Cisgender vs. Straight

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— It’s Not Always One and the Same

by Alysse Dalessandro Santiago

If you aren’t familiar with the many terms used to describe members of LGBTQIA+ communities, they may seem like a big ol’ bowl of alphabet soup. But there’s a good reason for all those terms: People are unique, and varying gender identities and sexual orientations can make it hard to fit into a two-gender box.

But what about other terms, like “cisgender,” that often (but not always) exist outside the LGBTQIA+ community? Are you automatically straight if you’re cisgender?

Let us explain cisgender vs. straight.

A cisgender, or “cis,” person identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth. So a cisgender person’s sex on their original birth certificate matches their current gender identity.

You might also see terms like “assigned male at birth” (AMAB) or “assigned female at birth” (AFAB) used to describe someone’s birth gender.

If a person’s gender identity doesn’t match the gender they were assigned at birth, they may identify as transgender or nonbinary.

Are you always male or female at birth?

In the United States, there’s a legal movement for a more inclusive approach to gender. Currently, 13 states allow you to change your birth certificate to say “male,” “female,” or the gender-neutral option “X.”

Identifying as straight is pretty, er, straightforward. Having a sexual orientation of straight means that someone’s attraction, either sexual or romantic, is to a gender other than their own.

This definition is deeply ingrained in societal norms. A straight relationship is typically between a person who identifies as a man and a person who identifies as a woman.

Cisgender” is a gender identity. Gender identity describes how a person identifies themself, such as man, woman, nonbinary, or another identity they prefer. So if someone who was assigned male at birth identifies as a man, he’d be a cisgender male.

“Straight” is a sexual orientation, which describes one’s attraction to other people. Someone is straight if they identify as one gender and are attracted to the “opposite” gender.

A straight relationship is typically seen as involving a cisgender male and a cisgender female. But people whose gender differs from the one they were assigned at birth can still be straight if they’re attracted to a different gender.

When Murray in “Clueless” refers to Dionne as “woman,” that’s her gender. But calling her “female,” well, that would be her sex. What’s the difference? It’s not a simple answer.

Gender is typically influenced by society, not biology, and is responsible for the association of certain traits, language, behavior, and characteristics with being a man or a woman. But gender can be more complex and nuanced than the binary terms.

A person’s gender is often conflated with their sex. Sex is traditionally designated by doctors based on a person’s genitalia at birth. But gender identity is a more expansive view that goes beyond your sex. For example, a trans man could have female genitalia but identify as a man, not a woman.

Bottom line: Your sex (based on genitalia) doesn’t have to “match” your gender (how you identify). Your gender identity isn’t stuck in the construct of your sex.

What about intersex?

The term “intersex” refers to someone’s biological sex not fitting into the binary of male or female. But this term doesn’t dictate gender.

When a person is born intersex, their genitalia, sex organs, hormones, or chromosomes have both female- and male-identifying characteristics. This means an intersex person can have both a uterus and testicles, but they could identify as a man, a woman, nonbinary, etc.

This is also known as a person having a difference in sex development (DSD). It occurs naturally, although some characteristics don’t develop until later in life. Research suggests that about 1 in 100 people are born with DSDs.

As with most things related to gender, it’s not as simple as a person being either cisgender or transgender.

To be either cisgender or transgender still relies on the gender binary of male or female as the framework. Have a penis and identify as a man? Cisgender. Assigned male at birth but identify as a woman? Transgender.

Other gender identities or expressions that don’t always fit into the category of cisgender or transgender include:

  • Nonbinary. Some folks don’t identify as either a man or a woman, while others identify as both. “Nonbinary” is often used as an umbrella term for people whose gender identities exist outside the binary of man and woman.
  • Gender-fluid. A person can also identify as gender-fluid, which means their gender identity is not fixed — instead, they move between identities. One moment “man” fits, and another “woman” feels best.
  • Gender nonconforming. This means someone’s gender expression doesn’t match the gender they were assigned at birth. But people who identify as gender nonconforming may also identify as cisgender.

These are just a few examples. There are more than 64 terms that can describe a person’s gender identity or expression.

The deal with gender identify

Gender identity is up to each individual to decide. And someone’s gender identity may not match their gender expression. For example, someone may identify as a woman, but their appearance may be masculine.

Complete Article HERE!

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What Does Sexual Coercion Look Like?

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by Crystal Raypole

Sexual trauma can happen in many ways, and it doesn’t always involve physical force. Sexual coercion, for example, happens when someone pressures or manipulates you into having sexual contact when you don’t want to.

Sexual coercion can be confusing and deeply distressing. You know what happened wasn’t right, but you might not fully understand how or why. You might even believe they couldn’t have assaulted you since you said “yes” in the end.

Here’s one important thing to know, though: True consent is given voluntarily.

If you only consent because you want the other person to stop pressuring or threatening you, you didn’t really consent.

Coercion describes any attempt to control your behavior with threats or manipulation.

Sexual coercion, then, happens when someone won’t accept “no” and continues to try to convince you to change your mind about engaging in sexual activity.

In this article, we’re using “sex” as shorthand to describe any and all forms of sexual contact or activity. There is no one definition of sex, and what’s considered to be sex varies from person to person.

For example, this might include:

  • kissing, licking, or sucking
  • touching, rubbing, or grinding
  • fingering or stroking
  • cunnilingus or fellatio
  • vaginal or anal penetration

Once you turn down sex, the story should stop there. But this doesn’t always happen.

Sometimes, coercion is pretty blatant. For example: “If you don’t have sex with me, I’ll tell everyone we’ve been having an affair.”

Other times, it might take a more subtle form. For example: “Here, why don’t you have a glass of wine and get out of those work clothes, and we’ll just see what happens.”

Common coercion tactics include:

Coercion typically remains in the realm of verbal and emotional pressure. That said, it isn’t uncommonTrusted Source to give in to coercion if you’re afraid the manipulation and pressure will escalate to physical aggression and violence.

Sexual coercion often happens in romantic relationships, but it can also happen in other contexts — between acquaintances, co-workers, friends or family, at school, at a party, or anywhere else.

If you don’t really want to have sex but agree because you feel obligated or don’t want the other person to get mad, you aren’t consenting voluntarily.

Coercion happens when someone wants you to consent when you’ve already said no or otherwise expressed disinterest. They might use threats, persuasion, and other tactics to get the outcome they want.

When alcohol is involved

Most people can still consent after moderate drinking, but you can’t consent if drugs or alcohol have impaired your ability to make decisions.

Say you’re on a date. You’ve had a couple of drinks, and the alcohol has given you a pleasant buzz, but you don’t feel drunk. What you do feel is great chemistry with your date. From the way they’re looking at you, they feel the same thing.

“Want to head back to my place?” They ask.

“Definitely,” you reply.

As long as neither of you are incapacitated, you can still consent.

When someone keeps offering you drinks with the goal of getting you to agree to sex when drunk, that’s coercion.

In a relationship

Being in a relationship does not mean you give ongoing consent.

Everyone has the right to decide when they do and don’t want to have sex. Once you say no, your partner should respect that. Any threats, wheedles, guilt trips, or other persuasion intended to wear you down counts as coercion.

With that in mind, you might wonder if it’s coercion when a partner tells you how sexy you look in that outfit or gives you a sensual massage to try and get you in the mood.

Typically, the difference comes down to a few key factors:

  • their intent
  • whether you’ve already said no
  • how they respond to your refusal

Let’s say you tell them, “I’m not feeling it tonight.”

They reply, “That’s OK. I’m happy just massaging you, unless you want me to stop.”

This gives you the choice to continue the current level of intimacy with no pressure for more.

If, a little later on, you decide you actually do feel like sex, this isn’t coercion — as long as the decision really does come from you.

It would, however, be coercive if they insist they want to help you relax, but then ask repeatedly, “Are you sure you aren’t feeling a little sexier after all this massaging?”

Complete Article HERE!

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How body image insecurities affect men

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It’s a common misconception that body image issues only affect women.

By Marcos Benhamu

When Oliver* and his wife opened their 20-year marriage in 2017, a few things had changed since he was last on the dating scene.

“I am older, I am a bit tubby around the edges. I can look back at my old pictures and think, ‘Oh my God! I used to be so pretty!'” the 44-year-old from Melbourne says.

Like other men his age, Oliver says he’s dealing with body changes familiar to his cohort: growing soft in the middle.

But despite a few heartbreaks, he feels more self-assured in dating now than he did two decades ago.

“When I used to look like that, I wasn’t any good at [dating] anyway and I am much more confident in myself now.”

