Is Yearly STI Testing Necessary If You're In A Monogamous Relationship?

Getting tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) if we're sexually active, in addition to using protection like condoms, diaphragms, and other tools, is a great way to protect ourselves. If you're single (and mingling), arming yourself with knowledge, early detection, and treatment offers not only peace of mind, but also can protect you from a whole host of symptoms that may develop if left untreated.


There were more than 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis in the US in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in 2021, the CDC reported that rates of syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia had all increased from the year prior.

However, what if you're not single nor mingling? What if you're already in a committed, monogamous relationship, and have been for quite sometime? Should you still get tested? Yes, we know that our partners love us and we feel secure that they would never cheat on us, and worse, transit an infection to us, but is that being naïve to the realities of modern sexual dynamics and relationships? It turns out, cheating or not, monogamous couples can become infected. Let's investigate all the reasons why regular testing is vital for everyone.


STIs can be transmitted in non-sexual ways

It is literally the plot of every reality TV show: Woman loves her boyfriend, and is blissfully unaware that he is cheating on her repeatedly. Unfortunately, these things don't just happen on television, so we have to use our head and not our heart when considering STI testing. And experts agree. California OB-GYN Dr. Kerry-Ann Kelly told Well + Good, "If you're monogamous, you can't be certain your partner is. I see people in long-term monogamous relationships have positive STI test results all the time. That's why I encourage every single woman to get tested yearly, and her partner as well."


However it's entirely possible for a monogamous couple to become infected when no cheating has occurred. Some infections, like chlamydia, may be dormant for years and have no symptoms, meaning your partner was infected before they ever knew you, and may not have realized (via U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). 

Former chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Dr. Savita Ginde told The Body that you can get herpes from a kiss your uncle gave you when you were eight and boom, you have cold sores. HIV/AIDS can be transmitted outside of sexual contact, like tattoo needles, or blood transfusions.

Have the testing convo with your partner, no matter how awkward

Just because some infections have no symptoms, it doesn't mean they can't damage your health going forward. OB-GYN and the doctor behind the Instagram account @gynaegossip Dr. Sotonye West tells Daye, "If chlamydia spreads to the womb, ovaries or fallopian tubes, it can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which in turn can cause problems getting pregnant, chronic pain and increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy."


Dr. Kerry-Ann Kelly agrees, telling Well + Good that "STIs are one way to become infertile." So to avoid that, we cannot avoid the uncomfortable and awkward convo with our partners about getting tested regularly.

Family medicine physician Dr. Beth Oller told The Body that you could start the conversation with your partner this way: "... there are things we could have had from a prior relationship that we don't know about, and to be as safe as possible, we should both get tested." Dr. Savita Ginde also told the outlet that "a couple that gets tested sets a healthy foundation for their relationship." Dr. Kelly advises that annual testing is sufficient for monogamous couples.

So it's time we got over the cringe and awkwardness of these conversations with our partners, and take our health by the horns.