I’ve been into casual sex for a while now. Although I feel completely healthy and I always use a condom, my friends keep nagging me to go get tested for STIs. Isn’t going to the doctor a waste of time?
Although condoms can reduce the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), there is still a risk that you might contract certain diseases while being protected. A condom’s protective potential lies in its ability to prevent contact between bodily fluids or skin infected by STIs and your genital organs, your mouth, and your rectum. Should the condom be used incorrectly (i.e. it slips off, breaks, is removed before the end of intercourse, etc.), the risk of STI transmittal is heightened.
Another factor to consider is the fact that some STIs, such as HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia can go rogue for significant amounts of time by not showing any immediate symptoms. This means that although you may not physically feel ill, there is still a chance that you might have contracted an infection, which may need to be treated immediately to avoid any future health complications, such as infertility in the case of chlamydia or chronic infection cycles as with genital herpes.
A lot of people tend to forget that STIs can also be contracted oral and anal sex. This is why it’s recommended that you always ask your partner if they are “clean,” and also that you check for any signs of irregularities around their mouth or their genital organs, such as warts or discharge.
With all of this in mind, you might want to consider following your friends’ advice and get tested for STIs. You may have nothing to worry about, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
I recently found out I have an STI, and don’t know how to go about telling my boyfriend. Although the doctor told me that the infection can be treated, I’m scared my partner might break up with me. What should I do?
—Infected and Dejected
This is a tough situation for you, both physically and emotionally. Before involving anyone else in this situation, please make sure that you are taking care of your mental and physical health (find your local health clinic here).
One sure thing is that you have to be honest with your boyfriend. Whether you’re in a committed relationship or it’s just a casual hook-up, it’s only right and respectful to let your partner know that you have an STI, even if this means that, ultimately, they decide not to have sex with you. Although it’s a difficult conversation to have, not having it can entail a variety of negative consequences both for them and for yourself.
Before you talk to your boyfriend about this, you might want to think about what you’re going to say. You’ll want to talk about the STI itself, and discuss its symptoms and treatments. You could also bring up your doctor’s diagnostic and treatment plan. This might help soften the blow because it suggests that this isn’t a permanent situation, and that your sexual relationship won’t suffer from it forever.
Don’t be too alarmed by his reaction. Most people will react strongly to something like this, either because they’re shocked, scared, or just generally confused. To prepare for your boyfriend’s reaction, try imagining a few possible scenarios, and come up with questions that you think you might be asked. For example, your partner will most likely want to know how you got the STI, when you found out, and whether he’s at risk of already being infected.
All in all, it’s a tricky situation. However, by being honest and straightforward with your boyfriend you’ll be sure to do the right thing.