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STI Awareness Month: Talking, Testing and Treatment
April 12, 2023
Read Time - 10 minutes
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STI education leads to a happier, healthier you.

STI Awareness Month is observed annually in April, serving as a great opportunity to promote education, open dialogue and preventive measures concerning sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Despite the prevalence of STIs, many people struggle to discuss them due to stigma and lack of awareness. By fostering open conversations, prioritizing prevention and understanding the importance of testing, everyone can take charge of their sexual health and contribute to a healthier society. In this article, we'll discuss some common tips on how to talk about STIs with your partner, as well as prevention, testing and treatment options.

Open Discussion: How to Talk About STIs

Initiating conversations about STIs can be challenging, but it is an essential step toward maintaining a healthy sexual relationship. Plus, talking openly with your partner(s) about sex and sexual health are great ways to encourage fun, honesty and satisfaction in your relationship. Some topics to cover include when you were last tested for STIs, how often you get tested for STIs and your results. Here are some tips for discussing STIs with your partner(s):

  • Choose the right time and place: Opt for a private, comfortable setting where both parties can focus on the conversation.
  • Be honest and direct: Clearly express your concerns and experiences while encouraging your partner to do the same.
  • Stay informed: Educate yourself about different STIs, their symptoms and transmission methods to provide accurate information.
  • Remain calm and supportive: Approach the discussion with empathy and understanding, avoiding judgment, blaming and shaming. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your partner(s) and practice compassion.

Prevention: Protecting Yourself and Your Partner

Prevention is a crucial aspect of sexual health. By adopting safe sex practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting STIs:

  • Use barrier methods: Consistently and correctly using condoms and dental dams can help prevent the spread of STIs.
  • Get vaccinated: Vaccinations are available for some STIs, such as Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatitis B.
  • Communicate openly: Discuss your STI status and prevention methods with potential partners before engaging in sexual activity.
  • Get regular check-ups: Regular sexual health screenings can help detect and treat STIs early, minimizing their impact on your health.

Testing: Knowing Your Status

Regular STI testing is vital for anyone who is sexually active. Early detection can prevent long-term complications and reduce the risk of transmission to others:

  • Know the recommended tests: Familiarize yourself with the standard tests for STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV and HPV.
  • Understand the testing process: STI tests can include blood tests, urine tests, swabs or physical examinations, depending on the infection being tested for.
  • Identify your testing schedule: The frequency of testing depends on your age, sexual activity and risk factors. Consult your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations.
  • Find a testing facility: Many clinics, hospitals and community health centers offer STI testing. Some organizations even provide free or low-cost testing services. You can also book video STD management consults on Sesame to discuss your symptoms, testing and treatment options.
  • Order at-home tests: It's actually possible to test for a number of STIs from the comfort of your own home - you can purchase kits from online or from your local pharmacy, or you can also order kits through Sesame At-Home Labs Powered by Ash. Kits arrive discreetly to your home within 3 business days of ordering and test for different STIs including chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and more.

Treatment: Options for STI Medications

Timely and appropriate treatment is crucial to prevent complications, protect sexual partners and curb the spread of these infections. A wide range of treatment options is available depending on the type of STI, the severity of the infection and the individual's medical history. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Treatment options for common STIs include:

  • Antibiotics: For bacterial infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, antibiotics are often the first line of treatment. The choice of antibiotic, dosage and duration depends on the specific infection and individual factors. Commonly prescribed antibiotics for STIs include doxycycline, azithromycin, amoxicillin, penicillin and tetracycline.
  • Antiviral medications: For viral infections such as herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV), antiviral medications can help manage symptoms and reduce the frequency of outbreaks, but they cannot cure the infection. Common antiviral medications for STIs like herpes and HPV include acyclovir (generic Zovirax), famciclovir (generic for Famvir), and valacyclovir (generic Valtrex).
  • Topical treatments: Creams and ointments can be used to alleviate itching, irritation, and inflammation caused by certain STIs like genital warts and herpes outbreaks. Common topical treatments include Imiquimod and podofilox (generic Condylox).
  • Vaccinations: Some STIs, like HPV and hepatitis B, can be prevented with vaccines. While these vaccines do not treat existing infections, they can protect against future infections.
  • Partner treatment: It is essential for sexual partners to be treated simultaneously to avoid reinfection and reduce the spread of STIs.

STI Awareness Month serves as a powerful reminder to prioritize sexual health through open dialogue, prevention, and testing. By embracing these practices and encouraging others to do the same, individuals can work together to combat the stigma surrounding STIs and foster a healthier, more informed society.

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Medical disclaimer

Sesame content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern, it is critical to seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions. If you are facing a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room immediately.