Good to Know: STI Prevention Hacks

Photo credit: Peter Gerdes

Photo credit: Peter Gerdes

There is nothing worse than getting your sexy on only to realize that you don’t have any condoms (or dams). Preparation makes safer sex very easy to practice without interrupting your groove.

But did you know that there are quick solutions if you do find yourself unprepared?

Bedsider here sharing five ways to expedite your access to safer sex tools. Only one thing we would add to this list: Purchase easy-travel pillow packs of lube so that you can have them with you anywhere you go.

This post was originally published here.

BY BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

Think STI prevention kills the mood? Or that it’s always kind of a hassle? No way.

A little planning makes it very easy to protect yourself against an unintentional pregnancy and STIs. But what do you do when there’s no time to plan ahead and you really, really want to have sex? These hacks can help you stay safe in the moment without losing a minute of sexy time.

Stay healthy and happy,
Bedsider

P.S. Curious about the implant or shot? Our Real Stories feature women and men talking about the methods they use.

condom ad condoms too loose

bedsiderBEDSIDER is an online birth control support network for women operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy. Bedsider is totally independent (no pharmaceutical or government involvement). Honest and unbiased, Bedsider’s goal is to help women find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively, and that’s it.
Find Bedsider on twitter @Bedsider

Campaign Success! Twitter Changes Policy on Condoms

61- tweet 4 condomsAfter intense pressure from sexual health advocates, Twitter has finally modified their policy that blocked advertisements for condoms and sexual health.

Twitter lifted its ban on condom retailer Lucky Bloke, the first company to speak out about the issue, after nine months of complaints and a public campaign to get the policy changed.

“For the many of you who championed our #Tweet4Condoms campaign, I want to thank you sincerely for lending your voice and support.  It is exciting to see that, united, we can make a positive difference even when standing up to a tech giant,” writes Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke.

Lucky Bloke educates consumers about proper condom fit. Their central messages is that knowing one’s size and how to find what condoms fit best increases sexual pleasure and therefore increases consistent condom use.

However, Lucky Blokes’ frank discussion about sexual pleasure was deemed too racy for Twitter and their account was banned from advertising. Twitter’s old policy on “adult and sexual content” meant that any messages about condoms that mentioned pleasure would be outlawed.

But as we’ve stated before, how can you- more importantly, why should you- disconnect condoms from sex and pleasure. Lucky Bloke and other sexual health advocates felt that Twitter’s confusing ban on safer sex messaging marginalized condoms as “adult” content instead of an important public health issue. To stigmatize safer sex products in such a way is irresponsible and dangerous.

Hence, in the summer of 2014, Lucky Bloke launched the #Tweet4Condoms campaign, which sparked international attention about sexual health advocates held back by the policies of social media giants.

After intense pressure, Twitter re-categorized condoms, as well as personal lubes and contraceptives as “health and pharmaceutical products.” Twitter still prohibits any ads that link to “sexual content” and messages about condoms are still subject to review by Twitter. However, their new listing of condoms and contraceptives as a health product is step in the right direction.

Melissa White told RH Reality Check that she is “incredibly encouraged” by Twitter’s policy changes and Lucky Bloke’s account reinstatement. “To have them budge at all shows critical progress can be made. And for that we should celebrate a little,” White said. “We invite tech giants like Twitter, that have this incredible opportunity to join us and work together to end sexual health stigma and censorship for good.”

You can read more about the #Tweet4Condoms campaign here.

condom ad condoms too loose

How Can I Use Safer Sex Methods Without Killing the Mood?

team sex edForget your dull sex education class. Being safer is not a chore to your sex life. Sex educators Kate McCombs and Louise Bourchier will tell you that all you need is a little preparation and imagination to make safer sex easier and hotter. Take the time to watch this 2 and a half minute video and you’ll be a safer sex superhero in no time.

Here are their key points of advise:

  • Practice using barrier methods (like condoms, sex dams and gloves) on your own when you masturbate before bringing them into your partnered sex.
  • Find the product you really like. For example, find a condom that fits well and lube that you prefer (they are not all the same!).
  • Integrate safer sex methods into sexy time and stay connected with your partner. Some ways to do this are by storing condoms nearby and maintaining eye contact when putting on the barrier. Go here for more ideas on how to make sex with condom sexier.

This video was originally posted on the Kate & Louise YouTube Channel. If you like what you watch, please subscribe.

BY KATE MCCOMBS & LOUISE BOURCHIER | Team Sex Ed! Kate & Louise

Unsure what size

kate_mccombsKATE MCCOMBS is a NYC-based sex educator, writer, and maker of puns. Ultimately, all of Kate’s work is about helping people feel more comfortable talking about sex. She believes that meaningful conversations + accurate information can help us create a healthier and more pleasure-filled world. Kate writes articles and teaches workshops about sexual health, pleasure, and communication.  Follow Kate on Twitter @katecom

louise bourchier 150 150LOUISE BOURCHIER, MPH is a sex educator who knows health and pleasure. She teaches workshops to adult audiences throughout Australia and New Zealand, where her mission is to facilitate access to information that allows people to experience healthy and pleasurable sex lives. She works closely with D.VICE: the toy shop for grownups and is a proud emissary of Sex Geekdom Melbourne.  Follow her on Twitter @louiselabouche

Happy International Condom Day!

This year the AHF is changing the way youth view condoms.

This year the AHF is changing the way youth view condoms.

What do you get when you combine condom appreciation with today’s global hit song, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams? The best International Condom Day song ever!

On February 13th, the AIDS Health Foundation (AHF) is hosting International Condom Day (ICD)- an annual celebration that promotes STI and accidental pregnancy prevention through free condom distribution and safer sex awareness events around the world, including the United States.

