Have you ever wondered about the reasoning behind your doctor's selection of certain diseases to screen for? Interestingly, people with cervixes receive Pap tests at age 21, while most don't undergo mammograms until 40 and colonoscopies at 50. This screening process is heavily influenced by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group of physicians and public health experts who meticulously examine the available evidence and determine which screenings and other types of preventive healthcare exhibit proven benefits in reducing cancer deaths while causing minimal harm, such as false positives or follow-up tests that don't lead to measurably reduced risk.
Why is this information important to you? Because the USPSTF (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) updated its recommendations last fall concerning screenings for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. They confirmed that women 24 years old and younger should routinely be tested for these STIs and that testing should also be done for women 25 and older who are considered "at risk." Since these guidelines might seem ambiguous, our in-house STI expert explains what this should mean for you.
Regular testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is crucial for maintaining sexual health. It is recommended that individuals aged 24 and younger prioritize testing due to higher rates of STIs in this age group. However, it is essential to note that testing should not be stopped once an individual turns 25 unless they are not sexually active or are in a monogamous relationship with a known partner. It is vital to base your testing schedule on your sexual activity, not age. STIs can affect anyone, regardless of age, so anyone sexually active must get tested regularly.
STIs can result in scarring in the female reproductive tract and affect fertility. Women tend to be the primary focus regarding STIs; however, they often contract these infections from men. Men must get tested and treated to prevent them from re-infecting their partners. In cases of positive test results, it is crucial for all partners, regardless of gender, to get treated to avoid the STI from being passed back and forth.
It is important to note that chlamydia and gonorrhoea can infect both the throat and rectum. Testing solely in the genital area may lead to missing these infections entirely. As recommended by Emily, three-site testing is highly encouraged to provide a more thorough and complete picture.
While screening for STIs, also check for HIV and syphilis. Being at risk for one means being at risk for others.
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