Remember…

  • some people are born with STI’s
  • some people contracted their STI’s through a non-sexual nature
  • some people did not consent to the act in which they received an STI
  • some people contracted an STI even while taking precautions
  • some people had partners lie to them about their sexual health and history
  • some people did not have the same education you did about STI’s
  • some people just made a mistake
  • ALL PEOPLE with STI’s deserve the same love, respect, and healthy sex life as people without STI’s 
If you're an ace with a cervix...

I’m posting this because I’ve seen this question come up a number of times in posts and comments, and there seems to be a lot of confusion and uncertainty around it.

If you are sexually active, or have been previously, you should have regular Pap tests according to the schedule recommended by your doctor.

If you are not sexually active and have never been sexually active, you may not need to have Pap tests done and you should talk to your doctor. Cervical cancer is almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and HPV infection is almost always caused by sexual (specifically, genital) contact. Because of this, if you are not sexually active and have never been sexually active, there’s a good chance your doctor will recommend that you do not need to have Pap tests done.

You do not need to tell them that you’re asexual, since this is about behavior rather than attraction or orientation.

A lot of things written about Pap tests and cervical cancer seem to assume that all people with cervixes over age 21 are or have been sexually active and they may not provide a specific recommendation in the case of a sexually non-active adult. This seems to be the source of most of the confusion and uncertainty (public health officials, may I kindly suggest not making heteronormative and sex-normative assumptions).

A Pap test is, shall we say, not the world’s most comfortable procedure and sex-averse or sex-repulsed aces may feel especially anxious about it (many of us have a specific aversion or repulsion response to the idea of having something in the vagina). So it’s worth talking with your doctor to find out if you may not need to have it done after all.

I had talked previously with my doctor about this and he had said it was not necessary. Then this week, my healthcare provider’s automated system looked at my age, gender, and medical history and flagged me as needing to have a Pap test done ASAP. I talked to my doctor again and he not only confirmed that I don’t need to have it done, but he put a special note on my record so that I don’t keep getting these reminders. It may seem a bit scary to bring it up, but it can be worth it and make your life easier.

Prevent Cancer Today: #VaccinateHPV!

About 79 million people in the U.S. have human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and another 14 million get HPV each year.  Who should get vaccinated and why?

HPV infection can cause genital warts and can lead to cancer many years later

  • Each year, there are approximately 33,200 HPV-associated cancers in the U.S. – about 20,600 in women and 12,600 in men. HPV cancers include cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers.
  • Early vaccination and prevention is critical for cancer prevention, which is why it is especially important for parents to take control and bring their pre-teens and teens to the doctor to receive the vaccine.

The best way to prevent HPV is with a vaccine, which may be up to 99% effective in preventing these cancers.

  • The vaccine is recommended for all girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12. It is important to vaccinate your child now, before he or she is old enough to be exposed to HPV. The vaccine may be given to pre-teens as young as 9.
  • Females aged 13 through 26 and males aged 13 through 21 should be vaccinated if they have not previously received the vaccine.
  • Men who have sex with men, who are at greater risk for HPV infection, and men with weak immune systems (including those who have HIV/AIDS) aged 22 through 26 should also receive the HPV vaccine.

The vaccine is safe!

  • Nearly 67 million doses of HPV vaccine have been given in the U.S. through March 2014, and studies provide continued evidence of the vaccine’s safety. The most common side-effects are mild, temporary symptoms, including soreness where the shot was given and fever, headache and nausea.

Save yourself an additional trip to the doctor!

  • The HPV vaccine is safe to receive with the other recommended adolescent vaccines. Many children also see health care professionals for physicals before school or for participation in sports, camping events, travel and so on. These are all great opportunities for your preteen or teen to get the HPV vaccine.

Visit our HPV page to learn more & ask your child’s provider about the HPV vaccine today!

What’s the deal with the HPV vaccine?

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Someone asked us…

what’s the deal with the HPV vaccine? should i get it? what does it even do?

