Medically reviewed by Neka Miller, PhD on October 13, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Even if you consistently engage in safe sex practices (like using a condom), it’s important to stay up-to-date on your STD testing. But just how often should you get tested for STDs?
That’s what we’ll tackle here—so keep reading to learn what testing frequency is recommended for STDs like HIV, herpes, chlamydia, and more.
If you’re between 13 and 64 years old, the CDC recommends HIV testing (at least once) as part of routine care. If you’re at higher risk for HIV, the CDC recommends a yearly HIV test. (Related content: Can you get an STD with a condom?)
In general, hepatitis C screening at least once is recommended for adults who are age 18 or above. The previous recommendation for hepatitis C screening was at least a one-time test for people born between the years 1945 and 1965, as the incidence of hepatitis C in this particular age group is especially high.
Hepatitis C screening is also recommended for all pregnant women (for each pregnancy).
How often should you get tested for STDs like herpes type 1 or type 2? The CDC notes that herpes blood tests may be useful if you are experiencing genital symptoms that could be due to herpes, if you have a sex partner with genital herpes, or if you have multiple sex partners and want a complete sexually transmitted disease check.
Certain blood tests can help to differentiate between type 1 herpes (which often causes cold sores) and type 2 (which is more likely to cause genital sores). If you think you could have been exposed to herpes, discuss the next steps with your healthcare provider.
If you’re wondering how often you should get tested for STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea, here are some general guidelines:
Get screened yearly (at minimum) if:
Chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings are often done through a urine sample or a swab of the cervix (for women) or the penis (for men). With Everlywell, you can test for chlamydia and gonorrhea from the convenience and privacy of home.
There are various types of HPV—or human papillomavirus. HPV infects many people and can sometimes be cleared out by the body without any treatment. Some HPV types can cause genital warts, while others—known as high-risk genotypes—can increase the risk of cervical cancer (as well as other cancers, in some cases). Cervical cancer screening in women frequently involves the use of a Pap smear to look for abnormal cells in the cervix, but it can also be done with an HPV test that can detect the genetic material of the virus.
For women who are age 21-29, a Pap test is recommended every three years, and even more frequent if you’ve had unprotected sex with a new sex partner. The CDC advises women who are age 30-65 to talk with their healthcare provider to learn what cervical cancer screening method is right for them. For women in this age group, a healthcare provider may suggest regular Pap testing every 3 years (assuming results are normal), taking just an HPV test every 5 years, or co-testing (an HPV test with a Pap test) every 5 years.
Women who are 65+ may not need routine cervical cancer screening if test results have been normal for several years or if the cervix has been surgically removed to treat a non-cancerous condition (such as fibroids).
In any case, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about cervical cancer screening to learn what test method and cadence is right for you.
As we discuss how often you should get tested for STDs, it’s also important to become familiar with the various risk factors that contribute to the spread of STDs. (Related: How STDs are spread)
Here are some factors that may put you at increased risk for STDs:
Testing for STDs through an STD screening is easy and discreet when you use the at-home STD test for men or the STD test for women. With this testing option, you can check for 6 common sexually transmitted infections (including chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and hepatitis C) from the convenience of home: everything you need to collect a sample is included with the kit, s well as a prepaid shipping label for sending your sample to the lab for testing.
1. STD testing: What's right for you? Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed November 13, 2020.
2. Testing Recommendations for Hepatitis C Virus Infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed November 13, 2020.
3. Genital Herpes Screening FAQ. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed November 13, 2020.
4. Screening Recommendations and Considerations Referenced in Treatment Guidelines and Original Sources. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed November 13, 2020.
5. What Should I Know About Screening? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed November 13, 2020.
6. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed November 13, 2020.