Thursday, June 30, 2011

GRE Spot: Declivity

Today's word is DECLIVITY.
ADJ: downward slope.
"The more Natty Lights a bro drinks the more extreme the Declivity of his erectile function."

Monday, June 20, 2011

GRE Spot: Accretion

Today's word is ACCRETION.
N: a growth in size; an increase in amount.
"The impressive accretion of Chase's member lent new meaning to the phrase 'a grower, not a show-er.'"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

GRE Spot: Cossett

Image via.

Today's word is COSSETT.
V: to pamper or treat with great care. "John is a foot fetishist and his greatest fantasy was to cossett Sarah's feet all night with a massage and pedicure."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Greatest STI Education Website Ever


Frequent readers will know that syphilis is totes my fave sexually transmitted infection (why? because syphilis is BAD ASS). The Alberta Health Services program in Canada has a new website,, meant to educate internet daters about the risk of syphilis. And be hilariously awesome.

Of course,, a legit online dating site, is all pissed that a stuffy health department came up with such an epic idea, but whatever. It's not often that a public health agency has the wherewithal to do something so cool, so let us have this one, internet dating. Follow them on Twitter, please. You'll learn about how syphilis can cause blindness, body rashes, and brain-eating craziness. Not necessarily in that order.

This campaign is 100 times cooler than the Texas, "So you've gotta sore...down there..." commercials that started airing in Austin this year after a successful (?) run in Dallas in 2009 and 2010. You win this round, Canada! TV Spot - Boy from Plentyof Syph on Vimeo.


Today's word: ABSTEMIOUS.

adj. moderate in appetite.
"Kelly and John are totally going to break up," said Jenny. "His sex drive is so abstemious that they only do it, like, once a month and that's not keeping Kelly satisfied."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Feature: Sexy GRE Words

When I took the GRE many years ago I wrote sexy sentences to learn the top 500 words. Now that I have a bunch of students who are studying for the GREs themselves, I thought what better way to help bored study-ers than to share some of my knowledge. So, without further ado, today begins a new feature: SEXY GRE WORDS.

First up: ABDICATE.
During a 3-way after the Tri-Chi party, B-rad ABDICATED his position behind Kaytee to his dude-bro, Chase, who assumed rawdog behind her.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Texas has a Slutwalk In It--
Lord Have Mercy On Our Souls!

Click here for an interview with Julie Sunday on YNN Austin.

Yes means winning!

Julie Sunday with a Moto Slut/Biker Against Sexual Assault. Slut Walk + ROT Rally = BEST WEEKEND EVER

This man is so full of win!

Official How to Have Sex in Texas cat Blazer Sunday definitely prefers consent.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men:
No, You Don't Need Viagra

Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common reasons guys consult with me and I thought it was time to put together a post about boners. Most erectile dysfunction experienced by guys in the 18-24 age group has a few simple causes. I've seen a few blatant medication-seekers but for the most part, the guys I see don't understand how erections work and how they can be affected by things going on in their lives. I usually discourage the use of medication, because most young guys don't have the type of ED that would be fixed by big pharma, and most of them can make a few simple lifestyle changes and be good to go. Below are the main causes of erectile dysfunction in young men.

1. Drinking too much. Alcohol affects the circulatory system (which is why your cheeks get flushed when you drink), and there is a point for every person where the brain will prioritize the continued operation of the lungs and heart over a dick getting hard. This point is different for everyone, and it can vary based on things like how tired a person is, how stressed out they are, or what they're drinking. Drinking at, say, a tailgate is a recipe for boner-disaster. Even if you don't feel drunk because you've been slowly drinking all day, the amount of alcohol in your blood is high and the effect is the same: no hard dick. Similarly, playing beer pong for hours or drinking a 12 pack of beers is a good way to overwhelm your blood flow and stay frustratingly soft all night. Le sigh.

2. Prescription drugs. The two main categories of drugs that affect young males' erections are antidepressants (which can inhibit erection altogether, delay orgasm, or both) and stimulants like Adderall which, like cocaine, doesn't usually keep a boner from happening but will inhibit orgasm effectively. And no, the girl you're having sex with isn't psyched that you can go for an hour at a stretch. Also, if you're not prescribed a drug like Adderall and you're taking it anyway, the side effects may be worse.