Although Oliver’s learned to live comfortably with his insecurities, body image issues continue to trouble many men who try to attain idealised, Adonis-like physiques in search of self-worth.

It can also affect men’s sexual experience in negative ways and create vicious cycles of insecurities.

The ‘ideal’ body shape for men

For Dominic*, a graphic designer in his 50s, regularly training at the gym doesn’t always make him feel better about his body.

He says he hates compliments about his appearance; they remind him that people are in fact judging him. These insecurities affect his sexual experience.

The burden of body dissatisfaction is still born mostly by women, but a growing trend among men warrants attention.

A study of 3,000 Australian adults showed eating disorder behaviours — including purging and extreme dieting — increased more rapidly among men than women between 1998 and 2008.

According to another large-scale study from Sydney University, men are more likely to experience mental health problems stemming from body dissatisfaction.

This can lead to the use of steroids, according to clinical psychologist Gemma Sharp heads the body image research group at Monash University.

“Just like with women, there’s an appearance ideal for men as well … the broad shoulders, muscular physique, no ‘man boobs’, larger penis,” Dr Sharp says.

Body image and sex

Expectations around sustaining sexual performance can make sex a source of stress rather than pleasure.

As it is, sex is a vulnerable space; we perform naked with our flaws on full display.

A baseline of insecurity can set us up for emotional pain, making it harder to enjoy future sexual encounters.

For Oliver, the lack of closure from being ghosted by dates reinforced his self-doubts.

“When you don’t have any other information to go on, it’s just like, ‘Well, must be my physique’,” he says.

According to Andrea Waling, a research fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University, there also exists a “normalised view of sex that it’s all about the penetration … and it’s about being able to last hours and hours and hours, which is just not the reality”.

In fact, the median duration of penetrative sex is approximately 5 minutes, and it can range anywhere between 33 seconds and 44 minutes. There are also alternatives to penetration like outercourse.

More reassuringly, porn-size penises account for only 5 per cent of the population.

According to Dr Sharp, pressures of expectation can result in safety behaviours. Safety behaviours are habits that might help someone reduce anxiety without dealing with the underlying cause of the distress.

In intimate relationships, this can include having sex in the dark, having sex with clothes on, engaging in sexual positions such that one partner can’t see the other, and avoiding sex and social encounters altogether.

However, sexual safety behaviours often fail to render sex bearable. This can lead to ‘spectatoring’: the self-conscious monitoring of one’s sexual performance.

For Anton, a 47-year-old man of Serbian origin, concerns about his height and hairiness created deep insecurities in his youth and made him question whether other boys would ever pay attention to him.

It became hard for him to approach potential partners, especially within his gay community in Melbourne, which can uphold largely unattainable physical standards.

Anton also developed performance anxiety.

“I used to find it uncomfortable ‘seeing me’,” he says. “What is he going to think of me?”

Psychosexual therapist Arlyn Owens addresses spectatoring regularly in this practice.

“What often happens is we’re thinking that something is wrong with our bodies that we need to fix,” Mr Owens says.

“We become a bit separated from our body as a source of pleasure.”

Finding confidence

Mr Owens says one solution to feeling disconnected with your body is mindful sex, which consists of slowing down, focusing on sensation, and what is happening in the body.

“So in a nutshell, we are trying to get out of the head and into the body, away from goal-oriented penetration and ejaculation to pleasure-focused sex.”

However, the first step is for men to seek help.

According to the Australian Medical Association, males are less likely than women to seek medical help. And the notion that body image issues pertain to women creates a stigma which can discourage men from seeking the necessary help.

Oliver, for example, needed therapy after a break-up. Although body image wasn’t the main focus for him, he found therapy helped him cope with body image issues, even if these still rear up their head occasionally.

“We always want to be taken seriously for who we are as a person,” Owen says, “But at the same time, we want to be pretty.”

*Names have been changed for privacy.

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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Future Of Intimacy

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— Sex Bots, Virtual Reality, And Smart Sex Toys

By Bernard Marr

Now that we have intelligent lightbulbs, doorbells, refrigerators, and more, it was only a matter of time before our most primal and intimate lives became smarter through artificial intelligence. Since sextech was allowed to exhibit at CES 2020 among the health and wellness vendors instead of denied entry or tucked away in the back as in years past, technology intended to augment the human sexual experience might just be on the verge of going mainstream. As more and more people invite artificial intelligence into their bedrooms and most intimate experiences, let’s review the possibilities as well as perils that might bring.

More Than Sex Bots

Creators of science fiction have imagined a future where human-like sex robots rule human sexual experience. However, sextech is more than just sex bots. According to an interview with sextech expert and founder of the Future of Sex Bryony Cole, “sexuality really encompasses everything from orgasms and pleasure and relationships to education, health, crimes, assault reporting, medicine and gender identity” across sexual identities and preferences.

Sextech is a $30 billion industry today, but according to an analysis report, the industry should grow to $52.7 billion by 2026 with a huge assist from online sales. Companies are feverishly working to innovate the most intriguing products that have an intelligent response for sexual activity to take advantage of this expected growth.

These products do include sex bots such as Harmony, a robotic version of a silicone sex toy made by RealDoll, but also app-connected, smart vibrators, stimulators, and massagers; personalized porn; virtual reality and augmented sexual experiences; and more.

Smart Sex Toys

Artificial intelligence in sex toys aims to achieve similar objectives as products in other industries—learn from data gathered by sensors to elevate and improve the experience as well as personalize it. And, as in other industries, the companies that use technology to create a stellar product or service will have higher sales. From Lioness, the award-winning smart vibrator created by women and referred to as the FitBit for a woman’s orgasm, and Osé, an award-winning robotic sex device “designed to mimic the best kinds of human touch,” smart sex toys are responsible for incredible innovation. Many of these companies are led by women who address sexuality with new voices and concerns. Most of these toys are connected to smartphones via apps that let users learn more about their sexuality and sexual preferences. There are also gadgets for men and couples, even some that provide benefits when couples aren’t together.

Sex in Virtual Reality

While there are questions about the long-term consequences of allowing people to live out whatever sexual fantasy they have via artificial intelligence and what that may or may do to their real-life interactions with human partners, virtual reality offers a way to explore sexuality safely. Virtual reality sexual experiences are today more realistic than ever before, and many offer haptics (the sensation of touch). Virtual reality technology is developing rapidly creating very realistic experiences. The sexual experiences available through virtual reality will continue to become more immersive in the future. Many of these VR experiences can also be combined with other online devices.

With this new technology, those in committed relationships will have to determine new boundaries with one another. Is exploring sex in a virtual reality a safe way to experiment, or is it considered cheating? What if you engage in sex with your partner while augmenting reality so that your partner looks like someone else? The comfort level and boundaries of these experiences will need to be discussed among partners to establish what enhances the relationship rather than harms it.

Realistic Sex Robots

While you can see sextech is much more than sex robots, the reality is that much progress has been made to create sex robots that are very realistic and that you can customize. There are companies that are almost ready to unveil robots that seem to have a heartbeat and can mimic breathing. Ultimately, they are working on having sex dolls interact and communicate with partners as if they were human. RealDoll, makers of Harmony and other versions for men and women, offer technologically advanced AI-driven robots that can blink, move, and more. While these bots are available with a hefty price tag, Matt McMullen founder of RealDoll expects to have no shortage of customers.

Artificial intelligence and advanced technology have opened up a new world for healthy sexual expression, education, and knowledge, albeit it does present some new challenges that need to be considered. The comfort and willingness for committed partners to explore their sexual fantasies through AI might cross boundaries. Whether sex with AI is understood and allowed or allowed at what level will come down to each couple’s comfort level and understanding. Could AI create unrealistic expectations for human interaction, or do they provide an acceptable outlet for sexual transgressions and exploration not appropriate in real life?

As with any new frontier, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer here. In fact, there will likely be negatives along with the positives this technology offers.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex Flush

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— How to Embrace Your Body’s Natural Arousal Glow

by Gabrielle Smith

Remember mood rings? Sex flush is kind of like that. Except it’s your body changing color because of a very specific mood: Arousal.

Sex flush is a normal part of the arousal cycle. It can happen during solo or partnered sexy times to all genders. There’s no need to feel shy about it. In fact, it can be quite hot! What’s better than being so attracted to your partner(s) that the warm and fuzzies show up on the outside?

Here’s the full scoop on nature’s rosiest reaction.

