Wildwood Daze – Betty Ann – Part 7 – Burning For You

North Wildwood, New Jersey – June 1984

I was going to the bathroom one day and I felt a burning sensation. I always had two terrible fears about sex. Getting someone pregnant and acquiring a venereal disease. I had been having a lot of incredible mind-bending sex with Betty and now I was worried. I knew she was on birth control so getting her pregnant was a non-issue. But now I was suddenly feeling this discomfort whenever I urinated and I started having real anxiety.

The whole idea of me having an affair with a woman ten years my senior who was incredibly hot was unbelievable enough. But now I was starting to think maybe I wasn’t the only one she could be fooling around with. Could it be possible? Had I fallen victim to a wanton seductress who was out devouring young men? Of course, being only 22 at the time I instantly panicked.

What to do? My dad had lots of experience with all sorts of scary grown-up stuff so I went and talked to him. He knew all about what was happening between me and Betty so I figured I should ask him about what I was experiencing. 

I guess looking back on it now, I can say what I want about my father but when it came to big stuff… serious stuff, he was always there for me. It’s a shame most kids can’t go to their parents with their troubles for fear of repercussions or shame associated with their actions. But I remember my father always saying, anything you’re doing… or even thinking about doing… I’ve probably already done it. Another goal I would eventually achieve and exceed.

So, I went and spoke to him about what I was experiencing. I knew enough about science, biology, and anatomy and clearly, something was wrong. Betty was the only girl I’d been with in a while so I figured anything wrong with my plumbing had to have come from her.

“Okay, son, let’s not jump to conclusions here. You may just be experiencing what many of us call a ‘ hot bod’. But I doubt if it’s syphilis or gonorrhea. She’s a married woman. She’s chosen you, and she’s probably not screwing anyone else.”

“But what about her husband? He cheated on his first wife with her, and now he’s cheating again. That’s why she’s getting revenge on him with me. What if he’s screwing a bunch of women, and he caught something, gave it to her, and she gave it to me.”

“You make a great point there son, but don’t panic. I’m going to call Dr. Galzunis, and you’re going to go see him and get yourself checked out. But whatever this is, we’ll take care of it, okay?”

“Thanks, dad. I will. I hope you’re right.”

I go to Dr. Galzunis’s office to get checked out. I’m embarrassed because he’s the family doctor and I know his hot daughter Chrissy. But, he was good friends with my father, and I’m sure he knew the situation before I got there.

I was sitting in the waiting room and having high anxiety when it was my turn to go in to see him. I had been praying I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew in the office. Wildwood is a small town so you never know who could see you doing whatever.

I get in there and of course, Dr. Galzunis is the consummate professional and has a great bedside manner. But there was no pageantry here, we got right down to business. He checked me for any swelling on different parts of my body then it was time for the main event.

I was asked to drop my pants and lean over the examination table. He handed me a microscope slide. He told me to hold it at the end of my member. I’m thinking… what the hell is this? He snaps on a glove and lubes up his middle finger. He tells me he’s going to check my prostate. A small amount of semen will discharge out of me and onto the slide. I’m filled with anxiety as he invades me. He’s trying to be gentle and quick about the whole matter and I start hyperventilating. It’s odd, because I had really bad anxiety that normally resulted in nausea, but there was no time for that here. I just started hyperventilating. That had never happened to me before. I looked down and there was the sample he was seeking. I told him it came out and he withdrew. 

I started to calm down as I cleaned up and pulled up my drawers. Man, that was awkward and uncomfortable. He told me that I probably had a urinary infection and that it was quite common. It just appears in men faster because all of our equipment is on the outside of our bodies and women’s stuff was all inside. I was praying he was right because I had read articles about what VD can do to the body if left untreated. 

He said he’d run some tests and give me a call in a day or so. He gave me a prescription for some CIPRO and told me NO SEX for a couple of days until we knew what we were dealing with.

I left the office and called Betty and told her all about the whole scary ordeal. At first, she was a little miffed about me thinking I got an STD from her, but once I gave her my theory about her husband catting around, she understood. She said she’d go and get herself checked out. 

It turns out it was simply a urinary infection, and she had indeed passed it to me during one of our marathon sessions. Once you get a UTI apparently you’re susceptible to getting one again. I think I’ve had maybe one or two more in my entire life and it’s no big deal. But once it starts you know something’s up. All the cranberry juice in the world won’t clear it up, but CIPRO will. You start taking that stuff and you feel better by day two. Medicine works.

So, Betty and I had a good laugh about it, and we kept all of our frisky encounters to a minimum for a week. She even gave me a polaroid of her topless that her husband had taken to hold me over. 

