How to Move Forward When a Partner Has a Sexually Transmitted Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 Americans has a sexually transmitted infection (STI), which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Given that high frequency, it's not improbable that a sexual partner could contract an STD. And while a positive STD test could raise suspicion—perhaps indicating infidelity by your partner—it is important to understand your partner may well have been asymptomatic the entire time you've been together and never knew to get it treated.
Regardless, it's important and necessary to take steps to ensure the health of both you and your sexual partner(s) once the situation becomes apparent. The most important step is to seek medical advice if you suspect exposure and/or symptoms and to let all potential partners know so they, too, can seek medical care.
Discuss it before sex
Before your first sexual encounter with a new partner, discuss whether either of you has any sexually transmitted diseases. This is the time for both of you to disclose the information, before there's any chance of contracting a disease.
You should create a nonjudgmental safe space for them to openly acknowledge the situation if they do have an STD. This allows for a more honest conversation that reduces the risk that they disregard the problem, enables you to make an unbiased, informed decision about a sexual relationship, and possibly leads to a better outcome because you could help your partner seek appropriate treatment.
Talk about the positive test
If you're already in a relationship, the most important aspect of an STD discovery is addressing the positive test, even if it's uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Rather than assume infidelity, allow your partner to explain how they may have contracted the STD. However much they'd like to cover up any indiscretion, it's important to discover the source of the disease. Knowing the source may help in the eventual treatment of the disease or infection, and will certainly allow you to alert others who may have contracted it.
Being straightforward and vulnerable can change the dynamic of the situation and prevent hostile conversations. It may be difficult in the moment due to the emotional shock of learning your partner has contracted an STD, but it's important to focus on the next best step as your partner is already suffering from the news on a personal level. Imagining the roles are reversed could help focus the intentions of the conversation. Ask informative questions and steer the conversation away from anger and frustration while you format your strategy for what to do next.
Your partner may have contracted the STD before your shared relationship and could be less than eager to share every detail of the event. Their desire to keep aspects confidential should be respected, unless it directly relates to your health or that of others.
Encouraging your sexual partner to tell their past partners about their STD can also be awkward, but it's no less important. Stopping the spread of the STD and keeping others safe is paramount.
If your sexual partner did give you an STD contracted from another current partner who was unknown to you, that is a violation of your trust. In this kind of scenario, it might be helpful to have this conversation in the company of a neutral moderator. It's also a good idea to do some research about how the specific infection or disease is transferred.
Talk to your doctor
Your doctor will want to test you for the same STD your sexual partner has. If you test positive, your doctor will be able to prescribe medication accordingly.
While you have the sexually transmitted disease, your doctor will most likely tell you to stop sexual activities until you and your partner are treated. Following this simple piece of advice will help stop the spread and keep your sex life healthy.