STI Makes Me Feel Like Damaged Goods

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Betty Dodson

Hi Betty!

I was recently diagnosed with HPV. The doctor gave me a thorough explanation about the virus. He helped me understand that HPV is more common than we think, that “almost everyone has it”, that it’s “no biggie.” He said to take care of my body and just go on enjoying life. So I went home happy, relaxed.

My boyfriend was freaked out at first, but he has been a great support since. The problem is I have been feeling weird about sex with him… about sex in general. We’ve tried it, but I just feel awkward, insecure, and end up crying. I have never thought of people with STIs as being dirty, or promiscuous, but somehow I’m doing it to myself. I feel like damaged goods. I feel my boyfriend deserves better than me. And although my boyfriend has explained to me that he doesn’t see me that way, that to him I’m perfect, and he stills finds me beautiful and sexy, I still struggle with sexual confidence.

When we’re having sex I feel… sort of like a virgin again, like I don’t know my body, like an out-of-body experience. I’m thinking too much and not in the moment. I’m thinking to myself ‘he’s disgusted by me’, and I don’t enjoy it. I’ve tried to look for answers online, but it seems that emotional and psychological help for this specific reason is scarce. I’m a student so I don’t have the money for therapy… So I know I must do something on my own. So maybe you could help me with this. Any advice? Maybe something to try with my boyfriend?


Dear A,

Your doctor is correct in his assessment of HPV. Since I've had no personal experience with any STD other than Herpes, I can't speak first person about this. But I do remember getting a case of the crabs from a boyfriend, but it was easily dealt with. At first I too felt "dirty" and "infected" and had a temporary freak out. However, once the little "beasties" were gone, it took a while before I stopped compulsively checking to see if they were really gone for sure.

What I'm getting at here is simply to say that it took a while for me to get over the stigma of having something that was caused by sexual contact. Time is always an important part of any healing process. Meanwhile consider using affirmations that fit your situation. Just repeat a phrase that works for you. Something like: "I am healthy and deserve (enjoy or have) orgasmic sex." Any phrase that feels right to you. Our minds are central to the healing process and any negative obsessing will not benefit you or your BF. Just remember this too shall pass.

Dr. Betty

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