We are all responsible adults, right? Right?
April 23, 2011 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Are my expectations about STD testing unreasonable? Am I being paranoid?

I am a lady in her twenties who has been sexually active for a number of years now. It's sort of my personal policy that periodic STD testing is a good thing, given the weird latency periods for a number of diseases, the chance that even monogamous partners cheat, the understanding that early intervention in an infection is better that late intervention, and the fact that so many tests now are ridiculously easy and inexpensive. So I always get tested once a year during my pelvic exam, but I also get tested whenever I believe there is a chance I've been exposed to something (cheating ex, I'm looking at you), and often at the start of new relationships, even if it might be slightly redundant, because I like going in with a clean slate and getting everyone on the same page and other cliches about honesty and responsibility and junk.

When I get involved with someone, I like to know what their testing status is, even if we are using condoms. If the answer is something like, “uh...I dunno. Three years ago, maybe” (or the increasingly common, “never, actually”), or if I want to ramp up the BJ situation (which I hate doing with a condom), I ask them if they wouldn't mind getting tested.

Apparently, I am being unreasonable. With the exception of my last ex, who was awesome in so many ways, I always feel like this is a conversation that involves pulling teeth. I am often told that I am being paranoid. Many guys don't seem to understand why they should get tested if they were in a monogamous relationship before getting involved with me. They keep asserting that blowjobs are risk-free (and also are surprised to hear of a thing called oral chlamydia). That they are not needle drug users or bisexual means, according to them, that they are low-risk and I shouldn't worry about it. They ask why I keep getting myself tested so often. They don't understand what the big deal is. The conversation usually ends on a weird note where I feel guilty for doubting their responsibility.

So, I guess the question is: as someone who gets tested around 1-2 times a year (or more often if I feel the situation warrants it, a la the cheating ex or that night the condom totally busted), I kind of expect that other sexually active adults fall along a similar schedule. It makes me really uncomfortable if I am with someone and that is not the case. Are my expectations too high? Am I paranoid? Is it more normal for someone who is dating/having sex/not celibately cloistered somewhere to get tested only every 2-4 years? What are reasonable expectations, here?

It feels weird to ask, but honestly, of all the people I've ever been involved with, only one has ever agreed with me on this. I had a conversation with a guy I've been dating last night over this that ended with me crying. Everyone else seems to think that I am overthinking things to the extreme and need to chill out...do I?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (49 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Personally, I don't think so.

I get tested on a schedule similar to yours and expect my partners to do the same.
posted by saveyoursanity at 12:17 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Its a good policy to have and I have been tested as well as asked in my current relationship. Its not pleasant but its good to know about my own health as well as be proactive with regards to safety.
If a a partner has a problem with this reasonable request perhaps they are not worthy of beinng intimate with you. You are not being unreasonable by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by handbanana at 12:21 PM on April 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

I certainly think it's reasonable, and my habits are similar to yours.

They keep asserting that blowjobs are risk-free (and also are surprised to hear of a thing called oral chlamydia).

Or herpes... (maybe other stuff too, those are the big ones I can think of).

Sure, while in a monogamous relationship I don't see a need to get tested (past a couple of months when stuff would either show up or not). I think it's pretty rude not to get tested before a new partner in that scenario, though. If you're in a more casual mode, every 3-6 months is probably good, but I'd probably want to know that too... obviously even with testing you're higher risk if you've had multiple partners within the window that stuff would show up on a test.

Basically, though, if someone is getting tested regularly and is willing to talk about it, I consider that a pretty good sign that they're responsible overall. If they get defensive or weird about it, that tells me they probably have no idea of the status of the people they sleep with, which makes them a much bigger risk.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:22 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't get tested on the same schedule as you because it's not necessary for my lifestyle. However, as with condom use and all sexy time in general it is absolutely your right to request anything you want and refuse sex if you don't get it. This is a good way to judge partners, if they are not willing to get tested they are not worth sleeping with.
posted by boobjob at 12:25 PM on April 23, 2011 [21 favorites]

Some people get tested regularly and some don't.

You shouldn't have sex in a way that makes you uncomfortable... And so you shouldn't have sex with people that won't get tested.

