Martha Kempner is a writer, consultant, and sexual health expert. She has authored numerous publications for young people, parents, educators, and policymakers. She is also frequently called upon by print, radio, and television media to comment on sexuality issues in popular culture, politics, and research. Martha was previously the Vice President for Information and Communications at SIECUS. Ms. Kempner graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a bachelors degree in political science and received her masters degree in human sexuality from New York University.
Laws allowing same-sex couples to wed may have reduced the stigma against such unions and given adolescents some extra glimmer of hope. And, in other news, a doctor speculates that President Trump has a sexually transmitted infection—without ever examining the commander in chief.
Following in the footsteps of past reformers, a South Carolina politician seems to believe imposing a $20 fee will take a bite out of the billion-dollar industry and a Utah lawmaker keeps repeating bogus claims about porn's harms.
A Brooklyn police captain puts acquaintance rapes lower on his priority list than sexual assaults by strangers; an implant to prevent HIV is now in development; and a Japanese cartoon character fights evil—and a burgeoning syphilis problem in the nation.
The incoming Trump administration hasn't telegraphed any changes, and local governments maintain much control over what children are taught. But the federal government funds programs nationwide and can steer resources to programs that it prefers.
A Dutch study finds that girls who get along well with their mothers are more likely to put off having sex; doing good might have benefits in the bedroom; and don't think that gamers are hanging out alone with their joysticks.
Our not-so-favorite moments involving some of the candidates for the nation's highest offices include Donald Trump's dating antics and Mike Pence waxing ignorant about sexually transmitted infections. And then there was that Pennsylvania man who worried about what would happen if Hillary Clinton got her period while in the Oval Office.
A number of women have come forward to allege that Donald Trump treated them in a manner much like he described to Billy Bush in 2005: kissing or touching them without permission. Parents can talk about this news in age-appropriate ways, even without mentioning "rape" when speaking with younger children.
Only two new antibiotics were approved in the United States between 2008 and 2012. And that's a big problem, as more and more illness-causing germs are getting harder to treat with existing medications.
A popular sex toy sends information about how it's being used back to its manufacturer, and that's sending the company to court. California officials are keeping an eye on cases of shigella infection, which recently caused two deaths. And there eventually may be another way to treat erectile dysfunction, without drugs but with an injection straight to the penis.
A new study concludes that contraceptive use is driving the drops in teen pregnancy and abortion. So we should let go of the idea that teens aren't responsible when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health.
A nursing home understands that its elderly residents are still sexual beings; New York City is amping up its youth sexual health outreach with emojis of eggplants and monkeys; and if forced to choose between eating and sex, a good number of people pick food.
A new Zika case suggests the virus can be transmitted from an infected woman to a male partner. And, in other news, HPV-related cancers are on the rise, and an experimental chlamydia vaccine shows signs of promise.
The news of the last few weeks has been full of public health crises—gun violence, Zika virus, and the rise of syphilis, to name a few—and yet, on Monday, Republicans focused on the perceived dangers of pornography.
The number of teens having sex may be less important than the number having protected sex. And according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, condom use is dropping among young people.
This week, a study suggests some men are less likely to have safer sex with women whom they find attractive. There's now a study of women's pubic hair grooming habits, and a lot of couples don't have wedding-night sex.
This week, there's not enough of an important syphilis drug to go around, a new study shows that men don't know how much sex their female partners want, a beer company unveils a new same-sex marriage ad, and a sex toy recommended by Gwyneth Paltrow's website is gold (literally).
Though boys and young men are often an afterthought in discussions about reproductive and sexual health, two recent studies make the case that they are in need of such knowledge and that it may predict when and how they will parent.
Though the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act has little chance of passing Congress, its inclusive and evidence-based approach is a much-needed antidote to years of publicly funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which may have contributed to troubling declines in youth knowledge about sexual and reproductive health.
Many men pretend to have orgasms to make their partners feel better—and report higher levels of sexual satisfaction, at the same time. Another study suggests that the more ejaculation, the better if men want to reduce their prostate cancer risk. And there may be more help for women with sexual arousal problems.
