Real Questions Honest Answers

What is a dental dam?

A dental dam is a think sheet of latex or polyurethane plastic that can be used to prevent transmission of STIs during oral sex. Dental Dam The dental dam is placed over a vagina or anus to prevent transmission of STIs like Herpes , Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, and Syphylis which can spread through oral sex.  Dental Dams can be difficlut to find at a pharmacy or drug store.  Though they are often available at you local clinic, and you can buy them online from Sheer Glyde Dams.  In a pinch, you can cut a condom lengthwise, cut a latex glove or non-microwavable cling wrap as homemade dental dams.  Just make sure it is non-microwavable since the pores in microwavable cling wrap are big enough to let STIs through.

Is it possible to masturbate too much?

Medically speaking, masturbation is perfectly normal.  The only time masturbation becomes too much is when in interferes with things like school, family, friends or work.  Some people masturbate once a day or only once and a while.  Other people masturbate more than once a day, and some people don’t masturbate at all.  Everyone is different.

What is a Pap Smear?

A Pap test (also called a Pap smear) is a medical test that examines cells from a girl or women’s cervix to find out if there are any pre-cancerous conditions.  During a pelvic exam, a gynecologist will gently rub the cervix with something similar to a tongue depressor (but smaller) to collect some of the cells near the opening to the cervix. These cells are placed on a slide and examined under a microscope at a lab.

Young women should make an appointment with a gynecologist to get a Pap test three years after first vaginal intercourse or when they turn 21.  Girls who have sex with girls should have the Pap test when they turn 21.  After your first Pap test, regardless of the gender of your partner, you should have them once a year.

Is there a safe time of the month to have sex and not get pregnant or a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

No, it is possible to get pregnant at any time of a women’s monthly menstrual cycle. There are certain times during the month that you are more likely to get pregnant,  but it is possible to get pregnant at any time. It’s even possible during your period.  It is also possible to get an STD/ STI (make link) all month long. The only way to absolutely prevent pregnancy is to abstain from (avoid) vaginal sex (placing the penis in the vagina) or allow ejaculate (cum) near the outside of the vagina. You can reduce the risk of pregnancy by using birth control and condoms.

Can I go to the gynecologist without my parents or caregiver knowing?

Yes, in Wisconsin minors (people under the age of 18) are able to see a sexual health doctor without parents or caregivers finding out. Doctors and health care providers in Wisconsin are required to provide confidential visits about sexual health. Being confidential means that you can talk to a doctor and they will not share that information with anyone else.  If you are still worried about someone else finding out, you can ask the clinic questions like: Will you ever call me at home?  Will you ever send me a bill through the mail?  Will you ever send other mail to my home?   

Can HIV and other sexually transmitted infections pass through condoms?

No. When used correctly every time, latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms protect again STIs such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis (trick) and bacterial vaginosis.  Condoms don’t always protect against genital herpes, warts (or HPV), or pubic lice because these STIs can be spread through skin contact that isn’t covered by a condom or dental dam, not by passing through it.  Lambskin condoms do not protect against HIV and other STIs.

Where do I get condoms or birth control?

You can buy condoms from most drug stores, supermarkets and corner stores.  You can also get free condoms in Milwaukee. There are many choices of birth control to choose from.  To get birth control you must get a prescription from a health care provider.  Many clinics offer free or reduced prices on birth control.  Visit a clinic to learn more.

What is emergency contraception? Where can I get it?

Emergency contraception (EC) is a way to prevent pregnancy after no birth control was used during sex or if a birth control method failed such as a broken condom. EC is not an “abortion pill.”  It will not affect an established pregnancy.  EC is sometimes called “The Morning After Pill,” or by the brand name Plan B. EC helps prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg (joined egg and sperm) implants itself in the lining of the uterus. EC can prevent the release of an egg from the ovary and fertilization (egg joining with the sperm).  EC is 75% effective in preventing pregnancy.  Other birth control methods like condoms (85-98% effective) and birth control pills (92-99% effective) have better odds in preventing pregnancy when used correctly.  So, EC should not be used instead of methods such as condoms or birth control pills. EC can prevent pregnancy if started within three days (72 Hours) of unprotected sex. It is more effective the sooner it is taken after sex. Because it’s hard to predict when unprotected sex or a broken condom might happen, you need to have EC in the house before it happens.  Anyone — no matter how old you are — can get Plan B One-Step, one brand of emergency contraception, over the counter without a prescription at a drugstore, Planned Parenthood health center, or family planning clinic. All other brands of emergency contraception require you get a prescription from a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider if you're 16 or younger.