The idea that you 'need to chill out' about something so personal is ludicrous. It's okay for them to disagree (in which case you should both find different sexual partners) but telling you are wrong for wanting to feel safe is douchey and controlling.

There ARE people out there who get tested regularly too, and there are people who want to have sex with you enough that they're willing to do what makes you comfortable, even if they don't think it's necessary for their own peace of mind.

Only have sex with those people.
posted by smoakes at 12:25 PM on April 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Your expectations are not too high. You are not paranoid. Unfortunately it's certainly not ABnormal for people to get tested only every 2-4 years. I think your expectations are totally reasonable.

Your sexual partners should be able to understand this, and should agree to getting tested before having sex with you, at least after you have a discussion with them about it and explain why you want them to. If they do not get this, and refuse to get tested, or get tested very very begrudgingly, dump them. They are not worth your time. They are inconsiderate. They also don't understand the risks involved with sex, don't seem to want to understand them, and in turn may put you at risk, if they decide to cheat.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 12:28 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you're being totally reasonable. When someone argues that they shouldn't get tested because they have been in monogamous relationships since their last test, they are insisting that you trust not only them, but also all of their previous partners, and their previous partners, and so on. That's too much. Getting a STD test is an easy way to wipe the slate clean. It's pretty simple to get one, too, so I'd think twice about sleeping with someone who didn't want one.

I feel guilty for doubting their responsibility.

Sounds like they aren't being totally responsible though, so why feel guilty?
posted by grouse at 12:29 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't get tested on the same schedule either, but if someone I was really serious about asked me to, I absolutely would and would feel a little guilty or ashamed that I hadn't been. I wouldn't expect someone to trust me or take me at my word. On the other hand, if someone I was only halfway into and sort of already had contempt for asked me, I might bristle and try to shame them or just walk away. (Not that I sleep with people like this, but theoretically) I agree with boobjob: this is a great test of how serious a potential partner is about you.
posted by Nixy at 12:29 PM on April 23, 2011

They keep asserting that blowjobs are risk-free (and also are surprised to hear of a thing called oral chlamydia)

The mouth is a place where it can be quite easy to catch something if it's lurking, especially as male to female transmission via oral means is much higher than the reverse.

I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. Those men were just not compatible with you.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:30 PM on April 23, 2011

It's reasonable to expect this of responsible people, though the term "expect" is fairly ambiguous: descriptively-speaking, it's unreasonable to expect responsibility of irresponsible people--even if it's reasonable to hope that they'll somehow/someday see the error in their ways.

However, most people tend to be pretty cavalier regarding their own health, including the possibliity that they might transmit diseases to others (eg, colds, flus, STDs, take your pick). I suspect that lack of STD is a symptom of larger issues with carelessness (or, perhaps more likely, ignorance), and that the larger issues would have to be addressed/known first in order for a person to actually have resonable concerns regarding STDs.
posted by matlock expressway at 12:30 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're being sane and careful, and expecting potential partners to rise to that standard - if not originally, then at least when requested - is completely reasonable.
posted by you're a kitty! at 12:33 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you get to decide. Oral transmission is harder than genital-genital transmission, so some people in a new relations who will always require a condom for sex will have unprotected oral sex. But you get to decide.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 12:34 PM on April 23, 2011

There's a greater emphasis in the US, I think, on women's reproductive health. While it's practically routine for us to get tested at our annual pap smear, for men there's this suggestion that they would need to go in to the doctor's office specifically to 'prove' that they're not sick. Women who have grown up navigating the waters of oral contraceptives and breast exams might be somewhat more educated about STIs than men who haven't heard about chlamydia since eighth grade health class, and also more accustomed to routine examinations that are scheduled regardless of whether one thinks anything is wrong.

