You Got an STI. Now What?

Many people don’t want to talk about sexually transmitted infections (STIs, or STDs for sexually transmitted diseases) because of the shameful stigma that comes attached to it. As was so eloquently said by Coach Carr in Mean Girls, “Don’t have sex. 'Cause you will get pregnant. And die.” And who can forget, “If you touch each other, you WILL get Chlamydia.”

It’s no joke if you contract an STI. But, don’t panic. Focus on taking care of yourself before anything else. That means getting necessary testing done, eliminating any other possible infections or diseases, and starting treatment as soon as possible. See your preferred doctor if possible, but if not, student health services are always an option and so is CVS minute clinic.

Keep in mind that if you do get tested and the results are negative, there’s still a chance you might have something, especially if your symptoms worsen or you develop new ones. It may be a good idea to wait a few weeks after your initial symptoms begin to go ahead and get tested again.

Getting diagnosed with an STI can be a really tough time. You might feel shame, anger, grief, or even guilt. Let yourself go through this emotional process, but make sure you reach out for the help and support you need. Talk to your trusted friends and loved ones and tell whomever you are comfortable enough telling so that they can be there for you in any way you need. When you’re sick, it’s hard to care for yourself like you normally would, so this is very important.

Telling your past, current or future partner(s) is also extremely important. It may be a difficult conversation to have, but you can do it! Write a script if you need to to help you feel comfortable in what you’ll say. If you know who gave you the STI, or think you have an idea, it’s very important to contact them and let them know what is going on. They could have the STI and not even experience symptoms, blindly passing it on to other people without knowing. Be sure to tell them you have it and that they are at risk as well. When it comes to future partners, having an STI can be really terrifying. You don’t want to scare people away and you also don’t want to feel dirty. Realize that you are not dirty and that there are actually a lot of people in the world living with STIs every day. In the United States alone, 1.7 million people contracted Chlamydia in 2017, according to data from the Center for Disease Control. It is the true test of a mature adult as to whether they run or stay and support when you tell them about your condition. So if a partner runs, you probably should not have been with them anyway.

The CDC also reported 555,608 cases of Gonorrhea and 30,644 cases of Syphilis in 2017. If you leave an STI untreated, it can affect fertility, increase the risk of getting HIV, and cause long-term pelvic and abdominal pain. Although STIs are extremely serious, remember that you are not alone and that there is plenty of help for you to manage whatever you might contract.

Do something nice for yourself. Make sure you’re okay and that any partners are okay. Then take the bull by the horns and move onward! You’ve got this. It’s okay.


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