Women's Guide To Dealing With STDs
If you are sexually active you should be taking steps to monitor your sexual health, and this means getting tested regularly for STDs. If you are in a long term, monogamous relationship, women can ask their OBGYN to run an STD panel in addition to the HPV they will usually screen for at the yearly PAP test. If you have had differing partners then it is always a good idea to be tested after a relationship ends. It is also imperative that you ask your physician or clinic to run the entire STD panel, including Herpes and HIV. Many doctors will not run the herpes panel because so many people have HSV1 (Herpes Simplex Virus 1 – or cold sores) – but it is essential to check for both HSV1 and HSV2 (HSV2 being genital herpes.) So, if you have been tested and you find out you have an STD, what do you do?
If your doctor has informed you that you have an STD it is absolutely of the highest importance that you find out all you can about the disease or infection that you have. Some conditions are permanent, meaning there is no cure. Some infections, like HPV, can lead to cervical cancer. Others can be treated with anti-biotics or other medications. Some are absolutely life threatening. So, calmly ask your doctor all there is to know:
- What do I have?
- How did I get this?
- How is it treated / cured?
- Do I need further testing in the future?
- What does this mean if I am pregnant?
- If it isn’t curable, how is it treated? What will eliminate symptoms or incidents of breakouts (such as with herpes)
- How do I protect my partner? How long until I can have sex again?
- What do I tell my previous partners?
TAKE THE MEDICATIONS / TAKE PRECAUTIONS
If you have been prescribed a medication to treat your STD or the symptoms, make sure you take it, as prescribed. Since STDs are transmitted through sexual or intimate contact, avoid all contact with your partner until the infection has completely cleared up. Make sure to ask your doctor exactly what precautions you need to take in order to protect your partner. If you have an STD that is not treatable or curable, then you need to see a specialist to find out what to do next. If you are not in a monogamous relationship, rethink the safety methods you have used. For example, if you are on the pill / patch / IUD for birth control, what are you using for protection against STDs? Are you using condoms AND dental dams for oral sex? Even though the condom goes on the penis, it is still your responsibility to be prepared.
Why You Need To Be Honest About Your Sex Life With Your Partner
TALK TO YOUR CURRENT PARTNER
Even if your STD is one that will clear up with medications, you still need to talk to your partner. Not only to let them know why your sex life may be on hold, but also to determine how you contracted this STD. If you think you had it previously, many STDs do not have any symptoms, then you need to inform him / her. On the contrary, if you have been tested previous to this partner and now find out you have an STD, it is essential you bring this fact up to your partner. Do not be judgmental, do not accuse, just have an open conversation and make absolutely sure that your partner gets tested as well.
TALK TO YOUR PREVIOUS PARTNERS
Since many STDs have no visible symptoms it can sometimes be nearly impossible to discover where the infection originated. Therefore, it is very important to talk to all previous partners. This can be a very uncomfortable discussion because while it is important that they know about your STD status, they may be in denial that they are at risk. Never accuse a previous partner of giving you the STD, as this will not serve any purpose. Your responsibility to protect others who may sleep with your previous partner ends with you disclosing the STD.
FIND A SUPPORT GROUP
Depending on what STD you have contracted, you may find you need some support. Infections such as Herpes or HIV are especially daunting since there is no cure and HIV carries with it the risk of advancement to AIDS. There are support groups available for persons with these STDs and the support can be instrumental in coming to terms with the infection, learning ways to deal with the symptoms, talking to others in the same situation as you, and finding resources that can help you.
How Do You Keep Yourself Safe?
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