It's nothing shameful to look after your sexual health, but we know getting an STD test can trigger anxiety if others find out.
Disclaimer: We're not medical professionals. To make informed choices about your health, please speak to a medical professional.
Don't you wish our parents weren't so sex shamed by their parents that they'd know how to talk to us about sex? Not every parent is awkward about sex but at the same time, some don't even know you're sexually active. No matter what your situation is, getting tested for an STD has long been seen as a shameful thing.
Let's unpack this.
Just like a cough or a headache can be symptoms for something bigger, if you notice anything that doesn't feel right when it comes to your sex organs, then you need to take it seriously. Itching, pain, a burning sensation when peeing – all of these are indicative that something's not right. While these symptoms can range from something super mild that will pass within a few days, it's better to be safe than sorry.
Here are some ways to stay safe without the entire world knowing:
Prevention is the Key to Avoiding Scary Shit
You knew it was coming, and while it may sound repetitive, wearing protection is the number one way to practice safe sex. Oral sex or mutual masturbation are also super safe, but anything and everything that involves bodily fluids is not 100%. Regardless of your sexual orientation or the number of partners you have, it's important to do more digging on ways you can protect yourself when having sex. Before playing, d your homework, bestie!
Go to Your School's Health Center
Some, if not most, colleges offer STD testing on campus through their health center. It's also not uncommon for colleges to host a sex health awareness campaign where STD testing is provided free. While it can be intimidating, if you're sexually active you should take advantage of this testing events. Bring a friend to make it less dreadful! You'd be surprised how many of them would actually be down to go get tested.
Get Information from Planned Parenthood
This organization offers a lot of helpful services that provide confidentiality and judgment-free education for all people. Check their website to learn more about the services your local PP offers, but for the most part all do STD testing that is confidential and safe. They can also provide information and sex education if you didn't formally receive it from your school or parents.
When it comes to some STDs, at-home testing can be possible. In fact, Planned Parenthood delivers at-home testing kits in some states like Washington. You can go to their site to see if your state is included. If it's not, then make a trip to your pharmacy. There you can speak to a medical professional or the staff to find out if they offer any at-home test kits for STDs.
Speak to a Doctor You Know and Trust
Doctors should offer medical guidance and advice, and maintain confidentiality as long as it's not something that is required by the law for them to disclose to your legal guardian. For the most part, if you're an adult and have a regular doctor you trust that does your check-ups, share your concerns about confidentiality in STD testing. They will be able to give you guidance on the cost and how to get one. Not to mention, they can also provide protective measures and contraceptive methods you may have not known about.
Remember, taking care of your sexual health is normal, important, and smart. Don't let anyone make you think otherwise. If you're sexually active and hook up with strangers or even people you know on the reg, it is essential that you get tested regularly. If you've never had sex before but feel ready and the other person is sexually active, it's completely fair to ask them to get tested. STDs can be scary and rarely spoken about, but they're more common than you think and most are preventable if you use protection and treatable if you get tested regularly.