Sexual Health

How Often You Should Get an STI Test

Alyssa Orcuilo12 Jul 2021

Sexually active people should be tested for major sexually transmitted infections at least once per year. However, the type of tests you should seek and how often you seek them will ultimately depend on your risk factors (e.g. sexual activity and age). For instance, a person who is sexually inactive is at a lower risk of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) than a person who is sexually active with multiple sexual partners. 

If you match the description above or are seeing symptoms of a potential STI, it might be a good idea to get tested as early as today. With Mira, you can sign up, get tested the same day, and have your results by tomorrow. Plus, you’ll save money! Many of our members save hundreds of dollars just from routine tests like being tested for an STI. Join Mira and see how much you could save!

Guidelines for Getting STI Tests

There are multiple types of STIs so it’s important that you understand who is most at risk for each type. This will help you as you determine if you’re potentially at-risk and should be tested. Outlined below are the specific guidelines for testing for some of the most common STIs.

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

National guidelines recommend that you get screened annually if you meet the following risk factors:

  • Sexually active women under the age of 25
  • Women older than 25 and at risk of STIs (e.g. multiple sexual partners)
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • You have HIV
  • Forced to engage in intercourse or sexual activity

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea swabs are usually conducted through urine samples or swabs on the inner penis or cervix. Screening for these diseases is extremely important as their symptoms do not always manifest. Therefore, you may be infected without demonstrating any symptoms. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are entirely treatable.

HIV

CDC guidelines recommend that sexually active individuals get tested for HIV at least once per year. People in higher-risk groups, such as gay men, may benefit from getting tested at higher rates. You should be screened for HIV if you meet the following risk factors:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • Engaged in sexual activity with a person living with HIV
  • Had more than one sexual partner since last HIV test
  • Have been diagnosed with other STIs
  • Have been diagnosed with Hepatitis or Tuberculosis
  • Have had sex with anybody who meets the aforementioned risk factors or does not know if they meet the risk factors

HIV tests are conducted through samples of blood or oral fluid. HIV screening is extremely important — especially if you are at high risk. While HIV is a serious disease, its symptoms often do not manifest during the early stages of infection. If left untreated, HIV can turn into AIDS, which is deadly. To avoid these complications, get tested and know your partner's status.

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Syphilis

CDC guidelines encourage you to get tested annually for syphilis. People who are sexually active with multiple sexual partners may benefit from more frequent testing. Regardless, if you meet the following risk factors you should consider getting tested for syphilis:

  • Sexually active
  • Notice a sore on genitals
  • Have had unprotected sex with somebody with syphilis.

Syphilis tests are usually conducted through quick blood samples or sampling of fluid from open sores. If you test positive, know that syphilis is entirely curable.

Herpes

The CDC does not recommend testing for people who are not demonstrating Herpes symptoms. This is because diagnosing sexual herpes in a person who is not demonstrating symptoms has not shown any change in their sexual behavior. Therefore, you should get tested for herpes if you meet the following risk factors:

  • Genital symptoms that could be related to herpes
  • Have a sex partner with genital herpes
  • Want a complete STD exam, especially if you have multiple sex partners

Herpes tests are usually conducted through blood samples. If you test positive and receive medication, herpes can be treated.

The aforementioned guidelines are merely recommendations. If in doubt, you should always get tested. 

The Most Common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are communicable diseases that are passed from person to person through sexual activity including vaginal, oral, and anal sex. While it may seem like STIs only occur in rare instances and are unlikely to affect you, these diseases are extremely common in the United States. 

Regardless of the stigma surrounding STIs, it is extremely important to get tested for them regularly — especially if you are sexually active. STIs do not always cause symptoms and may be dormant in your body, so it is possible to have an STI without knowing it. If this is the case, then the STI may cause long-term damage to your body if left untreated. 

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Outlined below are some of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States:

  • Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis
  • Herpes
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Public Lice
  • Scabies
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis

Each of these aforementioned STIs is passed differently. Some are carried in bodily fluids such as semen and blood, while others can be passed from skin-to-skin contact. Therefore, one of the best ways to treat STIs is to prevent them in the first place. If you are having sex, using protective barriers, such as condoms and dental dams, are among the best safe sex practices to protect you from STI transmission.

What Should I do if I Test Positive for an STI?

If you test positive for an STI, it is normal to feel feelings of shame, guilt, and anger. Know that you have done the right thing by getting tested and ensuring you stay healthy. Your next steps are to consider treatment as recommended by your doctor. In addition, you should inform your sexual partners, who also need to be tested and treated if necessary. Below is a sample text you can send to your sexual partners:

“Hey, I wanted to let you know that I recently tested positive for a sexually transmitted infection. Since we were recently together, it is probably best for you to get tested as well. I am happy to assist you with this process, so please let me know if you need any help.”

Alternatively, if you wish to remain anonymous, there exist several resources that can help you anonymously notify your recent sexual partners. Outlined below are just a few:

Covering the Costs of STI Tests

STI testing with and without insurance can be expensive. In fact, Mira’s research indicates that With a Mira membership, you can receive an STD panel for just $99 while many facilities without the right coverage could cost $400 or more. The Mira STD panel includes screenings for four of the most prevalent STIs: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, and Syphilis. 

Additionally, if one of your results comes back positive, you will be provided with a consultation for treatment.  Affordability should not be a barrier to STI testing. If you are avoiding STI testing because of high costs, Mira is here to help. Become a member today and get affordable testing with results as quickly as tomorrow.