Tag Archives: sex education

When we think of yeast…

Typically, we think of yeast when we think of baking. Sometimes we think of it with respect to beer.

On a human level, we tend to think of yeast infections in connection with women, because seemingly, women are more prone to them. However, such is not necessarily the case.

Before I continue, I will be discussing candidiasis (yeast infection) – and while I know that it can be transmitted sexually, and it can result from taking antibiotics, etc…I will be talking about manifestation of candidiasis without any other seeming origin…such as in non-sexually active, circumcised men (who often seem surprised they’ve got yeast)…or in children.

I received a question from a woman with two young daughters a few weeks ago about one of her daughters (age 6), wondering about her daughter’s itch “down there.” I asked if her daughter takes bubble baths (yes) and a few other pertinent questions. I told the woman that the only way to diagnose for sure was to take her daughter to a physician (recommended a gynecologist), but that the likely culprit was yeast. Just plain ol’ yeast. She seemed to be surprised (“but in a child?”) — and I suspect strongly that her greater concern was that someone might have touched her daughter sexually.

Of course, that is a possible concern, but given that her daughter approached her very plainly with no shame and told her that her vaginal area was itching, and mom noted the redness…and the daughter denied any inappropriate touching “down there” — my first thought was that a child who has been touched inappropriately has often been warned to not tell anyone, which would make talking about anything “down there” off-limits — the likelihood was that she hadn’t been harmed.

She was also surprised that children can (and do!) get yeast infections. Most moms (and some dads) know that babies get yeast (in the form of thrush), but that usual “blame” for that is passage through the vaginal canal during birth (it’s not really blame, per se, but yeah…vaginal birth is often seen as the “culprit”, which doesn’t seem to explain C-section babies who get thrush…but anyway…). The fact is, we all have yeast in our bodies. Most of us have it in very small amounts, but it is just a part of us.

Certain factors for yeast growth make overgrowth (leading to itchiness and infection) more common in adult women. Interestingly, you don’t hear too often about men getting candidiasis (yeast infection (at least not who are willing to openly talk about it)…and even the medical literature says that it’s “more common” for men to get a yeast infection if they’re not circumcised. I suspect that, given that the majority of adult men in the United States are circumcised (since that was a matter of course at birth for a very long time), the seeming lack of proper genital hygiene taught to young boys contributed to the wrong idea that boys and men are not susceptible to something like yeast. Which is, of course, frustrating.

Men (circumcised or not) are prone to yeast in the same way that women are…and for the same reasons…though the yeast infection may not manifest quite in the same way, or with the same likelihood as in women. To grow, yeast simply needs a warm moist place. For girls and women, well, no need to state the obvious. That growth might be more common in adult women is not surprising, either, since many adult females are sexually active, which adds more moisture. And…of course…even with that, some women never experience a yeast infection. Men (or at least many men) have been taught that if they’re circumcised and if they “keep their dicks clean,” they’ll never-ever-ever have aaaaaaaaaany problems like “that”…which is a load of hooey.

And…which is why you will find (if you look) men’s online forums discussing exactly this topic with surprised comments like, “But I’m circumcised!” or “But it’s on my nutsack, not on the tip of my dick!” Which makes me sigh.

An ill-informed mom (or dad) might completely freak out if her toddler son (circumcised or not) suddenly has redness at the base of his penis and on his scrotum that seems to smart at the touch and is itchy to the child.

Again, we human beings have yeast in our bodies…and all that’s needed for growth is warmth and moisture. The genital area (in men as well as women) is prone to moisture, particularly in hot and humid climates.

In cases like these…while I would encourage men and parents of young boys to certainly have a physician examine them if they aren’t completely certain…but my first (very educated) guess would be -simply- yeast. Go to a store and buy some Monistat cream. Apply it to the red, itchy areas. It is the same over-the-counter cream that women who get yeast infections use to get rid of their own. Just the topical cream, though, guys. We women do have a couple of other things we get because our anatomy is slightly different from yours. 

