Next week is Self Care Week and today is World Kindness Day. This, to us, is an awareness event match made in heaven - you’re more able to be kind to others when you can be kind to yourself. With that in mind, today’s blog is about how to be kind to yourself with your sexual and reproductive health
If you’re worried that you might have contracted an STI, the kindest thing you can do for yourself, your body and your partner(s) is to get tested. You should get tested every time you have a new sexual partner, or if you think you might have been exposed to an STI. Getting tested doesn’t have to mean taking time off work or queuing on a Saturday. It can be as easy as filling out a few quick questions online and ordering a test kit to your home.
People don’t always find testing easy. It can be hard to do if you’re anxious about what the results might be or worried about the test itself. Delaying getting tested could mean a condition that can be quickly treated and managed is more serious at a later point so testing now is kind to your future self too. The important thing to remember is that whatever the result is, there are lots of places where you can find support. If you are a Lambeth or Southwark resident you can book an appointment at Camberwell or Burrell St clinics or access their walk-in services.
Avoid Dr Google
One of the least kind things you can do to yourself EVER is google your symptoms. Symptom checkers can be a useful tool but many symptoms can apply to more than one condition. Confusing. Typing your symptoms into one can be like crawling down a rabbit hole of unnecessary worry. SH:24 provide information on the STIs we test for as well contraception information. You can also get information from websites like NHS Choices or Brook where you will also be able to find out how to access services.
Give yourself a break
Most importantly though, give yourself a break! STI’s can happen to anyone, anywhere. Condoms are not 100% effective, and are more effective for some STIs than others. The stigma around STIs is harmful, and it makes it harder for people to access the services they need. A lot of STIs are treatable or manageable with the right support. If for whatever reason, you can’t be kind to yourself and are struggling with a diagnosis - get some help. There are counsellors who specialise in this, and some of your friends may have their own experiences with STIs - you are definitely not in this alone.