Yay for the IUD!!!

How awesome would it be to get through high school or college without having to worry about getting pregnant?  How cool would it be to not have to remember a pill everyday or ever dealing with the pharmacy?  What about a method that only you knew you were using?  Well it’s totally possible with the IUD!!!!

So what exactly is an IUD?

An IUD is a small, flexible,  T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus by a licensed clinician. There are 2 different types here in the United States:  The Mirena and the Paragard.

The Mirena:

The Mirena can last for 5 years (though it can be taken out sooner if desired).  It releases a small amount of hormone that helps in preventing pregnancy.  In fact,  the Mirena is over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.  It works by thickening the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.  It’s difficult for the sperm to swim through the thickened mucus,  so it can’t reach or fertilizing the egg!  It also thins the lining of the uterus.

The Paragard:

The Paragard can last for 10 years (and like the Mirena, can be taken out sooner if desired).  It is also over 99% effective. It works by creating an inflammatory reaction in the uterus that kills the sperm.

The Good Stuff:

  • It is the MOST effective form of birth control other than not having sex at all and it’s reversible.  Meaning once the IUD is taken out a woman can become pregnant again.
  • No remembering!  No need to remember a daily bill,  a weekly patch,  a monthly ring,  or a shot every few months. Once an IUD is in place there is no need to remember anything but when it needs to be removed!
  • Because the IUD is placed inside the uterus,  no one will know you are using it.
  • The Mirena IUD often reduces the amount of bleeding during a period.  In fact,  many women stop having periods all together (this may or may not be a positive for everyone).

The Other Stuff:

  • The device needs to be inserted and removed by a licensed clinician. That may sound a little scary but women tend to do really well with the insertion.  The insertion itself only takes a few minutes!
  • Some women have some cramping and bleeding for a few weeks after the IUD is put in.
  • IUD’s do not protect against STD’s or HIV.
  • Some women who have the Pargard have heavier periods.

Yes,  the IUD sounds too good to be true but it I swear I am telling you the truth!  Don’t believe me?  Check out some of the videos on Besider!

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Grace Shih, MD

Herpes!!!! A very misunderstood STD!

Alright, so this was not a question that was necessarily asked anonymously through email but something I often have to explain to so many of our patients here at New Gen.  It can be a bit confusing so I will do my best to make it more clear.

What is herpes:

The herpes simplex virus (HSV), otherwise know simply as herpes, is a viral infection that lasts a lifetime.  Meaning, the virus never leaves your body – even when symptoms aren’t present (symptoms will be discussed next).  HSV-1 usually affects the mouth and HSV-2 usually affects the genitals (vaginal, penis, or butt area).  However, both types can happen in either part of the body!

What does herpes look like?

Herpes looks like little blister type sores that usually appear in clusters (though they can appear alone), are fluid filled, often itch, and can be painful.  The sores then usually pop and crust over (at this point they are beginning to heal).  When sores are present it is called an outbreak.

Herpes-picturesSo if herpes sores heal, how is it that someone will have it forever?

Outbreaks usually last about 7-14 days, meaning the sores do go away.  However, they can come back.  Usually the longer someone has the virus, the fewer outbreaks they have.  The best way to prevent an outbreak is to take care of yourself.  Sleep well, eat right, try to reduce stress…anything to keep your immune system strong.

How is herpes passed from one person to another?

Herpes is passed between one person to another through skin contact – even when no sores are present (though it is much less likely).  That means you don’t even have to have penetrative (something inside of something) sex!  Simply touching or rubbing your mouth or genitals against the mouth or genitals of someone who has the virus can pass it to you.  That also means that condoms do not protect you 100% because condoms do not cover the entire genital area. Because it’s so easy to transmit (passed from one person to another), it is a really common infection!  According to the Center for Disease and Control, 16.2%, or about one out of six, people 14 to 49 years of age have genital herpes & up to 80% have oral herpes!  I told ya it was common!

How do I know if I have herpes?

If you noticed any unusual bumps in your mouth or genital area, come get it checked out.  The best way to determine if someone has herpes is to test the actual sore.  There are blood tests available but they aren’t necessarily the most useful. A blood test may reveal someone has been infected but it does not reveal where.  Remember, 80% of the population has been exposed to oral herpes therefore the chance of a positive blood test is high.

How do you prevent the transmission of herpes?

