Monthly Archives: September 2016

UNESCO unveils video on comprehensive sexuality education for young people

UNESCO unveils video on comprehensive sexuality education for young people


NK World, New York, Sept 27 : The United Nations cultural agency on Monday released a new video that outlines how comprehensive sexuality education helps young people develop the knowledge and skills to make conscious, healthy and responsible choices about relationships and sexuality.

The Being a Young Person video, released by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), outlines the vital role that comprehensive sexuality education plays in ensuring the sexual and reproductive health of all young people. It is recognized as an age-appropriate, culturally relevant approach to teaching about sexuality and relationships by providing scientifically accurate, realistic, non-judgemental information, UNESCO said in a press release.

The videos release comes after a high-level event at the UN General Assembly in New York, on Improving the Sexual and Reproductive Health of the Adolescent Girl: The Role of First Ladies.

The event, which was initiated by the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS, brought together heads of State and Government, First Ladies, heads of UN agencies and civil society organizations to increase acceptance and catalyse action on expanding access to sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents across Africa.

Speaking at the event, which was held on 21 September, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova highlighted that comprehensive sexuality education is a foundation for all HIV prevention, and part of every young persons journey to adulthood.

It reduces sexually transmitted infections, HIV and unintended pregnancy, improves self-esteem, changing attitudes and both gender and social norms, the Director-General said.

An early preview of the video was seen by ministers and representatives from government, development and civil society organizations at a high-level dialogue on the sidelines of the AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, in July. The meeting marked progress since the 2013 Eastern and Southern Africa Ministerial Commitment, in which 20 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa committed to scaling up comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for young people.

A Global Review conducted by UNESCO in 2015 revealed that comprehensive sexuality education leads to improved sexual and reproductive health, resulting in the reduction of sexually transmitted infections, HIV and unintended pregnancy. Comprehensive sexuality education not only promotes gender equality and equitable social norms, but has a positive impact on safer sexual behaviours, delaying sexual debut and increasing condom use, UNESCO said.

Photo: UNICEF/Adriana Zehbrauskas


‘Access to free and legal abortion is key to gender equality’

‘Access to free and legal abortion is key to gender equality’


To mark World Contraception Day on September 26, the GUE/NGL members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality issued the following statement: “Women’s and girls’ rights must be placed at the centre of public health policies. Women’s free and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and education, including the right to free and legal abortion is a key factor to gender equality and must be guaranteed all over the world!”

According to a press release issued by the Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), the findings of the recent Barometer of Women’s Access to Modern Contraceptive Choice in 16 EU Countries show a stagnation or decline in policies that support women’s right to contraceptive choice across most EU countries during the past three years.

Since 2007, World Contraception Day has aimed to improve awareness of contraception and to enable young people to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health. The annual campaign centres on a vision where every pregnancy is wanted.

By Beata Stur

Joking aside, it’s time to turn on to men’s health

Joking aside, it’s time to turn on to men’s health


How to be a Man: Ireland was the first country in the world to have a national men’s health policy. It’s a shame about the lack of resources . . .

Michelle McDonagh


How to be a Man is a series exploring masculinity and the challenges men face in Ireland today. If you would like to add your voice to this series, email

There’s a classic joke that goes: “Men die, on average, five years younger than women do. Why? Because they want to.” Or have you heard the one about why women live longer than men? “Because they are not married to women.”

However, the health of men in Ireland is really nothing to joke about as Irish men have higher death rates than women at all ages, and for all leading causes of death. Men are more likely than women to engage in risky behaviours such as speeding, drink driving, not wearing seat belts, and misuse of alcohol and drugs, and are more likely to be overweight or obese. And men in Ireland are four times more likely to die of suicide than women.

Finian Murray, HSE Men’s Health Development Officer, and amateur comedian, says men tend to see health as “women’s business”. Consequently, they take few preventive health measures and are less willing to seek medical help. Late presentation to health services by men leads to a large number of problems becoming untreatable.


“From my years of working in the area of promoting men’s health, I have found that one way of getting men to take heed of health messages is through the use of humour. This idea is not something new. Numerous studies in the field of advertising have shown that humour is the most effective tool for enhancing recall of advertisements. The advertising industry has long recognised the value of using humour to sell products and this knowledge is beginning to become recognised in education too.”

