How To Ask Your Partner To Get Tested For STDs
Couples That Get Tested for STDs Together…
As the adage goes: “Couples that get tested for STDs together…stay STD-free.” Okay, maybe there’s no adage about getting tested for STDs, but maybe STDAware will start one!
While the thought of subjecting yourself and any sexual partners to the awkward conversation or request for STD testing can feel daunting at best, the short term embarrassment of bringing up the conversation far outweighs the potential life-long consequences of living with an STD.
Currently, the CDC estimates 20 million new STD infections every year in the United States alone and has referred to the current surge of STD rates in the United States as a national epidemic due to the significant amount of cases nationwide (CDC, 2017). This massive uptick in the number of reported STD infections can largely be attributed to lack of unawareness around STDs, myths about safe sex and how STDs are transmitted, methods of prevention, and how and where to get tested and treated.
The increased rates of STD transmission also has a significant relationship with the advent of dating apps such as Tindr and Grindr which make finding potential and multiple sexual partners convenient and, seemingly, low impact due to the general “understanding” of non-commitment.
STDs Are Often Silent. You Shouldn’t Be
Regardless of the type of relationship you are in, the subject of sexual health should come up, even in the most casual of encounters.
Many STDs are “silent,” meaning that there are no physical or obvious signs or symptoms to alert a person that they are, in fact, infected and infectious. Individuals who are unknowingly infected can subsequently pass the infection on to additional sexual partners. And where multiple sexual partners are a factor, pinpointing the point of origin can become tricky and a lost cause. This makes routine STD testing crucial to your overall health and well-being as well as a service to the public health status.
THE ONLY WAY TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE AN STD IS TO GET TESTED.
Early identification is vital to the successful treatment or management of any STD condition. STDAware makes getting tested convenient, simple, and affordable. To learn more about how to get tested with STDAware, click here.
R – E – S – P – E – C – T Find Out If You Have An STD!
While talking about your sexual health with any sexual partners, or potential sexual partners, may seem anything but “sexy” it is important to remember that your willingness to start the conversation is a sign of respect both for yourself and for anyone you might be “getting busy” with. Anyone who is not willing to have this type of conversation might not be panty drop worthy.
STDAware is committed to reducing the spread of disease and has put together a short roadmap for how to bring up sexual health and STD testing with your sexual partners. We have categorized the types of “will you get an STD test” conversations you might find yourself in by the level or romantic relationship you might be in or lack thereof.
It Feels Like The First Time
If you’re in the doe-eyed stages of a new relationship and think things are moving toward the bedroom, now is the best time to bring up STD Testing.
MEDICAL EXPERTS AGREE THAT BEING TESTED FOR STDs AT THE SAME TIME AS ANY SEXUAL PARTNER(S) BEFORE HAVING SEX IS ONE OF THE STRONGEST DEFENSES AGAINST THE SPREAD OF STDs.
Getting tested for STDs at the same time as any sexual partner(s) allows for peace of mind before moving forward. But more importantly, identifies any existing STD condition so that it can be appropriately treated or managed before moving forward with a sexual relationship.
New relationships are full of excitement but can also be uncertain as you discover each other’s nuances and communication styles. And, while asking your new “friend” to get tested before you agree to 4th base may make your palms sweat, just thinking about it, imagine how much you’ll be sweating if you discover you got an STD from each other.
A lot of times voicing your discomfort can remove the power of the feelings of hesitation you have. Putting words to your feelings not only demonstrates your willingness to be vulnerable in front of that person but disarms the other partner from a lot of defenses.
Saying something like “I feel really uncomfortable bringing this up, but I just really want the best for us and hope we can talk about getting tested for STDs together before we have sex.” If your partner immediately becomes defensive or does not want to talk about it, try to be understanding that they may have their own feelings of shame and discomfort around the situation.
However, it is important to stick to your guns and insist on testing before having sex. Letting them know that the request is a courtesy and that you will not be getting horizontal with them until they agree to get tested lets them know that when it comes to YOUR health and safety, you are taking charge. If your partner still refuses, you can insist that you use condoms until they agree to get tested. If you cannot get to the cause of your partner’s refusal to be tested, over time, it might be a strong indicator that this person does not have your best interest in mind and may not be the best partner for you.
If your hesitations are due to fear of rejection, or other adverse reaction, remember if you and your partner are “serious” about each other, this is a critical conversation to have, and it will lay the framework for the type of future you might have together.
I Don’t Know You But I Want To
So let’s say you’ve had a couple of beers and you lock eyes with that good-looking specimen across the room. Maybe you’ve seen them before, or maybe it’s just lust at first sight. But somehow you end up at somebody’s house and before you know it you’re basking in the afterglow with a schmuck grin on your face. OOPS. You didn’t use a condom. Now What?!
