Sexual History Should Not Be A Mystery

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BY MELANIE DAVIS, PhD | MelanieDavisPhD.com

When Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he wasn’t talking about sex; however, the aphorism is worth keeping in mind before you enter into a sexual relationship. Knowing a potential partner’s sexual history can help you make informed decisions about the level of risk you are willing to accept.

The following commonly asked questions illustrate why talking about your own and your partners’ sexual history is important.

Q. Asking about a potential partner’s sexual history seems so rude. How can I do it politely?

You needn’t ask for names, dates, and details. You do need enough information to assess any health risk you might expose yourself to. Be willing to share your own story. Start by giving your own answers to these questions, and then ask your potential new partner:

• Have you ever participated in intercourse (oral sex, vaginal sex, or anal sex) without a condom?
• Have you ever had unprotected sex with someone with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, or herpes?
• What were the results of tests for sexually transmitted infection (STIs) conducted after your most recent partnered sexual encounter (request the paperwork; people may lie about test results)?
• Have you or your partner(s) ever had sex with an injection drug user or have used recreational injection drugs?

Q. When is the right time to ask about someone’s sexual history?

Some people ask before they kiss or get emotionally involved. Others wait until the topic of sexual activity comes up. Share histories before you engage in any type of genital contact with someone. Pick a private place when you won’t be interrupted or overheard and when you are both relaxed. Assure your potential partner that you will keep the conversation confidential and that you expect the same in return.

Q. My lifelong partner died last year, and I’m ready to find a companion/lover. Should I hide the fact that I’ve only had one partner my whole life, so I don’t look like a prude?

Anyone who thinks badly of you because you were in a monogamous relationship is misguided. Your choice to remain faithful says a lot about the way you approach relationships. . If your partner was also monogamous throughout your relationship, you have much less chance of having ever been exposed to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which makes you a low-risk partner. Protect your healthy status by using condoms if you engage in partnered sex.

Q. The woman I’m dating was in an abusive marriage. Is that why she’s holding back sexually?

Abuse can leave both physical and emotional scars, but don’t jump to conclusions. She may want to build a relationship prior to engaging in lovemaking; indeed, she may be just as eager as you are to have sex. Past relationships, healthy and not-so-healthy, are part of each person’s sexual history. Offer your story and invite her to share hers.

 

melanie_davisMELANIE DAVIS, PHD, consults with individuals and couples to help them build sexual knowledge, comfort, and pleasure through the New Jersey Center for Sexual Wellness.  Through her firm Honest Exchange LLC, she provides professional development in sexuality. She’s a popular speaker on self-esteem and body image, and the sexual impact of cancer, menopause and aging. She’s an AASECT-Certified Sexuality Educator. On Twitter @DrMelanieDavis

What Sexual Activities Put You at Risk of STIs?

Photographer: Alex Louis Engival

Photographer: Alex Louis Engival

Most sex educators and medical professionals use the term “safer” instead of “safe” sex because certain risks do not completely go away when engaging in sexual activities. No matter our age, race, economic status, sexuality, gender, relationship type, married or single, all of us are at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The most effective way to guarantee zero exposure of STIs to yourself and others is to never have sex with anyone! Now, if abstinence is not an ideal choice for you, other things to consider are the different intimate contacts that reduce the risks of exposure.

Here is a list, provided on Scarleteen, of sexual activities in which there are zero or very low risks.

  • Kissing or making out (does pose an oral herpes risk)
  • General body stroking (“feeling up”) or massage without genital contact
  • Dry sex (with both partners clothed)/clothed tribbing or frottage
  • Mutual masturbation or solo masturbation
  • Receptive anal intercourse where the insertive partner is using a sanitized sex toy/dildo, not a penis
  • Sex toy play where toys are not being shared and are cleaned properly before use
  • Phone sex or cybersex
  • Sharing fantasies and/or role playing (within the context of the activities above)

Safer sex practices, such as using protective barriers like condoms, dams and gloves, as well as being tested regularly, all reduce risks.

It’s important to know which sexual activities put you at risk of transmitting or contracting different infections. Here is a list provided by The STD Project of all the STIs you could be exposed to.

The highest risk activities are listed first; activities with the lowest risk are last.

Vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse or vaginal intercourse with a condom that has been used for anal sex:

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV/Vaginitis)
Chancroid
Chlamydia
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Gonorrhea (‘The Clap’)
Hepatitis (A, B & C)
Herpes Simplex
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV, Warts)
Intestinal Parasites
Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)
Molluscum Contagiosum
Mononucleosis (‘Mono’)
Mycoplasma Genitalium
Nongonococcal Urethritis (NGU)
Pubic Lice
Scabies
Syphilis
Trichomoniasis

Oral sex (going down, eating out, blow job, giving head, rimming):

Chlamydia
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Gonorrhea
Hepatitis
Herpes Simplex
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV, Warts)
Intestinal Parasites
Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)
Molluscum Contagiosum
Mononucleosis (‘Mono’)
Mycoplasma Genitalium
Nongonococcal Urethritis (NGU)
Pubic Lice
Syphilis

Manual sex (hand job, fingering):

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV/Vaginitis)
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Herpes Simplex
Human Papillomavirus (HPV, Warts)
Molluscum Contagiosum
Mononucleosis (‘Mono’)
Pubic Lice
Scabies
Syphilis

Kissing- when no open cuts or sores outside/inside the mouth are present:

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Herpes Simplex
Mononucleosis (‘Mono’)

The original list is published at The STD Project

1533882_446848112083407_2051712922_n THE STD PROJECT is a multi-award-winning independent website and progressive movement eradicating STD stigma by facilitating and encouraging awareness, education, and acceptance through story-telling and resource recommendations. Fearlessly led by Founder, Jenelle Marie, The STD Project is committed to modern-day sexual health and prevention by advocating for conscientious and informed decisions. Find them on twitter @theSTDProject

scarleteenSCARLETEEN is an independent, grassroots sexuality education and support organization and website. Founded in 1998, Scarleteen.com is visited by around three-quarters of a million diverse people each month worldwide, most between the ages of 15 and 25. It is the highest-ranked website for sex education and sexuality advice online and has held that rank through the majority of its tenure.
Find Scarleteen on twitter @Scarleteen

Some Lubes are Safer for Anal Sex

Image credit: Id-iom

Image credit: Id-iom

Educators have long recommended silicone lube for anal play. However, many also insist on using more low-cost, drug store-available water-based lubricants because water-based is compatible with all types of condoms. The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (The CSPH) reports on a pair of studies that found that silicone lubricant may actually be an all-around safer choice when it comes to anal sex.