Murray has been using humour in his presentations and training courses for many years now and has found that when men are laughing, they are paying attention and picking up the health messages. He is involved in rolling out Engage, the national men’s health training programme, developed by Men’s Health Forum Ireland (MHFI), to address the current deficits in gender-sensitive service provision for men. He is also involved with the MHFI’s programme on Connecting with Young Men which engages young men in mental health and wellbeing, and is funded by the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention.

“Health messages don’t have to be boring. Instead of telling people to eat less, I sometimes use the slogan, ‘little pickers wear bigger knickers’. Alternatively, to encourage young men to perform a testicular self-examination I often use the strap line: ‘Keep your eye on the ball’.”

Noel Richardson, lecturer and director of the Centre for Men’s Health atCarlow Institute of Technology (Carlow IT), says it has been well documented across different jurisdictions that men go to the doctor a lot less than women, even allowing for reproductive health visits.

“A paper in the British Medical Journal in 2013 found that there was a reluctance in the first instance on the part of men to present to the GP compared with women but, interestingly enough, once men and women were diagnosed with certain chronic conditions like diabetes, there was no difference in self-care afterwards.”

Richardson, who is the principal author of the first ever national policy on men’s health which was published in Ireland in 2009, says his own research into masculinity and health reveals a hierarchy of threats to masculinity.

“If a man is physically injured or has an illness, it’s less of a challenge to present to the doctor than if the problem has to do with mental health or sexual health or a ‘private matter’ like a prostate problem. Men feel shy, awkward or inhibited talking about these matters. Some men have to reach a certain threshold or severity of illness before they will go to the doctor; they don’t want to be seen as a hypochondriac or wasting the doctor’s time.”

Richardson notes that during the onset of fatherhood and at other critical transitions in a man’s life, such as settling down in a permanent relationship or marriage, there tends to be a new awareness that their health cannot be taken for granted. The man now views his most significant role to be a good father or partner and is a lot less likely to behave in risky behaviour such as drink driving, he says.

Time to speak out

While things are certainly changing for the better, Richardson says it is important that more men speak out and encourage other men not just to go to their GP, but to look after their health.

“When I started out doing research into masculinity and health 20 years ago, it was very rare for men to speak out about their health on radio, TV or in print, but there have been a lot of examples of this in recent times, particularly in mental health. We have made great strides and men are more supportive of eachother. The Dublin footballer Shane Carthy spoke out very eloquently last year about his depression and how his team mates rowed in behind him and showed him great solidarity and support in a very traditional, masculine sporting background.”

Colin Fowler, director of operations at Men’s Health Forum Ireland (MHFI), says there is a lot happening in the area of men’s health in Ireland, including programmes like Men on the Move, the Mojo training programme, Farmers Have Hearts (led by the Irish Heart Foundation), Irish Men’s Sheds Association and Ballybough Men’s Health Project in inner city Dublin.

He says that as men get older, many gradually move away from sport and physical activity, and programmes like Men on the Move encourage middle-aged men all over the country, not only to engage in physical activity and lose weight, but to interact socially with other men, which benefits their mental and emotional health.

“Very few people are aware that Ireland was the first country in the world to have a national men’s health policy which is a spectacular achievement. We have been invited to speak in places like Canada, Brazil and Australia, which has since developed its own policy, about our policy. Unfortunately, it was launched at the same time as the recession hit, and while it is a great document with great ambitions, the resources were not there to fund many of the recommendations.”

Sexual Identity and Children

Sexual Identity and Children


Posted by Ian Kerner, Ph.D., LMFT

Are younger people more likely to embrace their sexual identity? That’s the implication of findings from a recent large Gallup survey.

The survey, which asked 120,000 American adults whether they identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, found that 6.4% of people aged 18 to 29 said they were LGBT: about three times more than people over age 65.

But do results like these indicate that younger adults are more likely to be LGBT, or are they simply more likely to acknowledge it? It’s probably the latter, say my colleagues.

“These numbers might reflect a generational change in social acceptance for LGBT identities,” said psychotherapist Jean Malpas, director of the Gender and Family Project at the New York-based Ackerman Institute for the Family. “Today’s youth and young adults, at least in some communities, are gradually more comfortable being open about their sexual and gender identities.”

