Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Be careful out there, folks. Some of these things can kill you. I don’t mean just HIV and Hep-C but also HPV, as well. Many of the STDs and STIs out there are asymptomatic, especially in men, so you cannot tell by looking who has something and who does not. Don’t trust their word for it. It’s too much of a risk. Your health and very life are at stake as is the health and life of your partner(s) and future partner(s.)
Even if you’re in a committed, monogamous relationship, it is still a good idea to be tested because some viruses can remain dormant a while and may not be immediately apparent.
This is going to sound biased but it isn’t meant that way. Most men do not seek medical attention until something is falling off. They think it makes them look weak to admit something is wrong.The “walk it off” method is often the way they handle most ailments and injuries.
That said, men often say, my doctor tested me for everything and I’m sure I’m fine or they would have said something. And I’m sure they believe that. What they mean is that they had blood drawn to check their CBC (complete blood count) and CMP (complete metabolic panel.) Those tests do not detect viral or bacterial infections. Unless a man specifically asks his physician to test for STDs, a doctor does not test for them. Some of the infections are performed on blood but others require a urethral swab to retrieve a sample. Guys are very wary of people sticking anything into their penis so most do not get tested. In Kentucky, at least, a person must sign a release to allow testing for HIV and syphilis, so again, if they did not sign anything, it didn’t happen. My boyfriend once humorously asked his doctor to test for everything that begun with the letter H.
The same for women, unless you specifically ask for the tests to be performed, it isn’t usually done. A pap smear only checks for pre-cancer cells, which usually signify some form of HPV. Women are lucky in that for most infections, they have symptoms whether it be an itch, a bump, an odor or discharge. But not all STDs and STIs are symptomatic so it’s still best to be tested to ensure your piece of mind.
Even though I’m in a committed relationship, when I went to the doc last week, she asked if I wanted to be tested for STDs and STIs, I said yes. Of course, everything came back normal but it never hurts to know for sure.
So, please, everyone, go to the doc and have an STD/STI panel done. If you don’t have insurance, Planned Parenthood, your local health department or your local LGBT center can do it either free of charge or for a nominal fee, usually based on a sliding scale.
It’s important to take a proactive position when it comes to your health so please:
Limit your partners.
Communicate with your partner(s.)
Be honest.
Be a grown up and have a frank discussion about your sexual past and present to determine your risk factors.
Use condoms EVERY time you have sex.
Have safe alternatives to sex, such as masturbation, kissing, using toys, hand jobs, fingering, mutual masturbation, cybersex, phone sex, dry-humping or just cuddling, for goodness sakes.
Don’t have sex when you’re drunk, high or otherwise incapacitated to using good judgment or making wise decisions.
Don’t hook up with random strangers on Tinder, Grinder Twitter, Snapchat, KiK, Craigslist, Facebook(!) or whatever the cool kids use these days.
Be careful.
Take care of yourself.
Take care of your partner.
Have fun.
Play it safe.
A cautionary tale: An acquaintance of mine picked up an extremely virulent form of HPV from someone he dated (after meeting online.) It caused an aggressive form of prostate cancer, which necessitated removal of his prostate, which means no more erections or sex for him. Ever. It caused cancer in his wife, as well, and she had to have a total hysterectomy. They had planned on having children. I guess they’ll have to adopt.

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