Gonorrhea resistant to antibiotics???

This will be horrific if it is true.  I’ve heard on the news that a certain strain of Gonorrhea has become resistant to antibiotics.  The Center for Disease Control has this information on their website.  Right now, this horrible STI is very curable with antibiotics.  If you realize you have it, it can freak you out.  However, with one pill, Gonorrhea is eliminated from your body.  Unlike Herpes Simplex Virus 1 & 2, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Hepatitis and HIV which can be treated, but can’t be cured.  Gonorrhea may join these incurable STI’s if it continues to become resistant to antibiotics.  It is important to know the facts and do what you can to prevent contracting this or any STI”s at all.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection which can be contracted through semen or vaginal fluids during unprotected sexual contact, heterosexual or homosexual, with an infected partner:

  • vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner
  • oral sex, although this is less common
  • sharing sex toys
  • touching parts of the body with fingers (for example, touching the private parts and then the eyes)
  • any very close physical contact
  • the bacteria can be passed from hand to hand (very rare isolated cases)
  • from a mother to her baby at birth

You can NOT catch it from simple kissing, sharing baths, towels, cups, or from toilet seats according to the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Guide.

The best way to prevent contracting Gonorrhea is abstinence from sex.  If this is not realistic, then it is advised to follow these guidelines to reduce your risk of contracting Gonorrhea or any other STI:

  • Use latex condoms from start to finish every time you have oral, vaginal or anal sex.
  • Have sex with only one uninfected partner whom only has sex with you (mutual monogamy).
  • Water-based spermicides can be used along with latex condoms for additional protection during vaginal intercourse. Use of spermicide is not recommended nor found to be effective for oral or anal intercourse.
  • Have regular check-ups if you are sexually active.
  • If you have an STD, don’t have sex (oral, vaginal, anal) until all partners have been treated.
  • Prompt, qualified and appropriate medical intervention, treatment and follow-up are important steps in breaking the disease cycle.
  • Know your partner(s). Careful consideration and open communication between partners may protect all partners involved from infection.

Gonorrhea has several symptoms which can appear 1-14 days after sexual contact.

In women the symptoms appear as:

  • strong smelling vaginal discharge that may be thin & watery or thick & yellow/green
  • irritation or discharge from the anus
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • possibly some low abdominal or pelvic tenderness
  • pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
  • low abdominal pain sometimes with nausea

In men the symptoms appear as:

  • white, yellow or green thick discharge from the tip of the penis
  • inflammation of the testicles & prostate gland
  • irritation or discharge from the anus
  • urethral itch & pain or burning sensation when passing urine

50% of women and 10% of men do NOT have symptoms of Gonorrhea.  You may pass on the infection because you don’t know you are infected.  The only way to know for sure you have not contracted Gonorrhea is by getting tested.  Very often Gonorrhea is contracted along with Chlamydia.  50% of people who contract Gonorrhea, also contract Chlamydia at the same time.  Make sure you also get treated for Chlamydia if it is not ruled out when you are tested for Gonorrhea.  If Gonorrhea is not treated it can have long term effects on the body.

In women it can cause:

  • life-threatening complications such as ectopic pregnancy (outside the womb)
  • blocked fallopian tubes (the tubes which carry the egg from the ovaries to the womb), which can result in reduced fertility or infertility
  • long-term pelvic pain

In men, it can lead to:

  • painful inflammation of the testicles, which may result in reduced fertility or sterility

It is so important to protect yourself during any sexual contact.  STI’s are real.  Gonorrhea is one of the most common STI’s out there among young people.  It is known that over 65 million people in the United States are living with an STI and 15 million new cases are reported every year.  Please be smart about your sex life and practice safe sex every time you have sex.

Safe Sex- Where It All Began

I saw a post on Smart, Safe and Sexy’s Blog about how the concept of safe sex started and why.  I thought I would borrow parts of it and piggy back off of her post.

Richard Berkowitz, a gay man, who believed he was the first gay rights activist in his state of New Jersey in the 1970’s  is essentially the inventor of the concept of “safe sex” along with fellow activists Joseph Sonnabend and Michael Callen.   Berkowitz advocated for safe sexual practices in response to the AIDS epidemic in the early 80s.  His early work noted risk factors for infection such as drug use and having multiple sex partners, and he supported condom use for all who were sexually active.

