7 Women Share What It Was Really Like to Be Diagnosed With An STD
“In the middle of a beautiful, crowded restaurant, he announced he had gonorrhea."
There’s a ton of information about STDs floating around the internet that can make you feel like getting diagnosed with one is a death sentence. In reality, most STDs are treatable—but still, getting a diagnosis is never easy. With rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis at record highs, it’s more important than ever to educate yourself about what you might have to deal with one day. Over 20 percent of people have an STD at any given time and 50 percent of sexually active young adults will get an STD before they turn 25, according to the American Sexual Health Association.
Scary stats aside, the good news is that effective treatment, including medications that help manage genital herpes and HIV/AIDS, is available. The key to taking care of an STD is knowing when you have one. Know your risk factors, always use protection, and get educated on the symptoms. Plus, don’t forget regular screenings as many STDs don’t show any symptoms at first. These seven women share what they learned when they got their diagnoses.
" I had an affair with a married man...who was having another afair"
“Two years ago, I started dating a married coworker. I never thought of myself as one of ‘those’ women and I knew it was wrong but somehow he knew just what to say to me to keep me coming back. Then one night he said he wanted to take me out somewhere special because he had something important to tell me. I stupidly thought he was going to tell me he was leaving his wife (like he promised). Instead, in the middle of a beautiful, crowded restaurant, he announced he had gonorrhea. Even worse, he’d contracted the STD from his other mistress, a girl I didn’t even know about. I honestly don’t know which I was angrier about—the fact that he was cheating on me, too, or the fact that we were in a fancy public place so I couldn’t scream at him.
“I went home, cried myself sick, and then made an appointment to get tested. Sure enough, I was positive. I didn’t have any symptoms at all so I guess I’m glad he had the guts to tell me so I could get treated right away. My doctor put me on a course of antibiotics and I’ve been clean ever since.”
" I gor Herpes from my ex's ex"
“My then-boyfriend had just ended a years-long relationship before we met and so I expected him to have some souvenirs of his former flame. What I didn’t expect, however, was for one of them to be an STD. Several months into our relationship, my boyfriend casually mentioned, ‘I feel some tingling down there, I think I’m starting a flare-up of my herpes. We probably shouldn’t have sex for awhile.’ That was the first time he’d said anything to me about having genital herpes and I hadn’t thought to ask. He told me he contracted it from his ex-girlfriend when they hooked up once after their breakup to ‘say goodbye.’
“He added that I should be safe from it as long as we didn’t have sex during an outbreak. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that isn’t true. The disease is contagious even if the person isn’t showing symptoms. I saw my doctor and got a full STD screen done. (Who knew what other ‘parting gifts’ his ex had given him?) I ended up testing positive for genital herpes. There is no cure for it and at first I was devastated, but in the year since I’ve come to accept it. I take medication to prevent flare-ups, and unlike my boyfriend, I’m up front with potential partners about my status. It actually hasn’t been as big a deal as I thought it would. I did dump that boyfriend, though. Who just says that kind of thing over coffee?!”
" I thought it was a strep throat but it was really Clamydia"
“In high school I went to a party with a bunch of kids from school. We hung out but I didn’t know them super well. We got pretty drunk and everyone started making out and heading off to bedrooms together. One guy was trying to get me to do the same. I was still a virgin and didn’t want my first time to be drunk with a virtual stranger, but all my friends were doing it (yes, as an adult, I realize how stupid that sounds now) so I relented. Once we were in the back of his car, I chickened out but I didn’t want to leave him hanging so I offered to give him a blow job. We didn’t think we needed a condom because it wasn’t ‘real’ sex.
“Later that week, I came down with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a runny nose, and a really sore throat. My mom thought I had strep throat and took me in to get tested. We both were shocked when the test came back positive… for chlamydia. I didn’t even think about getting an STD through oral. The doctor gave me a mega-dose of an antibiotic and a really long lecture about safe sex. She also said I was lucky that I got the sore throat because lots of people don’t show symptoms of chlamydia when they’re infected, and if it’s untreated it can cause serious damage. I learned a lot from that experience but the one downside was I didn’t have the guts to tell any of our friend group about the diagnosis because I thought they’d think I was gross. So who knows how many other girls he infected?”
