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Getting tested

Talking to your partner about getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) could be the most important conversation you ever have.  

Why talk about testing?

Apart from not having sex, nothing offers 100% protection against all sexually transmitted infections, so the best way to be totally safe is for both partners to get tested.

Even if you're with someone for a while and have sex together regularly, eventually a condom may burst, a dental dam may slip, or something may get spilt. If you're with someone for a long time, you might want to change contraception or protection methods, or you might want to start a family. If so, you should both get a test

How to talk about testing

Starting a conversation about testing can be tricky. Here are a few things to keep in mind that should make things go easier:

  • Choose your moment − Unless your partner is insisting you do something that's not safe (like having unprotected sex), conversations about testing are best avoided when you're having or about to have sex. Choose a time when both of you are relaxed, clear-headed and not stressed out by other things. 
  • Don't beat about the bush − Being coy or dropping hints will just confuse things and could worry your partner. As a way of getting started, you could ask them if they've ever had a test before. 
  • Reassure them − The best way is probably just to say, gently and clearly, "I'd like us both to get tested for sexually transmitted infections". Your partner might think you suspect them of having an affair or that you've been unfaithful. If this isn’t the case, reassure them that you’re asking because their health, your health and your future together are important to you. 
  • Give them reasons − Let them know why getting tested is a good idea and what it will mean to you and your sex life together. If you have symptoms, you should tell your partner as soon as you can. 
  • Be prepared for surprises − In talking about testing for the first time, you might learn some things you didn't know about your partner and their sexual history. This can stir up all kinds of emotions. We all have histories and people do change. Remind yourself what it is you like and value about this person and try not to get distracted or upset about things that happened in the past. 

If you have symptoms

If you have symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection, you should speak to someone about getting tested. If you're with a long-term partner, this could be embarrassing for both of you, but don't jump to any conclusions, many STIs can go undetected for years. Just because you have symptoms doesn't mean either of you has been unfaithful, but you do both need to get tested.

Find out more about common STI symptoms – try our Symptom-o-tron


If you've had an affair and had an accident with a condom, or not practiced safer sex, you should get a test. Not only that, you need to tell your regular partner what's happened so they can get a test too.

We understand that this could spell the end of your relationship with them, but if they catch something nasty from you and it goes untreated, it could seriously damage their health and even shorten their life. 

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A fresh start

Find out why some couples opt to get tested for STIs.

Sources of help

More information on over-the-phone and online help.


Guidance on accessing contraception during coronavirus pandemic.