But after that, we were back in the groove again, so to speak.

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How To Tell Someone You Have Herpes, According To Experts

Herpes. For some, just the word alone can result in a rollercoaster of emotions. So to find out you have herpes, can feel really scary. But it shouldn’t be. While herpes may not be cured with an antibiotic, like other STIs, it is treatable. People don’t “suffer” from herpes; people live with it and continue to have great lives — and sex lives too.

But, as is the case with any STI you have, it is something that you need to tell your partner. If you’re going to be a responsible sexually active person in this world, you owe to yourself and everyone you sleep with, to be honest about anything you have that could possibly be transmitted to them.

“Any diagnosis of an STI can be frightening/upsetting/insert-other-not-good-feeling, but it is not the end of the world. I feel like I say that so often, but it really is the case,” Dr. Megan Stubbs, Ed.D, a sex and relationship expert, tells Bustle. When telling your partner, either potential or existing, “honesty and upfront communication is key. Try to find a neutral location for this conversation to happen. Right before bed or when you’re about to be sexual isn’t the ideal setting,” Stubbs says.

According to the Center for Disease Control, “more than one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes,” also known as HSV-2, in the United States. As for oral herpes, HSV-1, that number is much higher, with the World Health Organization estimating that 3.7 billion people under 50 have it. Because oral herpes, aka cold sores, are so common, many people may not think they need to have a conversation about it with their partner — but because oral herpes can be transferred to the genitals, it’s still a conversation that needs to happen.

“It just takes that skin on skin contact to transmit the virus, so when we think about oral sex, we need to think about our oral herpes,” Dr. Stubbs says. “Again, this may take some time for them to process. Herpes is so common, but some people may still be unaware of the finer details of the virus… it’s something that you should disclose to your partner so that they can make informed decisions regarding their own sexual wellbeing.”

It should also be noted that if you have herpes, genital or otherwise, it’s not as though you will be walking around with sores for the rest of your life, but there is no cure. According to the Mayo Clinic, herpes treatment comes in the forms of prescription antiviral medications like Acyclovir (Zovirax) and Valacyclovir (Valtrex). These medications not only help to heal sores faster than they would without them but also help to prevent future outbreaks, as well as the severity of those outbreaks. While medications also minimize the chance of transmitting the virus to others, there is still no guarantee, and wearing condoms, even if there isn’t a current outbreak, is always necessary.

With that in mind, find a cozy place, get your facts straight, and tell your partner you need to have a chat, start with:

  • I just had a checkup.
  • I have a diagnosis of herpes.
  • This means we need to have to talk bout it.

After that, here’s exactly what to say to a partner if you find out you have herpes.

1. Tell Them Before You Have Sex

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Although telling your current partner you have herpes before you have sex the next time is likely to be a little more difficult than telling a new partner, it still has to be done.

“It’s great to have this conversation before you engage in any sexual activity,” Dr. Stubbs says. “For an existing partner, this can be trickier. Assuming you both were tested before you became sexual partners, this may be a larger conversation than just revealing your status. Was there cheating involved? Was there an exposure during group play? Have you been sexual with your partner since then?”

Let them know as soon as you find out and definitely before you are sexual again. You just need to put it out there and tell them you have herpes — and do it before you get into bed with each other. As Dr. Stubbs points out, a neutral spot is really the best option. The bedroom should be free of all serious talks anyway — that’s a place for dirty talk and sexual fun.

2. Tell Them About The Virus

If you’ve been diagnosed with herpes, not only were you probably sent home with a pamphlet, but you probably got on your computer and did your own research for hours. Dr. Stubbs suggests telling your partner about the virus and giving them the facts. A good place to start is with statistics, so your partner realizes just how common herpes is.

There are two types of herpes: HSV-1 and HSV-2. The World Health Organization estimates that, globally, 3.7 billion people under 50 have HSV-1, while 417 million people between 15 and 49 have HSV-2. The difference between the two strains of herpes is that HSV-1 is contracted and transmitted orally, and the outbreak is a cold sore. HSV-2, on the other hand, is sexually transmitted and shows up as sores around the genitals. However, HSV-1 can cause genital herpes if there’s contact during an oral outbreaksay, if you give your partner head while you have an active cold sore.

3. Give Them Space

When you tell your partner, either current or new, that you have herpes, there’s no way to know how they’ll react. For a current partner, this could open up a whole conversation about fidelity or past partners, while in both cases there might be a bit of a shock. Because of the stigma surrounding herpes, it’s important to give your partner space after you have the talk.

