Sunday, August 21, 2016

Trade Secrets - Our Bodies

Post reproduced from Trade Secrets: Health and Safety in the Sex Industry which was published in BC, Canada in 2009. All advice given in these posts comes from sex industry workers who shared their experience and knowledge for this guide.

The Naked Truth will occasionally feature one section from the guide. This week's post is from Chapter Six: Our Bodies.

Our Bodies
“‘Selling our Bodies’ is a slang term used by many people who oppose our industry. But for many of us, we do not feel we are selling our bodies. No one purchases and walks away with our bodies (or our souls). We are not commodities – our services are what we sell.”

Information in this chapter was taken from contributors to Trade Secrets, the BC Centre for Disease Control STI/HIV Program, Stella’s “Dope Guide,” and Stella’s “Dear Client” handbook.

Our bodies are very important in this business. How we look and even our ability to do this work depends upon us caring for our bodies. This chapter will cover common issues and their remedies, STI’s and condom use, genital health, working with bodily fluids and wastes, accessing health services, alternative health, beauty secrets, plastic surgery, and drugs and alcohol.

Prevention and Rehabilitation

“I try to stretch at least once a day and drink lots of water, especially if the bar is hot and I'm sweating a lot, to keep muscle stiffness to a minimum. I also try to wear track pants when I'm hanging out in the dressing room to keep my muscles warm.”

A good thing to have on hand at any place of business is a first aid kit. It’s even better if some or all workers have taken a first aid course. Make sure there is always a phone nearby in case of emergencies.

To prevent many illnesses, wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Antibacterial cleansers are okay but they dry out your skin. Use clean towels and linens.


Buy food before anything (clothes, drugs). A full stomach helps us make safer, more logical choices.

Stay away from fast food and excess starches and desserts. Try to eat mostly fruit, veggies, and meat with a little dairy. If you like alcohol, white wine and vodka are leaner choices than beer or sugary cocktails.

Try to cook your own food as much as possible. Drink lots of water. And take vitamins.

FiberOne products are a popular and healthy choice for when you're in a hurry. Steamed non-fat milk is a good low-calorie drink.

Bring a blender and green whole food smoothie powder on the road. Always carry oregano oil in case something is going around.


Try to ensure you are getting regular and adequate sleep. It not only makes you look better when you’re rested, but your body heals faster while you’re sleeping too.


Your body needs to stretch and use its muscles. Some of your muscles are overused in this work. Stretching not only helps ease and prevent overuse injuries, but also promotes a leaner frame, more flexibility, and increased peace of mind.

Cardio exercise promotes better circulation, stronger muscles, and increases endurance. Resistance training builds muscles, slows and even reverses the decline in muscle mass, bone density, and strength that come with aging.

Common Issues and Remedies

No matter what area of the sex industry you work in, your body is at risk of physical injury. So, it is very important to take precautions against injury that could leave you unable to work.

Common injuries for sex industry workers are: over-use disorders, water on the knee (from kneeling and crawling), foot problems (from wearing stilettos), accidents that happen from exertion (popping a hip out), carpal tunnel syndrome, back problems, and pulled muscles.

You should stretch before and after work. Use ice on sore, bruised, or swollen body parts.

When you are hurt or sick, take time off work, if possible. If you’re an exotic dancer, do lazier shows. Stick to positions and services that do not aggravate the illness or injury. Learn ways to perform your services without re-injuring body parts that are susceptible.

Bursitis/water on the knee comes from putting too much pressure directly on your kneecaps. If this happens to you, keep your knee wrapped tightly in a tensor bandage and elevated as much as possible during the day and in bed at night. You can also apply a product called Traumeel (a topical anti-inflammatory cream, available at health food stores) to help the healing process.

Staph Infection

A staph infection is a bacterial skin infection. It can give a person crusty, oozing sores on the skin. Staphylococci are very common bacteria found all over the place and very often on healthy people's skin, in their noses, etc. But, when a person's immune system is run down, or they have a wound or break in the skin, staph has an opportunity to grow and cause problems.

Many staph infections clear up on their own or can be easily dealt with through a course of antibiotics. There are some staph bacteria that are resistant to most antibiotics, called MRSA, and they are harder to treat. Good handwashing/ showering can help prevent staph. So can covering any cuts or sores before skin-to-skin contact.


Allergy to latex is often developed through repeated exposure. So if you used to be fine with latex condoms, but you aren’t now – you may have obtained the allergy from using them.
There are "latex-free" hypo-allergenic condoms made from polyurethane and other materials that offer the same protection against STIs as latex condoms. You can find them at most pharmacies.

The same applies for gloves made with Nitrile. They will not cause an allergic reaction. Ensure that the gloves you use do not have too much powder as this can cause friction and irritation.
If you suspect you are allergic to lube, check for spermicide. It is very common for spermicide to cause allergic reactions. If there is no spermicide in the lubrication, try to stick with water-based lubricants, which are least likely to cause irritation.

Many people are also allergic to massage oils. Natural oils and powders are preferable in these instances.

Symptoms of Allergic Reaction to Condoms, Lubes, and Sex toys

  • Skin irritation
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Redness


Keeping your feet looking beautiful can be a challenge when you’re stuffing them into stilettos every day. It’s even more important to keep them working properly, so you can still use them when you’re done this job.

Here is some advice for taking care of your feet:

  • Wear heels only when working.
  • Try to wear comfortable shoes.
  • Put lotion on them with your socks overtop to soak the moisture in. Lube works too if you don’t have lotion.
  • Soak them in Epsom salts.
  • Pedicures for calluses.
  • Wear runners when you’re not working.
  • Use pumice stones and Johnson’s Foot Soap.
  • Buy the right size shoes; never settle for a size too small. It will give you more time on your feet.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s)

“No amount of money can replace your life. Men like to offer more money for no condom. Be healthy and stay safe.” 
If you provide sexual services that involve contact between you and your client, you must take precautions to prevent STI transmission. STI’s are formerly known as “sexually transmitted diseases” or “STD”’s.

The following information comes directly from two sources: Stella’s “Dear Client” handbook, and the BC Centre for Disease Control.


Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is characterized by a set of symptoms provoked by a virus that we call the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks the immune system (the body’s natural defense system).

HIV can be transmitted through blood, sperm, pre-ejaculatory fluid, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. These biological fluids need to be infected by HIV, then enter into contact with an opening on the skin where it can reach a non-infected person’s blood to make transmission possible.

The activities that put a person at risk for HIV are:
- vaginal or anal penetration without a condom;
- sharing dildos or sex toys without using condoms;
- sharing needles or injection materials (syringes, spoons, filters, etc);
- tattooing or body piercing equipment that is not sterilized.

HIV can be present in the body for years before it shows symptoms. These symptoms occur in various and general ways: fever, night sweats, major weight loss, persistent diarrhea, intense and inexplicable fatigue, cough, and skin rashes.

After HIV has reached the AIDS phase, the immune system becomes very weak and cannot defend itself from simple infections. These infections take advantage of the weakness of the immune system and settle in the body. This is why we call them opportunistic infections. These can be pneumonia, toxoplasmosis or an infection of the brain membrane, or neurological problems. There are very strong medications that slow down the replication of the virus and delay the arrival of the AIDS phase. The result: a sero-positive person can live longer.

However, these medications are extremely costly and carry severe side effects. As well, taking these medications is very complicated. In reality, we are far away from any a “miracle pill”. These medications only slow down the progression of the disease.

Two HIV+ people having sex should still be using condoms to avoid catching another strain of HIV, or one that is resistant to medications. It can make treatment much more difficult and complicated to catch another strain.

It is easier for HIV positive folks to catch other STI's like syphilis, chlamydia, etc, and these infections can be more severe. There has been an increase in HIV positive men who have sex with men catching Hep C through sex. It’s a good idea for HIV+ folks to still get regular STI checks.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

HPV is a widespread viral infection. In Canada, we estimate that between 20 and 40% of the sexually active population carries HPV.

There are different types of HPV. The most frequent is warts—highly contagious genital warts that are transmitted through direct contact. For example, if there are warts present on the vulva or the inside of the vagina, the transmission to the penis is very likely if there is vaginal penetration.

Warts can also be transmitted by other body parts (fingers, mouth, etc.), or by sex toys that have been in contact with warts. Transmission can also take place through infected genital secretions (pre-ejaculatory liquid, sperm, vaginal secretions), even without penetration.

The shape, size, and colour of warts can vary: they can resemble little cauliflowers, a rooster’s comb, small pimples, or flat lesions, with a head ranging from the size of a hairpin or a nut. They can be pink, red, or the same colour as the skin. Warts can be found at the head of the penis, the shaft of the penis, the testicles, on the inside or the outside of the vagina or anus, in the pubic area, or more rarely in the mouth and on the lips. They can cause an irritating sensation, itching or pain.

If you have symptoms similar to the ones listed here, it is essential that you see a doctor. However, research the vaccine thoroughly before consenting to be immunized. Some countries have pulled the HPV vaccine from their schedules due to high rates of adverse reactions.


There are two different types of herpes that affect the mouth and the lips (cold sores); and the penis, the vagina, and the anus (genital herpes). Herpes creates lesions, small ulcers or sensitive wounds that are painful to the touch. The herpes virus is sexually transmitted through direct contact with a lesion through oral, vaginal, or anal sex. For example, during oral sex, a cold sore on the mouth can transmit the herpes virus to the penis. The reverse is also true: herpes on the penis can transmit to the lips of a person who is giving fellatio.

Herpes can also be transmitted if your fingers or hands have been in touch with a lesion and they then touch your partner’s genitals, anus, or mouth. Even if there are no lesions, the risk still exists, because the herpes virus remains in the body for life. There are medications to reduce the intensity and time duration of symptoms of herpes, but they do not eliminate the virus in the body. It is essential to see a doctor if you have any of the herpes symptoms mentioned above.

Hepatitis A and B

Hepatitis is a disease of the liver. Symptoms include yellow-coloured eyes and skin, diarrhea and dark urine, stomachaches, appetite loss, and headaches.

The Hepatitis A virus can be found in feces and can be transmitted through sex that involves licking the anus, penis, or a toy that has been in contact with the anus.

