How Old Do I Have To Be To Get Tested For STDs?
Getting tested for STDs is a smart thing to do, but you simply cannot get tested for everything. For this reason, the doctors will ask a variety of questions to determine your specific risk factors before testing you and base the decisions on your answers.
There are two big downsides to testing.
Firstly, STD testing can often be expensive.
Secondly, there is always the risk of a false positive or false negative results.
Knowing this, when should you opt for STD screening?
Reasons to Get Screened for STDs
In order to help you determine the best time to get tested, we have created a list of instances that should prompt a screening STD test:
The Person is Sexually Active
Every person who is sexually active should ask to be screened regularly, even if they always use protection.
Of course, if you are in a monogamous relationship or use protection at all times, you can get tested less frequently. However, not getting tested at all is the worst thing one can do for their sexual health.
They are Having Unprotected Sex
If you are frequently having unprotected sex, you should get tested very often. However, even if you had vaginal, oral or anal unprotected sex even once with a new partner, getting tested is something you should definitely do.
Remember that test results may not show the existence of the infection in the body immediately after the sexual intercourse. There is a recommended period of waiting after exposure for you to get reliable test results.
They Take Part in Risky Relationships
What is a ‘risky sexual relationship’?
When your partner is diagnosed with a chronic, recurring or long-term STI such as hepatitis B, C or HIV, you simply must get tested more frequently. Even if you use protection, this is a risky sexual relationship that requires awareness and increased care of your sexual health.
Those who are involved in an open relationship also need to be screened regularly. Regular screening means getting tested every 6 months or more, depending on your specific situation.
They Engage in High-Risk Behavior
High-risk sexual behavior includes IV drug using, intimate sexual contact with a sex worker, men having sex with other men, people having multiple or anonymous partners, etc.
All these factors put you at higher risk of developing syphilis, hepatitis C, HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea, which is why you should get tested after any kind of sexual contact, including oral and anal sex.
They Have Been Diagnosed and Treated
Even if you were treated for an STD in the past, you are at high risk of getting infected again. Once you were treated, it is best to get screened after 3 months to check if the infection is completely gone, especially if you are sexually active.
People Who are Baby Boomers
Baby boomers are people who were born between 1945 and 1965. This group of people is at increased risk of being infected by hepatitis C, since the infection was not diagnosed or identified back then. Seeing that this virus does not cause any symptoms in most cases, it is highly recommended that every baby boomer be tested for the infection at least once.
They are Experiencing Symptoms
Experiencing symptoms of STDs is the biggest sign you can get to get tested. If you start experiencing the symptoms and signs of any STD, it is about time to have a conversation with your doctor. Make sure to be completely open and honest and provide the doctor with your health history. This will help them make the best choice about tests and treatment.
When to Get Tested for STDs
The timing for getting tested for STDs varies greatly. There is no perfect time as to when you should get tested, but the list above should present you with an idea as to when you should visit your doctor’s office.
In addition to this, you should know that the timing for STD screening depends on the incubation period. If you get tested too early, you may get false results from the screening. Therefore, you need to pay attention to the following timeframes:
- Get tested for Chlamydia within the timeframe of 24 hours to 5 days
- If you test positive, get tested again after treatment. To make sure you are clear of the infection, make a screening 2 weeks after your treatment has finished
- Get screened for Gonorrhea within 2 to 6 days after being exposed to the infection
- If you test positive and start treatment, get tested 2 weeks after the end of your treatment to make sure you are clear of the bacteria
- The timeframe for Syphilis testing is 3 to 6 weeks after exposure. The infection takes time to set in, which is why tests may not show the existence of the infection or any symptoms in the first three weeks after being exposed.
- Get tested again 3 months after treatment
Hepatitis A Screening
- This virus has a 28-day incubation period, which is why it is best to get tested in a timeframe of 2 to 7 weeks after exposure
- You do not need to be retested since Hepatitis A remains in the patient’s system for life
Hepatitis B Screening
- Hepatitis B testing should be done at 6 weeks after the exposure. It can be detected as early as three weeks, but if you want to be sure, we’d recommend that you wait for 6 weeks
- You do not need to test again since Hepatitis B also remains in the system for life
- Get tested for oral herpes within 4 to 6 weeks after exposure
- Even if you test negative, get tested frequently, especially if you come in contact with HSV-1 fluids or have unprotected oral sex
- Get tested for genital herpes within the same timeframe as for oral herpes
- If you tested negative for HSV-2, get tested again after 3 months to confirm the results you got from the first testing
- You should get tested for HIV within a timeframe of one to three months
- HIV patients do not need to get retested, since HIV remains in the system for life
- If you test positive for HIV, seek immediate treatment
- You can even test within 9 to 11 days for early detection
Do not wait for the perfect age to get tested – there is no perfect time for this. Getting tested allows you to take control over your sexual health and body.