The HPV Vaccine is Underutilized--And How We Can Change That

The HPV Vaccine is Underutilized--And How We Can Change That

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.

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What is HPV and How Can You Protect Yourself From It?

What is HPV and How Can You Protect Yourself From It?

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?

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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 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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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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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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4 Things You Should Know About Vibrators

4 Things You Should Know About Vibrators

Vibrators are one of the most popular sex toys in the world. They are ubiquitous in sex shops, not to mention on the internet—and you can get them in virtually any size, shape, or color desired. In this post, let’s take a look at what we know about vibrators, including who’s using them, as well as the impact that vibrators are having on our sex lives.

1.) Believe it or not, the first vibrator was developed as a therapeutic treatment device for women who had been diagnosed with a bogus medical condition known as “hysteria.”

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Am I Too Old For The HPV Vaccine?

Am I Too Old For The HPV Vaccine?

In the United States, the FDA currently recommends the HPV vaccine for anyone aged 9-26, regardless of their sex. This vaccine is designed to prevent several different types of cancer—including cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus—as well as genital warts. But let’s say you’re over age 26. Does this necessarily mean that you're too old to get it? This is something a lot of folks—myself included—have wondered.

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The Problem With Abstinence Pledges

The Problem With Abstinence Pledges

In the U.S. today, 37 states mandate that information on abstinence be provided in sex education courses. In those states, it is not uncommon for students to be asked to take “purity” or virginity pledges as part of the curriculum.

Students are often encouraged to take these pledges in order to both reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections and to prevent unintended pregnancies. As it turns out, however, abstinence pledges don’t necessarily accomplish either one of these things. In fact, a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Marriage and Family suggests that they may do just the opposite!

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What’s More Likely From Unprotected Sex: Getting Pregnant or Getting an STD?

What’s More Likely From Unprotected Sex: Getting Pregnant or Getting an STD?

A reader submitted the following question:

“What is more probable in a random heterosexual encounter without protection: getting an STD or getting pregnant? I assume the answer will change with age (higher chances of STD for older people, higher chances of pregnancy for younger women) but I think would be interesting to know the answer for an average person.”

Thanks for this very interesting, but very complex question! There’s not a simple answer because there are a lot of unaccounted for variables here.

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Why Doctors Need Better Education About the HPV Vaccine, Too

Why Doctors Need Better Education About the HPV Vaccine, Too

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that 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, consequently, its associated cancers) has been around for nearly a decade; however, it continues to be widely underutilized. For instance, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among teens aged 13-17, just 39.7% of girls and 21.6% of boys had received all three of the recommended doses of this vaccine in 2014. This is far lower than the rate of other recommended immunizations for people in this age group. 

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Sex Question Friday: Should I Be Using Condoms During Oral Sex?

Sex Question Friday: Should I Be Using Condoms During Oral Sex?

A reader submitted the following question:

“Is it necessary to use condoms/dental dams for oral sex? What if it is not used? Does that guarantee transmission of sexually transmitted infections?”

Thanks for this great question! Oral sex has become a very common sexual activity in the Western world. For instance, most U.S. adults under age 50 say that they have given and/or received oral sex in the past year in the form of fellatio or cunnilingus, a number that has increased significantly during the past few decades.

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Sex Question Friday: Can You Get An STI From Sharing A Sex Toy?

Sex Question Friday: Can You Get An STI From Sharing A Sex Toy?

A reader submitted the following question:

"Is it safe to share sex toys with other people as long as you clean them up well, or do you still need to worry about sexually transmitted diseases?"

Thanks for this great question! Sexual health experts have long encouraged people to clean vibrators and other sex toys thoroughly before and after sharing them; however, until recently, no one had ever studied whether this advice was sound. That is, does cleaning a shared sex toy between uses really make it safe? According to a recent study, it's not as safe as you might think.

