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Your sexual history isn’t exactly something you want to shout about from the rooftops. But sharing your sexual history with your partner can benefit your current relationship if it’s done in the right way. Get some tips on how to talk about it, and be aware of some common reactions.

This can help if:

  • you’re thinking about having sex with a new partner
  • you’re thinking about having sex for the first time
  • you want to understand why it’s important to share your sexual history
  • you want to learn the best way to communicate your sexual history.
Headless close up couple holding hands

What does ‘sexual history’ mean?

Sexual history is info about your sexual health and sexual experiences. This could include how many times you’ve had sex, how many people you’ve had sex with, any sexually transmitted infection (STI) you’ve had, and whether or not it was treated. If you want to have sex with someone with a sexual past, you need to know if they’ve had a sexual health check.

 

Can’t the past stay in the past?

The short answer? Nope. It might feel awkward to discuss your sexual histories with a new partner, but it can help you decide how best to look after each other in the future.

Here are some other reasons why you and your new partner need to be upfront about your sexual history:

  • Condoms and diaphragms (barrier contraception) only minimise the risk of STI. They don’t eliminate the risk. Check out our page on contraception for more info about barrier contraception.
  • You can carry an STI without realising it.
  • STIs can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

What info should I share?

Too much info about past loves can be painful to hear, so set some boundaries around how much specific detail you share. For example, you might only want to know about things that affect your own sexual health, such as:

  • whether the other person has had sex before
  • if they’ve had a sexual health check since their last sexual partner
  • if they’ve had unprotected sex in the past.

In addition to sharing this same info about yourself, you might want to let your new partner know:

  • which contraception you’ve used that works for you
  • what you’ve enjoyed from your past sexual partners.

How do I have the conversation?

  • Do it in private.
  • Keep in mind that it’s very important to share this information.
  • Remember that you’re not the first people on the planet to have this conversation.
  • Try not to go on about how great your past partners were. Your partner may compare themselves and feel inadequate.
  • Use the conversation to communicate what you enjoy in a sexual relationship.
  • If either of you has any concerns about your sexual health, get checked out.

What can I expect?

Jealousy

Hearing about your new love’s sexual activities with someone else can make the green-eyed monster rear its ugly head. Just remember – that was in the past; they’re with you now.

Hurt

Yep, it’s difficult to hear about someone you care about having sex with someone else. But they weren’t committed to you when it happened, and they haven’t cheated on you, so take a deep breath and move on to the present.

Embarrassment

Some people exaggerate or minimise the number of people they’ve had sex with because they think the true number is either too little or too many. There’s no right number of people to have slept with, so just be honest about it.

What can I do now?