POPSUGAR Australia has partnered with Queensland Health to make sure you're getting STI tests regularly.
Few things in life are as blissful as the honeymoon phase of a new relationship. It's a magical time where you're still applying highlighter for date night and you still think all of their jokes are hilarious. Your fresh lover is still a perfect, faultless, mystical being.
Unfortunately though, part of that mystery could also be their sexual history. You may know exactly which teen movie sparked their sexual awakening, however, you may not know whether they've had a previous experience with an STI. But the truth is, STI cases are on the rise, which is hardly surprising since high school sex education was, in short, abysmal.
And unless you're a special breed of bold and can bring up topics like this without batting an eye, it's highly likely you're dancing around asking whether your new boo has had an STI check recently. So, here's how to bring up the topic without totally killing the vibe.
Get Your Own STI Status Checked First
It's a good idea to ensure you're in the clear yourself before you start to question whether your new partner has had a clinical check-up. If you've experienced any STI symptoms at all, like genital blisters, pain during sex, or pain while passing urine, we'd recommend booking in to see your doctor or visiting a sexual health clinic ASAP.
However, it's important to know that you can also have an STI without experiencing any of the symptoms. That's why we suggest you get tested at least once a year, regardless of whether you do or do not feel anything funky going on down there. If you're not sure whether you need a test, Queensland Health has a list of every scenario when you should. Once you're checked, and overcome the stress of your own situation, it might feel easier to bring up in conversation, and lead to a healthier future for you and your new date.
Timing Is Key
The "meet the parents" dinner, a loud bar, or hanging with the friends for the first time may not be environments where you'll get an open and honest response from your partner on whether they've had a recent STI check. If your Sunday arvo chill-out sesh is when your chats go deeper, that could be a good time to bring up getting a test in the near future.
Basically, alleviate any whiff of awkwardness you can prior to having the chat to make it easier on yourself. If you're looking for a way to break the ice and really open up the topic of STIs, it could be a good time to whip out your best dirty joke and take it from there.
Get a Helping Hand From Pop Culture
Having learnt everything we know about early adulthood from Beverly Hills: 90210, we can assure you TV (or film) is a solid option for broaching a topic you're not familiar with. Watching our on screen-heroes engage with scenarios we might think are a little out of the ordinary helps us normalise things in our everyday lives.
For example, if you received your first proper kiss while watching the infamous upside down moment in Spider-Man, then it's likely Glee also filled in the gaps to your knowledge of sex education where your parents failed. In the season five episode titled "Tested", Artie finds out he has chlamydia and makes a conscious decision to let his GF know immediately — a responsible, thoughtful, and mature way to respond to the news.
Much like how the show made an effort to float the idea that high schoolers in the year 2011 were well-versed in obscure '80s pop material, scenes like this also remind us that having open and honest conversations about sexual health are an integral part of all healthy relationships.
Know Your Own Boundaries
Everyone's boundaries are different. As long as your safety and comfort are at the forefront, you shouldn't feel ashamed of asking your partner anything, especially when it pertains to health. If you're worried about having or contracting an STI, not getting tested shouldn't really be an option for your partner.
Mutual respect is always a must and if you've had previous sexual partners, getting an STI check is essential. You can read more information about STI checks right here.