Monthly Archives: May 2014

Thoughtful Thursday: See Me in Boca Raton

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I don’t get to do this very often, but this weekend I’m teaching in Boca Raton and it’s open to everyone. If you’re in the area and can make it, I’d love to see you there.

I’ll be speaking during Shabbat dinner on Friday night and breakfast on Sunday, which the temple is hosting. These are going to be great talks whether you are a teen or a parent.

I’ve set up an event on Facebook where you can find all the details and register –

Hope to see you this weekend!

Teens Speak Out: May 14

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Who Are You?
It’s difficult to describe myself, but in best words possible, I am an outgoing, random, funny and beautiful person inside and out, i know how to make others feel better and I don’t let anyone else make me feel inferior. I listen to my heart and mind and do what I think is right. I love to sing and act and boys hurt me a lot.
Whose arms do you fall into?
Mainly I fall into my dad’s arms, not about everything but a lot of things, mainly when I’m sad. Music for me is a coping method, friends also help me, but some things, like Scott said, are left in your closet or your front pockets.
What is the one miracle you are waiting for?
I am waiting for love, to be loved back by someone. For someone to make me feel good about myself to tell me I am beautiful.
What is your weapon?
Who do you miss most?
What are you scared of?
Not being accepted.
What is your favorite memory?
When I was little, playing, with no worries about life or any problems or fears.
When was the last time God spoke to you and what did He say?
My first time masturbating letting me know its okay.
What words are you holding onto in your pockets?
Fear, acceptance, masturbation.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Stay strong and true to yourself. Never change, Don’t let others let u feel inferior.
What advice would you give to your parents that will help them in raising you?
Don’t ask. Just love.
Is there sometimes an emptiness inside you and what does it feel like?
Yes like a hole in me.
Are you enough?
Yes, I am.

