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How to Tell Your Partner You Have an STD

Sexually transmitted diseases are more common than you may realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Americans reported over 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, the three most reported STDs, in 2019. That number continues to be on the rise. If you received positive results from a rapid STD test, please know that it is more common than you think—you are not the only one.

Once you determine your course of treatment, you have the difficult task of sharing the news with your former and current sexual partners. For some people, figuring out how to tell their partner they have an STD is overwhelming and stressful. However, sharing your status is crucial to stopping the spread to other people. In this article, we’d like to discuss some possible ways to handle this often-difficult conversation without compromising your dignity.  

Getting Tested for STDs

The only way to be sure you have an STD is to get tested. Remember, STD or STI symptoms in women and men are not always obvious. If you fail to get a test to find out, your STI may lead to serious health complications. Rather than sit and worry about it, we urge you to go to a testing facility or clinic that will treat you with respect and sensitivity.

If you are starting a new sexual relationship or have more than one partner, you should schedule STD testing near you to find out if you have any infections before sharing them with someone new. It is also a good idea to talk to your partner about testing so that your relationship can start off healthy and happy.

When it comes to sexual activity, safe is better than sorry. Once you move past any embarrassment about STD testing, you may find that knowing your status is worth it. Some people get tested every few months just to be sure they have not exposed anyone or contracted an STD from someone else.

Reasons to Tell Your Past and Current Partners

You may not want to talk about STDs with your sexual partners because it makes you uncomfortable. But if it were you, wouldn’t you want to know? Honest, open communication is a part of a healthy sex life, even when the subject is STDs.

Your past and current partners should have information about possible STD exposure so that they can decide how to handle their own status, relationships, and health. Since STD symptoms in women and men are not always obvious, it is best to know for sure. Some STDs can cause serious (and even fatal) complications. For that reason alone, it is essential to talk about your results so that your partners can seek testing and treatment if needed.

You may not realize it, but not sharing your STD status could put you in legal hot water in some states. Withholding information or knowingly exposing other partners to STDs can put you at risk for criminal charges. Uninformed partners may also sue you for lying about having STDs. If you had to choose between telling your partners or legal trouble, you might want to make time to talk.

How to Tell Your Partner You Have an STD

Once you have decided you are ready to share your STD status with your current or past partners, you should have a plan for this potentially difficult conversation. These nine suggestions can guide you on how to approach the subject and what responses to anticipate.

1. Discuss the issue with your partner before becoming intimate

When romance blossoms and passions run hot, the last thing you want to do is stop and discuss the need for a full 10-panel STD test. That is why you should have that conversation before deciding to take your relationship to the next step.

Approach it from a mature, responsible perspective. Talk about ways to enjoy sex together while avoiding STD transmission. That doesn’t mean you cannot have fun together; it just means you want to protect each other. If your partner is receptive to couples STD testing, you may suggest going together to get tested.

2. Choose how you wish to have this discussion with your partner

You may already feel anxious about addressing your STD test results with your partner. Why not make it easier on yourself by controlling how you want to address it? Do you want to talk in person, or would it make sense to communicate via phone, email, or text? Consider your best-case scenario, especially with past partners, to protect yourself from a potentially heated situation.

3. Pick a time and place where you can have a deep conversation in private

In some people’s minds, there is no ideal time to talk about your STD status. When you think about it, however, you may see how some occasions are better than others. Is this a conversation you want to have in front of friends or family for support? Does your partner have strong reactions to unpleasant news? Are they cooler in public than in private? Try to find a setting that works well for both of you to stay calm and talk rationally with each other.

4. Be direct and truthful

Consider how you would feel if your partner told you about testing positive for an STD. Wouldn’t you want to have an open, honest conversation about it? Do the same thing for your partner with detailed information. It’s kind of like ripping off a bandage; it only hurts for a few seconds, but then you realize worrying about it was worse than the real thing.

5. Listen and let your partner ask questions

You have had your time to talk, and now it is time to listen to your partner. Your partner deserves the chance to express how they feel about the information you shared. It is okay for them to be angry or upset, but it is not acceptable to act on those emotions. Hopefully, your conversation can stay constructive and appropriate. If it does not, remove yourself from any situation that does not feel safe.

6. Use this as an opportunity to discuss sexual health and history with your partner

Any time you have open communication without judgment is a good thing. After getting your STD testing results, you and your partner should take time to chat about your sexual history and health. It is helpful for both of you to be on the same page today and in the future.

7. Be prepared for possible reactions

When having difficult conversations, you can only control your own behavior, emotions, and words. Sometimes your partner may not react the way you expected, and you may find yourself disappointed. Sharing your STD results with a trusted friend or support person can help you understand and process those feelings. If you have any concerns about your safety, have a plan in place before you tell your partner to protect yourself.

8. Don’t rush your partner to make decisions about your relationship

Unless your partner is not surprised that you tested positive for an STD, they may need time to decide the next steps. Again, this is where empathy can go a long way. Give your partner space to figure things out, from also getting tested to deciding if the relationship should continue. It can be challenging to wait on your partner’s choices, but it is fair, so try to be patient.

9. Be proud of yourself

Talking about STD testing is a touchy subject for many people, but it is also a meaningful conversation to have. Give yourself credit for addressing a difficult situation with dignity and maturity. Instead of avoiding it and letting it get worse, you can be proud of doing the right thing.

Can You Anonymously Tell Someone You Have an STD?

Even with a clear plan of how to talk about STDs with your past and current partners, there may be times that you do not feel you can tell someone the news without serious repercussions. Several services do exist to allow you to share your STD status with someone anonymously. Remember, the goal is to share the information and encourage them also to get tested. 

If the idea of being direct is impossible or you do not maintain contact with a partner, you do have options to let them know without it coming directly from you. These difficult conversations are necessary to stop the spread of STDs, which is why it is so important to tell your partners if you exposed them to any sexually transmitted disease.

It All Starts With STD Testing

No one wants to find out they have an STD, but everyone who is sexually active should know the facts. At Rapid STD Testing, we make it easy for you to understand your status with quick results. Contact us online to find a location near you and learn more about our testing services