This article is intended to illustrate the findings of these studies. Here are the main points:

  • Silicone lubricants appear to be safer for anal play than many drug-store lubricants.
  • Most of the popular water-based lubricants have low PH and high salt and/or additives in them that they can be toxic to rectal and cervical cells.
  • Lubricants that cause irritation can triple the risk of contracting STIs.
  • Silicone lubricants are less likely to carry these risks.

The following article was originally published on The CSPH website.

BY The CSPH | theCSPH.org

Finally some basic safety testing of lubricants. The International Rectal Microbicide Advocates released new study findings yesterday at the 2010 International Microbicides Conference and gave some preliminary data to prove what sex educators have been saying for a long time:

Silicone lubricants appear to be safer for anal play than most of the high profile, corner pharmacy, water based lubricants.

Here’s the basic information: Researchers identified the most commonly used sexual lubricants in a survey, then went and tested their effects on tissue and cells “in vitro”, i.e. in the lab. They found that most of the popular water based lubricants have so low of a PH and so much salt and/or additives in them that they’re actually toxic to rectal and cervical cells as well as to the healthy bacteria that keep a vagina clean and happy. On the other hand, silicone lubricants were found to be much safer and non-toxic in these same tests.

In a separate but linked study, researchers found that individuals who used lubrication for receptive anal intercourse (though they didn’t specify which types) were at greater risk of contracting an STI than those who did not. And yes people, the analysis took into consideration variables such as HIV status, gender, sexual orientation, and condom use. Individuals who used lubricants likely to irritate rectum saw their chances of contracting an STI triple.

Combined, these studies indicate that while using some lubricants can increase ones chances of contracting an STI, Silicone based lubes most likely do not.

More silicone anyone?

condom ad condoms too tight

 

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.

Is Saran Wrap OK to Use Instead of Sex (Dental) Dams?

screen-capture-16Many people do not think about protection when it comes to oral sex mostly because pregnancy is not an risk. However, STI transmission is a very real risk during oral play. Sex dams (also known as “dental dams”) are the best oral sex protection method available but they tend to be fairly expensive and not widely available.  But not to worry! There is an extremely cheap and effective alternative if you don’t have access to a commercial sex dam.

In this video from Oh Megan you’ll learn:

  • Commercial dental dams are pieces of latex (non-latex is very hard to find).
  • They can be purchased at adult stores, sex store, online and sometimes for free at sexual health clinics and from a doctor.
  • Dental dams are to be used for oral-vaginal or oral-anal contact.
  • Dental dams stop the transmission of bodily fluids.
  • In march 2010 the CDC stated that saran wrap can be used for the prevention of sexual transmitted infections and the FDA, in 1993, found that saran wrap (the brand) could be an effective barrier to viral size particles.

This video is originally posted here

BY MEGAN ANDELLOUX | ohMegan.com

megan_andellouxMEGAN ANDELLOUX  is a Clinical Sexologist and certified Sexuality Educator, listed on Wikipedia as one of the top sexuality educators in America, her innovative education programs, writing, social media presence, and ambitious speaking schedule has made her one of America’s most recognized and sought-after experts in the growing field of sexual pleasure, health, and politics.
Follow Megan on twitter @HiOhMegan

How to Safely Have Sex with a Yeast Infection

yeast infection“My girlfriend sometimes has yeast infections.  Is it bad to have unprotected sex?”

This question was posed to the CSPH (the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health) as part of their weekly Q&A series. It is a common misunderstanding that sex causes yeast infections. The fact is that sex alone is not the culprit. However, shifting from oral or anal sex to vaginal sex without changing protective barriers (or not using barriers at all!) can initiate the spread of bacteria and cause an infection. As explained below, there are multiple reasons why a yeast infection occurs. Also, vaginas aren’t the only ones susceptible to infection. All genitals, as well as the mouth, can experience yeast infections.

Here are the must-know basics about yeast infections:

  • Yeast infections are incredibly common and almost every woman will experience at least one in her life time.
  • They are caused by a number of factors including stress, diet, menstruation, hormonal changes, autoimmune diseases, some medications.
  • While they are incredibly uncomfortable to endure, yeast infections are easy to treat.
  • Sex alone, including sex with multiple partners, does not cause yeast infections.
  •  They can pass between partners during unprotected oral and penetrative sex. So it’s important to use barrier methods when one is experiencing a yeast infection.

This article was originally published on the CSPH.

BY THE CSPH | theCSPH.org

Yeast infections, sometimes known as “thrush”, are the result of an overgrowth of the candida albicans fungus.  Although Candidiasis can occur throughout the body, the infection is prone to occur in warm, moist areas, such as the mouth.  In particular, vaginal yeast infections occur when yeast, which already exists within the vagina in small amounts, overgrows, resulting in an infection.  Vaginal yeast infections are actually quite common, occurring in as many as 75% of vagina owners throughout their lifetime. They are also easy to treat, usually only requiring an antifungal cream, vaginal suppository, or oral medication.

Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections include burning, itching, redness around the vagina and/or vulva, pain when urinating, pain during sex, and a thick, white discharge like cottage cheese.  Many factors can raise the risk of yeast infections, such as stress, illness, lack of sleep, poor dietary habits, pregnancy, menstruation, hormonal changes, certain medications (such as oral contraception, antibiotics, and steroids), autoimmune diseases, and poorly-controlled diabetes.

