Columns Apr 27, 2011 at 4:00 am

Small Government


Great advice for HIV.
It's virtually impossible to contract HIV through oral sex - giving or receiving - as, in the entire history of the virus, there have been fewer than five recorded cases of this happening. Rimjobs are the same.

While it is not difficult to get HIV through barebacking a poz bottom (with a high enough viral load), your best bet is simply this: don't let anyone come in your anus or vagina. Done.
For comparison purposes, SFMiP, here are some data regarding the chance of pregnancy within one year for those women who don't use any contraception method (not even withdrawal):

age 15-19: more than 70%
age 20-24: more than 45%
age 25-34: more than 30%
age 35+: about 15%

Taken from Figure 1 of "Measuring Contraceptive Use Patterns Among Teenage and Adult Women," Family Planning Perspectives, 1999; 31(2): 73-80. [paper available at… ]

So, a surprisingly large fraction of people who aren't using any method still don't get pregnant within just one year.
Thank you thank you thank you for mentioning Harper and asking people to not vote for him. ANYONE BUT HARPER!!!
What kind of flying monkey would I be if I didn't already vote Green in the advance polls yesterday? (The Green party is the only one that puts LGBT rights on their platform.)
"Sex acts that expose you to his semen and/or blood are definitely unsafe, and sex acts that expose him to your semen and/or blood are mostly safe."

But what does "expose" mean in this context Dan?

HIV is a BLOOD disease- NOT (arguably)a sexually transmitted disease. To get HIV you need more than body-to-body contact. You need blood to blood or spooj to blood contact. Saliva does not work nearly as well for several reasons. Even if he bites you during a blowjob the chances of HIV are almost zero. You bleed OUT, NOT in! Also, the viral load in saliva is very low so kissing- even open mouth tongues- is probably fine.

#2 mostly explained the deal. You cannot get HIV from being exposed to even high viral load spooj on your skin or even in your (non-micro torn) Vagina. Problem for gay guys is while sweaty, dripping female gashes are pretty tough to tear, especially with just a tiny bit of gentleness (and lube) the butthole is a LOT more likely to have a micro-tear and thus transmit the virus when you inject fluid with HIV into the chamber. You don't have to bleed for a micro tear, it probably happens most of the time when you have anal sex but you going inside your sub is probably not a problem- even without a condom. If the sub is going to switch hit I would make him wear TWO condoms.

As for the infertile guy if he is really worried, you can get a sperm sample pretty easy and it is only about $150.00 to get a count even without insurance. I had no idea playing dump truck was so effective and I am not sure why so many of my friends in college got pregnant. Maybe he is just disciplined rather than infertile? I guess you could also switch holes at the last minute just like they do in the movies.

ER is absolutely crazy if he thinks his biggest worry with this girl is the needle play. I am guessing that ladies who do the BDSM scene and let themselves get tortured in public are, as Dan suggests, a whole lot more likely to have contracted an STD the old fashioned way. It is just an assumption but a good one, I think.

Actually the GOP stalwarts are afraid of Vaginas- they really want to stuff government up your ass.
Wow, SFMi could have been written by me. Five years, no birth control (other than withdrawal), no mistakes, and no pregnancies.
Hey Canuck, you're actually mistaken.
The NDP also list LGBT rights in their platform, if you look under section 5.13 "Promoting Equality Rights in Canada" (I checked, to make sure). And it's no secret that they're for LGBT rights, for example, they were big supporters of gay marriage when it was getting passed, if I remember correctly.
But hey, I wouldn't be complaining if the Green Party got elected, I'm just sayin'.
Already been to
I would vote for him, but I still have three months before I'm 18.
Let's hope Jack Layton and Elizabeth May beat the crap out of him.
Already been to
I would vote for him to leave, but I still have three months before I'm 18.
Let's hope Jack Layton and Elizabeth May beat the crap out of him.
Well Mr Cunuck that depends

If you got a Tory in 1st or 2nd place and Mr or Mrs Green in a distant 3rd or 4th then you might very well be pissing your vote away on someone who cant win rather than supporting the Lib or NDP (im just guessing you aint a francophone from Quebec...)dude/dudess who might not be ideologically pure but can, you know, actually stop a bona fide homophobe winning.
Shit Harper did? Priceless!

I am tremendously pleased by the surge of the NDP, but I'll again vote Liberal because their candidate in my riding is really good. Otherwise? I might have voted Green.
People still use the withdrawal method as their only form of birth control?
Please please please please no Harper majority. Thanks Dan for remembering us!

Also @9 & 10, great that you'll be voting next time around.

And @11 I think Cunuck (sic) is a dudess...
Canuck, the Liberals were the ones who passed gay marriage in 2005. They also stand the best chance of ousting Harper.

Problem is, there's 1 right-wing party and 3 left-wing parties in Canada right now. They'll split the vote and Harper will get back in. Wish Liberals and NDP would join forces . . .
The fact that you recommended using two condoms (which practically guarantees breakage) puts the entire remainder of your long post firmly in the unsubstantiated-opinion garbage bag.
@16 Agreed. Plus he thought the "young lesbian" ER was a guy.

I'm repeating @16 because I think what they said is worth reading even though the user is unregistered:

The fact that you recommended using two condoms (which practically guarantees breakage) puts the entire remainder of your long post firmly in the unsubstantiated-opinion garbage bag.
Posted by Registered users are still anonymous...
@17 you beat me to it on the male lesbian catch!
@13, yes people DO still use withdrawal as a primary/only form of birth control. And for some of those people, it's not even news that it IS an effective method. There is a bias against it in the medical profession, just like there is a bias against Fertility Awareness (reading body signals about ovulation which is NOT the same as rhythm method). There's no money in either of these methods for the medical industry. But if you're in a monogamous het. relationship and you've educated yourself, you know that these two methods combined can mean very very effective, no barrier, no hormone birth control. Dan's stats showing withdrawal as approaching the effectiveness of condoms wasn't news to me, but I'm ever grateful that he made it news to those who buy in to the BS propaganda against it.
The other reason the medical/educational industry has trouble teaching withdrawal is that effective withdrawal means careful attention to bodily sensation. Teaching effective condom use can be done with a banana and very detached, medical language. Teaching effective withdrawal requires a language/knowledge our culture of sexual shame just isn't capable of articulating comfortably. But just because people are ineffective at talking about it doesn't mean it's an ineffective method.
It's interesting hearing about people using pulling-out as birth control. I was always told that there is sperm in pre-come, so I should always use protection.
@22 yes there can be a miniscule amount of sperm in pre-come, but statistically speaking, you would have to be extremely unlucky to actually get pregnant from that (considering how many millions of sperm a "low sperm count" guy can have with no reproductive success).
I think the fact is: if you're absolutely terrified of abortion, absolutely not ready for children and/or your partner is unreliable, then withdrawal is not for you.
My second child was conceived with just only Pre-cum but it took 6 years between the first and the second with my Ex-Wife. We used the withdrawal method for years and it was pretty effective if you do it right.

I thought that if you were considered Hetero-flexible you were pretty much a straight guy that would bang females mostly and an occasional shemale or get a blow job from a buddy after too much drinking? I think that HIV is more likely Homosexual or Homo-Flexible if there is such a thing (if there isn't then I get credit for coming up with a new term). Homo-Flexible: willing same sex "sugar-baby" that will perform sexual favors for gifts and money regardless of HIV status.....
To HIV, rule #1 is no swapping body fluids. Rule #2 is no swapping body fluids. Rule #3 is if in doubt, see rule 1 and rule 2.

*Protect your hands. Cuts on your cuticles? Scrapes or papercuts? Blue nitrile gloves are your friend.
*Protect your feet. If you have any cuts or sores or blisters, wear shoes.
*Treat any spilled body fluids (aka jizz on the floor) as hazmat. Bleach, lysol, or dettol to clean it up, and use a mop or a scrub brush so you don't touch it with your hands.
*Condoms on for everything...oral, frot, everything. The only exception is if he's masturbating in such a way that you will not get splashed.
*Saran wrap or a dental dam if you are rimming.
*Any penetrative toys, like buttplugs or dildos, should be wrapped in a condom before use. Non-penetrative toys, like gags, floggers, cock rings, etc, should be made out of a material that is easy to clean, and all toys should be cleaned with bleach/lysol/dettol after use.
*If you're whipping or flogging him, DO NOT DRAW BLOOD.
*Always use lots and lots of water-based lube...if you go dry, you risk tearing the tissues, which causes bleeding, which increases the likelihood of transmission.

If you do use toys, it's a good idea to use his toys, and ONLY his toys. You might use your toys on somebody else, so keep them separate.

A "body check" is a good idea...see if you or he have any cuts, sores, or wounds, and making sure they are covered by plastic bandages if possible. When not possible, avoid touching them. Don't forget mouth ulcers, either.

Something Dan didn't mention, and it's important, is that this isn't just for you, it's for your partner. If he's pos, then any of your bugs that are a minor annoyance to you can be very very bad for him...your snotty nose could be his pneumonia. Not breaking the skin when you flog him is so important, you don't want to have him get a wound that gets infected.

So, at the end of all of that, if you're wearing blue nitrile gloves, and you have a subbie who wants to have his mind fucked with, you could always get yourself a lab coat and play with your lab assistant. All kinds of experiments, in posture, positions, mixing "chemicals" for you (mmmmm, something non-oil-based to pour on him), measuring reactions...yeah.
@20 You know, those stats were news to me. I didn't know that withdrawal could be roughly as effective as condoms, partially because, as Makenna said, I was always told that "even if the man pulls out, there could be sperm in his cleansing fluid OMG."

However, what I still don't understand, is why people would only use one method in the first place. If you're going to pull out, great, but why not use a condom, too? Or, like you said, why not use withdrawal AND fertility awareness (which I do know has the potential to be as effective as hormonal birth control)? Personally, I'm just too paranoid to be comfortable with only one method (I use the pill and condoms).

However, I think another reason the medical industry shies away from teaching these methods may be the main target audience of sex education: teenagers. If you tell a teenage boy that he can put on a condom before sex, or pull out before he finishes, he'd probably pick withdrawal, but he'd probably be less likely to fail with a condom. Right? But obviously I can see how adult relationships would benefit from being educated in both/all possible methods. I'd say there's a clear disconnect between that research and what most women are hearing from their OB/GYN when they ask about birth control options.
It's annoying when you weigh in on Canadian politics. You know nothing of Canadian politics.

In terms of gay rights, each and every Canadian party (except the Greens, who weren't around) has been against gay rights until very recently. It will make absolutely no difference to gay rights regardless of who is elected.

In Atlantic Canada, it is very difficult for women to get abortions, but the Conservatives never get elected in Atlantic Canada. Reproductive rights have nothing to do with the parties. All parties are equally useless on abortion rights. Again, you know nothing of Canadian politics.

Most rights related to sex, like abortion and many same sex rights, came about through the Supreme Court of Canada, and not the political parties.

And is just so much...shit.

I checked out the first link which said:

"In 2008, Linda Keen President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission reported that the aging Chalk River nuclear facility was at a risk 1000 times greater than the international average. Harper quickly fired her."

But if you actually check, she was fired because she stopped the production of life-saving isotopes. Canada is the world's biggest producer. Her actions placed the lives of people all over the world in immediate danger. So, she was fired for being an idiot.

I do not care for the American perspective in politics, that misrepresents every act and position by the other side and attempts to smear them with lies.

Your influence can only bring the sort of idiot divisiveness that infects your country's politics. Please, shut up about Canadian politics.
@ 26 - You do know that they make drugs to control paranoia nowadays right?

I've had two 3-year relationships with HIV+ guys, had thousands of sex partners, just followed two simple rules - no coming in the mouth, no anal without condoms - and I never got infected.

But frankly, I'm amazed that we still have to repeat this in 2011. On which planet have you been living all this time? And I'm not just talking to the LW.

