Handy: Is it bad if I masturbate every day?

Dear Sexpert,

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I masturbate every single day. I used to think this was completely normal, but after talking to my friends, it seems that I do it a lot more than others. I feel really embarrassed now. Is it dangerous to 

masturbate this frequently? Is there something terribly wrong with me? Please help!

-Handy

 

Dear Handy,

Rest assured, masturbation – the sexual stimulation of one’s own genitals— is a completely healthy and normal sexual activity. Unfortunately, society tends to treat the topic as a social taboo, making it unacceptable to discuss. Because of this, people often experience feelings of shame or embarrassment when their masturbation is brought to a public light.

Just as people have different food or movie preferences, people also have different preferences for how often they masturbate. Just because your friends report masturbating less frequently than you do does not mean that there is anything inherently wrong with your activities. Both men and women can find masturbation pleasurable, and it is a great way to explore and learn about your own body. Understanding your body’s likes and dislikes will improve all your sexual experiences – by yourself and with others.

Since masturbation is a solo act, there are no risks of becoming pregnant or contracting STIs. However, if you are using toys or objects while masturbating, be sure to clean them properly (wash with a gentle anti-bacterial soap and warm water) before and after use. And never transfer your sex toys from anus to vagina or penis without thoroughly cleaning them first. If you have an active infection (HPV (genital warts) or herpes lesions on the genitals) you may want to avoid touching lesions until they’ve healed.  If you do come into contact with any sores, wash your hands thoroughly. However, if you have a wart on your hand, you don’t need to worry about passing it to your genitals; genital warts are generally caused by different strains of HPV than warts on other parts of your body.

There do exist some prevalent notions that masturbating too frequently can affect things such as fertility, sexual ability and general health. Fortunately, these are all myths. However, just like any activity, it is possible to masturbate to excess. If you find yourself masturbating to the point where it’s interfering with the rest of your life – skipping classes to masturbate, for example – then you may be masturbating too much. In the event that this is the case, there are confidential counselors available in the McCosh Health Center with whom you can discuss your concerns.

I hope this overview of masturbation was helpful in quelling your fears. In short, masturbation is a healthy and safe way to enjoy sexual pleasure. Unless it’s interfering with your daily life, keep doing what feels good!

-Sexpert

Information retrieved from Go Ask Alice

Curious and Careful: About PrEP

Dear Sexpert,

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I’ve seen a couple of ads for a drug for people at risk for HIV. What exactly qualifies as “at risk” and how safe/effective is this drug?

Signed,
Curious & Careful

Dear Curious & Careful,

You’re right, PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, can be used in prevention of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). PrEP is a prescription pill (commonly sold under the name Truvada®) designed for daily use by people who are HIV-negative and at substantial risk for HIV exposure. PrEP is a combination of two drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine. If used correctly and consistently, it has been shown to reduce risk by up to 92%. Additionally, many health insurance plans cover PrEP.

There are several situations that can qualify a person to be considered at substantial risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend PrEP for anyone who meets any of the following circumstances:

  • is in an ongoing relationship with an partner who is HIV-positive;
  • is not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative;
  • is a gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex without a condom or been diagnosed with an STD in the last six months;
  • is a heterosexual man or woman who does not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status, who are at substantial risk of HIV infection (e.g., people who inject drugs or have bisexual male partners); and
  • has injected illicit drugs in the past 6 months and who has shared injection equipment or been in drug treatment for injection drug use in the past 6 months.”

If you fall into any one of these categories, or feel that you may benefit from PrEP, schedule an appointment at Sexual Health and Wellness (SHAW) or your primary health care office to discuss with a clinician whether this is an option for you. It’s important to keep in mind this is solely a preventative drug for people with on-going risk of being infected with HIV, and is not recommended for those who have had a single incidence of potential, high-risk exposure.  (There is a different medication, called PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, in those instances.)

