Common STIs affect millions of Americans – and spread to countless others each year – which means that one of the crucial parts of getting down and dirty is having an earnest discussion about sexual health. This may not be the easiest topic to broach, but everyone will be glad they did.
The real issue is figuring out how to start the discussion. Etiquette expert Didi Lorillard recently wrote in GoLocalProv.com that couples should skip shying away from the subject and be straightforward.
“Ask them: Have you ever dated anyone who has had an STI? Then tell your status,” she writes. “In the heat of the night, it might sound like an instant mood breaker, which is why you would discuss your sexual history before the night gets too hot.”
She adds that, if partners are close enough to have sex in the first place, they should at least be close enough to talk about STIs as well. Of course, keep in mind that many conditions – such as chlamydia and gonorrhea – are often asymptomatic, so the only way to know for certain that you’re not infected is to get checked out.
Testing isn’t exactly difficult. There are clinics across the country that offer the service for an affordable price and will conduct them anonymously. The Planned Parenthood website offers resources for people who are looking for an easy and safe way to get tested and can help direct them to experienced healthcare professionals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend knowing how to use a condom before sex, because these contraceptives have been proven to significantly reduce the risk of STIs and pregnancy. Be sure to use a new one each time before engaging in intercourse. For the best protection, keep condoms on during the whole session of sexual activity.