Disclaimer: The information, articles, and tips portrayed on this blog, while based on research, do not constitute medical advice. The opinions expressed are meant to educate and inform, but not to dictate lifestyle choices or personal beliefs. These articles are meant to provoke thought on issues surrounding college health and to inform the Hopkins community of healthy information and resources.


Tequila Paradise or Reality- A PEEP Sip Tip


The Trouble of all that Tequila in Paradise

When surfing on Reddit or reading the latest tweets and headlines, you may come across many an exciting picture of college life. From beer bongs and shotguns to cheerleaders and grinding in a dirty frat basement, the allure of going to college to get your party on is ever-present. Many a freshman may have come to Hopkins expecting none of that at all, but, alas, it's out there. So out there that students from neighboring schools, such as Loyola and MICA, often show up at big parties at WaWa and Pike.  So, you find out about these parties, slide into your hottest outfit, and hit North Charles Street with a bang. But at what point does the crossover from buzzed to schwasted cause some not-so-sexy side effects? 

Is this still sexy when it's all over the Internet?

College is a time in life that many look back on with pleasure (or disdain). The shiny frame around these four years of paradise may easily mislead us into compromising our health and driving ourselves into social turmoil. So, before you go taking your shirt off and sucking on a bong in front of a camera for the JHU submission to “I'm Shmacked,” consider how many eyes might fall on your fifteen minutes of infamy. 

What happens when your boss sees this?
Source: http://m.brobible.com/college/video/im-shmacked-indiana-university-little-500-weekend-with-afrojack

One might compare our semesters in college to the misleadingly paradisaical lives of celebrities. Celebrities are given copious amounts of money in exchange for putting their lives under a microscope. They party hard, look good, and seem not to have a care in the world. The most popular stories tend to leave out the level of hard work and dedication that it takes to truly be a success in the world of the rich and famous. If you pull an M.C. Hammer and blow all your pride and money on partying and rolling with your entourage, before you know it, you “can't touch” anything.

            Similarly, we receive so many inputs from the outside (media, articles, tweets, etc) telling us how college should be, making it seem like a “normal” college is one in which there are parties on weeknights and everyone binge drinks on a regular basis. When in reality, looking at the figures tells us that very few Hopkins students binge drink on a regular basis, and about 37% don't drink at all. So, next time you feel like one more drink will make you go Shaun White in the streets of Baltimore, take a step back and ask yourself if you want public intoxication on your resume. 

Shaun White at the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department
Source: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2012/09/shaun-white-arrested-charged-with-vandalism-and-public-intoxication/

This blog entry was written for you by one of the PEEPs (peer health educators) who asks you to consider the consequences of binge drinking; not just the physical effects, but the social-emotional and future implications.   

If you choose to drink, consider stopping at buzzed to avoid some of the after-effects of drinking that are less desirable and might affect more than your bodily functions.

Take care of yourself, your friends, and your future. 


Hump Day: Tests from 1 to Kicked in the Crotch

Safer sex can be all good and fun, but we have to remember one of the key ways to keep it on the safer side is through STI awareness and testing.  Has your partner(s) been tested?  What about you?  This discussion isn't always the most comfortable to have with your partner, but it's much less awkward than the conversation that might happen if one or both of you ends up with an STI that you didn't anticipate/prevent.

Not sure where to get tested?
Try the Student Health and Wellness Center to start.  Many of the tests are free or charge a lab fee.  If the SHWC isn't for you there are other testing centers nearby that are available for you, including two Planned Parenthood locations that test both males and females for STI/STDs.  Check out their websites for more details or go here to find a local testing center through GYTnow.org.

Want to know more about testing and what's involved?  Check out this information from Scarleteen.

What exactly does STD/STI testing entail?

STI testing includes a few simple tests that can be done in your doctor's office or at a clinic. They may be slightly uncomfortable, but they are not more than that. It's really pretty minor.

The first part is an interview. The clinician or doctor will ask you some questions regarding your exposure to STIs and about your sexual activities and sexual history. This may make you feel uncomfortable. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed believe me, doctors, nurses, and clinicians have heard and seen it all. It is very important that you be honest with your doctor, so they can do their job to get you the care you need. If you have had unsafe sex, accept it and take responsibility for it when you talk to your doctor.

If you are experiencing any health problems or symptoms of any STIs, tell your doctor about them in detail: how long have you been having the problem? How frequently? Has it gotten worse or better since it started? All this information can help them give you a proper diagnosis.

