Senior Sexual Health Questions

Please click on any of the following question topics to see related questions:

Questions About Relationships

Questions About Menstruation

Questions About Sexual Response

Questions About Intercourse

Questions About Birth Control

Questions About Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

Questions About Sexual Diversity

Questions About Violence

Questions About Cancer

Questions About Pregnancy/Abortion

Questions About Relationships

My boyfriend and I keep fighting, but I still love him. What should I do?

It is natural for incompatibilities and differences to become known as people become closer and learn more about one another. This is why for some couples conflict increases as the relationship grows deeper. Conflict sometimes leads to disagreements or ‘fights’ which are not always bad. In fact, they can actually be constructive. If you are both committed to the relationship, your differences can be worked out. If you are not committed, or find your relationship is more negative than positive it may be time to re-examine your relationship. If the relationship is physically or emotionally abusive, get out immediately. It is often helpful to discuss relationship issues with your parents, a trusted adult or counsellor.

What do you think about age gaps in relationships, like if a girl is 16 and the guy is 23? Is it wrong or right to be involved?

There are rules around the age of consent but this question also relates to personal values and may vary from individual to individual. It is important to examine the relationship to determine if it is healthy. Keep in mind that any healthy relationship, regardless of age, has the following qualities: respect; trust; honesty; fairness; equality; and good communication. Often, when a large age gap exists between partners when one person is a teen, the necessary components of a healthy relationship such as equality can be missing. More sexual pressure may also be present in these types of relationships. For more information about the age of consent to sexual activity http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/other-autre/clp/faq.html  

What do you do when your partner asks you to do something which you are not familiar with (including sex), and you are not sure how to do it?

First of all, it is important for you to look at your personal values and decide what’s best for you based upon them. If your partner is asking you to do something that does not coincide with your values, you have the right to say ‘no’. Sexually healthy relationships are respectful, honest, fair, and responsible. This means that partners will not pressure one another to compromise their values. As well, communication about thoughts and feelings are open and honest. Finally, when a relationship is healthy, both people decide how they will take responsibility for the relationship and for the outcomes of the sexual decisions they make. If you are having a difficult time deciding whether you want to have sex or not, talk to an adult you trust.

What should I say when a girl in my class always asks where my boyfriend is? I get very angry.

Communication is important in all relationships. It is important that you are honest with your classmate and let her know that you are uncomfortable when she asks where your boyfriend is. As well, asking your classmate why she wants to know this information, can help you understand why she is asking, and perhaps help you to feel less defensive.

It is also important to examine why you are experiencing feelings of anger. One possible cause for this feeling is jealousy. Jealousy is not a sign of a healthy relationship. Keep in mind that any healthy relationship has the following qualities: respect; trust; honesty; fairness; equality; and good communication.

Is it normal for teens to want to have sexual intercourse?

Every person is different with regards to how old they are when they start to think about sex. Some people have sexual thoughts at an early age, whereas others hardly think about it at all. Any of these responses are considered normal. There is no magical age when it is suddenly okay to think about sex or to want to have sex. When it comes to actually having sex, only you can decide when you are ready. When considering having sex at any age, it is important to think about the potential consequences. Ask yourself:

 

  • What are my reasons for wanting to have sex?
  • Do I feel lonely? Am I being pressured? Do I love my partner?
  • Will my moral, religious and family values be affected by my decision?
  • Will I feel guilty or bad afterwards if I have sex?
  • How will I protect myself from an unintended pregnancy and STI/HIV?
  • Do I trust my partner? Is he or she pressuring me? Are we close?
  • Can we talk about safer sex and birth control?
  • If birth control fails, are we ready to deal with an unintended pregnancy?

Questions About Menstruation

By using tampons, do you break your cherry?

“Cherry” is a slang term for the hymen, therefore breaking the cherry is slang for breaking the hymen. The hymen is a piece of tissue that covers the entrance into the vagina. A woman’s hymen can break by doing various activities such as bicycling, horseback riding or using a tampon.

Can tampons get lost up there?

