Blush: Candy is not a toy

Are you looking to spice up the bedroom this Valentine’s Day?

Keep looking past the grocery store.

Candy is not safe to use!

Image from stock photos.

While your first thought might go to chocolate, whipped cream, hard candies, and fruit, all of these things (and a lot of others that don’t pop up in Cosmo’s “recommended sex foods”) are not safe for one very good and major reason: sugar should not go anywhere near the mucous membranes of the vagina or anus.

Sugar can change the pH of the vagina, and is a food source for bacteria and yeast, leading to yeast infections and other problems.

Coconut oil is very popular, and I’ve heard it suggested as a use for anything from cradle cap to an ingredient in stir fry. But do NOT use it as a lube! If you are using it with a latex condom/dental dam, oil can degrade the latex. If you are not using a condom/dental dam, you’d think that the slipperiness of the oil would be an ideal lubricant. Unfortunately, the oil is hard to remove completely from inside the body, and it can trap bacteria, increasing the risk of infections.

Fruits and veggies should NOT be inserted into the body (other than your mouth), unless inside latex. For one thing, there’s no guarantee that you’d be able to remove all of it – your internal muscles are stronger than you realize, and having to go to the doctor’s to have a piece of food removed from inside you isn’t the best way to spend your evening. Secondly, no matter how thoroughly you think you may have disinfected the food, there is still a chance of bacteria on the skin.

The safest way to use food, even the ones with sugar, would be to keep it above the waist. If you insist on bringing something down below, use plain ice. Avoid direct contact, as the nerve endings are much closer to the surface and can be “traumatized”.

There are several safe products that can be used down below, but you may have some difficulty finding them in the condom aisle of your drugstore. Sex shops like Venus Envy or Wicked Wanda’s in downtown Ottawa are safe spaces for all genders and orientations (although you may have some difficulty entering the latter if you are mobility impaired, Venus Envy has an automatic front door and is accessible as stated online), and they would have edible lubricants and other products that could be fun. Unfortunately, these products are still a work in progress:

[I]t’s hard to balance taste with safety. The ingredients that bring flavor (sucrose, sodium saccharin, aspartame) can also cause yeast infections – or lead to genital irritation – Atlas Obscura

Happy Valentine’s Day, and be safe!


References

https://www.self.com/story/7-ways-not-to-use-food-during-sex

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/a-matter-of-taste-inside-the-edible-sex-toy-industry


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Blush: Recommendation podcast

I was recently introduced to a really great podcast called Queer Sex Ed.

Queer Sex Ed logo from their website.

I have only had the time to listen to the first half hour of the first episode, but it impressed me so much and gave me a lot to think about, so I know that this is a winner.


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Blush: A New Cup

I have talked about using a Diva Cup in the past, but over the past 9.5 years of my using a cup, I have come across several people who were not able to use one, for a variety of reasons.

I was very excited, therefore, to hear about a Kickstarter for a new cup: the Keela Cup. The new design should make the cup easier to use for a lot of the people who could not use a Diva Cup. I hope that they get the chance to try this cup out.

Check out this article by one of the creators.

The Keela Cup mascot, designed by Nomi Kane. Image from Kickstarter.com

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Blush: Consent from kids

The last time I talked about consent and kids, I focused on how to teach kids how to ask for consent. This time around, with the holidays here, I want to remind the adults that read this that the children in their lives are not obligated to give hugs or kisses to anyone.

Image from Elise Gravel, a cartoonist.

For example, our daughter is terrified of men with white hair. This includes her great-grandfather, friends of the family, and, of course, Santa Claus.

Although her great-grandfather is getting older, we managed to get a picture of them by having her sit beside him on her father’s knee. It’s not the snuggly picture that we ideally wanted, but it’s a good compromise that lets her know that she has been understood, but still lets us get a picture of them together.

So remember, at holiday parties this year, that just because there is a child involved, does not mean that they are automatically obligated to give you a hug. It doesn’t matter if you’re a super close friend, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or stranger; if the child does not give you a clear indication of consent, don’t touch them!

