Posts Tagged ‘ask anything’

No health educator available during the week of July 8-12th


Please note there will be no health educator available to give results or health information during the week of July 8th.  Jos will be back to her regular availability (Mondays 11-1pm, Wednesdays 3-5pm, Thursdays 2-4pm) as of Monday July 15th.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

Ask Anything: Squirt Versus Urine


When I masturbate with a showerhead, I squirt. Is that urine or real squirting? It’s never yellow.

Masturbation with a showerhead is a great thing, but in the case of your question it complicates my answer! I’m assuming that you’re masturbating with the water spray, which means there’s a lot of water involved, all around your body and possibly inside your vagina. This makes it harder to distinguish the color, consistency, and quantity of liquid that comes out of your body when you masturbate.

 What I can say is that typically people don’t (involuntarily) pee when they’re having sex alone or with somebody else. Here are some things to consider in your personal investigation of the ejaculate-versus-urine question: Often, before squirting you can feel a tingling sensation similar to what you feel when you’re about to pee…but you won’t pee. If you keep going beyond that tingling sensation and ejaculate, try to find a way to look at the liquid that comes out. That’s where the shower context makes it hard investigate. In any case, the ejaculate liquid shouldn’t smell like pee; it’s more likely to be fragrance free or to smell like your vaginal fluid when you’re aroused. As for consistency, it’s closer to water and vaginal fluid than male ejaculate; it’s more liquid. Finally, the color should be on the scale of clear to white rather than yellow like urine. Good luck with your investigation!

Ask Anything: When to get tested?


Do you have to get tested after every time you have sex? If not, how often?

I wouldn’t recommend getting tested after every time you have sex. First off, for some people or at certain times in a person’s life, this would mean getting tested many times a week…which could be time consuming! Secondly, and most importantly, there is a technical aspect related to getting accurate test results.

A lot of STIs have what’s called a “window period”. This relates to the amount of time between the transmission of the STI (when someone is infected) and when a medical test would be able to detect the STI. To state it simply, the window period is the time where an STI is alive in your body, is totally contagious, but is still undetectable by a test.  For example, Chlamydia’s window period is 3 to 10 days, but HIV’s window period is 3 to 6 months. This means that if you’ve had sex and are worried about having contracted HIV, you have to wait 3 to 6 months to get accurate test results (in most cases, the test will be accurate after 3 months but to be sure, it’s important to get tested after 6 months as well).

So in general, when you are sexually active, you should get tested for STIs every 6 months even if you use protection – that way, you cover all the window periods of the different tests. People sometimes choose to get tested every year, or even less often, if they have one partner and they’ve agreed on a monogamous relationship.

You can also download are bilingual STIgma Zine to get more information on different STIs, safer sex and communication with partners about these things!

ask anything: when can I get tested for STIs?


Q: I had a possible exposure in August 2010- unprotected receptive anal. Im a female btw. At 5 and 6 1/2 months I got tested for all STI’s. All results were negative. My main concern is HIV. Do I need to test again? P.s. I had no exposure since that night.

Since you got tested twice, and your results were negative both times, I would feel pretty confident in your results. You also got tested after 6 months, which fully covers the window period for HIV (the time frame in which the virus can’t be accurately detected by a test – for HIV it’s 3-6 months). In your case, I would let go of the stress and start enjoying safe sex again.

In general, when you are sexually active, you should get tested for STIs every 6 months even if you use protection – that way, you cover all the window periods of the different tests. People sometimes choose to get tested every year, or even less often, if they have one partner and they’ve agreed on a monogamous relationship. In your case, it sounds like you’ve got your bases covered for that one situation, and you could consider getting tested regularly (e.g. every 6 months to a year) in the future. You can also stock up on free condoms and lube at Head & Hands (and most other clinics), to further protect your health!

ask anything: orgasms, pleasure and more ‘first times’


A couple of questions related to sex and pleasure, answered by our resident sexology stagiaire, Gabrielle!

Q: How many orgasms can you have in a day?

There aren’t any real limits to how many orgasms you can experience in a day.


