If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you know how hard it is to keep any part of your life truly private. When everyone knows everyone, whispers spread like wildfire and judgments run rampant. So what do you do if you’re involved in the lifestyle and want to get tested for STDs/STIs?
Even if you don’t “feel” like you have an infection, you should get tested regularly. Many STIs can have no symptoms in the early stages when they are easiest to treat. Testing is a responsible and necessary part of protecting your health, as well as the health of your partners. You don’t want to risk infecting others. Thankfully you don’t need to be be daunted by the potential risk of your swinger cover being blown in your local town, you’ve got options to be responsible & still protect your privacy!
Your Family Doctor
Your family doctor, urologist, or gynecologist can perform STI/STD tests. Your information is always confidential at any medical practice, and is protected by HIPAA.
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It’s an official United States law that protects the privacy of any patient’s health-related information shared with doctors, hospitals, pharmacists, or any health care provider. On paper, this means that you should be able to speak to your family doctor without repercussion, judgement, or having your dirty laundry aired to your community but that is not always reality especially in some small communities.
Despite the protections afforded by this law, in the unlikely situation that your medical professional does share your information or respond inappropriately, there’s not much you can do to get your private information back. You can file a complaint and/or a lawsuit but that won’t undo any damage that has been done to your swinger privacy. It can be daunting to report because it runs the risk of making your information even more public and shared with a bigger audience, but if you want your doctor to be responsible for the damage they’ve done, you should report them.
You are under no obligation to disclose to your doctor the details about why you’re seeking these tests. Even if they ask, you are within your rights to respond with vague answers and just simply tell them you’re concerned you may have been exposed, or you’re helping your kid with a science report, or you agreed to do as a sign of support for a friend who is concerned and needs to be tested. You really don’t have to give any reason at all. However, the more they know, the more they’ll be able to help you, and you can ask open and honest questions about swinger STI rates and about test results when they come in.
Most of the time, your health care professional will be just that – professional, and not reveal any of your information or pass judgement. However, if you’re concerned, you have options.
You can do a simple Google search for free walk-in clinics anywhere in the United States. Any highly populated city is the best way to stay virtually anonymous, and there will be more clinic options/locations to choose from.
You may be able to visit a walk-in clinic for free, but it’s more common to pay between $25-200 per visit. Do some research before you go so you know what to expect.
Some clinics only test for chlamydia and gonorrhea because they are the most common, but if you’re looking for a more thorough check-up, ask the clinic what exactly they’re testing for before you go in. If you play with different partners every time, or are getting tested semi-annually, you should seek a more thorough check up.
Walk-in clinics generally operate on a first come first served basis, so arrive early. If you’re driving far out of town to get tested it’s worth planning to be in the area for a couple days just in case you don’t get in to the clinic right away.
The Health & Human Services Department of your nearest city may even offer a broad testing panel at a low cost.
Planned Parenthood has a presence in all 50 states and other countries globally. They may seem a controversial option because of the abortion issue but that accounts for less than 3% of their procedures. 97% of the time Planned Parenthood is a highly confidential provider of STI testing, contraceptive prescriptions, cancer screenings & other health services. Other healthcare providers ask for a lot of personal information… you might be asked why you are seeking a test, and especially if you’re in a religious community, might receive some disapproval from your doctor. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, focuses on sexual health, administers these tests every day, and have heard it all! They’re specifically trained to be understanding and to help people without judgement.
One great advantage Planned Parenthood has over a walk-in clinic is that you can make an appointment online. It’s not always free, and the price varies based on your location, age, and insurance, but it’s the most accessible and anonymous method of on-site testing. You can even visit a different location every time if it makes you feel more comfortable.
If you don’t want to even visit a doctor’s office, you can use a home testing kit. A package is sent to you with instructions for how to take samples yourself. The results are processed in a lab and then uploaded to your profile for easy viewing. If you’re worried about your shipping details, check the provider’s FAQs to see what kind of privacy precautions they take. They will more than likely send the discreet package from a generic warehouse that won’t draw attention or be descriptive of what’s inside. The same will likely go for the charge on your credit card.
You probably don’t want to use a fake name. That can raise more curiosity from your mailperson.
Self-collection instructions are clearly laid out and a help line is included in the box for each provider. If taken correctly, home tests can be very accurate. They tend to be more expensive than in-person options, and start at about $80 for a single test, and $400 for a bundle of multiple tests. They are one of the more expensive options on the market because you pay up front. Some insurance companies will reimburse for this service, but you should check with your own insurance first. Here are the more popular options for online STD testing:
STD Check – 10 STD Test Panel – $198
Comprehensive STD testing package that tests for the 10 most common bacterial and viral STDs in the United States. Order it online, no doctor or insurance is needed. Then you visit one of the 4,500 local labs for your samples to be collected & get the results in about 1-2 business days.
Health Labs – Comprehensive STD Panel Popular Test – $198
This panel tests for 10 STDs and includes the HIV 4th Generation Duo Antigen/Antibody Test. Order it online, no doctor or insurance is needed. Then you visit one of the 4,500 local labs & get the results in about 1-3 business days.
Distance From Home
The further you go from your community the more anonymous you will become. If you are worried about your local doctor or nurse or receptionist not honoring your privacy, consider driving a few towns over to a different doctor’s office. It might take a few extra hours but that physical distance can help you feel more comfortable asking important questions to protect your health and privacy especially if you are in a rural swinging situation. The more aware we all are of our sexual health, the less STIs will spread in our lifestyle communities. Don’t let the concern of privacy stop you from getting access to testing. Find the best option for you, or use a combination of options until you find what’s best. Just be sure to stay informed about your health and the health of your partners!
Even if you ask every partner about their sexual health, and use a condom each and every time you play, it’s still important to get tested. You can do your due diligence by asking, but you’ll never be 100% sure if you’re getting an honest answer. Most people don’t carry their most recent result papers with them, and some people can be carrying infections/viruses without even knowing it. If you do meet someone with an STI, don’t ostracize them for being honest. It’s still possible to have safe sex, and if you don’t want to sleep with them you should at least remain polite about your reasons why.
If you’re actively playing with multiple different partners every weekend, you should be regularly tested every few months. You might want to stagger your STI testing schedule with your partner. This way, one of you is being STI tested every few weeks and you can increase the chances of spotting an issue even sooner. You can be tested by choosing one or all of the aforementioned methods. Testing is advised at the very least annually, even for monogamous couples.