This April, in honor of STI Awareness Month, take some time to learn about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Anyone who is sexually active can get an STI, so why not learn more about them and how to minimize your exposure to STIs and take care of your sexual health.
CDC marks its own STI Awareness Week in April with the theme Talk, Test, Treat. It’s a good framework to think about STIs and your sexual health. Let’s start with talk—there’s a lot to talk about!
Talking openly and honestly about sex and sexual health makes for relationships that are more fun and satisfying. STIs are one part of that talk—when you were last tested for STIs, which ones, and what the results were. You can also talk about how often you get tested and whether you’ve had any partners since your last test. Having an open and honest conversation about STIs before you become sexually intimate is ideal.
But there’s so much more to talk about! What safer sex precautions do you want to take? Are you interested in a monogamous relationship or not? What gets you excited? What kind of touch do you like…and what do you not like. On that note, what are your boundaries?
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Where do you even begin? What if you want to talk about a positive STI diagnosis? How do you bring up the topic of pleasure? Evalene Dacker, MD, is a physician and sexual health educator who has created a great model that helps guide the conversation—the STARS Model. STARS is an acronym that stands for : Sexual Health and STI Status, Turn-Ons, Avoids, Relationship Intentions and Expectations, and Safety Needs and Safer Sex Etiquette.