What Americans Think About Birth Control Coverage

April 23rd, 2014

Alexandra Sifferlin

69% of surveyed Americans support coverage for birth control

There’s debate over whether all health plans in the United States should be required to cover the cost of birth control. An overwhelming majority of Americans—69%—say yes, according to a breaking survey published in the journal JAMA.

While this suggests the issue is less divisive than previously thought, it’s still a hot-button topic in the courts. In June, the Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision in the Hobby Lobby case, in which the owners of the arts-and-crafts chain, who are Southern Baptists, contend that their right to exercise religious freedom are infringed upon by the Affordable Care Act provision requiring them to guarantee no-cost birth control and emergency contraceptive coverage for their employees.

Although most Americans are in favor of the mandated birth control coverage—77% of women and 64% of men—it was the least agreed upon when compared with other health services under the ACA provision. Coverage of preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies, vaccinations, mental health care, and dental care all had more support than mandatory contraceptive coverage, according to the JAMA poll. (Birth control coverage has the most support among women, and black and Hispanic respondents.)

The researchers hope their data can be used to inform the ongoing national debate over contraceptive coverage.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Genital Warts

April 21st, 2014

Have you ever had a wart on your feet or hands? If so, you may have had human papillomavirus (HPV) (Young Men’s Health Site). The sexually transmitted disease version causes genital warts. Few people know this but HPV is the most common form of sexually transmitted infections (STI). There are over 40 different types of HPV that can cause warts that can infect the genitals as well as the throat and the mouth. Since there are so many variations the different types are labeled with numbers. Varieties six thru eleven cause genital warts for instance. There is a rumor that only girls can contract HPV. At least half of sexually active men and women will contract HPV sometime in their lives. 20 million in the U.S. are currently infected.  The most common way to catch HPV is via sexual intercourse. Vaginal and anal intercourse is the most common points of contact. HPV can be curbed via condom use. But HPV can also spread by penetrating skin that a condom doesn’t shield. Symptoms vary. Generally, the main symptom is developing genital warts. Some people never do develop them although they are still a carrier. They can still infect others even if they are unaware that they have the disease.

Genital warts look like tiny little cauliflowers. They can be so small you may not even see them. They can cover the penis, groin, scrotum, anus, thighs, mouth, throat, lips and tongue. There are several treatments available. Visiting your physician is the first step. Since HPV is contagious, treatment may be necessary. The human immune system can handle HPV. Your doctor may tell you to merely wait for them to go away on their own. There is prescription medication as well, and a treatment your doctor can apply in his or her office. Do not use over the counter wart remover, however. These medicines are for different types of warts. You may cause further damage rather than alleviating the issue. Though you may see the warts go away, remember that you still may be carrying HPV in your system. The virus may be eliminated, but it may also hide in your system to spring forth at a later date and bring your symptoms back. You can also be re-infected.

HPV can cause cancer in both women and men. Though the cause is higher for women, it has been known to cause anal and penile cancer. 400 males have contracted penile cancer through HPV and 1,500 have developed anal cancer. 5,600 men have contracted oropharyngeal cancer or cancer of the throat, tonsils and tongue. Abstinence gives 100% protection. Condom use for sexual intercourse and a dental dam for oral sex are the best ways to protect against HPV.

Penile Fracture

April 21st, 2014

It was an injury that got famous on the hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy (Scientific American), but the truth is that this condition isn’t uncommon. There are no bones in the penis, so how can it break? A “penile fracture” can occur during sexual intercourse when a membrane called the tunica albuginea rips. This membrane envelops the corpora cavernosa. This is the soft, porous substance that becomes engorged with blood when an erection occurs. If the tunica albuginea rips, blood fills other areas causing swelling and bruising to occur. When a penile fracture occurs, generally it is announced by an unusual popping sound. If great pain occurs followed by swelling, bruising and erection loss, seek out your healthcare service provider.

Generally it happens during regular vaginal intercourse with the woman on top. The man slips out and she comes crashing down upon it, crunching it into the perineum or the area between the vagina and anus. It can occur when aerobatic, dangerous, or risky behavior is incorporated into missionary position as well. Fixing the tear may require surgery. General anesthesia is given and one or more incisions may be performed. The torn area is found and then sewn up with sutures. For a severe tear, up to ten stitches covering the circumference of the penis may be required. Normally tears run clockwise. This is often same day surgery. Sexual intercourse can be resumed once the wound heals. It generally takes about one month.

Without surgery complications can occur. Whether the tunica albuginea is partially torn or ripped completely, internal scarring may occur. Scar tissue buildup can cause erectile dysfunction (ED) or a curvature of the penis that is unhealthy. This is when an erection goes sideways. Some have even been seen to go at a 45 degree angle. Urology department chair at the School of Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, Dr. Hunter Wessels, says that when he worked at Harborview Medical Center in the Emerald City he would encounter one or two cases every month. Guys in their 20’s and 30’s are at the highest risk as they take part in far more vigorous sexual activity. Older men in their 40’s and 50’s have sex less often, are more risk averse in the bedroom, and their penis tissue doesn’t get quite as hard. So what happens when the penis is bent but no ripping of the tunica albuginea occurs? A bending of the penis or missing penetration that does not cause tearing should not be a cause for concern. There are, however, men who do suffer bending injuries which could lead to Peyronie’s disease later on. This is a bending of the penis due to scar tissue buildup. This becomes a problem when intercourse becomes painful. But science is still unclear whether one leads to the other.