Topic Tuesday: Gonorrhea

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This week’s STI topic is PACKED with many fun tidbits of trivia, so if you have the stamina to read the entire post, I promise to make it worth your time. You may just stumble upon some great stuff that I’ve thrown in. Here goes…
Gonorrhea is hard to spell! Maybe that’s why there are so many slang words for it. It’s also called the ‘clap’, ‘a red hot poker in the pipe,’ ‘pissing broken glass or like razor blades.’ Gonorrhea is caused by a bacteria that lives on warm, moist parts of the body such as the anus, vagina, penis, mouth, throat and urethra.
But first, here’s some interesting info for the next time you play ‘Trivial Pursuit: The STD Version”
The Old Testament, Leviticus, Chapter 15, devotes several verses to what is almost certainly gonorrhea!
“When any man has a running issue out of his flesh; because of his issue he is unclean…then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing and wash his clothes and bathe his flesh in running water and shall be clean.”
And here is a suggestion that the myth of the catching something from a toilet seat happened in Biblical times, from the same chapter!
“He that sitteth on anything whereon he sat that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water.”
So gonorrhea seems to have been around a long time! In fact, it was recognized by sages and historians such as Hippocrates, Plato and Aristotle for many centuries before Galen named it gonorrhea in 1526 from the Greek = seed and flow.  (Back in those days, mucous discharge was mistaken for semen.) 353 years later, in 1879, scientist Albert Neisser obtained experimental evidence about the pathogen for gonorrhea so the full name is Neisseria Gonnorrhoeae.
It kind of rhymes!
What Is It?
Gonorrhea (pronounced: gah-nuh-REE-uh) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Easy to see using a microscope’s high magnification, the gonococci are pink, kidney-shaped bacteria inside white cells, arranged in pairs that can be passed from one person to another through vaginal, oral or anal sex, even when the person who is infected has no symptoms.
How Is It Transmitted?
The bacteria can be spread by the exchange of sexual fluids (semen and vaginal secretions) through vaginal, anal (most common) and oral intercourse. Mouth-to-mouth transmission between adults is theoretically possible but it’s unlikely. It has sometimes been found in the throats of women or gay men who perform fellatio (oral sex), but it is unusual in men who have oral sex with infected female partner, cunnilingus. Doctors have never come across a case of direct mouth-to-mouth transmission.
No one really knows how infectious it is. A man with gonorrhea might have a 95% chance of passing it on from one episode of vaginal sex.  If the woman has gonorrhea, the risk of her passing it on may be lower.
The usual sites for infection are the urethra, throat and rectum in men, and cervix, urethra, rectum and throat in women. Rectal gonorrhea in men is mostly the result of bottoming, (being the receiving partner) although an infection can be passed by vibrators or through digital insertion (fingers). In 40% of women with gonorrhea, the infection is found in the rectum, not necessarily as a result of rectal intercourse. Gravity can allow the secretions to come into contact with anal tissue during intercourse.
You cannot catch gonorrhea from a towel, a doorknob, or a toilet seat.
But if you really want to stump someone with information about catching it from a toilet seat, read this:
Gonoccocus rapidly dies away from the warmth and moisture of a human being. So the only way to catch it from a toilet seat would be for a man’s penis to leave a little discharge on the seat while sitting, and a second man’s penis coming into contact with that discharge. That’s highly improbable and no single case has ever been recorded this way. The gonococcus cannot infect ordinary skin surfaces; it needs mucous membrane or internal tissue. It is therefore unlikely that a woman could either infect a toilet seat or bring an infect-able part of her anatomy into contact with one.
That settles that!
How Does a Girl Know She Has It?
A female who has gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all or her symptoms may be so mild that she doesn’t notice them until they become more severe. In some cases, females will feel a burning sensation when they urinate, or they will have a yellow-green vaginal discharge. There also may be vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods. Some experience frequent urination and abdominal pain, as well. Remember: 50% of women show no signs.
If the infection becomes more widespread and moves into the uterus or fallopian tubes, it may result in an infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause abdominal pain, fever and pain during sexual intercourse, as well as the symptoms above.
How Does a Guy Know He Has It?
Guys who have gonorrhea are much more likely to notice symptoms, although a guy can have gonorrhea and not know it. Guys often feel a burning sensation when they urinate, and yellowish-white or greenish discharge may ooze out of the urethra (at the tip of the penis).  A guy may feel like he wants to urinate but can’t or only can a little.  Discharge in acute gonorrhea starts as a slight bit of mucus, developing into full-blown pus after a day or two – off-white and staining the underwear.
Here’s more trivia for you: clinic workers recognize the “tissue paper” sign – when a man attends with a piece of toilet paper on the inside of his underwear, the diagnosis is gonorrhea until proven otherwise.
Dysuria (which is a fancy word for “painful burning during urination”) is a classic symptom of gonorrhea but we rarely see patients complaining of the really severe discomfort mentioned in the old textbooks.  50% do not mention any discomfort at all.
How Long Until There Are Symptoms?
