Three letters you never want to hear come out of your doctor’s mouth. STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases) or STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) compete with pregnancy scares for biggest sex-related fear. The reason STD’s/STI’s are so frightening is because they can range from curable irritants like gonorrhea to a possible death sentence like AIDS. If you’re afraid of getting an STD/STI or think you might have one, here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Safe sex = great sex. Corny, but true. If you’re having sex you should think about using condoms. They’re the only form of protection from STD’s/STI’s during sex. They can be uncomfortable and you may be allergic to the material most condoms are made of (latex) but there are other options, such as sheepskin condoms. Don’t forgo safe sex because your partner pressures you to. If you’re not comfortable with the situation, then say no. If your partner continues to pressure you, tell them this isn’t something you will give in to and they can either abide by your wishes or leave.
- Get tested often. If you’re having unprotected sex, think about getting tested for STD’s/STI’s every 6 months. Places like Planned Parenthood offer low-cost screenings and the ability to pay in cash. Don’t be afraid to consult a doctor about your concerns. Test results can take a few days to come in but getting tested often will give you peace of mind.
- Talk with your partner. Having an open dialogue with your partner is the best way to know what your chance of getting an STD/STI is. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner about their past medical/romantic history. It might be tough to start the conversation but you’ll be glad you asked.
- Follow your instincts. If you think something is off (physically) then see your doctor. You know what your body feels like normally and if something doesn’t feel right, get tested. It could be an itch, a bump or a color change, but these small changes could mean you contracted and STD/STI.
- Research. If you’re afraid of getting an STD/STI, know what your chances are of contracting one and learn the signs and symptoms. Some STD’s/STI’s can be spread vaginally, anally and orally. If you don’t know the risks, how can you protect yourself? If you do contract an STD/STI then at least you know what to look for and can catch it early. Earlier recognition means earlier treatment, giving you better chances of a quick and easy recovery. Some STD’s/STI’s can cause irreparable damage like Syphilis, which if left untreated can cause brain damage, paralysis and blindness. Learn about the symptoms of STD’s/STI’s here. You can also take online tests to learn about your risks. STD Wizard has an in-depth quiz that asks about your sexual history, vaccination history and other questions to help determine what you should get screened for. The test is based on the 2015 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines from the CDC.
If you’re looking to get tested or just talk to someone about the risks, you can find a Planned Parenthood near you by using the search tool on their website. If you’re afraid of using insurance because your parents will find out, don’t worry. Planned Parenthood lets you pay cash for these tests and you can be notified of the results by giving them your cell-phone number. I’ve used Planned Parenthood before and highly recommend it. When I wanted to go on birth control and my parents were against it I was able to get a prescription through Planned Parenthood without using insurance. The doctors there were very open to answering any of my questions and made me feel comfortable throughout the process.
Have you ever had an STD/STI scare? How did you deal with the situation?
*Feature photo originally posted on Instagram by @vajayjaydocs