Embracing the Self(ie)

This article discusses a mature topic. Our 17-year old and younger readers are encouraged to read this with an adult.

Though I used to be a bit camera shy, I have recently come to love the selfie. I know there are a lot of haters out there, and maybe some people who like selfies a little too much, but I think the selfie is a great way to show that I’m proud of how I look and who I am. So let’s celebrate the selfie, because sometimes we just need a little self-love to keep us going.

Read on to learn more about sexual health-style selfies – self-exams, self-exploration, and self-love. Because doing things for yourself is a good thing!

Q: When it comes to masturbation, how much is too much?

We get asked this question a lot! There are a lot of myths and misconceptions around masturbation, and it’s something that many people don’t talk about. Masturbation, when someone touches themselves for pleasure, is a healthy and normal part of sexual expression. Masturbation has no health risks, and it won’t cause pregnancy, infection, or any side effects.

As with all aspects of human sexuality, there’s no one right way to do it. Some people masturbate multiple times a day, some people do it a few times a month, and some people never do it. It’s different for everyone, and all of these choices are normal. It’s up to each person to decide what’s right for them.

Q: Is it normal for girls to masturbate?

A common misconception is that only guys masturbate. Girls are often taught that masturbation is strange, dirty, or only for single or lonely women. And, if they do masturbate, they’re told not to talk about it.

In reality, girls and women of all ages and relationship statuses masturbate. It’s just one of many ways for someone to express their sexuality. Just like guys, some girls masturbate often, and some never or rarely. It’s healthy, normal, and can be a great way for someone to get comfortable with their body and get to know what feels good to them. When someone knows what they like and don’t like, it can be easier to communicate that with a partner if or when they decide to have sex

Q: How am I supposed to do a breast self-exam?

Many young women have heard that they should perform a self-exam of their breasts each month to help detect signs of breast cancer. (Thank you, TV.) Though doctors used to recommend doing it a certain way and at a certain time each month, they now recommend that general self-awareness of your breasts is more useful than doing a monthly exam. Look at your breasts regularly and make sure to contact your health care provider if you notice:

  • A lump or hard area
  • A dimple or puckering of the skin
  • A change in shape
  • Nipple changes like redness, turning inward, or discharge
  • Any pain that does not go away

And remember to ask your health care provider when you should go in for a breast exam and other health screenings to help you stay healthy.

Q: How do the do-it-yourself STD tests work?

Many companies now offer STD and HIV tests that you can take in the privacy of your own home. You simply collect a sample, mail it in, and call or log in to get your results. Though this can be a great option for someone who doesn’t have a health center nearby, it’s usually best to get STD testing at a place where you can talk to someone, ask questions and get additional information. That way, you can find out what you need to get tested for, when you may need to come back and what you can do to prevent STDs in the future. Click here to find a Planned Parenthood health center near you.

Do you have a question that you’d like to see answered in this column? Send it to me at [email protected]

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