STI-IGMA: Why We Shouldn't Fear or Shame Sexually Transmitted Infections.

What are we afraid of, symptoms? A flawed reputation?  There's definitely a fear of you possibly being next, if it hasn't happened to you already. Knowing we're taught to associate sex with shame and "uncleanliness" with an STD is part of the problem. We ruthlessly blow these normal parts of life out of proportion. So what comes after you have found out you have an STD? How do you cope, get smarter, more mature, and especially more responsible moving forward? Statistics  themselves show that you are not alone. If you're one of the few sexually active people who have yet to experience an STI don't get misguided and think that means you've never been with someone who has had an STD, or that you absolutely never will be exposed to an STD within your lifetime*.

All these questions seem rather heavy, but we're here to give you the confidence to ease the anxiety. To do so means getting to the root of the problem. As complicated as it may seem, the simplicity of it will stun you. Remember how we discussed changing the way we think about what we learned in our youth about sex? Since you've made it this far, it's fair to say that you're curious as to how you can be a few steps ahead of the general population. So take note:

1. Understand that diseases and infections, in general, are a part of life thus, STIs/STDs are a part of your sex life.
Like a cold, the flu, and food poisoning are part of our daily lives, STIs/STDs are part of your intimate life. Some STIs are passable even if there isn't penetration or genital touching.  Take the common cold for example, what we as humans call "catching a cold" is actually different strands of a virus (also called URI) that infects the respiratory system. On the same spectrum The Flu is a much more serious respiratory virus but we speak of that as casually as the cold now. Though we believe we are going through cycles of catching a cold then clearing it, we actually never get rid of the virus in our body. There is no cure for the common cold, because it is a virus. The strand that you have is going through phases of expression and remission. It's also possible to have more than one strand of the URI virus, just as it's possible to have more than one STI at a time.

2.  Understand that Sex is a pleasurable risk. 
That's a fact. If you're a person who enjoys sex you are at risk of the consequences. At its best the consequences are safe and immense pleasure, or if you're at that stage of your life, a planned pregnancy. At its worst the consequences are unplanned pregnancy and/or STDs. Multiple STDs. Curable or incurable. There are sexually active people who are comfortable and aware of their risk, but by large most of us are still not versed or comfortable with the inevitable. Think of life, we are often taught to live life to the fullest, to seize the day and never waste it. We are encouraged to combat fears, yet we aren't often reminded how life is a major risk. The moment you walk outside your home you have a 50% chance of a tragedy and the probability is essentially equal if you isolate yourself in your home. Infections from sex aren't necessarily a tragedy, (depending on your current head space and learned behaviors) but it is something that causes pause. In the aspect of sex and infections as a part of life, a respiratory infection is just as common and important to treat as an infection that came with that orgasm. 

Sexual infections are not anomalies. They exist in our time and space as living organisms therefore they function as such. STDs are historical, they are legendary but we treat them as if they are mythical. Believing it only happens to certain types of people with a certain sexual appetite, when truthfully the only circumstances are that you are having sex with another person. There's currently no way to be completely immune but there are ways to protect yourself. When you get your mind re-calibrated and set to things, remember that sex is a part of life. Like any other system in your body, your immune system is susceptible to infections and diseases.  Don't forget it, but also remember sex breeds life and both are risks that you should be cautious about but fiercely enjoy!

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