struggles of getting tested for STIs

Struggles people face when testing for STDs

Testing for STDs at the doctor’s office often calls for some awkward moments. Especially if you don’t identify as an entirely cis het person. Healthcare providers do so much for us (we truly appreciate y’all, especially in these unprecedented times), but like in any other field, there is room for improvement. More inclusive and empathetic care can go a long way in encouraging and empowering patients to seek care. Thus improving public health in the long run.

We spoke to some folks about their experiences going to the clinic or the doctor’s office to test for STDs. These are the main struggles that people are facing today:

1. Judgement based on your gender identity and sexual activity.

“I went to the student health center after unprotected sex, where the nurse practitioner said, ‘I have to ask the following questions: do you sleep with men, women, or both?’ and when I said both, her jaw dropped and she said… ‘okaaaaaaaaaay’.”

2. Only testing for the basics, regardless of your sexual activity.

“I think it is weird that I am explaining to my ‘qualified/trained/educated’ doctor why I want to be swabbed in my rectum.”

“I usually go to the OB/GYN to get tested for STDs once or twice a year and they never ask what I do sexually. By default they tell me to collect my urine and get a blood test, but I am not being asked if I want a rectal or oral swab. I should be getting checked in those places too but I feel too uncomfortable pointing this out…”

3. Totally disregarding the nuances around your gender identity and potential traumas surrounding it.

“When you go in for STI testing and the staff perceive you as female, they will force you to take a pregnancy test even if you tell them you’re not having sex with people that can impregnate you. It’s triggering to have to take a pregnancy test even though you know there’s no way you are pregnant.”

“After an STI scare, I finally met with a primary care provider who insisted I was sleeping with men. He then shamed me into telling him and his medical student so that he could then get me on PrEP. As someone who was not even remotely out – this made me super uncomfortable. It caused me to avoid all medical providers for an entire year.”

There are doctors out there who understand how to empathize with their patients and make them comfortable in sensitive situations but, there must be a systemic change in the way sexual health is taught and cared for. The great thing with at-home STD/STI testing is that you don’t need to worry about any of this!

Ash makes the STI testing experience more convenient, inclusive and accessible. Our at-home testing kits are tailored to your sexual activity. It is important to test for STD/STIs depending on where you have sex, gonorrhea and chlamydia can live in any of the warm and wet parts of your body you use during sex, such as your pee hole, vagina, butt hole or throat. The most common STD/STIs (such as chlamydia and gonorrhea) often show no symptoms, the only way to know if you have chlamydia is to get tested.

Test yourself in the comfort of your own home today. Give it a try, we’ll be with you every step of the way!