Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Something "Dodgy" Down There: Dr. Andrea on Herpes and Unreliable Dick

Doctor, is this normal?
Welcome to the first installment of Ask Dr. Andrea, the new IBWMW Doctor.* Dr. Andrea is a down-to-earth, open-minded, completely cool doctor with specialties in women's/sexual health, sustainable medicine, Ayurveda, nutrition, yoga and such. She also uses terms like "morning wood," which I like, though I can't say why, exactly. For more info on Dr. Andrea, do have a look at her web site.

Please welcome Dr. Andrea as she tackles her first two questions:

I am a 30something year old woman in an open marriage with a husband and a boyfriend, no other partners for me. My husband and I practice safe intercourse with other partners, but oral sex is unprotected. Both men get cold sores occasionally, I have never had one. To make a long story short, my boyfriend gave me herpes of some kind via oral sex. He had a cold sore, which he says he has been getting since childhood. Three weeks later, I had an outbreak (which at the time I thought was the world's worst yeast infection, but after the second outbreak two weeks later--not nearly as bad--I realized what was going on). I've never had anything dodgy down there except the standard yeast and urinary tract infections, so I was pretty upset.  Anyway, I went and got the blood test... It came back as HSV-1 4.7 and HSV-2 3.33--both positive. Sooooo, I was super-double bummed out, because it is my understanding that HSV-2 is a MUCH bigger deal than HSV-1. Anyway, a little googling gave me some hope: a value less than 3.5 gives some realistic chance that its a false positive. Google tells me I should go get a Western Blot to confirm HSV-2, which I plan to do right after I get some health insurance (I went to Planned Parenthood and tried to explain all this but they were befuddled by my question, and claimed the Western Blot is only for HIV, which did not inspire confidence, and I left).  

So my questions are: 1) Could he have given me both types of HSV?  2) How big a deal is this if it is HSV1 and the HSV2 was a false positive?  What do I have to disclose to future partners?  IME, once you disclose crotch rot of any kind, no matter what your excuses, nobody is interested in fucking you. I can't blame them, but if my chance of passing it along without symptoms is like .00001%, then that matters in what I decide to do. Obviously if it is HSV2, I have some problems, because my husband doesn't have it (to our knowledge) and I probably shouldn't be sleeping around if I know I do. I can't envision myself having condom protected sex with my husband for the next 50 years. Neither man has had any lab work done.

Thanks for your opinion!   

Dr. Andrea: Thanks for writing in! Let me answer the questions piece by piece:

1. Yes he could have--so could your husband actually--from either oral or any other type of genital contact from themselves (perhaps they've carried the virus forever and didn't know, or had sex with someone recently who had a lesion or was an asymptomatic shedder) [***Oh and an important note for ALL readers: condoms only protect the shaft from touching your skin and mucosa directly but many many herpes outbreak locations are nowhere near the genitalia and are often just on the outside for females so those bits definitely have contact with the partner's skin (for example: labia majora, inner thighs, buttocks and cleft area, top of pubic bone, and of course, in or around the mouth/tongue/nose area)]. Both types of HSV can be asymptomatic, and there are VAST numbers of people that test positive WITH viral shedding but NO symptoms (shedding means the virus is in the skin and sheds bits of itself that if they touch another person may get into their skin and nerves and make themselves at home)... and since they have no idea they pass it on and on and on...

2. With all the oral/regular flip flopping that goes on in our beds, at this point in history it really doesn't seem to matter whether you have HSV1 or HSV2 in normal situations--both can occur in both places. HSV1 seems much worse from a doctor standpoint since it can cause lethal encephalopathy (brain inflammation) especially in people with weakened immune systems, and babies or old people, with lasting damage to the brain. The thing is, most of us are exposed to HSV1 when we're babies since 70+% of humans have the virus and it rarely causes issues in healthy people, unless under stress a 'cold sore' pops up, which might be unattractive, but doesn't seem to freak everyone out quite as much as HSV2. HSV2 can cause a viral meningitis (usually with the first outbreak only) that is usually just a seriously awful headache, neck stiffness, and high fever, but rarely causes any lasting damage. Somewhere around 35% of people may have HSV2 now, although the estimates are all over the place since blood testing catches many people that have been exposed but have fought it off and don't have shedding, OR shed without symptoms, and those that have symptoms often don't seek treatment or tell anyone out of embarrassment etc...

