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Sexual Health Awareness Week

Sexual Health Awareness Week, or SHAW, is happening on the UC Berkeley Campus from October 24-28th, 2011. Come check us out on Sproul for free safer sex kits, fun games, and a raffle… and if you simply can’t get enough of us, join us for our sexy evening events: Aphrodisiacs and Sexy Food, Women’s Chat Circle…

#SHEPsexytips

YOU are cordially invited to #SHEPsexytips

Debuting Sunday, November 15, 2015 At 12PM (PT)


What: A Sexy Tip is a sex-positive message that promotes sexual health. There will be an overarching theme for each month, and every week there will be a new sexy tip that ties back into the theme. Tips will be short & sweet and visually appealing in hopes of catching your attention in the midst of whatever is going on in your life.

Why: Why not? Let’s be honest… in such a tech-savvy fast-paced society, many people don’t have time to read every article that comes up on their feed. Sometimes, all someone has time for is a quick image and a couple of words. With this in mind, the goal of #SHEPsexytips is to educate in a concise, effective manner.

When: EVERY Sunday! And sometimes on special themed days during the week!

Where: Tips will be posted on this blog, our Facebook page, and our Instagram! Follow our hashtag #SHEPsexytips to see all of our tips up to date.

Jonathan’s Random Act of Sexiness

picI did my shift for National Condom Day(February 13, 2015) from 1:10 to 2:30 and in that time a lot of interesting things happened. Since the table was already manned by people, I decided to hand out individual condoms to people walking by Sather Gate. At first, the act of giving condoms to people is awkward, very awkward. Reactions were varied and interesting. Some people took offense and recoiled in disgust for some reason. Others laughed and happily accepted a handful of condoms with a smile. After a while, the initial awkwardness began to wear off and I was eventually more confident to ask people if they wanted condoms. Though I was comfortable asking people if they wanted condoms, asking if people wanted lube was pretty embarrassing. When my shift ended, I helped deconstruct the table for SHEP and carried supplies back to the Tang Center.

Overall, the experience of handing out condoms was pretty awkward, but my apprehension eventually faded away and I was ok with standing there with a handful of condoms in my hands. People for the most part were friendly about accepting condoms; many were enthusiastic to take multiple condoms and lube and that made me feel less awkward. Others were rude and gave me a bad look for wanting to hand them a condom. I think if I had to do this again, I’d still be awkward, but I’d still have fun watching people react in various ways to being offered a condom.

 

Amy’s Random Act of Sexiness

Pi1My random act of sexiness was definitely an interesting experience. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be weird, and I’d just be like, “Hey kids, have some condoms!” But at first it was actually really awkward. People just kinda looked at me and rejected the safer sex bags and seemed very skeptical. So, instead of walking around and approaching people I decided to just stand near Sather Gate and yell things.My random act of sexiness was definitely an interesting experience. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be weird, and I’d just be like, “Hey kids, have some condoms!” But at first it was actually really awkward. People just kinda looked at me and rejected the safer sex bags and seemed very skeptical. So, instead of walking around and approaching people I decided to just stand near Sather Gate and yell things.

This seemed to be much more effective. For some reason, people tend to respond better to holding out bags and yelling “Hey! Safer Sex! National Condom Week!” than to going up to them and politely asking if they would like some condoms. In retrospect, the first approach was probably a little creepy, but once I figured out that you can just yell things and people will gladly accept condoms, they went pretty fast. Overall, the experience was pretty fun. Some people were enthusiastic and accepting and others just thought I was weird. But that’s okay, because I am.

 

pic2When I first got to the table, I was in charge of making condom lollipops (taping condoms to lollipops). Shortly after, the penis suit became available for the shift, so I decided to dress up as the penis and hand out condoms. I was a little too short for the suit, so I had to pick up my balls in order to walk around, but I think I wore it pretty well. I enjoyed being dressed as the penis. It definitely brought a lot of laughs, and I took so many “dick pics” with students.