Scat play is a high-risk activity for catching Hepatitis A. As well, if the client or worker does not wash hands after using the washroom, feces particles can remain on the hands and infect someone with Hep A.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through sperm and vaginal secretions. Sexual activities that are most likely to transmit Hepatitis B are the same as the ones that transmit HIV: vaginal or anal penetration without a condom and sharing dildos or sex toys. Hepatitis B is also transmitted through blood and saliva by sharing syringes, razors, toothbrushes, non-sterilized needles for tattooing and body piercing, etc.

Do not consent to vaccinations without extensive research first. Hepatitis A and B often resolve themselves without symptoms or with minor symptoms only, whereas risks with vaccines may be higher, especially if you have allergies or other health conditions already.

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)

HCV is a virus that attacks the liver, causing inflammation of the liver. Because the liver performs many important body functions, this can have a large effect on health and quality of life. HCV is passed by blood-to-blood contact, like sharing needles, tattoo equipment, razors or toothbrushes.

HCV is quite a hardy virus and can live outside the body (on a needle, razor, etc) for days. HCV is very common in injection drug users. There has been some sexual transmission of HCV, especially if sex involves blood (sex during menstrual period, rough sex, fisting).

People with HCV should use condoms. There has recently been a rise in HIV positive men who have sex with men getting HCV from rough sex or group sex.

Twenty-five percent of people who get HCV get rid of the virus on their own. There is a test to find out if this is what happened to your HCV. People with HCV should avoid alcohol, eat a balanced diet, and have regular monitoring with a doctor.

There is a treatment for HCV. It takes six months to one year and can be tough to get through but it usually works. You cannot get immune to HCV. There is no vaccine and even people who have had the virus in the past have no protection from getting it again, or getting a second strain.

Five percent of HCV positive pregnant women give HCV to their babies.


After the discovery of penicillin in 1943, syphilis had nearly disappeared. Unfortunately, over the past years, syphilis has been on the rise.

This infection is transmitted through oral, vaginal and anal sex. Transmission of syphilis through oral sex is much more common than with HIV. Syphilis has various symptoms throughout its stages of development. These symptoms can easily go unnoticed. In the first stage, syphilis causes a painless ulcer that, for men, can be found on the head of the penis, on the shaft of the penis, the base of the penis, or the pubic area. Indeed, it can be found anywhere on the body of a man or a woman: anus, rectum, lips, vulva, vagina, tongue, tonsils or throat.

The symptoms go away on their own after a few weeks, even without treatment, but the infection continues to progress and the individual is still contagious. Undiagnosed and untreated, syphilis continues to evolve and can create severe complications that can result in infertility, dementia, and cardiac problems. Only a blood test can determine the presence of syphilis. Speak with your doctor. Syphilis is easily treated with antibiotics.

Gonorrhea and Chlamydia

These STIs have the same method of transmission and present the same symptoms. Gonorrhea and chlamydia can be transmitted through oral sex or during vaginal and anal penetration. Gonorrhea is frequently transmitted through oral sex. Chlamydia does not have symptoms in 70% of infected people (7 out of 10 infected people).

Gonorrhea shows more symptoms in people (9 out of 10 infected people), but often it does not show symptoms if it is in the throat or the anus. When they do appear, the major symptoms are:

- green or yellowish discharge from the penis, usually accompanied by pain;
- burning sensation while urinating;
- pain around the testicles or swelling of the testicles.

If the infection is located in the throat or the anus (rectum) and there are symptoms (though this is rare), they will be: a pins and needles sensation, discharge, pus, pain or spots of blood.

Because a lot of people don’t show symptoms and do not know that they are infected, it is recommended that you take regular tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia. To take a test, consult your doctor. Do not forget to ask for a test in your throat and anus. These tests (specifically the tests in the urethra, the path from which both men urinate and ejaculate, and in anus test) can be unpleasant and uncomfortable. Left untreated, these infections can cause a lot of complications and infertility. Once discovered, they are easily treatable with antibiotics.

Risks of Bareback Blow Jobs and Deep French-kissing

BBBJ: Syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea, low but possible risk for HIV (especially if you have sores in the mouth, recent toothbrushing or flossing.)

Deep French-kissing: Herpes, Possible risk for syphilis.

Risks of Analingus and/or Anal Sex: Person performing analingus can get Hepatitis A, or pick up bacteria that cause gastro-intestinal problems. Herpes and syphilis can also be transmitted to either partner this way. Use a barrier and wash well.

Anal sex is a risk for HIV, Herpes, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HPV, and Hepatitis B. The person receiving (the bottom) in anal sex is at more risk for HIV. Use condoms.

Infections and How They’re Spread

Genital skin-to-skin contact: Herpes, HPV (the virus that can cause genital warts, or lead to cervical cancer), syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia

Any body part skin-to-skin: Staph, crabs, scabies

Saliva: Not many STI's are spread by saliva. There is a very low risk of passing Hep B through saliva. It also is possible that Herpes may be transmitted by saliva. Meningitis and Mono can be passed this way, as well as the common cold, flu, and strep-throat.

Semen and vaginal fluid: HIV, Hep B

Blood: HIV, Hepatitis B and C

Airborne: Tuberculosis, colds and flu.

STI Testing Options

Blood test: Will test for HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis. Usually takes a week or two for results. These tests are not done automatically whenever you do a blood test. Ask for them. There is a rapid test for HIV available now. It can tell you your HIV result in one minute. BUT this test still has a 3-month window period like the regular HIV test. You may still need to get a blood draw done for syphilis/ hepatitis.

Urine test: Will test for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea in men. It's important not to pee for two hours before this test. Women who don’t want a pelvic exam can also request a pee test for gonorrhea and Chlamydia, but it’s not as accurate as the pelvic.

Pelvic exams: Can test for cervical cancer (the “pap” test), and for gonorrhea, Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, yeast, and bacterial vaginosis. These tests are not always done with a pap test. Again, ask for STI tests.

If you have anal or oral sex you may also want to get swabs from your throat and rectum to test for STI’s there.

Guys do not usually need the dreaded urethral swab anymore.

Window periods
(time between catching an infection and showing positive on a test)

HIV - 100% in 3 months, 80% in 6 weeks.
Syphilis - 9-90 days
Hep C - 4-6 months
Chlamydia – 2-6 wks
Gonorrhea - 2 wks to 2 months
Herpes – 3 months on a blood test (this test is not done often as almost everyone is positive)

This can become a little complicated, as there are window periods and incubation periods, which is the time between infection and symptoms. The bottom line is that many STIs never show symptoms, and the best practice is to get routine testing every few months in order to cover possible window periods. Sex workers should test three to four times a year.

If you have a risk (like a condom break), get tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea in two weeks, and get a blood test for HIV and syphilis in three months.

Mandatory STI Testing – Adult Film and Sex Work

Depending on the area of the sex industry you work in, you may be subject to mandatory STI testing from your employer. Some people consider this a violation of their rights because the workers are being tested when it is the patrons who request unsafe sex. Others believe it is responsible management of a business with obvious risks.

Regardless of how you feel about it, your employer may require it of you if you are a sex worker or you work in adult film. This is not a requirement of exotic dancers or other workers (peep shows, phone sex operators, etc) who generally do not have intimate contact with clients or colleagues in the course of their working days.

In Adult Film, you can decide to refuse to do non-condom scenes. That is your right at all times.

Interesting Condom Facts

You have just read in the previous section that there are many types of STIs that are widespread and can be easily transmitted through unprotected oral, vaginal and anal sex. It is in your best interest to protect yourself. To do this, using a condom is essential.

In theory, putting a condom on is simple. In practice, however it can be different. The packaging of the condom does not always open easily; you may unroll the condom on the wrong side, etc.

The best way for a man to get used to condoms, is to use a condom a few times during masturbation. The idea is not to always masturbate with a condom, but to do this a few times to give yourself a chance to get comfortable with a little bit of latex.

To use a condom correctly:

  • Check the expiry date on the package of the condom. If the expiry date has passed, throw it out.
  • Check to see if there is air in the condom package. If there is no air, there is a good chance that the condom is damaged. Throw it out and take another one.
  • Open the package with care, from the middle. Do not use your teeth or scissors to open it.
  • Take the condom by the tip (closed tip). Ensure that it is on the right side: the edge to unroll needs to be on the outside.
  • You can put one or two drops of lubricant on the inside of the condom, which will make it more comfortable and increase your sensation.
  • Pinch the closed tip of the condom to let out any air before unrolling the condom on the penis. This step is very important and often neglected. If you don’t do this it can often cause a break in the condom. If there is air that stays in the tip of the condom, the condom can burst.
  • If you are not circumcised, pull back the skin that covers the head of the penis until the penis head is well exposed.
  • Put the condom on the head of the penis, while still pinching the tip of the condom, and slowly unroll the condom to the base of the penis.
  • If you think you have done it wrong, take the condom off and start with a fresh and new one.
  • Use water-based lubricant on the outside of the condom for vaginal and anal penetration. This will cause less friction and reduce the risk of the condom breaking. And it feels really good.
  • After having ejaculated, pull out immediately (slowly). Take the condom from the base of the penis (the round side) while pulling out to ensure that it doesn’t fall off in your partner’s vagina or anus. And pay attention so that nothing spills out while you are taking it off.

Best Practices from Worker’s Across Canada

  • Using a condom will allow you to explore your sexuality without worry and totally let yourself go. It also creates less mess.
  • Do not keep condoms in your pockets, your wallet or other places where there is risk of movement or heat exposure that may result in damage
  • Pay attention to rings, nails, and body piercings while you handle a condom.
  • Never use a condom twice.
  • Do not use one condom on the top of another. This can cause friction and increase the risk of breakage.
  • Non-lubricated condoms and flavoured fruit or mint condoms are ideal for oral sex.
  • If you use non-lubricated condoms for penetration, put a water-based lubricant on the outside.
  • Do not use fruit or mint-flavoured condoms for vaginal or anal sex; the flavouring they contain may cause irritation.
  • Oil-based lubricants can seriously damage condoms and should not be used. Also, DO NOT use the following oil-based products as lubricants: Vaseline, topical creams, kitchen oil, massage oils, and hand creams.
  • The base of the penis is wider than the top, so a condom can roll up. To prevent rolling up, use a cock ring over the condom at the base of the penis. If a cock ring is not available, you can also break another condom and leave it rolled up, then use it as a cock ring.
  • Use lube on the outside of condom and a tiny bit in the tip on the inside to prevent the condom from breaking. Too much lube on the inside of the condom can cause it to slide off.
  • The oil in lipstick can weaken a condom.
  • When applying the condom, do a visual exam of other person (discreetly)- do while playing, as foreplay.

