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Practice Safer Sex with Your Sex Toys

Many people use sex toys as part of their sexual practices. Sex toys are readily available online and in assorted stores. They can be used by an individual or by partners during sexual activity.  Sex Toys are a huge industry, an industry focused on intimacy and pleasure. Yet there are absolutely no regulations surrounding the sex toy industry!  So how does one practice safer sex when using sex toys????

 

 

Know What You Are Putting in Your Body?

 

Sex Toys are made from many different materials, often assorted types of plastic, silicone, wood, ceramics and even glass. Many people are cognizant of not purchasing plastics containing harmful chemicals. Water bottles and food storage containers advertise BPA free. Phthalates have also been recognized as something to avoid in plastics.  Both of these chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors and can create havoc with our endocrine or hormonal systems.  These are the very systems that control our sexual development and functions.

 

So, if we are careful not to expose ourselves to these chemicals in our food containers, cosmetics, and other daily use items, are we ensuring that the sex toys we insert into our bodies are also free of them? Investigating your toys before using them aids in your overall health and wellness.  Always know what you are putting into your body – any part of your body!

 

Use a Condom

 

Using a condom, especially when sharing sex toys, simply makes sense - because shared sex toys can share more than pleasure!  A shared toy can be a means of transmission of an STI or other infections. Reduce the chances by using a condom. And when switching from anal to vaginal penetration with a toy, always use a new condom for your toys.

 

Using a condom even with your own personal toys can be wise to avoid any external contaminants from entering your body. These can come from where the toys are stored, how they are handled, or simply their chemical make up.

 

Wash and Dry Your Toys

 

Yep……every single time you use them!  Washing your sex toys should be done after each use OR between usage when switching from anal to vaginal if not able to use a condom. Not all sex toys are phallic shaped for easy condom application. Washing it before switching is imperative. Another option is to have more than one of the same toys, using one for anal and one for vaginal so you can wait until after sexual activity to wash them.

 

Keeping your toys clean will help reduce transmission of many different infections, from UTIs (urinary tract infections) to STIs. Most toys will contain cleaning instructions, but you are usually pretty safe with good old soap and water.  And always make sure it is dry before putting away to prevent any mold or other issues.

 

Use the Proper Lubricant

 

Lubricant is a sex toy’s friend!  Lubricant can help increase pleasure and safety by reducing the possibility of tears to sensitive tissues due to dryness.  So, is any lube ok to use with your sex toys??? NO!  This is where it is important to know the composition of your toys. DO NOT use silicone lube on silicone toys.  The lube will adhere to the toys and begin to damage the toys. You can use silicone lube on other materials such as non-silicone plastics, ceramic, glass and wood.  Water based lubes are the best option for toys as they will not damage or interact with the toy’s chemical make-up.  And do not use petroleum oils or creams as a sexual lubricant either.  If you are not sure what material your toy is, a water-based lube is your best bet!

 

The Last Word

 

Without any regulations surrounding sex toys and their components, everyone using them must make smart choices for one’s safety and, therefore, one’s utmost pleasure.  Know as much as you can about what you are putting into your body – whether it is food, cosmetics applied to one’s skin, chemicals in one’s everyday life and, yes, even one’s sex toys. Safer Sex needs to be practiced in all of one’s sexual activities.

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The History of Rubber

The History of Rubber

 

Rubbers……. just one of the many slang words for condoms.  Some we may question where they come from but this one is obvious!  Most of the world’s condoms are made with latex rubber.  How does a runny sap like liquid become a condom?  The story is centuries old and filled with unique, and sometimes accidental, discoveries.

 

Where Does Rubber Come From?

 

Natural Latex rubber is from the milky white liquid that comes from over 200 plant species around the world including the common dandelion.  But it would take a lot of dandelions to harvest enough latex to be usable. The bulk of the world’s natural latex comes from the Rubber Tree (Hevea brasiliensis).  Latex is a plant’s defense system against injury and disease.  If damaged, a plant oozes the latex liquid to seal the wound.  Natural Latex coagulates when exposed to air, forming a type of natural bandage on the plant.  Natural latex is a complex mixture of proteins, starches, sugars, resins, oils, tannin, alkaloids, and gums.  This mixture is what makes latex unique in its properties.

