sdt test

When To Test For STD: Key Signs And Symptoms To Watch For 

Are you at risk for an STD? Discover key symptoms and crucial times to get tested. Don’t leave your sexual health to chance. 

Talking about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) might make you squirm, but it’s a crucial conversation we need to have. These infections don’t discriminate as they can affect anyone who’s sexually active, regardless of age, gender, or relationship status. The tricky part? Many STDs are sneaky, often showing no symptoms at all. That’s why regular testing is so important, even if you feel perfectly fine.

According to WHO, over one million people aged 15 to 49 worldwide acquire sexually transmitted infections every day, and most cases are asymptomatic. This staggering number highlights the importance of staying proactive about your sexual health. (1)

And so, this article will break down the key symptoms that might indicate an STD, as well as the situations that call for an STD test, helping you take control of your sexual health. 

What are the common STD symptoms and signs to watch out for? 

While some STDs can be silent, others may present with various symptoms. Here are some of the most common signs that could indicate an STD: 

Unusual discharge 

One of the most frequent symptoms of STDs is abnormal discharge from the genitals. This can vary in color, consistency, and odor. For women, any change in vaginal discharge that’s different from their usual cycle could be a sign of an infection. Men might notice a thick, white, or yellow discharge from the penis. If you’re experiencing any unusual discharge, it’s time to get tested for STD.

If you’re feeling uneasy about getting an STD screening at your regular doctor’s office or local clinic, don’t worry. There are plenty of private options available. Many cities now have discreet STD testing centers that offer confidential STD screening services. You can also opt for at-home testing kits, which allow you to collect samples yourself and mail them to a lab for analysis. These private alternatives can help you overcome any anxiety you might feel about getting tested.

Pain or burning during urination 

If you wince every time you hit the bathroom, your body might be waving a red flag. Sure, it might be a run-of-the-mill urinary tract infection (UTI), but it could also be something worse, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis. Don’t play the guessing game. Rather, you should try to rule out STDs through proper testing. 

Sores, bumps, or rashes 

Have you lately noticed some new bumps, sores, or rashes around your mouth, anus, or your genitals? These could be indicators of various STDs. Genital herpes, for example, can cause small, painful blisters, while syphilis may present as a painless sore.

Meanwhile, genital warts that appear as small, flesh-colored bumps could be caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which affects 13 million Americans every year. Ultimately, any unexplained skin changes in these areas should warrant a visit to your healthcare provider. (2) 

Pain during sex 

Pain during sex isn’t just a mood killer. It could be a red flag for an STD like chlamydia or gonorrhea. And this symptom is particularly more common in women. So, if your way to getting an orgasm is hindered by consistent pain, get yourself checked out. 

Flu-like symptoms 

Some STDs, particularly in their early stages, can cause symptoms that mimic the flu. These may include fever, chills, fatigue, and body aches. HIV, in particular, often presents flu-like symptoms in its acute phase. In fact, around 40-90% of people who contract HIV develop an acute reaction that can include fever, and these symptoms can last about 2 weeks. So, if you’re experiencing these symptoms and have recently engaged in unprotected sex with one or multiple sexual partners, consider getting an STD test. (3) 

When to get tested? Key scenarios 

While symptoms can be a clear indicator that it’s time to get tested, there are other scenarios where testing is crucial, even in the absence of symptoms: 

After unprotected sex 

As per the CDC, almost half (46%) of all new sexually transmitted infections happen to young adults ages 15-24. So, if you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner or someone whose STD status you’re unsure of, it’s important to get tested. This includes any form of sexual contact – vaginal, anal, or oral sex – without proper protection. (4) 

Starting a new relationship 

Before becoming sexually active with a new sex partner, both individuals should get tested. It’s like a trust fall but for your health. This helps ensure you’re both starting the relationship with a clean bill of health and can make informed decisions about protection. 

Regular check-ups for high-risk individuals  

If you have multiple sex partners, engage in sex work, or use intravenous drugs, you’re at a higher risk for STDs. In these cases, more frequent testing is recommended, generally every 3 to 6 months. 

After sexual assault 

If you’ve experienced sexual assault, it’s important to seek medical care as soon as possible. This should include STD testing and potential preventive treatments.  

During pregnancy 

Pregnant women should be tested for STDs early in their pregnancy and again in the third trimester if they’re at high risk. Why? Because some STDs can be passed to your baby, causing serious complications. In fact, untreated syphilis during pregnancy results in stillbirth or infant death in up to 40% of cases. (5)

Remember, getting tested isn’t just about you. It’s about protecting your partners and potential future children, too. So, don’t shy away from it. 


Taking charge of your sexual health is crucial, and regular STD testing plays a role in this. Whether you’re experiencing symptoms or not, if you’re sexually active, it’s important to get tested regularly. Don’t let fear or embarrassment hold you back. The consequences of untreated STDs far outweigh any temporary discomfort of getting tested.  


  1. “Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)”, Source:
  2. “HPV Infection”, Source:  
  3. “What To Know About A Fever And HIV”, Source:  
  4. “Incidence, Prevalence, and Cost of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United States”, Source:  
  5. “Syphilis in Pregnancy”, Source:  
Written by Lukas Weier
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