“I felt an enormous sense of guilt and overall disgust at myself."
When Emily Depasse, 26, walked into the doctor’s office in late 2015, she was convinced the painful, burning sensation happening in and around her vagina was the result of a new, lacy thong she had just purchased.
“The burning was not constant, but there was a stinging pain when anything rubbed against my vaginal opening,” she says. “At some points of the day, it was a pulsating pain. But the more I thought about it, the more intense it became.”
She consoled herself with this underwear belief, even suggesting to the doctor and nurses that it wasn’t-it couldn’t be-an STI. “I was quickly brought back to reality when the doctor stated that my lesions looked like herpes,” she says.
According to World Health Organization, more than one million sexually transmitted infections are contracted every day. And though STIs (the more modern term of “STD”) are predominantly spread through sexual contact, there aren’t always visible signs or indicators that you may have one.
Like in Catherine’s* case. Unlike Emily, she wasn’t experiencing any symptoms that lead her to the doctor’s office. In fact, she only went to her local college clinic because her friend needed moral support. And yet, when her results came back, she tested positive for chlamydia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that while young people account for half of new STI cases, only about 12 percent of millennials were tested in the last year. But is ignorance really bliss?
Here are Emily and Catherine’s stories, plus five other women’s experiences on how they found out they had an STI, what they felt when they received the news, and how they deal with it today.
What Symptoms Were You Experiencing?
“I stayed in denial for a long time and dealt with my diagnosis the same way we struggle to handle grief-depression, isolation, and anxiety.”
How did you feel when you were told you had an STI?
How did you deal with the STI?
How has the STI affected your dating life and/or relationships?
“As far as I knew, my love life was over. I was terrified my reputation would be ruined if anyone found out.”
What would you tell someone who was just diagnosed with an STI and not sure what to do?
*Names have been changed.
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