Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are overwhelmingly prevalent in today’s youth. And emotions like anger, frustration, and guilt are commonly associated with such diagnoses. Often, people start worrying about what the STD entails for their relationship instead of worrying about their long-term health and mental well-being.
Humans have a natural tendency to assume the worst; after all, our survival depends on it. However, suppose you’ve recently noticed some STI-related symptoms like sores. In that case, you probably have an STD and should consult a doctor right away.
In most cases, consulting a doctor can be a daunting ordeal for many, so they might not receive a definite diagnosis. Still, overcoming your fears and asking for help is the first step in breaking the taboos surrounding STDs.
Key tips to breaking the stigma around STDs include learning the facts, confiding in your partner, and seeking medical attention.
Reduce Stigma By Learning the Facts
STDs come bearing heavy stigma, which eventually attaches to the people receiving this unfortunate diagnosis. Individuals living with STDs can feel intense shame and feelings of being unwanted. Women, in particular, may think that they are “damaged goods” in society’s eyes.
So, how to alleviate these negative feelings? By educating yourself about your condition and its management, which is relatively straightforward than most infections.
The first thing to note here is that most STDs aren’t life-threatening. If you diagnose them at the right time and treat them correctly, an STD isn’t likely to affect your long-term well-being. You need to imagine your STD as another hurdle in life, not too big of an inconvenience.
Remember that STDs don’t determine the quality of your life. Although not all of them are curable, most STIs and STDs are treatable. Still, you can manage some incurable STDs like AIDS through timely and appropriate care. Moreover, pursuing an online master in public health can offer insights into sensitive issues like STDs, the taboos surrounding them, and how to deal with them better.
Know you are not alone
Guess which country has the world’s highest STD rates? It’s the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country had 2,294,821 cases of infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, in 2017 alone.
A reason behind the stigma involves the dismissal of this topic from public discussions and everyday conversations. Sometimes, healthcare providers may refuse to discuss STDs because of stigma, and the cycle never breaks. However, professionals must deal with these issues without bias to help their patients learn the facts and regulate their emotions while discussing STDs.
Surprisingly, Planned Parenthood estimates that 50 percent of all US residents will get an STI in their lifetime. But they might not know it until it starts manifesting as an STD, making it more harmful as they can still have health implications. For instance, some infections may be asymptomatic but cause infertility. Since the person is unaware, they may transmit them to other people unintentionally.
Having an STD is not a personality trait, and it doesn’t define you. People of all genders, sexual orientations, economic backgrounds, and ages are equally susceptible to STIs and STDs. Suppose someone is a fitness instructor, committed to one partner for life, and another is a programmer, more into polyamory. In this scenario, both these individuals have the same probability of contracting one.
Seek medical advice for handling the situation
Once you’re pretty sure you have an STI or STD, you must immediately consult with a healthcare professional. People usually turn to the internet as a reliable source for acquiring general medical information. Still, only a doctor can discuss the specifics of your condition and offer the necessary support. Healthcare professionals can help you realize that it’s not a character flaw, and you will get through it.
Moreover, your doctor can guide you about the available treatment options and ways to avoid STDs in the future. They can walk you through how not to transmit the infection to other people.
But what if you’re uncomfortable discussing your issue with your general healthcare provider? You can go to local sexual health or STD clinics.
Confide in your partner as soon as possible
To reemphasize, the first thing you need to do is get rid of your shame. Why? According to research, if you’re too deep in the stigma spiral, it’s not very likely that you will deliver the news to your partner. Plus, such individuals are more prone to holding back the proper medication from their partner, even when the circumstances are favorable.
Here are some tips for reducing your stress about communicating to your partner(s):
Don’t beat around the bush. Once you have your diagnosis and feel stable enough, don’t wait to tell your partner/partners. Ensure to remain calm and composed during this process. By doing so, you’ll allow others to cope with the news better.
Show the intention that you would like to deal with your STD as a team. You can try seeing a medical professional together to clear all your and your partner’s queries and confusions.
Sometimes, partners can refuse to consult a doctor. In which case, you can bring them the proper medication from the healthcare professional. This approach is called expedited partner therapy.
It’s best to talk about your diagnosis in person and not through digital channels, such as call or text. However, the main thing is you to talk. Talking can help your partner grasp the relayed information and make them feel less alone.
The first thing you need to do if you have an STD is get rid of your shame and confide in your partner as soon as possible.
Indeed, there are few things as frightening as the prospect of having an STD. And though different infections have varying symptoms, most of them are treatable or manageable through care. Still, people dread such diagnoses and don’t confide in their partners because of the stigma surrounding this topic. This article went over some tips to break the stigma around STDs. These comprise learning the facts, confiding in your partner, and seeking medical attention.
Have you or a loved one had an STD?
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