7 Reasons Everyone Should Get Tested for STIs

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a fact of life for ordinary Americans. They can impact anyone who has sex, even those who are not high-risk.

STIs are common. You can't assume you're not infected just because you don't have symptoms. Many STIs are asymptomatic, so it's possible to have one and not know it. This is why regular STI screening is so important.

Not all healthcare providers will encourage their patients to get an STI test. This doesn't necessarily mean you should not opt for regular screening. This is especially important if you have multiple sexual partners or if your partner may be having sex with other people.

This article looks at some of the reasons why it is important to get screened for STIs.


Because Even Virgins Can Have STDs

Young Couple at Beach

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"Virgin" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. To some people, a virgin is someone who has never had vaginal intercourse. To others, a virgin is someone who has never had any type of intimate contact, including oral and anal sex.

Just because your partner has never had vaginal intercourse doesn't mean they can't have an STI. The following STIs are spread by skin-to-skin contact:

Other sexually transmissible conditions, such as oral herpes, may even be passed by casual affection between family members. Oral herpes is usually caused by HSV-1, while genital herpes is usually caused by HSV-2.

Many people with oral herpes are infected during childhood. The cold sores caused by HSV-1 can be spread to the genitals during oral sex. HSV-1 is a less common cause of genital herpes than HSV-2, however.

Oral herpes is usually diagnosed based on its appearance. If you develop symptoms of genital herpes after you've had oral sex with someone who identifies as a virgin, you may need laboratory testing such as a culture or urine test to confirm whether or not your symptoms are caused by HSV.


Monogamy Is Not a Guarantee

People who are married or in other mutually monogamous relationships often feel they don't need STI testing. This is true only if everyone in the relationship was screened for STIs before beginning a sexual relationship, however.

Many people with STIs don't know they're infected. This can cause relationship problems when symptoms appear years later. Screening before a sexual relationship begins can let everyone involved know where they stand and help avoid false accusations of cheating.


Because It's Never Too Late to Play Safe

Some people don't bother getting tested for STIs once they're in a relationship and having unprotected sex. They may assume that it's too late to prevent an STI.

Not all STIs, however, are transmitted every time an infected person has sex. It's never too late to get tested or to start having safer sex.


Because You Can't Be Treated Until You've Been Diagnosed

No one wants to be diagnosed with an STI. It's much better, though, to know whether or not you have an STI. Once you know, you can seek treatment.

Remember, too, that certain STIs like HIV are much easier to treat when they're caught early. There is even evidence that with early HIV treatment it may be possible to achieve a functional cure.


Because Not All STIs Cause Symptoms

Many people don't get tested because they don't have symptoms. STIs do not always cause symptoms, however. Up to 70% of females with chlamydia, for example, do not have symptoms.

Being symptom-free is not a guarantee you don't have an STI. You can still pass an STI on to others even when you don't have symptoms. One of the best ways to avoid passing an STI on to your partner is to get an STI test and receive treatment if you need it.


Because Untreated STIs Can Cause Permanent Problems

An untreated STI can cause long-term health problems even when there are no initial symptoms.

In females, for example, gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This disease can leave scars in the fallopian tubes, which can cause infertility or ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition where a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus.

When caught early, many STIs can be treated before they can cause these kinds of permanent problems.


Because You Respect Yourself and Your Sexual Partners

The best reason to get tested for STIs is that it encourages honest communication with your sexual partners about STI risks and safer sex. Unless you and your partners have been tested, there's no way to know if you have infections you need to disclose.

It's a good idea to play safe even in low-risk situations. It's also important to be able to make informed choices about your sexual health.

It's impossible to guess whether or not someone has a sexually transmitted infection. The best way to make an informed decision is through testing.

It's important to remember that testing is not always 100% accurate. Still, it's far better than relying on guesswork or assumptions.


Anyone can get an STI, even someone who has never had vaginal intercourse. That's why you and your partner need to be screened for STIs before you begin a sexual relationship.

It is possible to have an STI even if you don't have symptoms. Untreated STIs can cause relationship problems down the line and can even lead to infertility. The only way to know if you have an STI is to be tested. Once you know your status, you can begin treatment and reduce the risk of passing an infection along to your partner.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Sexual Health Association. Oral herpes.

  2. Crimi S, Fiorillo L, Bianchi A, et al. Herpes virus, oral clinical signs and QoL: systematic review of recent data. Viruses. 2019;11(5):463. doi: 10.3390/v11050463

  3. Avert. Symptoms and stages of HIV infection.

  4. Ward AR, Mota TM, Jones RB. Immunological approaches to HIV cure. Semin Immunol. 2021;51:101412. doi:10.1016/j.smim.2020.101412

  5. National Health Service. Symptoms: chlamydia.

By Elizabeth Boskey, PhD
Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, MPH, CHES, is a social worker, adjunct lecturer, and expert writer in the field of sexually transmitted diseases.