Today both K and I went for our 6 monthly appointment to get tested for STIs.
I had my appointment in the afternoon and K had hers in the evening.
My appointment was at 1pm but I wasn’t seen until 1.30pm. I was due to meet K at about that time as she previously had a stress test appointment at the hospital for her heart.
When they finally saw me, they asked me about my partners. As we are non-monogamous (three partners each), we aim to get tested every 3 months.
First they asked me how many partners I had been with in the last 3 months. I said 3. My three partners, I am in committed relationships with them.
That was all fine. Then they asked about protection and I said I didn’t use any as we are all tested and there have been no new partners since our last testing and all our partners are clean.
They reacted to that and said I should always practice safe sex (I do, but not with committed partners)
They said that wasn’t safe enough (I wonder if they would say this to married couples? I doubt it)
They then got more judgmental and asked how many partners I have had in the last year. I said five. Three being my partners and two who I used strict protection with.
After answering, they then asked if I “worked in the industry”.
What the actual fuck. No, I do not, and why would having five sexual partners mean I was a sex worker?
I’ve been having tests for 8 years and I’ve never been asked this. K has also never had this. Last time I got tested, the doctor was brilliant, and completely accepting of our non-monogamous life.
I went to the toilet to do my swab, and I accidentally alcohol disinfectant on my shoulder (every thing is hard when your good hand is out of commission). When I went back into the examination room, I explained that I had alcohol on my shoulder and the nurse said “Well at least that part of you is sterile.”
I experience slut shaming on a regular basis due to the way I live my life and expect it, but not from NHS health professionals. I felt dirty, and felt like I was being judged for having more than one partner. That I was a promiscuous person who took dangerous risks. They made out like I was hurting people for living my life the way I am.
In truth, I am careful. I make sure to go every three-six months, and I go with K so we can both be screened and cleared at the same time. Yes I take some risks, but I’m sure to follow those risks up. I don’t expect to be lectured on what’s wrong and what’s right about my life.
K on the other hand had a good experience there with different people. She was not asked the questions I was asked and was treated with respect.
I am going to complain to the NHS for the way they have treated me, particularly as I was symptomless and am being sexually aware by actually going to get tested. I am aware that other poly people get treated like this and I wonder if they have done anything about it? Did you complain? I feel like the NHS needs to train their health care workers better and educate them on non-monogamous lifestyles. Getting checked shouldn’t be as emotionally challenging as today was. I understand the need for questions, but preaching and judging has no place in sexual health. Bastards.