Not knowing whether you have an STI can be daunting and cause you a lot of anxiety. If you engage in sexual activities that increase the risk of acquiring an STI, you’re probably trying to avoid that thought altogether.
But most people who are sexually active will acquire an STI at one point or another. STI scare is a common problem and it doesn’t really matter whether they have one, their partner has one or they just had a UTI or yeast infection that had STI-like symptoms.
While regular STI testing, use of barriers, safer sex practices, and good communication help to reduce the risk of acquiring an STI, it’s impossible to entirely eliminate all the risks unless you’re completely abstinent.
Here are 5 things you should do right now if you are too scared to get an STI test and you’re worried that you might have acquired one.
- Get Tested ASAP
It’s as simple as that. The most important step is to get yourself tested as soon as possible. The majority of STI tests are very simple and a blood sample, or urine, or swap is enough. Many STIs have visible symptoms too, but some of them are asymptomatic.
STI testing will help to answer the question that’s driving you crazy right now. All it takes is a couple of minutes and some time of waiting, and all your worries or uncertainties will be over.
So head over to your primary care physician to ask them for testing. Most cities have clinics that offer free or low-cost STI testing – search for more information in you’re bound to find some helpful results.
While you’re waiting for your test results, you should hold off on any sexual contact. You wouldn’t want to transmit an infection to someone else without knowing that you have one, right? Even if it’s your partner who tested positive and you might not carry the disease, it’s always better to stay safe.
- Your results are important
Once you get your results, it’s time to take the next step. If your results come back negative, you are likely to breathe a sigh of relief. However, if you test positive for an STI, you will need to get informed and take full control of your health. Sometimes you might need a treatment as well.
Don’t freak out, there is a cure for all STIs. Even a positive HIV result is no longer a death sentence today. And don’t forget that the risk of contracting HIV is low, and the risk of getting AIDS is even lower.
Not every person who has HIV virus will also have AIDS. There are many treatments that allow to control HIV symptoms and slow down the immune system damage that leads to AIDS. Inform yourself about the symptoms, risk factors, and testing.
Identifying and STI early on allows to get full medical help and prevent future complications or other infections. Even if you are exposed to the HIV virus, treating other STIs will also reduce the risk of you getting HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Let your partners know
If you test positive for any STI, you should notify your most recent sexual partners so that they can also get tested. It might sound daunting, but it’s very important that you do that. You can use ways for anonymous communication to notify your former partners if you feel scared or embarrassed.
- Offer and receive support
Knowing that you have an STI might cause you anxiety, even if it’s something you will be able to cure with a quick trip to a doctor. Sometimes, you might struggle with the infection for the rest of your life, but it’s normal to feel nervous, sad, embarrassed or even angry.
That’s why you need to share that information with people you trust. If you have friends with whom you feel comfortable discussing these topics, get in touch and tell them you need support. Reach out to associations such as raTrust for more information and helpful advice.
But while you’re giving or receiving support, remember that sharing information about the STI status of your partners is not a good idea. For example, if your partner tested positive for chlamydia and you are now getting tested as well, be mindful about how you discuss the topic with your friends.
You can tell a close friend that someone you had sex with during the last few years had an STI so you’re going to get tested as well – that’s probably fine. But talking to a group of your partner’s friends about that recent STI diagnosis is a terrible idea. Consider the privacy of the person who told you they might have or have an STI.
- Get tested before having sex with a new partner
Now that you’ve had your STI test, you’re fully aware of the risks involved in sexual activity. Before having sex with a new partner, insist that you both get tested for STIs.
It’s good to know each other’s status and risks before you start engaging in sexual activity. Practicing safer sex will help protect your health and avoid worrying about the risks you’re taking. Use protection such as condoms or dental dams every time you have any kind of sexual activity.
Getting tested for STIs can be scary, but it’s necessary. It’s part and parcel of being sexually active. Think of it as another side to sex. Being responsible about it will not only help you lead a healthier life, but also increase the trust in relationships with your partners.