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Could I Have an STD and Not Know It?

By Terri D'Arrigo
WebMD Feature

A one-night stand. A summer fling. A new love interest asks about your sexual history. A long-term partner confesses to cheating on you. Any of these could make you wonder, "Do I have an STD?"

So you check below the belt. No itching. No sores. No weird oozing or funky smells. It doesn't hurt when you pee. There's nothing obvious that would send you to the doctor. That means you're OK, right?

Recommended Related to Sexual Conditions

Tests for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

If you or your sex partner has unprotected sex with anyone else, you are at risk for a sexually transmitted disease, or STD. Ask your doctor to test you for STDs during your annual physical, even if you have no symptoms. If you test positive, your sexual partners will need treatment. It may be embarrassing, but you must tell them they have been exposed. It can be a matter of life and death. STDs may be detected during a physical exam; through Pap smears; and in tests of blood, urine, and genital...

Read the Tests for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) article > >

Not exactly. It's possible to have an STD and not know it. Sometimes symptoms are mild. Sometimes they can be mistaken for other conditions, like when women have discharge from a yeast infection. Sometimes STDs don't have symptoms at all. Yet they can cause health problems.

Talk to Your Doctor

"The same way we can have germs on our skin, in our mouths, or in our digestive tracts and not know it, we can have germs on or inside our genitals," says Jeffrey D. Klausner, MD. He's a professor of medicine and public health at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. "The only way to learn if you have an STD is to get a checkup and talk to a doctor or nurse about your sexual health."

Women usually discuss sexual health with their gynecologists. But both women and men can speak to their regular doctors or nurse practitioners.

"You don't need to see a specialist. All primary care providers can offer STD tests," Klausner says.

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