 

Growing Natural Latex

 

Rubber Trees have a very specific set of parameters for them to flourish. The lifespan of rubber trees in a plantation setting is roughly thirty-two years. The first seven year are just growing, leaving twenty-five years for harvest. Well drained soil is required, and the optimum climatic conditions are:

 

  • Rainfall of about 2500 mm per year, and with at least 100 rainy days.
  • Temperature range of between 20 degrees to 34 degrees Celsius, with a monthly average temperature of 25 degrees to 28 degrees Celsius.
  • Humidity level of around 80%.
  • Around two thousand hours of sunshine per year, at a rate of six hours per day.
  • The absence of strong winds.

 

Harvesting Natural Latex

 

The harvesting of natural latex is similar to maple syrup collection. Both are even called tapping!  The rubber tree bark is cut or scored in a V type mark, so the latex runs down the scoring.  The liquid is collected in a metal bucket or cup.  It is quite a process as the natural reaction of latex once exposed to the air is to congeal. So, the trees need to be monitored.  There is quite an art to the scoring of rubber trees to ensure the longevity of the tree. The latex is then collected and brought to a processing plant.  There are many different processes to get the natural latex to a rubber state. Those processes are dependent upon what the product will be.  Latex rubber used for a tire is different than the latex for condoms. 

 

Charles Goodyear and Condoms

 

The process of vulcanization is where rubber is made soft and malleable.  Charles Goodyear, an inventor from the 1800s, accidentally discovered this process.  This resulted in the advent of rubber condoms, making them accessible to the masses.  And the name rubbers have stuck.  The 1920s saw further changes with latex overtaking rubber as the material of choice.  And latex condoms have remained the most popular material for production today.

 

Latex Allergy

 

Latex allergies are the result of the protein that is present in latex. Some people have a natural sensitivity or allergy to latex and others develop one after repeated exposure.  There are alternatives to latex with many items such as condoms and dams.  The removal of the protein from the latex and subsequent processing of the liquid results in polyisoprene.  This product has the same characteristics for use without the allergy and sensitivity issues of latex.

Summary

 

Rubber has been around for centuries.  It is used in recreational, automotive, health, stationary, and many other products we use every day.  Today it is produced both naturally and synthetically to meet the global demand due to the number of products manufactured with it. And that includes over 5 billion condoms worldwide! 

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My Condoms Expire???

My Condoms Expire???


There are all types of condoms, manufactured with different materials and by different manufacturers around the world. And EVERY one of them expires.  Condoms are a medical device and, as such, have a shelf life for both effectiveness and quality.  Why? Well mostly because of the materials they are made from.  Whether it is latex, polyisoprene, polyurethane, or  nitrile, they all have a lifespan for peak effectiveness.  After that lifespan is met, they begin to degrade. No different than medications lose their potency after their expiry date and food can go bad, condoms and dams are no longer at their peak performance once past their expiry date.  


How Long Does my Condom Last?


Condoms usually have up to a 5-year expiry date from manufacturing depending upon what material they are made from.  Dams usually have a 3-year expiry date from manufacturing.  The expiry date is printed on the outer box or carton, as well on the individual condom foil or dam packaging. It is often printed as year-month-date on the packaging.  So 2023-01-31 means it is good until January 31 2023.   The Lot number is the number that a supplier or manufacturer can use to trace the product if there are any recalls or issues.
   


What Happens to an Expired Condom?


All condoms wear down over time. No different than any other material we use for our everyday products, they all have a shelf life for peak performance.  Condoms become brittle and can break much easier when they are expired.  This then increases your risk for STIs or pregnancy.  This process happens quicker for natural condoms such as lambskin or sheepskin so make sure you are checking your expiry dates for all types of condoms.


Storing Condoms


Being proactive and prepared by always having a condom on hand is wise, but HOW you carry it about is important.  Condoms are best stored at room temperature.  Heat is a condom’s worst enemy.  Storing your condoms in your glove compartment is not wise! Nor is having them loose in your purse or bag, where friction and sharp objects can damage them.  Keep them at home in a drawer or cupboard. And not in a bathroom where the heat and humidity can also break down the materials.  If taking one out for the night, make sure it is in a condom compact or place where it won’t get damaged.  Condom foils go through a manufacturing process to help keep the condoms protected from damage and ultra-violet rays.  But it is up to you to keep them safe from extreme heat and sharp objects.  


