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Education, Featured, Your Body

September 10 Is International Gynae Day

Millions of women every year will suffer from a Gynae (Gynaecological, Gynaecological) related condition or sexually transmitted infection. At Polkadotsi we talk frankly about all of your lovely lady gardens (sorry, not sorry!)

So many women remain sorely unaware of what is normal when it comes to their GYN health – and on September 10th we here at Polkadotsi are joining the cry of Viva La Vulva with Kath Mazzella to break down the stigma of your Sexual and reproductive health.

Kath has been campaigning for more awareness of GYN health for the past 20 years and has made some huge progress promoting her cause in Australia and around the world.

I interviewed Kath about where International Gynae Day came from, and what she is hoping to achieve in 2014!

September 10th is International Gynae Day, tell us how that came about?

IGAD came about after I placed an advertisement in  Women’s Day  seeking others with GYN issues. I was overwhelmed with the stories and stigma from so many women who were dealing with these issues behind closed doors.

So I formed GAIN Inc. to give voice to these women. I want the doors opened so we can all learn about it in a more open environment and we can all learn from each other.

After receiving the letters I rang Senator Amanda Vanstone’s office to see what could be done about the suffering in silence, and to raise awareness of Gynaecological Health.

Senator Vanstone’s reply was have an National GYN Day. I said How do I do that?

The answer was simple declare a day! So I declared and international GYN Day was founded.

If I had to wait for the government bureaucracy to do something, I won’t be on the earth and many others won’t either.

That it is SO important to talk about Gynae. The more we talk, the more we know, the more we understand, the more we rid of the fear factor surrounding GYN health issues.

What do you feel is most important for women to understand about Gynae?

That it is SO important to talk about Gynae. The more we talk, the more we know, the more we understand, the more we rid of the fear factor surrounding GYN health issues.

The shame and silence surrounding  GYN health discussions promotes depression, shame, stigma,  not only for women but the men/partners of these women who seem much in the dark as women are.

What message would you like women worldwide to take away from Gynae Day?

Gynae health is nothing to fear, but something to embrace in order to empower yourself and those around you, your mothers sisters, daughters, neighbours and work colleagues!

 I met a woman who said she has bad endometriosis, a work colleague commented once that she didn’t need to take a day off work just because she has a period. One million women have Endometriosis, 1 million Australian women have Polycystic Ovaries, many of these in the work place without a voice.

GYN health can have a huge ripple effect including depression, obesity, infertility, domestic violence, body image, the list goes on…  I try to break down these stigmas – the undies and quilts are doing the 20 years of lobbying for me.

At Polkadotsi this month we are going to run some fun trivia all about your body and GYN health. Follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #Gynaemight

You can find out more about Kath at www.kathmazzella.com  and www.gynaeday.com

 

Education, Featured, Orgasms, Your Body

The Health Benefits Of A Good Old Wank!

The Birds and The Bees

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it – Let’s do it, let’s have a waannnnkkkk!

Masturbation is a perfectly healthy, natural activity – mammals, birds and amphibians have all been observed engaging in a little bit of self-pleasuring…yep, that’s right the monkey really does do some spanking.

And just for your viewing pleasure – here’s some Australian native wildlife getting busy – a koala banging one off…

watch?v=w06tXEzP9G8&index=5&list=PL540322C914A242F8

…and a kangaroo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jsp_6IRT_uI&list=PL540322C914A242F8

Yay for Skippy!

Masturbation has been observed in deer, monkeys and walruses – even squirrels like to find their nuts. And we ladies and gents are just another mammal.

So Just Who is Wanking?

The Great British public are profuse wankers – with 73% of men and nearly 37% of women reporting having a ham shank in the last four weeks (Gerressu, Mercer, Graham, Wellings and Johnson, 2006). And what’s even cooler – those with higher levels of education, more frequent intercourse and a greater repertoire of sexual activities are more likely to knock one off. And those of the US of A can be attributed with being tossers too, with 38% of women and 61% of men reporting masturbation over the preceding year, which often complemented an active and pleasurable sex life (Das, 2007). Here in Australia 67% of men and 36% of women have engaged in masturbation within the last 12 months.

Ahhh – great nations of those who like to rub one out…it makes the heart fairly glow.

