Thursday, October 4, 2007

Should I get tested?

Last week a teenage girl e-mailed me with the following question:
Ive been reading your blog and can't find the answer. My mom says that I need to go to the gynecologist cuz I'm hooking up. She says I need to get tested for diseases. I don't feel sick. Is this real or is she just trying to get in my private life?
And, because as she points out I haven't given the explicit answer to that question here on my blog, here's my answer:
This is a great question.

It depends on what kind of hooking up you've been doing and what kind of protection you've been using. Just kissing and feeling each others bodies with clothes on? You're fine. When you go further, have you *always* used condoms or other STI protection? Be honest with yourself here, even if you don't want to admit it to anyone else. Because if you haven't been extremely careful you *certainly* need to get tested.

But actually, regardless of your answers to those questions, it's a good idea to get tested. That way you won't be too freaked out to get tested if you do start feeling some burning or itching down there. Plus, it's always better to know you're clean than to worry about it.

There are three important things to remember about STIs:
  1. You *can* get diseases from oral sex (blow jobs). Here's a site where you can find out what kinds of diseases you can get from what kind of sexual activity: http://www.dph.sf.ca.us/sfcityclinic/stdbasics/stdchart.asp
  2. You don't always feel sick with STD/STIs, and they can still be stomping around in your insides. If you wait too long they may do damage you can't fix. Also, you'd be passing them on to other people without knowing it.
  3. Your mom doesn't have to get into your private life for you to get tested. Most places that do STD/STI testing (including Planned Parenthood) will do it for anyone over 14 without parental permission. In addition to Planned Parenthood, if there is a free city-run clinic in your town, they generally do testing for teenagers without parental permission too. Sometimes even the county will do it.
Please let me know if any of that's unclear or if you've got follow-up questions.
And here was her follow-up question:
It happened kind of fast like a surprise I guess so no condoms. Do I have to do the gyno exam? I read about it somewhere and it sounds totally gross. Thanks
And my answer:
Yep, you need to do the testing. The best website for just really straightforward information like this is www.scarleteen.com. Here's what they say is involved in the STD testing/exam:

"The clinician will do a visual examination of your genitals. S/he will be looking for evidence of sores or lesions. If you are a woman you will go through the same procedure as you would for a pelvic exam (you might want to read up on that in the Your First Gynecologist Visit article for more details). During the pelvic exam the doctor will take a small sample of cells and fluids called a smear or swab test. It is similar to a PAP smear test, except that in this case, when the technician or doctor looks at the cells through a microscope, she or he will be looking for signs of the various microorganisms, antibodies, or cell changes related to specific STIs."

It might be a bit uncomfortable, but it's not too gross. Sometimes they take urine or blood samples. And remember, you don't have to do it with your mom. Take care of yourself, and she can't complain. If she keeps getting on your case about doing it her way or whatever, ask her to e-mail me (karen.rayne@gmail.com).

If you need help finding a place to get tested in your area, let me know.

P.S. Oh, and your partner should get tested too. If you two are still hanging out, go do the testing together.

1 comment:

Kala said...

Kudos to you for posting this - its an important information that should be brought up - the link is an invaluable resource for those who want to learn but are too afraid or shy to ask!