Answers

Answers 2017-07-17T15:50:18+00:00

You’re not alone… many people have questions about reproductive and sexual health. Search our database of frequently asked questions, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, submit your question and we’ll get back to you and/or add the question and answer to our database.

Myth: Hardly anyone gets an STD these days. 2017-07-29T08:17:08+00:00

Fact: Millions of people get an STD every year. You might think you won’t because:

  • You only have sex with one partner
  • You’d never have sex with someone who has an STD
  • You use birth control
Myth: Only people with lots of sex partners get an STD. 2017-07-29T08:14:26+00:00

Fact: You can get an STD from just one partner if he or she has an STD. You can get an STD the first time you have sex if your partner has an STD. The younger you are, the more vulnerable your body is to an STD. If you have several partners, the chances increase that you’ll be with someone who has an STD because it is common.

Myth: You can’t get an STD from oral or anal sex. 2017-07-29T08:13:00+00:00

Fact: Whether you give or receive, you can get an STD from unprotected oral sex. Some people think oral sex doesn’t “count” as real sex. But, oral sex is sex. It can bring up the same feelings as other kind of sex and put you at risk for STD. STD risks are actually higher with anal sex! An STD will pass from one moist body part (genitals) to another (mouth). Many STDs including herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis B and syphilis, can be spread during oral sex. Always used a condom when you have sex to protect you and your partner. Also, get tested and get peace of mind.

Myth: If you or your partner have an STD, you can tell by looking. 2017-07-29T08:12:06+00:00

Fact: If you’re sexually active, the only way to be sure you aren’t infected with an STD is to get tested. Many STDs develop slowly and have little, or no, symptoms. Some are curable, some are not. But all STDs, if left untreated, can lead to significant health problems. So don’t wait until you see something weird or start feeling sick. Get yourself tested today. Ask your partner to get tested and put both your minds at ease.

Myth: You can only catch herpes when your partner is having an outbreak. 2017-07-29T08:10:52+00:00

Fact: It may surprise you, but many people who have herpes don’t know it. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 750,000 people are infected with herpes every year! Herpes symptoms can lie dormant for weeks before an outbreak occurs. So even if your partner looks and feels healthy, they could be infected and pass the herpes virus to you. Only an STD test that screens for herpes can tell you for sure whether you have it or not. Be smart – get tested and ask your partner to get tested too.

Myth: Only certain “types” of people get STDs. 2017-07-29T08:09:43+00:00

Fact: Like all things in life, it’s best not to judge a book by its cover. People from all walks of life can (and do) get infected with STDs. STDs don’t care if you’re straight or gay, male or female, old or young – anyone who is sexually active is at risk. With nearly 20 million new infections diagnosed across the U.S. every year, it’s just smart to get tested and know the status of your own sexual health.

Myth: Having sex in a pool or hot tub is okay because chlorine will kill off STDs. 2017-07-29T08:08:40+00:00

Fact: This myth is a classic, and it’s completely false. Neither chlorine nor hot water will kill the bacteria and viruses that cause STDs. And while condoms can help you have safer sex, latex condoms can break down in a hot tub. So don’t count on the pool for protection. Get tested and be sure you are STD-free.

Myth: You can only get an STD from semen. 2017-07-29T08:06:20+00:00

Fact: Some STDs, like herpes and syphilis, can be spread with skin-to-skin contact. For example, during a herpes outbreak, active sores appear. When these sores come into contact with your skin or other moist areas like your mouth or throat, the herpes virus can spread. Getting tested is the only way to be sure you haven’t been exposed or contracted an STD.

Myth: The Pill prevents STDs. 2017-07-29T08:06:45+00:00

Fact: The Pill does not prevent STDs. It is only designed to prevent pregnancy. If you are using the Pill because you think it provides protection against STDs, you need to get tested.

Myth: Chlamydia and gonorrhea aren’t a big deal and they go away on their own. 2017-07-29T08:03:15+00:00

Fact: Although chlamydia and gonorrhea are both curable, they will not go away on their own. If these infections aren’t treated, they can create long-term sexual health problems for both men and women. Play it safe: get tested for these STDs. If your test results are positive, a simple prescription antibiotic will put you on the road to recovery.

Myth: You can get HIV or an STD from getting a tattoo or through body piercing. 2017-07-29T08:07:09+00:00

Fact: This is true. There can be a risk for HIV or other blood-borne infection, like hepatitis B or C if the instruments used for piercing or tattooing are not sterilized or disinfected between clients. Any instrument used to pierce or cut the skin should be used once and thrown away. Ask the staff at the parlor about their equipment and what precautions they use. They should be willing to do this….otherwise, don’t get pierced or tattooed there.

Myth: You can’t get an STD if your partner is a virgin. 2017-07-29T07:57:15+00:00

Fact: Depending on how your partner defines being a virgin, it is possible for them to have contracted an STD. Your partner may not have had vaginal sex but may have had oral sex with someone and still consider themselves a virgin. There are some STDs, such as herpes and HPV which are passed through skin-to-skin contact even if no penetration has taken. It’s important to discuss all sexual activity with your partner and always practice safer sex.

Myth: You can get an STD from a toilet seat. 2017-07-29T07:56:07+00:00

Fact: You get an STD by having sex (vaginal, oral or anal) or by skin-to-skin touching – not from toilet seats.

Myth: Two condoms are better than one. 2017-07-29T07:42:34+00:00

Fact: It seems logical but it’s just not true. During sex, the condoms rub against each other. This friction can cause them to rip, tear or break. Stick with the sexual health experts on this one: doctors, nurses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and condom makers all agree that one condom equals safer sex.

