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Apr 27

The Never Ending Infection

Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013 in Sexy Saturdays, UC Berkeley

Ms. Robin, Sex Goddess LogoThis is the last Sexy Saturdays article for STD Awareness Month! Today, I’m writing about one of the most common viral infections among college age populations.  If you’re thinking HIV, think again. Herpes infects more than 775,000 people each year in the US. Did you know there are 2 types of herpes associated with sexual experiences? Herpes simplex virus (HSV) -1 is commonly referred to as oral herpes, while HSV-2 is often referred to as genital herpes. But make no mistake, you can get either of these types of herpes on or in your mouth, genitals, cervix, and/or anus.

What’s up with this super common infection? Like Chlamydia and gonorrhea, herpes is often asymptomatic (without visible symptoms) and goes unnoticed in many infected persons. When symptoms are present they look different. HSV-1 symptoms present as cold sores.  HSV-2 symptoms are usually in the form of lesions. While symptoms may go away on their own or with antiviral treatment, herpes reserves its right to resurface or recur. It is more likely to exercise this right to recur during times when your immune system is weakened. Recurrent symptoms may include fever, headache, and tingling sensation with both HSV-1SS 17 HSV 1 and HSV-2. Initial outbreaks tend to be worse than recurring outbreaks.

If you have a cold sore you have herpes. If you get a cold sore in the future you will have herpes for the rest of your life. When I say this in workshops no doubt someone says “that can’t be true. I’ve had cold sores all my life. How did I get it?” Herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 is transmitted through direct contact with infected mucous membranes, lesions, genital or oral secretions, or infected skin. Transmission through infected skin is during an asymptomatic period of shedding. If you’ve had cold sores for as long as you can remember it is likely that you contracted herpes as a baby, or child. Maybe you were so cute that someone with herpes felt the need to kiss you. Though this person may not have been having an active outbreak at that time, they were able to transmit HSV-1 when they kissed you.  Lucky you! I’m just playing. I know, it sucks – and not in a good way – that you have herpes and didn’t even get to experience any sexual pleasure to get it. Just for the record, don’t even consider asking to kiss my super cute daughter.  It’s nothing personal, well, yes it is.

ss17 herpesOne of the most intriguing aspects of herpes is that if a person with oral herpes, HSV-1, performs oral sex on someone they can give that person oral herpes on their genitals or anus. If you don’t like cold sores on your mouth, just imagine having them on your genitals. It also works the other way too. If someone performs oral sex on someone infected with genital herpes, they can get HSV-2 on/in their mouth.  

If you think you may have herpes, it is best to let your primary medical doctor examine you during an outbreak. However, some providers and clinics have the ability to diagnose herpes through blood tests when no visible symptoms are present. Some providers and clinics may also be able to DNA type test your herpes to see which type you have, if any.

How do you get rid of herpes? You don’t! However, there are antiviral medications that may suppress herpes resulting in a decreased amount of outbreaks. Daily use of such treatments may also reduce your risk of transmitting herpes to your partners. The good news is that outbreaks tend to decrease over time even without suppressive treatment.  Given that herpes is not curable, it would be better to prevent transmission in the first place.  Because herpes may not be covered with traditional condoms, I suggest using insertive condoms for penis to vagina or anus sex with an infected partner, or partner whose status you don’t know as they cover a larger area. Dental dams are a great way to prevent transmission during mouth to vulva or anus sex. Last but not least, traditional condoms can help prevent herpes transmission during mouth to penis sex.  Until next Saturday…

Keep it safe ‘n sexy,

Ms. Robin, the Sex Goddess

Have a topic or question you’d like me to address in a future Sexy Saturdays article? Send it to me at RMills@sexucation.org.

Apr 20

More Than You Bargained For: Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

Posted on Saturday, April 20, 2013 in Sexy Saturdays, UC Berkeley

Ms. Robin, Sex Goddess LogoPicture this: you just met this gorgeous person who seems to be feeling you. You make your move, and it works. The two of you go somewhere private to smoke and hook up. You’re already high and forget to use protection.  A week or so later you start feeling a burning sensation when you urinate.

