By Brenda Payan
This post is one of eight in the center’s You Might Be Causing Harm If . . . campaign.
By not getting tested regularly, you and your sexual partners are at risk for contracting and spreading Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Sexual health and wellness involves various components, including testing, diagnosis and treatment of STDs and STIs, as well as knowledge of reproductive care such as contraception.
STDs and STIs are essentially the same, with STDs being more like long-term infections. In either case, it is important to be aware that even if you show no symptoms of an STD/STI, you may still be infected. That is why you should get tested regularly.
When at the doctor, it is also important to be completely transparent about symptoms you might be experiencing, the number of people you are having or recently had sex with, what kind of sexual contact you’re having and whether you use any kind of contraception, such as condoms and dental dams. The information you communicate to your doctor determines the STD/STI tests they decide are best for you; if you withhold any necessary information you may not get the tests you need.
Contraception like condoms and dental dams provide some protection from STDs/STIs but shouldn’t replace regular STD/STI testing. Various research studies evaluating the effectiveness of condoms in preventing STD/STI transmission are inconclusive, so it’s important to make testing a priority.
Note: Learn more about the You Might Be Causing Harm If . . . campaign and other topics covered at this link.
Brenda Payan (she/her/hers) is an undergraduate student studying materials science and engineering. She is a student staff member at the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention Research & Education.