Am I crazy, or…?

Part of the scary thing about going bareback with The Pedant when one or both of us has other partners, is that there are a few different STIs that you can catch even with condoms because they linger all around the genital region.  Therefore, even if he’s using condoms with other people, he could still get something and transfer it to me.

So why has nobody invented a condom that covers a dude’s ball sac in addition to his penis?  I think that would cut way back on STI transmissions, plus the condom would be less likely to slip off with the dude’s balls anchoring it.  There could be a drawstring or something at the top.

Is there some fatal flaw here that I’m missing, or am I in fact a supergenius and I should patent this idea immediately?

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Am I crazy, or…?

  1. Just A Slut

    I agree! I’m practicly a germaphobe because I am also Poly. And you should patent it if you can figure out a way to sell it. My personal version of an awesome condom includes pubic regions as well. Pretty much covering the area where pubic hair resides.

    A friend of mine once made a crass comment about how the pubic hair can act as a filter to keep out various yucky things from the vagina. (she’s such a lady lmao)

    At the time we thought it was funny (we both laugh at innapropriate things) but later I kept thinking about it, now my landing strip is gone, and I prefer clean shaved partners.

    Honestly if there was a safe way to boil man and lady bits without causing horrible pain I would consider it, for sanitation reasons. Wayyy too many germs and viruses out there.

    Just A Slut

  2. Leah

    I feel like I’ve talked about this before, but as one who has never had the IMPENDING DOOM fear of non-condomed partners, while I’m happy you are very careful, I sometimes feel like it’s a bit much. Also, what are you doing to prevent pregnancy if you’re not wearing condoms (a lifelong spawn is way more terrifying than catching [a treatable] infection, imo)? And if the Pedant is the kind of guy he says he is, I feel like he’d take care in choosing his partners and trusting them as well, and that he cares enough about his own health as well as the integrity of his relationships not to put that at serious risk. Just get the damn tests already, both of you!! And keep up on them. That will prevent all this needless anxiety.

    • what are you doing to prevent pregnancy if you’re not wearing condoms

      The Pedant has had a vasectomy. That – more than any emotions I may be feeling toward him – is why he’s the one I asked to do this with me, since I’m against using any “female” form of birth control for myself.

      a lifelong spawn is way more terrifying than catching [a treatable] infection

      Totally agree. But re: “treatable” infections…herpes is “treatable” in the sense that it can be managed, but it’s still an infection that stays in the blood for life, carries a stigma, and I’d have to warn all new partners about it before having sex with them – and some people would run away rather than take the risk with me. And some strains of HPV can lead to cervical cancer. Getting cancer or a lifelong whore stigma (and possibly sporadic itching sores) attached to me is a pretty big deal. I’d like to avoid it. Herpes and HPV are both infections that can be totally asymptomatic and be caught even with condoms.

      I’m sorry if this sounds blunt, but when you say my paranoia seems like overkill, is it because you’d be okay with possibly catching these things, or because you have access to stats showing that the probability of catching them is actually really really small so it’s not that scary (I’ve been trying to Google some actual damn statistics and can’t find any – all I find is articles warning me that I can get herpes and other things from someone even if they look perfectly healthy and have never had an outbreak), or did you just not realize that some STIs are scary and permanent? I’m genuinely curious.

      And srsly, if you have transmission stats – link me. I’m trying to be responsible and make Informed Decisions but I can’t find the fucking information!!!

      • Leah

        http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats11/default.htm

        I mean, these are the stats and trends (download the pdf summary, and I know it’s for the US but yeah). I’m not saying I have any proof of lower STI transmission, just my personal experience as one who does not regularly use condoms.

        I knew you were against hormonal bc and had forgotten about the Pedant’s vasectomy so I was curious. When I put “treatable” infections in brackets I meant “the not lifelong ones”. You’ve discussed before too how HPV can show up in your system and then just go away. STI’s are complicated, but I guess I find it too much to live in constant fear of them. I understand there’s a stigma and whatnot associated with a long-term one, but again, getting tested regularly can help ease those fears and hopefully catch them in a partner before they get to you. And as you said, some can still be transmitted with condoms and several are asymptomatic. Sounds terrifying, yet anecdotally I only know one person who has ever contracted an STI that’s not herpes (which is further complicated by the two types anyway). So really on paper we should all just not have sex! Haha. All this evidence to not have sex, because EVEN WITH A CONDOM, you can still catch a disease.

        Except if you get tested regularly and have partners who do too, it’s not like an STI will just materialize if you have unprotected sex. It just won’t. So if you’re free, your partners are free, and THEIR partners are free, you should be wary but not panicked. Just keep checking to make sure, and you will be fine. They don’t spontaneously crop up if they see you’re barebacking.

        • anecdotally I only know one person who has ever contracted an STI that’s not herpes

          Yeah, I don’t hear about STIs being particularly rampant, either. Although a friend recently caught chlamydia, which is sparking a little resurgence in my paranoia.

