Sex & Pancakes

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

  • Dammed If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

    I’m a 22-year-old woman who was infected with type 2 herpes a few years ago. I recently began a new relationship with a beautiful partner who wants to go down on me, but I don’t want to pass anything on. How can we make using a dental dam sexy so we can both get the oral arousal we crave?
    —Seeking Some Dam Solutions

    I’m really happy you wrote this question in, because sometimes I focus so much on prevention that I leave out the what-ifs and how-tos of actually living with an STI.

    But this isn’t because they aren’t common—while Canada isn’t the greatest at compiling herpes-specific stats, it’s estimated that at least 1 in 4 Americans are currently living with genital herpes, and that 80 per cent of people infected are unaware because they have no symptoms.

    So let’s start with some quick herpes info: Type 1 herpes involves oral sores while type 2 herpes is focused more around the genital and anal regions. There is a risk of oral herpes transferring to the genitals or other parts of the body, and vice versa, so safer sex practices are necessary during oral sex and touching.

    The virus is still active and can be spread even when an infected person has no visible sores or symptoms, through a process called viral shedding.

    It sounds like you’re off to a good start, but I’m definitely with you on the difficulty of making dental dams sexy, because I get asked this question a lot and still have trouble answering it!

    To a certain extent, it’s up to you to make dams sexy, if you want them to be. Dams give you, a person living with genital herpes, another concrete safer sex option, and to me, that’s fucking sexy.

    It may be awkward at first, or feel a little clinical to use dams, but hey, all sexual experiences are a little awkward at first and that doesn’t stop us. Just remind yourself of the role they play in protecting you and your partner, and they’ll eventually just become another part of sex.

    More practically speaking, latex on its own isn’t the best feeling—but throw in some water-based lube and you’re in for a good time. You actually just might forget it’s even there.

    Someone once told me she liked to cut the crotch out of a pair of underwear and secure the dam inside it to create a hands-free dam situation. I don’t think that’s for everyone, and you definitely need to be careful about it, but that’s just one creative example that I’ve come across, so try to find one of your own!

    I think that at this point a major barrier (pun intended) in making dental dams sexy is really normalizing them.

    While male condoms may have the added appeal of pregnancy-prevention, they didn’t catch on as a norm overnight either, so I’m holding on to my hopes that peace of mind and freedom of safer sexual expression will prove to be powerful motivators.

    On a related note, I’d like to congratulate Concordia’s 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy on their Damit! project, promoting the need for dental dams to be included in the safer sex products currently offered free of charge by the Quebec Ministry of Health.

    This is a step in the right direction towards normalizing and encouraging dam use and I hope you’ll all help them out by picking up some free dams, and filling out a survey to help them in their research!

    For more info on Damit!, visit 2110centre.org.

    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.

  • Revealing Your Scars

    I’m a young woman who had infected sweat glands in my groin and armpit area as a teenager, which left faint scars. I have always been incredibly self-conscious about the marks (they resemble chicken pox scars) but I know it isn’t normal and could look weird from a guy’s perspective.

    My boyfriend of a year and a half wants to be more adventurous with our sex life (public, broad daylight, etc.) but I am scared of him seeing my scars. Should I explain to him what happened? I want to be wild!
    —Scarred to Be Seen

    Don’t let your scars stop you! I’m actually somewhat impressed if you’ve been together this long and your boyfriend hasn’t noticed these scars. Or maybe he has, but just doesn’t care.
    While I hate the word normal, what makes you think marks aren’t normal? I have an inch-long scar on my forehead from running headfirst into a table corner when I was younger—and while that may sound cute, I was probably older than you’re imagining when I did it.

    We all have scars and marks from different experiences in our lives and, while some are visible and others aren’t, they’re all part of who we are.

    Sure, not every scar has a cool or cute story to go along with it, and I know that armpits and groins are areas that many people tend to already have insecurities about, but there’s really no point in being ashamed of things you can’t change. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s a process for us all of us to overcome our insecurities.

    Unfortunately, you’re only cheating yourself when you let them get in the way of the sex you want to be having. The best sex you’ll have is when you leave your insecurities behind and realize that your boyfriend wants you.

    He wants you in public, in broad daylight and I’m guessing in a ton of other ways and places that require him to see your body—a body he’s clearly pretty into. Do you really think that’s going to change once he notices some scars that he’s managed to miss for this long?

    If so, I don’t think the scars are your problem; you probably don’t want to waste any time on a jerk like that anyway. You don’t need to explain away any part of your body, but if it will make you more comfortable and help you fully enjoy and express your sexuality, then I say do whatever you need to.

    If you do want to talk about it with him, but you’re having trouble figuring out how to start that conversation, you could try a different approach than, “Hey honey, I’m really insecure about these scars.”

