Once you and your partner decide to have sex, it is time to talk about STDs. The thought of this can make a lot of people feel nervous—STDs are not exactly a sexy topic, and there can be concern that bringing them up will chase a partner off. However, if you take the right approach, the process should go smoothly.

Start by Educating Yourself

Most people know a lot less about STDs than they think they do. Sex education in most areas is lacking, and even good programs tend to skip over certain items. Without educating yourself, your misconceptions and those of your partner can get in the way of making good decisions.

For example, your partner may tell you that they have not been with anyone in over six months and have no symptoms, deducing that this means you are safe. But many STDs can be present without symptoms. The more you know, the better you will be able to navigate the conversation.

Set a Goal for the Conversation

What is the purpose of talking to your partner about STDs? There are many, and what your goals are will vary based on your personal situation. Before you start the conversation, you need to know what you want to get out of it. Some possible goals include:

  • Agreeing to get tested and share results before engaging in sexual activity
  • Disclosing any STDs you or your partner know you have
  • Determining what contraceptive methods will be used
  • Deciding on what the rules will be regarding monogamy and disclosing outside sexual activity
  • Establishing a regular testing schedule

If you know what the goals are, you can steer the conversation toward them even if you start to feel overwhelmed.

Select the Right Time

The STD talk is not something that should be done in public or right before having sex. It needs to be done somewhere you will not be interrupted or distracted, nor will you feel rushed to just get it over with. This is a serious conversation and needs to be treated as such. Start the conversation in a matter-of-fact way that does not accuse the other person or make them feel put on the spot, but also do not waiver in your goals.

Be Strong in Your Stance

Not everyone is open to getting tested or other potential goals of the conversation. If your partner is not receptive, clearly state why you have the goals you do and emphasize that they are deal-breakers for you. It is possible that your partner’s resistance comes down to fear of the unknown or a misunderstanding about STDs. However, not everyone will change their mind. In that case, you have to be ready to take the correct course of action.

Follow Through

Once the conversation is over, you need to follow through on the goals. So, if one of the goals was to get your partner to agree to testing and sharing results, following through means taking STD tests. You can do these at sexual health clinics or, if you prefer privacy, you can opt for at-home testing kits. To learn more about these kits, check out our reviews.