Today's Love Tip
It's rare to see couples who are divorcing in the same room, getting along and compromising. Usually, splitting spouses approach one another in the stereotypical acrimonious fashion and duke it out in court. But for those who are committed... Read More
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What You Should Know About STDs

If you're sexually active, STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, are a real threat. According to statistics, 1 in every 5 people in the United States suffers from an STD; that's 20% of our population! If you're not careful, you could sleep with someone in this 20% and become an STD statistic yourself.

That's why it's important to be informed. Know what STDs are out there, be aware of the signs and symptoms to look for, and learn how to protect your body. STDs can be irritating, painful and even life-threatening.

Take steps to prevent them. If you're having sex, take a minute to learn about the different STDs and stay informed. It could mean the difference between life and death.{relatedarticles}

Herpes

About it: herpes is a virus that is contracted through physical contact with someone who is infected. This can be sexual contact or simply kissing and touching of infected areas.


 

Signs and symptoms: the most obvious signs are small red bumps that eventually turn into blisters. Similar to cold sores, these dry up and heal within a few weeks. Unfortunately, the herpes virus still remains. People with herpes may experience flu-like symptoms or a painful burning sensation during urination.

 

Treatment: there is no known cure for the herpes virus; however, there are medications that can help manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Whether symptoms are present or not, the herpes virus will continue to remain in the body.{relatedarticles}

Crabs

 

About it: crabs are also known as pubic lice, and just like head lice, you can contract them by having close contact with someone else who has them. Crabs is marked by small, black bugs in the pubic hair, and it can even be passed via bed sheets or clothing.

 

Signs and symptoms: the major symptom of crabs is itching in the pubic region. It also may be possible to see the small lice bugs in the pubic hair.

Treatment: crabs can be treated just like head lice, with prescription and over-the-counter medications designed to kill the bugs and their eggs.

Genital warts/HPV

 

About it: genital warts are just what they sound like: warts that appear in the genital area. They are a physical symptom of the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. You can acquire genital warts by having skin-to-skin contact with a person who already has them. This includes oral contact.


 

Signs and symptoms: the only sign of genital warts is, simply, the warts themselves. These are small growths or bumps around the genitals or anal region, where contact was made. These growths also can appear on a woman's cervix, in which case, nothing will be visible.

Treatment: there are some creams and ointments to help shrink the growths, and they can be removed surgically. In recent years, a vaccine was developed. It is recommended that everyone - boys and girls -- get this vaccine before becoming sexually active because HPV easily can develop into cervical cancer or be passed from a man to another woman.{relatedarticles}

Gonorrhea

 

About it: gonorrhea is a bacterial infection in the genitals or anal region. Any kind of sexual contact with a gonorrhea-infected person can pass on the bacteria.

 

Signs and symptoms: A person with gonorrhea will often see a pus-like discharge from the genitals or experience a painful or burning sensation during urination.

Treatment: gonorrhea can be treated and cured with a regimen of antibiotics prescribed by a medical professional.

Syphilis

 

About it: syphilis is a serious and often life-threatening STD spread through sexual contact with an infected person. If contracted, the infection can spread throughout the body, eventually affecting the heart, brain and nervous system.


 

 

Signs and symptoms: there are 2 stages of syphilis. The first is a visible sore at the site of the infection, so most likely in the genital or anal regions. The second stage occurs after the sore heals and is marked by a rash and, often, flu-like symptoms.

Treatment: eventually, the symptoms of syphilis will fade; however, that does not mean the infection is gone. If left untreated, syphilis can cause serious health problems and sometimes even be fatal. It is important to get syphilis treated with a regimen of antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.{relatedarticles}

Hepatitis B

About it: hepatitis B is a serious disease that affects the liver. It can be passed through bodily fluids, such as blood, semen or vaginal secretions, needle sharing, or in the case of an infant, through childbirth.

Signs and symptoms: there are many painful symptoms of Hepatitis B, including vomiting and nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, fever, tiredness, diarrhea, yellowing eyes or skin, or dark-colored urine.

Treatment: acute Hepatitis B may go away on its own; however, chronic Hepatitis B is incurable. Typical treatment includes antiviral medications, and in serious cases, liver transplants.


 

Chlamydia

 

About it: chlamydia is a bacterial infection and the most common STD in the U.S. It is contracted through sexual contact with an infected person.

Signs and symptoms: many people with chlamydia experience no symptoms at all. The ones who have symptoms report feeling a burning sensation during urination, genital discharge, tenderness of the testes in men and painful intercourse.{relatedarticles}

Treatment: if left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious health issues, often developing into pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, in women. Chlamydia can be treated and cured with a regimen of antibiotics.

HIV/AIDS

 

About it: HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a deadly virus that attacks a person's immune system. Eventually, HIV develops into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) in which the body's immune system no longer can fight off bacteria or viruses.

HIV cannot be passed through simple contact. It can only be passed on through the exchange of fluids, such as blood, semen or vaginal secretions, through needle sharing, or in the case of an infant, through childbirth or breast milk.

Signs and symptoms: often, there are no early symptoms of HIV. When there are, they usually include diarrhea, night sweats, weight loss, swollen glands, fever and other flu-like symptoms.


