April has been designated as Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Awareness Month, so we want to take a moment to highlight the importance of getting tested. If you are sexually active and not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship, such as marriage, for your health’s sake, get tested. Consider the following story:
Ben* was recently served at Clarity Testing Clinic because he had heard rumors about a past sexual partner who was dealing with an infection. He was nervous, but pushed past the fear and came anyway. In gathering some information to determine what type of testing he would need, he indicated that he had had five different partners in the past three months. He also reported that he used condoms about 50% of the time, but never for oral sex. He was not having any symptoms of an infection and said, “I’m pretty sure I don’t have anything, I just want to be sure”. We collected a urine and blood sample, a throat swab and did routine testing for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. We scheduled Ben to return in a week for his results and instructed him to abstain from all sexual activity until he received his lab results.
A week later, Ben was shocked to hear that his chlamydia test came back positive. “How is it that I don’t feel anything?” Ben asked. What a great question! We took the opportunity to inform Ben of the following:
- Many people who have an STI don’t know it because they can often be present without symptoms.
- Many STIs are passed from people who don’t even know they have one.
- Protection from condoms reduces the risk of getting an infection, but they don’t eliminate the risk. At best they may reduce the risk about 30-80% if they are correctly used every time. Of course they offer no benefit if they are not used
- STIs may be passed on through any type of sexual activity: vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex and mutual masturbation.
- You cannot tell if a partner has an STI just by outward appearance, or by their word. Because many who are infected have no symptoms- there is nothing to notice and they don’t know what they don’t know.
- When an infection is present and goes unnoticed and is therefore untreated, it can progress to a more serious infection like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in women and Epididymitis in men. Each of these more serious infections can lead to infertility issues in the future. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a problem to a 17 year old, but can account for much heartache when a child is desired.
- Eliminating the risk of an infection by saving sex for marriage is the safest and healthiest approach to sexual activity.
Ben was treated with a single dose of an antibiotic, instructed to abstain from all sexual contact for a minimum of seven days and encouraged to help ensure that his partners also received treatment. He indicated that he was glad he came in for testing and encouraged his friend that came with him to also get tested.
Clarity Testing Clinic specializes in the testing and treatment of STIs. In addition to excellent medical care, our medical professionals provide a listening ear and positive guidance to those in need of STI testing and treatment. Patients are made aware of the possibilities available to them and helped to find a path that doesn’t lead back to the testing clinic. Make an appointment today by visiting our Appointment Page or calling 812-418-3230.
*Ben is a fictitious character, but represents a common experience of patients served at Clarity Testing Clinic.