Image

Birth Control: Your Best Friend

What’s better than sex? Safe sex! Of course, most of us know the risks that come with sex, but do you really do everything that you can to protect yourself and your partner(s)? For many couples, pregnancy is a risk, but even if you and your partner don’t have to worry about babies, everyone needs to think about STIs and STDs.

In a perfect world, sex would only result in pregnancy when it was intended and no one would get STDs, but we’re not quite there yet. So how do you protect yourself? There are so many ways! Take a look below to find the method(s) that work best for you and your partner(s).
CONDOMS (MALE): Male condoms are the most popular barrier method. They are 92% effective with perfect use, but that drops down to 82% with typical use. Make sure you know how to put one on properly! Most condoms are made of latex, but if you’re allergic there are many non-latex options. To keep your condoms in good condition, be sure to check the expiry date, don’t keep them in hot places like your car, or in cold places. Also, don’t keep your condoms in your wallet or purse unless they are in their own separate container. Condoms help to prevent both pregnancy and some STIs/STDs.

CONDOMS (FEMALE): These are less common, but quickly becoming popular. The femalecondom goes inside of the vagina and provides some external coverage. They are 95% effective with perfect use (more than male condoms!) and 79% effective with typical use.

DENTAL DAMS: Dental dams are a barrier method for oral sex. Dams are applied to the vulva/vagina or the anus (for analinus or “rim jobs”) to protect both partners from STIs/STDs during oral sex. Dams can be found in stores, but if you don’t have one, you can cut the tip of a regular condom off, then cut vertically to create a rectangle.

ORAL CONTRACEPTIVE (THE PILL): By far the most popular method of hormonal birth control. A pill is taken at the same time every day to prevent ovulation. The pill has been around for a little over 50 years and is very safe to use. It’s important to find a brand that works well for you, so inform your health care provider if you have any concerns (ie. Acne, depression, history of breast cancer etc.) The pill is 99% effective (almost perfect!) with perfect use and about 91% effective with typical use, but it’s not hard to keep that 99% if you take it at the same time every day! *Offers no STI protection on it’s own

THE PATCH: If you’ve seen someone use Nicotine patches to quit smoking, you understand the basics of the patch. It’s a little plastic patch that sticks to your skin and sends hormones that keep you from ovulating, into your body through your skin. You put a new patch on each week and remove it completely for one week each month during your period. Like the pill, the patch is also 99% effective with perfect use and 91% effect with typical use. *Offers no STI protection on it’s own

THE SHOT: If you choose the shot, your health care provider will give you a shot (yes, a teensy needle!) that contains something called Depo-Provera. “Depo” contains a hormone called progestin, which will stop you from ovulating while also thickening your cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering your cervix. The shot is 99% effective with perfect use, or 94% effective with typical use. Remember to get your next shot when you’re due! *Offers no STI protection on it’s own

IMPLANT: The implant is a small stick of plastic that contains hormones that, like the shot, will keep you from ovulating and will thicken your cervical mucus. Your doctor will implant the small stick (smaller than a match!) under the skin in your upper arm, on the side that touches your body. No one will know you have it! The implant is 99% effective across the board with very little margin for error. *Offers no STI protection on it’s own

IUD: The IUD is a copper or plastic (depending on the brand) device that is inserted into the uterus. The copper IUD is hormone free and prevents pregnancy naturally. The plastic version relies on hormones to keep you baby free. The IUD is amazing! It can last anywhere between 5-8 years, or up to 12 depending on the brand. It is 99% effective once inserted and is a great option for people who are looking for longer term protection. *Offers no STI protection on it’s own

THE SPONGE: Although it’s not a super popular or talked about option, the sponge is a good addition to with drawl. It’s a small, round piece of plastic that is inserted into the vagina before sex. It sits at the mouth of the cervix to keep sperm from getting into the uterus. It also constantly emits spermicide, to kill sperm. The sponge is MUCH better than using no protection at all, but it’s only 80-91% effective with perfect use, and 76-88% effective with typical use so be sure to insert it properly. *Offers no STI protection on it’s own