Berkowitz, Cullen, and Sonnabend revolved their lives around safe sex, and despite their efforts to deliver positive messages, were persecuted by the public for being sex-negative and anti-gay.  Other gay activists were upset because they felt Berkowitz was linking being gay with safe sex and the AIDS epidemic.  The AIDS epidemic may have motivated Berkowitz to start the whole concept of safe sex, but he was interested in protecting all people, not just the LGBT community.  At the time it was very controversial since AIDS was then considered a gay disease.  Some people still think this way and believe they are safe from contracting HIV because they aren’t gay.  This is completely FALSE!  HIV and AIDS affect millions of people and most of those people are heterosexual.  People fighting for gay rights today are still trying to fight against the stigma of HIV and AIDS being linked to the LGBT community.

With years of perseverance Berkowitz was eventually successful in disseminating his message and enabling sexually active people to retain their sexual freedom and exploration while remaining safe and avoiding risky behavior.  Today the concept of safe sex is definitely not tied just to the gay community or to HIV.  The fact that high school and college age students are by far contracting the most STI’s every year is the reason the concept of safe sex is used today.  Promoting safe sex is helping to educate people about all of the sexually transmitted diseases, which affect millions of Americans each year.  The only 100% effective way of not contracting an STI is abstinence.  Using condoms are the best way to protect yourself from contracting a sexually transmitted infection if you are sexually active in any way.

The 2009 film Sex Positive by Daryl Wein documents Berkowitz’s life and the pioneering of safe sex.  It’s a really interesting story that sheds light into the lives of the sexually active community in the midst of the AIDS epidemic and of those who stood with and against Berkowitz during his quest for safer sex practices.  Berkowitz stated that “It’s never too late to start having safe sex”, and I could not have said it better myself!  His mission to stop the AIDS epidemic ultimately changed the practice of sex forever, and has made the concept of safe sex universally understood and widely appreciated by today’s generation.

Hats off to Berkowitz and his fellow activists who found a way to promote safe sex through positive messages and for making “safe sex” a household name.  Check out the trailer for the Sex Positive documentary here!  It’s truly an enlightening story that needs to be told and should be seen! http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi1057293081/

Am I at Risk for Getting a Sexually Transmitted Infection?

Since the #1 post on this blog is “I Have Herpes!  What Do I Do Now?”  I believe talking about STI’s is important.  Hearing the words “You have cancer” is extremely devastating.  I think hearing the words “You have a sexually transmitted infection” is almost as devastating for most people.  Some STI’s can be cured, but some can not.  It causes a lot of psychological stress to find out you’ve become infected, not to mention physical pain for those experiencing symptoms.  No one expects it, but when it happens it can drop the world out from under your feet.

I don’t mean to rain on everyone’s parade.  Sex is supposed to be fun and exciting.  It is all that and more.   But it also needs to be as safe as possible because it isn’t so fun and exciting to tell your partner you’re infected with an STI.  The truth is millions of people in the United States are currently infected with an STI.  It happens!  And it can happen to you.  I’ve talked to many students that it has happened to, so I thought it would be a good idea to write some facts about STI’s to keep others from experiencing this type of pain.  I’ve taken some information from Planned Parenthood and condensed it down into some important facts you need to know.

One of the biggest misconceptions is someone who is a virgin believing they aren’t at risk for an STI.  FALSE!!  Not all sexually transmitted infections are transmitted the same way.  Read below to see what your risks are.

Unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse-  HIGH RISK FOR:

  • Herpes Simplex Virus- HSV 1 (oral herpes) & HSV 2 (genital herpes)
  • Human Papilloma Viruses- HPV (some cause genital warts, some cause cancer
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Hepatitis B Virus- HBV
  • Cytomegalovirus- CMV
  • Syphilis
  • Scabies
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus- HIV

Unprotected Oral Sex–  HIGH RISK FOR:

  • Herpes Simplex Virus- HSV 1 & 2
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Syphilis

Sex play without sexual intercourse–  RISK FOR:

  • Herpes Simplex Virus- HSV 1 & 2
  • Human Papilloma Virus- HPV
  • Cytomegalovirus- CMV
  • Scabies

Click to receive more information on the above listed STI’s

Safer sex is anything we do to lower our risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection.  Three Steps to Safer Sex:

  1. Become honest with yourself about the risks you take.
  2. Decide which risks you are willing to take- and which ones you are NOT willing to take.
  3. Find ways to make your sex play as safe and satisfying as possible.

