With the spread of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis at an all-time high, it's more important than ever that you be screened for sexually transmitted infections, but you'll need to ask your primary care physician or ob-gyn to run the tests. Though it's as essential as anything else, STI screening is not included in the blood work you'd get during a routine checkup, and blood tests are just the start.
"STI testing is done through blood tests, urine tests, fluid culture, and cervical swab," Robert Bales, MD, family physician at the Cleveland Clinic, told POPSUGAR. "You can be tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes 1 and 2, syphilis, HIV, trichomoniasis, and hepatitis B and C through a combination of blood and urine testing."
If you're due for a screening, "just be straightforward," he said. "Say, 'I would like to be screened for sexually transmitted infections.'" Your doctor is there to support you, not judge you, and "if you're under 18, you can discuss this with or without parents in on the conversation," Dr. Bales explained.
How Often Should You Be Screened For STIs?
According to the Centers For Disease Control, women under 25 who are sexually active should be screened every year. (Even acts like oral sex can increase your risk of certain STIs.) The same is true for women 25 years and older who have new or multiple partners, as well as anyone whose partner has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease. Of course, you should also ask for testing if you're experiencing any symptoms.
Whatever the case, "be prepared for questions about your sexual practices, family planning, and intimate-partner violence," Dr. Bales said. STI screening often opens the door for a wider conversation that can help ensure that your relationships are safe and healthy.