Dear Dr. vybe: How Soon Can I Get an STD Test After Sex?

 

Dear Dr. vybe,

As a very shy and reserved person, I’m way too scared to ask this question to 99% of people in person. And with so much discussion around safe sex this month, I figured now would be a good time to ask: How soon is too soon to get an STD test?

 Don’t get me wrong—I’m all about being open and super sex-positive. But I’m typically too nervous to go anywhere besides the Planned Parenthood on Locust Street since they seem to be way more sex-positive than your run-of-the-mill family physician.

I’ve been telling myself that I’ll get tested soon, but I keep backing out wondering if it’s been enough time since I last had sex. I don’t want to work up the courage to go only to be told I have to come back another time for more accurate results. Can you help me straighten this out? 

Sincerely,
Too Timid to Get Tested

 

Dear Too Timid to Get Tested,

There’s a lot that goes into this. First, I want to encourage you to actively take charge of your sexual health and get tested regularly. If you need to go somewhere specific to feel comfortable, that’s perfectly fine. But remember that sexual health is a part of medical health and no quality practice should make you feel bad about it.

Secondly, the ideal time after having sex is entirely dependent on which STD you may or may not have. If you’re experiencing symptoms, get tested immediately. If you’re not experiencing anything but just want to be sure, the general rule is to wait 3 to 5 days.

Keep in mind that it’s possible to remain symptom-free but still have an STD. And if HIV is on your mind, be aware that while you can get tested much sooner. Test results are the most accurate and reliable after 6 months.

So don’t be afraid to get tested often and note that you can do so at your local vybe—free of any judgment. And in the spirit of National Condom Week, don’t forget that condoms are a great way to practice safer sex.

Sincerely,
Saving My Own Spot in Line Now