Getting tested regularly for STIs (sexually transmitted infections) — regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity — is part of basic preventive health care. And perhaps even better than the sticker or lollipop your pediatrician used to give you after your annual checkup, getting tested can really sweeten your sex life. During STD Awareness Month this April, Planned Parenthood health centers in California encourage everyone who’s sexually active to get tested and to check out the fun It’s Your (Sex) Life resource, published in partnership with MTV.
It makes sense that getting tested is regular health care — like brushing your teeth and exercising regularly. After all, sexuality is part of being human. It’s an important component of our physical and emotional development, and everyone deserves sex that is consensual, healthy, pleasurable, safe, and respectful.
How does getting tested enhance your sex life?
If you’re not protected, chances are that you may find sex stressful. In fact, using a condom can take a lot of worry out of sex, since you and your partner won’t be thinking about unintended pregnancy or STIs. It’s a good way to feel more relaxed about sex.
Don’t believe the hype that men (and others) don’t like condoms. Most young men (80 percent) use condoms the first time they have sex — which is a great way to start off a healthy sex life — and people who use condoms rate their sexual experiences as just as pleasurable as people who don’t. Couples who want to prevent pregnancy and STIs use condoms along with another form of birth control, such as the IUD or the pill, to doubly take the worry out of sex.
Make sure to ask to be tested when you see your medical provider for a checkup. Unless you ask to be tested, don’t assume it will happen. Also ask your provider which STIs you should be tested for. The CDC recommends HIV testing at least once for all young adults and adolescents; annual testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea for all sexually active women under the age of 25; screening at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea for all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men; and HIV testing at least once a year if you have sex without a condom or share needles.
Luckily, getting tested is quick, easy, and painless! In California you can even download the Planned Parenthood Direct App (available on Android and on Apple) to conveniently test for chlamydia and gonorrhea from the privacy of your home through the secure mobile app.
Additional California GYT Resources
Planned Parenthood Northern California has a special resource for GYT month – check out the Northern California Get Yourself Tested page to be connected with hotspot information about infection rates, details about different STIs, and testing location resources!