The most important ways to reduce your risk are:

  • Keep your partner’s body fluids out of your body- vagina, anus or mouth
  • Don’t touch sores or growths that are caused by sexually transmitted infections

The use of condoms, female condoms or dental dams are the most effective ways to protect yourself from your partner’s bodily fluids.  ALWAYS USE PROTECTION while engaging in sexual activity!

Be aware that some of the STI’s listed above can be transmitted by skin to skin contact and are not always transmitted by bodily fluid.  Herpes and HPV are the big ones.  This is why they are so common. They can also be transmitted even if you aren’t showing any symptoms or having a current break out.

A lot of STI’s don’t present any symptoms.  Especially in women.  You may not be aware that you are infected.  This is why so many people continue to become infected.  It isn’t because their partner lied to them.  It is because their partner did not know they were infected.

The only way to know for sure if you are infected is to GET TESTED!!  You have to ask your doctor or the clinician for specific STI tests.  Don’t assume they will know which tests to give you or that they will automatically test you for everything.   They will not!  Let them know your concerns and ask for the specific tests you are worried about.  The results of those tests are the only way to know what you are dealing with.

This may sound cheesy, but here are ways to make sex safer…

  • if you decide to have sexual intercourse, using a latex or female condom makes it safer.
  • if you decide to have oral sex instead of unprotected vaginal or an intercourse, it is safer.
  • if you decide to have protected oral sex instead of unprotected oral sex, it is safer.
  • if you decide to rub against each other with your clothes off instead of having sex or oral sex, it is safer.
  • if you decide to give each other an erotic massage instead of rubbing against each other with your clothes off, it is safer.
  • if after you give each other a massage, you wash your hands before touching your face or genitals, it is even safer.
  • if you decide to masturbate alone or have cybersex or phone sex instead of physical contact with someone else, it is even safer.

Do what you feel comfortable with and be strong enough to communicate those feelings to your partner.  Be open, honest and smart to stay as safe as possible.  Oh and one more time…Don’t forget to USE PROTECTION and GET TESTED!!

“58 Happy Customers Served” – Mark

I’ve been watching the show Whitney on NBC.  It’s a new sitcom this year.  Whitney is the main character and Alex is her boyfriend.  They have the usual friend side kicks every episode.  In this episode, Alex’s friend, Mark, goes with Whitney’s friend, Roxanne, to donate blood.  The nurse needs Roxanne to fill out a questionnaire first and asks how many sexual partners she has had.  She tries to cover the sheet so Mark doesn’t see her number.  However, when the other nurse comes out with a questionnaire for Mark he blurts out, “58 happy customers served” before he is even asked the question.

Images courtesy of NBC/Whitney

Are guys sexually insecure?  That is a good question.  I can’t speak for the whole male population, but generally speaking I think a lot of guys are sexually insecure.  Later in the same episode Mark accidentally tells Roxanne the number again and it is in the 60’s.  She confronts him about changing the number.  He finally admits to her his real number is 7.  She is surprised the number is actually low because he talks a big game when it comes to sex.  She asks him why he lied.  He admits he was embarrassed to say that he feels sex should be shared with someone special.

Why do guys talk a big game, especially in front of their buddies?  If you are tuned into the media like teenagers and young adults tend to be, then you know how both men and women are portrayed.  Sex is everywhere in the media.  They don’t show men who choose to wait to have sex until they are in a serious relationship and it is unheard of to see someone, man or woman, waiting until they are married.  Like Mark said, he was embarrassed to admit that sex means something to him.  That isn’t what is seen as “normal” for guys.  Instead, you see Jersey Shore, and everyone is having sex with different people all the time.  It makes it seem like it’s a great thing for guys to have sex with as many women as possible.  Go out, party, get drunk and have sex.  The pressure to feel like you fit into that kind of lifestyle can be pretty intense.  Some guys are confident enough to keep their sex life private.  However, sometimes friends and peers can be pretty hard on guys who are more quiet or reserved about their sex life.

