With STDs on the Rise, Men Need Regular Sexual Health Checkups

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Monday June 16, 2014

Men should get tested for STDs and HIV
Men should get tested for STDs and HIV  (Source:plannedparenthood.com)

June is Men's Health Month, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America is encouraging men of all ages to take charge of their sexual health by getting regular checkups and, if they are sexually active, regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV.

"The truth is that not enough men get the checkups and preventive care they need. It can be easy to take your health for granted, but preventive care is a critical part of staying safe, healthy, and happy for men," said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, PPFA vice president of external medical affairs.

Men are less likely than women to visit the doctor until they're experiencing the symptoms of a serious ailment. Twenty-four percent of men don't have a usual source of health care. Twenty-one percent of men didn't have a health care visit at all in 2012.

"Protecting themselves against sexually transmitted diseases is one of the most important things men can do to protect their health," said Cullins. "STDs, if left untreated, can lead to serious health outcomes."

Rates of STDs among men are on the rise in the U.S. It's important for men to think about getting tested for STDs as a basic part of staying healthy and taking control of your sex life -- and it's easier than ever before.

Many STDs don't cause any symptoms, so the only way to know your status for sure is to get tested. ?STD tests are quick, simple, and painless. For example, rapid HIV tests can provide results in as fast as 20 minutes from just a swab inside the mouth.?

You can take care of yourself and your partner by talking about getting tested before you start having sex. Since many STDs show no symptoms, you or your partner may have an STD from a previous relationship and not know it.?

If you're unsure if you should get tested, take this quick quiz to find out.

Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men need to be particularly concerned about STDs, as they face higher rates of STDs, including HIV/AIDS and syphilis. New numbers on U.S. rate of syphilis infections, for example, show that rates have more than doubled since 2000 -- with the increase exclusively in men. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men face the highest rates of syphilis infections, and it's rising.

June is Pride Month as well as Men's Health Month, and Planned Parenthood is proud to provide health services and information to gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.

"Planned Parenthood is proud to be a source of sexual health care and STD testing for men across the country, and to answer any questions they may have about their health," said Cullins. "A visit to a health care provider for a checkup is also an opportunity to ask any questions you might have -- nothing is off-limits! We're here to give you accurate, nonjudgmental information and advice."

Planned Parenthood provides basic health care for men, including testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing, and sexual health information and education. Many Planned Parenthood health centers also offer special services for men, including cancer screenings, infertility screenings and referrals, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation education, and vasectomies, exams, treatment, and referrals.

In the last 10 years, Planned Parenthood has nearly doubled the number of male patients we see nationally. Between 2002 and 2012, there was an 83 percent increase in Planned Parenthood male clients.

Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation's largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment.

For more information or to find a health center near you, visit plannedparenthood.org.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.