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STARS 

is an easy-to-remember acronym that helps to begin a conversation leading to consensual great sex.

STARS stands for Sexual Health/STI Status, Turn-On’s, Avoids, Relationship Intentions and Safer Sex Etiquette.  

By using STARS, you create a safe space for talking about subjects we often keep to ourselves, so… Make Time For The Talk!

Created by Dr. Evelin Dacker

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Sexual Health and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)


are difficult to discuss. The stigma over sexuality can make it challenging to be comfortable bringing up health issues. While we may not be use to doing so, openly talking about health brings far more pleasure to our activities that pretending they do not exist. 

Sexual Health issues to consider are: 

  • Sexual function issues such as erections, orgasmic ability, and genital dysphoria. 

  • Changes that can occur with any insertive play such as yeast and bacterial infections.

  • Medications or health related problems that can affect sexuality 

 

STIs are caused by bacteria, parasites and viruses that are passed from person to person by sexual contact. Yet not all STIs are caused by sex and sex does not cause all STIs.

Testing and knowing the status of one’s partner prior to sexual contact can reduce the risk of catching and spreading infections. 

 

To do the STI talk, start with your own information:

  • The last time I was tested for STIs was

  • I was tested for…know what you were tested for, do not assume that the "full" panel is everything. 

  • My results were…use Negative or Positive. Using words such as "I was clean" is stigmatizing.

  • I get tested every

Then, ask: “How about you?”

Learn More about Common STIs

How Often Should You Get Tested?

Where Can You Get Tested?

 
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What Brings You Pleasure And Joy


Neither you nor your partners are mind readers. Even people in long-term relationships can’t always tell what their partners want or desire. Learning how to be with a new partner requires openness to talking, listening, and observing. Expressing desires and exploring together can be one of the most exciting aspects of a developing sexual relationship, but even in a one-time encounter, letting the other person know in advance what you enjoy and can agree upon together will greatly improve the experience for both of you. As you question, explore, and grow sexually, you will discover that it can be an amazing tool for deepening your understanding of yourself.

The best way of getting pleasure and joy is to discuss it openly and directly.

Some examples are below. 

  • I get turned on by: Conversation, Kissing, Eye-gazing, Friendship first/that’s as far as I go, Gifts, Touch (hard/soft/cuddles), Compliments/Validation, Sexting, Dirty Talk, Romance, Energy (Curiosity, Attentiveness)

  • My favorite places to be touched are:

  • My most erotic zones are....and I like to be touched lightly/hard/scratch/pinch/tickle.

  • I like receiving/getting:

  • I enjoy performing/giving:

For more examples, see the STARS Worksheet

What’s off-limits for you? 


Boundaries are critical to healthy relationships. Being able to express both your desires and your avoids create consensual relationships that are meaningful and pleasurable. 

What should your partner avoid saying/touching/doing (or avoid asking you to say/touch/do)? Sometimes we know our triggers, and other times we discover them unintentionally.

Something that is a “no” right now could change in the future, but being informed helps ensure that one partner doesn’t make assumptions that could negatively affect the experience for both of you. 

Some examples are: 

  • A big turn-off is when someone does:

  • Right now I am not interested in:

  • I have certain triggers they are:

  • Something that happened that I didn’t like was:

For further examples see the STARS worksheet

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Who I am and what I desire with you 

Intentions and expectations may be very difficult to discuss. Sometimes we don’t even know what we want with that person. Sometimes we do and telling them can feel very vulnerable. By talking about intentions up front leads to a better understanding of what is possible. While we have no control over the other person, thinking that they will change through sex often leads to emotions distress and hurt.

 

This may be the place that takes the most practice and letting go of fear. It is not something we are taught to be honest about, much less discuss.

Some examples are:

  • My sexual orientation is

  • My gender and pronouns are

  • I desire a hook-up/a long term relationship/FWB/non-monogamous dating

  • The kind of sex that I want to have is

  • I desire monogamy/non-monogamy

  • I have Covid agreements and they are

For further examples see the STARS worksheet

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Practicing safe sex can protect you from STIs and unwanted pregnancy.

Both male and female condoms are an excellent option for safe oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Wearing latex or nitrile gloves during vaginal/anal play creates a hygenic barrier between sensitive membranes and dirty fingernails. Dental dams or plastic wrap can be used as barriers during oral play around vaginal/anal areas. Both you and your partner should be clear on your choices, as well as the back-up plan if your chosen method should fail.

Learn More about Pregnancy Prevention