Infantile Masturbation

Even when we are very young we will naturally touch our genitals once we have learnt that by stimulating this area it feels good. And this is normal.

On an aside: it’s interesting to note that infantile masturbation or gratification behaviour – or what some clinicians refer to as gratification disorder (what’s that all about?!)-   and its accompanying grunting, rocking and sweating is sometimes a cause of concern for some parents who might rush their kids off for checks and investigations with the worry that they’re suffering from some form of epilepsy or movement disorder. Which would be kinda quirky if I wasn’t talking about clinical studies that have actually been written…But hey ho, live and learn right?

Kids like to get their rocks off too – and that’s perfectly OK and normal and doesn’t mean that they actually want to hump or get involved in sexual activities. And one for those parents out there who’s noticed Scout likes to play with her foo-foo – Having a positive attitude and communication with little girls (and boys) about masturbation and sexual self-exploration can have long-term beneficial effects upon their view of their sexual self and their subsequent sexual activity in later life (Hogarth & Ingham, 2009). So go easy on the kids and let them know that pleasure is awesome for its very own sake – it will be good for them in the long run.

Oiling the Cogs

Yes of course the post-orgasmic satiation following partnered penis-in-vagina (PIV) intercourse (if you swing that way) can often be physiologically greater than what we may achieve with masturbation (Brody & Kruger, 2006). Yet masturbation can be effective in treating orgasmic dysfunction or premature ejaculation, familiarise ourselves with our bodies and sexual responses and fulfil our sexual needs. Additionally, we are most definitely oiling our cogs: the functionality of the circulatory, neural and muscular systems of the genitalia is maintained by arousal and orgasm (Levin, 2007). Lubing up means better sexual functioning, which in turn will mean a greater ability to feel sexual pleasure or orgasm more easily – sheeeezzzam.

Masturbation: Self-Cultivating and Self-Loving or Learning to Make Your Flower Grow

Flicking the bean also has many cultivating properties – that’s right tickling your fancy has nurturing benefits. Not only does it strengthen our relationship with ourselves when we get to know, love and nurture ourselves – but by hanging out with who we know best we can improve sexual confidence and grow through self-awareness.

Masturbation can strengthen our relationship with others. By getting to know how to tame our own little beast we are learning how to identify, recognise, articulate and experience what brings us pleasure, which is an extremely powerful step in our self-development. By jilling off we can meet our own needs and then by sharing these experiences with others we can deepen our communication skills, openness and sexual honesty. That makes a little game of ‘Ring-a-ring-a roses’, a mind-blowing tool in our relationship and sexual arsenal.

And here’s some other Health Benefits of Masturbation while we’re at it:

  • Eases abdominal cramps during menstruation
  • Improves pre-menstrual symptoms
  • Relieves migraine headaches
  • Suppresses pain
  • Eases the symptoms of restless leg syndrome
  • Relieves feelings of frustration and stress
  • Helps relaxation by interfering with ruminations (going over and over an argument or previous social interaction again and again)
  • Lifts your spirits
  • by releasing mood-boosting hormones

So why aren’t we wanking?

It was really only quite recently in the seventeenth century that masturbation became viewed as a self-polluting vice. Then in the eighteenth and nineteenth century the medical profession got involved with the belief that the good old wank, or onanism, was both injurious and morally degenerative (Lacquer, 2003). It was claimed that masturbation would lead to blindness, insanity and impotence. Times have, thankfully, moved on since then and we now know that no amount of spanking the monkey is going to make your palms hairy…science and research is well behind us on this one ladies – wanking is officially GOOD FOR YOU!

 

Brody, S. & Kruger, T. (2006). The post-orgasmic prolactin increase following intercourse is greater than following masturbation and suggests greater satiety. Biological Psychology, 71, 3, 312-   315.

Das, A. (2007). Masturbation in the United States. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 33, 4, 301-  317.

Gerressu, M., Mercer, C.H., Graham, C.A., Wellings, K. & Johnson, A.M. (2008). Prevalence of  masturbation and associated factors in a British national survey. Archives of Sexual               Behaviour, 37, 266-278.