    Maybe ask if he has any scars first, and get him talking. If you start a conversation that’s related and could lead into talking about your scars, it might be easier for you to talk about them just enough for him to be aware that they’re there, without sounding obsessive.

    While it may not seem incredibly sexy to disclose your insecurities, if it’s what you want, it’ll be incredibly liberating and damn sexy when you can finally do whatever you like with your boyfriend without this weighing on your mind.

    Bottom line: You can really go either way here. Either you tell your boyfriend what happened, or you don’t.

    Whatever you do, I highly recommend finding a way to embrace your body, scars and all. You can’t let insecurity hold you back any longer, and if you let your partner always be the reassuring voice, this insecurity won’t ever truly go away.

    —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.

  • Playing With Your Glue Stick

    When I was a teenager, I used to hate masturbating in the shower, despite the fact that it sometimes was the only place I could do it. My cum would always get especially messy and turn into glue when it mixed with water. Recent shower sex with my girlfriend reminded me of this, and I figured it’s finally time to ask: is this normal, and if so, why does it happen? —Sticky When Wet

    This is absolutely healthy and happens to every guy to different degrees. To explain why, we need to go over the biology of semen—or at least a simplified version, since I’m not a biologist…

    There are a few things that our bodies do naturally to facilitate pregnancy and the texture and consistency of semen is actually one of them. So for the sake of this explanation, we’re going to use vaginal sex as an example.

    When you cum, the liquid your body releases is made up of a mix of chemical compounds, proteins and acids that only come together at the moment you actually ejaculate.

    The mixture makes up seminal fluid, otherwise known as semen or cum, and the fluid immediately coagulates, which makes the liquid thicker. Sperm actually only makes up about three to five per cent of your cum.

    On the lady side of things, the vagina also wants to facilitate pregnancy, but it’s pickier. It only wants the best swimmers to survive, so its naturally acidic pH level creates a more hostile environment for sperm. Semen comes out a little on the basic side of the pH scale to serve as a defense for the sperm.

    So, when cum enters the vagina, its acidity is counteracted by the alkaline nature of the cum and this helps create a more ideal environment for the sperm. At the same time, the thickness of the cum—thanks to coagulation—helps, by blocking the entry of the cervix so the sperm is more likely to remain inside the uterus.

    This process is sometimes (nauseatingly) referred to as a vaginal plug, and the sperm just kind of hang out for a bit in the fluid while it works its magic.

    About 20 to 30 minutes after ejaculation, the cum liquefies, at which point the sperm is free to swim and continue the journey towards the egg. Outside of the vagina, you would just be left with liquefied semen and dead or dying sperm.

    So, why does semen react the way it does with water? Pretty much the same reason water and oil don’t mix. Since seminal fluid is made up of a bunch of other proteins, some of them happen to be polar (which mix with water) while others are non-polar (which don’t mix with water).

    When you ejaculate, everything gets kind of mixed together the best it can, but once water enters the picture the polar proteins mix well with water, so they get washed away easily by it. This leaves you with the non-polar ones, and the glue-like mess you described.

    The make up of your semen can depend on a variety of lifestyle factors, including diet and frequency of ejaculation, which is why the texture of cum and its reaction to water vary slightly from guy to guy.

    There may be some clumping, thicker areas, or parts that are actually already liquid at the time of ejaculation, but these are all typically healthy variations. Unless you’ve experienced anything especially out of the ordinary, such as pain or blood, I wouldn’t worry too much about anything—other than cleaning up for the next person who uses the shower!

    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 Counseling & 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.

    — with files from Gonzo Nieto

  • No-Strings Fling

    I am in a relationship and very happy, I should also mention I am a male. I also have a friend who is a female, and she is also in a happy relationship. We are very good friends and I would love to have no-strings-attached sex with her. Is it wrong for me to bring the topic up with her? We would both maintain our very happy relationships, but just have like a one-time hook-up. —Mission Impossible

    So, you’re concerned about whether or not it’s wrong to ask your attached female friend to have no-strings-attached sex with you, but you’re not at all concerned about you and your friend both lying and cheating on your respective “happy” relationship partners?

    Because regardless of whether it’s a one-time thing, and no matter how you want to frame it, that is what you’d be doing if your partners were unaware of this little hook-up.

    Rather than bringing this up with your friend, you should be bringing it up with your partner, who you claim to be very happy with. Yeah, it might be weird, but how would your partner feel if they found out you had a one-time hook-up with this person behind their back? I’m guessing they wouldn’t feel so great, so how would this be fair to them?

    If you truly care for your partner and want to continue a relationship with them, then they should be your first concern and I don’t suggest giving them a great reason to never trust you again.

