Healthy Women – Good Sex With Emily Jamea: How to Tell Your Partner About an STI

Good Sex With Emily Jamea: How to Tell Your Partner About an STI

April is STD Awareness Month.*

At any given time, one in five Americans has a sexually transmitted infection (STI). That means there’s a good chance that at least one person in line with you for morning coffee has been there. 

Even though STIs are very common, having one still carries a lot of shame and stigma. Unfortunately, that stigma is partially what contributes to the spread. People are scared to disclose they have an STI because they’re afraid of being judged.

That was the case for my client, Alyssa. I’d been working with her for about six months. She had gotten a divorce the year before and had started therapy to get help navigating the dating world, which had changed significantly in the 20 years she’d been married. She’d experienced a few ups and downs while dating but was mostly having a grand ole time sewing her wild oats. She’d married and had children very young and had no sexual experience prior to her husband. 

She usually came to therapy with a big grin on her face and a hot story to tell, but I could tell something was different the moment she stepped into my office that April morning. Her eyes were wide, and she looked pale. She’d seemed smitten over a guy named Darren she’d gone out with for a few weeks, so my first assumption was that he’d ghosted her or she’d found out he was married.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“I’m mortified,” she started. “Look.” She handed me a slip of paper. It was lab results from a recent blood test.


There was a note from her doctor at the bottom indicating that medication had been called into her pharmacy and advising her to notify any recent partners, since the onset of symptoms can be delayed from the time of exposure, and to refrain from sexual activity for a full seven days after taking her medication.

“Okay, take a deep breath,” I told her. “You’ve got this.”

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