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Safer Sex Between People with Vulvas

When people hear safer sex, most of the time they think “Condoms” and why not? They’re cheap, useful, and abundant. Condoms have helped protect people against STIs since the late 1800s, notably they now function as an important barrier against the spread of HIV. This is amazing and a public health marvel, but it leaves out many groups of people. Because many people understand condoms as one of the only forms of barrier methods, as a barrier between a penis and an orifice, this has left lesbians, women who have sex with women and a huge variety of people who have vulvas and have sex with people who have vulvas thinking that they don’t have need to use safer sex supplies like gloves, dental dams, and condoms.

 

Condoms? For people with vulvas? Absolutely! Condoms are cheap and versatile, usefully for limitless sexual acts. Playing with toys, like dildos, vibrators, or plugs? Put a condom on it! Condoms should be used when sharing toys, if you’re using anything that isn’t body safe, or if like me you’re just lazy! If you use a condom on a toy you can take it off, throw it away and not have to wash your toy in the sink after using it! Additionally, because condoms are so cheap, sometimes free, you can unroll it, cut off the base, cut a slit in the side and use it as a….

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Dental Dam! The unsung hero of oral sex dental dams are under-utilized and misunderstood. They are a plastic or latex sheet that covers the vulva or anus during oral sex. It can be flavored on one side, to protect against off putting tastes. Dental dams can be made out of gloves, plastic wrap, sandwich bags, and more! If you put lube on the side of the orifice being licked, very little to no sensation is lost and you get to stay safe while eating out!
The last but not least safer sex supply I’m going to talk about is gloves!! Gloves like the doctor wears during your exams, like your piercer wears when giving you some new jewelry, like every food service worker wears when handling your food. Gloves are truly the most versatile thing you can have in your safer sex repertoire. Gloves entire focus is to keep things sanitized and to keep your bacteria from getting onto anything and anything’s bacteria from getting onto you! Gloves can be used for fingering, fisting, oral, and roleplaying! Gloves smooth out the edges of nails, you no longer have to choose between your sex life and your nail length! They help your fingers not get pruny during extended sessions. They help fingers, hands and fists go in smoother, wherever their destination. If anal is your thing, they protect you when shit happens. You can cut off the fingers (except the thumb), cut it down the side and use it as a dental dam, with the thumb hole for minor tongue insertion. Do you want a check-up from a sexy nurse? Gloves can add a sense of realism to the scene.

 

Moral of my story is: if you are having sex with someone with a vagina, or have one yourself, stay safe! Stay sexy!

-Arousing Andy

Clark Kerr Sexploration Workshop February 12, 2018

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The Sexual Health Education Program was kindly invited to facilitate a ‘SEXPLORATION’ workshop at the Clark Kerr Campus. I had the opportunity to collaborate with Jizzmoan Jasmin in which she focused on Safe Sex practices and I focused on [Enthusiastic] Consent and Effective Communication. This was my first time ever stepping foot on the Clark Kerr campus in the last 3 years so we temporarily got lost for a while until the Resident Assistant discovered us roaming around the campus.  When we arrived in the room we were going to facilitate the workshop in, I was not expecting such a high turn-out rate. I started the workshop by explaining who we are (individually and the overall program), in which many freshmen were unaware that they had the Sexual Health Education Program as a resource at their disposal. The audience was not feeling very engaged at the beginning of the workshop so I tried making the workshop as comical and lively as possible. What honestly surprised me the most about facilitating this particular workshop was the fact that not once did I get nervous to speak in front of a crowded room. Maybe it was because they were all fetuses and obviously looked like teenagers (freshmen babies). Or maybe it was simply the fact that as a Sexpert I know more than my audience (or else they would not have been there) and rehearsing prior to leading the workshop provided reassurance! Anyways, I felt even more comfortable when I was getting laughs and positive validation throughout the workshop. For example, when I was talking about what consent and nonconsent sounds like, I was giving different examples of how each sound and how greatly they differ. I do not know what made me pick the “I love you/I love it when you do this” phrase but when I shared out loud and realized that I am not really feeling the “I love you” part, I finished with a strong “I guess” and the whole room died of laughter. I mean it is true, you do not necessarily have to love someone to engage in a sexual debut with that individual, but you are required to have consent throughout the entire encounter especially enthusiastic consent! Overall, I am glad I signed up to facilitate this workshop! Thank you, Clark Kerr!

