Category Archives: Ask the Sexpert

Not Even in the Top 10: The US and Penis Size


Posted on December 17, 2013 by

hard-facts-about-penis-sizeHow humiliating. I thought we’d at least be in the top 10. It turns out US males are #18 out of 113 nationalities measured for average penis size. The study confirmed some stereotypes: Males of African origins have the largest with males in the Republic of Congo coming in at 18 centimeters or 7.1 inches and Asian men bring up the rear so to speak. I was surprised to see Ecuadorian males taking the number 2 spot with the average being 17.7 centimeters or a lengthy 7 inches. The average US male was a mere 12.9 centimeters or 5.1 inches. This left us behind all the Brits, Russians, Greeks, Colombians, French and Spanish to name just a few. We barely squeaked ahead of the Irish and Romanians by 2 tenths of a centimeter, but beat out all of Asia!

Just to keep things in perspective, according to sexuality research done by Masters and Johnson penis size has no effect on female satisfaction. Most of the nerve endings are in the opening to the vagina, so length is not as important as girth. When you think that the opening of the vagina has to stretch to around 10 centimeters during delivery, even the girthiest penis is nothing in comparison.

Many males reportedly feel their penis is smaller than others, while in fact they are perfectly average!

Here is a partial list with a few conversions included.

  1. Republic of Congo, 18    (7.1 inches)
  2. Ecuador, 17.7    (7 inches)
  3. Ghana, 17.2
  4. Colombia 17
  5. Iceland 16.5
  6. Italy 15.7   (6.2 inches)
  7. South Africa 15.2
  8. Sweden 14.9
  9. Greece 14.7
  10. Germany 14.4
  11. New Zealand 13.9
  12. UK 13.9   (5.5 inches)
  13. Canada 13.9
  14. Spain 13.9
  15. France 13.4
  16. Australia 13.2
  17. Russia 13.2
  18. USA 12.9    (5.1 inches)
  19. Ireland 12.7
  20. Romania 12.7
  21. China 10.9
  22. India 10   (3.9 inches)
  23. Thailand 10
  24. South Korea 9.6
  25. North Korea 9.6    (3.8 inches)

Click here to read the entire article.

5 Tips for Being a Good Support Person


Posted on November 18, 2013 by

Back again is one of the newest to the Feronia family. Her passion for reproductive healthcare and interest in making sex education easy to access and understand makes her a fabulous guest writer, and we’re excited to have her!

help a friendSo someone you’re close to has asked you to accompany them to a reproductive health care appointment. This loved one, whether they are a friend, a partner, or a family member, clearly cares about you! Maybe they are getting birth control for the first time, and are nervous about what the appointment will be like. Perhaps they have some symptoms they’re concerned about, and want a professional to check them out. It could be that they’ve decided to end a pregnancy, and really want someone there to support them during the process. The fact that this person has asked you to come with them shows that they probably trust you and feel safe around you! And in order to be the best support person you can, there are some basic points to consider when joining this person on their appointment.

1. Listen!

This is probably the simplest advice on the list, but also the most important. If the person you are there with wants to talk, listening is one of the most basic and important things you can do! It might seem like you have to coach your loved one or provide them with advice, but that’s not always the case. Hearing what someone is saying, and validating them by lending a friendly ear is a great and simple way to be a successful support person.

2.  Leave Your Judgments at Home 

People have a wide variety of opinions and views, and it’s something that makes each of us unique and interesting. However, when someone has asked you to join them in a support capacity at a sexual health related appointment, it is important to try to remove your individual opinions and focus on what your loved one needs. Our culture has a lot of baggage tied up in sexual health, and oftentimes individuals who are seeking reproductive health care can by hyper-aware of this. Who is going to feel the unfair stigmas of an STD more than someone who is seeking treatment for herpes for the first time? How much do you think a 16 year old who has missed her period and wants to go to the doctor to find out if she is pregnant fears our society’s negative views of teen pregnancy? When you are acting in a support capacity, it is important not to forget that you are there mainly to help that person feel stronger and more comfortable. Though you may have an opinion on whatever healthcare they are seeking, your role as a trusted individual to your loved one should come first.

