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Talking About STDs With a New Partner

The start of a romantic relationship is one of the most exciting times for any couple. Who doesn’t remember feeling butterflies on a first date or sparks flying after a first kiss?

Romantic relationships often lead to sexual intercourse. If you and your partner are thinking about having sex, start by having an open and honest talk. This conversation could include whether you are currently undergoing any treatment for STDs (or STIs) as well as whether you’ve ever received treatment for one in the past.

In fact, even if you don’t think you have one, talking about STDs is important. You’re not only protecting you and your partner’s physical health, but you’re also respecting each other’s emotional health.

Questions to Ask Before Becoming Sexually Active

If you’re at the point of becoming sexually active with your partner, you should be able to talk openly and ask questions like:

  • When was your last STD test?
  • Do you currently or have you ever had an STD?
  • What safer sex measures do you typically practice?

You should also discuss your relationship status since having sex with multiple partners increases your risk of contracting an STD.

Offer to get STD testing together before you engage in any sexual activities. Then you can focus on having fun in the bedroom instead of worrying about becoming infected. If you do get tested, discuss your sexual history with your doctor so he or she can order the right STD tests for you.

Safer Sex Practices

STDs can pass from one person to another regardless of the type of sex you’re engaging in. Genital skin-to-skin contact or sharing of sexual fluids can also transmit STDs.

Healthcare professionals recommend using barriers for safer sex. For example:

  • Condoms
  • Internal condoms
  • Dental dams
  • Latex or nitrile gloves

Discuss using protection with your partner and decide which safer sex method best suits you both. And don’t wait to talk about safer sex until you’re about to get busy in the bedroom—it’s easy to make decisions you regret in the heat of the moment!

Over time, couples in long-term, monogamous relationships may decide to have sex without using barriers – especially if they plan to have children. But even if you commit to a monogamous relationship, you should still initially practice safer sex since some STD symptoms might not show up at first. Since some STDs don’t ever show symptoms, it’s actually possible to infect a partner without even knowing it.

Something’s Not Right…Is It an STD?

If you have a feeling something’s not right down there, examine yourself for any of the following common STD symptoms:

  • Abnormal penile or vaginal discharge
  • Genital warts or sores
  • Genital itching or redness
  • Painful or increased urination frequency
  • Abnormal vaginal odor
  • Anal itching, bleeding, or soreness
  • Mouth blisters or sores
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain

If you have STD symptoms, tell your partner and get tested. If your test comes back positive, immediately discuss the results with your partner. He or she should get tested, too, especially if you tested positive for a life-threatening STD such as HIV or hepatitis C.

You Test Positive—Is Your Partner Cheating?

If you test positive and you know you’ve been faithful to your partner, your first thought could be, “Is my partner cheating on me?!” But that might not be the case, so take a minute before you jump to conclusions.

Keep in mind that some STDs, such as HIV, herpes, and genital warts, might not show symptoms for years, if ever. You or your partner might’ve become infected in a previous relationship without knowing it.

Transmission of some STDs can occur in a non-sexual manner whenever there is contact between broken skin and infected blood. For example, HIV and hepatitis C can spread from contaminated needles, and unsterilized tattoo equipment.

If you do test positive for an STD, tell your partner right away. If you and your partner previously decided to be monogamous, it’s important to discuss infidelity, even if the conversation is difficult. Partners may come and go, but maintaining your health should always be a priority.

STD Tests: How Often and for What?

You might think your doctor is checking you for STDs at each visit, but unless he or she specifically discusses sex and STD testing, you may not be getting tested at your routine medical appointments. At a minimum, the following STD tests should be performed:

  • All sexually active adults and adolescents between the ages of 13–64 should have HIV testing at least once a year.
  • Sexually active men younger than age 29 should have syphilis testing yearly.
  • Pregnant women should have HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C testing early in their pregnancy.
  • Sexually active women younger than age 25 should have yearly testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
  • Sexually active men who have sex with other men should have at least yearly testing for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
  • Anyone who regularly engages in oral or anal sex should discuss throat and rectal testing options with their primary care physician.

Additionally, vaccines are available for HPV, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B. Discuss with your primary care physician if you should be vaccinated against these STDs.

If you have any STD symptoms, it’s important to get tested immediately—don’t wait for your next annual medical appointment.

Sex should be a positive experience, and you share a responsibility to protect your and your partner’s health. If you’re about to start an intimate relationship with a new partner, get STD testing at your local vybe urgent care.