-Get Naked Gasper

Queer Relationships in the Modern Age

Navigating  relationships as a queer person feels like finding a light switch in the dark. It’s quite the journey, as you’ll trip over things and sometimes hit the floor with your face, and it might even feel like it takes years until you find that switch. Sometimes, someone can block your path and keep you away from the light. The light switch represents a state of healthy being and knowledge over queer relationships and issues. At times, we as queer folks will often come out of the closet, unknowingly stumbling into the dark room which holds vast amounts of information, but holds many obstacles which can impede us from obtaining the information. Especially in heteronormative world, for example, where the information to healthy relationships is often cluttered and geared towards one, man-woman dynamic. One must locate themselves in this placement, and recognize that if they are to develop into a healthy queer individual, then they must access the information provided to them if possible.

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, it is important to remember that sexual health, especially on the Berkeley campus is rather important and can easily be obtained at the Tang Center. Valentine’s Day also brings about National Condom Week, in which condoms are widely distributed on Sproul Plaza so that students can obtain safer sex supplies in preparation for the week ahead. Queer folks can take advantage of this, and they can locate these safer sex supplies either on campus or at the Tang Center where dental dams and internal condoms are also accessible. Queer resources are also available at the Tang Center, as Sexperts can offer Healthy Relationship advice and gear it towards queer folks as counseling session are available and brochures providing ample information about queer relationships and resources. Make sure to check us out this semester and this week on Sproul on Savio Steps providing free safer sex supplies!

-Not Your Baby Noel

Condoms!

Listen up y’all! It’s officially February and time for UC Berkeley’s National Condom week. A time of joy, frolicking and a week of all-you-can-take condoms on Sproul from our fabulous SHEP Sexperts! But wait- what did you assume a condom was just now? Did you picture a black glow in the dark condom with pre-lubricated latex? Or did you picture an extra large studded pink strawberry condom? The truth is that there are many different types of condoms, and it’s never safe to assume that there is a “standard preference” for everyone. Within the family of condoms there are as many different types of colors, sizes, materials and flavors as you can imagine! In this blog we will give a brief introduction to the fabulous world of condoms!

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Starting with the most common type of condom we have latex. With an impressive 98% preventative rate against pregnancy and STDs it’s always a good idea to have a box of these on hand for when things get steamy. However, one drawback of using latex condoms though is always the possibility that your partner has a latex allergy. While only 1% of the population has a latex allergy, there are Non-latex condoms at the ready so that everyone can enjoy sexual pleasure! This non-latex condoms though do have a reduces efficacy rate of 95%, but with proper use and lube to reduce friction they should work just fine.

An alternative to non-latex are the infamous Lambskin condoms, which are commonly touted as the “barely-there condoms”. This type of material however, due to the natural pores in the lambskin, do not prevent STDs. While the risk of pregnancy is still being reduced slightly, a better alternative to the “barely-there condom” can be found in the Ultra Thin category. Still providing the protection that latex does, the material is slightly thinner giving some people the amazing feeling of having sex bareback!

Moving right along to condoms that have additives on them, we find pre-lubricated and spermicidal condoms. Both these types of condoms can add an extra source of protection as the added spermicide has a 80% efficacy rate of preventing pregnancy, coupled with proper use brings to a total 97% protection rate. The spermicide itself it safe to use, but it’s important to note that some user may experience irritation on the genital tissues. Pre-lubricated condoms also add to the prevention of pregnancy and STDs as they reduce friction that comes with form the general act of sex and vaginal dryness, and prevent condoms from breaking. On top of this they tend to make sex feel better as the lubrication often eases penetration. While lube can be added to any condom, pre-lubricated or not, it’s important to remember that oil lubricant should not be used with latex condom and silicone lubricant should not be used with silicone toys as both will become damaged and compromise the safety of the user!  