That doesn't mean you're being at all unreasonable, but I think it is fair to say that there's a greater culture of reproductive health checks as a positive/proactive thing among women. So you might find yourself having to explain your position to the men in your life.
posted by brina at 12:37 PM on April 23, 2011 [11 favorites]

I think it's more than issues with ignorance or carelessness—I think a reluctance to get tested for STDs is often tied up with feelings of shame about sexual activity and fear to discover that one is infected, willfully preferring ignorance rather than the potential knowledge that one is infecting others. None of these things are really that great in a sexual partner, so I'd think carefully about whether people who don't want to get tested are good for you.
posted by grouse at 12:40 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think you're on the right track and setting a good example. Many people, however, interpret "I'd like you to get tested for STDs" as "You seem gross" or "I don't trust you." They view STDs as something that happens to other people. And since it's not standard for most people to get tested regularly or to use protection for oral, they might consider you uptight for expecting it.

It's always better to err on the side of caution as far as sex goes. Honestly, I think this is a pretty good way for you to weed out people who won't take their health or your wishes seriously.

You could always frame it this way: "I do trust you. But I've had my trust broken before, and I prefer to be one hundred percent certain."
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:41 PM on April 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

As a doctor, I ask almost every patient, from the suburban housewife to the elderly nursing home resident, whether they use drugs. If they look at me funny, I just say "I'm sorry, I have to ask everyone." Assumptions can be a dangerous thing. It seems like taking a similar approach would be helpful in your situation - i.e. when you ask about testing just say you ask the same thing of everyone, that helps convey that it's nothing personal.

If they still give you pushback, you could say something like "What if I had AIDS? Would you still think that me having oral sex with you is risk free? Oh.... OK, well then, you can understand why I'd like to be sure we're both safe."
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:56 PM on April 23, 2011 [7 favorites]

As a guy who never got tested until a year ago, in my 40s, I don't think you're being unreasonable. You may just be attracted to bad boys, because anybody who would cause you to cry over STD testing is 110% jerk, doubly so if you're meeting each other over the Internet.
posted by rhizome at 1:02 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Many guys don't seem to understand why they should get tested if they were in a monogamous relationship before getting involved with me.

The thinking is probably "Hey, I didn't have a problem and she didn't have a problem, so why are you making demands when there wasn't a problem?" Part ignorance, part defensiveness. There's an implicit element of "I don't trust you" in the desire I think, which is reasonable, but can be off-putting to some.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:12 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

There's an implicit element of "I don't trust you" in the desire I think

To me, "I don't trust you" would mean not believing someone when they said they cleared an STD test, or insisting that someone I'm in a monogamous relationship with get tested repeatedly. There's no trust aspect here—Anonymous's partners just have lower standards of sexual health monitoring than Anonymous does, and Anonymous finds this inadequate.
posted by grouse at 1:24 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

If that's the level of safety you feel comfortable with it's not unreasonable. But I think the preponderance of answers overstate how common it is for people to get tested for STDs twice a year or more, every year. So the answer depends on what exactly you are asking.

It's completely reasonable for you to do that amount of testing and to wish to only have sex with people who behave in a similar fashion. It's not, however, hugely common I don't think. But lots of things which maybe be smart or responsible are uncommon. So.... reasonable? Sure. Common? Probably not.
posted by Justinian at 1:44 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Almost all of what you've said is totally reasonable. It is beyond reproach to ask someone to get tested (if they haven't been in a while) before things get sexual. Everyone who's sexually active should understand the importance of STD testing. You have every right to see not going along with your requests as a dealbreaker.

The one potential problem I see is how you've framed the issue:

Is it more normal for someone who is dating/having sex/not celibately cloistered somewhere to get tested only every 2-4 years? What are reasonable expectations, here?

I would put aside any sense that there's a right and wrong frequency with which to get tested, and that anyone who doesn't follow your frequency is either doing it wrong or must be "cloistered somewhere." Look, some people have sex more than others. So there can't be a fixed frequency in which everyone must get tested. Also, I find it odd how you've chosen "1-2 years" as reasonable but "2-4 years" as problematic. So, if someone consistently gets tested every 2 years, are they doing it right or wrong? It all seems rather arbitrary.

There is no bright-line rule for when someone is getting tested the right amount. Focus on your own personal standards for what you need in a relationship.
posted by John Cohen at 1:46 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

The recommendation from the CDC for STD testing for sexually active adults is every 6 months. You are being completely reasonable.
posted by hworth at 1:49 PM on April 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

I think a lot of people don't realize that they can have an STD without symptoms. When you ask them to get a STD test, it sounds like an accusation of lying because they think they would know if they had an STD. To them, it feels like the test results are only needed to prove something that they could tell you, so asking for the tests implies that you don't trust them to tell the truth.

