There are a lot of reasons sexually active people avoid getting an STD test—I know because I’m one of them. I know I should bite the bullet and just go get checked, but here are some of the excuses I’ve made for not doing it and pep talks I’ve given myself—I’m sure you’ll be able to relate.
- I don’t have any symptoms, therefore I don’t have an STD. This is the number one reason I convince myself I don’t need to get checked, and I know I’m not alone in this way of thinking. It’s so easy to think of sexually transmitted infections and diseases as obvious, full of swollen red lesions or a very important part of you turning green and falling off. The reality is that a lot of STDs do look like that—infections such as herpes, crabs, even a simple yeast infection all have clear symptoms that you’re unlikely to be able to ignore. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other infections have no symptoms at all. Everything looks and feels normal. As scary as it might seem, a test is the only sure-fire way to know if you’ve got a clean bill of health. I know this logically, but that hasn’t made it any easier to actually get myself to the doctor.
- I haven’t had many sexual partners. This is also a great lie I tell myself. Just because I haven’t slept with many people doesn’t mean I can’t have an STD. It only takes sex with one person to potentially catch a disease or infection from your partner. Plus, you have to use male and female condoms for oral sex too in order for it to be considered an STD-free ride, and I don’t.
- I’m in a long-term relationship and have been free of symptoms for years. I feel like it would be strange to all of a sudden get a checkup now after being faithful to one person for four years. I hate to admit it, but even though I believe he’s been faithful to me, there still could be a chance one or both of us has an STD. If it’s a symptomless one, we could have been passing it back and forth to one another for the entirety of our relationship.
- I don’t know what to expect. I only recently got my first pap smear after years of putting that off. I won’t lie, it was awful and painful and embarrassing—all of the things I’d read online it wouldn’t be. Every experience is different for every person, so really and truly, I’ve no idea what to expect if I booked an STD test. Still, I know in my heart that’s not a good enough reason not to get one. I swear I’ll do it soon!
- I’m scared about the results. Even if I could get my head around the actual examination, the waiting time might be even worse. The awful torment of waiting around for my results to be examined and trying to carry on with regular life just might finish me off. I’m scared that maybe I do have something. How long have I had it? How far back does it date and how many people will I need to call? I’d be mortified to have to tell my partner I’ve had this the whole time we’ve been together too.
- We should be more scared about the long-term damage. It’s always better to know sooner rather than later, regardless of embarrassment. Some STDs can lie dormant in the body, others can even make you infertile. The cold hard reality is if I don’t get checked out soon and I leave it later than I’ve already left it, I might find myself unable to get pregnant a few years down the line, all because I was too scared to take a test millions of others have taken and survived. What a waste and a lot of heartache over something that could easily be avoided.
- It’s nothing to be ashamed of. There’s still a stigma attached to getting an STD check done. Some nurse will be looking down on you, judging you, asking probing questions, right? Uh, not really. If your doctor or nurse is like that, walk out and leave immediately. They aren’t being professional and you need someone who is. Find a new nurse, one you feel comfortable with. It’ll make the experience far less scary.
- Taking responsibility for safe sex is the adult thing to do. We’re all adults here and guess what—adults have sex. If you’re old enough and responsible enough to have sex, you should be responsible enough to take care of your health. It’s really that simple.
- Once you’ve done it the first time, the next time will be super easy. Just like anything, the first time is always the hardest. Once you’ve done it, you’ll know what to expect next time and the next time and the next time. Until it becomes routine and you don’t even bat an eyelid anymore. Easier said than done, I know this first-hand. Let’s do it together. Book it now!