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Tips for talking about STDs with your partner

A conversation about STDs is a must when you start a relationship. When your health status changes, it’s also important to be able to talk to your partner.

Yes, this could be the most awkward and unromantic conversation you have with your partner. But: couples who have this talk end up trusting each other more and having more fun in the bedroom – two big factors for a long-lasting relationship.

Whether you’re playing around, dating, or married, it’s vital that you talk about safe sex with your partner. And our guide also deals with another potentially awkward discussion: what to do if you have, or get, an STD.

Here you can find more info on safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Talk to your partner about safe sex before you have sex. Even if you are virgin, your partner may have had sex before. And even if they’ve only had sex once without a condom, there’s still a chance they have an STD or be living with HIV.

How to start talking about safe sex with your partner

Don’t assume a guy always has a condom in his pocket. Ask. Once you feel comfortable with the person and have started talking about making love, you can say something like:

‘I’m glad we’re talking about sex as I was wondering about condoms and contraception.’

Then you can see their response and talk the different options for contraception. Read more here about all the different birth control methods.

It can be hard to find the moment for this conversation. Perhaps you can broach the subject in a light-hearted way if you’re watching a film with a romantic scene.I wonder if they’re going to use a condom?’ 

Wait for your partner’s response. If they say that they don’t know or don’t think so, then show you know the risks carried by not using a condom or other birth control.

‘Well, I hope they don’t get pregnant or catch an STD!’

How to tell your partner if you have an STD

It’s vitally important that you tell your partner if you have an STD. And if you pick a good moment and tell them in the right way, there’s a good chance everything will work out.

Pick your time

Timing is key. Don’t tell your partner during foreplay or sex. It’s a conversation for when nothing is unbuttoned. Bring it up in general conversation just like any other development in your relationship.

When it’s just the two of you and you are in a position to see your partner’s reaction, ask if they’ve ever had an STD or know what they are. They may have even had the same STD before. Be open – it lets your partner know that they can be honest with you too.

Language

Tell your partner you have an STD in a way that makes the problem sound even worse than it is.
Don’t start the conversation like this:

‘I have TERRIBLE news!’

‘I have something awful to tell you.’

Your partner will panic before you have even told them what’s the matter. Instead, introduce it gently and say,

‘There’s something really important I need to tell you. I found out, I have an STD (and tell them the name of the STD).’

If you’re already getting treatment, let them know and explain if they need to get the same treatment and how.

Read up

Before you tell your partner, try to learn as much about the STD as possible, so you’re ready to answer any of their questions about whether it’s for life and what type is medication is needed. This will show that you’re taking the situation seriously, you care for their welfare, and you’re not dismissing the STD.

Talking about whether you’ve been faithful or not

It could be that you think you must have caught the STD from your partner because you’ve never had sex with anyone else. Remember, STDs can be in your system for a long time without any symptoms, so don’t assume it means they’ve been unfaithful to you. Ask if he or she has ever been tested or had any sexually transmitted diseases. Then see how he or she responds.

Be prepared for them to be angry

Your partner may take the news badly. If so, try not to get defensive or angry. Give your partner the space to think about what you have told them. Let them calm down and understand it better. It may take time, but it’ll not be the first or last challenge you’ll face as a couple and hopefully together, you can get through it.

Visit the nearest Marie Stopes Clinic for STI screening. Click here to locate a clinic near you. 

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Recent Comments (58)

  1. I have learnt some thing…
    I have learnt some thing that interest me here but I need more .thank you

    1. We are glad Precious. Feel…
      We are glad Precious. Feel free to ask any questions on Love, Sex, and Relationships. We shall be happy to respond to you.

    1. Hi Morris, you want to be…
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    2. Im must to do this work
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      1. We do wish you all the best.

        We do wish you all the best.

  2. Thanks . this is about our…
    Thanks . this is about our own life advice.

  3. Are you serious and sure
    Are you serious and sure

    1. Yes we are, this is an…
      Yes we are, this is an important conversation for all partners.

  4. What will be the problem to…
    What will be the problem to a partner who has refused to have sex with his or her partner?

    1. Hi Lotezlimmo, It is…

      Hi Lotezlimmo, It is important you talk to your partner and get to know why they do not want to have sex with you. This way you can both agree on how to proceed. It is important you respect their wishes especially if they are not ready to have sex at this time. Check out this article for tips on talking about sex;- https://lovematters.co.ke/making-love/ways-to-make-love/talking-about-sex

  5. Can someone have the…
    Can someone have the symptons of stds and when tested is always negative.what could be the problem

    1. Hi Winny, you didn’t say…
      Hi Winny, you didn’t say exactly what symptoms… It maybe important to seek the services of a Gynecologist who will recommend tests to determine what could be going on. In the meantime, have a look at the following articles with more information about different STIs/STDs;- https://lovematters.co.ke/safe-sex/stds-stis

  6. Hi, I have a whitish…
    Hi, I have a whitish discharge with itching in my vagina. I also feel some pain when passing urine. Is this an STI?

