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SHEP Talk

Hooking Up Healthy Since 1970

We Love Sather Health!

On Tuesday March 1st, Jasmin and I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop for the Sather Health DeCal.  They requested us to focus on Intro to Sexual Health with an emphasis on Tang Center services. There were approximately ten people who attended, about an equal amount of men and women, including the facilitators.

sexual health intro

For the actual workshop, we opened with demonstrating proper condom use, in order to delve into the different types of condoms (insertive, traditional, someone mentioned ribbed and studded) and also went over dental dam use- another barrier method. We then transitioned into the different types of contraceptives, which included hormonal and non-hormonal.  We got several questions on this topic, mostly about how it they worked to prevent pregnancy and the different effects it may have on people.  Our final topic was focused on different lubes and how they work with certain products, more specifically trying to emphasize how oil degrades latex. Someone, later, brought up an interesting question on not bleeding when losing virginity when you have enough lube, which is not necessarily true because it is possible for someone to break their hymen, if it is still intact. We ended our workshop with the condom popping activity where we blew up condoms and rubbed the different lubes on them, the purpose being to emphasize the fact that oil and latex should not be used together in order to preserve the effective of the condoms.  Finally, before we left we went over a short list of Tang Center services we felt were important to highlight, most of which we had mentioned during the workshop, but just to give an ending list (which we also emailed to the facilitator).  A few things we mentioned were the Sexpert clinic on Fridays from 12-3pm, Health-coaching with professionals, and our blog!

Overall, it was a great experience to go out for the first time with a group I did not know at all.  They were a fairly quiet group with a few people who participated a fair amount.  They were very attentive and welcoming but I wish we could’ve thought of a way to encourage more engagement.

~Sexpert Melissa

Stress is Upon Us!

Midterm season is upon on us, we are being bombarded with test and papers one right after another. We find ourself staying up late at night, cramming the night before, and drinking lots of caffeine. March becomes a stressful time, turns out the theme of the month for the Sexual Health Education Program is stress! Yay March for being Stress Awareness Month! I would imagine stress is very common in college with all that homework, internships, jobs, and thinking about the future. So many aspects in college life can be overwhelming. It is crucial to try to remain calm and destress. Luckily there are new REST locations around campus, maybe someone’s way of getting rid of is taking a nap. There are various de-stressors including masturbation and sex!

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Masturbation and sex can turn out to be some people’s choice to get rid of that stress in their life! Stress relief is about relaxing yourself and doing something you enjoy. What better way than to mastubate or have sex? Of course there are many other ways to relieve stress but if this one is yours looking into making it even more fun. Perhaps buying a new sex toy, treat yourself! Maybe trying out lube while you mastubate or have sex to enhance pleasure. There are different types of lube including lube that is hot and cold which can turn out to be a turn on in temperature play. There are flavored lubes that can turn out to be lots of fun if used properly. (PLEASE NOTE: do not use flavored lubes or flavored condoms in the vagina. This can cause irritations and lead to infections such as the yeast infections)!
Although there are various forms of destressers try to find your form of stress relief! There are various forms of stress relief don’t just limit yourself to one. Find what works for you and treat yourself because no one should stay stressed all the time! College life can be a stressful time but don’t let it get to you, make the most of it & enjoy it.

~Sexpert Jasmin

Testing, Testing, S T D

Sexually transmitted disease word cloud
Sexually transmitted disease word cloud

You’ve found yourself a new boo-thang and you plan to get intimate with this person. You yourself haven’t been tested for STDs since your last partner. Your partner mentions that they never have gotten tested. Hello, February is Relationship Wellness month, it is important to know if a person you’re being intimate with has STDs even if that person is yourself. A huge aspect about having a healthy relationship is being able to have trust in your relationship. Although your partner might say they are STD free, it doesn’t hurt to make sure. STD is much more accessible, especially here at Berkeley we have: the Tang Center, Planned Parenthood, and Berkeley Free Clinic. All which you can test for STDs at an affordable price. If it turns that someone in the relationship does have an STD it is important to get it treated and find out prevention methods in order to avoid infecting other people. Don’t ever feel embarrassed to ask your partner to take an STD test. It important to communicate and build a relationship where you’re comfortable talking about your concerns whether they are sexual or emotional.

STD’s can be prevented by using a condom correctly every time you have sex. You can choose to have a mutually monogamous sexual relationship. Abstinence, delaying having sexual relations. Get vaccinations for Hepatitis B, regular STD and HIV testing. The Sexual Health Education Program provides free HIV testing every friday. Yes, FREE HIV TESTING! It is an rapid test which only takes a prick of a finger and within 20 minutes you will have your results!