Finally, please everyone, do yourselves a favour and don't listen to Professor. As others have pointed out, wearing two condoms is the easiest way to ensure that they break. That's serious misinformation he's spreading (I wonder if he could get arrested for that?).
HIV seems like a pleasant enough person and the existence of heteroflexible people is doubtless a good thing, but I do hope he isn't being greedy and denying a young gay man of his age and level of attraction both a potentially much needed source of income and an experience that is likely to be of considerably greater utility to his future. If I'd had even one mentor when I was his age, I'd have turned out vastly better than I did, even without any cash changing hands and not counting how much better I might have become at sex. Maybe HIV will be so kind as to pass on any superfluous daddies to a gay friend.

And while I fully support the rights of straight-chasers to enjoy themselves in the manner of their choosing, and in the best case striaght chasing might lead to the construction of bridges we'd never see built by other means, it can make me so sad sometimes. I'm still really depressed about BILL who cheated with his partner's straight brother under rather meagre circumstances but still can't get over him and wants to repeat an encounter that might be likened to playing with a nuclear bomb.
@ 28 - I agree with your point about the Supreme Court, but you're extremely naive if you think that Harper cared about saving lives.
@22 Makenna -

It seems there are some sperm in pre-come that can swim, according to one study of 27 men's pre-come published in 2011:
[… ].

I don't know what the risk of pregnancy from pre-come alone is (I haven't found any studies of this, likely because I imagine this would be difficult to study rigorously), but it's likely to be somewhere between 0% and 7-18% (the risk of pregnancy using the withdrawal method alone).
mydriasis: Oh, my bad, I remembered reading that somewhere, that they were the only ones to specify it as part of their platform...NDP would be my second choice!

Neil83: This "dudess" used to vote Liberal, for those reasons, but now I'm hoping we can elect some Green MPs who'll put forth the kind of things I'd like to see in Parliament.

Canadian, eh?: If there were any kind of realistic chance of actually ousting Harper, I'd vote Liberal, of course. My sense from the polls is that we'll get another minority government with Harper leading it. I wish we could revisit the idea of a coalition, though. I think the Greens (and maybe NDP) are the only ones who will work to put forward anything that's truly progressive.

slidebone: If we Canadians can comment here on this US site, I think people in the States should be able to comment on Canadian politics, don't you? Telling people to vote is hardly being divisive, is it? Telling people to vote Harper out of office, oh my, what a strange thing to say on this lefty blog, who woulda thunk it?
Neptune and listedasmygun -

Based on the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (data from 7,643 women), fertility awareness methods have a 23% risk of pregnancy within one year:
[… ].

You seem to think it's more effective than this (Neptune, you compare it favorably with hormonal methods, which have a failure rate of about 9% in one year). Please share your data.
To SFMi: I have been in a couple of committed relationships, each lasting for several years. During all this time, I always used withdrawing as contraceptive method. I never got any of my previous partners pregnant. The trick is having some degree of control over your ejaculation and being able to tell when the semen is actually coming down the pipe and pull off on time. The actual withdrawing doesn't have to compromise the intensity of the orgasm and there are lots of cool things you can do with your load: she can jerk you off with using her hands or mouth, you can spray it all over her, remove a previously inserted butt blog and come into her ass, etc...
@Canuck: The NDP made getting the batshit Exodus peeps off the charity list an actual platform mission. But I voted Green too :)
If you're using withdrawal as your primary means of birth control (and by primary, I mean only) be prepared to seek an abortion. Not saying that it'll necessarily happen, but if you absolutely cannot get an abortion (for example, you live in South Dakota or some equally Godforsaken state) you should probably consider using a condom or hormonal birth control as well. A previous partner and I used withdrawal as our primary means of birth control, I got pregnant three weeks later, got an abortion eight weeks after that, had an IUD inserted at the same time and that was that. I was like, well, guess that serves me right!

Also, I'm voting NDP because they have the best chance of beating the Conservative candidate in my closely-held riding. May 2nd!
Woot, fannerz! And yeah, my vote is lost in my conservative riding, KayElle, just like my US vote is lost when I vote in Wyoming...but if there's a chance of ousting a Conservative, that's awesome, I'm really impressed with Jack Layton, as well as May.
Last comment tonight, and then I need to go to sleep...

So, it turns out that it's very difficult to assess the risk of catching HIV from oral sex that includes ejaculation. Here's a roundtable discussion of experts who cite data (and argue back and forth about all the pitfalls of epidemiologic data--one easy-to-understand problem is that people who have receptive oral sex often have anal sex as well, and infections get chalked up exclusively to the anal sex).
[… ]

The risk of HIV transmission from oral sex plus ejaculation is probably not zero, and may account for 7% of all cases of HIV infection in the US (others even say 10-15%).
[Dillon B, Hecht FM, Swanson M, et al. Primary HIV infections associated with oral transmission. Program and abstracts of the 7th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections; January 30-February 2, 2000; San Francisco, Calif. Abstract 473.]

The risk of oral sex WITHOUT ejaculation is also probably not zero, as there has been at least one case report of HIV transmission in this scenario--and HIV has been found in pre-come. The risk, though, likely isn't as high as fellatio WITH ejaculation.

I don't want to get into the data behind herpes and oral gonorrhea risk; like I said, I need sleep tonight.

In any case, my point is this: If you want to reduce your risk of infection, you must reduce your exposure to potentially-infectious body fluids and therefore must use a condom. Every time, every act. And get tested regularly, because nothing's perfect.
I still have problem grasping the hetero-flexible thing.
Your answers are always spot on Dan.


"slidebone: If we Canadians can comment here on this US site, I think people in the States should be able to comment on Canadian politics, don't you?"

To generalize, no.

I think Americans can comment on Canadian politics if their comments are well-informed. Dan's comments are not well-informed. I would actually like to read a well-informed position on Canadian politics from an American (it would be a first). Canadians can' comment on American politics if Canadians are well-informed. Canadians are very informed on American politics. This is because we can't stand the US.

So my answer to your first question is generally no, Americans are generally too ignorant to comment on Canada.

"Telling people to vote is hardly being divisive, is it?"