Because of that, I think the conversation might go better if you frame it with some education. "I know you've never noticed any problems, and your last girlfriend didn't either, but some people don't have any symptoms with STDs. I trust you, I just want to make sure we're both healthy."

Echoing the sentiment that anyone who would refuse this request or, worse, make you feel bad for asking, is not worth your time.
posted by vytae at 1:53 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

These guys are the same ones who refuse to wear a condom because it doesn't feel nice, right? And then if you get pregnant it's your fault? Guys like that don't deserve to get to fuck you.

Practically every sexually transmitted infection that is tracked is rising right now. (cite) HPV, the STI that leads to cervical cancer, is rarely symptomatic in men. If they don't test they have no idea.

I test when I have a new partner, as do many of my serially monogamous friends. Some of us are more popular, so we test more often.

You are not paranoid. Your body = yourself. Take care of it and don't let anyone shame you for doing so.
posted by heatherann at 1:56 PM on April 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

I want to make it clear that I think it's smart that you get tested twice a year, I'm just not sure whether you're asking if it is smart and reasonable or common or both, so I tried to answer both questions.

For example, it's also smart to always use a dental dam when engaging in oral sex with a woman and the CDC recommends it, just as they recommended testing every 6 months. However, I'm not sure I've ever met anyone who has used a dental dam. I mean, probably, but it's hugely uncommon.

Getting tested frequently is more important than using a dental dam, of course, but you get the idea. Something can be all of smart and reasonable and uncommon.
posted by Justinian at 1:57 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your expectations are extremely reasonable. If someone your are dating says otherwise, DTMFA. And I rarely, if ever, use that fun little phrase!
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:14 PM on April 23, 2011

Your expectations are appropriate. I just have the conversation while at a restaurant, and treat it like a "I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours." Never once had a problem with that approach, though guys have been rather surprised by it.

Timing is obviously key; I would choose the date after which things have gotten somewhat hot and heavy and say that you're "thinking towards the future". And smile.

It makes you come off as someone who cares about your health and the health of your partners. It would make me MORE interested in you rather than less and appreciate the fact that you were willing to have difficult conversations about important topics. Indeed, my guy of numerous years points back to that conversation as one of the ones in which he thought, "Wow, arnicae is practical, decisive, responsible, and incredibly sexy."
posted by arnicae at 2:14 PM on April 23, 2011

Bottom line...its your health. You have a right to be as careful as you want. It takes a while to build trust. And refusing to get tested for stds is a bad way to build that trust. Everybody has boundaries and expectations when it comes to relationships. Stick to your guns. Simply move on if your expectations aren't being met.
posted by ljs30 at 2:15 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

when i was sexually active with multiple partners in my early 20s, i was tested every year. this seems entirely reasonable to me. if my husband came home today and said "i want us to get STD testing" i'd say "sure honey! can we pick up some groceries after?" if i asked someone to get tested or about their testing status and they got super defensive/started acting like i was paranoid, i'd find a different sexual partner.

i think what someone upthread said about it being more normal for us gals because of pap smears is very true. but, i don't think that absolves the men of getting it done, even if they need a little nudge first.
posted by nadawi at 2:27 PM on April 23, 2011

I am around your age and have never had the situation you describe, where I ask someone if they've been tested and they get weird or defensive about it. That would be a monumental turnoff. The people I've been involved with seem to share the same "culture" that I have around these things - of course, you practice safe sex, of course part of that is getting tested.

Someone who pushed back on that sort of thing strikes me as the same kind of person who would act put out if someone wanted them to wear their seatbelt or not litter. Hard to describe why -- again, it strikes me most as a cultural difference. Some people are raised thinking "of COURSE we do this and people who don't are tools." Other people are raised thinking "people who care about this are too uptight" or weren't raised to think about it at all.

