If we look at our sexuality one way, it looks a million times simpler than it actually is. If we look at it another way, it appears a million times more complicated. While it's important that we bear everything in mind we need to in terms of infection and disease, birth control, our relationships, our bodies and the whole works, now and then we need to remember the bare bones and the human element of the thing, and keep the essentials in the forefront of our minds.
There are instances in which condom use alone - or the use of dental dams and gloves -- cannot offer the level of STI protection they can in other instances, with STIs which are transmitted not via fluid exchange, but by skin-to-skin contact: namely two of the most common STIs, HPV and Herpes.
Vaginal discharge and secretions are normal and usually healthy. The vagina is a passageway between the outside of the body and the internal reproductive system. Vaginal secretions are how the vagina cleanses and regulates itself -- how amazing is that? -- in the same sort of way that saliva helps keep your mouth clean and healthy and part of the fertility cycle.
HIV is a virus that destroys the immune system and thus weakens the body's ability to fight disease and infection, even common infections like flus and colds. HIV usually progresses to AIDS. This makes HIV the most dangerous sexually transmitted infection today. It is the fifth leading cause of death for the young under 40 in the United States. At this time, no one has been cured of HIV or AIDS.
Chlamydia is the most common bacterial infection (STI) in the United States, with about 3 million new cases reported annually. Chlamydia ("cla-mid-ee-ah") is so common in young women that, by age 30, 50% of sexually active women have evidence that they have had chlamydia at some time during their lives.
What's safer sex? Find out how you can best reduce your risks of STIs and protect your health and how to do it and be supported in it without feeling like the Sex Decency Brigade or bringing on the buzzkill.
What's the menstrual cycle? How does it all work? What are periods and options for managing them, and when's it time to check in with a healthcare provider?
Whether you are with a new partner, or are already in a sexual relationship, getting a full STI screening can give you peace of mind and ensure your physical well-being as well as your partners.
How a pregnancy happens is a lot more complicated and a whole lot more interesting than just a sperm cell and an egg cell running into each other. Here's our map to the way there...or not.
Want to know what to expect at your first gynecologists' or reproductive health exam? We've got the lowdown for you here.