My Encounters With Men: Sex, STDs, and Everything In Between
How can you trust that the person you’re sleeping with is clean? Bottom line is, you can’t. You can’t, because not only do they not even know what they’ve been tested for, because they are too ignorant to ask, but they also lie.
"What scares you more about sex - a devastating heartbreak, or a damning sexually transmitted disease?"
Sex is a game that involves a lot of risk. More often than not, it’s feelings and emotions that people are most concerned with. Will you fall in love? Will someone get hurt? However, emotional risks are nothing but trivial dribble in this day and age. The real issue that should be weighing on your mind is sexually transmitted diseases.
In the US, sexual education starts around the 4th grade and continues regularly until puberty, at which point it becomes as regular as mathematics or science. By the time you finish high school, you’re an expert in all STDs, their symptoms, treatments, and of course, prevention. However, that is not the case in most other countries.
Perhaps I was spoilt, or naïve, to think that every other millennial out there was as responsible as I, when it came to reproductive health. Condoms and bi-yearly tests are the norm for me. I watched my health like a hawk. When I moved to Israel at the age of 26, I was in for a rude awakening. It was the first time in my life that I ever had to have the condom argument. I got every excuse in the book, from, “It just feels better without”, to, “I’ve never had to use them because I know the girls I sleep with”. Hardly excuses; more like turn-offs. In the US, American men never tried to persuade you to put your health at risk. It was never even an option. They put a condom on, and that was that. However, excuses from Israeli men were the least of my worries. The worst was trying to find a gynaecologist in Israel, who would actually test me regularly, like I wanted. 6 years in Israel, and a new gynae every year. Like the men I had been with, each doctor had another excuse – “You don’t fall into the risky age group”, or, “You’re being a hypochondriac”. One doctor even told me, “I don’t believe in testing for STDs”, and then followed it up with, “You should go to your general practice doctor. I don’t want to be responsible for calling you with the results, anyway”. Whoa, what?
I started to think long and hard. The more I thought, the more celibate I became. There was absolutely no way in hell anyone in Israel was getting regular check-ups, or forcing these doctors to perform the tests, like I was. Especially if they weren’t even aware that these diseases existed. Subsequently, the “Have you been tested recently?” question, typically asked to your new partner, became completely pointless. Even if your partner said “Yes”, what exactly did “Yes” mean? I came to learn that it meant an HIV test every couple of years. That’s all! JUST HIV! Apparently syphilis, hepatitis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and herpes were not even remotely concerning! I eventually found a wonderful British doctor in Tel Aviv who joked with me saying, “Israeli gynaecologists should be dragged out to the street and shot”. Amen, and agreed.
However, back to the important question: How can you trust that the person you’re sleeping with is clean? Bottom line is, you can’t. You can’t, because not only do they not even know what they’ve been tested for, because they are too ignorant to ask, but they also lie. Case in point, sleeping with a good friend of mine who insisted to me that he had recently been tested, only to tell me months later, that at the ripe old age of 32, he had never been tested, because, and I quote verbatim, “I don’t sleep with girls from the street”. Stupid AND insulting, as girls from the street are probably cleaner, because they are more aware of the risks, and thank you for lying to me for months, jackass.
Fast forward to meeting my (now) husband in Italy, and requiring that he get STD tests before having unprotected sex with me. At the age of 30, he had also never been tested for the same reason – he only slept with girls he knew. Apparently, getting to know a girl completely cures her of any pre-existing diseases she has. I guess we can cut out the pharmaceutical companies altogether now, hooray! Getting tested in Italy proved to be as frustrating as getting tested in Israel. He went to his family doctor first, who had absolutely no idea what STDs even were, much less how to test for them. For 2 weeks, we went from hospital to clinic, ad nauseam. Finally, we found ONE small clinic that did actually test for diseases…the old school way. In case you’re unfamiliar, that’s a swab inside the penis – 1 for each test. 2 years later, it’s still brought up in arguments to prove how much he loves me.
The scariest part of all of this is that many of these curable diseases are no longer curable. Gonorrhoea and chlamydia, which were once treatable with a week's worth of antibiotics, are now lifelong ailments, causing pelvic inflammatory disease, discharge, painful cramping, and of course, infertility. Syphilis is also becoming untreatable, as penicillin is slowly losing its potency. Syphilis will kill you, but before it does that, it will rot your brain until there’s nothing left but mush. Hepatitis is also fatal, as is AIDS. The latter is clearly not the only thing you should worry about. Statistic rates for STDs are 1 in 4. ONE IN FOUR. That means if you’re at a bar with 20 people, 5 of them have an STD of some kind. Are you absolutely positive that the person you’re going home with is not one of the 5? No, of course not. Because even they themselves are not sure, despite convincing themselves they are, because their doctor took a peek inside and said, “You’re fine”. “You’re fine” is not a test. A test is a swab. A swab for EACH disease, and hepatitis, syphilis, and HIV are separate blood tests. That means that unless you have been poked and swabbed until you feel like an abused pin cushion, you have NOT been tested.
Contracting these diseases is also as simple as a high five. The man does NOT need to ejaculate inside the woman. He doesn’t even need to be in her that long. One orgasm-less thrust is enough to get the job done. Is it really worth dropping your guard for 3 seconds of mediocre sex, just to wind up with an incurable, painful illness for the rest of your life, or even DEATH, simply because the person you were with told you they’d been tested recently? No, definitely not. Use condoms, always, and get tested…NOW.