You are right, telling people to vote is not divisive. You have made a statement I agree with. I suppose you think you have me on the run at this point, but no, it turns out I said that lying and misinformation was divisive, not merely telling people to vote.

"Telling people to vote Harper out of office, oh my, what a strange thing to say on this lefty blog, who woulda thunk it?"

It's not all that surprising that someone would say to vote Harper out of office. You are right. It's not that surprising that Dan link's to a site full of half-truths that distort Harper's record.

And it's not surprising that the site is crap. It's not surprising that supporters of Harper are made villains by hostile media.

But this is the mischaracterization and smearing that alienates both sides. What a waste. Even if it's no surprise.

I practiced the withdrawal method for three years with my previous partner and I'm going on two years with my current partner. (Both partners were / are 30+ years old, which may make it easier for them to exercise control, and I knew before we were sexually active that they were STD-free.) So far, there have been no pregnancy scares, let alone a pregnancy itself. I practiced FAM in the past and usually know when I'm ovulating, so I'm always extra careful around that time of month. I do admit to feeling sheepish about it and have told doctors that I'm using condoms when the subject of birth control has come up.

On the subject of pre-ejaculate, the last study I read said that pre-E does NOT contain viable sperm.… As I understand it, there is a risk of pregnancy if a man ejaculates and then continues to have vaginal intercourse, but pre-E itself is safe.
I practiced the withdrawal method for three years with my previous partner and I'm going on two years with my current partner. (Both partners were / are 30+ years old, which may make it easier for them to exercise control, and I knew before we were sexually active that they were STD-free.) So far, there have been no pregnancy scares, let alone a pregnancy itself. I practiced FAM in the past and usually know when I'm ovulating, so I'm always extra careful around that time of month. I do admit to feeling sheepish about it and have told doctors that I'm using condoms when the subject of birth control has come up.

On the subject of pre-ejaculate, the last study I read said that pre-E does NOT contain viable sperm.… As I understand it, there is a risk of pregnancy if a man ejaculates and then continues to have vaginal intercourse, but pre-E itself is more or less safe.
I practiced the withdrawal method for three years with my previous partner and I'm going on two years with my current partner. (Both partners were / are 30+ years old, which may make it easier for them to exercise control, and I knew before we were sexually active that they were STD-free.) So far, there have been no pregnancy scares, let alone a pregnancy itself. I practiced FAM in the past and usually know when I'm ovulating, so I'm always extra careful around that time of month. I do admit to feeling sheepish about it and have told doctors that I'm using condoms when the subject of birth control has come up.

On the subject of pre-ejaculate, the last study I read said that pre-E does NOT contain viable sperm.… As I understand it, there is a risk of pregnancy if a man ejaculates and then continues to have vaginal intercourse, but pre-E itself is more or less safe.
Ah, slidebone, bashed again by the lamestream, homoliberal media? If you want an example of lying and smearing, you need look no further than your darling Harper himself:

Harper's government with 143 seats was brought down by 11 votes Friday in the 308-seat House of Commons on an unprecedented motion the Conservatives were in contempt of Parliament

Too bad you hate the States so much, you might be able to find work on Bachmann's campaign.

Apologies for the multiple posts. I'm still getting on my feet here . . .

Neptune says: "However, what I still don't understand, is why people would only use one method in the first place. If you're going to pull out, great, but why not use a condom, too?"

I can't speak for the greater, withdrawal-method population, but my reasons are tri-fold.

1. My family has a history of varicose veins, thrombosis, etc. One's risk of blood clots increases with the pill. Therefore, increased risk of blood clots + hereditary predisposition toward blot clots = no hormonal birth-control. Thanks.

2. I don't like the idea of hormonal birth control. I DO like being in touch with my body--and I DON'T mean that in a flaky, new-age sort of way. I can always tell when I'm PMSing, when I'm hours away from menstruating, when I'm close to ovulating. I prefer those symptoms remain unmasked. I don't want a pseudo-period.

3. The texture and smell of condoms kills the mood for me. More significantly, lubricated or unlubricated, condoms cut down on my own lubrication. I shopped around before throwing in the condom towel, too, but never found anything that minimised these problems. I used to scoff at people who complained about how condoms cut down on the tactile experience of sex. Though in my defense, I did use condoms in my teenage years and never had any difficulties.

Again, I have to stress that in my five years of using the withdrawal method, I've always been careful about the when and where of ejaculation.
Withdrawing and condoms.

I'm using condoms with my current partner because I really don't want to get pregnant now, and I consider abortion as a last-measure mean, not as a mean of birth-control.

We're both monogamous and STI-tested and free. Since we are both past our prime, and experienced enough in our bodily sensations, we are only putting the condom on when we're ready for the finish. Still we sometimes have to use withdrawing when we get too carried away too soon.

I would not recommend this incorrect usage of condoms for inexperienced partners, partners of a younger age because of their much higher fertility, or before knowing the guy well enough to know he can be 100% trusted.

In 2+ years of this relationship I've not had a scare.
Put experts together and you get an argument like cats in a bag.

@Slinky (#26) - apart from his opening paragraph - goes wholly over the top, and suggests a kind of sterile sex that can only be 100% joyless - if you want sex with men in white coats wearing gloves and smelling of disinfectant, fine, but otherwise it's a bit bizarre.

I find @feliquid (#39) lacking in credibility despite citing a supporting study (which I have not read). "The risk of HIV transmission from oral sex plus ejaculation is probably not zero, and may account for 7% of all cases of HIV infection in the US (others even say 10-15%).

Why 7%? Why 10-15%? What on earth is the basis for these figures? The oral sex HIV infection figures should be presumably based on those HIV infected who swear absolutely blind that they have never had blood transfusions, never abused needles, never had any form of anal or vaginal sex and have never abused needles, and whose sole sexual practice has been oral sex. I find the statement "people who have receptive oral sex often have anal sex as well, and infections get chalked up exclusively to the anal sex" misses the point. Indeed some do. Nevertheless, for that reason to chalk up to oral sex infection a share of overall gay sex infections would be perverse if the infected person swears blind they never engaged in anal sex. People may indeed lie, but it's a bit sweeping to jump to assuming that oral sex statistics are therefore understated.