Now for the 3rd question/issue... your chance of passing it without symptoms is low, yes, but larger than 0.00001%. Partially because you shed before and after the lesions are present, so it's hard to know 100%. The risk goes down if you take daily suppressive medication, but still isn't zero. So, yes, you DO need to tell partners. And I would suggest both men and you having total lab work done (including G/C/Chlamydia, syphilis, HCV- much more deadly than HSV, and HIV of course) so you all know where you stand and can make educated decisions about further open-relationship involvements (which means new partners in ya'll's group need to be told--and should really be tested also). I personally think all new partners should do lab work in the interest of honesty and knowledge of risk, especially since not everyone wants to disclose every indiscretion they've ever had and lord knows people like to say things they WISH were true but aren't, especially with touchy subjects like this...

That all said... HSV is NOT the end of the world. It isn't 'crotch rot' per se, in that it doesn't smell bad or cause infertility (that we know of) or for things to fall off (some infections do!). It can be painful, annoying, and it can be embarrassing to discuss. But just like with the 'protection/birth control' discussion, talking about this stuff is NECESSARY and if we're all adults here, we should be able to say the word herpes out loud if we're going to be getting naked with each other anyway. Honestly, SOOOOOO many people have this stuff, it needs to be understood and the shame lifted so we can all protect ourselves better. Two people with different versions of the virus can re-infect each other over and over too, so even if both people have it, daily suppressive therapy (or at the very very least herbal suppression (unproven) and immune system optimization are needed) is the best idea.

Now, for the sensitive part. It may seem upon being diagnosed with this, that the fun free sexual world is over. People can and do end up feeling dirty, perhaps violated if the partner didn't tell them

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Would Your Ideal Sex Life Look Like?

Man demonstrating "The Takeaway"
I just finished The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artistsby Neil Strauss. Now my head is swimming with questions about what men and women want, male/female mating habits and what sexuality might look like if there were no societal constraints. I have a bunch of questions for you--maybe we can muddle through this together.

If you haven't read the book, it's about this nebbishy guy (shy, skinny, glasses, thin smattering of frizzy chunks of hair) who studies pick-up artists to learn their secrets. First, he shaves his head, gets Lasik, goes to a tanning salon, and starts going by the moniker of Style. Despite going by the name Style (and even worse, giving himself that name) soon he can pretty much pick up whoever he wants. Seriously.

Style gets deeply involved with the pick-up community, an online group of pick-up artists (PUAs) who--with the laser-focus characteristic of their geekdom--have broken down all aspects of social interaction into identifiable and repeatable chunks. PUAs work with manipulation, an understanding of natural human tendencies (seeking approval, wanting unique experiences, etc...) and sometimes a bit of waking hypnosis to work towards an "f-close," that is, a fuck close.

PUAs have developed their own jargon honed over years of "field reports," that is, sharing what worked or didn't work during nights of "sarging" (picking up chicks). Going over and talking to a group of three people is "opening a three-set." The girl you want is your "target." To get her, you must become the Alpha Male of the group by entertaining the group at large while--at first--pointedly ignoring your target. When you finally decide to gift her with some attention, you toss her a "neg" or sort of meanish comment-- "Do you always interrupt people like that?" or "You would look good if you wore your hair up." In other words, you start fucking with her mind, playing on her insecurities, making yourself the arbiter of what she's doing right or wrong, and soon she'll be pressing you for an f-close.

You might, for example, make use of the "push-pull," a technique identified and named by Style (though judging from my dating past, most assuredly not originated by him.)

Push-pull (noun): a technique used to create or increase attraction, in which a man gives a woman indications that he is not interested in her followed by indications that he is. This sequence can take place in a few seconds--such as taking a woman's hands and then dropping them as if you don't trust her yet--or over time, such as being very nice during one phone conversation but then very distant and abrupt during the next.

Oh, there's more.
---False time constraints: Creating a false time constraint ("I can only talk to you for five minutes") relieves a woman of wondering how she's going to get rid of a PUA, yet also gives her a sense that she must vie for the PUA's attention so that he won't leave.
--Demonstrating Value: A PUA will carry around a pre-selected group of photos designed to portray him in a flattering light. (Picture with beautiful woman = desirability, picture on a boat = sporty, etc...)
--The Takeaway: If a PUA is making out with a woman, but she changes her mind about progressing things further, a PUA hops out of bed, and ignores her by checking email or something. The woman, feeling she has screwed up and lost the PUA, will try to lure him back to bed.
--Chick crack:  Chicks love fortune telling, ESP games and other psychological tests.

I really can't believe that it actually works because a lot of it seems indistinguishable from...well, what jerky losers do. PUAs "peacock," that is, wear outrageous clothing to attract attention like "bright shiny shirts, light up jewelry, [or] colorful cowboy hats." PUAs say cheesy things. For example, if the target inadvertently brushes against them, they say, "Hey, hands off the merchandise." And part of "opening a set" might consist of doing magic, for god sake.