Hogarth, H. & Ingham, R. (2009). Masturbation among young women and associations with sexual  health: An exploratory study. The Journal of Sex Research, 46, 6, 558-567.

Laquer, T. W. (2003). Solitary sex: A cultural history of masturbation. Brooklyn, N. Y., U.S.A: Zone Books

Levin, R. J. (2007). Sexual activity, health and well-being – the beneficial roles of coitus and masturbation. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 22,1, 135-148.

Nechay, A., Ross, L.M, Stephenson, J.B.P. & O’Regan (2004). Gratification disorder (‘infantile masturbation’): a review. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 89, 225-226.

Queensland Goverment (2003). Sex in Queensland : A companion report to The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2003, Volume 27, Number 2. Queensland : Queensland               Government.

Yang, M. L., Fullwooe, E, Goldstein, J. & Mink, J. W. (2005). Masturbation in infancy and early childhood presenting as a movement disorder: 12 cases and a review of literature.      Paediatrics, 116, 6, 1427-1432.

 

Photo credit:  bibacomua

Sex Toys 101, Your Body

Sex Toy Smarts: Water-Based Versus Silicone Lube

Think anything slippery will do the trick when it comes to your sex toys? Whatever you have on hand might be good enough in the short term, but you can actually shorten the life of your favorite pleasure piece if you fail to use the right lubricant with it. Not only that, but using the wrong lube can actually cause the wrong kind of friction, which can lead to soreness. Boo! Prolong the life of your toys and make using them a whole lot more enjoyable. Here’s how to choose the right lube for your bedtime buddy.

Water

Water-based lubricants are generally the safest to use with the majority of sex toys, so if you’re not sure what exactly your toy is made of, stick with water-based in the meantime. If you’re not sure what your toys are made of, be sure to check out our post What Are Your Sex Toys Really Made Of? Some cheaper materials can actually contain toxins you’ll want to keep well away from your cooch, so do your research now. If you can’t figure out what your current toys are made of, it might be a good excuse time to invest in some quality replacements. 

But back to water-based lube. While this type of lubricant glides well and is usually easy to clean up, it does have a tendency to dry out, or be absorbed into the skin, more quickly than other varieties, meaning you may have to reapply it.

Silicone

Silicone lubricants are popular because they offer advantages above water-based lubes. First, they tend to be thicker and longer lasting, so you usually only need to apply them once per sexy session. Second, they’re not soluble in water, so if you like to take your toys with you into the shower or bath, you’ll need a lubricant that isn’t going to be washed away.

On the downside, the fact that silicon lubricants are thicker and longer-lasting means you’ll need to be far more careful about cleaning your toys after use to ensure every last bit of used lube is washed off.

Though inexperienced sex toy shoppers may be forgiven for assuming silicone lube is the best option for silicone toys, the opposite is actually true. Silicone lubricants should never be used with silicone or cyberskin toys, since they can actually break down the surface of your toy – making it a breeding ground for bacteria.

Remember; only ever use a dedicated sexual lubricant with your sex toys, or with your partner. Using anything else you might find in your kitchen or bathroom cabinets can damage your toy – and worse – prove harmful to you.

 

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Featured, Sex Positions, Your Body

4 Fun-Fit Positions for Sexercise

We’re obsessed with getting – or doing – two things for the price of one, aren’t we? It’s like one thing isn’t good enough anymore. We want to multitask and maximize our time, and we want our favorite things to be made even better by being combined with something equally amazing. It’s the mindset that gave birth to cronuts, and it’s the reason scientists continue to research how many calories we burn during sex… and the reason we keep wanting to brush up on their findings.

Despite scientists’ best efforts, their research on whether sex really is good exercise is still pretty inconclusive. They agree that an average sex session burns more calories than a leisurely walk – but not as many as a jog. If you’re thinking you can quit your gym membership and just have more sex you might be jumping the gun a little – although it really depends on the kind of sex you’re having, and how much effort you’re putting in to work those love muscles.

Intent on swapping the boredom of the treadmill for sexercise? Here are a few positions that could help you increase the burn.

Standing Screw

Have you mastered the tricky art of screwing while standing? Obviously, you’re going to be working a little harder – and using different muscles – if you’re getting it on vertically rather than horizontally. You might have to stand on your tiptoes, but you’ll tone your butt and legs.

