Ask Emily: How Do You Ask Someone If They Have an STD?

In my opinion, conversations about STDs are less than worthless.
Publish date:
June 29, 2012
awkward conversations, college, stds, safe sex, condoms, ask emily

Hey Emily!

Love reading your articles. You're so open about things (awesome things) girls I know don't even think about. I probably learned a bit too much about the female thought process from your writing...

Anyways, I'm an 18 year old guy off on his way to college in the fall. Now, I'm a virgin, and totally okay knowing that I am (or others knowing, the nosy bastards). I don't have any self-esteem issues, think I'm pretty damn attractive, and am unconditionally in love with Monty Python and Ellie Goulding. Oh, and I'm 99.9% sure I'm heterosexual. Thought that bit is somehow important. So, enough about me!

As far as I'm aware, college is filled sex, but feel encouraged to give me as much personal opinion on the subject as you can. I mean, what the hell does a high school graduate really know about anything?

Anyways, here's the big Q. I am scared to death of STDs, and I am wondering how I should deliver the whole, "Do you have any STDs?" bomb? Tell me your opinion, whatever else you'd like to add as well, and please excuse the crappy old e-mail address. Thanks for listening, and would you mind if I asked you about more things?

Thanks, [Redacted]

I really don't know how to illustrate STD articles.

Oh my god, I want you to ask me about ALL the things! Also, I sort of want to deflower you, but frankly, my advanced sexual shit would break your brain.

It sounds to me like you're in danger of becoming one of those guys whose STD paranoia sucks all the fun out of casual sex. Don't get me wrong; it's great to be careful about sexual health, but there's something particularly gross about the combination of wanting a girl to do slutty things with you and being scared of getting a slutty diease from her. Like the time I was giving a guy a handjob after a first date and started to move my mouth downward only to have him pratically recoil and scream, "Don't put your mouth on it!" If you're that petrified of seeing an animal, maybe you should stay out of the zoo. Sex with another person, especially one you don't know very well, always carries a little bit of risk.

You manage risk by using protection; all the talking in the world doesn't put a barrier between your peen and sexually transmitted infections. Asking someone if they have an STD 3 seconds before you put it in may make you feel better, but it's not preventing anything. In the words of my boyfriend Dr. Gregory House, "Everybody lies."

Some people lie on purpose and some people just don't know -- they assume they're clean because they were in a long-term monogamous relationship or they tell you they've been tested and mean it, but it was 6 months ago, and they don't know it didn't include a herpes test. Some people are basing their answer on the fact that everything down there looks good to them. Some people just want you to shut the hell up and do it to them already. DDF, like "a few extra pounds," carries a range of meaning.

In my opinion, conversations about STDs are less than worthless. Unless you see current test results, the only way to geniunely protect yourself is to presume everyone has an STD and proceed accordingly.

If you are going to go the conversational route, don't be a dick about it. Share your own sexual stats instead of just grilling your partner about hers. Ask for specifics. How do you know you're clean, when were you tested? Vagueness is a warning sign.

And for God's sake, don't do it in the bedroom. Not only is it hard to make good decisions when you're all dizzy and lusty, but "naked and about to have sex with you" is a pretty vulnerable position for us girls. We want to feel like you're looking at us with desire, not like a possible contaminant. Don't treat us like we're dirty, especially if we're doing something kind of dirty.

And honestly, don't blame your partner if you take her word for it and end up with something you didn't want. It's always your job to protect yourself from STDs, not somone else's.

And, you know, casual sex may not be for you. Even with condoms, you're still in danger of contracting HPV or herpes from infected skin that isn't covered by the condom. And heaven forbid a condom breaks and you spend freshman year in a shame spiral. Why don't you try to get to know a nice girl and have a monogamous relationship, one where you both trot off to student health and get tested before you start boning? I'm saying this because I care.

And because I don't agree with the reactionary assholes who think that shaming the shit out of people with STIs is the best way to make sure everyone understands the importance of safe sex, I will also tell you this one thing they don't tell you: If you get an STD, even if you get the very worst STD, it will fucking suck, and then your life will go on. Alright? Have safe sex But that last sentence is there if you need it. xo Emily

Ask @msemilymccombs your slutty stuff on Twitter please.