A Sexuality Researcher Explains a Big Unanswered Question in Sex Studies

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By Cari Romm

Most of the time, the people who ask how you’re doing will be satisfied by the rote, two-word reply: I’m fine. I’m good. Really, it was the question that mattered, not the answer. Every so often, though, you’ll encounter someone who truly wants to know about the state of your emotional/physical/spiritual existence, who puts a hard emphasis on the last word to show that they’re trying to go deep: No, really, how are you doing?

It’s a question that sex researchers, too, would love to be able to ask, explains Kristen Mark, a professor of health promotion at the University of Kentucky and a sexuality researcher at the Kinsey Institute. The problem is that the vocabulary for it doesn’t really exist: Scientists have tools to measure various facets of our sex lives, from pain and dysfunction to communication and overall satisfaction, but they don’t have a tool to holistically assess all of those things together. Sexually, how are you doing? We don’t really know.

The Cut spoke to Mark about the concept of “sexual well-being,” why researchers don’t yet have a way to measure it, and why, without one, we’re missing out on a trove of information about what makes for good sex, bad sex, happy and unhappy couples, and fulfilling individual sex lives. Below is a lightly edited and condensed version of our conversation.

Sexual well-being involves the absence of sexual problems, but to me, that’s kind of neutral. That’s baseline. My colleagues and I think about sexual well-being as going beyond risk reduction to the point where one is in a state of feeling safe, feeling trusting of their partner, feeling satisfied, fulfillment, attachment — especially in the current climate that we’re in, the safety and trust piece, I think, is quite important. Sexual well-being really plays a huge role in people’s overall sex lives, their romantic lives, and also their overall well-being. And it’s really quite crucial for the success of long-term relationships.

But it’s beyond each of those alone. And the reason it’s kind of complicated is because we do have definitions of all the constructs that I mentioned, but there’s no gold standard measure of sexual well-being, which would encompass all those things and would take this in sort of a holistic way.

It definitely can be something you have as a single person. This is not reliant on relationships. A couple may have a higher or lower sexual well-being based on how their relationship is going — certainly, if you’re in a relationship, that’s going to contribute to your sexual well-being. But being single and being happy about that, and feeling like you are sexually satisfied by being alone — you can reach a state of sexual well-being by single as well.

So much of the work that we do in the sexual-health world, or really just generally in society, looks at sexuality as being this thing that one either shouldn’t talk about, or should only talk about in the context of disease avoidance and risk reduction. And it’s quite important to our overall well-being that we go beyond that risk-reduction model, because what sort of level of satisfaction, or level of security, are we getting when we’re just looking to avoid getting pregnant or getting an STI? If you think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, sexual well-being is kind of that self-actualization piece, but within the context of sex.

The idea would be to create some sort of scale to measure these things, and there are people looking to try and figure this out. If we create a comprehensive measurement tool, we have a better ability to figure out, what variables are related to this? And how can we improve well-being in individuals and couples? I would love to see an increase in the number of people using sexual well-being as an outcome measure in a variety of clinical-type uses. That could be therapeutic techniques, or it could be pharmaceutical drug development.

A lot of the research that I do looks at happy couples, well-adjusted couples — we like to be able to study them in order to learn what’s working, because we can learn a lot from these couples who are really thriving. And so if we could come up with a measurement tool, we could standardize this so that we could all be studying sexual well-being in a way that’s consistent. And then we can draw cross-cultural comparisons related to sexual well-being.

And it just improves our knowledge in this area that’s so under-studied. Sex is seen as such a taboo topic in our society, and all the funding for sexuality research goes toward risk reduction, HIV, unintended pregnancy. It’s never focused on, how do we optimize people’s sex lives? We’re not seeing any research grants go out to improve sexual well-being. But I would argue that if our society at large could become more sexually healthy through sexual well-being, and through improving pleasure and satisfaction and communication, then we would see a larger and more population-level change in some of these sexual-health outcomes that are being funded, like STIs and unintended pregnancy.

I think the measurement stuff is less relevant to the general public as opposed to the general idea that sexual well-being is quite multifaceted, and having people realize that sexual well-being is important. Our society doesn’t really acknowledge that, and doesn’t really place an emphasis on that, especially for women. When we look at statistics of the level of sexual pain than women experience, that alone is so much higher than what we would hope for women’s sexuality. Women have always been taught not to prioritize a sex life, not to really make pleasure a priority, and sexual well-being provides a framework within which women can prioritize their sex lives. And men as well, but women have so regularly and historically been told, Pleasure is not part of sex for you.

So I think just acknowledging sexual well-being is a really important piece, and that sexual well-being is beyond just feeling satisfied. It’s not about that. It’s about this fulfillment, and feeling you’re in a relationship where you feel safe and feel like you can express yourself in a meaningful way that enriches your life. So it’s about going beyond, Okay, let’s get rid of the pain during sex. It’s going beyond that and going into the fulfillment and excitement and really valuing sex as a part of your life. I feel like people don’t think about sex in this way, and I wish they would more.

Complete Article HERE!

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10 questions you should ask your partner so your relationship can thrive

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Questioning your expectations and compatibility is key, researchers claim

By Sabrina Barr

How do you know when it’s the right time to take a relationship that’s in its early stages to the next level?

Asking the right questions could be the key to embarking on a more serious and meaningful relationship, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter.

The team spoke to 10 divorce lawyers and mediators and two judges in order to determine the main reasons why relationships may be likely to fail, before interviewing a cohort of couples.

