We live in fun times. Women are more liberated than ever, socially, professionally and physically. We are having sex for babies, for fun and for love, and are largely unashamed of our choices and decisions. That’s all great, but there is one thing to think about when engaging in intercourse with a partner who may or may not be exclusive – sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
I was 23 and started dating him. It was a great time; we got along well and enjoyed a lot of the same things. When we started sleeping together, I got on the pill because he said he was “allergic” to condoms. (Yeah don’t believe that one ever). My primary concern was pregnancy, so I thought I had all my bases covered.
Five months into our relationship he wanted to marry me; six months into it he cheated on me, with a girl he met a bar, unprotected. The loss of the relationship didn’t hurt me anywhere near the betrayal of his being so reckless with his own life – and, as a result, mine.
It could have been worse. I got a mild STD from him (or her, not that it matters), cured by a trip to the doctor and a pill. As I left the doctor’s office, I thanked my lucky stars for how easily I had gotten off. The medication purged the disease from my system just as easily as I purged him from my life.
If you think STDs “happen to other people”, think again. In India, the incidence of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and STDs is on a dramatic rise, up from 1% to 4.5% from 2010 to 2014. The issue affects women disproportionately because the power structure in India is still tilted towards men. Even if you have not sexually abused or raped and you are engaging in intercourse at your own will, social stigma will keep you more interested in hiding your “indiscretions” than in getting a potentially harmful condition checked out. Keep in mind that some STDs like herpes often don’t have outward symptoms. You’ll never know until you get it, or get tested for it.
I was educated and aware, opting for a STD screening every year with my annual examination. My mistake was trusting someone I barely knew to respect my body as much as I did. That, my friends, doesn’t happen.
Today, we Indian women are embracing our sexuality faster than our society is. It’s your body, it’s up to you to protect it.
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