    1. Hi There, Vaginal discharge…

      Hi There, Vaginal discharge changes throughout ones cycle. For most days, it is sticky, milky and whitish. Around the time a woman is ovulating and fertile, it will become clear and more gel-like. It’s also normal to have more discharge when you are ovulating, breast feeding or very aroused. However, if you see any drastic changes in smell, color or quantity, especially in combination with itching, pain or redness, it could be a sign of infection. In that case, you must consult your doctor and get it checked. Check out this article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body/vaginal-discharge-top-facts

  7. What are the very early…
    What are the very early signs and symptoms of HIV and AIDS in a person?can someone have HIV but when tested the result is always negative?

    1. Hi, The first signs of an…

      Hi, The first signs of an HIV infection can appear like a common cold or flu, which is why most people aren’t aware that they’ve been infected. If you notice signs like a fever, headache, rash, diarrhoea, and sore throat three to six weeks after you’ve had unsafe sex, it may be wise to get tested for HIV. The best way to know your HIV status is getting tested. This also means that the tests that are used for HIV testing are effective in telling if one is infected or not. For this reason the results one receives at the time of testing are a reflection of their accurate status. Check out this article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/stds-stis/hiv

  8. Am feeling pain in my nunu…
    Am feeling pain in my nunu everytime i urinate. is this an STI? I have been having sex with my boyfriend.

    1. Hey Asha, pain while…

      Hey Asha, pain while urinating does indicate the presence of an infection. It can be an STI or a Urinary Track Infection (UTI). It is even more important that you see a Doctor if the painful urination persists, there is a discharge from the penis or vagina, the urine is foul-smelling or cloudy, or you see blood in your urine, one has a fever, one has back pain or pain in your side among others. Check out his article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/stds-stis

  9. is it true that circumcision…
    is it true that circumcision reduces the chance of getting STIs?

  10. The new guy I met has…
    The new guy I met has refused to get a HIV saying he k owns himself and that he is clean. We have been using condoms all thru should I trust him or?

    1. Hey Sally, you have to think…

      Hey Sally, you have to think about how important for you that you both get to know your HIV status. Are you willing to keep the relationship if he still refuses to get tested? You need to talk about the importance of both of you getting a test so that you both get to know your status. It is a good that you are using condoms for protection. Think about what you want, then talk tom your partner before making a final decision. 

  11. Its always impotant to know…
    Its always impotant to know your partners status

  12. I had unprotected sex with a…
    I had unprotected sex with a new partner now I have a funny smell out of my vagina sometimes I itch. What are the common signs of STI?

    1. Hi Sallie, if there has been…

      Hi Sallie, if there has been a drastic change in the smell including discharge from your vagina in terms of color, quantity alongside the color, it could be you have picked an infection and the right thing to do is to seek medical attention to find out what infection it is and what treatment will be ideal. If you had sex with a person of unknown status, it means that you were at risk of getting an infection. Visit a medical center as soon as possible to get a check up. Check out this article for more than nformation;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/sexually-transmitted-diseases-top-five-facts

  13. I get yeast infections all…
    I get yeast infections all the time what could be the problem?

    1. Hey Ess, many things can…

      Hey Ess, many things can cause the yeast to grow out of hand. A very common one is being on antibiotics – the medication will attack most bacteria, including the good bacteria that usually keep the fungus in check. Other causes are stress, too much alcohol, or some hormonal birth control methods. Usually, you would not need to see a doctor, however, you should consider seeing a healthcare professional if the infection seems very heavy, lasts for more than a few days, or if you are pregnant or have diabetes. Check out the following article for more information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/stds-stis/yeast-infections-top-facts

  14. Sex has always been painful…
    Sex has always been painful for me I don’t know why?

    1. Hi Valarie, so sorry about…

      Hi Valarie, so sorry about this. Sex doesn’t have to be painful but it can be painful for women for a number of reasons including the presence of a Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in the vagina, having dry sex, the positions during sex, psychological issues like stress, fear or anxiety and in some cases the size of the penis. The first step toward addressing this pain is getting to know what is causing it. Check out the following article for more information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/making-love/sex-problems-how-to-overcome-them/painful-sex-time-to-listen-up

