STDs are, in a way, similar to Schrodinger’s Cat theory. Similar to how Schrodinger’s Cat can be assumed to be alive and dead at the same time, with STDs, you might or might not be having them unless you muster up the courage to get tested for STDs. STDs are truly full of oxymorons and contradictions: they may be living but dead and elusive but present. In fact, people can be having them without realizing it. As much as we repeatedly encourage you to do regular STD testing to make sure your sexual health is in tip top condition, we realise the horror and stigma surrounding it. We understand your skepticism and concerns about getting tested, so we will try to discuss some ways to make yourself more at ease because rather than scary, STD testing is helpful.
STIs and STDs should not be deemed taboo, dirty and abnormal in the first place. Our sexual health is an important puzzle piece that contributes to achieving the perfect overall health. Yet, the importance of sexual health is often overlooked. In the US alone in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were almost 2.6 million STD cases plaguing the country. This data shows how serious the situation was. As much as we want to turn a blind eye, untreated STDs can cause permanent and chronic health conditions. Do not put off getting tested, because the second best time is now.
1. Remember that health is wealth
As cliche as it may sound, this saying is true and undeniable. Without health, even the most leisure and entertaining things feel difficult to do and out of reach. If you are trying to postpone your appointment with the nearest clinic for another day, you may want to think again. While it is true that some STDs are not as serious and hazardous as the others, being diagnosed early is always better. This way, you can be subjected to the correct STD treatment and medication as soon as possible.
2. STD testing is a common health procedure
Although there are so many stigmas surrounding STD testing and sexual health clinics, STD testing is a common activity to do when measuring a person’s health. In fact, CDC encourages every adult and adolescent from the ages of 13 to 64 to at least be tested once for HIV. Sexually active people should also make it a habit to incorporate STD testing as a routine once a year. Not limited to sexually active people, pregnant women should also be examined for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C in the beginning of their pregnancy.
3. Some STDs are treatable and some are even curable
As we mentioned earlier, it is not wise to put off STD testing, because the earlier you get diagnosed, the faster you can be treated or get cured. Although some STDs are not curable (HIV, hepatitis B, herpes and HPV), gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and trichomoniasis are. However, even with incurable STDs, you can still take medicine to minimise and prevent the disease’s progression to more severe stages. For instance, taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV can give people a chance of having a long and fruitful life. In some cases, some people do reach a stage where they have undetectable viral load and therefore cannot pass the virus on to their partners.
4. Talk to your partner or even better, get tested together
Sometimes, fear is truly only in our head. Communicating your deepest and darkest fear can make it less intimidating, especially with a partner that you trust. Bringing up STI topics can sound random and uncomfortable, but if you are with the right person, you may be surprised to know that they will encourage you or even get tested together. You can open the conversation by saying “Actually, I am a bit uncomfortable and nervous to discuss this, but I care about us and I want us to have a healthy sex life.” An equally caring and positive partner will most likely get on board with this plan. There will definitely be cases of partners refusing to do STD testing, but getting tested together surely enhances the quality of sex life. There is no feeling more assuring than knowing you are getting physically involved with someone who is aware of their sexual health status. Getting tested together is proof of how much you care about your partner’s wellbeing.
5. Do a lot of research and opt for a clinic you trust
To make the process less intimidating and more breezy, you can carry out consistent research. Therefore, you know what to expect and how long the test is when the D-day arrives. Rather than letting the fear of the unknown paralyse and hinder us from doing the necessary actions, we can start to reframe our mindset and control what we can. Not only does doing decent research on the topic alleviate the fear, it can also help you settle for the right clinic where you feel safe and comfortable. “Different strokes for different folks,” a wise man once said. For some, the perfect testing place can be a clinic in the neighbourhood, but for others, clinics that allow walk-in may spark the courage to get tested because it lessens the sense that it is something abnormal or shameful.
6. Dedicate a special day for getting tested or take a day off
Make time for your test day and take a day off. STD testing normally does not take an entire day to do. After preparing and bracing yourself for the test, you deserve to treat yourself to a nice meal, an entertaining activity such as going to the cinema or meeting up with a close friend to share your experience because you have been so brave.
The most valuable thing you can invest in is your health. Keeping yourself updated with your sexual health status is the truest form of self-care and helps you sleep better at night. Shim Clinic is always here to ensure you are diagnosed correctly and are administered the right medication. We specialise in STD testing, prevention and treatment. Specifically for HIV, we do HIV tests, HIV treatments and HIV prevention medications like HIV PrEP and HIV PEP.