Treatment: there is no cure for HIV; however, there are medications that may block the virus temporarily and help manage symptoms. Once HIV develops into AIDS, the results are fatal. Remember, all STDs can be prevented. Choosing not to have sex is the only surefire way to ensure you don't contract an STD.{relatedarticles}

If you are sexually active, make sure to ask questions of your sexual partners. Learn about their history and, if necessary, ask them to get an STD test before you get into bed with them.

You can also reduce your risk of an STD by making sure to use a condom each and every time you have sex. They're not just to prevent unwanted pregnancy; they provide a border between your health and your sexual partners.


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How to Create Your Own 50 Shades of Grey

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past several months, you've undoubtedly heard the rave reviews surrounding E.L. James' book "50 Shades of Grey."

This instant literary phenomenon tells the story of a college student who is being courted into signing a contract to be a "submissive" where she will be dominated by a young, rich businessman. By accepting the twisted dynamic, she will allow him to perform a variety of sexual fantasies on her, that are lagely S&M in nature. The book's erotic and graphic sexual content has made it a hit with women of all ages. It's been branded "mommy porn."

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Judging from the success of James' "50 Shades of Grey," readers are lining up to read about erotica. Just reading this type of content would be enough to make most people blush, let alone write about it.

However, if you feel comfortable writing about sexually explicit content and can effectively create characters that readers can connect to, there is a market for it. If you are interested in writing for this genre, here are some tips to help you with the writing process.


Be Original

Nobody wants to hear the same plot over and over. Having a deliveryman or a repairman come by and seduce the housewife has been done before. Think of something more original. It could be something that's happened in your everyday life, just spiced up a bit. Use your imagination and be creative.

Or you can think of a sexual fantasy that you'd want fulfilled. This may give you some good ideas or at least a good starting point for your writing.

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Give the Readers What They Want

The reason why "50 Shades of Grey" has garnered so much buzz is that it's wish fulfillment on behalf of the readers. The book is giving them something that they're not used to getting at home. So the trick is to come up with a sexual fantasy so off the wall, something that the average couple would be unlikely to engage in.

Erotica is about obtaining the unachievable. Erotica allows readers to live out their fantasies, which makes it so interesting.


However, at the same time, be somewhat realistic. People are real and have flaws. Although you may want your story to have a certain aspect of perfection, having a person who has flaws and vices makes it more exciting. Too much perfection will make your story boring.

Use Proper Wording

In the narration, try to keep some elegance. Try to keep a balance between blunt and euphemistic. It's fine to use some off-color language in the dialogue, but the narration should not use language that is too graphic or unintelligent.

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Give Details

Sure, erotica is about two people having sex. That's a no-brainer. However, you need to add details in order to engage the reader. Any book can say "Then they had sex." How did they have sex? What were they doing? Where did they have sex?

What did the people look like? What were they wearing? What were they saying? These questions need to be addressed with as much detail as possible, or else readers won't be interested.


Don't Move Too Fast or Too Slow

Along the same lines, you don't want the action to move so fast or so slow that readers get confused or bored. Although you want details in your story, don't focus too much on insignificant ones.

At the same time, you want the action to flow at a normal pace. Don't change scenes too quickly. You need to allow time to build up to the sexual act. You shouldn't be talking about sex in the first sentence or even the first chapter of the book. Lead up to it. Allow readers to anticipate it.

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Use Dialogue

A successful work of erotica includes lots of action as well as dialogue. The people involved need to be talking. They can't just meet and have sex right away. Dialogue sets the mood and shows the character's personalities.

Plus, dialogue can make a naughty scene even naughtier, or a silly one even sillier. Also, don"t be afraid to use metaphors or double-entendres. These are when you say one thing, but mean something else (like sex). It works as verbal foreplay, building sexual tension until the main event (the actual sex act).


Do Research

It can be hard to describe sexuality, so do some research if you don't feel comfortable writing. You may want to read stories from other erotica authors to get a feel for the type of description and wording to use. This is especially true for men, who sometimes don't feel the need for description. However, women tend to be more descriptive, so they often have an innate knack for describing things spot-on.

As for the sex scenes themselves, you don't need to have experienced them in real-life, although some authors do choose to go that route. They might describe what they did in first person, which is difficult for new writers.

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However it's best to do whatever makes you feel more comfortable. If you do write about a real-life sexual experience, be mindful that it might offend your partner. Be descriptive without making it too publicly known. Try to maintain some anonymity.

Be Uninhibited

Write as if nobody will read it. Let your creative juices flow and just write. It can make you feel vulnerable because you are exposing a part of yourself and your inner fantasies, but you need to be able to eventually be OK with that and gain a sense of comfort. Start out by writing in somewhat risqué language and then move up to juicier scenes once you feel more comfortable.


It may take some time. Writing about sex is not the same as writing about your pets or your children. Many people still believe sex is taboo, which makes it difficult to express yourself sexually without coming off as a slut.

Admittedly, writing erotica is not for everyone. Some people would die of embarrassment talking about sexual fantasies, let alone writing about them. It takes a special person to be able to write sex scenes without embarrassment.