Additionally, PrEP is a drug that needs to be taken on a daily basis. Like birth control or other daily-prescribed drugs, irregular use will decrease its effectiveness. Anyone prescribed PrEP should return

to their health care provider every three months for consistent HIV monitoring and follow up. PrEP is not 100% effective at preventing HIV acquisition and does not protect you from other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Precautions should still be taken to reduce your risks, including using a condom with every intercourse, getting HIV tested with your partner(s), practicing less risky sexual behaviors (e.g., oral sex while using a barrier method), reducing your number of partners, and/or sterilizing injection equipment or joining a substance treatment program.

Best of luck and be safe,
The Sexpert

Information regarding PrEP retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Not-Into-Intercourse: How can my partner and I be intimate with each other without having sex / what are different forms of outercourse?

Dear Sexpert,

I love my partner very much, but I am not sure that I am ready to have sex with my partner yet. Are there ways to be intimate without having sex?

–Not-Into-Intercourse

Continue reading Not-Into-Intercourse: How can my partner and I be intimate with each other without having sex / what are different forms of outercourse?

Curious Sub: How do I engage in BDSM without fear of losing equal status in my relationship?

Dear Sexpert,

I am thinking of trying out BDSM with my partner for the first time, but I am really curious about maintaining agency and empowerment when it comes to submissive roles in BDSM relationships. Will being in a submissive role negate my equal standing with my partner outside of the relationship? How should I engage in something like that without fear of being degraded by my partner?

–Curious Sub

Continue reading Curious Sub: How do I engage in BDSM without fear of losing equal status in my relationship?

Friends or More: Is the intimacy you have with a friend different than the intimacy you have with a romantic partner?

Dear Sexpert,

I wonder if you think that the emotional intimacy that you have with a friend versus a romantic partner is substantively different?

–Friends or More?

Continue reading Friends or More: Is the intimacy you have with a friend different than the intimacy you have with a romantic partner?

Unhappy Receiver: What do I do if I am receiving inappropriate, sexual messages from a classmate?

Dear Sexpert,

cell phoneOne of my classmates keeps on sending me inappropriate, sexual text messages that I don’t feel comfortable about. What should I do? I am worried that things would be really awkward between us if I confront them.  

–Unhappy Receiver

Continue reading Unhappy Receiver: What do I do if I am receiving inappropriate, sexual messages from a classmate?

Missing Out on the Big O: Why do I ejaculate without having an orgasm?

Dear Sexpert,

I am a sexually active homosexual male and I have never had an orgasm although I have ejaculated many times. My boyfriend has an orgasm almost every time we have sex, but I never do. He thinks it might be because I am stressed from taking six classes this semester and have trouble winding down. Is there something wrong with me?

–MissingOutOnTheBigO

Continue reading Missing Out on the Big O: Why do I ejaculate without having an orgasm?

Hot and Bothered: Can I be allergic to semen?

Dear Sexpert,

I have had several sexual partners since I became sexually active in high school. I had never experienced discomfort during sex, but recently I noticed that when I have sex with my current boyfriend, wherever my skin comes into contact with his semen, it turns red and becomes irritated. After intercourse, my vagina is red and puffy too, not just my skin. We can’t use condoms because I have a severe latex allergy, but I am on birth control, so we aren’t worried about unplanned pregnancy. Could I be allergic to his semen too?

–HotAndBotheredDownThere

Continue reading Hot and Bothered: Can I be allergic to semen?

The Real Girl: What if my boyfriend watches too much porn?

Dear Sexpert,

My boyfriend watches a lot of porn. A lot of porn. He watches porn every night before he falls asleep, even the nights that we have sex; he often wants to watch it to get in the mood before we have sex. It makes me uncomfortable and I have tried to talk to him about it, but he says I’m being controlling and just don’t understand. But I don’t feel like I can be sexually or emotionally intimate with someone who would rather watch porn than be with me.

–TheRealGirl

Continue reading The Real Girl: What if my boyfriend watches too much porn?

A Division of Peer Heath Advisers, Princeton University

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