Addressing the lesser-known condoms, we have the insertive and novelty condoms. Insertive condoms (often referred to as female condoms although they can be inserted in the anal canal as well) are found to be 95% effective at preventing pregnancy and STDs and have the added bonus of having the ability to be worn up to three hours in advance to the anticipated sexual experience. They are merely inserted into the canal, and in this instance using the vagina as an example, fingers are used to push the ring supporting the shape of the condom behind the pubic bone to prevent slipping. An important thing to note is that upon penetration you or your partner must hold the condom in place so that it doesn’t slip inside of the chosen body canal.

Other condoms that are typically not used on an everyday basis are novelty condoms. This category includes all different sorts of condoms that you would find at a bachelor or bachelorette party. From glow-in-the-dark to flavored, the only thing that limits this category is your imagination. Most of these condoms are relatively safe to use as many of them are made out of latex. The glow-in-the-dark condoms are a perfect example of this; most are made from latex and are perfectly safe to use. The flavored condoms are also are held to the same standard of safety and should be fine to use during sex with or without a partner. It goes without saying thought that if any type of novelty condoms gives you an allergic reaction or irritates the genital region, their use should be stopped immediately and medical attention should be sought.

Thank you so much for embarking on this journey with me through the world of condoms. Stay safe, sexy, and of course visit us on Sproul or at the Tang Center for all the condoms you could possibly want!

 

Much love,

Naughty Nattie

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Making Barrier Methods Sexy

Barriers method are a form of contraceptive meant to prevent someone from getting pregnant or/and contracting an STI. There are various forms of barrier methods such as condoms, dental dams, gloves, finger cots, diaphragms, and cervicals. This blog will focus on condoms and dental dams. There are two types of condoms, traditions and insertive. They are usually made with latex but can be made with polyurethane or sheepskin.  Dental dams are usually made from latex or polyurethane; they provide protection from STIs during oral sex. Do not be intimidated, barrier Methods can be hot and sexy! The more you use them, the more normal they seem. Stay positive, do not freak out, be open to trying it out. Keep an open mind and put yourself in a mindset that you will be having safe, fun, and consensual sex! WOOHOO. Have barrier method close to you in order to avoid a “killing the moment’” mood. Experiment!.. with different type of lube which can help with sensation!

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Proper Use of Condoms:
NOTE:

-CHECK EXPIRATION DATE BEFORE USE
-DO NOT USE FLAVORED CONDOM IN VAGINA (MAY LEAD TO YEAST INFECTION)

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NOTE: IF USED IN ANUS REMOVE INNER RING AND FOLLOW SAME INSTRUCTIONS

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Keep it fun and sexy!
-Jizzmoan Jasmin

Communication and Healthy Relationships

Have you ever been in a position where you thought, “Damn, if only I spoke up,” or, “If only I asked…” Well I certainly have. It happens to me all the time – when I’m in class, at the grocery store, or even at the library. By asking or clarifying my own wants and needs, I get rid of a sense of uncertainty that makes me feel uncomfortable. In my short 21 years on this planet, I have learned that getting clarification hurts no one and can make a person feel way more at ease. That being said, there are still moments where I don’t speak up due to being shy. But sex and relationships are certainly moments where I make sure I speak up.

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In the Sexual Health Education Program, we like to use the phrase, “Communication is lubrication.” I wholeheartedly stand by this phrase. When it comes to sex and relationships with a partner or partners, it is essential to clarify very important details such as possible STI risks and boundaries, as well as smaller details such as how one is feeling. By discussing these details, you and your partner(s) can figure out the best approach to whatever it is you want to do whether that be vaginal sex, anal sex, or even cooking dinner. That being said, it can be a daunting task to ask questions and to express one’s own feelings and history. That is why I am here to help you. I will give you some tips and tricks on how to feel more comfortable communicating. If you have any other tips and tricks, feel free to comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tip #1-Practice, practice, practice!

At first this may sound weird, but trust me, practicing can help you clarify your thoughts and be more prepared. Before my sexual or relationship debuts, I would talk out loud to myself at random moments throughout the day and say how I feel. This made me comfortable in expressing my feelings and worries out loud. It also made my comfortable listening to my own voice. I have found that in the past I would always over-analyze and overthink any question I had or anything I said. By practicing, you will be teaching yourself to pace and be more comfortable talking about important details.  I slowly progressed into saying my boundaries out loud as well as saying what I want. I made up hypothetical situations in my head and would talk those through out loud. By doing this I figured out my own limits.