Thigh-Master Kneel

Have your partner kneel opposite you, then slide on top of him, so your thighs are either side of his. You’ll have greater support while kneeling, but you’ll still work your thighs and gluteal muscles.

Double-Whammy Bridge

Lay on your back and form an arch by bending your legs and raising your butt off the bed, then have your lover move between your legs and enter you as he supports your hips with his hands. This position can be great for clitoral and G-spot stimulation – and it will provide an unbeatable workout for your bum and legs.

Core-Crazy Coitus

This is a variation on the Double-Whammy Bridge, but instead of forming an arch with your back, you’ll want to raise your butt even higher and have your outstretched legs resting against your partner’s shoulders. Be sure to support your lower back with your hands, and try and keep your legs reasonably straight. You’ll work your bum and legs, as well as your arms and your core.

What’s your favorite sexercise? Have you mastered a tricky position you think every woman should keep in her fun-fitness arsenal?

Education, Featured, Sex Ed, Your Body

Masturbation May is Here!

May is Masturbation and Self Discovery Month! None of us should need any convincing that masturbation is amazing – because orgasms! – but did you know flicking the bean can also be great for your overall wellbeing and your sex life?

Orgasms offer wide range of benefits, including stress busting, so getting yourself to the Big O should really be part of your mental health self-care. Masturbating also helps us understand our bodies and get a good feel for what we like and what gets us off, which then translates to all-round mind-blowing sex with a partner. Need I say more? Check out 4 Reasons to Let Your Guy Watch You Masturbate.

If you haven’t quite gotten the hang of self-discovery, or you’ve been experiencing a little bit of a self-love dry-spell as of late, now’s the time to assign yourself some homework, Mrs!

Masturbation is a very personal, intimate experience, and everyone is different in terms of what works for them. Below are some great tips to help you on your way…

Know Thyself

This Hands-On Guide to Masturbation from Refinery29 offers some great pointers, including:

  • Get to know your body. Understand your anatomy, and touch yourself any place that feels good
  • Discover what turns you on. Read erotica and indulge in fantasy to help get yourself in the mood.
  • Experiment with touch. Stoke, rub, circle, tap and squeeze to see what feels best.
  • Set the mood. Create an environment where you can feel relaxed, and let yourself be turned on without distraction.
  • Find a favorite toy. Try clitoral and internal stimulation, and see what feels best.
  • Choose a favorite position. Changing positions can change sensations; so don’t be afraid to mix it up.
  • Invite your partner to join in or watch. Masturbation doesn’t have to be a solo venture, and masturbating together can be great for your relationship.

Enjoy the Journey

Similarly, Cosmo’s Hands-On Guide to Solo Sex offers this pearl of wisdom:

Try not to be super goal-oriented, like, ‘I have to have an orgasm in less than 15 minutes’… Just ride the wave of pleasure as your nether regions become more sensitive, your heart rate zooms, your breathing intensifies, and the walls of your vagina begin to contract — all telltale signs you’re bound for bliss.

Mix It Up

And Women’s Health Magazine’s Best Masturbation Tips Ever assets:

Variety is key to your sex life, so why shouldn’t that extend to your self-love life? If you need more convincing, know this: By masturbating the same way every time, you might have more difficulty getting off when you’re with a partner. So stay flexible.

Happy Masturbation Month, ladies! If you have a top tip of your own to share, spill it in the comments below.

Featured, Your Body

15 Fun Facts about Boobs

Think you know your boobs pretty well, don’t you? Well, there may be a few gems among these fun breast facts that surprise you.

1. Every nipple is like a beautiful unique snowflake. No two nipples are identical – not even on your own body. They range in color and size, and some change color when aroused.

2. Scientists have found that breast milk contains naturally-occurring substances – known as cannabinoids – that are closely related to one of the primary active components of marijuana.

3. Some women experience as much as a full cup size of breast growth during PMS. This is due to the body producing higher levels of the hormones progesterone and prolactin while a woman is premenstrual, which can cause swelling,

4. Ever wondered why men have nipples? Nipples form on a fetus before biological sex is determined – that’s why we all have them.

