We all know that talking to your partner about STIs doesn’t make for the perfect date night, but it’s a super important discussion to have before things get hot and steamy.
A lot of young people don’t realise that STIs can happen to anyone and are pretty common in under 30s. Some STIs also don’t show any symptoms and people with an STI might not even realise that they have one. This is why it’s important to talk to your sexual partner about STIs before jumping into bed with them. After all, a healthy relationship is about respect, trust, and communicating about your own and your partners’ sexual health.
Talking the talk
Ok – so now that we’ve established that, how do we actually go about talking it through with someone else?! We know that this can be scary, but there’s a number of ways to approach the topic with your partner that can make it a lot easier.
Here are some ways to start the conversation:
- “This is difficult for me to talk about, but I care about you and I think that it’s important. How would you feel about getting tested for STIs together?”
- “Just so you know, I had an STI test last month and it came back negative. When was the last time you had a test? I want to make sure that we are taking care of each other.”
- “I think honesty is important so I just want to tell you that I got tested for STIs last month and found out that I had chlamydia. I took the medicine, and I don’t have it anymore. It made me understand how common and sneaky STIs can be. Have you ever been tested?”
I’ve had a positive result, how do I tell my partner/s?
Although it can be a daunting task, it’s important that you tell the person you’re with that you’ve had a positive result for an STI. This helps to keep them healthy and shows that you care about them. If you do need to have this talk, be sure not to play the blame game. Safe sex is everyone’s responsibility and sometimes STIs can take a while to show up on a test. Some STIs show no symptoms, so it can be hard to tell when and how someone may have gotten one. The important thing is that you both get tested and keep each other healthy.
There are many ways you could talk to your partners about having an STI, but here are some basic tips that might help you tackle this conversation.
- Stay calm, cool and collected. Having a positive test result is pretty common and most STIs are treatable and manageable. By starting off this conversation with a calm and positive attitude, it’s likely that your partner will follow your lead.
- Read up. If you know the facts you’ll be better prepared to answer any questions that your partner may have. Read more about STIs here.
- Time it. Try to choose a time when you won’t be distracted or interrupted, and choose a place that’s comfortable for you both.
Keep in mind that most people prefer to be told in person. However, if having this conversation is too difficult or you’re worried about how your partner may respond, talk to your doctor and they can advise you of options (such as anonymous messaging websites e.g. Let Them Know) to inform your current and/or previous partners about STI exposure.
How often do I need to be tested?
If you’re sexually active, it’s a good idea to get a sexual health check-up every 12 months. Keep in mind that some STIs don’t have symptoms so you or your partner could have an STI and not know about it. If you do have some symptoms (such as a discharge from the vagina or penis, genital blisters or warts, bleeding after sex, or pain when urinating) then you should arrange for a check-up straight away. You should also get a test if you’ve had sex without a condom, if the condom broke or slipped off during sex, when you’re starting a new relationship, or when deciding to stop using condoms with a regular partner.
Where can I get a test?
There are many places you can go to get an STI test. You can choose to go to your local GP, Family Planning clinic, local sexual health or youth clinic, an Aboriginal community controlled health service, or a multicultural health centre.
You can find your closest sexual health service here.