sexual health, sexuality, youth health issues!
How to break seal of a girl??
This is a question that we often get in classroom workshops, and it’s great that we got this as a web question because there are a lot of myths circulating about this topic.
I’m assuming that by “seal,” you’re referring to the hymen, which is a membrane surrounding the vaginal opening. This membrane tends to wear out as one gets older, through day-to-day activities like walking, playing sports, horseback riding, or masturbation, all of which can reduce the size or consistency of the hymen. To make sure that you have a good visual, in a vast majority of cases, hymens are not like a glass window that has to be broken, but more like a donut or a large spider web.
So, by the time somebody with a vagina decides to have (vaginal) penetrative sex for the first time there are often already openings in their hymen. We often attribute the bleeding during first vaginal penetration to the “breakage” of the hymen, and that’s often what we mean when we say someone has “lost their virginity”. However, the hymen is not the seal of virginity. More often than not, the cause of bleeding during the first penetration(s) is less the hymen itself and more other factors like stress and/or not knowing yet what works for your body. This combination will probably make your body tense and your vagina less lubricated, which can make penetration harder or more painful, and could cause some bleeding. Some ways to counter this would be by letting yourself take your time and figure out what feels right for you, communicating openly with your partner(s) about the process, and having plenty of lube on hand to use…and even after your first few times, lube can be one of your best partners whenever you’re having sex. You can always get safer sex supplies, including lube, for free at Head & Hands!
I’ll do my best to answer your question, but I’m missing some details that would let me give you a truly accurate response on the risk level for your situation.
Assuming you’re stressed because you didn’t use a barrier (condom or dental dam) when getting oral sex, I can tell you that the HIV transmission rate during unprotected oral sex is not high. There is a risk of contraction for you, but it’s low. Regarding unprotected oral sex, I would be more concerned with the Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, or Herpes contraction, because the transmission of these STIs can be from a skin-to-skin contact.
The best way to lower your anxiety would be to get tested for these STIs. Something to have in mind before getting tested is that STIs have what’s called a window period. A window period is the time where an STI is alive in your body, is contagious, but is not yet detectable by a test. For example, Chlamydia’s window period is 3 to 10 days, but HIV’s window period is 3 to 6 months.
This means that if you’ve had sex and are worried about having contracted HIV, you have to wait at less 3 months after the sexual incounter that is worrying you to get an accurate test result. In most cases, the test will be accurate after 3 months, but to be sure, it’s important to get tested after 6 months as well.
You can always get tested for HIV (and other STIs) at the Head & Hands medical clinic on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. In the meantime, I would recommend that you use condoms and/or dental dams to make sure that you and your partners are protected.
I wouldn’t stress too much about this. First off, there is nothing wrong with having inverted nipples. A lot more people then you may think have them, simply because anybody who has nipples can have an inverted nipple. This can mean something different for everyone, because each person’s nipples will react differently to stimulation. Let’s say that when you’re hooking up with someone, your breast gets rubbed or sucked. In many cases, this can bring out your nipples, so it may not even show that your nipples are inverted.
But what if you are naked in front of someone and they notice that you have inverted nipples…and that person passes a negative comment on you nipples? You can explain that you have “shy nipples” and that this doesn’t change anything about your physical enjoyment; it’s just the way you are made. Also, we are taught that there is just one way, or at least just one good way, that a body should look. In general the representation of breasts and nipples in the media is: perfectly round, firm, perky, symmetrical, full (at least a C cup), with a small and soft pink areola/nipple and a permanently erect nipple. At least 90% of the population doesn’t have breasts that fit this description.
As for your question about turning guys off, I’d say that attitude is key. This is your body; own it! And of course, if the person you’re with doesn’t appreciate your body, then maybe they don’t deserve to be seeing it.
In most cities it very easy to get some free condoms!
A lot of community organisations offer free condoms, in many cases organisations that work with youth or that offer health/sexual health services usually make sure to always have some available. For these reasons, you can get free condoms here at Head & Hands (5833 Sherbrooke St. West) - see our website for our opening hours (http://headandhands.ca/).
You can also get them at CLSCs (find your nearest CLSC at http://www.indexsante.ca/CLSC/).
If you’re still in school, lucky you, because almost every high schools/CEGEPs/universities will have free condom either at the nurse office, health services, guidance counsellor or social worker for the students.
To be really straightforward, any form of unprotected penetration (ex: penis in mouth) is not “safe”. Giving a blowjob without using a condom could put you at risk for contracting an STI (sexually transmitted infection). STIs like Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Herpes, HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), Hepatitis B, LGV (Lymphogranuloma venereum), Chlamydia, and HIV can all be transmitted by oral sex.