The HPV vaccine is really awesome and important. Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common STD out there — nearly all sexually active people will get HPV at some point in their lives. Most of the time, these infections are harmless and go away on their own. However, some types of HPV have been linked to cancer and genital warts.

There are two HPV vaccines out there right now: Gardasil and Cervarix. Both vaccines are given in a series of three separate shots over six months.

Like the common cold or the flu, there are a LOT of different types of HPV. Like, more than 100. Types 16 and 18 cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, and both Gardasil and Cervarix protect against these. Gardasil also protects against types 6 and 11 — the two that cause about 90 percent of genital warts.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for all people between the ages of 11-12. That’s because it works best if gotten before becoming sexually active. But you can totally get it up through age 26. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t cure HPV if you already have it. Like all vaccines, it’s prevention, not treatment. So the earlier you get it, the better it works.

With a new school year around the corner, now’s the perfect time to get the HPV vaccine and spread the word about how important it is. So if you, a friend, sibling, or anyone else you know between the ages of 9 and 26 still haven’t gotten the vaccine, encourage them to talk to their nurse or doctor. Or call your nearest Planned Parenthood — our health centers provide nearly 40,000 HPV vaccines a year, so we’ve gotten pretty good at it!

-Kellie at Planned Parenthood

HPV vaccine doesn’t lead to teen sex

Parents worried that vaccinating their adolescent daughters for the human papillomavirus (HPV) might encourage them to engage in risky sexual behavior — or to start having sex in the first place — should rest easy, according to a new study released Monday.

Young girls and women who get the HPV vaccine are not more likely to practice unprotected sex after receiving it, according to a study conducted by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center that was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

In addition, those women who had never had sex at the time they were vaccinated were not more likely to start, the study found, a result that backs up previous studies that came to the same conclusion.

Read more

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than two-thirds of healthy Americans are infected with human papilloma viruses

In what is believed to be the largest and most detailed genetic analysis of its kind, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center and elsewhere have concluded that 69 percent of healthy American adults are infected with one or more of 109 strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). Only four of the 103 men and women whose tissue DNA was publicly available through a government database had either of the two HPV types known to cause most cases of cervical cancer, some throat cancers, and genital warts.

Researchers say that while most of the viral strains so far appear to be harmless and can remain dormant for years, their overwhelming presence suggests a delicate balancing act for HPV infection in the body, in which many viral strains keep each other in check, preventing other strains from spreading out of control. Although infection is increasingly known to happen through skin-to-skin contact, HPV remains the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It is so common that experts estimate nearly all men and women contract some strain of it during their lives.

Researchers at NYU Langone found 109 strains of HPV infection in tissue samples from the skin, vagina, mouth and gut of “healthy” American adults. Credit: Yingfei Ma, PhD, for NYU Langone

How Many Cancers Are Linked with HPV Each Year?

Each year, about 33,000 new cases of cancer are found in parts of the body where human papillomavirus (HPV) is often found. HPV causes about 26,800 of these cancers.

Number of HPV-Associated Cancer Cases per Year

An HPV-associated cancer is a cancer that is diagnosed in a part of the body where HPV is often found. These parts of the body include the cervix, anus, penis, vagina, vulva, and oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils). Researchers use cancer registry data to estimate the number of HPV-associated cancers in the United States by looking at cancer in parts of the body and cancer cell types that are more likely to be caused by HPV. Cancer registries do not routinely collect data on whether HPV is in the cancer tissue. CDC studies1 2 have reported the number of HPV-associated cancer cases per year, and these studies have more information on how HPV-associated numbers were calculated.

Number of HPV-Attributable Cancer Cases per Year

An HPV-attributable cancer is a cancer that is probably caused by HPV. HPV causes nearly all cervical cancers and many cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, vulva, and oropharynx. CDC studies3 4 5 used population-based data from cancer tissue to estimate the percentage of these cancers that are probably caused by HPV.

(From CDC)

2

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and Infertility Prevention

What Is It?