3. Follow Their Lead

This point goes along well with listening and being non-judgmental. Try to follow the emotional lead of your loved one: if they are sad, don’t try to force them to be happy; if they are content or seem to be in a good mood, don’t try to force them to bring up negative emotions because you think that’s how you might feel in their situation. Asking someone who seems fine if they’re “really okay” over and over might seem like a good way to make sure you are keyed into their emotions, but you’re more likely to run the risk of making them feel uncomfortable or like they’re not having the “right” reaction to the situation. Nothing is wrong with trying to cheer someone up if they are feeling down, but attempting to joke over and over again may be frustrating for them. Sometimes it is okay for a person to be sad, and it can be important for them to work through that emotion. Let your loved one know that you are there for them, and put your attention on their emotional cues.

4. Don’t Take Over the Appointment

Chances are no one at the appointment knows your loved one better than you. However, it is important to remember that when the time comes they are the one who is going to have to be interacting with the staff at the appointment. You may sense that they are nervous or uncomfortable at the beginning of their appointment, but you need to let them answer questions from the staff, fill out their paperwork, and just generally settle into their visit. You may think you know everything about your loved one, but it is still important that the health care professionals they will be working with get to know your loved one and get all the accurate health and history information needed from them. (Note: At certain times during the appointment, you may not be allowed to go back with them and will be asked to stay in the waiting room.)

5. If You Need a Break, it’s Okay to Step Away

As mentioned earlier, lots of appointments in reproductive health care can be very emotionally charged. It is important for you to create a safe space for the person you are supporting, and to make sure you are not casting your judgments or unwanted emotions onto them. However, this doesn’t mean you need to suppress your feelings permanently. It is fine for you to excuse yourself to the bathroom for a moment to collect yourself, or to step outside when your loved one is with a provider. If you need a minute to feel sad, or angry, or anxious you can’t always suppress that, but it’s absolutely essential that you don’t take your emotions out on your loved one.

10 Ways to (Mis)Use a Condom


Posted on November 12, 2013 by

A Condom BreaksIt seems so simple:

“Wrap it up.”

“Use protection.”

“No glove, no love.”

Yet many people have never been taught the basics of using a condom. Nearly everyone has had at least one experience with a condom breaking. Part of my challenge as a sexuality educator is investigating why a condom failure happened. Naturally, I have stories!

  • A young man came in for a HIV test. A condom had broken and his remark was, ”They weren’t supposed to expire until next month.” Here’s the thing. From the time a condom comes out of a factory until its expiration date is about 4 years. Where had his condom been for 3 years and 11 months? 
  • In mid-September, a high school couple came in for a pregnancy test. They mentioned that they had condoms break four times in the last month. I asked where they had stored them and he replied, “ in my truck”. This is Florida where the temperature outside is generally in the low to mid nineties in September. Imagine how hot it was inside his truck!
  • After presenting a class on correct use of condoms, a young man in the front row got up, walked to the garbage can, opened his wallet and threw out a battered and bruised condom that looked like it had been run over by a truck. Even though it wouldn’t expire for 2 years, it probably would have broken.

What are the most common mistakes people make when using a condom? HowStuffWorks has a great article on it. Make sure not to make them yourself!

ACA Week: Why You Should Always Have Insurance at Any Age


Posted on October 24, 2013 by

Why It's Important to Have Insurance At Any Age

Image found via insureUStoday.

Many of us in our younger years skimp on health insurance or go without it because we think we are invincible and don’t need it now. The problem with this mindset is that we can sick or hurt anytime, and if we don’t have coverage, it can put us into debt.

All of us can think of a person who has been diagnosed with cancer, and many of those individuals are under 40. Also, think about how many people you know who have had an unexpected pregnancy. It is better to plan ahead and be prepared for the “what if”, instead of going into bankruptcy and potentially destroy your financial future. Getting coverage now will not only ensure future financial security but will help you maintain good physical health by taking advantage of the preventive services.

Some of the services covered include: immunizations, well-woman visits, contraception, depression screenings, alcohol misuse screenings, and HIV and STI screenings and counseling. By the way, you now won’t have to pay anything out-of-pocket for the preventative services if you are insured.