First, the lawyers and judges decided upon the predominant reasons why they think relationships may not work in the long term.

These four reasons were: incompatibility, unrealistic expectations, inability to face issues in the relationship and “failure to nurture” the relationship.

They then interviewed 43 couples who’d either been married for 10 years or had been separated within that time and 10 same-sex and opposite-sex couples who’d either been cohabitating, married or in a civil partnership for 15 years.

The study, which has received support from divorce lawyer Baroness Fiona Shackleton, utilised its findings in order to come up with 10 “critical questions” all couples should supposedly ask in order to test their relationship and help it flourish.

These 10 questions are: 

  1. Are my partner and I a ‘good fit’?
  2. Do we have a strong basis of friendship?
  3. Do we want the same things in our relationship and out of life?
  4. Are our expectations realistic?
  5. Do we generally see the best in each other?
  6. Do we both work at keeping our relationship vibrant?
  7. Do we both feel we can discuss things freely and raise issues with each other?
  8. Are we both committed to working through hard times?
  9. When we face stressful circumstances would we pull together to get through it?
  10. Do we each have supportive others around us?

These questions will help couples assess their true compatibility and durability, explains Professor Anne Barlow of the University of Exeter Law School who led the study.

“Of course every relationship is different, and it is important that couples build relationships that are meaningful to them, but we found thriving relationships share some fundamental qualities,” she says.

“Mostly the couple have chosen a partner with whom they are a ‘good fit’ and have ways of successfully navigating stressful times.

“These 10 critical questions can help people as they decide if they are compatible with a person they are considering sharing their life with and flag the importance of dealing with issues when they arise as well as of nurturing the relationship over time.”

Baroness Shackleton, who has represented members of the royal family in her line of work and celebrities such as Sir Paul McCartney, believes this research could benefit children in schools learning about adult relationships.

“Wearing my ‘professional hat’ – as a divorce lawyer for over 40 years – more than 50 per cent of the people consulting me about divorce have said they realised either before or very soon into their marriages, that they were fundamentally incompatible with their partners,” she says.

“Seeing the untold grief children suffer when their parents separate, I felt it time to sponsor a project exploring just what makes a relationship successful and how best to maximise the chances of it succeeding, the idea being to present the resulting research in schools as an educational tool and pre-intervention measure.”

The research team based the final 10 questions on the most important skills that they understood help relationships to endure.

These include skills such as working at the relationship, being realistic about expectations and having a foundation of friendship.

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s why having sex gives you meaning in life, according to scientific research

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Just another reason why sex is wonderful… 

By Rosie Fitzmaurice

There are a number of health benefits that have been associated with having sex, both physical and mental. And new research suggests having sex could also give you a greater sense of meaning in life.

A team of researchers at the George Mason University set out to explore the relationship between sex and wellbeing, which included mood and sense of meaning in life, in a small study that was published in the scientific journal Emotion.

They conducted a three-week study involving 152 college students who were told to keep a daily diary of the frequency and quality of their sexual activity, along with their moods and feelings.

The results of the study suggested that sex on a given day predicted an enhanced mood and improved meaning in life for the participants the following day.

David Ludden, professor of psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College, says in a Psychology Today blog post that this finding is “consistent with other research which have found that the ‘afterglow’ of sex extends for a day or two after the act.”

Interestingly, the time-lagged analysis suggested that the reverse was not the case: feeling happy one day did not predict sexual activity or intimacy the next day. The researchers conclude that it’s the sexuality activity – which respondents were allowed to define themselves as anything from passionate kissing to intercourse – that is making people feel happier.

Todd Kashdan, lead author of the study, is quoted in TIME as saying that it’s probably down to our natural desire to belong and that sex can translate as a sign of acceptance and inclusion.

“There is something profound about someone else giving you access to their body and accepting access to yours,” he said.

Those of the participants in relationships (a little over 60 per cent) who said that they felt close to their partners also predicted a greater sense of meaning in life and positive mood afterwards. Kashdan said that this is down to the feeling of reaffirmation that a person in a close relationship feels after having sex with their partner.

Sex, he said, is a remedy for loneliness and isolation, a “therapy without therapists.”

Ludden writes in his blog post that when you think about sex not only as sensual pleasure, but as a social act “we can understand why it boosts our mood and sense of fulfilment beyond the gratification of the moment.

“After all, what could be more affirming to another person than to willingly engage with them in the most intimate acts of human experience?”

The study is limited in its sample size, but also in that it examines the relationship behaviours and sexual activity of students, which is likely to differ to those of older people, psychologist Christian Jarrett points out. It nevertheless provides a snapshot into the relationship between sex and wellness, a topic the authors believe warrants further research.

“To understand the full scope of human flourishing, research on well-being needs to incorporate more rigorous scientific inquiries of sexual behaviour,” the authors are quoted as saying.

Complete Article HERE!

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What it’s like inside CFNM (clothed female, naked male) fetish parties

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‘A chair was placed in the middle of the room, with a dildo taped to the seat. One by one we men had to sit on it, using the women’s spit as lube, then we shifted up and down on the dildo, wanking while everyone watched.’

Terry,* who’s 33, is describing the culmination of an event for those with a fetish for CFNM. The acronym stands for Clothed Female Naked Male, which pretty much sums up the nature of the fetish.

Terry, who works in HR, first discovered CFNM when he stumbled across it while looking at porn as a 16 year old. He tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I was turned on by it, so I searched what it was, then went looking for more.’