I have never tried doubling condoms, as putting one on is enough of a passion-killer (not the wearing, but the stopping to put in on) - for me it would be the final straw to creating a desensitised experience. I wonder whether breakage would be such a risk as is suggested; given the considerable strength of condoms, I would have thought slipping off of one of them more likely, assuming lubrication was used.

On pregnancy, I'm no expert, never having been remotely interested in trying, but it’s an area where bad science or bad use of statistics can get you into trouble. The average ejaculation has about 100 million sperm/ml, but about 10 million sperm pass through the cervical mucus, about 1 million make it to the top of the uterine tract, and just about 100,000 sperm reach the fallopian tubes. Thus, only a couple of sperm, assuming motility, would reach the fallopian tubes. Now take into account that pre-cum contains a very small amount of semen. Semen contains innumerable sperm, only a tiny proportion of which successfully make the journey to the female egg; of the fertilised eggs, only a tiny proportion successfully survive, which is why human multiple births are actually rare in nature. So the real problem with pre-cum and withdrawal is not to do with any statistically significant risk of becoming pregnant from the sperm in pre-cum; the problem is that the timing of withdrawal - unless you withdraw long, - long before any kind of orgasm - is critical and easy to get wrong. If worrying about when to withdraw, you risk spoiling the whole sexual experience.

Needles in group play? I would be deeply worried about anyone who plays with needles. What they are doing is getting relaxed in the company of needles in a pleasure situation. That to me would signal someone who may have abused – or may want to abuse - needles in connection with drugs, and therefore has serious risks of being or becoming HIV+.

Using the anus as a receptable for semen may indeed be a form of birth control, and is quite a widespread practice (30%+, I was surprised to learn). But it is also a good way of transmitting HIV especially for those unaware they are HIV+.

All forms of sex carry risks, some of diseases other than HIV, such as hepatitis. So rimming and to some extent oral sex is not risk free for the rimmer or receiver respectively.

Living in Seattle, it would be surprising if Dan Savage did not have view about Canada, which after all is closer to him than Washington DC by a couple of thousand miles. Nevertheless, it's over-egging it to have a comment thread that covers sex, sex, sex and Harper.
Dear Dan,

Thank you for caring about the Canadian election and pimping Harper is a monster who needs to be brought down. My husband and I live in Seattle but are voting via special ballot for Canadians abroad. We love you!
The only time I've heard of a condom being ineffective, it was about this psycho mother-of-one. She'd had her child with a guy whose girlfriend was pregnant at the time, in order, said she, to be sure that she'd be the only parent to the child and that no father would come and bother her in her parenting. OK, why not.

Then while she was for a few days in my house, she found out she was 1-month pregnant. She swore she'd used a condom for her one-night-stand, she swore it had not broken, she swore she'd even taken the morning-after pill, and yet nothing worked : she was away from home, and in a sorry need of an abortion. Why not keep the child, I asked her ? No way, she had loved the father of her first child, not this one, and she believed that kids should not be born when there's no love. Besides, I guess it would have complicated even more her post-doctoral studies.

I helped her out with the process, of course. Still I thought : does she really take the morning-after pill everytime she's having protected sex ? Yeah right. To be sure the condom broke or there was no condom.

And I'm sure she ended up in the statistics of the 2% of condoms correctly used that lead to pregnancy.
@SFMi : I was told by a specialist in fertility treatments they consider a couple needs help only if, after 2 years of daily sex ending in semen in vagina, no pregnancy occurs.

Pregnancy is really random : it may happen at the first full intercourse, it may take up to 2 years, while still being normal. So, nothing to worry about in your case.
I'm voting in an historically strong Liberal riding that went Conservative in the last election by a very small margin. While it's going to come down to the Liberals or the Tories in that riding, I'm voting NDP. I considered casting a strategic Liberal vote just to hurt the Tories' chance of winning another riding, but I love Jack Layton too much not to vote for him. And Iggy's too big of a douche.
@48 : I agree with you about condom slipping, that happened twice to my partner, before he understood that he had to wipe my lady fluids of his cucumber first. Condom breaking, never.
off his cucumber.
Please please please, Canada, send Harper packing.

This man is possibly one of the scariest men in Canada; every bit as batshit as the southern baptists, but shrewd enough to engage in the worst type of incremental conservatism. If he has his way Canada will become far right of Bush era America.

If you are Canadian and a proponent of Women's rights, LGBTQ rights, Human Rights, Sane harm reduction policy, sane criminal justice policy and an economic policy that doesn't involve turning Canada into a Saudi-style oil monarchy, please send Harper a message and vote... for anyone else.

I agree...Iggy is a douche...really don't want him getting in either...

While HIV may not be easily transmitted from a rimjob, the same cannot be said of other viruses. Hepatitis is readily transmitted and I feel it is irresponsible not to mention when answering that question.
While rimjobs may be safe regarding HIV transmission, there are plenty of other health concerns and viruses that can be transmitted. I think it is irresponsible not to mention concerns of hepatitis, for example, when answering that question. Many HIV patients are infected with hepatitis as well, so rimjobs should not be undertaken unless HIVs partern has been tested.
When I was younger (and dumber), a boyfriend and I had unprotected sex without even using withdrawal for a year and a half before I finally got pregnant. And no, we weren't trying to get pregnant. Hence the dumb part. Suffice to say, I guess we just hadn't done it right when my egg was ready and waiting up until that point.
vennominon at 30 is advocating suckoff socialism, it seems: if you have lots of something good then you must be obliged to hand them over to somebody who they feel deserves it more. ;)
@ 45 - The funny thing is, slidebone doesn't seem to know much about Canadian politics either. Which is probably why his/her arguments are of the "Americans are ignorant" variety.
I'll be doing my part to keep Harper from the majority.
@3 That's interesting. I didn't know that. So, basically, teenage bodies want to have babies!
For SFMi and any men who do not wish to impregnate women:

If you really want to actively avoid getting a woman pregnant, add a daily soak in a hot bath to your routine. A hot bath will kill sperm, making you temporarily infertile. To reverse the infertility, stop taking the hot baths and wear boxers. Easy, inexpensive and effective!
@6: NO NO NO. This is potentially-dangerous misinformation. HIV can (possibly) infect epidermal cells - the jury's still out, as there are conflicting studies on the role of Langerhans cells. As far as we know, the mucous membranes of the penis (in the foreskin, and possibly in the portion that remains after circumcision in circumcised men) and vagina provide a vector for HIV transmission even without tearing, though it's a less-effective vector than HIV-containing fluid coming into contact with the blood stream.



