It is important to tell your sexual partner if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) so that they can get tested and treated too.
Why do I need to tell my partner(s) if I have an STI?
STIs do not always cause symptoms and your partner/ex-partners may not know they have an infection. This means that they might give the infection back to you or spread it to others.
Some STIs can cause very serious health problems such as infertility if left untreated, so it is fair that your partners are informed for their health.
Who do I need to contact?
You should inform anyone you have had sexual contact with (including oral, vaginal or anal sex) in the last three months (or as advised by your doctor or nurse).
When should I contact them?
Let previous sexual partners know you have an STI as soon as possible after finding out.
What is the best way to tell them?
Most people find it hard to talk to partners about this but it is very important. Sexual health clinic staff can help you plan how you might tell a partner.
There are many ways of telling partners:
- On the telephone,
- Text message,
- Give them a partner notification card (ask your doctor or nurse)
If you prefer, the clinic can do it for you. This is called partner notification: the clinic won't give your name, but will say they believe the person should go for testing and treatment.
Things to think about when deciding how to tell your partner(s)
- Consider how safe it is for you to tell you partner(s). If you have any concerns, please discuss this with your doctor or nurse. You can also read our section on unhappy or unhealthy relationships or specialised help and support.
- What contact details do you have for your sexual partner(s)? In some cases, you might not have all of their personal details, but it is really important to let them know. You can try to send them a message through a mutual friend or on social media asking them to contact you.
- Think about how you would like to be told yourself. Although it isn’t the best news to get, people would rather know that they may have an STI and have the opportunity to treat it quickly.
- Many people prefer to discuss it face to face and find they have a positive response from their partner(s).
- STIs are usually easy to test for and treat.
- Most STIs are passed on by people who don’t know they have one, as they often don’t have any signs or symptoms.
- Just because you were tested first doesn’t mean that you had the infection first.
- Make sure you have the correct information to answer any questions and correct any myths about the STI. You can download a PDF of Just The Facts for each STI on the Sexually Transmitted Infections section of our website.
- If you use a condom every time you have sex, you are much less likely to get an STI.