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Decoding Sex in the Media: Tampon Commercial Weirdness

I’ve noticed recently that, of all the hygiene product advertisements—ads for deodorant, toilet paper, diapers, soap, tissues, etc.—menstrual pad and tampon commercials are by far the weirdest.

Many involve cheerful women in colorful clothes and tampons that bloom and twirl in mid-air. Many demonstrate the effectiveness of pads and panty liners by pouring blue liquid —to represent red menstrual fluid, as if red fluid was somehow unavailable that day —onto the product. Many show random men staring at attractive women—these seem to say “You need our product so that men will still enjoy looking at you while you have your period."

Freakier still, a Russian tampon brand released an ad in which a woman is eaten by a shark because she decides to swim in the ocean with a leaky tampon. Admittedly, I laughed when I watched this, because I know that it is highly unlikely—maybe even impossible—that menstrual blood would attract a shark, but tampon companies certainly shouldn’t perpetuate these typ

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Five Things I Learned Dating a Girl

Dating this wonderful person pushed me to think about some things in new and challenging ways. Here are some of my favorite lessons that I learned when I dated a woman.

Decoding Sex in the Media: Why the Media Should Leave Kate Middleton's Baby Bump (And Everyone Else's) Alone

On Monday, July 22nd, England’s beloved Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a son—Prince George Alexander Louis. This child, dubbed the “Royal Baby” by news sources across the globe, garnered an enormous amount of media attention and sparked world-wide conversations. Reporters—and a few independent enthusiasts—have already traced the monarchial origins of the name. Jo Frost, widely known as the “Supernanny” from her reality TV show, publically offered the royal parents her child-rearing advice. A small, vociferous internet group has argued that the Duke and Duchess shouldn’t assign their child a gender, but wait until s/he chooses a gender for him/herself.

But throughout this newsworthy affair, the public spotlight has not strayed from Kate: in fact, media scrutiny of the new mother has intensified.

Before she had even left the hospital, the United Kingdom’s edition of OK! magazine published a “Royal Baby Special,” which included bright, punchy headlines promoting “Kat

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He Doesn't Want to Have Sex Anymore: How Can I Change His Mind?

cupcakewars77 asks:

My boyfriend for about two years now told me he doesn't feel like having sex. I told him I still do. He says all we ever do is have sex. That's not true. It's frustrating but I want sex and he doesn't. He is going to college this year and I won't see him as much because he will be so far way. Whenever we are to "fool around" he gets all serous and say I don't feel like having sex or no it doesn't feel right even though I am on the pill and we always use perfection. Always. Am I doing something wrong? Is there a way to even get him to have sex with me? I am confused and stressed out. It's been months and I feel like he is pulling away. Help!

Who's Afraid of Sperm Cells?

Judging from the number of users I see experiencing pregnancy scares on the Scarleteen message boards, particularly from situations besides genital intercourse, you’d think sperm cells were some magical weapon of mass fertilization, powerfully wiggling their way through clothes/towels/fabric, and leaping off hands to impregnate every person around them within a 50 mile radius. Look out for scary sperm! Get outta the way! They're coming right for you! (pun intended)

As a volunteer for Scarleteen, I'm here to tell you none of this is physically possible. It just isn't. As a former laboratory technician at a fertility clinic, having worked directly with sperm and semen (and without having ever gotten pregnant doing so, no less!), I want to tell you why.

Before I continue, a few things I'd like to clarify:

  • For the duration and purpose of this piece, I'll be using the terms "male" to indicate a human patient with a functional penis and "female" to mean a human patient with a functional u
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He's Queer, I'm Straight, and It's Great Except...

elinor asks:

Help! I'm in a relationship with a man (I identify as a straight woman) who identifies as queer. He's mostly had sex with men in the past (there might have been 1 woman), but this is first heterosexual relationship. It's also my first relationship with a queer man. I really care for him, but I am struggling with checking my own heteronormative attitudes. For example, I don't know how to get over the fact that he enjoys watching gay porn, and mostly gets off to men. We still have great sex together and I know he is attracted to me, and I try to remind myself of this when I find myself getting bothered by what turns him on. I'm learning to love, not accept, that he is queer and that he has made me shift my thinking about relationships and sexuality so much. However, I still don't know how to get myself out of these moments, sometimes ongoing, of insecurity.

Our sexual partners can't read our minds. The good news is, they don't have to.

XmimiX asks:

I've been with my boyfriend for around 7 months now, and I love him to bits! We get on so well, but when it comes to sex, I'm really let down. I lost my virginity to him when we first started going out. Being new to it, I was learning and exploring, but after months of the same thing I'm really dismayed. He always comes really soon - not prematurely - but soon enough its over before I've realised its begun! He only can go for a while if he moves slow, which is boring. Also, like most girls I can't orgasm through actual penetration easily, so I'd have to rely on oral sex for stimulation, but he never makes the effort... I always go down on him and hope he returns the favour but he never does. He does care and tries to make sex good, but when I tell him I can "come in other ways" he never takes the hint and never goes down on me. I don't like to ask him directly as I'm self conscious of the situation, and I don't want to offend. I love him so much but please help! It's really putting me off sex :(

The Testing Diaries: Robin

Do you feel anxious about the idea of getting tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases? Some of our readers certainly do.

Some never had adequate sex-education and did not realize that sexual activity with a partner -- and not just anal or vaginal intercourse -- can pose STI risks in the first place. Some are not sure where to go for testing or how to ask for it. Others feel uncomfortable discussing STIs with a partner or potential partner. We get it: this stuff can be hard, and it is usually not the kind of thing where someone just takes us by the hand and leads us through.

This is why we're doing this series at Scarleteen. In it, some of our volunteers share their own stories of how they deal with different aspects of STI testing and reproductive healthcare.

Ten years ago, I knew about using lube, about making first-time intercourse comfortable, and about pregnancy prevention options, but it seems I didn’t know much about sexually transmitted infections.

My partner at

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Off the Beaten Path

When I was growing up, I often turned to my mother for relationship advice. We had our differences, but we were close, and I valued her opinions. However, I also found myself grappling with many of the things she said, because in all of it one thing was clear: for her, the only kind of acceptable sexual relationships are monogamous, heterosexual, long-term commitments.

We first started having these conversations when I was around 14 years old, which was also when I first started to question my sexuality. From the start, I had some questions about this concept. What if I did not want to sleep with men at all? What if I did not feel interested in the marriage-and-kids thing?

A few years later, after two failed relationships (with the same wonderful person) and a lot of angst, I was fairly certain about two things: 1. I was pretty darn queer and 2. I wasn't cut out for monogamous, long-term relationships at the time. I did not feel comfortable within a relationship, no matter how awesom

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Like a Virgin: What Having Sex and First Time(s) Have Meant to Me

Figuring out who you are as a sexual being, and what your sexual experiences mean to you, in a world full of double standards and outdated definitions can be quite confusing. Here's my story of "losing my virginity" and finding my identity when it comes to sex.

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.