The risk of STDs is often one of the first concerns that people have, when considering the idea of swinging. Many people who ordinarily don’t think much of the risks they take in life, will consider the risk of STDs when they choose to swing. Perhaps it is simply because this issue is so in our face in the media, or perhaps because it is a constant health risk. However, the reality is the risk is no different than it was when you were single and having sex. It is amazing that people put so much thought into this once they are married, but rarely put the same thought into the risk of STDs when they are single (and were probably much less particular about whom they chose to have sex with). The truth is that since there are two of you making the decisions on who you will have sex with, it will already greatly reduce your risk because if there are any reasons to avoid a couple or single that are obvious, one of you is likely to notice those things the other might miss.
While there are some major STDs that can be fatal, most STDs are at most an annoyance. STDs like HIV and certain forms of HPV can lead to much larger potential issues including cancer and death. However, the most common STD, Herpes, results in nothing more than the equivalent of contagious acne. For more information on specific STDs please check out the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov
Keep in mind that the statement “when you have sex with one person you are having sex with every partner they’ve had” is true to some degree. There is no way to know for sure if the person you are having sex with has an STD. Chances are that they may not even know. In all likelihood you will never know their sexual history (and it’s really none of your business anyway). You will have to judge people based on how much you trust them and use caution, common sense, and discretion. Beyond that there are condoms, but they do not prevent all STDs and some couples have decided that the negatives of using them outweigh any positives. That is a decision you have to make for yourself. There is no sure way to completely avoid any possibility of an STD, there are only ways to reduce your risk.
There are three things to really consider when you are thinking about the risks of STDs. First, when you have sex with someone, you are essentially having sex with everyone they have ever had sex with. Some swingers do choose to get tested regularly and even require their playmates to do so, but it is important to remember that an STD test is only valid for the moment you have the test done. As soon as you have sex again that test is invalid (and you have no way to guarantee that the person you required the test from has not had sex since their test). Second, some STDs are not tested for in a general STD test and are only tested for on request or when a person is showing symptoms; some STDs do not have accurate tests available. As a result there are many people who have STDs and do not know it. Therefore they could not be honest with you, even if you asked. It is possible that you may have an STD and not know it. Anyone who says that they know, without a doubt, that they are STD Free, does not know what they are talking about. Third, some STDs that are tested for may not show up right away. So while someone may test negative for an STD they may actually be carrying it and be able to pass it on.
Having sex with new partners is a risk and it is a risk that you must be ready to accept prior to any decision to swing.
There are ways to reduce your risk of STDs and the number one way is education. Understand what activities can lead to what STDs and what signs or symptoms to watch for in others to show that they may be infected. Of course, many people can carry and pass on STDs without ever showing any symptoms of their own. Getting to know your partners and what behaviors they may participate in can also help you reduce your risk. If you have educated yourself and you know what activities are risky, yet you play with someone who participates in those activities then you are taking a risk through them. Using condoms regularly for all intercourse can also reduce your risk of STDs. While you can reduce your risk, the only way to completely eliminate risk is to never have sex with anyone or if you are married stay completely monogamous.
For more thoughts on the risks of STDs and Swinging, check out the forums.
This article is an excerpt from the book The Swinger Manual by JustAskJulie