Using a condom is the safest thing to do to reduce your risk of getting one of the STIs mentioned above. If you don’t like the taste of lube, you could try using non-lubricated condoms, or flavoured ones! If you are not using a condom, though, there are other things you can do to help reduce your risks: getting tested regularly (ex: every six months) and talking openly about sexual health history with your partners before going down on them. These habits will help you get as informed as possible – but remember, a lot of people who have STIs don’t have any symptoms and don’t even know they’re infected. So that’s why the condom is the safer bet!
We say this all the time (http://www.senseproject.org/2011/06/ask-anything-first-timers/), but the basic thing in any relationship is communication. If you want to be sure that you’re on the same page as your partner and you really want to know what they’re thinking, you should start a conversation with them. We can stress for a long time about what the other person is thinking, when there might be nothing going on. If you feel like your girlfriend might believe that you didn’t last very long, it might be a good idea to address it with her, instead of letting these feelings grow in the background of your relationship.
I also think that the notion of lasting very long is pretty subjective: how long a person can and should keep an erection is different from one person to another. Usually, our expectations are very high, because we think that sex should be a certain perfect way. Sometimes, that standard comes from pornography. Keep in mind that pornography is made up of fantasies and not the reality. Just live your sexuality with your partner based on what feels good for both of you – you are the ones who get to decide what happens, when it happens, and for how long… not any fictional standard.
Being stressed or feeling pressured can really affect people’s ability to get an erection, so I’d also suggest to chill, talk and enjoy the moments with your girlfriend. It was your first time – it’s okay to start by exploring what works and doesn’t work for you and your partner. After all, having sex is not just about having a long erection, it’s about having fun and connecting with your partner!
There aren’t any real limits to how many orgasms you can experience in a day.
Different people have different “recovery periods” between orgasms – basically, the time it takes for blood to flow back to those areas that it just rushed out of. Usually female-bodied people are more disposed to get more orgasms or multiple orgasms than male-bodied people. That distinction comes from the fact that male-bodied people have a recovery period that’s longer and different than for female-bodied people – it’s the period after an ejaculation where you can’t get another erection. Female-bodied people also have that recovery period after an orgasm, but it can be shorter or non-existent in some cases. Other factors like stress, mental and physical health, confidence or trust between partners, drug or alcohol use, your age, etc… can have an impact on your capacity to have an orgasm, and by default, many orgasms. Sometimes, focusing on the number of orgasms you are having or trying to achieve orgasm can prevent you from actually “getting there”, because your mind and body are too preoccupied! Just keep in mind that having an orgasm is not the ultimate goal of sexual activity, so the number of orgasms that you have doesn’t qualify the quality of your sexual activity.
Since you got tested twice, and your results were negative both times, I would feel pretty confident in your results. You also got tested after 6 months, which fully covers the window period for HIV (the time frame in which the virus can’t be accurately detected by a test – for HIV it’s 3-6 months). In your case, I would let go of the stress and start enjoying safe sex again.
In general, when you are sexually active, you should get tested for STIs every 6 months even if you use protection – that way, you cover all the window periods of the different tests. People sometimes choose to get tested every year, or even less often, if they have one partner and they’ve agreed on a monogamous relationship. In your case, it sounds like you’ve got your bases covered for that one situation, and you could consider getting tested regularly (e.g. every 6 months to a year) in the future. You can also stock up on free condoms and lube at Head & Hands (and most other clinics), to further protect your health!
Intersex refers to a person who’s born with sex chromosomes, external genitalia, or a reproductive system that’s not considered “standard” for either male or female. (Intersex Society of North America www.isna.org)
Here are some examples to represent this concept. A person could be born with a vulva and a vagina but no uterus and ovaries (internal reproductive system), or with a penis and a vagina, or a very large clitoris that resembles a penis. A lot of people are curious about what the range of intersex genitals could look like, but these questions can be quite invasive for intersex people (for any person, really!). This blog http://intersexroadshow.blogspot.com/2011/04/intersex-genitalia-illustrated-and.html has some great diagrams and explanations that avoid using photos of people’s bodies (these are often taken without the person’s consent).
These variations in sexual organs doesn’t mean a person is unhealthy, and in most cases won’t cause any physical health problems to the person. The big issue in the reality of an intersex person is often the ambiguity. Ambiguity by itself is totally fine, but our society doesn’t respond very well to things that don’t fit easily into boxes. In most cases, doctors perform surgery on intersex babies in order to “correct” the situation and to make their genitals fit in the “normal” male/female binary. This sends the message that to be intersex is a problem, when in reality it’s not!