If you’re celebrating more than Sexy Saturdays today, make sure high is all you’re getting! Two common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Chlamydia and gonorrhea, can sneak up on you. As recently as 2011 in California, 63% of Chlamydia and 48% of gonorrhea cases were among young folks between 15 and 24 years old.[1] Many of whom likely had these infections without any symptoms.

Though caused by different bacteria, these STIs have quite a bit in common like how they are transmitted, their symptoms, and more. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are transmitted in multiple ways including through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex when a person’s mucous membranes come into contact with the infected vaginal fluids, semen, or pre-ejaculate of another person. Yes, that means you can get these infections in your throat! Sadly, they can also be transmitted from an infected woman to her newborn duringss16 gonorrhea childbirth.

Like a thief in the night, Chlamydia and gonorrhea are often silent and have no symptoms in men and women. Unfortunately, that tends to be truer for women than for men. You guessed it, when symptoms are present they’re alike too! When symptoms are present they may include frequent urination, abnormal discharge, pain in lower abdomen, painful urination or sex. If left untreated these STIs may lead to tissue scarring, possible infertility, and other serious health conditions.

Similarities between Chlamydia and gonorrhea don’t stop there.  The good similarities are that these infections have the same testing, are often curable with antibiotics, and are easy to prevent. Given the silent nature of these STIs it is super important to get tested and know your status. Most tests of Chlamydia and gonorrhea are done through urine sample or cultures, which may or may not be collected during a pelvic exam.

If you’re ever diagnosed with having Chlamydia or gonorrhea, you can often take antibiotics and be cured. Though recently there have been some strains of gonorrhea that are resistant to current antibiotic options. It is important to complete all antibiotic treatment even if symptoms are no longer present. Think of yourself as being on “time out” because sex is off-limits while being treated.

The only way to completely prevent Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections is by abstaining from vaginal, anal, and/or oral sex. That may be harder to do than you think. If you are sexually active like me you can decrease the risk of getting these STIs by using condoms properly during vaginal and anal sex, and mouth to penis sex. If you’re having mouth to vulva, or mouth to anus sex use dental dams. Feel free to add flavored lube to sweeten the oral experience.

Because you can be re-infected with both Chlamydia and gonorrhea you want to get tested for STIs regularly, like every 6 – 12months. Encourage your partners to do the same. Until next Saturday…

Keep it safe ‘n sexy,

Ms. Robin, the Sex Goddess

Have a topic or question you’d like me to address in a future Sexy Saturdays article? Send it to me at RMills@sexucation.org.



[1] CA Department of Public Health, STD Control Branch, 2011. http://www.cdph.ca.gov/data/statistics/Pages/STDDataTables.aspx

 

Apr 13

STDs: There’s an App for That!?!

Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2013 in Sexy Saturdays, UC Berkeley

Ms. Robin, Sex Goddess LogoWouldn’t it be great if you could somehow scan potential partners and get an automatic report of their full sexual history including what infections they’ve had, if any? Unfortunately, Apple nor Microsoft have created the technology for this yet. However, there are some other awesome apps that are helpful when it comes to triaging possible sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STI) and sharing your results with partners. It’d be cool if one app both triaged and allowed you to share but for now two separate apps exist for this: STD Triage and QPID.me.

Think you may have herpes? STD Triage can help.  STD Triage is an app that was developed by dermatologist, Alexander Boerve. This app is not at all meant to serve as a diagnosis of STIs, but rather to help triage skin rashes and other visible symptoms giving users a better idea of whether or not they should go into the doctor for testing and possible treatment. STD Triage isSS 15 STD triage simple and easy to use. All you do is complete a short inquiry or questionnaire describing your symptoms and how long you’ve been experiencing them. Submit the completed inquiry along with a picture of your visible skin rash or sore. For a small nominal fee within 24 hours you’ll receive a response “triaging” your skin rash or sore from a dermatologist. At the time there are only dermatologists triaging potential STIs. As such, this app is limited to infections with external, visible symptoms. With a little luck and some work, STD Triage may pilot a college version at UC Berkeley’s health center. How exciting!

