If you are sexually active, it’s important to be aware of sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs for short, and get tested. When left untreated, STDs can cause a number of health issues, including infertility (the inability to get pregnant). And the kicker: some have no symptoms at all. Testing is the only way to know if you have it.
Two of the most commonly reported STDs, chlamydia and gonorrhea, can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to infertility. As many as 10 – 15% of women with untreated chlamydia will develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
PID can cause scar tissue that blocks the fallopian tubes, leading to:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Pelvic abscess
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Fallopian tube infection, which can have no symptoms at all
If a woman is pregnant, risks include:
- Low birth weight
- Premature delivery
- Infections in a newborn baby (such as pneumonia, eye infections, or nervous system problems)
Getting tested will protect your health.
It’s important to be open and honest with your healthcare provider about your sexual history so that appropriate recommendations can be made.
Testing is recommended most for sexually active people under 25 years of age, or people who are not in monogamous, long-term sexual relationships.
Below is brief list of STD testing recommendations:
- Any person who has unprotected sex or shares drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year
- People between age 13 and 64 should be tested at least once for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS)
- Pregnant women should be tested early in pregnancy for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B; at-risk pregnant women should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea
- Sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, and may benefit from more frequent HIV testing
- Sexually active people with multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for all STDs, such as every three to six months
- Sexually active women younger than 25 should be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea each year
- Women older than 25 should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea if they have associated risk factors (new or multiple sex partners, a sex partner who has had an STD, etc.)
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website about STD screening to learn more.