It has been said that the best things in life are free and, while I usually agree with this age-old adage, I’ve now come to realize that this doesn’t apply to one the very best things in life: sex. No, I’m not referring to literally paying for sex. I’m talking about the heavy risk that we all take nowadays when engaging in sex. I mean, some STDs last a lifetime and can cause irreparable damage (infertility or death, anyone?). That’s quite the price to pay for a between-the-sheets tango time, no? With 19 million newly reported STD cases per year, this certainly is a high risk to be taking…and the cost could truly end up being more than you bargained for.
Considering the high rates of STD contraction in the United States, I am always alarmed by the number of my friends and peers who are knowingly putting themselves at risk by engaging in unsafe sex…and don’t seem the least bit fazed about it. Stories about unprotected sex (raw-dogging it, as it’s now called) with new partners are rampant amongst the younger crowds, and many seemed shocked when I bring up oral sex as a cause for STD concerns, too. One-night-stands. Anal sex exploration. Threesomes. Blackout-drunk sex sessions where you only hope a condom was used…but can’t quite remember (damn tequila!). The list of sexual exploits can go on and on, and they are all often brought up or even bragged about when the topic of sex comes up. Sunday brunches sometimes feel more like a pissing contest for who has gotten away with the weirdest sexual act the night before.
Still, the single HOTTEST sex fact/exploit that doesn’t get boasted about nearly enough? “I’m STD free!” Seriously people. In a day and time when there are 700,00 reported cases of gonorrhea per year, being STD free is incredibly sexy and worth bragging to the world. Me? I wear my own STD free badge with pride.
I suppose one of the reasons people aren’t gathered around the Sunday Funday endless mimosas table bragging about their STD-free status is because the topic itself is, for whatever reason, decidedly unsexy. Plus, there is an increasingly high rate of sexually active people not being tested, too, whether it be because of misinformation, fear, or sheer ignorance. I mean, even I once believed that I was tested for STDs when I went for my annual OB/GYN exam. My shock when I discovered that this was not the case was palpable, and it only came to light when discussing a recent bad sexual decision with my gynecologist. Luckily for me, my one-time college stupidity slip-up didn’t cost me my sexual well-being, but not everyone is so lucky. In fact, that same partner I slipped up with that one time went on to contract genital herpes. Imagine my relief when I realized that I had dodged that bullet. PHEW!
Sadly, all of this STD madness only further complicates the already weird and wacky world of dating and sex. I mean, it can be difficult enough bringing up relationship status talks, and the first time you have sex with a new partner can be awkward enough without the ever-sexy STD talk. Still, this is, in my opinion, a VERY necessary step in building a lasting, honest, and trusting relationship. Your body and health are at stake here and so is that of your partner (oh, and your future babies…with our without your current partner!). So why wouldn’t you take every necessary step in order to protect yourself? There really is no good excuse.
Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions (before sex!)…even if it’s awkward.
- When is that last time you were tested for STDs?
- What is your HIV status?
- Are you currently having sex with anyone else?
Be honest about your own sexual past and STD status.
You’re about to “bump uglies” with this other person. They have a right to know if they should be concerned. Sure, knowing your number of previous partners isn’t their business. But, they reserve the right to walk away if they are freaked out by your answers. Better safe than sorry…on both sides of this dirty (delicious) dance.
Be prepared to wait until you’re both tested.
Sometimes, we don’t get tested as often as we should. You or your new bed buddy may not yet be up-to-speed with their STD tests. If you really like them, or if they really like you, they’ll be willing to wait until you’re both given the okay.
For me, it was a relief to see my STD testing results in print. The same could be said for seeing your partners. Plus, if you don’t know this new sexual partner all that well, it may be more reassuring to see the results in black and white. You’re not calling them a liar, you’re just being smart. Plain and simple.
We all make mistakes. You or your new partner may have made decisions in the past that were risky or even downright dumb. Discuss these, then move on.
Know when to move on.
If I had a dollar for every time a guy begged me to have condom-free sex, I’d be sitting pretty in my own little cottage by the sea by now. I’ve heard all of the lame excuses. “But don’t you love me?” “I’m allergic to condoms.” “I just want to feel closer to you.” “Trust me.” “Just the tip?” “This isn’t for me, this is for you.” “Oral doesn’t count.” “You’ll like it better, too.” “It’ll only be for a second.” The list is endless. But, the result should be exactly the same. “You show me yours and I’ll show you mine. THEN we can talk about it.” If they don’t understand, resist heavily, or continue to avoid the request, politely move on. No man or woman is worth contracting genital warts over. That should be a given.
So, dear readers, remember that being STD free is sexy. So, get tested early and get tested often. Be smart and be sure to enjoy some good, healthy (dirty) STD-free fun time between those sheets.
La Petite Provocateur