Entries in Sexual Health (8)


Condom Codes Let Users ‘Check In’ to Safe Sex

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest(NEW YORK) -- Call it the digital version of a tie on the doorknob. A new website lets the tech savvy tell the world when (and where) they’re having safe sex.

To celebrate National Condom Week (Feb. 14 to Feb. 21), Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest dispersed 55,000 condoms at community colleges and universities in western Washington. Each condom wrapper had a sticker with a QR barcode, which could be scanned with a smartphone to check in to to  let people know they’re having safe sex.

“ is like Foursquare for people who don’t want a sexually transmitted infection,” PPGNW said on its website.

Visitors to the site can spill the details of their latest sexual encounters -- anonymously -- providing their gender, sexual orientation, age and location at the time of their tryst.  The location can be a street address, or get somewhat juicier with such details as "Kitchen," "the Great Outdoors” or “In a hot tub.”  Visitors can also note whether they’ve talked with their partners about condom use and STDs.

The site’s interactive map keeps exact locations somewhat hidden, marking a check-in within three or four blocks of the actual location.

According to the site’s map, the condoms have already traveled from coast to coast and to six continents.

Nathan Engebretson, PPGNW’s new media coordinator, said the site has already had 65,000 visitors and 4,500 check-ins, with 20 percent of the traffic coming from mobile devices.

While the project may seem to be just another social media example of TMI, Engebretson said the point was to get people talking about safe sex, and to “normalize” and celebrate condom use.

“This isn’t about bragging. It’s not about digital notches in your bedpost,” Engebretson told ABC News. “Even if people have no desire to check in, they’re still getting the sense of how many people like them use condoms.”

PPGNW’s target audience was college students and 20-somethings, a group more likely to use social media -- and condoms. A 2010 study from sexual health researchers at Indiana University found that U.S. teenagers and young adults were more likely to use condoms during sex than Americans over age 40.

But Engebretson said PPGNW wants to know more about what makes people use condoms, or not. He said the next phase of the project would be to analyze the data from various groups and tailor a marketing campaign to work more condoms into sex for those people.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New York City to Mandate Sex Education in Public Schools

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the first time in nearly 20 years, New York City's public middle and high schools will be required to teach students about sex.

In an email to principals Tuesday night, Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said mandatory sex education will start in the second semester of the 2011-2012 school year. The curriculum will be flexible but will include lessons on how to use condoms, how to avoid unwanted sexual encounters, and how to respect relationship partners.

"We have students who are having sex before the age of 13; students who have had multiple sexual partners; and students who aren't protecting themselves against sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS," wrote Walcott. "I believe the school system has an important role to play with regard to educating our children about sex and the potential consequences of engaging in risky behavior."

The mandate applies strictly to the New York City public school system. New York State currently requires one semester of health education in both middle and high school, but does not mandate sex education. Only 20 states and the District of Columbia mandate sex education, according to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute, which studies sexual health.

Schools will have the choice of when and how to incorporate sex education into their current health curriculum. Walcott strongly recommended, however, that it take place in sixth or seventh grade, in middle school, and in the ninth or tenth grade, in high school. He also recommended two commercially available programs: HealthSmart and Reducing the Risk.

"The programs that are effective, and involve some lecturing by teachers and a variety of interactive activities, like small group or class discussions and role playing to help young people practice saying no to unwanted sex," said Doug Kirby, senior research scientist at ETR Associates, a nonprofit organization that develops health education programs that include HealthSmart and Reducing the Risk.

Kirby said the curriculums are age-appropriate, meaning the focus for younger students is on abstinence, shifting more toward condom and contraception use for high school students. And contrary to the notion that sex education will rush kids into having sex, Kirby said four separate studies found that Reduce the Risk delayed the initiation of sex.

Walcott emphasized that parents will have the opportunity to hold kids back from specific lessons on birth control for religious or cultural reasons.

"I have always believed that parents should have the right to opt out of certain sex education lessons such as conversations on prevention and birth control, as they will in this case," he wrote. "But I also feel we have a responsibility to offer our students access to information that will keep them safe and healthy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


A Peek behind the Door at Sex Surrogates

getty(BOCA RATON, Fla.) -- Barbara Krakower, a sex therapist from Boca Raton, Fla., sometimes relies on individuals called sex surrogates to treat her patients.

Some of these patients include: a 54-year-old virgin whose mother had taught him that women are no good, a wheelchair-bound man fearful of initiating a new relationship post-divorce, and a 32-year-old whose first lover berated him when he couldn’t sustain an erection.

In each case, Krakower offered to call in a surrogate, someone who is paid to consult with the therapist to get to the root of the patient's phobia or inhibition and then ultimately work it out between the sheets if necessary.