Of course, keep everything “down there” clean and dry as much as possible. For you parents out there with uncircumcised boys…(and for folks whose sons are circumcised)…yes, your little boys can get yeast infections. As best you’re able, keep their genitals clean and dry…and teach them how to keep clean and dry as they become old enough to understand. Note to parents of uncircumcised sons…do not attempt to retract your son’s foreskin (it will do that all on its own when the time comes…usually during puberty) — but you can clean the entire penis thoroughly (plain soap and water and soft pat-dry without pulling the foreskin back). For my sons, I have long preferred a gentle powder. I know there are folks who discourage this, but I prefer it, particularly on the scrotum, which can get moist due to simple sweat under the scrotum (the perineum) and on the rest of the scrotal area, including the inner thighs. And…I am teaching him how to do this for himself as he gets older.

For parents of young girls…yes, prepubescent girls can and do get yeast infections. Back when I worked as a medical assistant in a pediatric clinic, we had many young girls who were brought in by concerned parents…and one of the biggest culprits was bubble baths. This is not to suggest never giving your daughters bubble baths…far from it. However, be aware that the vagina is not a vacuum, and even in very young girls, liquid irritants can get in and wreak minor havoc. Also, when you’re teaching your daughter how to clean herself after using the bathroom (and I cannot stress this one enough), front to back. For my daughter, I’ve taught her that this is important both in the bath/shower and on the toilet after using the bathroom, so that it is an ingrained habit of front to back. Also, ensuring that all those folds and in-between all those folds are thoroughly cleaned and dried.

I have long suspected (and continue to suspect) that one reason women seem more prone to yeast infections is that we’re not taught the importance of thorough cleaning and gentle drying of everything — and again front to back. We’re just told “keep it clean” without any specific instructions. I remember the first time I read the instructions for a “clean catch“, I remember thinking…why weren’t we taught to clean like this as children? (Instructions for both men and women are in that link…and this is how we should be cleaning our genitals when we bathe, not just for a “clean catch” urine sample.) I know, too, that nobody ever told me that this is doubly important after I indulge in a bubble bath (one of my rare indulgences) because of the different potential irritants in the bubble bath itself.

Anyway, I hope this has been informative, and that you find it useful.

Dr. Weird

Initial Survey & Larger Research

The initial survey results were shared a couple of days ago. A point of note in the initial survey was the limitations to the survey itself. I wanted to offer an option for expanded answers to each survey question, but that was not an immediate option, since I have a very basic Survey Monkey account. At some point in the future, I would like to upgrade that account to allow for more in-depth surveys and polls; for now, I had to work within the limits of the basic options.
Interestingly, though, the answers received in the initial survey were not all that far outside of the results from my larger research, and that is something I would like to share here. I am still limited as to exactly how much I can share, until such time as my dissertation is actually published…but I can talk about some of the contents. At least the portion that I have complete control over, since it was and is my research.
The question of denial — asked in different ways during the in-person interviews of my research, and two basic ways in the initial survey here — answered other questions in the research. To understand the distinction, it may help to understand that in my independent research, there were three very specific questions for which I was seeking answers.
The central research question was: What do parents of 13- to 19-year-old females in the Atlanta metropolitan area perceive to be the contributing factors to female teenagers contracting sexually transmitted infections? 
The other research questions were: How do parents of 13- to 19-year-old female teenagers feel that their perspectives on sexual relations impact the potential of their child contracting an STI?
and: How do parents perceive female teenagers contract a sexually transmitted infection?
That third question only seems obvious at first glance, and was a question that I toyed with, because the seemingly obvious answer is unprotected sex…but that isn’t really the actual question. The actual question is in the first 4 words…how do parents perceive…which makes a big difference, in terms of direct research.
Not quite as “obvious” once the constraint element is understood…but finding the answers to that specific secondary research question.
In answering the research questions — which are not asked directly, but through the answers to the interview questions (through themes that surface during data analysis) — fuller interview questions (with follow-up questions for each participant, as necessary) answered the research questions. My little non-scientific survey here only underscored those answers. I would eventually like to expand my initial research to a much broader audience of participants, of course…to get richer, more in-depth thoughts…but for this entry, I am simply going to share what themes actually surfaced during my research.
1. Discomfort and embarrassment — both parents and teens
2. Inadequate information and education
3. Gender Disparity
4. Denial — both parents and teens
5. Media Influence
6. Alcohol and other substances
The overarching thread that connected the above themes (and their sub-themes) was communication. Communication was the thread that bound everything together, and manifested in different ways throughout the interviews, regardless of how participants answered the direct questions…a small sampling of which were answered in the initial survey questions here.
The questions about condoms (access and knowledge about use) fell hugely into the first and third themes, and moderately in the second theme. Several (seeming) assumptions exist about what teens (and especially female teens) know and don’t know amid the various gaps that are evident in public school sex education, particularly in states (such as Georgia) that accept Title V funding for abstinence-based education.
In a coming entry (probably in either April or May, depending on when the research is finally published), I will expand with more details about the themes, what common phrases repeated throughout the interviews…again, regardless of how exact questions were asked (and which questions were the foundation for the initial survey here).
I am looking forward to sharing that information, as it will be critical information that will be part of the resource I am seeking to develop as one aim of this website and blog.
For now, Happy Wednesday.


