Desperate for Love: How does a cock ring work?

Dear Sexpert,

My partner is having trouble performing in the bedroom and it’s affecting our relationship. We’ve been talking through this and are considering trying a “cock ring”. But we don’t quite know how it works. Do you know what it does and if it is effective? We’re just hoping that it may be the savior in our relationship.

–Desperate for Love

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Confused Club Member: This my first time having casual sex–what should I do?

Dear Sexpert,

I just joined an eating club, and I’m already excited about all the new friends I’m making! I’ve also started hooking up with someone I recently met in the club. Our relationship is pretty casual, and for the most part, physical. In fact, when we’re eating dinner in a group or hanging around the club during the day, I feel like I’m barely acknowledged. We are both enjoying the physical side of our relationship, but I also feel confused about having casual sex. What should I do?

–Confused Club Member

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Low Libido: Should I try the women’s Viagra?

Dear Sexpert,

I’m currently dating someone I really like… but there’s one little problem. I feel like I have a really low libido. I don’t feel like I want or enjoy sex at all, and I’m afraid it’s not normal. People have told me that I just need to relax, but I feel like something is wrong with my body. I heard that there’s a women’s Viagra on the market now. Would something like that help me? I’m desperate!

–Low Libido 

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Looking for Someone: What’s the best way to use apps like Tinder and Grindr?

Dear Sexpert,

There are a lot of preconceived notions about Tinder and Grindr, and similar “matchmaking” apps. With all the hype surrounding Tinder and Grindr, I’m interested in trying them out. I think I know how these apps all work, but have concerns about their impact on my sexual wellness. Do you have any tips before diving in?  

–Looking For Someone

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Silent Sam: How do I tell my partner that I have an STI?

Dear Sexpert,

I just started hooking up with this girl I have been interested in for a while, which is great! The bad news is that I just got some results from an STI test I got just before this all happened and it looks like I might have a minor STI. I need to tell her because we didn’t use protection the last time we got together, but I don’t know how! I like this girl, and I don’t want to screw things up right off the bat with this. What do I do?

–Silent Sam

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Cramping and Crying: What should I do if I have severe cramps during my period?

Dear Sexpert,

The pain I have felt during my last few periods has been debilitating. I have taken ibuprofen and that hasn’t really helped. I’ve had to miss classes because I was in too much pain to get out of bed. I’m embarrassed to tell my professors and preceptors why I missed classes. My roommate says everyone gets cramps and that I need to stop being so sensitive, but I’m worried it could be something more serious. What should I do?

—Cramping and Crying

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Curious: What are my options for emergency contraceptives?

Dear Sexpert,

Can you tell me more about the different types of emergency contraceptives that are out there? I know about the morning-after pill (Plan B), but I’ve heard that there are a few others. Also, where can I get emergency contraceptives on campus (if needed)?

–Curious about Contraceptives

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First-timers: Can you have sex without a condom if you’re on birth control?

Dear Sexpert,

I’ve been hooking up with the same girl for a while, and we talked about it and decided that we were ready to have sex. The only thing is, we’re both virgins, so we really have no idea what we’re doing or what to expect. On the plus side though, since she’s already on birth control, we won’t have to use a condom, which I’ve heard can make sex less pleasurable. Any tips?

Thanks,

First-time-for-everything

 

Dear First,

It’s great that you two had an open and honest discussion about your sexual wants and needs. In terms of advice, I would tell you to keep up the good communication! It’s important for both partners to be clear about their desires. In terms of actual “sex tips,” a lot of websites offer straightforward advice that might be more helpful than what you find in popular magazines – some places to start might be Planned Parenthood’s site, “Understanding Sexual Pleasure,” or the FAQ section on sexetc.org. Ultimately, what’s most important is what feels good to you and your partner!

After studying up, you might still want to head to McCosh Health Center to pick up free condoms. Even though your partner is taking an oral contraceptive, which helps to prevent pregnancy, there is still a risk of transmitting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Here’s why: being a “virgin” can mean very different things to different people. For some, it might just mean no penetrative sex, while for others it might mean nothing more than kissing. And even if it only means kissing to both of you, there is still a risk of transmitting infections, like herpes. Furthermore, some people may identify as being a virgin if they are currently abstinent, but have had sexual intercourse previously.  For peace of mind, I would recommend that you both make appointments to get STI testing at the Sexual Health and Wellness clinic at McCosh. It’s cheap and convenient: HIV testing is free, and it’s only $9.50 for a test for gonorrhea and chlamydia – and you can easily schedule the appointment online. Until you and your partner get and share your results, it is safest to use a condom.

For some, using a condom can dull physical pleasure or may lower sexual excitement. However, condoms come many sizes and varieties, including flavored, ribbed, extra lubricated, etc. and some exploration may help find one that provides the most pleasure for both you and your partner. Using condoms during sexplay can also prevent the lowering of excitement by stopping activities to put on a condom.

Once you’re sure that you’re not at risk for STIs, then you can reconsider whether condoms and the pill, oral contraceptives alone, or another form might be the best protective method for the two of you. The staff at SHAW would be happy to discuss your options, and they also provide a wide range of contraceptive products, either free or at a reduced cost.