What is HIV and AIDS? 2017-07-28T16:34:39+00:00

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV attacks the body’s immune system. Persons infected with HIV are more likely to become ill from infections and disease that healthy persons usually can fight off.

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a disease you get when HIV destroys your body’s immune system.

How does someone get HIV? 2017-07-28T16:33:59+00:00

HIV is found in the blood, semen and vaginal secretions of infected people and can be spread in the following ways:

  • Having unprotected sex — vaginal, anal or oral — with an HIV-infected person (male or female)
  • Sharing needles or injection equipment with an HIV-infected person to inject drugs, including hormones, insulin or steroids
  • From an HIV-infected woman to her baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
  • Before 1985, some people were infected with HIV through blood transfusions or use of blood products
  • Since 1985, blood products have been screened for HIV, so infection through a blood transfusion is extremely rare
How is HIV not spread? 2017-07-28T16:32:50+00:00

HIV is not spread through casual contact such as everyday activities that do not involve bodily fluids.

You cannot get HIV by:

  • Sitting next to someone
  • Shaking hands
  • Giving a hug
  • Using public facilities (restrooms, drinking fountains, restaurants or swimming pools)
  • Insect bites
  • Donating blood
  • Dry kissing (though kissing can spread other STDs such as herpes)
What does HIV do to a person’s body and how long does it take? 2017-07-28T16:30:49+00:00

Some people infected with HIV may feel healthy. Others may have symptoms that include unexplained tiredness, swollen glands or lymph nodes, dry cough or shortness of breath (not from a cold), fever, chills or night sweats, unexplained weight loss, persistent diarrhea or unusual spots on the skin or in the mouth. Remember, these symptoms are common in other illnesses as well. If these symptoms don’t go away, you should see a doctor.

People with HIV can develop signs of infection anywhere from months to years after being infected. About half of the people with HIV develop AIDS within 10 years, but the time between infection with HIV and the onset of AIDS can vary greatly.

Can I tell if someone is infected with HIV? 2017-07-28T16:29:18+00:00

No. Many people with HIV show no signs of infection. However, being infected means HIV is in the body for the rest of their lives, and they can infect others if they engage in behaviors that can transmit the virus.

How can I reduce my risk of getting HIV? 2017-07-28T16:28:12+00:00

Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent transmission of STDs, including HIV. This includes oral sex.

Use a new latex condoms correctly every time you have vaginal, anal or oral. If you use a lubricant, be sure it is water-based.

Avoid drugs and alcohol because they can increase your chances of infection and can lead to risky behaviors.

Never share needles or injection equipment. Sharing needles or equipment to inject drugs, hormones, insulin or steroids — even once — can transmit HIV. This is because HIV from an infected person’s blood can remain in a needle or injection equipment and can then be injected into the bloodstream of the next person using the equipment.

Is there treatment for HIV infection? 2017-07-28T16:25:28+00:00

There is no cure for AIDS and, once you have HIV, you are infected for life. If you are infected with HIV, the virus slowly weakens your ability to fight illness. There are, however, treatments and medicines that can help your body resist the effects of the virus. They slow the growth of HIV and delay or prevent certain life-threatening conditions.

How can I learn my HIV status? 2017-07-28T16:24:51+00:00

The only way to tell if you’ve been infected with HIV is to be tested. You should consider taking an HIV test if

  • you are a man who has had sex with other men;
  • you have shared injection needles or other equipment;
  • you have had sex with one or more partners whose sex and drug-using behaviors are unknown to you;
  • you have had sex with someone who is infected with HIV or who falls into one of the above groups;
  • you or your partner are pregnant or considering pregnancy (early treatment can help to protect babies of HIV-infected mothers from being born with HIV)

An HIV test can be done using either a blood or an oral specimen. Anonymous (no names) and confidential testing is available; it’s your choice. It may be done at a doctor’s office, a public health department, a community agency or an outreach testing site. Regardless of where you are tested, it is important that you discuss what the test means with a trained counselor both before and after the test is done.

A positive test result means you are infected. Knowing lets you make choices about how to protect your health, as well as the health of others. New treatments, too, can help you stay healthy longer. A negative result usually means you are not infected. However, if you have engaged in any behavior that could spread the virus within three months of having the test, antibodies to the virus may not be detectable and you should be retested in three to six months to be sure you are not infected.

Where can I get more information about HIV? 2017-07-28T16:23:00+00:00

The Wyoming Department of Health Communicable Disease Unit provides HIV prevention and educational materials. The Communicable Disease Unit provides vouchers for free laboratory testing and treatment at local public health and family planning clinics through our educational website www.knowyo.org. At this site you can also find clinics in your area that will test for STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV; give out free condoms and lubrication; and can provide additional health services such as vaccinations. Learn about HIV another STDs at the site and find additional resources near you.

For more information about HPV and other STDs please contact the Communicable Disease Unit at 307-777-8939 or https://health.wyo.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Brochure-8.15.16.pdf

When should I talk with my son or daughter about sex and birth control? 2017-07-28T15:20:37+00:00

Talking with your teens about sex and birth control does not mean you are giving them permission to have sex. In fact, parents who talk to their teens about pregnancy, sex and birth control have teens that start having sex later and are more likely to use birth control and condoms when they do start.

Teens often have misconceptions about pregnancy, birth control and preventative measures and may be unaware of sexually transmitted diseases. Young boys and girls believe numerous myths and as a parent, you need to address these in order to inform and protect your son or daughter.

