While any sexual activity with another person can potentially result in STI exposure, some situations may put someone at a greater risk than initially realized. Perhaps a condom breaks or you don’t use one, or you discover a partner wasn’t truthful about their health or honestly had no clue they were at risk of passing something on to you.

Suspecting you may have contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can be scary, especially if you’ve been subjected to sex-negative scare tactics from the media, the educational system and peer groups.

But beating yourself up, panicking or going down a Google rabbit hole of worst-case scenarios isn’t going to make you feel better. Getting proactive and taking action, on the other hand, just might.

Here are some immediate next steps you should take after possible exposure to someone with an STI:

Breathe

As a chronic worrier myself, I know how easy it can be to head into a downward spiral once you start feeling anxious.

In these situations, it can help to take a step back and perform a distracting or soothing activity. The activity is up to you: breathing exercises, meditation, listening to music, calling a friend, drinking a cup of tea