Ask Ang October 9: Anal, oral, birth control, and more!
Welcome to Ask Ang, your anonymous campus sexual health resource, brought to you by H*yas for Choice. We are made up of a team of undergraduate students who work to answer your sex questions! We post questions and answers weekly on Sundays (or, occasionally, like today, on Mondays). Anyone can submit a question, and the anonymous form can be found here: www.tinyurl.com/askang.
1. What happened with the birth control mandate?
On Friday, the Trump administration announced the rollback of the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act, putting at risk access to care for over 62 million women who were able to get contraceptive care under the mandate. Back in the beginning of the summer when a draft of this regulatory change leaked, HFC created a guide on how this change might impact students at religious universities, so you can look at that for more information. We are in the process of preparing a comprehensive guide of what this rollback means including the history of the contraceptive mandate and Georgetown’s relationship with contraceptives, which we plan to have out later this week.
Know that H*yas for Choice is staying on top of these changes and working with multiple partners to protect the access to contraceptive care for the over 6,600 students on the student health insurance. If you are one of those students, please fill out this survey to let us know how the change might impact you.
2. When is the Condom Fairy Starting again?
We are in the process of getting the Condom Fairy back up and running, and deliveries should begin in the next couple of weeks. We will be sure to broadly advertise the return of the program, so be on the lookout for that!
3.It’s sometimes painful after my partner ejaculates in me (during vaginal intercourse). Why?
The only way to know for sure why you’re experiencing pain is to see a doctor, but one possibility is that you could have a semen allergy (also called a sperm allergy or seminal plasma hypersensitivity), which can cause pain, itching, burning, swelling, or redness in the vaginal area after your partner ejaculates. Semen allergies can cause a reaction to some partners’ semen but not others, and you may not necessarily experience the same reaction every time with the same partner.
If you suspect that you do have a semen allergy, a doctor can diagnose this and help find solutions to the pain you’re experiencing. If you want to try to investigate it yourself/with your partner, some people recommend testing a drop of semen on your arm to see if it causes a reaction (itching, burning, redness, etc.). Short-term solutions include using condoms or pulling out to prevent the reaction caused by the semen.
Other causes of vaginal pain include yeast infections or STIs (although the pain for these is not associated with ejaculation as much as semen infections are). If you haven’t been tested for STIs recently, that may be a good place to start to determine the cause if this pain.
If the pain you experience is more like abdominal cramping (some cramping during/after sex can be normal, but it sounds like your pain is caused by something beyond this), possible causes include endometriosis or fibroids.
If you can, describe your symptoms to a doctor; an examination is the only way to definitively determine the cause of the pain and obtain treatment to prevent this pain in the future.
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4. I've heard so much conflicting info about the hymen. I know the basics: it's not some internal wall then needs to be "broken" during penetrative sex, it's a thin membrane with a hole in it, it can tear long before penetrative sex. But I feel like there's still so much mystery around it. Can you give a quick "hymens 101"?
The hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening of the vagina and allows menstrual blood to flow out. Hymens are left over stretchy tissue formed during fetal development as part of the formation of the vaginal canal; they haven’t been found to have much biological or physical function past birth, as they are used to block bacteria and germs while in the womb. Hymens are different for everyone and most often don’t stretch across the whole vaginal canal like a lot of us may have been taught to believe; they have holes that come in all shapes and sizes, the most common one being a half-moon. Some people have one opening in their hymen and others have multiple; the shape, size, and number of openings do not have any super important consequences for one’s health. The openings let out menstrual blood, and that seems to be the only real function of the hymen that has been found so far.
A few other facts about the hymen:
Hymens don't break, instead they stretch from a variety of activities including intercourse and using a tampon
The blood that is sometimes associated with having sex for the first time is the result of of tears that happen as the hymen stretches
The unpleasantness some feel during penetrative sex can be due to the hymen being stretched or broken, but is more often due to other sources of discomfort, like a lack of lubrication.
Whether or not someone bleeds during sex is not an indicator of their previous experience; not bleeding does not mean someone has had sex before.
There is no scientific term for “virginity” -- this a socially constructed, not biological or medical, concept.
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5. A combo of two questions: 1. How do you make anal not hurt? 2. I want to try anal sex, but I have no idea how to prep for it. Specifically I'm worried about the pain and about, uh, the poop situation. I've heard you should go the bathroom beforehand, but...what about residue? I'm also a cis female and I'm not sure if it can be pleasurable at all without a prostate.