You may not be having any health problems or symptoms of any diseases when you go in for your test. That may mean that you simply don't have any infections or diseases. It can also mean that you simply don't have symptoms that are noticeable. Many STIs have no symptoms, particularly in their early stages. One of the ones that is easiest to miss -- and one of the most common infections -- is Chlamydia, which is called "the silent STI" because many people who have it never know until it's too late, and they have already begun to have serious complications due to inflammation and scarring. That's why it's important to get a full STI screening anyway, even if you don't have any symptoms.

Next, the clinician will do a visual examination of your genitals. S/he will be looking for evidence of sores or lesions. If you are a woman you will go through the same procedure as you would for a pelvic exam (you might want to read up on that in the Your First Gynecologist Visit article for more details). During the pelvic exam the doctor will take a small sample of cells and fluids called a smear or swab test. It is similar to a PAP smear test, except that in this case, when the technician or doctor looks at the cells through a microscope, she or he will be looking for signs of the various microorganisms, antibodies, or cell changes related to specific STIs.

If you're a guy, the clinician still often needs to do a swab test. This means taking a swab from the inside of your urethra, the tube that runs all the way down the middle of your penis, where urine and semen come out. The clinician gently inserts a thin cotton-tipped swab into the urethra to get a sample of cells. Most of the guys we know who have had this done say that it is slightly painful, but only for a moment or two on a scale from 1 (nothing) to 10 (being kicked in the crotch), it's about a 4. The cells gathered this way will be examined under a microscope, just like they would be for a woman.

The clinician may also take a sample of cells from your throat and/or rectum. These are swab tests, too, and are likewise done with a long cotton swab. Having one done in your throat is a lot like getting a throat culture done to test for strep throat in fact, it's the same procedure, only they look for different things in the lab. As for a rectal (butt) examination, the clinician will do a visual examination as well as sampling of cells. Again, it is not terribly uncomfortable, but it can feel kind of vulnerable or embarrassing. It is better if you try to relax, though, since you being relaxed makes it much easier for the clinician, and thus much more comfortable for you.

Depending on the testing the clinician has ordered for you, you may also be asked for a saliva sample, urine sample, blood sample, or any combination of these. Depending on the clinic or doctor you may or may not be given them all. Chances are you will be given a blood test as it is the most common way to test for HIV and syphilis.

So there you have it- an STI testing run down.  Find a location to get tested and celebrate Hump Day by taking charge of your sexual health!


SEE for Yourself: Eat Well


SEE Tip: Eating well on a college campus is possible, but can also be tricky.  Often, people are putting food on our plates for us and we don't have the option of saying how much we want or knowing how much we're actually being served; a cup, a tablespoon, who knows?   Understanding what a serving really is instead of eating what is portioned out to us is crucial for eating well.  And, unfortunately, since portion sizes are not standardized and seem to only be getting larger and larger, our nutrition and health are paying for it.  When at the FFC or other eateries where you are served a portion size that might not be for just one sitting, try using common household items to help you determine what a true portion size is and avoid overeating.

For more examples check out the CDC's website: http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-portion-size-plate.  

Want to challenge your portion knowledge?  Come see PEEPs on the Breezeway from 11am-2pm to test yourself and win a portion minded prize!

HKB Tip: Over 774 campuses across the country have already gone smoke-free or tobacco-free.  Hopkins is still thinking about it.  With groups like Hopkins Kicks Butts, we're keeping it on the radar-- want to learn more and help?  Come to HKB's meeting on Wednesday at 6pm in the AMR 1 TV room to learn why we want to go smoke-free and how to do it.  And bonus- free pizza!

Mellow Out Monday: Eating more than your fair share can leave you feeling crabby, uncomfortable, and stressed.  With proper portions, you can avoid the stress and benefit from a clear and healthy mind/body connection.  Use the free time you might have spent crawled up in the fetal position to enjoy a FREE 5-7 minute back rub from Stressbusters tonight at the MSE from 8pm-10pm.  Let stressbusters reward you with a back rub for eating well and staying on track for better health!


Weekend Sip Tip: What's your motivation?


Each weekend offers a chance to breathe, relax, let loose, and do things that might not happen during the typical Sunday-Friday week.  This could include catching up on sleep, TV shows, hanging out with friends, going to parties, or curling up with a good book.

If your weekend plans include red solo cups filled with alcoholic unknowns, kegs, or other forms of alcohol consumption consider some ways to keep you and your friends safe as the parties go on.

First, think about why you are choosing to drink.  Is it to relax-to get into that buzzed state?  If so, try to keep it to about 1 alcoholic drink an hour so you can pace yourself and enjoy the buzzed feeling without going over the edge.  If you find yourself drinking more than one drink an hour try opting for water or a mixer sans the alcohol.  This can also help alleviate wicked hangovers.

