Sexual Health

Talking about STI Status

Every person reacts differently to receiving an STI diagnosis. Some feel shame, isolation, low confidence, or sadness. Others look at their STI as simply a new fact about themselves. No one knows how they will feel or react until they experience it.

If you have received an STI diagnosis, remember that you are beautiful and important and nothing, including an STI, can change that. You are still in control of your life, not your STI. Bottom line. Keep this in mind when approaching any conversation about your STI.

Conversations about an STI can be difficult to approach. No one wakes up knowing how to talk about sex or having an STI, so don’t feel alone if you’re confused how to get started. With the right tips and information, you can talk confidently about your STI.

Practice

It might feel silly, but it’s good to practice saying, “I have an STI.” By saying it out loud, it feels less taboo and less scary. Your STI doesn’t need to be a deep dark secret that can’t be spoken of. You decide what your STI means in your life, no one else. If you want to share about it, go ahead. If you don’t want to share about it, that’s ok too. It’s up to you who you share your status with but don’t hold back sharing because you feel like you can’t talk about it. By saying it out loud to yourself, your confidence will increase when you have a conversation with someone else.

Know the facts

Most STIs are totally treatable. By researching, asking questions, and understanding your STI, you can have more power in your situation and know the next steps to take to make sure you stay healthy.

Be prepared for emotion from a partner

If you are sharing news of an STI diagnosis with a partner for the first time, be prepared for a variety of reactions. Just like you might have reacted intensely when you found out, your partner might as well. They might also be incredibly supportive.

As much as possible, it’s good to recognize the emotions attached to an STI diagnosis, but be armed with medically accurate, honest, constructive information.

Good communication is important for any relationship, whether it’s a best friend, coworker, hook-up buddy, or long-term partner. Good communication is especially important for keeping each other safe and healthy when it comes to sex. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all method when it comes to conversations about STIs. Every person and every relationship is different. Be yourself and be true to your partner. Do you embrace awkwardness by laughing together? Go for it.

During these conversations, it’s helpful to stress that you care about your health and your partner’s health. Rather than framing conversations about STIs around promiscuity or distrust, it’s helpful to think of them as a look at the future and how you care about each other. Open communication with a partner about STIs can lead to healthier, more intimate relationships.

Continuing the conversation

If you see a future with this partner and want to continue the conversation, it’s good to have some suggestions ready for how you can learn more together about your health and sexual choices. You can research together online (Planned Parenthood is an awesome resource), go to the bookstore, or make an appointment together at a health care provider.

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