The following is an excerpt from my personal blog, in which I talk about paraphilias. Paraphilias are sometimes categorized as “fetishes,” though such is not always or even necessarily the case. Fetishes do not have to be sexual in nature, truly. Further, many of the following paraphilias are included in the DSM (a code book for psychiatric disorders), which I do not necessarily agree with.

A very short list…as an example of things that do turn people on. This is about sex education, and there are areas that few people know much about at all. By “not assuming action,” I mean that the turn on does not indicate that the person turned on by the fixation ever actually acts upon thing that turns them on.

Name                      What the turn on is (and this does not assume action)

Acrotomophilia:       Amputees

Agalmatophilia:       Statues and mannequins

Asphyxiophilia:        Asphyxiation or strangulation

Autoplushophilia:    The image of one’s self in the form of a plush or anthropomorphized animal.

Coprophilia:            Feces; also known as scat, scatophilia

Dendrophilia:          Trees

Emetophilia:            Vomit

Feederism:              Erotic eating, feeding, and weight gain

Formicophilia:         Being crawled on by insects

Forniphilia :            Turning a human being into a piece of furniture

Hybristophilia:         Criminals, particularly for cruel or outrageous crimes

Klismaphilia:            Enemas, either giving or having

Lactophilia:             Lactation, nursing

Menophilia:             Menstruation

Narratophilia:          Talking dirty, listening to obscene words/stories

Objectophilia:          Pronounced emotional desire towards specific inanimate objects (as mentioned earlier)

Odaxelagnia:            Biting or being bitten

Paraphilic infantilism: Dressing or being treated like a baby

Partialism:                 Specific, non-genital body parts

Technosexuality:       Sexual attraction to robots, or people dressed as robots

Trichophilia:              Hair

Troilism:                   Cuckoldism, watching one’s partner have sex with someone else

Vorarephilia:            The idea of eating or being eaten by others; sometimes swallowed whole

The purpose of this list is to introduce realms of sexual “deviations” (in this sense, sexual fixations outside of what is typically considered within the “norm”) ~ and is not intended to belittle anyone who is into any of the above things (the list is nowhere near comprehensive, it is a truly tiny sampling). Nor am I suggesting that I personally find any of these paraphilias “positive” or “negative” — just that they, among many, many other sexual fixations, exist.

There are several paraphilias that -acted upon- are, of course, illegal. But many, if not most, fall into strictly the realm of fantasy. We live in a society where normatives –and especially sexual normatives– are part of a larger concern about repression and shame. An article I read yesterday about prosecuting for thought crimes is what brought the subject to the surface, and caused me to stop and write a little bit about various things people get off on. For the complete entry about this topic, please feel free to visit my personal blog entry on paraphilias.