Try to talk before birth control becomes an issue instead of waiting until you suspect your child may be having sex (which may make it more awkward).

Let him or her know that he or she may not need the information right now but will want to know it sometime in the future.

Why should I talk with my child about this? 2017-07-28T15:19:23+00:00

You are a role model for your son or daughter – the best person to talk with your child about sex, birth control and making smart choices.

Being open and knowledgeable may bring you closer together and lets your child know he or she can always come to you for answers to questions.

You ensure your child has the facts when he or she needs it.

You share your values and reinforce your family values.

You teach your son how to prevent pregnancy and your daughter how to avoid pregnancy.

You help keep your child safe with knowledge to avoid serious sexually transmitted diseases.

How do I prepare for the talk? 2017-07-28T15:18:06+00:00

You may feel uncomfortable or nervous talking about these intimate issues. But isn’t it better to talk about birth control before a pregnancy occurs?

Think about your feelings and what your son or daughter will feel talking with you about birth control and sex. You each may feel embarrassed discussing the topic. Your child may not want to discuss the topic with you or becomes defensive if he or she feels that talking implies an interest in or having sex.

Talking Tips

  • Talk with your teen about day to day things so talking about serious subjects becomes more comfortable.
  • If you’re uncomfortable, say it! Let him or her know that isn’t a good enough reason to avoid talking about something important.
  • Be open and honest about your values, feelings and ideas.
  • Ask your son or daughter about their thoughts and feelings. Listen and try to understand. Show you care about the ideas and what he or she has to say.
What should I cover? 2017-07-28T15:13:16+00:00

Explain The Basics

  • Avoid pregnancy by not having sex or using birth control
  • Using birth control means taking charge of himself/herself and the future; choosing whether and when to become a parent and the best type of birth control.
  • Not using birth control and having sex is a kind of choice but pregnancy is more likely to occur; there is no “safe” time of the month
  • A man and woman are equally responsible for an unwanted pregnancy.

Explain the Birth Control Choices

Abstinence: Choosing not to have sex is the best option for teens

  • Abstinence is safe with no side effects
  • No worries about STDs
  • Many teens are likely abstaining even if they say they’re not

Condoms: A good choice for teens who have sex

  • Condoms are made of latex and fit over the penis like a finger of a glove.
  • They are 98% effective when used correctly every time
  • Inexpensive and readily available
  • Latex condoms help protect both partners from STDs, including HIV

Pill, Patch or Ring (girls): These release hormones to help prevent pregnancy.

  • The pill is a small tablet taken at the same time every day.  The patch is worn on the skin and changed every week. The soft, flexible ring is inserted into the vagina and changed monthly.
  • These methods are more than 99% effective when used correctly.
  • You need a prescription.
  • They do not provide any protection from STDs.

Explain About STDs

  • STD is spread during vaginal, anal and oral sex and sometimes by genital touching.
  • Always use a condom even using another form of birth control.
  • A person may not have any symptoms of an STD and can infect another person unknowingly.
  • STDs cannot be cured – only treated.

Encourage your son to talk with his girlfriend and your daughter to talk with her boyfriend

  • Talking about whether or not to have sex may make them closer and build respect for caring enough to talk
  • They can support each other in staying abstinent
  • If they decide to have sex, making a choice together increases the options and safety for both partners.

Emergency Birth Control

  • Decide if you want to talk with your daughter about these options if a method is damaged, wasn’t used or used correctly.
What is an STI and how is it transmitted? 2017-07-28T13:17:27+00:00

STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease. These diseases are sometimes known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). An STI is any infection that is passed by body fluids during vaginal, anal or oral sex. These fluids include semen (cum), vaginal fluids (the wetness in the vagina) and blood. A latex condom acts as a barrier to prevent these fluids from being exchanged. But, an STI can also be spread by contact with the skin of the genital or anal area if infection is present. It can also be spread by contact inside of the mouth.

Some common STIs are HIV infection (AIDS), syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus infection (HPV), genital herpes and hepatitis B. While most STIs can be treated, many cannot be cured. They stay with you for your whole life.

Am I at risk for STIs? 2017-07-28T13:16:24+00:00

If you are sexually active you may be at risk for STIs. Remember, when you have sex with someone, you are exposed to everyone they have had sex with before you.

What are some common symptoms of STIs? 2017-07-28T13:15:30+00:00

Some STIs have no symptoms at all. Others appear and then disappear, while the infection remains. So you cannot always rely on symptoms to show that you have become infected. Some common symptoms to be aware of are: pain or burning while urinating, rashes, sores, blisters, itchiness, unusual discharge from the penis or vagina and pain during sex. If you think you might be infected with an STI, see a doctor or healthcare provider ASAP. Delaying treatment can cause the infection to get worse!

What can I do to protect myself from STIs? 2017-07-28T13:14:15+00:00

The only way to be 100% safe from STIs and HIV/AIDS is to abstain from all sexual activities. If you are going to have sex, the correct and consistent use of latex condoms can help protect you from many STIs, including HIV/AIDS. Latex condoms also help reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancy. You can’t tell if someone is infected just by looking at them. Even if you’re very close your partner may not know they have an STI — or they may be too embarrassed to tell you. It’s up to you to protect yourself.