It is extremely unlikely for a tampon to get stuck in the vagina. Tampons are attached to a string a few inches in length that hangs through the vaginal opening. The tampon is removed by pulling gently on the string. If a tampon did get stuck, it is important to see a doctor immediately, as you would be at risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome, a rare but serious infection.

What is the definition of menopause?

Menopause is a natural transition in a woman’s life. A woman who no longer has a menstrual period and is no longer able to naturally conceive, because her ovaries have stopped working and producing hormones, has gone through menopause. Perimenopause is the time that leads up to menopause, and may last five to eight years. As menopause approaches, the ovaries produce less estrogen, causing changes in your body. Generally, once 12 consecutive months have passed without a menstrual period, a woman is considered to have gone through menopause. However, some symptoms may persist, but to a lesser degree. Most women experience the physical and emotional changes of perimenopause in their mid-40s or early 50s, though symptoms may occur earlier or later.

What is TSS?

TSS stands for Toxic Shock Syndrome. TSS is a systemic, or whole-body illness that can be caused by at least two different types of bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. Some of these bacteria have the ability to produce specific toxins – proteins that act as poisons affecting not just the site where the bacteria are located but organs throughout the body.

 

Early on, researchers found that more than 90% of TSS cases were associated with the use of tampons in girls and women who were menstruating. Some researchers suspected that certain types of high-absorbency tampons provided a moist, warm home where the bacteria could thrive and occasionally produce toxins. A massive public health effort has led to changes in tampon absorbency and composition. The result has been a big decline in the number of cases of TSS.

 

Some symptoms of TSS are: headache; sore throat; sudden fever; vomiting; diarrhea; achy muscles; and a sunburn-looking red rash. To prevent TSS, tampons should be changed every 3 to 4 hours, no matter how light the bleeding is. Because tampons should never be left in for longer than 8 hours, some women choose to wear a pad at night. Finally, avoid using super absorbent tampons.

Questions About Human Sexual Response

Is there such a thing as a G-spot in girls? If so, where is it?

Whether or not a G-spot (Grafenberg spot), said to be a source of extreme sexual pleasure, exists has not been conclusively supported by scientific research. The G-spot is believed to be located approximately 1 to 2 inches inside the vaginal opening. It consists of a soft mass of tissue that swells from the size of a dime to a half a dollar when stimulated.

Can you get an orgasm when breasts are stimulated?

Yes, some women can have an orgasm by breast stimulation.

Can Viagra increase a woman's libido?

No, Viagra cannot increase a woman’s libido or sex drive. Viagra is prescribed to men who have erectile dysfunction, which means a man has difficulty getting or keeping an erection.

If a girl hasn't experienced orgasm yet, and feels something is wrong with her, what should she do and should she worry?

It is important to know that the orgasmic response is not as “automatic” in women as it is in men. Many women feel like there is something wrong with them because they do not have orgasm with intercourse. It is important to realize that for many women, intercourse does not provide the stimulation needed for an orgasm. Reading about sexual stimulation and becoming more comfortable with your body, can assist a woman to have orgasm.

What should a girl do if she has her climax before the male?

Having simultaneous orgasms isn’t always possible. It is normal for one partner to reach orgasm before the other. After one partner climaxes, he/she can help the other reach orgasm.

Why can women come more times than men?

“Come” is a slang term for orgasm. Men are unable to have one orgasm right after another because they enter a ‘refractory period’ after ejaculation, where they are physiologically unable to have another orgasm for a period of time. In other words, men need to wait after one orgasm. Women on the other hand can maintain a high level of arousal between orgasms and can therefore have orgasms timed closely together.

Questions About Intercourse

What is oral sex?

Oral sex is when a person stimulates their partner’s genitals with their lips, mouth and tongue.

What is anal sex?

Anal sex is when a man inserts his penis into their partner’s anus.

Can I get pregnant if I have anal intercourse?

A woman can get pregnant if any sperm come in to contact with the vulva or the vagina.

What happens to the girl when she has sex lots? Does it damage the vagina?

