The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Ask SHIC

Dear SHIC,
I just got back from a three-week erotic journey on a Disney cruise in the Bahamas. Every day, my Winter Break lover and I would sneak into our parents’ steerage cabins and re-enact a page from the Kama Sutra, complete with endless margaritas from the buffet line and life vests. One day, we had sex six times then ordered chocolate chip pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head. Best. Day. Ever.

Now that I’m back in the cold Iowa winter, I’m longing for my Aladdin to rub my genie lamp right. When I wake up in my dorm, my first thought is how I can get my roommate out of the room so I can bring back the magic under my Robin “Hood.” When she leaves for Coaching Methods, I jump out of bed and sex-lock the door. In between classes, I return to my room for more sessions of self-love. This pattern recurs 3-4 times a day—I’m still (miraculously) doing all of my homework and finding time to go to meals and see my friends, but I can’t help but worry that my frequent masturbation habits are impacting my health. I guess my question is… how much masturbation is too much? Should I bring my whole new world to an end?

—CAN’T GET OFF THIS MAGIC “CARPET” RIDE

Dear Can’t Get Off,
While we understand why you’re worried, masturbation is actually one of the healthiest things you can do. It builds women’s resistance to yeast infections, reduces cramping during menstruation and relieves chronic back pain—it also improves men’s immune systems and prevents them from contracting prostate infections. Not to mention that, for both sexes, masturbation serves as an important source of stress relief, a natural sleep sedative and a mood booster (by releasing endorphins into your body.)

To answer your question concisely, there’s really no such thing as masturbating too much unless it starts to inhibit other parts of your life. As long as it’s not interfering with your daily activities (like eating, completing your work and hanging out with friends), masturbating, even multiple times a day, is perfectly healthy and normal. So don’t feel pressure to hop off that magic carpet just yet—just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Dear SHIC-
My boyfriend and I are thinking of beginning a sexual relationship, but we need some help! We definitely aren’t ready for a child, so we began looking into different forms of contraception. There are SO MANY! How do we decide which is right for us?? Please help, SHIC!
Love,
Boggled by Birth Control

Dear Boggled:
Choosing a method of contraception can be difficult indeed. You have so many options from which to choose! As wise as I am, I cannot make the choice for you. However, I can give you some information to consider while making your decision. One of the most common forms of contraception is the condom. The male condom is placed over the penis and protects against pregnancy, HIV, and other STIs. Male condoms have a very high success rate (only 2-3% pregnancy rate when use properly). Your good friend the SHIC carries 22 types of condoms, for just 25 cents per condom. There is also an alternative, the female condom. The female condom is worn by a (biological) woman during intercourse. It is a plastic pouch with rings at each end—one ring is open, the other is closed. The closed end is inserted vaginally, with a ring holding it in place. After intercourse, you simply pinch the open end and twist (to keep those spermies inside) and remove. Discard in a trash can. The female condom has the benefit that it can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse. However, it is easy to misuse the female condom, and standard use pregnancy rates are nearly double those of male condoms. However, when used perfectly, the female condom has a pregnancy rate of only 5 percent over 12 months. If you should choose to use either kind of condom, it is important that you remember to use ONLY ONE at a time. Using a male condom and a female condom at the same time could result in tearing or removal of the condoms, rendering them useless.

In addition to condoms, many young women also choose to go on birth control, so that they have more constant protection. Birth control can come in many forms, the most common of which are pills and vaginal rings. Birth control pills are taken orally each day, and provide the body with hormones to prevent pregnancy. There are several benefits to birth control pills. When used properly, they are 96-99 percent effective, and they give women the ability to control when they have their periods. However, the young woman is then given the responsibility to remember to take her pill each day. Also, the pill does not protect against HIV or other STIs. The vaginal ring is another common form of birth control. The ring is inserted vaginally and left in for three weeks. Over the three weeks, it releases regular doses of hormones, thus providing the added benefit of not having to remember to take a pill every day. Like the pill, the ring does not protect against HIV or other STIs.

I hope this helps make your choice about contraception a little easier. Here are some helpful tips to consider while making your decision:

You should always discuss sexual histories with a new sexual partner. It would also be a good idea to get tested together. You can make an appointment to get tested at Central Iowa Family Planning (located on 5th Avenue in downtown Grinnell) by calling (641) 236-7787.

Your dear friend the SHIC (located on the 2nd floor of the JRC, multicultural suites) sells 22 kinds of condoms (including latex-free), the female condom dental dams, and other exciting products. Come visit us during our hours of operation (listed below)!

Feel free to call Central Iowa Family Planning, visit the Campus Health Center or come in to the SHIC if you have any questions about anything you have read in this article.

SHIC Hours are:
Monday, 6-8
Tuesday, 4-6
Wednesday, 6-8
Thursday, 6-8
Friday, 4-6
Sunday, 12-3

Feel free to drop in or call us at x3327!

Love always,
The SHIC

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