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

Going to a doctor’s office or health clinic is the best way to get checked for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These infections spread from person to person during vaginal, oral, or anal sex; using fingers ("fingering"); or by other sexual contact.

STDs don’t always have symptoms, so you could have one and not know it. That’s why it’s so important to get tested.

Why Is it Best to Get Tested for STDs in Person?

  • Treatment. Sometimes you can get both tested and treated in the doctor’s office or clinic. Some STDs can be diagnosed right away, so doctors can give you medicine. They also might be able to give you a prescription for your partner. It’s important treat STDs as soon as possible so they don’t spread to others or cause long-term problems.
  • Prevention. Doctors and other clinic staff can give you advice on how to help prevent STDs and about using birth control. The only way to completely avoid getting an STD is to not have sex. If you do have sex, use condoms or other barrier methods like dental dams or finger condoms every time. Unprotected sex can lead to STDs and sometimes accidental pregnancy.
  • Advice. If you have questions about STDs or sex, try talking with your parents. But if you aren’t comfortable going to them or another trusted adult, the staff at your doctor’s office or clinic can help. They can even suggest ways you can talk about STDs with your partner.
  • Privacy. Sometimes teens worry that their parents will find out they went to the doctor or a clinic for help with STDs. In most states, as long as you’re over 13, parents don’t need to know. You can ask the staff to make sure.
  • Cost. Some places offer free or low-cost testing and treatment.

What About At-Home STD Tests?

Home tests are available for some STDs. But the results aren’t always reliable, and they can cost a lot. Plus, the tests don’t include treatment. STDs don’t go away on their own, so you need to get checked and treated by a doctor.

What Else Should I Know?

If you want to get tested for STDs and need a little support, ask a parent, trusted adult, or friend to go with you. You also can find support and more information online at Planned Parenthood.

Reviewed by: Lonna P. Gordon, MD
Date Reviewed: Jan 1, 2024

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