Pearly Penile What???

Hi Shawna,

I just started having sex with my new boyfriend and I noticed he had some small bumps around the head of his penis. I asked him about it and he said that his doctor told him it was normal. He said it was called pearly pimples or something like that. What is that and is it something I should worry about it?


Great Question! Does it look something like this???


This is called Pearly Penile Papules, often abbreviated to PPP. They are tiny bumps that form a ring around the head of the penis. PPP is fairly common; about 20%-30% of the male population has them. We don’t know what causes them but we do know that PPP is nothing to worry about. PPP is not a sexually transmitted infection, it is not contagious, and poses no health risks. Although normal and totally not harmful, some men may choose to have them removed for aesthetic reasons (meaning, they don’t know like the way they look).

While PPP are harmless, other lumps or bumps in the genital area may not be. It’s always a good idea to be checked out by a clinician whenever in doubt.

In happiness & health,


Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD

On and Off the Birth Control Train

Hi Shawna,

I’ve stopped taking my pills a month ago because I wanted to try a different method but I changed my mind and want to stick to pills. I still have 3 filled packs. Is it safe if I start again tomorrow?

-Questions about the Pill


This is a great question!!

You can definitely restart your pills tomorrow or whenever you’d like! Just remember to use a backup method, like condoms, for the entire first week. In fact, you should always use condoms if you are concerned about STD’s or HIV. Also, your period might be slightly off for the first pill pack, but that is normal and OK. If you don’t get a period in 4 weeks, come in for a pregnancy test.











Hope this helps answer your question!

In happiness & health,


Want more information about the pill, like what to do if you miss a pill, click here!

Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD

There’s More than One Reason To Use Birth Control!!!

There are a lot of reasons to use birth control including pregnancy prevention, acne, or period regulation. Click here to find out what some women had to say about why they use birth control!





Contest Alert!!!! The first 10 people to send me an email ( about why they use birth control will receive a $5 gift card to Starbucks or Jamba Juice!

In happiness & health,





To bleed or not to bleed?? How to control your period using the NuvaRing!

Hi Shawna,

I am going on vacation soon and really don’t want to be on my period. I am using the NuvaRing and my best friend told me that if I kept it in, I would skip my period. Is that true?




Great question! Your friend is right!

Although I have written about the ring before, I have not written about how to use it to skip periods (which is totally safe). For those who have never heard of the NuvaRing or still a bit confused about it, check out my previous blog post by clicking here.

NuvaRing 1

It’s actually pretty simple to skip a period using the ring. Instead of taking the ring out after 3 weeks and going ring free for a week, simply leave the ring in for 4 weeks and immediately replace it with a new ring when the 4 weeks is up. This means there will not be a time in which you aren’t wearing a ring. Don’t worry; your ring is still protecting you against pregnancy during the 4th week, just don’t forget to remove it and replace it when the 4th week is up. You can do this just once or continually. And remember, it’s totally safe not to have a period, so using your ring in this way is a great option for people who hate having their periods.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

In happiness & health,


Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD

Have a question about sex or relationships? Want to know more about your sexual health? Just Ask Shawna! Ask & WIN!!!


Just Ask Shawna has published over 60 blogs! It’s time I hear more from you about what to write about!!!!

Just Ask Shawna will be giving away gift cards for a $5 Starbucks and Jamba Juice to the first 10 people who send Shawna a question or an idea for a blog post. It can be about anything relating to your reproductive and sexual health: birth control, STIs and HIV, sexual identity, relationships, anything at all! What are some things you’d like to see Shawna write about on her blog?

E-mail your questions/suggestions to Anything and everything you send will be completely confidential, meaning your identity will not be revealed! So feel free to ask anything on your mind!


You have 3 weeks to send in your questions, starting Monday, April 28, 2014. So start thinking of some questions or ideas today! Remember, the first 10 people to e-mail Shawna will get a free $5 Jamba Juice or Starbucks gift card. We will also enter these first 10 people into a lottery to win a $25 gift card for Old Navy!

Gift card winners will be contacted through a private email message. You can choose to pick up the gift card at our clinic, New Generation Health Center, or have the gift card mailed to you.

contest_winners_ac_4_3To sum up:
• Send questions/ideas to by May 19th 2014 11:59 pm
• First 10 people to e-mail will get a free $5 gift card to Jamba Juice or Starbucks (you choose)
• Automatically enter a lottery to win a $25 gift card to Old Navy

In happiness & health,


Get the Skinny on Weight Gain & Birth Control

Many women are worried about gaining wight on birth control. In fact, it’s something women ask us about nearly every day here at New Gen. Fortunately, it’s not necessarily true. Check out this article written for Bedsider by Jessica Morse, MD, MPH. Some of you might even remember Dr. Morse, she was a clinician here at New Gen a few years ago and she is most definitely missed!

BCM & Weight Gain

What myths have you heard about birth control??? First 3 people who leave a comment about a birth control myth they’ve heard will win a $5 gift card to Starbucks or Jamba Juice.

Gaining weight: Is it the birth control?
If those skinny jeans are feeling a bit too skinny, don’t assume your birth control is the cause.

