Why We Still Don't Have Birth Control For Men (Besides Condoms and Vasectomies)

Why We Still Don't Have Birth Control For Men (Besides Condoms and Vasectomies)

When it comes to men’s options for birth control, they really only have two choices: wear a condom or get a vasectomy. While the number of options available to women has increased dramatically in recent years, nothing has really changed for men. So why is that?

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Why Sex Education Can’t Wait: Sex Before Age 13 is More Common Than You Think

Why Sex Education Can’t Wait: Sex Before Age 13 is More Common Than You Think

In the United States, the average age of first sexual intercourse is 17 for men, according to data from the CDC. The number is roughly the same for women, and it has remained pretty constant for the last two decades. Based on these data, some parents might be tempted to think that talking to their kids about sex can wait until they’re fairly grown up and almost ready to leave for college; however, that would be a poor assumption to make. 

It turns out that there is wide individual variability in when adolescents start having sex and a new study suggests that, on average, about 1 in 12 high school boys in the US say they’ve had sex before the age of 13—and, for certain groups of boys, the number is actually more like 1 in 4.

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Should Men Be Circumcised In Order To Help Reduce STIs?

Should Men Be Circumcised In Order To Help Reduce STIs?

Some physicians argue that male circumcision should be a routine procedure because it can help fight the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Not only does circumcision reduce men’s odds of contracting STIs, they say, but it also lowers women’s risk of contracting STIs and developing cervical cancer. 

But is male circumcision really that effective when it comes to protecting sexual health? 

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The State of Sex Education in the United States in 2019 (Infographic)

The State of Sex Education in the United States in 2019 (Infographic)

In the United States today, adolescents' experiences with sex education are anything but consistent. Believe it or not, less than half of all states even require that sex education be taught at all. In those states that mandate sex ed, the information teachers provide doesn't necessarily have to be useful and, in some states, the materials does not even have to be accurate! The status of American sex education in 2019 is poor, and this is a large part of the reason why we continue to have one of the highest rates of teen pregnancies and STIs in the industrialized world. Check out the infographic below for a closer look at just how incredibly variable sex education is throughout the nation.

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10 Things You Should Know About Condoms for #NationalCondomMonth

10 Things You Should Know About Condoms for #NationalCondomMonth

The American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) recognizes February as National Condom Month. For my part in helping to increase awareness of and education about condoms, I’ve put together the following set of 10 interesting facts and statistics. To learn more about National Condom Month, check out this page created by the ASHA. 

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How Vasectomies Affect Men’s (And Women’s) Sex Lives

How Vasectomies Affect Men’s (And Women’s) Sex Lives

Vasectomies are one of the most underutilized forms of birth control, in part, because a lot of men are worried about the procedure having a number of negative effects on their sex lives. According to the American Urological Association, “many patients are concerned that vasectomy may cause changes in sexual function such as erectile dysfunction, reduced or absent orgasmic sensation, decreased ejaculate volume, reduced sexual interest, decreased genital sensation and/or diminished sexual pleasure.”

But are these concerns founded? Do guys really need to be worried about vasectomies hurting their sex lives? 

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Nonconsensual Condom Removal: How Common is “Stealthing?”

Nonconsensual Condom Removal: How Common is “Stealthing?”

In 2017, we added a new word to our sexual vocabulary: stealthing. A paper published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law defined it as “nonconsensual condom removal during sexual intercourse” and set off a flurry of media articles announcing it as a new “trend” in sexual behavior. However, we didn’t really have a good sense of the scope of the problem at that time because the original paper that called our attention to stealthing was based on interviews with a small number of victims. 

So just how many people have experienced stealthing anyway? A new study offers some insight.

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Why You Should Take Your Time When Putting On A Condom

Why You Should Take Your Time When Putting On A Condom

Condoms are one of the best tools we have available for reducing the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and preventing unintended pregnancies. Unfortunately, however, they don’t provide quite as much protection as they could. This is because people make a lot of mistakes when it comes to wearing and using condoms. These mistakes include using sharp objects to open condom packages, failing to check the expiration date, and taking the condom off before sex is over.

Why are these and other condom use errors so common? There are multiple reasons, not the least of which is a lack of knowledge about proper condom use, owing in large part to poor sex education. However, a study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections suggests at least one other important contributor: rushed condom application.

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The HPV Vaccine May Soon Be Readily Available To Americans Up To Age 45

The HPV Vaccine May Soon Be Readily Available To Americans Up To Age 45

A few years ago, I decided to get the HPV vaccine. This vaccine didn’t hit the market until I was well into adulthood, so I didn’t have a chance to be vaccinated in my youth like most kids today (about 6 in 10 US parents are currently choosing to have their kids vaccinated against HPV). Unfortunately, I found that it was a ridiculously difficult and expensive process. 

Because the recommended age for the vaccine is only up to 26—and I was older than that—my insurance company wouldn’t cover it and many providers weren’t willing to give it to me, even though I said I would pay out of pocket (long story short: I eventually got it, and you can read all about the experience here). Fortunately, things look like they’re about to get easier (and cheaper) for the over-26 crowd.

