In a world of abstinence only education and the global gag rule (thanks Bush), a world where “vagina” is a dirty word, I’m a fan of making certain kinds of important information so accessible that you actually get sick of running into it. So just on the off chance that someone who needs to know would stumble onto my humble blog, here are some links on:
Birth control – for males and females, by a site I trust (Scarleteen). Remember Plan B/emergency contraception/the morning-after pill: it’s not for regular birth control, but if you may have had unsafe sex for some reason, get it right away. It’s like a big dose of the birth control pill; it doesn’t cause abortions but it might keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall (however, this might not even be true – here it says that it won’t affect the uterine lining after ovulation). Pregnancy is usually defined as starting at implantation because it cannot be detected before implantation and because the majority of fertilized eggs naturally fail to implant, but some think it’s wrong to keep the egg from implanting because that means it will die; it’s up to you. If they won’t give it to you in the pharmacy (complain to someone and) order it online. If you’re under 18, you might want to try to get a prescription for it now just in case. In fact, it’s recommended that all women who can get pregnant buy some to have on hand, although you’ll have to get a new one after it expires. If you live with other women, get one for the house/dorm.
If you do get pregnant, there are places you can go to get information on how to handle the pregnancy. But be aware that Crisis Pregnancy Centers have a politically pro-life agenda and may give out misinformation, especially about abortion. Planned Parenthood is a pro-choice organization; their website offers information on abortion, as well as birth control, pregnancy, and other related issues.
PP also has info on sexually transmitted diseases/infections, and here’s Scarleteen’s page on them. Please do get tested if you’ve been put at risk (if you’ve had oral, anal, or vaginal sex), even if you don’t have symptoms; many infections can be asymptomatic. Also, if you’re female, ask about getting the HPV vaccine. (It’s not available for males [yet].)
And you can peruse the rest of the site for your other sex ed needs, but it has its limits. If anyone wants to recommend another sex ed site, feel free. In the meantime, here are a few things that everyone should be but often aren’t taught:
1. It’s called a vulva. The vagina is just that one canal.
2. This is what a clitoris looks like (take off the end of the URL to see the other diagrams the site has, it might make more sense in context). Here’s why you may not have known that there’s more to it than the part that sticks out. The clitoris, not the vagina, is analogous to the penis. Unsurprisingly, then, it’s easier for most women to have orgasms via the clitoris than the vagina. There’s nothing wrong with that, although vaginal orgasms, via the G spot for instance, are possible (although the G spot might be related to the clitoris after all, but really, who cares) (ps if liquid comes out of your urethra during/after G spot stimulation, it’s not urine).
3. There’s no such thing as a virginity test. Click your heels three times and repeat that until you get it. If only I could get certain countries to do that. Here’s some badly needed information on the hymen. It’s not a cherry, it doesn’t pop. It’s a membrane that can be gently stretched with lots of…
4. Lubricant: use it. Water-based is always ok. No oil-based with latex condoms. No silicone-based with silicone toys or silicone menstrual cups.
5. Douching is bad for you. The vagina cleans itself. This is nice because it means we can use the term douche(bag) as an insult without being unfeminist. “Ugh, he’s such an asshole, he’s like, as bad as something that irritates my vagina.”
6. Different topic but still really important: if you are sexually assaulted or raped, go to the hospital as soon as possible without changing clothes or showering. Get a rape kit done even if you don’t want to report the assault to the police, just in case. If you’re female and fertile, ask for emergency contraception if you’re ok with that. There are hotlines and counseling centers for survivors of sexual assault; you don’t have to go through it alone.
7. Another topic: don’t believe everything you hear about a) fat being the deadliest thing ever or b) fat being entirely up to the person and how much they eat and exercise. If you’re fat and dieting, consider googling the HAES system (healthy at every size). The fatosphere does a much better job of covering this than I do – its newsfeed as well as one of its major blogs, Shapely Prose, are on my blogroll.
If you have a question on this stuff and trust my internet searching skills more than your own, ask away.
Here’s some information on alternatives to pads and tampons, both of which are bad for the environment, and the latter of which has the potential for TSS. You can get chlorine-free (here’s Snopes on chemicals in tampons) tampons and pads but they may be harder to find. Personally, I’m a menstrual cup gal (Lunette to be precise). Anything reusable is probably cheaper in the long run.