Illustrations by Alex Jenkins
There's a certain pride that comes with fixing things yourself. A few years ago, the battery fell out of my computer. It turned out a screw had gone missing, and naturally, I didn't have any spare screws lying around. I did have a BandAid, however, and giving my best DIY effort, I used it to tape the battery back in place. This held my laptop together for the next three years.But there are limits to every good DIY, and if I had to draw the line, it would definitely be at the waist. It takes a fierce commitment to the spirit of amateurism—or a very low bank balance—to submit your prize parts to the kind of untested medical experiments one finds on the internet. A BandAid might have kept my computer intact, but it's not going to cure genital warts.
Of course, that hasn't stopped people from trying. Below are first-hand stories of creative sexual health DIY remedies, most of which went horribly wrong. Obviously, kids, don't try these at home.
It happened when I was in college. I met this girl, another student, on a night out and we had unprotected sex. Not long after, I started getting these little yellowish nodes that looked like skin tags on the shaft of my dick. I'd heard of genital warts, but I expected they'd look more like normal warts. I got drunk one night and showed them to a friend and he was like, "You've got genital warts!" I researched online and found all these forums saying you could treat them yourself with apple cider vinegar.They said you had to clean the area first with hydrogen peroxide, but I skipped that bit because I remember I'd seen a kid on YouTube using that stuff in a homemade bomb. I doused cotton balls in the vinegar and taped those over the warts. It burnt like fuck but the forums said to expect that. I put on fresh cotton balls every day.After a week, some of the warts had turned white, but my dick was red and raw—just putting my underpants on was agony. I went to the doctor, who said I'd given myself chemical burns. When I told him what I'd done he was said it was like using a flame thrower to kill a fly.
About a year ago I had sex with this guy. I was about to get my period so I had taken part of a Vicodin and had some red wine because I thought, Fuck it! I'm just going to chill out and be romantic and depressive. There was nothing remarkable about the sex, but the next day my vagina was sore. I thought we must have had a lot of sex and I just hadn't realized because I was a bit out of it.Then I started getting these elongated blisters coming from the inside to the outside of my vagina. It was literally the most horrible thing in the world. It was like medieval torture, or like having paper cuts in your vag. That night, I started feeling feverish and sweaty. I thought I had the flu. A day and a half later, I found blisters on my asshole and I was like, "Oh my God, I have hemorrhoids too!" I just wasn't putting any of it together.When the blisters burst, I finally went to a clinic and they told me I had herpes and I was prescribed an anti-viral. Afterwards I spoke to a friend who was really into holistic medicines and she said you can take the anti-viral or you can let your body fight it. If you do it naturally, she said, you're less likely to have a recurrence in future. So I took her word for it. I used Epsom salt baths, took vitamin C, tea tree oil, manuka honey—which, by the way, is like €70 a jar.She also told me about this lamp treatment. Apparently, herpes can't live in light; it lives in dark, wet places. So I had this full-spectrum light bulb shining on my cunt, like, 24 hours a day. I had a goose neck lamp and I shined it under the sheets. If I had enough privacy I would do it in the sunlight in the same way. I'd go to the end of the room and spread my legs in front of the window. And it actually worked: After a few hours, the outbreak would lessen.
When I was a teen, I had a girlfriend who I was really into. I was desperate to lose my virginity with her, but she didn't want to do it. But she did let me finger her a lot. I used to pump my finger in and out like a piston engine. I can't imagine she got much out of it.There was this one night, my folks were out and I'd been feverishly fingering her on the couch. I had this really crappy ring—it was a thin, silver band that I wore on my middle finger—and, after fingering her that night, we realized it was missing. We took turns to poke inside her to try and retrieve it but with no success. My girlfriend was freaking out and wanted to go to the ER. Then I remembered my dad had this wooden paper clip holder that was shaped like a fish. The holder was magnetic so that the paper clips would stick to it. I thought I could use it to pull out the ring. So I smeared the fish in petroleum jelly and put it up my girlfriend's pussy. I poked it around for a while but couldn't find the ring.The next day, I found it on my bedroom floor. I had to tell my girlfriend, of course, because I didn't want her worrying that it was still inside her. She dumped me not long after that. The person I felt worst for in this story was my dad, who had that paper clip holder on his desk for years after with no idea of where it had been.
More from VICE:Fracking Gave Me Gonorrhea
I'm a sex therapist. A few years ago I had a guy come to me with this persistent issue with premature ejaculation (PE). He was in his late 20s and engaged to someone at the time. I took a case history and he told me that during college he had a lot of ups and down with women centering around this problem. The PE had gotten so bad he had given up on dating altogether when, one day, a girl who had a crush on him said she wanted to come by his dorm. He wanted to do something to improve his performance and he had heard that cocaine dabbed on the head of the penis was a numbing agent. He decided to try and buy some ahead of the date.I'd heard stories about Hollywood stars like Jack Nicholson using cocaine for this, but I'd never met anyone who had actually done it. He went out one night and tried to score some coke and ended up getting busted by the campus police. The poor guy must've been jittery because he confessed everything—told these cops all about his plan to put coke on the end of his dick to help him last longer. Maybe it was because he was honest, but the college authorities let him off and he was allowed to stay in school.Follow Paul Willis on Twitter.