4 Questions to Ask a New Partner Before Having Sex

Ready to get hot and heavy with a new partner? Take a moment to stop and breathe. Before the clothes start flying for the first time, it's a good idea to talk about sex.

Sex education doesn't end in high school. Your own personal sex ed quiz is a useful tool when beginning any new sexual relationship. These questions can help both you and your new partner protect your physical health.


Have You Been Tested for STDs?

Couple sitting on edge of bed, holding hands
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If you ask people if they've been tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), they're likely to say yes. Many of them will be wrong. People often think their doctor automatically tests them for these diseases at their annual exam. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. The vast majority of physicians do not screen their clients automatically for STDs (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] guidelines don't recommend such screening). You have to ask your doctor to do the tests.

Furthermore, you should specifically ask your own doctor about testing, at least for chlamydia and gonorrhea, before starting any new sexual relationships. Doctors are sometimes reluctant to test for other STDs, such as syphilis or trichomoniasis, unless you have symptoms or know you have been exposed. Still, it never hurts to ask for the tests you want.

As for talking to a potential partner, here's an important hint: If someone says they have been tested for STDs, they should be able to tell you what diseases they've been tested for. If they can't, they may be mistaken about having been tested. If they can't recall, they can also call their doctor's office and ask for their most recent testing results.


When Was Your Last HIV Test?

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an STD. Still, both doctors and people on the street tend to think of HIV testing separately from STD testing. That may be because of the perceived stigma some believe is associated with HIV. Still, HIV testing can be an important part of primary care.

Current guidelines from the CDC recommend that individuals be screened for HIV as part of their routine healthcare visits. If you have had any possible exposure to HIV through unprotected sex, sharing needles, or other exposure to bodily fluids, you should be tested. If you're not sure if you could have been exposed, you should also be tested.

In general, routine HIV testing is a good idea. Most states will test you anonymously. Furthermore, free testing is available at numerous locations.

If your partner says, "I've never been tested," you might want to wait to sleep with them until their answer changes. In this day and age, when free, anonymous testing is easily available, there is no reason not to be tested regularly. Indeed, there is every reason to be. In general, a good rule of thumb is to have an HIV test annually or when changing partners.


Are You Currently Involved With Anyone Else?

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It's all very well and good to ask for your future sexual partner's STD status. Still, what they tell you may not mean anything if they're continuing to have sex with other people. Tests are only as accurate as of the person's status when they are taken. They're less useful if your partner is still at risk.

If you are involved in a nonmonogamous sexual relationship, these discussions are critical. You need to not only make certain you are having safer sex with your partner(s), but you also need to make certain your partner is having safer sex with all their partners.

Responsible nonmonogamy is not necessarily any less safe than serial monogamy. However, it does require better communication in order to maintain your physical and emotional health. Remember, though, that long-term monogamous relationships represent the lowest risk to your sexual health.


Are You Prepared to Have Safer Sex?

Midsection Of Man Removing Condom Packet From Pocket
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If you are planning to have sex, it is important to take responsibility for your own sexual health. That means having supplies on hand. Condoms, female condoms, backup contraception, spermicide...whatever you need to make sex safer for you is what you should have on hand.

Remember, too, that even if you or your partner use a form of continuous birth control, such as an IUD, you'll still both need to protect yourself against STDs and the small risk of pregnancy that occurs with most forms of birth control.

It doesn't matter what your gender is, or the gender of your partner. It speaks well of you to be prepared. What if your partner, for example, buys supplies that you're allergic to or don't like? There's nothing quite as frustrating as deciding that you're ready to have sex and discovering that all the stores within driving distance are closed or out of your favorite condoms. If tonight's the night, you want to be ready.

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