Think You Have an STD? Here’s What You Need to Do

The mere thought you could have an STD is enough to send any rational person into full on freak-out mode. But because there’s no way to be absolutely certain until you get tested, taking a moment to process the possibility is key. Take a deep breath: You don’t know whether you’ve been infected for sure. However, because you suspect it, there are some important guidelines you need to follow.

1. Don’t panic

nervous stressed young woman

Try to keep calm, there’s no need to panic. | iStock.com/SIphotography

Yes, suspecting you have an STD can be scary, but there’s no reason to panic. After all, you don’t actually know what’s wrong just yet. And as PlushCare says, “While you should not ignore potential signs of STD, you definitely should not panic. Sexually transmitted diseases are more common than you think, mainly because sex, and any diseases surrounding it, are still taboo.” So, just keep one thing in mind — you’re not the first person to get an STD, and you won’t be the last. The one thing you can do, however, is get tested.

2. Make an appointment to get tested

Angry woman calling custom service

The first step is picking up the phone. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

At the first sign of an STD, it’s imperative you call your doctor or local clinic to make an appointment. You may have a bit of a lag time before they’re able to see you, but picking up the phone is the first step in a proactive approach to finding out whether you have an STD. For more insight on all things STD testing, check out our list of everything you need to know.

3. Tell your partner

woman apologizing during an argument

Having an honest conversation will benefit you both. | iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

You may be thinking there’s no reason to concern your partner until you’re absolutely sure, but that’s not really the best strategy here. Your partner should get tested, too. After all, what if they’re the one who gave you something in the first place? Planned Parenthood has some great advice on discussing testing with your partner

4. Consider your sexual history

Thinking young woman looking up at many question marks

Prepare for you appointment by writing down your sexual history before you go in. | iStock.com/SIphotography

Prior to going to your appointment, take some time to sit down and really think about your sexual past. If you wait to do so until you’re in the waiting room, as you’re filling out any papers the staff gives you, your nerves may cloud your good memory.

Nothing is more important than being 100% honest with your doctor. And carving out some quiet, alone time while you’re still at home can help ensure you’re able to do just that. If it helps, write it all down and bring it with you, so you don’t forget to mention anything when the time comes.

5. Get tested

Planned Parenthood Location

Check out Planned Parenthood’s website for locations near you. | iStock.com/jetcityimage

The day has arrived, and it’s time to get yourself to that appointment. But seriously, all dramatics aside, there’s no need to be stressed out. While tests vary based on the type your doctor thinks is best for you, they’re all relatively painless, quick, and nothing to be overly nervous about. If you don’t have a designated doctor and are looking for a clinic, Planned Parenthood is a great place to start.

6. At-home testing kits

woman signing receipt of delivered package

Convenience is a top priority for some folks. | iStock.com/comzeal

If you’re really opposed to going to a clinic, or are just looking for a little convenience in today’s busy world, at-home testing kits are an option. Interested in going this route? Check out myLAB Box, a company that delivers STD test kits. It’s a trusted method, too. All kits contain FDA-approved technology, and are just as accurate as testing in a lab or at a doctor’s office.

7. Get your results

Doctor and patient

Learning your results can be scary, but you’ll feel better once you know. | iStock.com/daizuoxin

Whether you were tested at an office or did it yourself at home, most results should be available in a matter of days. It can be a heart-pounding waiting time, and you should try to abstain from sex until you’re absolutely sure of the results. And if you do receive bad news, don’t freak out; there are plenty of treatment options out there.

8. Get treated

female doctor writing notes while talking to a patient

Your doctor will develop a treatment plan that’s best for you. | iStock.com

There are lots of STDs that can be successfully cured, and some that can’t. Regardless of being diagnosed with a curable or incurable one, though, following your doctor’s treatment plan is crucial. For some, like chlamydia, a dose of antibiotics will clear things up. But for others, like HIV, there’s currently no cure. In such cases, treatment is available, to help you live a long, healthy life.

9. Tell all future partners

mixed race couple

For every new partner, full disclosure is a must. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Full disclosure should be a top priority between you and your partner. When (or better yet before) you become intimate, it’s a conversation every couple needs to have. Don’t let the awkwardness keep you from bringing it up, as you’ll be doing both your partner and yourself a favor. According to Everyday Health, discussing your STD past and current status shouldn’t be a relationship deal-breaker. If it is, you’re probably not with the right partner.

10. Practice safe sex  — always

couple kissing and touching in bed

There’s no substitute for practicing safe sex. | iStock.com/Ondine32

Even if your test results came back negative for an STD, it’s important to practice safe sex no matter what. Particularly if you’re not in a monogamous relationship, condoms are a must. According to It’s Your (Sex) Life, “Condoms are the only method that protect against both pregnancy and STDs (including HIV).” Most importantly, never be afraid to speak up. Start a conversation with your partner, and set boundaries when and where you need to.