Info Center

Talking About STIs (Even if It Feels Awkward)

By , 17, Staff Writer Originally Published: April 16, 2021 Revised: April 10, 2024

Imagine it: you’re in the moment. Everything is perfect, from the chill beats playing in the background to the soothing colors of the LED lights hanging on your bedroom wall. But along with your excitement, there’s a question on your mind: “What if my partner has a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?” You might also be asking yourself, “How do I know that I don’t have an STI?”

“What if my partner has a sexually transmitted disease (STI)?”

Why can it feel so hard to talk about STIs and getting tested for them? During a steamy moment, these questions may seem out of place. All the more reason to talk about this before things get steamy! But since it can feel awkward, we have some ideas that can help.

Starting the Conversation

It’s important to feel like you can talk with your partner about STIs, whether you’re asking them if they’ve been tested, communicating that you have an STI or suggesting you both get tested (hint: offer to go together). Communication is key when it comes to good sexual health, for both you and your partner.

Talking about STIs can actually be easier than people might think. Simply saying, “Hey, this may be awkward, but I just wanted to talk about…” can help start the conversation.

Here are some other tips!

1. Do Your Research.

Before starting a conversation, find out where you can go to get tested if you or your partner need or want to do that. Getting tested for an STI is straightforward and can be done at a health center or, often, by your own health care provider. Some places may offer low- to no-cost testing. Need help finding a health center? Go to, click on “Action Center” at the top and then choose “Clinic Finder.”

2. Practice What You Want to Say.

It might feel hard to ask a partner to get tested or share that you tested positive for an STI. But, you got this! Rehearsing what you want to say before your conversation can help calm your nerves. also has a Communication Tool, also listed under the Action Center. Check it out for some specific ideas about what you can say in this situation.

3. Be Open, Honest and Kind.

Telling your partner that you want the best for both of you shows that you care. Try saying things like, “I feel that I can trust you, and I want the best for both of us.” By the way, just because you don’t have symptoms does not mean you don’t have an STI. The only way to know for sure is to get tested. Saying things like, “Thank you for getting tested” or “Thank you for being open with me” shows kindness and appreciation.

It’s always better to know your status so you can get the proper care and treatment if necessary. If STIs are not treated, they can lead to complications. So if you’ve had oral, anal or vaginal sex or sexual skin-to-skin contact, you may have been exposed to an STI and want to get tested.

I should also mention that condoms are the only contraceptive that reduces your risk of getting an STI that’s spread through fluids, like pre-cum, semen and vaginal fluid. But there are other STIs, like herpes, that can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, which is another reason testing is so important.

How Does Testing Work?

STI tests are not routine for doctor checkups; you have to seek them out. But getting an STI test may be more straightforward than you think.

The first step is to make an appointment. (You can also call to ask if the health center or clinic accepts walk-in appointments). There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to STI testing. The health care provider will ask you questions about your sexual history to determine which tests you need. Types of tests include a urine test, a cheek swab, a physical exam, a swab of discharge from your genitals and a blood test. You may need one or more of these, depending on what you’re being tested for.

So, why not be safe and get tested? It’s so much better to know and then get treatment if you need to, instead of taking a risk and hoping for the best. In this situation, ignorance is definitely not bliss.

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