A guilty pleasure
I was born and brought up in a small town on the outskirts of Ranchi. My family is extremely conservative about matters relating to marriage and sex. As far as I remember, sex for me and my friends has always been associated with some sort of guilty pleasure. None of my friends had girlfriends and if anyone we knew ever had one, sex was not what they indulged in.
Most girls would only agree to have sex if they were engaged to be married to the guy. This left most of us as virgins till our parents fixed our marriage to the girl of their choice. Same thing happened with my close friend Vishal, whose marriage was fixed by his family even before we graduated.
The forbidden escapade
Vishal undoubtedly visualised life after marriage as sacrosanct but at the same time, he was of the opinion that we would all lose our freedom after tying the knot. That's when he came up with a weird bachelor party plan, where we would visit sex workers in the city. My group of friends agreed to it as everybody knew that marriage was on cards for each one of us.
The visit to a sex worker itself was the most unforgettable moment of my life because of many reasons. I not only lost my virginity but also experienced the most intimate moment of my life with someone I had never seen before. It all felt strange but nevertheless, we all came back feeling triumphant. We were a bunch who did the forbidden and enjoyed it fully.
Connecting the dots
It was only three months after the encounter that the naivety of what I did caught-up with me. I had developed some wart-like patches on my genitals and this got me extremely worried. With the little knowledge I had at that time, I could co-relate warts to my brothel visit. I reminisced about the day and remembered vividly that though I used a condom, it got torn in the act.
I soon started connecting the dots. Seeing my condition down there, it hit me first time that I’d taken a big risk while not bothering to re-use the protection when it broke. When we think of something as worse as Sexually Transmitted Disease/Infection (STD/I), the first thing that comes to our mind is - this cannot happen to me. But my worst fears were about to come true.
I was very confused and not sure what to do about my situation down there. I was too shy to go to a doctor, nor did I confide into anyone. I did something sillier and looked up for the symptoms on the internet. What I discovered on the internet added to my confusion and made me even more paranoid! Thanks to Google, I knew I had some STD/I but now I had lots of questions in my mind. Will I die? Is it curable or like HIV/AIDS? And most important, is it contagious? Will I be ever able to have sex again?
The situation got so terrible that I began bunking college routinely, stayed at home more than usual and even began to consider suicide. Killing myself before anyone found out seemed like a better option than being killed by an STD/I when the symptoms get harsher.
Finding a way out
When the paranoia got too much to handle, I finally confided in one of my friends Pratik, who also went with us to the brothel. To my surprise, he responded with a lot of criticism and abuses towards me and the sex worker. This shattered me further!
But a few days later, he went on to book an appointment with a doctor in town. At that time, it seemed more like a curse than a help. What seemed scary to me was the idea of someone, even a doctor, finding out about my unprotected sex with a sex worker. I initially refused his pleas to go the doctor but eventually, I gave in!
Worst fears come true
It emerged that my worst fears had come true! I had caught syphilis. The doctor consoled me by saying that it is perfectly treatable with medication, but the reassurance was of little effect on me. I was obsessed with the fact that I’d actually caught an STI.
I began the medication without the knowledge of my family and other friends. The medicine helped my warts heal and I able to relax after months of anxiety.
Looking back at the incident, I shudder that I had almost decided to end my life because of a lack of knowledge about STD/STIs. Many of us experience our first sex without knowing anything about it. I had engaged in risky behaviour and had to go through a very hard period that even made me suicidal! I wish we had more avenues to learn about sex to prevent us getting headlong into disasters like the one I endured. Not everyone will have a friend like Pratik who would help them do the right thing! But I hope that my experience would help a few others avoid the painful journey I had to make. That would add help heal the pain that my mind endured along with my body.
To protect the privacy, the person in the picture is a model. This article was first published on September 14, 2017.
Have you suffered from an STI? Did you find it difficult to seek help? Read our resource page on STIs here. If you have a particular question, please visit our discussion board. You can also visit our Facebook page for more discussion on STIs.
About the author: Harish Pedaprolu is a writer and academic based out of Mumbai, India. He has been writing and editing content for the last 6 years. He has also been researching and teaching philosophy at the university level for the past 5 years. He can be reached out on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.