STDs Aren't Always a Sign of Infidelity

Either of you could have been infected before the relationship

Baby, Don't Be Sad!
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It's always stressful to discover that you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD). However, finding out that you have an STD when you're married or in a long-term, committed relationship can be particularly devastating.

You not only have to deal with the diagnosis, you also have to face the reality that your wife, husband, or partner could be having an affair. It is common to have worries about the consequences of infidelity.

However, an STD diagnosis doesn't necessarily mean your spouse or partner has strayed.

A Logical First Step

You should first ask yourself if you've been reliable about your STD screening and have spoken with your partner about testing. If not, it can be difficult to know who infected you with an STD or when it happened. It can even be unclear when you have undergone regular STD screening.

If you were infected while having sex with a partner who had not been tested in years, you don't know when he or she was infected. There is always the possibility that they were infected asymptomatically a long time before you got together and they just didn't know it.

Even when you are having sex with someone who is infected with an STD, you won't necessarily get infected the first time you sleep together. An infection could take months or even years. This is particularly true if you intermittently practice safe sex.

A Delayed Outbreak

This issue often comes up when a person has their first herpes outbreak years into a marriage. Their first assumption is usually that they have a cheating spouse. That may be true. It's also possible that they had been infected for years but didn't realize it.

It is not uncommon for people not to know they're infected until something changes in their body.

It is only when they have their first noticeable symptoms that it becomes known and this could be years later.

Similar things may happen when a married woman is diagnosed with a pelvic inflammatory disease, which is associated with common infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea. A woman may think that her husband must have gotten it from "the other woman." However, unless she was properly screened, it is possible that she had been carrying around an infection from before they even met.

It's Time to Get Tested

So what should you do if you find out that you have an STD while in a long-term relationship with a committed partner? The first and most important thing is to ask your partner to get tested. This will allow both of you to find treatment.

Then, if your partner is also infected with the same STD—and therefore a possible source—you need to sit down and talk.

The truth is that unless both of you were tested before you had sex, it may be difficult to know who was infected first. It may be impossible to determine when that infection happened. Although most of the time the presence of symptoms points to a relatively recent infection, there are exceptions to this.

There Was No Affair

What should you do if your partner insists that he or she didn't have affair and that there was no other lover?

The only option you really have is to trust your heart and instincts. You are the one who needs to decide how you want to move forward into the future.

Safe Sex in a Long-Term Relationship

Keep in mind that there are ways to protect yourself if you want to stay with your partner but don't completely trust them. Safe sex is always an option and it's not a bad idea in any case. Condoms may not be infallible, but using them can give you some peace of mind.

There is sometimes a perception in American culture that condoms are something you "get past" once your relationship progresses to a certain point.

However, there's actually no reason for that to be true.

Many married couples use condoms for the life of their marriage. They use them for both contraception and disease protection. They do not think about them as something that they'll eventually get to disregard. Unless you make it so, most of the time condom use just isn't that big of a deal.

A Word From Verywell

When you find yourself with an STD in a long-term relationship, the news can indeed be troubling. The most important things to remember are that you both should be tested and that you need to have an honest conversation with your partner.

Jumping to conclusions will not solve the problem. Try to keep in mind that you don't know who was infected first and when, especially if you've not been tested regularly. While others can offer advice, it is ultimately your decision about where your relationship goes from here.

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