Do latex condoms really protect me from STIs and pregnancy? 2017-07-28T13:12:19+00:00

YES. Latex or polyurethane condoms block the smallest organisms and even large particles like sperm. They help to prevent most major STIs. A few STIs, such as herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), and syphilis, can sometimes infect places on the body not protected by condoms. If you or your partner notice sores in the genital area, you should not have sex. Call your doctor or health care provider for an exam immediately.

Am I at risk of getting HIV/AIDS? 2017-07-28T13:10:10+00:00

Young people are especially at risk! About one half (50%) of all new HIV infections happen to people under the age of 25. Studies show that about one third (33%) of all people with HIV/AIDS haven’t even been tested so your partner may not even know that they have it.

Should condoms be used for oral sex? 2017-07-28T13:08:48+00:00

YES. Many people mistakenly believe oral sex is a way to practice safe sex, but it’s not. STIs can be spread during oral sex. To be safe, you should use a condom if the penis is going to touch the mouth. Be sure to use a condom that’s labeled effective against STIs. If your mouth touches the outside or inside of your partner’s vagina (cunnilingus) or anus (anilingus), you can reduce your risk of getting an STI by placing a barrier (sometimes called a “Dental Dam”) over the vagina or anus.

How should I store condoms? 2017-07-28T13:07:26+00:00

Keep your condoms in a cool, dry place. Storing them near heat (in your glove compartment) can cause them to become brittle or gummy and not be any good to use.

How can I tell if a condom is damaged? 2017-07-28T13:06:29+00:00

Damaged packaging is one way to tell. Always inspect the condom and feel it before you put it on. You can also check it when it is on the erect penis. A condom that sticks to itself, is gummy or brittle, isn’t the same color all over, or has tears or holes shouldn’t be used.

Do not unroll the condom or fill it with air or water to check it as this can also damage the condom.

How can I decide what is right for me? 2017-07-28T13:37:05+00:00

Exploring thoughts and feelings about sex is perfectly normal and a natural part of growing up. Maybe you’re thinking about sex, maybe you have already had sex or maybe you are thinking about waiting. It’s your choice to make.

One of the biggest decisions that many teens face is whether to have sex. This is an important decision and may feel overwhelming. It is a good idea to seek advice from your parents or other trusted adult such as your doctor or school nurse.

Whatever decision you make, you need all the facts to keep yourself and your future healthy and safe.

If you choose to have sex, you need to be responsible. You need to protect yourself and your partner from unplanned pregnancy and serious sexually transmitted infections and diseases. You do that by always using condoms, the right way, every time. Unprotected sex could have pretty serious consequences.

Why should I wait to have sex? 2017-07-28T11:50:08+00:00

Does it seem like everyone around you is having sex? Guess what? They’re not! Half of all teens have not had intercourse (Center for Disease Control). It’s okay to say no!

There are many great reasons to wait:

  1. You are 100% protected against STI/STD
  2. There is 0% chance you will get pregnant
  3. You may not feel ready for all the emotions that go along with having sex.  That’s okay.  It’s your body and your feelings.
What if I choose to have sex? 2017-07-28T11:47:12+00:00

Use condoms every time!

Condoms are the best way to avoid unintended pregnancy and STI/STD.

They are affordable and easy to get.

What are consequences of unprotected sex? 2017-07-28T11:45:21+00:00

If you become pregnant, it affects:

  • Your education
  • Your freedom
  • Your dreams and your future

If you get an STI/STD, it may lead to:

  • Pain
  • Embarrassment
  • Rejection by future partners
  • Serious long-term health problems (STD’s cannot be cured only treated)
  • Difficulty having children in the future
  • Death
How do I correctly use a condom? 2017-07-28T11:42:42+00:00

Before sex:

  1. Sex means not only vaginal intercourse but oral or anal sex. Always use a condom for any sexual activity to best protect yourself and your partner.
  2. Use a new condom for every sex act. Infectious organisms are transmitted through lesions, pre-ejaculate secretions, semen, vaginal secretions and blood.
  3. Tear open the package carefully. Do not use fingernails, teeth, scissors or anything that can damage the condom.
  4. Before sexual contact, place the condom on the head of the erect penis. The rolled-up ring should be on the outside. Leave space at the tip for semen when you ejaculate.
  5. Squeeze tip gently so no air is trapped as you unroll the condom all he way to the base of the erect penis. If the condom doesn’t unroll, it may be on backwards, damaged or old. Throw it away and start over with a fresh condom.

After Sex:

  1. Immediately after ejaculation, hold the condom in place and withdraw the penis while it is still erect. Avoid spilling any semen.
  2. Dispose of a used condom by wrapping in tissue and throwing in the trash.
  3. Wash your hands and genitals and surrounding areas with soap and water.

Did you know?

  • Pre-ejaculation fluids can cause pregnancy or pass on an STI/STD so put on the condom as soon as the penis is erect.
  • Topical vaginal medications like those used for a yeast infection could also weaken a condom and reduce its effectiveness.
  • Oil causes most condoms to deteriorate so never let a latex condom touch oil in any form (don’t use petroleum jelly, baby oil, massage oil, vegetable oil or baby powder)
  • Use only a condom compatible water-based or silicone lubricant on the outside of the condom
  • Store condoms in their packs in a cool, dry place. Avoid direct sunlight or long term storage over 100 F
  • Condoms expire – check the package date to make sure it hasn’t expired
  • If condom feels sticky or stiff or looks damaged in any way, throw it away and use the spare that you should be carrying
Why say “no” now if you’ve had sex before? 2017-07-28T09:56:20+00:00

Even if you have had sex before, it’s okay to say “no” now. There are many reasons to choose abstinence such as an unplanned pregnancy or getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as HIV, HPV or herpes.  Studies show most teens who have had sex wish they had waited longer.

