STI Cases Continue to Rise: Who Should Get Tested and When?

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STI Cases Continue to Rise: Who Should Get Tested and When?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise in the United States, with more than 2.5 million reported cases annually. Yet, these infections are largely preventable and treatable when diagnosed early. Read on to learn how to keep yourself and you

Modern testing methods make it simpler than ever to diagnose sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) early, when they’re most treatable and before complications develop. Even so, many STIs, including syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, have significantly increased in the United States in recent years, putting more people at risk of infections and serious health consequences.

About half of all Americans will contract an STI in their lifetimes. In recent years, rates of congenital syphilis — syphilis passed from moms to their newborns — have increased by 203%.

If you are not in a monogamous relationship, the best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections is to use protection and regularly get tested. If you’re sexually active, this is crucial because you can have an infection without knowing it. 

So, what tests do you need and when? 

We at Markidan Gynecology and Women’s Health advocate preventive medicine and patient education. Here’s what we advise our patients: 

STI basics

Let’s start with the basics. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may carry a stigma, but they’re also quite common. 

As the name indicates, these infections get spread through sexual encounters, including oral, anal, and vaginal sex and skin-to-skin contact. And because you can have a sexually transmitted disease without knowing it, you can easily pass it to others — including babies during pregnancy. 

The most common sexually transmitted infections include:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Herpes 
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

When people delay seeking care or treatment for these diseases, increasing their chances of severe complications and spreading the infection to others. 

A big mistake because whether you have symptoms or a risk of exposure, most sexually transmitted diseases have treatment options, and several can be cured. Also, they’re easier to treat in the earliest stages.

Who needs STI testing?

If you’re sexually active and not in a monogamous relationship, testing is essential.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers specific testing guidelines based on your age, gender, and potential risk of exposure. 

According to expert recommendations, the most obvious reasons for having a regular screening include:

  • Being sexually active with multiple partners
  • Having sex with someone who has sex with multiple partners
  • Becoming sexually active with a new partner
  • Being a man or transgender woman who has sex with other men
  • Engaging in unprotected sex
  • Having a history of STDs
  • Becoming pregnant
  • Experiencing STI symptoms, like burning urination, pain, or bumps on the genitals

However, determining your screening needs can go beyond these parameters, especially because sexually transmitted infections can affect anyone — even those who don’t appear to be high risk. 

Why testing might make sense for everyone

Because some STIs spread through skin-to-skin contact, like herpes, HPV, and syphilis, you can get an infection even if you never have intercourse. Similarly, you can be in a relationship that isn’t mutually monogamous, which puts you at risk of exposure. 

And remember, many STIs don’t have symptoms — up to 70% of females with chlamydia don’t experience them, for example — which can put your reproductive health at risk, as well as the health of your sexual partners.

Bottomline: The safest course of action is to undergo regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases if you engage in sexual activity. Your healthcare provider can help determine when these screenings are right for you.

To book your STI screening, for more information, or for a sexual health consultation, contact us at Markidan Gynecology and Women's Health by calling the office at (609) 683-3661.