So how does it work?

Have PUAs really hit upon a particular sequence of moves that can work on anyone? Or are the women they pick up drunken bar chicks, the sort of easily impressionable types who are always whipping out their boobs for Howard Stern?

Or more frightening, are we women so precarious that, with a few "negs" tossed our way, we too would be begging for affirmation and angling for an f-close? I have totally fallen for such tomfoolery in the past and--who knows?--maybe that stuff would still work on me. Or anyone. In her maligned/beloved book, Vagina: A New Biography, Naomi Wolf  posits that women are more likely to become biochemically addicted to love and, thus, highly motivated to attain their goal. Get those chemicals activated, gentlemen, and you're golden.

Also on my mind: Style seems like a smart and thoughtful guy, but armed with his new pick-up powers, he's sarging all the time. Everything he says and does is part of the game and human interaction is reduced to a series of moves to be parried. The girls are a blur, known only as Jennifer 2 or the blonde with the pixie cut.  He and the other PUAs only go for "10s," which invariably means fake boobs, blonde hair, 19 years old and preferably a stripper or porn star. Which is sort of depressing for every woman who is not like that. That is, 99.999% of women. Even 19 year old strippers only get to be that for one year.

The supposed happy ending of the book is that Style "wins" the game by finding a girlfriend, a hot blonde rocker chick who played with Courtney Love's band The Chelsea. But I googled his girlfriend (indeed quite beautiful) and discovered that they broke up after two years. Style is back in the field, sarging and hawking pick-up lessons.

If a seemingly nice, smart guy like Neil Strauss so easily turn into a disconnected heartless asshole, would any other guy do the same if given the chance? If men were unfettered by societal norms, is this how male sexuality would look?

I'm asking in a serious way. These guys are going through the same routine--even down to using the same words--to pick up different women every night. According to Sex at Dawn (quite thought-provoking--read it at once!) men generally like to do the same thing sexually but with novel partners. Is this the epitome of that desire expressed? And--this is probably hopelessly naive--but would men* be perfectly happy with new-chick-every-night relationships? And do most men really want that 19 year old fake boobed stripper? And if so, is that a natural inclination or a societal construct of what is hot?

I'm not asking in a judgey way, I'm honestly curious. Are men and women really so fundamentally different?  Because I would be completely disinterested in the new-dude-every-night scenario. A guy who was the physical equivalent to the blonde stripper, say, some extremely buff dude, would not be an immediate turn-on for me. (Unless he was wearing a shiny shirt, light up jewelry and doing magic!) I would care about his sense of humor, his intelligence, how his voice sounded and how my body was responding to him. There would have to be some sort of backstory to create/fuel my desire. Women? Is this true of you as well, or not?

And if an ideal male sexuality would be new chicks all the time, what would an ideal female sexuality look like? (Obviously everyone's different, blah blah blah, but I'm talking in general terms.) What do women pick when they are allowed to design their sex lives?  Women with financial stability, desirability and the balls to do whatever they want--someone like Angelina Jolie--seem to opt for a version of serial monogamy. Is this what we'd opt for as well? Women, what would your ideal sex life look like?

And if men want a new girl every night and women prefer serial monogamy, why would nature fuck with us so much by giving us largely incompatible mating styles? Or maybe there isn't a gender divide and we do want the same thing?

So curious to hear what you think. Answer one question or all of them. And feel free to comment anonymously if you don't want everyone knowing your business.


*Except for that Iron & Wine dude.

 Rudolf Koppitz - Sculptor and Nude, 1926

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ask the IBWMW Doctor in Residence, plus boringish tech update

IBWMW's Doctor in Residence. (Artist's representation)
1. The new IBWMW Doctor in Residence is in and ready to take your questions!

"If you have doctory questions about women's health/body issues, I've got detailed answers for most health-related and emotional stuff. I focused on that for years before switching to more alternative medicine. So nothing shocks me. "--The IBWMW Doctor in Residence.

So, yes, submit questions to  And please don't worry if you have super-embarrassing questions about monkeys living in your wang or a possibly haunted left boob or whatever because our doctor is completely cool and non-judgey. I mean, she says "doctory," which is a good sign in a medical professional.

Two things to know:
--I'm keeping our Doctor in Residence's daytime identity anonymous because she is, as she puts it, is "hopefully mostly respectable to even all the conservative whoevers in my city."
-- Obviously, none of this is a replacement for individual medical advice so check with your doctor before starting or replacing any current treatment plan.

