Yesterday I was on the Mamamia website reading a post about how there is talk of the government making the Pill available through the pharmacy instead of having to get another script at the doctors (you can read the article here). I left a comment saying that I always get a breast exam, pap smear and STI checks every year when i go to renew my pill script for another year.
This got me thinking about another conversation I had a friend over the weekend in terms of STI checks. She’s never had one despite having numerous sexual partners and she has also admitted that she’s not always using condoms despite not knowing the boy’s sexual history (and I’m assuming he not knowing hers). Which shocked me. I have only ever had one sexual partner and i still get STI checks every year!
Which lead to the following conversation:
Me: I can’t believe that you’ve had sex with randoms with no condoms and haven’t gotten checked… why the hell not?
Her: I don’t know, just can’t be bothered and I’m not that worried. I don’t have symptoms so figure there’s nothing wrong.
Me: So because you assume you’re fine then that means there’s nothing wrong with you?
Her: Yea, pretty much
Me: Are you stupid? How do you not know that you can still have something without actually having anything to alert you to it?
(this went on for a bit…)
Few minutes later.
Me: You know I’ve only ever slept with Dave and i still get tested every year.
Me: Why wouldn’t I?
Her: doesn’t he think that’s odd?
Me: i don’t think he actually knows about it. It’s not like I come home and say “honey, i got my boobs checked, a pap smear and an sti check today. How was your day?”
Her: If i were him, I’d be either thinking that you think I’m cheating on you, or that you’re cheating on me.
That kinda got me. Would he really think that? Is that what people assume when you care about your own sexual health? I mean i know i don’t cheat on him so really it’s not necessary for me to get tested every year based on anything that i’m doing. But then again, even though i trust he’s not cheating on me, how do i really know? And isn’t it better for me to keep checking in case he is and isn’t being careful?
Not until that conversation did i even think if he was or wasn’t. I’m so positive that he’s not so why am i getting checks for something that? Why does it automatically have to be because something is wrong rather than wanting to prevent something, or to at least catch it before it can’t be fixed? Or because my health means everything to me?
When i told a few other friends that i get checks every year, they all immediately assumed it’s because i or my partner was cheating, has cheated or was going to cheat. Which just made me disgusted really. I would never cheat on my partner. I have far too much respect for him to do that and we are very honest with each other about how we feel. And i would hope that he felt the same about me. But i couldn’t believe that my friends thought that of me.
Especially when they themselves are so cavalier with their own health.
What infuriates me is that people tend to only get checks when they’ve made a bad decision, whether they did cheat on a partner, or had a one night stand or didn’t use a condom. STI checks almost have the connotation that you have to be a slut to get one. This attitude needs to change.
Do you equate having sexual health checks with promiscuity/cheating?