You can help avoid vaginal yeast infections by practicing habits that result in a clean, healthy vagina.  These habits include:

  • Avoiding douches, which disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina
  • Avoiding scented hygiene products, such as perfumed genital powders, sprays, pads, and tampons, which disrupt the vagina’s natural balance of bacteria and can result in irritation, especially in those with fragrance sensitivities
  • Changing tampons and pads often during one’s period, because menstrual products can be a breeding ground for bacteria.  Changing tampons often also helps prevent Toxic Shock Syndrome
  • After using the toilet, wiping front to back in order to prevent the spread of fecal bacteria into the vagina
  • Avoiding underwear made of synthetic fibers, which provide poor ventilation and trap moisture
  • Wearing cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch, which will allow one’s genitals to “breathe”
  • Changing out of wet swimsuits and exercise clothes as soon as possible, because warm, moist body parts and clothing are perfect hosts for bacteria
  • When switching from anal sex to vaginal sex, always using condoms and changing condoms between acts to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria into the vagina
  • Unless the product is glycerin-free, steer clear of using flavored condoms and lubricants in/with a vagina.  Glycerin (also termed glycerol) is a sweetening agent that, when introduced to the vagina, can trigger yeast infections, especially among those who are prone to them.

Yeast Infection As an STI?

Although yeast infections are not known as sexually transmitted diseases, it is in fact possible for yeast infections to pass between partners during unprotected oral and penetrative sex; this is why yeast infections are often discussed alongside STIs in classes.  Furthermore, it is important to note that any type of genitals can get yeast infections, not just vaginas.  Therefore, I recommended that someone who has a yeast infection use barrier methods when engaging in sex play.  These barrier methods include external condoms, internal condoms, dental dams, and even gloves, which are ideal for manual stimulation.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that sex itself is not to blame for yeast infections, nor is there a relationship between the number of sexual partners and the occurrence of yeast infections.  That said, those who are prone to vaginal yeast infections may find that oral sex without a barrier method is a contributing factor.

Lastly, I want to stress the importance of using barrier methods during sexual activity.  Not only are barrier methods useful while a partner has a yeast infection, but they’re also great at offering protection against STIs as well as preventing pregnancy.  This protection can be especially meaningful to those whose concerns about STIs and pregnancy are distracting during sexual activity, hindering full enjoyment.  Furthermore, barrier methods, along with sexual lubricants, can add variety to one’s sex life due to the vast array of textures, slickness, and flavors available.  I suggest using lube not only outside the condom, but also placing a drop of lube inside the condom, which can add/heighten sensation for the penis-owner.  That said, I recommend steering clear of spermicidal lubricants, which shorten the shelf-life of condoms and can result in irritation and micro-tears that increase the risk of STI transmission.

Finally, I want to share my personal favorite condom trick, which I learned during Megan Andelloux’s Study Sex College Tour: how to put an external condom on with one’s mouth!

1. Make sure the condom is safe to use by checking the expiration date and pinching the middle to feel for an air bubble, which will ensure the package has not been punctured.  When the condom is opened (with one’s hands, not with teeth or scissors), the condom should not be sticky or brittle.  If it is, throw it out and get a new one.

2. Sit the condom on the tip of one’s finger.  Do not unroll it.  The condom should look like a little hat, with the brim curling outwards.

3. Put the tip of the condom in one’s mouth and hold it in place by lightly sucking on it.  Use one’s tongue and the suction to keep the semen reservoir flat, as to not trap in an air bubble.

4. Place one’s pursed, closed lips against the head of the cock, and slide one’s head down.  Feel free to use a hand or two to aid the process and unroll the condom fully.

condom ad condoms too loose

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.

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea: Wait, There’s Good News?

silver liningSome of the most contagious STIs are chlamydia and gonorrhea. The good news is that both are preventable and curable. The trick is knowing and planning to avoid them as well as getting regularly tested. This article by Corinne Rocca from Bedsider, walks you through the steps of how to deal with two of the most common STIs today.

Here are her main points to being a healthy sexual citizens:

  •   Clear communication about sex with your partner keeps you both emotionally and physically safe. Before you have sex with someone, ask them if and when they have been tested. If you may have an infection, tell your partner.
  • Use protective barriers like condoms and dental dams. When used correctly, a condom cuts the chances of getting chlamydia or gonorrhea by more than half.
  • Even if you don’t have symptoms, get tested. Testing is simple and there are apps to help you find a free clinic near you.
  • Follow through with treatment. Untreated bacterial STIs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility.
  • Remember, there is nothing sexier than taking care of your sexual health.

This post was originally published at Bedsider

BY BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

With the right action-plan, two of the most common STIs are preventable and curable.

Two of the most common STIs (sexually transmitted infections) in the U.S., chlamydia and gonorrhea, are caused by bacteria. We know that the large majority of people who get chlamydia and gonorrhea are under age 26. It’s difficult to know exactly how common these STIs are because lots of people who have them never have symptoms and never get tested—which means they may be more common than we think. That said, we know that each year at least 1 in 50 people aged 15-24 get chlamydia, and about 1 in 200 get gonorrhea. Yup, that’s millions of Americans each year getting one of these STIs.

Part of the reason these bacterial STIs are so common is that they’re really contagious. Remember the pink-eye or lice epidemics that went through school when you were a kid? Bacterial STIs are that contagious, though fortunately they only spread during sex, not during recess. Unfortunately, if you have sex with somebody who’s got a bacterial STI and don’t use a condom or dental dam, chances are good that you’ll get it too.

Nothing takes the sexy out of sexy times like worrying about STIs, but having a plan to avoid or deal with them will keep you healthier and sexier in the long run. And, bonus, some of the most common STIs can be prevented—and, if you get one, cured.

