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The Barebacking Facts

Photo Courtesy of James RendellBarebacking (having sex, typically anal sex, without condoms) is increasingly popular, but if you are considering doing it, there are a number of things you should think about before making your decision.

Your Health

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One useful piece of information is your own HIV status and that of your partner(s), and the only way to know this for sure is to get tested. Knowing this could change your life, both psychologically and legally, and many places won’t test you for HIV at all without counselling. Your GP can arrange an HIV test, and if you have a good relationship, this can be the best way to get the support you need. Alternatively, many clinics offer testing.

Your relationships

If you are in a monogamous relationship, and you know that you and your partner have the same HIV status, it would be difficult to tell you that you must use a condom every time. In open or polyamorous relationships (having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved), some people do choose to forgo condoms with their main partner(s) but absolutely insist that all parties use them when having sex with anyone else. Issues of trust are important here, as one person observes:

I am polyamorous… and have 2 bois in my house who call me Daddy. (yes, I’m a switch) so I look at not only my life as my responsibility but theirs. And when I found out my Daddy wasn’t using protection with others, I was furious and terrified. What if I’d caught something and passed it onto one of my bois without realizing. Thankfully I had been using condoms and gloves with my bois but I had them get tested anyway. I got tested twice (6 months apart) and just because I was feeling that paranoid, 6 months later as well. Thankfully I didn’t contract any illness (other than fear).

As a poly switch (read: picky slut) This is my second scare where I thought I might have contracted an STI … the first time was when I played with someone who later found out one of his partners was HIV positive and they hadn’t taken precautions and our rubber had broke.

I realize now that not only would I be upset for my own life if I contracted an STI, but I would worry about my bois and if either of them contracted anything from me, I would be guilt ridden. I’m much more careful (and picky) since.

Talk to your partner(s) about sex, sexual health and condoms. During sex is not a good time! Discuss what you’d like to do with each other, what turns you on, and how far you are prepared to go. Let him know that in advance.

Substances

Alcohol may help you pick up the courage to talk to the gorgeous guy in the corner, but they can also cloud your judgement. Some drugs have effects that directly affect your chances of catching an STI. Poppers, for example, dilate the blood vessels in your arse and make it much easier for viruses to enter your bloodstream. Viagra has a similar effect.

Peer pressure

Theres a lot of pressure out there to have unsafe sex, and many excuses for not using condoms that have very little to do with condoms themselves. Another person describes the experience of peer pressure:

Will using a condom be satisfying for him? Will he want to play again in the future? What will he think of me for saying we need to be careful? Will he think I don’t trust him? Will he think I’m a nerd or uncool? Will he be turned off and leave? Is it worth taking the risk with someone whom I don’t even know will want to have a future with me? Shouldn’t I demonstrate my nonchalance by not worrying about it? On and on and on… Blah, blah, blah.

Seems a bit like Stigmatic Guilt, doesn’t it? Trying to follow someone else’s desires and behave the way they want you to, even though you feel differently?

Reducing the Risk

Sex is like the rest of life – nothing can guarantee that you will be 100% safe. If you have made a deliberate, conscious decision to bareback with someone whose status is unknown, or is known to be opposite to your own, there are still things you can do to make it less risky. Most important is using plenty of lube. Lube dramatically reduces the chance of accidental tears as well as improving the whole experience. You might want to deliberately ration the amount of sex you have, giving yourself time to heal in between. Enemas, whether before or after sex, can be problematic as they can strip away protective cells, or force bacteria and viruses further inside. Most importantly, get yourself vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B, and have regular MOTs so that STIs can be spotted early and dealt with. Of course, all of this is useful if you are using condoms too.

Submitted by Brother Bimbo del Doppio Senso, OPI Convent of Dunn Eideann http://www.thesisters.org.uk/

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