Category Archives: Relationship

What Are the Signs That I Might Have an STD?

It is important to remember that STDs may have no symptoms. However, new vaginal or urethral discharge or a new rash after sexual contact should be evaluated by a medical professional.

When symptoms do occur, they can include the following:

Chlamydia Symptoms of chlamydia can include vaginal discharge in women, penile discharge in men, and burning during urination in men and women.

Gonorrhea Gonorrhea can cause thick, cloudy, or bloody discharge from the vagina or urethra, and pain or burning when peeing. If you have gonorrhea in your anus, it may cause itching in and around the anus, discharge from the anus, and pain when defecating. Gonorrhea in the throat may cause a sore throat.

Hepatitis B Acute hepatitis B can cause fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). Symptoms can appear anywhere from six weeks to six months following exposure to the hepatitis B virus. Chronic hepatitis B sometimes causes symptoms similar to acute disease.

Genital Herpes Signs of genital herpes typically include red bumps that develop into blisterlike sores in the genital area and sometimes on the buttocks or thighs. A new infection with HSV-2 — the virus that causes most cases of genital herpes — may also cause flulike symptoms, including fever, headache, feeling tired and achy, and swollen glands.

Oral Herpes Symptoms of oral herpes can include itching of the mouth or lips, sores or blisters on the lips or inside the mouth, and flulike symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, and swollen glands.

HIV Early symptoms of HIV infection can resemble those of the flu: fever, headache, muscle aches, and sore throat. They may also include swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, a fungal infection of the mouth, and a rash on the abdomen, arms, legs, or face. If HIV goes untreated, later symptoms can include fatigue, weight loss, night sweats, joint pain, short-term memory loss, and recurrent infections.

HPV Most strains of HPV cause no symptoms and are detected only after abnormal cells are discovered during a Pap smear. However, some types of HPV cause genital warts, which appear as skin-colored or whitish growths on the genitals or anus.

Molluscum Contagiosum Often the only sign of this skin disease is pink or flesh-colored bumps with a dimple (indentation) in the center. It is most common in children, who typically get it from skin-to-skin contact or from shared towels or similar items. In adults, it can be sexually transmitted.

When and How Often Should I Get Tested?

“Women should be tested for chlamydia on a regular basis. Some gynecologists test for it automatically, but not all do,” Hook says.

For other STDs, including HIV, syphilis, and genital herpes, blood testing is most accurate.

To test for HPV, a sample of cervical or anal cells must be collected.

How often an individual needs to be tested for STDs depends on their level of risk for infection.

The CDC recommends the following for testing for chlamydia:

Annual screening in sexually active women age 25 and younger and in older women who are at an increased risk for infection because of a new sex partner or multiple sex partners
Annual screening in men who have sex with men, based on exposure history, with more frequent screening in people at the highest risk
Screening in all pregnant women at their first prenatal visit
Annual screening in sexually active people living with HIV
The CDC’s recommendations for gonorrhea testing include the following:

Annual screening in sexually active women who are at risk for infection, which includes women ages 25 and younger
Annual screening in men who have sex with men, based on exposure history, with more frequent screening in people at the highest risk
Screening in all pregnant women under age 25 and older women who are at an increased risk
Annual screening in sexually active people living with HIV
The CDC’s recommendations regarding screening for syphilis include these guidelines:

Screening in all pregnant women at their first prenatal visit
Annual screening in men who have sex with men
Annual screening in sexually active people living with HIV
The CDC has additional recommendations for other STDs.

In all cases, more frequent screening or screening for additional STDs may be appropriate for certain individuals, depending on their risk factors, including sexual behavior and how common a particular disease is in their area.

A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP MEANS TWO HEALTHY INDIVIDUALS

“Understand that it is up to you to make yourself happy, it is NOT the job of your spouse. I am not saying you shouldn’t do nice things for each other, or that your partner can’t make you happy sometimes. I am just saying don’t lay expectations on your partner to make you happy. It is not their responsibility. Figure out as individuals what makes you happy as an individual, then you each bring that to the relationship.”

– Mandy

Everyone talks about “sacrifices” in a relationship. You’re supposed to keep the relationship happy by consistently sacrificing yourself to your partner and their wants and needs.

It’s true that every relationship requires each person to consciously choose to give something up at times. The problem comes when all of the relationship’s happiness is contingent on the other person, and both people are in a constant state of sacrifice. Just read that again. Doesn’t it sound horrible? A relationship based on constant and mutual sacrifices can’t be sustained and will eventually become damaging to both individuals.