2.  Boringish Tech Update

In the process of switching my domain from unwieldy to snazzier url, I fucked all sorts of things up, most of which I barely understand.

In the midst of all the craptastrophy, I sent a test post out for the email subscribers and got the surprise gift of hearing from a bunch of readers around the world (Hungary! Thailand!) who have, before this, uttered nary a word. It was lovely to hear from you all and, please, pipe up more often. I've been completely fascinated by the open and honest comments on What would your ideal sex life look like? and would love to hear more.

As for whether the tech problems are solved....hell if I know. I thought they were, then the subscription service went rogue last night and emailed everyone some random old post. Please let me know if something seems amiss. Same goes for you lovely Kindle subscribers--I'm sorry to report that I tried to "fix" that too.

3. The Takeaways
--Technology is kind of a jerk.
--New Doctor in Residence! Ask her anything!
--If you were hoping to be the IBWMW Ambassador to Venezuela, sorry but, due to his charming letter, Ivan pretty much has the position locked up.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pool Noodle Homemade Sex Toy, a London Lover, Google Fuckery, and Assdazzling

Note: Photo contains acceptable level of nudity
Crap, now I need to cover everything I just put in the title so let's just get to it, shall we?

1.  Pool Noodle Violation:  The lovely and smart Enlightened Sexpot wrote, "Your balloon phone sex post made me think of pool noodle sex" and sent along "Pool Noodle Girlfriend" by Patrick McGuire. It's a strangely fascinating interview with a guy who rigged up a pool noodle so he could have his way with it. To make the pool noodle even sexier, he stuck it to the bathroom mirror with a plunger so he could watch himself. Because what could be hotter than seeing himself--a guy living in his parents' basement. Fucking a pool noodle. In his parents' bathroom. 

Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

Did you try those more traditional methods first?
Yeah, and I looked for other materials around the house but I never really found anything. The last place I looked was the garage, and that's where I found the pool noodle. I thought, "Oh wow, that's got a nice texture to it.”

So it called out to you?

OK, then what did you do?
I cut it up while I was on the can so no one would ask me what the fuck I was doing. I was shoving a condom into this thing, and then I saw the plunger and one thing led to another. I think I was plunging the condom into the slit with the plunger and I thought, "Ahh fucking hell! I could stick this to the mirror.” And that's pretty much it.

How long ago was this?
Probably five or six years ago.

And you've been violating pool noodles ever since?
No, I think I only had one pool noodle and making that contraption takes about a third of it. So I think I only did it two or three times because I didn't want my parents to be like, "What the fuck are you doing to all our pool noodles?"

How would you describe the experience then?
It's fun in the making and in action. It's a large item... so what do you do with it afterward? You want to hold onto it but you don't want to buy it breakfast or anything. You kind of think "Maybe I'll keep this thing around for another go, but then you're like "Fuck it, it's garbage day tomorrow, I have to put this in the can.”

Is your pool noodle a dirty dirty slut? My only advice is to check your pool noodle for warning signs: staying in its room a lot, loss of interest in activities it once enjoyed and sobbing at the curb after being rejected on garbage day.

2. Update from Dusky: Dusky, you may recall--if not click here ("I have had one great love and one great lover and they are not the same man"), then here ("I am going to see that old lover")--is a married woman from a country where "agonizing" is amusingly spelled as "agonising." She was sharing insanely torrid emails and texts with her old lover, finally jetted to London to visit said lover was tepid and weird.

I am happy as can be, because at last my London lover emailed me.  He agreed that things hadn't gone as expected, and basically let me down very gently and kindly, suggesting that he and I would always be kindred spirits and friends.  It caused me a final little heart-break to have it all officially OVER, but at last it finally is.  I'm no longer agonising over what I did wrong and wondering what he's thinking - he has given me the perfect closure.  Bastard as he is, his ability to write a perfect email is a damn fine skill that I can't help but adore him for.  Most wonderfully for me it means that I can again remember that early affair fondly, without feeling that it is tainted.  We've simply proved that it doesn't exist anymore, because those younger versions of ourselves no longer exist.  But from time to time I will think of those two lust-crazed people with joy, and it's lovely to know that he will too.

So, closure. Which is good. Or goodish, at least.

3. Google is so Mean: A few months ago, Google (misleading corporate slogan: "Don't be evil") stopped allowing me to run those little text ads on my blog, citing my unacceptable content. (See also, more ranting: Yes, there's adult content, that would be because I'm an ADULT.) Coincidentally, they decided this at the very moment I had gotten enough ad clicks that it was time to pay me. (Which they did not do. And I somehow suspect they neglected to return the money they had already collected from advertisers to run ads on my site.)