It’s a common story. A woman starts using hormonal birth control, finds herself gaining weight, and assumes the birth control is to blame. The tricky thing is that lots of research about hormonal birth control shows that, with one important exception, it’s probably not the birth control.

A note on personal experiences vs. the big picture:
Before we lay out the evidence, we want to acknowledge the difference between looking at lots of women on average versus an individual woman. Research tells us about women on average, but not about specific women’s experiences. When we describe what happens for women on average, we are not dissing personal stories. (Bedsider has big love for personal stories!)

Here’s why the big picture is important: it sets our expectations. Being influenced by our expectations is a basic part of human nature. That’s why the placebo effect exists, and it’s why this hatpin trick is gross even though we know it’s fake.
The big picture

Researchers have looked at whether hormonal birth control makes it more likely to get bloated or hungry. They’ve also looked at women’s weight changes over time when using specific birth control methods and compared them with women using methods with no hormones. With one exception, they’ve found no direct link between using hormonal birth control and gaining weight. Here are the details.

IUDs: There are two kinds of IUDs. One kind releases a low dose of progestin hormone (Mirena and Skyla) and the other kind has no hormones (ParaGard). Both kinds of IUDs mainly work inside the uterus, so there are minimal effects on the rest of the body. Studies show no difference in weight changes between women using hormonal IUDs and women using birth control without hormones.

The implant: The implant also releases a low dose of progestin hormone. Because the implant is relatively new, there are fewer studies about it. Early studies showed that about 5% of women using the implant got them removed due to concerns about weight gain. However, the weight changes don’t appear to be different between women using the implant and women using birth control without hormones.

The pill, the patch, and the ring: Birth control pills contain both an estrogen and progestin hormone, and are probably one of the most studied medicines on Earth. Many studies show that the pill does not cause weight gain, yet concern about weight gain is the main reason why women quit taking it. The ring and the patch are similar to the pill in terms of their ingredients and dose, so are not likely to cause weight gain, either.

That important exception

The shot: Most women don’t gain weight because of the shot, but some do. Interestingly, weight gain on the shot seems to be more common in young women who are already considered overweight. Additionally, the women prone to gaining weight because of the shot will usually notice a change within the first six months. If weight gain is absolutely not okay for you, the shot may not be the best choice.

The takeaway:

Understanding all of the details that can affect weight—like diet, exercise, and genetics—can feel overwhelming. The tendency is for people to gain weight throughout their lives, so being a year older is more likely to cause weight gain than birth control. But like we said—this is on average and doesn’t take into account women’s personal experiences. If you think your birth control is affecting your weight in a way you don’t like, talk to your health care provider to find another effective method that works for you.

No matter what birth control you’re using, it’s important to get a daily cardiovascular workout. And no one says you have to leave the bedroom for that.

Jessica Morse, MD, MPH

Exercise & Eating

Thank you Bedsider and Dr. Morse for busting this common myth!

In happiness & health,


Don’t forget to leave a comment about birth control myths you’ve heard to win a $5 gift card to Starbucks of Jamba Juice!

Health Insurance – Get Covered!

What is health insurance?

Health insurance is a way to pay for health care. It means not having to pay the full costs of medical services when you’re injured or sick (which can be VERY VERY expensive). You pick a plan based on the type of health care services you think you may need and pay a monthly fee, called a premium. In return, your health insurer agrees to pay a portion of your covered medical costs.
Each plan is different, but most plans cover preventive care, like doctor visits and screenings, as well as hospital visits, ER trips, and even prescription drugs. Some plans cover vision and dental, but you may need to pay for these plans separately.

*Many of you probably have the green Family Pact Card. That is NOT insurance. That only works in California and only covers the cost of family planning services, like birth control.

Why is health insurance important?

No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point. Unfortunately, medical care can be EXPENSIVE!!! According to, the average cost of a 3-day hospital stay is $30,000!!!! And fixing a broken leg can cost up to $7,500!!!! Having health insurance means you only have to pay a small portion of that.

So, how do I get health insurance?

Fortunately, there are now more ways to get health insurance than ever before. Some people can get health insurance where they work. However, there are many people whose jobs don’t offer health insurance or who aren’t working. It used to be that those people simply had to hope they didn’t get sick or injured but now, there is the Affordable Care Act (often referred to as Obama Care).

The Affordable Care Act means that everyone can now purchase health insurance (meaning you don’t need to have a job that offers it). Also, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have already been diagnosed with an illness. No matter what is going on in your life, you can get health insurance. There is even financial assistance for those who qualify!!

In order to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, you need to apply by March 31, 2014 (or you will have to wait another year before you can apply and get covered). Don’t worry, there is no reason you will be denied and remember, there is financial assistance for those who qualify so don’t let cost scare you from applying.

• For those in California, visit Covered California and fill out an application. For those outside of California, visit and fill out an application.
• Choose a health plan based on your budget and your individual health needs. Don’t worry; there are a lot of options and financial assistance if you qualify.

How do I choose the right health insurance plan?

Check on this video that can help answer that question!

For more information:
• Check out or
• Call 1-800-300-1506
You can get help from certified enrollment counselors!

I know this can be confusing but there is a lot of help out there. Go online or pick up the phone. Deadline is March 31, 2014!

In happiness & health,