Medically reviewed on March 28, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. 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.
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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also commonly referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are quite common in the United States. According to the CDC, as many as 1 in 5 people in the U.S. are infected with an STI . If you’re one of the millions of infected individuals, you might be concerned about how you can safely deal with your STD in a relationship.
The good news is that regular testing, treatment, and safe sexual practices can allow you and your partner to have a healthy, fulfilling relationship.
This guide will walk you through how to deal with an STD in a relationship so that both you and your partner can remain physically and emotionally well.
The first step to dealing with an STD in a relationship is talking about it. You and your partner should speak about your sexual health and:
Open communication between the two of you about your sexual health is important for both of your safety. You must tell your partner (or they you) about any transmissible infections since you could pass these infections to each other.
Sometimes, the terms STI and STD are used interchangeably. However, there is a key difference between the two :
Finally, while all STDs result from STIs, not all STIs become STDs. It’s important to know the severity of your infection or illness so that you and your partner can make informed decisions about your relationship and sexual activities.
The old saying knowledge is power is certainly true when it comes to your sexual health. Learning as much as you can about your or your partner’s STD will give you the information you need to navigate your relationship safely.
STIs fall into three distinct categories, including:
Across all three of these categories, the most common STIs/STDs include:
Your specific treatment regimen will depend on the type of infection (or infections) you have. Some bacterial infections, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, will sometimes occur together.
Some STIs may result in pretty clear symptoms, while others don’t have any at all. If you or your partner already have an infection, you should keep an eye out for symptoms. Noticeable symptoms might indicate that you have another infection or that your existing infection is worsening.
Common symptoms include :
It’s important to keep an eye out for any of these symptoms so you can get treatment as quickly as possible if needed.
Another important step you and your partner will need to take if one or both of you has an STI or STD is to practice safe sex. Actually, you should always practice safe sex, but taking extra precautions if one of you has an infection can help prevent passing the infection.
The CDC offers several recommendations for protecting yourself from infection during sex :
When used correctly, condoms typically offer the most effective protection against the spread of STIs.
Finally, if you or your partner is using a form of hormonal or non-hormonal birth control, such as the pill or an IUD, remember that these only help prevent pregnancy. They do not offer protection against STIs.
Regular testing is a must for couples dealing with an STI or STD. So how do you know which tests you need? Your healthcare professional can assist you by asking a few questions about your sexual history and determing the best test for each of you.
Some commonly used tests include :
Finally, some other testing may require a throat swab, pap smear, or swab of another area of the body to detect specific infections.
Having an STI or STD doesn’t prevent you and your partner from enjoying a happy and healthy relationship. Instead, you’ll just need to take a few extra steps to ensure that you’re properly managing the infection. Education and safe sexual practices are key components to dealing with an STD in a relationship.
Regular testing for STDs is also critical. This is where Everlywell at-home STD testing can help.
We offer a variety of sexual health test options, including disease-specific and common STD tests.
Plus, you can complete any of our tests discreetly in the comfort of your own home. Get started today to stay on top of your sexual health and wellness.
Sexually Transmitted Infections Prevelance, Incidence, and Cost Estimates in the United States. CDC. URL. Accessed March 28, 2022.
STI vs. STD: Key Differences. Tulane University School of Public Health. URL. Accessed March 28, 2022.
The Presentation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections. PubMed. URL. Accessed March 28, 2022.
Sexually Transmitted Infections. NHS. URL. Accessed March 28, 2022.
Sexually Transmitted Infections Treatment Guidelines, 2021. CDC. URL. Accessed March 28, 2022.
How Does STD Testing Work? Planned Parenthood. URL. Accessed March 28, 2022.