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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What the Dutch Can Teach Us About Sex Education

What the Dutch Can Teach Us About Sex Education

This past summer, I taught a study abroad course on sex and culture in the Netherlands. We covered a lot of ground in this class, including an in-depth look at what a legalized prostitution system looks like and the implications of it for the mental and physical health of Dutch sex workers. In addition, we spent a lot of time talking about differences in sex education in the Netherlands compared to the United States. It turns out that these countries have radically different approaches to sex ed, and there’s a lot we can learn from the Dutch.

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Do Gay and Bisexual Men on PrEP Take More Sexual Risks?

Do Gay and Bisexual Men on PrEP Take More Sexual Risks?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (also known as PrEP for short) is an increasingly popular method of HIV prevention among persons at the highest risk of infection. It involves taking one pill per day that combines two different drugs (tenofovir and emtricitabine). These are actually the same drugs used to treat people who already have HIV; however, when someone who is uninfected takes them, it makes it very difficult for HIV to establish an infection in the body should that person be exposed to the virus through sexual activity or injection drug use.

PrEP was originally approved by the FDA five years ago and it’s estimated that 136,000 people are now taking it—a figure that continues to climb significantly year over year. The vast majority of the people taking PrEP in the United States are gay and bisexual men, given that they’re the group that’s most at risk for contracting HIV here. However, as more men who have sex with men have begun taking PrEP, concerns have been raised over whether this drug might be changing their sexual behaviors.

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The US Government is Poised to Move Backwards on Sex Education

The US Government is Poised to Move Backwards on Sex Education

In the final budget proposal submitted by the Obama administration last year, funding for abstinence-only sex education was put on the chopping block. They proposed eliminating abstinence-only programs entirely and, although it didn't ultimately come to pass, their proposal at least showed recognition of the fact that we need a new approach to sex education in this country. Study after study has shown that promoting abstinence only just doesn’t work. In fact, if anything, it seems to be counterproductive. For example, research has found that the U.S. states with the most abstinence-only programs actually have the highest rates of teen pregnancy [1]!

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Why You Shouldn’t Rush When Putting on a Condom

Why You Shouldn’t Rush When Putting on a Condom

Condoms are one of the best tools we have for reducing the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and preventing unintended pregnancies. Unfortunately, however, they don’t always provide as much protection as they could because people tend to make a lot of mistakes when it comes to applying condoms. These mistakes include using sharp objects to open condom packages, not checking the expiration date, and taking the condom off before sex is finished. Why are condom use errors so common? Undoubtedly, there are multiple reasons, not the least of which is a simple lack of knowledge regarding proper condom use. However, a recent study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections points to at least one other important potential contributor: rushed condom application.

Read More

Why Teens Have Better Sexual Health in the Netherlands than the US

Why Teens Have Better Sexual Health in the Netherlands than the US

The next unit in my Amsterdam study abroad course focuses on sexual health and sex education. As a starting point, I shared some statistics with my students highlighting just how dramatically different teens’ sexual health outcomes are in the Netherlands compared to the United States. So that you can get some sense of this, too, I’ve put together the infographic below, which reveals that teen girls in the Netherlands have far lower rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion. Below, we’ll discuss why.

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10 Things You Should Know About Anal Sex

10 Things You Should Know About Anal Sex

As a sex educator, one of the topics I get asked about most often is anal sex. Given how curious people seem to be about this activity, I thought it would be worth putting together a brief guide that addresses some of the most common questions people have about anal sex. So, here goes:

1.) Anal sex is a very popular sexual activity in the United States today, with CDC research suggesting that close to one-half of men and about one-third of women have had anal intercourse before.

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Video: Why Parents Should Talk To Their Kids About Sex

Video: Why Parents Should Talk To Their Kids About Sex

A lot of parents avoid talking to their kids about sex because they are afraid the experience will be awkward, embarrassing, or uncomfortable. However, parents aren't doing their kids any favors by taking this topic of conversation off the table. As Dr. Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician and professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, explains in the video below, the research is pretty clear when it comes to parent-child communication about "the birds and the bees": kids who are able to talk to their parents about sex are more likely to practice safe sex. Check out the video below to learn more about the research on this topic.

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