Monthly Archives: October 2016

Four things you shouldn’t do before sex

Four things you shouldn’t do before sex


By Gistmaster

When it comes to sex, it is every married couple’s desire to enjoy it and still be able to relish the thought of it thereafter. Apart from the numerous health benefits of sex to the human system, the pleasure that comes with it is electrifying and almost unrivalled.
Notably, there are many routes to sexual satisfaction, but the mostly adopted means of reaching climax is through intercourse, which is about the most effective for men, unlike women who are more likely to reach orgasm faster through nipple or clitoral stimulation.
Sex is to be enjoyed, but understandably, there are medical conditions that prevent or forbid people from having sex, usually for some time. Meanwhile, beyond those conditions, there are some other things people do that may tamper with how much they enjoy sex and even impact on their overall health afterwards.
Some of these issues directly affect sexual performance, while some are safety tips. Hence, it may be helpful to discuss what people should take cognisance of when they are about to have a romp in the sack so as to enjoy it and guide against infection. These include:
Shaving or waxing before sex: Due to the belief that the pubic hair could breed unpleasant smell and because some people do find it disgusting, people tend to shave or use wax to remove the hair in that region. But inasmuch as being ‘clean’ in that region is seen as a good hygienic practice, experts have advised that it is advisable not to shave before sex, simply because shaving or waxing tends to open up the small pores in the skin and while the sexual activity is ongoing, body contact could lead to infection, or rashes, which could multiply in little time because the place is usually warm and so germs and bacteria could multiply there quickly. Some people shave shortly before sex because of the feeling that their partner might find the pubic hair unattractive.
A medical doctor, Emily Gibson, said removal of pubic hair would always inflame the hair follicles in that region and leave some open wounds that could cause irritation of the shaved or waxed area, leading to the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
She added, “When that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture media for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens, namely group A streptococcus, staphylococcus aureus and its recently mutated cousin, methicillin resistant staph aureus.
“There is an increase in staph boils and abscesses, necessitating incisions to drain the infection, resulting in scarring that can be significant.   It is not at all unusual to find pustules and other hair follicle inflammation papules on shaved genitals.
“Additionally, I’ve seen cellulitis, soft tissue bacterial infection without abscess of the scrotum, labia and penis from spread of bacteria from shaving or from sexual contact with strep or staph bacteria from a partner’s skin. And some clinicians are finding that freshly shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable to herpes infections due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to virus carried by mouth or genitals. It follows that there may be vulnerability to spread of other STIs as well.”
Also, a consultant endocrinologist, Dr. Michael Olamoyegun, explained that shaving before sex does not influence performance, but that “in the course of shaving, the person can sustain injuries, and during sex, there would be body contact and the ease of transmitting infection into the injured area would be high because the pubic hair serves as a form of protection.”
So, to avoid infections from creeping into your system courtesy of sex, never shave before sex.
Smoking: Apart from the negative effect smoking has on the heart, it turns out that it also has an effect on people’s sexual performance. It could reduce libido as it lowers testosterone (sex hormone) levels, hence, people are advised not to smoke before sex. The same applies to taking alcohols. According to a sexual health expert, Dr. Vijaysarathi Ramanathan, smoking could affect a man’s erection. He said, “Smoking affects almost every system/organ of the body including sexual functioning. People need to understand that erection in men has a lot to do with a healthy heart, blood vessels and good blood flow. So anything that affects blood flow will definitely affect the erection.”
In his explanation on Health Site, he said further that Nicotine, a toxic oily liquid that is the chief active constituent of tobacco, could clog the arteries and restrict blood flow to the genitals, which would affect performance.
For couples aiming at pregnancy, Ramanathan said smoking could also lower a man’s sperm count; cause genetic damage to the sperm and reduce the ability of the sperm to swim to where it will fertilise the egg. And in women, it could also cause sex-related problems, like reduced sex drive, among others.
On smoking, Olamoyegun said the constituents of cigarettes can narrow the arteries and veins that supply blood to the penis. “Smoking causes vasoconstriction; narrowing the blood vessel, so, the amount of blood that goes into the penis will reduce. And since the erection of the penis has to do with blood flow, it may affect the man’s erection.
Eating too much or taking energy drinks: No doubt, sex is an activity that is very involving and tiring, and so it is not uncommon for some people to eat before sex as if they are going to fight, especially men, all in the name of preparing for the act. But findings have shown that it is better to eat snacks, nuts or light food before doing ‘it’ to avoid feeling drowsy. In the same vein, experts have said that people should do away with heavy, gassy and high-fibre food to avoid frustrating the partner with a sluggish and poor performance eventually. So, it is not the time to eat five wraps of heavy food like someone going to the war front. Also, it has been found that it is not advisable to take energy drinks. People do this to have some energy to ‘deliver’ but experts have said the impact may not last long and that it tends to leave the person tired and weak after a (short) while.
According to Olamoyegun, sex, just like other forms of exercise, should not be preceded by eating heavy food. He said, “Normally, if you want to do any exercise, including sex, you are not supposed to take any heavy meal, because doing so could lead to aspiration in the course of the activity; the food can come from the stomach to the air pipe, and that is not good. So, it is better to eat a light food.
Masturbating: This is one tactic some people use, usually done hours before the intercourse, so as to prolong sex and it is mostly done by men who have premature ejaculation or women who crave prolonged sex. They believe that having ejaculated (men) or reached orgasm (women) moments before the sex would delay their next orgasm, but findings have shown that such can make erection almost impossible and the fact that it can kill sex drive when it comes to having real intercourse with someone of the opposite sex. Ultimately, experts have found that masturbation can be addictive, and after engaging in it for a long time, such persons tend to lose interest in real sex. So, to have a sustained healthy sexuality, masturbating should not be an option.
Meanwhile, medical experts have advised that if a woman pees after sex, it could reduce the likelihood of her getting urinary tract infection. They said the urine would have flushed out any bacteria present. It is not a must, but it is helpful.
Olamoyegun had this to say on it, “The vagina and the urethra are close, so after sex, if you pee, you flush out the bacteria before it settles into the tract. You don’t necessarily have to do that but it could be helpful too.”