5. Experts agree that with enough sucking and massaging, anyone can produce milk – meaning men can lactate too, if they really want to. Male breasts have milk ducts and mammary tissue, and like women, men produce oxytocin and prolactin, which are the hormones responsible for milk production.

6. When it comes to breastfeeding, size really doesn’t matter. Larger breasts have a higher proportion of fatty tissue, compared to glandular tissue. This has no effect on the amount of milk a woman is able to produce.

7. Got an ‘innie’? Don’t worry about it. Around 15 percent of women have inverted nipples. The only reason to worry is if your nipple changes from an outtie to an innie – this can be a symptom of breast health issues, so be sure to get any changes in your boobs checked.

8. 1 in 50 women have a third nipple (and so do 1 in 18 men). They’re normal. Just ask third-nipple-club members Tilda Swinton and Mark Wahlberg

9. Some people can achieve orgasm solely through nipple stimulation. A 2011 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine used MRIs to track brain responses to different types of physical stimulation. Researchers found nipple self-stimulation led to activation in the brain’s genital sensory cortex.

10. The current Guinness World Record holder for the largest natural breasts is Annie Hawkins-Turner, whose chest measures 70 inches over the nipples and around her back, boasting a bra size of 102ZZZ.

11. Humans are the only species to have permanently enlarged breasts. In non-human primates and other mammal species a full breast is a visual indication the female is suckling young.

12. Not symmetrical? No worries! No two breasts are the same, and in most women, the left one is usually bigger. One theory on this suggests that immune hypersensitivity (which is higher on the left side of the body) has an impact on hormones that help determine breast size and shape.

13. A woman’s breasts are never exactly the same, but they are most symmetrical between days 14 and 16 of her menstrual cycle due to hormones released during ovulation.

14. Our breasts are growing! The average bra size in the UK is 36D, up from a 34B ten years ago. Similarly, in the USA the average bra size is a 34DD, up from a 34B 20 years ago.

15. As many as 80 percent of women are estimated to wear the wrong size bra. As well as effecting the way your boobs look, wearing an incorrectly fitting bra can lead to back pain, indigestion and even headaches.

Featured, Your Body

Body-Love Heroes

It’s no secret that the constant bombardment of airbrushed images and social body-shaming ideals can negatively impact the ways in which we think about, and accept, our bodies.

Thankfully, there are some beautiful, strong women out there in Medialand, unwilling to confirm and more than happy to speak out about body-love.

Lady Gaga

Say what you will about her music, but Lady Gaga is a body image hero who isn’t afraid to call the media out on their body-shaming bullshit. After a string of websites and magazines slammed the starlet for putting on a few pounds, Mother Monster hit back at critics by baring her body in photographs posted on her own website and sharing her personal struggle with bulimia. She invited her fans to join a “body revolution”.

“Be brave and celebrate with us your ‘perceived flaws,’ as society tells us. May we make our flaws famous, and thus redefine the heinous.”

Lena Dunham

Girls star Lena Dunham’s openness about her body – on screen and in speaking to the media – has solidified her place in many women’s minds a body-love hero. She’s talked about her ‘Zen body philosophy’, encouraging all women to love their body, regardless of its size of shape.

“I think about my body as a tool to do the stuff I need to do, but not the be all and end all of my existence. Which sounds like I spent a week at a meditation retreat, but it’s genuinely how I feel.”

Lily Allen

Known for being a straight shooter, Lily Allen doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to acknowledging the pressure put on women to fit beauty and body ideals. She drew some negative attention recently, telling Elle magazine:

“Of course I’d rather look like Kate Moss than look like myself. I wish I didn’t feel like that, and I think the reason we feel like that is because of the imagery we’re fed all the time.”

However, many fans are celebrating her willingness to go on the record with her insecurities. Her music video for Hard Out Here highlights the ridiculous pressures put on women to erase any sign left on their bodies that they’ve given birth, or conform to body size standards.

Beyonce

Beyonce has a bangin’ body, and she’s not shy about showing it off. She has even used media criticism as inspiration for some of her music – including one of her biggest hits, which saw the term ‘bootylicious’ added to every woman’s body-love vocab.

Bootylicious was funny, but it came from people saying that I had gained weight and me being like, ‘I’m a southern woman, and this is how southern women are’.”

