STI Testing: Opening the Conversation
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), formally referred to as Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) were the main focus of high school health classes, but while you may have thought your high school health teacher was just trying to scare you away from sex altogether, they actually deserve a bit more credit.
STI awareness and testing is a crucial part of engaging in safe sex as well as protecting your current and future health. More importantly, we need to change the conversation about STI testing from something to be embarrassed about to something to be empowered by. Opening up a conversation with your partner about getting tested before having unprotected sex protects both of you down the line. It’s also important for people to know and understand that STIs are treatable, and many are completely curable.
STIs are common, but many people may not know that they have an STI because they do not experience any symptoms. Some STIs don’t have obvious symptoms, but if left undetected or untreated, STIs have the potential to cause serious health consequences. Chlamydia or gonorrhea for example can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, a condition that can affect a woman’s fallopian tubes and lead to infertility.
STI testing is covered during an annual well woman visit for most insurance plans, but it is also available through Planned Parenthood or other clinics at public health centers at little to no cost. It is important to form a trusting relationship with both your partner and your physician to have these discussions and to reach out with questions or concerns. Getting tested is one way to ensure that your future fertility is protected.