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Author Topic: How Often?
copper86
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I've been debating between going in for a second pap test since I am becoming increasingly paranoid of having or contracting an STI. I've been with my partner for two years and have never had any symptoms or infections; but every time I see something new on my genitals now, I freak out. My last pap smear showed no vaginal infections and I was told that if they did not call back regarding my blood test or cervix sample, that I was fine.

This is definitely too much information, but I've just noticed that I have orange-like lines on my anus. I've never seen them before and they don't hurt. I don't know if it's a tear because of forcing or something worse.

Due to freaking out over every little thing I get, I want to try and book another pap smear. My new doctor "might" be back on Monday, but that was only an estimation and I'm not sure. I'm admittedly terrified or having a physical and pap smear; not just because there could be something wrong, but because I hate having a stranger look at me and analyze me. I'm also afraid that my mom will somehow find out if I have any type of infection (STI or otherwise). Records are kept confidential, I know, but what if my mother blatantly asks? I doubt the doctor could just lie.

So I guess my question is, how often should one have a pap smear? I believe it's a general rule of thumb to be tested every year, but I'm not sure. I know it's silly to be scared, but I can't help it. I guess I'm just looking for some reassurance. I'm sure booking one can take a while, depending on how full-up the doctor is, and that would make me even more anxious.

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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September
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Well, a complete STI screening consists of a blood and urine test, as well as an exam. A pap smear only tests for abnormal cells that may be indicative of HPV.

If you are in a long-term relationship, having a gynecological exam complete with a full STi screen once a year is fine. If you have multpiple partners and/or change partners often, you'll want to get tested more often, as well.

When was the last time you had an exam and STI test?

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Johanna
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Heather
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Just to make sure it's clear, we're talking about a mutually-monogamous long-term relationship here: in other words, an LTR where the people involved are both sexually exclusive.

But, this is also something your sexual healthcare provider can help you figure out: if you're honest with them about your sexual history and your partnership now (including exclusivity or not, safer sex or not, and for what activities), they can help you figure out how often to get screened and what tests you need for screenings.

But a pap smear won't give you the information you want on STIs: the pap is a test to detect cervical cancer, not STIs. Even when a pap shows cervical changes most likely to be from HPV, it's still not even a test for HPV. That's something else entirely. With pap smears specifically, the current recommendation is one every year or two unless a doctor suggests otherwise.

[ 09-07-2012, 02:01 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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copper86
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Thank you both for responding to my post!

Honestly, I now have no idea. I got a blood and urine sample done, and a swab done; so yes, it was just a pap smear. I guess I'm just not well-versed in this, but I thought they would check for STI's with my samples. Can they screen for STI's if I ask, or must I go to a GYN or other clinic?

Okay, so I guess I'm alright with my past pap smear, then; but I can always ask next time I see my doctor. There is no Planned Parenthood where I live - there are a few in Toronto, but that's almost 3 hours away.

I'm monogamous with him, and I'm not sure if he is with me. Even if he is now, two years ago and then more than a year ago we stopped seeing one another for a month or so; so there have been two incidents of us being separated in which he had at least (possibly) a new partner.

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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Heather
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You need to ask for STI tests if you want them, most of the time. So, if you have never asked for any, you likely have never gotten any, unless your healthcare providers did them during your pap without informing you, which would be unusual.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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copper86
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I know I myself should have been more informed, but I wish they could have told me that that option was available if I wanted it. When I go to the doctor soon, I will ask about a pap and STI screening. I'd rather just stop worrying and if there is something to worry about, then I can take those measures then.

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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Heather
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Not knowing what kind of healthcare provider you saw, what you put on your intake form in terms of your sexual history, and so forth, it's hard to say why they didn't offer.

I do think that taking care of your sexual health is important, and for sure, since you have been having several kinds of sex without condoms and outside a mutually monogamous relationship, I do think you need a full STI screening soon.