That said, semen or blood contact with the unbroken epidermis (in most places on the body) is basically no-risk, and there have been almost no confirmed cases of oral HIV transmission (the ones that are confirmed involved people with cuts or sores in the oral cavity).
Hormonal birth control sucks (and kills your sex drive). But take hope! If you absolutely aren't ready for a child and would strongly prefer to avoid an abortion, get an IUD. Sure you will have heavier periods and a bit more cramping the first few months, but you'll be enjoying your resurgent sex drive so much you'll hardly notice.

IUDs have a bad rap but every woman I've known to take the leap and get one has been thrilled with the choice.
@66 you are right, 6 is confused and dangerously wrong. HIV is a blood disease sure, but it infects cd4 cells, or T helper cells, which are White blood cells. White blood cells are not restricted to blood, they are excreteted at all mucous membranes and into most body fluids. There are certainly thought to be exposed cd4 receptors below the glans of the penis and on the inside of the foreskin. (Although the evidence that transmission rates are lower in circumcised men is tenuous at best)

There is also very convincing evidence that having additional stds massively raises your chance of contracting HIV. So get yourself and partner checked very regularly.

Dan's advice is spot on.
@20, exactly what part of my comment ticked you off? I'm not buying into any BS propaganda about any form of birth control, I was simply voicing my complete surprise that the withdrawal method is still used and effective.
feliquid@34, I read the article you cited, but their stats on FAM were poor. They lumped together "rhythm-, calendar-, mucus-, and temperature-methods," along with "periodic abstinence or natural family planning." (p4) And even so, they only found 236 such respondents, compared with 2500 on the pill and 3800 using condoms. (p.16)

FAM is a highly effective way of preventing or promoting pregnancy, but you have to chart (daily) at least two of the following: basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and cervical position. (And you have to avoid PIV sex or use another form of birth control during your fertile days.) If respondents thought that by counting days since their last period, they knew when they'd be fertile, that's not using FAM. That's like people using water balloons for condoms.

Wiki says: "several studies have found actual failure rates of 2-3% per year," though I haven't checked their sources. For neurotic, educated people, I think it's reasonable to think results would be like the pill in effectiveness. Of course, like the pill, FAM doesn't provide any protection against STIs.

Well, except for the insults, you have made an argument (without actually addressing any of my arguments).

But, yes, Harper needs to be transparent. Just keep in mind that the (Sponsorship Scandal) Liberals are the likely alternative. So explain just why I should hate on Harper relative to the alternatives.

I think Harper has some bad policies, like his tough-on-crime agenda. It's a stupid policy. But the other parties are quite bad on this too. Inmate abuse at prison facilities exists right now. Access to justice is a joke. The programs to reintegrate inmates into society don't work. And even though the Harper government wants mandatory minimums, in fact, the system encourages a pattern where the same guys keep getting incarcerated and are in effect permanently in institutions anyways.

None of the parties have solutions to these problems. So, again, I don't like Harper's policy, but sorry, he is not a villain when compared to the other candidates.

Sites like Shitharperdid are an insult to anyone with any critical faculties.

This kind of angry politics usually means that the real issues get ignored. And I see it as an American influence (think Triggers, teapartiers, birthers, truthers). Look at the anger that Mr. Savage stirs up when he wades into politics. We don't need it.


You say I don't know much. But I make arguments and then support them with evidence.

You on the other hand, you make insulting claims, with no evidence or argument.

Are you arguing that Americans aren't ignorant on Canadian politics? I mean, Rick Mercer had a regular bit where he documented US ignorance of Canada, with Mike Huckabee, GWB, and ordinary Americans as the victims. Obama wanted to "take a hammer" to the NAFTA until he found out that Canada was the US's biggest trading partner. He literally had no idea.

Even Dan himself has said that he doesn't know a lot about Canadian politics.
The reason why medical PROVIDERS don't like to teach about withdrawal/fertility awareness is this: yes, there is sperm in the pre-ejaculate, and lots of women don't have clear fertility signs or have irregular periods. I would consider myself a poor medical practitioner if I didn't strongly encourage a woman who did not want to get pregnant to use something more reliable, such as the Pill, or even better, an IUD or implant.

Somehow, I don't think that the LW and his girlfriend are trying NOT to get pregnant.
Sorry, FAM = fertility awareness methods
@67 Not disputing your experience, but the pill is great for me, doesn't mess with my libido at all. What messes with my libido are the heavy, ten-day-long, irregular, painful periods I have when I'm off the pill.
@62 et al: Slidebone is clearly a Harper shill, a moron, or both. His grossly distorted representation @28 regarding the firing of Linda Keen demonstrates that.

As to the Canadian election, I urge any Canadian voter who is reading this and who is interested in preventing a Harper majority to visit the Catch 22 Campaign web site. This group has identified fifty key ridings where the incumbent - Tory or other party - is particularly vulnerable, and it provides strategic voting recommendations, based on poll results, to ensure the seat does not go to the Conservative candidate in this election.

Like it or not, with four parties in Parliament plus the Greens, we live in a time where strategic voting is essential. If you live in one of these ridings - or know someone who does - please think carefully before you cast your ballot. Staying ideologically pure and voting for a no-hoper will not make five years of a Harper majority any more enjoyable for you.
@67 I'm on Nuvaring and I love it. I cringe thinking about what life was like without it. My sister got her IUD removed after an ectopic pregnancy. Everybody's different.
@ 71 - OK, I take that back, you're just ignorant about politics in general. You take things at face value and thoroughly fail to see the hidden agenda. That's so... Canadian in its naivety.