Penis Health

All males should wear breathable underwear and pants. Spend some time naked to air out your genitals. Don’t use harsh soaps or wash obsessively.

Uncircumcised men should make sure to wash under the foreskin and dry well afterward. Sometimes, uncircumcised guys get yeast overgrowth under the foreskin, causing itching and rash. Washing and drying well can help prevent this. It can help to use a hair dryer on "low" to dry your genitals after a shower.

Using meds to maintain an erection

It is dangerous to have an erection for too long. The medication someone has been given will state when it is necessary to go to the doctor if the erection does not go away. Many people will buy drugs like Viagra over the internet. This is not recommended as you may have health conditions or be on medications that would make using the drug dangerous.


Some m2f trans workers “tuck” to appear more like a woman. To tuck, a person inserts the testicles inside the open sockets of the pelvis and pulls the penis back towards the back applying tape to secure it. A good tight pair of supporting pantyhose will complete the look by holding everything firmly in place. Every apparatus is different so techniques vary. Try a few different approaches to find what works for you.

Vaginal Health

Pap tests and HPV facts

A pap test is when a doctor or nurse takes a sample of cells from the cervix during a pelvic exam. This is to check for changes to the cells that could lead to cancer of the cervix. Cervical cancer can be treated very effectively if it is detected early, which is why every woman should get regular pap testing.

Strictly speaking, a "pap" test is only to check for cancer, not STI's. If you want STI tests at the same time, you should ask for them specifically. Similarly, if you get tested at an STI clinic, they may or may not do the pap test for cancer at that time - you should ask if you need one done.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is one of the major causes of cervical cancer. It is a very common sexually transmitted infection, spread by skin-to-skin contact. Almost everyone who has had sex has probably been exposed to one form or another of HPV.

Some strains of HPV just cause genital warts, which are odd-looking but not otherwise dangerous. There are other strains of HPV that do not cause any visible signs or symptoms, but can lead to cervical cancer. Every female who is sexually active should have yearly paps because there's no other way to detect cervical cancer early.

Regular pap smears are the most effective way to prevent cervical cancer. More effective than the vaccine.

Vaginosis and Yeast Infections

Yeast infections and Vaginosis are both caused by an imbalance of the normal microbes in your vagina. They are not usually sexually transmitted but can be annoying. Some women mistake STI symptoms for a yeast infection. If you have symptoms, get tested.

Working While Pregnant

The best thing you can do for your unborn child is get regular prenatal care and eat well. Even if you are using drugs, it is really important to get connected to a clinic.

The reason why prenatal care is important is if there is an emergency, staff at the hospital need to know how far along you are (based on past ultrasound results) and if any other issues have been identified by a doctor or midwife.

When doing sex work, risk to an unborn child would be from the mother contracting a sexually transmitted infection, as a number of infections can pass from the mother to the baby.

Some STI’s can affect the development of the baby while it is in the mother, while others can affect the baby during the process of giving birth.

Hepatitis B is an infection that passes easily from mother to child.

Getting chlamydia or gonorrhea on the cervix can affect the baby while giving birth by possibly causing blindness if the baby got it and was not treated. They can also cause premature birth or premature rupture of the membranes for the mother.

Syphilis is one that can kill the child if left untreated. This is one of the STI’s that can affect the development of the baby. You can get syphilis from giving BJ’s.

Trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis can also be related to premature rupture of the membranes.

HIV is another infection that can be passed to the child before or during delivery. If the healthcare team knows beforehand they can really reduce the chances of this happening.

Herpes: The biggest concern is possible transmission of herpes to the baby. This is called neonatal herpes.

If a person already has genital herpes (type 1 or type 2) there would be a low chance of passing it to the baby. If you are having an outbreak at the time of delivery, your doctor will likely decide to do a C-section.

The biggest risk would be if you had a primary (for the first time) genital herpes outbreak (type 1 or type 2) in your last trimester (last 3 months). If this happens there is 30-50% chance herpes will be passed to the baby.

Reducing Risks While Pregnant

You can reduce your risk of contracting an STI by having different types of sex with a condom, like oral (CBJ), hand job, tit fucking (Russian).

Get tested regularly. If you are working, you need to test more often than other women – try every three months.

Avoid contact to the vagina as much as possible (with mouth and genitals).

It may be worthwhile getting a blood test for herpes to see if you are at risk. This test may not be available everywhere yet.

Find a good doctor or midwife you can be honest with so they can give the appropriate care. If you live in BC and need help finding a health person, contact the BC Centre for Disease Control STI/HIV Outreach Program.

Treat Your Vagina Well

Wear cotton underwear. Spend some time everyday with no underwear on (like when you sleep). Avoid douching. Avoid any perfumed product or soap on your genitals. Wash with warm water. Wear breathable (cotton) panties and pants (avoid PVC, polyester, etc.).

Use water-based lube if you need it so you don't irritate the sensitive skin inside your vagina. Wash hands, body parts, and sex toys before inserting them in the vagina. Bathe in Epson salts rather than scented or perfumed bubble bath. Don't use flavoured condoms/ lubes for intercourse - the sugar feeds yeast in your vagina. Get tested.

Vaginal Tips From Other Women in the Industry:

If your vagina is doing a lot of the work, you can start to hurt down there. To ease your discomfort:

  • Take hot baths.
  • Take a break from vaginal services (whether it’s sex work or Ping-Pong ball shooting).
  • Eat yoghurt. If you don’t like yoghurt, there is probiotic milk available in many grocery stores or acidophilus capsules found in the vitamin department.
  • Take cranberry pills or drink cranberry juice for urinary tract infections.
  • Douche with plain yoghurt about once a month to restore your body’s natural ph balance.

Working During Menstruation

There are many ways to work during menstruation. For activities that do not involve intercourse, cut off the tampon string and push the tampon way up or use a feminine cup ( If you are engaging in intercourse, there are several options:

  • Have sex while using a sea sponge. Men don’t even notice.
  • Work on light days using red coloured condoms and lower the lighting.
  • Use birth control pills that you can take back-to-back to avoid a period. (May have light spotting.)
  • Offer other sexual activities, such as oral, during your period.
  • Use round, flat make-up sponges (at least two).
  • Exotic dancers should change their tampons immediately before each show, and refrain from wearing light-coloured costumes if there's a possibility of leaking.

Drink lots of water. Take Ibuprofen for cramps and bloating. And don’t make any major decisions during this time. ;)

Fake Lay

“I used a ‘fake lay’ technique quite a bit while working because I didn’t want to have intercourse with my clients. It was a risk, because if the client caught on, it would lead to conflict. I had to use good judgment on which clients I would try to deceive like that.”

Fake Lay is when a worker pretends to have anal, vaginal or oral sex but instead uses hand manipulation or manipulation by some other body part.

Fake Anal - Worker lies on stomach and client mounts from behind. Worker reaches around to "guide" the penis in but instead squeezes their bum cheeks together hard around the penis simulating anal sex yet with no penetration.

Fake Vaginal - Standing doggie style is the best for this. Worker bends over and reaches between legs to "guide" the penis in. Instead, the worker uses her hand and outer pussy lips to manipulate the penis squeezing her legs together tight to increase pressure on the penis simulating vaginal sex with no penetration.

Fake Oral - Often performed by one worker on another. One worker will have long hair or wear a wig. One worker lies on their back and the worker with the wig or long hair drags their hair over the pelvic area of their co-worker obscuring a client’s view of the sexual act. The long-haired worker then simulates movements related to oral sex but with no actual oral sex occurring.

Anal Health

“My perineum used to get kind of sore and abraded from too much...well, banging! And I found witch hazel was good for soothing the area.”

Regular use of laxatives or enemas can cause dependence of the bowel on them. A healthy person can safely do a self-enema once a week.

If you have problems with constipation or fissures, try taking Metamucil daily to provide more fibre in your diet. Fibre will soften your stools, enable you to be regular, and diminish bloating.

Working with Bodily Fluids and Wastes

When working with bodily fluids and wastes (blood, urine, feces, semen, female ejaculate), it is clearly important to try and eliminate any kind of contact with them. We want to avoid exposing ourselves to diseases, viruses, and bacteria. The following information comes from a fetish worker experienced in working safely with bodily fluids and wastes.

Safe Scatology

Some like to pretend it does not exist, but scat work is much more popular than most people realize. It is important to know what you’re doing when dealing with human feces.

How to take a poo on command:

  • Tell client he needs to book a day in advance so you can prepare.
  • Eat a huge dinner, and when you wake up eat a huge breakfast.
  • Make an extra strong pot of coffee, and start drinking 30-60 minutes before your client arrives. (Some service providers poop from taking a couple shots of alcohol. I use coffee.) The strong coffee on an extremely full stomach makes me take a big poop.
  • Place your client on a tarp on the floor, or make him lay down in the shower/bathtub for easy clean-up.


  • Most scat (brown showers) clients like long, hard poos.
  • Taking laxatives/suppositories changes the natural smell, and it ends up being runny. Not recommended.
  • If you are doing enemas, you should use two cups of water, hold it in a couple minutes and massage your tummy, then release the watery part into the toilet. The first part that gets expelled is always runny. Quickly run and stand over the client so the harder poop lands on their body upon release. The water stimulates the bowels to expel the harder poop.


  • Always charge extra money, and tell them they are paying for the service, not your time. This is due to the odor factor. It is not easy hanging around in poo smell. Once you've pooped, you can leave the room.
  • You can still talk dirty from the next room to get him to cum. Or tell him to tell you how much he loves your poop. This will get him off faster.
  • Get your Hepatitis shots, and tell your client to do so as well.
  • Some clients eat poop. This is not a safe activity, although it is common. You might try telling them to grab poop and rub it all over themselves to distract them from eating it. However, clients that are into eating it will likely do so regardless.
  • Some men fantasize about scat, or watch lots of scat porn, but once they come in for a session, they realize it's not what they imagined it to be. Be prepared to be non-judgmental and supportive if they get upset, grossed out, or sick. Have mouthwash and clean drinking water available.
  • Before the session, ask their experience level. Ask what makes them turned on by scat in the first place to delve into their mind and see where the fantasy stems from.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

By Laurel Irons

Disclaimer: The herbal information contained herein is a rough guide only; specific cases vary person-to-person. This information is not intended for self-diagnosis or to replace your usual care. Although uncommon, some therapies, herbs and supplements may cause side effects. Remember, “natural” does not always mean “safe”. Never use essential oils internally. Always consult with a doctor or certified health practitioner before engaging in any treatment.

