Perhaps the number one advice that is given in regard to sexual activity is to use protection and get tested. It’s an important one, especially in light of the fact that an individual can have a sexually transmitted disease (STD)/sexually transmitted infection (STI) without being aware because of the absence of signs or symptoms.

The type of STD/STI testing that an individual needs, and how often that individual should be screened, is significantly dependent on age and sexual behaviors. The question of when to get tested depends on your personal risk factors. Here are some of the risk factors to keep in mind.

When Sexually Active

Every individual who is sexually active should get STD screening at some point in time. It doesn’t matter if that individual has only had a single sexual partner or always stayed safe. An HIV test is something that sexually active individuals should get done. Every year, sexually active women, particularly those younger than 25 should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia; older women with increased risk factors should also be tested. Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, you should get tested.

When Having Unprotected Sex

It is essential to get STD testing if you engage in unprotected sex, since individuals are at an increased risk for exposure to STDs. If you are interested in having unprotected sex with a new partner, or have engaged in unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, you should get tested. Following unprotected sexual activity, test for gonorrhea and chlamydia in 2 weeks after; test for syphilis in 1 week to 3 months; and test for HIV, hepatitis C and B in 6 weeks to 3 months.

When Engaging in Riskier Relationships

More frequent testing is needed in the instance that your partner has a chronic or long-term infection, like HIV or hepatitis C or B. Get regular screening if you are involved in an open relationship. If you are unsure that your partner is monogamous, it’s reason enough to get STD/STI screening. An STD screening is recommended every six months, but if your individual situation warrants more regular screening then do so.

When Involved in High-Risk Sexual Behavior

When engaging in high-risk behavior, that can include sexual activity with a sex worker, IV drug user, men who have sex with men, and having multiple partners, it is essential to get STD/STI testing regularly. This is because you are at a higher risk of exposure to HIV, hepatitis C, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. It’s best not to delay getting tested after contact. As early as two weeks after contact, test for gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Getting STD/STI testing is important for your overall health and wellness. If you are sexually active, you should get tested. When to get tested is highly dependent on age and sexual behaviors.