Healthy lives for young people
  • Help & Advice
  • Find a Service
    Close icon

Why you should get tested for STIs

Getting tested for STIs regularly keeps you and other people safe. Find out about why you should get tested if you are sexually active. 

It is important to get tested for STIs if you are sexually active (which means any activity that involves touching someone’s genitals), because it keeps you and other people safe.  

However, sometimes people decide not to get tested, often because they don’t have the right information about STIs and how they are spread, or because they might be worried about what people will think of them if they test positive for an STI. 

People might not get tested because

  • They don’t have symptoms, so they think they don’t need to
  • They think it’s too much effort
  • They are worried about what will happen if they test positive for an STI

However, avoiding testing for whatever reason puts you at risk of getting and passing on STIs, and the good news is it’s easier than ever to get tested. STIs are simply like any other infection, and are best dealt with quickly to avoid passing it on or having long-term complications for your health. Also, not getting diagnosed with an STI doesn’t mean you don’t have one.

With this is mind, here are our top reasons for why you should get tested for STIs.

Testing looks after your health and the health of others 

Looking after your health can feel like an annoying thing to have to do, but it’s important to look after yourself and your sexual partners. Getting tested regularly means you won’t have any STIs getting out of hand, and hugely reduces the likelihood of passing an STI on to other people. 

Aside from using a barrier method like condoms, regular STI testing is the best way to prevent the spread of STIs. Also, the more often you get tested, the easier it will be to work out who you might have contracted an STI from and therefore the less people you will need to contact if you do test positive.  

Most STIs don’t have symptoms

Anyone can get an STI, even if they have only taken part in sexual activity once. This includes touching of genitals with hands and vaginal, anal and oral sex. 

The most common STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea often don’t have any symptoms, meaning you and your partner(s) could have an STI without knowing

It’s important to get tested every time you have sex with a new partner, and if you are in a long-term relationship it’s recommended to get tested about once a year.

Condoms aren’t guaranteed protection from STIs

Condoms are an excellent barrier method for preventing the transmission of STIs, and are very easy to access.

However it’s important to remember mistakes can happen, and that condoms can also only be used during certain types of sex, such as sexual contact involving a penis or sex toys.

Essentially, the best way to protect yourself and others from STIs is to get regularly tested even when you are using condoms.

Testing is quick and easy

Getting tested for STIs is a very quick process, usually involving a swab of the vagina, mouth or anus, a urine sample and/or blood sample. You can do this at a sexual health clinic or your GP. You may also be able to order a home testing kit, depending on where you live – and this is even quicker and easier than going to a clinic! 

You don’t have to do it alone

If you are nervous about getting tested, maybe you could go with a friend or a group of friends. It may feel less scary than going on your own, and you’ll have someone to talk to while you wait!

You’ll get peace of mind

Sometimes people are scared to take a test because they don’t want to find out something scary, but not knowing if you have an STI or not could end up making you feel more anxious. If you get tested and it comes back negative, then you can enjoy knowing you are STI free!

Plus, if you get a positive result, then at least you know and can get it sorted out quickly.

“I’m worried about what people will think of me”

Testing positive for an STI says nothing about your personality or hygiene. No one should be judging you for your sexual activity as long as it is consensual. This being said, the only people you need to tell about a diagnosis are your current and past sexual partner(s), and this can be done anonymously using ‘partner notification’ services if you don’t feel comfortable telling them yourself. 

Find out more about STIs and stigma

Treatment will reduce the chance of complications

Most STIs can be treated very easily with antibiotics, and those which can’t be treated can still be very effectively managed. For instance, HIV can be managed using anti-viral medication that prevents it from being passed on to sexual partners. Find out more about living with an STI.

It is important to make sure STIs are treated as early as possible to prevent them from causing long term health complications.  

Certain STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea can cause infertility if left untreated, while others like HIV and syphilis can be fatal if they aren’t diagnosed early enough or managed well. 


    Other Stuff you might find useful…

    Living with an STI
    Talking to people about STIs
    STIs and Stigma
    PrEP and PEP
    Free STI home testing kits
    Real Stories
    Herpes: Gemma’s story
    Getting tested for STIs
    Do I have an STI?
    Dental dams
    Mycoplasma genitalium (MG)


    Find a Service near you