Updated: May 6
Research shows that increasingly more teenagers and young people are sexually active, which puts them at a higher risk of an unintended pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STIs). So, how can teenagers and young people practice safe sex?
We talked to adolescent medicine experts at the USF Health Ybor Youth Clinic who answered some frequently asked questions on this very topic. The Ybor Youth Clinic (YYC) is the only clinic in Hillsborough County specifically designed for youth ages 13-24, providing targeted health care and risk reduction services in a youth-friendly environment. Learn more about their services at health.usf.edu/yyc.
Q: How often should I get tested for STIs if I am sexually active?
A: 1 in 2 people will contract an STI by the time they reach the age of 25, so it is important to get tested. How often you should get tested for STIs depends on many factors including sexual orientation, number of partners, your partner’s number of partners, new partners, and whether you are having unprotected sex. Thus, it is important to have an open and honest conversation with your doctor. If you’re experiencing any strange itching, burning, or other worrisome symptoms down below, you should see a doctor immediately to figure out what’s wrong. But even if you’re symptom-free, you should know how often you need to get tested (and then actually do it).
We recommend a minimum of annual testing if in a monogamous relationship and every time you have a new sexual partner. If with multiple or anonymous partners, you should be tested more frequently, such as every 3 to 6 months. And remember, frequent testing should never take the place of using condoms. Protection starts with being prepared!
Curious what STI testing is like? Check out this video our Teen Connect Youth Advisory Board created for an inside look!
Check back for more expert answers to your FAQs to be released each week!
Amy Weiss, MD, MPH, adolescent medicine specialist at the Ybor Youth Clinic
Medical Director, TGH+USF Adolescent Bariatric Program and Interim Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, USF Health