[CW: sex, sexually transmitted diseases]
never had an STD? cool.
had one, a few, many? also cool.
so many of my friends boast about never getting an STD, usually not forgetting to mention their head count. i’ve heard it so many times. but let me tell you, hun, you’re not getting a medal for that from me, nah. i mean, it’s definitely a step forward that it’s now more and more common to discuss STDs casually, but i’m not buying all that “look how clean i am” shit, sorry.
because, ultimately, STDs are just illnesses you can catch at any time of your life, just like a flu or mono or whatever. each body reacts differently, and some are more prone to getting ill, some are not. it has nothing to do with who you sleep with, how many people you sleep with and so on. it’s all about coincidence, mostly. and just let me repeat it one more time – the number of your sexual partners does not determine the likeliness of you getting an STD. you can get an STD even after your first sexual encounter.
another thing is, while you might think you’ve never had any STD, chances are you actually have. just because you’ve never experienced an outbreak of symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’ve always been STD-free! so many STDs can stay dormant in your body for years or can cause minimum of symptoms you simply disdain as something normal. unless you get tested regularly, you cannot be sure. and no, a regular gyno checkup is usually not enough.
“but i always use condoms and i bet those people who get STDs don’t!”
again, shush. sure, condoms are very important in minimizing the risk of getting/transmitting STDs, but they’re not almighty. for example, there are STDs that can get transferred even through the genital area not covered by condoms, such as syphilis, herpes, HPV. speaking of HPV, it is probably the most common “secret” STD people have which is, at the same time, incredibly easy to transmit. all Czechs will probably remember this huge campaign promoting the vaccination against HPV in early 2010s urging everyone with a cervix to get vaccinated asap to prevent cervical cancer (funnily enough, i don’t recall it ever mentioning what the actual cause—an STD—of the cancer was) – well, what they forgot to mention was that the vaccination used in CZ, and in many other countries, was only effective against a few specific strains of HPV but not for all of them. and, what’s more, it is usually pretty common to only use condoms for P-in-V penetrative sex, but STDs can be transmitted even through your mouth too…
it might sound scary, but it really isn’t. we’re brainwashed into thinking that STDs are disgusting, based on the doctrine that our genitals are something dirty and filthy. i guess that’s just some old-age propaganda which attempted to keep people religious, subordinate and sheepish instead of actually enjoying themselves by engaging in sex play. our genitals are nothing scary or disgusting. they’re supposed to secrete fluids (just like our armpits do with sweat), they’re supposed to have a specific smell (again, just like sweat), they’re supposed to be prone to get ill (just like every other body part does).
getting an STD does not make you impure. it does not make you irresponsible. it does not make you stupid. it does not make you a whore or a slut or a fuckboy or whatever. it does not make you any less.
when someone tries to prove how clean, responsible or sex-educated they are by taking pride in never getting an STD, they automatically imply that having an STD is indeed something bad. something to be ashamed of. and through that, they further perpetuate the stigma around sex, they victim-blame, they slut-shame. and that is definitely not right. the whole discussion around STDs needs to be reframed from promoting sexual abstinence and claiming that condoms solve all (and if you don’t use them, you’re a bad, silly, untrustworthy person), we need to focus in normalizing the whole experience, because only then will people feel ok about getting tested, about receiving a proper treatment and it will possible to deal with STD outbreaks, which are still common.
so, repeat after me: STDs are normal.
STDs are (pretty much) inevitable.
STDs happen. life goes on.
you’re not better if you’ve never had one, you’re not worse if you’ve had.