Partner has an STD

Let’s talk about something serious but necessary: sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These infections can spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex, and any sexually active person is at risk. Most people get the basics, but we have received some questions from curious adults who are sexually active, and it is twofold.

  1. Can you tell if your partner has an STD?
  2. Does having one mean they cheated?

Let’s break it down.

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Can You Tell If Your Partner Has an STD?

The short answer is yes and no. The best way to know if your partner has an STD is for them to get tested. While some STIs cause noticeable symptoms, many don’t, meaning someone can have an STI and show no signs at all. So, never assume someone is STI-free just because they look fine. However, when symptoms do appear, here are some red flags to watch out for:

1. Sores or Blisters on the Mouth or Genitals

  • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV): HSV-1 causes oral herpes, which can spread through kissing or oral sex, and HSV-2 causes genital herpes. Both can produce painful blisters or sores. HSV-1 is commonly transmitted non-sexually but can cause genital herpes through oral sex. HSV-2 is mostly spread through sexual contact, even when sores aren’t present.

2. Genital Warts

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV): This is one of the most common STIs. Often symptomless, but when warts appear, they can be small, flesh-coloured, or greyish, and can grow individually or in clusters. They can also appear in the mouth or throat through oral sex.

Can you tell if your partner has an STD?

3. Rashes or Itching on the Genitals

  • Syphilis: A rash on the palms or soles could be a sign. It might also cause sores in other areas.
  • Jock Itch: Not an STI but can cause similar symptoms, such as a red, itchy rash.

4. Abnormal Discharge or Pain

  • Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, Trichomoniasis: These can cause unusual discharge from the vagina or penis. Discharge can be a different colour, odour, or consistency than usual. Pain during sex can also be a symptom.

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5. Throat Infections

  • Oral STIs: Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes, HPV, and syphilis can cause sore throats, swollen glands, or mouth sores. Visible fungal infections in the mouth are also possible.

6. Flu-like Symptoms

  • HIV, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea: Persistent fever, chills, sore throat, and body aches can indicate an STI, especially if these symptoms last a long time.

Also Read – Myth Busters Ep 1: Can You Get Pregnant From Period Sex?

Does catching an infection mean your Partner has an STD?

Is a Cheating Partner Always Responsible for an STI Infection?

Not necessarily. Here’s why:

  1. Long-Standing Infections: Your partner might have contracted an STI before your relationship. Some STIs can lie dormant for years before showing symptoms or being detected.
  2. Incomplete Screening or False-Negatives: Not all STIs are included in standard tests, and some tests might miss early infections. False-negative results can occur during the incubation period, when the body hasn’t produced enough antibodies to detect the infection.
  3. Asymptomatic Infections: Many people with STIs, like herpes or chlamydia, show no symptoms but can still spread the infection. For example, up to 75% of women with chlamydia are asymptomatic.
  4. Treatment Failure: An old infection might not have been fully cleared, leading to reinfection. This is common with syphilis, which can progress through several stages if not completely treated.

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What STIs Are Not Spread By

It’s a myth that you can get STIs from toilet seats, hugging, handshaking, or non-sexual kissing. They also can’t be spread by mosquitoes, shared utensils, toothbrushes, or dental procedures. However, certain STIs like HPV and hepatitis B and C can be spread through contaminated surfaces, though this is rare.

In Summary

The best way to protect your sexual health is by practicing safe sex and getting tested when you start seeing a new partner. Use condoms and dental dams to reduce the risk of transmission. Vaccines are available for HPV and hepatitis B, and medications can help manage or prevent certain STIs like HIV.

Remember, if you or your partner test positive for an STI, it doesn’t always mean infidelity is involved. Testing can help clarify how and when the infection occurred.

Stay jiggy, safe and informed, and until next time, keep it real!

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