Everyone dreads getting tested, and even more so, is anxious while waiting for the call with your results. What happens when that call is your worst nightmare>
You may feel afraid and ashamed, and maybe even regret. Don’t worry - it’s a lot to process. The thought of having to call sexual partners, or significant others, to tell them to go get tested as well can be extremely stressful in a time that you’re already nervous and scared. STD’s and that topic have a lot of negativity around them. We all hear about preventing them, but we rarely talk about how to handle and manage them.
Did you know that the CDC estimates that there are over 20 million new cases of STD infections every year? Although this may seem like the end of the world as you know it, remember that you are not alone, and treatments are available.
The first thing to realize is that even though no one wants to be diagnosed or test positive for an STD, they happen. If you’re sexually active, you’re at risk of contracting something. Remember that having an STD doesn’t make you dirty or disgusting. STD’s are actually getting easier and more affordable to treat!
Once you process what’s going on, be sure to see a doctor immediately. While you may not be sexually active, STD’s can still have effects on your physical well being, and need to be treated as soon as possible. You may need more tests done, or you may need a simple round of antibiotics to treat it. A good thing to know is that some common sexually transmitted infections are curable, such as chlamydia, trich, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
The next step is to take care of yourself mentally. Everyone finds bad news to be bearable or not bearable in different ways. You may want to see a counselor to talk it out with a non biased third party. Emotional support can really help your own state of mind during this time.
Once you know exactly what you have, you need to notify anyone that you’ve been with sexually so that they can get tested immediately as well. It’s also important to think back to when your last testing was done, and if you could have received it from one of your partners. If they unknowingly spread it, being able to support each other through this time can be very beneficial for both of you.
Though this is likely the last thing on your mind, remember that STD’s and STI’s are not the end of your sex life. That being said, there are some very important responsibilities you have to take on from this point on, depending on which type you have.
Because bacterial STIs/STDs (such as gonorrhea, syphilis or chlamydia) can be cured with antibiotics, you should steer clear of sex until your doctor confirms that your treatment is complete and it’s safe to have sexual intercourse. Of course, we always recommend using protection as well, to safe guard any potential scares again.
Viral variants (HIV, HPV, hepatitis and herpes) can’t be cured (yet), only managed. If this is the case, you have to be on top of your treatments, and always disclose your status to a partner. Using protection is again a no brainer.
If you are diagnosed with a viral infection, make sure you take the viral medication (if it was prescribed to you) to reduce the risk of it spreading to your partner. Other good sexual practices are using condoms, using lubricants to help prevent condoms from breaking, and talking about your status as well as your partners before partaking in any sexual activities.
It may seem awkward or uncomfortable to talk about your STD/STI statuses from the start, but it’s the responsible thing to do, and may just prevent you from getting something that has lifelong repercussions. If you or your partner don’t know your status, use protection, and suggest getting tested together! It’s easier when done together, and gives you peace of mind.
STDs aren’t just something you read about - they’re out there. If you’ve been diagnosed, remember that you are more than your diagnosis. While it’s not fun, and can be both stressful and scary at times, your life will go on, albeit it with a few adjustments.