Do you feel anxious about the idea of getting tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases? Some of our readers certainly do.
Some never had adequate sex-education and did not realize that sexual activity with a partner — and not just anal or vaginal intercourse — can pose STI risks in the first place. Some are not sure where to go for testing or how to ask for it. Others feel uncomfortable discussing STIs with a partner or potential partner. We get it: this stuff can be hard, and it is usually not the kind of thing where someone just takes us by the hand and leads us through.
This is why we’re doing this new series at Scarleteen’s blog. In it, some of Scarleteen’s volunteers share their own stories of how they deal with different aspects of STI testing and reproductive healthcare.
This summer, I went to my clinic to see a general practitioner (GP) for an annual check-up.
This clinic is affiliated with a local university so the way it works is a little different than many others. Officially I’m a certain GP’s patient, but I see the residents that she supervises whenever I go. This has meant that the level of care has varied, but in general has been fairly high. When I made the appointment, I did not have any particular concerns, but I wanted to get a pap smear and STI testing.
In the past, I have made some unsafe decisions, and I have also been in situations where a partner has not respected my condom-use wishes. Since then, I have had several clear results from pap smears and STI tests, but I have been going at least once a year as a precaution. My last pap and STI test were in February of 2011. I should also mention that I live in Ontario, Canada, and that this visit and the tests were covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).
As I mentioned, this appointment was performed by a resident. Overall, she seemed a little awkward and I got the impression that she didn’t really like performing annual exams and all that they entail. She was however, very nice, nonjudgmental, and very good at checking in with me throughout and making sure everything was good — for example, “Is this ok?” “When you’re ready,” “If that’s ok with you…” — which I really appreciated.
After checking my ears, throat, lungs, and heart, the doctor palpated my abdomen and performed a breast exam. Then it was time for the speculum exam…