As kids, we only do what feels good. However, as the years go by and we bloom into fully-functioning adults, we learn to do what is necessary. And what needs to be done is not always easy or comfortable: eating fruit and vegetables, cutting off that one toxic person from our life or going for regular STD testing.
When to bring up conversations about STD Testing
Ideally, these conversations should happen when you are about to get hot and heavy with someone. Even when you are two seconds away from getting it on, if it bothers you, you always have the right to stop and remind them how important it is to get tested. If you are about to get married or already in a relationship, it is imperative that every person get screened for sexual health.
Everything has consequences. According to WHO, more than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired worldwide. Sexually active people are at risk to contract STIs or STDs, and the age-old adage “better safe than sorry” could not be applied at a better time than when it comes to practising routine STD testing.
After courageously bringing up this discussion to your partner apart from how awkward it might get, there are two possible outcomes: your partner pulling their weight and marching with you to a sexual health clinic or your partner not getting on board with this idea. Wanting your partner to get tested is not a sign of distrust or accusation of infidelity, because health should always be on top of everyone’s priority.
Like every other great general, never go into the battlefield without a well-planned strategy and contingency plans. Here are some steps to employ as a response if your partner plays the “we should just trust each other” card.
Inquire the real reasons
Before jumping too soon to make unwarranted assumptions and conclusions that they are selfish and do not have your best interests at heart, sit them down and ask them nicely why they are against testing. Their reasons may end up surprising you. Some possible reasons include:
- They have it and are too ashamed to tell you – One reason why they are cross about getting screened is probably because they have known about their status and are embarrassed about getting judged. Revealing a disease to your partner can be a staggering experience, and they might have disclosed it in the past to the previous partner but was met with unfavourable responses.
- They strongly feel like they don’t have it – This is the most common reason why your partner is resistant to getting tested. They feel like they have protected themselves, have a ‘clean’ history of only getting intimate with ‘nice’ people and never display any STD symptoms, leading them to think that they don’t have it (which is simply not true).
- They find it taboo and inappropriate – Let’s be real, there are a lot of stigmas around sex. Add culture in the equation and that might be the particular reason why your partner refuses to do their part to ensure both of your sexual health are in tip-top condition. Depending on where you live, but especially in a country adopting Eastern values, sex is not something that should be openly talked about. Therefore, conservative upbringing may also play a part in the refusal.
- They are selfish and are not concerned with your wellbeing – We want to believe that our partner will support and stand by us, come hell or high water. However, sometimes, the persons closest to us end up disappointing us the most. Their ultimate decision on whether or not they want to get tested is actually a litmus test to measure how caring and responsible of a partner they are.
Keep a clear head and don’t be judgmental
If it turns out that your partner did have a history of STDs and that is why they are not receptive to getting tested because it will put a damper on the mood and relationship, don’t be disheartened. While this revelation might strike like a thunder on a sunny day, remember that who they are now is all that matters. STDs are tricky and even if your partner never fools around and is always monogamous, there is always a chance to contract the disease. The last thing you want to do is kick someone when they are down. Convince them that you will overcome this together and getting tested is the first way to be certain how to tackle the situation.
Discuss logically by sharing facts
Not every person is well-educated on sexual health and diseases. Explain that this is a ‘we’ problem and not an “I” problem. The majority of STIs display no visible symptoms, and instead of making this about your partner and accusing them of not caring enough, emphasise the hazard that entails if this step is not taken. Being flooded with emotions is understandable, but keep in mind that logic prevails in all situations.
Your partner may be on the fence about STD testing because they think that it is awkward and requires great effort. What they don’t know is chlamydia and gonorrhea, two of the most common STDs, can be tested by only using a urine sample.
Truths are never simple, but even if one of you tests positive, here is the good news: gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia and trichomoniasis can be cured. And even if you test negative, that does not imply that you can just sit back and relax, because STDs such as Hepatitis B and Human papillomavirus (HPV) can actually be prevented through vaccines. STD testing is the first step to take to determine where to go after attaining the results.
Simplify the hassle
Your partner is probably scared out of their minds, and while they are paralysed by worry and fear, the least you can do is simplify the situation and do the nitty-gritty of finding the right place to do the testing and making the appointment. If your partner feels that visiting a regular healthcare provider like the hospital is too intimidating, a sexual health clinic should be fitting because the medical personnel are used to handling cases revolving around sexual diseases and are less judgmental.
Explain your own testing history
Mentioning your own testing history can take some weight off your partner’s shoulder, especially if you get tested routinely. Maybe what they need is reassurance that you are with them every step of the way. Assuring them that getting tested is not a monster under the bed or a bridge too far as well as detailing the process and the time it takes to get screened might help them breathe easier.
Empower and reassure your partner with comforting words
If there is one tenet we should live by, it should be “You will catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” Instead of nagging your partner and whining all day, reassure them with comforting words such as:
- “our sex life will be more enjoyable if we know we both are safe”
- “your health and wellbeing are important to me”
- “let’s protect each other better”
What if they still won’t get tested after these steps?
Whatever the situation is, we have to be prepared for worst case scenarios, and in this case, the worst outcome is your partner still won’t get tested. While it can be frustrating, refusing to get tested until the end signifies that they are putting your and their own health at risk. You can try one last time and emphasise that you require this for every partner and it is one of your non-negotiables. But if you have to choose between compromising your health and letting someone down, it is wiser to let someone down. Remember that at the end of the day, “no” is a complete sentence.