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Protect Yourself

Questions to Ask a New Partner Before Starting a Sexual Relationship


Updated May 22, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

You've just started dating someone new. You've been out more than a few times, and you think you're ready to get to the hot and heavy stage. Before the clothes start flying for the first time, here are some questions that you need to ask yourself and your new partner to protect your physical health. Sex education doesn't end in high school, your own personal sex ed quiz is a useful tool when beginning any new sexual relationship.

Have you been tested for sexually transmitted diseases?

Couple at table with mugs, looking down
Andrea Morini/Photodisc/Getty Images
Many people will say yes to this question because they think that their doctor automatically tests them for diseases at their annual exam. They are, however, probably wrong. The vast majority of physicians do not screen their clients automatically for STDs. You have to ask your doctor to do the tests, and should specifically ask about testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea before starting any new sexual relationship. Doctors won't generally test for any of the other STDs such as syphilis or trichomoniasis unless you have symptoms or know that you have been exposed. If someone says they have been tested for STDs, but can't tell you what diseases they've been tested for, there is a strong possibility that they're mistaken.

When was your last HIV test?

Current guidelines from the CDC recommend that individuals be screened for HIV as part of their routine healthcare visits. If you have had any possible exposure to HIV through unprotected sex, sharing needles, or other exposure to bodily fluids, you should be tested. If you're not sure if you could have been exposed, you should also be tested. In general, routine HIV testing is a good idea. Most states will test you anonymously, and free testing is available at numerous locations. If your partner says "I've never been tested," you might want to wait to sleep with him until his answer changes. In this day and age, when free, anonymous, testing is easily available, there is no reason not to be tested regularly and every reason to be.

Are you currently involved with anyone else?

It's all very well and good to ask for your future sexual partner's STD status, but what they tell you may not mean anything if they're continuing to have sex with other people. If you are involved, sexually, in a non-monogamous relationship, it is particularly important to make certain that you are not only having safer sex with your partner, but also that your partner is having safer sex with all of his or her partners. Responsible non-monogamy is not necessarily any less safe than serial monogamy, and in some circumstances can be safer, but it does require better communication in order to maintain your physical and emotional health. Remember, though, that long-term monogamous relationships represent the lowest risk to your sexual health.

Are you prepared to have safer sex?

When in doubt, bring the supplies. If you are planning to have sex with someone, it is important to take responsibility for your own sexual health by having supplies on hand. Condoms, female condoms, back-up contraception, lube, saran wrap, gloves; whatever you need to make sex safer for you is what you should have on hand. What if your partner, for example, buys supplies that you're allergic to or don't like? There's nothing quite as frustrating as deciding that you're ready to have sex and discovering that all the stores within driving distance are closed or out of your favorite condoms.
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