By: Mrs. BostonMarrieds
Growing up in the kink community in a pretty progressive metropolitan area, we were lucky. Conversations about consent were drilled into us from the first time we went to ManRay (RIP!), and saw people dancing half naked with no one trying to invade their space. Conversations about sexual health popped up at my first Fetish Flea, when someone who was HSV-positive and felt an outbreak coming on declined a sip of water from my cup. Conversations about body positivity and how beauty comes in forms not depicted on magazine covers were spirited and constructive.
Back in the day, we played with friends. I was the conduit, and we definitely did not consider ourselves part of the "swinger scene". To us, in the '00s, swingers were something people our parents' age were -- and hopefully, our parents weren't. We were just young and kinky and open and making out with people we thought were fun and attractive.
In 2015, we re-engaged. We joined various websites. We met a lot of new people. We went to a hotel party. We learned what we liked and we didn't like. We met more people. We "broke up" with some couples. I fucked some single guys. We broke up with some single guys. We made friends. We got naked with some of those friends. I learned that I actually adore watching my husband fuck other people -- surprise, compersion is real!
And the biggest thing we learned: Very few people that we met in the “swinger scene” were interested in talking about sexual health.
We've always been a fan of testing. When we started up again, we got baseline tests. I go quarterly and my husband (who plays less than I do and we are fluid bonded) goes twice a year. We aren’t medical professionals -- just sexual health advocates. We'd mention to folks in early stages that we were happy to discuss status, and share test papers. One husband actually said to us, "What, are we buying a puppy together or something?" and shut the conversation down -- hard. We didn't play with them. Thank fuck -- we learned later that they shared the gift of BV (Bacterial Vaginosis) with another couple.
Here's the best way we've found to ask people: "We were tested on X date, full panels including HSV. We're clean. When were you last tested?" The reaction to this question tells us everything we need to know. If we are playing with someone from out-of-town and we are very interested, we've been known to buy them 48-hour-turnaround full-panel (including HSV, which isn't always included) tests so everyone is comfortable -- and still use protection, no matter what. HIV takes months to show up (unless you test for RNA, which can be done after two weeks), and trichomoniasis (commonly referred to as trich) and BV aren't commonly tested, even in full panels.
We kept going, finding that our hard limit of having a conversation and sharing information regarding sexual health was a great filter for finding "our people". We gently reminded people that, actually, HSV-1 (i.e., oral herpes, cold sores, etc.), while common, was still something you should have a fucking conversation about before you put your mouth on my pussy or his dick. We gifted people with tests, held their hands while they clicked on the link to view their results. We helped them when their tests didn't come back as they expected.
Because that shit happens. And it's about what you do with the information that counts.
We haven't been perfect. We've played with people in the moment because the rush and NRE (New Relationship Energy) was so great that the conversation just fell out of our heads, and the other parties didn't bring it up. We regrouped as a unit, talked it through, and laid off playing for a little bit until we could get tested again. We let ourselves down with that encounter. I'd love to say we wouldn't do that again, but -- remember -- shit happens. You gotta stay vigilant.
Like a good majority of the population, we are exposed to people who are HSV-1 positive. It's incredibly common in the United States, but it's still something that should be disclosed. We welcome our partners sharing that information (and all related sexual health information) with us, and we weigh the risks and make informed decisions.
So, have a conversation. Be open. Quiver has, by far, the best, most open community we’ve found in the lifestyle. So go get tested. We are huge fans of https://www.stdtestexpress.com and Planned Parenthood. (Shout-out to the awesome ladies from Quest Diagnostics at Fenway Health and the surrounding Boston suburbs!) You can even use your health insurance to get discounted tests! Some places give you candy. Some give you tee shirts! Others have technicians that make you laugh so hard you nearly pee yourself. If anything, you'll be informed and ready to talk to others about your status, and keep our community healthy.
Happy swinging, ya pervs!
So a few terms to clear things up: STD = disease that can't be cured; HSV (herpes) and HIV fall into this category. STI = infection that is usually cleared up by a course of antibiotics; chlamydia and gonorrhea fall into this category. Other infections that can occur on the genitals like Trichomoniasis, Bacterial Vaginosis, or molluscum contagiosum aren't considered "just" sexually transmitted, but they can definitely be shared via sex. And let's not even get into HPV, which can't even be tested for on a guy outside of an anal pap smear, which is usually only done if there is a specific reason/risk. Check out http://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm for more information and talk to your freakin’ doctor!