Your reading skills are also dubious - or perhaps it's paranoia, a very Canadian trait due to an obvious national inferiority complex (Anglo Canadians feel inferior to the US, the Québécois feel inferior to the French) - but I never said that Americans know about Canadian politics. That would be silly. No one else in the WORLD cares about Canadian politics. It's probably the single least talked about country in the international press.

What I meant was that if you can't come up with better arguments than "Americans are ignorant", then your capacity to argue intelligently is nil - at least on this subject.

By the way, before you go on a misguided rant, I'm not American.
I think pulling out should be a art form. It works!! Been doing it with my girl friend for years, she loves the sticky stuff all over her!!
WHY does this idiot want to have a baby with someone he isn't married to? Marriage is too big of a committment but raising a child together is NOT? How disgusting to have such a lackadaisical attitude towards bringing another human being into the world who wil be COMPLETELY dependent on him: "Oh well if it happens it happens." Sounds like another kid the taxpayers are going to end up paying for. I HOPE this dufus infertile!
Pulling out should be a art form. My girlfiend and I are always trying to come up with new ideas for money shots!!! I came up with new one last weekend. It should be fun.
BTW-It does work!!
oops !!! double post I thought the first got lost
As an aside, the podcast answer to the guy who didn't want to keep dating the single mother with a kid: total fail, Mr. Savage.

Why the hell guilt trip a guy for not agreeing to raise another man's child? Not. his. responsibility.

Move on, dude. Don't let a gay advice columnist try to gender shame you ("man up") into taking on a woman's bad decisions about single motherhood.
As an aside, the podcast answer to the guy who didn't want to keep dating the single mother with a kid: total fail, Mr. Savage.

Why the hell guilt trip a guy for not agreeing to raise another man's child? Not. his. responsibility.

Move on, dude. Don't let a gay advice columnist try to gender shame you ("man up") into taking on a woman's bad decisions about single motherhood.
@48, you should at least look at the provided link before asserting that @39's comment lacks credibility. UCSF is one of the best biology research centers in the world, and even if you don't understand their methodology (without even bothering to find out what it is!) it is still a credible study. Allow me to provide another source, from Columbia University, which I'm sure you will also not read:…. This provides basic facts, including risks associated with fellatio. On the flip side, page 36 has a table that lists risks of infection from a single sexual encounter with an HIV-positive partner, and these risks are very low. Obviously, this doesn't mean it's okay for people to be reckless; it just illustrates that the HIV virus is not actually a very robust one.
If you take a little time each day to monitor various aspects of a woman's body (waking temperature, viscosity of vaginal fluids, etc), you can tell exactly when she is ovulating.

That means you fuck without birth control during the entire time window between her period and the point of ovulation, and you can be extra careful once she's ovulated.
Slidebone makes arguments and backs them up? Hardly.

"The Conservatives never get elected in Atlantic Canada". Actually the Conservatives have MP's from 3 of the 4 Atlantic provinces, the most prominent of whom is Peter Mackay (the Minister of Defence in the outgoing government, and extremely high profile). The lack of MP's in the fourth is a historic anomaly because the Conservative government of that province campaigned against the federal Conservatives last election. In the current election, polls put the Conservatives in the lead in Atlantic Canada.

To put this in US context, the best analogy I can think of would be saying "the Republicans never get elected in California." It's just bizarre.

It's not expected that GBLT rights will be an issue in the next parliament. However, the NDP were the first major (i.e. has elected MPs) party to support the right of gays to marry, it got passed when most of the Liberals came on board, and the Conservatives fought it until even some Conservatives were telling the others that the public were tired of them beating the dead horse. Further, there's a fairly high profile gay politician (Scott Brison) who left the Conservatives and joined the Liberals because of the different attitudes towards gays among the two groups of politicians. I think I'd go with Scott Brison's opinion on the GBLT-friendliness of the different parties over "Sliderule"'s.

For abortion rights, I doubt that anyone will actively ban abortions for Canadian women in the near future. However, the Conservatives are fond of tying grants for foreign aid for NGO's to restrictions that the NGO not use the money to provide abortions, a restriction that none of the other significant parties would want to make. No party is likely to ban abortions because doing so would get them wiped out in the next election. However, the Conservatives are a party that evangelical Christians can feel at home in, while the NDP are a party that women's studies majors can feel at home in. The parties are definitely not the same.

As for Linda Keen, she was fired because she would have shut down an unsafe nuclear reactor, although shutting down that reactor would have reduced the production of isotopes used for medical purposes. It's not one explanation or the other is true: both are true. The Conservatives gambled that technical problems at an unsafe reactor could be managed and, happily, they won their gamble. However, presenting the issue as if the production of medical isotopes was the only consideration is framing it in a way only a right-wing partisan would.

I think a safe overview is that, in practice, Harper governs to the left of Obama because Harper has to play to an electorate that's far to the left of him. However, if Harper were in the States, he'd be completely comfortable among tea party types. If I had to choose between Prime Minister Huckabee and Prime Minister Harper, I'd pick Huckabee, as the lesser evil, in a heartbeat.

I stopped reading "Slidebone"'s comments after the first one, the "Conservatives never get elected in Atlantic Canada" comment was just too ignorant to take the guy seriously any more. But I'd go with Dan's knowledge of Canadian politics over his.
@85, yes, except for one huge caveat: you need to use another form of birth control for about 3 days before ovulation as well. That's why you have to chart for a few months before relying on it: you need to be able to predict ovulation accurately, so you can avoid a window around it. (Unless you're trying to GET pregnant, in which case you have to aim for that window.)

sex 1 day before ovulation = high likelihood of getting pregnant.

I know people hate doctors a lot and stuff but give them a little slack.