Sex surrogacy may be the oldest or the newest profession in the world. In the past, French fathers initiated their adolescent sons by introducing them to their mistresses. In other cultures, a young virgin is given physical guidance before consummation of the marriage.

Today, at least in Florida, the state neither officially bans nor condones it.

Sex surrogacy as a counseling practice emerged in the 1970s, according to sex expert Pepper Schwartz, who is a professor of sociology at the University of Washington.

"The problem has always been the link between prostitution and surrogacy," Schwartz said. "But they are trained to work with the therapist so they are not just having sex.

"Usually, you are dealing with people who have some pretty strong problems," she said.

The surrogates are credentialed and trained by the International Professional Surrogates Association (IPSA) and can be either male or female.

Therapists say more men than women use surrogates because they tend to have more performance anxiety than women.

Legality issues have not been problematic, mostly because surrogates don't advertise their skills and are usually referred by licensed therapists.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gay Men's Sexual Health Study Called Waste of Taxpayer Money YORK) -- A study on gay men's penis size and sexual health made headlines this week -- not because of its findings but rather its funding source: taxpayers.

The study, which linked penis size to sexual position preference as well as physical and psychological well-being, was published in the June 2010 issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.  But more than a year later, the Traditional Values Coalition, The Daily Caller and Fox News condemned the study as a frivolous use of taxpayer money.

"We've got nameless, faceless bureaucrats who thought this was a good use of taxpayer money," Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, told the Daily Caller.  "But, at the end of the day, it was the NIH [National Institutes of Health] directors who signed off on it.  These nameless, faceless bureacrats [sic] seem to think the American taxpayers are a limitless ATM machine."

The NIH maintains it did not directly fund the study, nor did it approve the research.  It did, however, provide a training grant for research into AIDS and HIV prevention for the study's lead author, Christian Grov.

"This study was funded by the Hunter College Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training," a spokeswoman for the NIH told ABC News in an email.  "Dr. Christian Grov was supported as a postdoctoral research fellow at the time the research was conducted by a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded training grant, which focuses on preparing behavioral scientists, especially racial/ethnic minorities, to conduct research in the areas of drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, and crime.  These funds can only be used to support expenses like stipends, tuition and fees.  These funds cannot be used to support research projects."

The training grant supported Grov while he studied a range of sexual health issues among men who have sex with men -- a group that it is disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS.

Now an assistant professor of health and nutrition services at City University of New York's Brooklyn College, Grov defended his research, explaining that it has important implications for reducing HIV transmission.

"At the moment, the male latex condom is the best barrier to prevent transmitting HIV and [sexually transmitted infections]," he said.  "The one-size-fits-all approach to condom distribution may not meet the needs of men who fall outside the range of the typical condom."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Book Suggests More People Seek Out Kinky Sex Online

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A pair of Boston researchers have found that some diverse kinky sexual behaviors may be more common than you think. The two independent researchers analyzed more than a billion Web searches, websites and other sexual media online over two years and found that many people are not revealing what really turns them on.

Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam detemined that more men are likely to enjoy visual sexual displays, such as video pornography, and more women are likely to read about sexual encounters and engage in discussions.

"Just like we have taste cues, we're also born with hard-wired sexual cues, and they differ between men and women," said Ogas.

The type of sex behaviors they found men and women seemed interested in were surprising, he said. More men were interested in porn featuring older women. Men also were more interested in overweight, rather than skinny women.

Women, on the other hand, were more interested in watching and reading about relationships between two men.

Ogas and Gaddam have coined their research as one of the largest sex experiments since Alfred Kinsey unveiled his sex behavior research in the 1950s. And many say their findings reveal a new era of the way people literally view their fantasies.

The research suggests that it's not just a select few who are seeking out what is considered kinky behaviors. However, many people are less likely to admit their fantasies in a face-to-face interview or survey like those conducted by Kinsey.

They've published their results in their upcoming book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts.

Some experts question the validity of Ogas and Gaddam's work. There research was conducted independently and not peer-reviewed. Ogas admitted they found it difficult to recruit female researchers for their experiment because of the nature of their study.  Still, Ogas said, the work may help some people understand their counterparts and promote discussions among couples.

"It will help people have greater comfort and acceptance in their own interests," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Seven Things You Never Knew About Condoms

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- February is the shortest month, but don't be fooled -- it has still been declared National Condom Month. More than five billion condoms worldwide are sold every year, according to Michael S. Zedalis, senior vice president in charge of science and technology for condom maker Ansell Limited.

Known as Dr. Condom to his friends and colleagues, Zedalis offers seven factoids you probably don't know -- or didn't think to ask -- about the oft-maligned yet always useful condom.