My advice -- keep on keeping on with what you're doing and date different kinds of dudes.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:32 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

This has already been articulated really well upthread, but I figure one more voice chiming in can't hurt:

It's so disrespectful that someone who wants to sleep with you won't get tested at your request. I agree with everyone who's said that your partners should respect your wishes and want to protect you from STD's.

I knew my boyfriend was a keeper when he initiated the have-you-been-tested talk early on in the dating phase. It's a reasonable and responsible request to get tested, and it's total red flag that someone wants a blowjob but doesn't want to get tested.

It's one thing if a person is not getting tested and it's only affecting him/her. It's a game changer when someone is refusing to get tested and willfully endangering a partner's safety. Good for you for standing up for yourself!
posted by pluot at 2:35 PM on April 23, 2011

I don't think you're being unreasonable. As someone pointed out upthread, it's actually fairly common to have an STD and be symptom free. Also, syphilis is an STD you can catch, and you can transmit, orally.
posted by OmieWise at 2:49 PM on April 23, 2011

the chlamydia/gonorrhea test stings like mad

There are now urine tests for both of these diseases.
posted by grouse at 2:55 PM on April 23, 2011

I think you're asking two questions: firstly, are you being unreasonable, and secondly, is this normal.

From my experience, and from what I know of my friends, you are at the more regular end of the testing spectrum, and are 'unusual' in the sense that most people don't get tested as often as you (as you've discovered).

I don't think this has any particular bearing on whether or not you're being unreasonable - both parties should be comfortable with each other when they have sex, and if this is what you require to be comfortable than your partners should either understand that and work with you, or decide that it's too much effort and part ways. If you liked to go on several dates before sleeping with someone, it would be the same situation - a little unusual, perhaps, but still quite reasonable for you to ask (and they are free to move on if that's unacceptable for them).

I think you should stop framing this to them as what is normal and expected, and start framing it as something you require (hopefully they'll learn a little bit along the way too). That nips any argument in the bud - even if they think it's silly, you're not asking them to believe that it's the right way, you're telling them that it's your way.
posted by twirlypen at 3:19 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

HPV, the STI that leads to cervical cancer, is rarely symptomatic in men. If they don't test they have no idea.

Even if they get tested they still have no idea: there is no HPV test for men.

As others have said, you aren't unreasonable to ask for something that makes you comfortable in a relationship, especially something that is low-cost and low-effort, like getting tested for HIV once in a while. (As was mentioned above, if they do the swab test on your guy, though, that hurts like a motherfucker, and is something that many guys might be very reluctant to do on a frequent basis.)

But having said that, I think that on the bell curve of STD testing, you are pretty far out on the edge of the curve. For better or worse, most people get tested somewhere between never and seldom. Neither my primary care doctor nor my urologist have ever suggested routine STD screenings, for example. None of my male friends has ever mentioned doing routine STD testing, either. I think these tests are offered to sexually active women more often, because of the connection to fertility, and because women usually go in for yearly pelvic exams -- a level of medical interaction with their sexual health that very few men experience.

And even if you do go in for testing, there's no single, standard battery of tests. One place will test for HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, and another doctor will add in a syphilis test but leave off something else. So people say "I got tested for everything," but that's total bull, because there's no such thing. But, as with the statement I quoted at the beginning of this post, people think "I got tested" means a guy is clear of things like HPV that you can't even test for.

Finally, STD testing (especially HIV) is super scary for a lot of people. I mean, what if the test is positive? Are you prepared for that? Not many people are, so it's easy to not deal with it.

tl;dr: Ask for what makes you comfortable, but know that most people aren't doing the same, and don't be surprised if they are resistant.
posted by Forktine at 3:38 PM on April 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

Also, Planned Parenthood has a nice little "should I get tested?" quiz here. It's worth clicking your way through and seeing how their recommendations line up with your gut feelings and with your doctor's opinion.
posted by Forktine at 3:41 PM on April 23, 2011

My last partner had been a close friend for several years and was generally a very health-conscious guy. Sometime after kissing but before sex I told him: "I just had my annual exam and got tested for everything* and am clear. So... you...?" I don't know what happened to the flow of conversation, but the question was never answered, and I decided not to push further.

(*Turns out this did not include herpes, and probably also not HPV.)

