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If you struggle with incontinence and have concerns about leaking during sex, you’re not alone. The American Foundation for Urologic Disease (AFUD) reports that one in three women with stress incontinence avoids sex due to fears of leaking during intercourse or orgasm. But incontinence during sex doesn’t have to be an issue. Below are some tips to manage your incontinence and reclaim your sex life.
- Be Prepared. Believe it or not, your behavior prior to sex can have a big impact on your chances of leaking during the act. Here are a few tips to help you avoid an uncomfortable situation:
- Avoid bladder-irritating foods or drinks a couple of hours before bedtime. Not sure what your food and drink triggers are? There are some common ones, but you can also track your own habits for a week or so to determine what foods and drink you.
- Limiting your fluids prior to having sex.
- Practice “double voiding” prior to sex. This is when you go to the bathroom, wait a few minutes, and then go again to empty any residual urine that may still be present in the bladder.
- Use protective bedding so that you are covered in case an accident does happen.
- Try a new position. You may find that a new position creates less stress on your bladder muscles, making leakage less likely.
- Strengthen up down there. Regular pelvic floor workouts can do wonders for women who experience incontinence. An added bonus? Studies have shown that by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles you may also experience stronger orgasms and find sex more satisfying.
- Talk about it. While this is an uncomfortable discussion to have, the mere act of telling your partner about your condition may relieve some of the stress associated with it.
Talk to your Doctor
If you’ve tried the steps above to no avail, consider talking to your doctor about your condition. Incontinence is not a normal part of aging and many things can be done to correct the situation. Your doctor can tell you about options that will best fit your needs. Need help finding a physician? Click here.
This blog originally appeared on the BHealth Blog from The National Association For Continence, a non-profit association providing resources and support to those living with incontinence. For more articles, information and tools on managing bladder and bowel health conditions, please visit www.nafc.org.
“Part of our first-world indifference lies in the assumption that this is a disease relegated to the developing world. While it is true that the heaviest burden is in low-income countries, the reality check is that cervical cancer was once the leading cause of cancer death for American women as well. These days, however, cervical cancer has become a disease of the poor, uneducated minority. As recent research confirms, the disparity in mortality rates between black and white women is even wider than previously believed.”
–Mamta Singhvi, MD, MPH
ASHA recently reported on research published in the journal Cancer that finds the rates at which women die from cervical cancer are higher than we thought. The most chilling conclusion of this paper is that with Black women the rate of death nearly twice as high as previously reported, and the true disparity in cervical cancer mortality between white and black women has been underreported by 44%.
Mamta Singhvi, MD, MPH, is an oncologist who currently serves on ASHA’s board of directors. In a blog appearing on the Huffington Post, Dr. Singhvi offers her perspective as a physician caring for a young woman of color with terminal cervical cancer and offers solutions to the many challenges we face in caring for some of our most vulnerable populations.
Most people reading this have probably had a drink before. And you have probably had sex. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance you have done those two things on the same night! Most people are looking to do two things on a night out:
1) Have fun with friends.
2) Have a romantic experience.
It’s completely natural to go out for a night, have a few drinks, and find yourself talking to an attractive person. When those drinks kick in there may be some action to go along with the talk. You start dancing, getting more confident; we’ve all been there.
While the drinking age is 21, this drinking-and-feeling-sexy behavior can even begin at younger ages. In many countries the legal drinking age is lower than in the U.S. and some argue that is better, because there is less of a societal “taboo” around drinking. No matter how you slice it, no matter where you go, it’s not uncommon for humans across the spectrum to mix looking for love with having a drink in hand.
The big problem with mixing drinking and sex is that alcohol impairs judgment. This could mean our sexual common sense drops a bit and leads to decisions we normally might not make, including having sex without protection. making decisions that aren’t the best. Sleeping with someone you wouldn’t otherwise. OK, a little embarrassment, maybe some hurt feelings. But the real dangers have to do with unsafe sex. Imagine for a second…
You’re looking for love at a party. After a fun night of drinking and dancing you find yourself back at your place with a hottie who wants to have sex- but one catch: your new squeeze prefers it with no protection (like a condom) or maybe neither of you thought to bring any. You both really want it…normally you’d say “No way!” but with the alcohol swirling along with your desires…maybe just this once? That’s why it’s a good idea to buy and carry condoms, and keep some on hand.
