image of bubble people with the text Ask a Sexpert

UoG Sexual and Reproductive Health Resource Fair Anonymous Questions Answered – part 1

The Sexperts: from SHORE, UoG Wellness, Sanguen Health Center, ARCH, Dr.Milhausen, Dr.Watson, PhD candidate Nicole Jeffrey, Dr.Behnke-Cook, PhD candidate Angela Underhill, Graduate student Rima Hanna and Sheila Mirafzal from UoG’s NAKED Program

On Thursday, February 14 GRCGED hosted a Sexual and Reproductive Health Fair in the University Centre Courtyard. We had an “Ask a Sexpert” booth where people could meet with various people throughout the day and have their questions answered in private. There was a survey distributed before the fair and the anonymous questions where answered by the Sexperts throughout the day. Check them out here! Stay tuned for part 2 next week!

  1. I cannot take the birth control pill and am afraid of getting an IUD. Are there other methods besides condoms that will protect me?

You can use the birth control patch, ring or shot! Don’t forget there is also an internal condom! Each usually has a 92% effectiveness but the IUD is the most effective. You can also protect yourself from pregnancy by timing your ovulation. Although not preferred timing your ovulation and “pulling out” is better than nothing at all.

Re: IUD fear: It does hurt for some folks the pain usually subsides within the first day. Risks are very minimal if not rare.

2. What are the most common misconceptions people have about sex?

That it is easy and naturally great. Great sex has many ingredients from feeling comfortable with your body, knowledge about anatomy and pleasure to an accepting and respectful partner. If sex isn’t great for you, you are not alone! It gets better with time, practice and knowledge. Consider checking out a sex ed book like “guide to getting it on” by Paul Joannides (2017, 9th ed).

Another misconception is that it can only include intercourse (vaginal-penile penetration). Many women don’t orgasm from intercourse and there are lots of other pleasurable activities to engage in! Another misconception is that you have to orgasm. Lots of folks get pleasure from sex without an orgasm and that is ok!

3. How to have lesbian sex?

There is no one way to have lesbian sex so this one is tricky! Talk to your partner and know their STI status. Dental dams can be helpful and used, external/internal condoms may be needed even for use with sex toys. Keep fingernails short and clean. Communicate about boundaries, likes, dislikes (like any other sexual relationship).

4. What steps could schools take in addressing sexual education to LGBTQ+ folks?

They should be inclusive and evidence based! Providing education that is meaningful and relevant for ALL students. I think a good question is how we could help teachers and schools provide an inclusive research based sex ed curriculum? It starts with all of us advocating to the government. Also- talk about sex beyond penile-vaginal. This is good for all folks not just LGBTQ and introduces the amazing diversity in sex and gender. It easily paves the way for people to explore and have words for their feelings early on.

5. My girlfriend won’t communicate to me but then gets mad at me that I don’t know how she is feeling. How can I help her?

Ask her: if there are things she’d like to talk about. When she would feel comfortable talking. If there are things you can do to help her feel comfortable (e.g communicate for a limited amount of time, no judgement etc). Share yourself so she is not the only one ‘on the spot’. Try to be the positive and constructive messenger. Say something you like and enjoy and something you would like to work on.

6. How do you know if you are in a toxic relationship?

Ask yourself: do you feel worse together than apart? Does being with your partner make you feel better about yourself? Do you feel your choices and preferences are respected? Do you trust each other? Are you found having to choose them over other aspects of your life? Do you feel you’re apologizing for things you do not need to be apologizing for?

7. Is 30 really the end all for getting pregnant?

NO! By age 40 getting pregnant is considerably more difficult and comes with more risks but is not the ‘end all’ for getting pregnant.

8. Why can’t you get paid to donate your eggs? Are there risks?

The states pay donors but our system is different here. There is an ethical debate stemming from the original royal commission on assisted reproductive technologies. Eggs are considered ‘priceless’. Technically you can get paid for time and expenses. Egg donors usually receive in the range of $8000 – 14,000.

In terms of risk the surgery itself carries very little risk it is more so the hormones that can be risky but even then it is minimal. Best to check out for more details.

9. If I am in a relationship do I still need to give consent?

YES! And you still have the choice to decline sex. Consent can be given and requested in many ways. Many couples use and understand one another’s nonverbal cues. Find what works for you. But consider challenging the idea that consent can only be given nonverbally or that it will kill the mood to verbally communicate. Open and honest verbal conversations can be a lot more nuanced so that you can really understand what you and your partner(s) are comfortable with. And communication during sex can be very sexy too! I also think it is really important for partners to seek consent- continually ask what your partner likes and wants and is okay with. Not all responsibility should be placed on the person giving consent or responding to. Especially because it can be hard (especially for women) to decline sex- we face a lot of pressure especially with long term partners that we care about.

10. What is intimate partner violence? What does that look like?

Intimate partner violence can take many forms- verbal, physical, sexual, financial etc. This means it is not always physically violent. It is committed to more often by men against women, but men can experience it too, as can same-sex partners. It often involves a pattern of control in the relationship where one partner is controlling or manipulating the other. A partnership should be just that- a partnership- a trusting, loving and caring relationship where both partners have a say and feel safe. It should not be one-sided and manipulative.

11. What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

Someone with AIDS had HIV and they have acquired another immunocompromising condition. AIDS is more serious. HIV (human immunodeficiency) is a chronic health condition that folks can live with 40-60 years post-diagnosis (with access to medications). In fact, if on antiretroviral meds folks can obtain undetectable viral loads which means risk of transmission is virtually zero. In Canada most people tend to stay in the HIV category rather than the AIDS category. There is a lot of misconceptions out there about this due to stigma and misinformation.

12. Is it bad to not disclose an STI if you don’t have a single sex partner if you are on medication for it?

In Canada, the only legal obligation for STI disclosure is related to HIV. If someone has HIV and is undetectable viral load they are still legally required to disclose their status unless they use a condom. There is a lot of advocacy happening to get rid of this criminalization through undetectable viral loads= untransmittable. For all other STIs it is important to know about transmission. One problem folks encounter is passing STIs back and forth before they clear- then your body can build resistance to meds. If you have something that requires long term medication (e.g herpes) it’s important to think about your partner’s safety of disclosing or at least other ways of reducing risks that you and your partner can take. Ultimately communication can be helpful and self awareness (e.g knowing if you might be having an outbreak).

Don’t forget to come back next week for part 2!