How many of you would demand that a partner get him or herself sexually checked out before you agreed to hop in the sack with them?
I should do a twitter poll on this, you know. It would be super interesting to see the results. Because I do that. Exactly that. I’ve done it a few times. I DEMAND that a partner gets themselves sexually checked out before I’ll agree to “do bits”.
I don’t think so. And I’m about to tell you why.
Some of you will know the backstory to this. Some of you won’t. There’s a whole category on it HERE.
Long story short, I had a too-fucking-close-for-comfort brush with cervical cancer. I had suspected CIN-3 cells three times.
The first, after a routine smear. I went back, was monitored for a bit, and then I had an awful procedure to get rid of the cells.
They came back, according to a follow-up smear, but I didn’t need the treatment that time around.
The third time was a bit of a false alarm, I think. I had a lump and some odd symptoms — patchy, irregular bleeding, pain before, during, and after sex, blah, blah, blah. They (the gynecological department of my local hospital) told me that it was scar tissue leftover from the procedure I had before, and I shouldn’t worry. I still had those scary CIN cells, but they were being monitored and should be just fine. I’m not convinced, but they discharged me back to my doctor again. I figured I’d leave it in their capable hands.
During all of this, I learned something: I’d tested positive for a “high-risk” strain of HPV — the human papillomavirus. I read all the leaflets they gave me and I Googled far too much. It didn’t really do anything to shake the “dirty” feeling I had. I mean, you don’t really expect to hear the words “positive” when you’re being tested for a ‘sexually transmitted infection’, that isn’t actually considered a sexually transmitted infection at all. Doctors have suggested that the virus is as common as the same one that causes a common cold. Trust me on this one, I’ve done HOURS of research.
Confused? Me too. I’m still confused.
They (healthcare professionals) don’t check for it during regular sexual health screenings. Not that it mattered. I hadn’t kept up to date with my regular sexual health screenings. For a while, I was a sexual skank, even after the horrific-husband incident. That story is coming up in just a moment, but after that horror show, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson.
The *only* way to not get these HPV strains is to abstain from sex 100%. So, yeah, fuck all that. Plus, it’s too late for me now. I’m already “infected”. (It’s been a couple of years and it STILL makes me cringe when I say it.)
Some strains of HPV cause warts. I don’t have that strain. I have (/had) one of the “high risk” strains that can cause the mutation of cells that then leads to potential cervical cancer. Or, at least, I did have that strain; and, in theory, my body will continue to mutate in this way until it has rid itself of the infection.
Pleasant thought, right?
It may have been a couple of years since I received my positive diagnosis, but I don’t know whether or not I’m still HPV positive. I wasn’t told if I’d even been tested for it the last time I had a smear + colposcopy. In my frightened state, I forgot to ask. I will, the next time I find my legs up in the air with my foof out for all to see. But, I don’t know when I was infected. I will never know. It’s pretty safe to assume that, unless you’ve only ever had sexual contact with one person in your life, you wouldn’t know who’d caused your ‘infection’ either, if you were to find yourself with the same diagnosis. That’s not how these strains of HPV work. I don’t know if I got it when I had sex with someone with a condom or when I had sex with someone without a condom. Because, as much as I bang on about the importance of sexual health, I’ve played Russian Roulette more times than I care to admit to.
I bet you’re wondering why I’m telling you this.
Because I feel it serves as a very stark warning:
Play around with your sexual health and you will get bitten.
The strain of HPV that I tested positive for (as well as many others) isn’t even in the same bracket as ‘real’ STI’s, such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, or genital warts, yet look how it has affected my life. What makes it worse is that I can’t say whether or not I got it from unprotected sex or protected sex.
If I’d worn a condom that one time, would things be different?
Maybe? Probably not? Who knows?
Maybe wearing a condom wouldn’t have protected me at all but I played with that fire — I sometimes used a condom and I sometimes didn’t. Maybe I got burned as a result?