THE RING: The Nuva ring is a flexible ring of hormones that is inserted into the vagina. The ring emits hormones to prevent pregnancy. You leave it in for 3 weeks, then remove it for a week for your period and then insert a new one! Super simple. The ring is 99% effective with perfect use, and about 91% effective with typical use. *Offers no STI protection on it’s own

WITHDRAWL: Also known as the “pull out method”, is exactly what it sounds like. Before ejaculation, the partner with the penis removes themselves from the vagina to prevent semen entering the vagina. The with drawl method is widely used and is 96% effective with perfect use and about 78% effective with typical use. With drawl is only effective if you pull out before ejaculation each and EVERY time so it requires a lot of communication between partners as well as a high level of self-awareness. It’s also important to note that although you may pull out before ejaculation, pre-ejaculate or pre-cum can contain semen in it (so it can get you/your partner pregnant!), especially if you have ejaculated recently. *Offers no STI protection on it’s own

FERTILITY AWARENESS: People have used fertility awareness for almost as long as they’ve been having sex. If you or your partner tracks their period, you’re already practicing part of fertility awareness. There are many different methods that generally consist of keeping track of body temperature, cervical mucus and when menstruation occurs. In this way, a person with a uterus can better determine when they are ovulating. Couples who use fertility awareness will avoid penetrative sex during a women’s ovulation cycle (or have sex especially during this time if they are ACTIVELY TRYING to get pregnant). When done properly and accurately, fertility awareness can be 95-99% effective and 76-88% effective with typical use. It is important to consult your health care provider before jumping into this method. *Offers no STI protection on it’s own

STERILIZATION: Sterilization can be performed on anyone with a reproductive system. For people with testicles, the “tubes” inside of your testicles are severed so that sperm cannot leave the penis. For people with a uterus, the fallopian tubes are typically tied off so that eggs cannot be released into the uterus. In both instances, one sex cell is missing so that conception is impossible. Some procedures can be reversed, but not all. Sterilization is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. *offers no STI protection on it’s own.

GLOVES/FINGER COTS: Latex gloves and finger cots are important barrier methods when engaging in manual sexual activity (ie. Any activity where your hands touch another person’s genitals). Latex gloves can be found almost anywhere, and finger cots can be found at many sexual health clinics or medical supply stores. Why are these important? If you have a cut or open sore on your hands you risk contracting STIs/STDs from your partner through the sores. They also prevent your partner from contracting illnesses from you as well (HIV/AIDS can be transferred from a cut to a genital) as bacteria and pathogens such as e.coli that can cause different infections. Obviously, using a glove or finger cot will not protect you from pregnancy or contracting an STI/STD during genital contact.

ABSTINENCE: Abstinence is a fundamental aspect of the majority of sexual education programs in schools. Abstinence is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and STI/STDs. Abstinence is when you decide not to have sex for personal, medical, or religious reasons. It can be difficult if you are in a relationship, but it is the most effective method!

Phew! I know that seems like a lot of information to take in, and that’s okay. Whatever method you choose, remember that no method by itself provides pregnancy protection as well as STD/STI protection. For the safest sex possible (for couples who can get pregnant) choose a barrier method (or more!) as well as a contraceptive. Ex. Male condoms (STI AND pregnancy prevention) and the Pill. This way, you have extra pregnancy protection and you’re less likely to have an “oops” moment.

STI/STD protection is ESPECIALLY important for people who have multiple partners or are in non-monogamous relationships (swingers, polyamorous couples), as well as people who are HIV+ or who know/suspect that they have and STI/STD. For the safest sex possible, people in all types of relationships should get tested after every partner. Getting tested regularly helps to stop the spread of STIs/STDs as well as protects you and your partner from having an infection that you don’t know about. Many STIs/STDs have no symptoms or have symptoms that are very subtle, so it’s possible to have an infection without being aware. Sometimes you can have an infection and not know until it’s made you very sick.

donthave

Okay… so this is a TAD dramatic. PSAs and articles like this can make it seem like you’re going to get pregnant or contract a disease every time you have sex. Don’t stress over it, if you’re being safe, you have little to worry about. Now that you’re informed, protect yourself and your partner(s). Again, I understand that thinking about this can be scary, but not being educated is scarier.