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How Indiana Politicians Are Ignoring Science And Harming Hoosiers’ Sexual Health

How Indiana Politicians Are Ignoring Science And Harming Hoosiers’ Sexual Health

My home state of Indiana has been in the news a lot lately, and most of the news coverage has portrayed it in a pretty unflattering light. This is due almost entirely to the actions of our elected officials, who appear to be out of touch with the views of everyday Hoosiers and with the scientific community on matters of sexuality and sexual health.  Much has been said and written in recent weeks about passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the concern that its original wording was intended to license discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons. This is a prime example of how the State government’s actions are out of step with the public, who overwhelmingly oppose discrimination against sexual minorities. Our elected officials’ disregard for science has not generated quite the same level of national attention as the RFRA law, but it is nonetheless just as concerning. In this article, I would like to take a look at the disconnect between our State government’s actions and the science, and consider its potential impact on the sexual health of Indiana residents.

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Sex Question Friday: Is “Rimming” Safe?

Sex Question Friday: Is “Rimming” Safe?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know:

“Is rimming safe?”

In case anyone reading this is unfamiliar with the term “rimming,” what we’re talking about here is oral stimulation of the anus (also known as anilingus).

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Is It Safe To Share Sex Toys?

Is It Safe To Share Sex Toys?

Sex toys have become incredibly popular in recent years. Just consider this: national U.S. survey data reveal that 52.5% of women and 44.8% of men report having used a vibrator during sexual activity at least once before! Although some people only use vibrators by themselves (e.g., during masturbation), others share sex toys with their partners. In order to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual health experts have long encouraged people to clean vibrators and other sex toys thoroughly before and after sharing them. To date, however, no one has ever studied the soundness of this advice—that is, does cleaning a shared sex toy between uses really make it safe? According to newly published research, not as safe as you might think.

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Fact Or Fiction: Does The HPV Vaccine Work? (VIDEO)

Fact Or Fiction: Does The HPV Vaccine Work? (VIDEO)

The human papilloma virus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections today, and it is responsible for a wide range of health issues, including genital warts, as well as cancers of the cervix, throat, and anus. In order to combat HPV and its devastating effects, a vaccine (Gardasil) was introduced in 2006 and it is currently approved for use in both men and women. However, ever since Gardasil hit the market, the rumor mill has been in overdrive. People have questioned whether the vaccine is actually effective at preventing HPV, whether it gives young folks a "license to be promiscuous," and whether it causes negative side effects (in fact, former Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann once famously claimed that the vaccine can cause mental retardation). So what's fact and what's fiction when it comes to Gardasil? Check out the video below for a reality check from Dr. Aaron Carroll of Indiana University.

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Six Myths About Sexually Transmitted Infections Debunked

Although most people are sexually active, it is surprising how little some people seem to know about sex. In particular, there are a multitude of myths and misconceptions about the topic of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Below, we will review six of the most persistent false beliefs about STIs.
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Fact Check: Do Condoms Actually Increase STD Risk For Porn Performers?

“The shortest porn scenes require an absolute minimum of ‘half an hour of hard thrusting by a well-endowed young man. It's hard enough to deal with [without] condoms. Add latex to the mix and I'm down to being able to work with a man once a week at best, to say nothing of the damage it would do to my private life and intimacy with my husband.’” – Porn actress Nina Hartley on the use of condoms in pornography

Next month, voters in California will decide whether to enact a law requiring pornography performers to wear condoms during films in an attempt to reduce their risk of contracting and spreading HIV and other STIs. This issue has stoked a lot of controversy and has generated a number of articles and opinion pieces arguing both for and against the ballot measure. One article in particular, entitled “Why Porn Sex is the Safest Sex,” caught my attention, and not just for its provocative title (which stems from a quote by porn actor James Deen who argued that “the safest sex you can have is in the adult film business”). If you read the entire article, it goes on to suggest that use of condoms during porn actually makes the performers less safe. Needless to say, I thought this claim merited a fact check.

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