In our society, there is still a significant amount of stigma surrounding sexually transmitted diseases. As such, contracting one can feel devastating, especially if it is one that cannot be cured. However, there are ways of coping with an STD diagnosis that will help people get past the shame and live their best life.
First, Seek Treatment
Getting a sexually transmitted disease diagnosis is overwhelming. Knowing you have a disease can be devastating, and with STDs, there are often compounding issues, such as infidelity, body image, and fear of mortality. Before dealing with everything else, make the appointment to get treated. While there is time to deal with the other aspects, treatment must happen ASAP.
Emphasize That This Is a Medical Condition
Would you feel shame if you found out that you had cancer, the flu, or any other number of illnesses people develop or contract on a regular basis? No, you wouldn’t. But there are a small number of diseases our society has attached shame to—alcoholism, drug addiction, and sexually transmitted diseases rank at the top.
Despite the stigma, STDs are medical conditions like any other. Contracting them is not a sign of personal or moral failure. By reframing the condition as a medical reality rather than a personal failure, it helps patients get past the pain and start healing mentally, if not always physically.
Find Someone to Talk To
Some topics are just not considered polite conversation—politics, religion, and sex are all examples of topics usually considered off-limits. With sex being a taboo topic and sexually transmitted diseases being stigmatized, it can be hard for someone trying to cope with an STD diagnosis to find someone to talk to.
The result is that the person feels isolated in their condition. However, they are far from alone. Chances are several people they know have or have had an STD. If reaching out in person is not an option, people with STDs should turn to online communities that will give them an outlet and help them feel less alone.
Research the Disease
Nothing is scarier than the unknown. While it cannot be denied that sexually transmitted diseases can cause some terrible things, once there is a better understanding of the condition, the mystery is gone, taking a lot of that primal fear with it. We have all heard the saying knowledge is power. When it comes to an STD diagnosis, knowledge is empowering, giving the person a greater sense of agency.
Delve Into Sex Education
While sexual education programs are more comprehensive in some areas than others, most adults are lacking in their knowledge. Whether the nitty-gritty details were never delved into or they have just been forgotten over the years, now is the time to learn about bodies, sex, and STDs in depth. Hopefully, the result will be better protection going forward.
If you are sexually active, you should test for STDs at least once a year. If you frequently have new partners, that testing should be done every three months. To do it within the privacy of your own home, use an at-home STD testing kit.