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“I want to have sex with my girlfriend but I want to know the cautions and what to do in order to be safe. I’m female.”

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Dr. Justine Shuey as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Dr. Shuey Says:

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) do not discriminate, so it is important to protect yourself and your partner(s). There are ways to get STIs without ever having sex (through birth, skin-to-skin contact, sharing IV drugs / needles / injection equipment, etc) so it doesn’t matter if your partner is a virgin, or if you are – you always need to protect yourself and your partner(s). STIs can be transmitted sexually in a variety of ways via bodily fluids, which include blood, semen, vaginal secretions, anal secretions, breast milk or even skin-to-skin contact.

Using Latex (or non-latex) dental dams during oral sex prevents the transmission of bodily fluid and some skin-to-skin contact. Some even come in yummy flavors to make oral sex taste sweeter. If you can’t find dental dams you can make them using regular latex/non-latex male condoms or gloves. You can find easy to follow instructions for this online.

If using sex toys, you should know what material the toy is made of, if it can be completely sterilized, and if it is safe for sharing (when cleaned appropriately). You might also consider covering sex toys with condoms to prevent the spread of infections and for easier clean up.

You should also considering using gloves/finger cots for vaginal and anal play. It will make things smoother and will help lubricants last longer.

Individuals with penises can use male condoms during oral, anal or vaginal sex. There are even flavored condoms made specifically for oral sex (which could be cut and used as dental dams).

There are also “Female Condoms” & “FC2” condoms which are insertable condoms and can be used during vaginal sex or used during receptive anal sex by removing the inner ring. These are made of non-latex materials and can also be cut and used as dental dams.

There are a variety of lubricants available: A good water-based lubricant is best, though you can use flavored lubricants externally during oral sex on the outside of condoms/dental dams. Silicone lubricant is another option but be cautious as silicone lubricant will break down silicone sex toys.

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Click through to read more about Dr. Shuey and our other Second Opinions panelists!

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"A friend just found out she probably has herpes. What can I do to help her?"

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I think listening to her concerns and fears is a great place to start. Chances are there isn’t anything specific you can do, but you CAN be a good friend (and sometimes that’s enough).

I imagine your friend is feeling a whirlwind of emotions right now, ALL OF WHICH she probably just wants you to hear. When she tells you she is scared, she feels embarrassed and stupid, let her know she has every right to be feeling those things and you would feel the exact same way. Remind her that she is not stupid and you will do whatever it takes to make her feel at least a little better.

According to THIS ARTICLE, one in six humans has herpes. Also according to that article the ONLY WAY to not get the herp is to be a straight woman and to make YO MAN wear a condom… so.. -______- If I were in your shoes, I’d want to lighten the mood a little. So… you could always make a list of her favorite celebrities and be like ‘point to one’ and when she does just scream ‘HERPES.’

This is a big deal, it is something she’ll have to be conscious of forever and it is a thing she’ll have to talk about in future relationships. HOWEVER, it is also very common, there is totally a prescription you can get, and it DOES NOT have to dictate the rest of her life.

Kristin Says:

The thing with herpes is that it has this HUGE stigma attached to it… but in reality, like Dannielle said, it is a very VERY common thing and it is completely manageable. The reasons that your friend might be bummed out is because a) it’s confusing and she might not completely understand what it even means, b) she is aware of that stigma and keeps imaging herself having to tell people that she has herpes, and/or c) she feels like she made a dumb decision and she feels like a fool.

So, I think your path of being a friend can just help lift her up in those areas AND I agree with Dannielle AGAIN, I think you can make it a conversation that also includes some lightness. You can honestly be like, “Okay listen, I know this is upsetting you and I am your friend, and that is why I put a call into the mayor to name today FRHERPDAY2013.” She’ll be all, “Fruh-what Day?” and then you can be like, “IT STANDS FOR FRIENDS’ HERPES DAY 2013. IT IS WHEN YOU AND I TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT IS BUGGING YOU AND WE FIGURE IT OUT AND THEN YOU FEEL BETTER AND THEN WE GET FRHERP ICE CREAM. GOD WHY DON’T YOU KNOW ANYTHING.”

Then, on frherp day, you talk to her about how much she knows. You google things with her and do some research and help alleviate those fears. You talk about the fact that you understand why she feels anxious about having to tell other people, and underline the fact that this is a common occurrence and that anyone worth their salt will not judge her – especially if she is informed and able to explain it clearly. You tell her over and over again that she isn’t an idiot or a fool or stupid or anything – she’s just a person and this is a thing that is manageable and handle-able and that the mayor told you that, moving forward, any day could be frherp day and you are ALWAYS there to talk to her.

Also featured in “The Hook-Up” on MTVAct and MTV’s It’s Your Sex Life

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"My boyfriend doesn’t want to use a condom, any advice?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Don’t have sex with him.

Kristin Says:

Agree. No Condom = No Sex, you guys.

Here are some ways in which to not have sex with him:

-Say, “well, hopefully you have a really good imagination so that you can pretend we are having a really great sex when you are home alone in your bed tonight… “

-Loudly pronounce, “NO I AM NOT READY TO HAVE YOUR CHILDREN” the next time you are in public together. This will work regardless of your gender.

-Explain that you have some important thoughts regarding his recent decision to not care about his own body or yours, and then play “Your Body Is A Wonderland” on maximum volume.

