My new boyfriend is not circumcised. I heard that means he is more at risk for STIs. Is that true?

Good question. First of all, have you talked to your boyfriend about this? It’s important to be able to have an honest conversation about STI risk with any potential partner. A great first step is to ask him when he last got tested. If it’s been a while, you can set up an appointment to get tested together!

Circumcision is the practice of surgically removing an infant’s foreskin (the tissue covering the head of the penis) at birth. Circumcision is an important religious practice for some faiths, but is commonly done for secular reasons, as well. Though rates have dropped considerably during the past three decades, about 80 percent of guys in the United States are circumcised.

The current consensus is that circumcision does provide some protection against HIV and other STIs. This doesn’t mean, however, that it should be the first line of defense. Studies showing the protective benefits of circumcision are especially relevant in situations or locations when condoms are not accessible or commonly used. If you have the option to use condoms, use ‘em! Condoms, not circumcision, provide the best protection against STIs.

Before starting a sexual relationship with your boyfriend, check in with him about your STI fears! Foreskin or no foreskin, talking openly with your partner, getting tested regularly, and using condoms every time are your best bets for a happy and healthy sex life.