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Author Topic: Some clarification please?
NoName
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Hello. I have enjoyed using Scarleteen for the past few months and it has taught me a lot of things that I didn't know. I have ran into another question/concern however. I have experienced a lot of pregnancy anxiety in the past, especially in the past year. All of this pregnancy anxiety revolves around situations that don't usually pose pregnancy risks either. I have been in therapy and doing a lot better with my anxiety but I am finding that I have to ease into being sexual again because I still struggle with the anxiety. I have had the same partner for 7 years and we have had manual and oral sex literally hundreds of times. I used to be able to do this without any worry at all. Then, after some things I have read, and the fact that I have OCD, this particular anxiety grabbed a hold of me and hasn't fully let go. It has, in recent months, caused me to be WAY less sexual with my boyfriend and when we are, now I insist on being bio hazard safe, like one of us has to have clothes on and I monitor what is going on very seriously. It has made intimacy seem more technical and less enjoyable. I know that I need more therapy and time to deal with this anxiety but is there any advice you can give me to help me understand pregnancy risks?

Last night, we engaged in mutual masturbation and both of us had no clothing on. Now, this is something we used to do all the time. Last night was the first time we had both been fully unclothed in many months, because of my anxiety. Now, even though I caught all of his ejaculation in a towel, and I never actually saw him touch himself at all, nor did I touch myself, part of me still worries that I may have "missed something" and some semen could have gotten into me. Am I really and truly worrying about this too much? Is it really okay for both partners to be naked, or is does it increase the risk of pregnancy too much? If it helps, I did make it a point for me to be sitting up with my back against his stomach, while he was laying down on his side so that the possibility of semen dripping or shooting out onto my genitals couldn't happen. We used to do this facing each other, which I am too afraid to do now.

Is there any way to make sure mutual masturbation and manual sex carry a 0 percent pregnancy risk? I would like to think I would notice any ejaculate getting on mine or his fingers before any of it touched me, but sometimes I doubt myself. I get so tired of misleading information. I really trust this site but a lot of other sites (including medical ones) say that mutual masturbation carries a decent pregnancy risk because you can transfer pre-ejaculate by your hands. I guess in theory that can happen but I find that incredible to believe that some people have actually gotten pregnant from trace amounts of PRE ejaculate transferred unknowingly from fingers. I understand it happening maybe if you were intentionally doing your best to get pregnant that way and using a full ejaculation, and lots of it. Otherwise, I just don't see how it is possible...yet it worries me that it has happened to some people. I really want to be intimate again, without being so hung up about it. I just wish that for once and for all that someone could say for certain exactly what can cause pregnancy and exactly what can't. I know that is probably impossible but man, it can be so confusing hearing so many things. It is no wonder so many of us get "irrationally scared."

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Heather
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When I hear "mutual masturbation," that to me means partners are masturbating -- in other words, only touching themselves -- in each other's company. Manual sex, on the other hand, refers to a partner using their hands to touch a partner's genitals.

So, the former does not ever pose any pregnancy risk because no one is touching anyone else. The latter could only pose a pregnancy risk if it somehow involved sharing fluids in some way via the hands. So, if he's touched his semen then put his hands on your genitals. Even then, that's more likely to present infection risks than pregnancy risks, but we couldn't really say there would be no pregnancy risk did fluid exchange/contact happen that way.

If he is touching himself, then you, all he would need to do to make that risk zero is to wash his hands in between. But if you're asking if somehow his semen could get to your vulva...well, all by itself, then no, that can't happen, just like, say, a glass of water someone pours a foot away isn't going to get unto you unless they throw it at you.

I really do feel like we have made clear how pregnancy happens and doesn't, but if there;'s something missing for you in the articles we have here about that and the conversations we have had, holler and I'll try and fill in the blanks. But my sense is that this isn't about a lack of knowledge or clear understanding about how it happens, but about your OCD and anxiety, where logic is just only going to do so much, as you know.

