Screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections
Screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) helps you stay healthy and identify and treat any problems early. The following preventive sexual health services are recommended for most people and your healthcare provider can help you decide which ones you need. Find out what puts you at risk below. Even if you do not have symptoms, screenings can help detect STIs. The sooner STIs can be treated, the better, which can help prevent more serious problems from developing. Remember, wellness check-ups with your healthcare provider are a good time to ask questions and share any concerns.
For Those Who Are Sexually Active
Screening at least once a year is recommended for chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. Regardless of the type of relationship you are in, even if you think your partner only has sex with you, these preventive services are recommended if you are currently sexually active or have had sex in the past.
Screenings for STIs like syphilis, trichomoniasis and hepatitis (A, B) may also be recommended by your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can help determine if you have symptoms or are at high risk and should be screened.
For Those Who Are Pregnant
Screening for STIs is especially important when pregnant because STIs can affect the health of the baby. For pregnant people aged 24 and younger, screening is recommended for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B within the first trimester. Additional screening is recommended in the third trimester for those at continued risk for STI’s.
Cervical Cancer Screening
Screening for cervical cancer is not recommended for adolescents and young women under the age of 21. This screening involves a Pap test that looks for cells on the cervix that could be cancerous. Screening is recommended every 3 years, but may be required more often if a person has abnormal results. A Pap test does not test for STIs, nor does it test for other cancers of the reproductive system.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination
HPV is extremely common. Some types of HPV can cause genital warts and others can cause cancer (cervical, anal, penile, vaginal, vulvar and oral). Guarding against HPV requires early prevention, before someone is exposed to the virus through sexual or intimate contact. Vaccines are recommended for both females and males and may be given beginning at age 9, but can be given to adolescents and young adults up to age 26. Talk to your parents or guardians and a healthcare provider for more information about getting vaccinated against HPV.
Am I at Risk for an STI?
STIs often have no symptoms, so you cannot always tell if you or your partner has an STI. Your sexual health is at risk if any of the following apply to you or your partner:
- Had unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex (without a condom or other barrier method)
- Have multiple partners
- Have an STI, including HIV
- Have shared injection drug equipment, including needles and syringes
- Have exchanged sex for money or drugs
- You do not know the sexual health status of your partner
The good news is that STI testing is quick and easy and non-invasive. Visit one of our Teen Friendly Clinics to set up an appointment, or call 2-1-1 to find the nearest testing site near you.