Plan A: Prevent

Talk about it before anybody’s pants come off. It’s a lot easier to focus on a conversation about STIs before your heart is racing a mile a minute. If you’re considering having sex with someone new, ask them when they last got tested. If they haven’t been tested recently, tell them they’d better get to the clinic if they want some action. For tips on having this conversation, check out ‘It’s Your Sex Life.’ There is also this great article on why and how to talk about health with your sexual partner. You can even make getting tested together part of your extended flirtation, or share your testing results with each other using Qpid.me.

Condoms help. Can your birth control help protect you from STIs? If you use condoms, the answer is yes. (Other types of birth control are great at preventing pregnancy but don’t help with STIs.) When used correctly, a condom cuts the chances of getting chlamydia or gonorrhea by more than half. If having the talk about getting tested didn’t happen in time, you can insist on using a condom. If you need some tips for convincing someone to use a condom, check out this post for effective comebacks.

What does it mean to use a condom correctly?*

  • First, put the condom on before the penis touches the vagina, mouth, or anus.
  • Second, make sure that the condom will unroll in the right direction before it touches the tip of the penis. If the condom is already touching the penis and it’s not unrolling in the right direction, don’t flip it over—discard it and start with a fresh condom.
  • Third, pinch the tip and roll it down to the base of the penis. Use a condom the whole time you’re having sex to make sure you’re protected.

I heard I can’t get it if we only have oral sex. Sorry, not true. The bacteria that cause STIs can’t tell the difference between a throat and genitals. Kissing, on the other hand—even serious French action—seems to be safe territory.

He’s circumcised, so he’s clean, right? Nope. Recent research has shown that circumcised men may get and spread HIV more slowly compared to men who are not circumcised. But there’s no evidence that being circumcised makes any difference for getting or spreading a bacterial STI.

I’m gonna wash that STI right out of my… No dice. Washing the genitals, mouth, or butt after sex does not protect against any STI. Neither does douching.

But he/she looks totally healthy… and delicious. There’s no way to know if somebody has an STI by looking. Many people with a bacterial infection don’t even know themselves that they have it, which is one reason the CDC recommends that everybody in the U.S. under age 26 get tested for chlamydia every year.

Plan B: Get tested—and treated, if necessary

Maybe the hook up has already happened and you need to know what you can do now to protect your health. Even if you don’t have symptoms, it’s important to get tested. In women, an untreated bacterial STI can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause pain and scarring in the fallopian tubes. Scars can also block the tubes and make it difficult for some women to get pregnant when they’re trying to.

Luckily, chlamydia and gonorrhea are easy to detect and easy to treat. Testing is painless. Find a clinic near you, pee in a cup, and hand it over to the clinic staff. They may be able to tell you a result right away or within a few days. If you live in certain areas, you might be able to get a home test kit for free in the mail. Getting treated is easy too—you just take the prescribed antibiotic pills.**

What about that awkward moment when you have to tell somebody else they may have an infection? ‘It’s Your Sex Life’ has more good tips for talking about it. If you can’t bear the thought of a face-to-face conversation, try sending an anonymous e-card with InSpot.

If you would prefer to go to a healthcare provider or clinic you already know—maybe a place where you’ve gotten prescription birth control or condoms in the past—you can talk to your provider about STI testing without shame. It doesn’t have to be about whether you’re worried you have an STI—it can be as simple as, “Hey, I heard I should get tested for this every year. How about it?”

Bacterial STIs are too common to ignore, and nothing’s hotter than being on top of your health.

*Check out Bedsider’s page on how to put on a condom for more detail, or download “Condom Pro” to your iPhone to practice putting one on correctly.

**You may have seen headlines recently warning of of strains of gonorrhea that are resistant to all antibiotic drugs. While this is something to keep an eye on, fortunately at this point it’s not a problem in the U.S. The CDC has more information about these strains if you want to learn more.

condom ad condoms too tight

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

5 Myths About the Pull-Out Method, Corrected

"Pull and Pray" video by Bedsider

“Pull and Pray” video by Bedsider

The pull-out method (also known as “withdrawal” or “coitus interruptus”) involves the one with the penis to pull-out before he ejaculates. Health professionals do consider this a true method of birth control. Did you know that if the pull-out method is done correctly every time, it is almost as effective as using condoms to prevent pregnancy? However, it has to be done correctly every single time. Because of this, withdrawal is not the right birth control option for everyone.

We do not recommend relying on the pull-out method if you are not in a committed long-term relationship, are unaware of your and your partner’s STI status, do not keep tract of fertility cycles, and are not experienced in controlling your orgasms. That’s a lot of stipulations to think about!

Here is Bedsider on the frank facts about pulling-out:

  • It can be easy to make mistakes using the pull-out method which is why, out of 100 couples using withdrawal, approximately 22 will become pregnant in a year.
  • Pulling-out is common, but that stats on it are questionable because there hasn’t been much research done and people tend not to admit that they rely on this form of birth control. Bedsider cites a study that found that 60% of women age 15-44 have used withdrawal.
  • Aside from being a less effective form of birth control, the pull-out method comes with benefits, such as no hormones, no costs or prescriptions, etc.
  • Withdrawal does not prevent the transmission of STIs and HIV.
  •  We know that there is less sperm in pre-ejaculation. However, there is little known about the risk of pregnancy from precum. So the best approach is to be prepared that it might.
  • Read the article to learn how to use withdrawal like a pro. It takes practice, communication and back-up plans.

This article by Yvonne Piper originally appeared on Bedsider

BY BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

Before he busts a nut, allow us to bust these withdrawal myths. (Sorry, we can’t resist puns.)

The withdrawal method, a.k.a. pulling out, sometimes gets a bad rap—some people don’t even consider it a “real” method of birth control, even though 60% of couples have used it at least once. Because pulling out is often dismissed as “better than nothing” by researchers, we don’t know as much about it as we do about some other methods. But before you write it off, make sure you’ve got your facts straight.

