I hadn’t been to the doctor for a physical and a checkup since right before I went to college. Now, I am in my late 20’s, so it isn’t as bad as it sounds, but it had still been 10 years. It was something I had been meaning to do forever. Since Anne and I decided to jump on the swingset, it seemed like a doctor visit was in order. I cannot start this journey without knowing one hundred percent that I am STI free. Having only had sex with Anne for the past 10 years, I was confident that we were clean, but I needed proof before we could continue with this. I wouldn’t want to unknowingly put someone else at risk.
So, I pulled up our insurance website and found a list of doctors in our area. We picked a doctor with an American sounding name. I admit that sounds bad, but we had to narrow it down somehow. Other criteria I at least had was someone younger. The doctor we chose is in her 30’s. I called up the office and set up physical exams for the both of us.
I had scheduled my exam first. We were both seeing the same doctor back to back and I figured I would take on the burden of asking for a full STI panel and having to explain why. Well, things didn’t turn out that way. Even though my appointment was scheduled first Anne got called in first. I finally got called in and the nurse did all the nurse stuff (blood pressure, temp, etc). Then, I sat on the paper bench, shirtless and shoeless, waiting for the doctor. Finally, she arrived.
As she was checking my breathing and asking random health related questions she tossed in, “That was your wife I just saw in the next room?” I responded in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter I informed her that I would also like to be checked for STI’s. She didn’t ask me why or if there was a reason I thought I might have them. I assumed this was because Anne had covered it. The doctor said, “Ok, I will talk to you about that in a minute.” So, I let it go. She then asked if I wanted the optional testicular exam. I said, “Might as well.” She asked if I would like the nurse present since we were of opposite genders. I told her that it didn’t matter to me, but it struck me as odd because the nurse is also female.
After all that she gave me the STI talk. She told me exactly what they check. Herpes is something that they check for, but the doctor informed me that they used to just not check for it at all. This is because a high percentage of the population carries the virus, shows no symptoms, and is oblivious to the fact they have it. This information was something that I already knew. I, however, did not know if I was one of those people carrying it. She mainly just warns everyone because when they call back with the results they don’t want people to be shocked. The doctor informed me that some of the tests are best done with the first urination of the day. As it turns out I had already peed that morning, but she said it would probably be all right and opted not to stick a cotton swab into my penis. I was relieved to hear that. Having never been tested before, it was something that had me worried all that morning.
After that, I was walked to the lab, I peed in a cup, had my blood taken, and was sent on my way. They called me back roughly a week later. I am officially STI free, but there was a few anomalies in my blood work. Nothing major, but the doctor suggested eating better and exercising more. I am totally fine with that as I have been working on doing that anyways.
Although I imagine it's awkward discussing STI checkups with anyone, it's also a sign of someone who cares about himself/herself and others. Having been to the doc's office several times over the past couple of years to monitor my highish blood pressure and mentioning nothing about infections, he'd probably be curious about me requesting an STI check—it must mean I've done something or are planning on doing something. I don't necessarily have a problem explaining my belief system or my behavior to someone concerned about my physical health, but I do have a problem with physicians who preach morality lessons. A good doctor won't do that. I just hope that I have one of those good doctors; it's a pain to find a new one.