“Conventional” (or allopathic) medicine means medicine practiced by medical doctors, osteopaths, physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses.

Complementary and alternative medicine (called CAM for short) means medicine used instead of, or in conjunction with, conventional medicine. Also called traditional medicine, folk medicine, and integrative medicine.

CAM includes acupuncture, aromatherapy, ayurveda, biofeedback, chiropractic, energy work, herbs, homeopathic, hypnosis, Indigenous healers, martial arts, massage, medicine wheel, meditation, natural health products (NHPs), naturopathy, prayer, spirituality, therapeutic touch, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), vitamins and supplements, yoga, and much more.

Many of these therapies follow holistic beliefs and techniques. The first theory of holistic health is that everything in our environment contributes to our overall health. The second is that they look at treating the whole person, not just the symptoms.

People in the sex industry may choose to explore these options for a number of reasons. It may be cost-effectiveness, or a reduced feeling of stigma with alternative practitioners, or a feeling of independence and the freedom to choose what is right for us.

Beauty and hygiene

Taking care of ourselves in any way will benefit the whole of our selves, making us appear more youthful and radiant. This follows the central theme of holistic health – the interconnectedness between mind, body and spirit. Internal beauty and well-being is reflected outwardly, no matter our age or state of health.

For those of us desiring extra perks to our appearance, there are several alternatives to prescriptions and surgery that also enhance our entire system. Acupuncture is an effective therapy gaining popularity for weight loss, scars, stretch marks and blemishes.

The best and simplest fixes include proper diet (ask a nutritionist or naturopath to help you create a diet best suited to your needs), regular exercise, and the right exposure to sunlight (not too much or too little!). Regular massage and yoga or tai chi help the body to be lean, limber, tall and radiant.

Mental / Emotional / Spiritual Health

Anxiety, depression, trauma and PTSD can be treated with many techniques other than over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Therapeutic touch, and energetic therapies are commonly used to relieve symptoms of mental and emotional stress. They can be hands-on or hands-off.

Some of the more common ones include acupuncture, massage, reiki, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Deep breathing and meditation greatly assist with clearing the mind and relaxing the body. Yoga and gentle martial arts, such as Tai Chi or Qi Gong are also wonderful.

Many herbs are wonderful for mental and emotional health. For example, St. John’s Wort is a natural alternative to anti-depressants, and Valerian is a natural remedy for anxiety. Paying special attention to diet can also ease symptoms.

If possible, cut back on caffeine, and avoid refined sugar and processed foods, as they greatly contribute to the highs and lows of mood disorders.

Art therapy can be an effective (and less invasive) alternative to talk therapy. Some people enjoy using theatre and re-enactments of stressful moments to help them process tough times, or get stuff out of their system.

DIY(do it yourself) Sexual Health for Men and Women

Our bodies are our most basic resource. Getting to know our body helps us to know what’s going on inside. It helps us be prepared and make informed choices. It helps us balance the demands of our work, and stay on top of any potential or existing health issues.

Women’s Health

  • Know your cycle
  • In this business, if you are a menstruating woman, it is a good idea to know when it is easier to get pregnant, and when you are going to bleed.

Examining the mucus of your vagina is good way to know what's happening with your cycle.

At the beginning and the end of the menstrual cycle when estrogen levels are low, there will be very little mucus. It tends to be sticky, whitish in color, and bitter or salty in taste.

As estrogen levels increase there will be more mucus. It becomes slippery, clear and stretchy with a sweeter taste. If you cover the tips of your fingers with the mucus and pull them apart slowly, long fibers will stretch between them. This type of mucus will be around for about four or five days. You are most fertile during this time, and in the week before and after. Remember that sperm can live in your body for up to a week.

Menstruation usually occurs 12 to 14 days after ovulation. It can be light, moderate or heavy, and typically lasts 3 – 7 days.

There are several healthy alternatives to regular pads and tampons, including cloth pads, The Keeper, and sea sponges. Use an old diaphragm, one without holes in it.

Take a small artist or cosmetic sponge, tie a string to it and insert. Remove when full, rinse and reinsert. When your period is over, soak or wash out the sponge in 1 tsp. white vinegar/l cup water for 15 minutes. Dry and store until next period. Both of these suggestions work as well as a super tampon.

Some women use a speculum to conduct their own gynecological self-exams. With the help of a flashlight and a mirror, you can observe changes in your cervix.

Every body is different, and our cycles can change at different times of the year. Things like diet, stress, caffeine, medications, drugs and alcohol can affect our cycles. To get to know your cycle over time, it may take a few months. Keeping a journal is one way of keeping track.

Herbal Remedies

Disclaimer: These are not intended for self-diagnosis or to replace your usual care. Some herbs may cause side effects. Always consult with a doctor or health practitioner before engaging in any herbal treatment.

Missed and late periods
Herbs that bring on menstruation are called emmenogogues. Examples include parsley, basil, lemon balm, ginger, yarrow, and rosemary. Taking high doses of vitamin C also works. Pennyroyal is a very strong herb and should be used with caution as it can induce abortion and cause nausea and vomiting.

To delay your cycle or decrease flow
Make a tea using any of these: yarrow, horehound, raspberry, black haw, white oak bark, bayberry bark and Shepherd’s Purse. If you can, reduce your intake of aspirin, caffeine, salt, red meat, and estrogen while you are doing this.

Menstrual Cramps
Cramp bark, Skullcap, ginger root, red raspberry leaves, black and blue cohosh.

Always have an infection properly diagnosed before treating it yourself.

Yeast infection
I warn you, these techniques may sound gross, but they work. Remove the skin from a clove of garlic and wrap it in a piece of gauze. Tie the ends with dental floss, leaving a long dangling string at the end, and insert it into the vagina. The string will help you pull it out again. Or fill a plastic tampon applicator (or finger of a rubber glove) with high quality yogurt, freeze it, and insert it the same way. You can also put high quality cottage cheese on a pad and wear it. Change it often, and repeat until symptoms are gone for at least 12 hours. All these methods can stop the itching and draw out the infection.

Other vaginal infections
You can try a herbal douche with a combination of any of these: slippery elm, comfrey, chamomile, golden seal, sage, apple cider vinegar (diluted).

Crushed calendula (marigolds), a paste of goldenseal and myrrh, and aloe vera can all be applied to herpes sores. Take high doses of Vitamin B (or B and C together).

For vaginal itching, try a milk compress, a hot shallow bath, or diluted vinegar on the area.

For vaginal inflammation, put water-based lube on the area. Never use petroleum products (like Vaseline).

Leukorrhea (excessive discharge from the vagina)
Plantain, pipissewa, motherwort, fleabane, prickly ash bark, sumac berries, uva ursi, yarrow, white oak bark, bayberry bark, witch hazel, golden seal, chickweed

Bladder infection
Make a tea with chopped celery leaves or chopped parsley leaves. Drink 6 – 8 cups daily for the first 2 days, then reduce amount daily. Drink for 8 days.
Drink a lot of high quality cranberry juice.

Also, you can purchase D-Mannose at most health food stores to get rid of a Urinary Tract Infection quickly.

Diuretics (to promote urination)
Ground ivy, Cornsilk, Dandelion root & leaves, Buchu leaves, Shepherd's purse, Marshmallow, Wintergreen, Huckleberries, Fleabane, Sassafras, Slippery elm, Cleavers (bedstraw)

Contraception and Abortion
Herbs have been used from time immemorial to control fertility. This knowledge has been passed down among women for centuries. However, with our society’s increased dependence upon modern medicine, traditional knowledge is being lost, and without thorough knowledge and understanding, the use of herbs to induce abortion can be potentially dangerous. Before making any decisions, consult your doctor or health clinic to see how far along you are, and ensure there are no complications (ie. ectopic pregnancy), or a herbal method may not work, and may even be dangerous. Consult your local laws, and know the risks (ie. contraindications, poisoning, incomplete abortion) so you can make an informed decision. If you decide to go the route of natural abortion, consult a certified herbalist, midwife or naturopath to guide and oversee the process, from start to finish (including follow-up). Nourish your body before and after with healthy food, herbal teas, and lots of rest.

Queen Anne’s Lace (aka wild carrot) seeds are a well-known and effective contraceptive. They inhibit the production of progesterone so the uterine lining does not grow enough to support a fertilized egg. One teaspoon of the seeds should be chewed every day from a few days before ovulation until one week after. Chew them thoroughly, even though they taste terrible. Some women also take a teaspoon for six days after unprotected sex. If conception has occurred, Queen Anne’s Lace seeds may aid in inducing a miscarriage.

Other abortifacient herbs include Aloe, Angelica/Dong Quai, Anise, Asafoetida, Ashwaghanda, Bitter Melon, Black & Blue Cohosh, Black Haw, Burra, Carrot, Cotton Root Bark, Dill, Evening Primrose, Goji Berries, Mugwort, Nutmeg, Parsley, Pennyroyal, Pineapple, Rue, Saw Palmetto, Tansy, Thuja (White, yellow and American Cedar), Vitamin C, Wormwood.

If you are pregnant, you need more than herbs. Good pre and post-natal care requires you have adequate diet, rest, exercise, and proper care from a qualified medical practitioner.

Morning Sickness: peach leaves, spearmint, peppermint, wild yam, cloves, alfalfa, anise,

Cramps: wild yam, cramp bark

Uterine tonics: red raspberry, wild yam, lemongrass, sarsaparilla, alfalfa

Anti-miscarriage herbs: black haw, star root

Labour: red raspberry taken throughout the pregnancy will make delivery easier

If you are pregnant, avoid the following:
They can induce abortion; many of them can be poisonous!
Black cohosh, Blue cohosh, Cedar, Celery root, Pennyroyal, Slippery elm, Tansy, Yarrow, Rue, Lovage, Ginger, Cotton root bark, Sweet flag, Mistletoe, Ginseng, Golden seal, Juniper berries, Oil of sassafras, Myrrh, Southernwood, Motherwort, Angelica, Marigold, Bracken fern, Golden ragwort, Mugwort, and any other emmenagogues and abortificants listed anywhere else.