Take Care of Your Condoms


If you take care of your condoms, they will help take care of you. 


Don’t use your condoms if:
• There is visible damage to the wrapper
• You can see lubricant leaking from the package
• It is dry or brittle upon opening
• It is past its expiry date
• It smells bad


Don’t open your condoms with:
• Your teeth
• Scissors
• Sharp objects including fingernails


Always tear your condom open along the perforation that is on the foil as per the manufacturing process. 


Make Sure To Use Your Condoms


Condoms are available at local Public Health facilities, many University and College Health Centres and Student Unions, Pharmacies, Adult Stores, online platforms and even grocery stores.  No matter where you get yours, make sure you wear yours and that you are checking your expiry dates.  Regardless of the different styles, brands, and materials, condoms are a part of safer sex practices. 
So go and explore your condom preferences. Contact reliable sources to ensure you are getting the correct information and approved products. 

Your sexual health is relying on it!

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Removing Stigma & Shame

Removing Stigma & Shame

 

Social norms have created a cloak of secrecy and shame around many things associated with sex.  This includes our sexual health, something that needs to be cared for no differently than our physical or emotional health. Yet when shame and stigma is attached to our sexual wellness, we  oft times attach it to our sexual illness and further exacerbate our negative feelings.   We need to work on promoting awareness and education to all in order to help remove the stigma attached to our sexual well-being.  But this is a huge task that requires undoing centuries of societal norms and ways of thinking.

 

What is Sexuality?

 

The World Health Organization currently has a working definition of Sexuality as the following:

“Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.”

This working definition shows the multi-faceted aspects of sexuality.  It is not just one thing or dependent upon one condition.  It is impacted by so many internal and external factors that is 100% unique for every single person.  And it can change as our circumstances or beliefs change as well.  Our sexuality can literally be impacted by a diverse interaction of all aspects of our lives.

 

Education

 

As a global society we need to get to a point where we understand and accept that sexuality is a natural and normal part of being human. And that needs to be seen in the promotion and education made available to all for a healthy sense of all aspects of our sexual health. This includes, but is not limited to, our knowledge about our bodies, understanding our sexual needs, knowing how to have safer sex practices, understanding about STIs, including their types, transmission, prevention and testing.  If we make this a topic of discussion no different than how to care for our teeth or our bodies, we will help begin to remove the shame attached to it. Unfortunately, a general lack of public awareness, lack of specialized training among health workers for sexual wellness, and long-standing, widespread stigma around both sexual topics and STIs remain barriers to this.

 

Behavioral Changes

 

The concept sounds simple enough in theory but the reality is not so easy.  In order to change behaviors that have been ingrained in our social networks, we would need to work with different societies to navigate their existing belief systems.  These systems are comprised of beliefs from religious, political, social, economic, and familial influences.  But every step taken to help educate people about their sexuality and remove shame attached to it helps us all move forward to a healthier place.  STIs are one of the more preventable types of infections when proper knowledge and access to safer sex supplies and testing is available.  The World Health Organization states that “Despite considerable efforts to identify simple interventions that can reduce risky sexual behaviour, behaviour change remains a complex challenge. Research has demonstrated the need to focus on carefully defined populations, consult extensively with the identified target populations, and involve them in design, implementation and evaluation.”

 

By working together, we can all help to create the changes the world needs to reduce the STI epidemic and create a healthier and stigma free environment for all.

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How to Use a Dam

How to Use an Oral Barrier

 

How to use a what???? Oral Barriers are also known as dams or dental dams.  But knowing their different names does not always help people know what they actually are or what they actually do.

 

What is an oral barrier or dam?   A dam is a sheet of latex or polyisoprene (some folks may say non-latex) that is used as a barrier when performing oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex.  They are used to help reduce the transmission of infections that can occur during these activities. 

 

How to Use a Dam

 

Penetrative sex is not the only way to transmit an infection.  Oral sex still has the risk of spreading infections.  The use of an oral barrier can help to reduce the risk when used consistently and properly.  There are a few guidelines for using a dam that need to be followed for proper use.

