You’re not worried about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). You’re smart, you use condoms–except that one time. BUT, you’ve only been with like two people, ever. Well, there was a little bit of something with that one person, hmm…
When you sit and think about it, the lines can get a little blurry sometimes when it comes to sex. That’s why and how STIs can happen to anyone at any time. So it’s important to consider the risks and effects of contracting an STI as part of your sexual health plan. Let’s dig into what effects contracting an STI can have on you emotionally, socially, and physically and let’s put your well-being first.
- Emotional Effects – Getting a positive test result for an STI can produce a range of emotions and take a toll on your mental health. A 2019 survey of 100 people with the herpes simplex virus showed that 98% of respondents experienced depression. Almost half had suicidal ideations. And a 2018 British Medical Journal study of men who received a positive diagnosis for chlamydia showed that 75% of the participants reported feeling ‘dirty’, embarrassed, and afraid to tell their partners. A positive STI diagnosis can be a roller coaster of emotions–a ride you can learn to avoid with the right preventative measures.
- Social Effects – The social effects of getting a positive STI diagnosis will be different for every person. And most likely what you’ll feel is alone or isolated. You’ll be hesitant to open up to your friends and family about your diagnosis. This is from the stigma ingrained in you since you were young. It comes from a combination of family upbringing, peers, and/or religious beliefs. And it can even come from your education about sex. But know this: you are not alone. The CDC reported in 2018, that of the 26 million recorded STI diagnoses, half were of people ages 15-24. And continuing to arm yourself with information about your STI, and being brave enough to have the discussion with your loved ones, will go a long way to erasing the stigma and finding the support you need.
- Physical Effects – This one is tricky. Why? There are many STIs without symptoms. Because of this, many go undetected for months or even years. But make no mistake, trouble is brewing. Untreated, some infections can cause liver damage, nervous system damage, or infertility. And for those infections that do decide to show up, you could experience many uncomfortable symptoms like rashes or sores, skin discoloration, fatigue, weight loss, pain, and more. Don’t forget, you could be spreading the infection to your partner(s)! But it’s not all bad news as many STIs are treatable and some even curable.