April is STD Awareness Month! This is a very exciting time for me. :)
All month long, I’ll be sharing links to quality information on various sexually transmitted infections and methods for prevention. Stay tuned!
From the CDC:
Learn more about STDs, STD Awareness Month, and where you can find the nearest STD testing site in your area:
You’ve probably heard of MRSA, which is pronounced “mersa” and stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — a strain of bacteria that has acquired resistance to methicillin, as well as pretty much every other antibiotic to boot. MRSA is an example of evolution by natural selection — what didn’t kill its ancestors made them stronger, spawning a drug-resistant strain.
Why are we talking about MRSA in a post about STIs? It’s not just because MRSA has apparently found a way to be transmitted sexually, but also because it helps make the concept of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea more accessible. It wasn’t until less than a century ago that we finally developed a magic-bullet treatment for gonorrhea, and for a handful of decades it was quickly and easily treated with a dose of penicillin. Enter evolution by natural selection.
It’s been pointed out that a few of our Common Excuses to Not Use a Condom could be viable reasons to, in fact, not use a condom. And that’s right!
Not all partners need condoms. Birth control plans and methods of preventing the spread of STIs need to be tailored to suit the needs of the individual and the partnership.
Condoms/internal condoms/dental dams are not used for a variety of reasons. Some examples include but are not limited to situations in which:
- Partners have been tested and are free of STIs.
- Partners are in a committed relationship (keep in mind this does not only apply to partnerships in which there are only two people) and are not being put at risk of contracting HIV/STIs outside of the relationship.
- Partners are not trying to prevent a pregnancy or cannot produce a pregnancy. (not using a condom for this reason could still put someone at risk of contracting an STI. That being said, see the first bullet)
- Partners are using different forms of barrier methods, such as diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges. (these methods alone do not protect against STIs. That being said, see the first bullet)
- A partner is using a hormonal birth control correctly and consistently, including the pill, IUD, depo shot, Ortho-Evra patch, vaginal ring, and Implanon. (hormonal birth control does not protect against STIs. That being said, see the first bullet)
The other reality is: sex does not always occur in situations like the ones listed above, and that’s where condoms/internal condoms/dental dams are essential in protecting one’s health. Some people, regardless of circumstance, simply do not enjoy performing oral sex without a condom or dental dam. Some people just want to have an extra precaution. No matter what, condoms are there as an option!
After addressing some important facts about chlamydia, we want to make sure you know how to recognize some possible symptoms! Chlamydia is known as a “silent” disease because the majority of infected people have no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they usually appear within 1 to 3 weeks after exposure.
- In women, the bacteria initially infect the cervix and the urethra. Women who do have symptoms might have an abnormal vaginal discharge or a burning sensation when urinating.
- If the infection spreads from the cervix to the fallopian tubes (tubes that carry fertilized eggs from the ovaries to the uterus), some women still have no signs or symptoms; others have lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, or bleeding between menstrual periods.
- Chlamydial infection of the cervix can spread to the rectum.
- Men with signs or symptoms might have a discharge from their penis or a burning sensation when urinating. They may also have burning and itching around the opening of the penis. Kepe in mind that pain and swelling in the testicles are uncommon in chlamydia.
- Men or women who have receptive anal intercourse may acquire chlamydial infection in the rectum. This can cause rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding.
- Something that is less fequently addressed is that chlamydia can also be found in the throats of women and men having oral sex with an infected partner.
I’ve been wanting to talk about STIs for awhile.
I figure now is a good time, since I’ve recently talked a little bit about my struggle with HPV and this horrible image popped up on my dashboard.
Here’s the thing: STIs happen. STIs happen to most of us (75-80% of all genders will have HPV in their lifetime). STIs happen to a lot of us and we’re never even aware of them (1 in 5 Americans have herpes, but about 80% are unaware of it). If you’re sexually active, it’s likely you’ve had, or will have some kind of STI in your life.
So, why is there such a stigma around it ? Why do we chastise those who have/had them ? Why do we wish them upon those we don’t like, when they’re such a common thing, we’ll like be affected by them at some point, too ??
Talking about STIs is important. Education about STIs is important. Protection from STIs is important. Fighting the idea that having a STI makes someone less worthy of respect or affection is important.
Next time you think about wishing herpes on someone you don’t like, think about your life 10 years down the road. Maybe you’ll have herpes. Maybe your best friend will. Maybe your partner will. Maybe you shouldn’t have contributed to the stigma, because now you and those you love are affected. And no one should ever feel shame about their health. We shouldn’t be afraid to go to the doctor to talk about bumps or burning sensations or discharge, because we fear we’ll be thought less of.
Be supportive and kind to others. It’s not that difficult. I promise.
Condoms are an easy favorite in preventing STIs and pregnancy. They’re cheap, universally available, and simple to use. People still find excuses not to use them, however, which puts themselves or their partners at risk for infection or pregnancy. If you or your partner do not regularly use condoms, and there is no other method for birth control or STI protection, here are some ways to fix the common undesirable ideas associated with condoms, from Carnal Knowledge in NBN magazine.
- Avoid awkwardness. You know what’s not enjoyable? Rummaging around for a condom in the dark. Put them in an easily accessible place. Better yet, take one out and unwrap it before you start foreplay. Then you have it on hand and don’t have to deal with the awkward “Shit, why is this so impossible to open?” pause.
- Lubricating the inside of the condom is also crucial. Water- or silicone-based lubes work best for this. Never, ever use lotion or Vaseline, because oil breaks down the condom. Lubes increase sensation and reduce the “rubbery” feel that so many men run screaming from. You can also add to the appeal of wearing a condom if you put it on while performing oral sex.
- Warm it up. After the condom is on — this is very important — wait. Why? Because the condom needs to warm up to body temperature. Lukewarm latex definitely kills the mood. So go back to square one, foreplay, until the temperature rises.
- Retrain your impulse. Some men claim that they can’t stay hard or orgasm while wearing a condom. This is probably because they’re used to having sex without one. The only thing to do is retrain the nether regions. Whether this involves wearing a condom during masturbation or amping up the foreplay, it takes persistence.
- Go for the skinny. There are also super-thin condoms that might help increase sensation. But don’t expect the miracles promised on the box: They’re still made of latex.
- Get over it. If you enter the game with the mental attitude that condoms suck, you’re never going to win. What’s that lame adage again? Oh yeah. Your brain is a sex organ too. Mind over matter, man. Mind over matter.