Remember when only big-shot executives had cell phones? For that matter, remember when nobody had cell phones? In a matter of less than two decades, our world has totally transformed the way it sees communication.
And itâ€™s time for a second revolution. But instead of simply talking on mobile phones more, we need to start talking about our sexual health. Why? At a time when sexuality in all its forms is becoming more widely accepted by the American mainstream, discussions about sex and sexual health arenâ€™t as common as they need to be.
Donâ€™t believe me? Look at the numbers:
- Right now, about 16.2% of the country has genital herpes. That translates to almost one in six people with herpes! And this is an STD that doesnâ€™t ever go away. (It can be treated, though.)
- Each year, 2.8 million Chlamydia infections occur. One reason the number is so high: many men are symptom-free and donâ€™t realize theyâ€™re infected. Without getting an STD test or treatment, they can keep re-infecting their partners.
- Gonorrhea strikes 700,000 people every year. Luckily, this is one STD that can be cured with treatment â€“ but only if people realize they have it.
- HPV (human papillomavirus), which can cause cervical cancer in women, affects about half of all sexually active people at some point. At any given time, approximately 20 million Americans have the STD.
- About 25% of teenage girls have an STD.
How to Talk about Sexual Health
Sex and money are two of the most important things to discuss with a significant other â€“ predictably, theyâ€™re two of the hardest subjects to broach. Here are some pointers that should make starting the conversation a little easier.
- You go first. Forget the playground rules of politeness. When it comes to matters of STD testing and treatment, itâ€™s usually a good idea to start by talking about your own history. That way, your partner is less likely to fee like the conversation is accusatory. For example, you might start things off by mentioning that your last STD test came back clean and then ask about your partnerâ€™s.
- Donâ€™t wait till youâ€™re in bed. Most people donâ€™t find talking about STD prevention all that sexy. And bringing up the issue in the heat of the moment might not actually lead to any better decision-making. Instead, broach the subject when you and your partner are in a relaxed environment.
- Make it topical. A quick search of an online news aggregator should bring you dozens of news stories about STDs and sexual health. Starting a conversation with a phrase like â€œI saw online todayâ€ or â€œI heard on the news todayâ€ can help make the issue feel less personal than it otherwise might.
Intimacy & Respect Start with a Chat
Remember: sexual health is a matter that affects both you and your partner, now and in the future. Even if you donâ€™t plan on staying with someone forever, you can give them (or get from them) an STD that could stay with you the rest of your life.
Howâ€™s that for commitment?
Editor’s note: This was a guest blog post by Shavar from GetSTDTested.com.