For more information on how to sign up on the health insurance marketplace visit healthcare.gov or plannedparenthoodhealthinsurancefacts.org.

Forgetting to Take Your Pill – What’s a Busy Woman to Do?


Posted on October 17, 2013 by

This oldie but goodie was written by Genevieve nearly two years ago but we’re bringing it back because as long as we’re human, we’ll mess up our birth control from time to time.

Like most women, you are probably trying to juggle a million things at once and having one more thing to remember can be difficult. The pill is one of the most popular methods in the United States but it is also one of the methods that most women forget to take from time to time.

If you have one of those moments, take it as soon as you remember. If you don’t remember until the next day, and are taking a combination pill (estrogen/progestin) take 2 pills that day. If you miss more than 2 birth control pills, call your health care provider for instructions. Here’s a helpful chart, “What Do I If I Forget to Take the Pill?” (Scroll down a little bit to see it.)

If you miss more than 2 birth control pills you may need a backup method of birth control. Some include condomfemale condom, and emergency contraception.

Another great resource for those of us that have trouble remembering to take our birth control method is Bedsider. Bedsider will send you funny, uplifting, and sometimes sassy text reminders to you for the pill, patch, ring, or shot. All you have to do is text MyBC to 42411 to start your reminders.

If Guys Get Blue Balls, Do Girls Get Blue Ovaries?


Posted on October 16, 2013 by

blue-ballsAlthough I occasionally get asked about blue balls, I’ve never been asked about blue ovaries. Blue balls is a slang term, not a medical condition. It refers to an ache in the testicles after arousal if ejaculation doesn’t occur. Considering the intensity and frequency of erections especially in adolescent and young adult males, one would think the suffering would be unbearable. It’s been described by some as equivalent to the feeling of a swift kick to the genitals and being accompanied by excessive swelling of the testicles to the size of coconuts. Never having experienced the sensation myself, I consulted my trusty source of all things male, my partner, who happens to also teach anatomy and physiology. According to him, while it may be uncomfortable for a short time, it’s no big deal and you certainly do not need to seek medical intervention.

During sexual arousal arteries carrying blood to the genital area enlarge while the veins carrying blood from the genital area are more constricted than when he is flaccid or not erect. The testicles may increase in size 25-50%. Because of the increased blood flow there may be a slight blue or purple tint to the scrotum. If a male ejaculates, the arteries and veins rapidly return to normal. If ejaculation does not occur it may take longer for this to happen, but it will happen.

Sometimes males whine and complain to the point where a partner feels pressured to help them out. Considering that a male can easily take care of the problem on his own given a bit of privacy, don’t feel it’s your obligation to put him out of his suffering.

Now on to blue ovaries. While the testicles did originally start out prenatally as ovaries, there is no flooding of the ovaries with blood when a female becomes sexually aroused. Since the vulva, vagina and clitoris all contain erectile tissue like the penis, there may be considerable engorgement and darkening of the tissue there as well.

Both genders may feel a heavy, achy sensation when aroused but since orgasm doesn’t always happen it’s just part of being human. To read more, visit Go Ask Alice!

Redneck Crazy, You Drive Me Crazy


Posted on October 15, 2013 by

Redneck Crazy, You Drive Me Crazy

More like creepy stalker.

It may not be apparently obvious to those who know me, but I’m an avid listener of country radio. (The songs tell stories, don’t you know.) But there is one song that I cannot stand and it aggravates me to no end that it’s a hit. That song is called “Redneck Crazy,” and it is an anthem encouraging intimidation and stalking.

Just take a look at some of the lyrics:

Gonna drive like hell through your neighborhood
Park this Silverado on your front law
Crank up a little Hank, sit on the hood and drink
I’m about to get my pissed off on

I’m gonna aim my headlghts into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows…
You know you broke the wrong heart baby and drove me crazy
….
Did you think I’d wish you both the best, endless love and happiness
You know that’s just not the kind of man I am
I’m the kind that shows up at your house at 3am…

You know what those are? Those are signs of stalking. One in 12 women will be stalked in their life, according to a report released by the US Department of Justice. Stalking can also be a precursor to domestic violence. I’m not alone in loathing the song, but it’s gone to number one on the country radio charts. Songs like this are not romantic, they are frightening. (See: The Police, “Every Breath You Take” for another example.)