Another potential reason for the increase in self-identified LGBT youth is the influence of a new generation of parents who embody a positive attitude and wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Today’s millennial parents are more than just accepting of their children’s sexual identity. They’re comfortable and embracing of it, too,” said Ron Taffel, psychologist and author of the book “Childhood Unbound.” “They want to actively support and engage their children through communication about all aspects of their lives.”

Research, including this survey, also suggests that young women may be more likely than men to identify as bisexual.

“The pattern across surveys is that men are more likely to identify as gay, whereas women are more likely to identify as bisexual,” explained social psychologist Justin Lehmiller. “We don’t know exactly why this is, but many psychologists believe it results from women’s sexuality being somewhat more ‘flexible’ or ‘fluid’ and men’s sexuality being somewhat more ‘fixed.’ “

Many other young people are eschewing traditional descriptors for sexuality and gender completely.

“There’s been a lot of work done on how LGBT youth is more and more frequently rejecting labels altogether, blurring the lines between sexual orientation and gender, creating new labels and identifying as gender-queer, gender-fluid or pansexual, to name a few,” said sex therapist Margie Nichols. “The very term ‘LGBT’ is too confining now, which is why I prefer the term Gender and Sexual Diversity, or GSD.”

That term could also include the 1% of people who identify as asexual, which means they aren’t sexually attracted to anyone.

“While we’re creating space for a variety of sexual identities, we also need to create space for non-sexual identities,” said college sex educator Emily Nagoski.

Indeed, many of the experts I spoke to expressed frustration that Gallup and other surveys limit the options from which a respondent can choose.

“The terms lesbian, gay and bisexual just don’t capture all sexual minority identities,” Lehmiller said.

Nichols agrees. “These studies are missing a tremendous opportunity by not including an ‘other’ category. It’s a shame, because the ‘other’ category is the wave of the future.”

Separate from sexual identity is gender identity. While not addressed in the Gallup survey, experts say, this distinction is increasingly important, particularly for today’s youth.

“Gender nonconforming expression and identity are different from sexual orientation,” Malpas explained.

“Sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to and who you fall in love with. Gender expression and identity refer to the gender you feel comfortable expressing and identifying with, which might or might not be aligned with the biological sex you were assigned at birth.”

As transgender and gender-nonconforming children and teens become more visible, both in communities and in the media, parents are less likely to dismiss them.

“Only a decade ago, a parent would have probably answered ‘stop saying silly things’ to a 6-year-old son who insisted on being a girl,” Malpas added. “Today, the same parent will stop and think about the transgender children they’ve seen on TV or in magazines and may more readily inquire with professionals and other parents.”

More than just stop and think, they’ll also hopefully want to talk. Says Taffel, who specializes in breaking through to teens, “Open communication is a primary value for today’s parents, much more so than setting limits and rules, and the spirit of open communication trumps the content of any conversation.”

While it’s important not to confuse gender and sexual identity, parents can take a similar approach in discussing them with their kids.

“Of course, you should reassure the child of your love, but you’ll also want to find ways to expose your child to others like him or her so the child doesn’t feel different or alone,” Nichols suggested. “Allow yourself to experience mixed or negative feelings if you have them, and consider joining a support group. You’ve also got to be prepared to be your child’s advocate with schools, neighbors and community activities.”

I find the survey results very encouraging, as they indicate not just a shift of differences in human sexuality toward the mainstream but also suggest that the future is promising for people who don’t fit into “the norm.”

“We’re evolving, culturally, beyond the need to impose rules on who’s allowed to do what with their genitals and their hearts,” Nagoski said. “This new generation of young people understands that love is love, that people are people and that the freedom to experience joy and mutually consensual pleasure is a birthright.”

Mutual Masturbation: Another Tool for Your Sex Toy Toolbox

Mutual Masturbation: Another Tool for Your Sex Toy Toolbox

For one thing, mutual masturbation can be an unexpected and novel way to shake up your usual bedroom routine. Any time you introduce something new into your sex play, it can add a frisson of excitement to whatever you’re doing.


The element of being “on display” can also be incredibly sexy, especially if you have either voyeuristic or exhibitionistic tendencies. If the signs of your partner’s arousal—his moans, his sighs, the swelling of his penis—are a turn-on for you, why not encourage him to masturbate in front of you? If you enjoy the feel of your partner’s eyes on you, you may find that masturbating in front of him heightens your experience.

Masturbating in front of your partner can also help you become more comfortable with your own masturbation habits. As you do this, you may even discover a new technique!