Five years later, Terry acted out his fantasies for the first time at a CFNM party held at a house in Kent.

Arriving at the start of the night, Terry was told to remove his clothes. Then along with the 14 other men attending, he was given a glass of Champagne, a mask (the wearing of which was optional) and a g-string for the initial ice-breaker.

Terry explains: ‘we put the g-strings on, then we were taken through to the ladies so they could guess the size of our cocks.’

The 30 women waiting for them were fully dressed and according to Terry, ‘they were in normal clothes, like jeans and T-shirts.’ Like the men, each woman had paid £45 to attend the event, with the entry fee covering food and drinks. Once the women had guessed the men’s size, the g-strings were removed for the big reveal.

‘We were measured soft and erect, and made to line up smallest to largest, then told to look at the ones bigger than us,’ says Terry, explaining, ‘it’s mainly to embarrass the little ones.’

For Terry, feeling embarrassed is part of the fun – despite being at the larger end of the line-up. He explains, ‘it’s still embarrassing getting measured, and being naked with other people – especially when it’s only the men who are naked. I like the embarrassment of being exposed, and the comments I get from being viewed. I enjoy it and get turned on.’

Activities at the event included being judged on the ‘best balls’ (criteria were size, firmness, bounce and overall look and feel) and ‘ring toss’ which involved the guys lying on the floor with their legs open while the women stood by their feet or a little further back, throwing plastic rings onto the men’s erect penises. The rings were, ‘like kids’ toys – probably about 6 inches in diameter,’ says Terry.

Other games included ‘best helicopter.’ This involved ‘whizzing our cocks around like helicopters. The bad ones were knocked out of the competition and had to worship the women’s feet,’ says Terry, who actually rather likes women’s feet.

Then it was ‘decorate a cock.’ According to Terry, the penis painting – carried out by the women – produced an Elvis, a few lions, a strawberry, and a squirrel. He adds: ‘one was a banana – it was bent like a banana so that was an obvious one. Mine was an elephant.’

The men were required to stay erect at all times without touching their genitals. Punishment for losing their erections included ice-cubes being melted on their bodies and being spanked. Recalling his punishments, Terry says, ‘I was face-sat for ten minutes.’

The penis painting was followed by an ‘edging competition’, when the men were brought to the point of orgasm without cumming – if you cum, you fail. Describing the scene, Terry says: ‘It was two women per man, and they’d each take it in turn masturbate him. When he gets close to cumming they stop – that’s one edge. After 30 seconds or so – or when the twitching’s stopped – they start wanking him again. We had to do it eight times.’

The men then masturbated in a competition to see who could ejaculate the furthest. The distances were measured, and marked by a little box. ‘That became the distance to beat for the next ones up,’ says Terry.

The final activities before The Dildo Chair consisted of, ‘a sexy dance-off for the men, and seeing who can get the hardest erection – with the girls only whispering in your ear to get you erect. A judge was appointed to feel all erections.’

The party was the first time Terry had used a dildo. He says, ‘it was cleaned each time, and a new condom was put on it, but I was very nervous. When it was my turn, I really didn’t want it and I wasn’t sure what to do, but I walked over and one of the ladies helped me get on the chair. My arse was lubed up, then I slowly lowered my bum over the dildo.’ He adds: ‘It was hard to relax, and it hurt, but there was no damage, so I didn’t regret it.’

Terry has since been to about 15 CFNM events, some of which were a lot more low-key. ‘Sometimes they’re just cocktail parties – the men are naked, but nothing sexual happens,’ he says.

He adds that, like the first event he went to, it’s the norm for the women to be dressed in everyday clothes, and he’s only been to one event where the women were dressed as dominatrixes.

Annabelle, who organises CFNM events, echoes Terry when she says, ‘only once did we do some dominatrix style attire. Usually we don’t wear anything in particular – just normal clothes – nothing that excites the men too much.’

Now 34, the seed for Annabelle’s interest in CFNM was sewn at a hen party 15 years ago. ‘We had a stripper, and I liked admiring him without having to do anything,’ she tells us. ‘Seeing attractive guys naked is always a winner, but with CFNM it’s about power too.

‘You’re controlling the naked man, telling him where to stand where, and what to do – it’s exciting. I like dominating men, and I can’t resist an opportunity to humiliate them.’

Coming home from the hen do, Annabelle ordered her boyfriend of 18 months to strip off and serve her drinks naked. ‘I demanded it. I said “no sex unless you do as I say!” He went into a blind panic – he couldn’t keep his clothes on. I think he was more worried than anything.’

As the relationship progressed, Annabelle ordered him to masturbate on demand, and to suck and worship her feet. ‘It’s thrilling to have a naked man at your feet,’ she says. ‘You should try it – I’m sure you’d enjoy starting sex with you clothed and your boyfriend naked.’

Initially, Annabelle was unaware that there was a name for her new interest. ‘I just wanted more naked men in my life! Then a friend said, “this is CFNM!” I looked into it, and started watching porn on it and getting into groups and meet-ups around it.’

Annabelle found her first CFNM group on Meetup and from there she discovered Walnut Walk, a site ‘where ladies can be a little bit naughty’ with a chat forum, events and porn clips all geared to CFNM.

The first CFNM event Annabelle went to was at a nightclub in Holborn that had been hired out for the evening. She paid a £15 entry fee which included drinks, and arrived to find naked men holding trays of Champagne and canapes. The 40 clothed women and 20 naked men were left to mingle, but Annabelle was less than impressed.

