This post began when writing another one about being sex positive, it won’t go into detail about all the risks it’s just a friendly reminder about safe sex practices and the importance of them. It’s such an important topic that I thought it deserved a post of its own.
There is many contraception techniques available but to this point there is only one really effective way to prevent most STI’s besides being chaste. Condoms (preferably used with lubricant,) are still the best way to prevent contracting a Sexually transmitted infection besides abstaining from sex all together.
There is quite a few infections and diseases that still run rampant where they are allowed to and young people are particularly at risk according to statistics. Other sub cultures may be more at risk due to certain practices but where possible, I believe the harm should always be minimized. Safe, sane and consensual are the basic guidelines for those who practice BDSM and this should be the case across the board.
It bothers me that some people will try to avoid wearing condoms. Maybe they aren’t aware of the risks which is why education is so important. People say they don’t like to wear condoms for different reasons which is a worry. The discomfort of using a condom should be minimal if there is any at all, there shouldn’t be if it’s the correct size and put on properly. There is so many types of condoms available including super thin ones so your sensation isn’t dulled too much by wearing one. Despite popular belief condoms aren’t a one size fits all, you may need to buy a different size to regular for it to fit properly and be comfortable. I think the mild amount of apparent discomfort is a small price to pay compared to the potential pain catching an STI can cause.
There really is no excuse for not wearing a condom, especially with someone you only just met or began having sex with. Go with that old saying, “if it’s not on it’s not on.” Seriously. If you had seen some of the pictures I have seen of STI symptoms you would absolutely agree with me and I’m sure if you have had the unpleasant experience of catching an STI you would also agree and it is more common than people tend to think for someone to catch something from having sex especially unprotected sex.
As for getting tested many people are afraid to go or worried it will be painful. The tests are generally pretty straight forward and take only a short amount of time so any discomfort will be over quickly and when compared to the discomfort and pain of actually having a STI, you will wish you got tested. Most tests can be done with a simple swab or urine sample but some require a blood test. If you get tested and something comes back abnormal your doctor should be able to guide you or you can locate your local sexual health or family planning centre for expert advice. I recommend getting tested at one of these specialist facilities which in many places are funded so they won’t cost too much and you get to deal with people who know what they are doing as they deal with sexual health issues daily. Now days many STI’s have treatments which are readily available and easy to access in many parts of the world. Some like chlamydia require a single dose of antibiotics. Other problems can be more difficult to treat which is why prevention is really better than cure. There is unfortunately still some viruses and diseases for which there is no real cure but there is treatment to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Some of the STI’S that are most common include Chlamydia, which is really common and can’t always be detected without a test due to the fact some people show no symptoms. Syphilis is still a risk in today’s modern age as is Gonorrhea. Herpes and Warts are some of the more common STI’s and the virus stays in your body forever even after the flare up of symptoms has been treated you can still pass it on through aviral shedding. HIV and Hepatitis are also still around and without a condom you are putting yourself at risk of contracting any of these illnesses or infections. Condoms provide a barrier which gives you the best protection against that risk if you decide you want to have sex, which many of us do. Wearing condoms and getting regular tests especially after any contact that had a potential for transmission like unsafe sex or a broken condom are the best defence. They aren’t completely fool-proof but if condoms are used properly the risk is minimized greatly. Some skin to skin infections can get around condoms so it’s also a good idea to have a look down there and keep an eye out for anything unusual.
STI’s and other sexually transmitted diseases and bugs do not discriminate. They will infect a person who comes into contact with them at the first chance they get, that is how they survive by infecting their host, which in this case is us humans. They don’t look at a potential host and say ‘No, she’s too pretty for me to infect her.’ Or ‘Nah he has such a good job and he’s on the footy team let’s not infect him,’ they don’t think so all they are programmed to do is to survive and to reproduce by infecting new hosts. That is the case for viruses and bacteria as well as insects and microorganisms, most sexually transmitted infections in fact. Some affect our genitals but aren’t transmitted as such these can still cause problems.
The topic of STI’S for me can cross over into a consent issue because often people aren’t forthcoming and honest about their sexual health status. In order to make an informed choice about whether you consent or not, you need know if your sexual partner or potential one, has an infection or disease. If you aren’t 100% sure then practice safe sex until you are which will require a visit to the doctor. You can not tell if someone has something just by looking at them or what your assumption is. Assuming is a dangerous game, especially when it comes to your sexual health.
The best way to avoid dealing with these issues is to only practice safe sex and if you do have a slip up or a condom breaks then visit the doctor. It won’t take long to get checked out and chances are if you have caught something then getting on to it early will increase your chances of being able to treat it effectively and to treat most problems you do need a doctor.
I don’t want to rave on about it because it’s quite simple really. Use protection. See the doctor. Or you could risk catching one of many infections or diseases then spreading them to everyone you have sex with just because you don’t like condoms or doctors. Or you could avoid having sex all together. I know what option I’d choose.
Remember: Safe sex is good sex.