If you’re having casual sex
Routine STI tests are advisable for everyone. But what does ‘routinely’ mean? That depends on your lifestyle and can be anywhere between every three months to every year, depending on your relationship status and how many partners you have. If you have only one sexual partner to whom you’re faithful, getting tested annually is fine.
On the other hand, if you have multiple sexual partners, it is wise to go for testing every three to six months. It is best to have a discussion with your doctor regarding how frequently you should get tested and where to get tested for STDs depending on your relationship status and the kind of lifestyle you lead.
Before or as soon as you enter a new relationship
If you’re about to start a new, sexually active relationship, it is advisable that both you and your partner get tested so that you go into the relationship knowing each other’s status. Where this is not always possible, you can at least do your part and get yourself tested. Stressful as it may sound, many couples do it and some even find that it fosters a stronger connection.
Even if neither of you gets tested, it’s important for you to have an honest conversation with your partner about your statuses. Some of the questions that need to be asked include:
- When was the last time you got tested?
- What STIs were you tested for?
- What were the results?
- Is it perhaps time that we got tested?
- Should we get tested together or do it separately?
Like many people, you might be too shy to broach the topic with your partner just before the relationship becomes sexually active; don’t give up. This is a conversation that you can have at any stage of your relationship. However, the earlier you have this talk, the better. Finding out months later that your partner knowingly infected you with an STI is hurtful and devastating.
Whether or not you use condoms
Irrespective of how studiously you use condoms, it is still important to know your status because condoms are not 100 percent reliable. There are a number of reasons for condoms not being 100 percent effective.
When it comes to protecting against pregnancy, condoms are only 98 percent effective, even if used correctly every single time. Most people don’t use them correctly every time, which further reduces the overall effectiveness of condoms to just above 80 percent.Secondly, research shows that condoms are highly effective in protecting against STIs transmitted to body fluids, such as vaginal fluids, pre-cum and semen. They also minimize transmission through exposure of skin.
If you’re in a long-term relationship in which you have unprotected sex
You might be in a long-term relationship in which you’re faithful to a trusted partner with whom you have unprotected sex. There are, however, a number of other circumstances beyond your faithfulness and your partner’s trustworthiness, including unreliability of condoms and sexual assaults.