Myth 1: Pulling out doesn’t work, so don’t even bother.

Out of 100 couples who were withdrawal rock stars—meaning they pulled out correctly every time they had sex—about four of them would get pregnant in a year. But it can be a challenge to pull out for lots of reasons, and most people have days when they’re not feeling like rock stars of any kind. That’s why out of 100 average couples using withdrawal, 22 will get pregnant in a year.

It’s not that pulling out doesn’t work in principle—it’s that it’s challenging to pull out just right every single time. Condoms and the pill aren’t so different that way—they’re great in a world where we always use them perfectly—but the reality of our lives is often busy, complicated, and not so perfect. Still, pulling out is a lot better than nothing—in fact, it’s nearly as effective at preventing accidental pregnancy as condoms alone.

Myth 2: Pre-cum is safe—it doesn’t have sperm in it.

First off, we have very limited scientific information about pre-cum so there can be confusion about it even among experts. Three small studies from years ago found no sperm in pre-cum, but there were only 43 guys in all of these studies combined. Some of the men in the studies had health problems, and it appears that the pre-cum samples they provided were not analyzed immediately so it may have been it difficult to tell if their sperm were swimming normally.

A more recent study had 27 healthy guys, some of whom gave multiple samples of pre-cum. The researchers analyzed the samples immediately and found that about a third contained live, swimming sperm. Popular advice says that sperm found in pre-cum may come from a previous ejaculation and can be flushed out when a guy pees, but the guys in this study who had peed after their last ejaculation still had sperm in their pre-cum. The bottom line is that this study can’t tell us whether pre-cum can cause a pregnancy, but it does tell us that it might. It also suggests that pulling out may work better for some guys than others—but unless you have a pre-cum sample and awesome microscope skills, you can’t tell which group a guy is in. This may be part of why even withdrawal rock stars sometimes have accidental pregnancies.

Myth 3: Only irresponsible people use the “pull out” method.

Sixty percent of women ages 15-44 in the U.S. have used withdrawal at some point. In the most recent U.S. national survey, 5% of couples using any type of birth control were relying exclusively on pulling out. If you count couples using another method plus pulling out, about 10% of people use withdrawal. Because people sometimes don’t consider pulling out a method, they may not mention it when asked about birth control use, so even this number may be low. In other words, people of all ages in all types of relationships are using withdrawal to prevent pregnancy.

Myth 4: There’s nothing good about pulling out.

Pulling out may not be the most effective method, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have perks. No hormones, no cost, no advance preparation, no prescription, no visit to the store or clinic, can be used spontaneously, great option when you don’t have another plan… people have all kinds of reasons for using it. For women who have struggled with vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis, pulling out may also help prevent recurrent infections.

Myth 5: Pulling out is easy.

It takes practice, learning, communication, and back-up plans to use withdrawal like a pro:

  • Do some withdrawal dress rehearsals while your guy is wearing a condom. Does he know when he’s about to cum? Can he pull out in time? If not, consider another method.
  • Know your STI status, and make sure your guy knows his. Withdrawal can work for pregnancy prevention, but it does not offer protection against STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
  • Communicate! Talk about what the plan is in the event of an accident, an accidental pregnancy, or an STI.
  • Have back up supplies. Keep emergency contraception around for those times when accidents happen, and condoms for times when pulling out doesn’t seem like the right choice for a particular guy.
  • Know your cycles. If you have a smart phone, check out some of the apps that help you track your fertile times. Consider using condoms in addition to pulling out during high fertility days of the month.

If effectiveness is your #1 priority, withdrawal might not be right for you—maybe not right now, maybe not ever. But a lot of your sisters are out there doin’ it for themselves, and not everybody hates it or gets pregnant on it. Is it perfect? Nope. But it is an option that you can use any time, anywhere.

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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

I May Have Herpes. Now What?

Photo credit: Vratislav Darmek

Photo credit: Vratislav Darmek

Did you know that the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is so common that many health professionals believe people should assume everyone has herpes and act accordingly?

Yet, as common as Herpes is, it is surprising that most of us remain misinformed about how the infection spreads and how it can be prevented. One prevalent myth is that there is a “good” type and a “bad” type of herpes, the latter being consider a result of irresponsible and careless sex. The truth is that there is little difference between the two strains. Having HSV of either type is not shameful, nor is it indicative of your worth as a sexual being.  As demonstrated in the article below, Herpes is at its core simply a skin condition.

If you are concerned that you’ve recently been exposed to Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), this article by the CSPH (the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health) will help you navigate what are the next best steps to take.

Here is a summary of important facts everyone should know about HSV today: 

  • While there is no cure for Herpes, it is considered a minor, yet reoccurring skin condition.
  • There are antiviral medications that may help manage outbreaks and treat or relieve symptoms.
  • HSV-1 is the most common form of Herpes and many people contract it through non-sexual contact. The majority of individuals affected HSV-1 contract it during childhood.
  • Like Human Papillomavirus (HPV), HSV can be transmitted even when condoms are used due to exposed skin at the site of contact.
  • Two thirds of people with HSV have no symptoms.  Furthermore, HSV may be transmitted even when there are no symptoms and between outbreaks. Check out this article for more about when different STIs are transmittable and when is the best time to get tested.
  • You can protect yourself from HSV by using barrier methods (condoms and dams) consistently and correctly, washing after sex with soap and water, and using lubricants during sexual activity to help prevent microtears (tissue damage that increase the risk of HSV transmission and triggering an outbreak).
  • Specifically ask for an HSV test when get STI testing. Most doctors will not test for herpes if no symptoms are present. Testing is crucial to prevention, especially considering that an estimated 80% of people with Herpes are undiagnosed.
  • For more information about living a healthy and fulfilling sex life with herpes, check out the resources at the bottom of this post.

This article was originally published on the CSPH.

