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STDWatch

Mar 25, 20227 min read

​​Do I Need to Notify All of My Sexual Partners If Testing Shows I Have an STD?

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  • Written by Dr. Shani Saks on 27 November 2021

The sexually transmitted diseases that are currently notifiable in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control, are: chlamydia, gonorrhea, chancroid, syphilis, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and hepatitis B.

This means that if a physician diagnoses you with one of these diseases, he or she is required to notify the local health department, which in turn reports this information to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

This data helps scientists to monitor outbreaks of transmittable disease and ensures that they can be properly treated and contained, and serves to protect and educate patients from a public health standpoint.

How should you tell a sexual partner that you have an STD? 

If you find out that you have a sexually transmitted disease, you should tell your sexual partner(s) about this news as soon as possible. Although it is likely an awkward and embarrassing conversation to initiate, your partner deserves to know this information promptly so that he or she can get tested and seek medical attention if necessary.

According to physicians at the Cleveland Clinic, your partner should be informed of this information prior to your next intimate encounter. Ideally, you should pick a calm time to speak with your partner, in person, and in a private setting. Prepare information and data on the sexually transmitted infection, so you can answer some basic questions about this topic that your partner will likely have.

Listen for your partner’s reaction to this information, and give time and space for your partner to digest this development. It is important to plan for safe sex practices in the future; your health care provider should provide you with more information as to do this.

Which STI’s are most contagious?

The most contagious STI is chlamydia, caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. About 1.8 million men and women are diagnosed with this STI per year, most of them under age 25 years old. Chlamydia is spread by sexual contact with the penis, vagina, anus and rectal area and mouth. Occasionally, direct contact with eye secretions can transmit infection as well. Many people will not display any symptoms of this infection.

How long do symptoms take to develop?

Symptoms usually occur within 1-3 weeks after a sexual encounter with an infected person, although symptoms could take days or months to manifest. Typical symptoms of chlamydia in women include genital irritation, vaginal discharge, and pain with urination. In men, urinary frequency, urethral discharge, and pain with urination can occur. Additional symptoms can include proctitis (irritation of the rectum), eye infection, and infertility. Women can also have chronic pelvic pain, salpingitis, and endometritis.

In pregnant women infected with chlamydia, there is risk of ectopic pregnancy, as well as preterm labor or delivery. The newborn baby can also be affected by the mother’s chlamydia infection, which can cause conjunctivitis, otitis media, and pneumonia. Chlamydia can be diagnosed by a urine sample or swab of the cervix, urethra, or anus.

Learn more about STD testing at STDWatch.com{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"}. Treatment for chlamydia is typically with antibiotics, either a one-time dose of one gram of oral azithromycin, or 100 milligrams of doxycycline, twice daily orally for 7 days. Pregnant women can be treated with erythromycin. Typically, you should be infection free about 7-14 days after treatment with antibiotics. During your treatment time, you should refrain from sexual activity. In about 30-50% of patients who have gonorrhea, there is also co-infection with chlamydia.

Your healthcare provider may test you for a number of other STI’s if you are diagnosed with one already.

What should you do if you find out you have an STI? 

Sexually transmitted infections can cause long term problems or problems at a later date.

You should start and also complete the full treatment recommended by your doctor. You should inform your partner of your diagnosis, and should avoid sexual contact until both you and your partner complete the full course of treatment, to prevent reinfection. You should also use this opportunity to practice safer sex for the future.

You should get retested in 3 months to ensure that the infection has cleared.

Resources

  • Notifiable STIs – www.cdc.gov
  • STI information – www.mayoclinic.org
  • STD Statistics – www.cdc.gov/std/statistics
  • Chlamydia – Everything You Need to Know – www.STDWatch.com
  • Chlamydia Treatment Information – www.my.clevelandclinic.org
  • STD Testing – www.STDWatchcom

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