When exploring a new relationship you will reach a point where you want to get physical and intimate. It would be a good idea to get the lowdown on your soon-to-be lover’s previous sexual history before you get to know each other more.
Anyone who wants to enjoy sex safely needs to understand how important it is to be safe and get tested. Particularly when they suspect they might have an STD. To preserve your sexual health, find a way to ask some key questions before taking your relationship to the next level.
It’s good to talk
As a relationship develops, you’ll both open up more as you share your thoughts and interests together. This should include sharing intimate details about each other. It can feel awkward exchanging this information at such an early stage, but it is important that you overcome this hesitancy.
A good starting point would be to talk about safe sex and see how you both feel about using condoms. See how comfortable you both are about using condoms. Have you both used them all the time during sex? Are there are any issues with latex?
The way you both respond to these kind of questions will often help show the direction the rest of the conversation should go.
If your partner dismisses the idea of using a condom for instance, or doesn’t seem to care much either way, you should be alarmed. It is definitely a cue for having a more frank discussion about their sexual history.
How exclusive is the relationship?
It is never going to be that easy to ask personal and intimate questions. Particularly when they’re about sexual health and contraceptive preferences. Even more so when you are both still getting to know each other. Yet, it’s better to have that conversation than to contend with an unwanted pregnancy or an unwelcome STD.
If you have any suspicions that your relationship might not be as exclusive as you would like it to be, you need to address that anxiety. Try to establish whether your partner is sleeping with anyone else right now.
It would be preferable to prevent any misunderstandings or hurt feelings later on. Get some clarity on the situation. This gives you both the opportunity to make informed decisions about whether the situation is one you want to get into or not.
Ask the HIV question
Modern relationships and attitudes have definitely made it easier to talk about sexual health. This means that you should not feel that awkward about asking whether your sexual partner has been tested for HIV recently.
It is never a good idea to make assumptions based on weak information when it comes to something as vital as exposure to HIV. It is your body that could become exposed to an unacceptable risk. Ask for details and don’t worry about asking all the right questions. It demonstrates that you are responsible when it comes to sexual health.
Your partner should be OK with this and may even be relieved to get the information exchange out of the way.
Need to know
You also need to know where you both stand in relation to STDs and your respective sexual history.
You may not want to share intimate stories of past relationships so early on. But it is certainly relevant to ask whether there has been an encounter with an STD in the past or more recently. There is no need to divulge names and circumstances. This kind of questioning requires simple yes or no answers.
If your partner is reluctant to talk about the subject or offers some vague assurances about being clean, this is a red flag. Approach the prospect of having sex with them with a greater level of caution. Has your partner ever tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease? If the answer is yes, you will want to know how and when they were treated. You will also want to know if the treatment was successful. Is the disease still dormant in their body? Is it still transmittable? Will you need to take any extra precautions during sex?
Of course, you also need to be prepared to share your own information at this point.
Get to know each other
Asking these questions will not only settle your mind about your partner’s sexual past. It can also open you up to exploring each other’s sexual preferences more intimately. Find out about your sexual preferences. Find out what makes either of you uncomfortable. Take the opportunity to make sex together as pleasurable as possible.
Ben Sanderson is a community health worker who writes articles for an online audience about routine health screenings that many people are curious about.