Guys also have an issue with wanting to date a woman who has a lower number when it comes to sex partners.  They might not care if they are having a one night stand, but when it comes to getting serious, the double standard still exists.  Guys have told me they can be really insecure if their girlfriend’s number passes a certain limit set in their head.  It comes down to competition.  The more men their girlfriend has slept with, the more men they have to compete with.  Many guys have admitted they don’t want to think of competing with the 9 other guys their girlfriend previously had sex with.  Even though their own number may be higher.  Other guys have also admitted it has been difficult to continue dating a girl who’s number is higher than their own.  Not all guys feel this way, but sometimes the greater the perceived competition, the greater the insecurity.

I can sympathize with the pressure guys are under.  No one wants to be thought of as incompetent.  It is hard to get through high school or college and not feel inadequate if you aren’t out conquering sexually.  I think there are a lot of guys out their trying to break down the double standards, but it isn’t easy.  It is usually done behind the scenes because the media doesn’t really emulate responsible and respectful behavior.  To all the guys out there respectful and responsible, I say THANK YOU.  I hope you feel confident about your choice and that you find a great women who appreciates you for it.

Remember, there is more to you than just the number of sex partners you’ve had.  (Same goes for you women out there!)  It is a good idea to stop thinking of sex as a competition.  Instead, start to think of it as pleasurable experience you have with someone you are attracted to and hopefully care about.   It is about you and the other person.  Leave the past out of the bedroom and focus on being in the moment.  This may help lessen that insecurity you may feel due to the numbers game.

It isn’t easy to develop confidence over night, but it starts with accepting yourself.  You don’t always need to change to please others.  Try to drown out the voices of the media and others around you who try to tell you you’re missing out because you aren’t bagging a different female every night.  Sometimes it starts with accepting that you might be different or not fit the “norm” of society.  However, in this case I think that is a good thing.  I like the character, Mark,  a lot more now that he stopped trying to be something he wasn’t.  I’m glad he was able to admit he isn’t really an disrespectful idiot, even though he thought it was more acceptable to be this way.  He is much better off just being himself.

Plus, if you saw the whole episode, you know that both Roxanne and Mark are worried the blood bank is going to call them to say they can’t accept their blood because of STD’s.  It may be hard to admit your number is low, but trust me, it is a lot harder to tell your partner that you’ve contracted an STD.  No matter what, always use protection when engaging in any type of sexual activity.  It is true that the higher your number, the more at risk you become of contracting an STD.  So be smart and be safe!

Back Up Your Birth Control- Grandma Video

I know I already sent out my New Year’s Resolutions last week and this was #1, but I saw this video in another blog by Smart, Safe and Sexy, and it was too funny to pass up!  Plus, it “back’s up” my point to always use birth control!

If you can accidentally text your Grandma on New Year’s Eve, what else can go wrong?  Condoms break.  Pills are forgotten, especially on holidays.  Remember to Back Up Your Birth Control!

If you have a birth control oops, emergency contraception can help.  That text to grandma?  I can’t do anything about that.  Stay safe in 2012!

Open Relationships

The concept of an open relationship is hard for my brain to wrap around.  I think to myself, “Why be in a relationship if you want to have sex with other people?”  However, I’ve heard that the concept is more accepted with gay men who are in committed relationships.  So I’ve decided to write a post about it and see it from another person’s perspective.

First, when it comes to sex, men and women are different.  Biologically speaking, men have more testosterone, which makes them more sexually driven than females.  On average, men want to have sex more often than women.  Along with that, men are more visual and are turned on more quickly by visual stimuli than women.  Also, women on average attribute more emotional connections to sex.  I believe studies have been done that prove that gay couples have the most sex, heterosexual couples have an average amount of sex, and lesbian couples have the least amount of sex.  This isn’t black or white and there are exceptions to what I’m saying.  However, on average I believe that is pretty accurate.

