All Articles Tagged "STDs"
Herpes is common. Really common. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in six adults has genital herpes, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex virus.
While it may be super-common, there are still a lot of myths out there about it — here are five I hear a lot.
Myth 1: If I don’t have any sores, I don’t have herpes.
Herpes can lay dormant (sort of like it’s in hibernation) for years without causing any noticeable symptoms. Because of this, many people don’t know they have it and may have trouble figuring out how or when they got it. When symptoms do occur, they often appear as small blisters on or around the genitals. The blisters may look like pimples with clear fluid in them, and they may be painful or have a burning sensation. The best way to find out if you have herpes is to see a health care provider if you have pain, blisters or a sore.
Myth 2: We didn’t have sex, so there’s no way I have genital herpes.
Herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact with someone who carries the virus. That means you can get herpes by touching, kissing and oral, vaginal or butt sex. People who carry herpes don’t always know they have the virus, and they may not have any visible sores on their skin.
That said, your risk of getting the virus is higher if you’ve had contact with a partner who does have a visible sore. Using condoms can majorly decrease the risk of spreading the virus, but doesn’t eliminate it completely. Unfortunately, no other type of birth control reduces the risk of this STI.
Read the rest at YourTango
As close and in love as you may be with your current partner, I think it’s safe to say there’s something your partner doesn’t know about you. While I believe that most couples should have little to no secrets between them, revealing too much or digging up the past that has no bearing on who you are today may be irrelevant, and cause unnecessary drama in your relationship. All couples are different, and if you feel your union is so strong that it can sustain anything that you divulge about yourself, then great! But if you don’t feel obligated to reveal everything there is to know about your life, here are a few things we feel you might be able to keep close to the vest…with a few caveats of course.
Recently I was having a conversation about the responsibility of maintaining birth control with a friend of mine and she said, “I can’t until they make effective birth control pills for men. That way one gender wouldn’t have to shoulder the primary responsibility of preventing unplanned pregnancy.” I feel the same way about STD and HIV prevention too.
And then I read a piece in the Washington Post and remembered the female condom:
“The Food and Drug Administration has approved Female Health Company’s second-generation female condom (FC2). Now the company must figure out how to get it to the markets where it’s most needed. In 2010, the World Health Organization cited HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of death worldwide among women 15 to 44 years old. Mary Ann Leeper and colleagues knew that the female condom provided life-saving empowerment to women. It is the only protection against HIV/AIDS controlled by women.”
In an effort to help raise the profile of the female condom, Female Health Company created a number of public-private partnerships in cities across the country including Washington D.C., which has the highest infection rate for African American women in the country. According to a previous article in the Post, the partnership distributed 200,000 female condoms to beauty salons and community clinics and provided over $400,000 in educational services just in the D.C. area alone. The results proved to increase acceptance of female condoms among both men and women. While this proved to be a highly successful and clever marketing tactic to get female condoms into the hands of a core demographic, it was also a great way to increase the visibility and produce an adequate buy-in of a product, which has to overcome some stigmas and the popularity of the male counterpart.
As long as I can remember, the commonplace belief has always been the women tend to take care of the birth control and the men, the STD prevention (i.e. condoms). I get it, it is a lot easier for a man to slip on a jimmy (they still call them that?) than a women to jam some device up in the snatch and apply all those messy spermicidal creams properly. But with the rate of HIV/AIDS still prominent in the community, particularly with African American and Latino women representing a sizable number of Americans disproportionately impacted by the epidemic, we have to ask ourselves if the task of protecting our sexual health in the sole hands of just one gender?
I know from personal experience there is nothing more frustrating than hearing a dude say he forgot to bring a condom. And even if you are among the well-tuned women, who carry around their own prophylactic, there is no guarantee to ensure that your date for the evening won’t decide to take it off (that stuff happens too) during the act. Therefore, women having power of the condom situation seems like the best course of action to help decrease the spread of sexual diseases – as well as infections. It is said that the female condom actual provides greater skin coverage, thus not only sharply reducing your chances of STDs and HIV but also providing coverage against more topical diseases like Herpes and the human papillomavirus (HPV).
