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How to ask your partner to get tested for STDs

Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on October 13, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


From HIV to herpes to HPV, there are many different kinds of sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs) that can put your health and well-being at risk. That thought might be weighing on your mind if you’re considering having sex with a new partner whose STD status is unknown to you. So how can you approach your partner with a conversation around STD testing so you both know where you stand before having sex?

Here to help: this guide that’ll give you ideas and tips on how to talk about STDs with a new partner and how to ask someone to get tested for STDs in a kind and reassuring way.

Let’s first discuss the issue of timing when it comes to having a conversation around STDs and getting tested.

When to bring up the STD conversation

When it comes to how to ask someone to get tested, a good first step is knowing when to bring it up.

Over dinner on your first date or right before things are about to get physical probably aren’t the best options. Instead, make a plan: ask yourself when you’ll do it, what you’ll ask, and where it will be.

And remember: you aren’t alone if you’re wondering, “How do I ask my partner to get tested?” Plenty of people are nervous to bring up the conversation—and that’s understandable.

If you are feeling nervous, try some of these conversation starters. They may seem awkward at first, but they’ll do a good job of helping ease you into the discussion.

Conversation starters for the STD talk

  • I recently got tested for STDs. Have you been tested?
  • This isn’t the easiest conversation. But I know it’s important. How do you feel about STD testing before we have sex?
  • I enjoy spending time with you, and before we go to the next level with our relationship, I wanted to talk about getting tested for STDs together.

STD questions to ask

When you’re navigating the issue of how to talk about STDs with a new partner, things can be complicated (and not always comfortable). To help you out, we’ve provided a list below of different questions about sexual health you can discuss with your partner.

Of course, when you’re sitting down to have a conversation on STDs, we don’t imagine you’ll be ready to work through this entire list all in one go. (But if you are, more power to you!)

Instead, read through this list and use it as a guideline. From questions about protection to sex to STDs and lifestyle, these conversation-starters will help you move through the discussion and know what to ask.

With a talk about STDs, it can be hard to figure out where to start. But rest assured: there’s a good chance your partner has also been thinking about the risks of STDs, particularly if both of you are likely to have sex at some point in the near future. Thankfully, by getting comfortable with conversations related to STDs and sexual health, you and your partner can move toward safe sex practices and decrease the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Without further ado, here are some STD-related conversation-starters to help kick off a discussion.

Protection

  • How often do you use protection?
  • Do you always use protection when you’re with a new sexual partner?
  • What kind of protection do you use?
  • If you use condoms, what kind of condoms do you use?
  • Do you have any allergies to latex?

Sex

How many partners have you had? Do you currently have other partners besides me? Have your partners been strictly male or female, or both? What sexual activities are you interested in?

STDs

  • Do you know if you have any STDs currently?
  • Have you had an STD in the past?
  • Were you treated for the STD?
  • When was the last time you got tested for STDs?
  • What STDs have you been tested for?
  • How many sex partners have you had since being tested?
  • Have you ever been tested for HIV?
  • When was your last pap smear and/or HPV test?

Lifestyle

  • Have you injected drugs?
  • Have you had sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol where you don’t remember whether you used protection?

Reassuring phrases to use

  • Let’s get tested together.
  • We will enjoy sex more if we both know it’s safe.
  • Your health is important to me.
  • Let’s talk about how we can protect each other.

Share the facts

  • If we’re uncomfortable getting tested for STIs in a clinic or at a healthcare provider’s office, we can test from the comfort of home using test kits. (Related: At-Home STD Test-Female | At-Home STD Test-Male)
  • If you don’t want to talk to your regular healthcare provider about STD testing, we can go to a sexual health clinic.
  • When a sexually transmitted disease is found and treated early, there’s less risk of long-term health problems.
  • Getting tested is easy. Two of the most common STDs, chlamydia and gonorrhea, are typically tested for through a urine sample.

How to talk about test results

Part of figuring out how to talk about STDs with a new partner includes discussing test results. We know that discussing test results may be anxiety-inducing, so here are a few things to keep in mind.

Keep a positive attitude

If you or your partner have an STD, keeping a positive attitude can be challenging. But remember, you aren’t alone. Millions of people have had STDs. Many of them are in relationships leading healthy lives. As Planned Parenthood states, having an STD is a health issue; it doesn’t say anything about you as a person.

Know your facts

Each STD is different and comes with its own set of characteristics (and myths). There are several common questions surrounding STDs that many people don’t know the answers to—such as “Can you get an STD with condom use during sex?” Knowing your facts and being ready to answer your partner's questions about your STD, or have questions to ask them about their STD, is helpful.

Consider timing

When it comes to discussing STD test results with a partner, it’s important that you aren’t distracted. Choose a private place where you both feel calm and relaxed. Turning off cell phones and the TV can help minimize interruptions during your conversation.

Practice your words

Although it may sound funny at first, practicing how you want to approach the conversation with someone you trust is a good idea. Learning how to talk about STDs with a new partner can be uncomfortable, but saying the words and phrases out loud may help alleviate your anxieties. Practice your words from both perspectives—both with you as the partner who has the STD results and with you as the partner who is hearing the STD test result.

Think of safety

Conversations related to STDs can be emotionally-charged, and it isn’t always easy figuring out how to ask someone to get tested and what the results are. Partners might feel jealous over other relationships or angry if there has been any secrecy or dishonesty. So before you talk about test results, think of safety. If you’re nervous or hesitant and don’t know how a new partner will react, perhaps consider an email or phone call instead of a face-to-face interaction.

Sexual health and safe sex practices are important, but they can also be uncomfortable to talk about.

Familiarizing yourself with possible questions to ask and becoming more comfortable with the conversation-starters is one of the first steps towards talking about STDs with a new partner. From there, you may want to work together to come up with a plan for testing.

How to prevent STDs: key tips

If you are sexually active, taking these steps may reduce your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection:

  • Use protection every time you have sex
  • Limit your drug and alcohol use before and during sex
  • Have an honest conversation with your healthcare provider about STDs and the testing frequency they recommend for you
  • Limit the number of sex partners you have, or ask your healthcare provider about testing more frequently for STDs if you have multiple partners

Easily test for 6 common STDs (including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV) from the convenience and privacy of home with the at-home STD test for women and at-home STD test for men.


How to prevent STDs

How are STDs spread?

How often should you get tested for STDs?


References

How do I talk with my partner about STD testing? Planned Parenthood. URL. Accessed November 13, 2020.