‘The guys were handsy and possibly not genuine CFNM fans, as they were all about touching, and “let’s see your tits, let’s have sex”,’ she tells us. ‘They’d come over while we were chatting and put their dicks in our faces asking for blow-jobs, despite this being against the rules.’

However, the end of the night made up for it: ‘After a couple of hours, the guys with erections stood at the front and masturbated for us, then left – this happened until all guys were gone.’

Complete Article HERE!

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Modern sexuality: 8 terms you need to know in 2018

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By Maya Khamala

Back in the 70s, French philosopher Michel Foucault made the case that sexuality is a social construct used as a way of controlling people. In his History of Sexuality, he explores how Western society’s views on sex have undergone a major shift over the last few centuries. It’s definitely not that transgressive relationships or desires didn’t exist before. What’s relatively new, though, is the idea that our desires reveal some fundamental truth about who we are, along with the idea that we should (or must) seek out and express whatever such truth we may find. By this logic, sex is not just something you do, but the kind of sex you have (or want to be having) becomes a characteristic of your sexuality.

Freedom, or more boxes? 

But even though Foucault (who identified as gay) acknowledged constructed limitations, to him, getting to the highest truth of our sexualities can easily become an obsession, or a trap, and I’m inclined to agree. I mean, how do we actually know when to stop searching and defining? Some believe that grouping sexual identities into increasingly narrow categories can restrict a person’s freedom to express a truly fluid sexuality, and that each newly accepted sexual orientation demands both acceptance and adoption of increasingly specific criteria. There’s the danger, too, that self-definition pressures others to define themselves using the same parameters, whether they would otherwise choose to do so or not. 

Dissatisfaction with “traditional” labels is more than valid, but doesn’t necessarily have to lead to creating new ones. I’m all for the pro-choice approach, personally. Live and let lust: define away, or opt for the anti-identity and refuse to define yourself. Either way, no need to judge others for the path they choose. And reductive or frustrating though constructs may be for some, I personally don’t believe that makes them any less real or useful to others.

Gender: no longer the top determinant? 

One thing is for sure: in the last few decades, society has most definitely been hard at work constructing sexualities. Alongside the “traditional” heterosexual and homosexual orientations, a seemingly endless variety of other options and avenues now exist. Many of these newly created identities (originated in the past decade) reduce the role of gender in establishing sexual attraction, instead focusing on non-gendered attributes (like emotions, intelligence, or style, for example). As modern times and the dating sites that accompany them would have us believe, rather than emphasizing gender as the primary factor at play in determining who a person might be attracted to, many people are able to identify other features that attract them, which may actually overshadow or even supersede gender as the overarching thing.

Consider the following 8 ways of defining sexuality that I have seen floating around in recent times. They barely even scratch the surface in terms of what’s out there, but everything starts with a taste.

1. Asexual 

Being the absolute horn doggess that I am, I’ve tried and failed to wrap my mind around the asexuality thing. But I respect and believe in its existence. This orientation denotes a lack of any sexual attraction, regardless of gender. No matter what their reasons or lack of reasons are, asexuals are neither interested in nor desire any sexual activity. Nonetheless, they may or may not be in an asexual romantic relationship. Asexual is different from celibate- since the latter is about choosing to refrain from sex, despite desire still existing.

2. Demisexual 

This is one of those “entirely unrelated to gender” sexualities I was mentioning. Characterized by the need to develop a strong emotional connection before engaging in sex, demisexuals require a strong emotional bond before they feel capable of getting sexually involved with anyone. An initial attraction will never spring them into action. “Demi,” means half, and so demisexual kinda sorta means “halfway” between sexual and asexual—which is one way of looking at needing an emotional connection to get aroused, I suppose…

3. Sapiosexual 

I see this one a hell of a lot. I dare say it’s trending. If I was more into amassing identities, I’d claim this one too. Of course, intelligence is relative and varied. Sapiosexuals are those who find intelligence (whatever that may be to them) to be the most sexually attractive feature in a person. They become attracted to or aroused by intelligence and its use over other qualities. This may or may not override the preference for a specific gender, depending on the person.

4. Gynosexual 

Gyno what? Have you had your pap smear this year? Just kidding, different use of gyno. Gynosexuals are sexually and/or romantically attracted to anything associated with females, female parts, female identity, women, femininity. Obviously, this can be interpreted in any number of ways, and differs from person to person. Some people who identify this way may care more about gender, or specifically cisgender identity than others.

5. Androsexual 

This one is the sexual or romantic attraction to males, men, masculinity, male parts, male identity, and just like gynosexuality, can differ wildly in its expression from person to person. By some people’s standards, I very likely fit into this category (among others, of course). But other people’s standards hardly matter when expressing your own sexual identity, just remember that. So you might as well cherry-pick as/if you see fit!

6. Bisexual 

Bisexuality is a sexual attraction to both men and women. Basic, and accepted long ago, right? Except bi people happen to deal with a (not) surprising amount of stigma, even (or especially?) in the LGBTQ universe. Apparently being part of the acronym doesn’t equal acceptance. Most of the stigma comes from an unwillingness to “pick sides,” which is exactly the problem (sometimes) with too many definitions. People get judgy and end up replicating the same oppressive bullshit they were trying to define themselves out of.