Have you and your therapist yet talked about your triggers with sexual activity and made any kind of plan about when and how exposing yourself to those triggers is sound for you at this point?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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NoName
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Thanks Heather. I see what you are saying with that term, and it makes sense. I was actually meaning mutual manual sex...if that is even how to word it. The particular therapist I am going to is actually encouraging of me continuing to try to be sexual in light of how serious and long-term my relationship is. Even so, I have sexual contact maybe 2 times a month, even that...compared to previous years where it was like more than 10 times a month. So believe me, I have stepped back from my sexuality in a big way in my trying to get over this. And it has really been hard on my relationship to do this and I am so thankful that I have a partner who is so understanding. He does everything he can to be careful with me and to ease me back into this. We have been talking about this issue in therapy in great depth and she sees no pregnancy risk in the things that I am doing and trusts that I am as careful as anyone can get. I feel that way too, I don't know why I doubt myself sometimes. The scenario you gave doesn't even apply to me. He never touches himself and then me. When we engage in this, I solely touch him and he solely touches me. We don't touch ourselves at all. So really, the things I worry about is my hand touching something...his arm, the sheets, anything and me accidentally rubbing up against it or something like that. Believe me, I know how crazy that sounds but apparently lots of people say that it can likely lead to pregnancy. We never dry hump, we never have direct genital contact and I am always as aware as anyone can be about where his fluid goes. I hope that is really enough. I really just want to work through this and get back to my former level of functioning. I may never be able to go further sexually but I would absolutely love to get to the point where I can have manual and oral again without me needlessly worrying. You and the staff has always done a really good job explaining these things, and I thank all of you for that. I am sorry if my post seems unnecessary because I don't mean to waste anyone's time.
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Heather
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The lots of people who say this can lead to pregnancy: these are people who are educated about and work in sexuality or reproduction in some way?

Let me explain why I ask this: one thing we can always do to take care of ourselves when we're worried about things is to screen what we are taking in when it comes to information about things, and to choose what we give weight to.

For example, lets' say that I'm really worried about food poisoning. Well, the first thing I'm going to do in the kind of screening I'm talking about is make sure not to talk to my germaphobic mother about it, who sees bacteria on everything and is in a non-stop freakout about it. Next up? If I'm looking into how it can happen, I'm going to make a choice to only look to people and places with some kind of credentials and expertise about it that is clearly recognized by others. I'm going to make a point of NOT asking those who I know don't know any more than I do.

I don't think any of this is crazy, I think it's indicative of someone who has an anxiety disorder and finds that sex triggers them. So, the other thing I'd also suggest you make sure to talk with your therapist about, especially if she is encouraging you to expose yourself to those triggers in some way, is how to manage being triggered. It's actually part of her job to help you with that: just exposing by itself without support and management tools isn't likely to help you much.

(Now, maybe coming here when you get triggered is something you or she sees as a management tool? If so, I'm down with that, but we should maybe so some brainstorming about how, then, we're going to respond to make that work best for you.)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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NoName
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I am not sure how they are educated but some of the sites seem very professional and some people who write about do have professional credentials. Sometimes I think they are maybe super cautious about what they say because they think a really young person will read it and think they can be careless. I am not sure. All I know is that reading that stuff does make me uneasy. I try not to read any open forum stuff...but I can't erase what I have read in the past. My therapist holds the same viewpoint that you do and says I should limit both my time and resources when it comes to looking at this stuff online. I told her about this site and she held it in high esteem and said I should come here if it makes me feel better. I have therapy once a week and a very very small support circle so I guess part of the reason I come here is because I have no one to talk to about my concerns. I really do try to avoid bothering you guys because I know that you are really busy. You have been more than sweet to me and I appreciate it so much. I guess you are right about how no logic is really gonna fully get rid of this, though it does help temporarily. I don't guess there is anything else you can say or do. I just need to keep trying I suppose.
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Heather
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I'd be seriously shocked to see anyone who is earnestly educated about reproduction and works in these fields saying that manual sex is "likely to lead to pregnancy." Really.

How about this: maybe when you see your therapist next, since she seems to think coming here is one way for you to get some extra help and manage your triggers, you can get some input from her on how we can best make this work? In other words, how about asking her how she thinks we should best respond to you so that this is truly a help, and works to support what she's also trying to do with you in therapy?

