Whether you’ve had sex once or a thousand times, anyone can get an STI. Here are 10 important facts to commit to memory and share with friends. When it comes to caring for your body, information is power!
1. Chlamydia is the most common STI and it is usually asymptomatic
Next time you’re out at the bar, remember ~5% of the people around you have Chlamydia. 1 in 20 sexually active vaginas under the age of 24 have Chlamydia, but 90% of them will not have any symptoms. Asymptomatic infections can still spread to partners or cause long-term health issues.
2. Half of sexually-active women will have an STI before they turn 25
So don’t feel bad! STIs are more common than society and the media would have us believe. The characters on our favorite shows never ask about STIs or use condoms, yet somehow, never contract infections. This is not reality.
3. Cis, straight men aren’t tested for STIs as often as cis women
The CDC only recommends annual STI testing for women and gay men. *Sigh* If you have sex with cis, straight men, never assume they are up to date on STI screening. It’s important to have this conversation with every new partner.
4. If a clinician judges you, that’s their problem
Many women and vagina-owners report feeling judgment or shame when reporting their sexual activity to a clinician. However, it’s important to be honest about your sexual habits, so the clinician can recommend the proper course of testing (and potential treatment). If the clinician seems judgemental of your answer, then they are bad at their job! It is not a reflection on you.
5. You can test yourself for STIs at home
If you absolutely don’t want to deal with a clinician, you can actually order STI testing kits to your home. Yes, these kits are accurate. Yes, you will have to prick yourself for a blood sample. We have a few options for at-home testing available on our Healthcare Matching Tool.
Note: At home tests are not available in New York
6. If you have oral and/or anal sex, you need to test those sites too
Some STIs, like Gonorrhea can infect the throat and anus. This is why it’s important to let your clinician know if you engage in oral and/or anal sex. If you order a test kit to your home, opt for “multi site testing.”
7. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) can be spread through sex
BV is characterized by watery, foul-smelling discharge and is experienced by 20% of vagina-owners. It is not technically classified as an STI, though it is commonly spread via sex. It can also be caused by sex, as the disruption to vaginal pH can allow Gardinella, the offending bacteria, to overgrowl.
8. Black women contract HIV at a higher rate than any other demographic
I’m sharing this because the stigma that only gay men contract HIV is extremely harmful, and not at all factual. All sexually active individuals are at risk of contracting HIV.
9. Zika is still a thing
Though it hasn’t made headlines recently, Zika is still a risk in many countries. It is recommended that cis women abstain from unprotected sex for 8 weeks after infection, 3 months for cis men.
10. Having an STI is not a moral issue
I cannot stress this enough. While we should all strive to prevent STIs, catching one is not a reflection on your morals or value as a person.
We vet providers to make sure they provide modern, judgement-free sexual wellness and STI care. You can search and discover these providers using our Healthcare Matching Tool, for free!