Preventing STIs: Be a Smart Slut – Open Relationships, Promiscuity and STIs

I’m always happy when I only need to make minimal updates to a post. It means I did it right the first time around. Only real change is that the at-home HIV tests are now “available” instead of “coming soon”. Let’s get a big cheer for that! Updated and reposted April 12, 2018

The past few weeks, talking about ways to prevent STIs, one thing that came up repeatedly was the fewer people you have sex with, and the more closed your sexual circle, the less likely you are to be infected with an STI. Which does not mean you should restrict yourself to just a few sex partners or that closed relationships are in some mystical way ‘better’ than open ones. This is about risk assessment.

The more often you cross a street, the more likely you are to get hit by a car. The more often you have sex, the more chances your birth control will fail. The more you eat, the greater your risk of getting food poisoning. If anyone suggests you restrict yourself to a starvation diet to reduce your risk of getting food poisoning I hope you tell them to take a long walk off a short pier. Seriously.

But the same way you know not to eat food that smells off, if you are going to have a large number of sex partners, and frequently enough that STI testing is becoming increasingly fallible as a method of self protection, then be a smart slut. Learn the signs and symptoms of those STIs that have obvious signs and symptoms. Check with your local health department about what STIs are common in your area, and which barrier method provides the best protection. Invest in a few of the over-the-counter HIV test kits.

If you want to have an open relationship, be a slut, pick up one night stands, whatever makes you happy, there is nothing wrong with that. But do it knowing your risks. Only you can choose the level of risk you are comfortable with. So educate yourself, make your choice for you, and don’t let any of the sex-negative slut shaming idiots tell you otherwise.

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This post is part of the Safer Sex Blog Series.

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