In today’s age of life-threatening Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), everyone has every right to know that their potential partner has a clean bill of health before making things more intimate. You’re also entitled to a little reassurance at other points in the relationship, when the need arises.
Some will find the idea of asking such questions intimidating, which is understandable, as the recipients of such questions often find them offensive. Not to worry; asking is far less difficult than you realize, and a little sensitivity can go a long way.
The following tips will help you determine when to get tested and how to ask your partner to do the same.
- Unless you’ve been tested during the last 24 hours, or have been abstinent since your last checkup, it’s a good idea to suggest mutual STI testing when starting a brand new relationship. This will ensure your partner doesn’t feel like you’re accusing them of being diseased, and will put the focus on mutual health — as opposed to only safeguarding your own.
- Tell your partner you think it might be a good idea if you both drop into your local clinic for some peace of mind.
- Testing tip: if your partner rejects the idea, this could mean they are afraid of learning the answer, which suggests they are no strangers to risky behavior. This doesn’t mean they are infected, but it does mean you’d be wise to use protection until it’s proven otherwise.
Trying to get pregnant
- If parenthood is on the agenda, both you and your partner should be tested for STDs before you start trying — even if you were both tested at the start of your relationship. Why? Because most STIs have a window of time during which they can slip beneath the radar. In other words, one of you could still be infected, despite your test results having said otherwise. This is highly significant, because diseases like syphilis and hepatitis B (blood-borne infections that can be asymptomatic for decades) can be passed from mother to fetus, sometimes resulting in premature delivery or stillbirth.
Your partner cheated
- If either of you have cheated, it’s time to get tested. You should also be tested if either of you cheated “safely.” Bacterial STIs, like the aforementioned chlamydia and gonorrhea, don’t require intercourse for transmission; heavy petting is all it takes. The same goes for incurable diseases like herpes, the gift that keeps on giving.
- Testing tip: if one of you just confessed having cheated, get tested immediately. This is especially important if you’re going to stay together and work through the infidelity. Waiting a few weeks, or months, to broach the question will only re-open the wound, which could undo any emotional healing that’s already taken place.
One of you notices physical changes
- As it was mentioned earlier, most STIs have a window of time during which they can go be undetected. If an STI goes unnoticed in the early stages, the symptoms could mistakenly be dismissed as benign when they finally present themselves. After all, illnesses of that nature are particularly difficult to detect.
- Testing tip: don’t mention STIs right away; mention the symptoms and give your partner a chance to draw their own conclusions. If they don’t connect the dots, tell them you think it would be a good idea if you both had some follow-up testing done. This will sound more like genuine concern and less like an accusation
While few people relish the idea of asking a partner to get tested, it’s a pleasant alternative to coming down with a STI. If you approach the situation from the angle of mutual responsibility, your partner most likely will agree to get tested without taking offense.