  • Not having skin to skin contact with the affected area of anyone who has sores visible (on their mouth or genitals). Other kinds of touch, like hugs and hand holding, won’t transmit the infection.
  • Using condoms and other types of barriers like dental dams (don’t know what that is? askshawna@yahoo.com). Remember, condoms don’t protect you 100% as they do no cover the entire genital area.
  • There are also medications that can help lower the chance an infected person passes it to their partner(s).  This is called suppressive treatment.

How is herpes treated?

There is no cure for herpes but there are several medications that can help shorten the length and severity of an outbreak as well as to reduce the number of outbreaks all together.  If you have herpes, come see us at New Gen and we can hook you up with these meds.

There is life after herpes!

Yes, there is life after herpes.  Often times when people find out they have herpes they are devastated.  They may feel embarrassed, ashamed, and think that no one will ever love them or want to have sexual contact with them again! Although these are all very common feelings, it’s definitely not the truth.  Like I mentioned before, herpes is super common.  It doesn’t mean someone is ‘dirty’.  People with herpes go on to live very normal lives, including sex lives.  The fact that the longer someone has herpes the fewer outbreaks they have, many people forget they even have the infection.  And with several different treatment options, it’s totally possible to reduce the chance of spreading the infection.  Having herpes simply means there will be a few days/weeks from time to time that are pretty annoying.  The infection will not cause any permanent damage, it will not effect future pregnancies, nor will it cause death.

Having herpes also means becoming a better communicator with your partner(s).  It means talking to your partner(s) about the infection and ways to prevent  it’s transmission.  Now you may find that not all people are willing to have any kind of sexual contact with someone who has herpes and that can be a bummer but there are plenty of people who see past the infection.  The people who care about you realize that herpes is just a part of the deal.  If you find it difficult to talk to your partner about herpes, schedule an appointment with us at New Gen – we can totally answer all your herpes questions individually and as a couple.

Alright, I know there is a lot of information here so I will end it here.  If you have further questions,  feel free to come into the clinic or email me a question(s).  I’d love to answer them for you!

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Andrea Raider, NP

Anal Sex?? What’s that?

Hi Shawna,

I recently filled out a form that asked about anal,  oral,  and vaginal sex.  I know what oral and vaginal sex is but what is anal sex?

Thanks,

Super Embarrassed

Hi!

It is totally normal to feel embarrassed but know that this is a very common question.  I am really glad you asked!
Anal sex is when a penis is inserted into the anus (or butt hole).  Anal sex is most commonly practiced between men who have sex with men but can also happen between a man and a woman.  Some people really like this kind of sex and some people don’t – both are completely normal and okay.  Although a woman can not get pregnant from having anal sex,  it is still possible to transmit STDs and HIV (both men and women can get STDs & HIV from anal sex).  Therefore,  it is really important to use condoms when having anal sex if you are unsure or don’t know someone’s STD & HIV status.

There are few other things people should know when having anal sex.

  • Communication is really important.  Talk to your partner.  Talk about what you like and don’t like.  Stop if you are uncomfortable or anal sex is painful.
  • Avoid inserting a penis into the mouth or vagina after it’s been inserted in the anus until your partner showers or puts on a new condom.  There is bacteria in the anus that can cause infection if it gets in the vagina or mouth.
  • Use plenty of lubrication to reduce the risk of tissue tears (the skin inside the anus is really really thin & delicate). With latex condoms,  always use a water-based lubricant.
  • Relax prior to insertion of the penis to help reduce the risk of tears (once again, the skin in the anus is really thin and delicate).  Taking a warm bath before anal sex or lying on your stomach may make insertion easier.
  • If you experience bleeding after anal sex or you notice a sores or lumps around the anus or a discharge coming from it,  see your doctor as soon as possible.

Let me know if you have any more questions and check out the San Francisco Sex Information website for more info and tips on anal sex.

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Andrea Raider, NP

Sperm…How long do those guys live?

Hi Shawna,

How long does it take before sperm dies?  Does pre-ejaculated sperm have the same life span?  Does it die once it hits the air or does it take a while to die?

-Anonymous

Hi,

Thanks for asking!

The life span of sperm once a male has ejaculated (cum) can vary.  In the vaginal canal (where a tampon would go or where a penis would go during vaginal sex),  sperm can only live a few hours.  Once inside the fallopian tubes (where sperm and egg meet to create a pregnancy),  they have a life span of about 5 days.  Sperm not ejaculated inside a woman’s body (maybe on the sheets or something) can live for up to an hour though usually die within minutes.  The sperm in pre-ejaculatory fluid has a similar life span.

Hope you have a wonderful day!  Keep the questions coming!

In happiness & health,

-Shawna

Reviewed by Grace Shih, MD