According to Lara Worcester of the Condom Monologues, this year’s celebration inspires a feel-good approach to condom use in exciting new ways. For example, this is the first year the AHF has launched a video series and a theme song to commemorate International Condom Day. Check out the article below for links to over 140 events, the innovative condom promotion video, and the condom song that will spice up your Valentine’s weekend.

This post was originally published here

BY LARA WORCESTER | CondomMonologues.com

Forget the Valentine’s Day candies and roses. What better way to gear up for Vday romance than celebrating International Condom Day! (#ICD2015 to you, Twitter.)

February 13th marks this holiday of awareness as a time to educate and celebrate safer sex. World, be prepared for thousands of free condom dispensaries and numerous safer sex events across 31 countries. In the US, the AHF (AIDS Health Organization) has organized 37 events in 12 states including some “hot zones” like the District of Colombia, which has the highest national rate of HIV in the country; and Mississippi and Texas, two states which have some of the strictest laws against public sex education and (by no coincidence) the highest national average of teen pregnancies.

Indeed, there is plenty to celebrate when it comes to condoms.

The first being that condoms are the most effective method available today that protects against both STIs and accidental pregnancy. Can’t beat that.

Each year, the AHF curates this holiday around a theme. This year’s theme is “Coolness”; that is, “Condoms Are Cool”. Now, before you roll your eyes and think, “Not another lame, out-of-touch attempt to get youth to use condoms,” I challenge you to check out the AHF corresponding video series. They launched a trio of videos related to young people buying condoms at a local corner shop or “bodega”.

Here is the first of the AHF’s “Bodega Nights” video series. Trust me, you have never seen a condom commercial like this one. Unlike traditional public service announcements (PSAs) that are overtly serious and fear-based, this one actually combines condoms with confidence, fun and sexiness.

The coolness doesn’t stop there. In addition to their “Bodega Nights” video series, the AHF also released a catchy party song. It is a condom-related parody of one of today’s global hits, Pharrell Williams’s “Happy”. The hope is to renew attention of the importance of safer sex in a way that will never go out of style.

Because I wrap it
Put it on and get in on, if that’s what you want to do.
Because I wrap it,
Cause you know that you are hot, and these condoms sure are cool.
Because I wrap it
Wrap it, put your hands up, and let yourself be free,
Because I wrap it
Just love your self enough to know that protection is the key.
– “Because I Wrap It” by Danny Fernandez

You can listen to the song and download the lyrics for your Karaoke pleasures here.

View more domestic and international Condom Day events here.

LARA WORCESTER is co-founder & editor at Condom Monologues and a Lucky Bloke contributor. She’s a published social researcher with a Master’s in Gender & Sexuality studies and has worked with various HIV/AIDS organizations including Stella and the HIV Disclosure Project.

condom-monologuesCONDOM MONOLOGUES Affirming safer sex and sexuality one story at a time… Condom Monologues dispel harmful myths about safe sex and sexual stereotypes that permeate our ways of understanding what is “healthy sexuality”. They accomplish this through sex-positive, pleasure-focused approaches to sexuality that affirm the diversity of people- genders, sexualities, kinks and relationships.
Find them on twitter @CondomMonologue

Sex School: Condoms = Cancer? Uh, No.

Image from the CSPH Sunday Sex School Series

Image from the CSPH Sunday Sex School Series

In November, a new condom brand called Sustain began promoting a campaign that, at first glance, implies they’d like you to believe some condoms may cause cancer. At the heart of this is a petition demanding the FDA to “Get Carcinogens Out of Condoms.” What isn’t readily apparent is that there is no scientific evidence indicating you could ever get cancer from any condom. Ever.

As we discussed last week, the claim that condoms are laden with harmful carcinogens is unfounded. Sustain’s promotion of these myths is irresponsible and quite dangerous. Insinuating that the majority of mainstream condoms could cause cancer anchors yet another obstacle in the decades-long struggle to improve condom use and know-how.

Now the sex education community is speaking out against Sustain condoms.  The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (the CSPH) is kicking off their new Sunday Sex School by featuring a three part series that exposes Sustain’s confusing and misinformed messages. Here is the second part of that series.

This series was written by Erin Basler-Francis of the CSPH. Read the originals here: Part I and Part II.

BY THE CSPH | theCSPH.org

Lesson II.

The previous lesson (scroll to the end of this article) discussed the basics of nitrosamine and its presence in condoms, as well as a short explanation of the report released by The Reproductive Health Technologies Project and the Center for Environmental health. In this lesson we will look a little deeper at the methodology of the report and the response around the Sexuality Education community.

Making a Good Thing Even Better…with facts!

When the RTHP and CEH released their white paper, it included the following chart:

From: http://www.rhtp.org/fertility/vallombrosa/documents/MakingAGoodThingEvenBetter.pdf

From: http://www.rhtp.org/fertility/vallombrosa/documents/MakingAGoodThingEvenBetter.pdf

 

In looking at this list, one has to take into account a few things:

  1. The condoms tested were acquired in December 2013, and with an average shelf life of ~4 years, this means some of the condoms tested could have been manufactured in 2009.
  2. The research was funded by a company that provided prototypes of their condoms for analysis.
  3. Not all of the condoms tested are represented. PPFA’s Proper Attire condoms were kept out of the chart because, “[PPFA] secured a commitment from its manufacturer in May 2014 to phase out nitrosamine levels to below the limits of detection after 12 months…Therefore, we have omitted from the reported findings the results of our testing of what is now an outdated version of PROPER ATTIRE’s Basic condom.” However, Glyde and One are specifically mentioned in the chart footnote as having provided similar documentation, but were not removed.
  4. The condoms tested represent a wide swath of condoms types…including “novelty” condoms.

