STIs – Why it’s important to get tested.
There is a huge stigma surrounding STIs, leading to fear and hesitation amongst many people in getting tested. Furthermore, STIs are not as scary as they have been made out to be, therefore I am here to disprove some general myths, and also highlight why it is important to get tested.
There exists an assumption that if you do not notice anything different nor exhibit any symptoms, there is then no need to get tested. However, this is far from the case and it is still necessary to get tested after each new sexual partner regardless. The NHS have found that around 70% of women do not show signs of Chlamydia, whilst 50% will not show symptoms of Gonorrhoea. These are two of the most common STIs, and therefore these statistics illustrate just how hidden these diseases can be, and highlight just how important regular testing and contraception should be.
Many common STDs can be easily treated with antibiotics or injections, such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea. These can be completely eradicated, and as such there should be no fear or stigma over being tested. They are as easily treated as many infections, and therefore you should not feel disgusting for being tested, nor if it turns out you have to have treatment.
- Long Term Effects
Being tested is far less scary than the long-term effects of STIs. Many can cause issues such as infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancies and cervical cancer. All these things sound terrifying, but it just exaggerates even further why being tested is so incredibly important. These are all easily prevented when caught early, and this is why it is vital that we cannot let the stigma get in the way of health.
- Anyone could have one
This is not meant to scare, but rather make you realise that STIs are not a sign of being ‘dirty’ or ‘unworthy’, but rather that they are a normal part of being sexually active that people need to be aware of. You can catch an STI from only having sex once, so you cannot assume that you, or a partner are free from infection even if they insist that they haven’t had sex recently enough etc… We cannot play into the stigma and as such need to see it as a routine check-up, no matter our sex lives.
- It is incredibly easy and quick to get tested
You can attend a walk-in clinic where they will quickly take your blood and you can do your own swab and urine test. The nurses are incredibly understanding and non-judgmental, so there should be no fear over attending an appointment. However, I have incredible anxiety over going to health centres and understand that many other people may have a similar issue. Consequently, the NHS run an at home testing service. They will send you a kit home for free which you can then complete and send off. You will then receive your results within a few days, removing all the worry from physically attending a sexual health clinic.
I hope this has calmed some of the nerves you may have over getting tested, but also made you realise just how important this issue is. It can’t be ignored, and together we should fight the stigma so we can make getting tested far easier and comfortable for everyone.