Have fun but be smart. And don’t be fooled by these myths:
- Myth: Sex Isn’t Fun With A Condom. If you are relaxed, with someone you are attracted too, sex is going to be fun. Plus condoms can help some guys last longer. You know what’s really not fun? Regretting unprotected sex later.
- Myth: Condoms Don’t Work. When used consistently and correctly, condoms are very effective at preventing STIs and unwanted pregnancy. They work!
- Myth: Just This Once Is OK. It only takes one time!
Websites like ASHAsexualhealth.org will give you the info you need to keep it real, keep it safe, and to stay in charge of your sex life. Please, by all means, go out and have fun. Meet your friends, grab a cold beer, enjoy it wrapped in your favorite koozie. Nothing wrong with drinking, laughing and having a good time. And if you decide to have sex with someone, enjoy that too! Wrapped in your favorite condom.
One great way to stay safe out on the town- and back in the sack- is to talk to your partner. For help starting the conversation, check out these videos:
Also, here’s a short, fun video with more information about condoms: http://www.sexualhealthtv.org/all-about-condoms
Condomology: a collection of fact-based information (including fact sheets and videos) in simple, easy-to-understand language
Sexual Health TV: Sexual Health TV (SHTV) is your one stop for a wide range of sexual health programming. Tune in to watch all the channels including one dedicated to condoms and risk reduction.
#KeepItCovered #CondomMonth blog on sex, alcohol, and making good choices.
Below are sample Tweets and Facebook posts you can share throughout the month:
Wrap it up! February is National Condom Month. Learn more @ http://ow.ly/XOQj8 #CondomMonth
Free fact sheet download – Male Condoms & Female Condoms. http://ow.ly/XOR8H #CondomMonth
How to Use a Condom animation. http://ow.ly/XORou #CondomMonth
ASHA’s Condomology busts myths & gets out the facts about condoms. Plain language to empower YOU. http://ow.ly/XOQId #CondomMonth
February is National Condom Month (#CondomMonth). Visit ASHA to learn more. It’s YOUR health – take charge and be safe!
During National Condom Month in January ASHA is offering a free download of the fact sheet Male Condoms & Female Condoms. Get yours at ASHA. #CondomMonth
During National Condom Month in February you can download fact sheets and more from ASHA. Get involved, make a difference! #CondomMonth
Condomology is an ASHA program to ensure that the facts about condoms are available and understood by all so consumers can make informed choices about their sexual health. FAQs, posters, videos, and more. Get the facts and take control of your sexual health. #CondomMonth
New research finds that women in the U.S. are dying from cervical cancer at rates far higher than we realized, especially with black women.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University examined the mortality rate (or death rate) with cervical cancer and say the statistics are skewed because they include women who have had a total hysterectomy and no longer have a cervix (and no risk for cervical cancer). When looking only at women whose cervix is intact, the investigators found the corrected mortality rate for black women with cervical cancer is actually 10.1 per 100,000 compared to 5.7 per 100,000 with the uncorrected data that includes women who have had a total hysterectomy. For white women, the corrected rate is 4.7 per 100,000 versus an uncorrected rate of 3.2.
Without the corrected figures, the authors say we’re underestimating the true disparity between black and white women by a whopping 44%.
The authors say the racial differences likely stem from a variety of factors: compared to white women, black women have more barriers to health care and tend to be diagnosed with cervical cancer at a more advanced stage of disease (when the outcomes are poorer). They also note that differences in treatment may have a role, as black women with cervical cancer are at greater risk of inadequate care.
The American Cancer Society estimates there are approximately 13,000 total new cases of cervical cancer in the U.S. each year and about 4,000 deaths. ASHA president and CEO Lynn Barclay says the racial disparities are unacceptable and needless. “We have the tools to prevent cervical cancer and let me be clear: not one single woman need die from this disease,” she says. “It is heartbreaking that black women continue to suffer an unfair burden of cervical cancer mortality, and a national embarrassment that we’re not developing and funding programs to make sure the most vulnerable communities get the care they need.”
For more on preventing cervical cancer, including how to raise your voice and get involved, visit NCCC online.
Beavis, A. L., Gravitt, P. E. and Rositch, A. F. (2017), Hysterectomy-corrected cervical cancer mortality rates reveal a larger racial disparity in the United States. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30507.
