STD Testing FAQs

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Can you have an STD and not know it?

Yes. Even if you don't have symptoms, you may still have a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia can all live in your body without you knowing it. Syphilis can live in your body silently for decades.

If you don't have symptoms of an STD, can you still spread it?

Yes.

Do STDs cause permanent damage?

STDs can cause permanent damage to you, depending on the infection and how long you go without treatment, including:

  • Infertility
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease in women
  • Painful lesions
  • Intense inflammation
  • Neurological problems
  • Blindness
  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • If you’re expecting a child, some STDs can be spread to the baby. That can cause:
    • Miscarriage
    • Stillbirth
    • Severe lifelong physical and neurological problems

Doesn't gonorrhea go away on its own?

Often, this infection goes away on its own, but sometimes it doesn’t. Gonorrhea has started to develop resistance to medicine, becoming harder and harder to treat.

Can STDs be cured?

Yes. Most infections can be successfully treated. Talk to your provider about the best course of action for you.

How often should I be tested?

You should discuss testing for sexually transmitted infections with your doctor at every check up. How often you need to be screened depends on your risk factors for infection. Those risk factors can change over time.

You should also get tested if you become pregnant or are concerned that you may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection. You can ask your doctor to make an individual plan for testing based on your activities and risk factors.

Who is at high risk for STDs?

Men who have sex with men, people living with HIV, people who don’t consistently use condoms tend to have the highest risk for STD. If you have high risk factors, you should get tested at least once a year and sometimes more often.

Do I need to get tested even if I’m in a monogamous relationship?

Yes.

How long will testing take?

You can get tested during a regular check-up visit.

What kinds of questions will I be asked?

Expect to be asked about:

  • Any symptoms you have
  • How many sexual partners you've had
  • The sex and gender of your sexual partners
  • The kinds of sexual activity you've had, whether oral, vaginal, and/or anal
  • Condom use
  • If you or any of your sexual partners have had an STD previously

Feel free to tell your doctor if you don’t feel comfortable answering any question.

What does STD testing involve?

You’ll need to have a urine and/or blood test. This is usually fast and painless. You might also have a swab taken of any parts of your body (mouth, genitals) with pain or other signs of an STD infection.

How long do I have to wait for results?

Some tests, like a rapid HIV test, will give a result while you wait. Most tests, including blood and urine tests, give a result within a few days.

How will I get my results?

If you have an STD, we’ll call you. We’ll also put the test results in MyChart, where you can access them privately and securely.

I feel better. Should I stop taking this medicine?

No. Some STDs have started to develop resistance to medicine, becoming harder and harder to treat. It’s important to follow your care instructions and take ALL of your medicine.