Your Body

November 22, 2013
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Sexually transmissible infections (STI’s) are passed from one person to another during a bit of ‘rumpty-pumpty’…or ‘how’s your father?’ (Seriously, how strange are euphemisms for getting it on?), from mum to baby during pregnancy and birth or through blood products and tissue transfer (e.g. sharing needles).

Most STI’s are transmitted though all the yummy stuff, like the exchange of sexual juices (pre-cum, cum, lady’s love lube) or skin-to-skin contact during a bit of bum fun, oral or vaginal sex. However, some can even be transmitted by sharing bed clothing and linen (scabies and pubic lice).

Globally, there are over 30 bacterial, viral and parasitic STI’s and 499 million new cases of curable STI’s yearly (WHO, 2008). STI’s are a major cause of illness, disability and death – with serious medical and psychological consequences for countless people.  Additionally, those who are infected with some STI’s are statistically more likely to acquire and transmit HIV

However, STI’s need not mean that you can’t enjoy yourself and other’s bodies and are not necessarily the end of the world. Yes, they are a little bit of a curve-ball in the game of life, but we can take steps to protect ourselves and our playmates. There are also ways in which we can live with STI’s and remove stigma and shame around them to take ourselves forward into a much brighter, shinier, more positive sexual future.  One of the most positive steps we can take for all of our community is to educate ourselves about STI’s and to begin to talk about them openly and without judgement.

Here are the possible signs of an STI:

  • No signs
  • Testicular , urethral (pee hole) or  vaginal discharge/discomfort
  • Painful intercourse/urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Genital “growths” or ulcers

 Avoiding transmission

Obviously, the most effective means of avoiding transmission is abstinence (not having penetrative sex or engaging in sexual activity) or only having sexual relations in a long-term, monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. However, it is possible to have SAFER SEX by empowering your sexual being with informed choices, building upon your self-esteem, having a positive attitude towards sexuality and consistent and correct condom/dam use.  A dam is a thin square of latex that fits over the vagina or anus. Additionally, there are vaccines available that protect against some STIs or strains of STIs (Hepatitis A and B and some strains of HPV).

Screening/Testing

Screening or testing is an excellent idea as many STI’s don’t have symptoms and you may have no idea that you have one. It’s a good idea to have regular sexual health check-ups as soon as you start to become sexually active, especially if you are engaging in unprotected sex or have multiple partners. You can get tested at your local GP, family planning/planned parenthood clinic or sexual health care clinic. In some countries these are referred to as genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics. You will be asked to give blood, urine or swab tests and may have a physical examination.

EDUCATE…SAFER SEX…SCREEN

New Terminology

STI’s used to be referred to as venereal diseases (VD) or sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Strictly speaking there is a difference between STD’s and STI’s, but the umbrella term STI is now preferred.  This is because infections are not always associated with symptoms, whereas diseases are. Also, for some using the term STI helps to minimise the embarrassment or stigma that might be associated with having a ‘disease’.

 

The A-B-C’s of STI’s

As mentioned previously there are over 30 STI’s here are a few:

  • Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
  • Chancroid
  • Chlamydia and Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Donovanosis  (Granuloma inguinale)
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Hepatitis (A, B and C)
  • Herpes (HSV1 and HSV2)
  • HIV and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Genital Warts
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Molloscum Contagiosum
  • Mononucleosis (‘mono’)
  • Mucopurulent Cervicitis (MPC)
  • Mycoplasma genitalium
  • Pelvic Infammatory Disease (PID)
  • Pubic lice (‘crabs’)
  • Scabies
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis (‘trich’)

 


November 16, 2013
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You might think you know your clitoris pretty well. I hope you do. It is, after all, the epicenter of female sexual pleasure. But there may be a few choice facts about your clit you don’t know, as highlighted in conceptual artist Sophia Wallace’s incredible installation work, CLITERACY: 100 Natural Laws.

Through her art, Wallace takes on her self-described role of ‘clitigator’, laying out her case for the clitoris, and addressing issues relating to everything from psychoanalysis and religion, to visual culture, architecture, history, and popular culture.

