Being a swinger is fun and the lifestyle provides many benefits in addition to an outlet for sexual freedom. With those benefits comes a responsibility to educate yourself and act accordingly. Doing so protects you and your partners. Your informed behavior brings legitimacy to the lifestyle which helps all of us.
I recently read an article titled Sexual Health Myths Even Adults Believe. I’d like to think that as experienced swingers, my friends and I are knowledgeable enough that we don’t believe these myths. However, my experience tells me there are still elements of these myths playing out in the lifestyle.
Myth #1: If my test is clean, I don’t have herpes: Swingers often pride themselves on having “clean” test results. One of the most common phrases uttered by those in the lifestyle is, “I had the full range of tests.” But guess, what? If you only asked your doctor for a standard STI work-up, you likely didn’t get tested for herpes. Most doctors don’t test for herpes as a routine. First of all, the test isn’t that reliable unless you are having an active outbreak. Second of all, there is a ton of misinformation out there about HSV1 and HSV2; most notably that there is some fundamental difference between oral herpes and genital herpes. Basically they are both pretty much like chicken pox and one is not inherently “dirtier” than the other just because it happens to cluster around our sex organs. Unless you’ve specifically asked your doctor for a herpes test, you probably didn’t get one. And if you did specifically ask your doctor for a herpes test, you probably got a recommendation to skip it unless you are symptomatic.
Myth #2: I can get Herpes from a toilet seat: The herpes virus does not do well when exposed to air, and a toilet seat is really not a hospitable place for the virus to thrive. Honestly, I’m more worried about contracting e-coli from a toilet seat than anything else. Wash your hands when you leave the bathroom, please! 🙂 While we are on the subject of e-coli, what are your habits around anal play? Focusing on cleanliness by avoiding ass-to-mouth or ass-to-vagina play is imperative to keeping yourself healthy. Options for that are: having separate ass and vagina toys, cleaning toys thoroughly before changing holes, or using condoms and switching them out when moving from ass play to mouth or vagina.
Myth #3: Condoms protect against all STIs: Almost everyone I know in the lifestyle places a lot of importance on the use of condoms. Probably because they like the idea of having “clean” test results so much. (See above.) And while I also promote the use of condoms, they generally don’t protect you as well as you like to pretend they do. Condoms greatly reduce the spread of fluid transfer infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. But if you’re performing oral without condoms or having cum-play after the fact, you’re exposing yourself. Even if you used a condom for the act of intercourse. If you do happen to test positive for one of those three, they are all treatable with a course of antibiotics. Pretty much the same way you’d clear up strep throat or an ear infection.
On the other hand, viral infections such as HSV and HPV are not cured by antibiotics. Interestingly, both HSV (Herpes) and HPV can be spread via skin to skin contact even when a condom is worn. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t use condoms. I’m just asking that you be honest with yourself about the level of protection they do and do not provide.
What do you think are the most common sexual myths that are still perpetuated in the swinging community? Where do you get your sexual health information? What questions do you still have about navigating non-monogamy from a health and wellness standpoint? Comment below!