Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., MSN — Written by Breanna Mona & The Editorial Team — Updated on April 22, 2022

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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), often called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are very common.

According to lớn the Centers for Disease Control và Prevention (CDC), 68 million people were living with STIs in the United States in 2018. It’s likely that many STIs go unreported, so that number is potentially higher.

Many STIs have no symptoms or very nonspecific symptoms, which can make them hard khổng lồ notice. The stigma around STIs also discourages some people from getting tested.

If left untreated, STIs can cause severe health problems, including cancer and infertility. Testing is the only way lớn know for sure if you have an STI. In this article, we’ll go over who should get tested, where you can get tested, & other frequently asked questions.

Language matters

In this article, we use “male and female” lớn refer lớn someone’s sex as determined by their chromosomes, và “men & women” when referring lớn their gender (unless quoting from sources using nonspecific language).

Sex is determined by chromosomes, and gender is a social construct that can vary between time periods và cultures. Both of these aspects are acknowledged to lớn exist on a spectrum both historically and by modern scientific consensus.

What is an STD?
The difference between STDs và STIs is often muddled.

An STD is a sexually transmitted disease resulting from an STI. Infections happen when bacteria, parasites, or viruses enter the body. This process happens before a disease develops.

While STDs stem from infections (STIs), having an STI does not necessarily mean you will develop a disease from that infection.

As we mentioned, some infections may show no symptoms, so testing is very important for preventing the spread of STIs. On the other hand, a disease typically has more clear-cut signs or symptoms.

Who should be tested for STIs?

If you’ve been sexually active, it’s a good idea lớn be tested for STIs. Also, get tested if:

you have symptoms that suggest you might have an STI

If you’re in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship và both you & your partner were tested before entering the relationship, you may not need regular STI testing.

But many people in long-term relationships weren’t tested before they got together. If that’s the case for you và your partner, it’s possible that one or both of you have been living with an undiagnosed STI for years. The safest choice is lớn get tested.

What STIs should you be tested for?

There are a number of different STIs. Khổng lồ learn which ones you want to lớn get tested for, talk with a doctor. They may encourage you to lớn be tested for one or more of the following:

Your doctor probably won’t offer to demo you for herpes unless you have a known exposure or ask for the test.

Ask your doctor

If you visit a doctor for an annual physical or sexual health checkup, don’t assume that your doctor will automatically demo you for all STIs. Many physicians don’t regularly test patients for STIs. It’s important to ask your doctor for STI testing, and ask which tests they plan to do và why.

Taking care of your sexual health is nothing lớn be shy about. If you’re concerned about a particular infection or symptom, talk with a doctor. The more honest you are, the better treatment you can receive.

It’s important to get tested if you’re pregnant, as STIs can affect the fetus. Your doctor should screen for STIs, among other things, at your first prenatal visit.

Also, it’s important to lớn get tested if you’ve experienced sexual assault or any other type of sexual violence. If you’re a survivor of sexual assault, seek care from a trained healthcare professional.

Organizations lượt thích the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) offer tư vấn for survivors of rape or sexual assault. You can hotline RAINN’s 24/7 national sexual assault hotline at 800-656-4673 for anonymous, confidential help. RAINN can also help you find local tư vấn if needed.

Discuss your risk factors

It’s also important to share your sexual health risk factors with your doctor. In particular, always tell them if you have anal sex.

Some anorectal STIs can’t be detected using standard STI tests. Your doctor might recommend an anal Pap smear to lớn screen for precancerous or cancerous cells, which are linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Also, tell your doctor about:

any medications you’re takingany known or suspected exposures you’ve had to STIswhether you or your partner have other sexual partners
Where can you be tested for STIs?

Some places you can go to receive STI testing include:

Planned Parenthood. STI testing is available at Planned Parenthood. Costs vary by certain factors, including income, demographics, and assistance eligibility.Doctor’s office. For quick testing, you can schedule an appointment with a doctor or visit your local urgent care center.Local health clinics. Most government-funded healthcare clinics offer free or low cost STI testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, và HIV. Some also receive funding to kiểm tra for herpes, trichomoniasis, và hepatitis.Pharmacy. Some pharmacies offer options lớn schedule testing for certain STIs, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, và HIV.

Several STIs are notifiable diseases. That means your doctor is legally required to report positive results to lớn the government. The government tracks information about STIs to lớn inform public health initiatives. Notifiable STIs include:


Interested in other options for at-home testing?

Our reviews and brand comparisons cover đứng đầu at-home testing kits so you can feel confident in your decision khổng lồ manage your health from home.

First, acknowledge that testing is a responsible choice lớn make, not only for your health and well-being but for that of your current or future sexual partners. Your decision deserves a pat on the back.

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Testing is for everyone, including those with limited sexual history.

Next, remember that testing frequency depends on a number of factors. If you feel uneasy about a sexual encounter you had yesterday & get tested the next day, an infection won’t be detectable yet.

You can talk with a healthcare professional khổng lồ figure out a screening frequency that makes sense for you. The “window period” for contracting an infection can be as early as 1 week or stretch out as far as several months after the encounter.

If a doctor does your test, remember to be as honest as possible about your history or any risk factors. Holding back details can lead lớn certain tests being skipped, which could result in undiagnosed STIs.

It’s a good idea khổng lồ consider any costs that may factor in depending on where or how you choose khổng lồ get your test. Some testing can be done for no charge or a small amount.

You can also consider telling your partners that you are getting tested — you may even decide to lớn get tested together.

There are no specific instructions you have khổng lồ follow before getting tested, and it’s fine to be tested while on your period (although this changes if you decide on at-home testing).