Now they have decided I can't even take donations through their Google version of Paypal. Their email contained the phrase "kindly note" which is the sort of language that always indicates that some bot or human that doesn't know what the fuck they are doing "reviewed" your account. Here's an excerpt from one of what is becoming a series of unpleasant emails from Google:

Adult Goods & Services is not allowed through Google checkout. Your account has been suspended. You may not process any orders at this time. If applicable, any pending orders in your account have been canceled.

Let's see here,
a. There were no "pending orders" at that time but still, that's just mean to cancel my non-existent orders.
b. It should be "Adult Goods & Services are not allowed." Also neither "goods" nor "services" need to be capitalized. And the ampersand is a wee bit unprofessional.
c. I am not offering adult goods and services. It's just for donations for which you get, well nothing, except to be a patron of a blog. Which is just words and ideas. It's not like I'm selling online blow jobs, for fuck's sake, although that might give a little boost to my pending orders. And, hell, even if I were, it's not like Google has to get in the car and go themselves to give said blow job. They merely need to process the transaction. By banning me, they are declaring what transactions are acceptable. Which to me, is entering some pretty shaky territory.

Anyway I'm hitching my scandalous word writing donation business over to PayPal. James Ashworth, the new Minister of Donation Link Checking, not only checked the link but made a donation, despite no adult services being administered to him. The Paypal donation link is in the right column if you feel like being subversive. In lieu of Adult Goods & Services, I'm willing to give you a ministerial title of your choosing.

4. Your new business. Your welcome.

A Misguider Googler recently found IBWMW via the search terms "picture of assdazzled" which made me think of this brilliant idea--Assdazzling. It would be a service similar to vajazzling, but for your butt.

My husband said to this, as did Kirkegaard, "There are some things that should not be bedazzled."

Unfortunately, as a World Renowned Anal Bleaching Expert (this, unfortunately, is actually true), I already am quite busy in the ass-related market. So if you are looking for a business opportunity, and enjoy working with both sphincters and tiny pokey rhinestones, I bequeath the Assdazzling market to you.*


*For a modest donation, I will name you the IBWMW Minister of Assdazzling, which would look mighty fine on a business card.

photo: Herbert List - Sans Titre, 1937

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Best Comment Ever

I Was a Grade School Nudist ran on Jezebel last month. It was the top story of the day, like it was breaking, headline news. So, not only did I share my shameful secret, I shared the living fuck out of it. Here it is, if you're so inclined: Jezebel--I Was A Grade School Nudist.

There were lots of Jezebel-y comments ranging from thoughtful to completely nitpicky, i.e. this one chick:

"I hope you got permission from your friend to go skinny dipping in their pool. It's one thing to be a nudist at home or the camp site but to do that at someone else's house seems disrespectful," she typed in what I'm quite sure was a nasally high-pitched manner, as she mentally congratulated herself for her rigid rule of always asking friends' permission to skinny dip in their pools.

I read the comment to my pool-having friend--whose name is Heather--and she said, "Jeez! It wasn't like you were sitting naked on my couch eating Cheetos." Which I was most certainly not doing. Primarily because I dislike Cheetos. And having their orange powder dusting my boobs seemed like an undesirable outcome as well. Whatever. The point is: I CAN skinny dip in the pool. Heather said so. Nyah!

Last weekend, despite my admission of pool nudity*, I was again dogsitting for Heather (see above: "nyah") and briefly considered forcing my husband to sit naked-and-Cheeto-eating on her couch so I could take a picture and give it to Heather. It didn't happen because the last dregs of my Appropriateness Filter kicked in and I dimly realized that it was the kind of joke that, if she didn't think it was funny, she would REALLY not think it was funny. Also, I'd have to go to the store and purchase Cheetos and that sounded like a lot of work.

Anyway lots of comments on Jezebel, blah blah blah, but my very very favorite one was one right here on the blog from gentle reader Anonymous:

My wife always forces me to relive my nude childhood when we have guests. I still haven't met another adult who has at least admitted that they went/were dragged to a nudist colony.

My parents still have a yellowed nudie park newsletter where I medalled in the nudie olympics, my totally retracted junk on display after winning a swimming race. Takes me back. 

God, I absolutely LOVE that this photo exists. Surely it must be the Most Embarrassing Photo Ever! Do you have something worse? Well, do you? Bring it on!

I will leave you for now.  Coming next:  Reader Mail.


(photo source)

* If I'm dogsitting at your house, I will go naked in your pool. We may as well get that straight now.
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