Comparing Apple-Flavored condoms to Oranges

It is disingenuous to compare novelty condoms—those that are flavored, colored, or include special lubes, to standard condoms. Especially when the funder’s website says this:

From: http://sustaincondoms.com/sustainability-responsibility/free-of-chemicals/

From: http://sustaincondoms.com/sustainability-responsibility/free-of-chemicals/

 

Sure, test all the condoms! If people want to know that they might be putting into their bodies, let them know. But don’t take one off specialty condoms and put them in a chart with plain “vanilla” condoms and combine that with alarmist, unsupported claims that said products are going to give someone penis cancer. When I’m looking for safer sex supplies, my first thought isn’t glow in the dark or blueberry—even if it may make a partners genitals smell like pie. These just aren’t the first choice.

The Condom Market

Speaking of cherry-picking the condom selection in the study, that list has a lot of the major offenders when it comes to using sexist marketing. According to Meika Hollender, co-founder of Sustain,

We didn’t want the packaging to scream neon-flavored sex—we wanted something that would appeal to the consumer. If you look in a drugstore condom aisle today, you will see that none of the products are targeted to women. We understand that women aren’t going to buy our condoms just because we’ve designed a nicer wrapper, but we think it will at least help.

We want women to feel as comfortable carrying a condom in their purse as they do their lipstick, credit card and cell phone (Brandchannel,com, Dec. 02, 2014).

condom-brandsIf one were to look at the condoms packaging and take into account that a number of brands singled out are newer entries to the condom market, one could draw the conclusion that this is a latex turf war. ONE, Sir Richard’s, and Billy Boy are newer distributors that have fun, eye-catching packaging. Sir Richard’s and ONE in particular pay a lot of attention to the exterior design, making the packaging seem at home in a cabinet next to the Method hand soap. Glyde, the oldest, most established of the bunch, holds the distinction of being the vegan condom until Sustain hit shelves in January 2014.

The Condom-Cancer link is a Red Herring

Shortly before the RHTP and CEH released their white paper on 18 SEP 2014, Sustain sent out this tweet:

sustain condoms on Twitter   @LaurenBrim thank you for making this incredible and important video!! https   t.co Bzu1XvfHHH #dowhatsnatural

In the video, titled Are Condoms Killing You, Lauren Brim, a holistic sexuality coach, makes the assertion that “condoms could also be hurting you” by releasing “nitrosamines and these are carcinogens. These are toxic. These cause cancer.” After the intro, complete with dramatic music, Brim goes on to explain the fantastic benefits of Sustain, citing their commitment to fair-trade, ethical manufacturing practices in the same breath as their lack of carcinogens that “can lead to ovarian cancer.” Jeffery Hollender, in a phone interview, stated that Lauren Brim is not affiliated with the company, but had been in contact with Sustain through their regular customer service channels prior to her video.

Although Brim is not linked to Sustain, the prevalence of media outlets stating that condoms cause cancer is. Well over half of the interviews given by the Hollenders regarding Sustain after the report and video contained references to toxic chemicals, carcinogens, and nitrosamine. Many of those articles specifically point out the link to reproductive cancers.

 

From: http://portlandtribune.com/sl/240190-105078-getting-on-top-of-sustainable-sex-

From: http://portlandtribune.com/sl/240190-105078-getting-on-top-of-sustainable-sex-

 

However, the studies—including the white paper funded by Sustain, point out that there is no causal link between reproductive cancers and nitrosamines. And even if there were, a condom contains fewer nitrosamines than a serving of French fries.

From: http://www.dw.de/german-study-says-condoms-contain-cancer-causing-chemical/a-1220847

From: http://www.dw.de/german-study-says-condoms-contain-cancer-causing-chemical/a-1220847

From: http://www.rhtp.org/fertility/vallombrosa/documents/MakingAGoodThingEvenBetter.pdf

From: http://www.rhtp.org/fertility/vallombrosa/documents/MakingAGoodThingEvenBetter.pdf

Banding Together To Challenge Misinformation

Initially, Salon seemed to be the only outlet covering the ludicrousness of the assertion that condoms can kill you. In the article, Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, in a statement from Trojan, said,

Any public statement calling into question the safety of latex condoms, given the mountain of evidence supporting their safe and effective use, simply is not credible. Consumers should continue using condoms to prevent unintended pregnancies, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections — and they should remain confident that condoms are safe and effective.

Many involved, including Jeffery Hollender, noted the relative quiet after the tweet heard around the industry. Melissa White, sexuality educator and CEO of Lucky Bloke Condoms, along with others in the sexuality education, reproductive health, and condom industry attributed this silence to the hope that, after being admonished by the Patron Saint of Masturbation Advocacy, Sustain would get the hint and lay off the scare tactics. In her piece on RH Reality Check, White says,

With selling condoms comes an undeniable level of responsibility. My work, like many others’, is leading people to a better relationship with condoms, thereby increasing consistent and correct use. Misleading marketing, scare tactics, and irresponsible messaging is doing a disservice to all of us, especially to the millions of people who depend on condoms to protect their health.

(Read the response from RHTP here.)

After the release of the report, ONE Condom’s parent company, Global Protection, released a statement that ended, “We hope that this new RHTP report is not sensationalized in a way that discourages people from using condoms, thereby exposing them to very real, well known risks.

Glyde America responded to the misinformation with the following:

While we applaud Sustain’s enthusiasm for marketing condoms to economically advantaged female millennials, we have repeatedly voiced our concerns about the tactics used which serve to undermine over thirty years of public health efforts promoting condom use within the teen and LGBT communities.

