Posts tagged "safe sex"
It’s Global Female Condom Day!
Though a highly effective safe-sex option for women, men, and youth, most people remain unaware about female condoms or are unable to access them. Global Female Condom Day aims to increase the number of women and men around the world who know about, use, and advocate for female condoms. 
If you’re in Chicago, support the Chicago Female Condom Campaign and learn where you can get free Female Condoms!!
This cool lady is Laura Anne Stuart, MPH. Find her at her store, Tool Shed Toys, in Milwaukee, or sex educating via the SEXPress in the Milwaukee Express.

It’s Global Female Condom Day!

Though a highly effective safe-sex option for women, men, and youth, most people remain unaware about female condoms or are unable to access them. Global Female Condom Day aims to increase the number of women and men around the world who know about, use, and advocate for female condoms.

If you’re in Chicago, support the Chicago Female Condom Campaign and learn where you can get free Female Condoms!!

This cool lady is Laura Anne Stuart, MPH. Find her at her store, Tool Shed Toys, in Milwaukee, or sex educating via the SEXPress in the Milwaukee Express.

Tween the Sheets: Sexual Safety and Our Youth

Tween the Sheets: Sexual Safety and Our Youth

SexPositive ideal sex education

I recently responded to a question about my ideal sex-positive sex education curriculum, and as someone pointed out, questions aren’t really re-blog friendly. I also forgot to include any information about LGBT individuals (major oversight, my apologies). So here it is again. Thank you all for your positive responses!

My ideal sex-education curriculum would start young, focusing on personal safety. Children around kindergarten-age (age 5) would be taught about self worth and their private areas, and learn that only themselves, parents, doctors and specified adults can touch these areas. At this time, I would expect that children learn that LGBT people exist in terms of other adults. (Kids can have two daddies, one mommy and one daddy, or just one mommy, etc.)

Closer to the age when puberty begins (age 10), adolescents would be taught about the general logistics about sex (sperm, egg, uterus), as well as specific changes in puberty (menstruation, pubic hair). Birth control methods would be introduced, as a way to prevent pregnancy and diseases. LGBT identities would be introduced, so that kids who are questioning their orientation can begin to find resources available to them.

Around the age right before sexual activity generally begins (age 14 or 15), adolescents would have a very in depth program about both male and female bodies, pregnancy, STIs and other potential health issues, birth control, LGBT identities, sexual assault and healthy relationships. There would be a brief, but thorough mention about safer sex in the LGBT community, since there is a lack of information for lesbian and bi women, and a lot of fear-based information for gay and bi men. There would be an abundance of resources where to seek more information, as well as an environment where students feel they can ask questions and receive serious answers.

Finally just before college-age, (age 18) a specific educational program would target sexual assault and rape, the “hooking up” culture, alcohol and drugs, healthy relationships, and review pregnancy and disease prevention. Resources would again be listed, especially for the area in which the young adults live in.

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Having the sexual history talk with your partner

Here are five reasons (just some of many) why it’s often difficult to initiate a sexual history conversation prior to having sex or to insist on using condoms. Opening the communication with your partner, and working past these five steps will make your sex safer and more satisfying.

High Hopes: ”If you want to engage in a conversation about sex, you’re presuming the person wants to have sex with you,” DiClemente told me. He said it could easily be “ego deflating” if, well, that’s just not the case. He explained how the possibility of hurt feelings can create a barrier, with questions like, “Aren’t I attractive and interesting? Don’t you like me?” hanging in the air.

Danger To Reputation: But what if you manage to get over that initial hurdle of the fear of a bruised ego? Say you initiate the conversation or bring out a condom. DiClemente pointed out this is especially problematic for women. “In many cases it’s the male partner who applies the condom; it’s the male partner who has the condom. If a woman has a condom, is she seen as ‘loose’ or promiscuous? It shouldn’t be that way, but it’s a perceptual issue. If we want people to be safe, they have to carry around the tools to make them safe and not rely on others.”

Wait And See: DiClemente also mentioned how some people don’t want to “jeopardize the relationship before starts.” He explained how some folks take the “wait and see approach” with budding relationships, so they delay talking about sexual history and about how condoms are going to fit into the picture in the here and now. That gray area, that time before there are labels, those first few dates — you barely know the person, and you’re going to have to pepper them with sexual health questions? No wonder people are reluctant.

Monogamy: But say you get to the point where you’re dating someone exclusively. You still want to use condoms, but DiClemente brought up a good point: “Condoms bring up the issue of infidelity.” If the partner you care about is going to accuse you of being unfaithful, it makes it mighty hard to negotiate condom use. And now that you’ve found a significant other, do you compromise the relationship because he or she will learn more about your sexual history?

Sex, Sex Everywhere: The above four reasons are all very individually or interpersonally based, but what I think is really important is the fact that we live in a hyper-sexualized society. DiClemente pointed out how advertisements for everything from toothpaste to whiskey involve a sexual component: “What we do as a society values attractiveness, sex appeal, sex.” He went on,”The bar is set really high, but most of us will never attain that status, go over that bar. But we’ll try.” It is in that dogged trying that we may fail to have those important pre-sex conversations or practice safe sex at all. Living up to an image is never easy.

