Five Steps to a No-Shame Conversation About STDs
April 23, 2016
Let’s face it: a lot of factors come into play before two people decide to have sex. One of these factors—the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)— is used as a fear tactic replete with horrible pictures of late-stage STD symptoms to discourage teenage sex.
But here’s the problem with that. We’ve been conditioned to believe that STDs are “dirty,” that people who have them are bad and undesirable. And while it’s important to know whether your partner has an STD before you engage in sex, it’s also important not to make your partner feel like total trash if he or she does have an STD. So, from the team at Sex, Etc. to you, here’s a five-step guide to making your partner comfortable when you have that absolutely necessary conversation about STD status.
- Get tested.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if you had sex with your partner prior to finding out about his or her STD status. If you expect your partner to be honest and share his or her status, you should be prepared to do the same, so get tested. You could even do this together! (Find a health center near you.)
- Share your STD status and politely ask your partner if he or she has an STD.
You can start this conversation by telling your partner that you recently got tested. You can then share your results and ask your partner about his or her status. It’s important to tread gently with this question. You don’t want to ask your partner if she or he is “clean” because STDs aren’t something that should be seen as dirty—rather, it’s a (seriously important) additional factor to consider before having sex.
- If your partner has an STD, learn more about it!
This is important especially if this person is a long-term romantic partner; researching symptoms and risks associated with the STD in question will help inform your decisions with your partner. For example, if your partner does have an STD, it is important to know how it’s treated and when it will be safe to have sex again.
- Don’t tease your partner for having an STD—please.
This is self-explanatory. Don’t be rude, don’t be demeaning, and don’t make your sexual partner feel like trash. This has been a PSA from the staff at Sex, Etc.
- If you’re up for it, help your partner!
Once you’ve done your research, you may choose to stand by your partner as he or she gets through treatment! Support goes a long way, and you’ll be a better person for it.