For more information on contraceptives go to http://www.bedsider.org

Sexuality: Being BI(sexual)

Image

What Is Bisexuality?

The dictionary defines bisexuality as “the sexual attraction to both men and women.”

Bisexuality refers to people who are attracted to both men and women. This attraction does not have to be completely equal (ie. 50% attraction to men and 50% attraction to women). There are so many stereotypes about bisexual/biromantic people, here are a few that I’d like to debunk:

1.Bisexual people are confused/experimenting : Nope! Sometimes people do want to experiment, and these people may identify as bicurious, which is great! Even if the person experiments and comes to realize that bisexuality isn’t really for them, it doesn’t mean that they were ever confused. On that note, this doesn’t mean that bisexual people are just experimenting. They are legitimately attracted to both sexes.

2. Bisexuality is just a phase: Nope! Like I said, some people experiment with bisexuality and find their sexuality that way, but it’s not a phase for all people and it’s important to respect it as a full sexual orientation

3. Bisexuality is the first step in coming out as homosexual: Again, NOPE! Some people come out as bisexual before they come out as homosexual for many reasons. Sometimes it’s easier to ease yourself into accepting your own sexuality (if you’re gay) this way or sometimes you’re not totally sure that you’re homosexual.Other times, people come out as Bi to make it easier on their loved ones or “less of a blow”. Not everyone does it for these reasons or takes this route. Not all Bi people are “transitioning” into homosexuality. It’s a very personal journey.

I am bisexual. It’s something I’ve known my entire life, and I remember being quite young being attracted to women in a slightly different way than I was men. I grew up in a pretty homophobic community and when I realized that I was bi I was so worried about what people would think of me. I was ashamed of myself and I didn’t want to be Bi. I brushed it under the rug for a long time and I almost wished it would go away. As I got older and more comfortable with myself in general, I realized I couldn’t make my feelings go away. Being Bisexual was a part of who I am. My friends and immediate family were very supportive and I was lucky enough to feel safe in coming out. It’s not that easy for everyone though. 

Bisexual people face a very unique type of discrimination called Biphobia. Biphobia is different from homophobia in that homosexual people generally experience discrimination from heterosexual people and society at large, while bisexual people can be discriminated against by both straight and gay people alike (That’s not to say that gay people don’t experience discrimination from their community as well). It can be hard to explain why but bisexual people are often looked down upon in the LGBTQQ2IA+ community for not being “truly gay”. Almost like cheating in “hide and go seek”, people look as bisexulity as cheating or not really being a part of the game, which of course is not true. 

Bisexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation as is homosexuality and heterosexuality, and it should be treated as such. 

My “Bikini Body”

Today, I uploaded this photo to my Facebook page. Image

 

I posted this picture on my Facebook page today because I wanted to help people move past the myth that there is only one kind of body that looks good in a bikini. This weekend, I was on a date at a patio bar. In the middle of it, this man came and sat down with us while he smoked. He started talking about a nude beach he’d been to and about his belief that only certain people should be allowed to be naked in public. He complained that seeing people on the beach who’s bodies were aging, larger or “not beautiful”, was annoying to have to deal with. 

The attitude that this man has is damaging, and unfortunately not uncommon. The belief that only thin, tanned, hairless, young, toned bodies (ie. a “bikini body”) are worthy of wearing bikinis, bathing suits, shorts, skirts, tank tops etc. makes the summer time very hard for people who don’t have that particular body type. People who have “bad” bodies (according to this definition) have to deal with staring, rude comments, unsolicited advice on how to lose weight, and even harassment and assault. People who are larger have just as much of a right to be comfortable during hot weather as thin people do. 