It was a little awkward when one of my GSIs rode by on her bicycle and made eye contact with me, but I have a surprisingly low amount of shame. Only a few people that I knew recognized me, and they were all happy to take condoms and pictures. It seemed that many people walking by were more likely to accept condoms from a giant penis, rather than regular students. Perhaps they took pity on me, or maybe just appreciated the fact that there was a giant penis on campus.

 

 

Outreach: SHAW ’13 from In Me Isabel

This was my first Sexual Health Awareness Week! Monday was all about Women’s Health, and my fellow SHEPper Lick Me Lizzi and I wore the penis costume around Sproul. Even though that outfit was hot in the perfect mid-morning sun, it got a lot of people interested in talking to me about sexual health-if not just to take a picture with the penis. For Wednesday, STI health day, a female student came up to me and asked what I was handing out condoms for. I said that condoms can be used to prevent unintended pregnancy and STI transmission. She said she doesn’t need that because she is on the birth control pill, and I jumped at the opportunity to inform her on one of the biggest misconceptions students seem to have on campus: birth control does NOT prevent STI transmission! Unfortunately, after telling her this, she looked scared, but then I directed her to the SHEP table on the Savio Steps and gave her information about STI testing and counseling resources at the Tang Center. Although that news probably came as an unwanted shock to this student, I’m glad I got to give her correct information about this super important concept so that she can take better care of her own sexual health. A lot of the work we do as SHEPpers wows, shocks, and sometimes scares people, but at the end of the day, we hope they are better off health wise knowing some of the risks and more empowered to pursue a healthy and rewarding sex life.

isis–In Me Isabel

Nymphomaniacs Chalking for SHAW

Nymphomaniacs group chalking for SHAWOn October 18th, The Nymphomaniacs went to chalk on Bancroft. This portion of Bancroft led uphill to International House, towards the fraternity and sorority houses, co-ops, dorms, and other student living arrangements. We made sure our chalking would hit a large proportion of Berkeley students.

Per request of Kabazzah Kia, we made our first stop in front of his fraternity to announce Kabazzah Kia’s love for SHEP and chalked in bright colors “Cum ask us about safe sex.” Just writing the word “sex” on the paved sidewalk was entertaining as people who passed by were turning their necks and  bending sideways to read what we wrote on the ground. “Sex” is such a powerful word that has the power to throw people off guard and grab their attention. Magic Mike had the idea to draw a penis ejaculating onto the word “cum” to make it more descriptive and visual.

We worked our way up to International house where we chalked “Are you a pro/anxious/interested in safe sex? Talk with a SHEP Sexpert” and Magic Mike chalked “Wanna picture with a penis? 10/28-10/31 on Sproul” and you better believe it, the Penis will be present and Sproul everyday of SHAW. To add a special touch, we alternated drawing penises and vaginas as arrows that led to our beautiful sidewalk masterpieces. We drew vaginas and penises in different shapes and sizes because everybody’s genitalia is different from one another. And that in itself is one of the magnificent parts of sex and our sexual organs.

~ Slip ‘n Slide Summer

Sexual Pleasure: Solo Edition

When sexual health and safe sex are talked about, it’s often assumed that what we referring to as “sex” requires two people, and often people imagine heterosexual intercourse, i.e. penetrative penis-vagina sex. However, a huge part of sexual health is knowing your own mind and body, not just your partner’s, and one of the best ways to do that is through masturbation.

So what exactly is masturbation? Masturbation is the self-stimulation of genitals and other body parts (there are other erogenous zones on the human body, such as the anus or nipples) to achieve sexual arousal and pleasure, often to the point of orgasm. Stimulation can be achieved through massaging/rubbing with hands and fingers, streams of water, sex toys, and various other ways.

Masturbation is generally regarded by society as a normal, healthy activity, but many people stigmatize masturbation as a perverse act. However, masturbation is very common: in one national study, 95% of males and 89% of females reported that they have masturbated. Many different people masturbate during various stages of lives: young children, teenagers, adults, the elderly, people having sex with a partner, and people who have never had a sexual experience with another person before. In fact, masturbation is the first sexual act experienced by most people.