I'm always happy to kind of link forces like that between another provider and a user so we can get a real team approach going, one that's very cohesive.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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NoName
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I have never read any of them saying that manual sex alone will likely lead to pregnancy but many say that even the smallest, tiniest, trace of pre-ejaculate on your finger (or anywhere for that matter) can get you pregnant if transferred in some way. I swear I have never heard such things in my life until a few years ago. It is like every site is now putting emphasis on the fact that intercourse isn't needed to get pregnant. Again, I know that in theory that is true but these sites word it in such a way that make it seem to be a very likely consequence that you should take extra pre-caution against. I personally have never met anyone or talked to anyone or heard of anyone getting pregnant in any other way than intercourse. I always thought that it just wasn't possible. I always thought the point of there being millions of sperm in an ejaculation and the general mechanics of intercourse is for conception particularly. I don't see why there would be such a high number if really just a few would get you pregnant even if it wasn't ejaculated directly inside of you. I have even read that if you keep using the family planning method, that your body will catch on and ovulate earlier or later in order to conceive because that is what our bodies are "designed" for. I know our bodies are clever, but really, that clever?

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/outercourse-4371.htm
On this page, it says that Outercourse is NEARLY 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy BUT pregnancy can happen if sperm gets into the vagina. Why would they word it that way. If sperm doesn't get into the vagina, wouldn't that make outercourse 100 percent effective? If it is nearly 100 percent that would be the same as using birth control and having full on intercourse...that just doesn't seem right to me. I thought planned parenthood would be very reliable, are they? I can show you a few more things that I have read if you want me to. That is just one example that has caused me concern.

I will talk to her about all this in therapy next week and will report back to you. Thanks a bunch!

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Heather
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quote:
it says that Outercourse is NEARLY 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy BUT pregnancy can happen if sperm gets into the vagina. Why would they word it that way. If sperm doesn't get into the vagina, wouldn't that make outercourse 100 percent effective?
Yes, and that IS what it says. In other words, ONLY if that happens is there a risk like, for instance, if a partner ejaculated on a partner's genitals -- which is something that happens sometimes -- THEN it can happen. You know that in your situation, that's not what is happening, but for other people, it might be. make sense?

Also? Liability is something you need to bear in mind. Any company or organization -- any of us -- have to be very, very careful about definitive statements. We need to leave room for the occasional fluke. Know what I mean?

I also think some of what you might be seeing is an address for those who think that ONLY when a penis is all the way inside the vagina is it intercourse rather than, say, two naked people rubbing their genitals together and the person with the penis ejaculating right there. This kind of thinking has become more prevalent over the last ten years or so, likely due in part to purity/abstinence messaging. So, that is something we have to deal with.

But I also hear you adding some assumptions to things, like adding "likely" or "high number" to things when they're not actually in there. So, that seems to be a place where your anxiety is kind of expanding something that is probably very limited to something larger or more broad.

A trick for yourself for compensating for that if and when you do, even when trying not to, wind up reading this stuff might be to kind of build in a handicap. In other words, when reading about pregnancy issues like this, if you think "likely," scale it back a few steps at least to "possible, but not probable." If you think "all the time," scale it back to "sometimes."

quote:
I have even read that if you keep using the family planning method, that your body will catch on and ovulate earlier or later in order to conceive because that is what our bodies are "designed" for. I know our bodies are clever, but really, that clever?
I have never seen anything remotely like this from any sound source. I'm acquaintances with the most popular writer there is on FAM, who wrote the cornerstone book on it, and I can just see Toni's facial expression to this one now. It would not be one of thoughtfulness. There would likely be eyerolling involved.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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NoName
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I see what you are saying. I think I do really have a problem with control. If something isn't 100 percent definite, sometimes I dwell on it, which at this point in time, I can't help it. I may also read into things too much as well.

Here is the exact place I read about the family planning method:
http://susana-s.hubpages.com/hub/how-to-avoid-pregnancy_dont-want-to-get-pregnant
Now, this is a hub page and I couldn't find her credentials...and I don't believe her fully because of that. A lot of stuff she says sounds very accurate and educated otherwise (except for the "only takes one sperm" line she says. If any of what she says isn't true, that is scary because she has almost 2000 followers and everyone commenting seems to really take what she is saying to be true.