Having sex “lots” could mean having sex often. This will not harm the vagina. However, there are some precautions you can take that will lessen the risks of being sexually active:

  • Delaying sexual intercourse until you are older will decrease the chance of an unintended pregnancy, STI, and cervical cancer.
  • Limiting yourself to one sexual partner increases the likelihood that sex will be planned, therefore decreasing the risk of unintended pregnancy and STI.
  • Protecting yourself against an unintended pregnancy and STI, which means using a condom every time, will decrease the risks involved with being sexually active.

Having sex “lots” could also mean having sex with many different partners. This increases a person’s risk of STI, and is therefore more likely to cause damage. While some STI are entirely treatable, others can cause damage to the female reproductive system.

Damage to the vagina during sex could occur if penetration is violent or abusive. In this case, it is important to seek medical attention. Sexual intercourse can be painful for some the first few times. It is important to talk to your doctor if you experience painful intercourse on a continual basis.

How likely is it for me to get pregnant if I have oral sex (his penis touching my mouth) and he only pre-cums?

Oral sex is when a person stimulates their partner’s genitals with their lips, mouth or tongue. A woman cannot get pregnant if she gives or receives oral sex. However, it is important to remember that sexually transmitted infections (STI) can be spread through oral sex. When a man receives oral sex, it is recommended he wear a condom to help protect his partner from STI. When a woman receives oral sex, it is recommended that a dental dam (a small rubber sheet paced over the woman’s genital area) be used to help protect her partner from STI.  Dental dams can be purchased at a drugstore or you can make a dental dam yourself by cutting open a condom. Click here for an oral dam demo video.

If your partner’s penis touched your vagina there is a chance of pregnancy because sperm may be present in pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) fluid. If you are going to continue to be sexually active you might want to think about a reliable form of birth control to prevent pregnancy, STI and HIV.

Questions About Birth Control

If a girl is taking the pill and she has sex in the morning before she takes her pill, what is the chance of her getting pregnant?

If a woman is taking the birth control pill correctly and consistently (eg; taking the pill at the same time everyday, following the instructions perfectly)only about 1 in 1000 women are expected to become pregnant. Keep in mind that repeated vomiting and severe diarrhea can decrease the absorption of the hormones in pills making it important to avoid intercourse or use condoms as a back-up method. The time of day the woman has sexual intercourse will not affect the effectiveness of the pill.

Is an IUD dangerous to a woman's uterus or other parts of her body?

An IUD is an effective and long acting (up to 5 years) form of birth control. Like all birth control methods, there are risks associated with IUD. Some women have the following side effects from the copper type of IUD: cramps and increased menstrual bleeding and cramping. Some women experience the following side effects with the hormone type of IUD: irregular bleeding or spotting, headache, breast tenderness, acne, weight changes, or mood changes. With both types of IUDs, there is a small risk of the IUD puncturing or perforating through the uterus. As well, IUDs do not provide any protection against STI. If a woman contracts STI, she will be at a greater risk of having a serious pelvic infection.

What is a dental dam?

A dental dam should be referred to as an oral dam. An oral dam is a barrier made out of latex or a condom that will help reduce the spread of bodily fluids during oral sex. These can be used when performing oral sex on the anal or vaginal area. It’s very simple to make an oral dam out of a regular male latex condom: simply cut the closed end off the condom leaving a latex tube, then cut down the length and unroll it to make a rectangle. Click here for an oral dam demonstration video.

Is there anything else I can use for birth control besides the pill?

There a variety of birth control methods including barrier methods (e.g. male and female condoms), hormonal methods (e.g. pill, patch, IUD, shot, and ring), and non-hormonal methods (e.g. IUD, Fertility Awareness). Click here for a more detailed listing of the different types of birth control and how they work. It is important to talk to your family doctor or visit a sexual and reproductive health clinic in your area about finding a birth control method that works best for you. Click here for a list of agencies in your area.

How much do contraceptives cost?

The cost of contraceptives depends upon where they are purchased and the type of method you are purchasing. If you want to get information about the cost of birth control, contact your local “Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic”, or pharmacy. Click here for a list of agencies in your area. You can also phone your family doctor for this information. You may find that sexual and reproductive health clinics provide contraception at a cost much lower than that you would pay at a pharmacy.

