Research on lifestyle relationship quality and STIs

Via Justin J. Lehmiller.

Interesting:

Relationship function, satisfaction, commitment, and passion were about the same in both consensually non-monogamous and monogamous relationships. Furthermore consensually non-monogamous couples had lower jealousy and higher trust.

But what about STIs?

STIs appear to be less frequent in consensually non-monogamous relationships than those which claim their relationship to be monogamous. The suggestion in the video is that condom usage is more frequent and STI testing is more frequent in consensually non-monogamous couples and that this accounts for the less frequent STIs. I don’t have a data set of sufficient size without bias that could be useful in answering this question but I have a couple points that make me wonder.

A lifestyle woman in her 50’s told me that she estimated she has had sex with 600 men in her life. I asked about condoms usage and STIs. She claimed she didn’t use condoms with them and that the only vaginal infection she sometimes gets is bacterial vaginosis. But that she also sometimes gets this even when she has not had a different partner in quite some time. This website agrees, “Bacterial vaginosis is more common in women who are sexually active. But it can occur if you are not sexually active as well.”

Barb and I were somewhat shocked at this woman’s claim. A few months later a friend and I were discussing our mutual sexually prolific friend on a closely related topic and I mentioned the estimated 600 men. My friend said, “That’s nothing!” She went to suggest she herself had sex with far more than 600 in her ~65 years. I didn’t ask about STIs but she does have a condoms required policy.

Further personal research revealed other women with large numbers of partners, low condom usage, and STI infection rates that would appear to be similar to “monogamous” couples.

I could have a bias in my thinking because I’ve been reading An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases. This book claims that because we have created a much more sterile environment to live in than that which we were originally evolved in we have a much higher rate of autoimmune disease. And in fact, infection with certain diseases at a relatively young age gives us immunity for dramatically different diseases much later in life. When infected with the same organism later in life the infection is quite detrimental.

The base hypothesis is that humans had a symbiotic relationship with parasites, bacteria, and viruses for 100s of thousands of years then in a (evolutionary) blink of the eye exterminated as many of them as possible. Some needed to be exterminated, such as small pox, but many, while exacting a cost, performed an important function. Minimizing contact with all microscopic organisms may not be the best game plan.

Could it be that somewhat frequent exposure to low levels of STIs, such as kissing and oral sex with a wide variety f people, cause an immunity to such bacteria and viruses?

Domestic violence in lesbian relationships

I found this fascinating:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey reported on the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, focusing for the first time on victimization by sexual orientation. In their study, there was a victimization prevalence of 43.8 percent for lesbians, which made it the second most affected group after bisexual women (61.1 percent), ahead of bisexual men (37.3 percent), heterosexual women (35 percent), heterosexual men (29 percent) and homosexual men (26 percent).

I find it odd that lesbian relationships have such a high rate of domestic violence. But that bi-sexual women have over a 60% incident rate is just mind boggling.

My impression of women in the lifestyle is that there is a very large population of bisexual (or at least “bi-situational”) women. My “pull a number out of the air” guess is something on the order of three fourths of the women enjoy playing with both men and women.

I have to wonder if permission, and even encouragement, to access both genders reduces the incidence of DV.

Good to know

Last October Jo and I went on a lifestyle cruise and were somewhat surprised to see people who had to be in the 70s, and perhaps 80s.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have been so surprised:

A 2007 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the majority of older people who were married or had intimate partners were sexually active well into their 80s.

Many of them reported having intercourse, oral sex and masturbating even in their 80s and 90s.

The Singles in America survey, funded by Match and conducted by Research Now, is the latest to prove sex isn’t just a young person’s game.

Sterilization is a turn on for me

After my ex-wife and I decided we had enough children we both got sterilized. Condoms sometimes fail, we didn’t use them with all playmates, she was allergic to the spermicide used with diaphragms, she didn’t want to be taking hormones for another 20 years, and she was somewhat careless with birth control anyway. On my side I really didn’t want to risk getting some other woman pregnant.

For some reason I found it sexually exciting. After the surgery I was told, “No ejaculations for a week.” I could hardly wait. The frustration of that week was extreme. I thought about sex nearly constantly. “This is a little odd”, I thought.

That was nearly 30 years ago and I can still give myself an excitement boost by thinking about being sterile when I’m having sex. This is especially true if I know the woman is probably fertile and the only thing preventing her from getting pregnant is that I had a vasectomy.

My positive experience isn’t all that unusual:

Results revealed that of those men, 12.4 percent reported having sex more often after the vasectomy, while only 4.5 percent of men reported having sex less often. In addition, vasectomized men reported better erectile function, better orgasms, more sexual desire and overall more sexual satisfaction.

