eg. How do you approach an STD test with a new partner?

Is it possible to have an STD and not know it?

Published on December 3rd, 2016

When you have a cold, you know you have a cold–your nose runs, your throat hurts, and you want to sleep for days. Some infections, like the common cold or flu, are easy to spot. Unfortunately, STDs often present no symptoms or mild, easy to miss or misinterpret symptoms, such as those associated with a yeast infection, so testing is required to know for sure if you have an STD.

When should you get tested?

Anytime you have unprotected sex, or acquire new sexual partner you should get tested. While many women receive testing through their gynecologists, any primary care provider can provide testing to men and women.

Testing is important as the rate of infection for STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are on the rise, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). You can talk with your healthcare provider about whether you should be tested and how frequently. Sometimes you will need be retested after one or three months, depending on the infection, as symptoms can take time to develop after initial contact.

How does testing work?

STD testing is not an automatic part of a regular health check-up, so be sure to ask your provider for testing if you want it done. Tests vary depending on the type of STD:

  • Physical exam: Some infections, such as herpes or syphilis, present physical symptoms such as sores or rashes. Your doctor can check for these symptoms visually. For women, this often involves an exam similar to a pelvic exam.
  • Blood sample: A blood test is required to check for some STDs, such as HIV and syphilis infections.
  • Urine sample: Some infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can be checked with a urine sample.
  • Tissue, cell, discharge, or saliva sample: Using a swab, a provider can check for some infections through a microscope.

Where can I get tested?

In addition to your regular healthcare provider, you can receive testing from Planned Parenthood and other community clinics.

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