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SSIS advice column

Welcome back to the Student Sexuality Information Service (SSIS) column, where we answer any and all of Brandeis students’ questions about sex, sexuality, identity and relationships. If you have a question you’d like answered in our next column, email ssis@brandeis.edu or leave a question in the Google Form link on the Student Sexuality Information Service Facebook page. Any and all questions are welcome: there are no bad, stupid, or weird questions! 

(Note: These answers are good-faith attempts by SSIS to be helpful to the Brandeis community, and are by no means exhaustive or to be taken as universal. If these answers don’t resonate with you, either pay them no mind or reach out to us with suggestions for improvement!)

Last week, while I was going down on a girl, she started her period, like red sea parted level of period. I’m pretty sure I got some blood in my mouth. Should I get tested for STDs? Also, how do you get period blood off of blankets because I got some stains. 

First, going down on a person you’re seeing while she (or they) is on her period (or menstruating) has no more of a risk to spread STD/STIs than going down on her in general without the use of safer sex products. STDs can be spread in a few different ways: genital fluids, blood and mucous membrane to mucous membrane contact. When going down on a person, without using a condom or dental dam (or other barrier method), you are coming in contact with some genital fluid (this is usually called “pre-cum” or “vaginal discharge”). By ingesting those fluids, you are assuming the risk of contracting an STD, but adding menstrual blood into the equation in no way ups the likelihood of contracting an STD. 

It is recommended to get STD/STI tested every three months if you are sexually active, tested with each new sexual partner or once every 12 months if you are not having sex or are having sex with only one partner.

Also, fun fact, menstrual blood isn’t much different from the rest of the blood in your body. In fact, menstrual blood is coming from a sterile environment (the uterus) and therefore probably has a lot less bacteria than a lot of things that may touch our mouths everyday. Period sex might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in no way is it dangerous or dirty. Period blood can actually be really fun! Often women are more sensitive to stimulation while on their period, and you’ll probably have to use less lube! Throw down a towel or hop in the shower for easy clean up! 

Now for your second question: How to get blood stains out?

Blood stains can be treated really effectively with hydrogen peroxide (if you don’t have any, the C-Store often sells it.) Start by rinsing the stained area in COLD water until the water runs mostly clear. Wring it dry and pour a bit of hydrogen peroxide on the stained area. You should use enough to saturate the fabric with the peroxide. Let that bad boy sit for five to 10 minutes, it should look a bit white and bubbly. After five to 10 minutes, rinse your blanket out in cold water again. If the stain is still around, repeat the process a couple times. Once the stain is mostly gone (think all but a very subtle discoloring), slather on some of your standard laundry detergent, or OxyClean is best if you can get your hands on it, and pop the blanket in the washing machine on cold water and hang it to air dry. As with most stains, the sooner you try and remove it the better so that it doesn’t have as much time to set. 

An important note: Heat will set the stain in your blanket forever. Make sure you are using cold water and air drying until the stain is totally gone; it might take a few washes. 

Can I use a menstrual cup if I’m a virgin?

Yes!

If you haven’t had penetrative sex, used tampons or masturbated with a sex toy or finger it may take just a tad longer to get the hang of using a menstrual cup, but it is by all means still possible. It can be good to get to know your body in preparation for using a menstrual cup. With clean hands, you can try using your fingers to find the opening of your vagina and get a sense for the direction it goes in. You can also try using a mirror—either handheld or place one on the floor and stand over it—which can be helpful for more visual learners. The most important thing is to relax! If you don’t relax, your vaginal muscles can tighten up and make the process more difficult than it needs to be, so just take some deep breaths—you got this!

It is important to note that there are also different types of menstrual cups. At SSIS, we carry three. Two are reusable and one is only reusable up to two times. The first reusable menstrual cup that we carry is called the Diva Cup. It is made out of 100% medical grade silicone, with no added chemicals (no BPA), latex, dyes or plastics. To sterilize your diva cup, you can boil it for five to 10 minutes. In between uses, simply rinsing it out will do the trick! The second reusable menstrual cup we sell is called the Keeper Cup. It is very similar to the Diva Cup, but it is made out of gum rubber instead of silicone, which means that in order to clean it you cannot boil it but can just soak it in soapy water. The Keeper Cup is an opaque brown color, which means that you don’t necessarily have to see the contents of your flow if you don’t want to! It also has a longer stem that can be cut to a customizable length. Both the Keeper Cup and Diva Cup hold roughly one fluid ounce of liquid, can be worn for up to 12 hours and are sold at SSIS for $20 each. 

The third menstrual cup that SSIS sells is the Soft Cup. It is made out of soft plastic and can be worn twice (simply flip it inside out between uses) and can be worn during penetrative sex. It costs $0.25 at SSIS!

Why might someone choose to use a menstrual cup? There are lots of reasons! Using a menstrual cup decreases environmental waste created from tampons and pads. It is also more cost effective than other menstrual products like tampons and pads because it is a long-term investment. Menstrual cups also don’t have to be changed out as often as tampons and have even anecdotally been reported to help reduce cramps!

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