A Very Important Perspective

…in my considered opinion, of course.

I have been really enjoying answers received in my surveys. In four days, I will be closing up the initial survey and comparing all the answers. Yes, I will share how those answers came together in a blog entry here.

For the other survey, an answer was given the other day that caught my attention – because it provided a perspective that is not plainly and openly discussed in the “mainstream” of sex education. The question was Regardless of whether you liked or disliked Beyonce’s halftime show, can sports’ celebrity performances be used in terms of sex education? And if yes, in what way? (If your answer is “No”, simply state “No” – no further commentary is necessary.)

The answer given – Yes. The way bodies are judged publicly is important, especially the way female and black bodies are assigned a negative qualities without regard to action.

*nodding emphatically* There is a huge difference, on a very public level, between how white female bodies are judged and how black female bodies are judged. Rightly or wrongly, there is a difference in expectations (societally) and a vast difference in judgment. This is a very important perspective, and I will definitely be opening the subject further as I continue to write the book. I will also be seeking out, very specifically, personal perspectives from women of color to help explore the topic in that section of the book.

For now, I hope your Wednesday is wonderful!

Encouraged…and Encouragement

I am so encouraged today.

I let a friend of mine, who is a parent of a female teenager, read my dissertation. Privately, of course, since it has not yet been published. That my friend understood it clearly, found it readable…and more importantly, found it useful, SO encouraging and gratifying.

And that is the goal of this website and blog. I am not going to be putting my dissertation out there for casual reading. It will, of course, be published and available to people with access to academic libraries…but I want to ensure there is a resource that is less academic in nature AND that is fully available to the public. So my friend’s feedback is extremely encouraging!

Ah, a Happy Friday feeling.


Sex Ed, STIs, and Demographics

Yesterday, over in my personal blog, I shared a tidbit from my dissertation. (Note: In the future, I will share more from my research, after the dissertation has been published — what I’m sharing here is already public information, and is easily verifiable.)

In the United States in 2007, 1,108,374 new incidences of chlamydia were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with females reported at 825,660 new cases and males reported at 280,337 new cases. The numbers from 2007 are a 6% increase in chlamydia transmission from 2006, a 24% increase from 2002, and a 47% increase from 1997…” […] “Further, Black female teens contract chlamydia eight times more frequently than White female teens, and Hispanic female teens contract chlamydia more than three times more frequently than White female teens.”

I want you to read the above very carefully. Then I want you to consider the following…a story from my own personal life experience…before I dive fully into my thoughts — and questions — this morning.


I was 22 years old, a single mom in the process of my first divorce. My oldest child and I were living with my mother and grandmother in San Antonio, Texas. I was working one full-time job and two part-time jobs. My son was on Medicaid, and even with all of my jobs, we qualified for state benefits like food stamps. Did I mention I was in the process of a divorce? It was a particularly nasty one, at that.

My full-time job was as a secretary/registrar for an international organization…you may be familiar with it…as it provides disaster relief services around the U.S. and around the world. Because of my particular position within this particular organization, I interfaced frequently with the public and on many different levels. One of those levels happened to be courier services, and one of the couriers was a young, attractive man who, for some odd reason, had a cute little crush on me. I was mildly interested, but not enough to actually act on that interest. Stress from the divorce process and all that…

This guy and I talked semi-regularly, so I got to know a little about his life and he got to know a little about mine. All in snippets, of course, since he and I both had jobs to do.

One day, I was particularly stressed out…and he was solicitous as to what was bothering me. My stress had to do with the child support facet of the divorce, and how tight funds are when a single parent works as much as I was working just to make ends meet. I remember with a degree of uncanny clarity what he said to me in “support”: Why don’t you change your last name to Hernandez and apply for welfare?

I looked at him, only initially shocked, and said flatly, My maiden name is Alvarado, you *****, kindly leave and don’t grace me with your presence again.


I didn’t say it quite so nicely as that, mind you, but I won’t speak to everything that I actually said…or thought…at the time. I was disgusted and appalled.