    On another note, has your friend given you any reason to believe this is something she might want? If not, I’d be extremely careful in approaching her on this because you’re making strong assumptions that she might not appreciate, and if she is a good friend of yours then she may not be after this.

    Consider the fact that people, especially ones in relationships, tend to put their guard down a bit more around other people in relationships because they might feel safer thinking they won’t accidentally lead them on.

    Just so we’re clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting sex from someone else when you’re in a relationship. It’s totally normal and healthy to be attracted to someone else, but acting upon it behind your partner’s back—a partner who has likely developed some high-level trust with you—is disrespectful.

    If you want to act on this and you want to remain in this relationship, then I suggest starting a dialogue with your partner about outside sexual relations. Be prepared for this to take time, as it’s usually a process for at least one partner to become comfortable with the idea.

    Also be prepared for it to simply never be an option with your current partner, because they may not be into it. Either way, it should be a decision that both of you are in on. If you can’t handle that then don’t be a jerk—either get over it and stay with your partner, or break up with them and have all the consensual sex you want with other people.

    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 Counseling & 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.

  • Total Prolapse of the Butt

    I have a question regarding a most unfortunate incident I recently saw in a pornographic film. In the film, a woman was being anally penetrated doggy style by a rather well endowed man. At one point, the man pulls completely out of her, and, in the process, takes her intestines with him. I do believe this is called an anal prolapse and I’m scared of it happening to me. I love being anally penetrated, so tell me, what am I to do? —Butthurt Bottom

    I can see why this visual may have you concerned…

    To start off, a quick and by no means complete overview of what is also called rectal prolapse.

    Rectal prolapse happens when your rectal walls and muscles are weakened to the point of collapse and can literally no longer hold themselves up within your rectum. Rectal prolapse varies depending on the external visibility from the anal sphincter (that’s your asshole). It could be completely internal, a slight protrusion or a full protrusion.

    This all depends on how weakened or stretched the anal sphincter itself is. So, things that can stretch your asshole include long-term anal sex, but also a variety of bowel issues like frequent and long-term constipation, diarrhea, and strained defecation—as well as childbirth.

    People who are experiencing rectal prolapse to any degree are strongly advised not to engage in any anal play until treated, for obvious reasons. While treatment varies, in cases of full protrusion, a surgical procedure is usually necessary.

    Rectal protrusion is not a fun time, but barring extreme and sudden abuse of your anus, you aren’t going to go from nothing to your rectal walls collapsing all in one shot.

    So, back to the video, it would make sense for the rectal walls to exit the anal sphincter when the man withdrew from the woman because the penetration itself was likely what was holding her in during the act to begin with.
    Based on your description, I really doubt that this woman didn’t have rectal prolapse or other related­­­­­­-­––­­­ issues before this specific encounter.

    Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that rectal prolapse won’t happen to you, because there are no guarantees when it comes to our bodies. Some people engage in tons of anal play and never have any issues, while others report problems after having plain old anal sex once with an average-sized penis.

    There aren’t any studies or in-depth research on this issue so it’s hard to tell how common and frequent anal sex-induced rectal prolapse is compared to the other causes. Not to mention there’s a whole fetish around deliberate rectal protrusion and stretching, so a significant portion of what we see, especially if it’s in porn, is intentional.

    Safer anal sex practices help in prevention of more than just sexually transmitted infections, so remember to lube up to facilitate penetration (of course, don’t forget the condom), relax the anal sphincter to reduce trauma and stretching, go slow in the beginning and take it slow until it feels right—especially if you’re moving up a size on whatever you’re inserting.

    Unfortunately, the bigger you go, the bigger the risk you’re taking, so you need to personally weigh the risks and decide what’s best. Kegel exercises also help strengthen the anal sphincter (among other awesome things), so I recommend giving them a try and reaping the many benefits. Just Google “kegel exercises for men” for some great online guides.

    Most importantly, listen to your body. If you experience tearing, excessive bleeding or something just doesn’t feel right when you’re being penetrated or having a bowel movement see a doctor as soon as possible.

    Maintenance and awareness is key, so if it’s something you’re really concerned about, talk to a doctor, preferably a good one who won’t just tell you “anal sex isn’t natural,” because they might have advice or be able to put your mind at ease through a checkup.

    By the way, don’t Google Image Search “rectal prolapse.” I can tell you right now that it ain’t pretty.

    For help working through your sex-related fears, you can always contact Concordia Counselling & Development. The Sir George Williams campus office is reachable at 514-848-2424 ext. 3545 and the one at Loyola is ext. 3555.

    Send questions to sexpancakes.thelink@gmail.com and check out “Sex & Pancakes” on Facebook.