  • Dams are a single use barrier.  
  • Lay the dam flat to cover the anus or vagina/vulva.
  • Hold the dam in place without stretching it.
  • Do not flip the dam. 
  • Use a new dam when switching from oral-anal to oral-vaginal sex.
  • Dispose of the dam in the garbage after use. Do not flush down a toilet.

Availability of Dams

 

Dams have been historically harder to find for purchase by the general public. The lack of awareness and education over the years surrounding dams has definitely left a void in the market of sexual wellness.  This is changing slowly. Adult Stores and many online condom stores have offered dams. 

Dams are considered a Class II medical device in the US due to its claim that it can help reduce the transmission of STIs.  This means that in order to be FDA licensed and approved as a Class II medical device they must undergo extensive testing by accredited test houses and labs.  So, it is always important to make sure your sexual wellness toolkit is stocked with FDA approved items, including condoms and dams.

 

We are excited to introduce the first ever FDA Licensed Polyisoprene Class II Oral Barrier – Harmony Dams!  Harmony Dams are available in both Latex and Polyisoprene.  Harmony Polyisoprene Dams are the only licensed oral barrier available for individuals with latex allergies or sensitivities. Both Harmony Dams are a 6x10 inch sheet to provide maximum coverage. They are lightly scented and natural color.  Both products are available in retail packaging on the Safely Sexual retail site. 

 

Spread a dam, not an infection!   Click here for our informational and instructional videos!

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What is a Latex Allergy?

What is a Latex Allergy?

 

What is Latex?

 

Latex is a naturally occurring substance that is found beneath the bark of the rubber tree.  This milky white substance is harvested by tapping the trees.  The bark is scored and peeled back to create a channel that allows the sap to run into buckets attached to the trees.  This is collected and then processed into latex that is used in many common day-to-day items.  Latex possesses a great many attributes that allow it to be used for items from gloves to swim caps to balloons to condoms.  But it also can be life threatening to people who have a latex allergy.

 

What are you allergic to in latex?

 

A latex allergy is actually an allergic reaction to the proteins present in the milky sap of the rubber tree.   Simply put, your body views the latex as something harmful to it.  This causes a release of histamines to fight the “intruder”. Histamines and other chemical responses are what trigger the allergic reactions and symptoms.  It is the latex protein that creates this allergic reaction, one that can worsen over repeated exposure.  This protein is very similar to proteins in some nuts, fruits and vegetables.  It is not uncommon for people who have a latex allergy to also have allergies or sensitivities to the following foods:

  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Chestnut
  • Kiwi
  • Apple
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Papaya
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Melons

What is Polyisoprene?

 

Interestingly enough, polyisoprene is created either with the removal of the allergy producing protein from natural rubber or as a synthetic product in a laboratory setting.  But polyisoprene retains the many attributes that natural latex has with its softness, tear and tensile strength, and comfort.  Polyisoprene condoms and dams are an alternative to anyone who has latex sensitivities or allergies.  They provide a necessary alternative for the growing number of individuals who suffer from latex allergies.

 

Pros and Cons of Polyisoprene

 

There are far more pros than cons when it comes to polyisoprene condoms and dams!  The pros are obvious!  You can enjoy safer sex with less concerns of allergic reactions to the condoms or dams being used.   Polyisoprene condoms and dams are a safer replacement for latex condoms or dams.   The cons are very few and far between!   The only real one is that they are a bit more costly than their latex alternatives.

Pros

  • Stretchy and comfortable
  • Suitable for people with latex allergies
  • Cheaper than polyurethane condoms
  • Appropriate for same uses as latex condoms and dams

 

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than latex condoms or dams

 

Protect Your Health!

 

Protection is available for everyone, even those with a latex allergy.  The options are growing for access to condoms and dams for those with a latex allergy or sensitivity.  Harmony Polyisoprene Dams are available online at Safely Sexual in both retail and bulk options.  Your health, all aspects of it, is worth protecting. 

 

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STIs on the Rise During Covid

 

STIs: Epidemic Numbers

 

STIs were at epidemic proportions before the Covid-19 Pandemic struck the world, but the restrictions Covid created have not helped to reduce the numbers. The exact opposite is true, with numbers on the rise throughout the last couple of years.  Although this may seem counter intuitive, there are several factors that have impacted this growth.  The CDC released their report in April 2022 that helps explain the dramatic rise in the numbers that are now surpassing 2019’s infection rates.