Why Can’t I Orgasm During Sex? Chronic Pain And 5 Other Factors That Affect Ability To Climax

Why Can’t I Orgasm During Sex? Chronic Pain And 5 Other Factors That Affect Ability To Climax



Imagine this: You and your partner are getting hot and heavy in between the sheets. You’re feeling sexually aroused — but you’re unable to climax. In frustration you ask yourself: “Why can’t I orgasm during sex?”

The Kinsey Institute indicates 20 to 30 percent of women don’t have orgasms during intercourse, compared to only 5 percent of men who don’t climax every time they have sex. Men and women who are unable to sustain an erection or reach orgasm, respectively, are usually labeled as having some type of sexual dysfunction. However, the inability to orgasm could be triggered by several issues that range from physiological to psychological.

Below are six causes of why you have trouble orgasming during sex.


Condoms are often seen as an “evil” necessity that reduces sensitivity and sensations for men. The truth is condoms can inhibit male orgasm if they do not fit properly. A condom that is too tight can feel like the penis is in a chokehold, which can be distraction, and make it difficult to keep an erection. A 2015 studyin journal Sexual Health found about 52 percent of men report losing an erection before, or while putting a condom on or after inserting into the vagina while wearing a condom.


High levels of stress impact your psychological and physiological health, which can interfere with the ability to orgasm. This makes it harder to concentrate on the sensation and relax during sex. Women with high salivary cortisol and stress levels have significantly less desire to masturbate or have sex with their partner.

Stress causes us to produce fewer sex hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, and more cortisol and stress hormones. When the body releases cortisol, a fight-or-flight response kicks in, and redirects the blood flow away from the sex organs, causing you to breathe shallowly.


Depression affects your mood, and even the desire to have sex. A 2000 study in the American Family Physician found 70 percent of adults facing depression without treatment had problems with their sex drive. This is because sexual desire starts in the brain as sex organs rely on chemicals in the brain to jumpstart your libido, and change blood flow. Depression disrupts these brain chemicals, making sexual activity more difficult to initiate and enjoy.


More than 75 million people live  with persistent or debilitating pain, according to the national pain foundation, which can often lead to a low sex drive. Chronic pain sufferers find it difficult to feel pleasure during sex since the body hurts all the time. This is unfortunate since having an orgasm can alleviate some pains and aches.


Drugs tend to be among the most common causes of sexual problems. Prescription meds are responsible for as many as one of every four cases of sexual dysfunction. A 2002 study published in Family Practicefound statins and fibrates (used in lowering LDL “bad” cholesterol) may cause erectile dysfunction, whilelater research has found both men and women taking statins showed increased difficulty achieving orgasm. The levels of sexual pleasure declined along with LDL cholesterol.


When you feel good about your body, you tend to feel better psychologically as well. The mind-body connection is imperative in sexual pleasure. For example, if you feel bad about your body, it;ll become more difficult to enjoy sex and have orgasms. A 2009 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found women between the ages 18 to 49 who scored high on a body image scale were the most sexually satisfied. Positive feelings associated with weight, physical condition, sexual attractiveness, and thoughts about our body during sex help promote healthy sexual functioning.

Majority of ‘Unprecedented’ High Rate of Syphilis Cases Are Gay, Bisexual Men

Majority of ‘Unprecedented’ High Rate of Syphilis Cases Are Gay, Bisexual Men



A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that a majority of the record high rates of syphilis found in the United States is due to the sexual activity of gay and bisexual men.

According to the CDC, the Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2015 shows, “Ninety percent of reported syphilis cases were in men; and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for a majority of these cases.”


The report states:

Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (collectively referred to as MSM) are at increased risk for STDs, including antimicrobial resistant gonorrhea, when compared to women and exclusively heterosexual men. Because STDs, and the behaviors associated with acquiring them, increase the likelihood of acquiring and transmitting HIV infection, STD incidence among MSM may also be an indicator of higher risk for subsequent HIV infection.

Individual-level risk behaviors, such as number of lifetime sex partners, rate of partner exchange and frequency of unprotected sex, may contribute to disparities observed in the sexual health of MSM. However, population-level factors such as limited or overlapping social and sexual networks are also associated with higher rates of STDs, including HIV among MSM.

CDC is recommending that healthcare providers make STD screening a standard part of medical care, “especially in pregnant women.”

The report found overall that, in 2015, “more cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis combined were reported than ever before.”

Sexual Health News: World Health Organization Declares ‘Being Single Now a Disability’

Sexual Health News: World Health Organization Declares ‘Being Single Now a Disability’

Health authorities will soon consider single men and women who want to have their own children but failed to find a partner sexually disabled. The World Health Organization (WHO) now defines infertility aside from a poor sexual health as inability to find a suitable sexual partner.

The WHO now looks at sexual health in a different way. The new definition of infertility simply indicates being single is a disability.

The health authority will classify single men and women without medical issues but with an inactive sex life as “infertile.” It only applies to those who do not have children but “want to become a parent,” the WHO said.

The authors of the new global standards said it will mainly give the individuals “the right to reproduce.” It will allow single men, women and the members of the LGBT community to receive the same treatment given to the couples seeking IVF due to medical fertility problems.

The WHO also said the new standards will put pressure on the NHS to change the policy on who can access the IVF treatment. The health authority plans to send the new definition of infertility to all health ministers in 2017, reports The Telegraph.

“It’s a big change,” said Dr. David Adamson, one of the authors of the new standards. “The definition of infertility is now written in such a way that it includes the rights of all individuals to have a family, and that includes single men, single women, gay men, gay women.”


Critics call the decision an “absurd nonsense.” They said the couples with medical infertility would lose the chance for a child. It’s because the new standards will increase the number of those who seek IVF.

The current NHS policies only allow clinics to give the treatment to those proven infertile.

“This definition runs the risk of undermining the work Nice and others have done to ensure IVF treatment is made available for infertile couples when  you get definitions off the mark like this,” said Gareth Johnson MP, the former chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Infertility. “I think it’s trying to put IVF into a box that it doesn’t fit into frankly.”

Josephine Quintavalle, from the Comment on Reproductive Ethics, added, “This absurd nonsense is not simply re-defining infertility.” She said it’s “completely  side-lining the biological process and significance of natural intercourse  between a man and a woman.”

How Do You Help Girls Make Healthy Reproductive Decisions? Engage The Parents.

How Do You Help Girls Make Healthy Reproductive Decisions? Engage The Parents.

2016-10-24-1477331162-5700101-mtggirlsactingforcedearlymarriage-thumbAndy BryantExecutive Director, Segal Family Foundation

I hope you’ll dive into this article by Kelsi Hines and Kevalin Aulandez and the work of Organic Health Response described therein. As the father of a young daughter, I find it unimaginable to consider a reality in which she would feel forced to exchange sex for food. As gut-wrenching as that scenario is, the clever responses to change that paradigm on a remote island in Lake Victoria are somehow as inspiring…

Imagine you are an adolescent girl in rural Kenya. Like generations of girls before you, your path, opportunities, and odds in life are largely set at birth. Unlike your male peers of the same age, you are 2.9% more likely to contract HIV between the ages of 15-24. As you grow up you are forced to gamble with these odds in order to fulfill your responsibilities. You are a crucial building block of your family, of your community, and of the future generation of your children. You may need to choose between care-taking for your family and getting an education. You may feel the need to put your health at risk to find food for the table. Planning for the future takes a backseat as you juggle urgent daily decisions that impact your health.

Organic Health Response, a community-based health organization, works to strengthen the capacity and confidence of residents of Mfangano Island, Kenya to protect their health, culture, and unique island ecosystem. Located in the heart of Lake Victoria, roughly 30% of this remote island’s population is HIV positive. The young women and adolescent girls of Mfangano carry, like their global sisters, a disproportionately large burden of HIV/AIDS infection. In a culture where women hold sole responsibility for feeding their families and caring for those ill due to HIV/AIDS, young girls often have no choice but to engage in sexual relationships with local or traveling fishermen in order to procure fish for their families to eat. Living 10 miles off the shores of Kenya’s mainland, the young women of Mfangano Island lack access to comprehensive sex education and quality reproductive health services. Transgenerational relationships, gender-based violence, and systemic gender inequality are additional factors that contribute to making Mfangano’s young women particularly vulnerable to contracting HIV.

As we at Organic Health Response began to design a reproductive health education program to address these issues facing adolescent girls in our community, we took the opportunity to visit a fellow Segal Family Foundationpartner, Moving the Goalposts Kilifi (MTG), to learn about their unique model to empowering girls in coastal Kenya. During our visit, we learned an important lesson: to empower our girls we must start with our elders. Moving the Goalposts Kilifi uses football as an entry point to tackle issues such as a girl’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, low retention rates in school of female students, and early and unwanted pregnancies. Through bi-annual football camps girls develop essential leadership skills and participate in peer-led education on sexual and reproductive health, economic empowerment, and career guidance.

We saw the impact on the girls we met during our visit to MTG. MTG’s biggest barrier to successful programming, however, is that girls are often denied permission by their parents to attend football camps focused on reproductive health and sex education. For Moving the Goalposts Kilifi, this is why parental education is a crucial strategy in their organization, one without which they would not be able to meet their programming goals. “Tumanyane,” a Giriama word for “let’s know each other” is a community and parental forum organized by MTG that is used to increase parental and community support for girl’s empowerment. With understanding and support from their parents and elders, adolescent girls are able to make choices that support their own health and livelihood. As the old African proverb goes, “If you educate a boy, you educate an individual. If you educate a girl, you educate a community.”

As for Mfangano Island, Organic Health Response is eager to apply the lessons we learned from MTG and engage our elders to invest in the future of our young women. We look forward to using our community radio station, Ekialo Kiona Youth Radio, to engage with, and host, call-in shows on the importance of reproductive health and women’s empowerment. By empowering elders with the knowledge they need to promote the advancement of their young women, Organic Health Response is working to change the current narrative on Mfangano Island. When young women are given the knowledge they need to protect themselves, and families and communities support them in making healthy reproductive decisions, they are empowered to make sexual choices that allow themselves, their families and their communities to thrive.

National Aids Control Council. Kenya AIDS response progress report 2014: progress towards zero. Published March, 2014. Accessed July 12, 2016.

UNAIDS and the African Union. Empower young women and adolescent girls: fast-tracking the end of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Published 2015. Accessed July 12, 2016.

Nagata JM, Fiorella KJ, Salmen CR, et al. Around the table: food insecurity, socioeconomic status, and instrumental social support among women living in rural Kenyan island community. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. 2015; 00:1-12. DOI: 10.1080/03670244.2014.995790. Accessed July 12, 2016

Fiorella KJ, Camlin CS, Salmen CR, et al. Transactional fish-for-sex relationships amid declining fish access in Kenya. World Development. 2015; 74: 323-332. Accessed July 12, 2016.

Bellan SE, Fiorella KJ, Melesse DY, Getz WM, Williams BG, Dushoff J. Extra-couple HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa: a mathematical modelling study of survey data. Published February 5, 2013. Accessed July 18, 2016.


How Implicit Bias Affects the Health of Black Gay Men

How Implicit Bias Affects the Health of Black Gay Men


7 Things All Couples Should Know About His And Her Health

7 Things All Couples Should Know About His And Her Health



Men and women are different in many ways, (Mars and Venus, anyone?) and there are heaps of scientific evidence to support this idea.

And obviously, each sex faces varying physiological and psychological challenges due to physical, hormonal and behavioral differences. While both sexes face some health problems at equally high rates, there are certain health conditions that affect one sex more than the other.

Men and women’s health-related differences extend to their sexual health as well. To get a better understanding of how men and women differ in their overall and sexual health, here are seven things you should know about each sex:

1. Women have a stronger immune system.

Some animal and human studies suggest that females from many species have a better advantage in the maintenance of health and, as a result, live longer.

For instance, a study out of the University of Sheffield by Jens Rolff suggests it makes sense that female biology invests in immunity, as women need to be healthy to carry offspring, while male biology is more about investing in mating success.

2. Depression and osteoporosis are not female diseases.

Although more women are diagnosed with both conditions than men, this discrepancy might be the result of men feeling less inclined to seek treatment for either condition.

This argument is especially true for depression, as women are culturally conditioned to talk about their feelings, while men are often encouraged to avoid such discussions.

3. Both men and women are at risk of heart attacks.

Women typically develop cardiovascular disease seven to 10 years later than men, mainly because estrogen protects against cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis. Nevertheless, after menopause, women reach the same risk rates for developing heart disease that men do.

While most research focused on cardiovascular disease being a risk factor for erectile dysfunction, there is growing evidence suggesting the same mechanism might be one of the major causes of female sexual dysfunction as well.

4. Women are more likely to have sexual problems.

According to an article from Current Psychiatry Reports, sexual dysfunction affects approximately 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men. Despite this fact, however, studies and treatments of sexual problems tend to focus more on men than on women.

The sexual problems that affect women are quite different from those affecting men, not only due to anatomical differences between the sexes, but probably due to psychological and cultural factors as well.

5. Men can develop pelvic floor problems as well.

Women of childbearing age are frequently recommended to practice Kegels to keep their pelvic floor muscles strong. This is not only beneficial for female sexual functioning, but for proper bladder control and bowel habits as well.

However, not many are aware of the benefits of Kegel exercises for men. The Journal of Sexual Medicine suggested proper sexual response and arousal, in both men and women, greatly depends on the functioning of this particular group of muscles.

6. Depression causes a decrease in sex drive for both sexes.

Depression is considered an “invisible” disease, with a rising number of people being diagnosed with the disorder. One of the many symptoms of depression is a diminished sex drive, alongside poor sexual functioning.

While women tend to experience symptoms like vaginal dryness, men may develop erectile dysfunction as a result of depression. To make matters even worse, antidepressants don’t help with sexual functioning. Rather, they only seem to contribute to a loss of sex drive in both men and women.

7. Male menopause might be a real thing.

We’re all aware of female menopause. Low serum estrogen levels are easy to test, and the cessation of menstruation is an obvious sign a woman is at the end of her reproductive age.

On the other hand, men can father children well into old age, and there’s no obvious sign a man is going through what is described as “male menopause” or even “andropause.”

Nevertheless, older men tend to experience symptoms similar to menopause and a decline in testosterone levels that researchers believe may be to blame for sexual dysfunction, loss of muscle, increasing fatigue, mental fog and other symptoms some men experience in mid-life.

5 Ways Exercise Can Improve Sexual Health, From Regulating Hormones To Improving Blood Flow

5 Ways Exercise Can Improve Sexual Health, From Regulating Hormones To Improving Blood Flow

Exercises have many health benefits. There are different types of exercises, each one with its own set of benefits. Studies have shown that those who frequently exercise have better stamina and level of satisfaction, which can lead to a boost in your sexual performance. There are various exercises that can boost your stamina, libido, and satisfaction.

People tend to be more sexually desireable the longer they can last in bed. Moreover, exercise could lead have a better libido, stamina, and better communication. Having a great sex life can improve your overall health, and great sex life can only be achieved when the couple finds each other hot in bed. In this article, you will learn about exercises, and how each one can make you more desireable in bed.

It can be embarrassing if you’re unable to satisfy your partner. One of the major reasons behind men not being able to satisfy their partners is because of erectile dysfunction . The statistics show that around 18 million Americans are suffering from erectile dysfunction. This should not worry you though because there are many solutions for solving your problem, and one of them is regular exercises. How can exercises make you hotter in bed? Let’s see how.



Regular exercises can boost your sex life. Both of you will start to release more endorphins, which enhances feelings of happiness . The level of fat carried by our body is directly related to the level of endorphins in the body. The more fat that’s released, the more endorphins and vice verse. The higher level of endorphins will in crease the sexual arousal in both men and women. Exercises will greatly help in maintaining your hormone level. More sexual arousal means being more active in bed.


Sex is a physical activity, and it requires a lot of strength and stamina. Exercises will greatly increase your strength, stamina, and endurance. With more strength and stamina, it will open the possibility of experimenting with various sex positions. When you try various sex positions requiring a great level of physical control, it will lead to a guaranteed orgasm. All the varied sex positions and guaranteed orgasm will make you more desireable in bed.


Exercises will enhance your blood pumping throughout your body. The blood circulation will be enhanced throughout your body, and it also includes in between of your legs. With more blood flow in genitals of women, it will lead to more vasocongestion. It will increase sensitivity, leading to more orgasm. In the case of a male, the increment in blood flow will lead to a stronger erection.


Exercises will tighten your muscles, including pubococcygeus muscles (PC muscles). Your pelvic floor contraction (related with orgasm) will increase with a tighter PC muscle. It is better for you to try some pelvic floor exercises. There are many varieties of pelvic floor exercises to try. You can mix it with other exercises for a better sexual performance.


Regular exercises will enhance your physical and mental health. Many studies have proven the positive impact of exercises on your health. Moreover, people doing regular exercises will have a positive attitude and less stress. When you have a positive attitude and less stress, you will explore more about your body, and you will have good communication with your partner too. It will also lead to increased orgasm, deeper bonding, and increased sex drive. This will make you feel more desireable because of greater sexual capacity.


Better sex life will improve your quality of life. After marriage, both partners want to have a great marital life. To have a great marital life, it is critical to have a better sex life. Having a bad sex life means always living in dissatisfaction. It will not only lead to unsatisfied married life, but it will also lead to mental torture. The study shows that better relationship leads to better health as well. For a better relationship, you need to have a good sex life.

Now that you know how exercises can help in making you hotter in bed, you should not waste any time, and you should st art making a plan for a workout. Your partner will obviously find you hotter in bed if you work hard and get involved in regular exercises, and it will eventually lead to a better sex life.


David Gomes (@davidgomes14), a Health and Wellness expert by profession. He lives in Oakland, CA. He loves to write on a variety of topics such as joint health, weight loss, beauty and skin care for blogs and online publications. He also loves latest technology, gadgets. Connect with him on Linkedin , Google+ andPinterest.

Girls’ Progress equals Goals’ Progress:

Girls’ Progress equals Goals’ Progress:


The theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl is based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and central to the achievement of all of these goals is gender equity. Building equitable gender norms will enable girls to grow and develop to their full potential. This is an important goal in itself and also contributes to achieving other goals.

BUSIA, UGANDA  - JULY 24: A member of the Youth Foundation for Christ Ministries during an outreach to sensitize young women from the Baroma school about family planning and sex education. This activity was on a soccer pitch near their school. July 24, 2014 in Busia, Uganda. (Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Reportage by Getty Images)..
BUSIA, UGANDA – JULY 24: A member of the Youth Foundation for Christ Ministries during an outreach to sensitize young women from the Baroma school about family planning and sex education. This activity was on a soccer pitch near their school. July 24, 2014 in Busia, Uganda. (Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Reportage by Getty Images)..

Too often, however, early adolescence is a period of increased expectation for girls and boys to adhere to stereotypical norms and it is these norms that help to perpetuate gender inequality. A recent review of existing research reveals that young adolescents commonly express stereotypical or inequitable gender attitudes. These inequitable attitudes contribute to harmful behaviours and related poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes. For girls, this can mean early pregnancy and complications associated with it, unsafe abortion, infection with STIs including HIV and/or other diseases.

Girls are also more likely than boys to be married as children and to experience forced sexual initiation. Almost 1 in 3 adolescent girls (15–19 years) report lifetime physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. With puberty, freedom of movement may be more restricted for girls, especially in low- and middle-income countries, as they are expected to take on more household chores, marry and/or stay away from boys due to adult concerns about their developing bodies and emerging sexuality. Gender inequalities also have other adverse socioeconomic consequences that prevent girls from fulfilling their potential including denying them opportunities to attend and complete their schooling, and reduced opportunities to access employment when they grow older.

Changing the stereotypes

Early adolescence is a unique opportunity to address gender attitudes before they become a factor that will have negative influences throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Promoting equitable gender attitudes requires empowering adolescent girls to challenge harmful norms, building their self-esteem and agency. The greatest influence shaping these deeply entrenched stereotypical norms appears to come from interpersonal influences such as family and peers. Other influences such as media are less clear, though there is some evidence that schools may play a role in reinforcing stereotypes. Programmes thus need to move beyond a focus on individuals to target their interpersonal relationships and wider social environments.

Empowering girls to reach their full potential is an important goal and a valid end in itself. Girls have the right to grow and develop to their full potential. When girls are empowered, it benefits all. Empowered girls grow into empowered women who can care better for themselves and their families, increase their earning potential, serve as active and equal citizens and change agents, and spur economic growth for communities and nations.

Let’s talk about sex, baby

Let’s talk about sex, baby

Megan Hazuga-


“If you can’t talk about sex, then you shouldn’t be having sex,” stated Markie Twist, program director of the Sex Therapy Certificate graduate program, and coordinator of the Sex Speak Sessions that have been taking place on campus this year.

The Sex Speak Sessions are an attempt to get people talking about sex, relationships, gender and anything that falls under that umbrella. They are held every other Tuesday from 2-7 p.m. and can be found in various places around campus and in the community. They are also planning an event in the Twin Cities, as well as potentially reaching out to the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire campus. These sessions are totally anonymous and are lead by recent graduates of the Sex Therapy certification program, as well as Markie herself.

“It is not therapy, nor is it even sex education; it is simply an anonymous conversation with people that have questions about sex or gender,” Markie said.

These sessions arrived on campus at the beginning of the semester, and so far, Twist said, they have seen only positive results. With conversations lasting anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, they are already confident on the impact these sessions are having. Primarily, these sessions have the ability to guide those with deeper questions to the proper help they may need. Though Twist did not intend this when she began holding these events, she is amazed by the results.

“We’ve had several referrals [to therapy services on campus] already.” Twist said. “It is a pathway to people getting help about their struggles with gender or sexuality questions or their relationships, through a service that they may not have known about otherwise.”

Twist explained that the inspiration to begin these sessions came from Francisco Ramirez, who was named a Rosenfield scholar in sexual and reproductive health by the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. For 20 years, Ramirez has dedicated his career to responding to the sexual health and public health needs of communities worldwide. He’s a public speaker as well, and in 2008 he took to the streets of New York City with a sign that read #FreeSexAdvice, and began offering exactly that.

Twist said that when she attended one of Ramirez’s speaking events at a sexuality conference in Guelf, Ontario, Canada, Ramirez began speaking about how everybody deserves to have access to this type of education. Twist immediately wanted to bring these ideas to our community.

Twist has discovered that many people received a sex education that is fear-based, if they received any at all. She believes these sessions are an important way to start a conversation that can keep people safe.

“It’s a really good foot in the door—the most basic thing is talking to a stranger anonymously. So that opens the door to talking to your friends, family, to other people,” said Sydney Edman, a senior in the Human Development and Sexuality program, as well as a teaching assistant for Markie Twist’s Lifespan Sexuality class.

“It also helps stop the spread of misinformation,” Edman continued, “People come in with questions, and we can direct them to the correct information.”

The Sex Speak Sessions are just the start of becoming a more sexually-healthy society, and Twist says they will likely be around the area for years to come, with the hopes of expanding to communities across the country.