Not just killing the mood

Dear Frances B,

I have this friend who I've always been attracted to, and we recently had a one-night thing. It was great except that in the middle of doing it he entered me without a condom. I guess I was so surprised and insecure that I didn't open my mouth and just kept going. He pulled out before coming. How 'at risk' for STDs was I? I don't need a condom lecture, I just need to know what I should do now.

– Won't Do That Again

 Dear WDTA,

I'm willing to bet that if your friend was willing to slide it right on in without talking about it, then he's likely done that with other sex partners too. So in terms of sexually transmitted flora and fauna, you have technically had unprotected sex with all of his lovers. And their lovers. So… that's a lot of unprotected sex you’ve been having.     I called Jillian, the Education Coordinator at the NL Sexual Health Centre on Merrymeeting Road, to ask what you should do now. She recommended that you get tested for STI's even if you don't show any symptoms.    "80% of women and 50% of guys won't show symptoms of Chlamydia, which is our most common STI here in Newfoundland," she says.

Chlamydia is treatable with antibiotics, but if you let it go unchecked it can ravage your system, causing sterility, pelvic inflammatory disease, or other complications.

"Whenever you allow transfer of bodily fluids," she said, "you are putting yourself at risk of bacterial infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, as well as the HIV virus. Herpes can be transmitted without bodily fluid exchange, through skin-to-skin genital contact – especially if there are sores present but even if there aren't – and through oral and anal sex. An outbreak of genital warts can also be passed on by skin-to-skin genital contact."   

She also noted that if he pulled out before coming, the risk is reduced, but added that you were probably exposed to pre-ejaculate fluid, which can carry STI's.   

I'm wondering why you didn't feel comfortable to stop when sex with your friend went outside of what you were expecting. Were you afraid to kill the mood? Even if it's only a one-night stand, your body belongs to you and not to the whims of another person. If someone is not willing to wear a condom or get off in some way that doesn't involve body fluids a-mixin’, then that person has a problem with you protecting your body, and you should zip up and head home    You didn't mention it in your letter, but I'm also wondering if you have ever experienced any kind of sexual abuse. A lot of survivors have a hard time setting sexual boundaries and speaking up. The Survivor's Guide to Sex by Staci Haines (Cleis Press, 1999) is an excellent guidebook  for recovering sexual authority and empowerment. Also, I recommend asking around – your close friends, your family doctor, or your local Sexual Health Centre may be able to recommend a good counselor.   

The NL Sexual Health Centre can set you up with a confidential STI test and can answer these kinds of sexual health questions. Call them at 579-1009 to set up an appointment or visit www.nlsexualhealthcentre.org for more information.

-FB

email frances at belowdeck@thescope.ca or mail your questions to frances c/o the scope, po box 1044, st. john’s, a1m 5m3.