I have shared the above story for different reasons with different people in different contexts…but the thrust is, I have –my entire life– lived in White skin. I do not and cannot speak directly to the lived experiences of People of Color (hereafter, simply referred to as POC, for those who are unfamiliar with the term). I will never be able to speak to the lived experience of any POC. What I can speak to is what it is like to live in White skin, the privilege associated with that, and the displeasure of being the recipient of “insider commentary” of White privilege. I was raised by a man who is 1st generation American of Mexican parentage. The father of my eldest child is half Mexican.

I do not abide White privilege with ease or comfort, and at my current age, I am better equipped to speak to it bluntly and boldly. At 22, I was not quite so at ease in my own skin. In fact, I wound up remarrying, and enduring a 12-year relationship with a racist, sexist, homophobic emotional abuser before finally recognizing that much of my discomfort within my own skin was both directly and indirectly related to societal dysfunction regarding racial stereotypes. I came through those things…safely to the other side where I am today…and I won’t say that I came through unscathed, but I am here. Both proud and humbled…and stronger for having endured those experiences.

It is, however, with caution and care founded in deep respect for my fellow human beans, that I come here today with the topic of sex education, STI prevention, and demographic statistics related to sex education realities and STI information. I shared the above tidbit from my own life to make clear that I’m not attempting to usurp anyone else’s lived experiences…AND because the statistics are tragic. Those statistics need to be addressed forthrightly with unflinching honesty, because POC are disproportionately affected by STIs, and not just chlamydia. Different segments of the population are affected by different STIs…and racial differences are notable, in terms of trending.

Here is one thing I want to make very clear, because I have had people attempt to assert this (and I’ve heard strains of such commentary in various media)…the differences within racial categories are not about “promiscuity”. In other words, Black people and Hispanic people are not more promiscuous than White people; Asian-Americans are not less promiscuous than other demographic categories in the United States. This is not an issue about promiscuity at all…and the implications of such assertions are insidious in the subtle cruelty that only serve to increase our already crippling societal dysfunction.

There are several societal patterns that, when researched, clearly contribute to different racial categories having increased occurrences of STI incidence — and that is a topic that I will delve into on a later date, because it is critical to understand if we wish to have any hope of containment and reversal of those numbers. That is not the purpose of today’s entry.

Today, I would like to reach out and ask for your thoughts. What do you perceive to be some of the reasons for the differences in demographic disparities with respect to STIs? And for readers who are POC, I really would like you to share your thoughts, because your voices MATTER.

Questions about Sex Education in American Public Schools

Happy Monday! 🙂

This morning, I want to throw a thought out for consideration.

I am, personally, a huge advocate for comprehensive sex education in public school, and starting earlier than 5th or 6th grade — but I know that idea makes a lot of parents squick out. With 30 out of 50 states accepting Title V funding for abstinence education, the fact that many parents/voters seem to “want” abstinence-based (AOUM and abstinence-plus) sex education taught to their kids…though I suspect not many really know what is actually taught in abstinence-based sex ed. More importantly, I know most parents do not know what is not taught in abstinence-based sex ed. Nor do most parents know the history of AOUM sex education, much less how much of a battleground topic it is in Washington D.C.

Schools across the country, desperate for funding, accept Title V funding, even if it means they know their students do not receive complete (or even necessarily accurate) information. There are a lot of politics surrounding this topic, and the reality is that abstinence-based sex education has its roots in religious ideology, which is something I will bring up for discussion in a future entry.

For today, I want to ask this question. If all states accepted appropriate funding for ALL education, to include sex education…and if all states’ *public* schools stuck with comprehensive sex education (minus all the gender-focused religiously-rooted and shame-based loaded language), what would be the problem for *religious* parents who wanted to teach their kids –at home– what their religious beliefs are related to sex? …rather than pushing a religious ideology via sex education onto all kids, regardless of home-based religious beliefs? What would be wrong with giving the parents the choice to opt their kids out of comprehensive sex ed, if they hold such strong objections to it?

