Having a conversation about the fact that you have a sexually transmitted infection is one of the most uncomfortable discussions it is possible to have, even with a medical professional, let alone with friends or your sexual partner. Sexual health remains very tough to talk about, according to new research conducted by Public Health England. In a survey of 2000 people aged between sixteen and 24, 56 percent of men and 43 percent of women say they found it tough to openly discuss the issue of sexually transmitted infections with their friends . However, the fact remains that there are some people who will need to be informed if you have contracted a sexually transmitted infection, no matter how difficult or awkward the conversation may be.
The first thing you need to do if you believe you have contracted a sexually transmitted infection is to have it confirmed with a proper test. Your physical and emotional health can be affected by sexually transmitted infections, and many people feel alone, but that does not need to be the reality of the situation. The problem with many STIs is that people are often not aware that they are infected as they suffer no symptoms, but the infection can be spread to others, and if left untreated long term, can result in serious health problems. Anyone who has regular sexual intercourse should undergo frequent STI testing.
Why you need to tell
If the test is positive and it is confirmed that you have a sexually transmitted infection, then you will need to tell your sexual partners, including your current partner, and any previous or future partners who may be at risk. It is natural to be anxious and even a little scared about telling others, fearing rejection or the spreading of rumours, but it is a conversation that needs to be had in order to protect your partner – and spare yourself from the possibility of further embarrassment in the future.
There are a number of other reasons why it is important to inform your sexual partners about the diagnosis, including the fact that if left untreated STIs can result in life threatening infections, as well as infertility . It is also possible that you could become reinfected with a sexually transmitted infection if you receive treatment but your partner does not.
How to have the conversation
The next thing you need to do is accept the fact that it is your responsibility to tell your current or former sexual partner that there is a problem. The good news is that the great majority of sexually transmitted infections are very easy to treat in this day and age. Making them aware of this important information will enable them to get tested and receive any necessary treatment as soon as possible, as well as reducing the chances that they will unknowingly infect other partners. If you are talking to a current partner, it is important to be as direct and honest as you can about the issue – and be prepared to listen. Your partner is likely to be surprised by the news and may react in different ways.
While it is normal to want reassurance and acceptance from your partner after this revelation, it is also important to give them some space, so that they have time to process the information and deal with it rationally. In some instances it may not be a good idea (or simply may not be possible) for people to have the conversation themselves, in which case there is another option – to have this task done by a sexual health clinic. All you need to do is give the clinic the contact details of the person, or people ,you feel need to be informed about your condition, and they will do the rest.
Likewise, a number of GPs are also happy to perform this task, so it is certainly worth asking them about it. Anonymous texting is another option, either by going online or with the use of downloadable apps that enable texts to be sent anonymously informing them that they need to be tested, without having to give away your own identity .