I may be a little weird but I’m also consistent. I also get excited knowing a woman has been sterilized and is having sex with a fertile man.

What counts as sex?

I found this blog post fascinating:

It turns out that different people have very different definitions, and they make all kinds of interesting distinctions. For example, some people only think that intercourse “counts” as sex if they have an orgasm. Further complicating matters is the fact that who’s participating in a given behavior influences what counts. Specifically, we seem to hold ourselves to different standards compared to other people.

For example, several studies have shown that people are more likely to label a given behavior as sex to the extent that their significant other did it as opposed to themselves. In a study of 839 college students (96% heterosexual) who were asked whether oral contact with another person’s genitals counted as sex, it turned out that just 36% of women and 39% of men said it did when they imagined themselves doing it [1]. However, when asked to imagine their partner doing the same thing with someone else, 62% of women and 63% of men suddenly viewed it as sex.

That was refreshing

Recently Jo and I have been consistently disappointed when we went to club parties and most meet and greets. The people didn’t match our physical criteria and weren’t a good the personality/social-economic match for us either.

But about a month ago we met a couple at a meet and greet which lives about a mile from us, both are tall and in good shape, and it seemed to be a good match. We exchanged contact information and with the expectation they would get in touch with us for a “vanilla” party at their home the following day with some of their family and friends. That didn’t happen and we gave them a pass on it. It was a little early in the relationship to know if we could be trusted to keep our hands off of people and not bring up lifestyle things in front of people they didn’t want knowing.

But nothing further came from them and so we reached out to them last week to see if they would like to have dinner with us at a local restaurant. They agreed and we had dinner with them last night. It went really well. We talked and talked about a number of things both about the lifestyle and non-lifestyle. We got along great and they invited us to another vanilla event at their home and verified we are all going to the same exclusive sex club party a couple weeks from now.

I’m really looking forward to it.

Progress in HIV research

STIs are a major concern for many people in the lifestyle and HIV is probably the most feared. After several years in the lifestyle my ex-wife and I had our last sexual contact with others at a Memorial Day weekend party in 1983. We stopped because of the concern about HIV. Once or twice a year we cautiously, with condoms, played with others who had also “taken a break” for a long time. It wasn’t until 1995 that lifestyle things sort of returned to normal. Condoms were required except for “closed communities” of select couples who also restricted themselves to playing within our “community”.

Now there is some significant hope for a HIV vaccine  and perhaps cure:

Scientists have engineered an antibody that attacks 99% of HIV strains and can prevent infection in primates.

It is built to attack three critical parts of the virus – making it harder for HIV to resist its effects.

The work is a collaboration between the US National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi.

The International Aids Society said it was an “exciting breakthrough”. Human trials will start in 2018 to see if it can prevent or treat infection.

Free ranging

One of the couples we know well attends a lot of club parties. They have been doing this for about 20 years and Jo and I started observing them in action. While they do interact with others as a couple while chatting they never play with just another couple in the same room at the same time and frequently don’t play with another couple. They do a lot of what Jo calls “free ranging” with frequent checks with their partner.

They end up playing with others far more frequently at clubs than we do. It sort of makes sense. Finding another couple where Jo likes the guy and I like the gal is more difficult than finding just a guy or gal that each of us like.

That is basically what we did at the house party a couple months ago. And a couple weeks Jo had a similar experience where there was a hot single guy who was interested in her and there weren’t any couple or single women available for us or me by myself. She had a great time with the young stud and then we had a great time together when she got home.

This free range then appears to improve our chances of getting some play time with other people. Jo had to “break some new ground” in regards to feeling comfortable with me being with another woman when she was without someone. She says she is entirely comfortable with it, so maybe learning from the pros is working.

It’s about the people

Jo was seriously considering giving up on meeting people via swinglifestyle.com. We have had a long string of disappoints topped off with one couple that became “the head of the rude list” and other couple that made the “head of the weird list”.

After seeing their “hot date” notice on SLS on Wednesday morning Jo sent them a message. They responded positively, there were a couple more message via SLS, then a couple more via normal email before exchanging cell phone numbers.

They were coming in from out of town for a few days for a local, non-lifestyle, event and were interested in meeting us to see if there was a connection.

Last night, we exchanged a few text message to arrange a meet at a local restaurant for dinner. They arrived on time, we ate dinner together, had a great time talking over dinner, and they followed us home for some play time.

It all went well. They were very pleasant in all respects and they invited us to visit them in their town sometime.

SLS can work out. It’s the people, not the venue.