The importance of getting tested is pretty much universally acknowledged among students. Ask 100 students if they think it’s important to get tested regularly, and you’ll get 99 responses in the affirmative and one messer. So why do so few of us actually go ahead and do it?

Whether it’s exam results, other health matters, or sometimes Rugby World Cup results, people our ages prefer to delay bad news for as long as possible. But what you don’t know can harm you, and in fact is far more likely to do so than what you don’t.

I’ve been tested for STIs three times since I first became sexually active seven years ago. For what it’s worth, that probably isn’t regular enough. Even though I’m something of a veteran at this point, it never feels like it’s going to be easy. But – and this is important – it really, genuinely is. The test involves a chat with a nurse, a couple of swaps and a blood test, and you’re on your way.

Of course, there’s also a great deal of myth surrounding what STI testing actually involves. Do they really stick it there? I’ve heard it hurts. It must hurt, how couldn’t it? Second- or third-hand reports are never helpful, nor is the hyperbole of peers who have never been, but who have heard, fully believe, and widely disseminate baseless horror stories.

It’s not easy to decide to get tested. As such, there are some important guarantees to keep in mind. For one thing, it will never be as bad as you’ve imagined. What you fear will be an invasive, lengthy, and humiliating procedure is in fact the complete opposite. A couple of quick swaps and blood tests, conducted by a caring but disinterested professional, and you’re done. It doesn’t hurt, and it’s not uncomfortable; the nurse is trained to put you at ease, has done this a thousand times, and is not interested in your sexual history outside of the clinic.

You’ll also be asked to talk the nurse through your sexual history. Not blow-by-blow, if you’ll excuse the pun, but roughly how often you have sex, how many partners you’ve had, and what contraception you use, if any. The temptation here can be to lie or to tell them what you think they want to hear but try not to. It doesn’t help you, it doesn’t make the nurse’s job any easier, and there is no judgment. At the very least console yourself with the knowledge that this person has heard it all.

The second guarantee is that one way or another the results will provide you with unspeakable relief. I’ve always been fortunate enough not to have troublesome results, but even if you do test positive remember most STIs clear up quickly after a short course of antibiotics that can be prescribed there and then.

Getting tested is quick, easy, and painless. Don’t buy the horror stories and listen to the guy who’s been through it more than once – it’s worth it.
xoxo
Anonymous