At the same time, I feel like with some of your issues and concerns you bring here, the core issues that I think are really underneath a lot of this are things I feel often go untouched or avoided to some degree, and I think until you also really start dealing with and talking about -- with us, or with someone else -- them, what strikes me as very pervasive fear and anxiety around a lot of this probably isn't going to go away. Do you know what I mean?

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copper86
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I did talk to her about my sexual history, but no forms were done. I want to get tested soon.

After having a very awkward conversation with my mother about what I saw, she told me that I have anal tearing and hemorrhoids (I had them often when I was little, so you could say that she is well-versed on this). I have to change how I eat and fix my fibre intake, or at least take supplements; because that gave me the fright of my life.

Yes, I do agree with you. These anxieties have deeper roots than just the exterior feelings, if that makes sense. I'm going to chat with my partner when I see him again, and I won't be having anal sex for a while - at least until my hemorrhoids heal. I force all the time which I know is not healthy... I might take something like Metamucil from now on.

If my clinic doesn't do STI screenings, there is a health unit that I can cab to or bus to if need be.

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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Heather
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Sorry to hear that, that sure can be awfully uncomfortable physically.

I'm also happy to talk with you about your sexual choices and the situations with your partner candidly any time you'd like. Been trying for a little while, but have also been trying hard not to be pushy, since it is of course up to you if you really want to dig into talking about that.

Just brought it up again because I keep feeling like circling around it with you, or with what I'd think of as some likely symptoms from this, emotionally, probably isn't actually helping you in the bigger picture.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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copper86
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Thank you. I don't know how often I get them, but it is sort of uncomfortable. Not too bad, though. [Smile] I'll just be more careful until they heal.

I appreciate you not pushing me to talk about my partner. I'm extremely selective about to whom I tell these things (which is why I often post here if need be, because it is anonymous in a way), and even when I tell a close friend that I'm in a sexual relationship, I've been met with either acceptance or downright judgment (one friend admitted she was judging me and started asking me very personal questions about him that weren't relevent to me, and so I just closed the discussion and don't discuss it with her); and so I've just found that I'm very uncomfortable talking about it - not just due to the potential conservative nature of my friends, but because I'm really into personal privacy. Of course, you and the other users here do not make me feel uncomfortable in the sense that I'm feeling judged [Smile] - I'm just naturally reluctant to discuss it.

As we've discussed in my other threads (I apologize for the redundance!), I often wish I didn't care for him as much as I do. It's not that I wish I didn't care for him - it's just that caring too much is kind of risky. I know he cares about me as well - we've known each other casually for years and he was engaged in my school life and would listen to any problems I had had that week when we'd see one another - but I just don't like how caring so much could mean that you could potentially fall hard if the relationship (whatever type it would be) fell through. I know caring is a risk one takes when they enter friendships and other types of relationships, but I just don't like how sensitive I am about everything!

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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Heather
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I hear you. And like I said, I don't want to push. Please consider the following invites to talk more about anything I'm bringing up, but also things you don't have to respond to if you don't want to.

You know, I don't think it's sounded like you're being hypersensitive around this/him. More of the impression I get is that there's a kind of relationship with him you either want but don't have, or like the actual kind you're in is one you kind of view or treat like something more committed, if that makes sense. And that's certainly a situation where we're more likely to get hurt, so it makes sense to feel twitchy about that. When we're in a relationship where both of us want more of the same things, or more of the same kind of relationship we tend to feel a lot more secure with the vulnerability involved.

In other words, I suspect some of your fears and worries here might be about knowing you're emotionally precarious in THIS particular relationship and its dynamics, not just any relationship or intimate relationships in general.

But it's also sounded like this hasn't been someone who has been so great about your boundaries, and about...well, acquiescing or compromising around things you want or need like you have for them.

Of course, it's also awfully hard to be in any kind of sexual relationship when everyone around us is unsupportive, and very hard to figure out if a relationship is good for us or healthy for us or not when the people around us don't really look at the quality of our relationship in assessing it, but only see it through their own moral lens.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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copper86
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I do agree with what you've said. I might write more when I feel more stable emotionally, but I certainly want to respond and to tell you that you've hit the nail on the head in a few places.