Tip #2-Start small

After practicing for a while, I decided to practice on my friends and family. I made sure to communicate my wants and needs in a clear way. This helped me build confidence. In addition, I also learned to listen more. I listened to my friends’ and family’s input and used their ideas to come to a conclusion. If I didn’t like something, I would speak up. If I felt uncomfortable, happy, sad, etc., I would communicate it with those closest to me.

Tip #3- Look at the big picture

When it comes to sexual encounters or relationships, it is important to look at the big picture. It may be awkward at first to ask someone when they last got tested, but it is worth it. By clearing up information about sexual history and boundaries, the sexual encounter will be less worrisome and you as well as your partner(s) will know what precautions to take. Also, asking gets way easier with time. Now, I can never imagine having a sexual encounter without asking the other person about their sexual history. In relationships, asking a partner(s) about something or conveying feelings and ideas that may be on your mind will prevent pent up feelings and future outbursts. It can also make you and your partner feel much more closer.

Tip #4-Encourage your partner to do the same

While you ask questions and express your feelings, encourage your partner(s) to do the same. This helps establish a mutual feeling of trust. When your partner(s) shares their thoughts, then you all can come up with solutions, safer sex methods, etc. that will make both of you feel at ease and safe. In my experience I have found that mutual sharing in relationships has made the relationship stronger. It shows my partner how I respect myself and them as well. By encouraging the other person to share, it will make you more likely to share as well.

Tip#5-Remember….

You are an amazing person. You only have one you so make sure you get the best. Clear communication will help ensure this. Comment down below any ideas you have to make communication more comfortable.

-Vulvalicious VD

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Me, Myself, and I: Let’s Give A Hand To Masturbation

“Pictures in my mind on replay

I’m gonna touch the pain away

I know how to scream my own name

Scream my name”

    -”Love Myself,” Hailee Steinfeld

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Yas, you go Hailee! Pleasure derived from anything can be MIND BLOWING, but the best part is that we don’t need to rely on anyone else for it besides ourselves. Giving ourselves good vibes is one of many ways to show self love, and, in regards to sexual health, can bring about feelings of calmness and relaxation. Masturbation or solo sex can be used for anything we choose, whether it be self “sexploration,” a much needed stress relief, or just because! Before we get into the benefits and safety aspect of it, let’s debunk some myths about masturbation first.

Contrary to popular belief, it will not make the genitalia smaller, cause hair growth in funny places, or cause infertility. It also doesn’t mean someone will get addicted to it once they start and that people in relationships don’t do it. Masturbation, itself, isn’t unhealthy and could actually be great for someone’s mental and physical health because it releases endorphins that block pain receptors.

  Some Reasons for why people engage in solo sex (big thanks to Planned Parenthood):

  1. Safest sexual activity out there – there are no risks of contracting STIs or getting pregnant
  2. Discover what you like and what feels good to you
  3. Release sexual tension
  4. Reduce stress
  5. Help you sleep better
  6. Improve your self-esteem and body image
  7. Help treat some sexual problems
  8. Relieve menstrual cramps and muscle tension
  9. Strengthen muscle tone in your pelvic and anal areas (meaning bigger orgasms!)
  10. Because they want to!

Now that we went over why someone would want to masturbate, let’s go over some ways to love yourself safer. Some things to keep in mind before a solo sex session(s) pertain to hygiene, cleanliness, and harm reduction.

  1. Scrub-a-dub-dub!
    1. Even though you can’t get an STI from masturbating, make sure everything you will be using (like sex toys, towels, socks, pillows, fingers, hands, etc.) is clean to avoid infections. Sidenote: trim your nails when using the fingers to avoid any discomfort.
  2. Like-and-like don’t always go together
    1. When using a sex toy, remember to not mix like and like. This means that when using a silicone sex toy, try not to use silicone lube because it will degrade the sex toy and allow bacteria to hide out in microtears, but a traditional condom over the toy is an easy fix for this.
  3. Only the mouth can appreciate taste!
    1. Inserting anything flavored (such as flavored lube and condoms) into the anus or vagina should be avoided when possible because the sugars can mess with the pH of the orifice, especially with the vagina.