"he lied about testing clean for stds"
“I am very careful with my sexual health and always have been. So the first time I slept with Jack (not his real name), I asked him before any clothes came off if he’d been tested for STDs. He said yes, and that he was 100 percent clean. We still used a condom that time but as we got serious we decided it was fine to ditch the protection. I had an IUD so pregnancy wasn’t a risk and we knew we wanted to be together long-term so we dropped the condoms. A couple of months later I started to feel some itching and burning in my crotch and then I got a super painful bump. I got it checked out and discovered I had genital herpes.
“I knew I had tested clean before Jack so I confronted him. It turns out that I hadn’t thought to ask him if he’d slept with anyone since his last STD test. He’d had a one-night stand with someone off of Tinder but didn’t think to tell me about it since he ‘felt fine’ afterwards. I’m now on medication for the rest of my life—which by the way is crazy expensive even with my insurance—and it still really pisses me off every time I think about. I did everything ‘right’ but because I asked the wrong question (or the right question the wrong way), I still got infected. I haven’t talked to Jack since.”
"i infected someone with an std i didn't know I had"
“I am very active in online dating and will often sleep with multiple partners in the same time frame. Because of this I get regular testing for STDs, ask my partners about their statuses, and always insist on condoms. But then one night the condom broke. It was the first time I’d slept with this particular guy and I panicked. I ran to the doctor the next day and got checked.
“When all the tests came back clean, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and figured I’d dodged the bullet. Then a couple of months later, I got a call from a previous date who said I gave him herpes. I said it wasn’t possible but I went in to get tested anyhow and this time I tested positive. My doctor told me that it’s possible to test negative for herpes if there isn’t an active outbreak. So now I have herpes. I still haven’t had a typical outbreak and I’m learning how to adjust my sex life around it. But the crazy part is that I found out through some other friends on the same dating site that the guy who infected me has indirectly led to over 50 infections in others and possibly even more. Apparently his condoms ‘break’ a lot.”
" I am keeping my gonorrhea a secret"
“My husband and I have been married for eight years, mostly happy ones, but lately things have felt colder between us. I wasn’t sure what the reason was and chalked it up to a normal part of being together with someone for 10+ years. But then a week ago I started feeling a burning sensation when I went to the bathroom. I figured it was a urinary tract infection as I’ve had quite a few of those, but my doctor ended up diagnosing me with gonorrhea. I haven’t had sex with anyone other than my husband since we started dating so I know the only way I got it was from him. And honestly? I don’t even really care that he’s obviously cheating on me. Seeing that positive test result made me realize how done I am with this relationship. So now I’m talking to a lawyer about filing for divorce. But I am getting my revenge: I decided not to tell him about my positive test result and let him figure out for himself that he has it and probably his girlfriend does, too. The doctor said there can be long-term side effects of untreated STDs, so hopefully he’ll figure it out soon! If not, that’s his fault.”
" my fiance was never going to tell me he has herpes"
“My fiance Mark (not his real name) and I dated for two years before getting engaged. Our relationship hasn’t been perfect, but overall he’s a really great guy and we’ve been very happy together. I certainly never had any reason to think he’d been lying to me; that is until I discovered a bottle of pills in his backpack in the bottom of our closet. I didn’t recognize the name so I Googled it. It was a prescription, filled that month, for herpes medication. I was still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, though, so I asked him straight up if he had herpes, hoping that he’d say no and have a good explanation for the pills. Instead, he just said yes. He then confessed to having it for five years, longer than we’ve even known each other! He said he didn’t tell me because he had it ‘under control.’
“We’ve been having unprotected sex for a year so I knew I had to get tested. The doctor said chances were good that if he’d stayed consistent with his meds that I wouldn’t have it. He must not have been very good about taking them because I do have it. We haven’t broken up yet (I’m still not sure what I want to do) but this changes everything, especially because I want to have kids and in some cases a mother can pass herpes on to her baby.”