Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can both cause serious health problems, but only STDs always come with signs and symptoms. This means that it’s possible to have an STI and not know it. That’s why it’s vital to both use protection and get checked after each new sexual partner, even if you don’t notice any symptoms. It’s also why it’s necessary to make sure your partner/s get tested too.
There’s still a lot of stigma and misinformation around sexual health, and not everyone is comfortable talking openly about it. But while it’s not the easiest nor the sexiest conversation to have, it’s important to talk about getting tested before you do the deed.
Whether you’re about to engage in a casual hook-up or having sex for the first time with a potentially serious partner, it’s normal to feel nervous asking about someone’s testing status. But if you’re worried about “killing the mood” or appearing presumptuous, just remember: this is your health we’re talking about. Avoiding an awkward conversation is never as important as keeping yourself safe.
Since STIs aren’t transmitted every time you have sex, it’s possible to have sex with someone multiple times and not catch an STI from them until the nth time. So if you’ve already had sex with someone but neither of you has broached the subject, it’s still not too late to insist on getting tested before you do it again.
So, we all agree that asking your partner to get tested is important. But how do you do it? Here are some tips that might help you handle it:
It’s safest not to assume every partner will volunteer their sexual information unprompted. Be proactive! Even if you’re afraid of making them uneasy, talk about getting tested. Your wellbeing always trumps their discomfort.
In an ideal world, everyone is comfortable talking about sex. However, we know this unfortunately isn’t the case. So don’t be too surprised if you don’t immediately get a great reaction when you bring up STIs.
While initial reluctance can be expected, if they insist on changing the topic or that you should just “trust each other,” then you should be hearing alarm bells. Knowing your partner’s status before having sex should be non-negotiable. It’s simple: If your partner is being secretive about their status and you can’t convince them to open up and/or get tested, don’t have sex with them.
If they respond with disgust or harsh words, forget about them. You shouldn’t be involved with anyone who isn’t concerned about their or their partner/s’ sexual health. You deserve better than to be with someone like that (and you know it!).
There are plenty of clinics across the country where you can get tested for both STIs and HIV, specifically. Get in touch with the testing location nearest you and set an appointment to put your mind at ease before you have sex. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed, but it’s still the right decision to get tested because untreated infections have long-term effects on your health.
If you test positive, the next step is to get the proper, doctor-recommended treatment. You could have infected others unknowingly, so inform previous partners and so they can get tested too. And of course, make sure you don’t have sex until your doctor says you’re all clear.
Don’t ever downplay the importance of knowing your and your partner/s’ STI status. It’s crucial for everyone to take the necessary steps to protect their personal health.
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September 9, 2020