Staying Healthy While Staying Open The Polyamory Dilemma

Jan 5, 2023 - Angie Eva, 42, from Portland, Oregon, has two local girlfriends, a long-distance relationship, and a platonic partner.
Eva is polyamory while having multiple intimate romantic relationships. Her partner knew each other and would have agreed to an arrangement, she says.
Polyamory is becoming more and more popular in the United States. A study by Kinsey Institute researchers found that by 2021, 1 in 9 Americans will be in a polyamorous relationship, and 1 in 6 will be in a polyamorous relationship.
While polyamory requires a high level of transparency to work, those who practice polyamory are not always comfortable sharing their relationship status with medical professionals. The fear of disclosure is not unfounded. In Kinsey's survey, less than 15% of those who said they weren't interested in polyamory or weren't interested at all said they respected those who practiced it.
''We hear it all the time from patients who have sexual questions or problems but are not comfortable talking to their doctors or even other therapists. Ian Kerner, psychotherapist and sex therapist in New York City. “Since the polyamory system is still on the fringes of the mainstream, some physicians, especially those lacking experience, may make implicit biases or explicit judgments.”
barriers to caregiving
People who practice polyamory suffer from unique health problems. These include potentially higher risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from having multiple sex partners, and anxiety and depression from managing multiple relationships.
Cheruba Prabakar, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of Lamorinda Gynecology and Surgery in Lafayette, Calif. “Disclosure of information enables providers to think more holistically about their patients.”
Eva has not told her doctor anything about her personal life. She knows that other people in these relationships feel judged in clinical encounters, and she avoids disclosure unless absolutely necessary. ''First and foremost, I've faced discrimination and awkwardness in the past for being queer, so I don't let my service providers know. I'm hairy, so I don't want to do either,'' she says. If I can, I will.''
According to a 2019 survey of 20 people in consensual non-monogamous relationships (which may include polyamory), most of them lack knowledge about their donors, We found that they are experiencing challenges in managing their healthcare needs related to inadequate screening, stigma that has been reported to affect health and confidence. in the medical system.
Akos Antwi, psychiatrist and co-owner of Revive Therapeutic Services in Rhode Iceland and Massachusetts, said: ''Perhaps they are hesitant to share something. information about their relationships with providers who aren't familiar with the complexities of polyamory.”
Sharon Flicker, PhD, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at California State University-Sacramento, says she understands why people are worried about discussing the topic of multiple relationships with their health provider.
“Health care providers' interactions with patients are often shaped by their mono-normative assumptions, that monogamy is ideal and deviations from that ideal is pathological,” she says. “Non-disclosure presents a barrier to sensitive care that meets the individualized needs of the patient.”
Flicker says health care professionals can seek training to reduce their biases, and to better understand and address the unique needs of people involved in consensually non-monogamous relationships. In addition, offering to answer any questions that a doctor might have after disclosure can open the door to dialogue, according to Prabakar.
“They may be simply embarrassed to ask, as many may not be familiar with” polyamory, Prabakar says. People in polyamorous relationships may also search health care provider websites for positive language stating that they welcome patients of any sexual orientation or gender identity. Your first appointment can serve as a conversation to learn what terminology your healthcare provider uses when referring to non-monogamy.
Safely navigate sexy time with multiple partners
Prabakar says sexual health and safety are paramount to her patients in polyamorous relationships.
She recommends that anyone with multiple partners use condoms and rubber dams to prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes and gonorrhea, in addition to regular screenings for illness.
His girlfriend, Tikva Wolf, of Asheville, North Carolina, says they've been in a polyamorous relationship for 20 years. She says she severely limits herself from entering new relationships to protect her sexual health.
She only has sex with people who are aware of her current STD status, have clear communication, and are protective.
''I don't have sex with them if the conversation feels awkward or they don't seem to know what they're being tested for,'' she says. No romantic partnerships, no casual sex.''
Wolfe says their transparency measures reflect the larger community of people engaged in polyamorous relationships.
''Since monogamy is the default, relationships that don't quite fit that canonical box tend to be more transparent upfront about certain preferences,'' she says.
Some studies support Wolfe's hypothesis. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that people with polyamory reported having more lifetime sex partners than those in monogamous relationships, but they used condoms and were sexually transmitted. I found out that there is a high possibility that I will be tested for the disease. About a quarter of her monogamous partners reported having sex outside of their primary relationship without informing their primary partner.
Kerner explains that each partner in a polyamorous relationship may have different ideas about sexual activity. Some partners are interested in casual sex, while others are interested in maintaining a solid primary-secondary relationship. “These systems are always different, and without clear boundaries, honesty, and communication – for example around the use of protection – the potential to contract an STI within the system increases,” and the potential for the polyamorous relationship to not work increases, he says.
Taking Care of Mental Health
Not only does a polyamorous lifestyle require talking about sexual health and romantic boundaries, it demands an openness with feelings as they come up.
“Couples in a polyamorous relationship don't fully anticipate the emotional response they might have to their partner being with another person,” says David Helfand, PsyD, a therapist in St. Johnsbury, VT, who has worked with many polyamorous couples.
People may have feelings of insecurity or jealousy, which can lead to anxiety in navigating the complexity of multiple relationships.
“The first time your spouse goes on a date with another person, or you hear them in the bedroom with someone else, it can create an intense emotion that you might not know how to process or have been prepared for,” Helfand says. Seeing a therapist can help you process the emotions that dating multiple people can bring. I'm saying
''Because you have more supportive people in your life,'' she says. ''But you also give yourself more time and energy.''

16 Jan 2023