Same-sex married couples get a long-awaited policy change (but maybe not a tax break), there’s encouraging news about the development of a male contraceptive method, and the month of April brings some much-needed attention to sexually transmitted diseases.
The Internet has been abuzz with discussions of painful sex among our animal friends after astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson mistakenly suggested that any species for whom sex hurt would already be extinct. Unfortunately, many women know all too well that on this subject, deGrasse Tyson was way off the mark.
This week in sex: Scientists report the first case of HIV transmission to a patient adhering to PrEP protocols, two studies show a new vaginal ring can help women prevent HIV, and young people still aren't getting tested for the virus.
A new study finds that HPV rates have plummeted in the last six years. Yet HPV vaccination rates continue to lag behind those of other vaccines, in part because of the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections.
This week in sex, the San Francisco School Board voted unanimously to approve condom availability for middle school students, agencies provide new advice on Zika virus, and a survey of University of Minnesota students found fewer of them are using condoms these days.
In today’s Internet world, Valentine’s Day is for roses, chocolate, and surveys. Many websites and companies (and some academics) choose this most romantic of holidays to tell us what other people are doing and thinking when it comes to love, dating, and, of course, sex.
The resolution introduced to declare pornography an epidemic is pretty toothless. But the resolution still carries harmful implications: It allows the moral musings of one misguided lawmaker, backed up by nothing more than pseudoscience, to be presented as fact in the legal code.
There are two public health issues that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was evidently trying to address: the dangers of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and the high number of unplanned pregnancies in this country. By not keeping them separate, the agency effectively reduced all women to nothing more than fetus-vessels-in-waiting.
Spread by a mosquito that thrives in tropical climates, the Zika virus is hard to prevent; so hard, in fact, that some governments are asking women not to get pregnant until they have the outbreak under control.
This week in sex: Tinder adds an STI test locator, research shows a connection between HPV and oral cancer, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help with erectile issues, and the Brits weigh in on the ideal number of past sexual partners.
This Week In Sex: Sex education gets controversial in Omaha, senior men need a refresher course on HIV risk, a new sex toy helps strengthen pelvic floor muscles, and NYC's masturbation booth is just a marketing gimmick.
A recent Maxim article warned readers that masturbation may be harmful in the long run if they do it too often or the wrong way. Thankfully, the article is based on pseudoscience and misunderstandings—there is no reason to stop the activity.
As the nation’s official agency charged with protecting public health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's mission is to conduct "critical science" and provide "health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats." Except, apparently, when it comes to gun violence.
This week is all about condoms: Chicago launches a new condom promotion campaign, Australian researchers test a new condom material, kids take a potentially dangerous condom challenge, and Star Wars condoms cover your "lightsaber."
Data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that HIV diagnoses have declined in the past decade especially among heterosexual people, injecting drug users, and Black women.
Major insurance provider Prudential announced on World AIDS Day, December 1, that it would offer ten- and 15-year convertible term policies to HIV-positive people who meet certain health qualifications.
Pharmaceutical company Turing did not quite follow through on its promise of a "modest" price drop for a drug to treat an infection that can be life-threatening in those with HIV or AIDS. Competitors have decided to offer a $1 alternative.
This week, research shows that sex once a week helps with happiness, the Cleveland Clinic searches for women who want uterine transplants, and a Mississippi teacher is suspended when a student does a condom demonstration in class.
The American Cancer Society recently released new guidelines, raising the minimum age of regular mammograms for women with no known risk factors from 40 to 45. While these guidelines may make sense when you look at population statistics as a whole, on an anecdotal level, they alarmed me as a 43-year-old.
This week, a Spanish town did not actually hold a clitoris festival, an economic analysis fears that as global temperatures rise our sex lives (and birth rates) will suffer, and new research suggests veterans suffer from sexual dysfunction.
New data shows there has been a 44 percent decrease in the maternal mortality rate worldwide over the last 25 years—but in the United States, along with 12 other countries, maternal mortality rates rose during this period.
