Wrapping It

So last weekend I attended a birthday dinner where the crowd was mostly people in Public Health. Several of the people I was seated with did outreach for STDs prevention in parts of Champaign. There was a lull in the conversation, so I asked "What is the most bizarre thing you heard of someone doing that they thought would prevent STD transmissions or pregnancy but clearly wouldn't."

One guy at the table said "Well, I have a story that is personal."
Me: "Ok, go."
Guy: "Well, in high school, a girl wanted me to use a baggie since we didn't have a condom."
Me: "Ziploc, or off-brand?"
Guy: "No, not even a seal. The kind of bag you fold over."
Other Girl at table: "You could have used saran wrap."
Guy: "We didn't think of that. She did suggest we use toilet paper."

There was a silence over the table, with a growing horror as everyone slowly realized what he was talking about. Getting people to accidently confess to this kind of stuff is probably why I'm not invited to more dinner parties.

Me: "You mean, like wrapping yourself in toilet paper? [as opposed to plugging her up?]"
Guy: "Yeah. She wanted me to wrap my member in toilet paper and then have sex. She was really smart otherwise, but she didn't make sense there."
Other Guy, friend of his, coming to defense: "Oh, I've heard of this."
Me: "I don't believe you."
Girl: "Hasn't she seen wet toilet paper?"

I know some people involved with the medical and health fields read this page – was he just dating someone with cognitive defects or is there really a problem with teenagers thinking toilet paper can work as a prophylactic? We've searched the hell out of google and found nothing about this at all, even as an urban legend.

And if you'd like to leave a comment of stories you have heard of where a person though something would constitute "safe" sex but clearly would not do any such thing, it would make for some great Valentine's Day blogging.

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8 thoughts on “Wrapping It”

  • My favorite alleged ways to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex:

    jumping up and down
    douching with soda

    I also knew a girl in college (perhaps Ed has told you this story) who was like three months along and tried to induce a miscarriage by sporadically inserting fresh parsley into her vagina. Now, parsley can help induce very early miscarriage, but you have to drink about a gallon of parsley tea a day and combine it with about 17 times the RDA of vitamin C for about a week. My pet theory is that parsley tea tastes so vile that the body rejects the New Life to avoid having to consume any more of it. Needless to say, this young woman made a Very Special Trip to Chicago with her mom later that month.

    And I think that I look back with the most fondness on the abject terror of pregnancy (but not, oddly enough, STIs) that I suffered when I first became sexually active. I know some women (albeit those who say they would never want to have to decide whether to have an abortion) who are still like this– condoms AND foam AND hormonal bc and that's just for fingerbanging. As I've gotten older, I've figured out that one's chances of getting pregnant even when one is unprotected and ovulating are pretty low and chilled out a little.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  • Oh boy, do I have stories. Or, more accurately, does my friend Nicole have stories!

    Nicole works in the STD prevention division of the CDC and specializes in adolescent risk behavior, and we CAN'T BRING HER ANYWHERE for the stories she tells. Seriously, I leave her alone at a bar for five minutes and I come back to a conversation about the benign nature of genital warts. And everyone at the table is rapt!

    Currently she's studying the post-Katrina shift in sexual behavior in New Orleans due to a marked change in the population demographic (eg., influx of latino construction workers, fewer affluent whites). She can tell you the difference in fair market value of a blow job based on the race of the woman performing the task at hand.

    Anyway, one story she tells from her personal experience in high school was of the common belief among her peers that by drinking a 6-pack of Mountain Dew before having sex, a guy could avoid impregnating a girl. Fascinating.

    I'll send her a link so she can post something else…

  • That post-Katrina stuff sounds really interesting – if she publishes anything please send it our way. I have a love/hate with Malcolm Gladwell, but the opening chapter of the Tipping Point, with the spread of syphilis across Baltimore for three equilibriums being broken was extremely interesting.

    Can you ask her if they use any type of math modeling with epidemiology? I do a little bit of work in probabilistic combinatorials and math modeling more generally, and always wondered what kind of credentials the CDC looks for from researchers in that area.

  • Actually, we all read and discussed (over many beers and many bottles of wine) The Tipping Point on our spring break trip to the beach last year.

    I'd bet they do use math modeling…I think part of Nicole's PhD (or was it undergrad?) was in medical statistics, but I can't really remember. I sent her a link, so hopefully she'll respond for herself…

  • i know a girl who once thought that by shoving a tampon soaked in tequila into her vagina post-coitus that it would kill any diseases or sperms hanging around.

    when i asked her if it "worked" she simply replied, "i don't know. it burned a little."

    maybe it would work better with gin.

  • Rob, I once knew a het couple who were both alcoholics that would use a similar method to get the female half of that couple drunk on vodka. Mucus membranes go straight to the blood stream!

  • My uncle tells fondly a story about a fellow he knew in college (in the late 60s) who rigged bong in a manner that blew the smoke into his ass. Literally.

    It might sound as simple as jamming a hose in your cornhole, but since I don't think one can inhale anally it was a little more complicated than that.

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