“Let them think about it,” Stubbs. “Don’t pressure them for an answer right away. They may want to do their own research on it.”

Some people buy into the stigma and, even after telling them all the facts, may choose to keep their distance. If that’s the case, let them do that. It’s their loss; not yours.

4. Talk About STI Screening

Rocketclips, Inc/Shutterstock

Let this conversation open the door to STI screening. Anyone who’s sexually active should consider regular STI screening because condoms aren’t foolproof and, honestly, you just never know.

“Often times you can be asymptomatic and not know you have the virus,” Dr. Stubbs says. “So even if your partner isn’t exhibiting any symptoms, it’s best to be tested.”

STI screenings are quick and easy. They’re also something we should all do for ourselves and our partners, no matter if they’re casual, short-term, or long-term.

5. Allow Yourself And Your Partner To Be Emotional

“Herpes can bring up a lot of emotions, especially when it comes to our sexual partners,” Dr. Stubbs says. Since that’s the case, let yourself be emotional! It’s OK! We have emotions for a reason and that reason is to feel them, then express them. But it’s also important to keep things in perspective.

“Being informed, upfront, and honest with your diagnosis is the best thing you can do for yourself and your partnership,” Dr. Stubbs says.

6. Tell Them This Really Isn’t The End Of The World

More than anything, make sure your partner truly realizes this isn’t the end of the world — not for you, not for them, and certainly not for your sex life together. It’s simply an STI that you have, something that you take medication for, and something you both need to be aware of when having sex.

“Genital herpes will not ruin your sex life,” Dr. Sheila Loanzon, a board-certified OB-GYN and author of Yes, I Have Herpes, tells us. “This diagnosis has the opportunity to cause isolation and destroy the possibility of future relationships if you let it. While the virus may seem catastrophic to some, in terms of disclosure to future partners, outbreak management, and cultural stigmatization of the virus, there are numerous HSV positive men and women (who are publicly sharing their virus status on social media), who are in fulfilling and loving sexual relationships.” And Dr. Loanzon says this as both a doctor and a woman with herpes.

“As a single woman dating, I have actually found that after disclosure it has not made a difference to my partners what my positive status was,” Dr. Loanzon says. “They would like to get to know me as a person.”

Definitely not the end of the world at all.

Finding out you have herpes isn’t easy. Nor is telling your partner. But it still has to be done. So take a deep breath, find a neutral place, and just tell them with clarity and honesty. It’s likely to go smoother than you imagined.

 

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Lockdown Might Lead to a Drop in STI Rates, But It Could Also Spark an Increase in STI Stigma

Fear of coronavirus infection could spark renewed fear of sexually transmitted infections

Bad news: Pandemic lockdowns are putting hookups on hold all over the world. Better news: Pressing pause on hookups might also halt the spread of sexually transmitted infections and give more people a chance to get tested before potentially passing on an infection to a new partner. Worse news: Global panic surrounding the viral coronavirus pandemic could prove as contagious as the virus itself, possibly sparking a regressive resurgence of STI shame and stigma.

Going back to the silver lining for a moment, doctors in the U.K. posit that lockdown conditions could greatly improve the nation’s sexual health, with Dr. John McSorley calling this period of relative sexlessness a “game changer” and urging people to get tested before lockdowns end and everyone returns to their regularly scheduled sleeping around.

“If we could test and treat everybody for their infections now, that would be a game-changer going forward as people slowly move towards normality,” McSorley, a sexual health doctor and president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Justin Harbottle, of sexual health testing organization SH:24, echoed McSorley, calling this period of pandemic-imposed abstinence a “once-in-a-lifetime event” for the future of sexual health. “Even at the start of the HIV epidemic, I don’t think you had such a clean-cut period where collectively – as a population – people stopped having sex with new partners,” said Harbottle.

Unfortunately, one thing we definitely did have during the HIV epidemic was plenty of shame, stigma and moral panic surrounding sex, sexually transmitted infections, and the people who contracted (or were presumed likely to contract) them. And as STI anti-stigma activists have pointed out, our current panic surrounding the coronavirus pandemic could cause those attitudes to crop up again.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

Now that we’re all talking about how important it is to get rapid COVID-19 testing to slow down the pandemic…

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ |
| When were |
| you last |
| tested for |
| STIs? |
| _______|
(\__/) ||
(•ㅅ•) ||
/ づ

ella dawson

@brosandprose

I’m worried that the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is going to lead to even more ignorant, knee-jerk fear of common viruses like herpes and HPV, and a strengthening of STI stigma in general. People are scared of infection right now and that attitude will ripple.