When they are used properly, it is said that female condoms are 95 percent reliable – of course, that’s if they are used accurately. The most common complaint I heard among those friends I know, who have tried it, was that if not careful, a man can bypass the condom all together. But with a little practice, a woman (and man) can certainly learn the proper way to use them. Heck there are even YouTube videos available for those too shy to seek out help.
However for the female condom to become more popular and acceptable, they are going to have to continue on way to make it more convenient and affordable. A three-count box of FC2 will cost about between $4.49 and $5.99 at Walgreens. While this is way cheaper than what they used to cost (I remember when it was $10 a box), they are still a bit more expensive than male condoms. Also, men have the option of going to the corner bodega or Chinese store, if needed. Women on the other hand, have to seek out a drug store or go to an authorized supplier, which might not be fitting when some spontaneous sex just so happens to spring up (no pun intended). But it is certainly not a bad idea to one day, while at the drug store, pick up a box and keep them next to your bed stand. I remember that the year I got a bunch of the FC free from the health clinic. Unfortunately 2010-11 was a bad year for the kid and eventually they dried out before I got a chance to test them out. But I had them – just in case.
What do you think about the female condom? Have you ever used one?
“He doesn’t like to use protection”, “Stopping to put on a condom ruins the moment”, “I don’t want to ask him because he may think I don’t trust him”, “We got caught up in the moment and forgot”. How many times have we heard or said one of the phrases and excuses above, or other phrases and excuses about the man’s use of a condom during intercourse, or the lack thereof? And how many times have these phrases instantly turned into “I think I’m pregnant”, “I’m in pain”, “I’m here for an HIV/Aids test”, or “I’m sorry Ms., but you’ve tested positive for…”
In today’s world of sex, it is vital to one’s health and survival to prep and practice safe measures before engaging in intercourse. With the rapid number of unexpected/unwanted pregnancies, the growing rate of HIV/Aids cases, and other sexually transmitted diseases it is imperative for one to protect themselves during sex. But who is solely responsible for having protection, the man or the woman? The answer to that question is… both! One mistake both women and men make is placing the responsibility of using or being prepared with protection for intercourse solely on the man. I say that both women and men make this mistake because in most cases women expect men to always be prepared with fresh condoms in their wallet ready to pull out for action, and men simply expect women to be prepared with birth control-subconsciously disregarding the fact that sexually transmitted diseases exist; but neither party would expect for a woman to be prepared with her own condoms. Yes, her own condoms for use in her body. I know many of you have heard of the FC-female condom, but let’s take a crash review course in what it is.
According to www.avert.org, the FC is a thin sheath/pouch that women wear during sex that lines the vagina entirely. There are a variety of female condoms such as the FC, FC2 (which is a nitrile sheath or pouch 6.5 inches long,) the Condom Feminine (VA for short), the Cupid female, etc. Female condoms have flexible rings at each end, and at the closed end of the sheath the flexible ring is inserted into the vagina so the condom will hold in place, while the other end of the sheath remains outside of the vulva for entrance into the vagina. This ring serves as a guide during penetration and prevents the sheath from moving further inside the vagina. Now that we’ve had an abbreviated course on what the female condom is let’s look at the advantages of a woman using a female condom for both men and women.
Advantage 1- the female condom can be inserted into the vagina prior to sexual intercourse and it won’t interfere with the heat of the moment. Advantage 2- the man is not solely responsible for having protection. Advantage 3-it will save the man money! Advantage 4- a woman can protect herself from unknown sexually transmitted diseases her partner may have (and may be unaware that he has), and she can protect herself from unwanted pregnancies if it is used properly. Of course with every set of advantages come disadvantages. Disadvantage 1-the outer ring is visible outside of the vagina which can be unappealing, and may cause some women to feel self-conscious. Disadvantage 2- some may find the female condom difficult to remove or insert and many women may feel uncomfortable inserting it. Disadvantage 3- female condoms may be relatively expensive.
