Dear Gigi,

I’m seeing this new guy and I’m really excited about him. The only thing is, he doesn’t want to use condoms. He says they take all the wind out of his sails during sex. I’ve seen it firsthand. It’s not great.

How do I ask him if he’s been tested and when? And how do I ask him to go get tested? I don’t want him to think I think he’s a manwhore.

Thanks in advance for the advice. These conversations are so fucking awkward.

-H

Hey H,

Glad you’re writing in and asking some seriously important questions. STI testing is something that we don’t give enough attention. Did you know only 30% of women use condoms during sex? That’s legit batshit crazy, right?

Everyone needs to get tested for STIs. Sit your man down and tell him you totally get the condom thing. It might be that he hasn’t found condoms that work for him. Thicker latex really can cause desensitization. I often think this “lack of sensation” is exaggerated as a way to get out of using condoms, but if you’ve straight up seen it have an effect, I feel you. Sounds legit.

Be honest with him. If he wants to have sex without condoms, he needs to get tested. It’s unfair to both of you. Offer to go with him or get tested, too. Make it a conversation about the two of you as a couple, rather than one where you point the finger of blame.

Another thing you have to establish: Monogamy. If you’re sleeping with other people, condoms can’t be taken off the table. Male (and female) condoms are best protection we have against STIs, as they cause a barrier to prevent the spreading of infection.

If you’re going to exclusively hookup, get tested and go from there. If he doesn’t use condoms all the time, which he likely does not if he has an issue getting hard when using them, he’s at a greater risk. This means you are at a greater risk, too.

If he’s a cool guy (which I hope he is), he won’t have a problem getting tested for STIs. If he won’t go, that’s a huge red flag.

I don’t think I’d continue seeing someone who refused to get tested for STIs. Like, what is the issue here? He’s either not telling you something or doesn’t care about your bodily health. Both of these things are (or should be) deal breakers.

Getting tested isn’t even a big deal anymore. Or, it shouldn’t be. Everyone should get tested. Even if you’re in a monogamous relationship, it’s a good idea. It may sound like you don’t need to since you’re not having sex with anyone else, but sexual health professionals and doctors suggest getting tested as least once a year. It’s the responsible thing to do. Plus, it keeps you in the habit. There’s no harm in checking, right?

It’s easy to do. You can even get screened from the comfort of your own home. Check out these at home tests. They’re awesome. So, anyone who makes the excuse of, “Ugh. I’m just soooOOoOOOO busy,” can’t do that.

So the lowdown on STIs actually gets a little sticky. Sorry in advance for the possible freak out. But, you need in the information. So, here it goes.

Do keep in mind, a regular STI screening does not test for HPV or the Herpes virus. For Herpes, you need a separate blood test performed at your doctor’s office. Why don’t we test for Herpes? Healthcare providers believe that since Herpes is passed skin-to-skin and 1 in 3 people have the virus, testing everyone might cause public hysteria. Condoms prevent herpes if they’re on the shaft or in the vaginal canal, but not if they present on the dick, balls, perineum, or labia. So, it’s very easy to get. Much easier than you think. Yeah, it’s just as it sounds: People are walking around with Herpes, not showing symptoms, completely unaware of it.

The only time your doctor will suggest a Herpes test is if you have an outbreak and they suspect infection. Rad, right? Love this world.

HPV can only be found during a gynecological Pap exam, when abnormal cells are detected. No test currently exists for men. It’s thought that about 85-90% of the sexuality active people between the ages of 18-25 have or will have a form of HPV at some point in their lives. If you want to learn more about HPV, click here.

This does not mean getting tested isn’t important. There are a ton of STIs out there. You need to get tested. Period.

If you want to pull a really baller move, carry your STI results around in your purse. It’s pretty badass to be like, “When were you tested? Me? Two weeks ago.” *Whips out clean results*

Few people feel comfortable having this conversation. I mean, it isn’t exactly panty dropping to talk about sores or puss, you know? I’d wager even fewer would ever feel OK carrying around a clean bill of health in their bags. Why? Because of slut-shaming. It’s the same principle as the woman who carries condoms in her bag — If you’re keeping condom with you, you must be a slut.

This is total bullshit. Obviously. But, you’d be surprised how many women in this world are still shamed and ashamed of their sexuality.

Of course, that’s why we have sites like Your Sexual PSA – because we need to change social narratives and constructs around human sexuality.

Now go forth and have safer sex. It’s the responsible thing to do.

XOXO

Gigi

Gigi Engle is a feminist writer, sex educator, and speaker. A book with St. Martins Press is forthcoming.

For a chance to be featured on YSPSA’s original sex advice column, email your question to advice@yspsa.org. No topic is off limits.