Other concerns that comes to mind for many people are the risks/safety associated with masturbation. There are many health myths associated with masturbation, such as people who masturbate will lose the ability to have children, lose the ability to orgasm during intercourse, get STD’s, grow hair on their palms, etc. However, the medical community considers masturbation to be safe, as long as done safely and in moderation. And by “safely,” I mean respecting one’s anatomy, such as being careful in choosing what objects to rub/insert on and into genitalia and body cavities and how vigorously these areas are stimulated.

The main reason most people masturbate is because it feels good. However, as I said earlier, masturbation is an important contributor to overall sexual health and pleasure. Masturbating is important for exploring one’s own body and sexuality. In other words, it’s an easy way for people to learn and practice what feels good for them, which varies greatly from person to person. This can translate to masturbation becoming a fulfilling and enjoyable part of peoples’ lives but also to more enjoyable sexual experiences with a partner.

So if you already masturbate, good for you and I hope this article has eased any of your concerns. If you haven’t masturbated before, I highly encourage you to try! You should try it somewhere you won’t be disturbed by anyone, like in your own room (if you live with a roommate, hopefully they stick to a preset schedule) or the shower. This way, you can have privacy and relax so you can explore yourself deeply and fully.

Healthy and Happy Together

I like to think about relationships in the same way that I think about sex:

  • What does it mean to be in a relationship?
  • What types of relationships can people be having?
  • What are some healthy and unhealthy signs in a relationship?
  • How can one make a relationship emotionally and physically safe for all partners involved?

Simply, a relationship is what you define it to be. Out of curiosity I looked up the definition for relationship according to dictionary.com. As expected, the definition for a relationship is very broad and open to interpretation. A relationship is defined as “a connection, association, or involvement, connection between peoples by blood or marriage, an emotional or other connection between people, or a sexual involvement; affair.” Specific types of relationships that can exist within the umbrella term are friends, family, casual/acquaintances, and romantic/intimate. Most people will have all of these relationships in some form or another at any given time in their lives. So the question is how can you keep all of these relationships healthy?

I like thinking about relationships as existing on a spectrum that ranges from healthy to unhealthy to abusive. If you feel that a relationship is moving in an unhealthy way, you can make the choice of working on the relationship or ending it. The spectrum appeals to me because it is important to remember that relationships have many different aspects and that people have different needs. What may be the most important aspect of the relationship for you may not be the most important aspect for another. Healthy relationships include communication, respect, trust, honesty, equality, loving and taking care of you, enjoying personal time, and making mutual choices around sexual boundaries and safer sex methods. Of course, healthy relationships among family and friends may look very different from healthy relationships with sexual or romantic partners. Nevertheless, a healthy relationship is one that allows for positive growth, security, and happiness.

Some aspects of an unhealthy relationship include lack of communication, disrespect, lack of trust, dishonesty, one person attempting to control or pressure another, not spending time with others, being pressured into sexual activity, and ignoring the consequences of sex. This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but only a place to start thinking about the important aspects of a relationship for you and how someone may or may not be meeting your needs. On the opposite end of the spectrum is an abusive relationship. Characteristics of an abusive relationship can include feeling trapped in the relationship, communicating in a way that is insulting or demeaning, mistreatment of the feelings and safety of another, making false accusations to justify physical or verbal harm, denial of abusive actions, feelings of being controlled, forced isolation, and forced sexual activity.

If you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship of any sort, it is important that you take care of yourself, be safe, and reach out for help. If you are wondering about what to do in your relationship, you can educate yourself about relationship violence and what it entails, talk with people that you trust, or seek help from a health center, counseling office, faith-based organization, or a hotline.

At the end of the day, relationships shouldn’t hurt and you deserve to be in healthy relationships. The greatest thing that I think anyone can carry with them when entering new relationships is The Relationship Bill of Rights, which I have attached a link to below. You have the right to a healthy relationship. Those of us living in the dorms of the UC Berkeley campus are in luck because the health workers will be promoting healthy relationships the entire month of November.

