Written on December 20, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. 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.
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If you have concerns about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), you may be concerned about getting tested right away. But can you get tested for STDs while on your period? When it comes to STDs, the sooner you are diagnosed the quicker you can get treated and avoid complications. With rare exceptions, the answer is yes, you can be tested for STDs while on your period. And if you have a concern about STDs, you should be tested even if you are on your period.
Chlamydia is one of the more common STDs and can affect both women and men. It is transmitted through sexual contact: oral, rectal, or genital. It can cause painful urination, discharge from the rectum, penis, or vagina, pelvic pain, and pain during sex. If chlamydia goes untreated, it can cause an infection in the pelvis called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This can lead to severe complications such as scar tissue, long-term pain, infertility, or ectopic pregnancy.
You can decrease your risk of chlamydia by using condoms consistently and limiting your sexual partners. Chlamydia can be easily tested in the urine.
Gonorrhea is another common STD and can affect the genital tract, the mouth, or the rectum. It can also cause symptoms such as rash, arthritis, and tendonitis. In pregnant women, gonorrhea can be passed to the child during birth. Like, chlamydia, gonorrhea can cause PID and infertility.
Condoms are the best way to protect against this infection, and limiting your sexual partners can also decrease your chances of becoming infected. Gonorrhea testing can be performed in the urine.
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is the virus that is associated with AIDS. HIV attacks the immune system and can be treated but not cured. HIV may not have any symptoms, and it can take some time after exposure for testing to turn positive. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids, most commonly through sexual contact or IV drug use. Condoms and limiting sexual partners as well as avoiding drug use is the best way to prevent contracting HIV.
If you have HIV, suppressive medication can help prevent the spread of the infection to your partner. HIV can be tested through the blood. If you have been exposed to HIV, testing immediately and six months after exposure is recommended.
Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a viral infection that can cause cervical and some other cancers, as well as genital warts. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. There are over 100 strains of this family of DNA viruses. Around 40 of these strains are associated with genital warts and cervical cancer.
HPV testing can be performed on a Pap smear. If bleeding is heavy during your period, the Pap smear can be less accurate. It is best to try to schedule your Pap smear when you are not menstruating.
Syphilis is causing growing concern amongst healthcare providers because it is on the rise. Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is spread by direct contact with a sore through vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
Syphilis is an infection that has four primary stages. The first stage of syphilis is when a single or multiple sores develop in the location where the bacteria enter the body. Widespread sores or rashes can occur during the second stage. Syphilis can lay dormant for years and then reactivate and affect multiple areas of the body and cause disability or death. Regular testing for syphilis, through a blood test, is recommended for certain high-risk groups.
STDs can have a long-term impact on your health. Untreated STDs can cause serious health conditions and in some cases can be life-threatening. Birth control can help prevent pregnancy, but in most cases, it doesn’t protect against STDs.
Take charge of your sexual health. If you are concerned about STDs, Everlywell has at-home lab tests to evaluate for STDs. We also have clinicians who can provide telehealth visits to discuss your situation and advise you on how to protect yourself.
Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP is a board-certified Family Physician. Since completing her residency training in 2010, she’s been practicing full-scope family medicine in a rural setting. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s practice includes caring for patients of all ages for preventative care as well as chronic disease management. She also provides prenatal care and delivers babies. Dr. Foglesong Stabile completed a teaching fellowship in 2020 and teaches the family medicine clerkship for one of her local medical schools. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s favorite thing about family medicine is the variety of patients she sees in her clinical practice.