Should I get tested?
It’s common knowledge that STIs don’t cause symptoms in everybody right? But why are there still so many people who are putting off going to get themselves tested if they've had unprotected sexual intercourse on the basis that they don’t have any symptoms? Generally, yes, if you are experiencing symptoms you most likely have some kind of infection, but there is also a very high possibility that you may not experience any symptoms, you haven’t experienced your symptoms yet or that you could have experienced symptoms at the start but you simply didn't notice it. Some STIs may cause you to experience minor symptoms, such as a light fever or sore glands that can easily be confused with the symptoms of another more common illness such as a cold or flu, which would simply not prompt most people to go for an STI test.
There is also the dangerous assumption, particularly common among men, which is that if you experience symptoms and they go away you no longer have the infection. However, if this were the case then every person with a healthy immune system would be able to defeat STIs and then there wouldn't be widespread concern about the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Take for example Syphilis; it can cause you to have symptoms at the start which then go away for a very, very long time, just to come back later. So if you are currently or have ever experienced any of the below symptoms and you’ve never received treatment for it, the next step should be a test:
- Unusual discharge from your vagina, penis or anus
- Pain or burning when you pass urine
- Itches, rashes, lumps or blisters around your genitals or anus
- Pain during and after sex
- Bleeding during or after sex
- Bleeding between period
- Testicular pain
- Lower abdominal pain
If you think that something might be wrong, even if you aren’t experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should do a test anyways, just for your own peace of mind or to get the right treatment, because the reality of many of the most common STIs are that they are completely treatable. Even the scary sounding ones like genital herpes, isn’t a ‘life sentence’ and in my opinion, is overly stigmatised anyways.
It’s recommended that all sexually active people who haven’t been for an STI test since they’ve been sexually active, should get one to eliminate the possibility of any STIs before they are spread to any new partners or go untreated for so long that they may start causing serious damage to your future health. Once you’ve established your status, and received the treatment you needed you can then avoid any further stress by always ensuring that you have sex using a condom with a new partner. Make sure that you always use a new condom for every sex act, even if it’s changing from vaginal to oral, to avoid any wear and tear that might cause the condom to break.