Postpartum tonics: black haw, pennyroyal, squawvine, juniper berries

To increase milk supply: fennel, barley water, saw palmetto berries, maple bark, cotton seed tea, alfalfa, wintergreen, comfrey

To decrease milk supply: red sage rubbed on breast, cinnamon tea, parsley leaf tea, huckleberry tea

Cracked / painful breasts: comfrey root or leaf tea or poultice, mashed potato poultice to draw out inflammation

Sore nipples: rub with balsam fir resin

Engorgement: cabbage leaves placed in bra.

Lots of rest and exercise and a proper diet are important.
General tonics: comfrey, alfalfa, nettle, dandelion root, sage, yarrow, and golden seal.
Take vitamin E for hot flashes and nervousness.

Men’s Health

Prostrate health:
The prostate gland produces a fluid that accompanies the sperm during ejaculation. It sits on top of the urethra (the tube connecting the penis to the bladder), and is normally about the size of a chestnut.

If it becomes inflamed or enlarged, it may exert pressure on the urethra, or block the outlet to the bladder, and obstruct the flow of urine. This can cause interrupted, difficult, urgent or frequent urination, especially at night. Urine trapped in the bladder may become infected and cause a bladder or kidney infection. If infection sets in, burning, blood, and fever may occur. In the severest cases total inability to urinate occurs, sometimes with massive enlargement of the bladder.

Overgrowth of the prostate gland is extremely common in many men as they get older. It does not cause problems for many men.

If you are having any urinary problems, seek medical attention! A small number of enlarged or inflamed prostates may be cancerous.

Useful herbs:
Saw palmetto, red clover, pygeum and stinging nettle. Also: zinc, vitamin B6, lycopene

Genital infections or inflammation

Herbal Genital Soak
Add a teaspoon each of yarrow, lavender and goldenseal (or oregon grape root) to 2 cups boiling water and steep 20 minutes. Strain out herbs, and let cool to a comfortable temperature. Fill a large drinking glass half way with the "tea" and submerge the afflicted area. Soak twice daily, or as often as possible, for at least 5 minutes.

Oil for Genital Infection/Irritation (including “jock itch”)
Combine 1/8 tsp each of lavender and tea tree oil with 1 ounce vegetable oil. Apply to the infected or irritated area at least twice a day.

The best way to prevent and cure this is to keep the area dry. You can also apply the above herbs as a dusting powder, which is much more drying than the oil. If this does not do the trick, try wearing loose-fitting pants that allow air to circulate. To completely get rid of an infection, it is also important to treat it internally. Try the immune system stimulants echinacea and pau d'arco. They can be taken as a tea, pill or tincture. When you think the infection is gone, play it safe and get rechecked by your physician or health practitioner.

Male impotence / erectile dysfuntion
Male impotence can be due to many causes. Drugs and alcohol and poor diet can all be factors. A healthy diet high in high-fiber foods, fruit and lots of lightly cooked vegetables is important. Stay away from rich foods, saturated fats, refined sugars and processed foods. Aphrodisiac foods include chocolate, asparagus, oysters, pine nuts, potatoes, sea cucumber, tomatoes, turtle eggs. Proper exercise and deep breathing will ensure proper circulation. Hydrotherapy (ie. cool showers) is also good for this. If it may be due to emotional or psychological causes, seek a councilor.

Useful herbs:
Bremelanotide, horny goat weed, yohimbine, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng

Note: There are many products out there being sold as “herbal Viagra”- remedies for erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Many of these formulas are still untested, existing mainly to capitalize off a demand for products to enhance sex. Many have dangerous side effects. Do your research before taking any of these products.

Transgender Health

Herbs may be taken on their own or in conjunction with hormone therapy to assist in feminization and masculinization processes. There are herbal and nutritional supplements that you may find help counteract the side effects of hormone therapy and surgery. Use caution and ask a health care provider before using herbs in addition to or in place of hormone therapy.

Feminization herbs:
Some recommended herbs include: fenugreek, fennel, geranium, hops, marjoram, oregano, red clover, sage, wild yam.

Breast enlargement:
Fenugreek, red clover, saw palmetto, Take internally, or try massaging liquid herbal extracts into the breasts.

Masculinizing herbs:
Ginko, ginseng, gotu kola, kava kava, l-arginine, muria pauma, red clover, saw palmetto, tribulus, vitamin B6, zinc

In addition, many forms of CAM, such as homeopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, massage and herbal and nutritional remedies can be used for pre- and post-surgical support.

An Introduction to Herbal Feminization For Transgender Females:
Hot Pants: DIY Gynecology
Prescription for Natural Healing
The Transgender Herb Garden

Beauty Secrets

Here are beauty tips from contributors to Trade Secrets:

  • Put on a little make up even if you don’t have a lot of time.
  • Use baby wipes to wipe down your body after if there’s not enough time to shower.
  • Use deodorant spray on your hair to remove smell of the client.
  • Try not to irritate your skin (it could cause tiny cuts) before sex.
  • Tanning- don’t overdue it. Most guys don’t like dark orange skin.
  • Lube works well for hair gel.
  • If you can’t shave your legs wear high boots. You don’t have to take them off because they’re sexy.
  • Tanning and keeping skin moisturized will conceal cellulite, bruises, and stretch marks.
  • Don't use baby wipes on your ass if zits appear. Instead rinse off after each show / session and before bed with a mild soap and water. Applying zinc cream at night can also help.
  • Try not to flat iron your hair more than once a day - doing so will lead to breakage. Use a good quality serum in your hair prior to flat ironing.
  • Using lip-gloss under lipstick (instead of over) keeps your hair from sticking to your lips.
  • Use waterproof eye makeup if you tend to sweat a lot on stage to keep you from getting 'racoon eyes.'
  • Wear a baseball cap – makes you seem younger and doesn’t matter if your hair gets messed up during a date.
  • Lipstick can be used as eye-shadow and blush.
  • Save coffee grounds after you have made your coffee and store in the fridge. It makes a good exfoliate and can reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Brazilian Wax

A Brazilian Wax is removing all the hair from the top of your vagina to the top of your bum crack. Here are some things to know before getting a brazilian.

When making your appointment, ask these two questions:

  • Do you wax everything from front to back? (Many people use the term “brazilian” to mean waxing it all off. But sometimes the hair around your anus will be left there. Make sure you both agree on the meaning of the word. Also known as “Hollywood,” “full brazilian,” and “full bikini wax.”)
  • Do you use a new wood spatula every time you dip into the wax pot? (If they don’t, you’re taking a health risk going there. Waxing sometimes causes bleeding. Double-dipping potentially exposes clients to each others’ blood and feces.)

Things to Remember:

  • Don’t go the week before or the week of your period because it hurts more during that part of your cycle.
  • Wax every 4 to 6 weeks. Waxing too often can result in uneven hair growths, ingrown hairs and irritated skin.
  • Exfoliate daily for a few days prior to your appointment.
  • Take two ibuprofen thirty minutes before to help ease discomfort (pain).
  • Make sure the esthetician wears gloves.

Razor Burn

To prevent razor burn, use an exfolient or loofah or both together before shaving. Do not press hard on the razor while you shave. Let it glide smoothly over your skin. Using the same razor over again increases the chances of knicks and razor burn because it gets duller.

Use hair conditioner instead of shaving cream to make your skin soft and get a nice, clean shave. Apply deodorant on the shave directly after – reduces perspiration and thus razor burn.

For razor burn (rash / zits after shaving) on the bum, use baby diaper rash creams while you sleep. Other remedies include cornstarch in the underwear, and applying translucent zit creams frequently to dry out the acne.

More hair removal tips from other industry workers:

  • Use acne body wash on legs and bikini because it helps with ingrown hairs and razor burn.
  • For bad razor burn, use bikini zone.
  • Don’t shave right before sex.
  • Get waxed instead of shaving.
  • Gillette disposable razors for men. Do not use them on sensitive areas more than twice.
  • Use a shaving lotion or cream. Not a gel or foam. Slather with a very heavy layer of non-scented lotion (don't get any under your hood or inner lips).
  • Shave at night.
  • For less shaving bumps, shave with Polysporin, Neosporin, or Bikini Zone. The no-name versions of these products work fine.

Tattooing over cellulite and scars will hide them.

Baby Wipes

Some of us love them and some of us hate them. Some of us get yeast infections from them. But for those who are not so sensitive, baby wipes work great for wiping your parts before and after a performance or service.

The obvious alternative if you have access to warm water, is a washcloth. You may want to let the other workers know what you’re using that cloth for (in case one of them breaks the rule about not borrowing without asking).

Cleansing and Basic Skin-Care

By Sascha Sexiana

Cleansing, toning and moisturization should be a staple in your routine, morning and night. Kind of like brushing and flossing, or combing and brushing your hair.

Why two times? Because during the day, we wear makeup, we are exposed to dirt, pollution, etc, and our skin produces oil and rids itself of toxins throughout the day. Removing those is rather important, especially because much like the rest of our organs, the skin does most of its repair during the night.

Do I have to wash my face in the morning? Yes. One may wonder why, we're just in bed, sleeping. It’s not like we're going out and getting dirt on us, right? Well, as the skin is doing its repair, it's also getting rid of even MORE toxins and waste products - skin-poo. Do you want to go out with skin-poo on your face? Not to mention that during the night, body-temperature rises, which causes the skin to excrete more oil.

Now, just keep in mind that at night, you may want to remove your makeup first, then use your facial cleanser. If you're using your toner and there's still makeup and dirt on the cotton, your skin is not clean. Your toner is not a cleanser. Do not use your toner to 'clean' your face. That’s why it's toner, not cleanser.

Now, I know, the makeup wipes are very tempting as a substitute for cleanser, but they're not meant to be used every day. Your face will not be as clean, and you'll be doing more rubbing in order to get the makeup off - unnecessary stress on your skin. Such things age it. Don’t do it. Fine, if it's a choice between going to bed with a face full of makeup or doing a wipe, do the wipe. But don't make it your everyday routine.

Also, moisturizing cleanser is an oxymoron and a marketing scheme. Cleanser doesn't moisturize. You don't leave it on your skin. It's not meant to be absorbed. It may be a cleanser formulated for drier skins, which will be gentler.