Solo sex is one of many ways to show yourself some love, but it’s totally normal to not masturbate at all, too! “Normal” to SHEP is anything that makes you feel like yourself because that is your normal! So whether you decide to be sexually active or not, there are lots of ways to experience pleasure that is beyond mainstream. Do pleasure in your own way as long as it feels right and you can’t get enough of it!

-Clitty Crystal

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Citation: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sex-and-relationships/masturbation

National Condom Week: Sexual Debuts and Consent

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YOU DESERVE TO BE SAFE. When engaging in sexual debuts every individual involved should know exactly what and how much they are agreeing to and express intent to participate freely and voluntarily. Sexual Debuts? What is that?! A sexual debut is any new form of sexual contact being experienced for the first time OR any sexual contact being experienced for the first time with a new partner. There are various reasons to engage and not engage in a sexual debut. Reasons to engage might be related to puberty, love, lust, boredom, or conformity. Reasons not to engage might be related to personal choice, religious values, preventing exposure to STIs, avoiding unwanted pregnancy, or simply a lack of desire to do so. When talking about potential sexual debuts individuals involved must try to be direct, provide accurate sexual health information, use proper terminology to avoid confusion, and suspend any unnecessary judgement to maximize the best experience possible. University Health Services and the Sexual Health Education Program firmly believe in fostering a culture of consent within the Berkeley community. Our program likes to take consent to a more profound level and emphasize ENTHUSIASTIC CONSENT. Enthusiastic consent removes the notion that passive agreements to sexual activity is NOT ENOUGH. We could examine this with the silence sometimes associated with sexual activity. Silence can be a form of what non-consent sounds like. Non-consensual sex is a HUGE NO. If you are confused or lost about what boundaries you can and cannot reach when partaking in sexual debuts remember to ALWAYS ASK YOUR PARTNER. ASKING IS SEXY. ASKING LEADS TO RESPECTFUL, CONSENSUAL, GOOD SEX.

– Get NAKED Gasper

 

Boundaries and Consent

Hey everyone!

This is Nip-Slip Nick back with a blog to talk about boundaries and consent. I know that recently there has been a lot of discussion around consent and some people even take it a step further and joke about it, but let’s be serious for a moment to get into the nitty gritty of what consent is and what kinds of boundaries are.

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First, when we are talking about consent in the sexual health field we are talking about consent towards sexual activity. Pulling from institutions such as UC Berkeley and Brown University, the definitions of consent are as follows:

“Knowing exactly what I’m agreeing to. Expressing intent to participate. Deciding freely and voluntarily to participate.” (UC Berkeley Empower U)

“Consent is an affirmative and willing agreement to engage in specific forms of sexual contact with another person. Consent requires an outward demonstration, through mutually understandable words or actions, indicating that an individual has freely chosen to engage in sexual contact.  Consent cannot be obtained through: (1) the use of coercion or force or (2) by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another individual.” (Brown University Website)

As you can tell from both universities stances, they take the Yes means Yes approach which stresses the importance of explicit consent and nullifies the prospect of implied consent. This is because many individuals have trouble explicitly saying no especially to people they care about or would potentially engage in sexual contact with. One important thing to keep in mind is YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND AT ANY TIME! This means that just because you say yes to kissing does not mean you also say yes to taking off your clothes. You are allowed to stop saying yes at any time, even during an activity.

Now, we all have our little fantasies here and there so I will touch a little bit upon hard and soft boundaries as it pertains to kink. Hard boundaries are things discussed with your partner that are no allowed under any circumstances such as telling them to not hit your back because you are prone to back injuries. Soft limits are something that a person hesitates about or places strict conditions, but with informed consent may try it out despite apprehension. It may be a specific type of play like pretend interrogation but exclusively with only one playmate or such. Consent definitely plays a big part in regards to establishing a safe, fun, way to explore kink and play.

Stay sweet, sexy, & savage

-Nip-Slip Nick

 

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