Be safe and enjoy yourselves!

–The Sexpert

 

Trying Something New: Can girls give other girls STDs?

Dear Sexpert,

I just got out of a long-term relationship with a guy and I am looking to experiment with girls. I don’t think I am a lesbian, but I think college is as good a time as any to broaden my horizons. My boyfriend and I used a condom in the beginning, but once we got serious and I went on the pill, we stopped using one, because both of us had been tested and we’re both clean. Since I plan on only engaging in sexual activity with other girls, I don’t need to worry about protection right? I mean, I’m obviously not going to get pregnant, and my friend told me girls can’t catch anything from each other.

–Ready to Try Something New

 

Dear Ready,

That is great that you got tested previously—knowing your STI status is always a good thing, especially when engaging with a new partner. While you are right that you do not have risk of pregnancy with other women, there is still risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections. However, your level of risk varies depending upon what kind of activities you and your partner engage in.

Low risk activities include french kissing, massages, frotting, mutual masturbation, fingering (insertion of fingers into the vaginal canal) and performing oral sex on another woman through a protective barrier, like a dental dam.

Moderate and higher risk activities then include oral sex or rimming without a dental dam, fisting, and sharing dildos or other toys without thoroughly disinfecting between uses.

Fortunately, both UHS and the LGBT Center have a number of different protection implements available. Condoms are the most common method of protection, and they are available at McCosh for free. You may not think you need to use a condom if you are not engaging in sexual activities with a man, but you can use them on sex toys such as dildos to prevent the transmission of STIs and other infections. Latex condoms are most effective for the prevention of STIs, but if you or your partner has an allergy, polyurethane condoms are also available.

The Reality Condom, or internal condom, is available at the LGBT Center. Made of polyurethane, it can be inserted several hours before use. This can protect you and your partner from STI-transmission during fingering, fisting, and similar activities.

Latex gloves and finger cots are a good form of protection for activities where your fingers or hands come into contact with your partner’s bodily fluids, and vice versa. Cuts, lesions, and any other breaking of the skin can that comes into contact with your partner’s bodily fluids puts you at risk for infection.

For both vaginal-oral sex and anal-oral sex, the best form of protection is the dental dam. Dental dams are available at both McCosh and the LGBT Center. In a pinch you can use non-microwavable Saran Wrap (check the label), for protection during these activities, but latex or polyurethane dams provide the best protection.

While abstinence is the only way to ensure protection against STIs and pregnancy, the barrier methods I just mentioned are the best forms of protection available.  So have fun trying them out and finding what works best for you and your partner.

~The Sexpert

Condom Queen: What if my partner doesn’t want to use a condom?

Dear Sexpert—

I just started dating a new guy, and he’s really great! But there’s one thing he does that makes me kind of uneasy: he’s really resistant to wearing condoms when we have sex. He always comes up with some excuse and tries to make me feel good about it, and sometimes I go along with it. Usually, I am a real stickler about condom use, so it worries me that he is so against using them. On the one hand, I want to tell him to wear one; but on the other, he’s made it seem like wearing one is a deal-breaker and I don’t want to lose him over it. What should I do?

–Condom Queen

 

Dear Ms. Queen,

There are a lot of different factors and attitudes that go into decision making and preferences, especially when it comes to something as intimate as sex. You have already decided that your preference is to use a condom every time, without exception. However, your boyfriend has other preferences.

Communication is the best way to improve sex. Talk with him about his dislike of condoms at a time when you’re not engaging in sexual activity. Figuring out his reasoning questions may help the two of you to come to an agreement about condom use. It is possible that he has had a bad experience with condoms in the past, or maybe he has not found one with the right fit. Trying out different condom styles or having open communication about wants and needs is a great way for him to see the fun of safer sexual experiences.

It seems like that you are concerned your boyfriend will end things if you push him. You have the right to make a decision for yourself, and he has the right for himself; but when you are making decisions that impact your partner, any and all decisions must mutually be agreed upon. I know it feels like saying something may put your relationship with him in jeopardy, but not saying something could also put your and his safety at risk (See the Sexpert archives.).

Be prepared with a response for the excuses, like “You’re just so sexy, I can’t wait” or “It’ll feel so much better without one”. Having condoms on-hand will discredit his “I can’t wait” argument, and it’ll make it easier for you to stay strong in your decision. Keep some condoms in your purse or bedside table for easy access. (You can get 10 FREE condoms, daily, at McCosh.) Also, there are many ways in which using condoms can be a fun part of the fun of your sexual experiences. Using the ultra-thin, ribbed, or heat-activating varieties or even adding a dab of lube to the inside and outside of the condom can all enhance the overall sexual experience for you both. If you aren’t interested in trying these options, you can always refer to the recent study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine that stated that both men and women enjoy sex as much with condoms as without. This might alleviate his concerns, or at least make him more open to trying condoms.

When communicating about safer sex with your partner, feel free to be creative with ways to cooperate and come to a conclusion that makes you both happy. Just being willing to acknowledge his desires or worries may get him to acknowledge yours.

Good luck,

~The Sexpert

A Division of Peer Heath Advisers, Princeton University @princeton_pha