On some level, you probably know that STDs are far more common than your middle school sex ed teacher led you to believe. But get ready for a stat-attack: Every day, more than 1.2 million STDs are acquired worldwide, and in the United States alone there are nearly 20 million new STD cases each year, according to a report from The World Health Organization (WHO). Wowza!
What’s more, experts say that they’re likely even more prevalent than these numbers suggest, because the numbers reported above are only confirmed cases. Meaning, someone got tested and was positive.
“While it’s best practice to get tested every year or after every new partner—whichever comes first—most folks with an STI don’t have symptoms and most folks don’t get tested unless they have symptoms,” explains Sherry A. Ross, M.D., ob-gyn and author of She-ology. Hey, there’s no way for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or WHO to know if you have an STI you don’t even know about! There’s also the chance that you think something is up, but you decide to wait it out and see if it’ll “take care of itself.”