Usually, sex flush becomes noticeable when skin reddens or becomes more pigmented as you get aroused. In some, this change in color appears in blotches, and for others, it looks like a full-body, get-down glow.

Sex flush can happen anywhere on your body. But your face, back, and chest are the most common places for it to make an appearance.

Those with a lighter complexion are more likely to experience sex flush, as well as folks who have been diagnosed with rosacea. Sex flush is often less noticeable in those with olive-to-darker skin tones.

It can also be referred to as “sex rash” because, well, it can look like a rash. Don’t worry, though! It usually fades after an hour or so. If your rash is painful and long lasting, though, you should consider visiting a doctor.

You might be too distracted to notice, but we all go through a predictable set of emotional and physical changes when we get turned on. The fancy name for these changes is the sexual response cycle.

The stages of the sexual response cycle don’t exactly have to go in order, and some are completely absent (ahem, I’m looking at you, “orgasm”). Sex flush can happen at any point during this cycle, but it often intensifies during orgasm.

Here’s how the sexual response cycle breaks down.

Phase 1: Desire

You ever watch your partner(s) get dressed in the morning, eyes skimming the curves and contours of their body? Then, suddenly, you’re wondering how bad it would be if they were late to work just this one time…

Welcome to phase one! Desire sets in when you get that little tingle in your nether region, pointing you towards the object of, well, your desire. That could be a partner(s). It can also be your not-so-secret stash of sex toys.

The physical signs of desire are:

  • an accelerating heart rate
  • self-lubricating genitals
  • hardening nipples
  • skin flushes
  • breathing heavily

Phase 2: Arousal

Phase two typically entails the action. It’s also called the “plateau”. Despite the less than scintillating name, here’s when the buildup begins. Phase two typically lasts the longest, especially if you get creative. Arousal leads directly to phase three, the orgasm.

The physical signs of arousal are:

  • the previous phase sustaining or amplifying
  • sex flush
  • muscle spasms in the feet, face, and hands
  • muscle tension increasing
  • vaginal walls swelling and darkening
  • testicles withdrawing further up into the scrotum

Phase 3: Orgasm

Ah yes, the big O. Some say they see stars, some accidentally profess love. This phase is the shortest of the four, typically lasting anywhere from a few to 30 minutes.

The physical signs of orgasm are:

Phase 4: Resolution

And with all crescendos, there must be an ascension. This is when your body begins to return to business as usual. Erect genitals begin to settle, your heart rate goes down, and you’re delightfully fatigued, torn between the need to run to the bathroom and pee or enjoy all of your post-sex bliss.

Absolutely nothing! As mentioned, sex flush goes away in an hour or so. If you’re feeling self-conscious about it, put on a robe, keep the lights dim, or consider taking a shower to cool off.

If your partner(s) points it out (hopefully out of concern, not judgment!) reiterate that it’s totally normal and non-contagious. Actually, they were likely the cause of it!

If you continue feeling insecure about the redness, talk to your partner(s) about it. Getting your feelings out in the open increases understanding, and can bring you closer. Plus, a caring partner(s) will ease your worries.

If you’re experiencing more than just redness of the skin, or any skin discoloration that lasts longer than 2 hours, you might not actually be experiencing sex flush, and it may be time to book an appointment. It’s better to be safe than sorry, after all.

While your mind may naturally leap toward common sex-imposed situations like STIs and pregnancy, you’re not likely to show signs of either of those immediately after sex.

You might be having a negative reaction to lube, sex toys, or latex condoms (or, maybe your partner(s) has a cat, and your body is not happy about it.)

If it is something other than a sex flush, be on the lookout for any concurrent symptoms, such as:

  • irritation
  • hives
  • burning/stinging
  • swelling
  • blisters
  • bleeding
  • unusual discharge
  • fever

Complete Article HERE!

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4 Things Every Woman Needs to Do for Her Sexual Health

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Women’s well-being has lagged behind men’s for far too long, but there are steps you can take to empower yourself — and all womxn.

By Pam O’Brien

“Every woman deserves good sexual health and a robust sex life,” says Jessica Shepherd, M.D., an ob-gyn and a gynecologic surgeon at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and the founder of Her Viewpoint, a social media forum for women to discuss topics like sex and menopause. “Yet in the medical field, women’s health is often put on the back burner. Even today, innovations and treatments that affect women take significantly longer to get approved than those for men do.”

For Black women, the situation is worse, as there are inequalities in care and treatment, says Dr. Shepherd. Black women are more likely to get conditions like fibroids and to have worse outcomes. And the medical field tends to be white and male. Black female physicians make up less than 3 percent of U.S. doctors, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. That’s why it’s so vital to be your own advocate. Here’s what you need to know.

Speak Up About Treatment Options

If you’re experiencing discomfort, painful sex, or bleeding, see your doctor. You might have fibroids, which affect 70 percent of white women and 80 percent of Black women by the time they’re 50. “We’ve developed minimally invasive surgeries that can really help. But women still say, ‘I’ve been to several doctors, and I was given one option.’ For African American women, research shows that option is usually hysterectomy,” says Dr. Shepherd. “Ask your doctor about all the available treatments, so you can choose the best one for you.”

For younger women, the cause of pelvic pain may be endometriosis. “One in 10 women suffers from it,” says Dr. Shepherd. “Now there are gynecologists who specialize in surgery for the condition, and we have a research-backed medication [called Orilissa] that treats it.”

Understand Your Screenings

Cervical cancer is the most preventable and treatable type of pelvic cancer because we can screen for it with Pap smears,” says Dr. Shepherd. “But most women have no idea that’s what a Pap smear is for. Screening tests are so important. Women are still dying from cervical cancer, and they shouldn’t be.”

Remember to Enjoy Yourself

“What we experience during intimate moments and how we feel about ourselves as sexual beings starts in our head,” says Dr. Shepherd. “Sexual wellness takes brainpower. Being confident and enjoying yourself is empowering.”

Advocate for Change

“When someone is disadvantaged because of inequality in education, housing, jobs, income, and criminal justice, that affects their health,” says Dr. Shepherd. “As a Black physician, I have a responsibility to navigate the system and fight for my patients so they can get what they need. By speaking out, I can make an impact, but I’m counting on white physicians to amplify the message and be part of the change.” As a patient, you can make your voice heard too. Says Dr. Shepherd, “All of us working together is how change is going to happen.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Your Guide to Lingam Massage

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by Eleesha Lockett, MS

If you’re familiar with tantric sex, you may also be familiar with the concept of tantric massage therapy. Lingam massage is a type of tantric massage therapy that involves massaging the penis.

The goal of lingam massage isn’t to simply have an orgasm. Rather, it’s to create a meditative sexual and spiritual experience.

In this article, we’ll guide you through what lingam massage is, how to perform a lingam massage on yourself or your partner, and some of the benefits of this tantric massage therapy.

Tantric massage has a long history of use as an instrument to help develop sexual and spiritual awareness.

Contrary to some modern interpretations of this tradition, tantric practices aren’t purely about sex. Instead, tantric massage therapy involves learning how to build up sexual energy to experience the pure feeling of pleasure.

Lingam massage, derived from the Sanskrit word for “penis,” is a type of tantric practice that involves massaging the penis and the areas around it. During a lingam massage, the body parts that get massaged are the:

  • penis
  • testicles
  • perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum)
  • even prostate

The goal of lingam massage isn’t only to reach orgasm. The ultimate intent is to experience full-body sexual and spiritual pleasure.

Being knowledgeable about technique is important for not only lingam massage but all types of tantric massage.

Here’s the best technique for how to perform a lingam massage on yourself or your partner.

Set the mood

Creating a positive atmosphere and mindset can make a lingam massage an enjoyable experience for yourself or for you and your partner.

Before the massage, make sure to take time to set your intentions and create an open mindset. Doing this can help establish the emotional mood of the massage and allow you to enjoy the experience as something both spiritual and sexual.

To create a sacred physical space that’s warm and inviting:

  • use fresh bedding
  • dim the lights
  • light some candles
  • put on some meditative music

This can help create a comfortable yet sensual environment before beginning the massage.

Prepare the oils

Massage oils help reduce friction and increase sensation during a massage. There are many different types of massage oils, including those with and without fragrances.

For a tantric lingam massage, a scented oil can help increase both awareness and arousal.

No matter what type of oil you choose, something natural and hypoallergenic is best, especially for sensitive skin. Popular natural oils to use include:

  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • almond oil

Start slowly

Start the massage by focusing on the peripheral areas, such as the:

  • lower abdomen
  • upper thighs
  • inner thighs

Move your hands slowly and intentionally across the skin, setting the stage for a sensual experience.

