Sex is about you. It’s about exploring your body: What feels good, what doesn’t, who it feels good with. It’s about learning new things about a partner: Their body, their emotions, that special place that makes them shiver. And even when everything seems all good and right, you can get something extra — a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
But don’t stress! Like the common cold, anyone can get an STD. They’re just part of human beings rubbing bodies — we tend to pass things along when we do. And this isn’t anything new. Some STDs have been around a long time. They’ve been called: The clap. The drip. The dose. The clam. Social disease. Bad blood. Burning. VD.
You get the idea.
And different STDs require different types of treatment. Some — like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis — are totally curable. Some — like HPV — are preventable with a vaccine. And some — like HIV, HPV, and herpes — you can manage for the rest of your life.
Sex is… perfectly natural. – Sue Johanson
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT STDS
For more information about each STD, click on the links below:
WHAT TO DO ABOUT STDS
Did you know that there’s something you can do to protect yourself against many STDs? Use a condom. Check out our page on condoms for more information about how to use them, where to find them, and how to get them for free.
But even if you’re using a condom 100 percent of the time when you have sex, things happen. So, just like getting a yearly physical, consider getting tested for STDs and HIV at least once per year. Testing lets you know exactly what’s going on inside your body. And having that knowledge will make you feel powerful and in control of the choices you make for your health.
While some STDs have symptoms — like a rash or bumps or burning — others don’t. So even if everything feels fine down there, make STD testing a regular part of your routine. You could be carrying a virus or infection, not know it, and be passing it on to your partners. You wouldn’t sneeze near someone without covering your mouth when you have a cold, right? So make sure you’re not doing the same with an STD.
And if you’re under the age of 26 and haven’t been vaccinated already, you can take another step to protect yourself by getting the HPV vaccine. It’s called Gardasil and your doctor can definitely tell you more about it.
WHERE TO GO FOR SUPPORT
First stop for testing: Your regular doctor. But if you don’t have one (or you just feel kind of awkward talking to your primary care provider about this issue), check out our map of health care clinics. Plus a lot of these clinics offer or can point you to some places for counseling; remember your mental health and sexual healthy are linked. Also, if you don’t have insurance, don’t worry. These all offer STD testing either free of charge or on a sliding scale.