One hundred and sixty-nine

Sexual Health Clinic

I recently had a conversation with my grandmother about how she doesn’t like this month very much.  She doesn’t want to see me walking around in that outfit in Yorkville or going to bars by myself.  I can’t imagine she will be reading the blog anymore after yesterday’s post!  If she is, though, I’m not sure how she’ll feel about my trip to the Hassle Free Clinic at Church and Gerrard…

When I started this adventure six months ago I wanted to learn, but I also wanted to share my new knowledge and teach as much as I could to whoever ended up following along.  Sexual health is a topic I feel really strongly about, especially the more that casual sex is accepted and cheating is considered ‘normal’ (this makes me so sad – just be honest about it).  No one likes to go get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  It is out of everyone’s comfort zone to sit in a chair and talk about your sexual history, then have blood taken and a doctor (you’ve potentially never met, if it’s a clinic) looking up inside you and taking swabs.  But it’s important to have done when you are changing sexual partners, if you have any symptoms, even if you don’t have any symptoms.  Regular testing is important for your own health and for the health of those other people you choose to have intercourse with.  It also helps the spread of disease.

I usually get tested once a year with my family doctor at the time of my physical and then any time I change a sexual partner.  It is never my favourite thing to do, but it is a must.  I think some people are under the impression that it’s better not to know.  That is not fair to all the rest of us who get tested regularly!  And do not lie about being tested.  It doesn’t mean you’re a slut if you get tested, either.  Even if you have one sexual partner, it’s still good to be safe.

The Hassle Free Clinic is a great place to drop in and get checked.  There is a women’s and a men’s clinic that operate at different times (check out their website here for when you should go, but make sure you go early if you are doing the drop-in, as they are usually pretty busy).  They offer STI testing, anonymous HIV testing, birth control info, and counseling, among other things (see website for more details).

Entering the Hassle Free Clinic yesterday, I was anxious to get it over with.  There were a few women already waiting in the lobby – it was twenty minutes before they opened (definitely get there early to be seen).  We were told to take a number and fill out a form.  The lobby was filled with nervous girls, a few of which had appointments, but most were there for the drop-in.  There was one older lady, but mostly the girls were in their teens and twenties (it is located beside Ryerson University, so I think a lot of them were students).  It took about twenty minutes for me to be seen by the doctor after filling out the required forms (from when I arrived to when I left was about an hour).

The doctor took me in to an examination room and asked me a few questions about my sexual and general health history.  She took blood for syphilis.  The doctor was great – she made me feel very comfortable and able to ask all the questions I needed to.  I asked her about HPV, which I keep hearing about.  She said there’s no way to be tested, but it is estimated 75% of Canadians will have at least one type of HPV infection in their lifetime (more stats at hpvinfo.ca).  Scary thought.  The exam on the table was over in thirty seconds.  Stirrups.  Everything looked normal.  A couple of swabs.  Done.  Painless.

There’s no excuse not to get tested.  This is one great thing to do for yourself and others that is out of your comfort zone.  It only takes an hour of your time and you find out the results in about a week and a half.  Do it!