 

How Covid impacted the STI epidemic?

 

Covid-19 created many roadblocks with regards to accessibility to testing and treatment for STIs.  Many clinics were closed due to restrictions to reduce the spread of Covid.  This meant people were not getting tested for STIs and many asymptomatic cases were left untreated. As well, many symptomatic cases were not able to access care for treatment or identify what the symptoms were from.  Outreach efforts were restricted and sexual wellness products such as condoms and oral barriers were not able to be distributed.  Staff from many public health and STI testing organizations were re-allocated to Covid-19 duties, resulting in an absence of accessible treatment centres. These factors were also further compounded by a lack of testing supplies and laboratory access due to the volume of Covid-19 testing and supplies required. 

 

What did not change: people having sexual encounters.

 

What STIs are on the rise?

 

The CDC explains this with the following data that was collected at the end of 2020:

 

  • Reported cases of gonorrhea and primary & secondary (P&S) syphilis were up 10% and 7%, respectively, compared to 2019.
  • Syphilis among newborns (i.e., congenital syphilis) also increased, with reported cases up nearly 15% from 2019, and 235% from 2016. Early data indicate primary and secondary syphilis and congenital syphilis cases continued to increase in 2021 as well.
  • Reported cases of chlamydia declined 13% from 2019.

The decline in chlamydia is likely the result of lack of testing and not being properly diagnosed versus a reduction in the actual infection rate. 

 

So, What’s Next?

 

The next step in the fight against STIs has to be education and awareness.  The public needs to understand the seriousness of STIs and the possible long-term effects they can have on one’s health.  This path needs to be coupled with testing, outreach, availability of treatments for all demographics, and, most importantly, proper funding to ensure the programs are effective for all.  The outreach needs to support the following so we can help reduce the incidence rate of STIs:

  • The shame and stigma surrounding STIs needs to be removed.
  • STIs and one’s sexual health needs to have the same attention as one’s physical and mental health.
  • Social and economic factors, such as poverty, access to insurance, and antiquated systems need to be addressed.
  • Education needs to be a priority to help support prevention.
  • The world needs to understand the impact STIs have on everyone.

 

More than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired every day worldwide, the majority of which are asymptomatic.

 

The message of prevention, STI testing, outreach of sexual wellness products and educating everyone about one’s sexual wellness throughout the different stages of life needs to be shared now to help prevent these numbers from increasing even more.

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Lubricants for Sexual Wellness

The wide array of options for different lubricants for sexual activities can leave one confused or, worse yet, choosing the wrong lube for the usage needed.  Lubricants are for more than just vaginal dryness.  Lubricants can help increase pleasure, delay ejaculation, and reduce friction, thereby aiding in safer sex practices.   Lubes come in a variety of types and navigating which one is right for you is easier with a bit of information.

 

Why Use Lube?

Lube is often used to combat vaginal dryness, to aid in increasing sexual pleasure, for anal sex, and also for use with sex toys.  Why you are using lube is important so that you can choose the correct product for the act.  The vagina creates its own lubricant as an integral part of its function.  But the amount created can vary by person, health, medications, age, and a number of other factors.  The anus does not create any fluids as it is not a part of its function.  The thinner tissues around the anus and in the rectum can lead to microscopic tears.  Using lubricants for anal sex can help reduce this from happening while making the experience more pleasurable.  

 

Types of Lubes

 

Lubricants come in a few different types. The main types of lubricant are water based, silicone based, oil based, a hybrid of the water and silicone, and some natural types.  Lubricants also come in different flavors. It is best to use flavored lubricants for external sex acts as they often have sugar or additives that can affect the PH level of the vagina, causing yeast infections, no different than flavored condoms. Lubes are available in liquids, creams and gels.  

Water Based Lube

 

Water Based Lube: 

  • Is made with water as its main ingredient. 
  • The thickness can vary but it is usually on the thinner side.
  • The water base makes it easy to clean after but you may need to use more as it can dry out quicker than other types.  
  • Water based lubricants can be used with latex condoms, non-latex condoms, nitrile Female Condoms, Silicone Sex Toys, and both Latex and Polyisoprene Dams.