If you’re giving a lingam massage and you know your partner’s erogenous zones, massaging these areas can help spark that initial pleasure without moving too fast.

Remember, the goal of lingam massage is to take it slow and experience all the pleasurable sensations.

Work your way up

Now is the time to move your way from the erogenous zones to the more sensitive areas. Begin with the testicles, taking the time to massage this area as gently as possible.

If you or your partner enjoys it, the perineum can be another sensual area to explore.

When you’re ready to move on, move your massage to the bottom of the penis shaft, using gentle stroking motions. As you move toward the top of the shaft and the head of the penis, work slowly and intentionally.

Move inside

If the mood calls for it, and if your partner has consented to it, consider adding some sensual prostate stimulation to your lingam massage.

To find the prostate, gently insert a finger into the anus, angling the tip of your finger toward the front of the body. Once you’ve located it, you can use gentle pressure to stimulate the area.

For some people, prostate stimulation can even lead to a pleasurable prostate orgasm.

Practice restraint

When you feel an orgasm approaching, or you notice that your partner is close to orgasming, take a moment to pull back and focus on another area. You can continue this practice, called edging, throughout the massage for as long as you or your partner enjoys it.

If you or your partner orgasms early in the massage, that’s OK too. Don’t feel pressured to end the massage early. A sensual lingam massage can still be pleasurable even after an orgasm has been reached.

Savor the experience

According to some research in a 2016 review, certain sexual experiences are thought to invoke a trance-like state. With lingam massage, the full-body pleasure that one experiences is often enough to reach that state, which can feel more spiritual than sexual.

You can make the most of this meditative experience by:

  • taking it slowly
  • being present in your body
  • allowing you or your partner to experience both the sexual and spiritual nature of tantric massage

 

While a lingam massage is intended to be a sexual experience, there are many benefits beyond just pleasure. It’s believed that lingam massages can:

  • Promote full body healing. Despite their sexual nature, tantric practices like lingam massage are intended to promote healing. According to Buddhist principles, it’s believed that lingam massage can help the recipient heal from past trauma and align themselves with their spiritual and sexual self.
  • Relieve stress throughout the body. Sex is an activity that benefits the body and mind, with advantages such as increased libido and reduced risk of chronic diseases. When you participate in a lingam massage, you’re combining these benefits with the stress-relieving relaxation of massage therapy.
  • Improve sexual stamina and sexual experiences. Whether you’re interested in increasing your sexual stamina or just learning to enjoy sex more, lingam massages can allow you to embrace this in a safe space.
  • Explore spirituality and mindfulness. Experiencing something in the moment, just as it’s intended, is an example of mindfulness. If you’re a spiritual person, enjoying frequent lingam massages can help you develop that mindfulness practice.

Luckily, this type of tantric massage practice isn’t just limited to people with penises. A yoni massage focuses on sensually exploring the vulva, vagina, and other related areas.

Both types of massage therapy are intended to be a spiritual, sexual experience, so yoni massage shares many of the same benefits mentioned above.

If you’re interested in learning more about lingam massage, yoni massage, or other tantric practices, Embody Tantra is a good online resource to check out.

For those interested in taking courses on tantric practices, such as tantric massages, the Somananda Tantra School offers a variety of professional in-person and online courses.

To find tantra professionals near you for massages or training, you can visit Sacred Eros for more information.

Lingam massage is a type of tantric massage therapy that blends sexuality and spirituality to create an incredibly intimate experience.

When you perform a lingam massage, whether on yourself or a partner, the goal is to observe and experience pleasure in an almost meditative state.

Regular practice of tantric methods like lingam or yoni massage can help improve your libido, reduce your stress, and explore your sexuality in a healthy manner.

Complete Article HERE!

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This Is What Happens to Your Libido When You Exercise Regularly

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Doctors explain the four benefits and the one side effect.

By Elizabeth Harris

By now you probably know that regular exercise is good for your health. What you might not know is that it’s good for your sexual health, too.

A host of new research has revealed how exercise impacts your sexual well-being. It turns out that regular exercise can boost your libido, improve your sex life, and reduce the chances of experiencing pain during sex. The best part is it only takes about 30 minutes of exercise three times a week to feel the effects.

To find out more, HelloGiggles talked to Dr. Cindy Meston, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Texas and director of the Female Sexual Psychophysiology Lab, to find out exactly how exercise impacts your libido and how much exercise you need to experience the full range of benefits.

Read on to find out what happens to your libido when you start exercising regularly.

You get turned on easier

Research shows that exercise has an immediate effect on your libido. According to Dr. Meston, just 20 minutes of cardio exercise—like running, swimming or cycling—gets your body prepped for sex.

Dr. Meston explains that blood flow to the genitals can increase by as much as 150% immediately after exercise. This makes a big difference to your levels of arousal and lubrication, helping your body get ready for action. And with so much blood flowing to your genitals, you’re likely to feel an increase in desire and attraction and generally feel more turned on. You can expect your sex drive to peak around 15 to 30 minutes after intense exercise, according to Dr. Meston.

Exercise doesn’t just affect one area of the body, either. Dr. Meston’s research has shown that a combination of different factors add up to the positive impact of exercise on your libido. These changes happen immediately after exercise and also in the long term, once you start working out regularly.

Studies have linked yoga and Pilates, in particular, to improved sexual well-being. Women who took part in the research reported more desire, arousal, lubrication, and orgasms after doing 60 minutes of Pilates twice a week for 12 weeks. They also reported less pain during sex and more sexual satisfaction after taking part in regular Pilates sessions.

Even going out for a walk can make a difference in your sex life. A 2020 study showed that eight-plus weeks of walking improved the sexual well-being of women with arthritis.

You have more happy hormones

According to Dr. Meston, a range of hormonal changes also happen when you exercise. Exercise can boost your cortisol, estrogen, prolactin, oxytocin, and testosterone levels—and all those hormones play a part in your sex life.

“Testosterone has been shown to play an important role in sexual desire in both men and women, and oxytocin is the feel-good hormone that is released during orgasm,” explains Dr. Meston.

Exercise also increases serotonin levels in the body. This hormone can minimize feelings of tension and promote relaxation, helping to lift your mood and make you feel happier. By reducing tension in the body, serotonin also increases feelings of desire and all-around well-being, giving a big boost to your libido.

Your body gets ready for sex

Regular exercise can change your body in a big way. Using your muscles frequently helps to improve your circulation and cardiovascular health. It strengthens your heart, increasing the amount of blood your heart moves with each pump and upping blood flow around the body.

Cardiovascular health and circulation are especially important for men’s sexual health, as good blood flow is needed to get things going. As Dr. Emmanuele A. Jannini, a professor of Endocrinology and Sexual Medicine at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, explains, “Physical activity in men strongly improves the ability to obtain and maintain an erection.” Couples workouts, anyone?

For women, exercise can help with lubrication both before and during sex. By exercising regularly, women may be less likely to experience sexual health problems.

Dr. Jannini explains that almost four out of five women who didn’t exercise reported sexual dysfunction compared to women who exercised regularly. This is really important because it shows that exercise could reduce the chance of experiencing pain during sex and improve sexual satisfaction.

Your self-confidence gets a boost

As well as the physical effects of exercise on your body, there are long-term benefits for your self-confidence, too. “Exercise positively impacts body image, mood, and improves energy and flexibility,” says Dr. Meston, all of which play a big role in sexual well-being.

“Studies have shown that individuals who exercise regularly have more positive body images than those who do not,” says Dr. Meston. This matters because research shows that people with negative body image were less likely to want to have sex compared to people with good self-esteem, who reported more sexual desire.

When you’re more confident about your body during sex, it’s easier to focus on pleasure rather than being distracted by how your body looks or what your partner is thinking about you. Dr. Meston points out that this has nothing to do with BMI, however. It’s all about how you feel in your own body.

You might miss out if you become body-obsessed

There is a downside to exercising too much. According to Dr. Meston, “Some people become obsessed or addicted to exercise to such a degree that they lose perspective on what is healthy and what actually looks sexually attractive. This can negatively impact their self-esteem and body image.”

Dr. Jannini also points out that stress can impact how your body responds to sex, making it harder for you to be aroused. If you’re too preoccupied with your body image, you may not feel comfortable having sex and struggle to relax.

As with most things, finding a healthy balance is really important.

If you want to start exercising more frequently, try going for a walk or doing something you love, like dancing or jumping rope. It could have a big impact on your libido and your overall sexual well-being!