Anal sex, like all sex, should be fun and feel good. It should not hurt or cause discomfort. The most important things to remember when it comes to anal sex are to relax, communicate with your partner, and use lube. Anal sex should not be painful and if you are experiencing this, it is important to make sure you are taking the necessary steps to ensuring safe and comfortable anal sex. It is advisable to work your way up to full penetration first with fingers or smaller toys like butt plugs or anal beads (make sure that any toys you use for insertion have a flared base, otherwise they can get lost inside your rectum!). Also, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of lube with any butt play. Thick lube (especially silicone-based) works best for anal sex because it does not dry out as quickly as a thinner, watery lube. Patience is very important especially when you’re trying to begin having anal. Working your way up to anal penetration is necessary because you must learn to relax the sphincter and muscles; if anything starts to hurt, stop, there is no rush. The person doing the penetrating needs to go slowly.
As for prep for it, yes, pooping beforehand is advisable. Also, external cleansing with warm water and soap can make you feel more at ease. If you are engaging in anal fingering, latex or vinyl gloves are a great tool because they smooth out possible sharp fingernails and eliminate the worry for touching traces of poop. After all, it is your rectum and poop can happen--it’s not a big deal. That’s something you and your partner should be on the same page on. Just make sure you have the necessary sanitary measures in place. Using a condom is important and make sure that if you have a vagina, you do not put anything in your vagina that was previously in your anus. Some people find that they feel more comfortable performing anal sex after using an enema, but they are certainly not necessary. At the end of the day, communicate with your partner about your concerns and make sure you are comfortable with each step.
As for pleasure with anal sex, even if you don’t have a prostate, there are many nerve endings around the anus and in the rectum. The experience is often described as sensory overload. Some people also report “G-spot” or stimulation of the clitoris through anal. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference and if you try it and don’t like it, you don’t have to do it!
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6. Can I get “the pill” in the medical center?
Doctors and nurse practitioners at the Student Health Center (SHC) can prescribe oral contraceptive pills, but only for non-contraceptive reasons. These reasons include acne, irregular periods, heavy periods, cramps, and polycystic ovary syndrome. The SHC can prescribe most all kinds of oral contraceptives for these purposes, but they do not offer IUDs or Nexplanon (birth control implant). The MedStar Georgetown hospital pharmacy does not fill prescriptions for contraceptives, but the SHC will send the prescription to whichever other pharmacy is most convenient for you. The closest CVS to campus is located at 1403 Wisconsin Ave. NW, and the closest Walgreens to campus is located at 1217 22nd St. NW (just north of Washington Circle).
As for emergency contraceptive pills like Plan B (also known as the morning after pill), these are not available at SHC or the hospital pharmacy. You can get it over the counter without a prescription at all major pharmacies, including the CVS on Wisconsin or the Walgreens on 22nd St.
7. I’ve been seeing this guy for a while, and he keeps trying to get me to go down on him at particular times. How do I tell him I don't want to? He doesn't explicitly ask if I want to go down on him, he mostly initiates it physically.
This sounds like an issue that can best be solved by some clearer communication from both parties. On the one hand, this guy you’re seeing seems to expect oral sex whenever you two are hooking up. No one is entitled to any sexual act, just because it’s something they have done before. That means that even if you’ve given him oral sex before, it doesn’t mean that you are expected to at any other point.
It is possible, however, that this guy thinks he’s communicating with you physically. This is when it’s important to take a moment to clarify what you are and aren’t okay with in the moment. If he’s giving you every signal that he wants a blow job and you just aren’t in the mood, let him know that now isn’t the time. A quick “sorry, I’m not in the mood right now” or even just diverting his attention back to something else should suffice. If he doesn’t seem to be getting it, don’t be afraid of giving him a firm, verbal “no”. You should always feel comfortable saying no at any point while having sex.
He should understand that not everyone wants to go down on the person they’re seeing at all times. If he doesn’t understand that or if you ever feel pressured to participate in a sexual act when you don’t want to, that’s a big sign that you should reevaluate your relationship. You should never feel bad about refusing a sexual act, even if it’s something you have done before or do regularly. That’s the thing about consent--it is necessary every time you have sex (or any sexual act) and a no at any point in the process means no. If he’s not on board with that, he’s not worth your time or energy.
Note: some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.