Keep in mind, if you're comfortable to oily in the t-zone, don't use things for 'very dry' skin. 'Very dry skin' is for someone who is dry all over. Their skin does not produce oil; therefore, they don't need to clean oil off their skin. So if your skin is still producing oil and you use a cleanser or moisturizer for very dry skin, it won't do you much good and you may experience more pore clogging or even breakout.

Feeling tight after cleansing does not mean you're dry. Our pH balance is disrupted by cleansing, and is restored with toner and moisturizer. After applying moisturizer, if you cannot go a whole day without feeling tight and uncomfortable, then you have dryness. If your skin starts to produce oil and adjusts to the lack of moisture, then you are on the oilier side. There is oil production.

Dehydration vs. Dryness. They feel the same, but are quite different. Keep that in mind when we talk about moisturizers.

Dehydration = lack of water
Dryness = lack of oil

I have a lot of clients asking why they should use a toner. The main reason is because a toner followed with moisturizer will restore the skin's natural pH balance. Cleansers are basic by nature; our skin is slightly more acidic in order to protect itself against outside irritants and such. So, you want to restore the pH balance ASAP. Eventually, the skin will rectify the balance on its own; a weaker less resistant skin will take longer. Also, there are different types of toners with various other properties that are helpful to the skin.

Some toners exfoliate. They gently sweep away dead skin cells, allowing your moisturizer to sink in better. Think about it, how is dead skin going to absorb moisturizer? If we have a layer of dead skin, that layer will prevent our moisturizer from doing its best. That layer is going to develop into pore-clogging, acne (when combined with oil and bacteria), and dullness.

See a woman with glowing skin that isn't pregnant? Chances are she's a teenager or she's exfoliating regularly, and on different levels. Now, for example, other toners may have properties that help prevent acne (like salycilic acid) or oil-controlling properties, or calming and soothing for persistent redness/rosacea/eczema sufferers. Why wouldn't you use toner is the better question!

Why should we use moisturizer. That one's the easiest to answer, because it's what most women already use. It restores the moisture balance of the skin, which is important for the health of our skin.

For those with oilier skins, yes, you should still use moisturizer. Just an oil-free one. There are many moisturizers out there, especially for oilier skins, that even have ingredients that help minimize and control oil. The reason is, an oily skin can get dehydrated, which means that the oil/water balance is thrown off. Some oily skins overcompensate for the lack of water (moisture) by producing more oil. Exactly the opposite of what the skin needs, leading to more clogged pores, more breakouts, and easily avoided with a basic oil-free moisturizer.

Another thing about basic skincare – eye-cream.

Don’t use face-creams around your eyes. They’re not ophthalmologist tested. They may be too rich for the thinner skin and they're not going to do anything about puffiness or dark circles. Unless you're a teenager, invest in an eye-cream, because the eye-area is a very delicate skin that is one of the very first places to show premature aging signs. Keeping up the moisture levels will help to abate that process for longer.

Now, with your eye-cream, make sure you tap it on gently, with either your middle or ring finger. Your index finger is used to applying pressure. You don't want that sort of pressure around your eye-area. Be gentle with your skin. Unnecessary rubbing, tugging, and pulling will age you faster.

Plastic Surgery

“Remember our job is very physical so don’t treat your implants as if they are work tools. I used to crush beer cans between them, do pole work. Something foreign needs to be looked after very carefully and proper healing time and sanitary environments are so important.” 
“I had a nose job which was minor to take a little fat off the sides of my nose. This made me feel great. My nose became a bit more feminine.” 
“I had a crooked scar on my chin from an animal bite. I went to a plastic surgeon and all he did was take a crooked scar, cut it open and transform it into a straight scar. Good thing I didn’t have to pay or I would have been very disappointed with the results.” 
"I had saline in my breasts the first two times, now I have silicone. It is firmer but it gets COLD! My breasts get ice cold if exposed, like swimming in cold water then sitting in a cold bathing suit. This NEVER happened with salt water bags. Weird!"
The most important things to know before getting plastic surgery are:

  • Why do I want plastic surgery? And,
  • Who is the best doctor to perform my surgery?
  • If you think plastic surgery will “make you better” or “make you perfect” or “make someone love you”, you are wrong. You will still be the person you were before the surgery.

Examine the pros and cons of the surgery so you can make an informed and confident decision. Make sure you are doing this for you, not for someone else in your life or your job.

One contributor reported some negatives to getting breast implants. She said: “Although the stereotype is changing, many people still see big breasts as bimbo-type personalities. To predators you might stand out more as a target. You may be spoken down to often. You might learn (the hard way) if your family really loves you and if your friends are truly your friends. If you tell people you have implants, you might be opening the door for drama. You may cease to simply be yourself. You may find you are reduced to the ‘girl with big tits.’”

Be sure to research doctors carefully. Check out plastic surgeons’ web sites and view the before and after photos in their portfolio. Ask other workers for the names of their doctors and recommendations. Be aware that getting breast augmentation or reduction may impede your ability to breastfeed.

Substance Use and the Sex Industry

Education – Awareness – Realities – Best Practices
Written and Compiled by Matthew Russell Taylor

Information for this section came from:

  • Sex Industry Workers of the Greater Vancouver Regions and Districts
  • Stella Montreal – XXX Dope Guide
  • Gayway Vancouver – P'n'P Guide to drugs and sex
  • Wikipedia - online information reference

It is a myth that all sex industry workers must be intoxicated to do their jobs. But some do feel the need to use substances for a variety of other reasons. Often times, sex workers cannot afford to take time off for self-care, so they self-medicate instead.

Some do it to make their monotonous jobs more interesting. Others do it to relax, to sober up, or be more outgoing. Whatever the reasons, just like in any other job and just like any other person regardless of their job, sex workers use alcohol or drugs to cope.

Quitting drugs is a wonderful goal, but it isn’t always realistic and sometimes it’s downright harmful. For people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), quitting their coping mechanism (drugs or alcohol) can do serious mental damage. A person will sometimes need to heal from their traumas before they can begin healing from addiction.

The harm reduction approach to addiction and recovery allows you to improve the quality of your life without placing a requirement on you to give up all your coping mechanisms. Harm reduction is exactly what it says – reducing harm.

The harm reduction approach is a way to reduce the harm on those who engage in high risk activities where there is a high level risk of contracting infections and diseases. Such as unsafe sex or substance use. The harm reduction approach would provide condoms and clean rigs and mouthpieces rather than attempting to force abstinence, in order to have zero barriers to providing support, and meeting people 'where they are at.’

This means you:

  • Use clean needles.
  • Take care not to become overly intoxicated on the job (to the point where someone can take advantage of you).
  • Eat well and pamper yourself.
  • Learn what you can eat while high (like fruits and veggies).
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Anything else you may notice that reduces the harm drugs or alcohol have on your body.
  • Work in a buddy system whenever/wherever possible and have each others’ backs.
  • Practice self-care as much as possible – this means be good to you!


It is really important to have a strong self-care plan so that you can keep clear boundaries between your personal and work life. We need to process our day to day experiences to decrease the stress and harm those experiences may cause as well as minimize the possibilities of Trauma and PTSD that can often result from our experiences in the sex industry. Self-care helps us to make sure our work does not end up harming us and that we maintain a healthy balance in our lives.

Self-care is also about protecting your most valuable commodities – your body and your mind. Sex workers who practice self-care bring balance to their lives on a bio (body) -social (community) - psycho (mental) - spiritual (emotional) level which will have positive results overall. A happy sex worker is a satisfied client – and vice versa!

How to Take Care at Work:

  • Have I had enough water?
  • Have I eaten enough? What have I eaten?
  • Have I taken a break? Do I need to take a break?
  • Am I working alone? Do I feel isolated?
  • How do I feel about the work?

Signs of Burnout are:

  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs to deal with work.
  • Working alone and feeling lonely on a regular basis.
  • Not eating or eating very little.
  • Not taking a break.
  • Feelings of guilt or regret.
  • Feelings of helplessness and/or failure.
  • Loss of sleep or broken up sleep.
  • Too much sleep.
  • Working late often.
  • Loss of hope and confidence. Feeling sad or depressed.

How to avoid burnout or get rid of burnout:

  • Be sure to take short breaks.
  • Practice proper nutrition and drink lots of water.
  • Breathe deep regular breaths – shallow breathing will add to stress, reduce your energy level and your power to cope.
  • Have a regular sleep schedule.
  • Get some form of regular exercise, whatever works for you.
  • Develop some type of habit at the end of your day to help leave behind the woes of work. ie- walk part of the way home, take a shower or a bath, change your clothes etc.
  • If your drug and alcohol use has increased and you’re using them as coping techniques, speak with your support group, friends, co-workers, A&D counselor etc. Talk to someone you trust about your feelings or try to replace this behavior with other healthier coping habits.

Healthier coping methods

Here are a few, but there are many more listed in Chapter 5 – Us – “Staying Sane”.

  • Journal and/or creative writing.
  • Expression through art or crafts.
  • Reading something you enjoy that is not work related.
  • Exercise.
  • Join a class or group.
  • Listen to music or play music.
  • Dance.
  • Take time for just you, at least 2 hours a week.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Make your own food and take the time to enjoy it.
  • Go see a movie or rent a movie.
  • Go to an art gallery or museum.
  • Include the fun factor. Laughter is one of the best medicines!

Health tips when using pipes (crack, meth, bongs)

You can catch colds, flu etc from sharing pipes, just like drinking from the same glass can pass infections. If your lips get burned or cracked from smoking a pipe, or if you have sores on your lips, sharing a pipe can become a risk for blood-to-blood contact, which can pass Hep C. Use your own PVC mouth piece to avoid burns and infections. Use lube or chap stick to keep lips from cracking.

Health tips when using needles for drug injection

Wash your hands. Don't share anything connected to injection: needles, water, filters, spoon or cooker, etc. Do not re-use needles, even your own. Use alcohol swabs on your skin before injecting to prevent pushing germs into your blood along with the needle. Use sterile water to mix drugs. Use a filter to avoid injecting particles that can block blood vessels. If you are unsure of the strength of your dope, do less to avoid an overdose, you can always do more if it is not enough. Try not to use alone in case of OD. Rotate your veins. Choose injection sites that are farther from your torso (arms, legs).

What should I do if I believe I have been drugged?

Stay with people you trust, or go to hospital.

