I usually get a sexual health check-up every six months. (And no, that’s not because I’m a slut. In fact, my sex count is quite tame compared to the average gay man.) The main reason I have regular check-ups is because of my sexuality. I sleep with a community that has a history of high STI prevalence. Of course, that’s all changing now thanks to lowered inhibitions within the straight community and the rise of gay marriage.
Unfortunately, the teaching of safe sex is not as robust during our teenage years. I mean, most of what I’ve learned about sexual health came from brutally honest pamphlets during gay youth group and media saturation in the form of advertising. It grew more so when I began getting regular sexual health check-ups.
But for straight people, it seems that after their short sex-ed lesson in high school, they are more prepared to prevent unwanted pregnancies than Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). And there’s a stark difference between avoiding the two.
Well, fret not my dear straight ally! I’ve got you covered. Allow me to impart some sexual health wisdom that I’ve learned as a gay man growing up in a progressive country.
The difference between high-risk and low-risk sex
More often than not, anal sex is considered high risk. Especially if you are new to the game. The reason it is high risk is that many STIs are easily transmittable through blood-to-blood. So you should hopefully know to wear a condom when tackling the rear.
But not all STIs are blood-borne, which means that not every orifice is more or less risky than the other. It simply depends on what you’re trying to prevent.
Of course, you may think that oral sex is a safer option, and you are technically right if you are trying to avoid viruses like HIV and Hepatitis C. Both are not as prominent in saliva. But if you brush your teeth before doing the deed, or perform fellatio with an open sore in your mouth or on your naughty bits, the risk increases. On top of this, some STIs like Chlamydia and Gonnohrea are more prevalent in the throat and mouth.
Also, ladies, keep those eyes closed if you’re receiving a facial. Because many STIs are transmittable through the human eye.
Risky in the bedroom? Take PrEP!
Look, it’s okay to love going bare. The general consensus is that it does feel better than wearing a condom. Of course, many medical experts would prefer you to wear protection. And any prudent person would recommend it, too.
However, if you’re a risky person and you’re not keen on giving it up, then talk to your doctor about PrEP. It’s a once-a-day tablet that prevents HIV, the main incurable disease.
Of course, be aware that it only prevents HIV.
Always ask about their sexual health status
“Oh, but it’s a mood killer,” they say. Yeah? Well so is catching Chlamydia!
Don’t be afraid to chat with prospective bed buddies, especially the one-night-stand kinds. My favourite question is “are you usually safe?” It’s my go-to, really. You can gauge a bit from how they answer it. Bottom line, if they hesitate, so do I.
And be sure to find some way to keep in touch, just in case they test positive for something. That way you can be informed so you don’t spread it to anyone else. Honestly, that would be a bigger mood killer than having to ask if they usually play safe.
When should you get tested?
If you’re regularly getting action from a variety of fans, you should consider getting tested more frequently. The usual go-to is every six months if you have multiple partners, and every three months if you’re usually risky. But you could even do once a year if you’re not so prolific.
Of course, do keep in mind that all STIs have different window periods, meaning how long it usually takes for them to show up on your results. HIV, for instance, has a window period of up to three months, so getting tested earlier may not yield the correct result.
For other STIs like Chlamydia and Gonnorhea, the window period can range between two days and up to two weeks. Of course, if your partner comes back with a positive result for any STI, you should seek medical help as soon as you can.
And please, for the love of God, don’t be silly and have sex with someone else while waiting for your results. You’d never think this would be the case, but considering many people have been caught shopping after receiving a COVID-19 test, anything is possible in this world.
Feature image: Dainis Graveris on Unsplash
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