Category Archives: Ask the Sexpert

Fun Friday: Things To Do With Your Hands That Men Like

Posted on May 9, 2014 by

Friday is here! Woo-hoo! Time to laugh with us – today we’re sharing this *gem* dug up by the Huffington Post. “Things To Do With Your Hands That Men Like” appeared in a 1970′s issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine and it is the funniest thing I’ve seen all week. Nuance Communications, Inc.

Staying Connected to Your Partner

Posted on April 30, 2014 by

Couples-holding-handsI was in the airport the other day and came across an article on the breakup of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. They have been married for 10 years and have 2 children. Gwyneth stated that they are “consciously uncoupling” which is just a nicer was of saying they are getting divorced. I remembered seeing an interview with her several years ago and thinking she had it all figured out. She was balancing motherhood, fitness, her career, etc. She looked gleefully at peace with her life and the direction it was heading. We tend to envision movie stars as having lives that aren’t messy or difficult, but they obviously deal with the same challenges as the rest of us. I find for me that I need to continually check-in with myself to make sure I am creating a space and time to bond with my partner. Many of us have this idea that our relationships are supposed to be perfect and feel like we are characters in The Notebook. Unfortunately, relationships take time and a little effort to keep both parties happy. Here are a few quick tips to help ensure you stay connected.

  • Touch each other – a hug and a few kisses can go a long way.
  • Laugh together – watch a funny movie or your favorite standup comedian.
  • Recalling memories – talk about a vacation or moment that you remember fondly.
  • Disconnect from electronics – find time to talk to each other without distractions. You need to make sure you are actively listening and staying engaged in the conversation.
  • Don’t just say it, do it – telling your partner you appreciate them is great, but you should do something out of the blue to show them you care. It may be as simple as doing a chore that they usually do.
  • Have sex 3-4 times per week – watch the video below for the surprising secrets of happy couples.

The Power of Non-Engagement: Anti-Abortion Protesters and You

Posted on April 16, 2014 by

Found on the Nation</a.

Found on the Nation

We have a pretty active protester presence at the Planned Parenthood I work at. We are very lucky in that the protesters here mostly stick to yelling and being obnoxious as their main form of intimidation, as other health centers have to deal with individuals who are more willing to break the law. However, the fact that our local protesters are law abiding doesn’t mitigate their attempts to intimidate and shame our patients.

So, what should you do if you have to deal with abortion protesters?

Here at Planned Parenthood, we practice a non-engagement policy with anti-choice protesters. This means that we practice and promote avoiding any contact with the protesters ranging from physical, to verbal, to even non-verbal communication (i.e. no making faces or rolling eyes!) Before working here, I would have questioned the effectiveness of this policy. Often times when I tell patients or people visiting the health center that this is what we promote, they are confused. So, I think it might be time to explain why the non-engagement is awesome, and why it works so well for our health centers.
Pretty frequently, patients and their guests feel motivated to yell at the protesters, to try to defend their decision so that the protesters will know that their situation is different. It is an understandable desire to make someone see your side, especially when you have come to a decision that may have been very difficult to make. The words of the protesters are cruel, demeaning, and don’t reflect the individual life situations of our patients. The protesters aren’t taking into account financial situations, emotional states, health complications, or anything else related to the specific patient. They are making blanket statements about motherhood and fatherhood, and ignoring complex issues. However, it is important to remember that it is no one’s burden to change their minds, and that they are probably not the type of individuals who can easily have their opinions changed. They’ve heard lots of stories, from lots of people, and they are still stuck in their convictions. That is their right, just like it is our patient’s right to receive comprehensive, safe, and non-judgmental health care. By engaging with the protesters, by even acknowledging that they are important enough to talk to, they gain a certain level of power. Their opinion is important enough to get a rise out of someone. I have observed from working at the clinic that ignoring these individuals is the best way to take their power away from them.

When I talk to patients I try to frame them as “small people.” They’re not monsters or demons, they’re mostly just bullies. People who come to abortion clinics to yell at and intimidate individuals getting abortions are hoping they will catch someone in a vulnerable position. Does somebody who yells at strangers during a possibly difficult time seem like someone who is following a path that isn’t based on direct confrontation? It is generally not worth engaging with individuals who are just seeking to rile up emotions and rely on guilt and fear for their tactics.

At our health center, individuals receive time with staff and volunteers trained in non-judgmental options counseling. They have their space to speak their truth, and come to a decision to that is truly right for them. This time is much more important than the unfortunate and misguided insults and abuse that they have to face from clinic protesters.

We Tried It: Reusable Cloth Menstrual Pads

Posted on April 14, 2014 by

The Deluxe Kit from Party In My Pants, which we tried for this post.

