Category Archives: Sexually Transmitted Infections

Dear Jezebel: Your Sex Advice Column is STILL Crap

Jezebel’s new sex advice columnist is still absolute crap at giving advice.  Here’s my responses to the questions directed at “Slutever”.

Dear Slutever, I do not engage in any sexual activity unless my prospective partner and I both get full STD testing. In the past five years, not one woman that I dated agreed to this. Why are so many women against getting tested prior to sex?

Sincerely, Alan

Hi Alan,

While I agree with Slutever’s assertion that you should probably start presenting this in a different light to your dates (and using condoms!), I’m more concerned with your reasons behind this request.  Would you stop seeing someone if they tested positive for an STI?

As someone who has struggled with germ phobias, I would suggest that you engage the services of a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy so that you can get past this particular quirk.  Condoms and dental dams, when used correctly, are extremely effective at preventing transmission of most STIs, and I suspect that you know this already.  So, before jumping into the sack with someone, even if they’ve shown you a clean bill of health, take care of yourself first and talk with a trained professional about your concerns.

 

I’ve been at war for the past three years but I’m coming back next week, and I really need to take my mind off things and want to lose myself in some self-love. I’m in a small town with little access to sex shops, so I was wondering if you had any unique ideas for sex toys I could fashion out of household items, or any tips that would help achieve a great orgasm experience. I really need something to get excited about!

Thanks, Steven



Hi Steven,

First of all, congratulations on finishing your tour of duty!  I really wouldn’t recommend fashioning your own sex toys or using things from your kitchen.  There are intricacies of the human anatomy that are better left to the experts.  Fortunately, although you live in a small town,  you can easily order masturbatory aids online that will be shipped to you in discreet packaging.  Smitten Kitten comes to mind immediately!  As for interesting sex toys, there are a plethora that you can choose from!  If you are interested in penatrative objects, there are items like the NJoy butt plugs, or vibrating butt plugs/perenium massagers.  If it tickles your fancy, you could also experiment a bit with sounding, though I can’t find any online retailers that I would wholeheartedly recommend.  For other masturbatory aids, there’s the ever popular fleshlight, and along the same lines, you can purchase a Tenga egg masturbation sleeve, or the slightly more elaborate Tenga 3D masturbation sleeves.

Just make sure you eat and drink plenty of fluids, use lubrication, and go out of the house every once in awhile during your “me time”.  It would be tragic to see a headline like “Soldier Starves to Death During Marathon Masturbation Session.”



I am a 31-year-old woman who has been married for 5 years. We still have frequent and awesome sex, but I have an issue that (oddly) seems to be getting worse with age. I orgasm way too quickly! And then I’m basically over sex. I’ve never had multiple orgasms, ever. I have one gigantic, eye-popping orgasm after about 3-5 minutes of intercourse and then I’m ready for sex to be over.  I’m constantly telling my husband to slow down or stop totally during sex so I can prolong it enough for him to get off too, but it’s getting to the point where he’s a little hurt that I can’t “hang on.”

Love, Caitlin

Hi Caitlin!

Much like last week’s column, I would recommend that you spend a lot more time on foreplay, concentrating on getting your husband close to orgasm.  It would also help if you talked about this outside of the bedroom, and make sure that he knows you are asking him to slow down or stop because you want him to enjoy sex too!  The numbing agents that Slutever recommended can help, but you also might have an adverse reaction to them.  I know a lot of women, personally, who find that creams or lubricants that are supposed to numb their genitals give them a burning sensation instead.

It is uncommon for a woman to orgasm that quickly, especially if there isn’t some sort of direct clitoral stimulation during intercourse!    A little more communication between you and your husband can really go a long way here.

 

I think this is going to be a regular post for Nice Girls, at least until Jezebel hires a better sex advice columnist.  Some of Slutever’s recommendations are downright dangerous or unhealthy, and I hope my responses provide a needed balance.  Let me know what you think in the comments!

