Sexual Health

Recent posts

Informed Consent: Risk Assessment vs. Stigma

As part of my informed consent post series, I’d like to talk about the issue of risk assessment regarding STIs when deciding whether to have sex with someone, and how to grapple with the problem of stigma. I wrote about stigma in my post on the adjacency effect, but the brief recap is that stigma is a sense of judgment or pollution attached to people who deviate from the norm. They’re seen to be dirty, unworthy, and so on. People who have been diagnosed with STIs certainly fall into this category; many face judgments such as slut-shaming, intolerance, and even human rights violations. In the context of informed consent, it is incredibly important for people to disclose their STI status to potential sexual partners. Continue Reading →

Teens And STI Results Via Text Message

A new technology allows teens (and others, presumably) to share their STI results using text messages in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has long been concerned about sexuality activity among its students. Detractors worry that encouraging this kind of openness is the same thing as condoning teens having sex, while proponents argue for a sort of harm-reduction view, saying that if teens are already having sex, we might as well recruit technologies they love to use to help them share and access information. I’d love to see a study of how this technology is being used, and whether it’s affecting STI transmission – or even just communication – in any significant way. Continue Reading →

What a Fashion Publicist Can Teach You About Sex

In an effort to not forget some of the wise advice I’ve read over the past year, I’ve recently been rereading certain chapters of books I’ve flagged on my bookshelf. (Side note: Never borrow a book from me; they’re all marked up with pen and flagged with neon Post-it notes.)

Getting to the point: I was rereading Kelly Cutrone’s book, Normal Gets You Nowhere, and forgot how completely fantastic (not to mention hysterical!) her second chapter is. The title? “THE KELLA-SUTRA: If You’re Not Getting Fucked by Midnight, Go Home.” Continue Reading →

Condoms As Crime

I made a post in 2011 condemning laws in New York City and Washington D.C. that allow police to confiscate condoms as “proof” that a person plans to sell sex. According to Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon, this trend is continuing in New York City, with a negative impact not only on sex workers, but also on outreach workers and businesses that would like to freely distribute condoms (in order to encourage safe sex to prevent STI and HIV transmission), yet are also impacted by this policy. The toll on the LGBT community, with transgender respondents who are not sex workers yet get in trouble with the police for loitering, is also problematic. Along similar lines, this Canadian writer’s story about being detained at the U.S. border and having condoms used as “proof” of criminal behavior is harrowing. Continue Reading →

Would You Try Vaginal Steaming?

A friend of mine recently asked me my opinion on vaginal steaming. At first I assumed that I mis-heard her. I mean, I’ve heard of facial steaming or steaming vegetables, but vaginal? Turns out, it’s a thing that has been around for some time, especially in Korea. The article explains that vaginal steaming isn’t purely cosmetic and some claim that it can “reduce stress, fight infections, clear hemorrhoids, regulate menstrual cycles and aid infertility, among many other health benefits.” My friend’s gynecologist mentioned it to her while she is undergoing fertility treatments (please note that I’m not suggesting this may or may not work, and this isn’t medical advice; if you are debating giving vaginal steaming a shot, run it past your own doctor). Continue Reading →

Are You Aware Of The Clitoris?

Welcome to International Clitoris Awareness Week! This is the first year that the clitoris has its own week, and is celebrated May 6-12, according to the Huffington Post. While I agree that the clitoris is an amazing body part and deserves more than a little celebration, I had no idea that it had its own week. Clitoraid, an organization that aids survivors of female genital mutilation, came up with the idea and is sponsoring the week. Clitoraid’s spokeswoman Nadine Gary noticed that often talking about clitoris makes people uncomfortable and “whenever something has an ‘awareness day’ it makes it more comfortable to talk about” and I absolutely agree. Continue Reading →

Hymen Handling Tips

In the mood for a cute, upbeat video that discusses how to better understand and care for your (or your intimate partner’s) hymen? Then watch this, and take note of the speaker’s tips on how to ease into sexual activity while taking into account the porous membrane that partially covers the vagina. You can also read Dr. Debby’s advice on how to deal with a hymen that covers more of the vagina and can thus lead to painful sex. Continue Reading →

Is Sex-Based Medicine Helpful or Harmful?

Our society needs categories in able to function (or so it seems). These categories come in handy when we’re collecting data for the Census, but the rest of the time, they tend to do more harm than good. In the United States, many pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals use these categories to study human health. It seems like this would make sense, right? Some groups of people are prone to some diseases more than others, so stratifying the data could help to create cures or treatment specific to this group. Continue Reading →

Daily Sexual Violence, In India And America

The rape and murder of Jyothi Singh Pandey in New Delhi brought the world’s attention to the problem of sexual violence in India, with many calling for police reforms as well as culture-wide changes. And it is a culture-wide problem: as this article in The Atlantic demonstrates, there are a host of subtle cultural oppressions, which add up to “ongoing attacks on women, be they decisions to feed them last, marry them as teenagers, skimp on their medical care, or gang rape them on a bus.” But then read this piece, which focuses on the sexual violence American women face. With our rape rates -  there is a reported rape every 6.2 minutes, and one in five women will be raped in her lifetime – we also have an epidemic of ongoing attacks on women. Sexual violence is not an isolated phenomenon, and it’s not something our modernized culture has stamped out: it is systemic oppression. Continue Reading →