The Deluxe Kit from Party In My Pants, which we tried for this post.

Have you ever thought about what you use during your period?

Many of us don’t. The common tampon and pad rule the market, but there is an increased awareness of reusable (read: non-disposable) alternatives. We’ve already written a copious post about all the options available, but today, I’ll talk about my firsthand trial of one method: the reusable cloth pad.

I’ve been intrigued about this option for a while, because I have the most sensitive skin in the history of the world. (Only slight hyperbole: my skin will react to anything – non-gentle washing detergent; fabric softener; dark liquors, the heat…you name it, my skin will become inflamed somehow.) I personally have always preferred pads to tampons, but the problem with pads is that, predictably, my skin would become irritated and I would get rashes from them. Much like how cloth diapers are anecdotally good at preventing diaper rash, I figured the same thing would work for me, right?

So, last week, I took the plunge and ordered The Deluxe Kit from Party In My Pants (yes, commonly known as PIMP. No comment on that for today). The company had come highly recommended from people I’d talked with who use cloth pads and they sold a good introductory kit, with a liner, large pad, and overnight (long) pad in adorable colors for an affordable price. I picked the three cutest patterns in organic – because, why not and really, how adorable is the Fox Trot pattern – and received them last Friday, just in time for my period.

Here’s the outcome: I love them. I’m switching over and here’s why.

  • They are as absorbent as advertised.
  • They’re also comfortable – it doesn’t feel any different than wearing a pair of underwear, whether or not you’re wearing a flannel or cotton pad.
  • You can wash them like any other piece of clothing. Throw them in your clothes hamper (important caveat: when they are not wet) and they come out with few stains and just as fresh as before. This was one of my big concerns, and I’m glad to say that it was unfounded.
  • They’re more breathable: while I tried both flannel and cotton, I live in Florida and cotton will be my go-to during almost all of the year.
  • I am, as of this writing, completely irritation-free. Hallelujah!

My preference is for the overnight pad (I like the longer length) and the luxe liner for lighter days, but everyone’s choice may be different, depending upon the kind of underwear you wear and your individual period.

If you’ve been thinking about it, give them a try: I bet you won’t regret it.

PS: We were not compensated by Party In My Pants for this post; we just tried something and wanted to share our thoughts with you.

The App That’s Helping Syphilis Spread

Posted on April 7, 2014 by

dsc_0094-e1367819041812Some scary news is coming out of Onondaga County, NY. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of syphilis cases nearly doubled, and the smart phone app called Grindr is partly to blame. Grindr is a global positioning app that allows users to locate other users (within feet) who want to meet up. Many times, these meet ups turn into hook ups. The app is targeted to men who have sex with men, very similar to other apps like Tinder, which targets a more heterosexual base. Grindr boasts over 7 million members across 192 countries. You can see why health officials are concerned.

Health officials in the Syracuse area confirmed that nearly all the cases involved men, and more than 70 percent involved men who reported having sex with other men. Many of these men reported using Grindr (and similar apps) to find their recent sex partners. In case you need a refresher, syphilis can be deadly if left untreated by antibiotics. It is a bacterial infection, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, but left untreated, syphilis has much worse consequences. To learn about the symptoms associated with syphilis, please visit this CDC fact sheet.

This news is especially hard to hear considering that the U.S. was doing so well at reducing syphilis cases that the CDC officially ceased its Syphilis Elimination Effort just months ago in December 2013.

The Grindr website encourages its users to stay safe by getting tested and using protection, but only specifically mentions HIV and hepatitis. Here are two tips to keep you (sexually) safer when using meet up to hook up apps: 1- Know your status by getting tested often. If you’re testing positive, don’t spread the infection. 2- Use condoms. Asking someone you’re dating to reveal their status is one thing, but expecting a complete stranger to be honest about their status is completely unrealistic. And remember, given the opportunity, sexually transmitted diseases will spread, regardless of who you have sex with.

If you do test positive and aren’t sure how to tell your past partners, alert them anonymously with inSPOT. For testing, visit your local health department or Planned Parenthood.

Jane Fonda Teaches How to Get Physical In a Safer Way

Posted on March 31, 2014 by

I regularly have parents contact me asking for resources for discussing sexuality related issues with teens. I usually refer them to Planned Parenthood, but I am always looking for new reading materialteen to recommend to teens. I recently stumbled upon a book called Being A Teen: Everything Teen Girls & Boys Should Know About Relationships, Sex, Love, Health, Identity & More, by Jane Fonda. I was unaware of her commitment and dedication to the issues of teens and preventing unplanned pregnancy. I only knew her as the actress, activist, and workout guru but I will now add sexuality educator to the list. Apparently, she always had a passion for helping youth, but in the 90’s lived in Georgia and became heavily involved in helping young people navigate adolescence. Jane went on to found the (formerly the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention) Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential and the Jane Fonda Center for Adolescent Health at Emory University.


