The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection and it’s responsible for a number of negative health effects. In addition to genital warts, it has the potential to cause a number of cancers, including those of the cervix, anus, and throat. A vaccine that can prevent HPV (and, therefore, its associated health problems) has been around for nearly a decade; however, it continues to be widely underutilized in the United States.Read More
We are getting closer and closer to eradicating HIV, a sexually transmitted infection that has contributed to the deaths of at least 32 million people worldwide since the early 1980s. However, something that’s likely to surprise a lot of people is that scientists believe we may be able to eradicate HIV before we ever even find a cure for it. Yep, you read that right.Read More
The human papilloma virus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. More than one hundred strains of HPV exist and, while most of them don’t cause problems, some do—and those problems are potentially quite serious. For example, HPV has been linked to cancers of the cervix, throat, and anus.
So what exactly happens inside the body when someone contracts one of the dangerous strains of HPV? How can you learn whether or not you’ve been infected? And what can you do to reduce the risk of contracting an HPV infection?Read More
Scientists have been working on developing a birth control pill for men for years. One prominent line of research has focused on using hormones to block production of sperm; however, this approach has come with a number of side effects and there is a significant number of men for whom it don’t seem to work. As a result, some researchers have begun turning to methods that don’t require the administration of hormones, as Dr. John Amory explains in the TEDMED video below.Read More
Gonorrhea is a relatively common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be passed along through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. It was once thought that these were the only sexual activities that posed a significant risk for this particular STI; however, a recent study suggests that gonorrhea can potentially be transmitted through kissing as well, regardless of whether any genital contact occurs.Read More
A few days ago, I received several messages from friends saying they heard a segment on NPR about kink that mentioned me. Naturally, I was curious to give it a listen, but mostly because kink is a topic that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard covered on NPR—and I listen to NPR a lot! It turns out that the segment is all about what the kink community can teach us about sexual consent and communication, and it’s pretty well done.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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 .
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.Read More
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!Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More