Sex & Pancakes

No matter what your pleasure, get health tips with our sex column by Melissa Fuller.

  • Mo Money, Mo Knowledge

    Movember has arrived and men everywhere are ditching their razors and showing off their hairy upper lips for men’s health issues.

    Wait a minute. Did you realize all that facial hair was for men’shealth issues? I actually didn’t, first.

    In the past I’ve been a bit of a critic of the Movember campaign.Not because I’m heartless or don’t think prostate cancer is a real issue, but because campaigns like Movember run the risk of missing the point. It’s fun to play around with real and fake silly moustaches, but the real point is to get people talking, to raise awareness and to save lives.

    Movember, like many awareness campaigns, often falls prey to the slacktivist mentality. Slacktivism is what you get when people slack at activism. It usually involves taking a cause and doing the bare minimum to appear engaged and feel good about yourself without taking any real action to move the cause forward. I’m sorry to tell you this, but if all you do for Movember is grow a moustache and feel good about yourself then you, sir, are a slacktivist.

    It’s great when an awareness campaign is fun, cute and even sexy—but that should just be how the cause first gets people’s attention. The next step needs to be concrete and information-based, because a sexy campaign doesn’t mean anything unless it gets people to do something. This Movember, don’t just participate by wearing a moustache at a party— do something real.

    If you’re growing out your ‘stache, you can create a profile online at ca.movember.com to collect and donate money to prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives. This gives you a place to send people for information on the cause and the organizations actually collecting funds.

    While you’re at it, learn the facts for yourself. That way, when someone comments on your fancy moustache, you have some knowledge to throw their way. This should get you started: The prostate is a walnut-sized gland found under the bladder and in front of a male’s rectum. One in seven men in Canada will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lives and just this year there were 26,500 new cases. Four thousand of those men won’t survive. Prostate cancer has a 95 per cent survival rate when detected early, but statistically, most men don’t get regular checkups, so many of them aren’t detecting it early enough. This is where real awareness can help.

    Canadian guidelines recommend that men start annual prostate screenings with their family doctors between the ages of 40 and 50. You may be too young to get yourself checked out, but you’re never too young to pass that info along to friends and family.

    If you’re throwing a Movember party, remember that a party where no one really talks about why they’re all sporting moustaches doesn’t really help. If you’re going to make Movember a party theme, at least have enough respect for those actually affected by these issues and do something real for the cause.

    Find creative ways to raise funds and spread knowledge. Maybe you can display prostate cancer facts on posters or have a “donate what you can” box. It might sound a little cheesy, but it doesn’t need to be.

    There’s nothing wrong with Movember, but right now there seems to be more awareness of moustaches rather than for the campaign and what it supports. It’s up to the people participating to make it more meaningful. And that doesn’t necessarily mean giving money—sometimes information is more valuable than cash.

    So, if you plan on getting involved this year, do your part to make it count.

    Happy Movember!

    Submit questions anonymously at sex-pancakes.tumblr.com and check out “Sex & Pancakes” on Facebook. Need some extra help? Contact Concordia Counselling & Development at 514-848-2424 ext. 3545 for SGW and ext. 3555 for Loyola. Got a quick health question? Call info-santé at 8-1-1 from any Montreal number.

  • Schlickin’ the Books

    I got my period while studying for midterms and the cramps with all the stress was just too much. I read that orgasms can help with cramps so out of desperation I went to the library bathroom and gave it a go. It was the weirdest thing I’d ever done, but it felt great and I started doing it every time I study. I feel weird but I know that masturbation is okay, so I don’t know why. Is there a point where it can be bad?
    —Jerkin’ While Workin’

    Endorphins are a powerful thing, and I’m guessing all those intense emotions led to one hell of an orgasm. There’s really nothing wrong with using masturbation for cramp or stress relief—it’s all-natural, free and it works!

    Orgasms are a pretty common recommendation for cramp relief and it doesn’t hurt that women tend to be especially horny close to their periods. Your orgasms might even be more intense around that time, so I say take complete advantage of it if it makes you feel better.

    As for stress, there are many people who use masturbation for stress relief because of the deep relaxation that sets in, post-orgasm. Health-wise, there’s nothing wrong with frequent masturbation and—as far as habits go—there are worse ones to have, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

    At the same time, it’s always good to maintain some level of control when it comes to any habit so that it doesn’t become extreme. If you’re doing this every time you study, there’s a risk of becoming dependent on those orgasms.

    What happens if one day your stress is escalating and you can’t get away to the privacy of a bathroom stall to rub one out?

    You may also want to think about the effect it could have on your relationship with masturbation. You might start to masturbate more and more just to get to the orgasm for its stress or pain relieving properties rather than for the build-up and orgasm itself.

    When was the last time you masturbated just because it felt good? Or because you were thinking about something that really turned you on?

    If your orgasms are just a means to an end, you could miss out on a pretty great part of masturbation—self-exploration. If that’s something that concerns you, my advice is to mix it up a bit and don’t only masturbate when stressed on a study break.

    Keep masturbating, just do it for a variety of reasons!

