Physical intimacy is naturally an important part of many relationships. Smart couples understand that communicating our physical needs and expectations is very important, but one thing that is often not discussed is STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).

This is often an awkward topic for couples to discuss. Many people feel that they have no right to pry or inquire into their partner’s sexual history. While couples should certainly respect each other’s privacy, drug testing for STDs is not merely a matter of privacy; it is a matter of personal safety, and it should be of the utmost importance in relationship communications.

The time to discuss testing for STDs is before and not after a couple becomes physically intimate. A person should not be afraid to ask their partner if he or she has been recently tested for STDs such as HIV, gonorrhea or chlamydia. It is very important that stereotypes around sexual behavior are avoided. People should not assume that just because a person has had many sexual partners that they have contracted an STD. Likewise, one should not assume that just because they have had sex with only one other person that they did not come into contact with an STD, as their past partner may have been with multiple partners who were an STD carrier.

We know that STDs can be contracted in a variety of ways, but most STDs cannot infect a person who comes into contact with an unclean surface, such as a toilet seat or mattresses. The STD’s nature is such that it must be contracted through either vaginal, anal or oral sex.

The best thing for couples to do is to have an open conversation about STDs and then they should arrange to get tested together. This can be a good way to support each other in what is often an anxious time since many people are nervous about getting tested. If the test results are clear, that will give the couple peace of mind in knowing that their sexual intimacy will not be impeded by an STD. They can then decide what contraceptive measure they will choose to use.