The incubation period, the time between infection and the development of symptoms, has progressively lengthened since the 1930s. In that pre-war era, an infected person noticed something wrong within 2 or 3 days. By the 1990s, the average time had increased to a few more days.
Symptoms usually appear 2 to 7 days after a person has been exposed to gonorrhea, and in females they may appear even later. In some cases, they can appear up to 14 days after the initial infection. No one knows how soon you are infectious, but there have been anecdotes of transmission within an hour or two of catching gonorrhea.  It is best to wait at least three days and some say a week, for detection.
Remember, many people experience no symptoms, especially with gonorrhea of the throat. However, a sore throat can be a symptom of the infection there.
Infection of the throat is not associated with any particular symptoms, although it seems that men or women who practice oral sex are more prone to sore throats than others.
Gonorrhea of the rectum tends to produce no symptoms in more than 80% of men or women infected there. Some notice pus on their feces and others may complain of a little dampness or itching around the anus, but most are unaware of their infection.
How Is It Detected?
Gonorrhea can be very dangerous if it is left untreated, even in someone who has mild or no symptoms. In females, spread of infection inwards to the uterus can give rise to endometritis, followed by involvement of the Fallopian tubes, salpingitis, and into the pelvis to cause pelvic peritonitis. Chlamydial and gonococcal salpingitis share the same signs and symptoms; both infections may be found together in the same patient and both may lead to ectopic pregnancy, scarring or infertility. Gonorrhea infection during pregnancy can cause problems for the newborn baby, including meningitis (an inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord) and an eye infection that can result in blindness if it is not treated.
And, if you’ve read this far, here’s some more trivia for you:
A woman’s ovaries are as sensitive as a man’s testicles and are normally protected within the bony pelvis; but there are certain occasions during sex when the erect penis will bang the ovary. This is known as ‘anvil syndrome’ after the metal block on which a blacksmith fashions a horseshoe.
In guys, gonorrhea can spread to the epididymis (the structure attached to the testicle that helps transport sperm), causing pain and swelling in the testicular area, known as epididymo-orchitis.  This can create scar tissue that might make a guy infertile.  Guys are less likely to develop blood-borne complications but may develop infection of the various glands in the genital area, including the Littre’s glands inside the urethra and Cowper’s, Tyson’s and the prostate gland.
In both males and females, spread of infection internally can give rise to the Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome, a condition in which the lining outside the liver becomes inflamed, a ‘peri-hepatitis.’  Rarely, gonorrhea spreads via the bloodstream to elsewhere in the body, usually the skin and the joints. It can affect other organs and parts of the body including the throat, eyes, heart, brain, although this is less common.
What Can Happen?
At the beginning of the 20th century, gonorrhea could be seen using the microscope and a diagnosis made in this way was very likely to be correct. It was possible to grow (culture) the gonococcus, the bacterium, in a laboratory. But this sort of “horticulture” is time-consuming. It takes a good 48 hours for gonococcus to grow and it is expensive in labor and equipment. Now it’s a NAAT – nucleic acid amplification test (more trivia!!) which detects part of the bacterium rather than the whole organism. The tests tend to be highly sensitive; if the infection is there, they will find it.
If you think you may have gonorrhea or if you have had a partner who may have gonorrhea, you need to see your doctor or gynecologist. He or she will do an exam which may include checking a urine sample, or for a female, swabbing the vagina or cervix for discharge, which will then be analyzed. Talk to your doctor about which test is best for you. The doctor may also test for other STDs, such as syphilis or chlamydia. Let the doctor know the best way to reach you confidentially with any test results.
In more understandable terms, a diagnosis can be performed in days simply on a sample of urine, if it’s a urethral infection. A doctor will need to take a culture from the back of throat, if it’s an oral infection and from the anus, if it’s an anal infection – whether or not there are symptoms.  Blood tests are discounted; none are reliable.
How Is It Treated?
If you are diagnosed with gonorrhea, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Anyone with whom you’ve had sex should also be tested and treated for gonorrhea immediately. This includes any sexual partners in the last 2 months, or your last sexual partner if it has been more than 2 months since your last sexual experience.
If a sexual partner has gonorrhea, quick treatment will reduce the risk of complications for that person and will lower your chances of being re-infected if you have sex with that partner again. (You can become infected with gonorrhea again even after you have been treated because having gonorrhea does not make you immune to it.)
It’s better to prevent gonorrhea than to treat it, and the only way to completely prevent the infection is to abstain from all types of sexual intercourse. If you do have sex, use a latex condom every time. This is the only birth control method that will help prevent gonorrhea.
Key Points to Remember
  1. You cannot catch gonorrhea from a toilet seat.
  2. One in ten men and half of women with gonorrhea have NO symptoms.
  3. Although most men have a discharge, only 50% have pain during urination.
  4. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are like 1st cousins: if you test positive for one, you will most likely be treated for the other, as well.
Additional Resources