Adele

Powerhouse songstress Adele makes no apologies for her curves, and has been quoted numerous times on the fact that she’d rather enjoy her life, eat nice food and drink good wine than spend time at the gym.

“I read a comment on YouTube that I thought would upset me — ‘Test pilot for pies’ — but I’ve always been a size 14-16 and been fine with it. I would only lose weight if it affected my health or sex life, which it doesn’t.”

Jennifer Lawrence

J.Law is like everyone’s imagined celebrity BFF, right? I’m sure part of that has to do with her very vocal thoughts on body love, self-acceptance, and not bending to the Hollywood diet-diatribe.  She told Yahoo! CEO Melissa Mayer in an interview:

“You look how you look, you have to be comfortable. What are you going to do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That’s just dumb.”

Amy Poehler

Could there really be any kind of discussion about confidence and self-love without a quote from Amy Poehler? This fierce and funny lady is celebrated for dishing out inspiring and practical pearls of wisdom for girls and women, and her philosophies on body love are no exception. In one of her Ask Amy vlogs, she says:

“Sometimes a good way to help yourself get out of it is to have some gratitude… if you can go around your body and kind of thank it for what it gives you and thank yourself for your great eyesight, or your thick hair, or your nice legs, or your strong teeth, or whatever it is that you have that you were given. And make friends with those parts of your body and not try to focus on the parts that will never change.”

You know who has a pretty amazing body? You do, even if you don’t always recognize it. Its high time we all started to focus less on our perceived flaws, and more on the ways in which our bodies are worth celebrating. So tell us – how do you act as your own body-love hero?

Featured, Safer Sex, Your Body

How To Protect Yourself Against STIs

While education about the risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) has become more prevalent in schools, the past decade has still seen the rates of STIs increase in Australia and around the globe. It seems we are a globe filled with free loving, condom ignoring, sexy-folk.

STIs can lead to serious health complications when left un-diagnosed and untreated. Though these infections predominantly affect young people, the rate of infection in older age groups is also on the rise.

STIs aren’t picky. They don’t discriminate against age or ethnicity or socioeconomic circumstance. They don’t care if you’ve slept with one person or 100. The only way to protect yourself against them is to practice safer sex.

What is Safer Sex?

Safer sex is the term we use for taking precautions to prevent the spread of STIs, perhaps prevent pregnancy, and it can even encompass concepts such as consent and sexual negotiation.

We no longer use the term “safe sex” because quite frankly, there aren’t any methods that are actually 100% safe – the use of barrier protection is simply minimising your risk.

Use Condoms

I can’t stress this enough. Condoms are the only effective form of protection against STIs – though in the case of certain STIs like genital herpes, even condoms don’t offer full protection.

There is no excuse not to use a condom, and if your partner tries to convince you otherwise, ask yourself if they’re really worth it. Not be afraid to kick them out of bed if they protest about a lack of sensation or that their junk is just too big for them to wear a condom comfortably (because, yeah right). There are condoms specifically designed for larger penises.

They don’t have to be a mood-killer. You can incorporate putting a condom on your partner as part of your sex play. Or you can choose to use a female condom, which you can read all about in our review.

Use your condoms safely – check the expiry date, don’t use them more than once (Yes that’s actually a thing) and certainly don’t use them if they’re ripped, torn, or have holes in them.

Use ACTUAL condoms, cling wrap, rubber, or whatever else you think of wrapping around the penis in question is NOT an acceptable replacement.

Get Routine Checkups

Make STI checkups part of your regular health regime. Often all you’ll need to do is provide a urine sample or have a quick and painless swap taken for testing. You should be having regular cervical screenings, and STI checks are really no different.

If you have questions or concerns, talk to your doctor. If you’re not comfortable talking to your doctor about your sexual health, woman-up and get comfortable with it – helping you take care of your health is their job.

Have Open Communication

If you’re in a mutually monogamous sexual relationship, you may decide that unprotected sex is going to be an option you’re both comfortable with. Before engaging in unprotected sex for the first time, your partner and you should both be tested, to ensure you’re both in the clear before you throw away your rubbers (actually, just pop them in your bedside drawer for safekeeping).