My First Planned Parenthood Experience: Part 4

Today’s post is super short, and for that I apologize.  I am actually pretty sick (complete with fever and headache), so this is really all I have energy to write today.

 

I received a final phone call from my doctor at Planned Parenthood.  The results of my culposcopy have come back, and it looks like there is absolutely nothing for me to worry about.  I don’t have any growths, and they actually couldn’t find any abnormal cells.  While I do have to go back for another pap smear next year, it certainly seems like my body has shed most of the HPV that I was exposed to.  I’m pretty happy about that.

My First Planned Parenthood Experience: Part 3

You can read Part 2 here.

I had my follow-up appointment following my HPV diagnosis yesterday.  I was scheduled for a culposcopy and possible biopsies if the gynecologist found any abnormal cells.  Until yesterday morning, I had a pretty ambivalent attitude towards the appointment.

My thoughts went something alone these lines:  I have an STI.  Unfortunately, my STI is not one that I can just take an antibiotic and it will go away.  HPV is a virus.  I have no control over which strain I was exposed to.  I was concentrating on being as healthy and stress-free as possible so that my body could fight the virus better.   I thought that I had reached a point of acceptance.

Even though I had spent at least 8 hours researching HPV, reading about statistics, and learning as much as I possibly could about it, I woke up yesterday morning and was terrified.  I know that several women on my mother’s side of the family have had complications due to cervical cancer.  While I know that cervical cancer is caused by particular strains of HPV, I couldn’t help but wonder if there is a genetic component to the cancer as well, if there was some way to be more prone to HPV turning into cervical cancer.

I spent at least an hour crying in bed, with Fiance comforting me.  He has really been amazing through all of this.  I expected him to be just as stressed as me.  After all, we haven’t used a barrier method in a long time, and if I have HPV, it means that he does too.  Instead, he took the diagnosis in stride, and focused his efforts on comforting me.  My dear friends wrote uplifting and encouraging things when I confessed my anxiety.  Thank you, girls, it really meant a lot to me.

The culposcopy was similar to a really long pap smear.  Unlike with a pap, the gynecologist did not use any lubrication when inserting the speculum, and the speculum was opened a bit wider than normal, which was uncomfortable.  The gynecologist cleaned my cervix with a saline solution, and then she placed a cotton ball soaked with vinegar against my cervix.  The cotton ball was so cold!

The vinegar will apparently react with any abnormal cells, and make it easier for the gynecologist to see if the virus is creating warts, or, worse, cysts and pre-cancerous growths.  She then used a culposcope, which is similar to a microscope, to examine my cervix.

I am sure you can imagine my relief when the gynecologist told me that she didn’t see any abnormal cells, and I didn’t need to have any biopsies performed.  She was pretty surprised herself, and told me that this only happens about 1 in 20 times that she does a culposcopy.  She did, however, take a sample of the cells inside my cervix, which will be tested.  I’ll receive the results in about two weeks.

I want to reiterate that without Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t have been able to receive this sort of screening without basically going hungry for a couple of weeks.  Please, if you have the chance and the liquidity, consider donating to Planned Parenthood.  Your donations help women and men receive vital sexual health care and information.  It certainly helped me.

My First Planned Parenthood Experience: Part 2

You can find Part 1 of my Planned Parenthood Experience here.  I was nervous when I woke up on the morning of my appointment.  Bleary-eyed, I put on clothes, kissed the still sleeping Boyfriend goodbye, and headed to the car.

I entered the office and checked myself in with the front desk.  After filling out some information regarding my current sexual activity, my income, and my sexual health history, I handed the clipboard in and watched Say Anything as I waited.

There was a group of three young women behind me, and they were discussing birth control options as they too were waiting to be seen.  My ears perked up when one of them mentioned that she was considering getting an IUD.  As readers of this blog are fully aware, I am a HUGE fan of IUDs, and I took the opportunity to share my experiences with it, and some of the awesome statistics.

