For those who have a sexually transmitted disease, it can be debilitating when it comes to everyday activities, making sure treatment is top-of-mind to help alleviate any flareups. However, when dating with STDs, it can be even more difficult of a proposition, unsure of how to communicate the topic with a sexual partner.

We’ve all been told about safe sex practices since middle school, with teachers and sex professionals stressing the importance of protection when casually sleeping around. Unfortunately, even some of the most responsible people can experience an STD, forced to deal with some sort of health issue that, hopefully, doesn’t stick around forever.

For the people who are dating with STDs, we have some info to help you bring the topic up to those whom you’re, presumably, sleeping around with. Remember, just because you have an STD doesn’t mean you still can’t be yourself, it just takes a little more safety and communication.

First and foremost: Be safe

This should be the most obvious thing when it comes to dating with an STD, because, whether you want to admit it or not, you (probably) got yourself in this situation because you ignored practicing safe sex in the past — if even just once. Just because you or a partner has an STD doesn’t mean you can’t have sex, but it does become even more critical to be safer than the average Joe when having it. The last thing you want to do is pass along an STD to someone else.

Communicate the issue with your partner

This isn’t a secret that you should be keeping from the person you’re sleeping with, guys, so open up and tell your significant other about the limitations or steps you need to take in order for you both to stay safe. This doesn’t mean waiting till after you’ve fooled around a few times, either. This means you reveal the STD early on in the relationship, allowing your partner to decide how to proceed accordingly. Fair or not, some people don’t want to date someone with an STD, so it’s best to know as early as possible, rather than risk anything during sexual activity.

How to deal with a partner telling you she’s dating with an STD

Just as you’d be hurt if you reacted negatively to telling someone else you’re dating about an STD you have, it’s important to be sensitive when accepting the news about a partner having one as well. That doesn’t mean you should change your stance on things and how you want to handle any relationship moving forward, but you shouldn’t be crude, judgmental or show disgust. Again, it’s important to be extra communicative when it comes to dating with STDs, and you should be sincere in asking the important questions — like if it’s curable, how long they’ve had it, how often flareups occur, any limitations the two of you might have sexually and what it means for your relationship moving forward. These conversations aren’t fun, but they are important.

How to have sex with an STD

Condoms and other forms of protection are the most obvious answer, which will create some sort of boundary from fluids being mixed together or transmitted from one person to another. However, being smart about how to use a condom is important to understand, too. For instance, did you know that using lube with a condom is actually safer? That’s because it prevents friction, which decreases the odds one will either break or slip off. Having sex with an STD can limit certain things — like oral sex — but vaginal penetration and other forms of stimulation are still OK, just as long as you know your boundaries and playing things safe.