While it is true that condoms, both male and female, are not one hundred percent effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies or STD’s, they can be effective if used properly. The safest practice of premarital sex is the practice of celibacy until marriage; however, if your urges to engage in intercourse take over and turn into action, you should always have and use protection. If both parties are planning to have sex, both parties should share the responsibility for their individual safety as well as each other’s. Ladies, there is no excuse for you to not take a stand and protect yourself against the many STD’s that exist. Learn how to protect yourself even if your sex partner won’t because when the sun sets and the moon rises you will be the one at the clinic or in the Doctor’s office, crying, or in a panic state because your world has been turned upside down. Protect yourself even if he won’t protect you. Why? Because your life is worth it.
Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.
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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.
When starting a brand new relationship, it’s understandable to be cautious when divulging personal information. After all, you don’t want to tell someone you just met how many sexual partners you’ve had on your first date, and anyone who wants to know EVERYTHING about you before dessert is a bit creepy. It can be overwhelming, and if you have issues with “your business,” you may not want to share EVERYTHING.
But as a relationship progresses, getting close to your partner should foster a deeper level of intimacy where sharing information becomes easier. However, for some, being completely open and honest about all aspects of their lives is a scary thought – or simply unheard of – because they feel that their business is simply that…their business. We can all expect that there will be some level of secrecy in any relationship, but some go from being mysterious to downright manipulative – which is where the relationship can run into trouble. While you may be afraid that “oversharing” will either scare your partner away or cripple the relationship, the key to any union is communication and honesty; whether you have just started dating, or are in a full-blown, long-term relationship. While your man may not need to know that you secretly watch trashy reality shows, there are major things you should never keep from a significant other – here are 5.
The first thing you should really know about the vagina is that you should get yourself a group of girlfriends with whom your comfortable enough comparing notes and experiences! But, if you don’t have that group yet or the below issues just haven’t come up, then read on.
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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All of you who cry foul whenever a new study points out the “alarming” rates of STDs among minorities may be on to something. A new study by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute has found that young minority women are screened for chlamydia at a significantly higher rate than young white women, and this discrepancy may contribute to nationwide reporting of higher rates of this sexually transmitted disease among black and Hispanic women.
In the study, which is published in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics, researchers looked at the screening rates for 40,000 young women ages 14 to 25 and found black women were 2.7 times more likely to be screened for chlamydia than white women. For Hispanic young women that rate was 9.7 times higher. Race wasn’t the only thing that led to higher testing rates, though, women with public insurance also had greater odds of chlamydia testing, compared with women with private insurance.
“For some common conditions like breast cancer, white women are more likely to receive a screening test like mammography. For chlamydia infections – which are highly stigmatized STDs – white women are less likely, while minority women are more likely, to receive screening,” said the study’s first author Sarah E. Wiehe, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine and a Regenstrief Institute affiliated scientist. “This may mean that providers make judgments about a woman’s likelihood of infection based on her race or ethnicity. Yet in an asymptomatic condition like chlamydia, all sexually active young women should be screened.”
It’s definitely true that you always find what you’re looking for, and if doctors are sticklers for testing minority women it’s no wonder they find STDs at the rates that they do. While they’re spending time profiling minority women, they may want to pay a little more attention to what’s going on in white people’s backyards as well. These results obviously don’t take away from the fact that we still have an issue with STDs in our community, but healthcare advocates may need to slow down on making chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases “black issues” and start screening white women at equal rates.
Are you regularly asked to be tested for chlamydia and other STDs?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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It’s said that men think with their…well, you know. And that is particularly true in the bedroom when things are getting hot and heavy. But just because a man’s animal instincts may kick in, that is no excuse for manners to go out the window. Don’t ever let a man get away with these things (i.e. if he does them, get dressed and walk out):