    You could also start to masturbate preemptively during stressful times without waiting for desperation to kick in. Maybe set aside a time to do it when midterms or finals are coming up and instead of making it just about the orgasm, think of it more as “me time.”

    You could set a daily time that works for you to give yourself a really good orgasm involving fantasy or porn, instead of a half-assed quickie in the bathroom. Just the act of setting aside time and taking yourself elsewhere mentally can really help.

    You’ll also be more in control of your habit because it’ll become a thing you do for yourself rather than something you need when you just can’t take it anymore. That’s just one suggestion, and you may have better ideas that work for you.

    Masturbation is awesome, but could start to suck if you only associate it with stress and studying. People masturbate for tons of different, personal reasons and there isn’t really a bad one. Maybe stress is just one of your reasons. Either way, stress itself is way more harmful than masturbation, so knock yourself out!

    Submit questions anonymously at sex-pancakes.tumblr.com and check out “Sex & Pancakes” on Facebook. Need some extra help? Contact Concordia Counselling & Development at 514-848-2424 ext. 3545 for SGW and ext. 3555 for Loyola. Got a quick health question? Call info-santé at 8-1-1 from any Montreal number.

  • Get Tested

    A friend recently complained to me that she had been regularly bleeding between periods. After asking her a few questions, I mentioned that bleeding between periods could be a symptom of Chlamydia.

    I didn’t really think much before mentioning it because she had shared a lot of personal information with me and I thought I could speak freely with her. Despite asking for my opinion, she was offended by my suggestion that she might have a Sexually Transmitted Infection and accused me of calling her ‘dirty.’

    That bothered me. Having an STI doesn’t make someone dirty and this kind of stigma is what keeps people from getting tested. STIs are not rare and having Chlamydia is not the end of the world.

    Many people don’t realize that when they’re calling STIs dirty the likelihood is pretty damn high that the person they’re talking to has had one. STI stigma only causes further isolation and unnecessary shame to those who have had or currently have an STI. STIs don’t only happen to people in awareness campaigns. Health Canada stats are based on you and your peers.

    This discussion sparked a feeling of deja vu because in the last few years I have had the same conversation with three different people.

    Each of them actually had Chlamydia when they got tested. They’re the lucky ones who actually had symptoms since Chlamydia rarely has any symptoms and the majority of people don’t even know they have it. Untreated Chlamydia can develop into Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which is a painful and dangerous disease that can cause infertility in men and women. If caught early however, Chlamydia is completely treatable with painless antibiotics, as are many bacterial STIs.

    Viral STIs like HIV, HPV, Herpes and Hepatitis B/C, are caused by a virus meaning once you have them, you have them for life. Treatments aren’t easy and having a viral STI shouldn’t be taken lightly, but contracting one doesn’t mean your life is over.

    Knowing your status means you can be in better control of your health, outbreaks and physical reactions. You can better protect your current and future partners.

    Ever wonder why Quebec has started pushing HPV awareness so hard?

    Three reasons: the introduction of the vaccine, the drastic rise of HPV cases, and the low numbers of women getting pap tests.

    Many people still don’t know that a pap test’s actual purpose is to check the cervix for abnormal cells caused by certain strains of HPV. HPV doesn’t always mean genital warts, the more common strains aren’t even related to warts but can cause cervical cancer.

    If you get regular pap tests, you’ll likely find out if you have abnormal cells before any cancer-causing cells have progressed too far. Timing is everything and this should be a major incentive to get those annual pap tests.

    My offended friend tested positive for Chlamydia and after getting treated she asked me to write about it. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t get tested–I get it. It can be scary and uncomfortable but it can also save you from future problems. I tell everyone I know to get tested because many people just aren’t hearing it elsewhere. I care that people are informed and know where to find support if they need it and you should too.

    So tell your friends when you get tested or get a pap test and make talking about it and doing it the norm. You don’t need to tell them your results but sometimes just talking about it can make a huge difference.

    Submit your questions anonymously at sex-pancakes.tumblr.com and check out “Sex & Pancakes” on Facebook. Need some extra help? You can always contact Concordia Counselling & Development at 514-848-2424 ext. 3545 for SGW and ext. 3555 for Loyola. Got a quick health question? Call info-santé at 8-1-1 from any Montreal number. Getting tested: Concordia Health Services SGW: 514-848-2424 ext. 3565 for SGW and ext. 3575 for Loyola.

  • Panting for More

    Do you know about selling used thongs online? Someone told me I could make lots of cash doing it but I was too shocked and embarrassed at the time to ask how… Do a lot of people do this?
    —Panty-Buy Curious

    You may have heard the story that broke earlier this year about an American college student who was supporting herself selling her worn socks online.

    She’d take pictures of herself wearing the socks and promise that they’d be extra smelly for the buyer. At one point, she was selling her socks at $100 a pair, and ran her own online store. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right?

    You can find pretty much anything up for sale online these days, making it a perfect world for fetishists to find exactly what they’re looking for. Selling used clothing items like underwear and socks on Craigslist or adult auction sites is now one of the many things people do to make some extra cash online.

    If this is something you’re thinking of doing, then you should know that it might not be as easy as it sounds. It’s not as simple as getting a pair of underwear, wearing them and boom! You just made $100.

