An STI is a sexually transmitted infection, which as the name implies, is an infection that is transmitted through sexual activity from one partner to another. Common STI’s include chlamydia, genital herpes, warts, gonorrhoea and syphilis. A person with an STI may experience little to no symptoms, however if left untreated, this can lead to complications related to pregnancy, cause issues with fertility, or even result in life-threatening infections. Some STI’s such as HIV and herpes are incurable. If you have been diagnosed with an STI, it is important to inform your partner/s as soon as possible. Letting them know about this can help your partner/s protect themselves and seek the necessary treatment, in order to decrease the likelihood of having long-term issues.
Telling your partner that you have an STI can be difficult for a number of reasons. There is unfortunately a lot of stigma surrounding the topic of STI’s, and you may therefore be concerned that you will be judged or misunderstood if you share this information about yourself. You may even be worried that your partner may refuse to have sex with you, or that this may impact your overall relationship with them. However, it is important to know that STI’s are very common and people of any age, race, gender or sexual orientation can get them. Telling your partner that you have an STI might be daunting, however it may help with building trust and intimacy as you are being open and honest with them. Additionally, you and your partner can then explore other ways of having a healthy and fulfilling sex life/ relationship. Here are some tips that may support you when talking to your partner/s about this topic:
- Choose an appropriate time and place
It is best to choose a time when you are alone with your partner, and perhaps when the two of you are in a positive mood. This can help to improve the communication and in processing things with your partner. It may also be a better idea to have the conversation in person, rather than on the phone or online, in order to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Let’s talk about sex, baby!
There tends to be a lot of shame surrounding such topics because they may still be considered taboo. However, topics such as STI’s, getting tested and safe sex are normal topics for conversation that people in a relationship should be having. Make it a habit to discuss these topics in your relationships with your partners. There’s a good chance that your relationship with your partner will improve by being upfront and honest with them about these matters.
- Talk, stop, listen
It is important to be calm, direct and stick to the facts when disclosing to your partner that you have an STI. After you have done so, allow your partner to speak and ask any questions that they might have. It may be helpful to have reliable information available that you can share with your partner about the STI so that they are further informed about it.
- What if it doesn’t go well?
It may not be easy for your partner/s to understand and accept that you have an STI. It is important to acknowledge the person’s feelings and give them the time and space to think about what they would like to do. If they have a negative reaction, it may help to provide accurate information so as to alleviate any fears they might have. If they decide to end the relationship based on this information, know that your worth as a person has not changed and it is only your STI that is being rejected, and not you. Surround yourself with people who love and support you, and consider seeking help from a therapist to talk about it.
If you are planning to engage in sexual activity with a new partner, it is important to have a discussion about STI’s in order to ensure your and your partner’s safety. It is also important to get tested for STI’s regularly, particularly if you and/ or your partner are sexually involved with other people. Willingness offers the services of an STI clinic, where you can get tested for STI’s and offered treatment for any STI’s that are detected. The service is treated with the utmost of confidentiality throughout the whole process. Since our clinic provides a range of other services, no one will know that you are attending the clinic for an STI test.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Pamela Borg is a counsellor who enjoys working therapeutically with adults experiencing various issues. These include general mental health and wellbeing, gender, sexuality, relationship issues.
Bailey, E. (2019). I have an STD. Should I tell my partner? Retrieved from: https://www.healthcentral.com/article/i-have-an-std-should-i-tell-my-partner
Health Essentials. (2021). How To Tell Someone That You Have an STD or STI. Retrieved from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/h-how-to-tell-your-partner-you-have-an-std/
Teen Health Source (2020). Telling Your Partner You Have An STI. Retrieved from: https://teenhealthsource.com/stisetc/telling-partner-sti/