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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Growing risks of STIs in the over-45 crowd

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By University of Chichester

Over-45s are at a higher risk of contracting STIs than ever before because of society’s unwillingness to talk about middle-aged and older people having sex, a new report has found.

A study undertaken by the University of Chichester, alongside organisations in the UK, Belgium, and Netherlands, revealed negative attitudes and limited knowledge towards the age group’s needs is associated with a generation unaware of the dangers of unprotected intercourse.

It also found that over-45s living in socially and economically-disadvantaged areas are at particularly risk of contracting sexually-transmitted infections with little awareness of available services and limited access to doctors and nurses.

The report is part of the SHIFT project: a three-year initiative which aims to develop a training model that can be used by professionals working in healthcare to improve the sexual health and wellbeing of middle-aged and older people across the UK and Europe.

University of Chichester senior lecturer Dr. Ian Tyndall, who is leading the project’s evaluation, said that major changes in in recent decades has seen increasing numbers of sexually active older-people.

“Over-45s at most risk are generally those entering new relationships after a period of monogamy, often post-menopause, when pregnancy is no longer a consideration, but give little thought to STIs,” he added. “Given improvements in life expectancy, sexual healthcare needs to improve its intervention for older adults and vulnerable groups to provide a more utilised, knowledgeable, compassionate, and effective service.”

The three-year SHIFT study was launched in 2019. Following a 2.5million grant from the EU Interreg 2Seas programme, its intention is to address growing rates of STIs in over-45s and improve engagement of older people in sexual health services, including those facing socioeconomic disadvantage.

The latest SHIFT report included around 800 participants across the south coast of England and northern regions of Belgium and the Netherlands, nearly 200 of which face socioeconomic disadvantage. Initial findings have highlighted four critical areas where, the researchers believe, an intervention can address the gaps in current healthcare provision: awareness, access, knowledge, and stigma.

  • Awareness: The results showed that a significant number of participants were unaware of the risks of STI, while 46 per cent did not know the location of their nearest healthcare centre. Researchers did, however, find that social media was the most effective tool for encouraging engagement with sexual health services—ahead of leaflets or GP appointments.
  • Knowledge: The participants highlighted that their health professionals, including doctors and nurses, lacked sufficient sexual health knowledge—and consequently only half had a recent STI test. There is therefore an “urgent need” to create a tailored training programme to increase understanding in the wider healthcare workforce, the researchers wrote.
  • Stigma: Shame was identified as the biggest barrier to accessing sexual healthcare services, according to the report. A number of participants felt that sexual health has become a “dirty” term which is discouraging people from attending regular check-ups.
  • Access: Limited information around the location of sexual health centres and restricted opening times were a consistent problem for many participants. Others living in more rural locations also mentioned that growing costs of public transport was a barrier to appointments.

Fellow SHIFT researcher Dr. Ruth Lowry added: “It is clear from the numbers reporting fear of being judged by important others who know them and by health professionals that stigma remains a crucial barrier to address in any sexual health promotion intervention.

“The findings have also shown that groups with one or more socio-economic disadvantages, such as homeless people, sex workers, non-native language speakers and migrants, are at even greater risk of being unaware of their sexual and unable to access the appropriate services.”

The SHIFT partners intend to have an effective intervention ready by 2021, after which it will be rolled out to healthcare professionals, with the research published in 2022. It intends to reach as many as 150,000 people across the south coast of the UK, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

The survey was distributed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, while focus groups and interviews are taking place via video calls to navigate restrictions in jurisdictions across participating countries.

To find out more about the SHIFT project go to http://www.interreg2seas.eu/en/shift.

Complete Article HERE!

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What Is Sexual Fluidity?

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And What Does Being Sexually Fluid Mean?

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Sexual preferences are not set in stone and can change over time, often depending on the immediate situation the individual is in. This has been described as sexual fluidity. For example, if someone identifies as heterosexual but then finds themselves in an environment with only people of the same gender, they might feel increased sexual or romantic attraction to those same-gender partners. Like any other social trait, sexual preferences, attitudes, behaviors and identity can be flexible to some degree.

Another related concept, erotic plasticity, is defined as change in people’s sexual expression — that is, attitudes, preferences and behavior. In other words, someone’s sexual response can fluctuate depending on their surrounding environment.

Simply because change occurs does not mean that women’s, or men’s, sexuality is strange, or, as has been argued in Slate, “confusing, mysterious, or overly complicated”.

Some people have been upset by researchers who study “sexual fluidity”, because the use of the term “variability” in the English language is a synonym for “erraticism” and “capriciousness”, which when used to describe women, can sound sexist. But a careful reading of the scientific literature reveals that there is no implication of women being any more puzzling than men when discussing sexuality.

Not the same as bisexuality

Most people would say they have a sexual orientation. But the degree to which a person is sexually fluid is a separate variable that operates alongside sexual orientation. Some people are highly fluid, while others are less so.

Sexual fluidity can occur in people who are definitively heterosexual or homosexual, but simply experience a change in their sexual response. For example, you may have a preference for a more feminine type of person, but then discover someone who pushes your buttons in a new and exciting way. You may still prefer partners of the same gender with the same feminine leanings as before, but with more masculine features.

Or maybe you crave a different type of sex. Consider a person who usually wants only missionary-position sex with one partner but then moves to a different environment where others around have multiple partners and engage in more adventurous sex acts, and now wants to engage in them. That person has also experienced sexual plasticity.

Bisexuality is defined as the romantic or sexual attraction to other people who identify as either male or female (“bi” meaning two genders). If you ask people who identify as straight, but then have sex with someone else of the same gender, this experience does not necessarily make them “bisexual”, but it does make them sexually fluid.

Research by Lisa Diamond contains examples of women who identify as predominantly heterosexual in their lives, but find themselves falling deeply in love with one particular woman, while continuing to identify as straight. It does not mean these women are bisexual. They have developed such infatuation only for an individual person who happens to be of the same gender.

Longitudinal research shows that people sometimes change their sexual orientation. This is a very important point, because it means that we can’t lump everything together and call it “bisexuality.” It would be counterproductive to label all of these different behaviors “bisexual,” because it would impede scientific research on the true origins and varieties of sexual orientation, as well as sexual outcomes and expressions.

Also, romantic bonding is fundamentally different from sexual desire. In the words of Diamond, “one can fall in love without experiencing sexual desire”.

Men vs. women

If you look at the data, a picture starts to emerge that women as a group tend to be more sexually fluid than men. For example, lesbian-identifying women are significantly more likely to have heterosexual sex compared to gay-identifying men having heterosexual sex. Heterosexual women are significantly more likely to have consensual sex with female partners in prisons compared to heterosexual men in prison.

But certainly these are statistical associations that are entirely relative, and the results say nothing about all women or all men. There are many men and women who show no signs of sexual fluidity at all.

There is some recent work that addresses male sexual fluidity. Consider a 2006 study that asked men to report their sexual experiences over the past 12 months. Results showed that among men who had sex with men, a higher percentage identified as “straight” compared to “gay,” and almost none identified as bisexual. This may be another example of male sexual fluidity.

Human sexuality is not supposed to be simple and straightforward. If psychologists claimed that people’s levels of introversion or neuroticism — two of the “Big Five” personality traits — fluctuate over time, that would perhaps seem intuitively obvious and uncontroversial. But because we are talking about sexual variables, some may assume they are stable over time. That, however, is an unscientific way of looking at the subject.

Complete Article HERE!

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You can enjoy sex with erectile dysfunction.

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Here’s how.

A person with a penis can feel turned on without an erection, and even orgasm and ejaculate.

By Kellie Scott

Many people with a penis see an erection as an important part of giving and receiving pleasure.

That puts a lot of pressure on sexual encounters, given 40 per cent of Aussie men will experience erectile dysfunction.

“People typically overlook the fact that a person’s erection waxes and wanes throughout the sexual encounter, meaning they may lose their erection, or partially lose it and then regain it,” explains Matt Tilley, a clinical psychologist and lecturer in sexology at Curtin University.

“Sometimes the person can become fixated on the loss of erection further preventing them regaining their erection.”

The reality is, you don’t need a hard penis to experience or give pleasure.

“A person with a penis doesn’t require a full erection to have a pleasurable sexual encounter. They can still experience high levels of stimulation and pleasure without an erection,” Mr Tilley says.

“For many people, this is extremely satisfying.”

So what can sex without an erection look like? We spoke with Mr Tilley and Dr Chris Fox, a senior lecturer in sexology at the University of Sydney, to bust a few common myths.

