Information courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Did you know that even though young people ages 15-24 represent only 25 percent of the sexually-experienced population, they acquire nearly half of all new STIs/STDs? That’s why it’s so important to ask questions, get yourself tested and seek treatment if needed. April is STI/STD Awareness Month, an annual observance to call attention to the impact of STIs/STDs on Americans and promote STI/STD prevention and testing in the U.S.
Don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation about STIs/STDs with your health care provider — we are here to help.
The UF Student Health Care Center recommends regular STI/STD testing for those who are sexually active. For more information on appointments — including if you are eligible for low-cost testing in the GYT Clinic — please visit the Sexual Health section of this website.
Talking to a Health Care Provider About STDs and Testing
Information courtesy of Get Yourself Tested
Knowing is everything, and when it comes to STDs, the only way to know for sure is to ASK to GYT: Get Yourself Tested. You can’t assume your health care provider has automatically tested you at your annual exam/physical or that s/he would know if you had an STD just by looking. You have to specifically ask to GYT. It’s okay if you feel a little nervous or embarrassed — a lot of people do. But asking to be tested doesn’t have to be so hard.
Rise Up. Stand Tall.
Get Yourself Tested today! When you make your appointment, be sure to say that you want to get tested for STDs. Ask what the cost for the tests will be and if they offer free testing or testing on a sliding scale where the cost is adjusted based on what you can afford. There are places that will offer free or low-cost testing, so don’t let the cost keep you from getting tested.
Get in the Know.
Before the appointment: Read up. It’s always helpful to have your facts straight before you get there. Questions pop up at random times, so make notes! Think through any questions you might have and text them to yourself as a reminder. If you’ve noticed something going on “down there,” make a note of it. But even if you haven’t, ask your doctor if you should be tested. Many STDs often show no signs or symptoms at all.
Day of your appointment: Show up. It really is half the battle. Bring along your friend, sister or bf/gf with you if the support would help.
Some doctors’ offices and clinics ask you to fill out a form about any health issues or concerns. Take advantage of this and write down any questions about STD testing.
If your provider doesn’t bring it up, don’t assume that you don’t need testing or that you’re STD free. Doctors don’t always bring it up, so you may have to. The only way to know is to ask to GYT.
If you are seeing your doctor for something else entirely, you might as well use the opportunity to check in on your sexual health too. After all, why wait? No time like the present, right?
Take the lead and bring up STD testing. You’ll thank yourself later. Once you start the conversation, you’ll feel proud and relieved for taking charge.
So, you have to ask. You may feel a little nervous or embarrassed to ask to be tested — that’s okay, a lot of people do. Many people find that once they’ve brought it up and gotten past those first nervous moments, they feel a lot more comfortable.
Remember, STDs are very common and this is nothing new to your doctor. They do this every day. So spit it out however you can. You can say that…
- Is it true that people my age should be tested regularly for STDs? It’s something I think I should do for my health.
- I have a new gf/bf… We’ve been using condoms, but not necessarily every time. I was wondering if I should get tested just so I can know for sure?
- A friend of mine was recently tested, and I want to know if it’s something I should do as well?
See how easy that was? Done! Asking to be tested shows that you are taking care of yourself.
There isn’t one test for all STDs, so be sure to ask which STDs you should be tested for.
Since you’re already there, you might as well discuss which birth control method is best for you in addition to using condoms, which are the only protection against both STDs and pregnancy.
Be Yourself. Be Honest.
Questions your healthcare provider might ask you:
- Have you ever (or are you currently) having sex?
- How many partners have you had?
- Do you have sex with females, males or both?
- Do you have oral sex?
- Do you have anal sex?
- Do you use condoms/dental dams/other protection?
- Do you have symptoms — what is different from what you normally experience?
- Have you had an STI/STD?
- Do you know if your partner(s) have any STIs/STDs or symptoms of STIs/STDs?
- When was your last period? (if you’re female)
Be sure to ask: When do the results come in? Will they call you or do you need to call them? Don’t assume that no news is good news. Follow up for your results if you don’t hear back.