3. Stress. I see people all the time who are experiencing some incredibly stressful event--writing a dissertation, just found out they have herpes, parent illness or death--who have erectile dysfunction. The brain can only focus on so many things at a time, and overwhelming stress is a sure-fire boner-killer.

4. Condoms. Penises come in all shapes and sizes, but condoms are almost all the same: a cylindrical tube that is the same circumference at the top and bottom. Some, like the Magnum, are more baseball-bat shaped for those guys who are wider at the top, but no condom out there is designed for the guys who are really wide at the base. The ring at the bottom of the male condom should be snug, but not uncomfortably tight, and definitely not painful. This isn't an excuse to not use condoms, but if a guy suspects that condoms are the problem because he has can stay hard when he's masturbating or during oral sex, trying a few different condoms is key.

5. Feelings. I get all mooshy inside when guys come in and they're all emotional about their new partner and can't stay hard because they're so nervous about where the relationship is going. I've seen this happen with guys from all over the map--gay, straight, religious, fratty--and it's always devastating (but also kind of endearing!). The last thing you want when you have a new partner is for the sex to not work the way you envisioned. This problem has a pretty easy solution: redirect and wait. Don't lie and say it's never happened (if it has), just be honest and say that you really like the person, you're nervous about wanting to impress them, and then impress them with your other skills. If you don't have any other skills, develop them now.

6. Unhealthy lifestyle. This can include all of the above factors or it can stand on its own. Remember that the dick is part of the circulatory system, and remember from 4th grade health class that the cardiovascular system is made stronger through exercise and weaker by its absence. Guys who are totally sedentary, overweight, eat junk food, sit in front of a computer for 16 hours a day (sound like any PhD students you know?) are setting themselves up for erectile failure. An erection is not a crucial body function and if you're not taking care of your heart, you are not guaranteed hard-ons when you want them. Go to the gym.

7. The Heterosexual Closet. Guys I see are frequently stuck in a "good girl/bad girl" rut--they can get hard and have great sex with "bad girls" but when they get the "good girl" that is socially acceptable girlfriend material, they don't respond the same way. Sometimes it's not the partner but a particular type of sex a guy wants to have but is afraid to ask for with a longer term partner with whom he's emotionally vulnerable. It can be scary to ask for something you want sexually, especially if you discovered you liked it under casual circumstances; asking a one night stand to choke you is easy, because you might not see them again. But telling your girlfriend that you like to be hit during sex could make things awkward. The only way to get the sex you want is to ask for it. If you're not getting what you want from "good girls" then, guess what? You're trapped in the heterosexual closet and it's time to come out.

So if you're panicked about your boners or just want to try Viagra because you think it'll be awesome, save your money. You don't need it, it won't do anything, and how emasculating to depend on a medication to get a hard-on anyway.

Happy Boner Summer, everyone.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Throat Cancer, the New Oral Sex Freakout

BACKGROUND: I've been writing about HPV and Gardasil for the past 5 years and with this piece in 2006 I was one of the earliest critics of Merck's aggressive "public health" campaigns pushing vaccination for young girls. That was long before a New York Times expose about the profit motive behind the HPV vaccine market and JAMA's publication of a scathing indictment of ACOG and ACHA for naively following Merck's money down the HPV rabbit hole.

Evidence of the increase in HPV-related oral cancer in men keeps showing up in my inbox, and I'm steeling myself for a new oral sex panic. The initial reports described men in 'high risk' categories [read: gay] showing up with the disease, but the more recent studies have suggested that "HPV prevalence in cervical rather than penile tissue might boost the chances of HPV infection when performing oral sex on a woman, contributing to the higher rate of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer in men."