Erectile dysfunction briefly explained

The common causes of erectile dysfunction (ED) occur within two domains: physiological and psychological, says Mr Tilley.

While the risk of ED increases with age, anyone with a penis can experience it.

For physiological causes, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners says ED shares common risk factors with metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease and prostate surgery, for example.

Other factors can include smoking, medications and pelvic trauma.

“This is a key reason why anyone with erectile difficulties should consult their GP,” Mr Tilley says.

Psychological causes may include stress, relationship issues, depression and anxiety.

“Psychogenic causes are multifaceted and are likely to result from a complex interplay between beliefs and attitudes, and disrupted thoughts about experiences and sexual performance,” Mr Tilley says.

While you may wish to see your GP, sex therapist or other medical professionals to address ED, experiencing it doesn’t mean you can’t have good sex.

Arousal, orgasm and ejaculation

Broadening your definition of sex will help increase your ability to experience pleasure without an erection.

Arousal is more than just a physiological experience, explains Dr Fox.

“An erection simply means a man has an erection; you can have one for many reasons other than being sexually aroused.”

A person with a penis can feel turned on without an erection, and even orgasm and ejaculate.

Mr Tilley says the person will need to feel highly stimulated and aroused and have the motivation to achieve one or both.

“It’s important to distinguish the difference between orgasm and ejaculation.

“We can think of ejaculation as the expulsion of semen from the penis, whereas an orgasm may entail this but is also best thought of as a mixture of physiological and psychological responses.”

He says things that we typically associate with orgasm are euphoria and a heightened state of intense pleasure.

A holistic and explorative sexual experience

Broadening your definition of sex will help increase your ability to experience pleasure without an erection.

Mr Tilley recommends thinking about the holistic sexual experience.

“A sense of togetherness and intimacy is usually an extremely rewarding experience irrespective of the presence of an erection.”

Dr Fox says challenging the social myths around what enjoyable sex looks like forces us to try new things.

“There is more to sexuality than just than 6 inches! With the exception of penile penetration, everything we do with an erect penis we can do with a flaccid penis.”

Dr Fox encourages his clients to explore soft-penis play.

“If there is no chance of erection, it’s about playing with a flaccid penis using lubrication, and also exploring the genitals and body as a whole.

“Even the perineum and anus, the nipples and other erogenous zones around the body.”

Mr Tilley says kissing, caressing, genital play and oral stimulation can all be experienced as pleasurable whether there is an erection or not.

In relation to partnered sex, Dr Fox stresses it is something for both parties to work on together.

“The partner may not be the cause, but they may be part of the solution.”

Communication, exploration and a light-hearted approach can all help you experience pleasure together.

“Remember to have fun. Explore. The skin is the largest organ and the mind the most powerful organ,” Dr Fox says.

“Let’s use these more in sex play and enjoy our bodies and not just the penis.”

Complete Article HERE!

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What You Need to Know About Being a BDSM Switch

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It’s like a lil bit of dominant + a lil bit of submissive.

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BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism. This is where the whole dominant (sometimes called a “top”) and submissive (a “bottom”) dynamic comes into play.

“A top is simply someone who leads/guides the scene and the bottom is there to receive the experience,” explains Mistress Rogue, professional dominatrix and headmistress of The Dom House. (The dominant and submissive terms can also be used when there’s a power dynamic as well.)

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And while you might be most familiar with what a dominant and submissive do, there’s another term you might not be as familiar with: a switch. Let’s dive deeper.

What is a BDSM switch?

A BDSM switch is someone who goes back and forth between dominating and being submissive, says Rogue. The dynamic change depends on the mood, circumstances, and the vibe between the partners, she adds.

And while the term is used commonly in the BDSM community, it’s important to note that switching—just like being dominant or submissive—isn’t always sexual. It’s merely about an exchange of power, which could be anything from doing chores to consensually ordering your partner around. What’s done in the bedroom is like an ~added~ bonus.

How do you know if you’re a switch?

If you’re wondering whether or not you’re a switch, the answer is actually pretty simple: Just think about what turns you on.

If sometimes you feel more eager to take control in the bedroom (e.g. riding your partner, tying them up, etc.), and other times the idea of your partner running the show (e.g. spanking you, tying you up, or just managing the positions) sounds better, there’s a good chance you’re a switch, says Rogue.

If you’re still unsure, chatting with your partner(s) can help you figure it out. “It’s about being honest with yourself and with your partners so that you both are receiving as much pleasure from the interaction as the other,” says Florida department of health sexual health educator, Jasmine Akins. “As long as you have partner communication and honesty, you should be able to self-identify.”

What are the perks of switching?

The most obvious perk of switching is having the opportunity to play in different ways with potentially different partners. Not only will it give you more chances for connection (and uh, orgasms), but it will also give you a more well-rounded perspective, which can make you an even better dominant or submissive.

“The best dominants often start as subs and then find their way up to being a top or a dom,” says Rogue. “In fact, this was how I became a dominatrix. I was introduced to BDSM by a dominant, and I learned and built skills knowing what I wanted as a bottom, so I could become a better dom.”

In addition to honing your skills, switching can also be majorly liberating in a mental sense. You can explore different head spaces and free yourself from playing the role you think you have to play during sex, says Akins. This can aid in communication, decrease boredom, and stimulate creativity.

Are there any downsides or risks?

The major concern with switching—other than becoming addicted to it, lol— is making sure everyone is continuously onboard and you’re practicing safely. “Being a switch means learning double safety information for BDSM practices. Keeping everything SSC (safe, sane and consensual) is vital,” she explains.

Any BDSM play can involve risks, which is why things like constant consent and safe words are integral. Partner communication is vital in any sexual situation, but especially if you’re adding some new kinks to the mix.

Finally, just like with any sort of sexual activity, reducing the risk of STI transmission is always essential. “You should be tested whenever you have a new partner, and if you’re in a monogamous relationship, I recommend testing at least once a year,” advises Akins. Utilizing barrier methods is a smart idea for some forms of BDSM play where penetration or fluid exchange is involved.

Now, here’s how to try switching for the first time

If you think you might like to switch up the power dynamics in the bedroom, don’t be afraid to explore those desires, even if they seem like a curveball in your relationship.

“The first step is being interested in it, so don’t feel like you have to be the BDSM king or queen the very first time,” says Akins. “Do your research and ask questions.”

Both experts agree: Educating yourself is key to a successful switch. And luckily, there are tons of resources out there to get you started—just don’t reach for Christan and Ana’s story as a guidebook.

And if your research leads you to believe switching might be for you, let your partner know. While it might seem hot to spring it on them mid-session, it’s actually important to talk things out ahead of time so you’re both on the same page.

Plus, you will need consent to test out a new dynamic. You never know what triggers someone might have, or what emotions might be stirred up within yourself, so communicating throughout (and checking in with yourself) is vital.

Then when it comes time to go at it, take things extra slow.

“If you’re a newbie, feel free to ease into it. You can start with a simple blindfold to heat things up. As you get more comfortable with the idea, you can expand your play options with yourself and with your partner,” suggests Akins.

“The [desire] may develop [or deteriorate] over time, and since this will probably be a pretty different experience for both of you, don’t expect to know right away whether you like the dynamic or not. “It’s okay to try new things, and it’s okay to absolutely adore them or hate them,” Akins says. “It’s your body, and you have the final say. Always.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexual health during cancer treatment

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Many patients don’t want to talk about sexual health while being treated for cancer — here’s why they should.

Changes in sexual health may not be top of mind when you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, but it might be more important than you expect. It’s important to talk to your health care providers about sexual health and cancer.

By: Sara Thompson

Cancer treatment and sexual health

Depending on the treatment you are given, sexual side effects range from mildly annoying to downright debilitating. For instance, hormone-blocking medications can cause vaginal dryness, which can lead to painful sex or lowered sex drive. Patients who have mastectomy (breast removal) may no longer have feeling in the chest area. Changes in body image affect sexual well-being. Young women may face infertility or early menopause with cancer treatments.

“This topic isn’t discussed enough,” said Laila S. Agrawal, M.D., medical oncologist with Norton Cancer Institute. “But sexual health affects your quality of life, and there are ways to address those issues.”

You’re not alone

Patients tend to feel their cancer diagnosis sets them apart from others. They may feel like their issues are theirs alone, but they’re not.

“Sexual health concerns are common issues for cancer survivors,” Dr. Agrawal said. “A Livestrong survey in 2010 listed this as the third most important issue for cancer survivors.”

