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Let’s Talk About Sexual Health

Talking about sex may not be a regular part of your doctor-patient relationship, but it should be.

Maintain Healthy Relationships

Open, honest and safe communication is an important part of any healthy relationship.


Connecting with someone emotionally or physically can be exciting. It also takes a lot of work. A great relationship is more than just sexual attraction. It also requires open, honest and safe communication. Here are some tips for having a healthy relationship with your partner.

Talking with your partner(s) honestly about sex, STDs and other sexual health topics can lower your risk of getting an STD. Consider only having sex with each other. Get tips to help you start the conversation. Make sure your discussion covers several important ways to make sex safer.

  • Talk about when you were last tested and suggest getting tested together.
  • If you have an STD, tell your partner.
  • Agree to only have sex with each other.
  • Use latex condoms from start to finish every time you have sex.


Open, honest, non-judgmental conversations about sexual health have been shown to help teens make better sexual health decisions.

Parents can make a difference.

There are many resources out there. Here are a few:

Patients and Providers

Communication is important for STD prevention and a two-way street.

View our Provider Toolkits


Talk with your healthcare provider about your sex life, and ask what STD tests you should be getting and how often.

Not all medical checkups include STD testing, so don’t assume that you’ve been tested unless you discuss it with your provider. Ask your doctor whether certain vaccines, like the hepatitis B vaccine or the HPV vaccine are right for you.


Taking a sexual history should be part of routine patient care. Download Sexual Health and Your Patients: A Providers Guide by the National Coalition for Sexual Health .

Talking about sexual health can be challenging, but studies show that patients want to be asked about sex.

  • Create an environment that is open to an honest discussion around your patient’s sexual history—success in this area can garner important information that will allow you to provide the best care possible.
  • Counsel your patients about safe sex, and ensure that they know today’s many prevention options. With condoms, hepatitis B and HPV vaccines, and even a daily medication to prevent HIV infection, there have never been more ways for your patients to protect themselves.

Certain STD diagnoses can cause fear and anxiety in your patient. Learn about “The 5 P’s: Partners, Practices, Prevention of Pregnancy, Protection from STDs, and Past History of STDs.” View the 5 P’s here .

Updated April 11, 2023, 5:00 PM