There are many reasons you may have had sex:

  • You may have been in love and wanted a way to show it.
  • Maybe you had sex when you didn’t want to.
  • Maybe you were drunk or high.
  • Afterward, you may have realized you really weren’t ready.

No matter what your reasons for having sex were before, it is OK to say NO now. Stick with your limits. It’s your body and your decision. You have the right to choose not to have sex now.

Don’t worry about what others think or say – be true to yourself.

Find people who support your decision. Tell a close friend, parents or trusted adult.

Avoid drugs and alcohol which may get in the way of sticking with your decision.

Why wait now? 2017-07-28T09:52:38+00:00

Thinking about why you want to wait now will help you follow through on your decision.

There are many good reasons to choose to wait now:

  • You’re not ready to have a baby.
  • You’re already had a baby and you want to wait to have another.
  • You’ve learned that the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV or HPV is too high and you don’t want to take that risk.
  • You have plans for the future and want to focus your energy on making those plans and dreams come true.

What are your reasons for saying no now?

How do I deal with someone I’m dating? 2017-07-28T09:51:04+00:00

You should let the people you date know you’ve chosen to wait and why.

  • Know your reasons for abstinence.
  • Be up front and very clear about your limits around sex.
  • If you are still seeing the person you had sex with before, let him or her know your reasons for saying no now.
  • If your date pressures you for sex, perhaps you want to call it quits.

You deserve someone who cares more about you than about sex.

How do I say no when I’ve had sex before? 2017-07-28T09:45:01+00:00

If you’re getting pressured, try these responses:

“What’s the big deal? It’s not like you’ve never done this before.”
“I don’t want to do it again.”
“The big deal is that it’s my body and my decision.”

“You did it before. Don’t you love me as much?”
“I care about you a lot. That’s why I want to wait until I’m ready. ”
“I thought I was ready before, but I wasn’t.”

“Maybe your first time was lousy, but it’ll be better this time.”
‘It won’t be better if I feel pressured.”
“What part of NO don’t you understand?”

Why should we use a condom? 2017-07-28T08:39:19+00:00

Using male or female condoms is an important and pleasurable part of having safer sex. Sex with condoms can be fun, exciting, and very enjoyable. And using them correctly and consistently – every time you have sex – can also reduce the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs or STDs), and prevent unwanted pregnancies. Choosing to use a condom shows that you care about the health of yourself and your sexual partner.

It can decrease your worry about getting or spreading STIs, HIV, and getting pregnant, which can in turn make your sex more relaxed and satisfying. It is also a great chance to add variety to your sex life and to build trust and intimacy with your partner by talking about each other’s desires.

Whether you have a steady or casual sexual partner, using a condom is an important part of taking care of yourself and your health. You cannot tell if someone has an STI/STD by his or her physical appearance and it is possible for someone to have an STI/STD without even knowing it!  It is important to protect yourself every time.

Condoms have come a long way and through research and innovation, condom companies have been designing condoms that can enhance the sexual experience through their design, material and texture. There is evidence that some condoms may even create more stimulation during sex than using no condoms at all.

What kinds of condoms are available? 2017-07-28T08:36:44+00:00

There are two main types of condoms: male condoms and female condoms.

Male Condoms
Most male condoms are made of latex; some are made of polyurethane (a type of plastic), polyisoprene (a man made equivalent of natural rubber), or lambskin. Lambskin condoms can prevent pregnancy; however, they do NOT prevent the spread of HIV or other viral STIs like herpes, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Only latex, plastic, and polyisoprene condoms prevent the spread of HIV and viral STIs.

Male condoms come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and even tastes. They are generally inexpensive (about $1.00 each in the US) and can be found at pharmacies, grocery stores, sex stores, and many online locations. Sometimes they are available for free at certain health clinics and AIDS service organizations.

They are also quite small and easy to carry so that you can always be prepared to protect yourself. It is important to keep condoms away from heat and check the expiration date. Condoms that have been exposed to heat and are too old are more likely to break. That’s why it is important not to store condoms in your car. Condoms can also tear fairly easily, so it’s best not to store them in your wallet.

Female Condoms
Female condoms are made of polyurethane or nitrile (synthetic rubber) and can be put inside the vagina before you have sex. The female condom looks like a pouch, with a flexible ring at each end They usually cost a bit more than male condoms and are available at pharmacies, grocery stores, and sex stores. They are also available for free at certain health clinics and AIDS service organizations.

Female condoms can be an excellent choice for several reasons: you can insert them up to several hours before having sex, you are in control of putting it in and taking it out, and you can use one if your partner does not use a male condom.

 

Why is talking about condoms important? 2017-07-28T08:34:17+00:00

Condoms help protect both partners from pregnancy and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) – with both genital and oral sex. It’s about respect – and responsibility – for yourself and your partner. Before deciding to have sex it pays to think about protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

You’ve already taken a big step by looking for answers to your questions and getting the facts.

Not having sex is the best way to keep from getting an STI or STD, but if you choose to be sexually active, using condoms correctly and consistently is a key way to reduce risks.

Don’t be shy to talk with your partner about safer sex and condoms.  For both of you, this is one of the most important conversations you can have. It’s also one of the smartest!