Is there ever a chance of getting a sponge stuck? What if you can't take it out?

The sponge is a disposable piece of soft foam filled with spermicides (chemicals that kill sperm). It is inserted up through the vagina, and covers the cervix helping stop sperm from entering the uterus. Considering the adult woman’s vagina is flexible and only 3 to 4 inches in length, and the opening of the cervix is normally about the size of a width of a straw, it is very unlikely for a sponge to get stuck in the vagina. Some women find it difficult to remove the sponge, or forget to take it out. Some women who use the sponge report recurrent yeast infections. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about finding a different method of contraception that works best for you. If a sponge is left in the vagina past 24 hours, you are at risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Is there a time in your cycle when it is safer to have sex than others?

There are times in your cycle when it may be less likely to become pregnant, but these times are very difficult to predict especially if you have irregular periods. It can take several months of tracking to become familiar with your fertility cycles. It is recommended that birth control be used at all times throughout the menstrual cycle to prevent an unintended pregnancy.

It is also important to remember that STI can be spread through oral, anal and vaginal sex. The only way to protect yourself from catching an STI is by not engaging in any sexual activity. If you are engaging in any sexual activity (vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex), use a condom or latex barrier every time as it will provide some protection.

Is it true that more people are becoming allergic to latex condoms? And if so, are there any other kind of condoms that they can use?

Yes, it is true that latex allergies are increasing in our society. It is estimated that 1 out of 100 people in the general population have an allergy to latex. If a person has an allergy to latex, male or female condoms made of polyurethane can be used. Polyurethane condoms can be purchased from pharmacies.

Questions About Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

I have scabs the size of quarters on my balls. What should I do?

Any time a man has lumps, bumps, rashes, or lesions on his testicles or penis, it is a good idea for him to get checked out by a doctor.

Can you get an STI if you have oral sex only?

Yes, you can get an STI from having oral sex. Some STI that can be transmitted by oral sex are: genital herpes; gonorrhea; HIV; and syphilis. When a man receives oral sex, he can wear a condom to help protect his partner from STI. When a woman receives oral sex, a dental dam (a small latex sheet placed over the vulva) can be used to help protect her partner from STI.

Can you only get sexual diseases by sexual contact?

Sexually transmitted infections (STI) can be spread in the following ways:

STI can be spread through oral, anal and vaginal sex.

 

  • Some STI such as herpes and genital warts can be spread by having direct skin contact with sores or blisters or bumps and growths without having sexual intercourse. They can also sometimes be transmitted when the skin is clear and smooth without any sores.
  • Some STI such as HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and Hepatitis B can be spread by having contact with infected blood (e.g. through sharing needles with infected blood).
  • Some STI can be spread from infected women to their babies during childbirth, or through breastfeeding after birth.
  • Some STI such as scabies, pubic lice, or crabs can be spread by sharing clothes, bedding, soap or towels with an infected person.

Can a Pap test detect gonorrhea or other STI?

A Pap test (Pap smear) is when a doctor takes some cells from your cervix to test for cancer cells. A Pap test does not test for STI. To test for STI, a doctor must take a sample of your vaginal mucous with a swab. If you would like to be tested for STI speak with your doctor or visit your local sexual and reproductive health clinic. Click here for a list of agencies in your area. For more information on Pap tests click here.

How old must you be to get a yeast infection and does puberty affect this?

Yeast infections affect nearly 3 out of 4 women at least once in a lifetime. This includes women of all ages from childhood (very rare) to beyond menopause. However, it’s during the childbearing years that women are most susceptible because changes in hormone levels during a woman’s menstrual cycle can contribute towards the development of a yeast infection.

Other factors that can cause a yeast infection are: antibiotics, pregnancy, birth control pills, diabetes, using vaginal deodorants, perfumed soaps, bubble baths, douching and wearing tight clothing. Symptoms of a yeast infection include: mild to intense vaginal itching, lumpy white vaginal discharge, vaginal soreness, irritation or burning and redness around the vagina. Yeast infections can be treated with over the counter antifungal preparations and also prescription oral medication. It’s important to see your doctor for first time diagnosis of a yeast infection before self medicating.