“I’m worried that the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is going to lead to even more ignorant, knee-jerk fear of common viruses like herpes and HPV, and a strengthening of STI stigma in general,” writer Ella Dawson wrote in a tweet last month. “People are scared of infection right now and that attitude will ripple.”

More recently, Dawson has noted other similarities between flawed responses to the pandemic and misconceptions surrounding sexual health. “The people who are pushing to re-open society because they think the COVID-19 pandemic is exaggerated are the same people who think I’m an immoral disease vector because I have herpes,” Dawson wrote in a Twitter thread Monday. “Some people think they’re not at risk of COVID-19 because they’re too good for it, they’re the exception. They ascribe morality and inherent worth to whether or not they’re at risk of contracting a virus,” she continued, comparing the coronavirus response to an all too common line of thought that casts STIs as a kind of punishment for sexual wrongdoing or inherent moral failure.

“‘I don’t need to wear a mask, I’m not at risk of COVID-19’ is the new ‘I don’t need to wear a condom, the girls I have sex with aren’t dirty sluts,’” Dawson concluded.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

Replying to @brosandprose

It makes sense, honestly. Some people think they’re not at risk of COVID-19 because they’re too good for it, they’re the exception. They ascribe morality and inherent worth to whether or not they’re at risk of contracting a virus.

Guess what, Karen! Viruses don’t discriminate.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

“I don’t need to wear a mask, I’m not at risk of COVID-19” is the new “I don’t need to wear a condom, the girls I have sex with aren’t dirty sluts.”

None of this is to say that the doctors urging people to take this time to prioritize their sexual health are promoting stigma. People should absolutely get tested before hooking up with any new partners post-lockdown (though that’s always the case, lockdown or no lockdown). But as discussions of STIs inevitably get pulled into the coronavirus conversation, it’s important to avoid transposing fears about coronavirus onto other infections, especially those with a history of stigma.

Illness of any kind is never a punishment for wrongdoing, nor is it a reflection of someone’s worth or standing, moral or otherwise.

 

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How To Ask A New Partner If They Have An STI (Without It Being Weird) – Part 2

Don’t just ask “have you been tested?”

Unfortunately, the tried and true method of asking “have you been tested?” doesn’t always give you complete information, since not everyone gets the same STI tests, not all STIs can be tested for, and many people are confused about interpreting their results.

It doesn’t need to be a great deal more complicated than that, though. Just follow the question up with some specifics, Manduley said.

“Some of the information you should consider asking is what STIs they were tested for, what the results were (and if anything came back positive, if they completed treatment for it), when that last test date was, and what protection they’ve used in sex since then.”

Don’t think, “we’re using a condom, we’re good!”

If you’re using a condom, you’re playing it a lot safer than those who rely on the pullout method alone. But just because you slipped on a rubber doesn’t mean you’re free and clear. (Sorry!)

As Huizenga told us, condoms alone are effective at preventing STIs that are transmitted through bodily fluids, like gonorrhea and chlamydia, but they provide less protection against those that spread through skin-to-skin contact, like human papillomavirus (genital warts), genital herpes and syphilis.

He tells patients who are single or have multiple partners to get comprehensive screenings done on a yearly or biyearly basis.

That makes having the pre-sex talk so much easier; If you’ve been recently tested, you can offer up your own test results to normalize the experience or make your partner feel less shy about doing it themselves.

“When partners fully disclose STD status ― even exchanging recent lab testing ― it provides clear informed consent on multiple levels,” Huizenga said. “In the spirit of honesty, equality and transparency, I think both partners should exchange this information prior to intimacy.”

If the person says, “I’m not sure,” aim for the highest level of protection you can manage.

If your partner’s response to questions about STIs is along the lines of, “hmm, I’m not sure,” protect yourself as much as possible. That might mean postponing sex ― that can be sexy in itself ― or using as many relevant barriers and forms of protection as possible. Maybe you don’t go “all the way,” but hey, some of the way is still loads of fun.

“If they’re not sure, you might use internal condoms, external condoms, dental dams, gloves or have sex that offers a lower risk profile ― something that limits fluid exchange and limits contact between mucous membranes,” Manduley said.

If this is a more long-term thing, Manduley suggests getting tested together. But in the heat of the moment, keep your response casual and relaxed.

“You can say something like, ‘thanks for telling me!’ and then segue into another activity,” Manduley said. “For example, ‘Well, since you’re not sure, I don’t think you should come in my mouth, but I would love it if you came on my chest,’ or ‘Since you’re not sure, let’s play it safe this time and only use our hands. I can’t wait to touch you.’”