Condoms are highly regulated medical devices. There is no collective conspiracy by the ISO, World Health Organization, FDA, rubber latex suppliers and condom manufacturers to deliver substandard or in any way unsafe condoms to consumers. To the contrary, for decades manufacturers have continually refined materials and processes including reducing if not eliminating nitrosamines. To formulate a non-existent issue, while patently ignoring all scientific data proving condom safety, is not only misleading, it is irresponsible.

For what it is worth, the Sustain Camp seems to have stopped publicly beating the“condoms cause cancer” drum. Wednesday, in a Reddit Ask Me Anything post, Jeffery Hollender did not mention nitrosamines, toxicity, or cancer—although there were questions asked that would have fit that answer and removed a pretty/awful inforgraphicwas pulled from the Sustain website shortly after Melissa White’s article went live.

—————-

Lesson I.

Part of the mission of the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health is to challenge misinformation. Lately in the sexual and reproductive health field, there has been a growing outcry against the recent use of nitrosamine (a probable carcinogen) levels in condoms as a marketing tactic. Sustain Condoms and The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are heavily pushing a petition for regulation of nitrosamine by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Between the petition, a series of interviews by the founders of Sustain, and a study titled “Making a Good Thing Even Better: Removing NITROSAMINES from CONDOMS,” [emphasis theirs] many in the field are concerned that the message being received by the public is, “Condoms cause cancer.”

Where Did This Information Come From?

In September 2014, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project in collaboration with the Center for Environmental Health. In the study, they report the levels of nitrosamine present in 24 different types of condoms, spread across several brands. The report states that selection criteria included units sold, in-store availability, and input from issue and industry experts.

It is important to note at this point that there is one condom that was put into the study in its prototypical form from Sustain Condoms, a new entry to the field of prophylactics founded by Jeffery Hollander (of Seventh Generation products) and his daughter, Meika. As we find out in the acknowledgement section of the study:

www.rhtp_.org-fertility-vallombrosa-documents-MakingAGoodThingEvenBetter.pdfThe report does not disclose which other issue and industry experts it received input from.

What Are Nitrosamines?

Nitrosamines, specifically in latex, are a byproduct of chemical processes used to make latex more elastic. Nitrosamines can also form when nitrates turn to nitrites and meet up with amines during the digestive process.

Nitrosamines are found in a lot of items: rubber products (including condoms, baby pacifiers, and latex gloves), meats, cheese, drinking water, beer, dehydrated dairy products, grains, eggs, tobacco smoke…well, it’s in a lot of things we encounter regularly[1]. Further, the body can take nitrates from things like broccoli (which is naturally high in both nitrates and nitrites) and turn it into nitrosamine.

Nitrosamines, specifically the subcompounds of NDEA (N-nitrosodiethylamine), NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine), and NDBA (N-nitrosodibutylamine), are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as a probable human carcinogen and by the European Union as presumed to have carcinogenic potential for humans; largely based on animal evidence.

What Do Condoms Have To Do With Hamsters?

Syrian Hamster

Image from the CSPH

In the conversation around Nitrosamine levels in condoms, one study is cited the most. The first, a 2001 study where nitrosamine as directly applied to the skin and mucosal tissue (e.g. the walls of the nose and vagina) of Syrian Hamsters. The hamsters developed tumors in the liver and digestive track after the application of 1 gram of nitrosamine. For reference the estimated lifetime absorption of nitrosamine from condoms is .9 micrograms (ug)—also known as .0000009 grams. And people are a lot bigger than hamsters.

As mentioned above, there are nitrosamines everywhere. The average person consumes ~500ug of nitrosamine from food alone every day. More importantly, there is neither a causal or correlative link between reproductive cancers and nitrosamine, a point which is stated clearly in all of the reports, even the one funded by Sustain.

The bottom line: Condoms will not give you cancer.

But they will help protect you from unintended pregnancy and STIs. So wrap up and keep an eye out for Lesson 2.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2786176/table/T2/

csphThe CENTER for SEXUAL PLEASURE and HEALTH (The CSPH) is designed to provide adults with a safe, physical space to learn about sexual pleasure, health, and advocacy issues. Led by highly respected founder and director, Megan Andelloux, The CSPH is a sexuality training and education organization that works to reduce sexual shame, fight misinformation, & advance the sexuality field.

Setting The Record Straight | #condomtruth

condom_truth-1024x406

Last month, a new condom brand called Sustain began promoting a self-funded study insinuating, at first glance, that the majority of mainstream condoms are laden with carcinogens. Next a petition surfaced, relying on this flawed study and sponsored by  “Campaign for Safe Cosmetics,” calling the FDA to “Get Carcinogens Out of Condoms.”

Fueled with dangerous sound-bites, Sustain launched a social media offensive:

tweet

And another from Sustain’s founder:

tweet2

These messages are undoubtedly alarming. The reality is, however, that there is no scientific evidence linking condoms to cancer—and to claim otherwise has the potential to unravel decades of committed work focused on saving lives through encouraging condom use and education.

Thus, those of us who support and advocate for sexual wellness and reproductive health need to take notice and action, especially as these claims are unsubstantiated by medical science.

Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke, investigated the issue and found that the study is burdened with faulty methodology and numerous inaccuracies. Further, it was paid for (in part) by founders of Sustain.

Read the full article, Cigarettes Cause Cancer, Condoms Don’t at RH Reality Check.

As health advocates, educators, and consumers it is critical that we take careful note and act on this situation before Sustain unravels years of positive condom advancement through their alarming marketing tactics.

How can you get involved? Join the #condomtruth conversation!