~Sexpert Jasmin

STI vs STD

stf smack

I’m not sure about everyone else, but I grew up hearing the phrase “Sexually Transmitted Disease.”  I only heard of a “Sexually Transmitted Infection” towards the end of high school, if not after. I figured I would use this opportunity to explain the difference between the two and why everyone seems to be leaning more towards “STI,” although they are often used interchangeably.

First off, if you think about disease has a much more negative connotation than infection, because infections seem curable, while saying you have a disease seems more like a life-threatening, incurable situation.  Additionally, according to an article by stdcheck.com, “STI” is for when an individual has an infection but it has not yet progressed to a disease. The example they mentioned was: A woman who carries the virus for HPV has an infection, if the HPV develops into cervical cancer, then she has a disease.  You may be asking yourself “well how do I know once it’s progressed to be considered a disease?”  The article also addresses the question! They mention that “an infection is often the first step of a disease and occurs when either bacteria, viruses or microbes enter the body and start multiplying.” However, a disease is considered to be when normal bodily functions are disrupted, such as when symptoms appear.

In the end, STI’s and STD’s have a fairly grey line for defining so use the term you feel most comfortable with for yourself, but also be mindful of others.  Also, remember to get tested regularly if you feel you are at risk for any, so that you can catch it before any symptoms may arise and get it treated properly and quickly!

~Mellow Melissa

Healthy Relationships For All

On Thursday, February 25, Lucero and I had the pleasure of presenting a Healthy Relationships workshop to the Hmong Student Association at Berkeley (HSAB). As a Hmong student and general member of HSAB myself, I was incredibly excited to be presenting on behalf of SHEP again since I also did a Sex 101 workshop for HSAB in the fall.

 

We began the night with a very interactive skit activity. Upon the request of the HSAB officers, Lucero and I had prepared about eight different scenarios of healthy and unhealthy relationships, and had people get into pairs and trios to act out their specific scenario. After each group performed, we had the audience guess if it was a healthy or unhealthy relationship and to give their reasoning why. It was very interesting to hear different perspectives because despite the obvious indicators of what type of relationship it was, a lot of people had great insight on the subtler details. Unfortunately, this activity took a bit longer than we anticipated because of folks who arrived late, but I still think it was a great activity that gauged the knowledge of our audience and helped everyone ease into our event.

 

After that, we jumped into our power point presentation. I presented on the different types of relationships, which included monogamous and non-monogamous relationships as well as what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like. Lucero finished it off with communication skills and tips to communicate effectively when initiating relationships and dealing with conflict.

 

We ended the night with a group discussion by asking three critical questions (two from HSAB officers and one from Lucero) of everyone in attendance. Because there was such a large turnout (about 20-30 people), we broke up into 4-5 smaller groups to intimately discuss the thought questions before coming back together as a large group to share what our groups talked about.

 

One thing that I often felt was missing (and needed) from the progressive Asian Pacific Islanders (API) and SEA (South East Asian) spaces on campus was the opportunity to talk about healthy relationships and sexual health in general. I am beyond proud and excited that HSAB is taking an active step to provide safe events to talk about these gender and sexual health issues. Overall, this was a successful workshop and an overall wonderful evening with a great group of people.

~Sexpert Linda

P.S. Did I mention that HSAB provided free cheesy sticks for everyone??? They were delicious! Proof below!hmong

Bouncing on Boundaries

Sam and Riley are in a monogamous long-term relationship of two years. Even though they do not live together, they see each other six days out of the week. They have lunch together and sometimes dinner too. They study together and attend each other’s club meetings at night. If it weren’t for their separate majors (declared before they met), they probably would be taking the same classes too. On weekends, Riley invites Sam to outings with their friends, and vice versa. They eventually share the same social and academic circles. They have similar interests (by chance actually) and really enjoy each other’s company. The two are inseparable and ever so in love.

 

Does this sound like you or someone you know?

 

Though it may seem picturesque to some people, this is actually an unhealthy relationship. Sam and Riley may have honest and good intentions, but their dependence on each other is detrimental to their independent growth.

 

I have been in my share of unhealthy relationships, as well as seen many of my friends in them. As a college student, I feel like the circumstances of college tend to lend themselves to unhealthy relationships that lack boundaries, specifically like that of Sam and Riley’s relationship. For many students attending a college away from home and away from parents, there is a lot of freedom that comes at the price of loneliness and homesickness. Finding a significant other(s) that shares your interests and makes you feel good about yourself can quickly turn into an unhealthy relationship by putting you in a euphoric bubble (with your partner(s)) and keeping the negative attributes of reality (and other people) at bay. Before you know it, you will find yourself heavily depending on your partner(s) for happiness.

