How to Tell Your Partner You Have an STD
The time has come. You’re dating a great guy and you think that things may soon lead to the bedroom. But, being responsible, you know you’ve got to have “the talk” before things go any further.
This has got to be a difficult scenario to face. After all, you’re in the midst of a blossoming romance with someone you care enough about to have sex AND share a very intimate and private piece of information about yourself.
Opening up about having an STD (particularly the ones that are incurable, like HIV, genital herpes and HPV infection) can be downright frightening and a lot of people may be tempted to opt out of having the discussion altogether. You may even wonder if using safe sex practices may spare you from an embarrassing conversation with someone you’re just getting to know.
It might, but if you really care about the person with whom you are considering having sex, you should tell them. It’s not always possible to know with complete certainty when an STD is transmissible.
For example, with herpes, a person can “shed” the virus in their secretions and spread it to another person even when there is no sign of an active herpes outbreak. And such “asymptomatic shedding” does occur, explaining how herpes is transmitted to so many unsuspecting people.
Other STDs similarly are present in secretions and can be passed along to another person.
So, how to have the TALK? Well, timing is everything.
First, learn everything you can about the STD that you have, since your intended sexual partner may have questions.
Next, plan to have the conversation when you are relaxed, in a private location and won’t be interrupted.
Be sure that you do not have the discussion in the midst of a passionate embrace - that is NOT the time to have this sort of serious discussion.
If you’re really nervous about it, write a “script” and practice it. Begin by pointing to the strengths of the relationship. For example: “I really like you and think that I can trust you. I’d like to tell you something that is quite personal. I have genital herpes.”
Then, do something that is really hard. Stop talking and listen to your partner Let it be a dialogue, not a lecture. Your partner may need time to mull this over, get more information, and just experience his or her feelings.
When you talk with someone about having an STD, no matter how your partner accepts (or not) the news, be PROUD of yourself for doing something that takes a lot of courage and integrity.
Charlotte Grayson, M.D., is an internist in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. She is a 1995 graduate of Boston University School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency in 1998 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Previously, Dr. Grayson was Senior Medical Editor for a leading healthcare content company. She frequently speaks to the media about health, appearing on Fox News and CNN and contributing to TIME, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and WebMD magazines.