Why are we dealing with this sort of sex-negative education in the 21st century? Particularly in the face of the United States having the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy and STI transmission across the teen and young adult populations in the industrialized world?

To provide a contrast…the Netherlands has among the lowest rates of unplanned teen pregnancy and STI transmission in the world…they provide comprehensive sex education at very early ages…and there are PLENTY of religious people there. For people who truly want to reduce teen pregnancies, abortions, and STI transmission, why is the question of comprehensive sex education actually even a question at all?


Initial Survey — please participate

Please participate! 🙂

Click HERE to complete the survey.

Update: My apologies for any confusion with this survey. Updated survey (hopefully it makes better sense now — very different than in conducting interviews verbally, as it happens LOL)

Update #2: Initial concerns that have been brought up about this survey, I would like to take a moment to clarify here. First, the main limitation is the number of questions allowed in the type of survey I’m using in this initial test. When I initially conducted this research, I did so through verbal interview questions that allowed for detailed follow-up in real time. Presently, that option is not available (I hope to be able to upgrade that eventually). Second, there are no wrong answers…the questions are deliberately vague, because perspective is what I am seeking. Your perspective, whatever that may be…however you interpret the question…is your correct answer. Simple as that, really — and is why I wanted to ensure that a descriptive text section was included in the end to allow for any individual clarification to any answer (all of which are completely optional). Third, and finally…at the present time, my focus is U.S.-specific…but I do not want that to be a prohibiting factor in whoever chooses to participate in this exercise. I am aware that answers are going to vary based on region and state (within the U.S.), and will vary broadly outside of the U.S. — that is a weakness in this initial survey that I am aware of going in…so don’t let those things stop you from participating. Answer the questions to the best of your ability, because every answer is valuable.

Thank you!


Good morning!

Today, I’d like to talk more about communication. In my personal blog this morning, I shared my thoughts on Lisa Ling’s episode last night about the world of BDSM. I want to make clear that “alternative lifestyles” (and I use that phrase very loosely here, because I believe certain realms of sexuality go beyond “lifestyle choices” and really are more a way of being) are not a direct or even primary focus of this blog, or the project Weird Sex Ed seeks to complete. However, one very important aspect of what I detailed over in my personal blog is pertinent here in this space: Communication.

One thing I found in my research with parents of female teens is something I call the “Squick Factor.” After final publication of my dissertation, I will feel more comfortable directly quoting some of what is in the dissertation; for the time being, though, I will state that one really important subject that emerged across the various themes and sub-themes in my research was the matter of communication. More accurately…the lack of adequate communication.

A phrase that comes up repeatedly in conversations, particularly about children, tweens, and teenagers is “age appropriate.” Understand, too, that I am not in any way advocating that young children need to know more than what is age-appropriate for them…BUT…more often than not, when I hear the term used, what I’m hearing being said is nothing to do with what children need to know — and this is especially true when I hear it from parents with respect to teenagers (and most often, teenage daughters). What I’m really hearing when a lot of parents use that term is that they, the parents, are not ready for their child to know “something”…and especially if it’s about sex.

During the pilot study of my research, one of the questions I had was…when should we start communicating with our kids? When is “age appropriate”? And one of the funniest (yes, funniest) answers I was given was, “When they start asking questions.” The answer was so direct, and so simple, that it took me off-guard…and I started laughing. However, that answer also mirrored something that was said starkly in Kristin Luker’s book When Sex Goes to School: Warring Views on Sex–and Sex Education–Since the SixtiesLuker was very clear that she knew what she was suggesting would be controversial, and that it slapped both sides of the sex education debate. She said, “Since the debate about sex education gets its passion from deeply felt ideas about gender, and women’s roles in particular, why not tell young people that?

So my question today…my thoughts on communication…is why are parents so uncomfortable? From your perspective, as a reader here, why do you think parents have such difficulty addressing the subject of sex with kids frankly and without the “Squick Factor”?