It’s important to have honest and open communication about sex and your relationship when you’re having unprotected sex with a partner. That way, is something does happen and one of you has sex with someone outside of the relationship, you’ll be prepared to talk about it so you can make an informed decision about your sexual health.

A discussion about infidelity may be uncomfortable. It may even result in a breakup. But it’s worth it if that discussion protects you against STIs that may have been picked up in one encounter outside of the relationship.

If one of you has had sex with another partner, get retested to be on the safe side.

You can learn more about different common STIs and their symptoms via our recent post, Do Your Hot Bod a Favor and Get a Checkup.

Safer Sex, Your Body

Do Your Hot Bod a Favor and Get A Checkup

April is STI Awareness Month; so before May rolls around, book yourself in for a routine STI and sexual health checkup with your doctor. Many sexually transmitted infections and diseases present no symptoms, which is why it’s so important to protect yourself by using condoms.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is currently one of the most common STIs, and can cause serious and permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system that can make it difficult or impossible to get pregnant. One of the most dangerous things about chlamydia is that it often has no symptoms, meaning carriers can have the infection for weeks without knowing.

Chlamydia can be transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal sex, and can be passed on even when an infected person shows no symptoms. Untreated chlamydia can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease.

If symptoms do present, they may include an abnormal discharge, a burning sensation when peeing, and occasionally in men, pain and swelling in one or both testicles.

Testing for chlamydia is as simple as providing a urine or swap sample at your doctor. Treatment includes a course of antibiotics, though it’s important to be retested for chlamydia after treatment since reinfection can occur.

The only way to prevent the contraction of chlamydia during sex is to use condoms.

Genital HPV Infection

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, and is so common that doctors estimate nearly all sexually active women will get it at some point in their lives. HPV can be transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal sex, and can be passed on even when an infected person shows no symptoms.

There are many different types of HPV. In most cases the virus goes away on its own and doesn’t cause any health issues. However, when HPV does not go away, it has the potential to lead to problems like genital warts and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis or anus, which can take decades to develop after infection. It has also been linked to cancer in the back of the throat, base of the tongue and tonsils.

Most people with HPV do not know they are infected and never develop symptoms. Some people find out they have HPV if they develop genital warts, and some women may discover they have HPV if the results of a cervical cancer-screening test show abnormal cells. This is why Pap smears are so important for the sexual health of women.

There is now a vaccine to protect against HPV that is available for children aged around 12 years, and ‘catch-up’ vaccines for women aged up to 26 and men aged up to 21.

For women who fall outside the age of vaccination, using condoms can lower your chances of contracting HPV, although it’s important to note that HPV can affect areas that are not covered by condoms, so condoms cannot provide full protection against the virus.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is estimated to affect around 1 in every 6 people, and can be transmitted through can be transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal sex. The fluids found in a herpes sore carry the virus, and contact with those fluids can cause infection. It is possible to contract herpes from an infected partner who does not have a visible sore (or who may not even know are infected) because the virus can be released through your skin and spread the infection to your sex partner.

Most people who have herpes have no, or very mild symptoms. Mild symptoms can be mistaken for another skin condition, such as a pimple or ingrown hair. Genital herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. Herpes blisters can break and leave painful sores that may take weeks to heal, and may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms like body aches or swollen glands.

More often than not a doctor can diagnose herpes simply by looking at symptoms, although they may also take samples for testing. Though there is no cure for herpes, there are medicines that can prevent or shorten outbreaks, and make it less likely for the virus onto sexual partners.

While condoms can aid in the protection against this infection, outbreaks can also occur in areas that are not covered by a condom, meaning condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea can be transmitted via anal, vaginal, or oral sex with someone who has the infection. Like many other STIs, it often presents no symptoms – and mild symptoms can be mistaken for bladder or vaginal infections. When symptoms do present, they can include an unusual discharge and a burning sensation in both women and men. Additional symptoms can include vaginal bleeding between periods for women, and painful or swollen testicles for men.

Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

The testing and diagnosis of gonorrhea is relatively simple. Urine can be tested for the infection, although in some cases swabs may be required. Gonorrhea can be cured with the right treatment, although some drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea can be more difficult to treat. If symptoms persist for more than a few days after receiving medical treatment, it’s important to go back to the doctor to be checked again.

