Talking about STIs or Sexually Transmitted Infections (also known as STDs) is a very difficult thing to do, even if you don’t have one. Before you take that step to become sexually active with a partner, you need to discuss STIs.
It’s important to remember that there can be no judgment here. Look at it as a medical issue, not an indication of your or their sexual activity. If your partner feels like you’re accusing them or threatening them, your conversation won’t go well.
Educate yourself on the different kinds of STIs so you can be prepared to offer facts as support. If you have or used to have an STI, you need to tell your partner before having sex. You also have a right to ask them about their STI history.
Decide what you need to have happen, and stick by it. If you want your partner to go get tested with you before you become sexually active, make it a stipulation. Tell them how important protection is to you (condoms, BC, etc…you can never be too safe), and if they’re not willing to use a condom then maybe you should rethink the relationship.
Do some research about the different types of STIs that are out there. Learn how they’re transferred and treated, and how best to protect yourself from them. This way, if your partner has questions during your discussion, you’ll be able to answer them.
If you are nervous about having this conversation, plan it out! Write a bulleted list of the important ideas you want to bring up to your partner. This will keep you organized and give you something to fall back on if your nerves get the best of you.
Pick a good time to bring it up. Don’t wait until your clothes are off and you’re in the heat of the moment! This might cause more unneeded tension between you and your partner. Make sure you’re both relaxed and in an environment where you won’t be interrupted.
Start the conversation with something positive, like telling your partner how much you care for them. After you initially bring up the topic of STIs, pause for a moment to let it sink in. See what your partner’s response is, and go from there. If they remain silent, ask them directly what their thoughts are. If they are on board with everything, fantastic! Pick a day and time to get tested together.
If they have issues with condom use, calmly explain why it’s important for you to use one and why you won’t have sex without one. If they insist they’re clean and don’t need to go for testing, tell them that’s great, but they may have one they don’t know about, and it’s better to have no doubts. Remind them that you’re getting tested as well, and you’re not just putting them on the spot.
Listen to your partner. Let them voice their opinions, concerns and ideas. Stay calm through the entire thing. If they seem resistant to go get tested or use protection, figure out why! There may be a solution to their concern.
Talking about sex is scary and uncomfortable, but communicating well with others about it is very important. If you give respect and show concern, you will receive it back. These conversations have the potential to not only keep you both safe, but strengthen your bond as well.