Let's Talk About Safe Sex

By: RSC Editorial Team

February 8, 2023

How Often Should You Get Tested for STDs?

Having safe sex doesn't just mean using protection; getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) keeps you informed about your health status. If you are sexually active, how often should you get tested for STDs?

Most doctors recommend getting tested at least once a year if you are between the ages of 13 and 64. If you are gay, bisexual, or have multiple sexual partners, consider getting tested once every three to six months. Routine STD testing is practical for:

  • Detecting infections early
  • Facilitating fast access to treatment options
  • Reducing your risk of developing severe symptoms
  • Promoting safe sex practices

If you have never scheduled an STD screening, you may not know what to expect. This article will help you understand when and how to schedule an STD test at a clinic near you.

Who Should Get Tested for STDs?

Testing for STDs lets you monitor your well-being and keep your partners safe. The CDC recommends STD testing for adolescents and adults once a year. However, some people should schedule tests more frequently if they are at high risk for infection.

For example, women are at higher risk than men of contracting HPV – a viral infection that can cause cervical cancer and inflammatory disease. Doctors recommend that women 25 and older screen for HPV at least once every three to five years. You can typically receive these screenings during your routine pap smear tests. 

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults should get tested after sexual contact with people of the same sex. According to the CDC, members of the LGBTQ community, particularly cis men and transgender women, are at greater risk for contracting HIV and syphilis.

If you have sex with anonymous partners without protection, you are at higher risk of infection, so schedule STD tests at least a few times a year. Consider using protection like condoms to safeguard against STDs.

You may also wonder, “How often should you get tested for STDs if you are in a monogamous relationship?” Routine testing is still important for monogamous couples. STDs with no symptoms of one partner engaging in sexual activity outside the relationship can cause both partners to catch an infection.

Do I Need to Get Tested Even Without Symptoms?

Some people infected with chlamydia and gonorrhea do not develop symptoms and never seek testing. Without a rapid STD test, infected individuals could continue spreading these diseases to other unsuspecting people. 

Don't neglect routine testing if you're not experiencing any symptoms. Viruses can incubate for several weeks before they cause symptoms like genital warts or skin rashes.

STD testing is the only way to detect sexually transmitted viruses and bacteria. You can avoid getting more than one STD throughout the year by scheduling regular screenings with a professional clinician.

When Is the Right Time for an STD Test?

Knowing which STDs to get tested for can help you plan your next appointment at a sexual health clinic like Rapid STD Testing. 

The CDC recommends screenings for common STDs like syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea once a year

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, schedule an HIV and hepatitis test during the early stages of your pregnancy. Your doctors may be able to detect infections that could pass on to your child. Early testing also allows you to access treatment options that may help you avoid complications during pregnancy.

Nearly half the U.S. population already has herpes simplex type 1, so how often should you get tested for STDs like these?

It's a good idea to request a Herpes type 1 and 2 test during every screening. Genital herpes is highly infectious, and you can spread it through skin-to-skin contact. These STDs cause skin rashes that can go dormant for long periods, sometimes making them hard to detect.  

Should I Get Tested After Every Partner?

In general, getting an STD test after every partner is the best way to avoid surprise rashes or painful blisters later. However, if you have sex with more than one partner in a couple of weeks, additional testing may be expensive and impractical. 

Gonorrhea and chlamydia can incubate for up to 21 days. Sometimes, these window periods prevent lab testing from detecting infections for weeks after your first screening. 

Schedule a test every three months if you regularly engage in sexual activity with new partners. This way, you can get accurate results without spending too much time and money at the clinic.

If a past partner tells you they received a positive STD test result, when should you take an STD test? The answer is immediately. Your doctor can administer the appropriate test to screen for that specific STD, so you only spend time screening for relevant infections.

How Much Does STD Testing Cost?

Many people ask, “How often should you get tested for STDs, and how much does it cost?”

Some clinics offer free tests for common STDs like herpes, HPV, and gonorrhea. However, you may wait in long lines for these services. Free testing services may also take longer to deliver your results. Other clinics will charge up to $250 per test, depending on the STD screening you request. 

Often, people ask how much testing costs without medical insurance. In this case, you might pay $600 for an annual STD test. 

Partnering with ethical health clinics like Rapid STD Testing helps you save money on routine health screenings. RST clinics offer transparent pricing, so you know what to expect before you get the bill.

Early Detection of STDs

Chlamydia and gonorrhea have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing the need for regular testing and early detection.

Ignoring the symptoms of other STDs can cause significant long-term health complications. For example, untreated syphilis increases one's risk for organ damage and death. HPV can cause infertility in women and complicate pregnancy. 

People with multiple risk factors, such as elderly adults who no longer use condoms, could also experience lowered immune responses that make them vulnerable to other diseases. 

Early detection of STDs helps you seek effective treatment quickly and sometimes cure your infection altogether. For instance, doctors can eliminate chlamydia and trichomoniasis with antibiotics and antiviral medication. 

Nearly one-third of men who contracted AIDs during the 1980s epidemic died from complications related to their STD. Today, early detection testing and modern antiretrovirals significantly reduce the mortality rate of those living with HIV/AIDs, allowing them to enjoy a much higher quality of life.  

How Soon Can You Get Tested for STDs?

The sooner you complete your STD screening, the sooner your doctor can prescribe medication for your symptoms. However, each STD has an incubation period, which is the time it takes for an infection to show up on a test. Based on each STD's incubation period, here is how soon you should schedule your screenings:

  • Chlamydia: Test 7 days after exposure
  • Gonorrhea: Test 7 days after exposure
  • Herpes Type 2: Test 14 days after exposure
  • Syphilis: Test 14 days after exposure

Same-day STD testing is available through clinics like Rapid STD Testing to deliver fast, accurate results for these STDs and more. 

Can You Get Tested for Every STD at Once?

The pharmaceutical industry has not yet developed a single STD test that screens for all types of infections. However, a 10-panel STD test screens for ten of the most common STDs, such as HIV, herpes, chlamydia, and hepatitis C.

These tests require your doctor to collect your urine in a clinical cup and a few drops of blood from your finger. It may also be necessary to collect plasma to detect syphilis infections.

Book Your STD Screening and Take Control of Your Sexual Health

No matter your age, routine STD screenings are essential to your health and well-being. If you're worried you may have an STD or want to schedule an annual screening, our team at Rapid STD Testing is here to help. We provide testing services to detect a wide range of sexually transmitted diseases. 

Schedule with one of our clinics near you by typing your zip code into our find a lab tool.

How often should you get tested for STDs? Learn more with Rapid STD Testing and order a test panel to take control of your sexual health.

Medically Reviewed By DR. HARSHI DHINGRA,Pathologist (MD) on May 07,2024

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By: RSC Editorial Team
February 8, 2023

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