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Sexuality in Conversation

I Always Ask New Partners To Get Tested—And It Doesn't Always Go Well

Thanks to a mother who instilled the fear of unplanned pregnancies in me from an early age, and a sex education system that told me I’d absolutely get a disease if I ever had sex without a condom, I didn’t have unprotected sex until I was about 24. It was with a boyfriend I’d been seeing for about four months, and I was on the pill. So one day I made the decision to forgo a condom, and I asked him if everything was ship-shape for him, sexual health-wise. “Yeah, I’m healthy,” he told me. I told him the same—I’d had a pap smear and STD screening shortly before we started sleeping together—and we got down to business sans-rubber.

This continued for a couple of weeks, until one day, post-coitus, I asked him somewhat randomly when his last STD test had been. “I’ve never gotten one,” he told me. I, of course, hit the fucking roof. I asked how he could tell me he was healthy if he’d never been tested, and he told me that he had no symptoms, so he figured he was clean. After explaining symptomless diseases to him, I told him he was on a sex hiatus until he got checked out.

He eventually did, and everything was fine, but the situation put me on the defensive. After we broke up, I made a pact that I’d always ask a new partner when his last STD test was before we went condomless. There haven’t been many dudes who have crossed that perimeter since, but when I offer up the question, I’m often met with confusion or pushback. Some dudes are totally cool about it, of course—and they’re the ones who get to scale my walls, if ya know what I mean.

If they’re cold and dismissive, then ask yourself—is this really someone you want inside of you anyway?

The others? Total shit show. They tell me that they’re sure they’re healthy, even though they’ve never gotten tested. Or they’ll tell me that my asking is a mood-killer. I usually posit the question in the kissing stage or foreplay, or in a neutral situation, like on the couch watching Netflix. I’m lucky in that, thanks to my job, I tend to have a lot of opportunities to bring up the topic. They ask me how my day was, I tell them I interviewed a sexologist about chlamydia, and there you go—I have an in.

Other women aren’t as lucky as I am to have that in, which is likely why I’ve been having conversation after conversation with friends about this very topic. Women want to be empowered to have sex that is healthy and safe—yet they feel weird about bringing up the topic. And I get it. Asking someone whether or not it burns when they pee isn’t exactly the sexiest thing in the world.

But it’s such an important question to ask, because it’s your health we’re talking about here. If you can demand an orgasm, you can demand a partner who respects you and your health. So don’t be afraid to ask. Ask in a neutral setting that you feel comfortable with, and don’t beat around the bush. Say that you’re ready to move things to the next level, but that you need to know the last time they were tested first. Then watch for their reaction. If they’re open and communicative with clear answers, then jump their bones. If they’re cold and dismissive, then ask yourself—is this really someone you want inside of you anyway?

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Maria Del Russo
Maria Del Russo
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