“Shitty, codependent relationships have an inherent stability because you’re both locked in an implicit bargain to tolerate the other person’s bad behavior because they’re tolerating yours, and neither of you wants to be alone. On the surface, it seems like [a case of] “compromising in relationships because that’s what people do,” but the reality is that resentments build up, and both parties become the other person’s emotional hostage against having to face and deal with their own bullshit (it took me 14 years to realize this, by the way).”

– Karen

A healthy and happy relationship requires two healthy and happy individuals. Keyword here: “individuals.” That means two people with their own identities, their own interests and perspectives, and things they do by themselves, on their own time.

This is why attempting to control your partner (or submitting control over yourself to your partner) to make them “happy” ultimately backfires—it allows the individual identities of each person to be destroyed, those very identities that attracted each other and brought them together in the first place.

“Don’t try to change them. This is the person you chose. They were good enough to marry so don’t expect them to change now.”

– Allison

“Don’t ever give up who you are for the person you’re with. It will only backfire and make you both miserable. Have the courage to be who you are, and most importantly, let your partner be who they are. Those are the two people who fell in love with each other in the first place.”

– Dave

But how does one do this? The answer comes from something hundreds and hundreds of successful couples said in their emails:

THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN A RELATIONSHIP IS NOT COMMUNICATION, BUT RESPECT

“What I can tell you is the #1 thing . . . is respect. It’s not sexual attraction, looks, shared goals, religion or lack of, nor is it love. There are times when you won’t feel love for your partner. But you never want to lose respect for your partner. Once you lose respect, you will never get it back.”

– Laurie

As I scanned through the hundreds of responses I received, I began to notice an interesting trend: People who had been through divorces almost always talked about communication being the most important part of making things work. Talk frequently. Talk openly. Talk about everything, even if it hurts.

And there is some merit to that (which I’ll get to later).

But I noticed that the thing people with happy marriages going on 20, 30, or even 40 years talked about most was respect.

My sense is that these people, through sheer quantity of experience, have learned that communication—no matter how open, transparent, and disciplined—will break down at some point. Conflicts are pretty much unavoidable and feelings will always be hurt.

And the only thing that can save you and your partner, that can cushion you both to the hard landing of human fallibility, is an unerring respect for one another. It’s crucial that you hold each other in high esteem, believe in one another—often more than you each believe in yourselves—and trust that your partner is doing his/her best with what they’ve got.

Without that bedrock of respect, you will begin to doubt each other’s intentions. You will judge your partner’s choices, and encroach on their independence. You will feel the need to hide things from one another for fear of criticism. And this is when the cracks in the edifice begin to appear.

HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS AND ROMANCE

“You are absolutely not going to be gaga over each other every single day for the rest of your lives, and all this ‘happily ever after’ bullshit is just setting people up for failure. They go into relationships with these unrealistic expectations. Then, the instant they realize they aren’t ‘gaga’ anymore, they think the relationship is broken and over, and they need to get out. No! There will be days, or weeks, or maybe even longer, when you aren’t all mushy-gushy in-love. You’re even going to wake up some morning and think, “Ugh, you’re still here….” That’s normal! And more importantly, sticking it out is totally worth it, because . . . in a day, or a week, or maybe even longer, you’ll look at that person and a giant wave of love will inundate you, and you’ll love them so much you think your heart can’t possibly hold it all and is going to burst. Because a love that’s alive is also constantly evolving. It expands and contracts and mellows and deepens. It’s not going to be the way it used to be, or the way it will be, and it shouldn’t be. I think if more couples understood that, they’d be less inclined to panic and rush to break up or divorce.”

– Paula

In ancient times, people genuinely considered love a sickness. Parents warned their children against it, and adults quickly arranged marriages before their children were old enough to do something dumb on the back of their out-of-control emotions.

That’s because love—though able to make us feel giddy and high, as though we had snorted a shoebox full of cocaine—can also make us highly irrational. We all know that guy (or girl) who dropped out of school, sold their car, and spent the money to elope on the beaches of Tahiti. We all also know how that same guy (or girl) ended up skulking back a few years later feeling like a moron, not to mention broke.

True love—that is, deep, the kind of abiding love that is impervious to emotional whims or fancy—is a constant commitment to a person regardless of present circumstances. It’s a constant commitment to a person who you understand isn’t going to always make you happy—nor should they!—and a person who will need to rely on you, just as you will rely on them.

That form of love is much harder, primarily because it often doesn’t feel very good. It’s unglamorous. It’s lots of early morning doctor’s visits. It’s cleaning up bodily fluids you’d rather not be cleaning up. It’s dealing with another person’s insecurities and fears even when you don’t want to.