Ask a Wellness Ambassador: oral sex, headache relief

A biweekly column addressing students’ health questions from office of Health, Wellness, and Recreation.

Dear Wellness Ambassadors,

My partner and I haven’t had sex but we have been doing oral. Can I get an STI from doing oral sex? How can I protect myself?

Yes, you can get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from any form of skin-to-skin contact, whether that is oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex, or any contact with the infected area. Common STI’s from oral sex include syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes , HIV, HPV, and some cases of reported Hepatitis C.

Luckily, many of these can be easily prevented and some can be treated very effectively with antibiotics once diagnosed. Still, most pose a very big health risk if left untreated, and can cause greater health problems, such as cancers, AIDS, and infertility. So it is very important to be cautious when having any type of sex, including oral sex.

Your risk for contracting an STI increases with number of sexual partners and frequency of unprotected sex. The safest route is protection, prevention, and testing. Condoms and dental dams are great preventative measures to ensure no transfer of bodily fluids that may transmit infection. Also, when deciding to have sex with a partner, it is important to be honest about your past sexual history and discuss whether or not you’ve been screened for STIs.

Another important step is to see your primary care doctor or a gynecologist regularly to check for anything abnormal and to have them perform any needed testing for STIs. We encourage you to ask for testing yourself if you are sexually active, but they usually ask you if you’re sexually active and using protection, so be honest!

They are not there to judge you; they are there to help you be healthy, and skipping an STI exam could have negative consequences. If your doctor isn’t close to campus, the Simmons Health Center offers testing, so just call to make an appointment or drop by.

If you’re not comfortable talking with your doctor, luckily it’s very convenient to get anonymous testing for STIs. Fenway Health is a great outlet for any sexual health questions and services. Every Wednesday, Fenway offers walk-in services, and Boston Children’s (Boston HAPPENS) offers appointments and walk-ins daily. You can also search by zipcode at gettested.cdc.gov. The most important things are preventative measures, seeing a doctor, getting tested, and always using protection. Plus condoms and dental dams come in fun colors and flavors, so being safe doesn’t mean being boring!

Do you have a Health and Wellness question you would like to see featured here? If so, please email it to wellness@simmons.edu and it might be answered in our upcoming column! All questions and answers will be anonymous.

Dear Wellness Ambassadors,

I frequently get headaches but do not want to become dependent on pain relieving medication. What are other ways to rid myself of headaches?

First, you may want to try and troubleshoot the underlying cause of your headaches. One really common cause of headaches is dehydration. So make sure you’re always carrying a bottle of water with you. The recommended dietary intake of water is between 90-125 oz. This does include water you get from fruits, so anything caffeinated (tea, coffee), and foods high in water (fruits, veggies) helps you reach that goal.

Caffeine withdrawal can cause symptoms of headaches, so if you missed your daily cup of coffee, that can cause a headache as well. Caffeine intake in moderation is safe, for most people, so feel free to have a cup or two.

Another key culprit for headaches is lack of sleep. Most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep a day to feel rested, so make sure you are getting enough. Stress is also a major factor that can lead to headaches, so take a breather: count to 10 and back down, deeply inhaling and exhaling.

When you do have a headache, there are steps to take to soothe pain naturally and without painkillers. Herbal tea, aromatherapy, meditation, yoga, and massage are all natural, homeopathic ways to help treat headaches. Ginger, feverfew chamomile, and skullcap are all herbal teas that are known to have relieving effects on headaches.

Aromatherapy oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, and chamomile all have anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and sedative properties that work well when used in a body oil/lotion, or with a diffuser. Bath and Body Works has a line of lavender Sleep Well and other aromatherapy products that are great to try, and you may even find ones that aid with other ailments.

Meditation can help calm nerves, and headache-specific guides can be found on YouTube or apps like Migraine Buddy or Relaxing Melodies. Yoga poses like dolphin, down dog, seated backbend, happy baby, legs up the wall, and any inversion (headstand) are all helpful.

Only do what you are comfortable with; the point here is to get the blood flowing to your head to improve circulation in order to alleviate any pain.
Lastly, any light massaging on the temples and forehead (between eyebrows) are pressure points proven to be linked to headaches.

Next time you find yourself in pain, try some of these remedies, turn the lights off, and rest in silence or with light music.

If your headache persists for an extended period of time and doesn’t seem to be improving, it is important to seek help from the health center immediately. Hopefully these tips give you some help in dealing with headaches when you do get them. Also make sure to prevent them by managing stress, and getting plenty of nutrients, water, and sleep!

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