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How do you talk about STIs?

The thought of talking about STIs with someone can feel scary or awkward, but it doesn’t need to be. Being calm and making sure you have the right information is the best way to start a conversation.  

On this page you will find some top tips for talking to your partner(s) about having an STI and advice and questions to think about when talking to a healthcare professional.  

How do I talk to my partner(s) about having an STI?

It is very normal to feel worried about telling someone you have an STI. Here are some tips that might help: 

• Remember that having an STI is a health issue and says nothing about you, try to remain calm and positive – you are doing the responsible thing and most STIs are easily treated. 

• Make sure you know the facts. It will be a much easier conversation to have if you feel confident and knowledgeable about the infection. Be ready to answer any questions your partner might have and reassure them that there are treatments and ways to protect yourself and each other. It might feel a little awkward, but it’s an important conversation to have.  

• Work out what you want to say before you talk to your partner. You can even practice in front of the mirror or with a trusted friend, that way you will feel more confident when talking with your partner. 

• Pick a time when both of you are relaxed and feel most at ease, choose a place with no distractions and where you won’t be interrupted. 

• Remember that you cannot control their reaction, they might want time alone or they might take the news well. However they react, you have done the right thing. Given a little more time, most partners will respect you for telling them.  

• If you do not feel safe telling your past or present partner, there may be other ways for them to get the information, talk to your healthcare professional as they should be able to offer advice. 

How do I talk to a healthcare professional about getting checked for STIs?

You shouldn’t feel embarrassed going for a check-up and asking questions, your healthcare professional will do check-ups all the time and will respect you for looking after your health.  

Before an appointment it is helpful to think about any questions you might have about STIs. These might include: 

• Am I doing the right things to protect myself from getting STIs? 

• What test/s will I be having today and when will I get my results? 

• What should I do if I test positive for an STI? 

• What treatments are available to me? 

• Are there any vaccines I should have to stop me getting an STI? 

• How will my STI treatment affect any other medication I’m on? (if relevant) 

• What other regular check-ups should I have? 

It’s also useful to think about any questions a healthcare professional might ask you. These could include: 

• What symptoms (if any) are you experiencing? 

• Do you have anal, oral, or vaginal sex? 

• What are you doing to protect yourself from STIs? 

• In the past twelve months, how many sexual partners have you had? 

• Do you have any long-lasting health problems?  

• Do you take any medication? 

Although some of these questions may feel personal, remember that healthcare professionals should always keep any information you share with them private and not tell anyone else. Being honest will help your healthcare provider give you the right advice and treatment to help you stay healthy.  

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Here are a few questions to help kick-off discussions on the issues you need to talk about! You can share them on social, on WhatsApp or just get talking.

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  • Last updated: 03 March 2023
  • Last full review: 01 March 2022
  • Next full review: 01 March 2025
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