7. Pansexual 

Some people conflate pansexuality with bisexuality, but they’re different. The former is a sexual attraction to people of any gender—not just men and women. Considered one of the most fluid orientations, pansexuality means feeling sexually attracted to people of any gender, including people who identify as transgendered, transsexual, androgynous, or gender fluid—to name a few. Pansexuality has been more in the spotlight recently, at least in part due to celebrities choosing to identify this way (including Miley Cyrus and Janelle Monae).

8. Skoliosexual 

To be skoliosexual is to be attracted to anyone who isn’t cisgendered. Skoliosexuality refers to sexual attraction to people who identify as non-binary, and apparently does not generally describe an attraction to specific genitalia or birth assignments. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a word for people who are only attracted to binary/cisgendered people, and while I didn’t come up with anything conclusive, controversial opinion would simply call that “transphobic”. 

Now, while I am inclined to believe that I’m attracted to what I’m attracted to, and that there’s not much I can do about it, labels be damned, maybe one real benefit of being able to cherry pick sexualities is that they get us thinking. They even challenging ourselves, sometimes in ways that help us grow and shed unhealthy habits (like being attracted exclusively to assholes, for example—what’s the word for that one?).

Complete Article HERE!

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12 surprisings things that can boost your sex drive

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Low libido? Try reading something erotic

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Believe it or not, there are so many things that can impact your sex drive .

Of course, sex drives vary not only from person to person but based on so many factors, from the medications you take to how you feel about your body and your mental health.

But if you’re looking for a little libido boost, there are plenty of surprising things you can do that will help you want to have more sex, from the foods you eat to your choice of exercise .

Here are 12 totally shocking things you had no idea can help boost your sex drive.

Horror movies — or anything else that scares you just enough.

Watching a scary flick is pretty divisive — most people either love to be scared or totally hate the feeling. But watching horror movies, with their jump scares and that telltale terrifying music, is a surefire way to get your adrenaline pumping, which can quickly boost libido , according to Inverse.

But if you’re not a horror fan, any sort of adrenaline-pumping activity can have the same effect, from hearing the sound of a sports car rev its engine to exciting date ideas like zip-lining, surfing, or going on thrill rides at your local amusement park will all work, because those feelings of fear and excitement mimic sexual arousal in the brain, according to The Telegraph .

Plus, watching a frightening flick or sitting next to your partner on a rollercoaster will no doubt invite you to cuddle up close, getting your heart racing in more ways than one.

Exercise regularly to increase your libido.

There are so many benefits of regular exercise on both your body and brain , but it turns out that one surprising benefit can come in the form of a boost to your sex drive, too.

“Exercise stimulates testosterone production, which is key to a strong libido ,” Holly Richmond, PhD, a somatic psychologist and AASECT certified sex therapist, told YourTango.

And it seems getting your fitness on with your partner will encourage you to do other things with your partner, too. Richmond told YourTango that “exercising with your partner is a great way to do something together that makes you feel strong, confident and, as a byproduct, sexy.”

As for what exercises are best, Richmond said, “Yoga has been shown to help combat fatigue and stress while decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety, all of which can contribute to a low libido.” Plus, yoga is great for balance, strength, and flexibility — all things that can make you more confident in the bedroom.

But if you’re not a yogi, no sweat. Recent research claims that spin and cycle classes boost sex drive in women in particular, but just about any type of exercise helps produce those feel-good chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine, which will naturally cause you to desire more sex.

Equally strange, a 2007 study published by The Journal of Neuroscience showed that people who identify as women are aroused by the scent of a person who identifies as male’s sweat due to the spike in cortisol, the stress hormone when they catch a whiff. Sure, it might sound gross, but it’s all the more reason to grab those sneakers … and perhaps join each other for a post-workout shower.

Drink plenty of water and you’ll want to do it no time.

Shahnoz Rustamova, MD, a gynecologist at Central Park Medical Practice in New York City told Prevention that dehydration can wreak havoc on your libido by causing headaches and vaginal dryness.

To know whether or not you’re consuming enough water, it’s important to take notice of the color of your pee.

“Your urine tells you a lot. If you are going to the restroom and your urine is very dark, or an apple juice color, that’s a sign that you need more water,” dietitian Andy Bellatti, MS, RD , previously told INSIDER .

If you need more water, that could be the culprit for your low sex drive.

Limiting alcohol intake can boost your sex drive.

Unfortunately, staying well-hydrated doesn’t include your cocktail of choice. In fact, though a 2009 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that moderate amounts of red wine were linked to better sexual health, it seems you’ll want to cap it at a glass or two — tops.

Getting too tipsy can make sexual performance suffer, and drinking too much on the regular can cause your libido to decline.

A study in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry found that 72% of people who identify as men with alcohol dependence experienced sexual dysfunction and the amount of alcohol consumed appeared to be the most significant predictor of developing sexual dysfunction.

Further, according to Everyday Health , because alcohol is a depressant, using it heavily can actually decrease sexual desire.

Your daily cup of coffee or tea has aphrodisiac effects.

Though too much bubbly can cause your sex drive to dip, it seems that your favorite caffeinated beverages might have the opposite effect.

A 2015 study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that males who drank two or three cups of coffee per day had reduced levels of erectile dysfunction because the slight caffeine boost helps maintain an erection.

If you prefer a cup of tea, opt for the green kind: According to Reader’s Digest, not only is it loaded in chemicals that increase energy and endurance, its calming properties will no doubt help you relax, which can get you in the mood to get busy. We’ll drink to that.

