It can be awkward to talk to your partner about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections (STIs). There is no reason for embarrassment. If you are comfortable having sexual relations with a person, then you must be mature enough to discuss the difficult things that come along with being in a sexual relationship with someone. Candidly discussing your STD/STI status and insisting on testing is one of the smartest ways you can protect yourself and your partner.
Women who are thinking of becoming pregnant – or who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy – should get tested immediately. Certain STDs and STIs can cause birth defects or pass to the baby in utero or during vaginal birth. Knowing your status before pregnancy and delivery can help protect the baby.
Here are some practical tips on how to talk to your partner about STDs and STIs.
Know the facts
Before you can educate your partner on the importance of knowing your STD/STI status, you must understand the facts yourself. Spend some time researching the most common sexually transmitted diseases and infections and the negative consequences of contracting them. Make sure you investigate the best ways to prevent STDs/STIs. Not all birth control products, like condoms, prevent all sexually transmitted diseases.
Make sure you are using reliable sources for your information. Google is a great resource, but it does not guarantee all search results are from legitimate sources. One of the best places to find accurate information about STDs and STIs is on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. You also can find reliable data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Plan what to say
Once you have all your facts, plan how you want to talk with your partner. It may seem silly to write a speech and practice giving it. Difficult conversations require planning and preparation. Talking about STDs and STIs is one of the most important conversations you will ever have with your partner. You do not have to script your talk word-for-word. Write down a few key points about supporting information if your partner has questions. Having a list of nearby places to get tested should be a part of the discussion. Care Net offers free STD/STI screening at select locations.
Schedule the talk
Pick a time that works for you and your partner. Then, pick a quiet place where you are not likely to be disturbed while you talk. Ideally, you should have this conversation before you become sexually active with a new partner. If you already are sexually active, you may wish to refrain from any further relations until you can get tested.
Using “I” statements is one of the most effective ways to have a difficult conversation. It helps prevent the other person from feeling personally attacked. For instance, you could start the talk by saying “I want to relax and enjoy sex, but I won’t be able to do that until I know we are protected from STDs.”
Be a good listener
Good communication involves both listening and talking. Once you have presented your concerns and all supporting facts to your partner, take time to listen to what he or she has to say. If your partner has more questions that you cannot answer, that is the perfect time to pull out that list of resources you compiled. Offer to visit a clinic that offers free STD testing and consultations so that all your questions can be answered by knowledgeable professionals. If your partner refuses to discuss his or her STD/STI status and is not open to getting tested or using protection, you must make the difficult decision of whether you wish to be sexually involved with them.
Schedule the testing
If your partner agrees to get tested, the next step is to find a clinic that offers free STD/STI testing and schedule your visit. You can agree to go together or separately, whichever you and your partner feel most comfortable doing. Care Net offers free testing services. Contact us to schedule your appointment today. Following initial testing, you will require a second appointment 2 to 7 days later to discuss test results. If you or your partner test positive, we can refer you to a treatment center.