          And when I went in for my STI swabbing and told my doctor I was planning to bareback with someone who’s not monogamous to me (but who uses condoms with everyone else) she told me that wasn’t such a great idea. Actually, what she said was something like “Officially, I’m supposed to tell you that if your partner isn’t monogamous, the two of you should use condoms.” One wonders what she would have told me unofficially – she did give me a very neutral and nonjudgmental vibe overall.

          And I recently stumbled across this: http://captainawkward.com/2013/06/03/484-how-do-i-minimize-embarrassment-when-telling-a-partner-that-i-have-a-body-and-a-past/

          So yeah…some factors are combining to make me antsy.

          So really on paper we should all just not have sex! Haha. All this evidence to not have sex, because EVEN WITH A CONDOM, you can still catch a disease.

          This is just it – we live in such a puritan, slut-shaming society that I think even “impartial” sources of information tend to have an icky little spin on them. It’s difficult for me to pick the actual facts and science apart from the propaganda.

          I’ll try to wade through that PDF; thank you.

          • Leah

            That article was so good! It’s pretty much what I want to say! I am terrible at articulating what I want to say; I have several spectrum criteria, and “I believe thing, how does anyone else not believe thing” without being able to express WHY is one of my most annoying issues. It’s so much easier to use other people’s words. They are so smart!

            Good on you being able to express that to your doctor (and her for not being judgmental). I… wouldn’t have. Poly stuff is still so frowned upon I would get pissed even imagining a discussion with the doctor about nonmonogamous safety.

            I have a disproportionate number of people, those I know well and barely at all, come to me for advice or just to confess to. It’s because I don’t judge them for anything they choose to do and support them for who they are (obviously this would not be the case in regards to harming another person, but that’s a different discussion). I was in mental health for 6 years- I’ve been told a lot of stuff about people’s lives, the severely mentally ill, drug-dependent, and sick, and I’ve been repeatedly told how safe I made them feel – many moreso than their therapists. Because why should I shame someone for their demons (whether it be a crack addiction or AIDS)? Just because society does doesn’t mean I should. Even though people attempt to slut-shame me, I look them dead in the face and feel sorry for their lives and upbringing, and hope they will someday change their minds. All I can do in the meantime is halt that flow of poison with my own actions and reactions, and continue to work towards a sex-positive life, first with myself and my partners and then hopefully the other people I keep dear to me. 🙂

    • I’ll admit that during the naughty unprotected sex with The Pedant I was thinking “Even if I caught something that actually ended up killing me it would totally be worth it OMG!!!” but I suspect that this was the sexual fervour talking. If I woke up one day with itching open sores or something I think I would indeed have regrets.

      Also, on top of everything else, I’m a nude model so if I get any kind of visible genital issue it could actually impact my work. I’m damn sure not going to pose for art classes if people can see that I’m oozing/crusty/etc. Talk about whore stigma. Argh.

      • Leah

        Heh, oh god, that would be TERRIBLE with the modeling. I have a girlfriend who had these little white bumps all over the inside of her outer labia (and she really has no inner labia to speak of) and she and her husband were flipping out because neither of them have had anything or slept with other partners, and the doctors said it wasn’t an STI but couldn’t tell her what it was. And her husband was totally put off by them and convinced she had something. So that sucks and is stigma for sure. But since so many for women are asymptomatic, yet again they’re treatable.

        And to be honest, discussing them with you like this FEELS a bit like you feel/perpetuate that stigma by obsessing so much. It’s such a fine line between “wanting to be healthy” and “eww omg COOTIES PEOPLE WHO HAVE HAD AN STI ARE TAINTED”. At least to me. But I’m pretty much the opposite of a germophobe and maybe that contributes to my lack of fear of getting one like chlamydia or gonorrhea.

        I had ONE STI scare in my early twenties (turned out to be a UTI/yeast infection combo) and while it made me more discerning of my partners, did little to affect my daily life. In fact when I was getting the tests it was much more “omg this is going to cost so much that is sooo annoying.”

        • And to be honest, discussing them with you like this FEELS a bit like you feel/perpetuate that stigma by obsessing so much. It’s such a fine line between “wanting to be healthy” and “eww omg COOTIES PEOPLE WHO HAVE HAD AN STI ARE TAINTED”.

          You’re totally right. I want to be sex-positive, and I think I’m getting there, but there are still obviously some mental blocks I need to get through (and you’re not the first person to point this out). I’m working on it. 😛

        • …In fairness, though, I don’t think people who have had an STI are tainted. I only kind of think that while they actually have it. It’s a small but crucial difference. 😛

          • Leah

            Now you just have to work towards feeling the same about an STI like Chlamydia as you would about the flu, and you’re on the right track! 🙂 Work on decompartmentalizing them into the broad category of “Illness” and those icky feelings you have about someone when they have an STI! Sick is sick, no matter where the germs are, right? And they’re still people with feelings and I can GUARANTEE they feel worse than you do!