If you think you may have been drugged and sexually assaulted within the last seven days, you can see the Sexual Assault Service via the emergency department at a hospital. This team can provide you with medical care, medications to prevent pregnancy and infections, and can collect evidence for police if you want to report. It is very difficult to prove you were drugged, as many of the drugs clear your system very quickly, and will be gone by the time you get the tests.

Exiting / Retirement

If you hate your job, you may feel you are unable to do it without getting high. In this case, it is time to seriously consider finding other employment. Find ways to create an income without doing sex industry work, as much as possible, until you can leave the work completely. In extreme cases, you should consider leaving the work altogether, even if it means depending on social programs or family members for a while.

Leaving a job you hate may not mean leaving the drug or addiction behind immediately, but it will give you a much better chance of improving the overall quality of life and lead to happiness and inner peace. Remember that your only purpose in life is to be happy.

Drug and Alcohol Infodex

The following information is taken directly from`s Dope Guide. Quotes are from Trade Secrets contributors.

Most common substances have been included here, however this is not meant to be a complete list.

Alcohol aka beer, wine, liquor, coolers, aperitifs, booze, sauce etc

“I often drink at work. When I'm feeling sore, stiff and cranky, a few glasses of wine keep me feeling limber and content on stage. I try not to drink too much however, as doing so only makes me feel tired the following day.” 

“Booze and dope keep me warm in the cold.” 

“I consume alcohol at work, but not to excess. It helps keep me relaxed and uninhibited.” 

“I can’t think straight and level minded when I am drunk or high.”

Looks like: Alcohol is the primary ingredient in beer, wine, spirits, mouthwash, perfume etc. Alcohol is a drug that is legal to buy and consume by adults and is considered socially acceptable – but not totally different from illegal drugs.

What are the effects? When drank in moderation, alcohol relaxes people and lowers inhibitions. In larger quantities, it makes drinkers less careful and reduces self-control.

Is it addictive? Alcohol is a depressant and is considered highly addictive. With heavy use, there are high risks for both psychological and physical addiction. Long term use can damage your liver, brain and other vital organs. It can even trigger and/or accelerate severe mental health problems.

Possible risks? With excessive use, drinkers can become anxious and depressed, with reduced intellectual capacity and libido. Once addiction sets in, the risks multiply, often resulting in liver damage up to and including cirrhosis, hepatitis and delirium. Alcohol is a drug. Therefore, consuming large amounts in a short period of time can lead to overdose and death.

Cannabis aka marijuana, hashish, pot, weed, joints, chronic, tar, reefer, grass, ganja, hash, oil, resin etc.

“I do occasionally have a drink or two, or smoke some marijuana. They have a negligible effect on my performance as I never consume in excess.” 
“I smoke pot before every appointment. It relaxes me, helps with my nerves. I also will drink if it is offered by a client.”

Looks like/how to: Pot can look like dried leaves, stems and flowers that are most often smoked in either rolled joints or through pipes and bongs. Hash comes in the form of brown, black or yellowish chunks that are smoked in similar ways as pot. Small pieces of hash can also be placed between two ‘hot knives’ and smoked. Both pot and hash can also be heated and turned into oil that can then be smoked by spreading it on a rolling paper and adding weed. You can also cook pot leaves/hashish oil in baked goods such as brownies and cookies.

What are the effects? It relaxes you and lowers your inhibitions after just a few puffs/hits. After use, some people will get chatty but others remain quiet. Your senses are heightened /enhanced and ordinary things will tend to take on special meaning. It is hugely popular – the most widely used illegal drug in North America. People usually experience sensations of well-being, satisfaction and calm. There are also many people who are prescribed marijuana by their doctors for medicinal purposes that can include temporary relief of major stress/anxiety, increase appetite as pot tends to give people the ‘munchies,’ as well as being an effective mild painkiller. Many folks who have Cancer or HIV+/AIDS related diseases use marijuana for these therapeutic purposes.

Is it addictive: Pot is less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. Its effects are easily controlled and there is usually no hangover effect after use. People who are chronic pot smokers can in some cases develop a moderate psychological dependency to the drug, however, users rarely become physically addicted.

Possible risks? Smoking regularly can lead to a loss of motivation. It can also become difficult to perform various tasks. With strong doses, time perception and short-term memory can be affected. Like cigarette smoke, pot smoke can affect the lungs. For predisposed users, regular pot smoking can lead to psychosis. Some people get confused/disoriented and anxious when using marijuana and may even have mild auditory and visual hallucinations. Combining marijuana with other drugs such as alcohol will intensify the effects of both in your body.

Cocaine aka coke, blow, rock, white, flake, snow, nose candy etc.

“Coke prevents clients from getting boners. It is frustrating if they want a release and there is nothing you can do to help them. I recommend keeping coke away from the work place.” 
“I have used coke a couple times at work, but it dries me up for the squirting shows. So it ruins my work in that sense, so I keep away from it.”
Looks like/how to: Cocaine is typically a fine white powder and is often cut with other powders to dilute/stretch it. Sniffing is the safest way to use cocaine but it is also rolled into joints/cigarettes in it’s powdered form and smoked (coco puff). People also will dilute the powder form of cocaine in syringes and inject it into their veins (IV).

What are the effects? Cocaine is a stimulant with effects similar to that of Crystal meth but with a much shorter high, typically lasting less than an hour. People tend to become more alert and have a heightened sense of esteem and confidence. Usually, people using cocaine will experience increased physical energy with faster heartbeats and warmer body temperatures. People who use cocaine typically achieve a sense of euphoria, as well as feelings of intellectual and physical strength. Cocaine can suppress feelings of fatigue, pain, and inhibitions. Sexual appetite may increase but concentration and interest can be sporadic and fleeting, depending on the amount and frequency of use.

Is it addictive? Coke and Crack are highly addictive. Regular use of cocaine can lead to strong psychological dependence.

Crack Puff, rock, freebase

Cocaine can be cooked into crystals called crack/rock. When smoked, it gives people a very short and intense high (typically called the ringer or buzz).

Possible risks? If you use cocaine in quantity, tolerance will increase and high doses and/or prolonged use cause overdoses and can lead to serious heart conditions, possibly even attacks (snorting and/or smoking). Regular use can lead to paranoia, hallucinations, and psychosis. Heavy use cuts the appetite and reduces sexual performance. Other risks include perforation of the nasal passages, breathing, and heart problems. People who become addicted to cocaine often experience suicidal thoughts and violent behaviour. For both coke and crack, the low that follows the high is psychologically very difficult to handle.

Ecstasy aka E, X.

Looks like/how to: Ecstasy usually comes in a tablet form. E is often white in colour but may also come in a multitude of colours, shapes and sizes and may have stamps and pictures on the actual pills. Often, ecstasy is cut with other drugs such as methamphetamine, ketamine and PCP, which will prolong the high and alter the state and mood.

What are the effects: E can be swallowed or ‘hooped’ (inserted in the anus and absorbed through the fleshy membrane of the rectum – this is the most intense rush as it enters the blood stream at a much faster rate). Ecstasy usually takes around 20-40 minutes to have an effect in the body. A side affect of the high can be mild nausea until the body settles in to the buzz. Ecstasy is very popular when used for sexual activity because all bodily sensations are extremely enhanced. Even auditory and visual perceptions are heightened, such as the vibe and rhythm of music. Sensations of understanding, relating and accepting others is also enhanced, and at times it feels like one big ‘love in.’

Is it addictive? Addiction is rare. However, tolerance grows quickly which leads users to take larger doses. While E is not physically addictive, if you take it regularly, it loses it’s appeal and often times, people search for other drugs in order to achieve that first sensation and high which can lead to other more serious addictions.

Possible risks: Some longer-term effects from use can be serious crashes after use and prolonged depression. Memory can be impaired as well as concentration and behaviour can become more abrupt, impatient, and even hostile. Essentially, all inhibitions are either lowered or simply drop away completely, which can be extremely stimulating. However, this can be potentially harmful and dangerous if experienced in the wrong atmosphere or environment (sex partners or clients that you don’t know and trust). E is a dangerous drug to take because it is difficult to always know for sure what your taking and what it is mixed with – for example PCP is very dangerous if taken in certain quantities.

N-benzylpiperazine aka BZP, legal E, legal X: In the last few years, BZP has gained increased popularity with club kids as a mimic/alternative drug for ecstasy. Originally used as a deworming treatment for cattle, it is now popular on the club circuit because of its euphoric amphetamine high. BZP use comes with great risk of high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, delusions, hallucinations, insomnia, and paranoia.

Ketamine aka K, Special K, vitamin K etc.

Looks like/how to: K comes in white powder, pills, capsules, crystals or liquid solution, all of which can be to swallowed, injected, snorted (bumped), or smoked. Ketamine is a pharmaceutical grade human and veterinarian anaesthetic.

What are the effects? It takes effect within a few minutes and can last up to an hour after one bump or line. When taken, it gives people a warm-and-fuzzy, dreamy sensation. Some people experience feelings of floating outside their own bodies and overall physical numbness is a common occurrence. The effects are less intense than those of PCP, and last about an hour. Ketamine is often taken with stimulants.

Is it addictive? Regular use can lead to physical and psychological addiction and dependency.

Possible risks: Low doses increase heart rate while prolonged use can trigger or enhance mental health dysfunction. High doses of Ketamine can lead to what is commonly referred to as a ‘K-Hole” (essentially an overdose). This can be a terrifying experience as it feels like you are totally immobilized. People who have experienced this overdose often compare it to a near death experience. Higher doses have also been known to cause loss of consciousness, with vomiting, anxiety, panic, psychosis and temporary paralysis.

Crystal meth (methamphetamine) aka speed, ice, crystal, ice, tina, crank, tweak, glass, poor man’s drug.

Looks like/how to: Amphetamines come in all shapes and sizes of pills that can be swallowed or powder and crystals to be snorted, smoked or injected. Typical ingredients of meth include heavy toxic substances such as Ammonia or solvent, lithium battery acid, and possible household cleaning products such as Draino.

What are the effects: Meth gives users a strong sensation of euphoria and well-being as well as temporary heightened states of confidence and self esteem that can lead to impressions of being invincible. The effects of crystal last longer than cocaine (up to 12 hrs at a time). Prolonged use of meth may lead to obsessive compulsive behaviour and a heightened sexual arousal state. Lowered inhibitions can lead to marathon sexual activities often in the absence of common sense and protection.

