We know that talking with a potential partner about getting tested for STDs – or telling them you already have an STD – can be scary and feel like a major arousal kill. Even though it is awkward, open communication about STDs is crucial for relationship success!
Talking to your friends about your current situation, concerns, and getting tested is a great place to begin. Starting this conversation might seem a little awkward at first, so we are going to offer you a few easy steps to take control of the situation:
- Step 1: Get the facts! Condoms are not effective or have limited effectiveness on STDs that are spread through skin-to-skin contact, so even if you have only had protected sex, you may still have an STD. Most STDs show no sign or symptoms, the only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested. Ask your friends about their experiences and how they may have handled different issues.
- Step 2: Make time to talk…… before your clothes come off. Don’t avoid the conversation because its tough. Make the time to have the talk!
- Step 3: Bring it up. Say something as simple as, “Let’s get tested for STDs before our relationship gets physical,” or “So-and-So asked me to go get tested for STDs with them last week, I wanted to share my results with you. When was the last time you got tested?”
- Step 4: GYT, Get Yourself Tested. To find a testing center in your area, check out STD Test or your local Planned Parenthood. Go get tested before you have the conversation with your potential new partner and offer to go with them to get tested when the talk happens. It will be easier for you to be a supportive partner and keep your composure when you already have a clear picture of your own sexual health. Make sure you double-check with whoever is testing you to find out exactly what STDs you are getting tested for. In many cases, even when you say “test me for everything,” you are not actually getting tested for everything. Also women do not generally get tested for STDs during their regular check-ups or pap smears unless it’s requested, so don’t assume everything is fine just because your pap smear is normal.
It is important to remember, the stats show us that 1 in every 2 people who are sexually active will get an STD by the age of 25. Thankfully, many STDs are 100 percent curable and all are treatable, but without getting tested, some of those easily treatable STDs (like chlamydia) could result in irreversible damage to your body. Learning more about STDs now will give you a better understanding of your own situation if you do end up having an STD, or your partner’s situation if it turns out they have an STD, as well as how to proceed.
For some more great advice on how to talk to your partner, check out this fun website from MTV. They have many more tips on how to bring it up the conversation and what you might want to say. The dating site, Positive Singles, also has an excellent forum for how to have the talk and other topics related to STDs and relationships.
– Keeley & Nikita
Further reading: How To Be Supportive When Your Partner Tells You They Have An STD