If that wasn't your first thought, what was your reasoning for choosing to drink this weekend (if you did)?  Keeping those answers in mind might help you stay in better control of how much you drink.

Say you've had a rough week (lots of papers/exams/family drama/friend drama/work drama/drama drama) and feel like you just need to "escape" for the moment-- drinking might seem like a great way to do that; drink a lot, forget the issue, and enjoy the night.  Unfortunately, with drinking the problems tend to stick around and just wait for you to come back from your "escape". So eventually the drama will be coming around again and perhaps be even worse.  Plus, the unpleasant side effects of drinking too much (vomit, diarrhea, hangover, blacking out, embarrassing texts/calls/photos, and worse) doesn't help the situation.

If stress is the driving force for drinking, consider some alternatives like a night in with a friend who is a really good listener, a romantic dinner with your partner/potential partner,  talking to a counselor at the Counseling Center, talking to a counselor off campus or on a hotline, go to the gym with a friend, host a movie night in your room, or whatever works for you!  If you've found a way to drink safer or do something else with your night let us know in the comments section or on Facebook.


Hump Day Fantasies


As Ludacris says...What's your fantasy?

Having fantasies is normal and considered a healthy aspect of human sexuality.  Fantasies can range in themes, settings, context, and content-- it's about what you want and since it's in a person's head, practically anything goes!

But what about the reasoning behind the content of our fantasies?  We might want to know what's going on there.  Luckily, a study by Dr. Birnbaum was able to dissect this for our inquiring minds.  Dr. Birnbaum looked at the effects that security and anxiety in a relationship had on a person's fantasy.  "Results indicated that the anxious relationship prime resulted in fantasies in which the self was seen as more aggressive toward and alienated from the partner (i.e., there was far less affection expressed)  compared to the secure relationship prime" (Lehmiller, 2012).  From the results, you  might see that an anxious or insecure relationship can lead to less affectionate feelings and more distant types of fantasies.  The researchers believed that "when we are feeling insecure, we may use our fantasies to create a psychological barrier between ourselves and our partners in order to protect our self-esteem" (Lehmiller, 2012).

Beyond content, when and where people find themselves fantasizing might be another question though.  Have you ever found yourself zoning out into a fantasy at an incredibly inappropriate time?  It happens, but no worries- only you know what was playing out in your head, right? 



SEE for Yourself- SLEEP Well


SEE Tip:  Starting classes, attending meetings, and fitting in extracurricular activities can be overwhelming as the semester gets underway.  Often, what suffers most is your sleep.  Have you been able to get an average of 7-9 hours of sleep each night?  If you said, YES! Then come by Levering Hall (the dining hall side) and sign our white board and claim a prize from 1-3pm today.

If you said no, don't stress.  We'll help you get there.  Try some tips like turning off electronics at least 2 hours before trying to go to sleep.  You could enjoy a good book,  do bedtime restorative yoga, or get some extra brain time in by re-writing your notes from class.  Why is it so important to turn off electronics before bed?  Researchers are finding more and more evidence that the artificial light reduces melatonin levels in the brain which plays a significant role in the sleep cycle.  Want more tips?  Stop by Levering (dining hall side) for more tips and giveaways to help you get your sleep cycle on track.

HKB Quit Tip:  Did you know sleep can be one of the most difficult things for a smoker?  The long amount of time without nicotine can cause withdrawal symptoms.  This can lead to strong reactions in the body, including headaches, crankiness, trouble staying asleep, cold/flu symptoms and general irritability.  If you are finding yourself having these symptoms and are trying to quit, try drinking water, going for a quick walk, or taking 10 slow, deep breaths.  Your body will eventually relax and allow you to ease into a more peaceful sleep and eventually reduce it's dependence on nicotine.

Stressbusters Tip: Classes are picking up in intensity and assignments, exams, and papers are hanging over our heads.  Don't take the stress out on your back, give yourself a much needed break with Stressbusters.  We'll be in the MSE from 8pm-10pm tonight and every Monday night for the semester giving out FREE 5-7 minute back rubs!  Come by and get your study break on!


Wicked Hangovers- the 411

"What actually causes hangovers?  If alcohol is metabolized after a few hours, why do I still feel crummy the next day?"

The main culprit behind wicked hangovers boils down to dehydration.  This dehydration happens for a variety of reasons.  

Since alcohol is a diuretic, those that drink will end up losing water since a diuretic is basically just something that increases the rate at which people urinate.  Ever heard of "breaking the seal"?  A person who has been drinking will be prone to needing a restroom more often and once they "break the seal", they'll often be needing many more return trips.