Rather than ignoring the situation and hoping for the best, situations like these benefit from a matter-of-fact approach that is non-judgmental and empathetic. Something like, “Hey, so that was great, and I hope we can do it again sometime. By the way, since we didn’t use a condom, when’s the last time you were tested for STDs? I got tested a few months ago.”
If the response you get isn’t a clear answer and a kiss for being thoughtful enough to bring it up it might be a good indicator that you should consider getting tested soon.
In the situations where commitment and obligation isn’t a factor, there’s not much to lose by asking and taking the lead in safeguarding your sexual well-being.
STDAware IS THE ONLY ONLINE TESTING SERVICE PROVIDER THAT OFFERS FREE MEDICAL CONSULTATION AND TREATMENT OPTIONS TO PATIENTS WHO TEST POSITIVE FOR HAVING AN STD CONDITION.*
To learn about the STDAware testing and post-test follow up service offerings, click here.
What Am I To You?
Modern relationships can run the gambit of being mutually monogamous to being “open.” It can often be difficult to define what type of sexual relationship you are in but ultimately if there is someone in your life who you have repeated sexual encounters with, the subject of STD testing should be a standard component within your sex and dating life.
Ultimately it is up to YOU to take up point in defending your sexual health and preventing the spread of STDs. You can’t assume your partner will bring up the subject of sexual health and STD testing “when the time is right.” When it comes to your health, it all comes down to how YOU manage it.
That said if you feel like you’re having a hard time starting this type of conversation with someone whom you’ve seen naked a few times ask yourself, “Why?” Are you afraid of rejection? Are you just shy by nature? Finding awareness of your concerns and discovering the root cause behind your trepidation of having this conversation can empower you to approach the conversation from a place of self-love and preservation.
The subject of sexual health can be a touchy subject for many people, especially if there is a history of abuse or feelings of shame around sex or a previously treated infection. Being supportive and ensuring that the conversation takes place in a setting that feels safe for everyone should be a consideration.
Being direct and making it clear that you are opening the conversation from a place of caring and respect is the most effective approach to starting this type of conversation. Something like, “Hey, I really like/love/care about you and just want to make sure we are both looking out for our health,” is a decent ice-breaker.
Then moving into the more key points of first sharing your own sexual history, like “I’ve never had an STD, but I get tested regularly to make sure.“ Or “I had chlamydia a while ago, but I was treated and cured and get tested every six months.” Or “I haven’t been with anyone except you, since.” Whatever the case may be, work to create a conversation environment where it is apparent that you are willing to be open and ready to answer any questions.
Be ready to answer questions! Your partner may have little formal or empirical understanding of STDs. Being prepared to act as an authority on the subject will benefit you both. Do some research so you can help walk them through any questions and doubts and be willing to ask for help answering any questions you aren’t sure about the answer.
STDAware provides a full suite of no-cost educational resources on their website. Click here to explore.
After you’ve answered their questions be sure to ask a few of your own. If your partner has never been tested for STDs before and is unaware of their sexual health status, ask them if they are willing to abstain from sex or use condoms until you have both been tested.
Offer options. The more you can offer and provide in these types of situations the better. Your partner will appreciate your thought and effort into ensuring both of your sexual health statuses. Coming to the table with, “Here is an STD testing provider that we could try together,” is an effective way to get you both scheduled for testing quickly and without a lot of need to beat the subject into the ground.
STDAware makes getting tested quick, convenient, and affordable.
If you are one of the millions of Americans living with an incurable STD condition, the disclosure of your sexual health status is a requirement. Not only is disclosure of STD status a mature responsibility both ethically and medically, but also legally.
Depending on the State in which you live, the knowing transmission of certain STDs to an unknowing partner can be a civil or criminal offense.
That said, having an STD is NOT the end of your sex life. As a point of fact, sex can continue to be GREAT. But your STD must be managed and treated. Being in charge of your sexual health and playing point guard for any sexual partners is now a critical component of any romantic relationship.
THE ONLY WAY TO TREAT AN STD IS TO IDENTIFY IT THROUGH TESTING
STDAware is the only online STD testing service provider that offers follow up medical consultation, at no additional charge, to any of its patients who test positive for having an STD*. To learn more about the free doctor consultation and treatment offering provided by STDAware, click here.
In general, the same guidelines of being straightforward, open, honest, and willing to answer questions apply to this situation with a few additions. Mainly adding that this conversation most definitely needs to occur before you engage in sex with a new partner. And by before, we mean while you are in a fully clothed and rational state of mind. Approaching this subject in the midst of getting hot and heavy can only bring torment to you both.
Additionally, doing your research and having a game plan mapped out for how to safely engage in sex with the least possible risk of spreading your STD will bring a level of preparation to your conversation and demonstrate that you care enough to put thought and effort into making any sexual experience satisfying and safe for you both.