Silicone Based Lube

Silicone Based Lube: 

  • Is made with silicone as its main ingredient. 
  • This is a thicker type of lube that is great for anal sex as it is thicker, more slippery and longer lasting than water based.  
  • Silicone lube can be more difficult to clean and can stain clothing and sheets. 
  • Silicone lubricants can be used with latex condoms, non-latex condoms, nitrile Female Condoms, and both Latex and Polyisoprene Dams.  
  • DO NOT use silicone lube with silicone sex toys as it will degrade and damage the toys.  

Oil Based Lube

Oil Based Lube:  

  • These lubricants are made with either natural or synthetic oils as their base.  
  • They cannot be used with Latex of any variety as they will break it down.  
  • They can be used with non-latex and nitrile condoms.
  • Avoid baby oil or petroleum jelly with latex as well

Explore Your Options

It is always best to test out a bit of lube before using for the first time. You can do this on your inner forearm for a sensitivity test, or even place a bit in or around your vagina or on the tip of your penis.   Lubricants are available at pharmacies, adult shops, online, Public Health facilities, many school union offices or wellness centres, and even some grocery stores to list just a few.  They range in availability from single use foils to larger bottles.  Try different brands and types to see what works best for you!  As they say, “Wetter is Better!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Condom Myths

There are many types of condoms available to meet everyone’s needs.   And, unfortunately, there are also as many myths and misconceptions associated with condoms as well!  Sadly, with the stigma that still surrounds sexual health, many false beliefs are circulated as “fact” when they are truly fiction. False information on the internet, talking with others who may not have the facts, fear of asking a question, and shame still surrounding sexual activities, all lead to misinformation. And even worse, this misinformation can lead to unwanted pregnancies or Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)


Condom Myth #1


“Using two condoms is better than one.”


Double is NOT always a better deal. This is a big NO.  One condom is all that is necessary for safer sex.  If you double up condoms you are actually at more of a risk for breakage due to the condoms rubbing together. You only need to use one condom at a time for them to do what they are supposed to.


Condom Myth #2


“I don’t need to wear a condom if I practice the withdrawal method.”


The withdrawal method, or pulling out, is when the penis is pulled out before ejaculation.  Many men have sperm in their pre-ejaculate, the fluid that is released before ejaculation.  Condoms should be worn when genital contact is occurring.  Wearing a condom will help in reducing the possibility of transmission of STIs and unwanted pregnancies.

 

Condom Myth #3

 

“Condoms are a turn off.”


Condoms are available in all different styles, sizes, colors, and flavors.  They are ribbed, tattooed, and even glow in the dark.  They come in snugger fit to extra large.  They can easily be incorporated into foreplay so that they are not viewed as something that interrupts sexual pleasure, but rather something that enhances it.   


Condom Myth #4


“Condoms are hard to put on.”


Nope.  They are quite simple to put on actually.  And it is easy to practice beforehand as well.  

 

  • Tear open the package carefully and do not use fingernails, teeth, or anything that can damage the condom.

 

  • Remove the condom from the package and apply a small amount of lubricant to the inside tip. 

 

  • Before any sexual contact, place the condom on the head of the erect penis with the rolled side out. Pinch the receptacle tip of the condom between your thumb and forefinger. This prevents air from becoming trapped at the tip of the condom and leaves an empty space to collect semen. 

 

  • Unroll the condom down the base of the penis with your other hand. If the condom doesn’t unroll easily, it may be on backwards, damaged or too old. Throw it away and start over with a new condom. You can apply lubricant at this time as well.

 

  • Immediately after ejaculation, hold on to the base of the condom tightly and pull out while the penis is still erect. This will keep the condom from slipping off and keep any fluids from being spilled. 

 

  • Dispose properly by wrapping the used condom in tissue and throwing it in the trash so others won’t handle it. DO NOT FLUSH CONDOMS DOWN THE TOILET

Condom Myth #5


“You can re-use a condom.”


No, you cannot re-use a condom.  Use a new condom for every new act of intercourse. Never reuse condoms as this can result in condom breakage, risk of pregnancy and STIs.  Do not use the same condom if switching from vaginal sex to anal sex.  


Condom Myth #6


“Any type of lube is fine with condoms.”


