I recently received this question from one of my clients:
“Hey there! You have taught me a lot about having certain conversations in an open and honest way that I was previously very anxious about. So thank you so much for that! I was wondering if you could give me advice on how to have an honest conversation regarding STI/STD testing, and flow into said conversation in an organic manner, without making it sound abrupt or turning it into a ‘mood killer’. Any help would be much appreciated.”
Talking about sexual health with each new lover is extremely important and no sexual contact should be initiated without it.
The possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted disease is very real and should be treated as such.
But the truth is that many people neglect to have that conversation. Initiating physical intimacy without addressing the sexual health concerns first seems easier and even more romantic. After all, who wants to kill the mood by talking about STDs! But make no mistake – having sex with an infected person could potentially cost you much more than just physical discomfort or an awkward visit to a GP.
So why do we stray away from talking about sexual health? Mostly, because we’re not sure how to have that chat. Secondly, because we feel embarrassed about it. Nobody prepares us for this kind of communication and the taboo and stigma that surrounds sex is much, much stronger around sexually transmitted infections.
But breaking the cycle of shame and discomfort around sexual health is not hard.
Firstly, big part of addressing it, is around checking your own attitude about it. If you approach the topic with shame and awkwardness, that kind of energy is going to leak into your discussion with a new lover. So wandering into the world of sexual health conversations needs to be done with an open and confident attitude.
I once heard a sexual educator share during a workshop that he had genital herpies virus in his system. As he expressed it, there was not a trace of contraction or shame in his voice or body. His face remained peaceful, his eyes still, his body relaxed. He looked at us all with confidence and kept going with his talk.
I must say – I was impressed!
Do you think that anybody judged him for his confession? No! Not a person in the room felt uncomfortable or put off by his words.
And that’s very important to remember – your own energy around the topic will set the tone for the chat with your new partner. If you approach the conversation with confidence and a relaxed attitude, they’re very likely to follow your lead. And if you speak your words with embarrassment, they’re likely to feel uncomfortable as well.
But the truth is that STDs are a part of life and are more common than you might think. In many cases, it’s also very difficult to protect yourself from them as condoms aren’t always 100% reliable. Being aware of the state of your own sexual health is crucial and regular checks allow you to address any issues early.
So once you’re clear on your own sexual health situation, it’s important to check in with your new lover. And I would definitely have that conversation BEFORE you actually move into the bedroom. Whenever it’s becoming obvious that both of you are intending to get intimate, it’s important to first sit down together and ask a few questions.
And in terms of an actual structure of the conversation, here’s a template you can use:
“If that’s ok with you, I’d really like to have a sexual health conversation with you.
My situation is… (disclose the current state of your sexual health).
My last sexual health check was…
And for protection, I would like us to use…”
Next invite your lover to share the same.
Remember – there’s no humiliation in catching an STD. And the medicine advances mean that many of them are 100% treatable. But the most scary and painful of them all is shame itself. So let it go and take care of your health in the bedroom!
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