Dating apps, ghosting, confusing texts – dating in 2021 isn’t for the faint of heart. But if it’s true what they say, you might have to kiss some frogs to find your princess (or prince). You just need to do it safely.
If you’re already feeling down after a string of unfulfilling hookups, the last thing you want is a positive STI test.
However, knowing your status will keep you and your future partners healthy. Here’s what you should know about STI testing and why it should be on your to-do list.
Why Test for STIs?
Sexually transmitted infections aren’t exactly the sexiest topic. But ignoring the risk could have real implications for your health, as well as that of your partners.
You should always get tested if you’re experiencing symptoms. That doesn’t mean you should wait, though. Many STIs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, can be present in the body while being asymptomatic. Whether you use an at-home testing kit or visit a clinic, there are plenty of reasons to complete a screening.
Take Control of Your Health
Knowledge is power when it comes to your sexual health. STIs can remain in your body for months, or even years, without symptoms. However, these infections can also increase your risk of serious health issues like infertility or cancer. Testing for common STIs provides peace of mind and allows you to get treatment when necessary.
Empower Your Dating Life
Dating is all about respecting your partner – even while enjoying your bachelor status. There’s nothing wrong with dating around. You just want to make sure you’re not spreading STIs in the process.
It’s wise to complete an STI screening whenever you start seeing a new sexual partner. But consider doing so more often if you and your partner aren’t monogamous. Regular STI screenings clue you in to your own sexual health so you can have open conversations with your partners.
You might avoid testing if you’re embarrassed by the topic. However, the truth is that STIs are common. By getting tested and talking to your partners about it, you’re helping to destigmatize STIs. You might end up encouraging others to get tested as well.
Remember, you don’t need a specific reason to get an STI test. Wanting some extra reassurance is reason enough.
What Should You Test For?
When you pop into a clinic or order an at-home test, there are a few common STI tests that you can expect. You’ll likely need to provide either a urine test or genital swab for the screening. Here are some of the tests that healthcare providers recommend for sexually active men.
Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in men. While you might not experience symptoms, some of the tell-tale signs of chlamydia include penile discharge, abdominal pain, and pain while urinating. Healthcare providers typically test for this infection with a urine sample or urethral swab.
The symptoms of gonorrhea – when present – include penile discharge, testicular pain, and burning while urinating. Gonorrhea is also common, but this infection can increase your risk of contracting HIV if left untreated. So your doctor may want to screen you more often if you have other risk factors for HIV.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that’s less common than chlamydia and gonorrhea. However, it’s still worth getting a test. This infection develops in stages and can lead to serious symptoms, like neurological issues, if left untreated.
The CDC recommends that all adults under the age of 64 get tested for HIV at least once in their lives. However, the agency also recommends that gay and biexual men consider more frequent testing. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors if you have any concerns.
Known by its nickname “trich,” trichomoniasis is a parasitic infection that typically doesn’t cause symptoms and is primarily seen in women. But if you do experience symptoms, you might notice penile itching, discharge, or painful urination.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital herpes are also common STIs in men. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to diagnose these infections if you’re not experiencing warts or sores; that’s why testing is crucial. Of course, if you do notice these symptoms, be sure to see a doctor.
What If a Test Comes Back Positive?
A positive STI test might not be the news you were hoping for, but it’s better than being left in the dark. A clear diagnosis is an important first step. You can now get the treatment you need to manage your sexual health. Here’s what to do.
If you receive a positive test for gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trich, a doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. These STIs are highly curable, and you’ll be good to go once the infection clears. Syphilis is easy to cure with oral antibiotics in the early stages, but you might need antibiotic injections if it has progressed.
STIs like HIV, HPV, and herpes aren’t curable. However, your doctor can work with you to manage the condition and avoid spreading it to others.
Talk to Your Partners
Once you receive a positive test result, you should talk to your partners as soon as possible. This conversation can be extra awkward if you didn’t make it to the second date. But it’s still your responsibility to inform any partners who may have been exposed. Encourage them to get tested as well so they can get the treatment they may need.
Get Tested Again
Chlamydia and gonorrhea may come back after a few months, so you should get tested again if you completed treatment for those infections. Most doctors recommend three months as the sweet spot for retesting. If you don’t get tested again, you could unknowingly spread the infection or pass it back and forth with a partner.
Dating is meant to be fun, but there’s no question that it can also be stressful. Luckily, you don’t need to let an undetected STI put a damper on your romantic life.
As you arrange to meet for drinks and schedule coffee dates, add an STI test to your calendar as well. Ensuring your sexual health will make the world of dating all the more enjoyable.