Checked Out

Posted on | November 11, 2009 | 14 Comments |

When did you last get an STI check? Have you ever had one?

I’ve been getting mine on an annual basis for the last seven or so years. Generally that meant taking the easy route and getting tested when I saw my gynaecologist for my yearly check-up.

Over those last seven years I’ve had sexual interactions with approximately a dozen people, eight of whom have been (or become) longer-term partners. In all cases (bar the first threesome I ever had, when I was horny and dumb) I’ve practiced safer sex. And in all cases, when it came to a partnership that I wanted to be longer-term, I’ve made sure we’ve both been checked out.

I was last checked back in January of this year. And now, ten months later, there’s Hylas on my dance card. It’s been more than six months since my last check, and despite only having sexual interaction with one new person in that time (a metamour), who had also been checked, I felt more comfortable getting tested again.

That, and I wanted him tested, too – he’s never been checked out at all!

So I called the Auckland Sexual Health Service and made an appointment for us both to go in together. Aren’t I nice?

Having had my last 1/2 dozen tests through my gynaecologist, I’d forgotten just how many questions they have to ask you! We got to talk about my list of current partners, previous tests, my HPV, current medications, types of sex I’ve had/am having, whether any of my male partners sleep with other men … and deciding what tests/swabs/etc I want to have.

Ideally, I’d have liked to have been tested for HSV (herpes) and other HPV strains, but I quite understood when they explained that a) they only test for those if symptoms are presenting, and b) they have a number of false positives even then. They did do an examination of the genital skin, though, looking for warts.

As it was, I got tested for the following: HIV, syphilis and hepatitis (blood test), chlamydia, gonorrhoea, thrush, bacterial vaginosis and trichomonas (vaginal swabs), and an oral swab for gonorrhoea as well.

Thorough, huh?

They had preliminary results for us by the time I’d had my bloods taken, but neither of us will have complete results for 7-10 days. After that? Well, after that, I have a sleep-over planned!

So. When did you last get checked out? When were your partners last checked? Do you practice safer sex?

Own your sexual health. And make the most of it!

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Comments

14 Responses to “Checked Out”

  1. Amorous Rocker
    November 11th, 2009 @ 4:07 am

    I used to get checked with new partners so the frequency would change based on my relationship/fling statuses. I've been in a monogamous relationship for almost 3 1/2 years now so I get tested less often than I used to. I always practice safe sex. I think it's extremely important.

    My boyfriend was telling me today about a guy he works with that has 7 different children with 3 different women. He won't use condoms and the women didn't bother with birth control. Unplanned pregnancy and diseases can be prevented if people would just take the proper precautions. And no one likes the way condoms feel but come on, use them, especially if you or your partner won't go on birth control. There are tons of clinics that offer free birth control to those who can't afford it and the people will generally answer any questions you have if you're not sure what to do. There are also several ways to get free condoms if you can't afford them to help protect you and your partner from disease and unplanned pregnancy. If you're too embarrassed to go get birth control or condoms, then in my opinion, you're not mature enough to be having sex. There's not a lot of excuses for having unsafe sex.

    Sorry to rant in your comments Dee, lol. It's a hot subject for me. =) Great post.

    XoXo

  2. Curvaceous Dee
    November 11th, 2009 @ 4:12 am

    Rant away, my dear!

    Safer sex is definitely important – hell, my brother is dying from AIDS due to one stupid incident without protection. Here in NZ you can get a script for 120 condoms, and it'll cost all of $3 to get it filled. And then there's IUD's, the pill etc.

    Given I no longer use the pill and I've had my IUD removed, it's always condoms – even with my beloved husband, whom I am fluid-bonded with. The risk of pregnancy just isn't worth it.

    (And next year we're both looking into getting the snip – vasectomy for him, and tube-cauterisation for me. Bring it on!)

    xx Dee

  3. nzrubber
    November 11th, 2009 @ 4:20 am

    What do you mean, no one likes the way that condoms feel? I do… they're rubber! Of course, I may not be typical. :)

  4. Curvaceous Dee
    November 11th, 2009 @ 4:21 am

    Ah, but you are a special and perverted kinkster, my dear :)

    xx Dee

  5. Musns
    November 11th, 2009 @ 4:43 am

    Gah – they won't test for HSV (herpes) without symtoms??? In the US 1/4 have it and 20% or is it 25% (scratches head) don't KNOW they have it. It's possible to be a carrier without ANY symptoms.

    GRRRRR – that just irritates me to no end.

    Three of the classes I teach covered STD's and birth control. I couldn't stress enough to the teens in my classes that the pill, iud's and so forth are NOT good enough for sexually active people. That if they were 'old' enough to be sexually active, they needed to be protecting themselves from STD's as well and that those forms of birth control were not sufficient. I (laughs) squicked the students out by showing pictures of various std's. However, I'm not delusional and I know how teenagers think (I was one once, after all) – invulnerable, will never happen to me etc, etc.

    I recently got a full testing done. It dawned on my while preaching at the students, that I needed to get tested. I hadn't been as safe as I should have (now really, oral sex with someone who had a heroin problem in their teen years…I obviously needed a lead pipe to the head). I'm grateful it all came back 'okay' – at least nothing new, beyond what I already knew I had.

    Done with my rant about being safe against STD/STI's.

  6. Curvaceous Dee
    November 11th, 2009 @ 4:51 am

    I was most annoyed that they don't test for HPV and HSV (I specifically asked). Especially as one of my parters, and their spouse, both have herpes.

    It's something I do my damnedest to avoid, with their assistance. But I don't particularly want to get it, or to pass it on to any other partners. Still, what else am I to do?