BY THE CSPH | theCSPH.org

Image from the CSPH

Image from the CSPH

So I received oral sex from someone yesterday. Today that person has a cold sore. My understanding is that oral and genital herpes are caused by different strains, hsv-1 and hsv-2, and there’s also a strain that can cause both. So if it’s just hsv-1, I probs won’t get genital herpes, and if it’s the evil one that causes both, I could. This is clearly something that I should talk to my doctor about, but I was hoping you could give me some more info/tell me whether my info is at all factual. Thnx!

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, with HSV-1 infecting some 50 to 80% of people and HSV-2 affecting a projected 30% of adults.  Despite its prevalence, however, many misconceptions about this STI exist, and I hope my response will address most of these.  One herpes myth in particular that I hope to debunk is the idea that people are sexually and romantically “ruined” following HSV, which resources such as Love in the Time of Herpes help disprove.  For more information on living and loving with herpes, you refer to the resource list at the bottom of this Q&A.

If you’ve had a recent hook-up and are now concerned about having contracted HSV, feel free to skip to the final section of this article.

What is the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)?

Herpes Simplex is a category of sexually transmitted viruses that oftentimes results in infections of the skin and mucous membranes, manifesting itself in blisters/sores.  Following infection, HSV will establish latency within the nervous system, meaning the virus will attach itself to the cells of one’s sensory nerves, making it one of the few STIs for which there is no cure.  Despite this, HSV is in fact a relatively minor infection; it is literally a simple, yet recurring skin condition.

There are two strains of herpes: HSV-1, also known as “oral herpes” and “cold sores,” and HSV-2, which most often affects the genital and anal region.  Despite this colloquial distinction, it is in fact entirely possible for both strains to affect both the mouth and genitals, as well as other parts of the body such as eyes, fingers, and thighs.  Vulva-owners may also experience sores on the inside of their vaginal canal and on their cervix.  HSV-1 in particular is also associated with potential complications such as oracular herpes and conjunctivitis (pink eye).

Is There a Good/Bad Herpes?

While many people are under the impression that there is a “good” herpes and “evil” herpes, the distinction is minor: both varieties of HSV may be contracted both orally and genitally, and while HSV-1 in particular is known as “oral herpes,” it is quite frequently transmitted to the genitals.  However, it’s less common for HSV-2 to be transmitted to the mouth.

Furthermore, under the microscope, both strains are almost identical.  HSV-1 and HSV-2 also manifest themselves similarly and, following infection, becomes latent in the nervous system. Neither type of herpes is curable.

So, if the strains are so similar, why is there the misconception that there is a “good” virus and a “bad” one?  The stigma likely lies in the sheer prevalence of HSV-1, which the majority of affected individuals contract during childhood.  Due to the fact that a majority of individuals have HSV-1, it’s easy to write off the STI as “only a cold sore,” whereas the much less common genital herpes is vilified as a “sexually transmitted infection.”

What are HSV Symptoms?

Upon initial infection, HSV may cause small, painful blisters or sores at the site of infection, enlarged lymph nodes of the neck or groin, decreased appetite, muscle aches, general malaise, burning while urinating, and fever.  The first outbreak generally occurs within two days to two weeks after transmission or contact with infected areas, and symptoms can be quite severe should they occur at all.

A second outbreak may occur weeks to months following the first.  Subsequent outbreaks are often less painful and disruptive, and symptoms may grow more mild over time.  Some individuals, particularly those with HSV-1, may not experience outbreaks for months or years at a time.  The average rate of outbreaks for HSV-2 is four times a year.

With that said, not all people who have contracted HSV experience symptoms.  Indeed, estimates suggest that two thirds of people with HSV have no symptoms or mild enough symptoms that the infection goes unnoticed.  Furthermore, HSV may be transmitted even when there are no symptoms and between outbreaks; one study shows that more than half of asymptomatic HSV-2 carriers exhibit viral shedding.  Viral shedding is how HSV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact even without contact with open sores or bodily fluids.

Finally, symptoms of an oncoming outbreak include fatigue and itching, tingling, and discomfort at the site of the outbreak.  HSV outbreaks can be triggered by a number of sources, including but not limited to: physical and emotional stress, sun exposure, injury, a compromised immune system, surgery, hormone changes such as those that occur during the menstrual cycle, and even the common cold.

How is HSV Contracted?

Herpes Simplex is transmitted through direct contact with a lesion, or from the body fluid of or skin-to-skin contact with an individual with HSV.  Unlike most other STIs, HSV may be contracted through kissing and even sharing drinks; it’s this reason that half of children under the age of six are infected with HSV-1.  Furthermore, like Human Papillomavirus(HPV), HSV can be transmitted even when condoms are used due to exposed skin at the site of contact.

As I previously discussed, many people who come in contact with HSV do not, in fact, show symptoms, or otherwise have symptoms so mild they go unnoticed.  However, whether the individual is asymptomatic or between outbreaks, there is still a risk of transmission.  Indeed, it is suggested that up to 70% of HSV-2 transmissions occur in the absence of symptoms.

It is also important to remember that while HSV-1 and HSV-2 are technically two distinct viruses, oral herpes may be contracted from the genitals, and genitals may contract oral herpes. Research suggests that HSV-1 in particular is commonly transmitted through unprotected oral sex, with up to half of all new cases of genital herpes occurring as a result of HSV-1.

Finally, it should be noted that vagina-owners more easily contract genital HSV than penis-owners.  Studies also suggest that HSV increases the risk of HIV transmission, due to the existence of open sores.

How Can I Prevent HSV Contraction/Transmission?

There are three main ways people can help prevent the contraction and transmission of HSV: use barrier methods during sexual activity; know your status and communicate it with sexual partners; and if you’ve already contracted HSV, consider managing future outbreaks through antiviral medication.

