Anonymous asked you:
We are new to the lifestyle and concerned about STDs and safe sex. If you are at a hotel party and meet a couple, how can you be sure if they are safe? Do you use condoms even for oral sex? Is there a protocol to ask to see there latest test results? What do you do?
Sexually transmitted diseases are a common concern among lifestyle newbies (Swinger Dictionary: Newbies) and we totally get it. Couples in long-term monogamous relationships don’t have to worry about STDs and can choose whatever form of preventative birth control they prefer. Plus, your high school health class probably has you scared any random sexual encounter will result in your penis shriveling up and falling off. However, I am here to assure you: most swingers are STD-negative, and there is plenty you can do to make sure it stays that way.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, groups most at risk for STDs are high school and college-age individuals, low-income African-American neighborhoods, and the Gay community (this information is summarized from various databases, and readily available on the CDC’s web site). Swingers - while not necessarily a recognized subset of the population - are not represented by government statistics. That’s not to say there are not cases of sexually-transmitted disease within the swinging lifestyle (because, of course there must be statistically), but it is worth noting “swingers” or those in “open relationships” are not represented in government-funded, risk-related categories.
It is our experience that swingers are overwhelmingly concerned about this very topic, and take great care to make sure they and their partners are guarded against infection. Trust me… NO ONE wants an STD. We find most swingers are religious - nay, militant - about safe sex. This typically means that condoms are involved in all forms of penetrative sex. Yes, we realize that infections can spread through oral sex. That said, we have never encountered anyone in the lifestyle requesting the use of dental dams or condoms during oral sex. Would you be safer with such precautions? Of course. You would also be safer wearing a helmet and five-point harness in your car. But I’m still guessing you change the radio and sing along with your favorite songs, because that is more fun. That said… If you are worried, you are 100% within your right to make rules barring oral sex or require enhanced protection. Since most STDs require an open wound to spread, you can decide against flossing your teeth or shaving your genital areas within 24-48 hours before engaging in any sexual activities to avoid microscopic cuts.
We always maintain a healthy concern about sexually-transmitted diseases; it cums with the territory (pun intended). We are frequently tested and encourage our partners to do the same. We have a fantastic regimen in which we are each tested every six months. We stagger the tests biannually so we have a clean bill of health every three months. The King County Health Department has a wonderfully inexpensive testing facility in downtown Seattle (it’s on a top floor of a high rise with wonderful views, by the way). The staff is incredibly respectful and completely educated in, if not bored by, open relationships. Your community likely has a similar network. There are some minor costs involved, but it’s the price you pay to play.
There is a great deal you can do to lessen your risk of STDs within wild sex parties. As I mentioned above, you are absolutely within your rights to require condoms or dental dams for all forms of sexual touching. You might get a sideways glance, but as we always say, an awkward conversation up front is better than tears at the end. Additionally, you can reduce your risk of infection by avoiding random, sketchy hook-ups. Swinger parties and lifestyle clubs are great, but steer clear of Craigslist, prostitutes, or random encounters with nameless people in questionable places. You should avoid people who have a cavalier attitude about safe sex; do not put yourself in a position where you will feel pressured to do something that will put you at risk.
Even the most seasoned swingers will have an STD scare at some point. Skydive a hundred times and you’ll need to pull the backup chute once or twice. Put on your big-girl panties and contact your partners. Any experienced swinger knows the risks and knows how to handle “the talk.” A quick phone call, a repeat test, and a dose of penicillin goes a long way. We find keeping a detailed list of sexual partners and contact information is important - not only to “notch the bedpost” (wink, wink), but also for reference should you need to provide a health warning. It is your responsibility as an ethical non-monogamist to not only pleasure your partners, but make sure they are safe, protected, and informed.
Above all, have confidence in the network. Swingers are fiercely safe and protective. Stay within the bounds of trusted connections and you should carry piece of mind.