In today’s world of dating with Tinder, casual sex, and “friends with benefits” arrangements, it can be tough to bring up the “have you been tested?” and “will you get tested?” conversations. The rate of STIs, sexually transmitted infections, has been steadily increasing in recent years. This is probably due to the fact that people avoid the topic, and dread the situations these conversations lead to. Two of the best ways to prevent STIs are to use protection and to get tested. Most people with STIs are unaware of their status because some diseases display no symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that there were more than 20 million new STIs contracted in the U.S. in 2016. Currently, there is a record-high number of new infections for the three STIs the CDC tracks at the national level: chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Do not simply take the person’s word for it. Have the talk, and get tested. But how do you lessen the awkwardness these situations bring?
Talk Before Sex
Never wait until things are hot and heavy to ask when the last time a person was tested, or if they would mind getting tested for STIs. If it is a one-night stand situation, then make sure you use protection, and operate under the assumption that they might have an STI. But if this is a partner you intend on having sex with regularly, or do not intend on using protection, then the talk should happen before sex. If you are seeing someone and have been having safe sex regularly, and decide you do not want to use protection anymore, get tested beforehand.
The talk can be a little awkward, but do not beat around the bush. Be direct and straightforward. This kind of conversation should be taken seriously, not through a cute text, or with sarcasm. You can start off by saying, “I got tested last month, and I didn’t have anything. How about you?” Or, “Let’s get tested together to be safe.” Or you can say, “I care about you and think that this is important.”
Share Your Results Or Last Time Testing
An easy way to begin the conversation about testing is by bringing up the last time you were tested, followed by your results. If you share your results, with your partner, whether positive or negative, it will get the conversation going. You can then ask about the last time they were tested and if they ever had any STIs.
If You Have An STI, Talk About It
Be honest about having an STI currently or in the past. This will not only build trust with your partner, but it will give them space to be honest. It is not an easy thing to admit or talk about; it is actually quite embarrassing. Nevertheless, we must start talking. The more you open up about it, the more knowledgeable you will be about the different STIs. Most STIs are treated with medication, so finding out sooner may save you from later discomfort.
Some STIs can cause infertility, like chlamydia if gone unchecked for too long. Chlamydia rarely shows any symptoms, so you can have it for a long time (and spread it) before knowing you have it. The same goes for HPV. Men are just carriers of HPV, but it affects women and can cause infertility amongst other issues. Be understanding if your partner opens up to you about a current STI or past ones. Show compassion, and do not make it about how it affects you. If not, this will close off the person from telling you, wanting to get tested, or sharing the results with you. Be open-minded and direct. Nothing is sexier than that!