Talking to your partner about STD
Talking to your partner about STD can be gut-wrenching and the least sexiest conversation you can think about. Many people feel nervous discussing STD with their partner, whether out of fear, embarrassment or just plain uncertainty about what to say. Some people worry that if they talk about STD to their partner means they have an STD or accusing the partner of having STD. Some may belive that a partner will reject them when they talk about STD. According to the data by World Health Organization (WHO), more than one million of STD acquired on daily basis! Still many of us are nervous to have this discussion be it with our doctor as well as our intimate partner. Many people are more comfortable 'doing it' than talking about it. The conversation needs to happen before you end up in the bedroom.
If you and your partner have decided to have sex or getting married, you need to have 'the talk'. There is no beating around the bush about it. Having sexual relationship means you have to talk about STD. In Malaysia, only HIV testing is required as part of pre-marital health screening, however it is recommended for couple getting married to also do comprehensive STD screening for other infections such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and Herpes.
Before talking to your partner, speak to your doctor about getting an STD test and know you health status and risk. Bring your own list of questions that you need to discuss with your doctor. Get the right fact and information to give you confidence to talk to your partner. Do your own research online. Once you know your own status, be open to your partner about getting STD testing done so that your partner knows his/her own health status and risks. That way, you and your partner can enjoy a healthy sexual experience without worrying about risks.
It is going to be difficult but a right conversation to have. Plan your discussion. Pick the right setting (preferably while still having clothes on!). If you are married and want to discuss about STD with your spouse, be sure to have it just between the two of you without the distraction of children around the house. Be open and honest about it.
See how your partner might respond. Ask about what he/she thinks about STD. Be calm and present your case in a factual way. Talking 'just the facts' approach can help you avoid sounding like you are judging or accusing. You and your partner should be able to have this discussion without any fear of judgment. Be a good listener and show respect and set the right tone for the conversation. Ask whether he/she would like to get tested. If he/she would like to get tested, you can make an appointment visit together and discuss the matter openly with your doctor. Your doctor can provide you and your partner the right facts and advises about STD. The sooner you and your partner can get tested, the earlier you can get treated if you or your partner have diagnosis of STD.
It is not enough if your partner says that he/she is 'clean' and want to move forward as many STD would not have obvious symptoms. Not having symptoms does not mean you do not have STD and if you turn out to have STD and its left untreated, many complications can develop in the future such as pelvic inflammatory disease and risk of infertility.
Besides having the talk about STD, you and your partner would also need to talk about use of condom for STD protection and what kind of contraception to prevent from unwanted pregnancy happening. It is also important to talk about exclusivity and how both of you can reduce risks of getting STD.
Having the STD conversation can be awkward at first, but it’s a lot less comfortable than discovering you have an STD after you have sex or worse finding out that you gave one to your partner. If you turn out to have an STD diagnosis, disclosing information about STD to your partner is a sign of trust, compassion and it shows your willingness to get healthy and be in a healthy sexual relationship. It is important to let your partner know about the diagnosis so he/she can get tested and receive appropriate treatment before complications arises in the future. There are a lot of shame and stigma about having an STD, so it is really important to keep in mind that having an STD doesn’t make you dirty or a bad person and that STD are really very common.
Having an STD discussion is a great way to learn more about your partner and your relationship. The right conversation with the right partner can help you feel closer than ever in your relationship.