After listening to a couple of gay men discuss this issue I can see how an open relationship could work and actually thrive if done right.  Also, when talking to a few lesbian women, it was apparent that an open relationship would not be as welcome.  A couple of lesbian women stated that it would probably cause a lot of drama and jealousy in their relationships.  That leads me to believe that an open relationship may be harder for women than men in general, whether in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship.  I’m sure there are women, both heterosexual and lesbian, out there who could tell me they have had successful open relationships.  However, since I haven’t met those women personally, this post will be from the gay male perspective.

So, you may be asking like I did, why would two men in love want to have sex with others outside of their relationship?  I was told that it is possible to have a great connection with someone, to be even be in love with that person and still have the desire to have sex with other attractive men.  Some gay men aren’t ready to completely settle down or make the sacrifice to only have one sexual partner.  However, they’ve found a person they like to be with and spend most of their time with.  Instead of choosing to either sacrifice having a committed relationship or the option of having many sexual partners, some gay couples are choosing to have both at the same time.

The number one factor in making an open relationship work is to be open and honest about it.  Most of the time relationships have problems because of lies, not because of sex.  Each partner needs to be honest with the other one when they decide have sex with someone else.  Both partners also have to be willing to be as safe as possible while having sex outside the relationship.  There is no doubt that you are more at risk for contracting STD’s in an open relationship than a monogamous one.  You have to trust that your partner is taking precautions every time they have sex, and it would be smart to be tested for STD’s as often as possible.

I also asked about the jealousy issue.  I was told there really isn’t one.  From what I understood, an open relationship means sex only.  If the gay couple is out at a club and one of them meets someone they want to have sex with, they tell their partner and then go do what they want.  There isn’t an ongoing relationship with that other person or an emotional tie involved.  Or if the couple is in a long distance relationship they might choose to have sex with other people when they can’t be with each other as long as both partners are in agreement.

This is why my head has a hard time wrapping around this.  I think this has more to do with my personality than the fact that I’m a female, but I only want to have sex when I’m emotionally attached and committed to someone.  I think this is why you have to really know yourself before deciding whether an open relationship would work for you.  Some people are able to separate sex from emotion and therefore not get jealous when their partner is having sex with someone else.  Others may not enjoy or get anything but heartache from being in an open relationship.

Here is the reason why I think this type of relationship works better with gay men.  The relationship is between two men who think more alike when it comes to sex.  They have clear boundaries when it comes to having sex with other men, and are able to keep those boundaries intact by being upfront and honest.  In a heterosexual relationship I think a lot of men would consider the idea of an open relationship.  However, I think there would be some jealousy because they may expect their female partner to become emotionally attached when they have sex with other men.  Even though it isn’t true that all females become emotionally attached during sex, I think the underlying expectation could elicit fear and therefore jealousy in a heterosexual relationship.  The woman in the relationship may also become jealous if they couldn’t handle the number of other women their boyfriend or husband was actually having sex with.  This may be why heterosexual couples keep things casual if they want to have multiple sex partners instead of having an open committed relationship.

If you are gay, you may have the option of being in a committed relationship and having sex with multiple partners.  That doesn’t mean you have to accept this type of lifestyle if you want to be in a relationship as a gay man.  Many gay couples are fully monogamous and happy to make that sacrifice.  If you are heterosexual or lesbian, the option of being in an open relationship is more rare.  It is harder to find someone who will let you have your cake and eat it too.  If you like the idea of having multiple sexual partners, maybe choosing to keep things casual will help keep the drama down to a minimum.  Other people like me, don’t mind making the sacrifice to be with one person.  I actually thrive in a monogamous relationship.  Whatever you decide, stick to your boundaries and keep the communication open and honest.

Trojan 2011 Sexual Health Report Card

The 2011 Trojan Sexual Health Report Card came out last month.  The makers of Trojan Brand condoms ranks the sexual health resources of 141 American Colleges and Universities.    The Trojan Sexual Health Report Card is about celebrating positive sexual health and the campuses that empower it.  It’s about sparking dialogue and inspiring action; and providing students with the means to enjoy their sexuality and create positive change.