Eating more fish can boost your sex drive.

There are plenty of foods that boost sex drive , but you might be surprised to know that fish is one of them.

Researchers at Harvard University interviewed 501 couples trying to conceive and asked them to track their seafood consumption, dietary habits, and sexual activity. They followed the couples for a year, or until they got pregnant.

The study found that couples who ate fish twice a week or more had sex 22% more frequently than those who didn’t. It also found that eating more fish helped the couples (who were all trying to conceive) get pregnant easier: 92% of couples who ate fish twice a week or more became pregnant, compared with 79% of the couples who ate fish less often.

Fish might be the best dinner option when you’re looking to increase your libido.

What you wear can affect your sex drive.

You might not think that what you wear has anything to do with your sex drive, but the truth is that when you wear clothes that make you feel confident you’ll feel more inclined to have sex since confidence is half the battle for a lot of people.

After all, few of us feel super sexy in our ratty sweats, so picking out clothes that make you feel good in your body can only help matters.

If you really want to take things up a notch, wear red — the vibrant hue was found to make men and women appear more attractive to their partners, according to a 2008 study done by researchers at the University of Rochester.

“Red is a signal of status and power, and that turns women on,” said psychology professor Andrew J. Elliot, Ph.D., lead author of the study, who explained the phenomenon to Health magazine.

Who knew that wearing red unlocked the secret to a boost in sex appeal?

Try supplements and spices including maca, yohimbine, ginseng, and zinc to increase your sex drive.

If you’re looking for natural remedies to give your sex drive a major boost , you might be surprised by just how many are out there.

From your spice rack (like saffron and nutmeg) to powders for your smoothie (including maca root and collagen) and supplements found in your drugstore (like yohimbine, zinc, and ginseng), there is no shortage of herbal options that might help in more ways than one.

Check with your doctor before adding anything into your regimen, even if it’s labeled as a natural supplement, to ensure its efficacy and safety.

Getting a raise at work can affect you in the bedroom.

Turns out that making more money can make you want to get it on more often, which makes perfect sense. After all, getting a raise would put anyone in a good mood, and a 2015 study conducted by the International Journal of Manpower claimed that the higher your wage, the more sexual activity you’re interested in.

Nothing kills libido faster than being stressed out, and financial worries are one of the most serious kinds of stress, so it makes sense why feeling more financially secure might lead to more action in the bedroom. Time to check in with your boss, perhaps?

A relaxing nightly bath will put you in the mood.

Your bedtime routine could be sabotaging your sex life without your even realizing it.

The good news is, taking just a little bit of time each night to unwind — in a totally non-sexual way — can bring major benefits to your, ahem , bedroom routine. By taking a relaxing nightly bath or reading a book, you’re giving yourself some serious self-care, away from the pull of devices and the glare of a screen.

When you do something that relaxes you before bed, you’ll surely feel better once you do hit the sheets, which can only lead to an increased desire for sex. It’s a win all the way around.

Watching something erotic on television can set the mood.

We know we just told you that devices were a major mood killer, but there is one exception. A 2014 study showed that British couples who have a TV in their bedroom have twice as much sex than those who don’t, because the opportunity to watch something erotic together became easier, setting the mood for romance.

However, this can easily backfire, as the relationship counselor and author of the site Double Trust Dating Jonathan Bennett previously told INSIDER. He explained, “If you’re watching a romantic comedy or a show that inspires romance and passion, it could actually help.”

“But, if you’re simply watching a regular movie or show and paying close attention to the fictional characters, it can get in the way of intimately connecting with the person right beside you in bed.”

As with everything else, your mileage may vary, even when it comes to your nighttime TV preferences, so find the routine that works for you and your partner.

Get a good night’s sleep — on clean sheets.

Another major part of having a high libido is all about how much sleep you get, and it turns out that poor sleep affects your sex drive in more ways than one, according to Men’s Journal.

Sleep apnea in men is directly related to an increase in erectile dysfunction and studies show that women’s sex drives increase greatly after getting a consistently solid night’s sleep.

Regularly getting enough sleep is so critical for our overall health and well-being, and sex drive is a huge part of that, so you’ll want to be sure your boudoir — including the bed itself — are as inviting as possible.

HuffPost reported that both men and women said clean sheets were a major turn on in a 2013 study because few things feel as good as getting into a freshly made bed.

As relationship expert April Masini previously told INSIDER, “Imagine you and your partner walking into a beautiful, fresh and inviting bedroom — as opposed to one in which there is laundry on the floor, clutter on the surfaces and an unmade bed with old, unattractive sheets,” she added. “And which would make you feel more like cuddling and kissing in bed? Right.”

Grab that detergent on the regular and your libido will thank you.

Complete Article HERE!

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Norwegian elders tops in masturbation

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More than 90 per cent of Norwegian men between the ages of 60 and 75 are sexually active, as are almost 75 per cent of Norwegian women.

It may make people uncomfortable to think about it, but older people actually have an active sex life, according to a new survey that has compared the sexual habits of the elderly in four European countries.

By: Nancy Bazilchuk

Few people study the sex lives of the elderly. But once they do, they find some surprises, says Bente Træen, a professor of health psychology at the University of Oslo.

“Researchers are like other people. We are raised to think of sexuality as something for the young and the good looking,” she said. Now, she says, they know better.

Træen worked with group of European researchers to study sex among the European elderly.