Mutual masturbation can also ensure you have an orgasm with your partner. Showing your partner how you pleasure yourself can help you teach your partner what you like. It’s the sexiest game of “show not tell” you can imagine.

Okay. You’ve Sold Me. How Can I Proceed in a Non-Awkward Way?

If you’re new to mutual masturbation, try sending your partner this article and asking if they’d be interested in giving it a whirl. As fellow Good in Bed-er Kate McCombs, M.P.H. has previously written, sometimes the best way to approach a conversation like this is to say, “Hey, I read this thing and thought it seemed interesting. You game?”

Or try initiating mutual masturbation as the two of you are already starting to get intimate. Touch your partner with your hands, and then pull away and say, “why don’t you take over for a minute?” You can then continue to switch back and forth to help each other get more comfortable.

Another option is to say something like, “you know what would be really sexy? I’d love to watch you touch yourself.” Or to turn it around, ask your partner, “do you want to watch me while I touch myself? I want to show you what I like to do when I’m thinking about you.”

If you’re feeling shy, you can keep the lights off, or perhaps even light a single candle. You won’t be able to see everything, but you’ll still know what the other person is doing.

And if you’re not ready to display the specific masturbation techniques you use when you’re all alone, you can keep it simple by using slow, sensual strokes. This can be a great way to ease into things.

9 Ways to Take Your Mutual Masturbation to the Next Level

Once you get comfortable touching yourselves in front of each other, there are a ton of easy ways to switch it up:

  • Have just one partner masturbate at a time, while the other watches. This ups the voyeuristic factor.
  • Have one partner be the “boss.” For example, perhaps one partner can only touch themselves—or bring themselves to orgasm—when given explicit permission, and then must stop masturbating when their partner tells them to.
  • Tag team each other’s bodies. If your partner is a woman, try fingering her internally while she strokes her clitoris. If your partner is a man, you can caress his balls or knead his perineum while he strokes his shaft.
  • Try role-playing by pretending to “catch” your partner in the act. Set up the scene beforehand so you both know the plan. While the one who is masturbating will know what’s coming, the thought that someone can walk in at any time can be a huge turn-on.
  • Or call your partner into the bedroom and surprise them by being on the bed, masturbating.
  • Switch up the timing. Try masturbating together before or after whatever activities tend to be your “main event” as a couple. Or try taking breaks from the main event to spend a few minutes masturbating.
  • Have masturbation be the main event.
  • Watch erotic movies or read erotica out loud to each other while you masturbate.
  • Bring toys into the picture. There are a number of great options out there whether you’re a man or a woman.

Because there are so many ways to experiment with mutual masturbation, it holds so much potential for being a source of constant novelty and excitement in the bedroom. So what are you waiting for? Get those fingers going!

What She’s Actually Thinking About During Sex

What She’s Actually Thinking About During Sex

The most prevalent thought for both men and women during sex is a fairly obvious one: “How am I doing?” But this question leads to very different thought processes for the sexes. “While you’re worrying about how long you’ll be able to last, she’s worrying that things are taking too long on her end,” says Emily Morse, a sex and relationship expert and host of the top downloaded podcast Sex with Emily. You can thank the orgasm gap: While the average man reaches climax in about five to seven minutes, a woman, on average, requires at least 20 minutes of direct stimulation. But there’s more to it than that. Here, taken from the experts, are some of the more prevalent thoughts you could expect her to be having.


Many women worry that they’re taking too long to reach orgasm and/or that their partner will orgasm before they do. “Women sometimes take longer to get aroused and therefore take longer to orgasm, particularly if they aren’t receiving enough persistent, direct clitoral stimulation — otherwise known as the orgasm gap. Promescent, an OTC spray, is one way men can extend their latency time and prolong intercourse, particularly if they have a partner who generally takes longer to reach orgasm than they do (which is most men),” says Ian Kerner a psychotherapist and sexuality counselor.

Women fantasize more than men do during sex, and many don’t fantasize about the act they’re engaging in or the person they’re having sex with. “This isn’t because they’re bored or disinterested — rather, it helps to quiet the parts of the brain that are associated with anxiety and outside stressors. It’s been shown that women, unlike men, need to turn off parts of their brain in order for the rest of their body to turn on, and fantasizing — even if it’s not about you — is a great way to do that,” says Dr. Kerner.

