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How to Talk to a Partner About STDs

How to Talk to a Partner About STDs

Did you know over a million people contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) every day? STDs can have serious repercussions for your health—and can even lead to infertility or death in the most serious cases. 

At Urgent Care of Ada in Ada, Oklahoma, our providers know it isn’t always easy to talk to your partner about STDs. But having a conversation with them now could save you both from serious illness down the road. 

To help you get started, we’ve put together a short guide, so you can feel more confident about starting this important conversation. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about talking to a partner about STDs. 

Prepare for the conversation 

You don’t need to write out everything you’re going to say ahead of time, but getting ready for the conversation and planning the key points you want to discuss can help ensure you don’t forget anything important. 

One key aspect of prepping for the conversation about STDs is to know your own sexual health status. Over 25 types of STDs are out there, and each is caused by a different viral or bacterial strain—some may not even cause symptoms until more advanced stages. 

Know your own STD status by having a confidential STD screening at Urgent Care of Ada. If you’ve never taken an STD test before, this screening provides you with a baseline of your sexual health. 

If you’ve tested positive in the past or if you’re in certain risk categories, it’s important to have regular testing. This includes people who have known exposure to an STD, are male and have sex with other men (or are a woman who has sex with a man who does), or have used intravenous drugs. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created guidelines, and your Urgent Care of Ada provider can help you see where you fit in them. Keep in mind that the results from your test remain confidential unless you share them.

Once you know your own STD status, you can plan how to share your results and the questions you want to ask your partner. If they haven’t been tested, you can help them schedule a confidential screening.   

Choose a safe time and place

It’s a good idea to talk about STDs at a time and place where you won’t be interrupted—and when you aren’t in the heat of the moment. This enables you both to focus on the topic at hand and not worry about outside people or appointments/meetings stopping your discussion. 

Choose a location where you have privacy, and make sure you both have plenty of time without important tasks or meetings scheduled. Keep in mind that your partner will probably feel as nervous or awkward as you, so having this dedicated space and time will help everyone feel secure. 

Remind your partner it’s about health

Sometimes people worry that bringing up STDs will make their partner feel like they aren’t trusted. You can put your partner at ease by telling them that you’re bringing up STDs because you care about them and their health—not because you’re worried they've been unfaithful or that you have. Be ready to share your screening results, or if you don’t have them, offer to go together to get tested for STDs. 

It can help to remind your partner that having an STD doesn’t make a person immoral, “bad,” or “dirty.” In fact, STDs are quite common, with more than 20 million cases occurring each year in the US alone. By addressing the topic now, you and your partner can do everything possible for your ongoing health. 

Have goals and a plan in mind

Talking to a partner about STDs is a good first step. But it’s also important to have specific goals and a plan in mind. For example, consider what you want you and your partner to do to keep you both safe from STDs. This may include using condoms or having regular STD screenings. 

You should also consider what you want to do if you or your partner tests positive for an STD. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy a satisfying sexual partnership. However, you’ll need to think carefully about what steps to take, so you can both stay safe. 

Finally, think about what you’ll do if your partner refuses to tell you their STD health status or won’t get screened. Sharing this information is up to them, but your response is in your hands. You may need to reconsider whether you can safely engage in intercourse with them if this is the case. 

Learn more about talking to a partner about STDs or set up a confidential STD screening by scheduling an appointment at Urgent Care of Ada.

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