  15. I have a itch around my anal…
    I have a itch around my anal area is a sign of an STI?

    1. Hi Derrick, is the itch…

      Hi Derrick, is the itch accompanied with a discharge, soreness, bleeding and/or painful bowel movement? If you are experiencing a combination of these signs it is important you get checked and treated since this maybe a Sexually Transmitted Infection; especially if you have recently had unprotected sex. Have a look at the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/stds-stis

  16. I slept with a lady but luck…
    I slept with a lady but luck condom iliburst but she not removed the virginal fluid and I had not realized sperm s can I be in the risk of getting STDs

  17. I have some tiny blisters on…
    I have some tiny blisters on my penis head what STD is this? They are not painful.

    1. Hi Johnnie, this maybe…

      Hi Johnnie, this maybe caused by a number of reason including the natural anatomy of your skin. It is however important that you get checked and treated as appropriate. 

  18. How can I make my dick thick…
    How can I make my dick thick and long?

    1. Hello Edward, the is not…

      Hello Edward, the is not much you can do to make you penis longer or thicker. Infact the only way that is likely to increase the size of your penis is surgery which also comes with various complications. On the other hand, having a bigger penis doesn’t make one a better lover, it is understanding what your partner wants or likes. Sex is better when partners talk about it. Check out the following article for additional information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/male-body/six-myths-about-increasing-penis-size

  19. Since there are many STIs is…
    Since there are many STIs is there one test that can test for most if not all of them at once because someone maynot have HIV which will all test but they have HPV and you will not know. What should we do?

    1. Hi Cleophas, there is no one…

      Hi Cleophas, there is no one test for all the different STIs. I suggest that you talk to a health provider who will be able to guide you on what tests you should do. 

  20. Time to Time I used to see…
    Time to Time I used to see some thing like raches on my panis,I take some drugs after a while still show up again,I don’t know what to do.

    1. Hi there, were you examined…

      Hi there, were you examined by a health care provider before taking the drugs? If they rashes keep recurring, consider talking to a healthcare provider who will examine and further advice. 

  21. My menstra cycle over flowed…
    My menstra cycle over flowed than the normal 4days n twas very heavy this month n I Also noticed some blood discharge time to time, smell in my VJ and some other symtoms. I had an unprotected sex in few month ago. Could it be STI n so worried

    1. Dear Anita, 

      A normal…

      Dear Anita, a normal menses can last between 2 and 7 days, and for this reason you should not worry about it. It is also normal to have a heavier than normal period. However, with an abnormal blood discharge and a foul smell from your vagina, this could be an indication of an infection. It is therefore important you seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

  22. What are the most common…
    What are the most common symptoms of STDs in men? I suspect my partner has one though we always use condoms?

    1. Hey Bebe, some of the common…

      Hey Bebe, some of the common symptoms of STDs in men include, pain when urinating, pain when you having sex, discharge from penis or from anus, bumps, sores, warts, or blisters in the genital or anus area, pain in one or both testicles among others. Using condoms each time you have sex and using them correctly helps to prevent the risk of getting infected with an STI. If you suspect your partner has an STI, it important you talk about it and consider seeking medical attention. Check out this article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/sti-prevention/staying-safe

  23. Am glad am learning so much…
    Am glad am learning so much here, thanks.

    1. You are welcome Kariuki.

      You are welcome Kariuki.

  24. Help me please ,I don’t stay…
    Help me please ,I don’t stay with my husband but Three concenctive times , whenever we meet and we HV intercourse I bleed.yet it was not there before for the last 4years.have tested for everything and am ok, the bleeding is not painful.. thanks

    1. Helo Winnie, thank you so…

      Helo Winnie, thank you so much for reaching out to us. So sorry to hear you have been having a rough time. Bleeding could be indicative of so many things please see a medical practitioner for proper diagnosis and advice on the way forward.

  25. I wanna now my stranded
    I wanna now my stranded

    1. Hi Moses, thank you so much…

      Hi Moses, thank you so much for reaching out to us. We do not understand what you mean could you please explain?

  26. Hi….I have have been…
    Hi….I have have been sleeping with two guys now.when I have sex with guy 1i don’t feel any pain am just okay but when I have sex with guy 2 I feel pain after sext and it feels itches after he releases.please what could be the problem

    1. Hi Brenda, thank you for…

      Hi Brenda, thank you for reaching out to us. From what you are describing it is possible that you are allergic to the one person’s semen. It is possible to be allergic to one person’s semen and not another’s. However, it would be best to see a medical practitioner for a proper diagnosis and advice on the way forward.

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