Our daughter’s consent is uplifted arms, or pro-active climbing onto your lap, in case you come across her this season.

Happy Holidays!


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Blush: Uterine transplants

A baby was born in the US last week.

Not all that newsworthy, is it?

How about: A woman born without a uterus gave birth to a baby in the US last week.

That’s super incredible.

Ultrasound of Dragon at 19 weeks.

She achieved this by transplant – a donor gave their uterus (and this can be a live or deceased donor) and it was implanted into the woman. In the case of the US birth, it was part of a study conducted by Baylor University, and the recipient had to have healthy ovaries, undergo IVF, and retrieve fertilized eggs that would then be implanted into the transplanted uterus a year after the operation.

Uterine transplants have been done in other countries, too. A woman in Sweden gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 2014, and they got pregnant via IVF a year after the operation. (The woman in question had Rokitansky syndrome, and was born without a uterus or vagina.) The uterus came from a post-menopausal woman, which makes this pregnancy even more interesting, as it not only proved that a pregnancy can occur in a transplanted uterus, but the uterus isn’t affected by menopause.

Anti-rejection drugs must be taken while the uterus is in use (not just while pregnant), and these start causing complications after two pregnancies, so the uterus needs to be removed at that time.

Still, this is pretty incredible, and opens up some pretty incredible opportunities for women both born without a uterus or who have needed their uterus removed (cancer, etc reasons).

What is the next step?

Working towards keeping the uterus for longer, not requiring anti-rejection drugs, transplanting ovaries as well, not requiring IVF to get pregnant…

Any others?


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Blush: Relearning how to pee

The other day, I came across a very hilarious account of Shoshana Sperling, a woman who had bladder leakage. If that doesn’t sound funny to you, I agree. It doesn’t. But the way that this story was written really tickled my fancy. Go read it here.

If you just want the facts and don’t want to read the article (but you really should because it’s hilarious), her bladder leakage happened because it stretched from holding the pee in. Once it’s stretched, it’s hard to tell when it’s full. And bam! Leaks.

An exploding water balloon seemed fitting here. Image from flickr.

This can happen to anyone, not just moms, like in the story. (They call it “busy mom syndrome”.)

And the cure is relearning how to pee. Having a schedule. Shrinking your bladder back to normal so that you can tell when it’s full.

The result of this research is me realizing that being able to hold my pee for hours and hours at a time is not something to be proud of, because it’s stretching my bladder, and I’m probably going to have this exact problem very soon.


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Blush: Seniors

If you think having “the Talk” with your children is weird (try the card game Blush to help with the conversation!), how would you feel about having that same conversation with your newly divorced or widowed parent?

This article from Arti Patel on Boom 99.7’s website has a bunch of statistics, including that both chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis cases have all increased between the years 1980 and 2015 (the most recent national data). And while seniors aren’t experiencing all that many STIs, the fact that there are still reports of any cases is worrying.

Joan Price, sex advocate and author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain – or Regain! – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life, says the reason why the community has high STI rates is simple: they’re not using condoms.”

Patel, 2017

So I did some calculations. If a person is 60 today, they were born in 1957. Add 14 (the approximate age for sex education), and you get 1971. What was sexual education in Canada like in 1971?

A depiction of a classroom in stereotypical Canada, circa 1970. Image from www.macleans.ca

This was actually an interesting topic to research. I found a pretty great resource here (page 387), but here’s the most important part:

“During the 1960s and 1970s, most students in Canadian schools received little, if any, sexual health education. During this period, information about sexuality was often provided in programs called “Family Life Education” (FLE), which focused on human reproduction, puberty, and, in some cases, birth control.”

Pearson, p 387

Note that there is no mention of STIs. Why not?

Because the AIDS and HIV scares didn’t happen until the 1980s!

So the senior population would not have learned about using protection against diseases. No matter the sexual orientation, a senior couple wouldn’t consider using a condom, because there wouldn’t be a chance of getting pregnant!

