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Taking Charge of Your Body: How to Talk to Your Doctor About STD Testing

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Some topics are awkward, especially when you need to discuss them with someone outside of your circle of family and friends.  However, your general practitioner is usually the best place to start when you want to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.  It’s understood that you’re nervous and apprehensive, yet the worst-case scenario involves denying yourself treatment due to paralysis.  Here’s how to take charge of your body and talk to your doctor about STD testing.

Don’t Assume

Some assume that STD screening is part of an annual physical.  In some cases, a family doctor or private practice may do so (Though it’s unlikely.)  You’ll need to be direct in addressing the issue with your doctor.  Moreover, don’t assume any STD test will screen for all diseases.  Specificity may warrant homework on your part.  You may use an Internet search engine to list the symptoms and see what disease is related.  Alternatively, you may look at pictures to see if you have any matching visible symptoms.

Maintain Integrity

Many are reluctant to get tested because they’re embarrassed, not wanting their doctor to know their personal business.  You don’t have to share details with your doctor; simply ask to be tested for certain STDs because “you’re starting a new relationship” or want the “peace of mind.”  Don’t make the situation more difficult.  It’s perfectly normal to get regular health screenings when one is sexually active.

Understand Tests

STD screening is not laborious yet it’s not as simple as sticking a thermometer under your tongue.  Tests vary depending on the disease.  For example, gonorrhea is detected via a saliva swab or urine test.  Alternatively, syphilis is detected via a blood test.  If you’re squeamish about having blood drawn then you’ll need to prepare; don’t look for excuses to put off your STD screening.  Moreover, in the case of some diseases, you may need to wait several weeks before a test can detect its existence.

Some doctors make suggestions based on sex and behavior.  For example, men who have sex with other males benefit from getting tested for syphilis since such high rates of the disease exist among the gay male community.  Alternatively, all women should get pap smears on an annual basis.  Lastly, one’s city or immediate community can dictate their preference for screening.

Act Now

As mentioned, some are reluctant to get tested or seek subsequent treatment due to the taboo nature of having an STD.  However, a damaged ego is the least of one’s worries in some cases.  For example, some STDs can cause organ damage, blindness, infertility, etc.  A neglected sexually transmitted disease can lead to an STI (sexually transmitted infection).

Be ready for the doctor’s visit or seek other methods of help.  Visit a Planned Parenthood destination in your area or find a local clinic.  Alternatively, some test themselves with home kits found at drugstores.  In some cases, your chosen method may be inspired by price and your type of insurance.  Walk-in clinics are relatively cheap and usually offer a wider range of tests found in private doctor practices.  On the other hand, some people feel safest dealing with their family practitioner regardless of price.  Use online tools to find STD testing in the area.

Distinguish Diseases

A question everyone has is whether an ailment is curable.  In some cases, such as gonorrhea and syphilis, one can be entirely cured.  Conversely, herpes, genital warts, and HIV are currently incurable.  Doctors may prescribe medicine to hide or curb symptoms, such as breakouts, yet a person will need to address the issue intermittently to maintain optimal health.

Change Behavior

Some are in denial regarding sexual behavior.  Having unprotected sex with multiple partners greatly increases the likelihood of contracting an STD.  Some find themselves repeatedly infected with sexually transmitted diseases and wonder why they have such horrible luck.  For some, an STD warrants medicine and calls for a change in behavior.  Furthermore, some find peace in speaking with a counselor who may help illuminate underlying issues or a pattern of self-destructive behavior.

Control Conversation

Whether you get a screening from your family doctor or elsewhere, remember you control the conversation.  Don’t let others’ questions or beliefs get in the way of your good health.  You have a variety of options.  Take charge of your body and control of the conversation.  Make sure your physician or chosen body of health provides you care and options that benefit you and make you feel most comfortable.

Natalie Martin is a freelance writer, and when she is not working on her next article she can usually be found in her garden. She attended the University of Cincinnati before turning to writing, and now spends much of her time drawing attention to some of the major health problems that are plaguing the country today. Natalie resides along the Gulf Coast with her 6 year old Labrador Retriever.

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