Flaws with her own body. 

Women in general suffer from an epidemic of body-image dissatisfaction. Too many women feel as though their bodies are flawed. During sex, rather than focusing on what they are feeling, they worry about what our partner thinks of our body: Does s/he see this wiggle here, this stretch mark there, the way my boobs flop over there? “We try to hide our body (only having sex in the dark, keeping clothes on during sex, only getting undressed under the covers), sometimes we avoid having sex in positions that could be unflattering, etc. All of this compromises a woman’s pleasure because when our heads are filled with worries and anxieties, we aren’t present in the current moment. When we are busy worrying about how to position the sheets in a way that will flatter our belly or hide our thighs, we aren’t attuned to the pleasurable physical sensations of our partner’s touch, and this can interfere with our ability to derive satisfaction from the sexual experience,” says Alexis Conason, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist (

Your scorecard.

“During intercourse women often think about their man’s performance, what he’s doing that feels good and what doesn’t,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills child, parenting, and relationship psychotherapist, author, The Self-Aware Parent, and co-star of Sex Box on WE tv. Frequently, women (and men) fantasize about other people and various behaviors that titillate and excite their fire. “Although I am a proponent of open, honest, direct communication, I strongly urge people not to tell their partners their personal bedroom fantasies during intercourse. All it does is fuel jealousy, rivalry, competition, and low self-esteem in your partner, creating a wedge between you and your beloved.”

When it’s going to end. 

“This is especially true when they weren’t really into it in the first place, but agreed to engage, hoping that they would get in the mood,” says Rhonda Milrad, a relationship therapist, and founder and CEO of Relationup.

American Men Are Pretty Happy With Their Penises

American Men Are Pretty Happy With Their Penises


For understandable reasons, society’s conversation about body satisfaction tends to focus on women. Women, it can safely be argued, face a lot more social pressure to look good all the time, to feel ashamed of their bodies, and to harp on minor imperfections.

Men aren’t immune from all that, though. And one particularly painful area where it manifests, according to sexual health researchers, is in insecurity about their penises. This can lead to some bad outcomes. As a team led by Thomas Gaither, a urologist at the University of California, San Francisco, point out in a new study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, “Case reports have shown men undergo risky procedures, such as silicon injections, to lengthen their penis and increase penile girth.” In addition, “Genital piercings, silicone injection, and subcutaneous implant are increasingly common and are associated with numerous complications.”

Gaither and his colleagues wanted to better understand how men view their penises, so they conducted what they say is the first nationally representative survey using a newly developed scale called the Index of Male Genital Image, or IMGI. It consists of 14 statements ranked on a score of 1–7 involving penis length, girth, and so on — a score of 1–3 is coded as “dissatisfied,” while 4–7 is coded as satisfied. They got results from 3,996 men, the sample drawn from 18-to-65-year-olds who weren’t institutionalized.

Comparing those who landed in the “satisfied” (greater than 4.0) versus “unsatisfied” (4.0 or lower) buckets when the scores were averaged, the researchers didn’t find any statistically significant differences in penile satisfaction when it came to age, “race, marital status, education, location, income, or sexual partners.” Penile (dis)satisfaction appears to be pretty much constant across these categories.


A total of 3433 (85.9%) reported an average greater than 4 per item on the IMGI and thus were classified as satisfied. Men reported highest satisfaction with the shape of their glans (64%), followed by circumcision status (62%), girth of erect penis (61%), texture of skin (60%), and size of testicles (59%). Men reported dissatisfaction with the size of their flaccid penis (27 %), length of erect penis (19%), girth of erect penis (15%), amount of pubic hair (14%), and amount of semen (12%). Men reported neutrality with the scent of their genitals (44%), genital veins (43%), location of urethra (42%), color of genitals (40%), and amount of pubic hair (36%). Of note, those who were extremely dissatisfied (score of 1 or 2) reported dissatisfaction with their flaccid penis (10.0%), length of erect penis (5.7 %), and girth of erect penis (4.5%).

