Whether you're already in a long-term relationship or newly dating, talking about sex with your partner is a strategy of health & wellness.
Sex is about as natural as drinking water, sleeping, yawning, eating food and sneezing. It’s an act that has been a part of the human existence…well since humans have existed. Without sex, none of us would be here. Literally. From a health and wellness perspective, sex can be both beneficial for physical and emotional wellness and it can be lethal if proper precautions are not taken.
Sex is as natural as drinking water. Even water can be polluted though.
I have a Master’s in Public Health and have spent the last 3 years studying, researching, and working for a public health agency. Before that I’ve had an interest in sexual health for quite some time. I learned very early on (my 1st year in college to be exact) the dangers that exist if a person is not fully educated about sex and all of the implications that come with it.
I was a writer for my college campus newspaper, the Famuan, at the Florida A&M University (Sssssstrike!). I remember writing a news story about HIV/AIDS on campus. I had to interview the Dean of Pharmacy for my article and it was then that I learned the disproportionate number of young people that had become infected while at school. I also learned that this wasn’t an anomaly but a trend on college campuses across America and a trend throughout the country. That was almost 17 years ago. From that day on, the way in which I approach the education of sex is almost borderline neurotic. But nobody is going to protect your health better than YOU.
Protect Yourself Always.
A brief scan of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) page on Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) will give you a break-down of most STD's and associated conditions. There’s a wealth of information out there. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you have heard of most, if not all of them and you know that having unprotected vaginal, anal, oral sex is the way to contract these diseases. Point Blank. However, people continue to engage recklessly with their lives, putting themselves, their partners, and potential unborn children at risk.
Sex is more than just a physical act. Let’s just look at it from a life and death scenario. If you were going to get on a roller-coaster, you’d most likely buckle yourself in, use the safety straps, etc. If none of these protective devices were visible, you would have a conversation with the attendant and inquire about the safety measures. If he/she said there aren’t any available, you’d most likely get up and leave that roller-coaster ride because the probability of falling out and dying just rose to about 100%. Treat your sexual health the same way.
*note these conversations are not just for single, newly dating people either. Married couples, long-term relationships, on-again-off-again, rebound, and everything else in between should be discussing these topics. The point is if you’re having sex, you need to talk about the safety of sex.
Approach sex the same way you would riding a roller-coaster. Use proper safety measures ALWAYS.
Let's Talk About Sex (health) Steps
Step 1: First you need to know your own status and get it on paper. Go to your doctor, a free clinic, a community clinic and get screened. How can you have an open conversation about STD’s when you don’t even know your own status? Get a full battery of tests done. Knowing is power.
Step 2: If you find out you have an STD, get into care immediately and stay in care. People are able to live long, healthy lives as long as they are on medication and adopt healthier lifestyles.
Step 3: Be honest about your status. You don’t get to play God with someone else’s life, even if someone was dishonest to you. In fact, knowingly exposing someone to an STD is punishable by law and can carry a prison sentence.
Step 4: Request that your spouse/partner, person you’re dating, future sexual partner also get tested and ask to see the results in your hands. A response of, “I’m clean. I’m good.” Is unacceptable. Remember YOUR life and health is YOUR responsibility. Remember the roller-coaster.
Step 5: Ask your spouse/partner, future sexual partner about their past sexual history and drug use history. Have you engaged in homosexual relationships in the past? Have you ever used Intravenous Drugs? (note: many people may not answer these questions honestly, but that’s why you need to have other layers of protection to guard against dishonesty).
Condoms reduce the potential of STD transmission. But they are not 100% full proof. Use them anyways.
Step 6: Talk to your sexual partner about using condoms EVERY time you engage in sex. There are condoms for oral sex or dental dams. Female condoms offer greater protection from skin-to-skin contact and traditional (male) condoms help prevent bodily fluids from being exchanged. Remember condoms reduce the risks of transmission of STDs. They are not 100%. Abstaining from all types of sex is the only 100% method of STD prevention.
Step 7: Once you are in a consistent, sexual relationship whether through marriage, long-term relationship, dating/courting, or some other arrangement, continue getting tested together every 6 months to 1 year or during your annual physical.
If the person you are having sex with or anticipate having sex with becomes irate, uncomfortable, angry, resistant, or avoids these conversations, that is a red flag and you need to take heed.
Having sex in the 21st Century can be a scary thought if you are even half-way aware of the dangers that exists. But with the proper 2-way communication, behavior changes, and safety practices, it can also be a joyous occasion.
Be Healthy. Be Well.
Rollercoaster photo with Kevin Hart and Jimmy Fallon, courtesy of NBC
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
----------------------------------------------------------------------- #Subscribe, #Like, #Follow me on Social Media -----------------------------------------------------------