In conclusion, have a talk with your parents, and make sure they are aware of the consequences of not using a condom!


References

Why STI rates are steadily going up in Canada

Sexual Health Education in the Schools: A Brief History – Chapter 15 (PDF: 1MB)


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Blush: Recommendation Wednesday

One of my close friends posted a very good article on coming out as asexual last week, and I got permission to link to it for my Blush post this week. Please go and read it, and like her on Facebook (here).

I was greatly heartened after the surprisingly well-attended Asexual Identities panel at CanCon this year.  It was really awesome to be on a panel with other people who were so similar to myself, and had similar experiences.  It was wildly reaffirming, and helped me a great deal on a personal level. [Read more]

S.M. Carriere’s website.

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: Sexual Harassment and Assault

On Sunday October 15th, #metoo was all over Twitter and Facebook. Eric had to explain to me what it was about.

I’ve seen amendments to the tweet by changing “women” to “people”, and I think that makes it better.

People is a better term because it is inclusive of trans and nonbinary humans, who are just as likely to be harassed as cis-women.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the #metoo movement was started by Tarana Burke, a Black woman, ten years ago! To join Burke’s movement to amplify the voices of sexual assault survivors, go to metoo.support. (Source that I highly recommend reading. Go! This page will still be here when you’re done. It even opens in a new window! You’ve read it? Good. We can continue.)

I have also seen a couple articles mentioning that there are victims who do not feel safe enough to join in. My heart goes out to them, and please know that this blog is a safe space. Comments are moderated before being posted, so no hate speech will get through. If you need help, we will do everything in our power to help you.

And yes, #metoo.


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Blush: Consent and kids

Last week we went to a family birthday party (five celebrated at once, from the ages of 1 to 70!) and a lot of fun was had. However, it definitely brought to my attention that our daughter has no concept of personal space, boundaries, or consent.

She’s 1 years old. This is normal.

Normal it may be, but consent is something she needs to learn. And now that she’s walking and able to chase down other kids, she needs to learn it fast.

Fortunately, there are some pretty great resources to help us. I encourage everyone to read at least this guide (it’s 4 pages) if you have any children in your life, whether they belong to you, your family, or your friends.

My sister is already really great at respecting my daughter’s limits. Every time she visits, she asks “Can I pick you up?” before touching her. I know that if she ever says “no”, it will be respected.

As adults, we need to be aware that a child’s “no” to hugging, kissing, or being held, is not them casting any aspersions on our character. They’re just not in the mood to be touched, and we should respect that. Offer an alternative, like a high five, a fist bump, a blown kiss, or a simple wave.

Along a similar vein, if the child has agreed to be touched, and then wants to stop, they should be listened to.

This is all common sense, and easy to follow because we’re adults. We understand the reasoning. How do we teach it to children?

Part of teaching consent to kids is modelling it. Showing that they have agency over their own bodies is a big step to understanding that others are also to be respected.

My daughter and her cousin, whom she terrorized last week.

She walked up to the only other person her size and tried to hug them. She kept her balance (and grip) quite well as he tried to wriggle away… I feel like I dropped the ball at this point. I should have taken her aside and explained that he wasn’t interested in being held, just like she didn’t want to be held by the strangers at the party. I might not have gotten through to her, but I should have tried, multiple times if necessary.

Teaching them empathy is another part. Our daughter also pulled the his hair. He cried, understandably. But she doesn’t seem to understand that having hair pulled hurts – she does it to herself all the time, and doesn’t seem bothered by it. She thinks it’s funny when she pulls other people’s hair. I made her apologize to him (I held her while I apologized for her because she is non verbal) and told her not to pull other people’s hair. I don’t think it has sunk in yet. She pulled mine the next morning.

It’s a work in progress. Suggestions are welcome.


References

http://www.teachconsent.org

Parent Discussion Guide

https://goodmenproject.com/families/the-healthy-sex-talk-teaching-kids-consent-ages-1-21/

http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/advice/how-to-teach-your-children-about-consent/


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.