Another reason for the repeated restroom breaks is the hormone interaction that alcohol has with the body.  Consuming alcohol suppresses the release of vasopressin, a hormone responsible for releasing water back into the body.  The water instead heads towards the bladder and leaves the body.  This leaves a person even more dehydrated and again, in need of a bathroom.

Finally, if a person chooses to drink more than a "blue zone" level of drinking they may feel the effects as the body tries to process it all. The body might respond by vomiting or developing diarrhea.  Either way, not a pleasant way to end of the night, and again, leading to more toilet time and more dehydration.

All of this dehydration can lead a person to complain of nausea, headaches, dry mouth, and possibly a long list of other complaints.

If you drink and want to reduce hangovers, try increasing your water intake.  Drink water throughout the day and have filling meals that include fruits and veggies.  While you're out, continue to hydrate.  Try alternating alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to regulate your hydration and reduce your time in the restroom.  Give the body what it needs so it can function the next day.



Dear Freshmen... a letter of advice from a PEEP


            It's finally the beginning of the best four years of your life! The first week or so has probably been a whirlwind of excitement, anxiety, and surprises, but hopefully it hasn't been too overwhelming. Sure orientation week was fun, and you've been enjoying meeting new people and finally being on your own, but we all understand that college might be a little scary too. This may be your first time leaving home, exposed to new choices and challenges you never were before.

            The first important thing to realize is that high school success (or lack of it) doesn't necessarily apply to college. Maybe in high school you were class president or in the honors society or the valedictorian. Maybe you didn't work to your potential and did the bare minimum but still made it this far. Honestly, it doesn't really matter too much what you did in high school or what kind of student you were. College is a brand new start! You can set new goals and have the chance to become whichever type of student, friend, group member, or mentor that you wish to be.

            You're probably already thinking how am I going to succeed in my classes but still keep my social life strong? After all, we do go to Hopkins and our schedules will be rigorous. Don't fret! I promise a perfect balance is possible through good time management.

            The most important thing to ask yourself is what are your goals? It can be really easy in college to lose sight of them and knowing these goals in advance will help you deal with obstacles along the way. Two important things to watch out for: too much socializing and skipping class. Obviously many of us want to be able to go to parties and hang out with our friends but you need to prioritize. School first and parties after. Try not to skip class as much as possible, it really will lead you to fall behind. Who wants to study for a test never having seen any of the information before? Now that would be even more overwhelming and stressful than the studying itself.

            In order to have a good balance between your social and academic life, I have thought of a few things that help me. First of all, you need energy!! Energy comes from making sure you get enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise. Now you're thinking wow you want me to find time to exercise too? You really don't need to be going to the gym for hours to keep your energy levels up. Even a minimal effort is fine, we just don't want to spend the entire day in a chair. Next, take advantage of a planner. The ical planner on the mac computer saves my life. It helps you look at all your commitments at once so you can better organize and prioritize.

            Another key word: multitasking. You know those awkward half hours between two classes that you use to surf on Facebook, well instead, open a book and do some reading or get a few problems on your assignment out of the way. Or maybe you're in a class where the lecture isn't really captivating your attention, are you sitting there spacing out or doing work for another class? Of course, you should be focusing on the class you're in but lets be serious, sometimes its just happening. Basically we want to make the most of such non-productive times. Finally, avoid procrastination and cramming as much as possible. This will just lead to more stress and poorer performance. There is a reason why professors give you weeks to study for an exam, because you need it. So use that time, split up the readings and spread out the work. After all, would you rather study half an hour each day until the exam or the entire weekend before, losing sleep and missing out on all those parties? Keep a balance.

            My last comment, you can do it! You are the one who got this far. You got the good grades in high school, the high SAT score, and acceptance into a prestigious university. You can make it through this freshman year and the next three years after. Take advantage of the new classes and professors but don't let academics and time management take over your life. Just be smart about it. You can have fun while learning and meeting your goals. Only through this realization will you truly make the most out of your college experience. 

This post was written by a member of PEEPs (JHU's peer health educators).


Hump Day's Scientifically Proven Tips for Great Sex!


Forget what Cosmo says are the 25 sex moves that your partner secretly wishes you'll try-- it's not likely to end in great sex.  The research tells us that all the tips, tricks, toys, and tools aren't the keys to the ultimate night of big ooohs and ahhhs.  Instead, research has found that no amount of technology or tips will create the chemistry that's needed for a hot night; instead, it's about the human connection- the bonds between the two people that allows for the moment of intimacy to be the most satisfying.