Different people have different “recovery periods” between orgasms – basically, the time it takes for blood to flow back to those areas that it just rushed out of. Usually female-bodied people are more disposed to get more orgasms or multiple orgasms than male-bodied people. That distinction comes from the fact that male-bodied people have a recovery period that’s longer and different than for female-bodied people – it’s the period after an ejaculation where you can’t get another erection. Female-bodied people also have that recovery period after an orgasm, but it can be shorter or non-existent in some cases. Other factors like stress, mental and physical health, confidence or trust between partners, drug or alcohol use, your age, etc… can have an impact on your capacity to have an orgasm, and by default, many orgasms. Sometimes, focusing on the number of orgasms you are having or trying to achieve orgasm can prevent you from actually “getting there”, because your mind and body are too preoccupied! Just keep in mind that having an orgasm is not the ultimate goal of sexual activity, so the number of orgasms that you have doesn’t qualify the quality of your sexual activity.

Q: My first time with my girl friend, I didn’t last very long, and I think she was disappointed. What can I do?

We say this all the time, but the basic thing in any relationship is communication. If you want to be sure that you’re on the same page as your partner and you really want to know what they’re thinking, you should start a conversation with them. We can stress for a long time about what the other person is thinking, when there might be nothing going on. If you feel like your girlfriend might believe that you didn’t last very long, it might be a good idea to address it with her, instead of letting these feelings grow in the background of your relationship.

I also think that the notion of lasting very long is pretty subjective: how long a person can and should keep an erection is different from one person to another. Usually, our expectations are very high, because we think that sex should be a certain perfect way. (more…)

ask anything: intersex


Thanks to Gabrielle, our Sexology stagiaire, for answering the latest question on our blog!


Intersex refers to a person who’s born with sex chromosomes, external genitalia, or a reproductive system that’s not considered “standard” for either male or female. (Intersex Society of North America)

Here are some examples to represent this concept. A person could be born with a vulva and a vagina but no uterus and ovaries (internal reproductive system), or with a penis and a vagina, or a very large clitoris that resembles a penis. A lot of people are curious about what the range of intersex genitals could look like, but these questions can be quite invasive for intersex people (for any person, really!). This blog has some great diagrams and explanations that avoid using photos of people’s bodies (these are often taken without the person’s consent).

These variations in sexual organs doesn’t mean a person is unhealthy, and in most cases won’t cause them any physical health problems. The big issue in the reality of an intersex person is often the ambiguity and the stigma. Ambiguity by itself is totally fine, but our society doesn’t respond very well to things that don’t fit easily into boxes. In most cases, doctors perform surgery on intersex babies in order to “correct” the situation and to make their genitals fit in the “normal” male/female binary. This sends the message that to be intersex is a problem, when in reality it’s not!

Being informed as parents of an intersex kid or as an intersex person is really important, since there are many myths out there that can have a big impact on a person’s sexual development and identity. Check out the Intersex Society of North America, or these videos produced by 20/20, for more information:

Part 1:

Part 2:

ask anything: various vaginas!


Welcome to our newest anonymous-question-answerer, Gabrielle!  Gabrielle is a Sexology student at UQAM and a beloved stagiaire here at Head & Hands. Today she waxes poetic about the varieties of vulvas out there…

Q: how many types of vagina do we have?

An important thing to note is that there’s a lot of confusion in our day-to-day language about the female genitals, especially about the difference between the vagina and the vulva. The vulva refers to the outer portion of the genitals formed by the clitoris, the hood of the clitoris, the outer and the inner labia, the opening of the urethra and the opening of the vagina. The vagina is the internal part: it’s the canal that connects the vulva to the cervix and the uterus (the inner genitals). Check out the diagram below to see how it all comes together!

