Sexual relationships are tricky, no matter what your situation. It can be a delicate balancing act of physical attraction and emotional interest in your partner. But what if your partner has a sexually transmitted disease? Would you still sleep with them? Would you be concerned about becoming infected yourself? How does it change the dynamic of your sexual relationship with this person? Having an active sex life while having a sexually transmitted disease can be a hot button issue between sexual partners, but how should it be handled?
Having an STD can drastically change your sex life. There is a large amount of shame that comes from having a sexually transmitted disease. Shame in the fact you have a disease and shame that you could pass it on to others and drastically change their lives. Society puts a label on those that have an STD, one that defines them as unclean, promiscuous, unprepared, and undesirable. The truth of the matter is that some people contract STDs from those that they love and trust. Yes, your chances for contracting an STD go up with the number of partners you have, but there are many people who have slept with very few people and contracted an STD from a long term partner. The tried and true “don’t judge a book by its cover”, applies here just as it does to other situations. It may be disheartening to many people that you have something you could pass on to them. The risk for transmission can be very high for diseases, even higher when you engage in unprotected sex. Unsuspecting partners are much less likely to protect themselves, than those who know they are sleeping with someone who has an STD. It is extremely difficult to tell someone that you are interested in that you have a disease of this nature, but there are responsibilities on both sides of the table.
For the person that is living with the disease, responsibility is important. Owning up to the fact that you are infected is so important. You have a responsibility to inform your partners and make sure that you are doing everything you can to protect them as well as yourself from contracting further infections and diseases. You are not your disease. It is important to remember that you have value and can contribute more than just sexually. You will be rejected by some people, and others will have questions. It is important that you prepare yourself for these situations by owning your disease and having responsible practices when it comes to sex.
For the person that is considering sleeping with someone with a sexually transmitted disease, it is important to remember that it is completely your choice. It is your choice to engage or not engage in sexual activity with someone who has a sexually transmitted disease, but you need to know the facts. The best way to protect yourself is to be informed. Know what you are getting into 110%. The internet may be a good resource but a medical professional is the best. Talking to someone first hand will allow you to ask the important questions. And don’t be afraid to ask your potential partner the questions that you have.
So where can you get support and information about sexually transmitted diseases? One place to start is your GP, gynecologist, or medical doctor. They will be able to provide you with the information that you will need or at least point you in the right direction of that information. There are also resources in the community that can assist you with your sexual health. In Toronto, there is the Bay Centre for Birth Control. It is centered around women’s health and can help you with examinations, information, counselling, and referrals. (Links provided below)
Having a sexually transmitted disease does not have to stop your sex life. As long as you are responsible and respectful, there are many options for those wishing to have intercourse with someone who is/isn’t infected. There are many couples that have successful and fulfilling relationships when one or both partners is infected. It is important to remain hopeful and look towards total wellness; mind, body, and spirit.