Suppose you’re a female experiencing vaginal discharge. You start to freak out thinking the discharge may be an STI such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. After testing, your doctor determines that your discharge is not a symptom of an STI and explains the role discharge plays in keeping the vagina clean and healthy. Your new partner mistakes the discharge for an infection and declines your request for sex.  If you have QPID.me you can bring your STD results up on your phone, show your new partner that you’ve recently tested negative for Chlamydia and gonorrhea  and have the sexy time you both desire.

Recently I attended the YTH (Youth + Tech+ Health) Live Conference in San Francisco where I learned of QPID.me. QPID.me, while it sounds more like a match-making site, is actually an app that gives you access to your STD test results right on your cell phone or whatever app friendly device you’ve got.  Like STD Triage, QPID.me is user-friendly. Get tested and then sign up for this app. Already tested? Even better!  After signing up a request will be sent to your medical provider. Your doctor will fax the results to your confidential account which you can then access at your convenience. Using this app you can even share your STD test results with current or potential partners, other medical providers, friends, and family. Okay, you may not want to share your results with your parents and other family but you could if you wanted to. QPID.me is free and open to users age 13 and older.

That’s it for this weekend. Check back next Sexy Saturday for more information on STDs as we continue to celebrate STD Awareness month! Until then…

Keep it safe ‘n sexy,

Ms. Robin, the Sex Goddess

Have a topic or question you’d like me to address in a future Sexy Saturdays article? Send it to me at RMills@sexucation.org.

Apr 7

STD Awareness Month: How Aware Are You?

Posted on Sunday, April 7, 2013 in Sexy Saturdays

Ms. Robin, Sex Goddess LogoApril is National Sexually Transmitted Disease/Infection (STD/STI) Awareness Month. You guessed it! I’ll be writing about STDs/STIs this month. There are several types of diseases and infections that you can get through various sexual experiences and behaviors.  Some of which are curable while others can only have the symptoms treated. Today I shall provide a quick overview of the categories most STDs/STIs fall into: viral, bacterial, and other.

Viral infections are the most serious sexually transmitted infections. These infections are caused by viruses that enter the body often times through skin to skin contact or an exchange of bodily fluids such as blood, seminal fluid, ejaculate – both male and female, vaginal secretions, and in some instances breast milk. Most viral infections are not curable through medications. However, the symptoms associated with this category of infections may be treated with medication or other medical intervention. Some viral infections may clear up on their own but don’t count on this. Common viral infections include herpes, human papilloma virus (HPV), human immunodeficiency (HIV), hepatitis B (HBV) and molloscum contagiosum – a viral infection that appears as a skin rash or bump.

Bacterial infections while not as serious as some viral infections may be just as annoying. Bacterial infections are often caused by microorganisms that enter the body through an exchange of bodily fluids.  The good news is that bacterial infections can be cured with antibiotics, unlike viral infections which can only be treated. However, a person can be re-infected with a bacterial infection if they are re-exposed.  Common bacterial infections include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Chlamydia and gonorrhea are among the most common sexually transmitted infections that are often asymptomatic for females, meaning they have no visible symptoms. As such, these infections may be hard to detect until more serious complications arise such as PID.

The last category of infections I refer to simply as “other.” Some infections that fall in this category are caused by living organismsss14 STD that live on or in the human body such as pubic lice (AKA “crabs”), trichomoniasis, and sometimes scabies. Additional infections that I include in this category are not always sexually transmitted like yeast infections. Most of these “other” infections are curable with antibiotics or other treatment. Like bacterial infections, a person can be re-infected with these infections if they are re-exposed.

The one thing that viral, bacterial, and other infections have in common is that they are much easier to get or transmit when people don’t practice safer sex. Over the next few Sexy Saturdays, I’ll look more in depth at some common STDs/STIs as well as discuss ways to prevent them. If you can’t wait until next Saturday, listen to the “12 days of April” by Jill Grimes, MD and author of the interesting  book on STIs, Seductive Delusions: How Everyday People Catch STDs. I will admit the song is a bit cheesy, but cute and informational nonetheless. Hell, I made a pretty cheesy song about herpes that if you’re lucky, I’ll record and post for you this month. Until next Saturday…

Keep it safe ‘n sexy,

Ms. Robin, the Sex Goddess

Have a topic or question you’d like me to address in a future Sexy Saturdays article? Send it to me at RMills@sexucation.org.

 

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