couple holding condom
© Love Matters / Jeppe Schilder

Talking about STDs and STIs

A conversation about STDs is a must when you start a relationship. When your health status changes, it's also important to be able to talk to your partner.

Yes, this could be the most awkward and unromantic conversation you have with your partner. But: couples who have this talk end up trusting each other more and having more fun in the bedroom – two big factors for a long-lasting relationship.

Whether you’re playing around, dating, or married, it’s vital that you talk about safe sex with your partner. And our guide also deals with another potentially awkward discussion: what to do if you have, or get, an STD.

Here you can find more info on safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Talk to your partner about safe sex before you have sex. Even if you are virgin, your partner may have had sex before. And even if they’ve only had sex once without a condom, there’s still a chance they have an STD or be living with HIV.

How to start talking about safe sex with your partner

Don’t assume a guy always has a condom in his pocket. Ask. Once you feel comfortable with the person and have started talking about making love, you can say something like:

‘I’m glad we’re talking about sex as I was wondering about condoms and contraception.’

Then you can see their response and talk the different options for contraception. Read more here about all the different birth control methods.

It can be hard to find the moment for this conversation. Perhaps you can broach the subject in a light-hearted way if you’re watching a film with a romantic scene.I wonder if they’re going to use a condom?’ 

Wait for your partner’s response. If they say that they don’t know or don’t think so, then show you know the risks carried by not using a condom or other birth control.

‘Well, I hope they don’t get pregnant or catch an STD!’

How to tell your partner if you have an STD

It’s vitally important that you tell your partner if you have an STD. And if you pick a good moment and tell them in the right way, there’s a good chance everything will work out.

Pick your time

Timing is key. Don’t tell your partner during foreplay or sex. It’s a conversation for when nothing is unbuttoned. Bring it up in general conversation just like any other development in your relationship.

When it’s just the two of you and you are in a position to see your partner’s reaction, ask if they’ve ever had an STD or know what they are. They may have even had the same STD before. Be open – it lets your partner know that they can be honest with you too.

Language

Tell your partner you have an STD in a way that makes the problem sound even worse than it is.
Don't start the conversation like this:

‘I have TERRIBLE news!’

‘I have something awful to tell you.’

Your partner will panic before you have even told them what’s the matter. Instead, introduce it gently and say,

‘There’s something really important I need to tell you. I found out, I have an STD (and tell them the name of the STD).’

If you’re already getting treatment, let them know and explain if they need to get the same treatment and how.

Read up

Before you tell your partner, try to learn as much about the STD as possible, so you’re ready to answer any of their questions about whether it’s for life and what type is medication is needed. This will show that you’re taking the situation seriously, you care for their welfare, and you’re not dismissing the STD.

Talking about whether you’ve been faithful or not

It could be that you think you must have caught the STD from your partner because you’ve never had sex with anyone else. Remember, STDs can be in your system for a long time without any symptoms, so don’t assume it means they’ve been unfaithful to you. Ask if he or she has ever been tested or had any sexually transmitted diseases. Then see how he or she responds.

Be prepared for them to be angry

Your partner may take the news badly. If so, try not to get defensive or angry. Give your partner the space to think about what you have told them. Let them calm down and understand it better. It may take time, but it’ll not be the first or last challenge you’ll face as a couple and hopefully together, you can get through it.

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