Getting TestedClinicians want to hear about your experiences, concerns, and questions. Sometimes, your clinician might not bring up a topic that is important to you. It’s perfectly OK for you to bring up issues yourself. Take advantage of your clinician’s knowledge and ask any questions you have. This is an opportunity for you to talk without fear of any judgment. Depending on your interests and needs, your clinician might be able to provide you with educational materials and or help refer you to other clinics. The more honest and open you are with your clinician, the better they can help you.
STD TESTINGMany people think they would know if they have an STD, but that’s not usually the case. Many STDs have mild or no symptoms at all, which makes testing even more important. Check out the four ways you can get an STD here. The only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to get tested. But don’t worry: STD testing can be quick and easy- the most common STDs can even be tested with a simple urine sample. Be responsible. Protect yourself and your partner by getting tested. Once you ask your clinician about testing, here’s what you can expect:
BEFORE THE TEST:Your clinician will probably begin by asking you some questions about your sexual history. These questions help the clinician understand what tests may be best for you:
- When did you last have sex?
- Did you use a condom the last time you had sex?
- Do you have any symptoms, such as discharge, pain, or a rash?
- Do you believe you might have an STD?
THE TEST:STDs can be tested for in a variety of ways, including urine testing and genital swabs collected by either you or clinician. Your clinician will talk to you about which tests are available and what is recommended for you based on your risk factors. Depending on the recommendations, you may not even need to have an exam!
AFTER THE TEST:Some tests will have results in just a few days, while other test results may take a week or more. Your clinician will tell you when you can expect to hear results. While you may feel nervous or anxious after the test and hate the idea of waiting, try to relax and stay positive. You should feel proud that you’ve done a smart, responsible thing by getting tested. Ask your clinician if it’s OK for you to have sex while you wait for the test results. You can also ask your clinician about what a positive test result would mean and what the treatment will be. Finally, ask your clinician what they recommend you to do protect yourself from STDs in the future.
IF YOU TEST POSITIVE:The clinic may call or ask that you return to discuss your results and to provide treatment. Be sure to ask questions and make sure you understand what the clinician is recommending or prescribing.
TELLING YOUR PARTNER(S):
It is very important that you tell your sexual partners if you’ve tested positive for an STD so they may also get tested and treated. Your current or previous partners are at risk of having the STD and giving it to others. If you are worried that it may be unsafe to talk to your partner, consider meeting with them in a public space or ask your clinician for help in talking with your partner.
Your clinician might also offer to send home medication with you for your partner. This will allow your partner to start treatment right away so you can both get better and not give the STD to each other again or to new partners.
Telling your partner can be a scary idea, but try to remember that telling your partner(s) is the best way for them to protect themselves. If you’re afraid to tell your partner(s), check out this article by a journalist with genital herpes.
Here are a few tips to make it easier to tell your partner(s):
- Gather information about your STD. This is so you are able to answer the questions your partner(s) might have if they ask more about it. Ask your clinician for information about the STD and what they recommend you tell your partner(s).
- Plan ahead. If you are nervous, write a script and practice it. Start off by pointing out the good things about the relationship before transitioning to the subject about your STD.
- Be aware of your attitude and mood when telling your partner(s). The way you talk your STD can influence their reaction to it. Be straightforward, calm and sincere.
- Be ready to share information about treatment and symptoms.
- Listen. Once the message is delivered, stop talking. Allow your partner(s) to speak and process the information.
- At the end of the day, keep in mind that your diagnosis doesn’t define you. Anyone who has sex can get an STD, and just because you have an STD doesn’t mean you’re more promiscuous or dirty. It simply means you got sick, and you’re getting treatment, and you want your partner to do the same.