Last year, during a lesson on genetic predisposition to things like addiction, my professor told us a story about a day she had at the beach to explain predisposition to obesity. She told us about a larger woman she saw on the beach and how she was wearing the a very small bikini. The words she used to describe this woman and her friend were not kind. She described them as having “badly shaped bodies” and being much heavier than they ‘should’ have been. Their presence on the beach while wearing beach ware promoted obesity, and in her opinion they were setting an unhealthy example for the rest of the beach goers, most of all my professor’s 4 year-old daughter that she brought to the beach that day. This ignorant rant and HORRIBLE explanation of predisposition to obesity left me shocked and feeling livid. I wasn’t hurt by her words because I understood that she didn’t know what it feels like to be a large person who isn’t able to be waif thin.* She didn’t realize the kind of judgement and hurt she was inflicting on her students. I went home and wrote her an e-mail (I’ll post that next week) expressing how upset I was by her carelessness. 

My point here, is that as a fat girl** I have to deal with these kinds of comments all the time. People think that they can shame fat people in to losing weight, which isn’t mean at all in their eyes, they’re just helping those people become “healthy”. I’m very confident in my body, but I haven’t always been this way. If I’d had a teacher say something like that to me when I was younger, I would have been devastated. This pressure to be thin is present all year long, but even more so during the summer when it’s hot. Appropriate clothing tends to be more revealing, putting all people who don’t have the perfect “bikini body” on display. We all have days where we don’t like things about ourselves, even me. What’s important to remember is that ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES!!! Your body is beautiful even if your body is fat. Even if you have cellulite. Even if you have freckles or scars. Even if your thighs rub when you walk. Even if your boobs are small. Even if your butt is big. Your body is worthy of a bikini because it’s yours. 

OWN your body. My wish for this summer is that you all reclaim your bodies. Take some time to pick your body apart. Write a list of AT LEAST 10 things you really like about your body, then I want you to pull out that teeny tiny bikini, those super cute shorts, or that tank top you’ve got stuffed at the back of your dresser that you never wear because you’re not “thin or tanned or toned enough”. Wear it, feel confident and love you for who you are: You 

* When people have a predisposition to obesity, it means that they are more likely to be obese and/or have a harder time losing weight. I’m not saying that if a person has a predisposition that they should just give up and blame their unhealthy eating habits etc. on genetics and simply believe that it’s impossible for them to reach their own health and fitness goals.

**When I use the word fat, I use it as an adjective, not an insult or a degrading word. Although plus size, curvy, larger etc. work as positive descriptive words, I like to use fat because it’s to the point and not inherently negative. A fat body is a fat body, there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when context is added. The difference is simple: “I have wide hips, big legs, a big butt and big boobs. I’m fat”. VS. “UGH I’m SO fat! I’ll never look good in these jeans!” The first sentence is simply factual, it describes someone’s body while the second statement adds judgement and self-depreciation. The overall tone behind the second sentence connects the describer “fat” with negativity.  

Sexy Basics: Why the Vagina Journal?

Hello everyone! My name is Morgan and I am a 2nd year Sexual Diversity studies student at the University of Toronto. I started this blog in hopes that some of what I write about might open dialogue between people about topics related to sexuality and change the sexual norms of today. I want  to focus on female sexuality because it is so greatly misunderstood and overshadowed by male sexuality. My goals are to provide educational material that is sex positive, factual, non-judgemental or morally based, and expository.  I want to get down to basics and talk about all things vagina so that every woman can have accurate information on their own anatomy, sexuality, body, pleasure, and health.

I will be writing on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. Most articles will be topic pieces, but some of them will also have personal connections to my life. If you would like to suggest a topic or ask a question in confidentiality you can e-mail me with your questions at thevaginajournal@gmail.com . I also do Passion Parties (they’re like Pampered Chef, but with sex toys!) I’ve gained a lot of experience helping my clients through personal issues because of my business. Passion Parties puts a HUGE emphasis on confidentiality and privacy, and I’d like to apply that same standard here (At this time I would like to  stress that this blog will NOT be used as a promotional platform for my business, nor is my blog affiliated in any way with Passion Parties Inc.)

With that being said, I’m SO excited to start this project and I can’t wait to see how far it goes. Please feel free to give me feedback, ask questions or suggest topics by sending any of your suggestions to tmy Gmail account.

Xo,

Morgan