What are some tips for talking about condoms and safer sex? 2017-07-28T08:32:20+00:00

Sometimes people don’t like to use protection for sex, so it can be helpful to think about how you might respond if you’re ever with a partner who doesn’t want to use a condom. Remember, you have a right to protect yourself and your health, and using condoms is a way to take care of your partner too – so you’re not being selfish at all.

Talk this over with your partner before you start to have sex. The two of you might even want to select and buy condoms together. When it’s hot and heavy it might be easy to have sex without a condom “just this once.”

Plan ahead and have condoms with you if you think you might want to have sex. Don’t rely on your partner to have condoms.

Talking gives you a chance to decide together how you are going to protect yourselves from STD and unplanned pregnancy, build trust and become closer and enjoy sex more because you aren’t worried about STD or pregnancy.

Talking Tips:

  • Think about what you want to say ahead of time
  • Sort out your feelings and know why you want to use condoms
  • Come up with ways to start the conversation
  • Find a calm, quiet time to talk
  • Talk before you’ve started to have sex
She says…He says….What can I say? 2017-07-29T11:02:08+00:00

The time to talk about condoms is before sex!  A partner might have specific reasons for not wanting to use condoms. Look over this list to get ideas about how to respond if you ever feel pressured to have sex without a condom:

“I don’t have any kind of disease! Don’t you trust me?”
“Of course I trust you, but anyone can have an STI and not even know it. This is just a way to take care of both of us.”

“I don’t like sex as much with a rubber. It doesn’t feel the same.”
“This is the only way I feel comfortable having sex but believe me, it’ll still be good even with protection! And it lets us both just focus on each other instead of worrying about all that other stuff…”
“Sorry, but I won’t do it without a condom.”

“I Love You”
“I love you too! That’s why I want to protect you.”

“It’s embarrassing to buy and carry condoms”
“It is a lot more embarrassing to get or pass on an STD or STI.”
“If we’re too embarassed to deal with comdoms, then we’re probably not ready to deal with sex.”

“I’m [or you’re] on the pill.”
“But that doesn’t protect us from STDs, so I still want to be safe, for both of us.”

“I’m sure it’s safe this time of the month.”
“There’s no safe time when it comes to STD.”
“That’s what my sister thought and now I’m an uncle.”
“Let’s be safe instead of sorry.”

“I didn’t bring any condoms.”
“I have some, right here.”
“The drugstore up the street is open. Let’s go buy some.”

“I don’t know how to use them.”
“I can show you – want me to put it on for you?”
“Let’s just do it without a condom this time.”
“It only takes one time to get pregnant or to get an STI. I just can’t have sex unless I know I’m as safe as I can be.”

“No one else makes me use a condom!”
“This is for both of us…and I won’t have sex without protection. Let me show you how good it can be – even with a condom.”

What is cervical cancer? 2017-07-27T19:39:53+00:00

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later.

When cancer starts in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. The cervix connects the vagina (birth canal) to the upper part of the uterus. The uterus (or womb) is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant.

Cervical cancer is highly preventable in most Western countries because screening tests and a vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are available. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.

Who gets cervical cancer? 2017-07-27T19:37:53+00:00

All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women over age 30. Each year, approximately 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that Is passed from one person to another deranges. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer.

What raises a woman’s chance of getting cervical cancer? 2017-07-27T19:36:17+00:00

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex. There are many types of HPV. Some HPV types can cause changes on a woman’s cervix that can lead to cervical cancer over time, while other types can cause genital or skin warts.

HPV is so common that most people get it at some time in their lives. HPV usually causes no symptoms so you can’t tell that you have it. For most women, HPV will go away on its own; however, if it does not, there is a chance that over time it may cause cervical cancer.

Other things can increase your risk of cervical cancer:

  • Smoking.
  • Having HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off health problems.
  • Using birth control pills for a long time (five or more years).
  • Having given birth to three or more children.
  • Having several sexual partners.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer? 2017-07-27T19:35:07+00:00

Early on, cervical cancer may not cause signs and symptoms. Advanced cervical cancer may cause bleeding or discharge from the vagina that is not normal for you, such as bleeding after sex. If you have any of these signs, see your doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor.

Are there tests that can prevent cervical cancer or find it early? 2017-07-27T19:41:45+00:00

Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent, with regular screening tests and follow-up. Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. The Pap test is recommended for all women between the ages of 21 and 65 years old, and can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. During the Pap test, the doctor will use a plastic or metal instrument, called a speculum, to widen your vagina. This helps the doctor examine the vagina and the cervix, and collect a few cells and mucus from the cervix and the area around it. The cells are then placed on a slide or in a bottle of liquid and sent to a laboratory. The laboratory will check to be sure that the cells are normal.
  • The HPV test looks for HPV – the virus that can cause pre-cancerous cell changes and cervical cancer.

How is cervical cancer treated? 2017-07-27T19:44:31+00:00

Cervical cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of cervical cancer and how far it has spread. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

  • Surgery: Doctors remove cancer tissue in an operation.
  • Chemotherapy: Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
  • Radiation: Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer.

Different treatments may be provided by different doctors on your medical team.

  • Gynecologic oncologists are doctors who have been trained to treat cancers of a woman’s reproductive system.
  • Surgeons are doctors who perform operations.
  • Medical oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with medicine.
  • Radiation oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with radiation.

In addition, other treatment options may include clinical trials and complementary/alternative medicine such as yoga, supplements and herbs.

When should I get tested for cervical cancer? 2017-07-27T19:25:50+00:00

You should start getting regular Pap tests at age 21. The Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer, is one of the most reliable and effective cancer screening tests available.