1. When Rubber Hits the Road

Although their precise purpose then is unclear, condoms are depicted on male hieroglyphics figures dating back to ancient Egypt. Protective sheaths used in the early 1500s were made from ill-fitting animal bladders or intestines, although some of the more imaginative designs were made of metal. The first modern condoms were made from real rubber and produced by Goodyear. Yep, they make tires, too.

2. The Shape of Things

The majority of condoms are now made from soft, ultra-thin synthetic materials that are dipped onto glass-formers that come in an astonishing variety of shapes and sizes, certainly many more than you would think are anatomically possible. The forms are cleaned, dipped into latex -- often twice -- then the latex is cured and stripped from the glass form. Next, "naked condoms" are washed and lightly powdered to remove the stickiness. Finally, they're electronically tested for holes, rolled, lubricated and foiled.

3. Bursting the Bubble

Ansell, makers of LifeStyles condoms, often receive e-mails from eager recruits volunteering to report for official condom-testing duty. In reality, 100 percent of condoms are checked using electric charges that are sent through the condom to spot any holes or tears. A random sampling is filled with water to further find imperfections while another group of samples is pumped full of air to measure their breaking point. Zedalis said that condom makers do employ consenting couples for focus groups to try out new shapes, sizes, textures and flavors, some of whom don't make it out of the building before reporting their findings.

4. Worldwide Preferences

The average U.S. condom user is between the ages of 18 and 24 and about 70 percent of condom purchases are made by men. The average cost for a 12-pack is $10.99, although they are often less expensive at big box stores such as Target and Walmart. Condom preferences vary by country.

In the United States, Zedalis noted that preferences are relatively "meat and potatoes." Users don't flock to the fancier offerings, although there has been a lot of interest lately in models featuring organic materials and lubricants.

Europeans like their textures, shapes and box designs a bit racier while Brazilians seem to have a taste for menthol and peppermint. Not surprisingly, the Chinese are the heaviest users; surprisingly, the British come in second, according to Australia-based Ansell. The United States ranks sixth.

5. Big Ideas

"I receive up to eight new ideas a month from interested consumers," Zedalis said. "Almost all of them claim to have invented the greatest condom ever known."

Most submissions fall into one of two general categories: Either adding additional texture such as bumps, or changing to a unique shape that probably isn't practical to manufacture.

6. Female Flop

While the female condom was introduced to this country in 1993, Zedalis noted that it has not been a hit. "It's perceived as difficult to use and uncomfortable," he said.

7. Serious Stuff

Short of abstinence, Zedalis said, condoms are the most effective form of birth control. While not perfect, they also have the benefit of helping to prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS, genital herpes and chlamydia.

Despite the quest for ever-increasing thinness and comfort, condoms are an effective barrier not only to sperm but viruses and bacteria as well.

Once condoms leave the factory, samples are again pulled and tested for holes and defects and then again by the Food and Drug Administration. Acceptable failure rates are about five per 1,000, although, Zedalis said, most manufacturers aim for rates up to 10 times better than that.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Thrill-Seeking Gene May Lead to Promiscuous Sex, Cheating

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In what is being called a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York (SUNY) have discovered that about half of all people have a gene that makes them more vulnerable to promiscuity and cheating.

Those with a certain variant of the dopamine receptor D4 polymorphism -- or DRD4 gene -- "were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands and acts of infidelity," according to lead investigator Justin Garcia.

DRD4 is the "thrill-seeking" gene, also responsible for alcohol and gambling addictions. The gene can influence the brain's chemistry and subsequently, an individual's behavior.

The desire to cheat or sleep around seems to originate in the brain's pleasure and reward center, where the "rush" of dopamine motivates those who are vulnerable, the researchers say.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


On Sex Ed., Columbia's Got it Covered

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Students aren't the only ones being graded on college campuses these days. And the grades are about more than academics.

Trojan Condoms released its Sexual Health Report Card this week, which grades universities' efforts to educate students about sexual health. Each campus received a report card, with grades for 12 areas, including condom availability, STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing locations and available lecture programs.

Columbia University in New York City came out on top, while the University of Idaho received a GPA of 1.17 (scale of zero to four) on its report card, making it the lowest ranked of all.

Trojan partnered with Sperling's BestPlaces, an independent research firm, and Rock the Vote. The study, now in its fifth year, found that sexual health is becoming a larger political and social issue for young adults.

The top five schools included Columbia, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Brown University.

Others didn't fare so well. Chicago State University, Marshall University, DePaul University, Brigham University and the University of Idaho all ranked in the bottom five.

Ivy Leaguers Harvard and Princeton made leaps in sexual health. Harvard jumped from No. 62 to No. 16, Princeton from No. 61 to No. 8.

"Hopefully everybody's grades get higher," said Bruce Tetreault, group product manager for Trojan Condoms. "If we can get all those GPAs up it's better for everybody, and we can start reducing those scary statistics."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio