How To Talk To Your Partner About STD Testing: 3 Tips For Teens
Nobody likes talking about STDs. Teachers get nervous talking about them in sex-ed classes. Parents are hesitant to discuss them with their children. Adults even have trouble discussing them with their own dating partners. So it's no surprise that teens also have trouble bringing up the subject of sexually transmitted diseases with their partners. But if you're a sexually active teen, or you think you might be sexually active sometime soon, you owe it to yourself to find a way to discuss STDs with your partner. Teens are at significant risk for STDs. Studies show that people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for half of new STD infections. Keep in mind that there are around 20 million new STD infections every year – that means that around 10 million teens and young adults will be infected each year. With that in mind, here are some tips for talking about STDs with your partner. They could prevent you from becoming a statistic.
Bring It Up Before Things Get Heated
Obviously, it's best to wait for a private moment before discussing STDs with your partner – it's not a subject that you'll want to bring up in front of your friends and family. Pick a time and place where you're not likely to be interrupted or overheard. However, try to bring it up during a casual moment, before things between you and your partner get hot and heavy.
Once you begin getting physical, it can be tough for both of you to put the brakes on and shift back into a serious discussion. That's normal, but it's also an important reason why you should have the STD discussion before taking things to a physical level. You don't want to jump into something that you may regret before you have all of the information that you need to protect yourself.
The best way to talk to your partner is to be forthright. Don't wait for your partner to bring up the subject – he or she may very well be waiting for you to broach it. Take a deep breath and just ask your partner if they've ever been tested for STDs. If you've been tested before, say so, and if not, be honest about that. Being upfront about your own history will encourage your partner to do the same.
It's OK to be nervous, and it's OK to say so. Let your partner know that you're asking because you care about their health and safety, as well as your own. Use language that you're comfortable with, whether that means bringing up the statistics about teens and STDs, or talking about STD protection first.
Have a Plan
If one or both of you have a sexual history, you can suggest that the two of you get tested together. In most states, teenagers over the age of 13 can get tested for STDs without informing a parent. Ideally, it's better to have an adult that you can trust to talk to about STD testing, but many teenagers don't. If you don't want to tell your parents, you can at least take steps to protect yourself.
Find out where you can go for STD testing before you talk to your partner. That may be your family doctor, the local health department, or a free clinic that specializes in STD testing and treatment and family planning. Doing the research beforehand can help you feel more confident when you approach your partner and ask about being tested together – you'll already know where you want to go and what you want to do.
Don't be surprised if your partner doesn't have an immediate response for you. Be willing to listen to what they have to say or be patient while they formulate a response. Your partner is much more likely to respond positively if you're willing to be a good listener after you broach the subject. By speaking your mind honestly and giving your partner time to respond just as honestly, you're taking the first steps toward ensuring that your relationship is healthy and safe going forward.