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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are extremely common. In fact, according to a recent survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five people in the U.S. have an STI. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the availability of testing and treatment services for STIs in many places, which means more STIs are going undetected and untreated during the pandemic. And if you do get a positive STI diagnosis, it can feel isolating and shameful. So what can you do about it?

  1. Understand that STIs are very common. Anyone who has vaginal, anal, or oral sex can get an STI. In fact, many people who have an STI don’t even know, since most STIs have no symptoms—which is why it’s so crucial to get tested. It’s also why it’s important to practice safe sex to protect yourself and your partner. Safer sex helps you stay healthy and can even make sex better!

  2. Start talking about STIs. Everyone deserves a sex life that is healthy, safe, and enjoyable. Talking to your partner about STIs, getting tested, and agreeing to use protection—like condoms and dental dams—can even make sex better. How? By helping you and your partner relax and build deeper trust, which can enhance your experience together.

    Conversations about STIs don’t have to be super uncomfortable and awkward—and the more you do it, the easier it gets. You can start the conversation by saying, “I'm a little nervous to bring this up, but I think it’s important, and I want us to have fun while being safe.” You may be surprised by how well your partner reacts—many people are relieved when someone else starts the conversation.

  3. Get tested! The most common STI symptoms are no symptoms at all, so getting tested is the only way to know your status. Knowing your status and getting needed STI treatment is critical to avoiding more serious health issues in the future. If left untreated, STIs can cause serious health issues, such as cancer, infertility, or miscarriage.

STI tests are generally quick, simple, and painless. Sometimes you don’t even have to be seen by a provider and you can get needed care via telehealth, which means fewer visits to a health center. Getting tested for an STIlike getting a cholesterol check or a blood pressure testis about knowing what’s going on with your body and staying healthy.

To learn more about Planned Parenthood of Illinois’ STI testing and treatment options, make an in-person or telehealth appointment today by visiting ppil.org.

Tags: sexually transmitted infections