Blush: HPV and You

My friends and I are getting to the age when our kids are getting shots that were not available when we were young.

The chicken pox vaccine, for one. (Varicella)

I, personally, had a very severe case of chicken pox over Christmas when I was 7 years old. My dad (and his mother) weren’t sure if he had had it as a kid, so I wasn’t allowed to go near him OR my 3 year old baby sister. Not a great Christmas.

Now, there’s a vaccine that prevents the horrible, full-body-and-sometimes-inside-the-mouth-and-on-the-eyelids, itchy rash. I’m ALL FOR IT. The vaccine, I mean.

But there’s another vaccine that wasn’t around when I was young: HPV9.

Giant Microbe of HPV (Human Papillomavirus). Image from giantmicrobes.com

I heard about it in University. I was still under the age limit to get it for free, and chose not to. I think that was a mistake. I was not very well informed about it and I regret not looking into it better.

Because the HPV9 vaccine protects against 7 types of HPV that cause types of cervical cancer, anal cancer, and genital warts.

And, more importantly, you can get HPV without having had sex.

Because HPV is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact, if someone with HPV touches their genitals (say, wiping after going to the bathroom), doesn’t wash their hands (ew), and then touches you….you have a pretty good chance of catching it.

So if you have the chance, please get the HPV9 vaccine. It is super safe and will protect you for the rest of your life.


References

Immunize BC
Healthlink BC
CDC
Live Science

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

Blush: Condoms

So far we have received almost three digits worth of questions, but I’m greedy, and I want more! Ask us your anonymous questions here!

Star Wars condoms? Why not? Image from mic.com
Star Wars condoms? Why not? Image from mic.com

Question

Who should buy condoms? When should they be bought?

Answer

You should buy condoms when you and your partner are ready to have sex.

But…should the boy or the girl buy the condoms?

Did I mumble?

How many times have I heard this question? Too many to count, in all its various forms. “The guy should buy the condom, because he doesn’t want to get the girl pregnant.” or “The girl should buy the condom, because she doesn’t want to get pregnant.”

This is frustrating for many reasons. One, this presumes that the hypothetical couple is heterosexual. Better to not assume. Two, it focuses only on the prevention of pregnancy. Sure, condoms are great for that. But they are used for so much more! Three, gender stereotyping is bothersome in all its forms!

And why is it so bad for both partners to buy condoms? Having too many is not a problem!

Condoms should be used as protection when you and your partner are unsure of your sexual pasts. Until you both get tested, even if it’s your first time, you cannot be certain that you are clean from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Protect both of you by using condoms.

Condoms are great for protecting against pregnancy if used properly, although pregnancy isn’t an issue for everyone.

If you are part of a couple and are planning on having sex, (where you and your partner have given enthusiastic consent) why not go shopping for condoms together? It can ramp up the anticipation, you get the right size, and the brand you both prefer.

If you plan on getting together with a one-night stand, (I’m not judging, have consensual fun as adults!) you should have a condom with you, whether you are a male or female. You can’t assume that your partner will have thought of it, or have the right size, or know that you have a latex allergy. (If you’re a homosexual female, condoms can still come in handy. Read here about how to transform one into a dental dam!)

If you’re allergic to latex, there are several options available:

  1. Polyurethane condoms
    • longer shelf life than latex condoms, no scent, not as sensitive to temperature
    • transfer heat between skin and condom better
    • thinner, and less elastic, so you should use water or silicone based lube to avoid breakage
    • Trojan Supra is one such condom
  2. Polyisoprene condoms
    • synthetic latex material that does not produce the allergen
    • stretchier and more resistant to breakage
    • pair well with water and silicone based lubricants, but DO NOT use oil based
    • Lifestyles SKYN is one such condom
  3. FC2 female condom
    • strong, thin, flexible nitrile sheath
    • fits inside the woman before sex
      • note: I have not read anything about anal use for these condoms. Not recommended.
    • will fit any size of penis
    • FC2 is one such female condom
  4. Natural skin condoms
    • also known as sheep skin condoms
    • these condoms are NOT good enough to prevent STIs, as they are very porous, but will prevent pregnancy
    • completely biodegradable
    • transfers heat well, and can barely feel it
    • note: an odour is noticeable from these condoms, as they are made from an animal byproduct
    • Trojan NaturaLamb is one such condom

Use only one condom at a time. Two condoms, even one male and one female, will cause friction and break. Not can, will.

Also, when you are done with your condom, please throw it out in the garbage!

Story time! When my husband and I first moved into our house a year and a half ago, we noticed that the master bathroom sink was leaking. We finally found the source of the leak: the stopper had scraped its way through the metal of the pipe at the back! We bought a new pipe and stopper and replaced it (with my dad’s help). When we took out the old pipe, we found a very old, blackened condom that hadn’t been able to get past the stopper and was blocking the pipe! Gross!

Moral of the story is: throw your condoms in the garbage, NOT down the sink or in the toilet! If you’re trying to hide its use from your parents/kids/friends, you should buy Blush: A Card Game when it comes out, to open communication lines and remove the taboo surrounding sex! But seriously, if you’re trying to hide the evidence, wrap it in a tissue and stuff it in the bottom of the garbage can.

While you’re checking out condoms, check out the cool new Star Wars condoms! Are you a Sith or a Jedi? Either way, protect yourself!


References

http://www.yourtango.com/experts/lucky-bloke/4-fantastic-alternatives-latex-condoms-expert
http://www.sexualityandu.ca/stis-stds/how_do_i_protect_myself_from_stis_stds/male-condom
http://www.sexualityandu.ca/stis-stds/how_do_i_protect_myself_from_stis_stds/female-condom
http://www.sexualityandu.ca/en/health-care-professionals/contraception-birth_control_methods/condoms