To read more about talking to your partner about having and incurable STD condition, click here.
If you are on the receiving end of the “my partner has an STD” conversation, be compassionate. It takes a lot of courage to open up this conversation, and if your partner is telling you about it, it shows that they respect and care about you. Ask questions and be willing to consider all your options.
For some couples, it is helpful to have the conversation in the presence of a medical professional so that both parties can feel assured all of the appropriate medical questions are answered.
While disclosing your STD status is obligatory, if you feel you are in a situation where disclosure of your STD status puts you at risk of physical harm consider reaching out to the National Safety Hotline before having the conversation and getting advice: 1-800-799-SAFE or visit their website at http://www.thehotline.org/
Don’t Tell Me
A successful conversation about sexual health can lead to more intimacy and trust in any relationship. But these types of conversations have the potential to take an ugly turn, especially where latent suspicion or a history of distrust is concerned.
One main thing to avoid, when having this potential “powder keg” conversation, is bringing up past relationship baggage. Assigning blame or asking sticky questions about your partner’s “number,” could turn the conversation from being about physical health into an explosive and emotional argument.
If you have or had an STD condition in the past, try to avoid blaming a previous partner, especially if the incident wasn’t very long ago or your current partner knows who that person is. If your partner insists on knowing who you got it from, try to lead the conversation back to how this discussion came up because you care about them and are having the conversation with them about it now, and that is what matters. Being as matter-of-fact about having had a medical condition in the past and that you want to move forward in a healthy manner will aid in keeping the conversation moving toward the ultimate goal of ensuring sexual health for both you and your partner.
DO NOT let this conversation turn down the dark road of “How many people how you slept with?” That line of questioning is distracting at best and takes away from the current situation.
At the same time, you don’t want to make your partner feel as though you are blowing them off. If they continually attempt to steer the conversation towards those pitfalls, do your best to redirect them to the fact that you care about them and only brought this up because you are with them now and want to focus on the current status of their health because it sets the stage for any possible future together.
Showing your support and willingness to work through any medical situation together will help your partner feel more comfortable dealing with whatever an STD test result might reveal.
Everybody Needs A Little Time Away
In a perfect world, these types of conversations lead to couples walking hand in hand into the STD testing clinic together. But depending on an individual’s personal experiences, it could take some time to process.
Sometimes the best way to show your support is to give your partner some space and time to process and set the terms of where and when to get tested on their own within the framework of understanding that STD testing is something YOU require as part of maintaining your personal health and sexual well-being.
Letting your partner know that you are there for them when they are ready to talk again or get tested and then giving them some physical space is another way to show your respect for them and their feelings.
Love And Let Live
In the words of Olivia Newton-John, “If you’re really not sure, use an ounce of prevention ‘cause there’s [not always] a cure.”
Fortunately, we live in a medically advanced era when most STDs are curable. But more importantly, all STDs are preventable.
While abstinence is the only guaranteed method for not giving and getting STDs, it’s not always practical in the adult dating world. This means that the two most effective defenses against the spread of STDs are routine STD testing before engaging in sexual activity with a new sexual partner and the proper use of condoms.
Proper condoms can reduce the risk of STD infection by up to 98%, but herpes or HPV can still be spread from skin to skin contact even when using a condom due to the fact that a condom does not cover everything.
Other STD prevention methods include reducing the number of lifetime sexual partners, maintaining a mutually monogamous relationship with one uninfected person, and getting vaccinated against common STDs such as HPV and hepatitis.
In any situation, set and stick to your standards. Even in a casual or short-term relationship, maintaining safe sex practices and insisting that your partner does as well will avoid a lot of suffering in the future. The bottom line is that no one wants to get an STD. No matter how hot and heavy the situation, when it comes to sex – safe is always better than sorry.
At The End Of The Day
Getting tested for STDs is associated with stigma and shame, when, in fact, the opposite should be the case. NOT getting tested for STDs should be a point of concern. Getting tested for STDs demonstrates a level of respect for yourself and any sexual partners.
Even though having the STD conversation can be uncomfortable in the moment, not having the conversation at all can be a source of lot more pain down the road (Huffington Post).
STD TESTING SHOULD BE A ROUTINE PART OF AN OVERALL HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
STDAware makes getting tested quick, simple, and convenient. With the fastest turn around time for test results (1-2 days after testing is completed), there’s less time left wondering.
Even in the most casual of relationships, ensuring the subject of sexual health is brought up will have you singing “FREEDOM” from STDs!
*STDAware offers post-test consultations to any of their patients who test positive for an STD (except HSV-1) at no additional charge. Patients who are diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HSV-2 will qualify for free treatment.
You might also be interested in reading: Testing Methods & When To Get Tested
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STOP WORRYING. GET TESTED.