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. It is the most common serious infection among young women, with approximately 1 million new cases diagnosed in the United States each year. It usually affects sexually active women during their childbearing years. About one in every seven women receives treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease at some point in her life.

Pelvic inflammatory disease is the most common preventable cause of infertility in the United States. The infection can cause tissue inside the fallopian tubes to become scarred, which can damage the fallopian tubes or block them completely. The more often a woman gets this infection, the greater her risk of becoming infertile. The risk doubles with each bout of the disease. HPV has also been known to cause infertility as well as Cancer so there are are vaccinations available for sexually active women. Even if your not sexually active you may need it incase you are raped.

Pelvic inflammatory disease is a major cause of hospitalization in young women. It leads to thousands of surgeries due to complications from the infection. Researchers believe most cases develop from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), infections that are spread through sexual contact. The two diseases most likely to lead to pelvic inflammatory disease are gonorrhea and chlamydia. Without treatment, the same bacteria that cause these diseases also can cause pelvic inflammatory disease.

Pelvic inflammatory disease usually develops in a two-stage process. First, the organisms infect the cervix (opening of the uterus). Then, in about 10% of women, the bacteria migrate up to the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. Less commonly, pelvic inflammatory disease can develop if bacteria get into the upper portions of the reproductive tract after childbirth, after inserting an intrauterine device (IUD) or after an induced abortion. All of these procedures carry some risk of infection, especially if the patient also has an STD.

Pelvic inflammatory disease is most common in women younger than age 25 who have more than one sex partner. Women who have had an STD have a higher risk of getting pelvic inflammatory disease, as do those who have already had a previous pelvic infection. Any woman whose sex partner has more than one sex partner is also at increased risk of pelvic infection.

Symptoms

Symptoms can be severe, minor or nonexistent. The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the pelvis and lower abdomen

  • Discharge from the vagina with an unpleasant odor

  • Fever and chills

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Pain during sexual intercourse

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your medical history, including the sexual habits of both you and your partner or partners. Your doctor also will ask about your symptoms and methods of birth control. A pelvic examination will reveal whether your reproductive organs are tender or swollen. This helps to identify the specific site of infection.

The diagnosis of pelvic inflammatory disease is not always easy because the site of infection cannot be examined easily. Also, the symptoms sometimes mimic symptoms of other conditions, such as appendicitis.

During the pelvic examination, your doctor may swab the inside of your cervix with a sterile, cotton-tipped swab. A laboratory will test the sample for gonorrhea and chlamydia. Your doctor may order a blood test to see if your white blood cell count is high, which may indicate that the pelvic inflammatory disease is more severe.

If the diagnosis is not certain, other procedures may be done, including:

  • Laparoscopy — A slender, telescope-like instrument is inserted through a small incision in the navel or just below it. This allows the doctor to view the pelvic organs.

  • Ultrasound — An electronic device is moved over the abdomen or placed in the vagina, creating echoes that are transformed into images of organs for viewing on a screen. Ultrasound can help the doctor see if the fallopian tubes are swollen or there is an abscess, which is a collection of infected fluid.

Expected Duration

Most cases of pelvic inflammatory disease clear up after 10 to 14 days of antibiotic treatment. More severe cases may need to be treated in a hospital.

Prevention

Other than avoiding sexual intercourse, there is no guaranteed way to prevent pelvic inflammatory disease. However, women who are in stable sexual relationships with only one partner have very little risk if neither person was infected with an STD from a previous partner. Condoms provide protection against STDs. Although oral contraceptives can prevent pregnancy, women with more than one sex partner also should make sure their partners use condoms every time they have vaginal intercourse.

Because most cases of pelvic inflammatory disease are linked to STDs, treating a woman’s sex partners is essential to prevent repeat infections. All recent sex partners of a woman with pelvic inflammatory disease should be examined by a doctor and treated as if they had both gonorrhea and chlamydia. A woman with pelvic inflammatory disease should not have sex again until her sex partners have been treated.