Finally, testing can come with some unpleasant nerves. It’s completely normal lớn feel anxious about testing.

Remember, STIs are treatable & common. Still, waiting on results can be daunting.

If you’d like a chance at hearing your results faster, consider downloading the Healthvana app. This app delivers faster thử nghiệm results, but first kiểm tra to make sure it’s available in your state và health clinic.

Depending on your sexual history, your doctor may order a variety of tests to check for STIs, including:

Blood & urine tests

Most STIs can be tested by using urine or blood samples. Your doctor can order urine or blood tests to check for:


In some cases, urine and blood tests aren’t as accurate as other forms of testing. It may also take a month or longer after being exposed khổng lồ certain STIs for blood tests lớn be reliable.

If a person contracts HIV, for example, it can take a couple of weeks khổng lồ a few months for tests lớn detect the infection.


Many doctors use vaginal, cervical, or urethral swabs to kiểm tra for STIs.

If you have a vagina, your doctor can use a cotton applicator lớn take vaginal & cervical swabs during a pelvic exam.If you have a vagina or a penis, they can take urethral swabs by inserting a cotton applicator into your urethra.If you have anal sex, they may also take a rectal swab to kiểm tra for infectious organisms in your rectum.

Pap smears and HPV testing

Strictly speaking, a Pap smear isn’t an STI test. A Pap smear is a chạy thử that looks for early signs of cervical or anal cancer.

People assigned female at birth who have persistent HPV infections, particularly infections by HPV 16 và HPV 18, are at an increased risk of developing cervical cancer. People who have anal sex can also develop anal cancer from HPV infections.

A normal Pap smear result says nothing about whether you have an STI. To kiểm tra for HPV, your doctor will order a separate HPV test.

An abnormal Pap smear result doesn’t necessarily mean that you have or will get cervical or anal cancer. Many abnormal Pap smears resolve without treatment.

If you have an abnormal Pap smear, your doctor may recommend HPV testing. If the HPV demo is negative, it’s unlikely that you’ll develop cervical or anal cancer in the near future.

HPV tests alone aren’t very useful for predicting cancer. According khổng lồ the CDC, about 13 million people in the United States contract HPV each year, và most sexually active people will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. Most of these people never develop cervical or anal cancer.

Physical examination

Doctors can diagnose some STIs, like herpes và genital warts, through a combination of physical examination và other tests.

A doctor can conduct a physical exam lớn look for sores, bumps, & other signs of STIs. They can also take samples from any questionable areas to lớn send khổng lồ a laboratory for testing.

It’s important khổng lồ let a doctor know if you’ve noticed any changes on or around your genitals. If you have anal sex, also let them know about any changes on or around your anus and rectum.

If you get a positive STI kiểm tra result, it’s important khổng lồ follow up with your doctor for treatment. Also, make sure you inform any recent sexual partners, as some STIs can be transmitted back and forth. It’s a good idea khổng lồ consider how you want khổng lồ tell your partners — while factoring in safety if that’s a concern.

For example, a face-to-face conversation may be no big deal for some partners, while for others, it could pose harm if your partner has a history of emotional or physical aggression.

There are also anonymous, không tính tiền options for sharing this information with partners if you prefer:

These options vị not require the use of your personal information.

If you opt for a face-to-face conversation instead, it may be helpful khổng lồ have relevant research and resources on hand. This way, you can answer any questions & discuss things with your partner, including treatment options, risks, incubation periods, etc.

It’s also OK khổng lồ feel a wide variety of emotions if you thử nghiệm positive. These feelings are normal, & you can talk with your doctor about any concerns you may have.

How much does STI testing cost?

STI testing costs depend on several factors, like:

where you get testedif you have insurancewhat type of insurance you haveyour income

Because of the Affordable Care Act, many insurance plans offer không lấy phí or low cost STI testing. There are also other methods of low cost STI testing.

What STIs should I be tested for?

According khổng lồ CDC guidelines:

Anyone ages 13 khổng lồ 64 should be tested for HIV at least once in their life, as well as after any potential exposure.Sexually active women under 25 years old should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia yearly.Women who are 25 years & older with multiple sexual partners or partners with an STD should get tested for gonorrhea & chlamydia yearly.Sexually active gay men, bisexual men, or other men who have sex with men should be tested for syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, và gonorrhea every 3 to lớn 6 months if they have multiple or anonymous partners.Anyone who practices sex that could put them at risk of infection or who shares drug injection equipment should get tested for HIV yearly.

How long does an STI demo take?

The length of time it takes for an STI test depends on the type of test. But most STI tests take a few minutes to lớn collect either urine, saliva, or a blood sample.

Some STI results can come back khổng lồ you as soon as 20 minutes after being tested, while other tests could take up to lớn 1 week for results.

Are STI & STD tests the same?

The terms STI and STD are often used interchangeably, và the two are essentially the same, except STDs are STIs that have symptoms. In short, all STDs started as STIs.

Testing for an STI & STD is the same. However, it’s important to chú ý that STIs have an incubation period. This is the time between when you contract them & when your body toàn thân recognizes them. So, it’s possible khổng lồ take a kiểm tra too early for an STI lớn be detected.

Can I take an STI demo on my period?

According to Planned Parenthood, it’s perfectly OK lớn get screened for STIs during any day of your menstrual cycle.

Some at-home tests vị recommend waiting a few days after your period to test for certain diseases, though, so be sure to check the thử nghiệm instructions if you are using an at-home product.

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Can I thử nghiệm myself for STIs?

Some companies offer at-home tests for a wide variety of infections. Online tests are also available for some STIs, but they aren’t always reliable. Kiểm tra to make sure the FDA has approved any demo you buy.