Talking about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is an uncomfortable, but necessary, conversation to have with a doctor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an estimated 20 million new STDs diagnosed in the United States every year. So, if you’re concerned that you’ve been exposed to an STD, you’re not alone.

Here at River Oaks Emergency, we understand that this is a difficult conversation for you. Sometimes patients feel more comfortable having this conversation and testing done at a facility like ours, to increase their confidentiality. Before you come to see us, let’s discuss a bit about STDs and who should be tested.  

What are STDs?

STDs are diseases that are passed from one person to another during intimate contact. This doesn’t just include intercourse. STDs can be passed during heavy petting, vaginal, oral, and anal sex.

There are dozens of STDs. Some of the most common ones include chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and syphilis.

Why is it important to get tested?

Many people don’t get tested for STDs, even when they suspect they have one. Some of the symptoms of STDs are hard to notice and can be ignored. Other times, people choose not to be treated due to the stigma of having an STD.

The thing is, getting tested by a doctor is the only way to know if you have an STD. And if you’re infected and you don’t get treated, you run the risk of passing the STD on to your sexual partner.

If not treated, STDs can lead to severe health problems like:

  • Cancer
  • Blindness
  • Organ damage
  • Infertility

Should you be tested?

If you’re sexually active, there’s a good chance you should be tested for STDs. The CDC provides a list of who should be tested for various types. What follows is a guide that outlines who needs to be tested. Use it to decide if you should be checked:

Everyone between the ages of 13-64

According to the CDC, if you’re between the ages of 13-64 and are sexually active, you should be tested at least once for HIV.


If you’re a woman 21 years of age or older, you should have an annual Pap test to screen for cervical cancer and STDs. If you’re sexually active before the age of 25, you should have a yearly screening for gonorrhea.  

Men who are intimate with other men

If you’re a man who has sex with other males, you should be tested on a regular basis for STDs and HIV. Talk to our doctor about how often you should be checked and what tests they recommend.


If you fall into any of these categories, you should be tested:

  • You’re having unprotected sex
  • You have multiple partners
  • You know your partner has an STD
  • Your partner has been with another sex partner
  • You’ve had intimate contact with a sex worker, IV drug user, men who have sex with men, or an anonymous partner
  • You’ve been forced to engage in any kind of sexual activity against your will
  • You have symptoms of an STD, including:
    • Fever, body aches, swollen glands, feeling tired, or other flu-like symptoms
    • Burning when you pee or the need to pee a lot
    • Bumps or sores around your thighs, buttocks, or genitals
    • New or odd discharge from your penis or vagina
    • Pain, itching, swelling, or irritation in your genitals

Ready to make an appointment?

If you fall into any of the above categories, book an appointment online or just walk into our River Oaks ER today. We’re open 24 hours a day — every day — and have board-certified physicians and well-trained staff who are ready to help you make decisions about your sexual health risks and STD testing.