Fresh out of the second weekend of No Shame November, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite topic for a Monday morning: sexually transmitted diseases.
Perhaps the last STD reality check you got was in high school health class when pictures of genitals with cauliflower-like growths almost made you lose your lunch. Maybe you made mental notes and figured that as long as you stayed away from what you saw in those images, you were good to go.
Unfortunately, many people with STDs show no symptoms, yet can still pass infections along. If you’ve been getting down for the first few months of school, don’t freak out. If you’ve been using condoms, you go, Glen Coco! But, they’re not foolproof. The best way to get peace of mind is to get tested.
Getting tested does not brand you as promiscuous, nor is it strenuous or embarrassing. It’s an incredibly simple process. At the appointment, you’ll first fill out some paperwork. Answer honestly — if you report any symptoms, you’ll discuss them with the nurse to see if a physical exam is necessary.
Routine STD testing is quick and painless. You’ll first get a pin prick to your finger for a rapid HIV test, which will yield results in 15 minutes. While you’re waiting, you’ll pee in a cup for chlamydia and gonorrhea testing. Yes, guys, urine tests can replace the cotton-swab-up-the-urethra test of yesteryear. I’m sure you’ll miss that.
You’ll get the HIV results and be on your way, but not before you’re offered a plethora of free condoms, which you can add to the collection you’ve already stashed in your pockets from the jar marked “Free” in the lobby. If anything shows up in your urine samples, you’ll get a call within seven days.
That’s it. It’s a harmless experience, and you get to feel like a responsible adult for the rest of the day, knowing you’ve gotten the tests that experts consider most crucial for sexually active young people.
As females, we learn about the necessity of going to a gynecologist yearly after age 21, and STD testing routinely occurs during these visits. That’s because certain STDs can lead to cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and other unique risks for women.
Guys are not as adversely affected by the majority of STDs, as proven by the fact that there is no such guideline for visiting a penis doctor every year — or at all since such a position doesn’t really exist. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not all equally responsible for being aware and in control of our sexual health. It takes two to tango — we’re not getting STDs by having sex with
That’s why it is completely within our rights to request that a new partner get tested before embarking upon a sexual relationship. Whatever excuse the person might offer, don’t buy it. Too expensive? Many clinics offer free testing that doesn’t get submitted to your insurance. Check out Boynton Health Service’s options or check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website for a list of other nearby clinics. My personal favorite is the West Suburban Teen Clinic, now called myHealth, which has locations in Hopkins, Minn., and Excelsior, Minn. Too painful? Wrong — that’s based on misinformation about what the tests entail. Too time-consuming? Waiting for chlamydia to clear will take a lot longer.
Never feel guilty or apologetic about protecting your body. STD testing too often becomes something that happens only once someone suspects a problem, and by then, it could be too late. If you ask someone to get tested and he or she refuses, ask yourself if that person really deserves to have sex with you.