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this post is intended to inform readers and is not intended to replace specific advice from a health care professional.

Motivation Monday: Who Are You?

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Who are you?
There are moments in every life when true change occurs
Moments when the road winds
When battle lines are crossed
When the heart breaks
Moments when you realize that life is not what you expected it was going to be
When you’re no longer able to maintain the facade you’ve created
When inside of you, the vulnerable and the authentic
Accidentally intersect
Many of you who have been to my lectures have heard me ask the question, “Who are you?”
If you had permission to be who you truly are
What would you look like?
Who are you when you lay down your weapons?
Who are you when no one is watching?
Who are you in the unguarded moments?
If you’ve ever wondered about all the different and possible answers that exist, here’s something interesting. It’s a string of pearls fished out of the Denver Public Library by Freddy Bosco. This list is made up entirely of book titles taken from the card catalog…book titles that begin with the word “You.”
Happy reading!
You all want something. You Americans. You among the stars.
You are as young as your spine. You are born to victory. You are earnestly requested to meet.
You are extraordinary. You are happy. You are my friends.
You are never alone. You are not the target. You are what you eat.
You are younger than you think. You be the judge. You broke my dream.
You can always tell a fisherman. You can be a better cook than mama ever was. You can be a plumber.
You can be happily married. You can be healed. You can become the person you want to be.
You can build your own sailboat. You can change the world. You can communicate with the unseen world.
You can conquer. You can cope. You can die laughing.
You can do anything with crepes. You can do it. You can do it from a wheelchair.
You can fight for your life. You can find God. You can fix it.
You can get there from here. You can get what you want if you find it within yourself. You can have what you say.
You can learn to fly. You can live cheaply in the Canaries. You can live longer than you think.
You can make your own gloves. You can master life. You can own a business.
You can see a lot standing under a flare in the Republic of Vietnam. You can start all over. You can stop.
You can survive any financial disaster. You can train your cat. You can vote.
You can win. You can win a scholarship. You can wreck it.
You can’t be an immigrant twice. You can’t beat the hours. You can’t catch me.
You can’t do business with Hitler. You can’t eat magnolias. You can’t eat peanuts in church.
You can’t have your kayak and heat it. You can’t make me if I don’t want to. You can’t pet a possum.
You can’t steal first base. You can’t tell a man by the song he sings. You can’t turn the clock back.
You come, too. You could live if they let you. You could look it up.
You go your way. You got to live. You got to stay happy.
You know I can’t hear you when the water’s running. You learn by living. You live as you breathe.
You may cross examine. You may safely graze. You must break out sometimes.
You must relax. You must see Canada. You mustn’t weep, it’s Yom Tov.
You need help, Charlie Brown. You need never walk alone. You never can tell.
You only live twice. You read to me, I’ll read to you. You rolling river.
You shall be as gods. You should start sooner. You still can’t eat Mt. Rainier.
You, the jury. You, the person you want to be. You, too, are a believer.
You touched me. You wore the big shoe. You were the princess last time.
You will go to the moon. You will live under the sea. You will never be the same.
You will survive your death.
Who are you?

Podcast: Life is Sweet

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“We are all living with AIDS.” That’s what the scrap of paper hanging from my fridge reminds me everyday. Natalie Merchant’s song “Life is Sweet” reminds me that life is sweet too. The decision to see it one way or the other is wholly mine each day. And yours.
I am not here to judge, but only to listen to your story and to share mine.
This episode was recorded in front of a live audience in Boulder, CO in the summer of 2002.

Thoughtful Thursday: Shoutouts!

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I love to hear back about how my talks have effected you or your teens. For example, here’s a very sweet note from a mom who wrote me after she heard me speak:
Thank you so much, Scott. My son heard you speak at school today. He was so incredibly moved by you, your story and your talk. I heard all about it in the car on the way home after swim practice. Your talk provoked such a beautiful and intimate discussion between us. I can’t remember the details of our conversation but racing up the FDR in the dark I was moved to tears — by the love you shared with those children, by the way you and your message opened Nicholas’ heart and also by the gratitude I felt that he could share his thoughts and experience with me. Thank you so much.
If you’d like to send me your story or just say hello, I’ve set up a simple way to do that here –
I look forward to getting a shoutout from YOU!

Teens Speak Out: May 7

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Confused and Lonely
Who Are You?
I don’t really know.
Whose arms do you fall into?
At the end of the day, no one’s. I don’t have anyone who really understands me.
What is the one miracle you are waiting for?
To find someone who loves me and someone that I can tell them everything: the big things and the little things.
What is your weapon?
Myself, I always put myself down.
Whom do you miss the most?
I miss my friend. When I switched schools, our relationship kind of died. I would love to be friends with her again.
What are you scared of?
At the end of the day, I’ll have no one who loves me.
What is your favorite memory?
It’s not a specific memory, but at camp. You actually came to my camp, Gindling Hilltop Camp. I feel like I’m close to finding myself there more than anywhere else.
When was the last time God spoke to you and what did He say?
He gave me the treat of going to camp.
What words are you holding onto in your pockets?
The ones you gave me. All the wisdom and advice and opinions you shared with us, I hope I’ll never forget.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The advice you gave us.
What advice would you give to your parents that will help them in raising you?
To listen to me, but don’t suffocate me. Give me space, but don’t separate yourself from me. I will always love you, despite what I may give off. It hurts when you yell at me, and I’ll never be perfect like Erica. I am my own person and you have to accept that.
Is there sometimes an emptiness inside you and what does it feel like?
There is an emptiness inside of me. It feels like I might collapse, that I might break. It happens when my parents are disappointed in me, or I disappoint myself, mostly.
Are you enough?
If it’s a good day, I’ll look in the mirror and smile at myself. But most of the time I’m not happy with who I am. Maybe because my parents and grandparents always try to improve me, trying to make my lose weight.

