Testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in any new relationship. Ideally, you bring it up before you’re in the heat of the moment. And keep emotions out of the conversation by discussing it in a neutral setting using a mutually respectful tone. If you bring up STD testing in the midst of an argument, the issue may get misconstrued as a personal attack. Instead, keep it light and kind, but don’t put off addressing your own concerns.
Some STD tests can take a full week for the results to come back, so it’s essential to have the conversation sooner rather than later. Keep in mind that STDs don’t only spread through intercourse. Other sexual activity, including oral sex, can put you at risk.
Preface the conversation
If you’re concerned your partner will take your request for STD testing the wrong way, put in the extra effort to communicate your intentions and explain why it’s important to you. Discuss how testing stands to benefit both of you. Even if you think it goes without saying, it doesn’t hurt to explicitly mention that you aren’t judging your partner or their past sexual behavior by making your request.
Help educate your partner without sounding condescending by sharing facts about the widespread prevalence of STDs. Despite what many people believe, STD carriers don’t always display outward signs of infection. By making it clear that you’re coming from a compassionate and caring place, you can help keep the conversation positive, rather than angry or overbearing.
Act like a true partner
It’s not fair to expect your significant other to get tested for STDs if you’re unwilling to do it, too. If you suggest that the two of you get tested together, you may avoid putting your partner on the defensive. Find out where STD testing is available or offer to order a home test for both of you.
Make it easier to get tested by choosing a method that makes your partner feel more comfortable. If they are embarrassed or worried about confidentiality, home STD test kits approved by the Food and Drug Administration are available to order, privately and discreetly, online. If the concern is cost, find a free STD test clinic nearby.
Talk to your partner to understand what’s holding them back from getting tested. You can work together to come up with a solution.
Don’t accept no for an answer
Asking someone with whom you are intimately involved to have an STD test is not at all an unreasonable request. Most STDs are both preventable and treatable. If your partner has an STD that’s undiagnosed, they may be putting you and them in harm’s way for years.
Every year, there are 820,000 cases of gonorrhea and 2.86 million cases of chlamydia diagnosed in the United States. Ten to 15 percent of the time, these dangerous infections lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause permanent infertility. In most cases, there’s no way to know if you have one of these infections without getting tested.
While there may be a right and wrong way to bring up the topic of getting tested for STDs, your partner has no legitimate reason to refuse to take an STD test before having sex. Respect yourself enough to stand your ground, and protect your health by being smart about sexual activity.