To protect yourself against gonorrhea, use condoms correctly every time you have sex.

Syphilis

Syphilis is often referred to by doctors as a great imitator, because it can present a range of possible symptoms – many of which look like symptoms for other infections. The painless syphilis sores that can present themselves after first being infected can be confused with ingrown hairs or other seemingly harmless bumps, which is part of what makes this infection so dangerous.

When not treated, syphilis can cause long-term complications, and the symptoms can be divided into three stages. The disease can be contracted by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, oral or anal sex.

Because syphilis sores can be hidden in the vagina, anus, under the foreskin of the penis, or in the mouth, it may not be obvious that a sex partner has syphilis.

The diagnosis of syphilis is simple. Most of the time doctors will test blood samples, though sometimes testing the fluid from a syphilis sore may be required. Syphilis can be cured with the right antibiotics.

Condoms are the only way to protect against the contraction of syphilis.

Remember, you are in control of your body. Always protect yourself with condoms when you’re engaging in sex outside of a mutually monogamous sexual relationship, and get regular routine STI checkups and pap smears.

Want to know more about condoms? Check out our recent post, Happy Condom Awareness Month.

Education, Relationships, Your Body

How To Treat Your Woman Like A Goddess And Rekindle The Spark

You still find your partner hot, you still love him and you’re able to have good sex but you miss the great sex you had at the start of the relationship. If you are finding your sex drive going south don’t despair there are some straightforward things your man can do to get you interested again. So I’ve written the top four out-of-the-bedroom moves that will get you into the bedroom. Print it out and stick it in the toilet for him.

Men I know we can be a bit mystifying. You attempt the same moves that worked at the beginning of the relationship and the only reaction you get is complaints of headaches. Don’t worry she isn’t getting a brain tumor you just need to do a little foundation work on her subconscious. At the beginning of a relationship the novelty and excitement does most of seduction for you. Also as time goes on responsibilities can accumulate. House, children and jobs consume our energy and time, it can be hard to find some reserves to fuel her engine. But it doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming to re-ignite the spark, here are some of the best ways to kick start her sex drive.

Do the dishes

Women are often putting their own self-care at the bottom of a long list of other priorities. Women need to feel good about their body and their achievements. To do this she needs time for herself to maintain her self-worth. Trying to engage in sexual contact when her own sense of self has disappeared can feel like a further demand on her rather than a chance for pleasure. Sometimes she will need you, the man in her life to help her find the time to achieve her self-care needs. You may be able to go ‘Right I am feeling too pressured I need to go to soccer practice today to let out some steam’ and have no hesitation in dropping all other priorities. A woman will often feel obliged to meet others needs first to be able to do the same. Its times like these that you need to step up and say, ‘Go do something for you, I can take care of it’.

 More hugs. Less showers.

She needs time to smell you especially when you’re happy, relaxed and aroused. The more time she spends in your arms close to your neck and arm pits the more relaxed, horny and fertile she will be. The pheromones in your sweat will help regulate her cycle and can make her more fertile. She can smell when you’re aroused and attracted to her on an unconscious level and the more she breathes that in the less stressed and the more responsive she will be to you.

Tell her she is beautiful.

You probably used to do this a lot. You think she knows that you think she’s hot and you don’t need to keep saying it. After all that is why you keep asking her to have sex with you right? Wrong, she physically needs you to say it. She needs you to be looking deep in her eyes and to know that she is the most beautiful women in the world to you. Sex is risky business for women do it with the wrong guy at the wrong time and she is stuck with raising a child by herself with resulting economic and emotional hardship. On an instinctual, biological level she needs to feel that you are more attracted to her than anyone else and you aren’t about to run off with the next women you see. Logically knowing that you find her hot doesn’t cut it with the subconscious, you need to let her know regularly.

Be Mysterious

One of the best ways to give her a thrill is to sweep her of her feet with a mystery date or even better holiday. Organise the childcare, the transport and the activities to boot her out of nurturing mode and into her sex goddess mode. Keep the details a secret, perhaps a little blindfold action to increase the anticipation and only let her know what she needs to wear.

Bright Desires

Photo credit:  curaphotography