Anyone who's ever been through even a basic sex education knows that protection such as condoms and dental dams is crucial for avoiding STIs, especially if you're having sex with a new partner.
But those conversations can seem awkward. How exactly do you talk to a sexual partner about getting tested, about using protection, or about your own STI status without completely killing the mood? Planned Parenthood has your answer.
The organization joined the Get Yourself Tested campaign to release three videos about talking to a potential or existing partner about STIs and safer sex. These videos don't look anything like the awkward sex ed videos of your past, though. For one, they're incredibly racially diverse and include queer couples.
The videos play in a series, first teaching us how to talk to a partner about using protection. What strikes us about the conversations the actors in this video have is how real they feel. Sure, there's a narrator walking through every scene, but the two people in each situation talk about sex and protection in completely normal ways. You could use their words, verbatim, in a conversation with your partner and it wouldn't feel weird.
The second video in the series talks about getting tested for STIs, as well as how to talk to your partners about the last time they were tested. The video explains what to do if you don't have insurance (pro tip: go to Planned Parenthood), how to talk to partners about getting tested before you go condom-free, and what to do if you haven't had the talk before, but want to now.
“Unfortunately, many young people don’t get the sex education they need and frank conversations about STDs are rare in the media," Leslie Kantor, PhD, MPH, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood, said in a statement shared with Refinery29.
All of the videos Planned Parenthood released are important, but the third video might be the most important, simply because it's a conversation we're not used to hearing. This video talks about what to do once you have an STI, and how to talk to your partners about it. It begins by taking down the stigma associated with having an STI.
"Getting an STD doesn't make you dirty or a bad person," the narrator says. "You can totally live a normal and healthy life even if you have an STD."
Those are important words, especially since these videos are aimed at teenagers and young adults who may never have heard that having an STI isn't the end of their sex lives.
The state of sex ed in the U.S. is pretty sad, and while many people may know they should talk to sexual partners about STIs, about protection, and about getting tested, they may not know how to have those conversations. Plus, the pressure to keep the mood sexy might keep some of these important conversations from happening.
These new videos perfectly show how talking about STIs is not only important, but doesn't have to be as awkward as you think.