Culture //

Weighing up the fun in the face of STIs

Just use a fucking condom next time, writes Ludwig Schmidt.

Just use a fucking condom next time, writes Ludwig Schmidt.

Two weeks ago my girlfriend and I slept with one of our close friends. My girlfriend and I have an open sex life, but before this we had never involved a third-party. We found the experience both adventurous and exciting and have grown closer as a result of it. Our relationship with our close friend, the third-party, remains unchanged.

Now the point of this article, contrary to what you might be expecting, is not to tell you how many forms of sex have been demonised in society that are actually both legitimate and commonly practiced, although that wouldn’t be the worst thing you could take from this. The point, rather, is to talk about an interesting grey area in sexual health practices this event led me to discover.

While my girlfriend’s and my threesome with our close friend was fun and something of a revelation, for a while it seemed like a disaster.

Later the following day both my girlfriend and I started feeling (and unfortunately seeing) what we were convinced were the tell tale signs of an STI. Burning sensation during sex. Check. Burning sensation while peeing. Check. Genitalia excreting gross fluid. Check. We did a Google search, resigned to the fact that we were infected, to try and ascertain what exactly we had contracted. Our conclusion after some thought and a day’s more experiential knowledge was that we had gonorrhea.

We went to the doctor to take the necessary tests (urine and blood); yours truly confronting his fear of needles by doing so. The inconvenience of this played second fiddle however to thoughts about the awkward conversation we thought we’d soon have to have with our friend. My girlfriend and I were actually so convinced by our self-diagnosis that we very nearly didn’t bother waiting for our results to come in before we spoke to them.

What a mistake that would have been.

To our complete surprise, our results came back negative to every main sexual transmitted infection and more. What we had been dealing with, as our symptoms had started to subside, was a urinary tract infection (UTI), which shares many symptoms in common with STIs and in rare circumstances passes between sexual partners. Very importantly though urinary tract infections are not very contagious. We no longer needed to tell our friend they had given us an STI.

Despite the negative results of our tests, the saga got me thinking about our decision not to remove all possible ramifications by using a condom. It wasn’t even discussed. It just happened. We all knew each other; my girlfriend and I were not in the habit of using condoms and it didn’t strike us for a second that our friend might impart upon us a lasting physical reminder of our sexual adventure, even though they led an active sex life.

In the end, we decided to just go with it because everything about what we were doing felt so ‘right’. I dare say others have done the exact same thing. It may have been a win for my sexuality, perhaps, but not for my sexual health. I think this stands despite the fact I actually never had an STI. We were convinced, after all, that we did and I think there’s something in that.

The following thought is not original, but I feel it is worth repeating anyway. STIs do not discriminate. It doesn’t matter how right something feels, there is always risk involved. Significantly minimise this risk by always using protection, if for no other reason than so you don’t ever have to tell one of your closest friends they gave you and indirectly your partner an STI.

Filed under: