All Articles Tagged "safe sex"

My Goodies, Not My Goodies: Reasons You Should NOT Give Up the Cookie

September 22nd, 2012 - By Brooke Dean
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We can all make a compelling argument for why we SHOULD have sex. After all, it’s fun, it feels good and is good for you, and it’s the most intimate way you can share yourself and your love with your partner. But there is a flip side to that frisky coin, and varying attitudes towards sex show that there are plenty of reasons why you should hold off on doing the do. If you’re on the fence on whether or not you should have sex with a new guy, or for the first time ever, here are some things to consider before going all the way.

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Why “She Takes Control” Should Take a Seat…and Actually Talk to Our Youth

August 1st, 2012 - By Toya Sharee
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When I worked as a sexual health educator, no one could tell me that I didn’t have the most dynamite job in the world.  The information I taught almost couldn’t compare to the things I learned from my students.  The “Blue Waffle”, “Red Pancake” and “Ear Wax STI Test” were just a few of the highlights from a sexual culture created by today’s teens.  I enjoyed the fact that young people felt comfortable enough to open up to me about their fears, confusion and curiosity about sex while at the same time trusting me as a resource for factual information.  The best part is they felt they could be themselves around me.  I didn’t fidget uncomfortably every time someone dropped an F-bomb.  I didn’t launch into a Sunday school lecture when students told me intimate accounts of losing their virginity in an empty school auditorium.  And even though I may have been cringing on the inside, I never came across as judgmental which made students feel trusted, listened to and valued.

See when it comes to making positive impact on the behavior of our young people, the most important lesson I’ve learned is that it’s not enough to tell them how to change their behavior, you have to make an effort to understand why they are making unhealthy decisions in the first place.  You have to sit down and LISTEN to them, even if it hurts.  Which brings me to She Takes Control, a recent campaign launched by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, encouraging women to carry their own condoms.  Before you take my words the wrong way, let me make it clear that I am in total agreement with the intentions of this effort.  Although I am leery of the marketing which is reminiscent of a rejected “Just Another Girl on the IRT” movie poster, I applaud the encouragement of women to be empowered about their sexual health and speak out about what they allow to happen to their bodies.  In fact, when I discuss with friends the adventures I encounter as I travel from high school to rec center meeting diverse groups of young men and women, most assume that pregnant and sexually active ones were the ones who were skipping class, being loud in the hallways, spending more time in the club than they did in class.  But the truth is I had a fair share of quiet, reserved bookworms who shared the same sexual health issues.  You meet enough teens and you’ll notice whether they are doing homework in homeroom or hooking up in the hallway, they ALL have hormones.

I argue that most teens know how to use a condom better than adults, the problem comes in with how young people are defining love, relationships, respect and sexuality.  The longer I work in this industry the more I begin to believe that high STI rates and unplanned pregnancy are more an ethics and values problem then it is a lack of sexual health resources and knowledge.   Instead of abstinence-only education and comprehensive sexuality education going head to head, they should actually be meeting in the middle.  Youth need factual information about STI’s, condoms and pregnancy, but they also need honest discussions exploring their values.  Whether those values are waiting until marriage to have sex or being truly comfortable having open relationships.  Most teens aren’t even trying to learn themselves or define a code of conduct to live by.  They are simply reacting to the pressure of situations they are put in.  The reason why it’s not enough to hand them a condom and hope for the best, is because they aren’t critically thinking, mostly because they haven’t been taught how to do so.

Meeting In The Bedroom! Survey Shows How Big Cities Get It On

July 15th, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Looking to charge up your sex life? You might want to visit New York, Miami or Atlanta.

So here’s the thing: condom brand Trojan surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults about their sexual habits and these cities topped the list in quite a few of the categories. The survey shows that Miami is at the top of the leaderboard with the average number times sex is had per year at 177 while the rest of the country “only” averages out at 151 times per year (New York is second at 156 times per year). I guess more than just the temperature makes it “muy caliente” down there.

Not to be outdone, New Yorkers seem to be more vocal about their sexual desires. At 27 percent, New Yorkers are at the top when it comes to expressing their fantasies to their lovers and 78 percent are open to trying a vibrator with a partner during sex.  If you’ve ever walked through the West Village and took stock of all the “toy stores” that are there, this won’t surprise you that much.

Oh but I didn’t forget you, Atlanta.  The survey says that at 72 percent, Atlanta is the most sexually adventurous city and they also have the highest sex drive (7.2 out of 10). It’s no wonder the residents confessed to having an average of 25 sexual partners in their lifetime (Atlanta is at the top of that leaderboard too). Yes, you all are keeping it “hot” indeed.

The survey doesn’t mention sexual orientation of those surveyed but it’s funny that these cities topped the list in most categories (the survey was done in a total of 10 major cities) because women claim in all these cities that they’re not really getting any because there’s a shortage of men.  I’m not just talking about black women either; peek your head into the conversations of our white sisters (if you’re not already cool with them) and you’ll see that they’re having the same issues many of us seem to be having.  But hey, a woman’s got needs just like any other man would so we’re “getting it in” even with the issues some of us seem to be having with our deeper relationships.

Check out the survey here. Do you consider yourself sexually “free?”  Would you like to try a little something different to spice up your life?

What a Catch! Chad OchoCinco Tweets Picture of Evelyn’s Birth Control

May 31st, 2012 - By Veronica Wells
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Looks like Evelyn and Chad have no plans of relinquishing their reigning title as one of the tackiest couples in history of coupledom. In a not-so-surprising TMI moment the New England Patriot tweeted a picture of Evelyn’s birth control pills. There really are no words. Just disapproving grunts and slow head shakes because we’re not the least bit surprised. The only bright side of this situation is that these two won’t be reproducing anytime soon.

See how Evelyn responded to the tweet and accompanying image at 

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We’ve Got To Be More Careful: The Double Standards of Safe Sex

May 22nd, 2012 - By Toya Sharee
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When it comes to maintaining our sexual health, the odds are already stacked against us just for being female.  STIs can cause a lot of complication in anyone’s life, but for women especially, STIs can cause complications and irreversible damage that simply just won’t occur in the lives of our male counterparts.  Take a look at the list below for several facts that give women a disadvantage when it comes to practicing safe sex:

5 Ways He’ll Try to Get Out of Wearing a Condom

May 11th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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It doesn’t matter how charming he is. It doesn’t matter how Hot he is. Your health is still the number one priority.  If you are prepared when he bats his eyelashes and runs his very Hot hand up your thigh, you will stay in control of both your safety and your pleasure. Here are the top five excuses men use to attempt to wiggle out of wearing a condom and the responses you need to stay safe.

Excuse #1: Birth control is the woman’s responsibility.

Sadly this is not a new argument. Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures all thought the same thing, and that is why you won’t see many references to condoms in their ancient literature. In fact, the only references to “male birth control” you may find in their writings refer only to “coitus interruptus”—that’s the “pull-out” method, by the way —and anal sex. Puh-lease!

Find out the other ridiculous reasons why your man may try to get out of wearing a condom at 

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In Between The Sheets: Things All Women Are Insecure About In Bed

April 14th, 2012 - By Julia Austin
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"Woman looking at boyfriend in bed"

Next time you’re watching professional Adult Videos (if that’s something you’re into) just remember the camera person knows just what angles make the female look the hottest.  The female herself isn’t really enjoying herself so she can actually think about every little movement she makes, and some moments of the, um, encounter were left out of the finished production altogether. If only we had such finesse in our own sex lives. Luckily, real couples have a lot more fun, but these uncomfortable dynamics still exist….

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Teen Pregnancy Rates Drop Nationwide

April 12th, 2012 - By Toya Sharee
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The CDC released a report recently, revealing the U.S. teen birth rate decreased again in 2010. Almost every state saw a decline in teen births from 2007-2010, but Arizona experienced the biggest drop at 29 percent.  In fact, U.S. births by mothers of all ages dropped in 2010, and experts cite the economy as the biggest factor.  Although the highest rates of teen births are still found within the Black and Latino communities, the decline was seen among all races and ethnicities.

Mississippi, New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana still lead with the nation’s highest teen pregnancy rates.  New England states including New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey continue to have the lowest teen birth rates in the country.  The report defeats the stereotype that teen pregnancy is limited to urban areas and sex education and pregnancy prevention efforts may have also significantly influenced the falling rate.

With an unstable economy and employment rates staggering to grow, it may very well be that teens and people in general are seriously considering the costs associated with building a family.  Offered more options when it comes to accessing birth control and relieved from the pressure of affording sexual healthcare, more women are choosing to take advantage of the contraceptive options that are available to them.   What’s important about this study is that somewhere, for some reason, young people are listening and actively choosing not to become teen parents.  It brings to light that traditional, more conservative states may benefit from welcoming alternatives points of view when it comes to sex education.

Why do you think that teen pregnancy rates are decreasing?

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Campaign Wants You to ‘Check-In’ and Share Safe Sex Experience

March 5th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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With Social Media, we virtually tell people what we’re doing and where we’re doing it every minute of the day, why not add sex to the mix—only if it’s safe, of course. That’s the aim of a new web-based campaign from Planned Parenthood called Where Did You Wear It.

Using scannable QR codes on the back of condoms distributed by Planned Parenthood, users can log on to a location-based site and share their protected sexual experience. A sample check-in would look something like this:

An under 20 girl and a guy whose relationship is all about love, and have already talked about safer sex and STDs, used a condom in the bedroom to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. It was ah-maz-ing — rainbows exploded and mountains trembled.

The approach seems to be that nothing’s wrong with safe sex so why not share it, although for some this is a bit TMI. There’s also an element of “see everybody’s doing it” but in a positive way. Maybe if people see how many other people are having positive experiences discussing and having safe sex, they won’t think twice about doing it themselves.

The site isn’t all about poking into stranger’s love lives either—although you can search who’s doing what by age, gender, orientation, and state. There’s also health information on STDs, proper condom usage tutorials, and a search engine to find the nearest Planned Parenthood health center. You can’t deny Planned Parenthood is thinking outside the box.

What do you think about the Where Did You Wear It Campaign? Will it really encourage people to have safe sex?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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Breaking Barriers: When Should You Decide to Have Unprotected Sex?