Topic Tuesday: Condoms

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I got infected with HIV because I didn’t use one.
Below is a great post from about the different types of condoms.
Oh, and if you’re looking for the safest condoms on the market, check out this link to Consumer Reports’ most recent survey:
Happy reading.
Condoms are made from different materials — latex, lambskin, polyurethane, and also a new material called polyisoprene. Latex condoms are some of the most widely available and among the least expensive. The market offers several brands, each coming in a variety of sizes, colors, textures, shapes, and even flavors. Some are already coated with the spermicide Nonoxynol-9 (N-9), but this slight amount has been found to be inadequate in protecting against pregnancy. Additionally, research no longer promotes the use of N-9 as it may facilitate HIV transmission.
Polyisoprene condoms are the newest condom option on the market. Ideal for people allergic to latex or polyurethane, polyisoprene condoms have a soft natural feel that conforms to the skin similarly to latex. Some claim polyisoprene condoms are more comfortable than latex; you’ll have to experiment as a couple to find which material suits your groove the best. Right now polyisoprene condoms are sold in the United States by LifeStyles (SKYN) and Durex (Avanti Bare) brands.
Polyurethane condoms have long been the go-to for those with latex allergies. But even with the new polyisoprene condom on the market, polyurethane may still be a great choice for lots of couples. Compared to latex, polyurethane condoms are thinner and stronger, and tend to have a less constricting fit. Polyurethane condoms also transfer heat more efficiently, which some say increases pleasure.
Unlike other condoms, the non-latex variety are available in male and female versions. Worn by women, the female condom is a nitrile (synthetic rubber) sheath that’s inserted into a vagina up to eight hours before intercourse. Adding extra water-based lube helps increase comfort and decrease noise. (Note: female condoms should not to be used together with male condoms.) Check out What is a female condom? in the Go Ask Alice! archive for more information about this method. Both latex and non-latex condoms provide comparable protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). And while they also offer comparable pregnancy protection, non-latex are pricier than latex condoms.
Lambskin condoms, in contrast, are made from the oldest material on the market — the intestinal membrane of a lamb. Small pores make lambskin condoms ineffective in protecting against viruses that cause STIs. But they do protect against pregnancy, since the pores are too small for sperm to pass through. Lambskin supposedly has a more “natural” feel than latex and polyurethane, although the verdict is still out on how they stack up to polyisoprene condoms in this department.
All four male condom types offer the same statistical effectiveness against pregnancy, which is your primary concern. Contraceptive Technology estimates that only two percent of couples who consistently and correctly use male condoms will experience failure in the first year of usage. Female condoms have a probability of pregnancy of five percent, which still makes them quite an effective method of pregnancy prevention. The safest route in avoiding an unexpected pregnancy is to use a combination of hormonal birth control and a backup method, such as using male condoms. When using condoms alone, correct and consistent use will maximize their intended efficacy to keep you from getting pregnant. Check out How to Use a Condom Properly in the Go Ask Alice! archive for refreshers on expert condom protocol.
All five condom options — male latex, polyisoprene, polyurethane, and lambskin condoms as well as the female condom — offer similar protection against pregnancy. Other factors that could figure into your choice might include your budget, availability, how they feel, willingness to experiment, and animal rights convictions. Have fun trying them out!

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this post is intended to inform readers and is not intended to replace specific advice from a health care professional.

Motivation Monday: The Things I Learn From People on Airplanes

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Paper Plane

Days are scrolls: write on them what you want to be remembered.

-Bahya ibn Pakuda Hovot HaLevavot

One of these days, I’m going to write that new book entitled, “Things I Learn From People on Airplanes.” Some of the deepest and most salient sentences I’ve ever heard have been stated by someone buckled into a seat next to me at 32,000 feet above the earth.One seat mate told me, “Children don’t lie to their parents because they want to lie. They lie because they want to protect their parents or protect themselves from upsetting their parents.”
Another said, “God provides food for everyone. WE get to distribute it.”
And a third instructed, “If you’re gonna have a mistress, just make sure she’s on another continent.”
But perhaps my favorite quote in the sky came from an attorney who conducts trials in Geneva for war-crime tribunals. He looked over my shoulder and out the window over Vancouver as he said, “We write our histories with war.”
I thought to myself: “He’s got a point!”
But then again, if days are like scrolls, how else can we we write the story of our lives?
How do we want to be remembered?
By collecting other peoples prayers and promises…
By noticing the quality of your days…
By facing your fears…
With good deeds…
With forgiveness…
With song…
Courtesy, Kindess, Justice and Love
This week, if you could write your history, which words would you choose?