Problems tackled: 43,481

DocSpot: He may not tell you he has an STI

Dear Dr Margaret
I think I have a sexual infection but I don’t know how I got it. I haven’t been with anyone except my boyfriend and I know if he had something he would have told me. I am 17 years of age.

First of all you need to find out whether you really do have a sexually-transmitted infection. There might be other reasons for your problem. For example, itching or soreness of the vagina is often due to thrush, which is not sexually transmitted. Or it could be caused by scented bubble bath or soap. Don’t just worry about the problem: see your doctor or go to a genitourinary medicine clinic for tests so that you know what the real situation is.
Don’t depend on your boyfriend telling you if he had an infection. He may not. Earlier this year researchers in France asked over 6000 teenagers the following questions: “The last time you had a sexually transmitted infection, did you talk about it to the partner you had at the time? Did you talk about it to previous partners? Did you not inform any of your partners?”. Over half (51%) of the teenage males who had a sexual infection said they had not told their partner. Telling a partner about a sexual infection is tough, so its not surprising that they chickened out. But the researchers discovered that the teenage females were perhaps braver or more responsible – only 9% said they had not told their partner about an infection.
The researchers also carried out a survey of adults; 14% of men with a sexually transmitted infection had not informed their main partner, but only 2% of women had kept quiet about their infection.
There are two obvious messages for everyone from this research. First, people should protect themselves against sexual infections by using condoms, because their partners may not inform them. This is particularly important for women, because men are less likely to tell, and sexual infections in women can have serious consequences such as infertility. Secondly, if your partner does tell you about a sexual infection, recognize that he or she has done the correct thing even though it might have been difficult. You can then go to a clinic for tests and treatment. And, of course, if you are treated you will not pass it back to your partner.
Source: This research was published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections 2002; 78: 45–9.

Last updated; Sunday, August 30th 2020

Tell us your thoughts

Did you find what you were looking for?

Add a comment

Please note we cannot answer your questions directly. If you are concerned, please talk to your doctor.

Share your stories, tips and solutions here to help others tackle it, move on. As all comments are moderated, there will be a delay before your comment appears.

Discussion content reflects the view of individual participants only. Health Press Limited bear no responsibility for accuracy of participant comments and will bear no legal liability for discussion results. Comments will be moderated before posting and Health Press Limited reserves the right to delete any material. See About our site for our moderation policy


View what people have said about DocSpot: He may not tell you he has an STI

Latest updates

Dr Phil's latest video
20th September

Anal itching (itchy bottom);
1st August

Nail biting;
23rd April

Nail problems;
23rd April

Varicose veins;
19th April

29th January

embarrassing problems