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First Steps to Living with an STD
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by: STD Help

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So.. I have an std, now what?

For someone who’s just been diagnosed with an STD, the world might suddenly be a much scarier place. Thoughts of complications, permanent damage, and other terrifying possibilities may become overwhelming. The first thing to do is remember that your doctor is your advocate, and will work with you to treat the STD as quickly and efficiently as possible. The only thoughts you should be focusing on are thoughts related to treating the STD, not what “might” happen.

Step One

An important first step once you’ve controlled the instinct to panic is to alert any partners you may have come into contact with after being infected. The key to treating STDs with minimal damage to the body is to catch the STD early. It’s embarrassing to have to contact old partners and let them know you have and std, but it is clearly important. Do what you need to do, but ultimately you have put yourself in the situation and you must overcome talking to previous partners. It may be a good idea to talk it out on the phone if you feel the situation may get out of hand.

Step Two

Your doctor may want to perform continued testing to be sure the STD has not had a chance to cause any serious damage. In the case of Hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E your doctor may want to do a liver biopsy (which means that, usually, the doctor numbs the area, makes a tiny cut, and inserts a needle to remove a small piece of liver tissue) to check for any deterioration. With HIV/AIDS your doctor may want to do extensive testing to check how well the organs are functioning, both to see if there’s already damage to be addressed and to establish a “base-line” functionality for later comparison. This normally consists of extensive blood work.

Tests your doctor may want to do to check for damage from the STD may vary – some doctors might be more concerned about the cancerous aspect, some about the fertility issues, and some about organ function. It’s a good idea to research what organs your STD may affect and request tests to see how well they’re currently functioning.

Step Three

In most cases a doctor will treat – either to cure or slow the progression of – an STD with medication. Some prefer to start out with minimal medications and others want to treat aggressively and quickly, your doctor may want to discuss options with you and this will allow you input on how you want to be treated. Most medications for STDs are taken orally or by injection. Other methods include creams and sprays, for topical treatment. Side effects of medications may vary so it’s important to keep a close eye on your health and alert your doctor to any adverse reactions (including, but not limited to: dizziness, vomiting, itchiness/hives/rash, difficulty breathing, and tachycardia or racing heart).

Step Four

It’s important not to stop living because of an STD. If you’re diagnosed with a disease without a cure, such as Hepatitis C or AIDS, depression is likely to set in. Some people may benefit from going to a therapist weekly to discuss fears and emotions relating to the diagnosis. Others may find comfort in online message boards where they can speak daily with others. It’s okay to let yourself be frightened by the prospect of what’s to come – but it’s also okay to remember that you still have time, and to use that time to the fullest (ever wanted to go skydiving but been too afraid? Now might be a good time to give that old buddy of yours who kept trying to convince you to do it a call).

There are always new clinical trials being conducted of medications in the never-ending attempt to prolong life, and you and your doctor may want to discuss submitting your application to trials that interest you. Some people find it’s easier to cope with the shock that is being diagnosed with an STD by participating in something that may have a positive effect on another person who’s diagnosed years later. Clinical trials can lead to the discovery of cures, which is usually the overall goal in the medical field.


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