Other ways to help limit the possibility of HSV-2 contraction and transmission include sexual abstinence, washing after sex with soap and water, and using lubricants during sexual activity to help prevent microtears (tissue damage that increase the risk of HSV transmission and triggering an outbreak).

Unfortunately, due to the prevalence of HSV-1, it can be incredibly difficult to prevent transmission.  However, if you are concerned about contracting or spreading oral herpes, you can avoid kissing people as well as avoid sharing items like kitchen utensils and lip balms, namely when a cold sore is present or you feel one forming.  With that said, I understand that kissing for many people is an important component to sexual activity, but not kissing doesn’t have to be unsexy or awkward.  Whether you’re in a monogamous relationship or the type to hook-up casually and participate in orgies, you can sexualize preventative measures by incorporating an intentional “no kissing on the mouth” policy in your play, which may encourage some creative measures, or even using gags.

For both HSV-1 and HSV-2, contact with the sites of outbreak and/or kissing should be stopped as soon as individuals feel the warning signs of an outbreak.  You shouldn’t touch a sore; doing so runs the risk of transmitting the infection to another body part.  If you do touch the sore, wash your hands with soap and water.  Wait until seven days after the sore heals before resuming contact with the mouth, genitals, or anus.

Barrier Methods

While the unfortunate truth is that even condoms do not completely protect against HSV transmission, studies show that condoms do, in fact, provide considerable protection, in particular to susceptible vagina-owners.  For this reason, barrier methods are an incredibly important component of limiting the possibility of contractions and transmission of HSV.

In addition to external condoms, internal condoms are a great alternative barrier method.  Internal condoms potentially provide greater protection from HSV transmission, as they also provide coverage for the vulva and outer anus, thereby reducing the amount of skin-to-skin contact.

Due to the nature of HSV, barrier methods should be used during not only penetrative sexual activity, but also any sexual activity that engages with the mouth, genitals, and anal region.  This includes skin-to-skin frottage, also known as dry-humping; stimulation with one’s hands, during which latex gloves can be used; and oral sex.  Safer oral sex consists of using condoms over penises and dental dams over the vulva and anus.

Know Your Status

As with all sexually transmitted diseases, one of the best things you can do to prevent contraction and transmission is to know your status.  This can happen by being tested at a local medical care provider.  With that said, while providers consistently test for STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, HSV is rarely tested for unless the individual is exhibiting signs of an outbreak.  For this reason, you’ll likely have to explicitly request an HSV test, which I will discuss later.

In addition to being aware of your STI status, it’s important to use that knowledge to empower you in your relationships by discussing STI testing and your status with sexual partners.  Not only is your status important, theirs is too!  Although this can be an intimidating conversation to initiate, I nevertheless strongly recommend that you do so; this shouldn’t be understood as a sign of distrust, but rather an important step in keeping you and your partner healthy.  This is especially important considering an estimated 80% of people with herpes are undiagnosed.

Consider Antiviral Medications

It’s important to note that while there is no cure for either type of HSV, there are antiviral medications that may help manage outbreaks and treat or relieve symptoms.  If, following an outbreak and/or testing, you learn that you have HSV-2 in particular, you may want to consider such medications.

There are currently three kinds of herpes antiviral drugs, all of which are available in pill form and can be taken for two purposes: treatment for outbreaks (to shorten duration and severity of symptoms), and suppressive therapy (to reduce the likelihood of outbreaks).

I’m Worried I Contracted HSV – What Now?

When it’s all said and done, it’s understandable that you may be worried about your hook-up’s cold sore.  For this reason, regardless of if you start showing symptoms of HSV, I suggest that you contact your medical care provider to discuss your situation and to get a professional opinion on the matter.

With that said, standard STI testing often does not include testing for HSV unless the patient has a blister.  This is because the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention does not currently recommend routine HSV testing for those in the general population who don’t exhibit symptoms.  If you are exhibiting sores, however, you should visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible as the test is an easy viral culture swab.  Unfortunately, false negatives are very common with this method.

If you are not exhibiting symptoms, you can still get tested.  Serologic, or blood, exams will allow your medical care provider to test for HSV.  There are two ways blood can be tested for HSV: polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and antibody tests.  The PCR test is the most accurate, and can type which strain of HSV you have.  Antibody tests are less reliable and may yield false positives, so this may be a topic you want to discuss with your healthcare provider when being tested.

Finally, I want to stress that having herpes isn’t the end of the world. Figures suggest that some 50 million people in the United States alone have HSV-2, with even more people having HSV-1.  Considering how common it is, it is unlikely that you will be the only person you know with HSV, and many health professionals are of the opinion that people should assume that everyone has herpes and act accordingly.

Furthermore, people with herpes continue to have healthy, fulfilling sex lives and happy relationships.  In the greater scheme of things, herpes is merely a minor convenience for most couples.  Having HSV of either sort is not shameful, nor is it indicative of your worth as a person or sexual being.  Herpes is at its core simply a skin condition.

If you have any other questions about HSV, you can call the National Herpes Hotline at 919.361.8488.  In addition, you can contact the Herpes Resource Center at 1.800.230.6039.
For more information on leading healthy, fulfilling (sex) lives with herpes, you can visit the following websites:

HC Support Network: the largest and most active support website for people with herpes

(H)Life: a community forum that seeks to serve as a roadmap and guide for living and loving with herpes

How to Have a Sex Life Despite Having Herpes, by Dr. Laura Berman

Genital Herpes Sex Advice and Suggestions

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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.

4 STI Myths That Get In The Way of a Healthier Sex Life

Image from Bedsider.org

Image from Bedsider.org

Think you know everything you need to know about STIs? You might be surprised.

There is a lot of misinformation about sexual health and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) running amok. You’ve probably heard some of them (such as the myth that you can get an STI from a toilet seat). Here is Jenelle Marie, founder of the The STD Project, equipped to bust four common myths about STIs that all of us have heard before, and too many of us continue to believe.

