I’m sitting in my doctor’s waiting room filled with nervous energy.
Part of me wants to head for the door and go back home. Part of me isn’t sure what to expect.
Will I be judged? Will this hurt? Is it going to be invasive?
Before I have enough time to go any further down my mental rabbit hole, my name is called.
This is it. This is the moment. There’s no turning back now. I’m really doing this. I’m getting my first STI test…
A prick of a needle, a quick swab, and some very unmemorable small talk later, I’m done. Wait – that was it?
That was almost a decade ago now, and not much has changed in the many times I’ve been back to have refresher STI test done (you might even be asked to wee in a jar, and that’s so fine).
Except for my nerves. Those are long gone. Mainly because, of all my medical appointments, my STI test is the quickest and least eventful. It’s almost – dare I say it – boring.
As it turns out, STI testing is incredibly easy and non-invasive. And STIs themselves are more treatable than ever before. Additionally, many STIs don’t actually present with obvious symptoms, so it’s impossible to know if you’ve got one without getting checked. And an STI left unchecked can result in permanent damage to your body and reproductive health. In fact, pregnant women with syphilis are at an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.
According to the Victorian Government’s STI Testing Week campaign, it’s estimated that one in six people will contract an STI at some point during their lives.
Which begs the question – why don’t more people get regular testing?
Are STIs even all that common?
There’s a general misconception that we don’t need to worry about checking for STIs anymore, because they’re just not as common. In reality, research shows their prevalence has risen significantly. In particular, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have all seen dramatic spikes in the past decade, largely due to the fact many of us are living with the infections without even knowing it.
As a sex-positive advocate who prioritises my own sexual and reproductive health, I can’t think of a reason not to get tested – particularly if you’re a woman who’s trying to conceive.
Before you go, just know that tests can be different depending upon your sexual history, behaviours and potential risks. Urine tests are for chlamydia and gonorrhoea; blood tests are for syphilis and HIV; and swabs are for syphilis and gonorrhoea. They’re all easy to do and you’ll be armed with the treatment information you need if your result isn’t what you hoped.