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It can feel awkward to bring up STD testing, but it’s important. Talking about getting tested shows you care about your partner, and it can even make you closer.

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How do I ask my partner to get tested?

The best time to talk about getting tested is BEFORE you start having sex (including oral sex). Getting tested with a new partner is super important and one of the best ways to prevent STDs.

It’s totally normal for the conversation to feel a little awkward, but you’ll feel better once you get it over with. And you never know — your partner might be glad you brought it up.

Getting tested for STDs isn’t about cheating or not trusting your partner. People can have an STD for years and not know it — most people with STDs don’t have any symptoms, and testing is the only way to know for sure if someone has an STD. So getting tested regularly just makes sense. You can say that you want to get tested because you care about your health AND their health.

Here are some ways to start the conversation:

  • This is hard for me to talk about, but I care about you and I think it's important. How do you feel about going to get tested for STDs together?

  • FYI, I got tested for STDs last month and I didn’t have anything. Have you ever been tested? I want us to make sure we’re taking care of each other.

  • I think it’s important to be honest, so I want to tell you that I got tested for STDs last month and found out I had chlamydia. I took medicine, and I don’t have it anymore. But it showed me how common and sneaky STDs are. Have you ever been tested?

Getting tested means facing the idea that you might have an STD. But once you get tested, you won’t have to worry about it anymore. And the sooner you know that you have an STD, the better: Many STDs can be easily cured with medicine. There are also treatments for the STDs that can’t be cured, which can help with symptoms and lower your chances of giving it to your partner.

It’s a great idea for you and your partner to get tested together so you can support each other. If your partner won’t get tested, you may want to think about whether this is the right relationship for you. Someone who won’t help you stay healthy may not be the best person to have a relationship with.

How do I talk to my partner about my test results?

It’s no fun to tell the person you’re dating that you have an STD. But it’s the right thing to do, and it helps them stay healthy. It’s really important to also tell your past partners, so they can get tested, too.

There’s no one right way to talk to your partners about having an STD, but here are some basic tips that might help:

  1. Try to stay calm and remember that you’re not the only one dealing with this. Millions of people have STDs, and plenty of them are in relationships. Try to go into the conversation with a calm, positive attitude. Having an STD is simply a health issue, and it doesn’t mean anything about you as a person.

  2. Know your facts. There are a lot of myths about STDs out there, so read up on the facts and be ready to answer your partner’s questions. Let your partner know there are medicines that can cure or help treat your STD. Safer sex can also help protect your partner.

  3. Think about timing. Pick a time when you won’t be distracted or interrupted, and choose a place that’s private and relaxed. If you’re nervous, you can practice out loud to yourself or a friend you trust. It may sound strange, but practicing saying the words can help you figure out exactly what you want to say and feel more confident when you talk to your partner.

  4. Safety first. If you’re afraid that your partner might hurt you, you’re probably better off with an e-mail, text, or phone call. Call 1-800-799-SAFE or go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website for help if you think you might be in danger. 

Try not to play the blame game when you talk to your partner. If one of you tests positive during your relationship, it doesn’t automatically mean that somebody cheated. It can take a while for STDs to show up on a test, and most people don’t have any symptoms. So lots of people have an STD for a long time (even years) without knowing it, and it can be hard to tell when and how someone got it. The most important thing is that you both get tested. If it turns out only one of you has an STD, talk about how you can keep the other one safe.

It’s normal to be worried about how your partner’s going to react. And there’s no way around it: they might get freaked out. If that happens, try to stay calm and talk about your plan to stay healthy and not give your STD to anyone. You might just need to give your partner a little time and space to process the news, which is normal. They can also talk to their doctor about ways to protect themselves. In the end, the conversation may even bring you closer together.

Some health departments have programs that can let your partners know they were exposed to an STD without giving them your name unless you want them to. 

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