3. You can’t get tested for everything
The best way to figure out if you or your partner has an STD is to get tested. True, there are straightforward tests for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. But herpes and HPV are trickier. There is no test to diagnose if guys have HPV (the strains that cause warts or the strains that cause cancer). If a guy has a bump he thinks may be a genital wart, he can have a doctor visually diagnose it and determine if it is or isn’t HPV – or if it’s too hard to tell what it is. You can get pap smears and HPV DNA tests to see if you have the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer, but just like a guy, any bump you have that could be a wart must be visually diagnosed. Although there is a blood test for herpes, it’s not very common, and much more often herpes sores—like warts—are visually diagnosed by a doctor.
Basically, any guy who says he’s been tested for everything is either lying, or is actually saying that at some point he had unidentified bumps and sores around his groin that he showed to a doctor. Even someone who has had every STD test possible cannot be absolutely sure they don’t have an STD. And remember, in order for an HIV test to be most accurate, a person must wait at least 2 months after possible exposure to the virus.
4. You won’t necessarily get an STD your first time with a new partner
Everyone occasionally makes bad sexual choices. But there’s no reason to make those choices again, and again, and again. It’s very possible that you will have sex with someone who has a STD and not contract it. Just because you had unprotected sex with a guy once or twice, you haven’t necessarily gotten any STD he could be carrying. So, that means if you have sex with him again in the future, it’s still important to use a condom. Each time you have sex, even with the same person, there is a new risk of contracting an STD.
5. An untreated chlamydial infection often leads to infertility
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial STD in the United States. The good news is: It’s completely curable. The bad news is: Untreated chlamydial infections can destroy your reproductive organs. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 40 percent of the time an untreated chlamydial infection leads to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which can cause chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and complications with pregnancy. Being tested for chlamydia is as simple and straightforward as peeing in a cup. Every sexually active woman should protect her fertility and reproductive health by regularly being screened for chlamydia, and if infected, treating the infection before it has a chance to cause permanent damage.
The point of this article isn’t to scare you into celibacy. But STDs are a lot trickier than many people realize. Living life means taking risks, and sex is no different. It’s only fair to know what sorts of risks you’re taking.
Betty’s Sexpert Amber Madison is a sex educator and author of Hooking Up: A Girl’s All-Out Guide to Sex and Sexuality, and Talking Sex With Your Kids, to be released this March.