5 Reasons Everyone Should Get Tested for STDs

Most people who are sexually active need to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). That's because these diseases don't only affect people who are "high risk." They're a fact of life for many ordinary Americans — and can impact anyone who has sex. STD screening is something that everyone who is sexually active needs to think about.

A lot of people have no idea how common STDs are and how important testing is. They incorrectly assume they'd know if they were at risk of contracting an STD and would be able to tell if they had one. And many doctors do not regularly encourage their patients to get STD tested.

Why does everyone need to get STD testing?

1

Because Even Virgins Can Have STDs

Young Couple at Beach
Tetra Images - Yuri Arcurs / Brand X Picture / Getty Images

Even if your partner has never had sex, they can have a disease that may be sexually transmitted.

A number of STDs are spread by skin-to-skin contact without intercourse.

A substantial fraction of people with cold sores (oral herpes) get them during childhood without sexual contact. And while it can be passed by casual affection between family members, it can be spread sexually during oral sex.

2

No One Likes to Think Their Partner Has Been Cheating

People who are in committed relationships often say that they don't need STD testing because they're in mutually monogamous relationships. That is often true, but only if everyone involved in the relationship was STD-free before they got together.

Sometimes people with STDs have no idea that they are infected, which can cause relationship problems when symptoms appear after a couple has been together for years or when a female discovers she's been infected with chlamydia only after she has trouble getting pregnant.

Screening before a relationship starts can let everyone involved know where they stand and help avoid unjustified accusations of cheating.

3

Because It's Never Too Late

Some people don't bother getting tested for STDs when they've already had unprotected sex in a stable relationship. They assume that if they were going to get an STD, they'd have it already. 

Why bother worrying about something that it's too late to prevent? It's never too late to get tested or to start having safer sex. For example, there are treatment options for couples with mixed HIV status—when one partner is positive and the other is negative.

4

Because Worrying Is Scarier Than Knowing

There's no question about it—being diagnosed with an STD isn't any fun. However, even less fun than knowing you have an STD is being afraid that you might have an STD.

Many people who have avoided STD testing for years find that it's actually a relief to know for certain what is going on in their bodies. Once they know, they can do something about it. Most STDs, including HIV, are easier to treat when they're caught early. When HIV treatment is started early enough, it's even possible to achieve a functional cure.

5

Because You Respect Yourself and Your Sexual Partners

Still, the best reason to get tested for STDs is that doing so helps you to have open, honest, and accurate conversations with sexual partners about your STD risk. It's important that you know your risk and STD status as you are deciding which methods you should use to have safe sex.

You can't determine whether someone has a sexually transmitted infection just by looking at them or based on what they do. The only way to know what's going on is to seek out testing.

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3 Sources
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  1. American Sexual Health Association. Oral herpes.

  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. STDs and infertility. Updated June 22, 2021.

  3. Avert. Symptoms and stages of HIV infection. Updated July 1, 2019.