Psychology Today noted these 8 ingredients for great sex from Dr. Kleinplatz and co.'s study on the subject.

1. Be present and focused.
Don't worry about what else is going on; what else you have to do, what you look like- just be in the moment with each other.

2. Connection, alignment, and being in sync.
In a word: Chemistry!

3. Deep sexual and erotic intimacy.
Accept yourself and your partner as you each are and you'll find greater passion.

4. Extraordinary Communication.
Being alert to wants and needs of yourself and your partners and expressing those needs in a positive manner.

5. Authenticity. 
Feeling free to be who you are.

6. Bliss, healing, transformation.
Great sex has the power to change a person.  Whether it be to restore, change perspectives, or provide a release.

7. Exploration, fun.
Allow laughter as new experiences are had and enjoy each one as it comes, feeling safe to try each new moment.

8. Vulnerability and Surrender.
Letting go of our anxieties, ego, stress and putting that trust in another person.

If you choose to have sex (great, or not so great) remember to protect yourself.  If you'd like a condom there are many places on campus to get free ones, including the Health and Wellness Center on N. Charles Street and the CHEW office in Levering 115.  You can also order Trojan or Durex brand condoms for $4/pack of 12 by going to the JHU Condom Sense Form.

If you choose to have sex, use your head, remember protection.


SEE for Yourself- Every Monday!


SEE Tip: Start fresh every Monday with SEE for yourself.  At the start of each week, wipe your slate clean and start off right by planning the basics to keep you healthy and allow you to finish strong.  Look for updates on Sleeping, Eating, and Exercising on Today's Announcements, around campus, and here!  We'll remind you to focus on YOU.  And be honest, how often do you remember to do that?  Let us help you to think about what you need and prioritize the essentials to keep you running at full speed.

Get started today by finding our peer health educators (PEEPs) on the Breezeway from 11-2pm to discover your dimensions of wellness and grab some giveaways while you're there.

HKB Tip: Hopkins Kicks Butts is your anti-tobacco coalition on campus.  HKB members are advocates for health, educators on the dangers of tobacco use, resources for those looking to quit, and change makers when it comes to making Hopkins a smoke-free campus.  HKB is accepting applications for new members- if you're interested email hopkinskicksbutts@gmail.com for an application and/or attend the General Interest Meeting this Wednesday, 9/12 at 6pm (bonus: free food).

Stressbusters Tip: Whether it's your first semester or your fifth, transitioning into the Fall semester can be stressful after summer.  Consider de-stressing with a FREE back rub from Stressbusters.  Stressbusters provide free 5-7 minute back rubs for JHU students every Monday from 8pm-10pm beginning next week (9/17)!

Do you enjoy making others feel calm?  Are you interested in lowering stress levels around campus?  Want to learn how to give awesome 5-7 minute back rubs? Stressbusters is the group for you!  We're recruiting today-- go to www.jhustressbusters.com for an application and more details!


Blue Zone Fridays


Each Friday of the semester we'll focus on staying in the Blue Zone and other topics that surround alcohol use.  Tune in as we tackle areas of drinking safer, what your friends may or may not be doing, and alcohol in the news.

To get started, here's a quick list of ways Hopkins students have said they stay in the Blue Zone when they've chosen to drink.  If you choose to drink, consider trying some of these methods:

Alternate every alcoholic beverage with a non-alcoholic beverage.
Stay with your same group of friends.
Make a plan for how much you will plan to drink (and stick to your limit).
Use some true and valid reasons as an out-- "I have to study", "I have an early morning reading group, workout, discussion, volunteer activity, etc".  

You have a lot going on-- enjoy being social, while remembering what tomorrow has in store for you.  If you choose to drink, remember to stop@buzzed.


Hump Day: Being Authentic

What does being authentic mean to you?

Being credible
Being  trustworthy
Being real

What does being authentic mean when it comes to authentic sex?  Can sex be credible?  Sounds kind of strange, but yeah, sex can be credible (and not just the factual kind).  Sex might also include trust and certainly sex could mean being real.  

So what is "authentic sex"?

When we are choosing to engage in "authentic sex", we are present for sex.  That means we are fully there- emotionally, mentally, and physically.  We hope that each time a person chooses to have sex, they are all in, for all 3 of those areas, but that doesn't always happen.  Authentic sex allows partners to be at their most aware - from listening to their own bodies, feeling the sensations, being in-tune with their emotions, and even finding ways to get better for the next time.  

So the bottom line- if you're having sex or doing something with your partner that you want to eventually improve upon - do it authentically.