Casual Encounters and Casual Sex: When to get tested for STDs?

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On the last two Tuesdays, we’ve addressed what to do when a condom breaks or when you get cut or torn during sex. This week, we’re tackling what to do when you wake up and realize you had a casual encounter with a random.

Sex Crisis #3: You Wake Up and Realize You Went Home With a Random

Many people have been in the sticky situation of realizing that they went home with – and likely had casual sex with – someone who they didn’t know very well, and certainly not well enough to know whether this person was a good choice or a bad choice to bed down with. Here’s what to do should this happen to you:

1. If you’re not sure what happened, ask. In most cases, you will likely be very clear about what happened (unlike that one episode of Will & Grace in which neither Jack nor Will was clear about what happened). If, however, you aren’t sure whether your memory can be trusted, or whether what you’re imaging was a dream versus reality (was Hugh Jackman involved? Yeah, that was a dream…), ask the only other person in the room/bed who would know. Oh, and try not to ask it with a horrified tone of voice, lest he or she deny, deny, deny.

2. Start talking. If it turns out that you two did have casual sex, start talking. Did you use a condom? If so, did you use it the entire time that you had sex? (Some people start having sex and then use a condom; others use a condom at first and then take it off and finish it with nothing but luck between their two bodies; neither move leaves you safe from infection.) Are you using another birth control method (correctly) such as the birth control pill, patch, shot or ring? When was the last time either of you was tested for sexually transmissible infections (STI; commonly known as sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs)?

3. Exchange phone numbers, email addresses or full names. Maybe you’ll want to see this person again. Maybe you’ll become friends, friends with benefits, or start a lifelong love affair. Who knows? Life is funny. Since you don’t know this person well, avoid giving out your home address, but exchanging information in a way that feels safe (like an email address or full name, so you can find each other on Facebook) may be wise. After all, remember what happened in Knocked Up? No spoiler alerts here, but Katherine Heigl’s character got, um, knocked up (hence the movie title) from casual sex with a guy she met at a bar and she was able to actually call the guy later to tell him. Make sure you have contact info just in case you need it.

4. Get tested. Even if you were tested the day before your casual encounter/random hook-up and even if he or she swears they don’t have any STIs, if you’re not sure, ask your healthcare provider when to come in for testing; it will likely be about 2 weeks post-hookup, but the timing can vary based on what type of lab tests different clinics use (for example, the most reliable HIV tests are usually performed 1-3 months after unprotected sex whereas chlamydia and gonorrhea can be tested for much earlier than that).

5. Let it go. Some people enjoy casual hook-ups on a regular basis or as the mood strikes. Casual hookups have even been known to help people feel attractive, sexy, young or de-stressed or to wake them up from weeks or months of post-breakup gloom. Others feel guilty, ashamed or bad about themselves for being sexual with people they don’t know well, or they put themselves at risk again and again for infection or pregnancy. While sex should always be a personal choice, try not to be too hard on yourself if you’ve done something out of character. If casual hookups aren’t your thing, take this as a lesson learned. Try to be gentle, loving and cool with yourself.

Even though the occasional sex crisis happens to us all – sooner or later – they can be tackled with grace and finesse if you’re prepared and open to the craziness of life.  Check back next week to find out what to do when a guy’s penis “pops” during sex.

Related MSP Posts:
- What to do if you get semen in your eye
- How to have sex in the shower – comfortably
- Foreplay tips to arouse her

This article was originally published in my weekly column at CheekyChicago.com. Follow me on Twitter - I am @mysexprofessor.

[Image by lawgeek via Flickr Creative Commons]

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.