How do I know if I have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? When should I get tested for an STI?

Many people who have STIs do not have symptoms. Oral, anal, and vaginal sex all put you at risk for STIs.  If you do have symptoms you might notice any of the following: sores, bumps, or blisters near your mouth, rectum or sex organs, burning or pain when you urinate (pee)o discharge (fluid) from your penis or vagina, itching around your sex organs, flu-like feelings with fever and chills, and/ or bleeding in between a regular period. If you have any of these symptoms stop having sex.  Having sex may put your partner at risk of infection. If you are sexually active, you should be tested at least once a year. You should also be tested each time you switch partners. An STI will not go away without treatment and can cause long term irreversible damage. Getting tested allows you to know your status and treat any infections you do have. It will keep you and your partner healthy. Go to an STI clinic or your health care provider to be tested.  Find a clinic to get tested.

How do I avoid getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

The best way to avoid an STI is to abstain from sex (not have sex).  This includes oral, anal, and vaginal sex.  If you are sexually active using a condom will reduce your risk or STIs that spread through penetrative sex (penis-vagina, penis-anus, penis-mouth).  Using a dental dam for oral sex (mouth-vagina, mouth-anus) reduces the risk of STIs that spread from skin-to-skin contact.

Do I need a condom if I’m on the pill or other hormonal birth control?

Yes. The birth control pill and other hormonal birth control like the depo shot, IUD, or patch can prevent pregnancy but they do not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  Use a “barrier method” such as a wearable or male condom, insertable or female condom, or dental dam (used for oral sex) will help prevent an STI.

Can I get pregnant if he pulls out?

Yes, you can still get pregnant.  Before a man ejaculates (cums) there is a certain amount of pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) that comes out of his penis when he is sexually excited.  Some research has shown that pre-ejaculate contains a certain amount of sperm in it, which may cause pregnancy.  Pulling out can also be risky because requires that a lot of self-control, experience and trust.  For these reasons the pullout method is not recommended for teens or for those just beginning to have sex.

What is abstinence?

To abstain means to “choose not to do.”  In terms of sex, abstinence means to choose not to have sex. Sexual abstinence can mean different things to different people. To many people it means to not have penile-vaginal (penis into vagina) intercourse, which could result in pregnancy.  For others, sexual abstinence means avoiding all types of sexual activities such as oral and anal sex.  Abstaining from oral, anal, and vaginal sex is the only 100% way to avoid pregnancy and STIs.

What do I do if the condom broke?

If the condom broke during sex, emergency contraception (EC) may be an option. Even if he didn’t ejaculate (cum) before it broke it is still possible to become pregnant.  EC is a pill taken after unprotected sex that greatly reduces the chance or pregnancy.  EC is more effective the sooner it is used after sex (preferably within 12 hours) but can be used up to five days after sex. Since you can’t predict when this might happen it is important to have EC on hand. Call 1-866-ECFIRST or go to a healthcare provider. If you are 17 and older you can purchase EC without a prescription at your local pharmacy.

Can I get pregnant from anal intercourse? What are the risks?

It is not possible to become pregnant from anal sex (inserting the penis into the anus). However, pregnancy can happen when ejaculate or pre-ejaculate (cum or pre-cum) gets in or near the vagina, as unprotected anal intercourse places one at risk of STIs infection.  Use a condom with non-oil-based lubricants, like K-Y Jelly, to avoid ripping of the condom.  It is important that partners talk before anal sex.  Use lots of lubricant and go slow.  There are also natural bacteria that live in the rectum that can be dangerous if placed into the mouth or vagina. Your condom needs to be changed or penis washed between anal and oral or vaginal intercourse.

Is it possible to have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and not have any visible symptoms? If so, how can I know if my partner is infected?