Jane remarked,

“I have a passion for this work, partly because, when I was a teen, I was very confused, not particularly happy, awkward about negotiating relationships with boys and didn’t know where to go for answers. I wrote the book because I was asked many times over questions like (from girls) ‘how do I know if I’m in a real relationship?’ and ‘how can I say ‘no’ and still be popular?’ and ‘when is it okay to have sex?’ I would see boys so confused and sad because they felt they treated girls well and were their best friends but couldn’t seem to get them to be their girlfriends. So many young people my non-profits work with don’t understand enough about how their bodies work, don’t know enough about ways to prevent getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant, or how to avoid getting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and think that oral sex isn’t really sex and can’t give them an STI.”

This book is written in a very simple way that allows teens or adults who have a teen in their life to skip around and find the chapters with the topics that concern them and come back to the others at another time. This would be a great book for parents and teens to read at the same time and then discuss with each other. She did a fantastic job at discussing the topics in a medically accurate, non-judgmental way. She must have been a sexuality educator in a previous life! She really gets teens and the issues they struggle with around their changing bodies, hearts, and brains.

At the CDC, Unprotected Sex is Now Called Condomless Sex. Do You Agree With the Change?

Posted on February 24, 2014 by

There’s some really interesting news coming out of the Centers for Disease Control today. (Count that in the sentences I never thought I’d write.) What we know as unprotected sex – aka, sex without a condom – will now be referred to as condomless sex in their many reports and studiecondoms-colored-702455s that are both for the general public as well as for those in the public health field (like your writers at the Feronia Project.)

Why the change? Many advocates of this term say that ‘unprotected sex’ no longer reflects the many ways that people have sex: let’s take long-term couples for an example. Is a monogamous couple, who have both been tested for STIs, including HIV, really participating in ‘unprotected’ sex when having sex without a condom? (If you’re in a trustworthy relationship, I’d say no.)

Another reason? HIV prevention strategies are slowly changing. There are some promising new treatments via pill that are helping to prevent HIV that may – I must stress, may – prevent some transmission of HIV. (Do you still have HIV when you are receiving treatment that makes it almost undetectable in your blood? That is a question for someone with much more education in public health for decide.) The language change may be spurred on by these new developments, keeping up-to-date with new frontiers in HIV treatment.

So, what do you think? Is this a good change? Will it promote condomless sex or does it keep our public health terminology up-to-date? Inquiring minds want to know.

Taking Birth Control Pills: How Soon Are You Protected?

Posted on February 4, 2014 by

First time taking birth control pills? You can start them at any time, but it doesn’t mean you are protected against pregnancy right away. Make sure to use other forms of pregnancy prevention until your birth control pills kick in fully! There are two types of birth control pills, so be aware of what type you have.

Combination Pills* (containing Estrogen and Progestin):

If you begin taking the pill five days after the start of your period – you are protected right away.

If you begin taking the pill any other time during your period – you will be protected in a week. 

Progestin-Only Pills* 

Protection begins after two days, and you can start taking it anytime.

Of course, birth control pills do not protect against STIs, so remember to use a barrier method (like condoms) to protect yourself!

And here is a hilarious video explaining how birth control works from Guy Notadaddi’s Bedsider series, The Guy’s Guide to The Pill:

*source: Planned Parenthood

“But What Will They Think!?”: A Note About Overcoming Appointment Fears

Posted on January 16, 2014 by

In my time working at Planned Parenthood, I’ve noticed that a lot of people come into their appointments somewhat nervous. This is totally understandable! Some people are worried about the outcome of a test, others might have painful symptoms they need to get checked, others may be anxious about trying a new form of birth control. Everyone comes in feeling some kind of emotion. Just remember, whatever emotion you are feeling is probably something that many other people have experienced!

Nervous_woman-315x305One thing that does make me concerned is when individuals express concern to me about what our health center staff will think about them. It makes sense that patients are concerned about this – sometimes it can feel like sexuality and the choices we make regarding sex are constantly judged! However, it is important to keep in mind that health care professionals have seen a whole range of people, and have experience with a large variety health issues. It’s also important to remember that the staff members you are dealing with are adults, and have dealt with their own range of reproductive and sexual health issues personally. You shouldn’t have to feel ashamed or scared for taking care of your own sexual health, and it is the job of the staff at the health center to treat you with respect and compassion!

If you’re feeling exceptionally nervous or scared, please let your health care professional know. They aren’t mind readers. Express your concerns and ask questions! We’ll take extra time to make sure you go home feeling confident.