Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
If I wanted to be glib, I’d tell you, since you’re reading this post, you should be tested for STDs… Although, I’m guessing that wouldn’t go over well, and, quite frankly, I can’t blame you. Years ago, it wouldn’t have and certainly didn’t impact my testing decisions either (or lack thereof).
Surprisingly, or, maybe not surprisingly having read that, I’ve encountered a few STDs – I’m living with one forever, and I’ve also had others. It might then interest you to learn, I’ve been in a long-term monogamous relationship for years, but that didn’t necessarily reduce my risk.
The deal is, I’ve never really had a comprehensive sex education – abstinence-only education was the thing back when we were taught in health class, and, as a result, for years, I was sexually ignorant. For instance, I thought taking birth control was being sexually responsible.
Anyhow, I know there are an unsettling number of others who’ve had a similar educational background; so, this is less about trying to convince you to get tested – tons of boring sites do that already – and more about asking you some simple sexual health questions I wish were previously asked of me and then encouraging you to run – not walk – to the nearest clinic.
Thinking about STD Testing Logically
Can you say ‘no’ to any of these questions?
- Did you ask all previous partners if they had been tested?
- Do you know which tests all of your partners have had?
- Did you get tested before and after each new partner?
- Do you know how many STDs you can get tested for?
- Did your past partners show you their verified test results?
- Do you know if your partners have waited to get tested until the testing windows provide the most accurate result?
- Did you use barriers with all partners and during all sexual activities?
- Have you been vaccinated for Hep A & B?
- Have you ever seen anything unusual on a partner’s genitals?
Then, you should get tested.
Can you say ‘yes’ to any of these questions?
- Have you ever enjoyed (or maybe not enjoyed) sexual activities with someone else?
- Have you ever had unprotected sex?
- Have you ever had protected sex (sex with condoms or other barriers)?
- Have you only had sex with ‘virgins’?
- Have you had more than one sexual partner?
- Have you ever had a condom break?
- Have you ever had oral sex?
- Have you ever had manual sex (hand-jobs, etc.)?
- Have you ever used withdrawal or ‘the pull out method’?
- Have you ever shared sex toys with someone else?
- Have you ever had anal sex?
- Were you mutually exclusive or monogamous with all partners?
- Have you had sex with someone who said they were ‘clean’?
- Have you had sex with someone who said they’ve been tested for ‘all’ STDs?
- Are you being serially monogamous?
- Have you ever used a barrier after its expiration date?
- Have you ever used a condom that was in your purse, pocket or wallet for more than a few hours?
Then, you should get tested.
If you have ever engaged in any partnered sexual activities with anyone, you should get tested.
STDs happen at every age, within every sexual orientation, economic class, race, gender or other broad groups, in and outside of marriage, in all kinds of relationship models, whether it’s the first time or the one hundredth time (cheers to you), where there’s love and trust and where there isn’t. It can happen, and it does – all of the time.
Unfortunately, the odds aren’t in your favor.
That’s why testing is so important!
Sexual Responsibility is the New Sexy
Getting STD testing done is part of being sexually responsible. Knowing your status and being sexually responsible IS the new sexy. Your health and the outcomes of your sexual activities (whether plentiful or sparse) are yours and yours alone.
Disclaimer: I’m completely aware all of this might seem a bit obvious and maybe even somewhat obnoxious coming from a chick who runs an STD site. I get it. Of course I’m going to urge you to get STD testing done, right? How cliche’.
So, take someone else’s word for it.
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Is there another reason to get tested we forgot to mention? Are you inspired to get STD testing done for your first time? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!