The way to 'get it on' responsibly
Amazon Prime-ing a last minute gift, treating yourself to a box of sweets, re-watching Mamma Mia to remind you that love is real… It’s that time of year again: Valentine’s Day. And whether you’ve booked a Tinder date or reserved a table with your long-time squeeze, we’ve all got one thing on the mind: sex. As you run around putting the finishing touches on your romantic plans, the last thing you’re worried about is sexual responsibility- so here’s a coitus crash course on everything from getting tested to asking awkward questions.
Getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is awkward. No one wants to talk about the burning sensation in their most private areas. Even if you’re just doing an annual check up, flashbacks to “the talk” are cringe-worthy. In fact, most STDs present no symptoms at all after they’ve been contracted, and the only way to know is by getting tested. According to Planned Parenthood, the sooner you know you have an STD, the sooner you can begin treatments that will reduce your symptoms, lower your chances of spreading the disease, and even cure you of the disease altogether. If you wait too long, however, your body can sustain permanent damage and you can pass the disease on to countless others. Ultimately, knowing one’s sexual health is one less thing for a young adult to stress over, and sex can continue to be an informed, pleasurable experience where both partners feel comfortable.
At the University of Florida, like most other universities, there are several cheap and free options for getting tested. Students with no symptoms can be tested for the most common STDs for only $15 at the Get Yourself Tested (GYT) Clinic, and those who suspect they have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can receive free confidential counseling and testing through GatorWell Health Promotion Services in the Reitz Union. Convenient, affordable testing is just a phone call away, so make an appointment today! You can also find free condoms in the Student Health Care Clinic (SHCC) just in time for a romantic Valentine’s Day evening. Condoms don’t prevent all STDs, but they certainly help.
“Are you clean?” I asked as the cute boy passed me his cup, and the dorm room fell silent. He responded with an incredulous “of course” and I awkwardly took a sip, my friends staring at me as though I had a second head. Asking someone if they have a sexually transmitted infection is awkward, especially if you publicly question them, making them out to be sexually promiscuous in front of a crowd. Here are some tips and tricks inspired by Planned Parenthood for asking uncomfortable, but important questions:
Ask them about STDs before you have sex. This sounds like a no-brainer, but some people feel as though they may offend their partner and scare them off. It is important to know what you’re walking into in order to properly give consent to sex.
Start by telling them about your most recent test. I was tested last month and I was so relieved it came back clean, when was the last time you had a check up? Indicating that you are responsible about your sexual health will make them feel more secure and encourage them to get tested if they haven’t already.
Stress how much you care about them. I just want to make sure we’re both healthy and comfortable. It feels less like an attack on their character when you show empathy.
Disclose any STDs you’ve had in the past and if you’re still contagious. I had chlamydia, but I’m no longer contagious as I’ve been taking medication for it. Be upfront about your sexual health history, as proper consent cannot be given unless your partner knows what you have or had.
Suggest that you get tested together. Make it into a date! It could be a great bonding opportunity for you and your significant other, and there may even be a free condom bowl in it for you.
Practicing sexual responsibility will ease your mind during the romantic hectic-ness of February, while also preserving your ability to enjoy future Valentine’s Days without an STD. So, cuddle up with your cutie, share a box of Girl Scout Cookies, and make an appointment today. Make sexual health maintenance a normal and intimate activity with your significant other. Now, as Marvin Gaye says, “Let’s get it on!”