STDs are extremely common in the U.S as more than 2.6 million are infected with chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis annually, according to annual surveillance reports from CDC. This means that most sexually active adults are likely at a pretty high risk for getting an STD.
However, some sexually active adults are at higher risks than others. The key risks for contracting an STD includes:
- Having more than one sexual partner over a short period of time
- Having sexual intercourse with any new sexual partner
- Having sexual intercourse under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Having sexual intercourse with a previous history of STDs
Protected sex, monogamous relationships, sober sexual activity, and abstinence are ultimately the best ways to prevent a possible STD from infecting you.
But when should you get an STD even if your lifestyle doesn’t include any of the above risks mentioned? Here is a brief and helpful guide for individuals that aren’t sure when to get a screening.
Any new sexual partner or multiple sexual partners over a brief period
Anytime you have intercourse with a single or multiple sexual partners you should get an updated screening. Even after having unprotected sex, you should make sure that your partner(s) haven’t spread a potential disease. A person may assert that they don’t have an STD but many of these diseases don’t have visible symptoms for most adults.
Your risks increase significantly as the number of sexual partners grow so make sure you get tested as soon as you can if you’ve had several partners over a few days, weeks, or months.
Frequent drug and alcohol use (both during and outside of intercourse)
Drug and alcohol use can impair decision making and increase the chance that you engage in riskier-than-normal sexual behavior. Get a test if you’ve experimented with drugs and alcohol and then engaged in sexual behavior.
Additionally, the use of certain drugs can lead to transmissible STDs just from frequent recreational use. For example, drugs injected via needles that are shared between individuals can lead to the transmission of HIV. If you’ve shared a needle with another drug user, get tested ASAP.
Any rare or unusual symptoms around the genitals
Most STDs don’t cause physical, identifiable symptoms in most adults. For example, only 50 percent of men and 25 percent of women experience physical symptoms associated with gonorrhea infections. STD symptoms are usually rare, but are a clear-cut sign that your are infected.
If you have any physical symptoms, then go to your nearest urgent care for a private screening and follow up treatment.