Whether you’re sexually active or not, it’s essential to be aware of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as to remain safe in your relationship. STIs are a widespread occurrence, as more than 1 million sexually transmitted infections are contracted worldwide! While some people may not have or notice any symptoms, they can still be at risk. STIs have severe consequences if treatment isn’t sought out. It’s important to have a conversation with your partner if you’re planning on becoming sexually active with them. STIs may not be the easiest to talk about, especially with some of the stigma surrounding them. However, it’s a good first step in creating a safe and comfortable environment for your relationship, as well as maintaining your sexual health. You may be wondering how exactly you should talk to your partner about STIs. There are a few ways that you can go about the conversation:
What Are STIs?Sexually transmitted infections are passed from one person to another during any skin-to-skin sexual activities. Using barrier methods, like condoms, can reduce the risk of contracting a transmitted infection. Vaginal or anal sex without a condom can cause the spread of STIs, such as:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
How To Talk About STIs & Safe Sex
Educate YourselfFirstly, it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the correct facts about STIs before you sit down and talk to your partner. Despite how experienced you are with the topic, researching safer sex methods and STI prevention practices can make you feel more comfortable discussing it. There is a lot of misinformation out there surrounding sexually transmitted infections. Research can help clear up any confusion or misconception you may have. It might even be a good idea to involve your partner in the research portion; it can open up the topic in a more comfortable way. Our clinic is a source for accurate STI information that you can trust.
Know What You Want From the ConversationBefore you begin the talk, it might help to consider what it is you want from the conversation. Are you planning to talk to your partner about having contracted an STI? Are you trying to bring up that you should both get tested? Or are you generally trying to have an open topic about sex and the risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease? Knowing where you would like the conversation to go can help you approach these topics. Some topics you may consider:
- “Are we ready to have a sexual aspect of our relationship?”
- “How are we going to practice safe sex?”
- “Are you okay with using condoms during sex to prevent STIs and pregnancy?”
- “Have you ever been tested for an STI?”
- “When were you last tested for STIs?”
- “Have you ever contracted an STI before?”
Understand BoundariesIt’s best to understand the boundaries you and your partner may have. There could be differences of opinion when it comes to sex practices; one of you may feel uncomfortable with sharing their sexual history. Remember to be respectful and non-judgemental, as not everyone may have the same values or experiences as you.
Create a Safe EnvironmentThe topic of safe sex and STI status can be awkward and as well as intimate. Remember to create a comfortable space for you and your partner to discuss your safe sex options and STI history. You’ll both benefit from keeping an open mind and keeping the conversation private between the two of you. Focus on your partner throughout the talk. Limit the risk of distractions, as you’ll want to ensure your partner knows that they are being listened to. Creating a respectful and safe environment can help in the case of something more serious, such as STI contraction.
After the Talk
Get TestedThe most important aspect of having an open conversation with your partner about STI status and safe sex practices is to get tested yourself. Action Canada recommends that you get STI testing done every time you switch partners, so as to have complete transparency with each other. Some conditions in which you may want to receive STI testing:
- You begin to notice any bumps, discharge, or rashes on your body.
- You didn’t use a condom during sex.
- You or your partner have had multiple sexual partners.
- You didn’t use a condom while having sex with someone with a confirmed STI.
- You had sex without a condom, and your partner doesn’t know if they have an STI.
- You had sexual contact with someone, and the condom broke.