What is HPV?

HPV or human papillomavirus is a group of common viruses that can cause skin warts, genital warts and certain kinds of cancer in both men and women. Usually HPV does not cause any symptoms and it goes away on its own. However, there are some types of HPV that spread easily by skin-to-skin contact in the genital area and are considered high-risk and can lead to certain kinds of cancer.

Can HPV be prevented?

Yes. HPV can be prevented through a vaccine. The vaccine works best when it is given before you are sexually active. As part of a school-based program all grade 5 girls in Alberta can receive a free HPV vaccine. Currently, boys are not part of the program; however, they can be protected through the HPV vaccine as well. If you are thinking about getting the vaccine or have questions you can talk to your health care provider or visit http://www.health.alberta.ca/health-info/imm-HPV.html.

 

The HPV vaccine doesn’t protect against all types of HPV that cause cancer. If you are engaging in sexual activity (vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex) use a condom or latex barrier every time as it will provide some protection. Most often people don’t know they have HPV, or that they could be passing it onto their partner.

What is the HPV vaccine?

The vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix have been approved by Health Canada for the prevention of cancers related to HPV. These vaccines work best when they are given before you are sexually active. Even if you have been sexually active already the vaccines may protect you from types of HPV you haven’t been exposed to yet.

Questions About Sexual Diversity

I'm 16 and I think I might be gay. What should I do?

It is normal for people to question their sexuality when they are your age. If you think you might be gay but are unsure, you might find it helpful to talk to somebody about your feelings. Consider talking to someone you trust like your parents, a counsellor at school, a clergy person, a teacher or someone in the community. It might also be helpful to read books or magazines. Doing these things may help you feel supported. If you feel unsure about your feelings or a in distress you can call a 24 hr crisis, support and referral line: 1-877-OUT-IS-OK (1-877-688-4765).

Question About Violence

Is stalking a sign of abuse?

Stalking is a crime called criminal harassment. The behaviour gives you reason to fear for your personal safety and it must have NO legitimate purpose. Generally the behaviour happens repeatedly but where the behaviour is overtly threatening, a single incident may be considered criminal harassment.  Examples of criminal harassment include repeated phone calls and perhaps hanging up when you answer, contacting you through constant email messages, following you, your friends or family, leaving threatening messages, watching you or keeping track of where you go, sending unwanted gifts, threatening you, your family, pets or friends.

 

Yes, stalking can be a sign of abuse. Abuse can take form in a number of different ways such as physical, verbal, sexual, economic, emotional and psychological. If you are feeling threatened or in endangered in any way, it is important to trust your instincts and get help; speak with an adult you trust such as your school constable, a parent, a teacher or a counsellor. At anytime you feel your personal safety is threatened, call 9-1-1.

Does a girl only bleed when she is forced to have sex, or any time?

If a woman has been forced to have sex, it is important she gets help immediately. Any sexual activity without consent is against the law. Anytime you feel your personal safety is threatened call 9-1-1. If you need help click here for a list of Alberta sexual assault services in your area.

 

  • A woman might bleed when she has sexual intercourse for the following reasons:
  • A woman may bleed the first time she has sexual intercourse if her hymen is not yet broken. (The hymen is a piece of tissue that covers the entrance into the vagina.)
  • A woman might bleed if she has a sexually transmitted infection.
  • A woman might bleed if she has cancer of the cervix or uterus.

If the cause of bleeding is unknown it important to see a doctor to determine the cause.

How much of a date rape drug do you need to drink before you are knocked out?

Date rape is a common term for drug assisted sexual assault and is against the law. The most frequently detected drug found in drug facilitated assaults is alcohol, the second is marijiuana. Other drugs associated with drug- facilitated sexual assault are: Rohypnol®, commonly known as “Roofies”, GHB (also called “G” or “Liquid X”), Ketamine (also called “K” or “Special K”).