Younger girls are lucky now, with vaccination programs in place to stop this common virus from causing cancerous cells, but those vaccinations won’t protect them against other STI’s. I’m not lucky. I wasn’t lucky. I am worrying, because I’m sure I have a checkup smear due at some point coming up, and I’m petrified of what the results might say already.
But let’s say that you don’t get the “common” strain of HPV as I did.
What if you take some hottie home tonight, “do bits” and, in a few weeks’ time, start noticing green gunge coming from places it shouldn’t?
Nice thought, huh?
Don’t think it’ll happen to you?
Ten years ago, my HUSBAND had green gunk coming from places it shouldn’t. He didn’t tell me about it, nor did he tell me about the sexual health test he had. In fact, he didn’t tell me about it until AFTER he’d been, left, waited a week, and then was diagnosed with gonorrhoea. As a result, I had to be vaginally, orally, and anally tested.
(The tests came back negative, not the fucking point. I coulda had the green gunk and I’m utterly disgusted by that.)
Your one-night-stand/new object of desire could be THAT bad. Green-gunk bad. Or it could be cervical cancer bad. Except, nobody seems to talk about that last one much. I’m not really sure why. That’s the one I’d be talking about the most, if I’m honest.
P.S. I know that condoms aren’t 100% effective at keeping you safe from HPV — the ones that cause warts, or the ones that cause cervical cancer. I read up on alllllll of that too.
But, condoms DO help. And they WILL protect you from all sorts of nasties that probably aren’t even on your radar.
But, do you want to know something else? Men are much more receptive to the idea of having a sexual health checkup BEFORE they hop in my bed than I first thought. I used the same approach with the last two men that I’ve invited to my bed and a few more (I’m sure) over the course of my sexual history.
Current boyfy — Bear — had no problems whatsoever with my request. I did explain my STI paranoia to him, probably revealing more info that I’d planned, but hey-ho. Job done. Even when we were gettin’ down and frisky in bed, hardcore making out, he *still* kept with the no-contact rule. Not until we’d had those results, he said. We both had condoms to hand that first time we spent the entire night together, and I suggested using them. (Think what you like. No fucks given.) He said no. He stood his ground. We were waiting for those results.
It was fucking amazing when we got the all-clear.
Worth it? Totally.
Read about it, starting HERE.
Brown Eyes was the same too, despite me not wanting to bring him into the conversation at all. I handed him the same sexual health demands. He took them and agreed, no questions asked. That’s probably the only good thing I have to say about him.
I didn’t think men were meant to be so flexible about such things? I was led to believe that men didn’t give a shit about sexual health my entire life. (Admittedly, both of these men let slip that they’d either NEVER had a sexual health check before, or hadn’t kept up to date with regular checks. Bestie was a fucking nightmare for it too, as well as every other lad my age I’d spoken to about it.) Not only was the whole asking process much easier than I’d thought, but the follow-through was too. Maybe the prospect of “bareback” is worth jumping through those sexual hoops for? Perhaps believing men didn’t give as much of a shit was a shocking, incorrect stereotypical mistake on my part?
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t wear condoms. I’m saying that you SHOULD wear condoms. Sexual health checks WON’T look for the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer. Condoms WON’T entirely protect you from them either. But, together, they WILL protect you from a number of sexually transmitted infections that could have both long-term and short-term repercussions, or stop a problem from getting any worse. (Go for your smear test too and you’re covered all-round.)
I’m suggesting an approach that you could take at the same time as condoms – one that doesn’t seem to be met by half as much resistance as I thought it might. No man has ever asked me to get myself sexually checked out before he fucked me. In fact, I don’t think any man has ever even asked me the state of my sexual health before fucking me. That has always been left in my capable hands. I’m happy about that, don’t get me wrong. At least when I’m in charge, I know things are done right. (Most of the time.) But, when asked, the men in my life have been more than happy to hop, skip, and jump right down to the clinic to get their willies checked. I mean, I’ve asked two guys (that I can definitely remember), and they’ve both said yes AND done it. That’s a 100% success rate right there.
Would the man you take to your bed tonight be quite so willing to jump through the same hoops for you? Would you hoop-jump in return? When was the last time you had a sexual health check anyway?