Renee Cotter, MD
Gynecologists located in San Fernando Valley, West Hills, CA
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major public health issue that affects 20 million people in the United States each year. Though STDs affect both sexes, women are more likely to develop long-term health consequences from an untreated STD. Renee Cotter, MD, in West Hills, California, offers STD testing to protect you and your health. To schedule your STD testing, contact the office by phone or by using the online booking tool.
STD Testing Q & A
What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs are bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections that pass from person-to-person through sexual contact. That includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
There are many types of STDs, including:
- Genital herpes
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Though both men and women are at risk of contracting an STD, women experience greater health complications, including infertility and an increased risk of certain types of cancer, such as cervical cancer. That’s why STD testing is important at the first sign of infection or as part of annual well-woman exams.
When do I need STD testing?
When you need STD testing depends on your age and sexual activity. If you’re sexually active and have more than one sexual partner, you should schedule an STD test.
Most STDs don’t cause symptoms, or you may dismiss your symptoms as something else, such as a yeast infection. Without testing and treatment, you may put your health and your sexual partner’s health at risk.
You should also schedule STD testing if a sexual partner tested positive for an STD or you have signs and symptoms of an STD, such as:
- Genital sores or bumps
- Vaginal pain, burning, or itching
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Your women’s health specialist or OB/GYN may also conduct STD testing during your annual well-woman exam. It’s recommended that all sexually active women 25 and younger be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia annually. Your OB/GYN may also recommend an HPV test when you reach age 30 or if you have an abnormal Pap smear.
You may also need annual testing for these common STDs if you’re over the age of 25 and have a new or more than one sexual partner.
You may also need STD testing if you’re pregnant. All pregnant women have a test for HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis, as well as chlamydia and gonorrhea, if at risk.
What can I expect during STD testing?
When you visit your women’s health specialist with concerns about STDs, you can expect a comprehensive evaluation to determine the type of STD testing you need.
During the exam, your specialist reviews your sexual and gynecological history, as well as any symptoms you may be experiencing. Your testing may include:
- Blood test
- A swab of vaginal secretions
- A swab of cervical cells (to test for HPV)
After STD testing, your OB/GYN tells you when you can expect to get your results.
What happens if my STD testing results are positive?
Your OB/GYN provides personalized recommendations if your STD testing results are positive. These recommendations may include additional tests or specific treatments, such as antibiotics to clear up a bacterial infection or antiviral medications to reduce flare-ups of a viral infection and transmission to partners.
STDs are common and detrimental to your health. To schedule your confidential STD testing, call Renee Cotter, MD, or request an appointment online today.