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-   -   STI's and Polyamory.... does it work? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27266)

Renee555 08-26-2012 03:20 AM

STI's and Polyamory.... does it work?
 
Hi!

I have just been exposed into the world of polyamory by a mutual friend/lover. I have yet to try it out for myself and label myself polyamorous, but I think this lifestyle was made for me!

The only issue is that i am diagnosed with herpes, and I already an uncomfortable even saying this to one partner, let alone a bunch. I am getting more comfortable with it, and Im surprised at how most people don't really mind.

Is there anybody out there with this same issue? Does polyamory still work for you? Do you have any advice?

Thank you for all of your feedback in advance! :o

nycindie 08-26-2012 04:42 AM

There is a huge thread here on practicing safer sex and STIs and another on HPV and herpes. If you do a search, you will find very thoughtful discussions. Welcome!

LovingRadiance 08-26-2012 04:47 AM

I have had herpes since I was 15. As I'm in my late 30's now, that's not a small bit of experience.
I haven't had an issue and in fact have found that there's MORE acceptance in the poly-community than the mono-community. I think because there is more education AND people are more in tune with using protection and taking precautions.

Vicki82 08-26-2012 05:01 PM

I am probably going to sound very ignorant here... but isn't herpes transmissible even using a condom?

It's probably my biggest concern about having multiple partners. I confess I would not want to have sexual contact with a person who told me they had herpes because I wouldn't be comfortable with the risk. Does that make me a bad person?

nycindie 08-26-2012 07:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vicki82 (Post 150601)
. . . but isn't herpes transmissible even using a condom?

It's probably my biggest concern about having multiple partners. I confess I would not want to have sexual contact with a person who told me they had herpes because I wouldn't be comfortable with the risk. Does that make me a bad person?

No, you're not a bad person!

Herpes can be transmitted when the virus erupts and sheds, which is periodically - usually when the person is stressed. If you come in contact with the actual sore or blister, that's how you get it. When it isn't shedding, it lays dormant in the spinal column. So you can have sex with someone who has herpes and isn't shedding without worry. But you can get it if they are shedding and the eruption site is outside of the condom-protected area AND you come into contact with it. Most folks who are aware they have herpes say they know when an eruption is about to happen - they can feel some itching beforehand - but asymptomatic shedding can also occur. I've also heard that most people with herpes don't know they have it. So, you can play it as safe as you can, but there are always risks to get something from someone.

The medications for herpes suppress the viral shedding by "fooling" it with a substance (I think an amino acid, not sure) that connects to it and which it needs -- this prevents eruption, which is pretty much like not having herpes at all. It's also good to support the immune system with herbal supplements, which help when the body is stressed. Some people are very relaxed about herpes, and consider it nothing more than a "pesky skin condition," while others totally freak out about it probably because it's associated with sex. Chicken pox and shingles are forms of herpes also. The Herpes virus can be killed with soap and water, if you wash before infection takes place. So take a shower after sex - but don't share towels!

One's level of misery with HSV1, known as "oral herpes," or HSV2, known as "genital herpes," probably depends on where the eruption happens. The herpes virus, once lodged in the spine, always takes the same route via the nervous system to the skin's surface and so the outbreak is always in the same spot. So, if you get a little patch on your upper buttocks or thigh, probably no biggie (and easier to avoid or cover up during sex, I think), but if the eruption always happens on the genitals, ouchie! But you can get HSV1 on the genitals and HSV2 on the mouth. I think about 80% of the population has HSV1 anyway, usually by kisses from grandma, and I've heard that somewhere around 50% has HSV2.

Sites to learn more:
http://www.herpesdiagnosis.com/blood.html
http://www.herpesite.org/index.html
www.herpes.com
http://sfcityclinic.org/stdbasics/

For threads here on STIs and safer sex:
Safe Sex - Standards, Practices, Information & Resources
HPV - Shouldn't we talk about it?
(there is some talk about herpes in this thread, not just HPV)
fluid bonding/bareback

marksbabygirl 08-26-2012 10:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 150615)
No, you're not a bad person!

Herpes can be transmitted when the virus erupts and sheds, which is periodically - usually when the person is stressed. If you come in contact with the actual sore or blister, that's how you get it. When it isn't shedding, it lays dormant in the spinal column. So you can have sex with someone who has herpes and isn't shedding without worry. But you can get it if they are shedding and the eruption site is outside of the condom-protected area AND you come into contact with it. Most folks who are aware they have herpes say they know when an eruption is about to happen - they can feel some itching beforehand - but asymptomatic shedding can also occur. I've also heard that most people with herpes don't know they have it. So, you can play it as safe as you can, but there are always risks to get something from someone.

