Hello, first off, I greatly appreciate the resources here at Scarleteen. I have a rather sensitive question concerning risk of STIs. I am an adopted child (now and older teen) who has no access to her biological family history, medical or otherwise.
I am currently at a point where my partner and I are beginning to explore different levels of physical intimacy. We know my partner's medical history and that we're in the clear there, but I am worried that I might have inherited some STIs that have not shown up and fear putting my partner at risk in the case that we engage in manual sex or if I perform oral sex for my partner. I know the best way to set my mind at ease is to actually get tested, but getting tested for STIs is difficult given my lack of access to transportation. Any thoughts or advice on the topic are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
I think you are asking about "mother to child" transmission of STIs during pregnancy, labour and breastfeeding. Someone might correct me here, but to my understanding, the main STIs transmitted (which may not give you symptoms yet, as an adult) are viral hepatitis and HIV. Other STIs transmitted through this route include chlamydia, herpes, cytomegalovirus and syphillis but they tend to cause significant problems in babies and you'd likely know about it by now.
To find out about whether you have hepatitis or HIV, the best way really is to get some simple blood tests. As well, for anyone thinking about becoming sexually active, it's important to have access to sexual healthcare. When we don't yet have access to money or transport to do that, it may not be the best time to have sex. What would you do in an emergency, for example if you needed emergency contraception?
I would say that if you had been infected with something at birth, it would have shown up by now. eryn_smiles brings up a good point about access to sexual healthcare. Have you thought about being able to get some of the basic items you should have when becoming sexually active; things like condoms/barrier devices, lube, birth control, etc.? These are some of the considerations to think and talk about with your partner before becoming sexually active. I have added two articles for you to start with. There are other articles available about safe sex, birth control choices, condom ‘how to use’ and many others on this site you may find informative. Let us know if there is anything more that we ca help with. Ready or Not? The Scarleteen Sex Readiness Checklist
Thanks so much! I really appreciate your thoughts and suggestions. Your points about transportation make a lot of sense. To be honest, that never even occurred to me since I tend to associate the need for things like birth control and emergency contraception with penetrative sex, which I don't forsee until at least after I finish getting my license, which means my transportation issue would be solved.
I was just wondering, in terms of the blood tests needed to test for hepatitis or HIV, are those things that would be tested for in any standard blood tests (I remember getting blood tests as a child and apparently I had a lot before the immigration office allowed me into the country). Or is that something I would specifically need to ask them to test for.
Then my second question is until I can get the necessary tests, is it best for me to avoid all sexual contact or are activities like manual sex or my performing oral sex for my partner (but not the reverse) relatively "safe" activities?
Labs only test for the things that the Dr has ordered to look for; so a Dr would have to order a STI screening. If neither of you have done anything considered to be at risk before than you are both unlikely to have anything (other than maybe having had oral cold sores). Here are a couple more articles that should be helpful. Please, make time to look over all of the articles we have; they may even answer questions that you haven't even thought of yet.
Thanks so much! I realize I may have phrased my question incorrectly before. I read the articles you linked before (they were very helpful!), but had been a little unclear as to whether or not I would be potentially putting my partner at reasonable risk. I read "Oral sex is more of an STI risk for the person performing the act than the one receiving." but got a little confused when I put it together with something like "the truth right now in time is that should you choose to engage in manual ("hand jobs" or "fingering"), oral ("giving head" or "eating out"), vaginal or anal sex right now, even when you do so safely (with safer sex practices and regular testing for you and your partner, and by limiting the number of partners), you are taking a decent risk of contracting HPV or Herpes Simplex."
Thanks very much for your links and input. I apologize if I come across as a little neurotic; I've always been THAT over analyzer that drives kids in my class crazy with incessant questioning.
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