Many times, patients also feel they shouldn’t discuss their sexual issues with their doctor. Patients may feel uncomfortable asking, or they may be afraid to make their doctors uncomfortable. They may believe sexual health issues are not as “important” as their physical cancer treatments and therefore may be reluctant to bring it up with the doctor.

Practical tips for today

Dr. Agrawal has some ideas to help you open the lines of communication with your doctor, care team and partner.

“It is understandable that this may a sensitive topic to discuss with your doctor,” she said. “Just know that this is a very common issue among cancer survivors, and medical treatments are available that may help.”

It may help to write down your questions before you see your doctor. Here are some questions to get you started.

  • Is there a risk of infertility with this treatment? What can I do about it?
  • Is it safe to have sex while I am going through chemotherapy? What precautions do we need to take?
  • Is it possible to get pregnant while on this treatment? Would there be any increased risks or negative effects on the baby?
  • What method to prevent pregnancy would be right for me?
  • Will this treatment have effects on sexual function?
  • Can anything be done about low interest in sex?
  • Can anything be done to help with my body image?
  • Sex has become painful. Is there anything that can help?
  • What is pelvic floor physical therapy, and would it be helpful for me?

Further resources

“In the near future, we hope to open a sexual health clinic at Norton Healthcare for a more comprehensive assessment and treatment program,” Dr. Agrawal said. “The behavioral oncology program can assist with issues that affect sexual functioning, including body image, libido, depression, anxiety and relationship concerns. Some conditions must be checked and treated by a gynecologist.”

Many sexual health concerns after cancer are very common and can be treated. Just like many things are not the same after a cancer diagnosis, your sex life may not be the same either. Having patience with yourself, having honest communication with your partner and looking at intimacy in new and creative ways can help restore a healthy sex life.

Complete Article HERE!

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What Is Gender Non-Conforming?

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People Whose Gender Presentation Defies Expectations

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A person is considered to be gender non-conforming if their appearance or behavior is not what would be expected for someone else with their same gender or sex. Not every person who is gender non-conforming is transgender or gender diverse, although the two groups are often combined.

People can be cisgender and gender non-conforming. Similarly, many transgender people are highly gender conforming, if given the opportunity to affirm their gender identity socially, medically, and/or surgically.

Identity vs. Perception

People are transgender or gender diverse if their gender identity is not what would be expected for their assigned sex at birth. Their gender identity describes who they are and how they see themselves.

People are gender non-conforming if the way that they present themselves is not what would be expected for someone of their gender or assigned sex at birth. It’s about how they present themselves to the world and/or how they are perceived.

Some people are both gender diverse and gender non-conforming, and some are one but not the other. Sometimes, transgender individuals present as gender non-conforming until they have the opportunity to affirm their gender. Once they have gone through a process of gender affirmation, they may or may not be gender non-conforming any longer.

The Meaning of Gender Non-Conforming

What it means to be gender non-conforming varies across time, place, and culture. A man in a skirt may be seen as gender non-conforming by some and wearing traditional garb by others. A woman with short hair may be seen as chic and fashionable or a terrifying invader into feminine space.1

Gender non-conformity is culturally constructed and, depending on the culture and type of non-conformity, may be perceived in positive or negative ways.

Gender Non-Conformity in Childhood

Much of the confusion about how many gender diverse children grow up to be transgender adults reflects misunderstanding of early studies of gender identity in children. Early studies often examined whether children were gender non-conforming rather than whether they met (modern or past) criteria for being considered transgender.

Children who are gender non-conforming will not necessarily grow up to be transgender. Many of them grow up to be gay or lesbian. Others grow up to be cisgender and heterosexual.

However, children who are insistent that they are a gender other than that associated with their assigned sex, and who are persistent in that belief, are highly likely to grow up to be transgender adults. This is in contrast to children who wish they were the other gender, who are less likely to have a transgender identity in adulthood.

Another way to think of this is that the children first group are worried about how they fit in their bodies, whereas the those in the esecond group are concerned about how they fit in the world.

Many children in the second group may grow up to be part of a sexual minority group—gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. It is thought that, for some children, gender variance could be a reflection of subconscious assumptions about social roles in the context of attraction.

The association of gender variance with sexual minority status, both in real life and in media , may also provide additional reasons why so many gender non-congruent children experience bullying and discrimination.

Measuring Childhood Gender Conformity

There are a number of different scales that scientists use to measure childhood gender conformity. In general, these scales seek to categorize whether children behave in male-typical or female-typical ways, and whether those behaviors are what would be expected for a child of that recorded sex at birth.

By definition, such scales must make assumptions about what is male-typical and what is female-typical. This can be highly problematic for children who are raised outside of mainstream expectations for gender roles, although such children are also less likely to be in environments where the adults surrounding them are concerned about any gender atypicality.

Gender Non-Conforming Discrimination

The vast majority of children in the United States are taught about traditional gender roles and have heard negative opinions about people who do not conform to them.

This may contribute to beliefs that it is acceptable to bully or mistreat individuals who are gender non-conforming, even among individuals who have been bullied or mistreated for some level of gender non-conformity. That is why it is important to empower educators to discuss and normalize gender non-conformity from an early age.

Research suggests that gender non-conforming youth may be more likely to experience abuse and other adverse childhood events (ACEs).7 Numerous studies have also shown that gender non-conforming people of all ages are at increased risk of bullying, stigma, and discrimination.

Heterosexism and heteronormativity are thought to drive much of the discrimination against people who do not conform to traditional gender roles. Bullying directed at gender non-conforming people is often because of assumptions that they are sexual or gender minorities. and serves to reinforce social norms about gender and sexuality.8 The acceptance of such abuse has therefore been compared to the acceptance of racialized assault, or lynching.

Gender nonconformity is not a medical issue. However, exposure to bullying and discrimination is associated with an increased risk of both physical and mental health concerns.

This can be explained by the minority stress model, which looks at how being part of a stigmatized group can impact different aspects of health and well-being. Gender atypicality has also been shown to be associated with social anxiety, possibly because of the ways that social interactions have been experienced in the past.

A Word From Verywell

There is nothing wrong with being gender non-conforming. Gender role expectations are largely artificial and rely on problematic assumptions of gender essentialism.

They have also been shown to cause problems to all sorts of people, from those who are gender non-conforming to those who are trying very hard to conform to masculine expectations. A broadening of social norms to embrace a wider range of variation in gender roles, behaviors, and presentations has the potential to benefit everybody.

Complete Article HERE!

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16 Ways To Turn On A Sapiosexual

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— aka The Brainy Person You’re Super Into

by Farrah Daniel

A sapiosexual is someone who finds intelligence sexually attractive or arousing. Like all types of sexualities, people’s personal definitions of sapiosexuality may vary, but what’s certain is people with this identity would rather be turned on by what they think is your most alluring feature: your mind. 

If you’re dating a sapiosexual person and want to learn how to turn them on, the first step is to know typical seduction attempts don’t work for them. Their idea of foreplay, for example, is to hear about your book collection. That means you have to charm them with a sharpened intellect as well as your witty banter, comparative thinking, and curiosity.

Here are 16 ways to create the intellectual synergy needed to fire up a relationship with a sapiosexual: 

1. Pay attention to their unique interests.

First and foremost, know that no two sapiosexuals are alike, says sex-positive counselor Ashley D. Sweet, M.A., LPC, LMHC, CCRC: “Being attracted to intelligence or intellect does not mean the sapiosexual in your life will be turned on by everything that falls in the broad realm of ‘nerdy.'”

An easy way to seduce your sapiosexual is to get to know them for who they are. To do that, Sweet encourages you to peruse their bookshelf, social media feeds, or even their Netflix queue to learn the kinds of content that stimulate them. “Your first instinct may be to drop a hot game of Catan on the first date when, in fact, they’d be way more into chilling with an episode of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos,” Sweet tells mbg.

When you can show genuine enthusiasm or curiosity in their unique interests, sapiosexual people will be more inclined to let you in.

To achieve the type of intimacy your sapiosexual craves, take the onus off of physical touch and instead explore their sexuality verbally.

“The brain is the most powerful sex organ,” explains certified sex and relationship expert Emily Morse, Ph.D., “and for sapiosexuals, this mind-body connection is crucial when it comes to arousal.” That’s why deeply discussing both your sexual desires and where they come from “works well for sapiosexuals because the biggest turn on can be talking about your turn-ons.”

Be vivid as you describe how you’d like to play out some fantasies, as well as generous in your expressions of how they make you feel—you might be surprised to see your partner respond to this much more than a lap dance. (Here’s our full guide to dirty talk for a little inspo.)