COED Magazine wrote these NOTEWORTHY FINDINGS on their blog:

Football conference shakeups negatively affect conference rankings:

  • The University of Nebraska moving to the Big 10 may make sense on the football field, but the new Big 10 member is lagging in the rankings. Nebraska is the conference’s lowest ranking school at No. 83, 16 spots behind the University of Minnesota (No. 67).

Big Jumps for Big Ten schools:

  • Northwestern University continued their impressive climb up the Report Card, achieving the No. 28 spot. This is the third consecutive year the Wildcats have improved, jumping from 90th in 2008 to 88th in 2009 to 63rd in 2010. The improvement is attributed to the schools’ extensive peer education programs that provides students with a wealth of information, events and workshops on sexual health year-round. Other notable jumps include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which climbed 62 spots from No. 64 to No. 2.

Rising Up the Ranks

  • This year’s rankings saw a number of significant jumps, the largest coming from Texas A&M, which rose 73 spots from No. 110 to No. 37.
  • Northwestern University continued their impressive climb up the Report Card rankings, achieving the No. 28 spot. This is the third consecutive year that the Wildcats have improved their ranking, moving up from 90th in 2008 to 88th in 2009 to 63rd in 2010.
  • Other notable jumps include the aforementioned University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which climbed 62 spots from No. 64 to No. 2, and Colorado State University from No. 63 to No. 7. In fact, all three Colorado schools – Colorado State (from No. 63 to No. 7), University of Denver (from No. 74 to No. 31) and University of Colorado at Boulder (from No. 75 to No. 55) saw improvements in their rankings.

Report Card Rivalries:

Conference Bragging Rights:

  • The Big Ten led in 2010, but slipped to number two with a 2.94 GPA, thanks in part to conference newcomer University of Nebraska bringing in the lowest individual GPA (2.45).
  • The Big Ten was followed by the newly adjusted Pac-12 (2.84), SEC (2.65), ACC (2.60), Big 12 (2.53), MAC (2.52), Conference USA (2.39), WAC (2.29), Mountain West (2.28), Sun Belt (2.23) and Big East (2.09).

Get Yourself Tested!

I realize that a lot of people don’t like labels in relationships.  They want to keep things casual.  One label you definitely don’t want is an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection).  If you are keeping things casual in your relationships, then you are more likely having more sexual partners.  This increases your risk to become infected with an STI.

The statistics say that 1 out of every 2 people under 25 will become infected with a sexually transmitted disease.  Most of those people don’t even know they are infected because they aren’t experiencing any symptoms.  However, even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, you could still be passing along the infection to others unknowingly.

The great thing is many STI’s can be cured though antibiotics.  The bad thing is that some STI’s are incurable.  So where can you get tested?  You can visit the GYT (Get Yourself Tested) website or the Planned Parenthood website to find a local STD testing center.    With so many places to go to get tested, there really is no excuse not to know if you are sexually healthy or not.

To prevent STI’s you need to know your facts.  Do your research and educate yourself.  Look up info on different STI’s.  There is a page on the Center for Disease Control’s website that can give you a lot of information fast.  You can look up info on Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes, HPV, HIV & AIDS, Trichomoniasis, and other STI’s.

After knowing the facts, start talking about it.  Ask your potential sex partners if they’ve ever been tested.  Talk about the fact that you’ve gotten tested.  Spread the word so others will become more aware and open about it as well.  Continue to get tested if you continue to have sex with new people.

Use protection!!!  Condoms come in all sizes, colors, flavors, and textures.  There is no excuse for not being prepared.  Most college campuses give away free condoms in their Wellness Centers or in their Peer Education Programs.  Condoms can be sexy and fun if you get creative with them.  Figure out new ways to put them on yourself or your partner.  Practicing to get the technique right can also be a lot of fun.  Experiment with different textures and flavors to mix it up a bit.

