So, uh, Got Any STDs I Should Know About?
Originally published on SexReally.com on December 1, 2009.
Ever been really nervous about asking someone about their sexual history and STIs, then ended up having a beautiful, completely unawkward conversation? Maybe not. And that’s okay. I’d wager that for many of us there are few, if any, ideal moments to bring up contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs, more commonly known as STDs), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be done. Furthermore, no matter how sweet, open, and honest your partner is, you should never assume that s/he will volunteer information about sexual history or STIs, even if there’s something you should know about.
Wondering what you need to know? Health.com has a pretty thorough list of “10 Questions to Ask a New Partner Before Having Sex” to get you started. I confess reading this list got me thinking about how exactly one should go about broaching these important but awkward topics.
I humbly submit a few thoughts on the matter:
- You might not want to ask these questions on a first date, but they can be something to tackle incrementally over time, starting when you’re first getting to know someone and continuing as you get more involved. Many sex educators advise parents to start talking to their children about sex and relationships—in an age-appropriate way—from a young age and continue till adulthood. Of course the timeline may be different for a romantic relationship, but the idea of establishing trust and ongoing communication early on certainly applies.
- If you go the one-formal-conversation route, it’s probably best to do it somewhere relatively comfortable and private and not in the heat of the moment. (EHow backs me up on this one).
- If you wait till the heat of the moment, be prepared to stop what you’re doing.
- On a related note, as Dr. Elizabeth Boskey notes in an excellent post about negotiating safer sex, “when you sit down to talk to your partner before the first time you have sex, know that their answers could lead to you deciding not to have sex with that person—that night, that month, or ever.”
- That said, Sylvia Mayorga of Sex, Etc ventures that “chances are that if you are honest with your partner, he or she will appreciate your truthfulness. That kind of honesty might even strengthen the emotional bond between you.”
Have you ever talked STIs and contraception with a new partner? How did you (or your partner) bring up the topic? How’d the conversation go?
Liz Sabatiuk is Social Media Manager for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. When she’s not blogging about birth control and relationships, she dances and teaches Argentine tango and spends a little too much time on Facebook.