Although no one wants to have an STD, it's not the end of your sex life if you have one. And there are things to know about having sex with an STD that will protect your and your partner both emotionally and physically. But the most important thing to not think of yourself as "damaged goods," because you're not.
If you ever thought "it could never happen to me," about an STD, you were simply misguided. According to the American Sexual Health Organization, more than half of all people will have an STD at some point in their lifetime, and one in two sexually active persons will contract an STD by age 25. This is not to spread fear, or information intended to normalize being infected with an STD (even though it is kind of the new normal) — it's just the reality of the world today.
The most important thing about having any type of sex is that you're honest with yourself and your partner). Sexual honesty is part of consent in my book. You might think that having an STD opens you up to judgment. Nope. Your sex life is your business (and well, the business of those with whom you have sex). The following things to know about having sex with an STD are judgment-free and intended to help you love yourself, because it's not anyone else's job to do that but your own.
1. Have Safe Sex
2. Safe Sex Can't Protect You From All STDs
Some types of herpes can be spread orally, or you can contract herpes from genital-to-skin contact (i.e. when no penetration occurs). The best self-protection is to stay informed about your sexual health and of course, be open with your partners. An organization called samedaySTDtesting offers local, quick, and convenient testing so you can stay on top of your sexual health.
3. HPV Is Very Prevalent
More than 14 million people acquire HPV each year, according to the American Sexual Health Organization, yet most people do not have symptoms. And according to Women's Health, there are more than 100 types of HPV strands, so even if you were vaccinated against HPV, it's likely you can contract another strand of the virus. This isn't meant to scare you, but rather spread awareness that about how prevalent HPV is.
4. Disclose This Info To Partners
The ugly truth is more people are comfortable doing it than talking about it. Everyday Health reported that STDs are on the rise, and the only way to stop the spread of STDs is to protect yourself and your partner with an open dialogue about what's going on with your body. Though it might feel momentarily uncomfortable, the same article in Everyday Health suggested you disclose any STD status before becoming intimate.
5. STDs Can Affect You Mentally And Emotionally
OB-GYN Melissa Goist told Women's Health that the emotional "fallout" of an STD can sometimes be more devastating than the actual infection. While a case of chlamydia, she said, if caught early can easily be treated with an antibiotic, the emotions that accompany having "the clap," can often dismantle your self-esteem. But you wouldn't feel that way if you caught a cold, right?
6. Be Diligent About Treatment
It goes without saying that treating an STD is vital to your overall health. And, most STDs (with the exception of HIV) should not cause your health insurance costs to increase. However, definitely discuss all treatment options with your physician and don't skimp on your sexual wellbeing.
7. Discussing Your STD Can Make Your Intimate Relationship Stronger
The Department of Health encourages you to talk about your STD status not only to stop the spread of infection, but to build trust. There are a lot of theories that people usually react how you expect them to, according to the Huffington Post. So, why not expect the best reaction from your partner? It can't hurt.
8. Most STDs Don't Make You Infertile
Contrary to popular opinion, Women's Health noted that most STDs do not cause infertility. If untreated, however, chlamydia and gonorrhea may leave scarring on reproductive organs, which might lead to trouble conceiving. But every case is different, which is why it's so important to be diligent about treating your STD.
9. Lose Your STD Shame
Toss the notion that STDs are "dirty" because that line of thinking isn't doing you any favors. In fact, shame is only hurting your potential love and sex life. According to TED Talk speaker and author Brené Brown, you must listen to shame and then talk back to it to enforce how lovable you are, STD and all.