Every six months, without fail, I like to get tested for STD’s. Well, that is not quite accurate; I go to get tested, though my enjoyment of the experience can vary.
Everything is variable- the wait time, the receptionist’s friendliness, the size of the needle, the smell of the waiting room. Sometimes the experience can be pleasant, other times not so much. As someone who has been in hospitals and clinics a lot, both as a patient and as a clinical worker, I have come up with a few points to share to make the experience better for you.
Don’t look at the needle- it’s not pleasant, not matter how tough you are. Focus on something else, talk to the person drawing your blood, but looking at the needle will not help you, no matter.
Bring a bottle of water, and keep hydrated- if you’re doing a urine test, drinking water will help supply the urine (duh) and help with the ease of a blood test. The more water you have in your system, the easier it is to find a vein.
Eat well that day- Often people experience nausea with a blood draw, and if you have no food in your stomach or crappy food (like Hot Cheetos and grape soda) it could make your stomach feel worse. Grab some good for you food, and maybe bring along crackers for after the appointment. Plus, eating will help you avoid being cranky, which is never fun during a clinic visit.
Go on a day when you don’t have your period- Typically your iron levels decrease during your period, which may lead to extra nausea and a feeling of weakness if you are also having blood drawn. If you can, make your appointment on another day when you feel stronger. I once gave blood while menstruating and nearly passed out. Though they take out a lot more blood at the American Red Cross than they ever would for a simple STD test, that experience freaked me out!
Know what they are testing for and how you will receive your results- Most major STD’s Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, Hepatitis B and HIV are simple to test for, and you can have your results in a few days at most. Feel free to ask what you are being tested for, and remember that you have a right to health care- request any test you think may be necessary. Ask how you will receive your results, by phone call, letter or otherwise. Ask if you can call in for your results if you don’t have a phone number you want them to call, and make sure you follow through.
Don’t pay attention to what other people may be thinking- This is still one of the biggest issues for me and a lot of other people. When you go in for an STD test, you may feel like everyone knows and is judging you, and really, that is not the case. Most people in clinics are in there for the same reasons and are more concerned about their own selves than they are with other patients. Don’t feel bad or shameful for getting yourself tested- you are being responsible, and ultimately, though you will always struggle with this idea (I know I do) it really does not matter what other’s think of you. You need to take charge of your own life, and not worry about what other people may be thinking.