So remember, stay healthy and stay happy!

Relationship Bill of Rights:

Sources:

The False Aphrodisiacs

Aphrodisiacs increase sexual arousal, raise certain hormone levels and in short terms, get people ready to “do some deeds.”  Some aphrodisiacs gained popular fame for their bodily pleasures and when asked to list off a few aphrodisiacs, most would yell out oysters, chocolate, lavender…wine!

Let us bring our attention to that last one on the list.  Many call alcohol a social lubricant, some even may say it promotes sexual activity, but can it rightfully be called an aphrodisiac?

In the break down of the above definition of aphrodisiacs, alcohol doesn’t always fit the bill.  Alcoholic beverages can in fact make you hot and heavy (the phenomena of an “alcohol blanket” that keeps a body warm in seemingly freezing temperatures, and lets face the fact that most alcohols out there when drunken in large quantities will give you a little more cushion for the pushin’) but sexual arousal is not always the result of intoxication.  When consuming alcohol, hormones are released differently like aphrodisiacs, but whether it helps people have sexual activity is often debated.
From the physiological point of view, alcohol seems to be more of a “cockblock” than turn on.  Alcohol may be thought of as a sexual promoter because it sometimes activates hormones that increase libido and often vastly decreases many of those inhibitions that are present during the day.  Reality shows that alcoholic beverages suppress many vital parts of the sexual response cycle.

According to an issue of the British Medical Bulletin, alcohol consumption causes testosterone production in males to decrease, placing a bit of a wet blanket on most male’s libido and arousal.  Many males have a harder time than usual achieving an erection that has gained a popular name in the halls as “whiskey dick.”  The effects continue when many also have more difficulty or more latency when reaching climax.
Females have quite a different physiological reaction (one of mother nature’s cruel jokes).  Females begin to release more testosterone then usual when drinking, which does in fact increase sexual libido, but the stages of the sexual response cycle suffer. In many, it reduces vaginal fluids to be released, decreasing lubrication as well as causes decreased sensitivity during climax concerning both the intensity and the ability to have orgasms.

Both males and females have reported increased sexual arousal during activity while intoxicated, but when monitored, results show the psychological and physiological effects do not match up according to a study released in The New England Journal of Medicine. This may prove that physical sexual arousal may be often confused for decreased inhibitions.

Alcohol may not live up to everything its sexual reputation puts out but there are aphrodisiacs out there that provide nothing but the arousal they promise.  Come find out about the beauty of sexual foods on upper Sproul on Monday with SHEP for Sexual Health Awareness Week!

Tang Tuesday

When you’re developing the first signs and symptoms of a cold, what do you do?  Drink plenty of fluids, get lots of rest, stock up on throat drops, and visit your friendly Tang physician.  Most everyone thinks of the Tang Center as a valuable resource for renewing, improving, and maintaining their health.  But what many don’t realize is that beyond treating the flu, UC Berkeley’s Tang Center is the perfect place for many of your sexual health needs!

The Sexual Health Education Program (SHEP), run through the Health Promotion Unit of Tang, can assist students with most concerns, inquiries, and needs.  SHEP Interns receive extensive training, making them the perfect people to visit for a Sexual Health Education Appointment (SHE).  During this 45-minute meeting, you’re welcome to express all thoughts or questions related to the world of sexual health.

Whether you have SHIP or not, the Tang Center is an amazing place to stock up on all the sexy necessities!  The Tang pharmacy offers a wide variety of safer sex supplies, including condoms, lubricant, and dental dams, for extremely cheap.  In fact, you can purchase 10 condoms for only $2!  So instead of dishing out the big bucks at your local pharmacy, stop by the big blue and orange building on Bancroft!

On top of all that, the Tang Center is your one-stop shop for STI testing.  Want to know your status?  Make an appointment today to get tested for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and more!

Tang: uhs.berkeley.edu

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