I view the use of condoms as a necessary evil, but I have been wondering recently whether the fear I have of contracting an STI is far higher than the actual risk. All the statistics that I can access relate to specific high risk segments of the population, and I view myself in about as low a risk category as I can imagine: middle aged, middle class, long term married, straight, non-drug user, Caucasian. When my wife and I play with others in the same category, is our insistence on the use of condoms actually ridiculous ?
This is indeed an excellent question, and one which does truly deserve a lengthy answer. The short answer re: using condoms with non fluid bonded ( i.e non-monogamous / tested / 100% aware of health status) type partners is YES YOU SHOULD!
Why? Here we go.
While you and your wife are aware of your STI status ( i.e I assume you have STI tests every few months or so depending upon the frequency with which you have multiple partners, as this is the ONLY way to be sure of your status) your play partners may not. Do you discuss this with them? Are they willing to discuss their sexual health with you? If not, why not? is my next question. Being middle class etc does not make you immune. If anything , certain infections ( HPV (warts) & Chlamydia) are rife among the over 40s heterosexuals as after years of marriage or monogamy, many are out on the dating scene again and have forgotten (or never learned) the safer sex info they (should have) got as teens. Being middle aged does not give you a ring of protection!
I see that you and your wife are insistent on condoms and that is great! The truth is, it will only take one interlude ( from one of the group) with one infected person (outside the group) to spread an infection to the entire posse, including yourself and your partner. Conditions such as HPV and Chlamydia are EXTREMELY common and can cause serious complications (including death) especially for women if left untreated and / or undiagnosed. The big trouble with conditions such as these is they often have no or few symptoms and are highly contagious. No amount of wishing or trusting will make them go away!
The good news is that these conditions ARE also very treatable, but require medical intervention and pharmaceuticals, which really can be avoided by taking precautions such as using condoms.
Ideally, if your posse are an honest and tight knit bunch, you can continue to play together in the way you are accustomed, provided you all have regular STI tests. We have excellent sexual health resource teams in major cities across the country. There is absolutely no excuse in this day and age for being blasé about sexual health. Its laziness and just unacceptable!
More info on STIs can be found here
Enjoy and play safe!