Nearly half of males in the United States have genital human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a study published January 19 in JAMA Oncology.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, and experts believe most sexually active individuals have an HPV infection at some point. CDC estimates there are 79 million total cases of HPV in the U.S. (with 14 million new cases each year). Of the HPV types associated with sexual transmission, some are low-risk types linked with genital warts while others are high-risk types associated with cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, and anus (along with a number of head and neck cancers). Most cases of HPV are harmless, however, and are cleared naturally by the immune system in a year or two.
The study by Jasmine Han, MD, and her colleagues was done with nearly 1,900 men ages 18-59 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2013-2014. NHANES is a series of continuing studies assessing the health of adults and children in the U.S. Overall, HPV was detected in 45% of males in the study (25% of subjects were found to have a high-risk type). Unlike HPV infections in females which decline after peaking in mid-20s (click here for data on females), the results from this study found high rates of HPV in males across all age groups.
The researchers also found only 11% of the study subjects eligible for HPV vaccination had received the shots. HPV vaccines are approved for males and females ages 9-26 and are nearly 100% effective in blocking infections and diseases related to the HPV types covered, and the authors write “Our study indicates that male HPV vaccination may have a greater effect on HPV infection transmission and cancer prevention in men and women than previously estimated.”
Reference: Han JJ, et al. Prevalence of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection and Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Rates Among US Adult Men. JAMA Oncol, published online January 19, 2017.
Page created January 20, 2017
Page last updated January 20, 2017
A cure for HPV!
No more outbreaks!
If you’ve had an HPV diagnosis, you may have seen claims like this in your search for information on the Internet and elsewhere, often written in large bold type. In smaller type are the disclaimers:
“Individual results may vary.”
“This information is not intended to replace medical advice. Seek appropriate medical attention if your condition persists.”
“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
The promises are bold, but the disclaimers are clear: these are not reliable, approved treatments for HPV.
Claims such as these can be found selling products that treat genital warts. Well, not actually treat warts, as the disclaimers state, since such products are have not been approved as a treatment by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The language used to market these products, though, seems to be carefully crafted to obscure that fact. An ad will tout “FDA-approved ingredients” or mention that the product is “FDA-registered.” Impressive sounding, perhaps, but neither of these indicate that the product in question has been through the necessary research to ensure that it is safe and effective.
Listen to Learn More
In this episode of ASHA’s Sex+Health podcast, H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD, breaks down the more common HPV “miracle cures” and also answers the most common questions about legitimate, approved HPV vaccines.
The Drug Approval Process
The FDA is in charge of overseeing the safety and effectiveness of the drugs we use. The approval process for a new drug can be a long one—from 8 to 12 years in total—with many steps along the way. Drugs are tested in animal studies, then through a series of human clinical trials, with steps along the way to determine safety and dosage, evaluate and verify the effectiveness of the drug, discover side effects. Even after a drug is approved, its safety is monitored, to track any adverse events that may not have been discovered in the clinical trial process.
Does that mean that these non-prescription treatments are not safe? Not effective? If they haven’t gone through a rigorous testing and approval process, there’s no way for you, as a consumer and a patient, to know. And if they haven’t been tested for the claims they make, such as “killing HPV infections” and “curing genital warts”, how can they market them in this way? As the fine print of the disclaimers detail, such products are registered with the FDA as dietary supplements or cosmetics—not drugs. “Not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease” as the label states.
There are treatments available for genital warts that can be applied at home, but these are available by prescription only—no over-the-counter wart treatment should be used to treat genital warts. In addition, a healthcare provider can offer other options. While there is no one treatment is best for all cases, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider to find something safe, effective and right for you.
Vaccines: Prevention, not a Cure
While the type of HPV that causes genital warts is consider “low risk,” there are other HPV types referred to as “high-risk,” as infection with these types can lead to the development of cervical cancer. There are currently vaccines available that can prevent infection both low-risk and high-risk types of HPV, but no vaccine is currently available to treat or “cure” HPV. While there is research underway for what are called “therapeutic” HPV vaccines—vaccines that can treat precancerous or cancerous lesions caused by HPV—these are in the early stages, testing safety and effectiveness.
Yet just as there are unapproved treatments for genital warts advertised as a “cure,” there is also a vaccine that claims to cure cervical cancer. The vaccine is not currently available in the U.S., but is being administered to patients in Mexico, where the researchers studying the vaccine are located. And that is important—the vaccine is still being studied and is considered to be in its experimental stages. Most experts believe it has not been sufficiently evaluated to support claims that it cures HPV or prevents outcomes like cancer.