As you discover each other’s sexual appetites, Morse recommends a Yes, No, Maybe? list to help you learn more about preferences. “For many sapiosexuals, it’ll provide enough verbal fodder and foreplay for days,” she remarks. Once couples figure out where they’re aligned, “they can spend time deep-diving into why they’re into what they are [and] developing extensive erotic road maps.”

3. Plan book club and library dates.

There’s a big chance your sapiosexual loves libraries and getting lost in the large, expansive aisles of endless knowledge. Participate in their interest, but spice it up and turn it into a library make-out tour. Visit different libraries in your town—or take a day trip to one in another city—and spend the afternoon perusing and analyzing the titles you like. And, of course, sneak some kisses between the bookshelves.

Another option is to start a book club. You can make an erotica-books-only rule to set an intimate tone, but the activity can feel just as sexy if you wax poetic about science or history books. The opportunity to watch you expand on your views and soundly argue differing opinions will be their favorite part of the evening.

4. Discover culture together.

Sapiosexual people are eager to learn new things. When you plan the next date night, certified sex therapist Michelle Herzog, LMFT, CST, suggests you feed their curiosity and take them to an art gallery, museum, or any kind of cultural center that provokes enlightening discourse. “Bringing a sapiosexual to a space that provides the opportunity to learn can be incredibly attractive [to them],” she says.

In addition to that, exploring these spaces together gives you a chance to understand each other’s interests. Sapiosexuals want to connect with their lovers by exchanging knowledge and philosophical beliefs, so they’ll relish the chance to swap opinions about anything new you learn together.

Yes, sapiosexuals are attracted to intelligence, but they don’t expect you to know everything. No one can live up to that standard (not even them), so don’t feel pressured to awe this person with your ability to keep up with every topic. Instead, tell them when you’re clueless.

After all, true intellectuals can admit when they don’t know something, and your partner might be impressed with your humility. According to Sweet, they certainly won’t be turned on by your attempt to know it all: “Performative intelligence will fall flat and likely turn your beloved sapiosexual right off.”

On your next date, be honest when you don’t know something. Your eagerness to learn more will be sure to turn on a sapiosexual, as well as the ability to flex their brain muscles on a topic they love.

6. Have a game night (but with a twist).

“Play Strip Scrabble, and you’ll find you’ve never worked harder or been more turned on by a triple-word score,” Morse attests. In this steamy version of the game, whoever has fewer points by the end will be naked first, but Morse notes that everyone wins in this version of the game.

You can try this with a game of your sapiosexual’s favorite trivia categories, too: Choose a certain number of clothing items for each player to wear, and then play as you typically would. When someone earns a point, they get to pick one piece of clothing for the other player to remove. Keep playing until the game is over, or when everyone’s as naked as they’re comfortable being.

An adult spin works for most intellectual board and card games, so try this with one of your choosing. However, you can also skip them entirely: Stroke your sapiosexual’s brain with a fiery game of debate. Not only will they be sexually attracted to your ability to eloquently express your perspective about a complex subject, but they won’t be able to resist the sight of you respectfully arguing your points. (Feel free to spice this game up with a strip-twist, too.)

Sweet recommends you find interests that intersect, then get creative to create an intimate evening that fires up your minds and bodies.

Are you both fans of Alan Watts, for instance? Plan a Watts-themed date night. “Write down some of your favorite quotes, and fold them into origami for your sapiosexual lover to open,” she suggests, mentioning a reminder to omit any typos or incorrect grammar. If it’s something they’re comfortable with, you can role-play, too: Sweet says to role-play as if you’re Watts leading a class. As you read his lectures aloud, pretend your lover is a sexy, brilliant student in the back of the class.

“Use your imagination, get creative, and go deeper,” urges Sweet. “Sapiosexuals love that!”

8. “Are you up?” instead of “U up?”

Expressions of intelligence are sure to gain the attraction of a sapiosexual. One way to show off your intellect is to ensure your verbal and communication skills match theirs. When you chat on social media, text or talk on the phone, or sit across from them at a coffee shop, the sapiosexual you want to woo will admire your ability to adhere to proper spelling and grammar rules in your communication.

Sapiosexuals are turned on by the thought of their lover being well read and well spoken—so before you send off your next text to them, triple-check your spelling and fact-check your argument.

The sapiosexual you desire wants to hear you talk about topics you’re knowledgeable in. “It’s often the authentic expression of someone else’s intelligence that is so intriguing and arousing to people who identify as sapiosexual,” Sweet points out. “If you’re really passionate about a topic, show your passion while you discuss it.”

Whether it’s your robotics hobby, your favorite French literature, or your interest in cosmic exploration, give them more insight into who you are, and speak vigorously about what excites you. Your expertise will arouse your sapiosexual, especially since you can teach them something new in the process.

Sweet says she can attest to this: “I remember being so hot for my 73-year-old sociology professor when I was a 20-year-old undergrad because he was completely passionate about what he was teaching.”

10. Documentary and chill.

Dinner and a movie is a classic date-night option for all couples—for sapiosexuals, however, the latest rom-com or book-adapted thriller may not live up to their standard of intriguing and examinable cinema.

Rather than a mainstream movie, watch a documentary from your couch or theirs, or buy tickets to the showing in town when a film festival rolls around. Sapiosexuals want to be captivated by the exchange of abstract thought, so don’t forget to hold a discussion after the documentary and compel them with your worldly views.

Sapiosexuals are people who want to explore attraction through philosophical questions, such as, “What’s the meaning of life?” “Do you believe in fate?” or “How does one attain happiness?”

“Intellectual conversation, exploration, and gaining perspective are all qualities that contribute to a sapiosexual’s level of attraction and connection,” Herzog tells mbg. Talking about what you do for a living and where you grew up are important, but a sapiosexual would rather know more about your insights and philosophies. “Plus, exploring questions like these really allows two people to get to know each other on a more meaningful level.”

12. Write a short story together.

If the sapiosexual in your life is a storyteller, ask if they want to pen a short story with you. Like the book club, you can dare to write an erotica story that makes you both sweat, but that’s not the only way to excite them during this activity. Since intelligence dazzles sapiosexuals, it’ll be a turn-on when you partake and do well at something that stimulates them. Feelings of desire toward you are sure to stir up as you adequately engage their intellect and create the art they feel passionate about.

Sweet explains that people who identify as sapiosexual value the mind over the physical and material—in that case, bring your “oral skills” to their level and read works of interest to your loved one. Whether you read Anais Nin’s classic erotica, 17th-century poetry, or a technical manual, Morse says when you read them a book, you’ll “stoke the sexual and intellectual requirements for many sapiosexuals.”

As you read, slowly pronounce and deliver your words to entice your partner to hang on to each one. “This is the sapiosexual equivalent of slowly undressing with your eyes,” emphasizes Morse. To send them over the edge, clearly articulate your words. And according to Sweet, you should be mindful of syntax, cadence, or rhythms that apply to the work at hand. If you succeed, she says, one set of oral skills may lead to another.

14. Pretend-host a podcast episode.

What is your sapiosexual’s favorite podcast? There may be a few, but learn one and listen to several episodes to familiarize yourself with the subject matter. Once you feel confident in your ability to hold your own in a discussion, plan to spend the next date night play-hosting an episode of your own.

All you need to do is download a free app to record the show, then decide which episode to put your spin on, or which topics to cover for the first time in the same style as the podcast show hosts. Remember this doesn’t have to be perfect; what matters is they’ll be touched you went out of your way to indulge their pastime.

The most important thing about the activity to explore taboo subjects together is to do so respectfully. It’s easy to get riled up in response to views that oppose yours, but no matter whether it’s religion or politics, “a sapiosexual will want to explore the depths of these topics,” notes Herzog. She also mentions these taboo subjects are not only incredibly explorative but also imperative to be honest about.

Face these controversial conversations, and let your lover get to know you on a more profound level—Herzog says your sapiosexual will love to dissect your perspective “and the different concepts that deeply shape who you are.”

16. Learn a new skill together.

Impress the sapiosexual you want to turn on and commit to a long-term activity you can do together. Learn a new language or complete a DIY project—either way, their attraction will grow as they observe you building something from scratch or witness your aptitude to learn quickly. Afternoons in the shed can easily result in you two in bed. 

However you choose to turn on a sapiosexual, the key is to lead with your brain and not your body. Like most people, sapiosexuals appreciate good looks, but it’s not what keeps them.

Complete Article HERE!

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