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Good Sex With Emily Jamea: How to Tell Your Partner About an STI

April is STD Awareness Month.*

At any given time, one in 5 Americans has a sexually transmitted infection (STI). That means there’s a very good probability that not less than one individual consistent with you for morning espresso has been there.

Even although STIs are quite common, having one nonetheless carries a number of disgrace and stigma. Unfortunately that stigma is partially what contributes to the unfold. People are scared to reveal they’ve an STI as a result of they’re afraid of being judged.

That was the case for my shopper, Alyssa. I’d been working along with her for about six months. She had gotten a divorce the 12 months earlier than and had began remedy to get assist navigating the courting world, which had modified considerably within the 20 years she’d been married. She’d skilled a number of ups and downs whereas courting, however was largely having a grand ole time stitching her wild oats. She’d married and had youngsters very younger and had no sexual expertise previous to her husband.

She often got here to remedy with an enormous grin on her face and a scorching story to inform, however I may inform one thing was completely different the second she stepped in my workplace that April morning. Her eyes had been broad, and she or he seemed pale. She’d appeared smitten over a man named Darren she’d gone out with for a number of weeks, so my first assumption was that he’d ghosted her or she’d discovered he was married.

“What’s going on?” I requested.

“I’m mortified,” she began. “Look.” She handed me a slip of paper. It was lab outcomes from a latest blood take a look at.


There was a observe from her physician on the backside indicating that medicine had been referred to as into her pharmacy and advising her to inform any latest companions, for the reason that onset of signs might be delayed from the time of publicity, and to chorus from sexual exercise for a full seven days after taking her medicine.

“Okay, take a deep breath,” I informed her. “You’ve got this.”

“No, I don’t!” she protested. “I finally met a guy I actually like. There’s no way he’s going to stay with me now. I’ve exposed him to chlamydia!”

“It could have been him that gave it to you. We don’t know yet,” I informed her.

“I doubt it,” she mentioned. “We’ve been using condoms. I must have contracted it from that guy I went out with a month ago. The one I got carried away with at the bar. Maybe I just shouldn’t tell Darren. I could avoid seeing him for a few days and then just tell him I’m on my period. He may get suspicious because my period just ended, but whatever. I can’t tell him this.”

“Let’s talk through it a little bit more before you make a decision,” I advised. Part of my job as a therapist is to assist shoppers make their very own selections by serving to them course of their emotions about potential outcomes. I at all times keep away from giving direct recommendation. “What are the pros and cons of telling him versus keeping it in?”

Alyssa was a wise, compassionate lady. I didn’t have to inform her what she already knew.

“I know I’m going to have to tell him. It’s not fair to him to keep this a secret. Even though we’ve been using condoms, he could have been exposed. I also need to reach out to that guy from the bar and to ‘banker boy.’ (She’d taken to nicknaming her dates). This is awful.”

I reminded her how frequent STIs are and that, luckily, the one she had was simply treatable. Others, like herpes, hepatitis B and HIV stick round.

“So, what do I say?” she requested. “How do I break the news to these guys?”

“Well,” I informed her, “You have a few options with the guys who were one-night stands. If you’re able, you could reach out to them anonymously. Simply let them know that they were a sexual partner of yours within the past two months. Let them know you tested positive for chlamydia and advise them to get tested and notify any other partners they’ve had. In addition to practicing safer sex, the best way to control STIs is by controlling the spread. That means notifying partners so they can get tested and treated. You could, of course, also reach out without concealing your identity.”

“That actually sounds pretty easy when you say it like that,” she started to breathe a sigh of reduction, however stopped. “But what about Darren?” “Maybe I could tell him anonymously too,” she mused.

“And if you did,” I started, “what would that feel like?”

“Honestly … it would feel like a lie … especially if I can’t have sex with him for a while. Plus, there’s the chance I’ve exposed him. If he ends up catching it and finds out I knew I had it and didn’t tell him, he’d definitely break up with me. I mean, I would break up with someone if they did that to me.”

“I wonder if you could use it as an opportunity to build intimacy. Being open and having the courage to be vulnerable is what strengthens relationships. What if you say something like this, ‘Darren, I know we’ve only known each other for a short period of time, but I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you. I want us to be honest with each other, which is why I need to share something. I recently learned I have chlamydia. Because of the timeline of my symptoms, I think I most likely contracted it from the person I went out with before you. As you know, I’m relatively new to dating and have to admit I got carried away one night. Fortunately, chlamydia is treatable, but you should get tested even though we’ve been using condoms. I hope that instead of judging me for contracting an STI, you’ll appreciate the fact that I was honest with you despite this being incredibly difficult for me to share.”

Friends talking on the break from work

“I think I can do that,” she mentioned.

“Let me know how it goes and report back.”

She returned to remedy a few weeks later, smiling just like the Alyssa from earlier than. “How did it go?” I requested.

“Better than expected! He was such a gentleman about it. He actually said the same thing happened to him after his divorce. He said he makes it a point to get tested before having sex with new partners, so he feels confident he didn’t give it to me, and he’ll get tested to make sure he’s in the clear. It led to a great discussion about sexual exclusivity while we’re getting to know each other.”

“I’m so happy to hear that!” I mentioned.

It might be difficult to inform a accomplice you might have an STI, however many individuals discover that they’re pleasantly stunned by their companions’ reactions. Plenty of {couples} go on to have significant relationships and satisfying intercourse even when one individual within the relationship has an STI that may’t be totally cured. And when you do really feel embarrassed, simply keep in mind that the individual standing in line behind you at Starbucks has in all probability been there too.

*STDs are sexually transmitted ailments, whereas STIs are sexually transmitted infections. Some STIs can result in STDs however they don’t at all times progress to that stage.

American Sexual Health Association
The STI Project: Breaking the Stigma

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