SHARE THE ARTICLE:

http://rhrc.us/12rJOws

TWEET:

Copy/paste tweets or make your own  |  hashtags: #condomtruth #bettercondoms

–  Cigarettes Cause Cancer. Condoms Don’t. http://rhrc.us/12rJOws #condomtruth #bettercondoms
–  Faulty studies & scare tactics risk lives http://rhrc.us/12rJOws #condomtruth #bettercondoms
–  Misleading marketing hurts public health http://rhrc.us/12rJOws #condomtruth #bettercondoms
–  Trust #science, not misleading marketing http://rhrc.us/12rJOws #condomtruth #bettercondoms
–  Fight #condom stigmas, don’t create them http://rhrc.us/12rJOws #condomtruth #bettercondoms
–  Unethical marketing is more dangerous than #nitrosamines  http://rhrc.us/12rJOws #condomtruth
–  Faulty #condom studies have real consequences http://rhrc.us/12rJOws #condomtruth #bettercondoms

TWEET:

@SustainCondoms to Stop their Misleading & Dangerous Marketing

@JeffHollender (Sustain’s founder) 
with the campaign hashtag: #condomtruth
@missmeiks (Sustain’s co-founder) 
with the campaign hashtag: #condomtruth

ADDITIONAL READING:

SALON  Are condoms killing you? This new contraceptive company wants you to think so
JoEllen Notte  Condoms Cancer Scare Tactics: How One Company is Using Fear to Sell
Condom Monologues  There Is No Cancer In #CondomTruth
Sexational  How Not to Respond to Criticism, Featuring Sustain Condoms
The CSPH  Condoms, Nitrosamine & Cancer- Oh My!

ABOUT TRANSPARENCY

As Melissa was investigating the RH Reality Check article, she reached out to both Sustain’s founder Jeffrey Hollender and Jessica Arons of the Reproductive Health Technology Project (RHTP), the organization that conducted the study.  Jessica Arons did initially write back directing Melissa back to the RHTP study, as well as cutting and pasting paragraphs from the study. Unfortunately, this did not actually address Melissa’s concerns or questions.

You can read Jessica’s response to Melissa’s RH Reality article: “Cigarettes Cause Cancer. Condoms Don’t”, here.  Beneath that, you will see that Melissal replied to Jessica’s rebuttal in the comment section.   Anyone that has read Melissa’s article, “Cigarettes Cause Cancer; Condoms Don’t,” will recognize that nowhere does Melissa state that RHTP asserts that condoms cause cancer.

In her response, Melissa wanting to redirect the conversation back to the topic at hand stated:

As a sexual health and condom advocate, I appreciate that Jessica Arons’ response helps to clarify the myth that “condoms cause cancer” — hopefully discouraging future campaigns from exploiting the RHTP report to further their own agenda. To make this conversation about RHTP’s report, diminishes the actual issue. This is not about RHTP — it is about the fact that a report that has not been scientifically peer-reviewed in the academic community is being misused by the company (Sustain) that funded it.

Prior to finalizing her article, Melissa wrote the comprehensive list of questions (noted below) which she sent to both Jeffrey and Jessica. The importance of these questions is not to attack the study. As a condom advocate and expert, Melissa wanted clarification on the study’s methodology which she has found to have many flaws, inconsistencies and shortcomings.

Melissa received a flat refusal from Sustain’s founder, stating that he did not see why he “should take the time to respond to these questions.” Jessica Arons never replied.

As Melissa has written, she is  “of course — very open to continuing this conversation to make certain that accurate information prevails and that campaigns around condoms are free of stigma, scare tactics and shame.

Here are the questions Melissa sent to Jeffrey and Jessica for clarification on the study, the motivations behind the study, and any consideration made to the impact this type of campaign might have on condom users:

RHTP STUDY

-Names of experts, as cited, who chose the condoms for testing
-What actual criteria did they use to choose the condoms tested?
-Why were obscure condom styles chosen over best-sellers of the brands? or
-Excepting Trojan, why were the most ubiquitous condom styles excluded from study?
-Sources from which the tested condoms were obtained and by whom
-What was the documented protocol for handling and storage of the condoms prior to testing?
-Specific documentation for your study and testing methodology
-Names of individuals involved in implementing the study
-All source of financing for the study and the amounts donated
-Copies of the actual test reports for each brand
-Name/contact information at the testing facility, permission to discuss the study
-ATSM standards applied
-Method of testing employed (as there is more than one method for testing nitrosamine levels)
-Why was that specific method chosen?
-What is the threshold (as per recommended by the ISO and WHO) before nitrosamine levels in condoms is considered high?
-Are you aware of any companies that have taken steps to eliminate nitrosamines prior to the publication of the study, and if so, which companies?
-Several brands have shared proof that they came to RHTP, prior to your releasing the results of your study, with 3rd party testing results (actually the same facility you apparently used) that proved their condoms had extremely low (if not undetectable) levels of nitrosamines. Why did you disregard this information?
-How do you account for the complete lack of even one medical study demonstrating cause or correlation of condoms with reproductive cancers? Is this important?

SUSTAIN

-Does Karex manufacture Sustain, if not who does?
-Is the raw rubber shipped directly to the factory, and processed on site at the facility, or is it a prevulcanized formula?
-Does your manufacturer employ unique or customized techniques (including rubber, chemicals, processes) for producing all condoms they manufacture, or are these techniques only used for Sustain products?
-Leaching and washing is common practice in condom manufacturing. What new techniques have been developed specifically for the production of Sustain?
-How often are Sustain condoms tested for nitrosamines? Is it for each production run and on multiple batches?
-Which testing method is employed for Sustain condom nitrosamine levels?
-Why do you claim your condoms are GMO free, when no condoms have GMOs?
-Are you concerned this might worry the public unnecessarily?

SHARING KNOWLEDGE TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE INDUSTRY

-I read your statement that you worked with a former Durex employee in creating a method for eliminating nitrosamines. Would you please elaborate on your work in this area?
-Does Sustain intend to disclose these new innovative methods to other manufacturers to create change in the industry? Is there a white paper for the new method available?