Yes, in fact many people with a sexually transmitted infection do not have symptoms. Since you can’t tell by looking at a person if they are infected, using a condom is very important.  The only way to know for sure is to be tested. It is a good idea to get tested along with your partner.  It is a sign of a close relationship to be able to get tested together.  You should also get tested if you or your partner starts having symptoms of an STI.

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI) and how is it different from a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the organs involved in making and holding urine (pee). A sexually transmitted infection (STI) affects the reproductive organs like the penis, vagina cervix, uterus, penis, or urethra (inside of penis). Most types of bacteria that cause UTIs are different from the ones that cause STIs. Unfortunately the symptoms of UTIs can be similar to symptoms of STIs. Symptoms can include: lower belly or lower back pain, pain or burning with peeing, fever, nausea and frequently needing to pee. If you are having any of the above symptoms it is important that you see a doctor or health care provider.

My boyfriend is older than me. Can we get in trouble?

It is illegal for someone older than 18 to have sex with someone younger than 18. If your parents, teachers or police find out and press charges, your partner can get in trouble for “statutory rape.” The penalties get much more serious as the age gap widens. Young women go with older guys for a variety of reasons including thinking it is cool, wanting to be popular, looking for love, or looking for protection. Older guys may be more mature, more experienced, and able to drive, but they also have more expectations. That means more pressure about a lot of things, including sex. In fact, girls who date older guys are much more likely to have unintended pregnancies than those who date guys their own age. Even if someone tries to put the pressure on, you should only do what you're comfortable with. Whether youth are the same age or older, no means no.

What are the laws in Wisconsin regarding sex and teens?

The laws in Wisconsin are complex and often confusing.

  • In Wisconsin, any person under age 18 is considered a minor
  • If an adult (18 or over) has sexual intercourse (see legal definition of sexual intercourse below) with a minor, it is against the law. Meaning, if caught by the police or reported to the police, they may face charges. (WI statutes 948.09 and 948.02)
  •  If someone 18 or over has sex with someone 16- or 17-years-old, it is a misdemeanor. (fines, court, on your record)
  •  If someone 18 or over has sex with someone 13- to 15-years-old, it is second degree sexual assault, a felony. (fines, jail, prison, on your record as a sex offender)
  •  If someone 18 or over has sex with someone less than 13-years-old, it is first degree sexual assault, a felony. (fines, jail, prison, on your record as a sex offender)
  • “Sexual intercourse” defined by the law (WI statute 948.02) means vulvar penetration (penis in vagina) AS WELL AS cunnilingus (oral sex on a female), fellatio (blow job), or anal intercourse (penis in anus) between persons OR intrusion of any inanimate object into the genital or anal opening. The emission of semen (ejaculation) is not required.

“Sexual Assault” includes sexual exploitation of a child (anyone under the age of 18), permitting or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution, intentionally causing a child to view or listen to sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of sexually gratifying oneself or sexually humiliating the child,  and/or exposing oneself to a child or causing the child to expose himself or herself for the purpose of sexually gratifying oneself or sexually humiliating the child. It also includes sexual intercourse or sexual contact:

  • with a child 15 years of age or younger (consent is not a consideration)
  • with a child 16- or 17-years-old, when he or she does not consent
  • with a child by the child’s foster parent (consent is not a consideration)
  • with a child placed in substitute care, by a person who works at, or volunteers at or has a responsibility to manage the facility where the child is placed (consent is not a consideration)
  • with a child who receives direct care or treatment services from certain organizations or facilities (child welfare agency, shelter care, child care center, etc.), by an employee, licensee or non-client resident of the organization or facility (consent is not a consideration)

What are some sexual situations between young people that that are not sexual abuse?

Here are three examples.

  • Sexual contact with a 16- or 17-year-old that is completely voluntary on the part of the child.
  • Sexual intercourse with a 16- or 17-year-old that is completely voluntary on the part of the child. This is a misdemeanor in the criminal code, but is not one of the specified types of sexual abuse in the reporting law.
  • Developmentally normal sexual curiosity or behaviors displayed between preadolescents of similar age or development.

Not all sexual crimes against minors are included in the legal definition of sexual abuse. Law enforcement agencies investigate all types of sexual crimes against children and take whatever action might be indicated under the criminal code.

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