How to Tell Your Partner About STD Testing

Few topics are more nerve-wracking to discuss with a new partner than sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). However, talking about STDs early in a relationship can be a huge health benefit for both individuals.

Talking about STDs can happen anytime, whether it’s with your long-time partner or a new relationship.

The reason to mention STDs? So that you and your partner can get tested before becoming sexually active. (For existing partners, testing after being sexually active is better than ever.)

Why test for STDs?

Knowing if one of you has an STD can prevent the disease from spreading. Because many STDs have silent symptoms, people may not know they have them.

“It is possible to have an STD for years without developing any signs or symptoms,” says infectious disease expert Nazar Raoof, MD “Partners can transmit STDs to others without knowing it, without realizing it. Guess they have one.”

Sexually transmitted diseases include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Genital herpes
  • Pubic lice (crabs)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis

How to Start an STD Conversation

When you talk about STDs, talk about health – yours and your partner’s. Mention that many STDs are curable and can be treated with medication.

“Getting tested before becoming sexually active is a way to protect each other,” says Dr. Raoof. “For those with existing relationships, getting treatment for possible STDs can prevent complications.”

Bring up the subject in a neutral, non-sexual moment. It’s okay to laugh at how awkward the topic is, as long as you’re talking.

Suggest you get tested together or plan to take the test separately. Agree to share your test results with each other before becoming intimate.

You can get tested for STDs anywhere, including:

  • Your doctor’s office
  • A location for family planning
  • A health clinic
  • An urgent care center
  • A pharmacy health clinic
  • A health clinic at your county health department

If your partner is defensive about testing, explain that you’re only thinking about health. You don’t need to know their dating history and you don’t suspect infidelity.

“When someone objects or doesn’t want to get tested, that can be a red flag,” says Dr Raoof. “Disclosure of STD status should be a matter of trust. Would you entrust your well-being to someone who would not grant you this health-related information?

And if someone tests positive

When you get tested, you or your partner may test positive. Even people who look and feel healthy can have an STD.

A positive test is not a reason to end a relationship or a sign that someone cheated. STDs can be present for years before they are discovered.

“It’s important to tell your partner about your STD status and then seek treatment,” Dr. Raoof says. “You should also tell your exes about your results, so they can get tested too.”

Many STDs are curable with a short course of medication. To prevent the spread of an STD, avoid sexual activity until you have finished treatment.

If your partner is positive, try to be kind and compassionate, nonjudgmental. They were honest about their test results and millions of Americans contracted STDs.

“Treat your partner with the respect you would want if you were HIV-positive,” says Dr. Raoof. “Remember that STDs are a health problem, not a reason to criticize.”

Next steps and resources:

The material provided by HealthU is intended to be used for general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your doctor for individual care.

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