CAMPAIGN TO INFORM PUBLIC

-How did Sustain determine the best method and communications plan for disclosing their concerns about nitrosamines in condoms?
-How do you account for the complete lack of even one medical study demonstrating cause or correlation of condoms with cervical and “penile” cancers? Is this important?
-Did Sustain consult with experienced industry peers or public health professionals to determine the safest, most responsible and effective method for disclosure to teens and other at-risk consumers?
-What steps have you put in place so that consumers do not simply walk away with the top-line message and the dangerous impression that condoms are unsafe?
-Are you concerned that your recent statements are irresponsible or might be misleading to the public, for example:

Eight out of 10 brands on the market contain a potential carcinogen called nitrosamines,” she says. “When you talk to women, they’re so conscious of what they’re putting in their body and on their body, from cosmetics to food, they’re like ‘Oh my God, that is certainly not anything I want in my body.’”

Jeffrey Hollender says nitrosamines are found in rubber products, and many foods and tobacco. “They’re not an additive; they’re a chemical reaction, a byproduct. Nitrosamines are known to cause cervical cancer ...”

And penile cancer,” his daughter chips in.

Nowhere do either of you mention that you feel using condoms is safer or more important than not. So what is the takeaway for the public consumer from this interview?

Melissa concluded her email, “From my research, at this point, the RHTP study appears to have been completed for the purpose of discrediting competing condom brands and pushing forward the agenda of Sustain both with consumers and with public health agencies.

For purportedly wishing to collaborate with condom brands and facilitate working together for change…surprisingly, no documentation has been forthcoming to support any of the assertions of the study. Instead brands have been stonewalled and no transparency has been offered.

At every press opportunity your message is on point: Condom have carcinogens, but not ours… I would like to afford you the opportunity to respond to my concerns. I welcome and look forward to your reply.

THESE QUESTIONS DESERVE ANSWERS

Consumers absolutely have the right to know what is in their products. Consumers also have the right to demand honesty. Misleading marketing, scare tactics, and irresponsible messaging is a disservice to all of us, especially to the millions of people who depend on condoms to protect their health.

As, transparency is what Sustain continues to uphold as their core business ethic, we sincerely hope Sustain will take this opportunity to replace their words with actions.  We would much rather being working with Sustain to expand condom knowledge, education and access.

Yet we cannot do so until the “condoms cause cancer” messaging Sustain has used as a marketing tactic stops. We are looking forward to continuing the conversation to make certain that accurate information prevails and that campaigns around condoms are free of stigma, scare tactics and shame.

Birth Control When You’re Living With HIV/AIDS

Photo credit: Jacinta lluch Valero

Photo credit: Jacinta lluch Valero

Taking medication for HIV? Here’s what you should know to avoid an accidental pregnancy.

If you are one of the 1.1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV or AIDS, you might have heard that your choices of birth control are somewhat limited. The good news is that many methods—including some of the most effective ones—should still work well for you. What you can use for birth control when you’re living with HIV/AIDS depends on whether you are taking anti-retroviral medicine (ARVs) and what your overall health is like. In the following article, Merrie Warden, MD, MPH, at Bedsider, talks details about what you should know when it comes to HIV and contraceptive methods.

Here are some key facts from the article below:

  • The IUD is the most effective form of birth control and is not impacted by the type of medication you are using. However, the IUD does not prevent STI and HIV transmission.
  • Condoms are the only contraceptive today that helps prevent both HIV transmission and accidental pregnancy.
  • The shot, implant and IUD are safe and effective to use with any HIV medication you are using.

This article by Merrie Warden, MD, MPH, was originally published on Bedsider.

BY BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

I have HIV but I’m not on meds right now. What are my birth control options?

If you’re not taking medications for HIV, the sky’s the limit. You can use any method of birth control, including combined hormonal methods like the pill, the patch, the ring, or more effective methods like the shot, the implant, or the IUD. Just keep in mind that none of these methods prevent the transmission of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so it’s important to use condoms too.

Why use condoms + another method of birth control?

If you’re living with HIV or AIDS, using condoms every time you have sex can help protect you and your partner. Doubling up with condoms and another type of birth control is even better since:

  • Some birth control “side effects” may be a benefit for you. Some birth control methods can make your period lighter, less painful or go away altogether. Others offer long-term prevention of certain types of cancer.
  • Peace of mind that you won’t have an accidental pregnancy feels good. If you’re relying on condoms for birth control, they can slip or break. And planning for pregnancy can give you the ability to have a healthy pregnancy when you want one: less than 1% of pregnant women with HIV give the virus to their babies when taking a special set of medications.

I’m taking HIV medication. What birth control can I use?

The shot, implant, and IUD are effective regardless of what HIV medication you’re on. Whether you can use other types of birth control depends on what type of medication you’re taking.

Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs). If you’re taking a type of ARV called a “nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor,” like zidovudine or tenofovir, it’s safe to use any type of birth control, including combined hormonal methods like the pill, the patch, or the ring. The scientific evidence shows that these meds and birth control don’t mess with one another. Here’s a list of NRTIs to see if you’re taking one.

Non-nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNTRIs). There’s some limited evidence that “non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors” like efavirenz or nevirapine may cause small changes in how the pill, patch, or ring is metabolized in your body, though they don’t appear to decrease the effectiveness of these methods. Here’s a list of NNTRIs to see if you’re taking one.

Protease inhibitors. If you’re taking a type of medication called a “protease inhibitor” like combinations of medications containing ritonavir, the medication may make the pill, patch, or ring less effective. Protease inhibitor meds may also mess with the progestin-only or mini pill.

