protect yourself by using a condom to minimize transfer of fluids and, therefore, transfer of infections.
Get tested if you have unprotected sex
Whether you forgot your protection or had a spontaneous moment and were unprepared, unprotected sex happens. When it does, especially if it’s with someone new, it’s important to come in and get tested. We can run an STD panel that tests for herpes 1 and 2, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and hepatitis B and C.
Get tested if your partner experiences STD symptoms
Just as you would take precautions if you learned you had been exposed to someone with chickenpox, if you know your partner has STD symptoms or has been diagnosed with an STD, it’s time for you to come in and get screened as well, so we can begin treatment early if necessary.
Get tested if you’re about to become monogamous
If you’re entering a new and exclusive relationship, it’s an exciting time. The best gift you can give one another is the peace of mind knowing you’re both entering the relationship with a clean bill of health — especially if one or both of you have had other partners in the past.
Get tested if you’re pregnant
Some STDs can harm you and/or your baby, so we recommend you get tested early and possibly multiple times throughout your pregnancy, depending on your risk factors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests all pregnant women should get tested for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B, and at-risk pregnant women should test for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Get tested if you’re a gay or bisexual man
Because HIV is prevalent among bisexual and gay men, getting tested for this particular STD every 3-6 months can help you manage your health and address the disease as soon as it becomes detectable.
STD tests are easy and painless
We can test for most STDs with a simple blood or urine test. Others may require a swab from the vagina, cervix, rectum, or urethra.
If your test comes back positive for an STD, Dr. Shakiba can prescribe antibiotics or other medications to control your symptoms. He also helps you understand how best to protect yourself and others while you’re contagious.
To learn more about STDs, testing, and treatments, call us at our Hackensack, New Jersey office at 201-279-5787, or use our online tool to request an appointment today.