After a short period of time, I was called into the back room, and had a chat with one of the attending nurses.  She explained that, due to my symptoms and the length of time since my last pap smear, I was going to have a full pelvic exam and a full STI screening.  She also explained that the state of California has an awesome program to help people with limited income to receive sexual health care for free, and even with my new job, I qualified.

The STI screening started right there in that tiny office with a prick of my middle finger.  This particular test was to screen if I had been exposed to HIV, and amazingly, I would have the results of that test by the end of my appointment.  I was blown away by this fantastic advance in HIV screening.

I went into the exam room after giving a urine sample, undressed my lower half, and waited again.  When the doctor came in, she was very communicative and explained everything before she started examining me.  She took three samples from my cervix, examined the positioning of my IUD (still in place!), and checked that my uterus and ovaries were not swollen.  Before she moved her hands, placed the speculum, or swabbed, she was sure to tell me exactly what she was about to do.  This definitely put my mind at ease, and kept me from jumping or starting when anything changed.

When she was done, she took one of the samples to their in-house lab, and checked it all out.  Apparently, I had a bacterial infection that may have been the cause of the bleeding, and she handed me a prescription antibiotic.  Then she told me that Planned Parenthood would call me if any of the other STI tests came back positive, but only if they were positive.

Unfortunately, I did receive one of those calls.  My pap smear came back with some abnormalities.  At some point in the past 10 years, I was exposed to HPV.  The tiny sample that was taken was not enough to determine if I have one of the more benign forms, or if it is one of the types that can lead to cervical cancer.  So, I have yet another appointment set to get some biopsies done.

I’ll have a post up on Wednesday, discussing HPV.  I’ve gotten to know my STI a lot better since the diagnosis.

Herpes: An Anonymous Letter

A friend of mine contacted me after my post on Herpes.  She wanted to anonymously share her experience as someone who has successfully dated and managed her outbreaks for years now.  I am pleased to have the opportunity to post her letter, directed to any girls who are currently struggling with their diagnosis and the storm it may cause in relationships.

To a friend who might need to hear these words right now - 

Just some background info – I am female, almost 30, and found out I had herpes when I was 24, before meeting my husband. 

Herpes – feels like such an ugly word. I once was convinced if they would only rename it, it would get a much better reputation. I knew little-to-nothing about herpes when I was diagnosed. I only knew that I couldn’t get rid of it; I would have it forever. If someone asked me today, almost 6 years later, I would laugh as I explained it as a cold sore or fever blister… on my vagina! While it is not the same virus exactly that causes coldsores, they are related. For more information about the difference between Herpes Simplex 1 (most often the culprit for oral herpes) and Simplex 2 (genital herpes) I suggest reading this great article: “Good” Virus/”Bad” Virus (http://www.mpwh.net/goodvirusbadvirusHSVHSV2ASHA.htm)

The first 6 months after I was diagnosed were the darkest. I felt quite hopeless and if it weren’t for two good friends I probably would have really lost my shit. These females were there to listen to me and lift me up. I have no doubt people who learn they have herpes should find someone to talk to about it. I was lucky to have these individuals to trust and confide in while they helped build me back up. If you don’t have someone you can directly share with then reach out across the internet. A quick search can turn up many support and dating sites, but I suggest starting with Antopia (www.MPwH.com). When I was cruising this site 6 years ago they were even hosting weekends for members to gather together.

Now, while I was quite active on Antopia I actually dated outside of the website dating pool. I live in a more rural area so the numbers were against me for the site. I tell you this because I want you to know that you can tell another person you have herpes and not be met with absolute rejection. I have done it more than once. My advice is this – the more upset you are about telling someone, the harder it will go. Think about it – if you take it upon yourself to have this discussion with someone else and you are crying and quite upset – they are going to take the cue from you that this is a very, very bad thing, rather than a manageable annoyance.