There’s also some evidence that the pill, patch or ring changes how a protease inhibitor with ritonavir is broken down by the body. These changes may make the medication more likely to cause minor problems with your liver or other side effects. Always talk with your doctor about using any of these HIV medications with the pill, patch, or ring. Here’s a list of protease inhibitors.

HIV makes me more vulnerable to infections. Is it safe to use an IUD?

IUDs are the most effective reversible birth control we have, and they do not increase the risk of a pelvic infection. In fact, this is a great method to use to prevent an accidental pregnancy while getting your body healthy on medications.

  • If you have HIV and are healthy, you can use any kind of IUD.
  • If you have AIDS, we usually recommend that you wait until your infection is under control before starting to use an IUD.
  • If you already have an IUD in place and develop AIDS, it is safe for you to keep using it.

I’ve heard that using the shot may increase the risk of transmitting HIV. Is that true?

Health researchers all over the world are working hard to make sure we have the right answer to this important question. It’s possible that there is an association between using the shot and increased risk of getting HIV, but more evidence is needed. Current guidelines from the World Health Organization say that it’s safe for HIV positive people to use the shot, but that condoms should always be used to prevent HIV transmission. For more information just for women living with HIV, check out:

bedsiderBEDSIDER is an online birth control support network for women operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy. Bedsider is totally independent (no pharmaceutical or government involvement). Honest and unbiased, Bedsider’s goal is to help women find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively, and that’s it.
Find Bedsider on twitter @Bedsider

SEXLIBS: When Condoms Make You Uncomfortable

condom libsBY DR. KAREN RAYNE | KarenRayne.com

Lots of people don’t like using condoms – they don’t even like talking about condoms.

Talking about condoms is complicated, filled with societal judgment and dogma, and thus can feel hard to bring up.

So what to do when a lover or a student or anyone else rejects a condom conversation when you feel it is important – or maybe even required?

CONDOM SEXLIBS, that’s what!

Work through an entire Sexlibs about condoms (please see below!), and you’ll have started some of the more difficult condom related questions, as well as some of the sillier ones, and there’s nothing wrong with whimsy about sex, especially if it makes talking a little easier:

Condom Love

The first time I ever put on a condom I was _____________ years old, and I put it on a _____________.  Afterwards, I felt _____________. I told _____________. I was hoping they would react by _____________.

When I think about using a condom during sex, I think that sounds _____________. My favorite thing about using a condom is _____________, and my least favorite is _____________.

If I were designing my own condom, it would be _____________ and _____________, and secretly I think it would be even cooler if it could be _____________, although I know that’s not possible.

My favorite way to put on a condom is _____________. To make sex with a condom even sexier, it’s best if you _____________.

I think it would be hilarious if someone took _____________ and filled a condom with it. But it’d be even funnier to have a fight with condoms filled with _____________.

My favorite brand and style of condoms is _____________ and _____________.

(More Sexlibs, including a book, are forthcoming by Dr. Karen Rayne.)

condom ad condoms too loose

rayne2sm DR. KAREN RAYNE With a doctoral degree is in Educational Psychology, Karen provides advice and support to parents on how to educate their children and teenagers about sex and sexuality. Karen’s knowledge about adolescent development and education provides her with a solid background for guiding parents through these tricky conversations. And, as a college professor, helping young adults grapple with sexuality, she is known to change student’s lives. On twitter @KarenRayne

EVENT: Choosing Condoms for Pleasure with Melissa White

SHE logo_hi-resJoin Melissa White of Lucky Bloke as she explains: How to Choose Condoms for Ultimate Pleasure

As CEO at Lucky Bloke, converting non-believers to a better sex life with condoms is Melissa’s passion and expertise. So if you would file yourself in the love-to-hate condom category, you’re sleeping with a partner who is a condom foe, or even if you’re just curious about better sex with condoms, Melissa’s here to empower you with a workshop that is guaranteed to radically improve your safer-sex pleasure.

She’ll also get to the bottom of lube, the perfect condiment to much hotter sex. If your past experience was a sticky mess or you simply have no idea where to begin Melissa’s workshop should be your first stop!

WHAT:  Join Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke, for a crazy fun session at SHE, the Sexual Health Expo, that will change the way you think about both condoms and lube — forever.

While the drugstores would have you believe that there are 3 choices and 2 bottles, that’s not the truth at all.

Bring your sexy brain and your sense of humor and discover:

  • Why 70% of people are using the wrong sized condom

  • How to choose the right condom, from material to size to texture and taste

  • Why the lube you’re using might be the wrong one for your type of play

  • Why your bathroom has the one tool you need to get you into the right sized condom
    (hint: it’s not your scale)

All attendees will receive the Lucky Bloke Ultimate Condom or Lube Sampler of their choice!

WHEN:   Saturday, January 17th at 11:30am

WHERE:   Sofitel Hotel in West Hollywood, CA.
Event tickets: $25 per couple, good for 2 days at the Expo > Get them here.

WHO:  As the CEO of Lucky Bloke, Melissa’s mission is to help legions of condom users across the globe have the very best sex possible by introducing them to condoms that are specifically ideal for them. Lots of people are fumbling the safer sex thing. Melissa has a knack for showing you how to choose just the precisely right condom for you – and how that translates to much better sex.

While it’s true that Melissa did not know during the career unit in 7th grade she’d eventually end up a condom expert, it’s undeniable that there are few things that make her happier than turning a condom skeptic into a condom lover.  

Often found online fighting sexual health stigma and misinformation – Melissa is the internet’s favorite condom crusader. Her expertise of making sex education sexy can be found at Huffington Post, Think Progress, Mother Jones, Men’s Health, the Good Men Project and RH Reality Check (to name a few), as well as Lucky Bloke’s recently launched SaferSex.Education, an online resource providing accurate, progressive advice from leading sex educators –created to support everyone navigating sexual relationships and choices.

