The answers to all your itching and burning sex questions
Sex education isn’t something that students are guaranteed to have before coming to college. Even those who do get it are still liable to have questions while in school. Sex is even sexier when the people participating are informed, so Student Life decided to interview Ashley Kuykendall, the sexual health promotion coordinator at the Habif Health and Wellness Center. She shared with us just a bit of her vast knowledge on sexual health gained from working in the field of sex ed with college students for seven years.
Student Life: What range of procedures will SHS perform on campus; for example, IUD insertions, arm bars, ultrasounds etc.?
Ashley Kuykendall: At Habif, we can insert IUDs, insert implants into the arm, remove IUDs, remove implants and also do PAP tests. For more complex procedures that require an ultrasound machine, students would need to go off campus. For people who might have a really complex IUD insertion, we may or may not be able to do it. Some people who get an IUD inserted have to do it with an ultrasound machine, and we might not do that here.
SL: For those that engage in oral sex without dental dams or condoms, should they ask for extra tests when getting STI testing?
AK: Yes, that’s my favorite question! So, you need to ask for oral STI screening if you’re having unprotected oral sex. What a lot of students don’t know is that if you go through what is a typical STI screen, where you might do a urine sample and a blood draw, if you have an oral STI it’s not going to show up. So you have to do site-specific testing. Same thing is true for anal sex. You have to have site-specific testing for anal sex and oral sex.
SL: Will those services be offered when free STI screening occurs on campus?
AK: They aren’t, but you can get them at Habif on campus.
SL: What is a dental dam?
AK: A dental dam or an oral dam is a latex sheet that’s flat that somebody can use for oral sex on a vulva or an anus. If you don’t have an oral dam you can cut open a condom and use that or you can use non-microwavable saran wrap. The non-microwavable is really important because if it is microwavable, the pores on the saran wrap are too big, so STI bacteria and viruses can get through. If you have the non-microwavable option, sometimes it can be fun too because its more see-through and also is a little bit more accessible sometimes. Oral dams are kind of small so they might not work very well with some people’s bodies.
SL: How often should sex toys be washed and how should you wash them?
AK: It depends on the sex toy. Generally you should wash sex toys both before and after you use them. Some people are like, “Why do you need to wash them before?”, and it’s usually because sometimes they’ve been sitting in a drawer or under your bed, and any of that dust or debris that’s been collecting on them can be an irritant in the body. If you use condoms on top of the sex toys—which is a good idea, especially if you are going to be using them with different partners or on different parts of your body—then it’s a little bit less important to wash them super thoroughly; you can usually just rinse them. Silicone toys can be boiled, for example, or put in the dishwasher. Other kinds of toys have specific instructions; if they’re porous or non-porous they need to be washed differently. There are some companies that sell sex toy soap, usually that’s pretty unnecessary. You can use any kind of non-scented soap that you would use on your body on the sex toy with warm water and clean it that way.
SL: Lube. Do you really need it?
AK: I love that question, too. So, lube has a lot of benefits. It can make sex a lot more comfortable for many people, especially for folks who are having anal sex. The anus is a non-lubricating part of the body and so any added lubrication is the only lubrication that is going to exist, so for that it’s really important. It can help to reduce general discomfort, but also tears or fissures of the tissue of either the vagina or the anus, which can help reduce your risk for STIs and just make it more comfortable in general. It’s important to find a kind of lube that you like and works well with your body. So there are some that have a lot of sugar in them, for example, and then it can cause yeast infections. This happens a lot with like flavored lube or flavored condoms—you never want to use that inside the vagina or the anus because it can cause infections because of all the sugar. In the same way, you don’t want to use oil-based lube like lotion or coconut oil or vaseline or anything like that with condoms because it will degrade the latex and cause them to break. So, forms of lube that are water based or silicon-based are usually a little bit better for safer sex.
SL: How do you prepare for anal sex?
AK: So, there’s really a wide range of things you can do to prepare for anal sex, and you don’t really have to do any of them. So, it’s kind of up to you and your comfort level. Some people suggest that you should try to go to the bathroom and have a bowel movement before you have anal sex. Some people suggest that you should engage in douching. I would say that those things are about your comfort level, I don’t suggest douching because it can be harmful for the body to remove the things that would otherwise keep you safe and keep you from getting infections. All of the good stuff is removed with all of the potentially “bad stuff” when you douche. My suggestions would be to make sure you’ve taken a shower and that generally your body is clean, and from there it’s really important to use condoms for anal sex and also lube… You can get infections through anal sex that aren’t considered STIs. E. Coli, for example, is something that is passed through fecal matter and if you come in contact with someone’s fecal matter or even your own fecal matter through anal sex—whether it’s penetrative anal sex or oral anal sex—you can get that E. Coli infection. It can show up in your stomach and give you flu-like symptoms, it can also be an infection on your genitals, so it’s really important to have safe anal sex in that regard.
SL: Peeing after sex, is it that big of a deal?
AK: Yes. It will help reduce your risk for urinary tract infections—which could then become bladder infections—and generally helps reduce your risk for infection. What it won’t do is prevent pregnancy. It won’t prevent an STI but is a good way to get any kinds of bacteria out of your urinary tract.
SL: What entails a PAP smear?
AK: So, generally a pap smear is just going to be a procedure where a provider will use a speculum to hold open the vaginal canal so they can visually look at the cervix and any abnormalities and then there will be sort of a scraping of the cervix, which sounds harsher than it is. The tool looks kind of like a mascara brush, and they basically just scrape the cells around the inside of the cervix, which sort of looks like a donut. So it would be like putting the mascara brush in the center of the donut and sort of scraping in a circular motion to get those cells off and then they send the cell cultures off to the lab and they look for any sort of abnormal cells.
SL: Is there different protocol for condom usage in three-ways?
AK: Different protocol, no. But the protocol that is important is that any time a condom is being used in one person’s body in one specific body part, if that condom is going to move to another person’s body or another body part, on that person or another person, it needs to be switched. So the principle is, you use one condom for one person’s specific body part and then change from there. That’s especially important if you are having both vaginal and anal sex to prevent STIs and other kinds of infections.