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Guest post by Arielle Kaplan, tabú.
There’s only one thing hotter than consensual sex — safe sex. But how do you slyly ask the person you brought home if they have any sexually transmitted infections without breaking the mood? “Got herpes?” doesn’t sound sexy at all, but waking up with an outbreak on your genitals is even more of a buzzkill.
Sure, using a condom the first time you sleep with someone is a great way to protect yourself without a sexual history interrogation. When both you and your partner are free of STI risks, enjoying each other’s bodies enters a new level. Surprisingly, research from the Kinsey Institute’s Condom Use Research Team found that nearly 35 percent of heterosexual couples use condoms to increase pleasure. When the threat of pregnancy and diseases is eliminated, they feel more relaxed and expressive in bed.
But not everyone uses condoms to protect themselves against STIs, and even when they are used, they don’t always work. Around 30 percent of men and women apply them incorrectly, which can lead to loss of erection, the heat of the moment and most importantly, its effectiveness, according to KI-CURT Research.
The best way to avoid STIs is to straight up ask the person you’re about to have sex with if they’ve been tested recently. But how do you do that without coming off as a jerk? The question is meant to protect both partners, but sometimes it can be interpreted as judgmental. Here are some tips on how to communicate with your partner about getting tested without rocking the boat.
1. Be transparent about your sexual history.
Before popping the question, gain your partner’s trust by being open about your past sexual experiences. By age 25, half of sexually active adults will have contracted an STI, according to the CDC. Considering that statistic, it’s likely that one of you has had a disease, and by being open with your partner you can create a safe space for them to be honest about their experiences. Initiate the conversation so your partner feels comfortable and inclined to share.
2. Tell them it’s procedural.
Once you’ve shared your sexual histories, explain to your partner that getting tested is something you do with everyone before hopping in the sack. It’s not that you think they’re sleeping around or that they’re “dirty,” it’s just something that all mature adults do. STI symptoms don’t always show up, and when left untreated they can lead to pelvic inflammatory diseases in women and infertility in both men and women. Better to be safe than sorry because you wanted to avoid potentially upsetting your partner.
3. Get tested first.
Asking someone to get tested can lead to hurt feelings. If your partner sees that you’ve already been tested recently, it’ll show them that you’re serious about not just protecting yourself, but them as well.
4. Make it a shared experience.
Offer to go with your partner if they’re hesitant about getting tested. Skip the picnic at the park and take your date to the health clinic! Celebrate with a romantic evening and use a condom for good measure until you get the test results.
5. Stand your ground.
If your partner refuses to get tested, ditch them. When they don’t make an effort to protect themselves, it illustrates a disregard for not only themselves but for everyone they sleep with. That’s not someone you want to be intimate with.
Whether it’s a new hookup, an old booty call or your long term partner, asking someone to get tested always seems daunting. But once you pop the question, you might be surprised that your partner is on the same page — they just needed you to start the conversation.