There were some decent-size differences in terms of the sexual experiences of men who were satisfied versus dissatisfied with their penises. Those who were satisfied were less likely to be sexually active (73.5 percent versus 86.3 percent), and engaged in less daily and weekly sexual activity. There were also slight but statistically significant differences in the percentage of dissatisfied versus satisfied men who reported having had vaginal or receptive oral sex (85.2 percent versus 89.5 percent, and 61 percent versus 66.2 percent). The obvious question here is what’s causing what: To what extent are men who are dissatisfied with their penises less likely to seek out sex as a result of their insecurity? A correlational self-report study can’t answer that, nor can it answer whether these mens’ likes and dislikes were shared by their sexual partners.

It’s interesting that a sizable minority of men reported dissatisfaction with their testicle size or glans shape. On the one hand, in a survey like this you are explicitly asking about certain features, so these responses don’t mean that they are wandering around obsessing over this stuff. (It would be another thing entirely if you asked men to generate an open-ended list of body features they didn’t like and these kept popping up.) But on the other: It’s an interesting comparison to what women go through, because it highlights the fact that at least some of the things both men and women worry about probably aren’t, in fact, of much import to anyone else. If you’re a guy, the odds that a partner is going to care that much about the size of your testicles or the “shape of your glans” — that’s something I can honestly say I had never even thought about before reading this article, and which the researchers note “has little anatomic variability” — are probably pretty low.

More broadly, the main takeaway, as a first-pass attempt at understanding this stuff, is that men mostly feel pretty happy with their penises. Which can maybe explain the epidemic of unsolicited photos.


Opinion: Sexual health information is a necessity for students

Opinion: Sexual health information is a necessity for students

The American River College Health Clinic is working hard to help students take care of themselves by partnering with community provider Women’s Health Specialists to provide a variety of reproductive health care services.


For many students, college is an exciting time, whether you are jumping in right after high school or an older student returning after many years.

It is also a busy time, where we juggle very real responsibilities of work, family and school, rushing through life in pursuit of our goals.

It’s in this harried place where sometimes our attention to our health, especially our sexual and reproductive health, can fall to the wayside.

The numbers are sobering. According to a 2014 report released by the Center for Disease Control, young people ages 25-24 account for nearly half of all new Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) diagnosed every year.

The reasons for the high numbers are complex. Some say it’s because sex education is underfunded in high schools, others say the newly found freedom of college life is a contributing factor, others say that social stigmas regarding STI’s is at fault.

These stigmas may come from many different cultural or religious forces, just talking about sex is still taboo, much less being sexually active or accessing health care services. This can lead to shame or embarrassment when it comes to taking control of our health.

Regardless, accepting the need to value sexual health and talking about it with our partners and with our medical providers is a good first step in taking care of ourselves.

According to Pamela Whipple, a nurse at the Student Health Center, the Sexual Health Clinic is open every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. by appointment with drop-ins available.

The clinic offers birth control, emergency birth control, pregnancy testing and STI testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea. The clinic is welcoming to students of all gender identities and respects preferred gender pronouns.

George Hillman, a Communications Major, feels that it is important for young men to know where they stand with regards to their sexual reproductive health.

“I think if you are going to be intimate with someone, it’s good to make sure that you are not going to hurt them.” said Hillman. “We need to feel comfortable, so I’m glad that they understand that. I didn’t even know they were here. It’s good to know, makes it easier.”

According to Whipple, there are a variety of reasons people may find it difficult to seek out services or talk about sexual health.

“Fear of stigma and prejudice sometimes prevent people from seeking sexual health services,” Whipple said.

As a long time nurse, she has seen the pendulum swing to the positive side.

“…many of the students we serve regard sexual health services like any other service,” Whipple said.

Malmoud Mahabad, a Business Major, thinks that it’s especially important for everyone to care for themselves. “It would help them if they have any issue. When they come here, they can check with the staff. It’s a natural part of life”

Taking care of your sexual health is a critical part of your overall health care and respect for your sexual health can impact you for years to come.

Coil ‘more effective’ than morning after pill

Coil ‘more effective’ than morning after pill

“Women should use the coil rather than the morning-after pill as emergency contraception, according to official new guidelines,” the Mail Online reports.

t_0916_coil-contraceptive_478967467_aThe guidelines, from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), cite previous research showing the coil has a lower failure rate than other forms ofemergency contraception.

The coil, also known as intrauterine device (IUD), is a small, T-shaped contraceptive device made from plastic and copper. It’s inserted into the uterus by a trained health professional. It may prevent an egg from implanting in your womb or being fertilised.