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Sex sells, and if you are willing to tackle this genre and write successfully, then it could be a lucrative career choice. Follow these tips and make your erotic book go from un-publishable to successful.


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Date Night Ideas

There is always excitement in the air at the beginning of a new relationship. Spending time together is a fresh experience; familiar things we've done in the past become novel and thrilling. But as relationships age, other stresses in life eclipse the simple pleasures of enjoying each other's company. We tend to fall into routines, perhaps even taking the other person for granted.

It's important to keep the relationship healthy by allowing yourselves the time to rediscover each other and renew the passion. Courting each other all over again is a great way to keep the fires burning. If you're stumped on what to do, our date night ideas should set you in the right direction.

Getting Outside
Avoid couch potato syndrome like the plague; it will only breed apathy in your relationship. Sitting in front of the TV night after night is an easy enough rut to fall into.
Here are some fun and unique date ideas to get you both off the sofa and into the great outdoors.{relatedarticles}

Classic dinner date re-imagined - Instead of eating at the local pub you've been to a million times before, try an adventurous ethnic eatery. Korean BBQ or Brazilian churrascaria, for instance, offer a truly interactive dining experience.

Dust off those dancing shoes - Busting a move on the dance floor is a great way to let off steam. Too shy or uncoordinated to shake it? Take a dance class together. Become cinephiles together - Bored of the same old dinner and a movie? Skim the local listings for film festivals showing shorts, documentaries, or indie films. Or go the drive-in and make out like teenagers.


Join the gym - Having a workout partner will motivate and challenge you. Keeping yourselves in decent shape will also tell the other you are still trying to look hot for them. Surprise him - Sectrely plan something you both enjoy doing, but maybe haven't had the time to do in a while. Or pretend it's his birthday and set up a date that is all about him. He may just return the favor. Smarten up - Visit a museum, science center, zoo, planetarium, art gallery, and expos like food and wine shows and consumer electronics conventions. Learn something new and discuss your impressions.{relatedarticles} Make it a staycation - Get a newfound appreciation of your hometown. Check out touristy activities in your locale and take lots of pictures. Keep an eye on local events - Festivals and fairs will come to your location, so don't miss the midway games, Ferris wheel rides, and other exhibitions that that will only be around for a limited time. Live entertainment - Watch a play at the theatre, check out a live band perform at a bar, giggle at stand-up comedy shows, attend a sporting event, or go see a poetry reading.


Knock it off the bucket list - Go skydiving or zip-lining, take a hot air balloon ride, try parasailing, participate in indoor rock climbing. Indulge in any one of the things you've always wanted to do. Here's your chance! Go bowling - Bowling is an old-school activity with a great casual vibe. The two of you can have a beer or a slice of pizza while engaging in a friendly competition. Just about every town has a bowling alley. It's a low-stress environment, so your date is guaranteed to feel relaxed and comfortable, which is important. Dating on a budget
You don't have to break the bank to spend some quality time with each other. The emphasis here is not what you do, but whom you are doing it with. Take a hike - Put on some good walking shoes and explore the natural wonders of the scenic routes in your community. Pack a lunch and make a whole day of it.{relatedarticles} Pretend you're rich - Put on your fancy clothes and test-drive your dream car, go to an open house showing, or attend a swanky auction. You won't have to spend any money and will get a rare glimpse into how the other half lives. Be spontaneous - Make no plans. Take a walk or a drive together and see where the day takes you.


Take a free tour - Many factories and production facilities offer free tours with samples. Learn a little something about the manufacturing process and get a chance to taste some gourmet wines, beers, cheeses, and chocolates. Play Bingo - Invest in a couple bingo dabbers and have some fun listening and paying attention. If you have the good fortune to yell out "Bingo," you can spend your winnings on a nice meal afterwards. Go to the beach - Bring a Frisbee, pack a picnic and watch the sunrise or sunset.{relatedarticles} Be kids again - Bowling, mini golf, batting cages, driving range, arcades, and billiards are pretty cheap activities that are fun for any age. Same goes for snowball or water gun fights. Staying home
Maybe you both work all day long and the last thing you want to do afterwards is go back out into the world. Here are some romantic date ideas for the homebodies out there.


A bubble bath for two - Unwind after a long day with a sweet and sexy bubble bath. Light some candles, play some soft music, pour some champagne, scatter some rose petals, and make an evening of cleansing each other. Play a board game - Go from bored to board. Games like Jenga, Scrabble, Twister, Chess, Battleship and Trivial Pursuit will engage you in a little flirtatious trash talk. Prepare a meal together - Plan a sumptuous meal side by side. Incorporate ingredients you both enjoy, experiment with new flavor combinations, and breathe new life into an ordinary task.{relatedarticles} Improve your home - Tackle a home improvement project. Perhaps a room needs a fresh coat of paint, you've been considering making the house more energy efficient, or you've been dreaming of that walk-out deck. Completing these projects with each other will be satisfying and give you a sense of accomplishment. Role-play - Don something sexy and explore your deepest fantasies in tandem. Push each other's limits and be open to new experiences.


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