Disclosing STDs: Before and After

Disclosing or hearing a disclosure about STDs can be a really emotional ordeal. But, this should never be an excuse to avoid this very important conversation. So, what can be done to make this announcement a little easier for everyone involved?

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The Ethics of Disclosure

Moral obligation and even legal obligation (in the case of HIV positive people) are really important reasons to disclose any and all STDs before any sexual contact occurs. If you know you have a STD, either refrain from sexual activity until antibiotic treatment is completed, or in the case of viruses, tell your partner beforehand.

I always advise to bring along your own condoms, but I feel it must be said again in this case. The CDC recommends latex condoms for the reduced risk of STD transmission. I bring along a Durex Love Box with me wherever I go and I always have plenty of condoms at my apartment just in case myself, or one of my friends, needs one (or three).

Parts of the ethics of disclosure is, assuming the conversation goes well, there may be a need for condoms, so bring ‘em along for the talk. Rejection is not imminent and you’re better off being prepared.

Pre-Contact Convo

Talk about your own issues and ask about theirs. Since there are 110 million STD cases in the US right now, the chances are they have either had one, do have one or know someone who has/had them. Disclosing information beforehand will win you respect, sympathy and make you more trustworthy.

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And, if that is not their reaction, it is their loss, not yours. Waiting until after sex to disclose or hear a disclosure about an STD could cost you a loving relationship, diminish your partner’s health and cause you to catch an additional STD.

Getting tested together before sexual contact and sharing the results is becoming more and more commonplace. You can ask for a print out of the results, so you know there is no lying involved afterwards. Another option is to use the Hula app or the hulahq.com website, which allows partners to see the STD status straight from the doctor’s charts, along with additional notes like whether they have been sexually active after their last test or not.

Symptoms: Wait Until After a Test to Disclose

If you are suspicious that you may have contracted an STD, it is crucial to your well being to get timely confirmation from a doctor. While we always recommend regular testing, in addition to proper condom usage, if you see or feel something out of the ordinary, it’s best to get tested right away, before going on a rampage and assuming the worst.

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There are many things that may seem like an STD, as we covered in ‘What is That? Finding False Flags After Fornicating (NSFW),’ but are actually something else. On the other hand, many STDs are asymptomatic and show no signs of being present, like chlamydia aka “the silent infection.” This is why it is best to let a professional examine and test for any abnormalities.

There is no need to end a relationship over an ingrown hair or to spread rumors about where you got your herpes from, before there is definitive proof from an expert. So, be patient and do yourself and your current and past lovers a favor and wait until you know, for sure, exactly what is going on.

Contacting Former Lovers After Testing Positive

Assuming that you know the names and phone numbers (or their email address or their social media profile names), privately contacting former lovers in the event of a positive test is the right thing to do. Stopping the cycle and spread of STDs has a lot to do with communication, which is hard because most people would rather not talk about them at all, because of a fear about social standing or stigmas that may be attached to having STDs.

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Remember that STDs are like any other health problem. If you found out today that you have pink eye and you are shared eye drops with someone yesterday, wouldn’t you tell them? It is socially responsible to do so. Besides condoms, open communication and education are the best ways to fight against the spread of STDs. This is why it is imperative to do so. Don’t let your former lover walk around with a loaded gun.

Chances are, you are not current lovers for a good reason. But, try not to let past hurt feelings get in the way of their future health. Put yourself in their shoes- wouldn’t you want a heads up about a gonorrheal infection before you meet that next special person? The sooner they know, the sooner they can get treated. If you don’t feel up to the task of the big reveal, use this anonymous and complimentary service to let your former lover(s) know about your positive test via e-mail: sotheycanknow.org. County run clinics may also provide an anonymous call service, which is free of charge, and easy to use.

Confronting Your Current Partner After Testing Positive

This is where things get really emotional. In monogamous relationships, it is assumed that if both parties enter into the relationship STD free, that things will remain that way through the duration of the romance. However, there are a few things that can cause this STD free status to go awry. The first one is cheating, especially if it involved unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex.

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The second possibility is latency. This means that one or more partner had an STD before the relationship began, but showed no signs or symptoms until after the relationship started. Some people are carriers meaning, one partner could have HPV and not know about it, spread it to their partner, and their partner suddenly has genital warts, while the carrier still shows no outward signs of it.

Plus, there are no tests for HPV in males, so unless there are symptoms present, anybody could be a potential carrier. Viruses are tricky, sneaky and have a way of getting themselves passed on, sometimes even in the most careful of circumstances. This is why is is so essential for both your own and your partners health to use a condom, every single time, even if you are monogamous.

Preventing a Positive Test

Every condom we carry, except for the Trojan NaturaLamb, is FDA approved for safer sex ( the NaturaLamb only protects against unwanted pregnancies) and they all provide a significant reduction of STD transmission. No matter if you want to use a Caution Wear Grande, a LifeStyles Snugger Fit, a Durex Extra Sensitive, a Fantasy Lubricated or any of our other condoms, they are all designed to keep you both safer while you connect with your partner on a physical level.

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For even more protection against skin-to-skin STDs, the FC2 female condom has shown great potential, because it has a more substantial barrier in regards to the mons pubis and scrotal area where HSV and HPV can be located. Latex dental dams are also extremely helpful in STD prevention during cunnilingus/anilingus. If you don’t have one around, you can easily make one out of a condom. Flavored condoms, like LifeStyles Flavored Condoms taste great and are ideal for protected fellatio.

Source: [CNN Health, CDC]

About Condom Depot

The Condom Depot Learning Center provides free safer sex ed and has recently been resourced by Men's Health, Go Ask Alice, Her Campus, LifeHacker, Scarleteen, Bustle, Madame Noire, Jezebel, Vice, Stallion Style, aPlus, Sex Talk Tuesday and Adult Sex Ed Month.

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