What do you think – do you hate Redneck Crazy as much as me?

Pucker Up! Kissing is Good for You


Posted on October 14, 2013 by

Kissing never sounded like a better idea! The health benefits of kissing are numerous (see below), but did you know why we kiss and what people in long-term relationships think of the importance of kissing?

  • helps us select a matekiss
  • reduces stress
  • exercises facial muscles
  • improves your mood
  • strengthens relationships
  • burns (a few) calories
  • helps reduce blood pressure
  • helps fight cavities
  • helps reduce cramps and headaches

(*souces here, here, and here)

The bullet point that I am most fascinated by is the first one, that kissing helps us select a mate. How is that? Well, new research shows (again) that we use kissing as a sort of barometer for how much chemistry we have with a potential mate. All of the sensory cues especially touch and smell, along with the actual chemistry of chemistry (think pheromones) people feel between one another help us evaluate just how “into” a person we really are. To put it bluntly, kissing doesn’t lie. The human body is very complex and can catalog a kissing experience in a way that will help you determine if the person you’re kissing is someone you want to spend more time with or not.

This new study also evaluates the link between kissing and relationship quality. Researchers asked 900 people what they thought about kissing and its importance in short-term and long-term relationships. Not surprisingly, they found that women thought that kissing was more important to relationships than men did. Interestingly, the also asked about kissing and its timing to sex. They found that kissing is generally more important to people before sex (think arousal), but then continually decreased after that. For people in committed relationships, kissing was rated equally important during sex and non-sex times. To read more about the study, this article from Huffpost is a good read.

Now that you know, put those lips to work!

P.S. Did you know that kissing probably began as a way for mothers to pass on pre-chewed food to their infants?

Scrotum vs. Icy Water


Posted on October 8, 2013 by

As a sex educator, one of my favorite things to teach is the function of the scrotum. The poor scrotum often gets left out of the penis/testicle conversation. Most young men know they have a scrotum but have no idea that it serves very specific purposes.

The scrotum, or “sac” (as many people say) is the skin that surrounds the testicles. One of it’s jobs is to hold and protect the very sensitive testicles. If you’ve ever been hit in the testicles, you probably have wished that skin was a little thicker.

ice-swim-freezing-water-polar-bear-4-201112301The other job of the scrotum is to regulate the temperature of the testicles. How does it do this? Well, what does the scrotum do when a male jumps into freezing cold water? Right, it shrinks, or contracts. The skin contracts in order to bring the testicles closer to the core body and its warmer temperature (98.6). You see, the testicles have to be about 2 degrees cooler than the core body temperature, unlike ovaries, which can withstand our internal body temperature. Conversely, if the testicles get too hot, the skin will relax, allowing the testicles to get as far away from the body as possible. Isn’t the human body fascinating?

P.S. And yes, sperm production can be temporarily affected by prolonged exposure to hot or cold temperatures.

Human Sexuality is Complicated


Posted on October 3, 2013 by

I went to college with the intimidatingly brilliant, yet hilarious and personable Hank Green (and his equally charming wife, Katherine). Hank is wildly talented, but the skill that I most admire is his ability to take a seemingly complicated topic, reduce it to a short, digestible YouTube clip, all without making you feel like you’re a complete moron for not already knowing what he just explained. Perfect example: the government shutdown.

Hank, and his vlogbrothers brother, John Green, do for the public what we here at The Feronia Project attempt to do – educate, in simple terms, with well-timed humor. It’s a public service, really. You’re welcome. Imagine my delight when our Feronia world crosses the Vlogbrothers’ world. In this super awesome clip called “Human Sexuality is Complicated,” Hank explains just how complicated human sexuality is and always has been. As we’ve explained before, trying to fit humans in nice, neat boxes is counterproductive, insensitive, and just plain stupid. We are individuals and should be treated as such. It occurs to us that maybe some people just don’t understand the intricacies of sexuality and therefore, don’t respect what they don’t understand. Here’s today’s teachable moment:

If you liked that, you’re gonna love this one, and this one, and this one too.