Not long after we began having sex he had an (apparently first) outbreak of herpes. At the time I trusted his insistence that he hadn't been with anyone else in the time we'd been together, and after lots of reading realized that I'd never been tested for herpes and could have had an asymptomatic case. I was tested immediately, and again many months after my last contact with him, and I don't have it -- so that was all on him.

I can't think of a situation in which I would've been more inclined to trust an untested partner to be disease-free, but I SO regret not insisting that he get tested. I was so upset about being exposed unknowingly that I was never able to sleep with him again.

I really admire your strong stance and won't be able to enter another sexual relationship without similar standards, but as has been suggested above, the phrasing and timing are certainly tricky. In my case I intend to tell my next partner that I've become more cautious after a scare and associated self-education -- it's certainly fair to acknowledge that most people don't realize that you can be infected even after a long asymptomatic period of celibacy.
posted by ecsh at 4:04 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wonder if having been monogamously partnered for as long as I have means I'm really out of touch with current standards, or if standards vary geographically. Here in the SF Bay Area, in the circles my now-husband and I moved in, the usual pattern (as I remember it) was to get STD tested when a relationship first became physically intimate, continue using barriers for at least six months, then get tested again and if both parties remain negative then you could discuss dropping barrier methods and going fluid-monogamous.

Upon reflection, I don't think I care whether I'm out of touch or not — if Mr. Lexica gets killed by a wildebeest stampede down Broadway, any handsome fellas who might want to console me in my time of grief can jolly well get themselves tested.
posted by Lexica at 5:37 PM on April 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

the usual pattern (as I remember it) was to get STD tested when a relationship first became physically intimate, continue using barriers for at least six months, then get tested again and if both parties remain negative then you could discuss dropping barrier methods and going fluid-monogamous. -Lexica

Does this include condoms for blow jobs? The original poster seemed to imply that she is using condoms for blow jobs, with this: if I want to ramp up the BJ situation (which I hate doing with a condom), I ask them if they wouldn't mind getting tested.

I don't think there is a right or wrong or normal/abnormal distinction when it comes to personal decisions about safer sex practices or std testing decisions, but I think you are outside the norm if you are asking every guy to go get tested again before you will give him a blow job without a condom.
posted by andoatnp at 6:07 PM on April 23, 2011

Ask Metafilter is going to give you answers skewed toward your own perspective on STDs; it's a very testing-positive place. Personally, I have never known another woman to ask for STD testing before sex, let alone blowjobs without condoms. While I wholeheartedly agree that you have every right to everything you need to be comfortable with a new sexual partner, and are right to do so, you are outside my experience of the (educated American) norm.

What you're doing is right, and it's infinitely right for you. Keep weeding out the guys that won't test - just because you are outside the norm doesn't mean you're not right.
posted by ldthomps at 7:16 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't really think it's a case of you being weird, this is simply something varies hugely among people. I know people who would take your behaviour for granted and be horrified at less, and I know people where there isn't really a way to even bring it up without them taking it very very badly.

Other aspects are at play. In the USA, it varies hugely among how much testing costs them, as it ranges from "free" to "significant financial burden" depending on various factors. A lot of the time, with factors like job-based health insurance, or low-income assistance, this seems to stratify across the social circle, and becomes a self-reinforcing norm, so that someone can very easily end up dating people who are almost always in the same boat, and so more inclined towards the same testing behaviour.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:19 PM on April 23, 2011

No you are not paranoid! I think you're acting very rationally. FWIW, I'm a guy and I approach this issue very similarly to the way you do. I've also encountered women who are taken aback by my approach about being tested. We simply stop seeing one another in those cases.

I think the bottom line is that it's smart to do all you can to protect your health. Stick to your guns, and live your life the way you want to live it.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:05 PM on April 23, 2011

I think your expectations are extremely reasonable. Cut and pasted from an answer I gave in a previous thread:
That's always been my policy. I always brought it up, as forktine and others mention, when just hanging out with the guy (not kissing or anything remotely sexual). Good thing too, considering one guy who was annoyed at having to get tested because, he said, "I'm low risk. I've only had one girlfriend before and we were monogamous. I've never had any symptoms."

