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sexual health: inform thyself

December 8, 2009

This article from Violet Blue (yes, this is pretty much a repost, but I skipped the link through her blog and went straight to the column in the SF Gate, for those of you who may be reluctant to click on the link titled “open source sex”) made me realize just how lucky I’ve been in terms of my healthcare.  Well…in some parts of it, anyway.

Anyhow, the column, titled “The Sex Doctor is Out,” is about the difficulties of talking to your doctor about sex, meaning anything from disease to dysfunction to general questions.  Not just the difficulty of having the conversation, but the very real chance that they will give you misinformation.  For instance, from the column:

It started with an email from a woman whose doctor told her to use Crisco for lube with condoms, claming that Crisco would not break latex because it is “natural.” (FALSE: Crisco contains oils that break condoms easily.) Then I got a panicked call over the weekend from a female friend in the East Bay who was just diagnosed with HPV. A lesbian, she asked her doctor how to keep from passing the virus to her sex partners. The doctor replied, “You’ll be fine. Men can’t get it.” (FALSE: If men didn’t get HPV, how would it be transmitted? And what an –hole. Dr. Jerkface needs a slap.)


Yikes!  These are things I could have answered correctly years ago.  These are things I think that some of my most ignorant friends and partners could have answered correctly, even.  It absolutely horrifies me to think that this is actual medical advice given to concerned patients.

And I grew up in the quasi-rural south, practically the epicenter of horrifying examples of sexual non-information and misinformation.

Violet Blue offers suggestions for tracking down sex-positive healthcare, which can no doubt be valuable for many folks reading her column, but I see a different bottom line here: it is our responsibility to be informed about sexual health.

Find reliable sources of information on disease.  Find reliable sources of information about contraception (assuming that’s relevant to you).  Know where to send your friends for information, and be willing to talk if they have questions.  Talk with your partners, and make sure that everyone involved is aware of all of the risks you choose to take.  Informing yourself and those you care about is the best protection against misinformation and its consequences.

And actually, I’ve saved you a bit of trouble regarding the reliable sources.  Here are a few websites that I’ve referenced for years.  Also, another (usually) reliable source of information, if you’re a woman, is your gynecologist.  It is their job to have these answers, even more than your primary care folks.

Planned Parenthood’s STD information (I don’t care what your opinions on them and abortion might be; they have great info)

Planned Parenthood’s contraception page Another good source about specific types of contraception can often be a manufacturer’s website, as long as you remember that their goal is to sell it to you.

Mayo Clinic’s Disease Index

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