S.O.S. (Safe Oral Sex)

Barrier Methods

In my high school health class, the unit on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) was dreaded and awkward. Our health teacher put up a slide show of male and female genitalia that was infected with different STIs, and ended the lecture with a discussion on safe-sex barrier methods, such as the male and female condom.

Do youemember hearing things like “Put a condom on for every sex act” and “STIs can be transmitted orally”? These are facts that we all know, but it’s rare to make the connection that there should be a male condom or dental dam in place during oral sex. I would like to think that everyone understands the importance of wearing a condom for penetration, but using a condom or dental dam for oral sex seems to be incredibly rare.

Several years ago, a friend voiced her annoyance and surprise that the person she had been hooking up with put on a condom before receiving oral sex from her. She discussed how it made her feel like he thought she was unclean. My other friends and I agreed that it did feel bizarre and almost rude for him to do that, even though we know that a barrier method *should* be used.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about getting tested, and the possible risk of infection through oral sex. The doctor that he spoke with emphasized the importance of using condoms or other barrier methods for oral sex, since chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and herpes are transferred easily through oral-genital contact. Check the CDC website on sexually transmitted diseases for more information on transmission and symptoms. The ones that can infect your throat are quite disturbing.

Now how do we go about popularizing safer oral sex to the general public? There is no simple answer, but a good choice would be for people to keep flavored condoms and a stack of dental dams handy, and know how to use them correctly. Flavored condoms are designed specifically for oral sex (and some actually might be harmful if used for vaginal intercourse). Dental dams also allow for some fluidity in using a barrier for safe oral sex. You can drape one over someone’s anus, labia, or testicles, and this allows for nearly the exact same sensations, as well as protecting one’s mouth from potential health concerns. Also having open, healthy communication with your partner can help diffuse any confusion or hurt feelings when you want to bring out a flavored condom or dental dam to use.

How do you think we can popularize barrier methods for oral sex?

Safer Sex and Contraception for Trans* Guys


A lot of us are less than well-informed about how to have safe sex and prevent pregnancy as trans* guys, partially because there isn’t a lot of information out there specifically for us. 

-For oral sex involving vulvas (vulvae?), a good way to reduce the chance of STI transmission is to use dental dams. These can be purchased at sex shops and similar locations or created using saran wrap, condoms, latex gloves, or other materials. They are also sometimes available for free or very cheap at university health centers, Planned Parenthoods, and LGBTQ resource centers. 

-If you’re using a prosthetic/dildo for vaginal, oral, or anal sex, it is important to make sure the materials it is made of are safe and that it is kept clean. Certain materials are more likely to grow bacteria than others, and certain materials contain phthalates, which are chemicals used to soften PVC and may be dangerous (a good rule of thumb to tell if a prosthetic contains phthalates is if it has a greasy texture and/or smells strongly of plastic). Prosthetics that are labeled non-porous and phthalate-free are generally safer, but that doesn’t let you off the hook for regular cleaning. Different materials require different cleaning methods, and so it’s good to do your research. If you are unsure if your prosthetic is clean and free of harmful chemicals, using a condom can help make things a bit safer for your partner. As a side note, if you suspect that your packer may contain harmful chemicals, you may want to wear it so it is not directly against your skin (for instance over your underwear or in its own little sock). 

-Testosterone may stop you from ovulating, but it probably isn’t a good idea to use it as your only form of birth control. Hormonal birth control while on testosterone is not really an option, so the pill, patch, and shot are out. However, condoms, diaphragms, and non-hormonal IUDs are still effective options for guys on T (this is not a complete list of all methods, and not all methods are created equal, look up effectiveness and weigh the pros and cons of each method). Hormonal birth control is fine for guys who are not on testosterone, although many trans* guys are uncomfortable with some of the “feminizing” effects hormonal birth control may have (for example, breast enlargement or breast tenderness). 

For more information on safer sex and contraception, check out Planned Parenthood’s website (unfortunately pretty much geared toward cis people but still pretty helpful), MegaThatcher’s video on Safe Sex for Trans Guys, and

How to insert and remove the Female Condom

How to insert and remove the Female Condom

"The easy headline here is that L.A. protects workers," says Tristan Taormino, a director and producer of porn films for Vivid Entertainment, one of the biggest companies in the industry. "Who doesn’t want that?" But she tells Shots, nobody has asked the workers what they want. "I want to empower the sex workers who are doing the actual work to assess the risks and to decide how they are going to take care of their own bodies and health," she says.
NPR. Porn Industry Faces Condom Requirement in Los Angeles.

How to make condoms pleasant

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.
Sex Positive feminist. sexual assault survivor. queer. novice sexual health educator.
rape crisis counselor. LGBT youth counselor. proponent of comprehensive sex ed.
supporter of kinks, fetishes and sexual exploration.

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