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Dr. Patricia Shelton

Jul 06, 20227 min read

How to Talk to Your Partner About STDs

The information provided herein does not constitute an expert or medical advice, nor intended to replace such advice.


Many people aren’t sure how to talk about STDs with a new partner. Dating is already complicated, and combining dating and STDs just adds another layer of complexity. Since STDs are so common in the population, it’s important to address this issue. 

Having safe sex is a great way to reduce your risk of getting an STD, but it’s still a good idea to know your partner’s status. And if you’re thinking about unprotected sex, then it’s absolutely crucial that you know whether you’ll be exposed to any STDs.

How to ask if someone has an STD

It can be nerve-wracking to wonder how to ask a guy if he is clean, or how to ask a girl if she’s ever had an STD. The easier way to bring this up may be to share about your own status. For example, you could say, “My last STD test was three months ago, and I didn’t have anything. How about you? When was your last test?” Make sure that your partner knows that you won’t judge them for whatever they may share. You’re just interested in keeping both of you safe.

Another option, which we’ll discuss later on, is to suggest that you both get tested together. Even if you’ve been tested recently, suggesting that you get STD tests together may feel less confrontational than simply asking your partner to get tested.

How to tell your partner you have an STD

If you already know that you have an STD, it’s crucial that you let your partner know about it. In fact, in some states, it’s actually illegal to have sex with someone without telling them that you have certain STDs.

Be open and honest. This type of communication is the foundation of any good relationship. Simply share that you have an STD, and that you want to ensure that you keep them as safe as possible. Most people will definitely appreciate your honesty and consideration for their health, and will be glad that you shared this with them.

Depending on what STD you have, you can probably still have safe sex with your partner with a little awareness. For example, if you have HIV, then your partner could take PrEP to reduce their risk of getting it. If you have herpes, then there are antiviral meds that you can take to reduce the risk of giving it to your partner. Just because you have an STD doesn’t automatically mean that you can’t have safe sex with an uninfected partner.

How to talk about getting STD tested

Many people are concerned that their partner will be offended if they ask them to get tested. You might worry that it will sound like you believe your partner is lying about their status, or that you think they’re probably infected. You might not want to make a demand that your partner gets tested.

It may feel easier to talk about getting tested together. You could say that you found out that a lot of STDs don’t cause any symptoms at all, and so you think it would be a great idea if the two of you both got tested to make sure that you’re keeping each other safe. When you’re suggesting that you do couple STD testing, it might sound less like a demand to your partner.

You could even suggest that you order home STD test kits for each of you, and do the tests together. This way, you can support each other through the testing process. It can even bring you closer to go through this process together. It’s very simple and convenient to do a home STD test, so this method will make the whole process a bit easier on you both.

What if I’m scared of STD test results?

It’s very normal to feel anxious about what might come up on an STD test. You might feel scared for yourself. Your partner might also tell you, “I’m scared to get tested for STDs.” These feelings are very common. Most people might feel a little nervous about what the test might show, especially when they learn that they might have had an STD for a long time and never even known.

Keep in mind that there are effective treatments available for most STDs, so if one of you does test positive, there’s no need to panic. In fact, even if you do feel nervous before the test, you’ll actually have a lot less to be nervous about after the test. You’ll either know for sure that you don’t have an undetected STD, or you’ll find out that you do and you’ll be able to treat it.

In many cases, if you use a home STD testing service, you can get the needed medication to treat any STDs through the same service. It will be mailed directly to your home. Although it’s normal to feel nervous, rest assured that if you do have an STD, you’ll be able to handle the situation.


Corey L, Wald A, et al. Once-daily valacyclovir to reduce the risk of transmission of genital herpes. N Engl J Med 2004 Jan 1;350(1):11-20. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa035144.

HIV and STD Criminalization Laws. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/policies/law/states/exposure.html. Accessed 4 May 2022.

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html. Accessed 4 May 2022.

STD Testing: Conversation Starters. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/health-conditions/hiv-and-other-stds/std-testing-conversation-starters. Accessed 4 May 2022.

Talk. Test. Treat. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/saw/talktesttreat/default.htm. Accessed 4 May 2022.

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