Doctors Advise How to Discuss Having an STD

Doctors Advise How to Discuss Having an STD

In an ideal world, we would all know if we had STDs or not. We would only sleep with people that we knew we would be safe with, or we would use protection if we knew our partners were STD positive. But it’s just not that simple. As a monogamous person whose been with her partner forever, I am at a much lower risk of developing an STD than many other people—and I worry about my younger relatives more than I do about myself.

So what do you do if you get one? Hopefully you would decide to tell your partner(s)—but what about your former partners? Would you call them up and let them know? Would you send them an STD eCard? That’s what some people have been doing. And I guess it’s better than nothing, but it’s pretty impersonal. You might think that it’s going to be a very awkward conversation—and it surely will be, no doubt—but if you found the person close enough to have sex with in the first place, don’t you think you owe him or her something a little more personal—an in person explanation, or at the very least, a phone call?

Most people surveyed report that they wouldn’t use the eCard. And that’s probably a good thing, considering that some of the eCards offered by are pretty tongue in cheek—which is definitely not the way you want to learn that you could have gonorrhea! I know I wouldn’t want to receive a card that tells me, “I got screwed while screwing, you might have too” (which is both vague and sort of rude) or “You’re too hot to be out of action. I got diagnosed with an STD since we played. You might want to get checked too.” Really, that’s how you’re going to tell someone?

These eCards sound more like awful practical jokes to play on people than they do real STD notifications. I could definitely see one of my good friends sending a few to her ex-boyfriend. But I hope that no one I know would be willing to send these obnoxious, impersonal notifications to people they had sex with, whether they’re still friends with the people or not. Don’t people deserve more than this?

Doctors say that you should have “the conversation” whether you use condoms or not. They are not 100% effective against STDs, and your partner has a right to know what he or she might be exposed to by sleeping with you. Have information about your disease ready for your partner (you don’t need to hand out pamphlets, but you should be well read about it) and be prepared to provide accurate information, especially if he or she doesn’t know what your disease is. You can talk to your doctor about ways to discuss it, too.

Some doctors say to have a script prepared. It should be simple, honest, and straightforward. Afterwards, listen to their questions and talk about it calmly. If they are uncomfortable sleeping with you, then so be it. That is their right. They may just need time to think about it. And even if you don’t end up together, you can be proud of yourself for being honest about it.