Did you know that one in two sexually active individuals will get an STI by the age of 25? This fact is not intended to scare you but to normalize discussion around STDs and end the stigma for those living with them.
STI awareness week falls on the second full week of April and provides an opportunity to raise awareness about STIs and how they impact our lives. People must have the tools and knowledge for prevention, testing, and treatment. Bringing awareness to sexually transmitted diseases and infections helps reduce the stigma, fear, and myths about them.
If you have an STI or STD, you may be embarrassed or nervous about talking to your partner about it. But if you’re going to have a healthy sex life—and healthy relationship in general—it’s important to be upfront and honest about what you’re dealing with. As you prepare to disclose your STD to your partner, consider these tips for an open and positive conversation!
First things first, if you think you have contracted an STD, you must get tested right away! Most STDs don’t show symptoms in the early stages and can be asymptomatic altogether but can still be spread to others. To ensure you practice safe sex, get tested at the beginning of any sexual relationship and again a few months later.
If you are experiencing clear symptoms of an STD, you want to ensure it actually is an STD you are dealing with and not something else before you tell your partner.
Have the Conversation Early
Once you have sought a healthcare professional and confirmed you have an STD, it is time to tell your partner. It’s best to tell your partner about your STD before you start having sex so that they can make an informed decision about the next step. Try to choose a non-sexual moment to broach the subject when you both feel positive. If possible, have this conversation in person, somewhere you feel safe and comfortable.
Be Honest, Direct, and Open to Discussion
There’s no need to make excuses or apologize when disclosing an STD to your partner. You have nothing to be ashamed of and don’t owe them a lengthy explanation about how you got it if you don’t want to provide one. Give them the facts and try to remain empathetic to how they might be feeling. Encourage them to ask questions and voice any concerns.
Be Prepared for Their Reaction
You likely needed some time and space to process the news of your STD when you found out, so keep in mind your partner might need the same. Although they may be scared or surprised initially, that doesn’t mean they will react negatively once they adjust to the idea. Let them know you are there for them to provide support and resources, but don’t pressure them to be ready to discuss it immediately.
It’s important to remember that you are doing the right thing and don’t deserve to be disrespected or judged for having an STD. Your partner’s response says more about them than it does about you. Negative and hurtful reactions should be considered a red flag.
You must educate yourself and others on some of the most common STDs to recognize the symptoms, seek help, and practice the best prevention methods! Regular STD testing is a crucial aspect of every woman’s reproductive healthcare.
South Avenue Women’s Services provides confidential STD/STI testing to women throughout Rochester and Western NY. Our professionals perform testing for various diseases and infections and provide the compassionate treatment you need if something comes back positive.
Call us at (585)271-3850 to schedule an appointment or learn more about our other services!