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Do You Have to See a Doctor to Find Out if You Have an STD?

A guy I had sex with a few weeks ago is telling me that he thinks he got an STD from me. A while ago, I had unprotected sex with someone, and I don't know if that person has an STD or not. How can I know if I have an STD without getting checked by a doctor? Or is that the only way to find out?
TJ*

The only way to be sure about whether or not you have an STD is to get examined at a doctor's office or health clinic. Many STDs don't have obvious symptoms. Lots of people don't even know they have an STD until their doctor discovers it. Even a bump that looks like an ingrown hair could be something more.

When you go for your exam, tell the doctor or nurse practitioner that you had unprotected sex in the past. (Don't worry about how he or she will react — medical professionals are trained to help people, not judge them.) The doctor or nurse practitioner can check you for any STDs with a simple exam and a blood or urine test. If it turns out that you do have an STD, the doctor or clinic can start treating you. It is really important to treat STDs as early as possible so that you stay healthy and don't have any complications.

Since many STDs don't have symptoms, you won't be able to "see" that someone else has an STD either. That's why the best way to protect yourself and anyone you sleep with is to use a condom. And, if you're having sex, get regular medical exams.

Reviewed by: Julia Brown Lancaster, BSN, RN, CAPA
Date reviewed: January 2012

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