Like famous American critic Alexander Woollcott said, all the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal or fattening. And sometimes they cause painful infections.
So in honor of STI Awareness Month (yes, I know it was technically in April, but I was busy coming out in honor of Pride Week last week), today’s column will look at three fairly common hazards of sex that didn’t get as much attention in your high school sex-ed class as do HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes. The following information comes from the Mayo Clinic, WebMD and my own personal encounters with two of these three bitches (but since a lady doesn’t kiss and tell, I’ll just let you guess which two).
Eww: “Your genitals itch” would be an understatement. They are basically on fire. Also, there’s a nasty white discharge that kind of resembles cottage cheese and smells vaguely like bread or beer.
What you did wrong: A fungus called Candida albicans is the usual culprit for this infection. He likes to set up camp in warm, moist areas. Usually your body can fight him off on its own, but he can sneak around it via a small cut in the vulva. Don’t feel bad ladies, an estimated three out of four women will have at least one yeast infection in their lifetimes. You probably had rough sex, didn’t use lubrication or douched one too many times (killing off the good bacteria that can help fight off the fungus). Don’t feel left out, gentlemen. You can also get a yeast infection by having unprotected sex with a lady who has a yeast infection.
Make it go away: Yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications. Suppositories come in one, three and seven day treatments and often come with an external cream to ease symptoms. Men can treat their infections with an antifungal cream. In the meantime, avoid tight-fitting clothes or go commando if you like.
Do it right next time: Don’t have sex if your partner has a yeast infection and don’t be afraid to use some K-Y Jelly or Astroglide.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Eww: You have to pee — constantly — even when there is no fluid left in your body. It hurts, and there might even be some blood in your pee.
What you did wrong: There are bacteria in your urethra. Given all the bodily fluids involved in sex, this is a fairly obvious risk. The bacteria can also come from feces, meaning you wiped from back to front. About half of all women will get a UTI in their lifetimes, the infection occurring more often than with men due to our smaller urethras.
Make it go away: The only way to get rid of a UTI right now is with antibiotics. Your doctor (and the doctors at the Health Center) can prescribe antibiotics that will get rid of your symptoms in a matter of days. They’ll also sometimes give you pain medication that makes your bladder feel all warm and fuzzy, and your pee turn orange. In the meantime, drink lots of water or cranberry juice and use a heating pad to ease the pain.
Do it right next time: Always wipe from front to back, and try to pee right after you have sex.
Eww: Your anus itches, it hurts to poop and there is blood in your stool. You might also see (with a properly angled mirror) a crack or cut around your anus.
What you did wrong: You have a small tear in the lining of your anal canal. This can be caused by rough anal sex, but it’s actually more commonly caused by constipation and large bowel movements. If fecal bacteria get inside these cuts, it can cause an infection.
Make it go away: Unfortunately, fissures only really heal with time. In about six to eight weeks you’ll be okay, provided no complications occur. In the meantime, your doctor can prescribe a medicated cream or suppository to reduce inflammation, and you might need to take a stool softener. Try to add some fiber to your diet.
Do it right next time: Always use condoms and plenty of lube during anal sex. Also, avoid constipation by including lots of fiber and water in your diet and exercising regularly. Don’t strain when you poop.
Of course with all of these, make sure you take all of the medication prescribed to you, even after symptoms have disappeared. If they persist, see your doctor to make sure it’s not something more serious. Happy sexings.