T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 96298
posted 09-26-2012 07:51 PM
So, it looks like some academics consider the mons pubis part of the vulva; but when you're trying to do your own self-quiz for STD or pregnancy risk, I would imagine there is a huge difference between body fluids spilled on the mons (for example an inch or so above the clitoris) versus between the vulva lips due to what seems like a) thicker skin on the mons b) sheer distance from the vaginal opening or anus c) possible hair to sop up fluids (although I guess shaving could be an issue in HIV transmission) d) the mons doesn't make it's own lube, which I imagine acts like a petri dish for bacteria, viruses, and sperm.
Am I on the right track? I'm an environmental conservation geek (alas, not a repro health geek, yet!), and I kind of think of the two places as different "ecosystems."
Member # 90293
posted 09-26-2012 08:05 PM
Using the analogy of ecosystems, I'd say that the mons and the rest of the vulva are like two parts of one ecosystem, and hence connected. If you spill something dangerous in a small lake, it could still very well seep out into other parts of the water system that feed and are fed by that lake, not to mention the surrounding soil and plants, potentially affecting animal life as well. From a risk reduction standpoint, the mons isn't far enough away from, or disconnected enough from, the rest of the vulva to say that someone else's body fluids splashing on it wouldn't pose a risk. So, while we could theorize that the mons is different, it doesn't do much for us in terms of overall health promotion. Better to just keep fluids away from the whole genital ecosystem (and that includes the anal opening and rectum). Does this make sense? Also, in terms of vaginal secretions and they're relationship to viruses and infections; we really don't have enough information to know whether they make a difference. Again, the aim is to keep things away from mucus membranes and to prevent things from getting into the bloodstream. Speaking of which, HIV isn't the only virus that can enter the bloodstream (you mentioned shaving putting someone at greater risk of HIV transmission and if that's true, it would put someone at greater risk of getting, and transmitting, other viruses as well. You may find it helpful to look through our STI files. They're all linked in each article, so I'll just link you to the one about HIV.
The STI Files: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Member # 96298
posted 09-26-2012 08:27 PM
Good analogy, but is there a point where you can draw the line and say "that's not a risk for pregnancy or STDs?" Belly button? Knee? The body is it's own ecosystem in and of itself, but you can't get pregnant from oral sex alone or get HIV from a drop of semen on your head hair (extreme example, I know). Kinda like when mom said "if toilet pregnancies were just as likely as vaginal penetration pregnancies, there would be a lot more inbred people!"
Member # 90293
posted 09-26-2012 09:14 PM
It's actualy not too complicated. In terms of genital transfer, we say on or near the genitals. So, with safer sex practices, using a condom to cover the penis, or a dental dam or plastic wrap to cover the vulva, provides significant protection from STI transmission. Bodily fluids that splash on the thigh, or the abdomen, or the fleshy part of the butt really aren't going to pose a threat unless there is a cut on the skin where they land. Same goes with mucus membranes on the face; fluids landing on a cheek aren't themselves going to pose a threat (except that it's pretty easy for them to splash into the eyes or mouth). With pregnancy, unless there is direct contact between bare genitals, or direct contact between fresh semen and a bare vulva, there really isn't any risk.