1. Sex ed (maybe I'm biased because I'm Canadian) is generally taught to TEENAGERS who aren't exactly fantastic at controlling when they ejaculate. Though mature adults who have been having sex for a while might be able to maintain "perfect use" of the withdrawl method (the fairly decent, but still less effective than condoms 4%) they are more likely to practice "imperfect use" which means roughly 1 in 5 getting pregnant. Another reason that condoms are suggested is because they protect against STIs. Again! For teenagers this is very important. For a married couple with kids it is (hopefully) not so important. Sex ed is taught with a teenager-centric slant, not a selling-condoms slant. Jeez.

2. I like how people are talking about the rhythm method like it's a good idea. Maybe it's effective but you have to not have sex while you're ovulating OR on your period. That leaves... what like a third of the month to have sex? Besides, women are most likely to WANT to have sex WHEN they're ovulating. And people think condoms take the fun out of sex?
Thanks, Backyard B, I'm going to figure out what riding my son is in (he just moved, somewhere between downtown and Burnaby...)
@88: To be fair, the rhythm method doesn't mean no sex when you are ovulating; it means no penis-in-vagina when you are ovulating.

You call it ovulation. I call it "Blow Job Week!"

(And... no sex during your period? That's just wrong.)

@89: try…

If he's in Van East, that's arguably the safest NDP riding in Canada, but if he's actually in north Burnaby (Burnaby-Douglas), that's a nailbiter between the NDP and the Conservatives.
@88/90 - you can't use cervical mucus as a signal during your period, but if you've been charting a while you know how far away ovulation is, so (unless they are very irregular) most women could have PIV sex all but one week of the month -- that window of a few days on each side of ovulation.

Also, please don't call FAM the rhythm method: the rhythm method is an ineffective calendar-based method, just counting days. FAM involves reading your body, not the calendar.
Of course you can have PIV sex even during the fertile window; you just need to use condoms then.
FWIW, I used FAM/charting to get pregnant, once my fertility had declined (in my 30s) so it wasn't as easy as just stopping birth control. If it weren't for my deep and enduring love of the pill I would totally continue charting. I highly recommend that anyone who is not on hormonal birth control try charting for a few months, just to see what it's all about. Just print out a few copies of the chart at… and get a special basal thermometer ($10 @Amazon), and you're all set to learn how your body works and when it is fertile.
Glad to see someone giving the facts about withdrawal. The bf and I have been using it for 17 months without mishap (well, except for semen in his eye that one time, but that's not really relevant here.) It really depends on how much discipline and awareness the guy has - I would never recommend it to teenagers or anyone sexually inexperienced, and I'd recommend having emergency contraception around in case of an "oops." All the reliable sources I've read say that there's no viable sperm in pre-come, but that if he's come recently there may still be viable sperm hanging around from that.
Hi EricaP! Good point about that survey data I posted; I clearly didn't read it closely enough to prevent a case of foot-in-mouth.

I have fallen further down the PubMed rabbit hole, though:

The most-effective study I found was from Germany [ see table VII from… ], where if the symptothermic (STM) method of FAM was used perfectly (defined as either abstinence or condom use in the fertile time), rate of pregnancy was 0.4-0.5% per year. However, if there was imperfect use (either unprotected sex or intermittent condom use during the fertile time), pregnancy rates jumped to 2.2-7.5%. This imperfect use rate of STM does compare favorably to imperfect use of the pill, for instance.

However, if you look at figure 4, of the 900 women who started the study, 466 women (51.8%) dropped out of the study by 13 cycles (one year, roughly). 9.2% of the total had dropped out by that time due to dissatisfaction with the method (table VII), 6.73% were lost to followup, and the remaining 35.9% left the study for other reasons. As the authors of the German study say, "The markedly high use-effectiveness rates of our
data may partly be explained by the motivation of those couples and their teachers who agreed to participate in the study." That's a really high dropout rate...the fantastic numbers they cite would not have survived intention-to-treat analysis.

The German authors go on to say, "When comparing different methods of family planning, method effectiveness rates are more frequently quoted than the use-effectiveness rates which are strongly dependent on the selection of the study population."

As an example of how success with STM varies by population, there's another study from California that showed a failure rate of 16.6% at one year--higher than the pill. It had a similar dropout rate of >50%.
[… ]

I don't have a primary care practice anymore, but if a woman asked me about pregnancy prevention, I would talk about both withdrawal and the symptothermic method as viable options for preventing pregnancy; as the numbers show, they can be better than no method. As others have pointed out above, every woman is different--some find that hormones kill their libidoes, others have a higher-than-typical risk of blood clots, some want permanent sterilization, others have philosophical or religious values that help them decide against pills/IUDs/surgery.... My job is to help my patients share with me the factors that influence their decisions, and then to share with them the data they need to help make decisions. That's pretty much it.
Old Crow, I just entered his postal code, and it says Vancouver Kingsway...still NDP?

Backyard B, "blow job week,"....niiice. ;)
@48 Dan Filson -

No-thank-you for that ad hominem attack. If you want to know my credentials, why not ask me?

FYI, I'm an attending physician, board-certified in internal medicine, at a large urban teaching hospital. I do not have special training in HIV--though I do take care of many HIV+ patients--but I absolutely can review studies, extract data, and form conclusions, because that's my job and I've been trained to do it.

You got me! I admit it, I'm all about the PIV sex, since it's how I get off (fancy that).
I think every week should be blowjob week - but not because I'm not allowed to get off, that's no fun.

I don't like to have sex when I'm on my period! We accept all kinds of deviants but not the kind who like cleanliness when they're getting dirty? Come on now...

My birth control/preference combo means that only one week out of three months (or 8% of the time) is PIV-free. Which I like!
@97: I'd stick with the NDP in Vancouver-Kingsway. (And I suppose I could have gone with "Oral Week" - never meant to suggest things couldn't go both ways.)

@99: Don't look at it as a "can't get off" week - look at it as "find new ways to get off" week instead.
My wife and I used withdrawal for 2 months- BAM!- baby #3. We tried for baby #1 for 1 month. Baby #2 we tried for 2 months. We must be really fertile, because I withdrew pretty well every time during that 2 months. Baby #3 is quite a miracle...

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