Why Having an STD/STI Isn’t The End of Your Sex Life
I’m not about to tell you to go out and have unprotected sex. In fact, I’m going to do just the opposite. Having safe sex is so important to staying healthy and protecting yourself. You already know that (hopefully).
What you may not know is that, according to the American Sexual Health Association, one in two sexually active people will contract a sexually transmitted disease by the age of 25.
That’s a pretty significant number. If you don’t have an STD (or have never had one), chances are the person sitting next to you does or has at one point.
And if you do? It doesn’t mean it’s the end of your sex life.
Finding out you have an STD can be life altering. It can make you question yourself and the person you slept with – the person you probably trusted. The thing is, most people who have an STD don’t know they have one. Symptoms aren’t always present. This doesn’t make it okay to have unsafe sex, it just means that every time you do, you’re taking a gamble.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an STD – especially ones that don’t go away, like herpes, HPV, and HIV – the first thing you need to know is simple.
It’s okay, and it doesn’t make you a bad or unsafe person.
It’s actually easier to contract an STD than it is not to. So don’t freak out and start thinking less of yourself!
The second thing you need to do is get treatment if it’s an option. Here’s a breakdown of the treatments available for herpes, HPV, and HIV:
When you’re first diagnosed, your doctor will most likely prescribe an antiviral medication that will relieve your symptoms and prevent them from getting worse. After that, depending on how often you experience outbreaks, you can either opt for intermittent treatment (which you’ll take only when you feel an outbreak coming on) or suppressive treatment (which you’ll take daily).
An HPV infection will often clear up on its own, but if it doesn’t there are a few treatment options to consider. For women, you may need to have a test to check the abnormal cell changes on your cervix. Depending on the results, your doctor may recommend a procedure that removes these cells. If you are experiencing genital warts as a result of HPV, there are two different creams you can have prescribed and use at home: Podofilox and Imiquimod.
There are actually medications you can take to prevent getting HIV if you believe you are at a high risk. This includes pREP, which can reduce your risk by up to 90%. If you’ve already been exposed to HIV, PEP can be used within 72 hours of exposure to prevent HIV infection. And, if you’ve been diagnosed with HIV, antiretrovirals (ART) can be taken to slow the progression of the virus and minimize symptoms.
Last but not least, you can still have a healthy and active sex life while living with an STD. Protection was created for a reason, and it can reduce or eliminate the risk of transmitting your STD to your partner. Being open with your partner about your diagnosis is also important. While it may be a slightly uncomfortable discussion, it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Do what you need to do to stay healthy, use protection, and before you know it – you won’t even think about the pesky STD that’s put a damper on your sex life.