Being informed as parents of an intersex kid or as an intersex person is really important, since there are many myths out there that can have a big impact on a person’s sexual development and identity. Check the Intersex Society of North America, or these videos produced by 20/20, for more information:
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xv1yk2Va9qc
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHbBTEeayEU&feature=related
An important thing to note is that there's a lot of confusion in our day-to-day language about the female genitals, especially about the difference between the vagina and the vulva. The vulva refers to the outer portion of the genitals formed by the clitoris, the hood of the clitoris, the outer and the inner labia, the opening of the urethra and the opening of the vagina. The vagina is the internal part: it's the canal that connects the vulva to the cervix and the uterus (the inner genitals). Check out the diagram below to see how it all comes together!
In any case, the precise number of different types of vulvas and vaginas are impossible to determine. Everybody is shaped differently to begin with, and people can alter the appearance of their genitals in different ways (e.g. piercing, shaving, tattoos or dyes)
As cliché as it sounds, every vulva is a unique piece of art. It has its own colour, size, amount of hair, and texture. Colour can range from a subtle pink to a rich brown tone. The clitoris, its hood and the labia can be very small and the skin tight, or larger and with the skin more elastic. Inner labia might be longer or shorter, sometimes extending below the outer labia and sometimes not. All of these things are normal! It’s also important to note that the inner labia (like breasts and testicles) usually differ in size. For example, your inner right labia might stick out beyond your outer labia a lot more than the left one.
For pregnancy to occur, sperm has get inside the vagina or on the vulva (where semen could be pushed into the vagina through intercourse, touching etc.). Sperm have a hard time surviving once the semen has dried up, so pregnancy is pretty unlikely if the person had semen on their hand that had dried up, AND rinsed their hands. Thorough hand-washing (with soap and vigorous rubbing!) is the best way to make sure there’s no remaining ejaculate around, or use gloves and lube for fingering. If you’re concerned about pregnancy in general, check out this post for some different birth control ideas: http://www.senseproject.org/2011/05/ask-anything-safer-sex-pregnancy/ The more you know about your body and how pregnancy happens, the better!
The Pill is a reversible form of contraception – meaning that once you stop taking it, your body resumes its natural cycles and you are able to get pregnant. It’s safe to stop taking it whenever you want to stop taking it, just remember that it may take awhile for your body to adjust. When you first go on the Pill, your body is adjusting to the new levels of hormones in your system. Similarly, when you stop taking it, your body has to get used to not having those levels of hormones around. This means that it can take a few months for your menstrual cycle to become regular again – for example, many people don’t get their period for an average of 3 months after going off the Pill, and when it does come back, it can still take awhile to become a regular, predictable cycle. This is normal. It also varies depending on the type of pills you’re on, so you can consult your doctor or the information sheets in your Pill packs.
You can also choose to go back on the Pill when you’re sexually active again, and there shouldn’t be any problems there. Remember that its effectiveness depends on when you start taking it: If you begin your first new pack on the first day of your period, it should be effective immediately or within seven days, if you take every day at the same time throughout that whole cycle. If you start taking on the Sunday after your period (the “Sunday start”), and you continue to take it perfectly throughout that cycle, it should be effective within seven days of starting. If you take it at any other time during the month, then it should be fully effective after taking it for a full month. I always recommend to use a back-up method (like condoms) throughout the whole first month of starting the Pill – because it’s hard to predict whether you’ll take at the same time every day for the rest of that month.
In your case, you could consider even starting back on the Pill in advance of your boyfriend coming back, so that you’d be sure of its effectiveness. Either way, you can think about using back-up options like condoms if and when you’re becoming sexually active again.
Hope this helps!
For pregnancy to occur, sperm has get inside the vagina or on the vulva (where semen could be pushed into the vagina through intercourse, touching etc.). If someone has semen on their hand, and it is still wet, and then fingers someone else, then yes, there is a pregnancy risk there. However, sperm have a hard time surviving once the semen has dried up, so pregnancy is pretty unlikely if the person had semen on their hand that had dried up. Either way, there are a few ways you can reduce this risk: hand-washing is a quick and easy way to make sure there’s no remaining ejaculate around, or use gloves and lube for fingering. If you’re concerned about pregnancy in general, check out this blog post (http://www.senseproject.org/2011/05/ask-anything-safer-sex-pregnancy/) for some different birth control ideas. The more you know about your body and how pregnancy happens, the better!
Check out this answer on our blog - http://www.senseproject.org/2011/03/ask-anything-the-hymen/ - it may help you understand the anatomy of the vagina and what the 'hymen' is!
Check out this answer on our blog - http://www.senseproject.org/2011/03/ask-anything-the-hymen/ - it may help you understand the anatomy of the vagina!
Check out this answer on our blog - http://www.senseproject.org/2011/03/ask-anything-the-hymen/ - it may help you understand what the hymen is and how it works!