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Future Doctors Score a “D” in Sexual Health Knowledge Because Sex Ed Barely Exists in Medical School

Future Doctors Score a “D” in Sexual Health Knowledge Because Sex Ed Barely Exists in Medical School

The state of sex education is poor for American adolescents—but you probably already knew that. However, what you may not have realized is that the state of sex education for US medical students isn’t all that great, either. This is both surprising and sad, given all of the important implications (good and bad) that sex can have for our health. 

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A Safe-Sex Guide For LGBTQIA Persons

A Safe-Sex Guide For LGBTQIA Persons

Many sex education programs in the United States fail to meet the needs of sexual and gender minority students. This is especially true for programs that have an abstinence-only focus. Research has found that LGBTQIA students who take such courses report that they not only reinforce negative stereotypes, but they are also seriously lacking when it comes to providing useful and relevant information and resources [1]. 

We need comprehensive and inclusive sex education—and there are a lot of wonderful people in my field who are working to change the way that we approach sex ed around the world; unfortunately, however, there’s a lot of political resistance and progress is slow. The good news, though, is that some sex educators have begun to put together valuable educational resources for LGBTQIA students that are readily available to anyone with an internet connection. 

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Why Abstinence and "Purity" Pledges Don't Work

Why Abstinence and "Purity" Pledges Don't Work

In the United States today, 37 states mandate that information on abstinence be provided in sex education courses. As you might imagine, it’s not uncommon for students to be asked to take “purity” or virginity pledges as part of the sex ed. curriculum in these states. 

Students are encouraged to take these pledges in order to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections, but also to prevent unwanted pregnancies. As it turns out, however, abstinence pledges don’t necessarily accomplish either of these goals. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family suggests that they might do just the opposite!

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Summer Lovin’: Research Finds That We Have More Sex In The Summer

Summer Lovin’: Research Finds That We Have More Sex In The Summer

Our sexual behavior patterns change with the seasons--and with the shift from spring to summer just around the corner, research suggests that a change in sexual behavior is likely to follow. Specifically, there seems to be a reliable peak in sexual activity during the summer months.

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Why Dutch Teens Have Better Sexual Health Than American Teens

Why Dutch Teens Have Better Sexual Health Than American Teens

This week in my study abroad course on sex and culture in the Netherlands, we're focusing on cross-cultural differences in sexual health and sex education. As a starting point, we're reviewing some statistics that highlight how dramatically different teens’ sexual health outcomes are in the Netherlands relative to the U.S. Check out the infographic below for a quick overview, which shows that teen girls in the Netherlands have much lower rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion. Below, we’ll discuss why.

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What You Should Know About Condoms For #NationalCondomMonth

What You Should Know About Condoms For #NationalCondomMonth

The American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) has declared February to be National Condom Month. For my part in helping to increase awareness and education about condoms this February, I created the video below highlighting useful facts and tips for having safer, more pleasurable sex with condoms. To learn more about National Condom Month, check out this page by the ASHA. 

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The State of Sex Education in the United States in 2018 (Infographic)

The State of Sex Education in the United States in 2018 (Infographic)

Students' experiences with sex education are anything but consistent in the United States. Consider this: less than half of the states even require that it be taught at all! Moreover, even in those states that mandate sex education, the information teachers provide doesn't necessarily have to be useful and, at least in some states, it doesn't have to be correct, either! The status of sex education in the US continues to be poor as we enter 2018, which is a large part of the reason why this country has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancies and STIs in the industrialized world. Check out the infographic below for a closer look at just how incredibly variable sex education is across the nation.

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What Is The Future Of HIV Treatment? #worldAIDSday

What Is The Future Of HIV Treatment? #worldAIDSday

Today is World AIDS Day, a global public health campaign that began 29 years ago in order to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and education. In support of this campaign, I'm sharing a video created by our friends over at ASAP Science that offers some useful and important information on the subject. Specifically, this video details how HIV affects the body, it discusses why a cure has been so elusive, and it offers a glimpse into the future of HIV treatment. Check it out, and be sure to do your part in contributing to HIV awareness and education by sharing it.

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Taking Antibiotics After Unprotected Sex May Reduce STI Risk

Taking Antibiotics After Unprotected Sex May Reduce STI Risk

New research finds that the antibiotic doxycycline reduces the odds of contracting some bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) if taken within 72 hours of condomless sex.

The findings, presented earlier this year at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, came from a study of 232 HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM). Half of the men were given a prescription for the drug and instructed to take two pills (100 mg) within three days any time they had sex without condoms. The remaining men did not receive the antibiotic regimen; however, everyone was given condoms and counseling about safer sex. All participants were tested regularly for STIs for several months afterward.

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How Are Rates Of STDs Changing In The US? (Infographic)

How Are Rates Of STDs Changing In The US? (Infographic)

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major public health concern in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are estimated to be 110 million infections in the U.S. today, with 20 million new infections occurring each year. So what's been happening with STD rates over the last few years? Have they been rising or falling? And is the pattern similar or different across various infections? For a look at the data, check out the infographic below, which includes selected figures complied from the CDC's website.

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The HPV Vaccine is Still Woefully Underutilized—Here’s How We Can Change That

The HPV Vaccine is Still Woefully Underutilized—Here’s How We Can Change That

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. In addition to genital warts, it has the potential to cause a wide range of cancers, including cancers of the cervix, anus, and throat. A vaccine that can prevent HPV (and its associated cancers) has been around for nearly a decade; however, it continues to be widely underutilized in the United States.

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