Also featured in “The Hook-Up” on MTVAct and MTV’s It’s Your Sex Life

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"I have herpes and I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone. How can I ever date again?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Well, one, it’s okay to take a dating break until you’re a little more comfortable talking about that kind of thing. Two, if you’re into online dating there are totally websites that are specific to people who are experiencing the exact thing you are experiencing right now. Three, shit happens.

Now, I say shit happens not to discount the severity of this situation BUT TO LET YOU KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE DEALING WITH STIS AND THAT DOESNT MAKE THEM GROSS OR STUPID OR WEIRD OR DUMB. I’ve known countless people who have slept with someone only to later find out that human gave them an STI and didn’t say anything and now won’t return their calls. OR didn’t even know they had an STI bc they hadn’t been tested. We all know people who have been in that situation and the fact of the matter is, that’s just life sometimes. What we have to do is move forward.

Don’t sit in your room and think about how no one will ever love you bc that’s just not true. Go to your doctor, get checked out, grab some meds and practice honesty. If you meet someone you really like but you’re not comfy talking about your downstairs and things start getting hot and heavy you can stop and say ‘hey, i really like you but i’m not totally comfortable with going very far right now, can we take it slow?’ Any decent human being will be like ‘yea totally’ and then once you two know each other a little better you can be like ‘i really wanna get frisky but we have to be safe, i’ve made a mistake in the past and i don’t want to screw this up’ THEN the two of you will talk about what it is happened and they will be very understanding, maybe nervous, maybe confused, maybe upset, but you will have been honest with them and that’s the best thing you can possibly do.

Kristin Says:

Yes. What Dannielle said.

First: You have every right to feel embarrassed, upset, and confused about having herpes – because in general, those are the ways in which the world makes us feel when we contract an STI.

Second: Try to understand those shameful feelings as a product of your surroundings, and not as a true reflection of yourself. You are not gross. You are not dirty. You are not untouchable. You are a human being with a body, and you are fully capable of practicing safe and TOTALLY AWESOME sex with that body (just like everyone else, herpes or no herpes).

Third: You do not have to tell people about your STI on the very first date. I am repeating Dannielle here, but I think it is important to note that you can get to know someone before opening up to them about sex and your body… you likely wouldn’t be talking about sex on the first date otherwise, and you shouldn’t have to do so now.

Fourth: When you get to a place where you want to be intimate with a person, that is when the dialogue needs to happen. Remember that most people are scared or wary of things because they don’t understand them – so if you come to the conversation with information and are able to explain how you can have safe and enjoyable sexitime, you are likely going to find that you have a willing partner.

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"There is a rumor going around about my friend that she has HPV, and that she’s a slut. What should i do as her friend?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Be there for her. If we’re being totally honest, there is little you can do to stop a rumor. They’re usually started by someone with super low self-esteem and spread by people who want to make others feel bad. WHAT YOU CAN DO as a friend is be there for her.

When you hear two people talking about these rumors, you can totally step in and say ‘wait what?’ and when they tell you what they heard you can literally laugh at them and say ‘that’s not even REMOTELY true, where did you hear that’ I think handling it a little more lightly is a good way to go about it. Generally, if you get super defensive about something people think you’re lying.

POR EJEMPLO (spanish), if someone is like ‘POTATOSTICK (your friend) is such a slut’ and you’re like ‘NO SHE’S NOT, JUST LAY OFF, YOU DONT EVEN KNOW HER’ you will walk away and they will be like ‘who was that weirdo yelling at us, she must be friends with slutty potatostick…’ but if they’re like ‘potatostick is such a slut’ and you literally laugh in their faces and say ‘where on earth did you hear that hahahaha’ they’ll be like ‘omg, we’re so stupid why did we even believe that’ … and you will win.

Kristin Says:

I’d like to add something that I think is really, really important in this situation. You need to let your friend – and anyone else you are talking to – know that if someone does have HPV, that certainly does not make them a ‘slut.’ If you are going around school and defending your friend just by saying, “NO SHE DOESN’T HAVE THAT AND SHE ISN’T A SLUT,” I think you are missing a really important part of the conversation, which is that, in the US, an estimated 75-80% of people will be exposed to HPV in their lifetime. People can have HPV without having , and can contract HPV by having sex with just one person.

So, that’s the first myth that you should DEBUNK.

Second thing here is… what do people even mean when they say “OH MAN THAT GIRL CYNDI SURE IS A TOTAL SLUT YOU GUYS.” If you are going to have a snap-back for these rumor-starters, I would have it be something like, “I think it is incredible that you guys are doctors at such young ages, and that you can diagnose HPV by simply laying your eyes on someone… and that you are soooooo advanced that, even though HPV can be caused by sleeping with one person, you have decided that this particular person must have slept with 800 people… by the way, is that what you mean by SLUT?  When you have that report on ‘how many people makes someone a SLUT,’ I’d love to see the results, because I was thinking I might sleep with you, TOM, but I am already up to TWO, and if THREE makes me a SLUT then OOOOOOOHHH {scary ghost noises} I should probably be careful.” Then roll your eyes and walk away.

The bottom line here is that our bodies are our bodies, and anyone who starts rumors or judges someone about what they do with their bodies is wayyyyy out of line. Dannielle was right in saying that you should, first and foremost, be there for your friend. Make sure she knows that you think those naysayers are a bunch of jerks, that they are completely misinformed, and that you support her and understand things like a human being with a brain and not a poo-head.

Please use those actual terms – I find the term ‘poo-head’ to be an excellent mood-changer.

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