Many masturbate

Træen and researchers from five other countries have compared the sexual activity of people between the ages of 60 and 75 in Norway, Denmark, Belgium and Portugal in a major study. Now the team is beginning to publish its results.

She says the group’s findings are unexpected, even for people who are accustomed to studying sexual habits.

“I am surprised at how many people are sexually active. It’s not that I’m comparing what we found to previous studies, because there aren’t that many other studies. It’s more about the societal myths we have about the elderly and sex,” she says.

Many people in the study reported that they masturbate and often have intercourse. What was also surprising was that the elderly in the study were generally satisfied with their sexuality, according to Træen.

Norwegian men and women were at the top of the list when it came to masturbation.

Fully 65 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women said they had masturbated in the previous month.

In contrast, very few Portuguese men and women say they have masturbated.

Lots of intercourse in Portugal

Men in Portugal, on the other hand, are at the top when it comes to having intercourse, according to the survey.

The Portuguese say they have intercourse one to three times a week. This is far more frequently than men in Norway, Denmark and Belgium. In these three countries, men report having intercourse about two to three times a month.

Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that Portuguese men are most satisfied with their sex life of all the men in the survey.

Nordic women in the survey reported being most satisfied with their sex life.

Træen interprets these results as reflecting the gender equality situation in the different countries.

“In Norway, women are much more used to negotiating with regards to their own sexuality. The Mediterranean countries are much more traditional when it comes to gender roles. The typical Portuguese man has access to a partner that he has intercourse with — and he is very satisfied with that. While we in the north may have intercourse less often and masturbate more, intercourse is what really matters in Portugal,” Træen said.

Poorer data from Portugal

Træen and the other researchers first conducted recruitment interviews by phone to find a representative selection of both sexually active and inactive individuals for the survey. These individuals then were sent a questionnaire by mail.

However, there was a big difference in participation from the different countries.

In Norway, 68 per cent agreed to participate. In Portugal, only a quarter of respondents contacted by phone said they would be willing to participate in the written questionnaire. Many people also changed their minds after saying yes on the phone. Træen thinks this makes for some uncertainty regarding the data from Portugal.

“The response rate in Norway was much higher than we had thought it would be. I actually expected more people to drop out of the survey. But the response rate in Denmark and Belgium response was also quite good. It’s possible that people in Portugal found some questions offensive, although we obviously tried to avoid this problem,” she said.

Desire diminishes, but does not disappear

Træen was also the main author of another recent study on older people’s sexuality. Here, researchers asked 75-year-olds in the same four countries about their sex drive as compared to ten years ago. Most people responded that it was a little less or the same.

“Sexual desire diminishes with age, but that does not mean it disappears. How satisfied you are with your sex life changes as you age. As a young person, you most appreciate the ‘gymnastic side’ of sex and pleasure related to genital contact. When you are older it’s more about having a comfortable relationship with someone, and being touched and kissed,” she said.

There is an important difference between the sexes here. Health is often what decides if men still have sexual desire, while for women, interpersonal relationships are the most decisive in determining their level of desire.

Health care systems must recognize need for sex

This new information on older people’s sexual habits shatters old myths, Træen says.

“Older people are not asexual. That means that sex must be higher on the agenda as an issue in the planning of health care for older adults,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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3 sex and relationship therapists demystify infidelity

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  • Sex and relationship therapists say infidelity is more complex than most of us are inclined to believe.
  • For example, couples can sometimes find renewed honesty and intimacy after the discovery of an affair.

Cheating = bad. Fidelity = good.

This is the logic to which most of us subscribe. And yet if you ask a relationship expert, they’ll likely offer a more nuanced perspective, both on people who stray and on the implications of affairs.

Over the past year, I’ve spoken to a series of therapists about infidelity among modern couples, and they’ve all surprised me with their insights. Below, see three of the most intriguing observations I heard about cheating:

Couples sometimes reconnect emotionally after the discovery of an affair

Couples therapist Esther Perel would never recommend that someone deliberately cheat on their partner in order to improve their relationship.

But she has observed the way some couples find renewed honesty and intimacy after it’s revealed that one partner has had an affair.

Perel told Business Insider, “It’s a reevaluation of what happened: How did we become so estranged from each other? How did we lose our connection? How did we become so numb to each other? And the galvanizing of the fear of losing everything that we have built sometimes brings us back face-to-face, with a level of intensity that we haven’t experienced in a long time.”

Most people who cheat don’t actually want to leave their relationship

Some people who cheat on their partners really do want out — and having an affair is the only way they know how to begin that process. But other people are simply looking to spice things up.

That’s according to Tammy Nelson, a sex and relationship therapist and the relationship expert at Ashley Madison, a website for people seeking affairs.

Nelson shared a hypothetical example: “Maybe their marriage gives them physical and emotional validation, but they’re not getting the sexual risk-taking that they would want. So they get that from the affair.”

In fact, Nelson said some people may only see their affair partner a couple times a year — “but when they do, it’s like a full blowout, and then they come back to their marriage and they’re perfectly happy.”

Don’t discount your gut feelings about your partner’s attraction to a ‘friend’

“Emotional affairs” are becoming increasingly common, and unlike with a physical affair, it can be hard to know if your partner is having one.

According to marriage and family therapist Sheri Meyers, it’s important to listen to your intuition. Maybe you’ve noticed your partner changing the way they act when the other person is around, or maybe they’ve been weirdly critical of that person.

