Sunday, September 15, 2013

To Share or Not to Share?

A couple of years ago Jake and I contracted Chlamydia. To this day we don't know exactly how or who from. At the time the inability to pinpoint where it had come from played on our minds a lot. We were concerned with two things. Firstly that we might infect other people and secondly wanting to know how we contracted it so we could avoid that situation again. We never really found the answer to either of these questions but our research and reading taught us that wearing a condom for penetrative sex is not the be all and end all of safe sex.  

We chose to be responsible and notified all of our partners. We felt as if we would become pariahs and cast out in the same way as lepers were in the Bible. This turned out to not be the case and we got mostly positive feedback from people who were grateful for the heads up. We also chose to be completely up front with our GP about our lifestyle choices. This turned out to be a good thing. He was open minded and gave us some information that was helpful. Being a cautious man he advocated a complete barrier approach to our play. We decided that this approach was a bit like an abstinence based approach to contraception; very safe and likely to achieve the goal of zero infection but not a whole lot of fun. In life you have to take some risks. The trick is to decide which risks are acceptable and manage the rest accordingly. This is what we did.

We increased the frequency of our STI screens and considered partners more carefully. Things went well but after two years of clear results we were presented with a second positive result. This time we kind of felt a little bit cheated. We had done our time why did we have to go there again? This time the number of partners we had to discuss things with was quite small but we still found ourselves asking the same questions, where did it come from and where did it go? In the back of my mind another question lurked. If we have had this happen to us twice in the space of two years why is it that we have never been contacted by another person with similar news? Are we the only ones getting tested? Are we the only ones brave enough to admit our 'positivity'?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2011 79, 833 cases of Chlamydia were reported which is a rate of 435 per 100, 000 of population making it by far the most reported STI in Australia. Considering that many people never experience symptoms and can happily spread the disease without knowing they are it makes you wonder exactly how many people actually do have Chlamydia in Australia. A well quoted Dutch study found that Chlamydia and/ or Gonorrhoea (I wish these names were easier to spell!) infections in swingers was about 10%. This means by the law of averages we should have been contacted at least once or twice during this time with this kind of news. But we weren't. I chatted about this with a friend who is also 'in the scene' he commented that I was the only person who had ever told him this kind of thing. We both agree that I am an oddity. I feel that most people get tested at least occasionally. Our GP recommends a three month schedule which we follow. I am certain that in the swinging world we are in the minority.

And so we have taken our medication, had the awkward conversations and now we are almost at the end of a four week stint of strict barrier / avoiding risky activities like oral sex regime. And that is with each other. It has been an interesting few weeks. We have worked through some frustrations and the negative emotions associated with being infected and feeling dirty and learned to be creative about encounters together. It has been fun spending the time focussing entirely on each other and cutting ourselves off from the rest of the sexual world has been enlightening and at times intense. I am very much looking forward to getting my clearance this week but I think my re introduction to the world of extra marital sex will be slow and cautious. I am keen to have more adventures but I think the grown up in me has managed to convince me that the negatives are not always outweighed by the positives.      


  1. First of all, congrats to you both for being proactive in both your own routine and in discussing it with others. You aren't alone. Many years ago I had a good night with a girl I'd met and been flirting with four a few days. Things started out safe, but add the night progressed and our condom stocks grew low, our safety concerns made way for the need to keep fucking until the sun came up rather than to go buy more condoms. It was a good old fashioned one night stand and 3 weeks later she called me to say she had chlamydia. I was tested and thankfully was clean. But I learned a valuable lesson which sadly others learn the hard way. She was embarrassed and scared, I was comforting and proud of her. We are now good friends and if the situation ever arose again I'd happily play with her. It's all about calculated risks.

    Bris Guy 1983

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. It is heartening to hear that your friend shared her news even though she hadn't known you for very long. It has restored my faith in humanity a little.