Q: I’ve read that STDs are unfortunately making a comeback. How can I be sure I’m not putting myself at risk? No offense intended towards sex workers, by the way!
Georgie: STD (or, as we usually say, STI) stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection. It’s anything you can catch getting sexy with other people (not just sexual intercourse, but also other stuff like oral sex and touching.) STIs are unfortunately on the rise among the wider population, because less folks are using condoms – boo!
The good news for Aussies is that our sex workers tend to have awesome safer sex standards. Because we’re so used to doing sex right, we’re also very good at keeping sex as safe as possible. So when you choose to see a sex worker, you might even be better off than shagging someone you met at a party. But there’s always a risk – that’s why we call it ‘safer sex’ not ‘safe sex.’ This is something both clients and escorts should be concerned with – it’s really important that we all protect our health.
Using condoms for intercourse and oral sex will go a long way towards reducing your risk of most STIs. there are a few (including herpes and genital warts) that you can get just from skin contact, but pretty much everything else can be dealt with by careful condom use. Being careful where you put your hands is another pro tip – don’t touch your bits and then touch someone else’s junk or mouth. And don’t let your bits rub against anyone else’s.
NOTE: it’s not just about sexual penetration, there are a number of STIs you can get from oral sex. I know this isn’t fun for some folks to hear, because they don’t like using condoms when they receive blow jobs. But oral is a risk for some STIs, so if you’re worried, it pays to cover up. Lots of workers don’t offer uncovered oral for precisely this reason. However, some see it as an acceptable risk. At the end of the day, it’s up to the people involved to set their own standards.
Above all, remember to get an STI test regularly if you’re getting sexy with anyone (whether they’re an escort, a client or a date). Getting tested means that, in the event you pick anything up, it can be treated fast. Not all STIs show symptoms, so you need to check before it really starts to affect you.
How safe you want to be in your encounters is up to you, but you always have to respect your partner’s needs. The golden rule is ‘whoever’s safer sex standards are higher, that is the standard we use.’ Escorts each have their own ways of doing safer sex, and it’s really important that you respect their wishes … but you’re also allowed to ask for more safety, if you feel you need it.
But basically, getting really good at using condoms and paying attention to your safer sex stuff will eliminate HEAPS of risk, to the point where you should definitely be able to relax and enjoy yourself.
P.S. This probably isn’t you, but sometimes we stress out endlessly about getting an STI, even when we’re being as safe as possible. This might be a sign you’re feeling some guilt, shame, or anxiety around sex. If your fear feels like it’s getting out of hand or interfering with your ability to enjoy sex, I’d recommend a good sex-positive counsellor.
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