Dealing With STDs

Two months after I started having sex, I got tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) because I wanted to be a responsible adult. I expected a clean bill of health, considering how I felt completely fine down there.

To my horror, the results came back positive for Chlamydia, the most common STD in Singapore. Luckily, I caught it early because if left untreated, Chlamydia could lead to infertility.

In between texting my partner and waiting for my medication, I found myself wishing I could tell my mum.

Why it pained me to keep secrets from Mum

Until then, my mother was my go-to person for any ailment. If I had a rash, I’d come home to three different ointments on my table without having to ask.

She was also one of my closest confidantes. From friendship drama to work troubles, I could open up about nearly everything without the fear of being reprimanded.

But like most traditional Asian parents, my mum and dad raised me to believe sex is only meant for marriage. They gave me the impression that having premarital sex would make me “damaged goods”.

Having volunteered in women’s shelters, my mum told me horror stories of pregnant teens or women who couldn’t get over the guilt of their abortions. During these ‘lectures’, my father would nod along, looking as awkward as I did.

Although she merely wanted to drive home the point that sex could have major physical and emotional consequences, sex became the one thing I couldn’t be honest with my mum about.

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Why mums should give better sex ed

As girls, our mothers are our first source of knowledge and how we first learn to be a woman. In other words, they play a crucial part in how we view our bodies and sexuality.

Because of my mother’s influence, I entered adulthood with a limited view of sex. My answer to avoiding STDs and unwanted pregnancies was to abstain from premarital sex, then hope for a husband who was also a virgin.

When I eventually made the decision to not wait until marriage, I found myself inept at navigating the murky waters of sex and dating. Since I was so inexperienced, I didn’t feel confident enough to insist my partner wear a condom. I even let myself be convinced that if they didn’t show any symptoms, they were free of STDs.

Instead of using scare tactics to prevent me from having premarital sex, my mother could have prepared me for worst case scenarios. I may have avoided getting an STD if I had proper advice on safe sex in the first place.

Looking back, I wish my sex ed didn’t just come from scary pictures of warts shown during Health Education classes, or from a Mean Girls movie reference.

I wish my mother was supportive of the decisions I made regarding my own body.

I wish we could openly discuss birth control, so I wouldn’t rely on Reddit and YouTube for advice.

Most of all, I wish she was there when I found out I had an STD, telling me I would be okay.

Coping with STDs in Singapore

It’s been two years since the Chlamydia incident but aside from being STD-free, nothing much has changed. My mother still thinks I’m a virgin and I have no choice but to play the part. Whenever she gossips about someone getting pregnant out of wedlock, I shake my head and feign disapproval.

Though I don’t foresee things changing between my parents and me, I intend to educate my children about sex in an honest, practical manner.

I’ll warn them about the complications that come from having sex, but I won’t be preaching abstinence as the only option. Instead, they’ll be taught how to make smart decisions on their own.

Hopefully, they’ll never find themselves alone and afraid in an STD clinic, nervously gripping a positive result slip.

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