When a long-term relationship ends, many people find themselves back playing the dating game. You meet someone new, things are going well, and you start to think about taking things to the next level. Before things go too far, you know you should be having ‘that’ conversation about safe sex. Thoughts begin crowding your head – will they have condoms, or should I provide them? Do they have an STI? Do I? The result being that you either kill the moment or go ahead anyway and worry about it later.

This is a common scenario and worryingly, rates of chlamydia are rising in people aged over 24. For women over the age of 40, the numbers of infections are also quickly increasing.

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Many older people are entering the dating world after marriage breakdowns. They might think that STIs are something only youngsters need to be concerned about. They might also assume that providing contraception is the responsibility of the other person. It can be hard to begin those conversations with new partners.

Before you think things might get physical, ask yourself whether you’re ready for sexual relations. Is the relationship ready for the next level? What do you need from your partner to stay happy and healthy? Knowing your own mind and feelings can give you the confidence to say what needs to be said.

No matter your age or previous relationships, no sex between two people is 100% free from risk unless:

You have both received tests and both received negative results. For an STI test London, visit https://www.checkurself.org.uk/plus/  

Neither one of you has had sexual relations since receiving those negative results

Neither one of you has had contact with semen, blood, breast milk, vaginal fluids or saliva from another person since those negative results

Knowing that you are STI free is a great, proactive step to take that sets a good example to your partner to do the same. Show them your results and ask that they do the same. Most STIs present with little or no symptoms and a person can be infected without even knowing. The only way to be absolutely sure is to get tested.

If there is any doubt, be sensible and use condoms. They are an effective barrier against most infections. Have the conversation about condoms before you have sex and keep them easily accessible in a bedside drawer or handbag.

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Finding the right time to discuss safe sex is just as important as what you say. Try to avoid starting the conversation when things are getting passionate as this could well cloud your judgement. Choose a time when you’re both relaxed and have time to talk without distraction. This will make the first time much more enjoyable as you’ll have covered the important stuff and both be on the same page.

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