Tackling STI Fears
There’s a lot of misconceptions and negative stigma around getting diagnosed with an STI, but what is it really like? I asked some of our very own crew about their experiences getting tested and diagnosed with some common STIs, to give you a personal look into the not-so-scary world of sexually transmitted infections.
Finn, Cis Male, 20 Year Old
So I done fucked up. Literally. One Grindr hook-up gone wrong, and that’s how I got myself some gonorrhoea. But let’s backtrack here so I can fill out some holes (pun intended) in my little life drama.
Long and short of it is that I had penetrative anal sex, in which I was the recipient where no condom was involved in the sexual activity. Do not do this. Ever. Never ever. The stress, time, and in my particular case, pain in the butt (literally) is NOT worth the twenty minutes of sort of decent missionary. Really. It isn’t.
I decided to go to the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MSHC) with one of my closest friends who had been before. The service that they offer is completely free and treated with the utmost confidentiality and was quite painless really. As a new patient I got tested for EVERYTHING with the tests including a rectal swab (yes, a swab that goes up into your butt), a throat swab and a blood test. (Nothing went into the penis, so if you have one, do not worry).
Fast-forward a few days, I got the call from MSHC to tell me of my test results. I tested positive to gonorrhoea in my rectum. “Oh. Right” I replied to the nurse over the phone, who then continued on to explain the process moving forward. Treatment was a really simple process of one injection into the butt cheek (okay, I won’t lie, it does sting a little) and two tablets to have with food after the injection. Two days later, everything all cleared up. It was not as scary as I thought! And the lovely team at MSHC try and make it as pain-free as humanly possible!
From my own personal experience, having any form of sex without a condom where you don’t know the persons STI or HIV status is not worth the stress, pain and time wasted in waiting rooms. Just don’t do it.
Ash, Non-Binary, 23 Year Old
I went to get a test just to be on the safe side, I thought everything would be negative because all the people I’d slept with had told me they were STI free. My test came back with an initial positive for chlamydia. I was mortified and shocked to say the least. I was treated the same day, and it was only two pills, which wasn’t a lot easier than I expected. Antibiotics don’t go well with my tummy, so no sex for a week, but that wasn’t really a big deal. At the end of it all they called me a week later saying the further test came back negative anyway, so that rollercoaster of emotion was really for nothing.
Jon, Cis Male, 18 Year Old
I first realised something was wrong when something wasn't quite right 'down there'. The possibility of it being an STI didn't even come to mind at first because I had protected penetrative sex with the guy I was dating, and he had told me he was STI-free. So, of course, I started to get confused when things started to hurt and nothing seemed to be getting better. I was so nervous to go to my doctor who had no idea I'm gay and just had to tell them that something was wrong. Fortunately, my doctor understood that I had a medical problem, though she did negatively stereotype gay men, which was not cool! The first test I had was to see whether or not I had an infection... I did. So she put me on antibiotics that treat conditions like UTIs and told me to wait for the results. I didn't want it to be anything like an STI. I needed to get a further test... and I had to tell my mum.
She was mad and annoyed with me because she felt that I was pretty stupid to have gotten an STI considering I know all about safe sex... but I did have safe sex!
When the results came in I went to the doctor with my mum, because I wasn't sure how I would deal with it all. It turns out, I had gonorrhoea. BUT HOW?! I thought that the only way one could get an STI was through unprotected penetrative sex. I had no idea you could contract STIs when using a condom and through unprotected oral sex.
I felt quite dumb, ashamed and stupid during the afternoon because I thought I'd be smarter to not contract an STI. I got a simple injection and all of the symptoms passed in just a few days. Contracting such STIs are actually quite commonIt wasn't the end of the world. It was just a part of life as a sexually active individual.
So In Conclusion…
So it’s not as terrible as you may have expected, in fact it’s not terrible at all. Most STIs can be detected from non-invasive urine and saliva samples, and if found early are easily cured. If you have sexual contact with someone whose STI status you’re unsure of, make sure to get tested ASAP, as fast diagnosis can be key in treating some infections.
There’s nothing wrong with having an STI, it doesn’t make you dirty or undesirable, and you can still have safe sex even if you or your partner has one. Just remember to always practise safe and consensual sex, and get tested regularly – just in case!
Keep your eyes on this space for upcoming articles on what STIs are, what you can do to prevent them, and what to do if you get one.
(Editors Note: All names in this article have been altered for confidentiality!)