Testing, Testing, One… Two… Is This (Condom) Thing On?
Okay, this one is always, at least initially, awkward to talk about; but like sex in a basement elevator, it’s going to come up (sorry). This is so important, it should be on a polyamorist’s list of Life’s Greatest Inevitables, after death and taxes:
And no, I don’t mean some petty, emotional game of psychological hoops you set up to see if your lover-to-be will pass or fail their way a step closer to… the next few tests you give them, to see if they deserve your desire when you decide to get naked! (Also, please don’t test others by ranking people according to how fast they text back on the phone! Ha. I digress.)
I mean Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing.
It’s the silent but severely important responsibility and activity every person (especially polyamorous) must commit to completing as often as necessary, especially considering the possibility that one might have more options and opportunities for the unknown to occur than the typical monogamous sexual adventurist. There is a common consensus that “once-a-year” STI testing is a reasonable amount, especially if there have not been too many (if not any) incidents of unplanned fluid transmission. If condoms break or symptoms occur, don’t let irresponsibility cause a small problem to grow more serious, and don’t let social stigma or shame stop you from taking care of yourself because that means taking care of your partners, too.
We all get sick at some point in our lives. Who doesn’t ever get a cold or the flu or the chicken pox? It’s an inevitable part of life: people catch viruses and infections. Every single person on earth probably catches at least a few sicknesses in their lifetime, so judging the origins of one’s infection is patently ridiculous and actually disrespectful. It’s a part of the natural evolution of things. It’s why we have an immune system working for us. And being “grossed out” if/when discovering someone’s courageous confession of a history involving an STI, STD or HIV is not an acceptable response or honorable way of communicating in polyamory and even in general humanity.
This isn’t to say polyamorous people are at “higher risk” to contract STIs. May I suggest that it may be the intimately-dishonest individuals living the most unprotected, unhealthy sex and drug addicted lifestyles with as many irresponsible episodes and self-destructive behaviors that are probably at the “highest risk”. And these people can publicly proclaim to be monogamous, polyamorous, married, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, queer, abstinent, or something else!
Maintaining the integrity to treat your body right and to be honest about your sexual health is probably the topic least discussed in most relationships. Being responsible enough to not get drunk enough to have wild, blurry, crazy party sex is enough of a struggle, for many. Being even more responsible when everyone sobers up, and deciding to “have the conversation” about when you got tested last, is essential whenever each person feels like it’s time to face it. And if one person faces that truth, it hopefully means both and/or everyone involved is facing that same truth together. Nobody says, “Let’s get tested together!” (But hey, if people are all smashing genitalia together, it’s not THAT crazy of an idea…)
Here’s a few questions to end the polyamorous reflection on testing:
- How often will you get tested for STIs, and when will you ask your partner their health status?
- When you and your partner connect to a third person (or more), when will it be required to share the new partner’s health state?
- Will they have to communicate with everyone, or just one partner?
- Is one or both or all partners allowed to participate in certain types of sexual activity of a different/low-risk nature, with/without informing the rest of the partners?
- Which forms of contraception are acceptable for each of the relationship connections?
- Are STI results required to be seen, or is one’s word trusted amongst the group?
- How much of one’s sexual history will have to be disclosed, to reach the point of approval?
These questions, and most definitely many more, are bound to come up when one participates in a polyamorous lifestyle. When you have the pleasure of partaking in various partners while feasting at life’s sexual smorgasbord, just make sure your hands are clean before they get dirty with delight again.
Always in Love,
Be sure to ask your local doctor, community health center or local sex education clinic for all the free protection you can carry home in a day, all the information you need to know (and keep learning) for a good sex life, and of course, where to get tested.
Thanks to: FuckYeahPolyamory for the insight!