Q: HOW soon after forming a new relationship should you let your new sex partner stop using condoms?
Is it wise to both have medical check-ups and blood tests before having unprotected sex?
If so, is there a nice way to broach the subject without offending?
This is all new territory for me - I'm in my 50s and my friends warn me I could get a sexually transmitted disease so I want to be careful, but to be honest both the man I'm dating and I are exclusive and would like to not use condoms, especially with no risk of pregnancy any more!
A: I commend your responsibility and your awareness as a single person dating and entering into a new relationship.
It's fantastic that you know enough to be aware that honest conversation and potential testing are good steps to take before enjoying unprotected sex together as a couple.
Once you feel sure that you are both agreed on dating exclusively and would not put each other at future risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, then the focus is on establishing your current health status.
If you don't each have medical check-ups before dispensing of your condom use, then you really are, as the saying goes, sleeping with everyone they've ever slept with, and they are sleeping with everyone you've ever slept with.
In the world today where many people mix with safe and unsafe sex, this can be dangerous.
Plus, your friends are right: many STIs are on the rise in the 50+ age group, often because this age group, like you, wants to enjoy sex without condoms as the fear of pregnancy isn't there.
But that doesn't mean people in this age group are free of sexually transmitted infections, which are easily spread and not always so easily detected.
It's absolutely best to cover yourselves and agree to both get tested.
The reality is that not just HIV, but many sexually transmitted infections (STIs), can be asymptomatic, so any number of infections can be lurking in the human body, easily passed from partner to partner, without anyone being the wiser.
Raising the topic can be awkward, but as two consenting, mature adults engaged in an intimate relationship, it is a subject best talked about openly.
Rather than being accusatory or potentially judgmental about your partner's past, or appearing to only have your own protection at heart, you can broach the situation by saying that you'd love to take the relationship to a more intimate level, and by stopping using condoms, you're pledging your monogamy to each other, and investing even more in the relationship.
Say that many STIs can be asymptomatic, so to be sure you're safe, you'd rather get tested to make sure you haven't got anything you could unknowingly spread, and you'd really appreciate it if they'd do the same.
Rather than only asking them to get tested, offer to get tested yourself, then ask them to do follow your lead.
That way they know it's not about you suspecting anything, or accusing them of having a shady sexual past, but instead a mutual rite of passage before taking the next step in your relationship, where you both care about each other's wellbeing.
Think of it as a conversation to take both of you forward, rather than a subject that accuses each other of your pasts. Once upon a time, a long time ago, couples wore condoms to prevent pregnancy - but that was then, and this is now - the time of safer sex which means prevention of the spread of sexually transmissible infections - and they get around at any age.
So be responsible and enjoy sex with the peace of mind that you're committed to each other sexually, emotionally, and healthily.