    To make a significant amount of money, you need to be willing to put quite a bit of time into marketing yourself, connecting with potential customers and dealing with exchanges and money.

    The more clients know about you, the bigger the fantasy gets and the more they want what you’re selling. Sellers who are making $50 or more per item typically include photos of them wearing the goods and what they’re willing to do in the underwear.

    There’s a range of things, including masturbating in them, peeing, shitting, having sex and even menstruating in them. Some include bonus photos and videos of themselves with the purchased items. The more they do, the more they charge—and needless to say, there’s competition.

    Potential customers can also be a drain on your time, if you’re not careful. A writer posted an article on nerve.com called “I Did It For Science” where she describes her experience as a first-time seller on Craigslist.

    She spent most of her time corresponding with creeps who never became clients, but kept emailing her to request extra free pictures, though they were ultimately unwilling to pay. She did, however, find two clients, one of whom wanted to be a repeat customer.

    I think the tipping point should be whether or not this is something you plan to do once a month, or if you plan on actually creating a system for yourself to do this regularly.

    It only seems worth the time you’ll put in if it’s going to be bigger than a one-time sale, since you’d make more money as a regular or on an auction site and you could set up things like pre-written responses to send out to the creeps.

    Now, important stuff—it’s hard to get a straight answer on the legalities of all this in Canada without consulting a lawyer, so do some research. Canada Post’s policy on the mailing of “obscene materials” is a little unclear and Paypal doesn’t allow you to use their service for adult purchases.

    One of my sources stressed the importance of reading the fine print on sites before posting items with them, and anonymity in anything that could be traced back to you for legal reasons.

    I’m not going to say you should or shouldn’t do this, but I hope this information was helpful and that you have a good starting point for more research on this! Good luck! I leave you with a source to find more about the pros, cons, and logistics—sellusedpanties.net.

    —Melissa Fuller

    Submit your questions anonymously at sex-pancakes.tumblr.com and check out “Sex & Pancakes” on Facebook. Need some extra help? You can always contact Concordia Counselling & Development at 514-848-2424 ext. 3545 for SGW and ext. 3555 for Loyola. Got a quick health question? Call info-santé at 8-1-1 from any Montreal number.

  • Oral Conundrum

    Melissa, I recently read that gonorrhea is on the rise and is mainly transmitted through oral sex. The idea to use a condom during oral sex genuinely makes me want throw up, but I don’t want to get a STI either. What should I do?
    —Orally Concerned

    You’re absolutely right that gonorrhea is currently on the rise in Canada.

    On a very related note, people often think about certain STIs like gonorrhea as the not-so scary ones because they’re treatable, but it was recently brought to public attention that drug-resistant gonorrhea strains have been coming up in Canada.

    There may be a time in the near future when gonorrhea will no longer be an STI that’s easy to treat—or possibly treatable at all.

    Gonorrhea can be transmitted vaginally, anally, and orally. I wouldn’t say the main method of transmission is oral, but it would be pretty difficult to know for sure, since there’s barely any data on gonorrhea prevalence in Canada period, let alone how exactly people contract it.

    I do, however, think that more and more people are engaging in unprotected oral rather than unprotected vaginal or anal sex, since condoms have become pretty standard there, so it would make sense for oral transmissions to be on the rise.

    There are a lot of cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia that go unreported because it’s typical to show no symptoms when you’re infected. This is one of the reasons health professionals push for routine STI tests rather than only going if you think you might have something.

    The more common symptoms are greenish-yellow discharge or pain during urination. If you’re orally infected, it’s a sore throat, and swollen glands.

    Since gonorrhea and chlamydia can also infect your mouth, it’s important to know that a standard STI test doesn’t always include a swab sample of your mouth to check for them, so be sure to ask if your doctor doesn’t do it.

    While sucking on latex doesn’t sound appealing, oral gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes probably don’t either. Condoms and dental dams are basic and widely available tools that significantly lower your risk of contracting anything, so you might as well use them if you really want to have oral sex but you’re worried.

    It really comes down to what level of risk you’re comfortable with. I prefer to be realistic about the fact that some people still won’t use protection, and that’s their personal choice to make.

    If you do choose to have unprotected oral sex, you need to be prepared to take responsibility and accept the consequences if you contract or pass on an STI. Remember, if you haven’t recently been tested, you might actually be the one passing an STI without knowing you had one.

    I wish there was a better, more desirable answer, but unfortunately, STIs are a reality that we’re all living with. Your other option is to not have casual oral sex, and only do things you’re comfortable using protection during.

    Maybe save the unprotected stuff for a trusting sexual relationship where you can both get tested and have a better idea of each other’s STI statuses. Until then, it’s really your call to make—and you now have all the info to make it.

    Submit your questions anonymously at sex-pancakes.tumblr.com and check out “Sex & Pancakes” on Facebook. Need some extra help? You can always contact Concordia Counselling & Development at 514-848-2424 ext. 3545 for SGW and ext. 3555 for Loyola. Got a quick health question? Call info-santé at 8-1-1 from any Montreal number.