Talking about STIs with Ashley Manta
Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com and Ashley Manta from http://www.AshleyManta.com talk about STDs and how it can appear like a relationship death sentence to some and how releasing shame and normalizing talking about STI status can improve your relationship.
Reid Mihalko’s Difficult Conversation Formula that we mentioned in the call is here:
Here’s the link to The Herpes Opportunity website:
and these are Adrial’s two amazing handouts, one for transmission rates and one as a general overview for those with a recent diagnosis.
Cathy: Welcome everyone. Today we’re talking about STDs and STIs. A subject that a lot of people like to avoid. It’s scary it’s, embarrassing. Most people think it’s pretty painful. He truth is the most common STI is the common cold and a lot of us have gotten that from kissing and some people have gotten mono, and there is no shame attached to that. In fact, a lot of society, I think it was before the 1950’s there really wasn’t a lot of shame around some of the STDs. Like herpes was kind of made into this horrible thing that you could get, this STD that proved you were unclean, unsafe, whatever it was that they marketed this for.
I’m Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com and I’m here with Ashley Manta from http://www.AshleyManta.com and we’re talking about STDs. How are you doing?
Ashley: Yeah, I’m doing well. How are you?
Cathy: Good. I love how openly you talk about the men and you’ve done a lot of research into herpes. Would you like to tell us why?
Ashley: Sure. I was diagnosed with genital herpes in October of 2009, actually after being sexually assaulted by a friend in July of 2009. Two months later I started having really unpleasant symptoms, but I wasn’t sure what it was because I wasn’t very educated on what herpes was or what the symptoms were like. I thought it was like razor burn and I went to my health center on my campus and she said actually it’s herpes, and I was horrified at first. I thought that this was a relationship death sentence. I shakily called the guy that I was seeing and I was like, “Oh my gosh I was just diagnosed with herpes and I think I might have given it to you, I’m so sorry.” and he was wonderful. He was very calm and he said, “Baby, you are the same person today as you were yesterday and now you just have one other thing about you and it’s okay.” That was like …
Cathy: That’s beautiful!
Ashley: That was wonderful! It was my first step to really starting to accept the herpes as not something that was not going to ruin my life. It was up and down. I went through rejection after he and I broke up, but eventually you kind of find a balance where you get comfortable with it and it’s a process and it’s hard but it’s really rewarding once you start to love yourself. Even seeing the herpes as an opportunity to grow and to allow yourself to be vulnerable in way that you might not otherwise.
Cathy: I really appreciate you talking to us about it because there is so much shame associated with it. If anyone talks about it, it’s a whisper to their doctor. It’s not something people in general talk about and I remember the first time I went.
My first boyfriend cheated on me with another guy and I went out, I was like, oh my God what do I do he had unsafe sex and I went to get tested. I could hardly ask my doctor for the test. I was so embarrassed. Now I routinely get tested and I liked that. I liked that feeling of knowing that of someone. Yeah, I’ve been tested and here’s the status. That just feel good, but there is so much shame most people don’t get tested because they’re afraid and they don’t even know how to ask for stuff.
Ashley: Absolutely! And people are afraid to talk with their partners about it. The problem with, herpes especially, is 9 out of 10 people that have it don’t realize that they have because they can be completely asymptomatic. A lot of health centers don’t routinely test for herpes. You actually have to ask for it. They usually test for the big four which are chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV and Syphilis. Pretty much anyone at any health center that’s going to to do a test, is going to test for those four. You have to ask to be tested for herpes and some people; some organizations will only do testing when you have an outbreak, but then they can scrape a sample of the sore and send it off to the lab for a serum test. Other’s will actually do a blood test called an IgG test but it’s expensive, especially if you aren’t on health insurance.
Ashley: A lot of people are really afraid to even have that conversation with their doctor because if they’re not hushing in whispered tones about herpes it’s the butt of joke.
Ashley: Like everything that happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, except herpes. Herpes has sort of become the red-head step child of the STI world.
Cathy: But there’s actually …
Ashley: You know it’s so common.
Cathy: It is. Like type 1 which is typically around the mouth isn’t like a third of the population has that one?
Cathy: What a percentage of people who have type 2 which is the genital herpes?
Ashley: It is 20% of people, ages 14-49, have genital herpes.
Cathy: So, one … that’s, that’s …
Ashley: One in five.
Cathy: It’s amazing that that’s so shameful, when it’s something that’s so common. I think a lot people don’t want to know either because then they’ll have to have a conversation with their partners, if they’re ethical about it. They don’t know how to do that.
Cathy: I love to reading how because … difficult conversation formula. I’ll put the link below the recording and that’s a great way to talk to your partner. If you just start modeling talking about these things it can make a huge difference for your sexual life too because you can talk about things that you would normally not talk about, like, I really like it when you touch me gently when we first started out and when you grabbed my clit and rubbed that hard it’s not comfortable. You know if you can’t … once you start talking about things like herpes, talking about touch is a lot more open
Ashley: It is.
Cathy: Thank you so much Ashley. We’d love to have you back to talk about some other topics.
Ashley: Thank you. Anytime.
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