Not all STDs are those scary pictures you saw in your 5th grade sex ed class. Lots of STDs are “asymptomatic” or don’t have any symptoms that you’d be able to see by just doing a quick self-check. Examples? Gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, HIV/AIDS, and HPV – you could test positive without showing any physical signs. For several of these, the symptoms only appear when you’ve had the STD for a while, and it has “advanced” or gotten more serious. Get the idea? It’s super important to get regular exams at your local teen clinic.
The tests are WAY less scary than the STDs, too. Most of the time, the nurse or doctor will just have you pee in a cup, maybe take a fingerprick of blood, and if you are having some sort of discomfort peeing or during sex, they might do a quick physical exam to see what’s going on. None of these hurt, and if you are embarrassed, just think about the fact that your doctor or nurse has seen this a million times. Plus your clinic visit and test results must be totally confidential by law.
And if your partner says “Oh, no, we don’t need to use a condom – I’m clear… I don’t have any bumps or sores” you can remember – that doesn’t mean anything! Get tested before having sex with a new partner, and ask them to as well. And of course, make sure to use condoms EVERY time.