What Could Happen If I Don't Get Tested for STDs?

The downfall of not taking control of your sexual health

Young couple in bed, looking away from each other
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It can be difficult to motivate people to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You may think you would know if you needed to get tested for STDs, and perhaps you believe you're not at risk right now. But that's a dangerous mindset to have. STDs are often asymptomatic. That makes it hard to know whether or not you are infected.

You may also think STDs are only a minor inconvenience and are nothing to worry about. However, it's important for people who are sexually active to regularly get tested for STDs. Not doing so can lead to serious long-term consequences. Untreated STDs can cause significant health problems. 

Some of the Possible Consequences of Untreated STDs

Becoming Infertile
If left untreated, normally curable diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and bacterial vaginosis can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women and infertility in both women and men. These STDs are incredibly common. That is why it is recommended that sexually active individuals get tested for them on a regular basis. 

Increasing Your Risk of HIV
Infection with various STDs, particularly the genital ulcer diseases such as herpes and syphilis, can increase your susceptibility to HIV infection. When untreated, these infections may either make it easier for HIV to get into your body or make it more likely that you will be infected if you are exposed.

Infecting a Partner
Although it would be nice to believe that everyone always practices safe sex, people who know they are infected with an STD may be more cautious. Alternatively, people with asymptomatic infections who do not know they are infected may assume they don't have to practice safe sex because they are safe. Giving a partner an STD can feel pretty awful, particularly if it could have been prevented by choosing to get tested for STDs before starting your sexual relationship. That's why you should always discuss safe sex, risk factors, and screening history before you have sex.

Damaging a Future Relationship
If your partner finds out they're infected with an STD, which they got from you, it can often lead to blame. It doesn't matter if that blame is justifiable or not. However, if you both regularly get screened for STDs, and discuss your results, it is a lot easier to make informed decisions about risk. Doing so means that any seroconversion is much less likely to lead to resentment or blame. Both of you will have gone into the relationship with eyes wide open.

Severe, Systemic Health Problems
Left undiscovered, and untreated, many different STDs have the potential to lead to more severe health problems. Fortunately, these problems are often avoidable with prompt treatment. However, you can't get treatment until you get tested.

Endangering a Pregnancy
There are numerous STDs which can potentially cause serious problems with pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, syphilis and herpes infections can be potentially fatal in a newborn. The danger can be reduced with prompt treatment. Still, that requires you to get tested so that the doctor knows your child is at risk.

In short, if you are actively engaging in sexual behavior, it is always a good idea to get tested. It's the best way to stay on top of your sexual health, protect your sexual partners, and avoid the risks associated with untreated STDs. 

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