Can I take you to dinner?
How about Thursday at 7 p.m.?” “Great, I’ll bring the lube if you bring the condoms. See you then.”
If this is how you typically set up a first date, 100 brownie points to you! However, for many people, talking about sex can be an enormously difficult endeavor. And talking about safe sex, like STD and pregnancy prevention, is hardly sexy. Until now! Throughout April, this column will discuss comfortable approaches to talking about sex — whether on first dates, in romantic relationships, electronically, or with your children.
This week Planned Parenthood is helping us with its online tools on how to talk about STD testing and tips to make that conversation easier (www.itsyoursexlife.com/talk). Planned Parenthood is also launching its nationwide GYTNOW campaign in April. “GYT” stands for “get yourself tested.” And while getting an STD test might not seem like the most sensuous experience a new couple can undergo, Monica McCafferty of Planned Parenthood says, “There needs not be a stigma in getting tested.”
These days, it’s more common to get an STD than a speeding ticket. In fact, one in two people who have sex will get an STD by the age of 25. One in two! That means either you reading this column or the dude next to you sipping his coffee.
The plus side is that all STDs are treatable, and most are curable, so long as you catch them early enough. Even better, you prevent them in the first place.
Suppose John A. and Jane B. have been dating for a month. They’ve enjoyed biking, picnics and happy hours at the Boulderado. Now they’ve started to fantasize about ravishing one another. They know tonight is the night. John invites Jane to soak in his condominium hot tub after dinner. Jane agrees, so they swing by her place to pick up a swimsuit. Barely making it out her door, John goes for the jugular and passionately kisses her neck. Jane moans softly in anxious ecstasy. She unbuckles his belt as he drops the zipper to her skirt, tugging it, and then them, to the floor. Ten minutes later, he’s about to enter her when he goes soft, worried about potential STDs that are unseen to the human eye. She starts to lose her lubrication, concerned that her eggs are a little too ripe for fertilization.
Scenario B picks up where Jane moans, except she’s less anxious because during her work day she sent John a salacious text message about her superior talent in rolling a condom on with her mouth. John texted back that he will bring strawberry lube and chocolate mousse-flavored condoms for the occasion. He then text her again before dinner to remind her that he brought their accessories should she still be interested in making good on her earlier invite.
John and Jane made it to the top of the first hill: prevention part A — condoms and lube. The next hill they need to summit is prevention part B — getting tested for STDs. Testing is not necessarily intended as an excuse to forgo the condoms and lube, as these are essential ingredients to many people’s sex lives. But don’t forget that a handful of STDs, like herpes and HPV, can potentially be contracted via genital rubbing, even if the penile shaft has a sturdy raincoat.
John can also help his cause by asking Jane to the GYT kick-off concert in Boulder on April 15 featuring elctro rock band MileHi Sound. Or Jane can take John to lunch and then hit up Planned Parenthood’s $10-only STD testing days on April 23 or 27. (The basic screening, including tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV, usually runs about $120, so take advantage of these discount days.)
For more on Planned Parenthood’s health campaign, visit www.gytnow.org.
Jenni Skyler, PhD, is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist. She runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.