I want to leave you with one last thought; this change in your life can become a positive thing. I don’t know how it will play out for you, but I found there were several benefits to dating with herpes. First, I had to become a very good judge of character. I was still free to meet and socialize with many people, but I found I began to divide them into 2 groups: those I could trust with “the secret” and those I could not. Second, I found that I approached dating differently with those males I thought I just might be able to trust. Since I still felt like I was carrying around a bit of a time bomb, I learned to value myself enough to deal with the possible rejection from others. I learned how to stand on my own and prepared to welcome a partner, but not craving it as I had before.

Although I do admit to cruising the “success stories” located here. http://www.mpwh.net/herpes-dating-success-stories.sht

I hope that some part of what I had to say helps you feel like there is a silver lining.

Sincerely,

Anonymous

 

Thank you again, Anonymous, for sharing your struggle and triumph.

Sexually Transmitted Infections: Herpes

Herpes is the general term for the Herpes Simplex Virus, Types 1 and 2. Herpes is characterized by painful blisters that turn into sores on the genitals or the mouth, and is highly contagious. It is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Unfortunately, the virus does not have a cure, and it can stay in the body indefinitely, but so does chicken pox, and no one makes a huge fuss about being in a sexual relationship with someone who has had chicken pox! Outbreaks do lessen over the course of time, and there is at least one medication that is available (through prescription) to help prevent outbreaks, and there is a vaccine that is being developed in Europe. It is required, by law, that a person who knows he or she is infected with Herpes to tell any potential sexual partners, before the act of sex has occurred.

Although Herpes can be incredibly embarrassing, on the spectrum of STIs, it really isn’t that big of a deal. Recent studies have shown that at least one in six of the population of the United States has a form of Herpes, and in Europe the numbers are even higher. From what I understand, in some European countries, Herpes is viewed much the same way as the common cold. It is an unfortunate affliction, and one should take care to not transmit the virus, but it does not reflect on the moral character or intelligence of the afflicted.

If you think that you may have contracted Herpes from a sexual partner, the best course of action is to make an appointment with your doctor to confirm that infection, and then to contact your previous sexual partners. It is very common for someone to have an infection, and to have no symptoms of the infection. This is actually more true for males than it is for females.

Safer Sex to Prevent Transmission

The best way to prevent the transmission of Herpes between sex partners is to take care to avoid sexual contact during an outbreak, and to use a barrier method (such as a condom or a dental dam) in-between those times. This is not a guaranteed way to prevent transmission, because there is still the possibility of skin-to-skin contact, but it does lessen the risk.  A person who has contracted Herpes could be asymptomatically shedding the virus (meaning they could be contagious without any outward signs), but they are not always contagious.

If you are told by a current or potential sexual partner that they have Herpes, don’t freak out. The best reaction to this information is compassion. They have given you information that is potentially embarrassing to them, and it is your duty as a good sex partner to not make them feel bad. Acknowledging the information by saying “thank you for telling me that”, a shrug, and suggesting other types of sexual intimacy that do not involve the exchange of bodily fluids or direct skin-to-skin contact with the infected area is a response that will make your partner feel the less uncomfortable. You should never share this very personal and private information with another person as gossip. That would be incredibly rude and insensitive.

There are other types of sexual intimacy that are less likely to transmit the virus, such as mutual masturbation, and manual stimulation of the other partner. It is best to ensure that if there is an emission of fluids from the infected partner, the other partner is careful to immediately wash any skin that has touched the fluids and to avoid the fluids touching a moist area of the body, such as the eyes, the mouth or the genitals. This will also lessen the risk of transmission.

The Bottom Line

Herpes is very common, and is not necessarily a deal-breaker for sexual contact. The choice is up to you as to whether or not to engage in sexual activity with someone who has said they are infected. If your potential partner is a responsible person, they will respect your decision either way.

Edit: “A person who has contracted Herpes is always slightly contagious, whether or not there is an outbreak that is evident.” is untrue.  A person who has contracted Herpes could be asymptomatically shedding the virus, but they are not always contagious.  Thanks to D for the correction.

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