In any case, the precise number of different types of vulvas and vaginas are impossible to determine. Everybody is shaped differently to begin with, and people can alter the appearance of their genitals in different ways (e.g. piercing, shaving, tattoos or dyes)

As cliché as it sounds, every vulva is a unique piece of art. It has its own colour, size, amount of hair, and texture. Colour can range from a subtle pink to a rich brown tone. The clitoris, its hood and the labia can be very small and the skin tight, or larger and with the skin more elastic. Inner labia might be longer or shorter, sometimes extending below the outer labia and sometimes not. All of these things are normal!  It’s also important to note that the inner labia (like breasts and testicles) usually differ in size. For example, your inner right labia might stick out beyond your outer labia a lot more than the left one.

To get a better idea of variations, and to appreciate their difference, take a look at these pictures of vulvas after the break (NOTE: may not be acceptable viewing material in certain workplaces or schools!)


Ask anything: a couple of questions about pregnancy and going on/off the Pill


Here are a couple of questions and answers we got recently in our anonymous questions box to the right ->  Great questions about pregnancy risks and birth control pills!  Hope this helps, and keep ’em coming…

Q: can you get pregnant if a guy fingers you with sperm on his hand?

For pregnancy to occur, sperm has get inside the vagina or on the vulva (where semen could be pushed into the vagina through intercourse, touching etc.). If someone has semen on their hand, and it is still wet, and then fingers someone else, then yes, there is a pregnancy risk there. However, sperm have a hard time surviving once the semen has dried up, so pregnancy is pretty unlikely if the person had semen on their hand that had dried up. Either way, there are a few ways you can reduce this risk: hand-washing is a quick and easy way to make sure there’s no remaining ejaculate around, or use gloves and lube for fingering. If you’re concerned about pregnancy in general, check out this post for some different birth control ideas. The more you know about your body and how pregnancy happens, the better!

Q: My boyfriend is moving away for a year, and we won’t be seeing each other much. Is it safe for me to stop taking birth control for the year he is away, and then start again when he comes back? Are there bad side effects from going off the pill?

The Pill is a reversible form of contraception – meaning that once you stop taking it, your body resumes its natural cycles and you are able to get pregnant. It’s safe to stop taking it whenever you want to stop taking it, just remember that it may take awhile for your body to adjust. When you first go on the Pill, your body is adjusting to the new levels of hormones in your system. (more…)

Ask anything: where to get free condoms!


Q: Where can I get free condoms in Montreal?

A: You can get free condoms here at Head & Hands (5833 Sherbrooke St. Ouest) – see our website for our opening hours, or call our streetworkers who always have them on hand!  You can also get them at CLSCs (find your nearest CLSC here), at many schools/CEGEPs/universities (try the nurse’s office or health services, guidance counsellor or social worker), and at other community organizations or youth centres, like AIDS Community Care Montreal, Rezo, Dans la rue/Pops van, or Head & Hands’ teen drop-in centre, J2K. Concordia’s 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy and McGill’s Union for Gender Empowerment also stock condoms and other safer sex supplies.  Happy searching!

Ask anything: First-timers


We are still getting more and more questions in our “Ask Anything” question box to the right! –> Sense volunteer Liam tackled today’s question…

Q: My boyfriend and I are planning our first time. I’ve been looking into birth control and trying to figure out which one will be best, but besides that, we’re both virgins and neither of us really know what to expect. I want this to be special. Advice?

After much time spent dwelling on what I would say to two people about to have sex for the first time, I was able to narrow my characteristic longwindedness down to 3 topics: Communication/Consent; Safer Sex/Birth Control; Pleasure.


Communicating about sex is really a win-win: you can make sure that your partner is consenting and into it as well as maximize the pleasure of everybody involved. From a super practical standpoint, communicating might look like saying things along the lines of “is it cool if I take off your pants”, “oh my god, what you just did felt amazing”, “Could you go a little slower”, “Stop for a second, I need a break”, or seriously a bazillion other things. I generally shy away from making sweeping generalizations BUT sex will probably be better if you know that your partner is listening and responding to you and would stop as soon you asked. To make communicating easier, some people like to use code words that you and your partner can come up with beforehand. A really common set is the traffic light system where ‘green’ means everything is fantastic, ‘yellow’ means turn it down a bit, and ‘red’ means stop immediately. Coming up with code words can also be a helpful way to start a conversation about sex, consent, and boundaries with your partner.