Some people engage in sexual activity (with same-sex and/or other sex partners) before assigning a clear label to their sexual orientation. Prejudice and discrimination make it difficult for many people to come to terms with their sexual orientation identities, so claiming a lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity may be a slow process.

Clear identification of your sexual preference will make it easier to communicate and be truthful with your sexual partners.  Witholding this information from each other can prove to be detrimental to your health and well-being.  Your partners should know thier level of risk before engaging in sexual interourse with you and be given the opportunity to take make an informed decision.

Those who lie or withold the information about thier sexual preferences have produced trends and fads such as the "Down-Low" Syndrome in which men occasionally sleep with other men and do not consider themselves gay. They withhold this information from thier current sexual partner putting them at increased risk.  The phenomenon has also become wide spread among women who are experiementing with other women but do not consider themselves gay.

Non-communication prevents both sexual partners from making an infomed decision.  Even if you're not sure of your sexual orientation discuss that you are currently experiementing. 

The more comfortable you become within your own sexual orientattion the more willing you will be to share with your current and future partners. You will also be able to accept others of different sexual orientation as you beocme more comfortable in your own skin.
















KNOW YOUR SELF...

Are you currently involved with anyone else?

It's all very well and good to ask for your future sexual partner's STD status, but what they tell you may not mean anything if they're continuing to have sex with other people. If you are involved, sexually, in a non-monogamous relationship, it is particularly important to make certain that you are not only having safer sex with your partner, but also that your partner is having safer sex with all of his or her partners. 

Have you been tested for sexually transmitted diseases?

Many people will say yes to this question because they think that their doctor automatically tests them for diseases at their annual exam. They are, however, probably wrong. The vast majority of physicians do not screen their clients automatically for STDs. You have to ask your doctor to do the tests, and should specifically ask about testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea before starting any new sexual relationship. Doctors won't generally test for any of the other STDs such as syphilis or trichomoniasis unless you have symptoms or know that you have been exposed. If someone says they have been tested for STDs, but can't tell you what diseases they've been tested for, there is a strong possibility that they're mistaken.

Are you prepared to have safer sex?

When in doubt, bring the supplies. If you are planning to have sex with someone, it is important to take responsibility for your own sexual health by having supplies on hand. Condoms, female condoms, back-up contraception, lube, saran wrap, gloves; whatever you need to make sex safer for you is what you should have on hand.


KNOW YOUR PARTNER...
1. Syphilis: Left untreated, it can lead to internal damage, nerve damage, dementia or death. How it's checked: blood test.

2. HIV: It takes 10 years to develop into full-blown AIDS — but can go undetected for many of those years. How it's checked: blood test.

3. Chlamydia: Left untreated, it's especially dangerous for women; it can damage the fallopian tubes, which can increase the risk for an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus). How it's checked: urine test or lab test of swab sample.

4. Genital Herpes: It can cause potentially fatal infection in babies. How it's checked: physical exam, blood test and/or lab test of swab sample.

5. Gonorrhea: It can spread through the blood to joints, causing arthritis-like symptoms. How it's checked: urine test and/or lab test of swab sample.

6. Hepatitis B and C: Chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. How it's checked: blood test.

7. Human Papillomavirus: It can lead to cervical cancer. How it's checked: Pap test.

8. Trichomoniasis: It can cause babies to be born early or at low birthweight. How it's checked: physical exam and/or lab test of swab sample.

9. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID):
It can permanently damage female reproductive organs or cause an ectopic pregnancy. How it's checked: physical exam and/or ultrasound.

10. Bacterial vaginosis: It can cause
PID or increase the risk of pre-term delivery in pregnant women. How it's checked: physical exam and/or lab test of vaginal fluid.
KNOW YOUR RISKS...
Different lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have very different experiences regarding their sexual orientation. Some people know that they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual for a long time before they actually pursue relationships with other people. .
If you're worried about your ability to safely have the talk with your partner, perhaps its time to back away. A partner who isn't willing to accept that you're taking responsibility for your own health, safety, and well being. Here are a the three most important questions to ask your partner:
Having unprotected sex puts both you and your partner a great risk.  STD's that are untreated over time can lead to serious health complications. 
Often these diseases can exist with no symptoms.  You should ask your physician to test you for any or all of the following STD's: