Let’s Talk About Sex: Women’s Health!

Wash Your Goddamn Sex Toys!

We know it’s tempting after a long and passionate romp with our partners, but just wiping our dildos, butt plugs, and vibrators on our sheets and calling it a day is not enough to keep them clean and functional (yes, even if we wear a condom during use!). We recommend washing sex toys with an antibacterial and scent- free soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) or using sanitizing wipes (like Clorox wipes) to give them a thorough scrub, then rinsing and drying them before storing them away for next time. Antibacterial soap prevents bacterial growth on our sex toys and unscented products prevent irritation on our skin that can cause discomfort. Clorox wipes also do a great job with killing germs or other things that like to grow on our sex toys after we use them. We want to make sure that the toys are thoroughly rinsed and dried before storing them because we want to prohibit musty or moldy scents from excess water as well as washing away extra chemicals from the wipes or soap. It is recommended to dry off sex toys with a paper towel instead of a cloth towel, as cloth towels can trap bacteria! If we’re worried about the environment, paper towels are compostable!

For strap- ons and other wearable sex toys or gender affirming products, we recommend first and foremost reading the tag or company website! Often times it will say to hand- wash or wash on a gentle cycle and air dry for the longevity of our expensive toys. We also recommend putting them in a mesh underwear bag before we put them in the washer. Another thing we may want to do for toys we use with multiple partners (or on ourselves and other partners) is to use a condom or other form of barrier between them. The only way to truly sanitize toys is to boil them, and with some toys like vibrators and plastic toys we can’t do that safely. Using a condom prevents the spread of fluids or skin- to- skin contact via the toy and allows multiple people to use the same toy without washing it in between — just change out the condom! For non-penetrative vibrators, we can cover them with condoms or cover the area with a dental dam, as well.

Let’s Slip ‘n’ Slide into Lube! 

At Sex Out Loud we always say, “The Wetter the Sex, the Better the Sex.” We are huge advocates for using lube not only for pleasure purposes, but also for safety! But just because we recommend lube, doesn’t mean that every single brand lube out there is going to be body-safe. While the US has high regulations and FDA standards for condoms, it is an absolute free- for- all when it comes to sex toys and lube. And it’s no wonder, have you seen some of the shit out there at those scary ass roadside stops they claim are sex stores? With lube, the quality can be extremely questionable, and it’s something to take seriously, especially if we are using it externally and internally and on very sensitive parts of the body. If we have a great skincare routine with nice soap and moisturizer, why would we treat the quality of lube any differently? And why should we even bother to begin with? 

The vagina, anus, penis and the bodily fluids connected to these parts, all have a very particular pH. That is, the chemical balance within the body that maintains the ideal environment for good health and comfort. The vagina in particular, is a finicky cave of wonders that requires an ideal pH to avoid infections and general discomfort. And while the body is typically good at self- regulation, especially the lovely self- cleaning vagina, there are some things that can truly piss off the flora and fauna that reside there. Typically, the vagina maintains a rather acidic environment — this is ideal since it discourages the growth of unfriendly bacteria that want to move in and start a family. Things such as semen, however, have a very basic pH and can offset the happy environment of the vagina, making it more susceptible to infections like bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infections, and yeast. Lube can also be responsible for this pH shift! Typically, water-based lube is the culprit, but this shift can be caused by any lube our body is particularly sensitive to. There is also a whole bunch of crap that can be pumped into lube — parabens, BPA, sugar, and other irritants. To avoid this, SOL vets all the lube we stock in the office. Below is a list of ones we’ve researched:

For water- based: Sutil (not recommended if you have a gluten allergy), Good Clean Love, Slippery Stuff, One Oasis, Sliquid 

For silicone- based: One Move, Uberlube, ID Backslide and Milenium, and Femani 

Sex Out Loud does not recommend using any oil- based, food- based (i.e Crisco, coconut oil, olive oil, etc), or “cooling and heating” lubricants. We also do not recommend using flavored-based lubricants for penetrative intercourse or play as the sugars used can cause yeast infections. 

Overall, do your research, try out out sample packets that are offered in sexual health stores or order them offline. So have fun slipping and sliding! 

Pelvic Exams?!

If we are someone with a vagina who is having sex, it is really important that we get pelvic exams! Pelvic exams can include pap smears (a sample of cells from the cervix to check for abnormalities), but they don’t have to, and it’s not recommended until age 21. Pelvic exams are pretty self-explanatory: Tthey examine the pelvis! This can be to check for yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis (BV), test for STIs, or discuss pain we may be having during or outside of sex. Basically, a pelvic exam is our chance to talk to our providers about any questions we have about our vulvas and surrounding areas. 

Pelvic exams usually start with a discussion with our provider about our sexual history, our medical history, and any concerns we may be having. Then, they will determine if a self-swab or urine sample is a good test for us or if we should have them examine us. A self- swab is a long cotton swab that collects cells and fluids from the inside of the vagina. It is put into a test tube and shipped off to a lab for a Chlamydia and Gonorrhea test. If we are having symptoms or other complaints, we will most likely have the doctor examine us instead. Usually they will have us undress from the waist down and put a sheet over our laps, then put our feet up in stirrups to get a better view. The doctor will be looking for any sores, irritation, abnormal fluid, abrasions, warts, or other signs of a possible STI or yeast infection. This may include a speculum, which is a tool they use to look at the cervix and collect samples of fluid or cells from inside the vagina. If we think this may be uncomfortable for us or we have concerns about the process, we can let our providers know ahead of time, and they are likely to use a smaller speculum, talk us through the process, or omit this portion altogether. Then, the doctor will let us know what’s up, send any tests to the lab, and let us ask final questions before we can get dressed and head home. The whole exam is less than five minutes, and the appointment rarely goes past half an hour. 

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