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Heather
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Okay, so these are exactly the kinds of sites I'd actually strongly advise you steer clear of. I'd suggest sticking to resources dedicated to this kind of information, not about anything and everything written by anyone at all.

I'm with you, I have some serious issues with sites like these with information that is critical, rather than say, info on how to make your gladiolas grow better or decorate a cake or sew your own pants. And that's not counting how much more work they have created for us in cleaning up their messes since they came on the scene. [Razz]

But hey: I think you identifying a possible issue around control might be a pretty huge lightbulb for you, and that's good stuff! Bring that to therapy!

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Also, if you makes you feel a little better, a bit of True Confessions from me:

Seriously, those kinds of sites make me nutty because they really do make my job harder all the time. And yet.

A month or so ago, our pets picked up some fleas from out in the forest. And then so did our house. Probably by virtue of always having lived in the city before thus, I have never had to deal with a household flea infestation.

Now, we asked our vet about treating the pets and took their advice. Did we ask about the house? No.

So, what did I do? Oh yes, I cruised the net including info on a ton of sites like that which make me growl every day. And we even tried a WHOLE mess of things from them, things that not only took some money and sucked up time but which didn't work, resulting in our pets getting REinfested, and the two of us continuing to get bitten ourselves.

Who should have just asked the darn vet in the first place? Us. Why didn't we? Meh, laziness, thinking we could deal with it ourselves, and probably not wanting to say we had a house full of fleas because we felt embarrassed (which was really silly since a vet is going to know that pets full of fleas = house full of fleas).

Point is, I get hoe easy it can be to kind of wind up in this kind of loop, even when you really do know better. In better news, the fleas are finally gone. [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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NoName
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Lol what a story. I will probably end up in the same situation one of these days because I love animals and would adopt them all if I could. We have dealt with fleas before but luckily, not enough to infest our house. It's funny, I love my dogs so much I actually would ask a real expert about them before I would ask one about myself. You shouldn't be embarrassed about the fleas because that just comes with the territory of having pets. All of my dogs have had them at some point, regardless of how clean they were.
Part of my anxiety is the embarrassment of telling anyone that I am actually worried about something like this. I feel like at my age and with my education, I shouldn't worry about silly things like this. It is much easier to get info online because noone knows who you are. I was also raised to be very ashamed of being sexual and have only been told negative things. Therefore, I have no family to turn to on this either. I remember telling my doctor (who is female) a few years ago when I was about 19 years old that I wasn't fully sexually active. She asked me to clarify and I said well, I don't have intercourse but everything else. She had a shocked look and said, "I hope you know that you can certainly get pregnant like that too and you need to be on birth control." That totally freaked me out and I didn't understand at the time what she meant or why she said it. I guess since I was a teenager she was just being overly cautious because she didn't really have a way of knowing how careful I actually was...but I wish she would have talked to me about it rather than panic me and not explain. My anxiety would just go overboard if a doctor said that kind of thing to me now...I guess that is part of the reason why I am adverse to telling one. It was embarrassing to tell my therapist as well but luckily, she wasn't like my doctor and made me feel very comfortable telling her this.

Heather, you are awesome and have made me feel so much better. Thank you for putting in the time to help me see that I am not all that abnormal.

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Heather
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I really hope that soon you're able to let go of at least some shame around this, as well as the idea any of this is silly.

I really don't think there's anything silly about having OCD or other anxiety disorders: they're real things that people tend to really struggle with. Same goes for worrying about pregnancy when it is not what you want or feel able to handle. Yes, you're worrying about it in situations where there isn't actually cause for concern per that outcome being realistic, but that's not about you being unintelligent or uneducated or daft.

And you're absolutely welcome. By the way, in case I haven't mentioned it, I think it's so awesome you took the step to get back into some care and treatment. Great self care there, and I know that took some courage on your part. I'm delighted to know you're getting some of the help you need.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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