Today, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy is asking us to take a moment and thank birth control for “all that it makes possible for individuals and society.” I took more than 5,000 birth control pills in my life, and I can think of a number of reasons why I’m thankful to each and every one of them.
A new report by the World Health Organization estimates that two out of three adults under the age of 50 had herpes simplex virus 1 in 2012. That’s 3.7 billion people worldwide who are infected. But that doesn't mean it's time to panic.
The Department of Defense found that there has been a 41 percent increase in syphilis cases among active service members since 2010. A report from the agency suggests the military should create targeted prevention campaigns.
A study found that doctors don’t strongly recommend the vaccine, don’t discuss it in a timely manner, and tend to suggest it for young people they perceive to be at risk rather than for all girls and boys.
The need for emergency contraception among women who rely on the Indian Health Service is clear. Some Native American women are in rural areas where the next-closest pharmacy may be hundreds of miles away, and they may not have transportation.
We regularly learn about how research is progressing toward creating alternative forms of reversible contraception for men that include pills, shots, or other devices. Despite the flurry of excitement these news pieces generate, it seems we are still quite far from mass-marketed male birth control.
Students at the University of Texas Austin plan to protest a new law that allows guns into campus buildings by carrying dildos to class. They hope to point out the absurdity of allowing guns in classrooms while not allowing "obscene" material like dildos. It's a disconnect worth looking into.
The new law spells out what young people across the state must learn and includes information about “sexual harassment, sexual assault, adolescent relationship abuse, intimate partner violence, and sex trafficking.”
A mom in South Carolina was shocked to learn that what young people in her state hear about homosexuality in schools is biased, intolerant, and downright homophobic. But her state is not alone: At least eight states have laws that require teachers to present biased information about same-sex relationships.
"The reality is, the official policy of the Vatican dating back to 1986 is that any group that does not adhere to official Catholic teaching on homosexuality cannot use church space," said the group's executive director.
Republican candidates took on vaccines in Wednesday night's debate. They failed to clarify falsehoods, spouted misinformation, and put their own political aspirations ahead of the needs of young people in this country.
The old trope of "you've had sex with everyone your partner has had sex with and everyone their partners had sex with" got a fancy website this week. But the math is useless, unless your goal is to shame someone for their sex life.
A Michigan judge threw the book at 19-year-old Zachery Anderson after he admitted to having sex with a 14-year-old girl who claimed to be 17 at the time. This case show us how laws meant to protect children from predators can be used to punish teens for having consensual sex.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data last week showing that the overall rates of HPV vaccine increased only slightly between 2013 and 2014 but some communities of color made large strides in vaccinating their young people.
Researchers from France recently presented the results of a case in which a girl born with HIV who was treated early in life has remained in remission without medication for 12 years. Experts are excited but cautious because similar cases have ended with HIV being detected in patients blood again.
One Utah program makes students choose to promise to uphold several flawed statements on abstinence. I would love to believe that the students would be brave enough to challenge what’s written on the page, but just in case, I decided to explain why some of the most outrageous statements just don't make sense.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data Wednesday that shows fewer teens, especially younger teens, are having sex, and the majority of those who become sexually active use contraception the first time they have sex.
New practice guidelines mean that young women are getting Pap tests later and less often. A new study finds that this has inadvertently lead to fewer chlamydia screenings in the very age group most at risk for this sexually transmitted infection.
Last week, the media went wild discussing a condom that could change colors if it came in contact with an STI. Not only is this condom chameleon just an idea at this point, it might not be the best idea.
The Rhode Island Department of Health recently announced that rates of HIV, gonorrhea, and syphilis are up across the state. Though media reports focused on the role of hook-up apps, such as Tinder and Grindr, the department attributes the rise to both better testing and a host of high-risk behaviors.
This week, a study finds women are just as willing as men to have sex with a stranger, seniors in Arizona face rising rates of sexually transmitted infections, and a few cups of coffee a day may keep erectile dysfunction away.
In what advocates are calling an historic ruling, a judge in Fresno County, California, ruled last week that a lawsuit against the Clovis Unified School District’s abstinence-focused sex education program was justified because it was out of compliance with the state’s law.