Resolution for 2013: Don't catch the clap

Over the weekend, during a conversation with "scary disease girl" (and amazing science journalist) Maryn McKenna, I was reminded of a public health issue that we've talked about here before, but which is still not getting enough attention. Gonorrhea (aka "the clap") has long been the STD you worried least about, thanks to easy treatment with antibiotics. But that time is over. Antibiotic resistance is turning gonorrhea into a superbug. As of August, we're down to one antibiotic that can reliably treat it. Your best defense is now, most definitely, offense. Get yourself tested. Make sure your sexual partners are tested (oral sex, too!). And use barrier protection (oral sex, too!)


    1. Yep. Flavored condoms can do double duty as dental dams: just snip off the tip and cut along one side. Presto Chango, no clap-o! :)

    2. I honestly can’t imagine being outside of a lifetime, committed, exclusive, tested-clean relationship and not using a barrier for oral sex. (I also have a firm policy on being open to negotiated changes in that status, because it’s way better than discovering the hard way that you now have third-hand AIDS or something).

      1. While this might be TMI,

        The need to use a dental dam alone would be a big reason for me to not have sex outside of a committed, exclusive, tested-clean relationship.

        1. Everyone has their own priorities and boundaries. Though, even wanting a monogamous relationship (in practice and label, no cheating), one could meet someone they really hit it off with who happens to have something that’s not going away anytime soon. All else in the relationship being A-OK, a dental dam or other protection is a small investment for a lot of fun. 

          Then there’s cases where something’s gone latent, and suddenly shows up in a test after the relationship has started. Instead of dumping the person who’s heartbroken at having something and possibly exposing you to it, you can make a condom bouquet or pick up some latex gloves along with the flowers.

          It’s also helpful to talk openly about these things without shaming, so that a lot of very nice and attractive people out there don’t have to feel like they’re doomed to either lying or lovelorn leprosy.

    3.  Yes. For sex with anyone who isn’t my partner, I use it giving & receiving.  I generally prefer Saran wrap to dental dams. Trojan makes a condom that is unlubricated and has no reservoir tip (which can trigger the gag reflex).

        1. And you can do things with the Saran wrap that aren’t hygienic options otherwise. A lot of the framing for barriers is just making it another type of sex toy instead of “Oh, well…I guess we have to go out and buy condoms now….*heavy sigh of disdain*”

    4. Yup. Generally, my partners and my partners’ partners get tested regularly. But if for some reason there’s any doubt, I do use dental dams. Honestly, they’re not all that bad. 

      I’m not particularly scrupulous about using condoms for receiving oral sex though – this is something I should probably change.

  1. Or, of course, you could have the situation where both partners are monogamous for life, but that’s just crazy talk, right!

      1. “Get yourself tested. Make sure your sexual partners are tested (oral sex, too!). And use barrier protection (oral sex, too!)”

  2. Partner? Millions of nerds everywhere paused for a moment, giggled nervously, and went back to playing Call of Duty. Later, they might ask a knowing buddy if Barrier Protection was some kind of new perk. (I still haven’t gotten an answer)

    1. Yeah… well… if that thought keeps you happy at night, that there are others who are guaranteed to not get it either, then go right ahead holding on to it.

  3. “Your best defense is now, most definitely, offense.”

    This doesn’t really make any sense in this context, especially when you follow it up by recommending typical precautions that very much fall into the category of “defense” against the disease. “Offense” would be going after Gonorrhea and trying to hurt it before it hurts you, say by developing a counter-disease in the form of nanomachine bacteria that hunt down and kill Gonorrhea bacteria (yes, it’s a bacteria, just checked). Or something. But just doing things like using protection is the definition of “defense”. They’re almost synonyms.

    Just saying. I know it’s beside the point. Stuck out at me, though.

  4. I should have known having unprotected sex with an IV drug using sex worker was a bad idea.

    (I did know…but, what the hell: what were the chances?)

    Then…it started to burn a little bit.  Then it started to burn A LOT.  I did not have health insurance at the time so I figured it would ‘go away’…

    No.  In fact, my lymph nodes near my abdomen started to swell so much I thought I had a hernia.  So: off to the Emergency!  The Doc stuck a Q-tip right the hell up my pee-hole: that was memorable.  And the $80 for the medicine…at the time it felt like a lot of money: looking back; best eighty bucks I may have ever spent.

    Did I learn my lesson?  Somewhat.

    But…protected oral sex?  Shuuuuuure…good luck with that.

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