Candid Conversations on STDs: demystifying STDs, Testing, and Why It’s Cool to Get Checked
In a world where society constantly harps on about the importance of physical health, where everyone is obsessed with counting steps and calorie intake, mental, emotional, and sexual health are often overlooked. For this week’s blog, we’ve decided it’s high time to give our sexual well-being the red-carpet treatment it deserves. Get ready for some seriously juicy info as we tackle burning questions and reveal just how you can get your own ‘health check-up’ in style!
What are STDs and why should I care about them?
STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, are infections that can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Some of the most common STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes, HPV (human papillomavirus), and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Now, you might be wondering, “Why should I care about STDs?” After all, it’s not the most glamorous topic to discuss over brunch. Well, here’s the lowdown. Firstly, they are incredibly common; more so than people realise. According to the World Health Organization (2023), over 1 million sexually transmitted diseases are acquired every day worldwide. So, if you’ve got one, RELAX – you are not alone in this! Another study found that in the UK, 1 in 4 students catch an STD in their first year of university (Innes, 2013). That’s a startling statistic, but it’s not meant to scare you—it’s meant to empower you with knowledge. The truth is, many STDs don’t show symptoms, which means you can have one without even realizing it. Getting tested regularly is the only way to know for sure and take control of your sexual health.
The importance of getting tested: The impact STDs can have on you long term health if left unchecked
Many sexually transmitted diseases are cunning in their ability to remain hidden. They often operate under the radar, showing little to no symptoms, especially in the early stages. This can lull people into a false sense of security, causing them to underestimate the importance of getting checked. Left unchecked, STDs can lead to a wide range of health complications, some of which can be severe and even irreversible Common STD Symptoms, 2022). Here’s a glimpse of what can happen:
- Infertility: STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea, if untreated, can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, potentially leading to infertility. In men, untreated STDs can cause epididymitis, affecting fertility.
- Cancer: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common STD that can lead to various types of cancer, including cervical, anal, and throat cancer if left untreated.
- Weakened Immune System: HIV, if not managed with medication, can progress to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), severely compromising your immune system.
- Chronic Pain: Herpes can cause recurrent outbreaks, leading to painful sores and discomfort.
- Organ Damage: Untreated syphilis can damage organs such as the heart, brain, and nervous system.
Once again, this information isn’t meant to scare you but to empower you with knowledge so that you can prioritise your sexual well-being and take action to get checked. By knowing your status, you can promptly address, manage, and treat STDs, preventing these potential long-term health complications.
Getting tested not only protects your health but also demonstrates responsibility and care for your sexual partners. It’s an essential step in taking control of your well-being and ensuring a safer, healthier future.
The Stigma Surrounding STDs
So why is it that discussions about STDs make us uncomfortable? Perhaps it’s the fear of judgment or the false belief that only “certain” people get STDs. In reality, anyone who is sexually active can be at risk. The stigma only perpetuates ignorance, making it more challenging for people to seek help and get tested. In the absence of candid discussions about safe sex, STDs and getting tested, STDs can spread easily and go unchecked. This is precisely why it’s imperative to break down the barriers and remove the stigma surrounding this subject. Normalizing open conversations about STDs is not just important; it’s a game-changer.
Getting Tested – Easy As 1-2-3
Getting tested for STDs has never been more convenient. Gone are the days of enduring lengthy waits and awkward conversations with healthcare providers. At examineme, we’ve got your back every step of the way! Simply navigate to our website at www.examineme.com, where you’ll find our dedicated sexual health tests page, offering a choice of three comprehensive tests tailored to your specific needs. During the checkout process, you’ll have the option to explore nearby examineme partner clinics or choose to arrange your own phlebotomist visit.
The testing procedure itself is a breeze—swift, painless, and straightforward. All you need to do is provide a urine sample and have a blood draw performed at the clinic. For a detailed breakdown of what to expect during your clinic appointment and blood draw, visit our informative ‘How It Works’ page at https://examineme.co.uk/how-it-works/clinic-appointment/.
In less than 48 hours, your test results will be delivered directly to your examineme account, which you used for your test purchase, accessible through our user-friendly online portal. Rest easy, knowing that taking control of your sexual health has never been this seamless and stress-free.
What to do if your results come back positive
First and foremost, don’t panic. Receiving a positive result can be emotionally overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that many STIs are treatable. Contact your healthcare provider promptly to discuss your positive result and develop a treatment plan. STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis can often be treated with antibiotics. For viral infections like HIV or herpes, antiretroviral medication and antiviral therapy can help manage the condition.
Having an STD carries a responsibility—you must inform your previous sexual partners. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s the right thing to do. Think about it; wouldn’t you want to know if you’d been exposed to an STD? By disclosing, you’re helping break the chain of transmission and protecting others.
After completing your prescribed treatment, schedule a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider to ensure the infection has cleared. Follow their recommendations for re-testing to confirm your health status.
To prevent future infections and protect your sexual partners, consistently practice safe sex by using condoms and other barrier methods. Discuss prevention strategies with your healthcare provider to reduce the risk of re-infection.
In closing, remember that your sexual health is an integral part of your overall well-being. By educating yourself, seeking regular testing, and promoting open discussions, you’re not only enhancing your own life but also contributing to a healthier, more informed society. It’s time to embrace the empowerment that comes with knowledge and take the reins of your sexual health journey.
- Common STD symptoms (2022) Mayo Clinic. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/in-depth/std-symptoms/art-20047081#:~:text=Many%20STIs%20have%20no%20signs,you%20can%20pass%20it%20on.
- Innes, E. (2013) A quarter of students catch an STI during their first year at university – and half are too drunk to remember who gave it to them, Daily Mail Online. Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2464278/QUARTER-students-catch-STI-FIRST-year-university.html
- Sexually transmitted infections (stis) (2023) World Health Organization. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)#:~:text=Key%20facts,%2C%20gonorrhoea%2C%20syphilis%20and%20trichomoniasis.