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Is STD Testing Really Necessary?

By Lynette Summerill HERWriter
 
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do you really need STD testing?
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If you are sexually active, particularly with multiple partners, there are important steps you should take to protect your health. Dr. Wilma Wooten, chief health officer for County of San Diego. California, advises that you consistently use male and female condoms, get tested for sexually transmitted disease (STD), and ask your partner(s) to do the same.

STDs are passed from one person to another during oral, vaginal and anal sex or by sharing needles. Testing is important because many people who have STDs don’t know it, Dr. Wooten said. STDs may have no symptoms or visual signs, and therefore they go undiagnosed and untreated.

However, recent additions to new public health screening programs are detecting many cases of early STDs when they are easier to treat, particularly among sexually active teens and young adults, ages 15-24.

STDs are a complex modern public health challenge, potentially infecting an estimated 19 million people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While some STDs are symptom-free, others have very serious health consequences, especially for women, including infertility, pregnancy complications, heart, brain and kidney damage, certain types of cancer, and death.

In 2012, San Diego Public Health treated 60,545 cases of chlamydia, of which 67 percent were women, Dr. Wooten said.

The type of STD testing you need and how often you should be screened depends on your age, sexual behavior and other risk factors, she said.

Many women wrongly assume they are getting STD testing when they undergo a routine gynecologic pelvic exam, but this is unlikely if you don’t specifically request the test from your doctor.

Regardless of your age or sex, if you think you might need a test, discuss it with your health care provider and be specific about what kind of infections you think are possible. Dr. Wooten also recommends that you not rely on your sexual partner to protect your health.

"It’s important we all take responsibility for our own health," she says. "Be prepared."

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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