            • Now you just have to work towards feeling the same about an STI like Chlamydia as you would about the flu

              That’s what I try to do, and I’m pretty much there. My feeling of “ARGH COOTIES TAINTED ARGH” isn’t because I think a person with an STI is bad or slutty or whatever, it’s simply because I don’t wanna get what they have!

              So I suppose in my mind, chlamydia is more like mono than the flu. I’ve been known to put myself at risk for catching the flu from someone, because the flu is not such a big deal (and my immune system is really strong anyway). Mono requires a trip to the doctor (which is free here, but inconvenient) and antibiotics (which are not free, and I’m poor), so I’ll tend to be a lot more careful to avoid catching that.

              Therefore, I’ve kissed partners who had a cold or flu, but when I visited a friend who had mono I avoided eating or drinking anything in case her dishes had residual germs on them. I just wanted to make really damn sure I wouldn’t catch it. Similarly, I’d probably have protected sex with someone I knew had a non-wart, non-cancer-causing form of HPV, but I’d avoid genital contact entirely if I knew they had chlamydia. Once the chlamydia was gone, though – game on.

  3. Brugmansia

    I agree, transmission rates should be easier to find. That said, the probability of infection is probably hard to calculate because there are many variables and you can’t exactly have a lab experiment in which a guy with herpes fucks 1000 girls. Remember, the transmission risk for you of something your partner doesn’t have is 0. If The Pedant has told you he doesn’t have anything and you believe him, then the probability of infection depends on how likely it is that he may have something and not know it, and how likely it is that he will contract something new before the next time you two have unprotected sex – which depends on the likelihood of any of his other partners having/contracting anything. Statistics may be more misleading than helpful.

    But here are some numbers, since I like to Google:
    According to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm) nearly all sexually active men and women get HPV at some point. 90% of people clear it within 2 years, often with no symptoms. The remaining 10% are at risk for developing genital warts or cancer. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_papillomavirus) says that in 2002, 5.2% of newly diagnosed cancers were attributable to HPV, including over 99% of cervical cancers. According to the Cancer Council of Australia (http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/skin-cancer.html) 80% of newly diagnosed cancers were skin cancer, and 95-99% of skin cancer is caused by exposure to the sun. Does this mean sun screen is more likely to protect you against cancer than a condom? I have no clue, I just pulled a bunch of seemingly related statistics from the internet!

    Like HPV, a lot of people who have herpes don’t realize that they do. I don’t think Wikipedia is a great source, but it says the transmission risk of HSV-2 from infected male to female is approximately 8–11% without condoms or antivirals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herpes). Using condoms and antivirals together reduces that risk by 75% … doing the math myself, I think that puts it at 2.5%? Further down on the page it says that 16% of the US population has HSV-2, but of those who do, ONLY 19% ARE AWARE they are infected! And herpes is generally not included in regular check ups unless you specifically ask for the test.

    Of course, when evaluating the risks you want to take, you can’t just look at the probability and impact of the potential negative consequences of an act – you also have to account for the act’s positive worth to you. This is why people smoke and drink even though both are risk factors for cancer. This is why people have unhealthy diets even though heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. As far as STI’s, one behavior that increases your risk of infection is having multiple partners; according to a University of Michigan study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1411843), women with 5+ sexual partners were 8 times more likely to have an STD than women with 1 partner. But as you know, there’s a lot to be said for having multiple partners. Just like there’s a lot to be said for having sex, at all, although not having sex guarantees you won’t catch anything from sex.

    What risks you take are entirely up to you. If you are concerned about specific STI’s, it’s certainly no-one else’s place to tell you you’re being unreasonable. Condoms DO prevent the transmission of many STIs, and really, they’re no big deal.

    I have to admit, though, when people are so horrified by STIs and not complete hypochondriacs otherwise, it strikes me as somehow sex-negative. (I mean people in general – not you or Just A Slut personally, who as far as I can tell are both quite against shaming people for having sex.) No STI is a death sentence – even HIV can be managed – and the most common STIs are either easily treatable or asymptomatic. I therefore assume that most of the terror is inescapably linked to the same old stigmas around sex. It’s a real shame that people get slapped with a whore stigma for having herpes. No-one would ever look at a woman with breast cancer and think “wow, she made poor decisions” – even though cancer is primarily an environmental disease with 90-95% of cases attributed to environmental factors. I don’t think that people should just ignore sexually transmitted infections and not bother protecting themselves or their partners from transmission. But all the safer sex campaigns seem, to me, to contribute on some level to the judgmental hype around living with an STI, which really shouldn’t be that horrible.

    My two cents … in a very inflated currency, apologize for the length of this comment!

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