This isn’t “news” as such – it has long been known that the contraceptive coil is more effective and can prevent unwanted pregnancy up to five days after unprotected intercourse, compared to only a few days with the morning-after pill. It also has other advantages, including that it can be used as an ongoing method of contraception to prevent further need for emergency contraception or unwanted pregnancy.

Where did the guidance come from?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), is the guideline body that provides national guidance on health and social care issues.

The current guideline on contraception is what is known as a Quality Standard. These documents set out the priority areas for improvements to the quality of care delivery across the country. They give a list of statements that will help improve and standardise care.

The contraception quality standard covers all methods of contraception, not just emergency, but does not cover related sexual health issues such as sexually transmitted infections. Quality Standards accompany other clinical guidelines that give recommendations on how conditions should be diagnosed and managed.

The information on coils, injections and implants has been drawn from NICE’s clinical guideline on long acting reversible contraception.

Information on other contraceptive methods, including pills and condoms, has been drawn from guidelines produced by the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH).

Why was the guidance needed?

As NICE says, it is estimated that almost one in five pregnancies are unplanned, with younger people at greater risk. However, things are improving – since 1998 the under-18 conception rate is said to have halved.

Between 2013 and 2014 there was a 6.8% decrease in rates, giving a conception rate of about 23 per 1,000 15-17 year olds, which is the lowest it’s been since the end of the 1960s.

There remains room to improve though. In 2014 there were also 184,571 terminations or abortions, with the highest rate among young women in their early 20s at 28 per 1,000 pregnancies. For under-18s it was 11.1 per 1,000. More than a third of abortions are in women who’ve already had one or more previously.

In 2014/15, the vast majority of emergency contraception issued by sexual and reproductive health services was for the morning-after pill.

What does the guidance say about emergency contraception?

NICE’s second quality statement is that “Women asking for emergency contraception are told that an intrauterine device is more effective than an oral method”.

An intrauterine device (IUD) refers to the copper coil. It shouldn’t be confused with the hormone-releasing intrauterine system (IUS); another long-term method of contraception.

The IUD can be inserted up to five days after unprotected intercourse, and has a lower failure rate than the morning after pill.

Furthermore, it has the advantage that once it’s inserted it provides an ongoing method of contraception which will reduce the risk of further unplanned pregnancies or need for emergency contraception.

If a woman wishes to have an IUD fitted as a form of emergency contraception, but the healthcare practitioner is not able to fit it there and then, NICE advises that the woman is given the morning after pill in the interim, and then directed to a service that can fit the coil.

There are two morning after pills. The standard morning after pill (levonorgestrel, brand name Levonelle) can only be taken up to three days after unprotected sex. The newer pill (ulipristal acetate, brand name ellaOne) is a longer acting pill and is also effective up to five days after unprotected sex.


The quality standard emphasises best medical practice on this issue – women requesting emergency contraception should be advised on the benefits of the copper coil or IUD for several reasons. Namely, it being the method:

  • with the lowest failure rate
  • that can be used up to five days after sex
  • that provides a long-acting ongoing method of contraception

Despite the IUD’s known effectiveness and benefits, in 2014/15, the vast majority of emergency contraception issued by sexual and reproductive health services was for the morning-after pill. It’s worth taking a moment to consider why this may be the case.

The morning after pill can be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy – the woman doesn’t need to see a doctor and they don’t have to have an examination to have a coil fitted, both of which some women could naturally feel embarrassed about or averse to. Also, some women may not like the idea of long-term coil left in place.

It should also be recognised that while IUDs are effective at preventing pregnancy, they do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the same way as barrier methods of contraception such ascondoms. And if you get an STI while you have an IUD, it could lead to a pelvic infection if not treated.

Nevertheless, in terms of effective emergency contraception, as Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive of NICE says: “We want to empower women with the best information about all methods of contraception and their effectiveness so they can make an informed decision … We also want to ensure women are told the coil is more effective than the pill as emergency contraception.”

Dr Jan Wake, GP and member of the guideline development group said: “The advantage of the coil, on top of being more effective is that it can be retained and used as long term contraception, some can even be left in place for 10 years … Timing however is essential and women deciding on the coil should make contact with the clinic they have been advised to attend as soon as is possible.”

For more information on choices about contraception visit the NHS Choices Contraception Guide.

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow NHS Choices on Twitter. Join the Healthy Evidence forum.