Home Fashion How do I talk to my partner about STIs?

How do I talk to my partner about STIs?


Let’s face it: discussing our sexual health isn’t a fun conversation for anyone. At worst, it can feel confrontational. At best, it’s just plain awkward. And when you finally muster up the courage to broach the topic with your partner, you have to pray that they don’t get defensive, deflect the conversation, or make fun of you for being ‘too’ health-conscious. Yeah, that happens – and those are all big red relationship flags, by the way.

If you’re practising safe sex, having ‘the talk’ with your partner might be less of a concern for you. Male condoms are around 98 per cent effective at preventing a broad range of STIs transmitted through bodily fluids, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and trichomoniasis (if used correctly). Female condoms sit slightly lower at about 95 per cent effectiveness.

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But even when you think you’re being safe, there are other STIs that you can get just from skin-to-skin contact, such as herpes, genital warts and HPV. And although your partner will usually have symptoms if they’re infectious, this isn’t always the case. Like many other types of bacterial and viral infections, STIs can be transmitted even before the carrier develops symptoms.

So if you’re thinking about giving condoms a miss, or you just want to be vigilant with your sexual health, it’s important to raise this topic with your partner as soon as possible. Make sure you’re both on the same page about what protection you are or aren’t using, how regularly you’re getting tested, and whether either of you has had an STI before. Here are some tips for approaching the conversation.

Get comfortable

First of all, it’s okay to feel a bit embarrassed. It might be something you have to raise on your own, or it might be a conversation that comes up more naturally. Either way, you don’t have to make a big deal out of it by asking your partner for a full and detailed review of their sexual history. In fact, I would advise against that.

It’s important to remember not to perpetuate some of the stigmas that exists around STIs. Even with the increasing rates of infection, there’s still a lot of guilt and shame that comes with diagnosis, so try to make sure that you keep an open mind and create a safe, non-judgmental environment for your partner.

You might like to start with something simple and non-accusatory like, ‘Hey, I’m thinking of going for a routine sexual health screening, just to make sure everything’s okay. Do you want to come with me?’, ‘I haven’t had a test done in a little while, I’d like for us both to do one before we have sex/stop using condoms’, or something simple like, ‘I’ve been tested recently, how about you?’.

Get real

Although it’s important that both you and your partner feel comfortable with one another, it’s also okay to recognise that your health is a priority. If you feel as though your partner isn’t taking this seriously enough, communicate this.

Know your boundaries and don’t be afraid to enforce them. You might not feel comfortable ever having sex without condoms, and that’s perfectly fine. You might not mind having sex without condoms, but only if you’ve both been tested first. Also fine.

When it comes to your health, you never have to compromise. If you ever feel like your partner is pushing your boundaries or trying to change your mind, take a step back from the situation and reevaluate whether they are the right person for you.

Get tested

The best thing you can do for yourself and your partner is to get tested, and get tested regularly. Most STIs are curable, and all of them are treatable. But if they go by unnoticed, they can have long-term effects.

The general recommendation for sexually active people is to get tested every six to 12 months, even if you’re asymptomatic. If you have multiple partners over a short period of time, then you should consider getting tested every three months. If you start a new relationship, you should also think about having a test done beforehand. Check-in with your partner/s too and make sure they’re also doing the same.

Familiarise yourself with your body and know the symptoms. Things like bleeding, painful urination, a change in discharge, a sore or rash in your genital area, or anything else that doesn’t feel normal, are good indications that you should get tested as soon as possible (even if you’ve had a test recently).

Let your partner/s know that you’ve experienced symptoms, and hold off from having sex until you get your results. If you or your partner tests positive for anything, then discuss the best course of treatment and action with your doctor. Have these discussions and get on the same page as your partner/s so you can enjoy a worry-free sex life.

To find your nearest sexual health clinic, head here.

This article How do I talk to my partner about STIs? appeared first on Fashion Journal.

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