    Bring on the ranting!

    xx Dee

  7. kiana
    November 11th, 2009 @ 7:59 am

    Having been as sexually active as I've been in the past year and a bit, I was getting tested every 6 months regularly. Before that it was yearly since I began being sexually active. Nothing came up until I presented with warts, which the treatment for caused a VERY nasty reaction that has me hesitant to go back at all. (Good thing I'm not sexually active with others atm, huh?)

    While I've got my own personal, internal issues to sort out about HPV, I totally agree with everyone here. No excuse is good enough when it comes to practicing safe sex.

    That gives me an idea – Dee, would you come with me to Auckland Sexual Health to try to face this HPV thing please?

  8. Curvaceous Dee
    November 11th, 2009 @ 8:13 am

    I would be happy to come with you, hon! *big hugs*

    I count myself lucky that my HPV variant isn't a warty one. But I still wish that neither of us had it. That vaccine? Everyone needs that vaccine. Just a shame it was too late for us.

    xx Dee

  9. Anonymous
    November 11th, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

    I have a beef as well with the "No testing for HSV without symptoms".

    It seems clear that one of the worst effects of HSV is a feeling of alienation and a sharp reducting in the number of people who will have sex with you.

    If they tested everyone so that more people knew they had it, that effect would lessen.

    I feel that by not testing for it they are punishing the few (less than 50%) who happen to get symptoms.

  10. Hubman
    November 11th, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

    Veronica and I always practice safe sex with other partners. And since you asked, I got tested just 2 weeks ago and wrote about it in my Swing Shift column last Monday.

    I went to Planned Parenthood and was tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV, but not herpes. To be honest, I had a brain fart and didn't think to ask. I wonder is they use the same rule about symptoms as they do in your neck of the woods?

    And as I wrote, I was surprised by the LACK of questions, in contrast to your experience.

  11. Curvaceous Dee
    November 12th, 2009 @ 3:07 am

    Anon1, – I, too, think they need to be testing. Or devising a better way to test! There is a serious lack of knowledge about HSV out there in the community, and the grief so many folks go through when they are diagnosed (not realising that a) cold sores are herpes too, or b) that such a large percentage of the population has it) is terrible.

    Hubman – That was a most interesting post, although I am surprised (and saddened) by the apparent differences between your testing situation and mine. We have FPS – Family Planning Services – here, which a lot of younger people go to, and I went to for a number of years. I certainly felt as if ASHS was more oriented towards testing specifically, while FPS is for everything. Pills, tests, seeing the nurse, etc.

    Musns – The HSV status of my partners doesn't bother me, although I was pleased to have been told and to have the choice. We are always careful, and if they are aware of a flare we stay away from that area entirely!

    Petal – I am glad you get tested regularly now! FPA were a godsend to me back in my teens – and yes, sexual education in the 80s in school? Not so amazing. At least no one was advocating chastity, though!

    Anon2 (I know it's you, Freckles!) – Exploding condoms sound, I don't know, like they produce shrapnel? Ouch, anyhow :)

    xx Dee

  12. Musns
    November 11th, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

    Honestly, I was a bit concerned about my physician's reaction prior to going. She was AWESOME, I said I wanted to get tested, she asked why and I told her that no, I didn't have any symptoms but went a bit 'wild' after my divorce was final and hadn't practiced the safest of practices. She just smiled at me and said sure, we can do that. Of course my health insurance didn't cover any of it, but I don't paying the cost of the testing (400 USD so far and still waiting for one bill). I'm also in a monogamous relationship now and that wanted both of us to be reassured. He and I have talked at length about my having HSV and the fact that even with the use of condoms, there is still a risk he could contract it from me. He was quite adamant that if he did contract it despite the use of condoms and my taking anti-virals that he didn't want me to blame myself, as it takes two and he is willing to take the risk.

    Our local health department does NOT, under any circumstance, check for HSV. Another irritation, since the majority of the teens are going there for testing and birth control.

    @Anonymous – I've been exceptionally fortunate in that my partners in the past year didn't squick about HSV. Haven't been turned down, just practiced as safe sex as possible.

  13. Petal
    November 11th, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

    Fantastic post Dee. It really is food for thought. This was all something I had never really given any thought to until I started having sex outside of my marriage and oh boy was it a huge learning curve for me. My only sex ed on this kind of thing was from school in the 80's and lets face it this kinda thing wasnt discussed too well in New Zealand schools back then. And I must admit I was incredibly uneducated about it all. Family planning do an awesome job in education etc…and yes I do get checked regularly now.

  14. Anonymous
    November 11th, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

    As usual, fabulous post! Since becoming polyamorous (a year ago), I have been checked twice.

    The first time when my husband and his girlfriend wanted to become fluid bonded, so we all got tested at the same time. For the record I would have gone anyway :) I got tested for all of the things you did, but don't remember them making any specific comments about testing for HPV or HSV. Maybe I should have asked? Like Petal said, education about sexually transmitted infections in the 80s was minimal – how do we, as adults, get to learn what we need to know? I mean some of us are interested and take the time to find out, but some seem to be living in ignorance…

    The second time was after an exploding condom incident. In between it happening and my results coming back I used condoms with my husband to be safe.

    Auckland Sexual Health have been awesome and the 144 condoms for $3 rocks :-D

    Just read in the news that it is 'Sexual Health Week' in Australia this week and that 'Australians are being urged to do it for their country…' – *such* an Australian way of getting them to go get checked!

    @ NZRubber, still giggling about the rubber comment – hadn't even thought of that!

    *hugs* xxx


  

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