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Throughout the highs and lows of my own sexual health, getting tested was never something I wanted to bring up. I felt like asking someone about whether or not they were “clean” was passing judgement on their sexual practices and also killed the mood.

Buy yourself some lube, throw it in your bedroom drawer and apply as needed — and trust me, lube is almost always needed. You think you’re enjoying sex now? Mmm, you poor child.

That summer, sitting on a hill beside my friend who liked Twizzlers, I’d tried my tongue on it, this newfound body language. Tentatively, pulling up roots with my fists, I’d pointed out that I was fat.

A man yelled at us on one of our last walks together. He was shouting at me for holding hands on the street with a man with the softest, most electrifying skin I had ever touched.

The build-up before being sexually intimate with someone is incredibly electric: the sexual tension, the passion, the longing, the wanting. When you get to those final moments before your lips touch, before your hands brush against their skin, before you feel their warmth against your body, the air is heavy with desire.

Put a towel down. Or don’t, and just make sure you’ve got a change of sheets ready if you ever have guests over. Period blood is sterile — there’s nothing to worry about unless the sight of blood makes you faint.

Now, here we are: on our third date about to make love for the first time. It’s then that he tells me he hasn’t been with anyone since he was sick.

Often questions about sex can leave us at a loss for an answer — we draw a blank or grin with reddening faces because we simply don’t know. And in this space of uncertainty is the potential to explore new, fun, nerve-wracking and informative perspectives, allowing us to better understand ourselves on the path to honest answers.

Under two months ago, it was just a word. Now it’s the word. If you open my phone’s browser (and go to private mode), you’re accosted with it. If you were to take a trip inside my head, it comes up daily — more than daily, hourly — and is scrutinized minutely. It’s taken over so completely that I wanted to use it recently to introduce myself in a lab meeting to an interloping doctor.

There was a pause that was long enough for me to know the answer. She shook her head politely, and told me she should be getting home. “But,” she added, “let’s see each other again next week?” All was not lost, and I had accomplished my real goal: another date with a fantastic girl.

Nervous about introducing toys to your partner? Familiarize yourself with the toy on your own time, so if your partner’s not into it, you can still have fun.

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