The medications for herpes suppress the viral shedding by "fooling" it with a substance (I think an amino acid, not sure) that connects to it and which it needs -- this prevents eruption, which is pretty much like not having herpes at all. It's also good to support the immune system with herbal supplements, which help when the body is stressed. Some people are very relaxed about herpes, and consider it nothing more than a "pesky skin condition," while others totally freak out about it probably because it's associated with sex. Chicken pox and shingles are forms of herpes also. The Herpes virus can be killed with soap and water, if you wash before infection takes place. So take a shower after sex - but don't share towels!

One's level of misery with HSV1, known as "oral herpes," or HSV2, known as "genital herpes," probably depends on where the eruption happens. The herpes virus, once lodged in the spine, always takes the same route via the nervous system to the skin's surface and so the outbreak is always in the same spot. So, if you get a little patch on your upper buttocks or thigh, probably no biggie (and easier to avoid or cover up during sex, I think), but if the eruption always happens on the genitals, ouchie! But you can get HSV1 on the genitals and HSV2 on the mouth. I think about 80% of the population has HSV1 anyway, usually by kisses from grandma, and I've heard that somewhere around 50% has HSV2.

Sites to learn more:
http://www.herpesdiagnosis.com/blood.html
http://www.herpesite.org/index.html
www.herpes.com
http://sfcityclinic.org/stdbasics/

For threads here on STIs and safer sex:
Safe Sex - Standards, Practices, Information & Resources
HPV - Shouldn't we talk about it?
(there is some talk about herpes in this thread, not just HPV)
fluid bonding/bareback

I just want to *love* this entire post :) Thank you for putting it out there so wonderfully.

MusicalRose 08-26-2012 10:30 PM

I have had high-risk HPV since my freshman year of college. Polyamory can absolutely still work with STIs, but there are always going to be people for whom it is a deal breaker. I had one potential partner decline after finding out, but for the most part everyone has been really supportive and at least open to discussing it without shaming me or making me feel uncomfortable. Everyone's experience will vary, but I don't think it will ever be impossible to find people willing to work with it.

LovingRadiance 08-27-2012 09:46 PM

I can't see how anyone could rightfully judge a person 'bad' for playing it safe. But, i would caution that you may be more likely to get it from someone who does NOT think they have it, than someone who knows they have it.

I say this because it is often A-symptomatic or people don't realise thats what it is. Anyone whose had a cold sore, has the herpes virus.

At the same time, i have been sexually active with my husband for early 15 years, without condom use and he hasn't gotten it. Because we are careful, I take my meds, we both keep an eye out for any skin irritation and we don't play if theres any sign I MIGHT be getting a break out (I always feel itchy before a breakout).

In addition, I have been sexually active with my boyfriend on/off for 18 years, without condoms and he hasn't gotten either.

On the otherhand, every woman my ex has been with has gotten it because he refuses to get tested for that. A 'full sti test' around here does NOT incl testing for herpes, hiv or a host of others! And the dr's do not tell you unless you ask.

So people say (and show) papers saying they are STI-free, but they were only tested for gonoreah, chlamydia and syphilis.

Anneintherain 08-28-2012 07:22 AM

I ended up making a chart for activities/STI's and what is or isn't required for barrier use for each of those things. As I and my husband use condoms for sex and barriers for oral sex as a baseline with other partners, my biggest concern is an increased exposure to low risk HPV. I get tested for HSV2 every 6 months, and everything else every year, so high risk HPV would be caught early, low risk...well I don't want genital warts :( I just dont, but there's not a way to avoid the risk, and I accept that.

I think about this a lot as my husband has HSV2 (no visible outbreak since his exposure 20 years ago) and I don't. I haven't gotten intimate with anybody new since he actually went and got tested and came out positive, but I struggle with the "I don't have it but I might get it at any moment" conversation potential, it would be much more comfortable to have it and go from there.

I've found that if you meet people on OKC, being upfront about HSV2 in the first message or two is smart and appreciated (or include it in your profile), weeds people out (and gives people the chance to talk to their partners if discussion is needed about risks), no advice about when to bring it up if meeting in person.

turtleHeart 08-30-2012 04:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MusicalRose (Post 150652)
I have had high-risk HPV since my freshman year of college.

When you say you have had it since college do you mean you continue to have signs of it, or simply that it was diagnosed then, as it's so normal for teenagers to get HPV and then clear it that many people are considering not even testing people that young for it (my wife studied HPV testing as part of getting her masters). The problem is when the body doesn't clear it, as is more common as people age. Getting high risk HPV at age 40 would be much more to be concerned about than at 18.

Even if you happen to still have it, for other people I'd simply take that to mean recommending they get the Gardasil vaccine. Though insurance only covers people up to age 26 there are places that will provide it to people of any age as long as they pay cash. If the person doesn't already have the strains of HPV Gardasil vaccinates against it will help, and if they already had them then you weren't a new risk to them anyhow.


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