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Author Topic: Conflicting advice about STI's!
thismoment
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Hi, I would appreciate some clarification on STIs please.

I have had two sexual partners.

1st partner: we were both virgins. No sexual contact with anyone else bar kissing. He gave me oral sex, and we had manual sex.

2nd (current) partner: he was a virgin; I was technically as I hadn't had penetrative sex, but I had had other types of sex... before he met me (about a month before) he got tested for all types of STIs by his GP, as he had discharge from his penis (which quickly cleared itself up; before we were having any kind of gential contact). The results showed that he is clear from STIs. We've tried penetrative sex (once, with v. little actual penetration), had manual sex, etc.

Okay, so, I rang up my local brook clinic and explained this. They said there is NO chance that I could have any STIs, bar herpes, but that this could not be tested for, and that I would know if I had it because I would have obvious symptoms. They essentially said there was no point me going into their clinic for STI testing, because this was unnecessary.

I have examined myself as well as possible via looking with a mirror, and all looks very healthy; no unusual lumps or spots or anything like that.

I currently have mild vaginal itching (but this is something I have previously been prone to), and I think this is only due to a little overenergetic masturbation [Wink]

(I also know that the HPV virus is out there as well, and I'm going to book an appointment with a GP - a different one to the one I talked to last time, who unfortunately didn't seem comfortable talking about sex, and just shoved a pill prescription on me [Frown] - to discuss this soon, even though I'd have to go to a private clinic over here as I'm in the UK.)

Thanks a lot in advance!

Posts: 79 | From: England | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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Most STIs usually do NOT have obvious symptoms, so I'm not sure why they suggested they do. And while cervical self-exams with a speculum (which it doesn't sound like you're doing) can sometimes show you symptoms of things like yeast or bacterial infections, you really can't self-diagnose or find other infections.

You have been sexually active: that means like anyone else, you've had risks, and that like anyone else, it's smart to get tested, no matter what, for STIs once a year. If you've used condoms for genital contact, your risks have been reduced, and if your two previous partners were someone with no sexual contact with anyone else, and someone recently tested, your risks were also smaller than they might be otherwise. But all the same, like anyone else, you'll want your yearly pelvic exams and pap smears and an STI test. You also can be given a test to see if you've recently been exposed to the herpes virus.

Brook clinics are often reputable: but it sounds like the person you spoke to on the phone was not so reputable, or just burnt out.

Do you see a GYN for your regular yearly care? If not, that might be the best person to seek out and start seeing once a year.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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thismoment
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I don't think they were suggesting that most STIs do have obvious symptoms, but that herpes virus can do. No, I'm not doing cervical self-exams with a speculum (for a start, I don't have a speculum to do it with!), but I was just looking.

Yeh, that's what I thought, but they made it sound like I would just be wasting their and my time. I think I will go in one day and ask to get screened for all STIs. (Or try and get it sorted through my GP,) I definitely spoke to a Brook nurse though, so you would hope that their advice would be correct. It just worried me, having conflicting advice, and a doctor who seems to shun certain things (am going to try a different GP next time though).

No, I've never seen a GYN yet, although I have only started having sexual activity with other people within the last year - not an excuse, I know. Because I'm on the NHS, I think it's something they tend not to give unless you ask. (I know people who are much older, and sexually active, who still haven't had any tests! If I see a GP and ask about this, what exactly do I need to ask for? (I'm afraid that if I'm not specific they'll simply tell me it's unnecessary.) Do you know whether we also say 'pap smears'? I really do want to make sure that everything's healthy sexually, because otherwise I'm just putting myself (and partners) in potential danger... which is stupid, basically. :/

Thanks for your advice, though, I'm glad I wasn't just being neurotic about thinking that Brook wasn't making sense.

And no, I haven't used condoms for genital contact. But I'm definitely not having any sexual contact with anyone else until I've got myself screened... which should hopefully be soon.

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thismoment
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Forgot to add - I know where my local GUM clinic is, and could get to it relatively easily. Perhaps it would be best just to ring them and book an appointment, to avoid awkward GPs? Do you think they be able to give me advice on the HPV vaccine? (Brook said they couldn't, that the GP could).
Posts: 79 | From: England | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
thismoment
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Hi, I have booked an appointment! [Smile]

For tuesday, so hopefully then I can be at ease, and/ or be given some medication if necessary. The woman I spoke to was very friendly (I rang up the GUM clinic direct), and told me I'd have a female doctor, but seemed to advise that I didn't need testing for everything. I asked to be tested for all STIs, then she said, 'how would you feel about just being tested for some STIs'? No, I'd rather be checked for all...

I've let my mum know I have an appointment, although she wasn't very supportive at first. I explained that STIs can be transmitted through non-sexual means, to which I got the reply, 'but how many people has [my boyfriend] been snogging?' then she lectured about how I was wasting my time...

Anyway, I'm sure I've made the right decision, I'm just annoyed at myself that I've waited this long, and put myself and partners at risk.

Thanks so much for the clarification and advice Heather! [Big Grin]

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Heather
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You know, I'm annoyed that anyone at any clinic would try and keep you from being tested.