How Normal is your Penis?

April 21st, 2014

No one is better acquainted with your penis than you are, however, lots of guys don’t know what is normal downstairs and what is something that needs to be looked at by a physician (Men’s Health). How normal is your penis? There are lots of common things that guys ignore that could actually be signs of a deeper health issue.

If you have any of these problems see your doctor right away:

  • Have you ever noticed a soft, red patch of skin just below your head on the shaft of your penis? You may think this is just an area that’s a little irritated. Check to see if it’s sensitive or even painful. If you’ve had sex recently and it is tender then it’s probably nothing to worry about. But if it isn’t tender and you haven’t had intercourse, according to urologist Ryan Terlecki, M.D., this may be an early sign of penile cancer. If you catch it early enough, topical treatment or a simple surgery may be all that’s needed. Catch it too late, however, then a portion or perhaps the entire penis will have to be amputated.
  • The next issue is when the skin at the head of your penis feels tight. It’s as if it shrank in the laundry. You may also detect some white spotting in the same place. There may or may not be pain. This is a condition called lichen sclerosis. It’s a certain type of immune system or hormone imbalance. If you’re uncircumcised, this is of special concern. Without treatment, a blockage or even cancer may occur.
  • Most guys have a slight arc to their penis. But, if you’ve noticed it getting more pronounced, if it hurts when you take part in intercourse, and if you have what seems like a dime sized lump somewhere in the shaft, you may have Peyronie’s Disease. Scar tissue builds up and calcifies in the penis. Forgoing treatment could mean painful intercourse and even a broken penis. There are several different treatment options depending on severity, from saline injections and enzymes to surgery.
  • Have you ever noticed blood in your urine when you urinate? This is a serious symptom that could be linked to cancer, kidney stones or an enlarged prostate. But most doctors assume that it’s cancer unless it is ruled out. If you find a spot of blood in your underwear but it isn’t in your urine, check for any other problems that may be occurring. If you have tiny blue or red colored spots on your testicles and these are the source, don’t worry. This is a benign condition called angiokeratomas. However, if they are all congregating in one itchy patch you may have Paget’s disease, a condition that warrants removal.
  • From age fifteen to thirty-five, the most common form of cancer in men is testicular cancer. If you have any hard bumps on your testicles, though they may not be painful, seek out a doctor right away. This is the most common symptom. If caught in time, this cancer is easy to treat. 99% of cases see remission. Examine your testicles to make sure you don’t find any hard lumps or bumps. The best time to do so is after a hot bath or shower.

When is it time to see a Sex Therapist?

April 16th, 2014

If you are experiencing problems with becoming sexually aroused, the answer may be visiting a therapist rather than making a trip to the doctor’s office (menshealth.com). The journal Cancer recently did a study that found that prostate cancer survivors significantly benefited from sex therapy when coping with erectile dysfunction. Those men who had sessions, be they online or in person, with a sex therapist for twelve weeks saw tremendous results both in the areas of sexual function and overall satisfaction. Those who didn’t seek sex therapy didn’t have any improvement in these areas. Sex therapy isn’t only for men in remission. Before ED drugs like Viagra and Cialis were made available, sex therapy was all the rage. According to research scientist at Indiana University, Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., “Sex therapy involves meeting with a trained counselor to talk about your sex life, so the therapist can offer information and at-home exercises to help with the problem. Sex is such a taboo topic—most people don’t know much about sexual difficulties, or what’s normal and what’s not. Sharing this information in a session can be life-changing for people.”

So when is it time to see a sex therapist? Whenever you have painful sex, low desire, problems acquiring and sustaining an erection, or some other such problem, a sex therapist can offer insight, advice, and strategies to turn your sex life around. If you are having trouble achieving or maintaining an erection or if you have an ejaculation problem that lasts for more than two weeks you may have a deeper, underlying issue that could be either physiological or psychological that a sex therapist can help you with. Also, if your sexual issue is causing problems in your relationship, it is certainly time to call the sex therapist. Problems in a relationship can cause sexual issues. A sex therapist can help you to alleviate those problems and give you strategies on how to mitigate the issues and get you through this difficult time.

If you feel ashamed or guilty about any part of your sexuality, talking to a professional can help sort it out. If for one reason or another your sex is painful, a therapist can offer advice on alternative positions to minimize the problem and maximize the enjoyment. If anxiety or insecurity is at fault, the sex therapist can offer advice on relaxation techniques. Think about your issue and determine whether or not it is appropriate to seek out a sex therapist. But if it is, don’t hesitate. Your sex life should be as deeply satisfying as you can make it. Why not seek out professional advice and make it the best it can be?