STI deal breakers

STI deal breakers

Relationships are complicated. Trying to decide if someone is really into you, if it’s serious enough to go on holiday together, or even just agreeing on what to have for dinner can be difficult. They can be even more complicated when an STI (sexually transmitted infection) is involved.

Not all relationships have to be that serious though. The number of “hookups” is also growing, and the popularity of app-based dating is changing the way people view relationships. The increase in sexual partners may be leading to the increase in STIs, but it may also be leading to a wider acceptance of them.

In 2015, there were about 435,000 diagnoses of STIs in England alone, and the numbers have grown exponentially over the last decade. It’s important to “have the talk” with your significant other, now more than ever, as increasing numbers of people are contracting STIs.

We surveyed nearly 1,700 people in the U.K. and the U.S. to determine which STIs they had and what role they played in their relationship decisions. Take a look below to find out what would send a partner packing and what the majority can get past.

Sexually transmitted deal breakers

Percentage of people who would break up due to an STI

When a significant other confesses an STI to you, it doesn’t just kill the mood – it might kill the relationship.

Almost 44 percent of those we surveyed said that they would break up with a partner who had previously contracted an STI. On the other hand, the good news is that more than half, roughly 56 percent, said they would stand by a partner with an STI.

As the number of STI diagnoses grows, the stigma around them seems to dissipate. More importantly, increased education around STIs and their treatment has changed the way we see certain diseases.

Are you positive?

Breakdown of people who have contracted an STI

Where sexually transmitted infections are concerned, age might be more than just a number. The largest demographic of people, who told us they’d contracted an STI at one point in their lives, were those between ages 45 to 59. Young people weren’t the only ones more likely to have an STI. Women in all age brackets also reported higher likelihoods than men of being STI positive. This is interesting, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that women do not contract STIs at higher rates for various disease categories.

How do people do it?

Types of sex people have, by gender

Not everyone is exclusive to standard intercourse these days. In fact, oral sex is now believed to be the primary way that people contract genital herpes. Because fewer people use condoms when participating in oral sex, it is much easier to transmit Chlamydia and gonorrhoea than you might think.

Nearly 30 percent of men and women surveyed also told us they participate in anal sex. While it is still possible to contract an STI through anal sex, not all infections contracted via anal sex can be detected by regular STI testing. STIs are also increasing in other groups. Between 2014 and 2015, rates of syphilis among men who had sex with men were up 18 percent, and rates of gonorrhoea were up 21 percent.

It's over

Which STIs would break up a relationship?

Not all perceptions around STIs are equal. The way men and women react to finding out that a partner has a sexually transmitted infection varies based on the severity and stigma of the disease.

By far, the disease that people were least likely to stay in a relationship with was HIV/AIDS. Over 70 percent of men said that they would end a relationship if they found out their partner had either. Women, too, were more likely to leave the relationship, but significantly less so. Just over 50 percent of women said they would leave a partner who had HIV or AIDS, which was slightly more than the number of women who would leave a partner infected with hepatitis or trichomonas.

Genital herpes also had a high rate of ending relationships. Over 45 percent of men and almost 43 percent of women said that herpes was a deal breaker for them. Despite ample treatment options and frequently mild symptoms, the negative stigma around herpes can be the end of a budding romance. Perhaps this is due to the general understanding that herpes is a lifelong ailment.

One of the most accepted STIs was Chlamydia, with over 80 percent of men and over 90 percent women saying they would stay in a relationship with someone who had the disease. Chlamydia also happens to be the most commonly diagnosed STI in the U.K.

More forgiving than others

Percentage of people who would break up a relationship if their partner had an STI

There are numerous factors that can cause a breakup in a relationship, and STIs are no exception.

We sorted our survey results by various demographics and averaged the breakups across three STIs: syphilis, gonorrhoea, and Chlamydia. Of those, we found that the highest breakup rates (nearly 47 percent) were with people who did not have an STI themselves. Fear of contracting the disease or lack of understanding the symptoms may contribute to this unwillingness to compromise.

Respondents in the U.K. were about 7 percent more likely to say goodbye to a partner with an STI than those in the U.S. The least likely demographic to leave a relationship were non-heterosexual partners. Those who already have had an STI themselves averaged roughly the same likelihood of breaking up as most other demographics, at just under 27 percent.


The rate of STIs is growing, and the number of people living with a sexually transmitted infection might be higher than you think. These infections can have a tremendous impact on not just your day-to-day life but on your relationships. Living with an STI can seem difficult, but with understanding and good treatment, it doesn’t have to be.

At we provide safe, regulated care from U.K. doctors and online prescriptions delivered discreetly by post. Whether you’re in the process of managing the symptoms from an STI or are interested in an STI test kit, is your online doctor for any sexual health needs. Our goal is to make treatment as accessible and convenient for you as possible. Visit us online to learn more.


We surveyed 1,693 people; 1,017 were from the United States and 676 were from the United Kingdom. The group included 775 women and 918 men.