There are some situations where that's understandable. For instance, my current partner, just before the time we'd started dating, had a risk and he's a bit OCD. So, he just kept scheduling screenings: by the fifth time he tried to get in in a window of just a couple months, his doctor told him that he was not going to give him any more screenings this year, period. Understandable. [Smile]

But young people -- heck, all people, but young people's risks are higher for a bunch of reasons -- who WANT to get in and get screened for the first time shouldn't experience anything but healthcare workers being more than happy to see you. I'm really sorry you had that experience, and I'm also sorry your Mom isn't being supportive.

If it's anything at all, I certainly support you. being proactive about preventative health is empowering, and it's something ideal to do for yourself and your body. And yes: you should be able to get info on the HPV vaccine at the GUM clinic.

Like I said, I do doubt you've put your partners at any huge risks. Looks to me like both your risks have been minimized in some ways, but the risk here is more likely to you, from your current partner, primarily because you both haven't been using latex barriers, a habit you'll both want to get into regardless of your results.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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thismoment
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Yeh - they don't seem overly encouraging sometimes, which isn't great.

That completely makes sense if someone has OCD, and/ or a similar condition, so yeh, I totally understand why a doc might decide no more testing for a while - but otherwise, especially if it's the first time you've been tested, as you say, it's not a very encouraging way to be.

My mum spoke to me again today, and said that she'd try to get some time off work to take me to the clinic (which *is* encouraging, even if I'm not 100% she agrees I need to go - though I suppose she doesn't really need to agree, as I know.) Yes, it does mean something that you and scarleteen are supportive. Thinking about sexual health a lot more has definitely made me convinced that if I ever have kids, they will know the facts, the risks, and what they can do to minimise these... and hopefully have a supportive relationship with their parents to be able to discuss this!

I just hope I'm clear... will find out soon enough, anyway. That's good about the HPV vaccine, I really hope it's something my parents would pay for (they've said they're 'strongly considering it' - I printed out the scarleteen file on it as well).

Mmmnn... still, I'd rather no risk than a risk; or at least as small a risk as possible. (Definitely something I'm going to make sure of for the future!) I'd like to know a bit more about latex barriers during oral sex - on a female, is a 'dental dam' the equivalent of a sheet of latex, which basically has to be held on? I can't imagine this working particularly... I imagine it would be difficult keeping it held on, and you would lose the texture of a tongue quite a bit. [Confused]

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Heather
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happy to fill you in on dental dams.

For starters, understand that if your partner doesn't have oral herpes, cunnilungus is an activity with very low STI risks for you. Vaginal fluids don't tend to transmit disease the way semen does, so men catching STIs from women via female-receptive oral sex is also very rare. Unprotected fellatio is what carries higher risks.

But if you want to reduce any risks at all with cunnilingus, then you want to use a dental dam or even cling film. A dental dam is a sheet of latex as thin as a condom, and you just put a little lube on the vulva, then put the sheet on top, spread it into vulval cervices with the fingers, and it's held in place by two hands (doesn't matter if they're yours or your partners) during oral sex. Same stuff goes if you're using cling film. It's not difficult to hold it on -- it's really pretty easy -- and you can still feel the texture of the tongue, since the latex is very thin. Is it reduced somewhat? Sure, but really, not very much, especially when you have lube on the underside.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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thismoment
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I went to the clinic today. -deep breath-

They said that they don't routinely test for oral herpes at the clinic (?!), and that you would know if you had it because there would be obvious warts. Thanks for that info on dental dams as well - a cut piece of condom would effectively work, wouldn't it?

They first discussed my sexual history, asked what I wanted to be tested for, whether I thought I had any symptoms. Then I had an external examination. According to this clinic, an internal examination was unnecessary for me, and they apparently don't begin smeas typically until about 26 (according to them, before this, there are often a lot of changes because a woman isn't fully developed, and so treatment used to be prescribed which ended up making things worse). I wasn't 100% about what they said, but they're the experts.

After my external examination (the woman told me all was 'very healthy'), I then had blood and urine tests, which were pretty painless.

I also asked the woman who examined me about the HPV vaccine, and she said that whilst they cannot endorse it officially because they cannot provide it there, she would fully recommend I book an appointment with my GP to see if I can get it off the NHS in some way, and/ or private. Although I'm sexually active, because of my sexual history, she said it's highly likely that it would still benefit me, and unlikely that I already have HPV.

The experience overall was extremely positive; a reclaiming my sexuality and being in charge of my sexual health. I also got lots of free condoms and lubricant, which can't really be complained about! [Wink] In some ways though, I think they could have been more equipped to discuss the HPV vaccine (this is not something the clinic is required to do), and maybe more comprehensive... but they seemed to think my risks were pretty low. Also, they mentioned that as I'd had penetrative sex recently, then I would likely not yet have the symptoms of any STIs, although given that he was a virgin, it is highly unlikely...

What I liked most of all was how I was treated with care and mutual respect the whole time, the manner professional yet friendly/ approachable, and that sex was talked about openly and truthfully. [Smile]

I'm really glad I went to the clinic, and it's something I would recommend to everyone - if only to be reassured that all is ok!

Posts: 79 | From: England | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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