If ya wanna be my lover, ya gotta get…tested! STDs aka STIs are a touchy subject. Given that I’m no longer in a monogamous relationship, I have to consider risk factors anytime I’m talking to a potential new parter. Not only risks to myself, but to my other partners and THEIR partners as well. We are all an interconnected little web of…sex.
I quickly became aware that this level of consideration and caution is not shared among all of my fellow poly-wogs. Though, I have found that many of those with higher-risk behaviors fall more into the “swinger” category than actual polyamory. (Post to come later on that!)
So! What constitutes a safe sexual relationship, from my perspective? After countless hours of research, I’ve come to a few conclusions. First, there’s no such thing as “safe” sex. “Safer” sex is much more accurate. Even if everyone tests negative for everything, something could have slipped by the tests. Maybe they contracted something after being tested last. There’s always a level of risk.
Luckily, there are ways to lower that risk. When taking on a new partner, I require the following of them:
1. They (and their partners) be tested every 3-6 months for a specific list of STIs.
2. They, and their partners, must test negative for: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hep-C, HIV, HSV-2, and Syphilis.
3. HSV-1 testing is preferred, but not required. Why? Because I have found that nearly everyone has it! Cold sores. Passed from parents to their children when they are still young, and they never even know they have it. I won’t try and convince you to take this off your list if it’s on there. Stick to your gut and to your standards! Just do your research and know that the testing is very unreliable, and a person can have it for YEARS before getting a positive result. I have always tested negative, but one of my partners has gone back and forth between positive and negative results over the past year. We assume he has it and the negatives are false negative, as that’s more likely than a false positive. Realistically, I probably have it too, despite my negative results. Luckily, there’s no real health concerns and this is the least concerning STI of the bunch, in my opinion.
3. Protection! Condoms/dental dams must be used with anyone who isn’t a committed partner. Now this one gets into a little grey area. People define “commited” partners differently, and everyone has an opinion on when protection should be used. I have found myself wavering on my expectations, but ultimately it has been a deciding factor in ending relationships. There’s no such thing as too safe!
4. Be honest about slip-ups! Condom breaks? Condom slips off inside someone? Accidental fluid exchange? Just tell me! Shit happens, believe me, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cursed my apparently extra-tight vagina for trying to eat a condom…
5. When a slip-up happens, consider getting re-tested. Just to be safe. If everyone is following the expectations, whoever you slipped with will have recent testing, too. But again, you can never be sure what may be lurking or what they’ve contracted since their last testing, especially if they’re closer to the 6 month window of testing.
6. Repeat! Keep the testing cycle up-to-date and always be honest!
Now, to me, these don’t seem like unreasonable requests. Unfortunately, for some people they have been the deciding factor for them NOT to get sexually involved with me. Sorry, not sorry. That being said, there are some who have even stricter standards than this! I know at least 2 poly-wogs who require that potential partners be celibate (or take on no new partners if in a commited relationship) for 6 months, and then get a fresh round of testing before they can have sex. This gives a chance for any STIs to manifest and show up in the blood work, eliminating the chance of any newer ones to be missed. While the majority find this to be extreme, it is certainly a valid option for those choosing to be overly cautious. Again, there’s no such thing as too safe when you hold the health and safety of countless people in your hands!
What are your expectations? I’d love to hear your feedback!