Any woman who is sexually active should have regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Even if you have no symptoms, a routine STD testing by your gynecologist can be immensely beneficial for a number of reasons. In fact, many STDs and STIs have no apparent symptoms initially.
Chlamydia & gonorrhea
If you’re a sexually active woman or have HIV or have a new or multiple partners, you should get screened at least once a year for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Testing is performed either by a simple urine test or a swab inside the cervix.
About 80 percent of sexually active people are infected with HPV in their lifetime. In most cases, the virus goes away about 2 years after getting it and doesn’t cause any health problems. However, when HPV doesn’t go away, it can lead to cervical cancer or genital warts.
The HPV virus testing for women typically involves having a Pap smear test. A Pap smear checks the cervical area for abnormal cells. Pap tests should be done fairly routinely — about every 3 years. If you have a concern about having HPV, you should get a Pap test done more frequently. The HPV shot remains most effective if taken before the beginning of sexual activity.
HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis
HIV testing should occur as a part of your regular annual gynecological examination, especially between the ages of 13 and 64. Yearly testing for HIV should happen if you are sexually active or have had multiple sexual partners. You might need to specially request an HIV test.
Hepatitis C screenings should also be requested during your annual doctor’s visit, especially if you were born between 1945 and 1965 since the rate of Hepatitis C remains higher in this age group. Hepatitis C frequently shows no symptoms until it reaches advanced stages. You can also receive vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B if you get screened and don’t have these viruses. Testing for Hepatitis C requires a blood test.
Syphilis tests require a swab from your genital area or any sores you have in that area. You may also get tested for this STD using a blood sample.
If you’re a sexually active woman, tested positive for any other STD, have a new or multiple partners, use IV drugs, are you planning on getting pregnant.