Dear Di

Catching an STI isn’t as scary as you think. Illustration: Rame Abdulkader.

Dear Ty,

Over the past few days, I’ve noticed it’s hurt quite a bit to go pee. I thought I might just have a typical urinary tract infection (UTI), but I decided to get tested just to be safe. Turns out I have a pretty nasty STI and I’m very upset about it, to say the least. Any tips on where to go from here?

My First STI

Dear MFSTI,

I’m not sure what STI you’ve been diagnosed with, but it’s worthwhile to take you through a brief crash course in STI101. STI stands for a sexually transmitted infection, and, as the name suggests, it refers to infectious diseases that spread from person-to-person through sexual contact. This can include everything from sexual touching to kissing, oral sex and penetration.

A few of the most common and completely curable STIs include chlamydia and gonorrhea (the clap), both marked by discharge and pain while urinating. On the other hand, two common chronic STIs (don’t fret, we’ll get to this in a bit) are genital herpes, marked by painful sores on and around the genitals, and HPV, marked by genital warts.

Now, let’s turn to you. First and foremost, it’s important to take care of yourself. With those results in hand, head to the clinic and get the treatment you need to either kill that STI or manage it. With proper treatment, usually involving a good dose of antibiotics, your STI will be gone in no time and you’re in the clear. If your STI is chronic (herpes, for example), it’s not the end of the world.

Your best friend and most powerful defence against STIs is protection. While it doesn’t 110 per cent guarantee you won’t catch an STI, it does greatly reduce your risk. Simply put, use a condom next time. While one Twitter user compared the smell of condom sex to a Halloween mask and another to the inside of an Autozone (I must slightly concur, it’s not that bad ), it’s exponentially better than waking up the next morning with pain below the belt, or nine months later with an unexpected bundle of joy in your arms.  

If you did use protection and still ended up with your nasty new friend, it’s important to make sure that you’re using condoms properly. For the best protection against STIs, use condoms during oral sex as well, not just during vaginal and/or anal sex.

It’s also key to wear a condom right from when sex begins all the way up to the finish. Wearing a condom correctly is also important: when applying to the penis, ensure sure the condom is completely covering the entire penis. When inserting into the vagina, ensure the condom is sturdily in place and covers the entire vaginal opening.

Love,

Ty