Treatment

The primary treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease is antibiotics, and in most cases, antibiotics alone can cure the infection. Because pelvic inflammatory disease often is caused by more than one type of organism, two or more antibiotics may be necessary. Antibiotics can be taken by mouth or intravenously (through a vein). If you use oral antibiotics, it is important to finish all of the medication, even if the symptoms go away. This is because the infection can still be present after the symptoms disappear. In most cases, antibiotics must be taken for 10 to 14 days.

If you are being treated for pelvic inflammatory disease, call your doctor two to three days after beginning treatment to report your progress. If your condition is not improving, you will need to visit your doctor again to have another examination.

Some women with a severe infection need to be hospitalized to receive antibiotics intravenously. If fever and pain do not improve after several days, you may need a pelvic ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan to see if an abscess has formed. If you have an abscess, you probably will need surgery in addition to antibiotics to cure the infection.

As with any significant infection, bed rest or reduced activity is important to promote recovery. Pain and discomfort can be relieved with pain medication, hot baths and heating pads applied to the lower back and abdomen.

When To Call A Professional

If you experience any symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease, see your doctor promptly.

Prognosis

Getting prompt treatment and follow-up care can cure pelvic inflammatory disease and keep it from causing further problems. Follow your doctor’s advice closely, finish all your medication and return to your doctor for all scheduled checkups. To avoid reinfection, your sex partner(s) also should be treated, and you should follow all of the recommendations for prevention.

Additional Info

CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN) 
National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention
P.O. Box 6003 
Rockville, MD 20849-6003 
Toll-Free: (800) 458-5231 
Fax: (888) 282-7681 
TTY: (800) 243-7012 
http://www.cdcnpin.org/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
1600 Clifton Rd., NE
Atlanta, GA 30333 
Phone: (404) 639-3534 
Toll-Free: (800) 311-3435 
http://www.cdc.gov/

- See more at: http://patienteducationcenter.org/articles/pelvic-inflammatory-disease-pid/#sthash.zN81M2oY.dpuf

eboni-health-advisor.tumblr.com/archive

According to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Latinas are less likely than other groups to have access to employer sponsored health coverage or private plans. Sixty-six percent of immigrant women don’t have access to employer sponsored coverage.

The situation is even worse for Latinas in Texas whose rates are 19 percent higher than the national average and 11 percent higher than the national average for Latinas. Women living in counties on the U.S. Mexico border are 31 percent more likely to die of cervical cancer compared to women in non-border counties.

I heard condoms DON’T protect against STDs. Is that true?

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Someone asked us:

Hello Planned Parenthood! I am so happy you guys have a tumblr! This made my day! Quick question! I’ve been told that condoms only prevent pregnancy, not STD’s or STI’s. This is a bit confusing to me because I thought condoms protected against that stuff too! Could could explain this to me? I would really appreciate it! I hope you guys are around forever! <3

Yo that is one dirty, untruthy rumor! As a matter of fact, latex and plastic condoms are the ONLY form of birth control that can also prevents STDs

While using condoms is the absolute best way to prevent STDs if you’re going to be sexually active, it’s not a 100% guarantee. That’s why we call using condoms “safer sex” instead of “safe sex.” Infections like herpes and HPV, which are spread by skin-to-skin contact, may live on areas condoms don’t provide a barrier against (your scrotum, thighs, or buttocks, for example). So it’s possible whoever gave you the bad info simply misunderstood this little condom side note. 

They also may have been talking about lambskin/animal skin condoms, which only provide pregnancy protection and DO NOT protect against STDs. Condoms that protect against both STDs and pregnancy are made from latex, or types of latex-free soft plastics like polyurethane, polyisoprene, and nitrile. However, lambskin and other animal membrane condoms aren’t very popular anymore. The vast majority of condoms out there today are made out of latex or plastic.

So don’t believe the “condoms don’t protect against STDs” hype — it ain’t true when it comes to latex and plastic condoms. If you’re having sex, condoms offer good protection against pregnancy, and great protection against STDs. So use ‘em! 

Also, thanks for the love. You made my day!

-Kendall at Planned Parenthood

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