To be approved in the U.S., vaccines must also undergo a series of clinical trials to test the products safety and effectiveness, as the current preventive HPV vaccines have been. The vaccine offered in Mexico has not. ASHA advisors recommend against treatment with this or any other experimental vaccine intended to cure HPV, unless and until it is offered in a controlled clinical trial by a reputable research center under government oversight.
Given the variety of HPV vaccine research being conducted – and the fact some of the different projects have similarities- it’s easy to be confused. Until a vaccine to treat HPV is evaluated and approved by the FDA it’s best to follow the old adage of buyer beware. ASHA/NCCC advisors recommend against treatment with this or any other experimental vaccine intended to cure HPV, unless and until it’s given in a clinical trial by a well-known research center with the government keeping an eye on things
Get Rid of HPV, Naturally!
Now that sounds like a claim made by some dubious treatment, doesn’t it? But this actually a selling point for your own immune system. The fact is, most HPV infections are harmless and are cleared by your body in a short period of time—no treatment needed. For example, the average length of new cervical HPV infections (as measured by HPV DNA) is about 8 months. About 70% of new infections clear within 1 year, while a full 90% of new infections clear within 2 years.
Even in people with longstanding persistent or recurrent HPV infections, active infection usually is cleared—although viral DNA may persist indefinitely in everyone. This is why experts say there is no “cure” for HPV, as the virus may still be present even though there are no signs of infection, like pre-cancerous lesions or genital warts.
Some websites tout nutritional or herbal supplements that are claimed to either cure the virus or speed natural clearance. The jury is out here: no combination of vitamins, minerals, or herbs is proven effective in clearing HPV infections (despite the claims to the contrary) so consult your health care provider or pharmacist before ordering such products online.
So while there is no cure for HPV, there are treatments that have been shown to be effective at treating genital warts and precancerous cervical lesions caused by HPV. Even more important though, there are also vaccines that can prevent infection in the first place.
We are excited to announce the launch of Find My Spark, an educational campaign that provides information about female sexual difficulties (FSD), defined as persistent problems with sexual arousal, desire, orgasm, or pain that causes a woman distresses or strains her relationship with her partner. The objective is to encourage and empower women to take charge of their sex lives by talking to their healthcare provider or therapist about any troubles they may be facing. To help educate about FSD, we are partnering with leading women’s sexual health experts with support from Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
Our hope is that Find My Spark will shed light on FSD as a true clinical condition, educate women about sexual difficulties and their symptoms, and encourage meaningful conversations between women and their healthcare providers.
We’re well into the fall season but honestly, this feels like Groundhog Day. This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published STD surveillance data for 2015 that show cases of reportable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)—chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis—are at record levels. Also we see a continuation of the same trends we’ve been worried about for years, namely our most vulnerable populations of young people, women, and men who have sex with men continue to be hardest hit.
The 24,000 cases of primary and secondary syphilis cases reported in 2015 represent a 19% increase over the previous year, with men who have sex with men enduring a huge burden. Gonorrhea cases increased nearly 13% to 395,216 reported cases and while the chlamydia incidence grew by 5.9% to more than 1.5 million cases, CDC believes the true burden of chlamydia is much higher. Both gonorrhea and chlamydia frequently have no symptoms (especially with females); without prompt treatment these infections can cause a number of complications including infertility.
We know many factors are behind these alarming increases: mass incarceration, poverty, stigma, homophobia. Add to that the fact that the best STD control programs we develop are limited by a complex array of issues including stable housing, transportation to clinics, and leave time from work. For sexual minorities, finding a safe, caring medical home remains a significant challenge.
We have reason for hope, of course. The public health field has countless dedicated professionals hard at work, and our colleagues in the STD Prevention Division at CDC lead the way. It’s never been more vital for those in the fields of sexual health and social justice to maximize our resources by building coalitions and working together.
It’s also critical to articulate that sexual health must no longer be viewed as distinct from our overall health; the two are intertwined and each impacts the other.
I ask you to please learn the facts, take a stand, and speak up. Get started with a visit to the advocacy page of ASHA’s website and consider becoming one of our sexual health ambassadors, too. If you have questions about STDs, visit our Ask the Experts forum for a wealth of insight.
Yours in good sexual health,
ASHA President and CEO