The only cancer for which the Pap test screens is cervical cancer. It does not screen for ovarian, uterine, vaginal, or vulvar cancers. So even if you have a Pap test regularly, if you notice any signs or symptoms that are unusual for you, see a doctor to find out why you’re having them. If your Pap test results are normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test.

If you are 30 years old or older, you may choose to have an HPV test along with the Pap test. Both tests can be performed by your doctor at the same time. When both tests are performed together, it is called co-testing. If your test results are normal, your chance of getting cervical cancer in the next few years is very low. Your doctor may then tell you that you can wait as long as five years for your next screening. But you should still go to the doctor regularly for a checkup.

If you are 21 to 65 years old, it is important for you to continue getting a Pap test as directed by your doctor—even if you think you are too old to have a child or are not having sex anymore.

If you are older than 65 and have had normal Pap test results for several years, or if you have had your cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions, like fibroids, your doctor may tell you that you do not need to have a Pap test anymore.

Where can I get more information about cervical cancer? 2017-07-27T19:24:23+00:00

Wyoming Resources
The Wyoming Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, also known as Women’s Health Source, pays for (for women who qualify): Office visit, Pelvic exam, Pap test, Clinical breast exam, Mammogram, certain breast & cervical lab tests, Breast or cervical cancer diagnostic tests. Most women diagnosed through our program with breast cancer, high -grade cervical-cancer or cervical cancer are eligible to be transitioned to Wyoming Medicaid for coverage of this cancer treatment. Call 1-800-264-1296 for assistance applying.

For more information please contact the Wyoming Comprehensive Cancer Control Program at 307 -777-7362 or visit www.fightcancerwy.com

What is HPV? 2017-07-27T18:29:42+00:00

HPV is the human papillomavirus (HPV). Some types of HPV infect genital and anal skin, and are sexually transmitted. It can also infect the mouth and throat. HPV is very common. Most sexually active people have HPV at some point in their lives. HPV infections are usually not harmful and do not result in symptoms you can see. Most men never know they have HPV.

How do men get HPV? 2017-07-27T18:28:29+00:00

You can get HPV by having sex with someone who is infected with HPV. This disease is spread easily through genital contact during anal and vaginal sex. HPV may also be spread through oral sex or other close skin-to-skin touching during sex. HPV can be spread even when an infected person has no visible signs or symptoms.

Since HPV usually causes no symptoms, most men and women can get HPV and pass it on without realizing it. People can have HPV even if it has been years since they have had sex. Even men with only one lifetime sex partner can get HPV.

What are the symptoms of HPV? 2017-07-27T18:24:37+00:00

Most men who get HPV never develop symptoms and the infection usually goes away completely by itself. However, if HPV does not go away, it can cause genital warts or certain kinds of cancer.

See your healthcare provider if you have questions about anything new or unusual such as warts, or unusual growths, lumps, or sores on your penis, scrotum, anus, mouth, or throat.

What are the health problems caused by HPV in men? 2017-07-27T18:26:32+00:00

Most of the time HPV infections completely go away and don’t cause any health problems. However, if an infection does not go away on its own, it is possible to develop HPV symptoms months or years after getting infected. This makes it hard to know exactly when you became infected. Lasting HPV infection can cause genital warts or certain kinds of cancer. It is not known why some people develop health problems from HPV and others do not.

Most men who get HPV may never develop any symptoms or health problems. But some types of HPV can cause genital warts. Other types can cause cancers of the penis, anus, or oropharynx (back of the throat, including base of the tongue and tonsils.) The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types that can cause cancer.

The HPV infection isn’t cancer but can cause changes in the body that lead to cancer. HPV infections usually go away by themselves but having an HPV infection can cause certain kinds of cancer to develop. These include cervical cancer in women, penile cancer in men, and anal cancer in both women and men. HPV can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancer). All of these cancers are caused by HPV infections that did not go away. Cancer develops very slowly and may not be diagnosed until years, or even decades, after a person initially gets infected with HPV.

Currently, there is no way to know who will have only a temporary HPV infection, and who will develop cancer after getting HPV. Although HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, HPV-related cancers are not common in men. Certain men are more likely to develop HPV-related cancers:

  • Men with weak immune systems (including those with HIV) who get infected with HPV are more likely to develop HPV-related health problems.
  • Men who receive anal sex are more likely to get anal HPV and develop anal cancer.
Should I get tested? 2017-07-27T18:33:04+00:00

Right now, HPV tests are not approved for use with men outside medical research studies.

To examine men, healthcare providers sometimes take a very close look at the genital area. If you notice any changes to your genital skin, get checked out by your healthcare provider.

What are ways to reduce your risk for HPV? 2017-07-27T18:12:30+00:00

Not having sex is the only way to prevent HPV. Since HPV is so common, even those who have had one partner can still get the virus.

Using condoms correctly each time you have sex reduces the risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, and might offer some protection against HPV. Keep in mind that skin in the anal and genital area not covered by a condom can still be affected.

If you are 26 or younger, there is an HPV vaccine that can help protect you against the types HPV that most commonly cause problems in men. The HPV vaccine (Gardasil) works by preventing four common HPV types, two that cause most genital warts and two that cause cancers, including anal cancer. It protects against new HPV infections; it does not cure existing HPV infections or diseases (like genital warts). It is most effective when given before a person’s first sexual contact.

CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for all boys ages 11 or 12, and for males through age 21 who have not already received all three doses. The vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual men and men with compromised immune systems (including HIV) through age 26, but it is more effective when given at younger ages.