Also, make sure to use condoms while having oral sex.  Unfortunately oral cancers have increased dramatically since the 1980’s due to a form of HPV that can be spread to the throat from oral sexual contact.  Do not think oral sex is safer than vaginal or anal sex.  It is NOT!  If you don’t have a dental dam to use during oral sex, you can cut a condom length wise and use that as a barrier.  Make sure to tell your health care provider if you’ve had unprotected oral sex so you can be tested for HPV.  Sometimes HPV will work itself out of your system on its own, but sometimes it develops into cancer.  There are also vaccinations for HPV to help prevent cervical or oral cancer.

Even if you practice safe sex every time, there is no 100% guarantee against STI’s except abstinence.  Even if you are being safe, remember to get tested!  You not only want to protect yourself, you want to be able to protect others!  Be Safe and Be Smart!!

A great blog to read for more info on safe sex is Smart, Safe and Sexy

The condom broke! Now what??

Sometimes the condom breaks.  Sometimes you are too tired, too drunk or too lazy to even use a condom.  Sometimes you’re on the pill, but realize you’ve missed a couple days so you might not have been protected from getting pregnant while having sex the night before.  I’d like to think every college student is practicing safe sex every time, but I’m not an idiot.  Life happens and mistakes get made.  Here are some smart things to do after you have a lapse in judgment.

First, you can get emergency contraception.  Unless you are on the pill or another form of birth control, this is the first issue to deal with.  You only have 5 days or 120 hours after unprotected sex to be able to use this form of protection.  There are two types of emergency contraception- morning-after pill and IUD insertion.  The morning-after pill prevents ovulation, so an egg won’t be released.  It may also thicken the cervical mucus preventing sperm from reaching an egg.  It does not cause an abortion.  It is used to prevent a pregnancy.  Within 5 days of having unprotected sex you can also choose to have an IUD inserted.  An IUD is a small device that is inserted directly into the uterus.  Once in place, it will prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years after insertion.  The morning-after pill will reduce the chance of pregnancy by up to 89% if used within the first 72 hours after having unprotected sex.  The sooner you are able to take the pill, the better chances of preventing pregnancy.  The morning after pill can not be used long term.  You will need to use another form of birth control if you want to prevent pregnancy in the future.

Even if you are using birth control or emergency contraception, you are still at risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease or infection.  It is best to get tested as soon as possible even if you don’t have any symptoms.  How do they test for STI’s?  There isn’t just one test for all STI’s.  You will have to let your doctor know your sexual practices and any symptoms.  Some STI’s are tested by a blood sample, some use a urine sample, and others use a tissue sample.  If you have obvious symptoms, it may be easier for your doctor to diagnose through a physical exam.  Otherwise, your doctor will send your sample to a lab to be tested, and you will be notified within a few days if you’ve tested positive or not.  Sometimes your doctor may ask you to come back to be retested in 6 months because some infections don’t show up right away.  Make sure you follow through on getting tested because most people do not show any signs or symptoms of having an STI.

College is about having fun and living in a the moment.  However, when it comes to having sex it pays to think ahead and be prepared.  Carry a condom with you or have some available in your room or apartment.  You can usually get free condoms from your health center on most campuses.  Even when you are fully prepared, having sex can be risky.  The condom can break.  If you aren’t using another form of birth control, don’t hesitate to take emergency contraception.  Then get your butt down to Planned Parenthood or your doctor’s office to get tested for any sexually transmitted infections.  This way you won’t be at risk to spread any infections to others unknowingly.

If you find that you are pregnant or have an STI, it can be very scary.  No one wants to deal with that type of stress on top of all the other stresses in college.  However, it can happen.  Please seek out help if you aren’t sure about what to do next.  Contact the Health or Wellness Center on your campus if you have no where else to go.  It is confidential and free.  You can also access Counseling Services on your campus as well.  A counselor can help you process your feelings and help you figure out what your options are.

Oh No, I’m Pregnant!

What your Mama didn’t tell you about Sex

It’s that time of year again. Time to pack up the old Honda Civic and head back to college.  For many students this is their first year of college.  Many of those freshman may think college is a sexual free for all.  The sad thing is that thought isn’t far off the mark.  College is a time when a lot of students experience freedom for the first time.  No curfews and no one to check in with.  So many new co-eds walking around campus.  It isn’t hard to see why hooking up is the norm.  Unfortunately, hooking up without being smart can lead to huge problems.  Here are a few things your mama may not have told you that you should think about before getting naked with the guy or girl you passed in the quad.