 

It’s important to understand that every single relationship is unique and dynamic. There is no clear cut check list for all of the ingredients that make up a perfect healthy relationship. Just like cooking, there are many wonderful variations of the same dish, but there are also ingredients that would spoil the dish (analogous to an unhealthy relationship). With that in mind, I would like to share some information from The National Domestic Violence Hotline website (http://www.thehotline.org/) below. Please note that this information is true for any type of relationship (monogamous or not, sexual or not), and if you or anyone you know is in an unhealthy relationship, please seek help.

bound

 

“Healthy relationships allow both partners to feel supported and connected but still feel independent. COMMUNICATION and BOUNDARIES are the two major components of a healthy relationship. Ultimately, the two people in the relationship decide what is healthy for them and what is not.  If something doesn’t feel right, you should have the freedom to voice your concerns to your partner.”

~Sexpert Linda

Being a Social Species

In SHEP, one of our mottos is “Communication is Lubrication.” In fact, this was our theme for Sexual Health Awareness Week (SHAW) last fall. Not only does this phrase roll off the tongue quite nicely, but it is also a sexy take on communication, which (like sex) many people find difficult to navigate. Our job here at SHEP is to provide you with the information and resources to help things go more smoothly, whether this is in bed or in a conversation!

 

It’s important to remember that humans are a social species. We thrive off of social interactions with family, friends, strangers, animals. However, because we are so used to having conversations, we tend to overlook some of the most important keys to successful communication when we need it the most. I understand that things are easier said than done (like most things in life), but I encourage you to be critically aware of your rhetoric and see if these tips are effective the next time you engage in an important conversation because sometimes, all it takes is one simple change to get your point across.

 

  1. Use “I” statements
  2. Don’t assume what someone else is thinking/feeling
  3. Use a calm voice/tone
  4. Ask questions if you don’t understand
  5. Walk away if you need to (good for heated arguments or tense conversations)
  6. Practice if you have to (seriously, practicing your dialogue by yourself will help you be more confident about it – try it!)
  7. Follow up on the conversation (this is especially important when some compromise or solution has been made)

 

*These tips also work well when initiating a relationship and/or engaging in sexual activity😉

~Sexpert Lindasocial

The Jealousy Question

As someone who identifies as a poly person, that is someone who practices nonmonogomy, the questions I get asked about my relationship(s) most often are about jealousy. Do I get jealous? Does my boyfriend (primary partner) get jealous? Does my long distance boyfriend (serious but not primary partner) get jealous? Do the people I date get jealous? Am I jealous of the other people the people I date go on dates with? Am I jealous of one of my partner’s wife? Is she jealous of me?

Jealousy

The answer to the questions about me being jealous is in the beginning, yes, but not anymore. The answer to the questions about my partners being jealous is maybe at once yes but not anymore for my partners who have been poly for a bit now. Learning to deal with jealousy is one of the first things poly people must learn to have successful relationships, and the key to coping with it is realizing this one very important fact: jealousy is not a pure emotion. It is fear of losing the relationship, which sprouts from a single or a cocktail of emotions. Feeling insecure, feeling inadequate, fear of abandonment, sadness, coveting, depression, anxiety are examples of a few.

 

Hence, the key to dealing with jealousy in any relationship, whether it is monogamous or polyamorous, is tracking down what emotions are at the core of your jealousy and resolving those. Or at the very least, recognizing that it’s there and you have to work on it. For example, if you realize that at the core of your jealousy is insecurity about your appearance, work on making yourself feel better about it as an individual rather than relying on your partner’s commitment to you as evidence of your own attractiveness. In the end, you’ll be a healthier person on your own making your relationship healthier overall.

~Caning Kylie

Release that Stress

Ever been stressed before? Most people have experienced stress, especially adults. It can be caused by an overload of work or worrying about bills. Basically anything that can make you feel uneasy can cause stress. Some of the side effects that come with it are irregular eating patterns (whether overeating or undereating), insomnia, depression, difficulty with erections (whether maintaining one till orgasm or getting one at all), vaginal wetness (whether it’s not wet enough or just dry as a dessert), and others. The main hormone that is associated with stress is cortisol. Being stressed once in awhile isn’t bad, but chronic stress can cause increased blood pressure, weaken the immune system, and cause storage of subcutaneous fat.

Now those are all negative symptoms of stress that people usually dstresso not want. So how can you get rid of the stress? Well, everyone has different methods of relieving stress, but some things I do are working out, talking about my problems with my friends, cooking, and sex (if your stress isn’t hindering your ability to have sex). Sometimes when I do these things, it calms me down and i’m able to prioritize everything that is going on in life. Once everything is clear and organized in my head, I start doing things on my list. The more I get done, the less stressed I’ll be.

 

Hope you all enjoy this blog and happy stress awareness month!

~Sexpert Magic Mike

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