STIs: Syphilis & Chlamydia
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is not very common in the college population, though my rates have begun to increase in the past couple of years. The symptoms occur in stages, the first stage is the presence of a painless, round sore that can appear anywhere on the body. The second stage is a rash on the hands and feet. If it is not treated, it can go dormant for decades before causing heart and brain problems, blindness, and death in the late stage. The most famous syphilis victims include Christopher Columbus and Al Capone. Syphilis is tested for with a blood draw and easily treated with a shot of penicillin.
- enters body through broken mucous membrane (commonly transmitted during unprotected anal sex)
- if someone is allergic to penicillin, there are alternative antibiotics
- 35,000 new cases reported each year in US
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that usually infects the urethra. It can be tested for with a urethral swab or a urine sample. Chlamydia is extremely common in the college population and should be tested for every year in sexually active people. Chlamydia is easily cured with antibiotics. If it goes untreated for a long period of time in women, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. In most people, chlamydia does not present symptoms, but when it does they include burning after urination, discharge, abdominal pain, and spotting after intercourse in women.
- All sexually active women under age 25 need an annual chlamydia test because it can cause infertility and usually has no symptoms
- Can also infect eyes, throat, cervix
- 3 million people become infected in the US every year.
STIs: Herpes & HPV
Herpes a viral infection with two types. One type infects about 66% of sexually active adults and causes cold sores or fever blisters on the mouth or face. The other type infects the genital region and is present in about 22% of sexually active adults. Most people don’t know that they have herpes because usually there are not any symptoms. If the genital version does cause symptoms, they are most commonly swollen glands in the groin and blisters in the genital area. Herpes can be transmitted through oral-genital contact and it can be transmitted even if the host is not presenting any outward symptoms. Herpes is tested for with a blood test and though it cannot be completely eliminated from the body, the symptoms can be treated and controlled through daily suppressive medication.
- Herpes Simplex Virus I causes cold sores on the mouth/face
- Most people contract this virus when they’re very young
- Herpes Simplex II infects the genital region
- HSVI of the genital region usually only occurs once
- If symptoms develop, they usually do so in 3-7 days after exposure
- Herpes lives in the dorsal root of the spinal nerves
- Asymptomatic viral shedding- HSVII is spread through skin to skin contact (not necessarily during outbreak
- Immune system keeps the virus down, it may be exacerbated by lack of sleep, poor nutrition, stress
- Suppressive therapy- a pill taken everyday to prevent outbreaks and transmission (i.e., Valtrex)
- Herpes test isn’t included in general STD testing (you need to request it)
- Test only looks for type two
- Most contagious when sores are open
- Sores usually last 1-2 weeks
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)
HPV is a virus with over 100 strains. The majority of sexually active women will be infected with at least one strain in their lifetime, though most of the time the body’s own immune system will fight off the infection. Luckily, women can get vaccinated against 4 of the most harmful strains to prevent infection from these strains. Some of the most harmful strains can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. HPV is spread through skin to skin contact and can be transmitted even if the carrier does not have any symptoms. HPV is usually detected through an abnormal pap smear in women.
- about 30 of the 100 strains are sexually transmitted (other strains cause common warts on hands, feet, etc.)
- men typically serve as carriers of HPV (aren’t at very high risk for cancer because the cervix is the target of these strains, but can have genital warts)
- HPV has nothing to do with body fluids, it’s in the skin
- HPV infection usually does not present visible symptoms (with the exception of wart-causing strains)
- HPV test not given to women under 30 because body will most likely fight off infection
- Some HPV infections go away on their own within 8-13 months after infection
- 20 million people in US infected with HPV at any given time
The Scoop on Semen. There is a list of sources at the bottom, in darker gray, including LiveScience.com, NYTimes, WebMD, and Men’s Health.
Self Care for Survivors
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) compiled a list of self care tips and topics that cover physical needs as well as emotional self care. The complete list is linked above:
Good self-care is a challenge for many people and it can be especially challenging for survivors of rape, sexual assault, incest and sexual abuse. It can also be an important part of the healing process.
Physical self-care is an area that people often overlook.
- Food is a type of self-care that people often overlook. People are often so busy that they don’t have time to eat regularly or that they substitute fast food for regular meals.
- It’s not always reasonable to expect people to get 3 square meals a day (plus snacks!) but everyone should make sure they get adequate nutrition.
- Exercise is one of the most overlooked types of self-care. The CDC recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week.
- Exercise, even if it’s just a quick walk at lunchtime, can help combat feelings of sadness or depression and prevent chronic health problems.
- Although everyone has different needs, a reasonable guideline is that most people need between 7-10 hours of sleep per night.
- Medical care
- Getting medical attention when you need it is an important form of physical self-care.
- Some survivors put off getting medical care until problems that might have been relatively easy to take care of have become more complicated.
The whole list is a really good read, and I think I’ll put it into the resources for future use!
Ableism and Kink
Tough Love Thursdays are about real issues facing alternative sexuality communities. These can be external pressures or internal struggles - not for the faint of heart.
Ableism permeates our culture and alternative sexuality communities are not exempt from participating in a system that makes people with disabilities or different abilities invisible. We do this by assuming that everyone’s mind and body work the same. I was told a story by a top who had to sit down to play. The side-eyes and negative comments implying they were just being “lazy” made them so uncomfortable they left the space with no desire to return. This casual ableism can make a play space unsafe for a person with disabilities or different abilities. Ask yourself:
- When you negotiate a scene, do you check in about a person’s physical capacity? Previous injuries? Emotional triggers?
- Does your favorite Leather contest provide interpreters?
- Is the dungeon equipment spaced to accommodate a wheelchair?
- What can you do to address these issues in your community?
Before you judge a scene or person you are not involved with, remember disabilities and different abilities can be visible or invisible… and that unless a scene is harmful or breaks play space rules, it’s not your job to judge.
I’m generally not a fan of statistics put out by popular women’s magazines, but this one is at least a fun read!
The Average Woman on Sex
For all those celebrating Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday, remember that if you purchase some sexy gifts from Early to Bed through my link, it supports an amazing independent sex toy store, as well as supports me (and this blog!)
Happy shopping, whether it be for a friend, a partner, or yourself!
Anonymous said: i love the content of your blog; it's informative, well written, and interesting. but i find it very difficult to read given the bright contrasting colours you have chosen for your blog settings. any chance you might rethink the colour composition? sincerely, a reader with sore eyes :)
Absolutely! I have muted some of the harsh colors, and hopefully now the contrast with the text and background color is easier to read! Thanks for reading, thanks for the feedback, and let me know if this doesn’t fix the sore eyes problem!