Sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing is a tricky subject for a lot of people — and this is understandable. Few subjects seem as intimate as this, and few subjects generate this much stigma and apprehension. But the reality is that STIs and STI testing are a normal part of adult life, and shouldn’t be feared or ignored. STI testing is quick and virtually painless (except for a prick when having your blood drawn), and quite simply, it’s the responsible thing to do if you’re a sexually active adult.
And yet, despite the fact that millions of people do go in for regular STI testing, there are many more who don’t — either because they are afraid to do so, or because they just don’t think there’s any reason to test.
In order to increase knowledge and understanding around STI-related issues, let’s break down 5 common myths about STI testing.
1. You don’t need testing if you don’t have symptoms
Virtually every STI in the book can be contracted with no apparent symptoms, or symptoms that are sufficiently mild to be mistaken for something else. If you do have symptoms, this is certainly cause to seek STI testing at your local urgent care center (or other clinic) as soon as possible. But if you don’t have symptoms, it doesn’t mean you don’t have an STI. As long as you’ve been sexually active since the last time you were tested, an STI is possible.
2. It’s better not to know if you have an STI
The “ignorance is bliss” argument is a very poor excuse not to get regular STI testing, and to always be aware of your status. The truth is that most STIs can be contracted with few to no symptoms (as detailed above). When you don’t test because you’d rather not have to deal with the possibility of a positive result, you put future sexual partners in danger. You’ll also have to live with the uncertainty of not knowing your status, which can be psychologically stressful. Getting tested and knowing your status is a much better option for everyone involved — including yourself! If you do have an STI, you can seek proper treatment and move on. Either way, you’ll have greater peace of mind.
3. All STIs are incurable
This is a surprisingly common myth, given how inaccurate it is. There are only two STIs out there that can’t be cured — HIV and HSV (herpes). Although these are viral infections for which no cure has been found, they’re very common infections, and modern medicine allows a great many people to live completely normal lives with proper therapy. In the case of HSV, many people have very few (if any) symptoms on the long term, even though they carry the virus.
Hepatitis C is another virus that can be transmitted sexually
Where to seek STI testing
As we mentioned, a growing number of urgent care centers now provide comprehensive STI testing. This is a great option because it allows you to get right in without waiting, have your testing done, and receive your results in a timely and confidential way. Family First Urgent Care in both Oakhurst and Toms River offer testing— the important thing for sexually active adults is to be courageous and seek regular testing! You’ll feel much better when you do, knowing that you’ve done the responsible thing for yourself and others.