Keep in mind any drug will make people act in ways that they normally wouldn’t, and many drugs can facilitate a sexual assault even if they don’t have effects like memory loss. The effects of drugs and alcohol will vary from person to person and depends on the type of drug, the amount consumed, body weight, general health, age and whether you are male or female.

Can a guy be sexually assaulted by a girl?

Sexual assault can happen to anyone and is against the law. All sexual activity without consent, regardless of age, is a criminal offence. This applies to all forms of sexual activity, ranging from sexual touching (e.g., kissing) to sexual intercourse. If you need help click here for a list of Alberta sexual assault services in your area. At anytime you feel your personal safety is threatened, call 9-1-1. 

Questions About Cancer

What are some of the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Often times there are no obvious signs of cervical cancer that can be detected by the woman herself especially in its early or precancerous stages. Cervical cancer can develop over a long period of time without you noticing any signs or symptoms. If syptoms do appear you may notice one or more of the following: abnormal bleeding from the vagina, bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods, bleeding after sexual intercourse, menstrual periods that are heavier and longer than before, bleeding after menopause, abnormal vaginal discharge, and pain in lower back or pelvis.

There are many conditions, besides cancer, that may cause these symptoms. Testing is needed to make a proper diagnosis. That is why it is important for women to have regular Pap tests starting at age 21, or 3 years after they become sexually active (whichever is later). Talk to a doctor if you are worried about any abnormal changes. A Pap test is a simple test performed by a doctor to detect changes in the cells of the cervix. Often times, suspicious changes in the cells of the cervix can be detected and treated before cancer actually develops. Cervical cell changes are quite common and don’t necessarily indicate cancer. Click here for more information on cervical cancer screening.

Can a young man get prostate cancer?

The incidence of prostate cancer increases with age. It is rare before age 40, but it is seen in some men in their 40’s and increasingly after age 50. Testicular cancer, however, is most common in men between the ages of 15 and 35. Young men should check their testicles regularly for any thickenings or lumps. If you wish to learn more about testicular or prostate cancer, I would recommend that you (or your student) visit the Canadian Cancer Society’s website www.cancer.ca. Once there you can visit the site called Specific Cancers, and then click on the particular one you wish to learn about.

Questions About Pregnancy/Abortion

Do you think abortion can affect your emotions for the rest of your life?

The decision to have an abortion is made because a woman feels that at that time in her life, it is the right thing to do. At another time in her life, decisions may be different. Some women feel sad or emotional for a few days or weeks after an abortion, but in general they feel relief. Serious, long-term emotional problems are uncommon after abortion. Emotional problems are more likely if: abortion is against your religious or moral beliefs, the pregnancy was wanted but the health of the woman or fetus were at risk; having an abortion was related to disturbing life events or serious relationship problems; or a woman has existing emotional issues. Making any difficult life decision can bring up both positive and negative feelings. It is important to allow yourself to express your feelings, even the negative ones. It might be helpful to talk to a trusted friend or adult about what is going on or to seek non-judgmental counselling for extra support around your decision.

Does getting an abortion hurt?

During a surgical abortion the cervix is numbed with anaesthetic, similar to the way a dentist freezes gums. During the procedure you may experience menstrual-type cramps. These cramps are caused by the uterine muscles contracting. However, before the procedure begins, medication will be administered to control the cramps, as well as a sedative to help you relax. You will not be asleep, but you will be very drowsy.

If a woman thinks she is pregnant but doesn't know, and doesn't want to quit the pill, what side effects could take place if she doesn't stop taking it?

If a woman thinks she is pregnant, it is important that she have a pregnancy test completed. Getting pregnant while you are on the pill does not increase the risk of birth defects or miscarriage.

Why do ladies get stretch marks after they have a baby?

A woman’s weight gain and growing uterus cause the underlying connective tissue of the skin to stretch in the second and third trimesters. Stretch marks usually appear in the skin covering the abdomen, breasts, thighs and buttocks. After labour and delivery they usually grow lighter.

 

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