You can get free condoms here at Head & Hands (5833 Sherbrooke St. Ouest) - see our website for our opening hours (http://headandhands.ca/info.php?1?1), or call our streetworkers who always have them on hand! You can also get them at CLSCs (find your nearest CLSC at http://www.santemontreal.qc.ca/adresses/centres-de-sante-et-de-services-sociaux-csss/#c2663), at many schools/CEGEPs/universities (try the nurse’s office or Health Services, guidance counsellor or social worker), and at other community organizations or youth centres, like AIDS Community Care Montreal, Rezo, Dans la rue/Pops van, or Head & Hands’ teen drop-in centre, J2K. Concordia’s 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy and McGill’s Union for Gender Empowerment also stock condoms and other safer sex supplies. Happy searching!
First off, I want to say that your enjoyment is just as important to this equation as your husband's. Everyone has a sex drive and everyone has the right to experience pleasure. Sex is best when both people are into it!
Secondly, I must say that there's no one (or even two or three) answer(s) to this. My main suggestion would be to communicate! Spend some time thinking about what sex acts turn you on and what you're comfortable doing. Brainstorm a few ideas about what might be enjoyable for you and your husband. Think about your fantasies and what you want out of sex. Then sit down with your husband over coffee or a glass of wine or a meal or whatever. Tell him your fantasies. Ask him what his are. Discuss ways to make them a reality. If things get awkward or uncomfortable, maybe take a break. Be prepared to give him some time to do some thinking as well and then set a time in the near future that works for both of you to come back and talk about things.
As far as detailed suggestions about different things you can try and how to go about doing them, there are way too many options to discuss here. Internet research can be helpful, but remember to take everything you read there with a grain of salt. There’s a great – and quite detailed! – article over on Scarleteen that describes the anatomy of pleasure and which of our body parts can make us feel really good! (http://www.scarleteen.com/article/body/with_pleasure_a_view_of_whole_sexual_anatomy_for_every_body) There are also a lot of great books out there that you can find at many bookstores or even the library sometimes. My favorite is The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex. It talks about a wide range of topics related to sex, offers tips on how to make each sex act more enjoyable for both people, and is a super easy and fun read. There's something in it for everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, and sexual preferences.
Keep in mind that the idea of what "good sex" is is different for everyone. Also, you and/or your husband may be into one thing one night and a totally different thing the next. Communication is an ongoing process. Keep talking with each other in different ways and different times. Some of the best discussions happen when you're not in bed, but offering suggestions and checking in with the other person are also important before, during, and after sex. As a general rule, the more you talk about it, the more comfortable you will be and the better the sex will be.
After much time spent dwelling on what I would say to two people about to have sex for the first time, I was able to narrow my characteristic longwindedness down to 3 topics: Communication/Consent; Safer Sex/Birth Control; Pleasure.
Communicating about sex is really a win win: you can make sure that your partner is consenting and into it as well as maximize the pleasure of everybody involved. From a super practical standpoint, communicating might look like saying things along the lines of "is it cool if I take off your pants", "oh my god, what you just did felt amazing", "Could you go a little slower", "Stop for a second, I need a break", or seriously a bazillion other things. I generally shy away from making sweeping generalizations BUT sex will probably be better if you know that your partner is listening and responding to you and would stop as soon you asked. To make communicating easier, some people like to use code words that you and your partner can come up with beforehand. A really common set is the traffic light system where 'green' means everything is fantastic, 'yellow' means turn it down a bit, and 'red' means stop immediately. Coming up with code words can also be a helpful way to start a conversation about sex, consent, and boundaries with your partner.
--Safer Sex/Birth control--
I'm going to take the easy way out of this subtopic and encourage you to check out the post from a couple days ago here:
Keep in mind that people respond to hormonal birth control differently so you might have to try a few different kinds before you get one that you feel is a good fit. And just because it's impossible to say this too much, make sure to use a condom to keep yourselves safe from STIs and to also double up on the birth control front. If you've never used a condom before, it might be a good idea to open one up on your own, stretch it, get used to the lube that comes on most condoms, and generally get familiar with what condoms are like. Check out this refresher on how to put on a condom:
Try not to get too caught up in making your first time perfect. It takes the vast majority of people some time to figure out how to make their own bodies feel sexually good, not to mention how to communicate and negotiate that act with another person. Because doing anything for the first time is often intimidating, don't put too much pressure on yourselves. It's okay to laugh, it's okay to be scared, it's okay to REALLY want to have sex, it's okay to not, and it's okay to change your mind whenever you want. There's no surefire recipe for a 'special first time', so maybe instead of expecting something special, expect to have an experience where you learn something new about yourself and about your partner.
So, in short, communicate lots, protect yourselves as best you can from unwanted pregnancy and STIs, only do what you want to do, remember that the first time you do anything is usually intimidating, and keep in mind that there's no reason that your 2nd, 157th, or your 2493rd time won't be as or more special than the first.
Hope this helps.