Take a deep breath: This conversation is probably going to go over better than you think.

This is obviously a heavy, potentially uncomfortable topic, but if handled with casualness and tact, it’ll probably play out a lot smoother than you expect. (Plus, major brownie points for being so sexually responsible.)

“Shockingly, I have had patient after patient tell me how surprised they were about how well received these open pre-sex talk was by prospective partners,” Huizenga said. “Counterintuitively, it didn’t kill the mood, it actually made them more, not less, sexually desirable.”

 

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How To Ask A New Partner If They Have An STI (Without It Being Weird) – Part 1

We get it: No one likes to talk about sexually transmitted infections. If things are getting hot and heavy, nothing tosses a bucket of cold water over a sexual encounter quite like saying “STI.”

But in the age of super gonorrhea, it’s super important we have these conversations. Last year, we heard the first reports of super gonorrhea, a strain of the disease so gnarly it’s resistant to the antibiotic drugs usually prescribed to treat it. Oh, joy.

That’s not the only STI you have to worry about. The U.S. has the highest STI rates in the industrialized world, and it’s only getting worse. Nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017, surpassing the record set in 2016 by more than 200,000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in August. (FYI: We’re using STI here as opposed to STD because not all sexually transmitted infections turn into a disease.)

“It’s scary because a shockingly high percentage of Americans know little, if anything, about STDs and STIs,” said Robert Huizenga, a physician and the author of “Sex, Lies and STDS.” “Few people have any idea what early STD symptoms to look out for, even if symptoms do occur, because many STDs present with no symptoms.”

How are we going to get our abysmal STI rates down if we don’t feel comfortable talking openly and honestly about our sexual health with our partners?

Part of the blame for the uptick in STIs lies in our incredibly lax use of contraceptives. A 2017 National Health Statistics Report found that condom use in the U.S. has declined among sexually active young people, with many opting to use the pullout method instead.

The rate of men who say they use withdrawal ― pulling out a partner’s vagina before ejaculating ― increased from about 10% in 2002 to 19% by 2015, according to a recent study published by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Half-assed methods of protection aside, we’re also dealing with a lack of transparency and conversation about STIs. How are we going to get our abysmal STI rates down if we don’t feel comfortable talking openly and honestly about our sexual health with our partners?

Ideally, your new S.O. or hookup buddy will alert you to any hiccups in their sexual history before you have to bring it up. (If you have an STI, we wrote a very helpful primer on how to tell your partner about it, which you can read here.)

But in the event that they don’t, it’s 100% worth speaking up. Below, sexual health educators share their best advice on how to broach the subject in a way that isn’t a total mood killer.

Ideally, bring it up before things start to heat up.

If you have the luxury of time ― say, you’ve been dating this person for a bit and have yet to have sex ― have this convo before you get naked. Avoid any potential awkwardness by employing the “sandwich method” of communication: Share something positive about your budding relationship, then share something you’re worried about (cough, cough STIs), then follow it up with another positive.

“Maybe you start by telling them how much you like them,” said Janet Brito, a psychologist and sex therapist at the Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Honolulu. “Then, say something like ’I really value our relationship, and want to take it to the next level. Do you, too?’”

If they agree, say something like, “Great … I’m a little nervous about having this conversation, but maybe we should talk a little bit about our sexual health, like when was the last time we each were tested?”

Don’t end the train of thought there, though. “Tell them, ‘The last thing I want to do is to kill the mood in the moment. I find you really attractive and really want to do this.’” Brito suggested.

At this point, hopefully, the rest of the conversation will be smooth sailing.

Go into the conversation with this mindset: STIs are incredibly common, so avoid shame-filled language when you bring it up.

If we talk about STIs at all, it’s usually as the punchline for a stupid joke or headlines about “herp alerts at Coachella.” The jokes and puns not only stigmatize those with STIs, they downplay how incredibly common the infections are.

More than one in six adults in the U.S. are living with herpes, according to the CDC, and one in two sexually active persons will contract an STI in their lifetime.

With that knowledge, broach the conversation without using shame-filled language, said Boston sex educator Aida Manduley.

“Asking your partner ‘are you clean?’ shames people for getting infections,” she said. “Regardless of why or how they got infected, STI stigma is terrible for public health.”

Instead, Manduley recommends saying something like, “I’m so ready to have sex with you, and I want to figure out what type of protection we should use before we start!”

“These conversations don’t have to be super serious and sterile,” she said. “Feel free to make them juicy, weird, funny, whatever works for you. And if you’re nervous, practice beforehand so it sounds more natural in the heat of the moment.”

 

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