When she’s not thinking about how to spread the condom gospel through Lucky Bloke’s global condom reviews and safer sex awareness initiatives, there is an 87% chance Melissa is considering what song she will choose for her inevitable Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon lip sync battle.

About SHE – Sexual Health Expo

Experience an open environment where learning the latest facts about sex and intimacy is celebrated with style and flair! What better location to explore the diverse sexual landscape than the colorful city of Los Angeles? Featuring today’s leaders in sex, intimacy and romance, Sexual Health Expo (SHE) will deliver a crash course in understanding modern relationships with must-attend workshops and captivating intimacy product showcases- all with the chic backdrop of the stylish Sofitel Hotel in West Hollywood, CA.

SHE will showcase the best that the sexual wellness and intimacy products marketplace has to offer with top experts to guide you. SHE’s exhibition area will allow you to immerse yourself in the exploration of today’s top intimacy products with product demos and special events alongside like-minded singles and couples.

SHE is set to uncover the ins and outs of sexual health, intimacy and the evolving needs of couples and sexually active adults of all genders and sexual orientation. This groundbreaking event will bridge the gap between men, women and their understanding of sex.

Event Website: www.sexualhealthexpo.com

Before You Stop Using Condoms….

before you stop using condomsIt is very common for couples to start off the relationship using condoms and then, as the relationship lasts, their reliance on condoms decreases until perhaps they wish to stop using condoms altogether. But there are some steps to take in order to make this transition away from condoms a healthy one. In this article from Bedsider, Jessica Morse lists things to consider and explains how to follow through when taking condoms out of your sexperience. Prepare to take yourself to a health care provider.

In summary, here are important points to consider if you plan to stop using condoms:

  • Condoms and internal (or “female”) condoms are the only form of protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Many STIs do not show symptoms all the time. It’s worth taking a trip to the health clinic and getting a full-screen STI test. As well as making sure you or your partner’s Pap smear is up-to-date.
  • Depending on your test results, follow through with the appropriate waiting time until the next test and/or complete your treatment.
  • Have discussions with your partner. Is pregnancy a risk? Which birth control method should you use?  Are you quitting condoms in order to get pregnant?

This article was written by Jessice Morse, MD, MPH, and was originally published here

BY BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

Condoms are great— they’re available in almost any drug store or clinic and they protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). More than half of U.S. couples use a condom when they have sex for the first time, and over 93% have used condoms at some point.

The number of couples relying on condoms tends to go down as relationships last longer, so it’s safe to say a lot of couples start off using them and then switch to another method of birth control when they become exclusive. Starting a new method of birth control (maybe one that’s more effective for preventing pregnancy than condoms) doesn’t have to mean forgoing condoms. Doubling up with condoms and another method is a great option for many couples. But if you and your partner have been using condoms and want to stop, here are a few things to square away beforehand.

Get your test (GYT)

Male and female condoms are the only methods that can protect against STIs. That includes the ones that can easily be treated—like gonorrhea and chlamydia—and the not-so-easily treated—like herpes and HIV.

Just because neither of you have bumps or rashes doesn’t mean you’re necessarily in the clear; STIs can be there without you even knowing it. So even if you’re pretty sure you don’t have an STI, you should both get tested for common infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. You may also want to ask about a herpes test; your healthcare provider will usually ask questions to figure out if it makes sense to test for that too. It’a also a great time to make sure your HPV vaccine series (3 shots!) is done and your Pap smears are up to date.

All of these tests can be done without a physical exam:

  • For chlamydia and gonorrhea, you just need to provide a urine sample. Yup, it’s a simple as peeing in a cup.
  • For HIV, syphilis and herpes, it’s a blood test. That means providing a small sample of blood at a lab or clinic.

Then just a few days of awkward waiting and you’ll have your results!

Drumroll, please

Once you get your test results, you may have a few more steps to take before it’s safe to stop using condoms.

Positive for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis
These STIs can all be cured with antibiotics. You may take pills, get a shot, or both. The treatment depends on the type of infection. You may be done after one shot, one pill, or a week of pills. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you get tested again in the coming months to make sure the infection is cleared up. If you have any symptoms or concerns after you’ve finished the treatment, talk to your provider and decide what to do.

Positive for HIV, herpes, or hepatitis
These STIs can’t be cured, but they can be managed with medicines that reduce the viral load (the amount of the virus in your body) and a partner’s chance of getting the same infection. Although the medicines reduce the chance of giving the virus to a partner, they don’t guarantee it. That means that you’d need to talk to your partner about how you both feel taking this chance without condoms. (If you decide to keep using condoms, you’re in good company. About 10% of U.S. couples of all ages rely on condoms.)

All clear

If you’re both in the clear, you can have the “let’s stop using condoms” conversation.

If you’re not ready for kids yet: This is a good time to talk about what other method you want to use for pregnancy prevention. Obviously whoever is using the method should have final say, but it might be nice to have both partners involved in the decision. You can also talk to your healthcare provider to help you figure out which method is best for you.

If you’re quitting condoms in order to start trying for a baby: It’s a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider a few months ahead of time. Even for women without health problems, there are some basic things you can do to have a healthier pregnancy. For example, taking prenatal vitamins prevents certain types of birth defects. Your provider can also give you good tips for how to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Good luck!

bedsiderBEDSIDER is an online birth control support network for women operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy. Bedsider is totally independent (no pharmaceutical or government involvement). Honest and unbiased, Bedsider’s goal is to help women find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively, and that’s it.
Find Bedsider on twitter @Bedsider