1.  STI’s!  Yes, they do exist on college campuses.  Just because the person looks hot and healthy doesn’t mean they are.  Many students end up with an STI (sexually transmitted infection) because they assumed their partner was clean.  The fact is that many people don’t even know they have an STI unless they are tested because many infections don’t have any symptoms.  Your mom may have told you to use a condom, but even she may not be aware of how prevalent STI’s are on college campuses.  If she did, she may have kept you at home!  Always, always use a condom!!  Also, get tested every six months and especially after having unprotected sex!  Another thing to remember, other forms of birth control don’t prevent STI’s.  Some people think they don’t need to use a condom because they are on the pill.  This will keep you from getting pregnant, but won’t prevent an STI.  Don’t get lazy just because you’re already preventing pregnancy.  You still need a condom!

2.  Oral sex is sex!  I don’t know how many times I’ve been told that someone is a virgin, yet they have been having oral sex.  Guess what?  This is sexual activity that doesn’t exactly make you innocent.  You can also get STI’s from having oral sex.  Many doctors are reporting that students are showing up with STI infections in their throats.  Not fun!  I’m sure your mom didn’t mention using a dental dam or a condom while having oral sex.  You need a barrier between you and your partner’s sex organs if you want to have safer sex.  And swapping sexual fluids during oral sex can lead to a sexually transmitted infection.

3.  Anal sex is sex!  I’ve also been told some people want to remain a virgin but still please their partner so they have anal sex.  Guess what?  Same thing as above!  Actually anal sex is more prone to STI’s because you are more likely to tear during anal sex which lets potentially contaminated fluid into your blood stream.  Unless you are homosexual, and your mom knows you are homosexual, I’m sure she probably didn’t discuss anal sex with you.  If you are homosexual, these last two points are definitely directed at you!  Use a condom while having anal sex and a condom or dental dam while having oral sex.  Remember that some STI’s are not curable and it only takes one time to become infected!

4. Be confident!  So many people get all uptight about their weight or how they look while having sex.  You aren’t performing in front of a million people in a porn film.  This is just you and your partner.  If you can’t feel comfortable with them, then maybe you should think twice about having sex.  Your mom may have told you to only have sex when you are in love and in a committed relationship.  Being realistic for a second, I know sex may not always be about love, but it should be about pleasure.  Your pleasure, not just your partner’s.  Remember that no one looks good having sex, so try to forget about sucking in your stomach, and just go with it.  If this isn’t easy for you, it is okay to wait for someone you are more committed to and relaxed around to engage in sex.  For you women out there, I’ve heard many guys tell me they would rather have their girlfriend gain ten pounds and have fun while having sex than to lose weight and still be self-conscious during sex.  Confidence is the key, not a perfect body!

5.  Ask for what you want!  The last point leads to this one.  In order to have fun, you should be able to verbalize what you like.  It isn’t a slam to your partner that they can’t read your mind.  Everyone is different and may be turned on by different things.  Don’t be offended if your partner asks you to do something different than what you are used to.  It doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong.  Take your partner’s suggestion and use it to make them happy.  Then speak up for yourself as well!  Your mom may not have mentioned that it is okay to ask for what you want in bed, but trust me, it is the mature way to go!  If you aren’t sure about what you want, then this is the time to explore and see what works right and what doesn’t.  If you try something and don’t like it, you don’t have to do it that way again.

6.  Know yourself!  No two people are alike.  Don’t compare yourself to someone else.  Some people can have several sex partners and feel confident and good about themselves.  Other people would feel ashamed by the same number.  You have to decide what is okay for you.  Just because your roommate or best friend is hooking up constantly doesn’t mean that is the right choice for you.  If you know you are the type of person who wants to wait, then don’t feel ashamed about it.  There are a lot of students who aren’t having sex in college, even if that seems improbable to you.  Whatever you decide, be happy about the decision and always know that you can change your mind about what you want in the future.  Your mom may have covered this one, but I thought it was worth repeating.

Now that I’ve told you things your mom may have neglected to tell you before you left for college, you can go out, have fun and be safe!