How to talk to a doctor about STD Testing
Did You Know?
Sexually transmitted infections are very common. Left untreated, they can cause:
- Increased risk of giving or getting HIV
- Long-term pelvic and/or abdominal pain
- Inability to get pregnant or pregnancy complications
Testing is the only way to know if you have an STD.
Find The Right Health Care Provider
Ask your health care provider what you can do – and how you can work together – to ensure you stay healthy.
Look for A Health Care Provider Who:
- Treats you with respect
- Listens to your opinions and concerns
- Encourages you to ask questions
- Explains things in ways you understand
- Recommends preventive services, like screening tests and shots
- Treats many health problems including STDs
- Refers you to a specialist when you need more help with a specific health issue
Some providers may not discuss sex or STD testing with you. Bring it upexternal icon if they don’t. There’s more to an office visit than just lab tests and prescriptions. Arm yourself with the facts and know what you should expect.
Talk With Your Health Care Provider About Sexual Health
When you visit your health care provider, you should discuss sex as it relates to your health. Your healthcare provider calls this “taking a sexual history” and it helps them to understand what STD tests you may need.
Here are a few questions you should expect and be prepared to answer honestly:
- Have you been sexually active in the last year?
- Do you have sex with men, women, or both?
- In the past 12 months, how many sexual partners have you had?
- Do you have anal, oral, or vaginal sex?
- What are you doing to protect yourself from STDs?
You can find additional questions your health care provider may ask in this guideexternal icon.
You can ask them questions, too! For example, you may want to know how to protect yourself from getting an STD, which STD tests you will be getting, or how often to get tested. Make the most of your visit by thinking through your questions, or even practicing what you want to say, ahead of time.
Get Tested, Get Treated
Testing positive for an STD is not the end. Many STDs are curable and all are treatable.
If you or your partner has an STD that can be cured, both of you need to start treatment immediately to avoid getting re-infected. Getting treated right away also can help avoid health problems down the road.
A forgotten prescription from your health care provider won’t help – make sure to get it filled and take your medication as prescribed. That also means you shouldn’t share your prescription with your partner.
- Have you had vaginal (penis in the vagina), anal (penis in the anus), or oral sex (mouth on penis, vagina, or anus) without a condom in the past 12 months?
- Have you ever had an STD, including HIV?
- Have any of your partners had an STD?
- Have you or any of your partners ever used drugs?
- Have you exchanged sex for needs in the past 12 months (money, housing, drugs, etc.)?
- Is it possible that any of your sex partners in the past 12 months had sex with someone else while they were still in a sexual relationship with you?
For those STDs that cannot be cured, medicine can help. Talk with your provider to learn more about what is right for you.
In some situations, your health care provider can give you medicine or a prescription for your partner – even without seeing them first. This is called expedited partner therapy (EPT). Ask your health care provider about this option.
Get retested! It’s common to get some STDs more than once, especially chlamydia and gonorrhea. You should be retested in 3 months even if you and your partner took medicine.