I haven't talked with my partner about it (other than a quick herpes check; we're both positive for oral) because he hasn't had any other sexual partners. We were each other's firsts, and he hadn't even French kissed anyone before we started going out. As far as I know that makes our chances of having some terrible STD slim to none.
I'm not saying that this is your situation, but my partner also told me he was a virgin. Turns out he said that just b/c that was what he thought I wanted to hear. I never asked about STDs b/c I didn't think it was an issue. Maybe I should have.
I don't really know how to bring it up. I'm not really confidant enough to bring it up, especially when it is with a good friend. Also, I definitely wouldn't know what to do it they *did* have an STI. I feel like we are taught about what to do if we get a symptom and told to use a condom, but what do you do if someone that you really want to have sex with does have an STI? I would assume that they would understand that situation a lot better (and should tell you), but that puts you in a situation of heavy reliance on your partner.
I so appreciate you adding these things, the latter of which I've never really thought about myself, having literally grown up in public health. We hope to soon get out a piece about having these conversations specifically, and I'll absolutely make sure we touch on the issues you brought up. Thanks!
Editor & Founder, Scarleteen: Sex Ed for the Real World
Author, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and Col
There's no need, we were both each other's first.
My reason is b/c ppl will tell you that they dnt have STD/STIs but either its a lie or they dnt really know if they do or dnt. They just wanna believe that they dnt.
I was inexperienced with relationships in general and sexual relationships in particular, and was a little uncomfortable phrasing the question. He picked up on this discomfort and broached the subject himself, assuring me that he had been tested, before we started having sex.
There have been partners I haven't asked because they were one-nighters, so using a condom was a given.
i was drunk. he was drunk. we weren't thinking straight about our risks. i don't recommend this. horrible sex. horrible feeling afterwards. reckless in all manners.
I never asked one previous partner, because I was afraid he would then ask me, and it made it angry to be reminded that I had previous partners. Double standards much?
Really, that sounds bad but their health choices are actually not my business. Since I would NEVER have sex without protection, and since someone having an STI would not necessarily change the likelihood that I would be with them, then it is kind of nosy to ask. Similarly, I think that it is rude to ask how many partners someone has had and if someone asked me that, I would end the relationship. It would imply either that they are judging how "slutty" i am (the answer is - very) or that they are judging whether they can have unprotected sex with me (the answer is - no)
And the listed fears are not necessarily unfounded, at least in terms of knee-jerk reactions. I've actually been really surprised at how resistant some of my partners have been to safer-sex practices like STI testing and condom use (especially since I'm male and my partners are female, meaning pregnancy is a risk from penis-in-vagina intercourse, which would have a much bigger impact on her than on me). A couple of times, women I've dated have responded to my insistence on condom use and (mutual) STI testing as a necessary step toward any condom-free penetrative sex as an 'accusation' that they're "dirty" or "sluts" (despite the fact that I do not see anything wrong with a woman liking and seeking out sex, having multiple concurrent sex partners - as long as she's being safe, and the same goes for men - or having contracted an STI).
That said, the potential for negative reactions or an awkward conversation are not good reasons to avoid discussing STI testing and actually getting regularly tested for STIs. I haven't had anyone break up with me over a discussion of STI testing; I've found that pointing out that one might have an STI and not even know about it (through no fault of one's own, if a previous partner lied or was similarly unaware of hir STI status, for example) is a good way to explain to a partner who reacts negatively to a discussion of STIs that I'm not blaming her or accusing her of anything. Contextualizing the discussion as concern for mutual safety (and reiterating that one trusts one's partner, but not necessarily all of one's partner's previous sex partners) can be a good tactic. Even if a partner does react badly, one or two upset, awkward conversations are a small price to pay for peace of mind and health.
Also, one can point a partner to Scarleteen if one needs a little professional backup in relating why the conversation is not an accusation and why STI testing is a good, safer-sex practice.
On an unrelated note, the glossary pop-up for "pregnancy" contains a typo.
Some of the reactions you described make me rather sad, but that aside, thank you for being so responsible, respectful and informed.
I thought that my partner had never engaged in partnered sex before me, and had a 0 risk of STI. By the time I knew otherwise, I had already engaged in sex with my partner, and had a clean STI test.
I had been experiencing a lot of pain during sex suddenly. And he was my first and only partner at the time. he had told me that an ex girlfriend of his had called him 2 yrs prior saying she had HPV...and he never got tested. I'll be honest. I did my research, the signs were pointing more towards Gonorrhea. His personality had changed after returning from a trip to New Orleans. So honestly at the time, I wasn't really surprised by the idea that he could have cheated. So I asked him if he was experiencing some strange symptoms, he said no. Anyway I asked my doctor to run a couple extra tests during my yearly exam, and she did! It was a horrific waiting game...but I turned out clean...long story short he had cheated on me...and don't ever be afraid to ask your partner. If they care enough about you they'll be upfront with you. I'll give him props. he was upfront...too little too late...oh and don't be stupid.
I haven't asked because I was his first partner for any sexual activity
Same here. He was also my first partner.
This is also the reason that I haven't asked--because my partner was a virgin when we had sex for the first time.
We were both virgins, so I wasn't worried about it.
STIs = sexually transmitted infections. Some folks call them STDs.
The one partner I didn't ask was a one-off sexual encounter, and we used barriers. If it were to be a regular/semi-regular thing, I would always ask.
Question: Do you advise that people always ask about testing history, even for one-night stands and the like?
That would be our best advice, yes. And in a lot of ways, it's actually way less loaded with casual partners, anyhow.
But asking is still important and can give you information you need in making your choice to sleep with that person. If condoms gave us 100% protection against STIs, it wouldn't really matter, but since they don't, whether someone gets tested or not can matter in sexual choices, especially if you're trying to stick only to partners where your risks are likely to be smallest.
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