STDs and Other Uglies

When to bring up that 'touchy' subject of STDs with a prospective sexual partner.

Betty Blogger

STDs and Other Uglies

When to bring up that ‘touchy’ subject with a prospective sexual partner

-Heidi Isern

a condom in jeansIn every type of relationship, whether casual or serious there comes the time to have “The Talk.” And no it’s not about marriage or “how do I love thee, let me count the ways …” It’s more like, “So, how clean are your nether regions?”

There never seems to be a good time to have this discussion. Some opt to have it out over dinner somewhere between the oyster and the cheese course. “Please pass the lemon wedge. Oh, by the way, I was wondering if you have any ‘conditions’ I should be aware of? You know, like hay fever, the haunta virus, or ummm … herpes?”

Others can’t seem to bring it up until in the heat of the moment. As the clothes come flying off and the search for the elusive condom begins, someone mumbles, “Ummm … just so you know I just passed the super invasive Navy Seals STD exam.”

After all, even condoms are only 90 percent effective.

And sadly, many sexual partners are not prompted to have this conversation until after a ‘slip’ occurs. The widespread use of birth control has somewhat reduced the urgency for our dear latex friends. We want to blindly trust our partners and thus STDs are too often an afterthought. A very scary afterthought. Many men and women wait until they are in a state of HIV panic before the conversation is forced upon them. Why is this? Why is taking off our clothes so easy and talking about the necessary safety so discouraging?

In a very non-scientific poll taken during a street festival in San Francisco I learned that many women and men alike are afraid to enter the conversation, feeling that it indicates one of the following:

-Implies a level of monogamous commitment they are not ready for.

-Makes them think about things they would rather not (apparently knocking on wood is the preferred approach).

-It’s pointless. We can all use condoms forever. Until they break.

-It’s too awkward to bring up until they have a good reason.

Hello? Isn’t feeling worry-free reason enough? Isn’t the idea of frolicking safely across the bedroom furniture unconstrained enough grounds to make us all talk about safe sex immediately?

So thinks my dear friend Sam. He was visiting from NYC when I was conducting my “very non-scientific” poll. He definitely seemed more progressive than his west coast counterparts: “In New York everyone seems to be casual and STDs can run rampant if you are not careful. Thus, I have no issue bringing up the topic early in a relationship while we are still mostly clothed. Why wait? We are adults. We all know we will want to get bare butt-naked eventually. Regardless of what the answer is, I want to know about it, prepare myself for it, and ensure we are safe from the moment the passion heats up.”

Although going to a free testing clinic on a first date may be a bit early, I do urge everyone to talk about it before the bedroom antics go into high gear. Slip-ups DO happen. And according to one urban legend, you can even pick up a disease from dry humping these days.

Read Heidi’s last blog: Tricky Underwear

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0 thoughts on “STDs and Other Uglies

  1. Ya know, my mom taught me all about this when I was 9 years old. When I turned about 13, I was enrolled in a program called Our Whole Lives. It was really insightful and I feel as though I almost have a professional knowledge.

  2. I made my boyfriend (at the time) go to the clinic and get tested for everything under the sun before I would so much as consider to fuck him.

    I did NOT however get tested myself, because I was a virgin…in every sense of the word.

    However in hindsight, he had no way of actually KNOWING that, and years later it occurred to me that it would have shown trust on my part too to get tested, even though there was no way I had anything.

    And now, being poly, with two spouses (including said husband) and two lovers on the side, being tested on a regular basis is something I insist upon.

    Apparently I’m worth it, cause no one even tries to fight me on the matter.

  3. I’m more of a rip the band aid, don’t tip your toe in the pool kind of girl. Just get it over with. It’s a delicate subject, but knowing you’re safe is worth all the temporary pain (and whatever embarrassment you may feel).

  4. This article was very refreshing to read. You watch older movies from the 90’s and STD’s are always brought up, but today it seems like people care less. My friends always laugh at me for still worrying so it was nice to find out I’m not alone in worrying.

    And I have to wonder if the HPV shot has made some women worry less. What do you think?

  5. I think the “talk” is less entered into because somehow the thought that HIV is somehow gone away is a strong thought! I agree, hipstergal23, the HPV vaccination has really made some young women think that they are “immune” to STD’s, so why use a condom?

    I was a college student(the first time!) in the 90’s, and ran workshops on STD awareness/safer sex practices on my college campus as a part of my major (psychology) as well as having a strong sense of community service(we also provided workshops for homeless women and men, and high school students). The ignorance of condoms by some was not shocking to me, and even I was a bit sheltered coming from a Catholic school environment(talks about birth control were sketchy, and oriented towards being in a marriage relationship). I agree, the “talk” should be had when there is a chance there will be sex, and it doesn’t mean possible monogamy, it means “I want to be alive and disease free”! Yep, I’m an East Coast chica!

  6. I remember having this mortifying conversation with my mom LONG before I ever even thought about having sex. Though embarassing, the message sunk in and I have always been very aware and safe about things. Just be clear and consice and get it over with! It’s really important to teach children the dangers outside of pregnancy that come with engaging in sexual intercourse.

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