I've been teaching sex education to my peers since my awkward middle school days. It's just always been my thing. I can't count on my fingers and toes how many times I've declared, "Make sure to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases!" "Make sure to ask your partner if they have been tested!" "Ask before you have sex with any new partner!" and "Always wear a condom!" But, we've never had a discussion about how to bring up the sensitive topic about your sexual health.
Because let's admit it, it's weird and hard and not super sexy. It's not erotic at all and the ads motivating individuals to have the conversation saying that it's sexy and stimulating... yeah, no.
But that's not an excuse to avoid the conversation.
First and foremost, get tested. Your school's health services should perform free STD testing and, if not, locate the nearest Planned Parenthood or health center. It's super quick and easy. You and your partner (every single partner) can even do it before catching your reservation at your favorite mom-and-pop restaurant. Tell your partner that you're anxious about your health in general and it would calm your nerves if you went to get tested together. Let your partner willingly support you.
I get it, when you're on a first date, the last thing you're thinking about is STDs. But if the date (whether first, third, I don't care) gets a little spicy, it's time to spark up the conversation. Stay confident, look your partner in the eyes, and ask, "I recently got tested for STDs and I'm clean, how about you?" If your partner looks at you like you're crazy, I think you need a new lover. Honestly, if you can't talk about sex-things, including STDs/STIs, then you shouldn't be having sex.
Just be honest and straight forward. Make it clear that you're not interested in having sex before the STDs convo is done and through. Stay strong, this is for your health. Ask if they are sleeping with anyone else. Have they been tested? I know, I know, it's a touchy subject, but you're just defining your relationship.
If you didn't have a thorough sex education growing up or if you just didn't pay attention, do your own research. Literally, just Google it. STDs are real and they impact anyone and everyone, even you. There are 20+ types, do you know at least five of them and how they are contracted? Even better, investigate with your partner. Bring up the conversation by mentioning that you heard a friend talking about it or you had a discussion in class and was curious to learn more. Start reading the facts out loud and maybe some points will surprise you. I promise the conversation will flow naturally from there.
If you find out you have an STD, get all the information you can from your doctor. Interrogate them, they are here to provide direction on what to do next. There are millions of individuals who have contracted STDs, you are not alone. Your doctor will ask about your previous sexual activity and partners. They do this for a reason–it's not just your health at risk, but everyone's well-being.
You have to tell your partner(s).
This chat won't be easy and I would avoid casually bring it up while at the Starbucks drive-thru. You can take your time to digest everything, but don't have sex (oral, vaginal, anal) again until you have "the talk." Wouldn't you expect someone to let you know about their personal sexual health? Also, depending on the state, It's a criminal offense in some states to willingly have sex with someone without informing them of your known STD.
So, when you're ready, sit them down. Explain that you got tested and what the results are. Talk about the medication that you've been prescribed and all the information that you've learned. If they start freaking out, try your best to stay calm and offer to go with them to get tested. You had to take it all in, give that same time to them.
Stay safe, use condoms and get tested.