Got a health question? Don’t trust those “Doctors” at the University Health Center? Are you scared of Web M.D. because it always tells you you’re gonna die? Ask a real doctor, our friend Dr. Lissa Rankin. She’s here every Thursday to answer whatever you throw at her – like the getting over your fear of sex– so ask away. Leave your question in the comments or send it over to us. Don’t be shy; she’s waiting for ya!
Q: I recently started hooking up with a boy who has, well, gotten around. I asked him if he’d been tested recently and he said he did (and he was “all good!”), but I don’t know if I trust him. Maybe he’s just saying that to get in my pants? I obviously plan on using a condom when I sleep with him, but are there any things I can look for before I go down that path? Any visible signs I should pay attention to so I know if he’s telling me the truth or not?
A: Honey, if you can’t trust the guy, do you really want to sleep with him? I mean- yeah, there are some things you can do to check him out, but it’s not necessarily enough to protect you. Make sure you care enough about this guy that, if you do get a sexually transmitted infection, it’s not the end of your world. Because the truth is- even if he got tested for “everything,” you may still be at risk.
Why? Because condoms don’t protect you against all STI’s, and testing doesn’t always test for everything. Most testing will not reveal whether a guy carries HPV, and often, it will not represent whether he might be infectious for herpes.
So what’s a girl to do? Here are a few tips:
1. Ask your partner to be honest about whether he has really been tested. Explain that you value the health of both of you, and that if he cares about you, he needs to demonstrate this. Ask for a copy of his test results if you can’t trust him but want to sleep with him anyway. Offer him a copy of yours first. Then inspect him.
2. Look for cauliflowery warts on and around his penis.
3. Inspect the tip of the penis for funky discharge (anything greenish or yellowish) that may represent gonorrhea or chlamydia. (Wetness in this region should always be clear).
4. Hunt for reddish ulcerations that might represent genital herpes.
5. Check for little round bumps that can represent molluscum contagiosum.
6. Take a gander at his pubic hair to make sure there are no pubic lice or little white eggs.
Remember, a clean inspection doesn’t mean you’re good to go. Most sexually transmitted infections have absolutely no signs on a clinical exam. Which is why it all comes down to trust. At the end of the day, do you really want to hook up with someone you can’t believe?
Hope that helps!
– Dr. Lissa Rankin’s book, What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in Fall 2010. She invites you to join her Pink online community (www.owningpink.com/forum) or read more of her writing at Owning Pink (www.owningpink.com).