Here are four myths about STIs that you need to watch out for:

1) A lot of people believe contracting an STI won’t happen to them. The fact is that STIs are common. 1 in 2 people will contract an STI before the age of 25.
2) Most STIs are asymptomatic and most people who have an infection are not aware of it.
3) Contrary to popular belief, oral and anal sex are not safer forms of sex. Both pose STI risks.
4) Even if you and your partner have been tested for STIs there are still risks. It’s impossible to be tested for everything. There are several common STIs for which there are either no commercial tests, or for which the tests are only accurate during an outbreak.

This article was originally published on Bedsider.

BY JENELLE MARIE at BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

Safer sex—comprehensive safer sex, that is—includes more than just using barriers consistently and correctly. You also need to talk about risk in advance of any sexual activity.

That’s where most people get stuck. As soon as someone utters the letters S-T-I (short for sexually transmitted infection) in sequence, people run for the hills. It can be especially daunting to bring up STIs with someone you don’t know very well. And even if you’ve known the person for forever, that conversation can still be awkward.

Whatever the scenario, having this conversation is crucial, so don’t let these 4 common misconceptions get in the way of your healthy sex life.

1. An STI won’t happen to me.

Think you don’t need to go there? Think again. The most common myth about STIs is that they won’t happen to you—they only happen to certain kinds of people, right? Not right. STIs don’t categorize people like we do.

The truth is, 1 in 2 people will contract an STI by the time they reach the age of 25—some curable, some not. An astounding 20 million people in the U.S. contract an STI every year, and those are only the STIs which get reported. That number is likely much higher due to under-reporting and many STIs not getting reported at all—some are diagnosed visually, and others are not documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the 30-plus STIs out there, the CDC only reports on about 8 of them. Things like pubic lice, scabies, and HPV infections among guys are not part of those numbers.

In so far as HPV is concerned, outside of the visual symptoms of genital warts caused by low-risk HPV strains, there’s no way to know if a man has it since he can’t be tested for it. This is shocking, I know—and it’s one of the reasons why by the age of 50, at least 80% of women will have acquired the infection.

Keep in mind, HPV is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact, so even the most careful barrier-user is still at risk of contracting HPV, because barriers do not always cover all contact areas. If you’re under 26, another good option for preventing HPV is Gardasil, a vaccine that protects against the four most common HPV strains.

2. I’ll know if I get an STI—or if someone I’m seeing has one.

It’d be great if you could tell who had an STI and who didn’t, if we (I’m living with genital herpes) wore some kind of warning label or if you knew just by the type of person we were. On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of “scarlet-lettering”; it didn’t bode well for Hester Prynne, and it doesn’t suit the vast number of people living with an STI, especially since most are actually entirely unaware they have one.

The most common symptom of all STIs is no symptom at all. STIs are often asymptomatic or display such mild symptoms they go unnoticed and/or are mistaken for something else. For that reason, most people with an STI are unaware they have one.

When STIs are asymptomatic or exhibiting mild symptoms, they’re still transmittable to others—and there’s no guarantee the STI will remain asymptomatic in the newly infected individual. Recognizable symptom or not, STIs can wreak havoc internally long before we’re aware of their effects; untreated asymptomatic STIs can pose long-term health risks like liver damage (eg. Hepatitis) and infertility (eg. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea).

Contrary to popular belief, things like appearance and cleanliness are not indicators of infection—outside the obvious visible symptoms when they’re present. Hygiene is still important to help safeguard you against things like the common cold and the flu, of course, but some traditional practices such as douching after sex or brushing your teeth after a make-out session can actually make you more susceptible to STIs.

3. If I just do oral/anal sex or have sex with a virgin, I’m safe.

Anal sex might seem like a viable option if you’re concerned about pregnancy or losing your virginity in the traditional vaginal penetration sense; however, unprotected anal sex poses one of the highest STI risks. The anal cavity is comprised of permeable mucous membranes which can provide an entry point for infection. Due to the nature of sexual activity involving the anus, small tears and cuts are common—especially if you’re not using enough lube—so, additional points of entry present infection opportunities.

Choosing to have oral sex or engaging in activities with someone who’s only had oral sex might also seem like a way to lower your risk, but the risk of contracting an STI is still high. The mouth too is made up of mucous membranes, and something as common as a cold sore—herpes (usually HSV1)—can be transmitted to the genitals or vice versa.

4. We’ve both been tested, so we’re safe.

Getting tested is really important. But even if someone says they’ve been tested—and definitely if they say they’ve been tested for all STIs—it’s important to ask additional questions.

Anyone who says they’ve been tested for all STIs and is “clean” is giving you incorrect information right off of the bat. Not all STIs can be tested for—for some there just aren’t tests, or they can only be diagnosed if there are visual symptoms. Even most comprehensive STI tests only test for a handful of STIs—usually HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

Pap smears test for cervical abnormalities caused by high-risk types of HPV. They don’t detect any other STIs—or low-risk strains of HPV for that matter.

The Take-Away.

If you have fallen prey to one or more of these myths, don’t beat yourself up. Most people think they know about STIs because they’ve heard a lot of misleading information. I was one of them. Before I contracted genital herpes at a young age, I thought STIs only happened to certain types of people. I thought I was practicing “safe” sex by getting on the pill and I had no idea of the level of risk involved in my sexual activities while I was still a virgin in the traditional sense—and even later, once I became “officially” sexually active. To hear more of my story and to gather some practical tips about how to practice comprehensive safer sex, read my 3-part series on Bedsider’s Tumblr!

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1533882_446848112083407_2051712922_n THE STD PROJECT is a multi-award-winning independent website and progressive movement eradicating STD stigma by facilitating and encouraging awareness, education, and acceptance through story-telling and resource recommendations. Fearlessly led by Founder, Jenelle Marie, The STD Project is committed to modern-day sexual health and prevention by advocating for conscientious and informed decisions. Find them on twitter @theSTDProject

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

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.

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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