Chlamydia and gonorrhea don’t always show symptoms – which is why sexually active men and women should get tested.

Sometimes I think people don’t believe me when I tell them that they should consider getting tested for sexually transmissible infections (STI) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV even if they have never noticed any symptoms. Chlamydia, for example, is the most common bacterial STI in the country – and is particularly common among young women and men ages 15-24 – and yet many young women and men failt to get tested for it, even though it is one of the most "silent" STIs of them all (meaning, it often shows no noticeable symptoms at all).

In a recent study, researchers tested men who have sex with other men for chlamydia and gonorrhea, even though none of these men had any symptoms of either infection. Over a period of one month, 114 men were tested. Guess how many came back positive for at least one (if not both) of these two STIs, chlamydia and gonorrhea? ELEVEN PER CENT! (Yes, that’s a lot). 

If you are now or have in the past been sexually active with another person (oral sex, vaginal sex or anal sex), please consider getting tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea, as both of these infections – if left untreated – can cause problems with fertility. It’s part of being an adult, and part of being a sexually responsible person – plus, it shows care and kindness for your partner. Deciding to NOT get tested – even though you could be putting your partner at risk – is neither kind nor responsible. To learn more about STIs, testing and treatment, visit the CDC web site or Planned Parenthood, or talk to your healthcare provider. I have seen far too many students of mine, and clinic patients, test positive for infections that they never knew they had (and often that they then spread to a partner) so please take your health (and your partner’s health) seriously and with care.

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.