With him, I've always had very strong feelings since we first started talking about hanging out. They're not just attraction-based - though he does push my buttons that way, and excites me - I have cared for him very much for a long time. I'm comfortable with how things are - if we are in a sexual relationship alone, then that is perfectly fine and I can often just be fine with that - but I find that I need to feel validated and reassured not just in this relationship but with all of them. So, him not answering messages for days, though sounding inconsequential, hurts because it's not reaffirmation in a certain way, you know? I have some friends who do this as well, so this need of affirmation is something I desire not just with him but with everyone (my brother is an obvious example: if he ignores me or pushes me away, I'll be crushed).

I understand what you mean here, as well. I become heavily invested when I like men in general, and I've found that that has been my downfall very often. I find that I care too much, and it makes me very nervous. It's how I am though, I think... I just enjoy being that way, but there are honestly times when I sometimes wish I just didn't care for people at all. It's so taxing sometimes, especially if you get hurt.

Yes, this is true; and that is why I don't tell many people. The close friends I do know and who have known about it for a long time don't pass judgment. I have a friend who is supportive of it and does not always like how he is at times (which is fine), but she at least says that and then good things she likes about him and doesn't tell me I'm doing something wrong.

I've kind of thought that a sexual relationship was not very common, but I know of people who do it; and I truly think it is about preference.

He has sometimes pushed for certain things; but with some sexual activities, I would say "no" or "not yet" and he would agree. Then, I would think about it for myself and when I was ready, we would engage in it. There are still some things I won't do and he knows it, so he is respectful of me in other ways.

It's tough because I don't want to care too much, but I also want to care a bit at the same time. I try to just rationally tell myself that I shouldn't be like this, and to have a thicker skin... But it's a tough thing to do.

[ 09-07-2012, 07:02 PM: Message edited by: copper86 ]

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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Karybu
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You've said here and in other places that you're comfortable with how things are going with this person; that you're fine with the kind of relationship you currently have. But being fine and comfortable isn't necessarily the same thing as being happy.

What would your ideal relationship with him look like? I'm not asking what you would be or are just okay with, I'm curious what you really, really WANT.

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Robin Lee
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Hey Copper,

Just checking in. It seems like this is a tough conversation for you, and that's more than understandable.

When you talk about the way you react when your partner (and other people, but we are talking about your partner specifically here) doesn't contact you for several days, and doesn't respond to your attempts to contact him, I'm getting the sense that you believe that not feeling good about this is a sign that something is wrong with you, --that if you were only more confident, more patient, more ... you would be okay with it. I'd like to suggest that you are, instead, someone who prefers to be in more regular contact with the people she cares about. While we can't bend anyone to our will and make them have the level of contact with us that we want, desiring regular contact in a relationship isn't a bad thing. It's not bad for you to ask for that and expect that your preferences will be honoured to the extent possible given the other person's wants and needs.

You've said that your partner isn't your "boyfriend", but he is someone you're sexually involved with, and someone, as you've written above, for whom you have very strong feelings. Do you feel as if he honours this?

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Robin

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Heather
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I'd also add something to all of this in the hopes it's clear, because I think it isn't. Or, I guess, I just want to make sure that it is.
So, let's say you're someone who wants a partner to be in touch every day or so, or at least not leave your calls with no response for days.

With someone who either doesn't care about that, or doesn't want that, then yeah, you're going to be left feeling pretty out of whack, like it's you wanting too much, being too sensitive, feeling too strongly, what have you.

But with someone who DOES care about that, or want that to? Voila: you're simply going to be left with your needs met, and probably feeling none of those things.

IOW, I really don't think a lot of this is probably about you having strong feelings, too strong, about "men" or whatever. I think this is a lot more about being in a kind of relationship that simply doesn't meet a lot of your needs, and where some things -- some big things -- aren't all that mutual or simpatico.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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