Healthcare is personal. And, sometimes, it can be a little awkward. When you are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, you’ll probably have an emotional reaction. There is so much stigma attached to STIs. Society has unfairly placed a lot of judgment on these very personal diagnoses.
The heightened opinions regarding sexual health can make it difficult to focus on what is most important: getting treatment. Thankfully, there are a variety of ways in which you can treat an STI and the emotional fallout. Let’s take a look.
1. Keep It Private — and Convenient — by Treating Yourself at Home
Maybe you’ve been living with an STI diagnosis for years. If you have a chronic condition like herpes that requires regular medication, make it easy on yourself and get the prescription delivered. You get everything else delivered anyway!
When you are in pain, or suffering from an outbreak, sometimes what you need is a helping hand. Enter home treatments. If you can take an STI test at home, it only makes sense that you can get your genital herpes treatment at home. When you aren’t feeling your best, the convenience and privacy of treating yourself at home makes things a little easier.
2. Squash the Stigma and Find Ways to Be Sex-Positive
Receiving any health diagnosis can be somewhat traumatic. That’s especially true when it’s an illness whose sufferers have been subject to a lot of shaming. Arm yourself with knowledge and try to defeat negative self-talk. Did you know 1 in 5 people in the United States have an STI? That means you almost certainly know someone else who has an STI as well.
Despite our exposure to it on television, most people don’t like to talk about about sex. Because of that, there is a lot of misinformation out there about how our bodies work. Maybe your sex-ed class in high school was lacking — or maybe it was just too long ago.
If you’ve contracted an STI, take the time to refresh yourself on how to have safe sex. Even with a herpes or other STI diagnosis, it’s possible to be safely intimate. The more you know, the more you can enjoy your sex life while keeping yourself and your partner safe.
Your body is a pretty resilient, amazing machine. You are capable of so much more than you think. If you find yourself dealing with an STI, give yourself a break. You can get through this. But you will need help.
3. Get to Know Your Primary Care Doctor
The more you develop your relationship with your primary care doctor, the easier it will be to bring up uncomfortable issues. No doubt it can be embarrassing to ask certain questions. So when you choose your primary care doctor, find someone who talks to you like a caring friend. If you feel awkward with them, it will be harder to ask for the help you need.
Your primary care doctor looks at your whole body health. They should be your go-to authority for questions about what to expect as you deal with your condition. Come to your exam prepared with a few questions for your doctor, who is truly a fount of information. If you feel awkward asking one of them, sandwich it in the middle of two other questions.
Your doctor has heard and seen it all, and they most likely went into their profession because they like to help people. Let the healer in on what you’re dealing with so they can use their skills to make your life better. Remember, your doctor is a professional. In the unlikely event that they don’t treat you in a professional manner, find a new one.
4. Take Refuge in Anonymity
You have health insurance. You have a primary care doctor. But these symptoms are throwing you for a loop. Something new is happening to your body — and it’s not good. Sometimes, going to your primary care doctor just seems too scary.
If embarrassment is keeping you from getting the healthcare you know you need, you might try going a little incognito. Visit a clinic or urgent care that takes walk-ins. Maybe there is a community health clinic in your town or a Planned Parenthood. These facilities provide testing and all kinds of healthcare services.
Once you’ve begun treating your illness, circle back to tip No. 2 and work through why you feel awkward about your diagnosis. If you can’t seem to shed your sense of embarrassment, talk to a close friend or a therapist. Journal about it. Remind yourself that the most important thing is your health — both physical and mental. Shame does neither one any good.
When you receive an STI diagnosis, you might feel a little depressed or anxious. Anytime you learn you are sick, it can be dispiriting. But take care not to compound that sadness by feeling shame. Remember how strong you are. If you can get through puberty, you can probably get through anything!
Use your strength to get healthier. Ultimately, the most comprehensive healthcare choices start with you. Eat your vegetables, exercise, and drink plenty of water. Practice safe sex, drink less alcohol, and get plenty of sleep. When you make healthy choices, you can live your post-diagnosis life to the full.