Never use petroleum-based lubricants with latex condoms as they will damage the integrity of the latex and can break the condoms.  Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants when using condoms.  Either are fine and truly are simply a matter of preference. 

 

So go and explore your condom preferences. Contact reliable sources to ensure you are getting the correct information.  Your sexual health is relying on it!

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What you need to know about Gonorrhea

What is Gonorrhea?

 

Gonorrhea is an infection caused by a sexually transmitted bacterium that can infect anyone who is sexually active. Gonorrhea most often affects the urethra, rectum or throat. In females, gonorrhea can also infect the cervix. Gonorrhea is most commonly spread during unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex.  You can help reduce your risk of transmission by practicing safer sex whenever you engage in any sexual activity.

 

What are the Symptoms?

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. However, men who do have symptoms, may have:

  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • A white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis;
  • Painful or swolled testicles (although this is less common).

Most women with gonorrhea do not have any symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they are often mild and can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, even if they don’t have any symptoms.
Symptoms in women can include:

  • Painful or burning sensation when urinating;
  • Increased vaginal discharge;
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods.


Rectal infections may either cause no symptoms or cause symptoms in both men and women that may include:

 

 

  • Discharge;
  • Anal itching;
  • Soreness;
  • Bleeding;
  • Painful bowel movements.

You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD, such as an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods.


If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is extremely important to reach out to your doctor, if untreated, gonorrhea can cause significant issues in regard to your health. Here is list of complications from mayoclinic.org that an individual can experience:

  • Infertility in women. Gonorrhea can spread into the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can result in scarring of the tubes, greater risk of pregnancy complications and infertility. PID requires immediate treatment.
  • Infertility in men. Gonorrhea can cause a small, coiled tube in the rear portion of the testicles where the sperm ducts are located (epididymis) to become inflamed (epididymitis). Untreated epididymitis can lead to infertility.
  • Infection that spreads to the joints and other areas of your body. The bacterium that causes gonorrhea can spread through the bloodstream and infect other parts of your body, including your joints. Fever, rash, skin sores, joint pain, swelling and stiffness are possible results.
  • Increased risk of HIV/AIDS. Having gonorrhea makes you more susceptible to infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that leads to AIDS. People who have both gonorrhea and HIV are able to pass both diseases more readily to their partners.
  • Complications in babies. Babies who contract gonorrhea from their mothers during birth can develop blindness, sores on the scalp and infections.

Prevention

To help reduce your risk of gonorrhea:

  • Use a condom if you have sex. Abstaining from sex is the surest way to prevent gonorrhea. But if you choose to have sex, use a condom during any type of sexual contact, including anal sex, oral sex or vaginal sex.
  • Limit your number of sex partners. Being in a monogamous relationship in which neither partner has sex with anyone else can lower your risk.
  • Be sure you and your partner are tested for sexually transmitted infections. Before you have sex, get tested and share your results with each other.
  • Don't have sex with someone who appears to have a sexually transmitted infection. If your partner has signs or symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection, such as burning during urination or a genital rash or sore, don't have sex with that person.
  • Consider regular gonorrhea screening. Annual screening is recommended for sexually active women younger than 25 and for older women at increased risk of infection. This includes women who have a new sex partner, more than one sex partner, a sex partner with other partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.

Regular screening is also recommended for men who have sex with men, as well as their partners.

 

Treatment

 Antibiotics are the most common treatment for gonorrhea. The following excerpt from an article explains the treatment course. 

  • Antibiotics are used to treat gonorrhea. As with all antibiotic protocols, it is important to take all of the medicine as directed or otherwise the medicine may not work. Both partners require treatment to keep from passing the infection back and forth.
  • Getting treatment as soon as possible helps prevent the spread of the infection and lowers your risk for other problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Many people who have gonorrhea also have chlamydia, another STI. If you have gonorrhea and chlamydia, you will get medicine that treats both infections.
  • Avoid all sexual contact while you are being treated for an STI. If your treatment is a single dose of medicine, you should not have any sexual contact for 7 days after treatment so the medicine will have time to work.
  • Having a gonorrhea infection that was cured does not protect you from getting it again. If you are treated and your sex partner is not, the chance of reinfection is likely.

Take care of your health by practicing safer sex, getting tested regularly, openly communicating with your partners and being aware of all of your health needs! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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