Is this a reversal of the so-called biological disadvantage women face when it comes to sexually transmitted infections? Maybe. But it's hard to know, because most of the surveys that investigate sexual behavior at the population level don't ask about the number of partners individuals have had for oral sex. The studies that do, like the one quoted above, usually include only people who already have cancer, and the number of partners at which the risk of oral cancer is said to significantly increase--just 6 or more--sets a bar that cannot be compared to the general population, because studies don't treat oral and anal sex the same as vaginal. This begs the question that some sex educators assume is an answered one--whether or not oral sex is "sex."

The National College Health Assessment, which I have implemented twice and analyzed extensively, asks about the total number of partners in the past year for oral, vaginal and anal sex--but taken together, a gross number of partners including everyone with whom an individual has engaged in any of these behaviors is not helpful (p. 10). A person who has had 7 oral sex partners, 1 vaginal sex partner, and 0 anal sex partners would wash out the same as someone who has had 2 oral sex partners, 1 vaginal sex partner, and 5 anal sex partners, though this distribution of activities paints a vastly different risk portrait than the first.

Similarly, AddHealth and the National Survey of Family Growth fail to ask about number of oral and anal sex partners individually. Knowing the total number of sex partners for oral, vaginal and anal assumes overlap between the behaviors between partners, which may not be accurate, especially for younger cohorts. Anyone who works with college students knows that oral sex is a feature of "hook ups" far more frequently than vaginal sex.

The leading population-level surveys don't ask about oral sex and anal sex individually, so we can't draw conclusions about the outcomes associated with these behaviors. Most data on oral and anal sex comes from intervention or target population data samples, which are not comparable to population level samples and can't necessarily be generalized. I do a survey that does ask about the number of partners for each of the OVA behaviors individually, and while my sample is generalizable to the population from which it is drawn, it can't be generalized to the entire population of 18-24 year olds in America.

Insisting that oral sex is sex IS relevant when we're developing survey questions, because we as researchers and educators need to know about these behaviors individually, because they mean different things to our populations and they pose differential risks. But lecturing young adults about how if they've had oral sex they AREN'T virgins alienates them and takes agency away from people to whom the number of people they've had sex with matters in a very tangible way.

With apologies to Dan Savage, I think it's completely inappropriate to tell young people unequivocally that "oral sex is sex," that mutual masturbation is sex, and whatever other "let's do everything but..." stuff teenagers do is actually sex and sorry kids, you're not virgins anymore. I don't care what people define as "sex," but I feel clear that individuals get to decide what is and isn't "sex" for them. Driving a car is not the same as riding shotgun, and just because you ride in a car with your boyfriend that has a license doesn't make you a driver. Teenagers are capable of understanding that they need to wear a seatbelt no matter where they're sitting in the car--can't we take that approach with oral and anal sex, too? Since virginity is socially constructed anyway, I'm in favor of letting people construct when they are and aren't virgins anymore.

Which means that we in sexual health need to be careful with the research and recommendations coming out about men and oral cancer, because I can give you 1000 examples of college girls who would report a significant number of oral sex partners (hello, prevalence of genital HSV-1) but no vaginal or anal sex partners and would never wind up in the traditional "high risk" categories in research. But even when we do ask about oral sex specifically, we don't ask about whether people performed or received, and if indeed performing oral sex on a female increases the risk of oral HPV, we need to ask about the number of partners on whom a respondent has performed and received oral sex, and not assume that it was mutual. It is our job as researchers and educators to make our work relevant to our population, not to try to fit their behavior into categories that make sense to us.

Bossing young people around and telling them what is and isn't sex exceeds the appropriate scope of practice for sex educators, full stop. Is oral sex a behavior which carries risks that are similar to but, by every measure, less than, vaginal or anal sex? Yes. But does that mean to college kids who get drunk at a party and hook up, it's "sex"? Not to hear them tell it. I believe in the power of the people I educate to accurately define what is and isn't sex for them, and my responsibility is to provide them with information about how to reduce their risk. The people who need to get the message about whether oral sex is "really sex" are the researchers whose surveys continually ignore the different types of sexual behavior in which people actually engage.

*BTW, oral cancers that are caused by HPV are much less likely to be fatal than those caused by tobacco and/or alcohol use. So oral sex is officially safer than drinking and smoking. Suck it, abstinence people.