Stigma and STD Testing

This year, I turned 22. I have been sexually active for a year and a half, and I have never been tested for STIs. I was discussing this with a friend of mine when she told me she hadn’t been tested in a while. So for my birthday, I got three friends together, and we got tested and went out for dinner. How often do you hear about this? Beyond that, how often do you hear females talk about getting tested?

Before my friend’s suggestion, I never considered getting tested. It just wasn’t in my thought process. However, getting tested is a great thing to do. I believe it is part of being a sexually responsible adult. As we were sitting in the waiting room, we realized that this isn’t what everyone thinks. Out of all the females there, most of them were wearing sunglasses. No one made eye contact; no one spoke. The deafening silence was eerie. Then we came in and shook things up.

I’m not going to share our names. I’m not going to distinguish myself. We all have different experiences, so I’m simply going to share that.

Questions Asked

When is the last time you had sex? Why do you want to get tested? Do you have any symptoms? What type of sex do you have (vaginal, anal, oral)? How many partners have you had in the past three months? How many partners have you had overall? Are your partners casual or long term? Are your partners boys or girls or both? Do you use condoms? Do you use other types of protection? What brand? Have you had a pap smear?

Friend #1

I’ve had a nice mix of casual and committed/regular sex. I have had a decent amount of partners and have tried almost everything. I am pretty open-minded when it comes to sex and trying new experiences. I am always safe until my most recent partner because I have used a condom 100% of the time while being on birth control. Recently, I did have sex with a Dutch guy I met at a bar, so one night stands are a cause for precautionary measures.

I didn’t feel judged, although I did state to the nurse I was coming for precautionary reasons. I indicated that I donate blood frequently and do not believe I am positive with anything but want to make sure. Overall, I have no regrets. I’m glad I did blood and urine tests, and I know I’ll rest a little easier knowing 100% I am STI free. It was overall a positive experience and the entire process was relatively quick which is a huge plus!

Friend #2

I’ve had a few partners all with condoms except a long term boyfriend which was a two-year relationship. I have hooked up with a Dutch guy recently which is exactly why I did this.

I did not feel judged at all although I did feel like I needed to not say as many partners but not because she was judging me. The overall experience was professional, quick, comfortable, and casual.

Friend #3

I am in a long-term relationship, and he has been my only partner. We are currently not using condoms, but I am on the Nexplanon arm implant for birth control. My experience is uncommon since both of us were virgins when we first had sex. I wanted to get tested just to be safe.

I did not feel judged at all. The nurse was very supportive of my decisions and didn’t push me to get my blood tested (although I now wish I had). Overall, this experience was eye-opening and easy. There was nothing to be unsure about, and everyone there was friendly. I’m really glad I had my friends with me.

Friend #4

I have had a serious boyfriend in the past. I’m currently in a “regularly casual” kind of thing (as in, we’re not dating, but we hook up and it’s not a one-night stand). Before this guy, I’ve recently had quite a few partners and one night stands.

I was a little hesitant to tell the nurse that I don’t always use protection and that the last time I had sex was the day before. She was 100% judging me for not getting a pap smear, but I’m happy to say that I actually booked one. I had fun doing this, and I’m glad we did. It’s so much better to go with friends. I told my friends at school and they died about getting the whole squad out to get tested.

All in all, I think this was a great experience. We didn’t feel stigmatized for getting tested. We giggled when the number 69 was called, and we chatted as if it were any other day. This was fun. The overall process was quick too – it took under an hour for all four of us to get tested. I hope by sharing this experience, we can inspire other groups of women to take responsibility for their sexuality and get tested. Make it a ladies night out! If someone ends up testing positive, make it another ladies night out to go get the prescription. There shouldn’t be a stigma for getting tested. There is no shame in sexuality, and there is no shame in being safe about it. By going as a group and making it like a routine, we are flipping the script and taking charge of our sexuality.