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I wish I had gone to the doctor
When I was in my mid-twenties, I lived 15 miles south of a small Idaho town – population 3000. There wasn’t a lot to do, so I worked and spent my spare time in the bars partying. I didn’t have a steady boyfriend, but there were a few guys I’d hook up with. Mostly we’d use condoms for birth control, but sometimes – usually due to drinking, we had unprotected sex. I thought condoms were for birth control; I didn’t even think about getting an STD. I didn’t know the risk. I didn’t know that it only took one time – one mistake and I had consequences that affected me for a long time.
Since the dating pool is pretty slim in a small town, visitors were a welcome diversion. One early morning, after a night out drinking, my friends and I went out to breakfast. This handsome biker walked down the street, spotted us through the diner window and decided to come in and join us. Because I was too drunk to drive, he gave me a ride home –15 miles out in the middle of nowhere - with no neighbors close by. Of course, he ended up spending the night and of course, we had sex. Now when I think about how risky it was it makes me cringe. He could have killed me! I didn’t know him from Adam. Drinking can make you take risks and do things you wouldn’t normally do. I thought I escaped that situation with a hangover and a little regret, but later I found out he gave me genital warts.
Now I look back and think, how could a college educated person like myself, lack so much knowledge? I didn’t even know about STDs. I didn’t even visit a doctor for 5 years! In a small town you know everyone, so I wasn’t about to go to one of the three town doctors for birth control or for STD/HIV testing. One doctor had asked me out, one was super religious and I worked with the wife of the only remaining doc in town, so there was no way! It wasn’t until I got engaged and decided to go to Boise and get birth control that I found out I had warts. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. And it wasn’t exactly a thrilling experience to tell my husband-to-be that I had an STD!
I wanted everyone in that town to think I was respectable, nice – that I didn’t have sex! Now that makes me laugh. Sex is a normal human function! My need to hide my behavior kept me from going to the doctor and taking care of my health. My shame kept me from turning to others for help and support. I wish I had gone to the doctor and learned how to prevent STDs. Now girls can even get a vaccine to prevent warts and cervical cancer. There is so much to know.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Get tested. Learn how to prevent STDs. Use condoms.