Is it addictive? People who use crystal meth run the risk of becoming addicted extremely quickly. It is almost impossible to use this drug safely, as recreation and prolonged use of meth can create a serious psychological dependence that brings with it heavy paranoia and psychosis (auditory/visual hallucinations).

Possible risks: Regular meth use cuts people’s appetite and intake of fluids that can cause serious malnutrition and dehydration in the body. Heavy use can result in slower thinking, anxiety and depression, as well as nervousness, trembling, fatigue and serious skin problems. Crystal meth is extremely corrosive, infecting gums and destroying teeth. Long-term use can seriously weaken the immune system. People should especially avoid meth if they suffer from depression or other mental health issues, have heart problems, or are prone to asthma and epilepsy.

Benzodiazepines aka Benzos, Ativan, Dalmane, Lectopam, Mogadon, Restoril, Rivotril, Rohypnol, Serax, Tranxene, Valium, Versed, Xanax, etc.

Looks like/how to: Typically, Benzos come in pill form and may come in all different shapes, sizes and colours. Usually they are taken orally (swallowed) but some people will crush them up and inject them through a syringe.

What are the effects: Benzos are depressants or ‘downers’ and commonly come in the form of sedatives, sleeping pills and tranquillizers that are medically prescribed by doctors for relaxation, relief from anxieties, and to help people with more regular sleeping patterns. Prescription drugs are often bought and sold on the street and when taken along with other depressants such as alcohol and heroin, are used to calm or reduce the effects of stimulant or ‘upper’ drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine.

Heroin aka smack, H, skag, junk, down etc

“Heroin equals happy and it numbs my anxiety so I can work.” 
“I was always high but wouldn’t consume drugs with my clients. There were numerous times where this impacted my work as I was “on the nod” (unable to stay awake due to heroin use) or agitated due to cocaine use.”

Looks like/how to: Heroin usually comes in a white, beige, or brown powder form that can be snorted, smoked on foil wrap (chasing the dragon) or injected through a syringe.

What are the effects: Heroin is a depressant or ‘downer’ drug that gives users an intense sense of euphoria, ecstasy and calmness. Typically, heroin users are trying to mask or avoid feeling physical and emotional pain, opting instead for the numbness and intense pleasure that a heroin high can provide. People use heroin during sex work to get rid of the pain associated with getting penetrated anally, vaginally, and orally on such a frequent basis.

Is it addictive? Experimenting with powerful drugs like heroin can quickly lead to strong physical dependence. Cravings are very unpleasant and withdrawal from heroin (down sickness) can include intense muscle and bone pain, feelings of agitation and anxiety, and symptoms similar to those of a severe flu, along with diarrhea and insomnia.

Possible risks: After the first few weeks, heroin users feel the need to take greater amounts and to use more and more frequently to reach the same high they got at first. Using starts to take up more and more time and space. Other problems may also appear, including drowsiness and anorexia.

Methadone aka Juice

Looks like/how to: Typically, medically prescribed methadone comes in a liquid form that is taken orally in controlled doses depending on individual necessity (as determined by a doctor). Methadone also comes in a powder form that can be taken orally in a capsule or pill

What are the effects: Though it doesn’t produce a high for heroin users, in sufficient doses, it kills their cravings as part of withdrawal treatment.

Is it addictive? Methadone is often used in the short term to medically treat withdrawal and in the long term as a substitution treatment for heroin addicts. Withdrawal needs to be done gradually over a long period of time. Users can become highly addicted both physically and psychologically, especially when the prescription or other use lasts more than 4 to 6 weeks. Addiction is more likely when these drugs are combined with alcohol.

Possible risks: If you use this drug without a prescription, be very careful about dosage. Methadone can be fatal for non-heroin users. Heavy use can effect memory and make someone who is a regular user much less attentive and aware.

Narcotics I.E painkillers, opium, codeine, heroin, morphine (Ms-Contin), methadone, percodan, demerol, dilaudid, etc.

Looks like/how to: Narcotic drugs usually come in pill form of various shapes, sizes and colours that are typically taken orally (swallowed). Some narcotics come in liquid form and may be contained in ampules (glass vials) that are injected through a syringe. Some users will use suppositories and ingest narcotics anally, which intensifies the effect of the high because the drug is absorbed into the fleshy membrane of the anus and enters directly into the blood stream. Opium in its purest form is a dark brown resin that can be smoked or eaten.

What are the effects: Certain narcotic analgesics are opiates (opium, morphine, heroin and codeine), while others are synthetic products. Often used as painkillers, they relax and can create a state of euphoria and lethargy. Effects are less intense when the drugs are taken orally.

Is it addictive? People who use narcotics will develop a tolerance for these drugs and in order to stay effective, they need to be taken in increasingly higher doses. They also create physical and psychological addiction.

Possible risks: People who take narcotics either medically prescribed or other for long periods of time will often suffer from vision problems, vertigo, nausea, vomiting, intestinal trouble, and loss of appetite. In heavy doses, they reduce sexual desire and can cause liver problems and respiratory arrest. It can be fatal to mix narcotics with benzodiazepines and/or with alcohol. Mixing methadone and benzodiazepines or heroin is particularly dangerous as well.

GHB aka GH, liquid ecstasy, liquid X, fantasy, scoop, date-rape drug etc.

Looks like/how to: GHB typically comes in a clear and odorless, thick (syrupy) liquid or as a white powder (perhaps gel caps) that is dissolved in water.

What are the effects: In small doses, GHB reduces anxiety, diminishes sexual inhibitions, and creates euphoria. When mixed with alcohol, it can quickly lead to loss of consciousness for up to 12 hours. Afterward, users have no memory of what happened while they were drugged.

Is it addictive? Prolonged use of GHB can create physical dependence in users.

Possible risks: In high doses, GHB can cause convulsions, hallucinations, slowed heartbeat, respiratory depression, and loss of consciousness. It can also cause delirium. Many people have been known to mix GHB in someones drink without their knowledge or consent for the purpose of committing rape and/or robbery – hence the nickname DATE RAPE DRUG. Never leave your drink unattended.

Poppers aka jungle juice, z-best, jet fuel, rush etc.

Looks like/how to: Poppers are typically sold in small clear or brown glass bottles and come in a clear liquid form. The vapours are inhaled through the nose and/or mouth.

What are the effects: The rush of poppers comes on in seconds and can last for up to 2 or 3 minutes. Poppers give the user sensations of euphoria, internal warmth, and sensuality. It can also create muscular relaxation that can facilitate easier anal penetration.

Is it addictive? Regular use of poppers can create psychological dependence.

Possible risks: Regular use can create a yellowish crust around the nose and lips, lesions on the nasal septum, distorted perceptions, and anemia. In heavy doses, it can cause violent vertigo, fainting and respiratory depression. Poppers should never be taken with Viagra as the combination can accelerate the heart rate fast enough to have a heart attack.

Solvents aka glue, gas, nitrite etc

Looks like/how to: Solvents are contained in common household products such as glue, varnish, paint, thinners, as well as gas and domestic or industrial products whose vapours are inhaled.

What are the effects: These drugs produce euphoria, intense fantasies, hallucinations and dizziness, and make users lose touch with reality.

What are its risks? Users become addicted. They slow down the body’s functions, including breathing. Abuse can cause brain damage and physical and psychological problems, and can lead to asphyxiation and death.

LSD aka Blotter, acid, tab etc

Looks like/how to: Typically comes in the form of paper soaked with a drop of LSD, or tablets and microdots that look like the end of a pencil lead. These tiny pieces of paper of dots come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colours and are typically named after their appearances I.E red microdots.

What are the effects: An LSD or “Acid” trip lasts anywhere between 5 and 12 hours, and can cause hallucinations (auditory and visual), giggle fits, and delirium.

Is it addictive? Use of LSD does not create a physical dependence, and psychological addiction is rare.

Possible risks: With heavy use, people who are predisposed to mental health problems run the risk of suffering from chronic anxiety, depression and the inability to distinguish between reality and illusion. LSD is generally considered nontoxic, although it may temporarily impair the ability to make sensible judgments and understand common dangers, thus making the user more susceptible to accidents and personal injury. In cases where users experience an altered state of reality, they may have an impulse to wander, and may not be aware of his or her actions, which can lead to physical injury. Sometimes a bad trip will occur—an uncontrollable feeling of panic and anxiety. If this happens, avoid alcohol, don’t stay alone, and make sure you’re in calm surroundings.

Magic mushrooms aka mush, mushrooms, shrooms etc

Looks like/how to: Mushrooms come in dried plant/fungi form with caps and stems that are beige in colour and dark brown or black at the root and tip. They are ingested orally (eaten) and can also be boiled and drank as a type of mushroom tea.

What are the effects: They typically begin to take affect within an hour and can last for about 3 to 6 hours in total. Users experience hallucinations (auditory and visual) and may also feel the urge to laugh and giggle uncontrollably. The effects are not as strong as those of LSD.

Is it addictive? Mushrooms are not known to create physical or psychological dependence although they do create short-term increases in tolerance of users.

Possible risks: As with any naturally occurring plant or extract, mushrooms can be poisonous and cause serious health risks if taken in large quantities. Oral ingestion can sometimes produce nausea, dizziness, and (more rarely) vomiting (usually at higher doses). The greatest danger from recreational use is a “ bad trip” which can cause severe emotional and psychological distress.

PCP aka mess, mescaline, angel dust, peace pill, fairy dust, crystal etc

Looks like/how to: PCP comes in powders, pills and capsules of various colours, shapes and sizes. Please note that PCP is often mixed with other drugs, such as ecstasy, ketamine, mescaline, cannabis, methamphetamine and cocaine.

What are the effects: For about 4 to 6 hours, PCP can cause euphoria, hallucinations and reduces sensation of pain.

Is it addictive? PCP users often become psychologically addicted, but there is no physical dependence.

Possible risks: Heavy, long term use of PCP can trigger and/or exasperate any predisposed mental health problems that people may have. Users may also be at risk of experiencing intellectual, psychological and psychiatric problems with continued and prolonged use of PCP. People who have a history of mental health issues I.E depression, should avoid the use of PCP.

About Trade Secrets 
Trade Secrets is a collaborative project that was contributed to by diverse members of the sex industry and their community.

About the Project

Who Contributed?

Some of this information may be outdated. Please feel free to comment below the relevant posts with information you'd like to add or update. Your help is appreciated.

Thank you for your commitment to supporting health and safety in the sex industry.

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts (Annie)

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