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The Scarlet & Black

Ask the SHIC: What to eat before eating and how to stay HPV-free

Dear SHIC,
My boyfriend and I love to give each other head, but sometimes it’s like eating at the D-Hall twice in a night, if you know what I mean. He says he can’t take it anymore, but I can’t help it that I love onion rings! What can we do to make oral sex more palatable, or am I “blowing” this out of proportion?

You’re not alone. Most people who enter the wonderful world of oral sex at some point realize they shouldn’t have ordered the garlic bread at their romantic dinner. There are actually many foods and substances that will change the way you taste—that goes for everybody, regardless of your equipment. The party lifestyle doesn’t help: caffeine, tobacco and hard alcohol will all make the problem much worse, as will some recreational drugs like cocaine. Diets high in red meat, fish and especially dairy are also likely to leave your partner with a frown (and yes, vegans have a reputation for having “good taste”). There are other culprits: garlic, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, junk food and the avoid-at-any-cost ultimate mood killer, asparagus.

There’s good news, though! Anything sugary and acidic, like candy, juice and fruit (pineapple is a popular choice) will help make your emissions sweeter, and staying hydrated will mellow the taste out. Even some spices like cardamom and cinnamon are reputed to be effective, and of course playing with flavored lube, whipped cream and chocolate syrup couldn’t hurt (but clean up well afterwards, or you risk a bacterial infection). Popping a mint in your mouth before you start can be exciting for both you and your partner. It’d be a great field for some experimental inquiry by our dear readers. If you REALLY care about making your partner happy, though, you’ll both get fully tested before deciding to have unprotected oral sex! Infections ranging from annoying to life-threatening can be spread that way, including herpes, hepatitis B, HPV and yeast infections. We sell flavored dental dams and lube at the SHIC, and we should have flavored condoms starting later this semester.

Finally, we want to remind our readers that it’s very important to find out if your partner really wants to have oral sex. Sexual contact is never ok if only one person wants it to happen, and we all sometimes tell our partners we don’t want to do things in indirect ways. If you occasionally remind them that they never ever have to have an excuse to not want to do something sexual, what you do decide on will be that much more exciting.

Dear SHIC,
I got the Gardasil vaccine at my last doctor’s appointment. Does this mean I’m safe from HPV? What is HPV, exactly?

Congratulations on taking an important step to protect yourself from Human Papillomavirus (HPV)—the most common sexually transmitted infection. You are indeed now safe from the most common harmful forms of the virus. Various strains of HPV can cause genital warts and cancer. Currently, 50 percent of sexually active adults will have some form of HPV at some point in their lives, and in 90 percent of these cases, the body will take care of it within two years, usually without any symptoms.

There is no cure for the virus other than your own immune system. However, with HPV, as with most health issues, prevention is the best medicine. The FDA has approved two vaccines to protect against HPV. Both vaccinations come in a series of three shots over a period of six months, and your immunization is NOT complete until you have had all three! Both Gardasil and Cervarix are approved for women ages 9-26. Gardasil was also approved for men ages 9-26 in October 2009! Gardasil protects against the strains that cause nine out of 10 cases of genital warts, as well as the two types most commonly linked to cervical cancer. The vaccines do not completely eliminate your risk of infection, and cannot eliminate an existing infection, but they are extremely important preventative measures for any person, especially but not limited to those who plan on being sexually active in the future.

There are over 40 different types of HPV and not all are created equal. Some cause genital warts. Warts vary in appearance—one small bump or several—small or large, raised, flat or cauliflower shaped. Warts do not cause cancer and can either be treated or left to go away on their own. Rarely, HPV may also cause warts in the throat, a condition known as recurrent respiratory papillomatosis or RRP. Many strains of HPV have no medical repercussions at all, but where the virus gets serious is its potential to cause cancer. The link between HPV and cervical cancer is well-documented and widespread. The cancer risk is not limited to women (or their cervixes), however, because different types of HPV can also cause cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus and head and neck, including tongue, tonsils and throat.

The vaccines are most effective before you become sexually active. HPV is spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex. Any extensive skin-to-skin contact can transmit it, even non-genital contact (fingers, etc.) and it may be passed on when neither person has symptoms nor is aware of an infection. This means that while safe sex practices help your chances, they do not completely eliminate the risk of getting HPV. Even if you have already had sex, the vaccine is still a valuable weapon against strains that you have not been exposed to.

Any sexually active person is at a high risk of getting HPV. The HPV vaccine is available from your doctor, or from a reproductive health care provider such as Planned Parenthood or Central Iowa Family Planning. Sexually active women should schedule regular Pap tests, because the strain of HPV that causes cancer can only be detected by changes in cervical cells. There is no FDA approved HPV test for male-bodied individuals, so the only thing our male readers can do is make sure they and their partners get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Love, the SHIC

SHIC has a chic new question box located at the information desk in the JRC! Just slip in your questions, or e-mail them to [SHIC].

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!

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