She describes Cliteracy as a new way to talk about democracy, citizenship, participation and bodies. In her words:

“Democracy without cliteracy: phallusy”

In an interview with Huffington Post shortly after her work went viral online, Wallace asserts: “It’s appalling and shocking to think that scientifically, the clitoris was only discovered in 1998… But really, it may as well have never been discovered at all because there’s still such ignorance when it comes to the female body.”

“Your clit is not merely a button hidden between a your legs. It’s an iceberg of eroticism.”

How Cliterate Are You?

Here are 12 stimulating facts about the clitoris you may not already know:

  1. In over five million years of human evolution, the clitoris is the only organ that exists for the sole purpose of providing pleasure
  2. The clitoris has been being ‘discovered’ and ‘rediscovered’ for centuries; by Italian anatomist Realdo Colombo in 1559, by Kinsey in the 1950s, and by Masters and Johnson in the 1960s, who (finally) recognized its importance in helping women achieve orgasm
  3. It wasn’t until 1998, when urologist Dr Helen O’Connell conducted MRI studies on volunteers, that the complete anatomy of the clit was understood, proving it to be exponentially larger and more complex than once believed
  4. Most of the clitoris is subterranean, meaning it is hidden inside the pelvic area. The external “head” is attached to the internal body, which is divided into clitoral “legs” that wrap around the vagina and the urethra. Like the penis, these swell with blood when aroused.
  5. The estimated size of the clitoris can range between 9 – 12cm in length, and 6cm in width
  6. The external head of the clitoris is estimated to have more than 8000 nerve endings… twice as many as that of the average penis
  7. An estimated 50 – 75% of women reach orgasm through clitoral stimulation, with or without the addition of vaginal intercourse
  8. A woman’s ability to orgasm, and the intensity of her orgasm, has nothing to do with the shape, size, or color of her clit
  9. A clitoral orgasm involves between 3-15 contractions and can last from 10-30 seconds. Because women also have pelvic contractions during orgasm, the duration of their orgasm may seem longer.
  10. Clits never deteriorate, but actually grow larger with age. At the end of puberty, a girl’s clitoris has nearly doubled in size. By the time a woman is 32 years old, her clitoris is almost four times larger than it was at puberty. After menopause, the clitoris is about seven times larger than it was at birth.
  11. The clitoris can be stimulated by exercise. In fact, 20 minutes of moderate exercise increases a woman’s genital engorgement by 168 percent — and the effect persists for hours.
  12. Female circumcision involves the partial or complete removal of a prepubescent girl’s clitoris. According to Amnesty International, about two million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation every year. Only nine countries have specific legislation outlawing female genital mutilation.

Have a cliteracy question or comment? Post it here, or share it via Twitter or Facebook.


November 16, 2013
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Going With The Menstrual Flow

If you’re down about your period, think again…

Things have moved on since the days of over-sized, ‘jumbo’ sanitary pads that you could use to literally surf that crimson wave.

We have already said ta-ta to the bizarre, suspender-like contraptions and rags of the Yesteryear that older generations had to contend with, when the feminine ‘hygiene’ market began to produce readily available disposable products, such as sanitary pads and tampons.

Now, Aunty Flo’s with her monthly visitations, which may once have been greeted with embarrassment and shame, has had a makeover. The painters and decorators are most decidedly ‘in’: menses just got funky!

Menstruation Just Got Sexy

Menstruation products are now somewhat sexily (or as some would say, peculiarly) referred to as ‘disposable menstrual lingerie’. Historically, ‘shark week’ had been viewed with trepidation, yet there is a trend towards a new acceptance and celebration of ‘the blob’. No longer the ‘curse’, we can celebrate when we get our red wings.

Whilst once discretion and miniaturization were key factors for the producers, there is now a drive in the market for more natural, organic lines and an openness about bodily and reproductive function.

The Beaver Is Back

Women are menstruating earlier and for longer, with the average age of puberty coming down to 13 from around 16 in 1840. The market share in your poonani plug is huge, with the global tampon market set to reach $2.58 billion by 2015

With this increased market we are seeing new strategies to sell these products to you. With Bodyform’s snark attack in response to a FB post by Richard Neill, we have seen a more spunky, more playful and positive approach to menses.

Even the controversial Kotex U Beaver mascot  has been re-introduced (albeit only in digital advertising, because we’re not quite ready for the Beaver to be out in public yet, are we?).

The branding of menstrual products has moved from the aseptic to celebratory, organic and, even outright romantic; Scarlet Eve LunaPads, Mooncups, Gladrags, Party in your Pants…jeez, we even have the Tampax Radiant. There are even menstrual cups that sparkle a-la glitter.
Wow! Your muff will positively glow.

Image credit:© cocolima – Fotolia.com

 

 


October 30, 2013
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You’ve probably heard the joke “you know what you call a couple who use the rhythm and pull-out methods? Parents.”

More and more women are abandoning traditional contraception (Condoms, the Pill, etc) for what some consider to be “Voodoo”

The contraceptive pill boasts a side effect list including:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Moodiness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Moodiness and the list goes on….

Its no wonder that women are seemingly flocking from hormonal contraceptives. As for condoms – We understand! They certainly don’t feel as good as natural sex. IUDs have their own side effects, diaphragms are tricky and rely on a doctor’s appointment… it seems that wherever we turn, we are either expected to rely on someone else to control our fertility, or we are powerless.

When hormonal and barrier contraceptives aren’t an option that women are willing to engage in, and permanent sterilisation options are limited, risky, and come with drastic side effects of their own, not to mention they’re…. permanent… what is this voodoo that women are supposedly engaging in?

Charting and tracking

While on its own, the withdrawal method is notoriously ineffective, charting and tracking can be an effective means of contraception. Note however, it does not protect against STDs.

Understanding your cycles and fertility means that you can roughly predict when you’re fertile. Meaning that that time of the month is a good time to abstain from sex or use a method such as a condom.

The Billing’s method claims to be as effective as the pill when followed correctly. It’s a simple, sexy, straightforward method of monitoring your cervical mucous.

There are also several tools and apps that allow you to chart, track, and monitor your body. Checking symptoms such as cervical mucous, basal body temperature, cervix position, and hormones.

Scientifically discovering, monitoring and learning about your body is far from voodoo, luck or superstition. Its awareness, and empowering. During your fertile period, abstaining or using other barrier contraceptive methods like condoms give you options.

Good communication, team work, and dedication to good sex and fertility awareness make natural fertility a viable option for women.

It seems that there is a big education gap when it comes to all things fertility, and more frank, real conversations need to be had to demystify sex.

Our take on the issue?

  • Be smart, get aware of your body, know your fertility – don’t rely on one method alone (i.e. ONLY a period tracker)
  • Be aware of the risks and benefits
  • Communicate with your partner(s) and make sure they’re playing on the same team as you
  • In short, get savvy and take responsibility for your body and sex!

 

 

 


October 29, 2013
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Why DO we have pubic hair? We seem to be a society bent on removing it regularly, air brushing it out of print media, forgetting that pubic hair serves a purpose – an quite a sexy one at that!

Pubic hair has several functions, some of which may actually affect your love life for the negative. So here in the name of fun and all things positive about a natural pubic hairstyle are some neat facts about your short and curlies:

It Smells Good To Your Partners

Your pubic hair traps pheromones. Those ‘odourless’ chemicals that are emitted by our body that make us attractive or unattractive to potential mates – yep, well your pubic short and curlies are a veritable scented garden for these little goodies!

Your waxed or shaven pubic mound won’t hold or store as many pheromones, potentially limiting your sexy scent…

They Protect Your Vulva

Just like your nostrils have cilia and you have eye lashes, your pubic hairs actually prevent dust and bacteria from making its way to your urethra and vagina. Surgeons discovered that removing hair actually increased infections!

Humans Are The Only Species That Grow Pubic Hair

There’s nothing like being unique – it’s only the human teenager who sprouts hair from odd places as they reach sexual maturity. Go us!

We Actively Remove Hair When We Are Feeling Horny

We remove hair to appear sexually attractive, and are more likely to remove hair in the early honeymoon stages of a relationship, according to a study by Tiggemann and Hogson.

So why do we insist on waxing, shaving, depilating, vajizzling, tweezing and otherwise modifying our beautiful bodies? I would love to know!

Most of us  have enjoyed the new sensations of a brazillian, struggled through the painful regrowth of shaving, shuddered at IPL and considered some of the more exotic hair removal techniques, honey anyone?

Do you go bare down there? I’d love your comments!