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Sexual Health

Get Tested

When should I go and get tested? 

  • If you or your partner have been sexually active with other people, both of you should get tested before you have sex together and subsequently every 3 months.

  • If your partner is having sex with another partner. 

  • If you know your current or past partner has or had an STI. 

  • If the condom breaks or you have sex without one. 

  • If you or your partner have shared needles for drugs, tattooing or piercing, even once. 

  • If you or your partner have any STI symptoms.

What do I need to know about the testing process? 

No matter your sex assigned at birth, gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation, if you feel more comfortable with someone else in the room during your examination, tell your healthcare provider. Everything you discuss with your healthcare provider is confidential.


They cannot discuss things with anyone unless they:



  • Have your permission. 

  • Are making a referral that you have agreed to. 

  • Are concerned you may not understand medical advice given or the consequences of your decisions. 

  • Suspect child abuse which they are required to report to a child protection agency

What should I expect during my appointment? 

The healthcare provider will ask you many questions about your sexual activity. They may ask you to undress from the waist down and will give you a drape to cover yourself. 


They may do some or all of the following: 


  • Ask for a urine sample. 

  • Take a blood sample. 

  • Use a cotton swab to take samples from the throat, cervix, anus, and/or urethra (the opening of the penis). 

  • Check the external parts of your genitals including testicles and penis for lumps or pain.  

  • Use a speculum to look at the inside of the vagina and at the cervix (the opening to the uterus).  

  • If you are 21 or older, they may do cervical cancer screening, including a Pap test, to check for changes in the cells of the cervix. 

  • Do a bimanual exam (the healthcare provider places one or two fingers inside the vagina and their other hand on the lower abdomen in order to feel the ovaries and uterus).

How do I tell my partner(s) I have an STI? 

  • If you have an STI, it is important that your sexual partner(s) be tested as well to make sure the infection does not spread further. There are many ways to tell your partner(s) that they need to get tested for STI. 

  • There are programs and tools to help you tell your partner(s) anonymously that they need to get tested. 

  • Contact your local public health department for more information.

Quick facts on safer sex 


  • Remember that you can get some STI by just touching or kissing an infected area. 

  • Be aware of your situation—you may take unnecessary risks when impaired by drugs or alcohol—always have a condom or dental dam accessible in case you are ‘caught up in the moment.’ 

  • If you use recreational drugs, or get tattoos, be sure that the needles are sterile and haven’t been used by anyone else already. 

  • Educate yourself and know the risks— all kinds of sex, including oral, vaginal and anal intercourse, and intimate skin to skin contact can transmit infections through body fluids like blood, semen, vaginal secretions and saliva, as well as through bacteria. 

  • You and/or your sexual partner may not know that either of you have an STI and won’t know that you may be spreading it. 

  • Always use condoms and/or dental dams during vaginal, anal or oral sex. 

  • If you haven’t already, get vaccinated for HPV and hepatitis B. 

  • Get tested for STI regularly and before each new sexual partner. Request that your partner(s) do the same.

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