Is there a treatment or cure for HPV? 2017-07-27T18:08:48+00:00

There is no specific treatment for HPV, but there are treatments for health problems caused by HPV.

Is the HPV vaccine safe? 2017-07-27T18:06:52+00:00

The HPV vaccine is very safe and effective, with no serious side effects. The most common side effect is soreness in the arm. Studies show that the vaccine can protect men against genital warts and cancers. It is likely that this vaccine also protects men from other HPV-related cancers, like cancers of the penis and oropharynx (back of throat, including base of tongue and tonsils), but there are no vaccine studies that have evaluated these outcomes.

Where can I get more information about HPV? 2017-07-27T18:31:17+00:00

Wyoming Resources

The Wyoming Department of Health Communicable Disease Unit provides STD (including HPV) prevention and educational materials. If you are at risk for HPV, you are also at risk for other STDs. The Communicable Disease Unit provides vouchers for free laboratory testing and treatment at local public health and family planning clinics through our educational website www.knowyo.org. At this site you can also find clinics in your area that will test for STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV; give out free condoms and lubrication; and can provide additional health services such as vaccinations. Learn about HPV another STDs at the site and find additional resources near you.

For more information about HPV and other STDs please contact the Communicable Disease Unit at 307-777-8939. Wyoming Comprehensive Cancer Control Program at 307-777-7362 or visit www.fightcancerwy.com

Additional CDC resources:

STD information(https://www.cdc.gov/STD)
HPV Information(https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/index.html)
(https://www.cdc.gov/std/healthcomm/fact_sheets.htm)
All STD Fact Sheets(https://www.cdc.gov/std/healthcomm/fact_sheets.htm)

What is herpes? 2017-07-27T16:37:38+00:00

Herpes is a sexually-transmitted disease (STD). It’s caused by a virus that spreads by skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex, or by genital touching

How do you get herpes? 2017-07-27T16:37:24+00:00

You get herpes by direct contact with the virus. Herpes virus can be on the skin from the first warning signs until the sore is completely gone. The virus can enter the body where the skin is thin (the mouth, genital or eye areas), or where the skin is broken. If a herpes sore touches one of these thin-skinned areas on your body, a new infection can begin.

Herpes can spread from one person to another or from one part of your own body to another in this way. The virus can also be on the skin without symptoms a few days out of the year. The chances of transmitting herpes then are small, but it does happen.

What are the symptoms of herpes? 2017-07-27T16:37:12+00:00

Symptoms vary from person to person. Many people get herpes and don’t know it. Others get small, sometimes painful sores on or around the mouth (cold sores) or the genitals. The sores “weep” after they form, develop scabs, heal and go away after two to three weeks. Sores can occur 2 to 30 days after exposure, but can also appear months or even years after exposure.  People with symptoms may notice a tingling or itching in the area just before a sore appears or swollen glands, fever and an overall achy feeling.

Can herpes be cured? 2017-07-27T13:39:43+00:00

Herpes can’t be cured, but it can be treated.

There is no cure for herpes. 

The sores go away, but the virus doesn’t. The virus enters nerve cells close to the sores and stays there. There are no signs that it’s present. The virus in this stage is “inactive”. The virus can become active again, sometimes due to stress, and it travels down the nerves to the skin. The sores may appear again. Or, the virus can stay on the skin without symptoms.

Herpes can be treated.

If you have herpes, symptoms are best treated by a health care provider. Prescription medicine can help suppress herpes if taken in the first day or two. It may also be used daily to reduce the chances of recurrence. Some people find herpes support groups helpful. You can find a group in your area by calling the:

  • National STD Hotline – (919) 361-8488

A recurrence is when the herpes sores come back.  Some people have one herpes outbreak, and are never bothered again. Other people have recurrences.
Recurrences usually don’t last as long as the first infection.  (The average is 5 to 10 days.) There also usually isn’t as much discomfort. Different people have
different patterns. One person might have one recurrence a year. Another might have 12. One person might have no discomfort. Another might have a lot.

 

What if I have herpes and get pregnant? 2017-07-27T13:39:18+00:00

If there is no virus on the skin at the time of birth, there is no cause for concern. If herpes is active when labor begins, your health care provider may recommend a cesarean. When you find out you’re pregnant, let your provider know if you or your partner have herpes.

How can I protect myself against herpes? 2017-07-27T13:38:18+00:00

Not having sex is the best protection against herpes and other STD. Having sex with only one uninfected partner who only has sex with you is also safe. You can also protect yourself by using latex condoms with a water-based lubricant every time you have sex. Use plastic (polyurethane) condoms if you’re allergic to latex. These come in both male and female styles. Both men and women should carry condoms.

Get checked for herpes and other STD regularly. Ask your health care provider to help you decide how often and which tests you should have. If you have more than one sex partner, get an STD check any time you’re concerned about risk, even if you don’t have symptoms. Don’t have sex with a person who you think may have an STD. Don’t use drugs or alcohol when you might have sex. If you’re high, you might forget to protect yourself.

Condoms can help prevent herpes when they cover the area where the active virus is.

How can I protect others if I have herpes? 2017-07-27T13:37:42+00:00

Don’t have sex when you have herpes symptoms. Virus is on the skin from the time the first symptoms begin until the sore heals and completely disappears. Don’t touch or allow someone else to touch a sore until it heals and has completely gone away. Use latex condoms with a water-based lubricant every time you have sex. When condoms cover the area where active virus is, they can help protect a partner.

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