But being a generally decent guy, he got tested because I made it clear testing was non-negotiable. . . . He reported, looking stricken, that he was positive for chlamydia.
If our approach is out of the norm, so what.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:32 PM on April 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

I have a datapoint of one, so take that for whatever it's worth.

AskMetafilter, Scarleteen, and other resources had driven the point of STD! BAD! into me long before I had sex. Before I had even gotten to removing clothes, I asked for an STD test--because the guy was not a virgin--didn't have an overwhelming number of partners, always used condoms. Still.

It was nervewracking, I thought he would take it as I don't trust him, blah blah...so I stuttered it out, super nervously.

His response was a calm, "Okay, if you want. Make the appointment and I'm there."

I went with him and got myself tested, in a show of solidarity (although they didn't give me the full battery of tests upon learning I hadn't been sexually active yet, but they did give me a urine test). They gave him the full battery; if a swab had been involved, he sure didn't complain.

We were only 21 then.

Long story short, OP--if this is more than a one night stand, and this is what makes you feel comfortable, absolutely stand your ground. If a 21 year old can understand that this is a matter of safety and health and not distrust, everyone sexually active should--especially if they've been around the block once or three times.

For what it's worth, we're still together, and he still thinks I'm too paranoid about my health (he's a little skeptical of the statistics of STDs, and has overwhelming confidence in his immune system in general). I get tested 1-3 times per year (annual exams plus another sex study that mandates me getting tested). He hasn't taken one since, but if I asked him tomorrow to take another test, he would--because he cares about me and respects my boundary.

Sleep with the people who respect your boundary.
posted by Hakaisha at 10:58 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is the area I have a graduate degree in and have worked in professionally--I used to do HIV/STI pre & post-test counseling, and have taught STI education.

You are NOT out of line at all. You're smart. And as many people have already said, if someone won't get tested for you, it's perfectly reasonable to refuse to sleep with them! Given that the cost of not being cautious can be anything from an itch that clears up with a couple days' worth of antibiotics to infertility to a fatal infection, it's those guys who refuse to get tested who are being obtuse.

fwiw, you may want to look at what kind of guys you are meeting/dating. Someone who works in a health-oriented profession (doctor, nurse, public health, etc) would be more likely to be getting tested regularly and/or be comfortable with you asking. I know a lot of medical professionals, and all of them get tested at least once a year, even the ones in long-term monogamous relationships.
posted by min at 8:29 AM on April 24, 2011

Totally reasonable. I do the same. I hate having the "A condom? For a blowjob? WHAT?" conversation too but I always do. Keep at it, honey.
posted by teraspawn at 11:15 AM on April 24, 2011

I'm a guy with a similar policy to yours. Your expectations are entirely reasonable.
posted by ericthegardener at 2:41 PM on April 24, 2011

I think you are outside the norm if you are asking every guy to go get tested again before you will give him a blow job without a condom.

Depends on each person's personal standards. For me, giving a guy a blowjob is at a comparable level of intimacy to PIV sex, so the conversation about sexual histories, STDs, and testing would already have happened.

I'd prefer not to use condoms for blowjobs, especially because I absolutely expect reciprocation and cunnilingus with a dental dam is kind of "what's the point?" Whether my hypothetical partner and I agree to stop using barriers for oral sex would depend a lot on the discussions about sexual histories, how candid and straightforward we each thought the other was being, and other factors.
posted by Lexica at 3:02 PM on April 24, 2011

It's utterly routine for all of the women I know in non-monogamous relationships to go ahead and get tested once a year during the routine pap -- especially those with male sex partners, since so many diseases are less symptomatic in men.

Asking for testing is not universal; many people just don't, for whatever reason. Asking for testing before protected PIV sex with men is on the extra-cautious side, but it's still a jerk move to question it. Questioning a request for testing before unprotected PIV sex is just flat-out wrong.

However, honestly, I can't say that I've ever considered using a condom for a blowjob. Just offered as a data point. I'm not saying that your caution is wrong -- you should operate at your own level of comfort, and your partners should respect that.
posted by desuetude at 9:49 PM on April 24, 2011

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