February 16th, 2012 - By Toya Sharee
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Whether it’s 6 months into a relationship or 6 years, there comes a time when partners may question if it’s even necessary to use condoms anymore. Unfortunately, this is a decision that is often made casually and unclothed in the heat of the moment, but there are some people who invest the consideration and thought into this major health decision that it deserves.

Whether it’s lack of access, relationship status or the most popular reason, “It just feels better,”  the decision not to use protection opens a sexual relationship to a variety of risks.  Many women feel that as long as they’re on birth control if they’re in a monogamous relationship with a man they trust there’s nothing wrong with losing the latex after some time.  Others simply don’t ever take the thought of using condoms that seriously whether they are having sex with someone they’ve known for a day or a decade.  In fact, in 2010 an article published by Reuters entitled, “Condom Use Routine for U.S. Teens, not Adults”, states that teens are more likely to use condoms than adults over 40.  In a study, public health officials found that one in four acts of vaginal intercourse involves condom use, and among single adults that figure is one in three.  Condom use is higher in African-Americans and Hispanics than whites, and lowest among all races for people over the age of 40.

Many are quick to assume that single people are the only ones who are gambling with their sexual health by choosing to have unprotected sex and for most people it’s almost a given that there’s no point in using condoms when you’re married.  The truth is that exchanged vows and a wedding band can only protect you so much from sexually transmitted infections.  Like any relationship, some partners are asymptomatic and without being tested are unaware that they have anything to infect their partner with, whether that partner is a wife or a girlfriend.  And while we’re being honest, marriage doesn’t guarantee monogamy, which means that even in a marriage the decision to not use protection is something that involves a lot of factors, namely trust.

So how much do you trust that your partner is only sexually active with you?  One of the first steps you can take is any sexual relationship is having open, honest communication about sexual history and values.  While we all know that “men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.” Give your partner an opportunity to tell the truth about the number of partners he/she has had in the past and keep in mind that the more partners someone has had, the more likely it is that he/she has been exposed to an STI.  The next important step is to get tested together.  It’s important to not just take things at face value; all too often, people rely on the fact that someone “looks” healthy and become too complacent to take an active step to get tested.  By getting tested together (and hopefully receiving negative results) you both start off with a clean slate; this way if STI symptoms do appear, you know that somewhere along the line someone was unfaithful.   Before getting tested, talk about how the results (whether negative or positive) will affect the relationship.  The last step that a woman can take is making sure that even if she is protected against unintended pregnancy by choosing a form of birth control that works for her particular lifestyle.

Since marriage itself can’t always guarantee fidelity, is there ever a right time to not use condoms? When it comes to sexual health we are often bombarded with messages of safer sex that place emphasis in using condoms correctly and consistently, but it’s important to remember that it’s not enough just to use condoms, you also have to make a well-informed decision about the person with whom you choose to have sex as well.  Also, don’t fall victim to the belief that once you’ve had sex without a condom there is no turning back.  Relationships and people grow and change, and although you may have initially agreed to not use condoms, this decision should be addressed from time to time to make sure both partners still feel the same way.

Regardless of what type of relationship you’re in and for how long, by choosing not to use condoms you are placing your health at risk.  Essentially, you’re leaving your sexual health in the hands of someone else.  Hopefully that person is someone you trust, and for most people trust is built throughout a long length of time and based on more than the physical pleasure and sexual attraction.

Consider the following before making the decision to break down your barrier method:

  • What kind of relationship am I in?  You may think you’re in an exclusive relationship, but your partner may have other ideas about exactly what qualifies as monogamy and/or cheating.  You may think cheating is doing anything sexual with anyone besides your partner, but he may believe 0-ral sex doesn’t count as cheating, leaving your health at high risk.  Be clear and specific about what’s expected in the relationship.
  • What type of birth control works for me?  Some women may find that after they’ve made a decision to not use condoms, they experience difficulty in finding a method of birth control that works for them.  Some women experience uncomfortable side effects with some hormonal methods.  If pregnancy is an issue for you, make sure to give your body time to adjust to a method that you are sure you can use correctly and consistently BEFORE choosing to not use condoms.
  • Do I trust my partner?  If you’re in a relationship where you feel constantly compelled to check his social networks and cell phones for signs of infidelity, you probably shouldn’t be thinking about losing the latex just yet.
  • How long have I known my partner?  Although time doesn’t necessarily guarantee trust, you definitely increase your chances of making well-informed decisions about sex and contraception when it’s with someone you’ve known for several years as opposed to several days.
  • Am I being pressured to not use condoms?   The decision to not use condoms should be something that both partners agree on.  Partners shouldn’t feel pressured because one partner feels like condoms mean they aren’t “trusted” or because they think condoms are uncomfortable.
  • Can I communicate honestly with my partner?  A conversation about sexual values and history can quickly turn uncomfortable, and you may hear things that you don’t like.  Although your partner may reveal some questionable things about their sexual beliefs or history, try to appreciate their honesty.  A tense and touchy conversation about sex is always better than a non-existent one.

Toya Sharee is a community health educator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee.

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