If you feel like there might be something not exactly platonic going on between your partner and their friend, that’s worth exploring — even if ultimately you’re wrong.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex Ed, for Grown-Ups

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Still confused about the birds and the bees? These people want to invite you to a party.

Attendees of Touchpoint, a monthly gathering in New York about sex and relationships that is part of a larger trend.

By Jennifer Miller

Dominick Quartuccio was concerned about his libido, which he’d noticed was slowing down as he reached 40. “The prevailing social narrative is that you’re getting old, so go get a pill,” Mr. Quartuccio said. An executive coach, he helps clients speak candidly about their anxieties — romantic and sexual, sometimes, as well as professional — and preferred to do the same.

Last March, Mr. Quartuccio posted on the Kaleidoscope, an invitation-only Facebook group where nearly 3,000 participants post questions and answers about sex and sexuality.

Within hours, he had more than 15 suggestions: “embracing, supporting, offering ideas — ‘hey go check out this person for reiki or tantra,’” Mr. Quartuccio said. “But most useful was the acknowledgment of my courage to talk about it. To take these shadowy conversations out into the open and demystify them.”

According to a recent fact sheet from the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit devoted to reproductive health, in 2014 fewer than half of American high schools and only 20 percent of middle schools taught students all 16 topics that the CDC considers “essential” to sexual health education. Between 2011 and 2013, the vast majority of teenagers 15-19 reported discussing at least one sex education topic with a parent. But those conversations vary notoriously in quality.

The Kaleidoscope is one of several social communities and companies that have emerged to help adults talk openly about sex and sexuality, with the explicit goal of teaching them everything they didn’t learn in health class or from their parents.

“There’s been a general awakening with the election,” said Ashley Spivak, a founder of a sex and reproductive health education company for millennials called Cycles & Sex. “People are realizing that institutions cannot provide always everything we need.”

Last summer, Bryony Cole, who produces a podcast and event series called the Future of Sex, held a “sextech” hackathon, the first of a quarterly series. The winning idea was an app that uses an interactive “spin the bottle” feature to make the sex talk less embarrassing for families.

Let’s talk about sex…and record that conversation as a podcast!

For Goodness Sake, a video production company, is developing a series for teenagers. The content will be non-explicit but will feature teenagers sharing their personal experiences about sex and, yes, sexual pleasure.

“People relate to hearing others be honest and vulnerable,” said Rob Perkins, 40, a founder of the company, which has previously produced crowdsourced educational videos on female sexual pleasure. “It’s more credible than hearing an expert.”

Those videos, which appear in the 12-part series OMGYES, include graphic demonstrations of common masturbation techniques, a tech version of Betty Dodson, the sex educator popular in the 1970s. “Sometimes this can take people decades to figure out,” said Lydia Daniller, 40, another founder. “We’re hoping that we can speed up the journey for people.”

Cycles & Sex focuses on Instagram. Ms. Spivak, 30, and another founder, Lauren Bille, 35, frequently post questions to their nearly 32,000 followers, such as “What do you visualize to help you orgasm?” and “What are your tips for getting an IUD inserted or removed?”

Ms. Bille said she was raised by a nurse in a progressive environment. Even so, she felt that conversations about sex were implicitly taboo. And this persisted into adulthood. “Anytime I thought of going into a sex shop or to a sex class, it was a fringe experience,” she said.

In 2017, 900 attended the company’s New York City conference, where panels and workshops covered topics including the basics of childbirth, oral sex techniques and bondage 101. At a conference in Los Angeles last November, four cervical exam sessions (participants were given mirrors) were packed.

Touchpoint’s founder, Jared Matthew Weiss, in his preferred seating position.

Touchpoint, a monthly gathering founded by Jared Matthew Weiss, where strangers share deeply personal stories about relationships and sex, is intended for a similarly mainstream audience.

The event started out as a small group discussion in a friend’s New York apartment. At the time Mr. Weiss was getting over a breakup, and thought that hearing other people’s experiences in sex and love might help him.

Today, over 3,000 people have attended Touchpoint, which is now held at the Assemblage Nomad in Manhattan. Mr. Weiss calls the meetings “town halls”: a place for the community to ask questions, air grievances and solve problems. The difference, he said, is that instead of “discussing potholes in the street, it’s ‘should I take ghosting personally?’,” as well as more intimate questions.

The Touchpoint vibe is part Quaker meeting, part new-age retreat. At one meeting not long ago, 112 people lounged on floor cushions, around a table of flickering candles, sipping coconut water.

About 15 attendees spoke during the nearly three-hour session. The evening’s topic was ostensibly about “defining relationships,” and their stories included a middle-aged woman’s sexual awakening, dating with an S.T.I., and revealing your polyamorous lifestyle to family and friends.

Ingram Drye is an enthusiastic participant in Touchpoint.

Ingram Drye, 30, an art director at Ralph Lauren, said he was struck by the diversity and relatability of the stories. “L.G.B.T.Q. people go through the same relationship struggles as straight communities,” he said. “We’re all in this together, learning from each other.”

Another frequent Touchpoint attendee, Hana Ayoub, 37, was raised in a conservative Christian Arab-American home. Only through the organization, she said, has she begun to step out of her comfort zone.

“I’ve learned it’s O.K. to ask questions,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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I’m a young gay man. Here’s how sex-ed class failed to represent students like me

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Sex ed taught me little about LGBT relationships, so I went searching on my own

Nathan Sing today.

“Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die.”

Before today, this exclamation by the pedophiliac health teacher Coach Carr in the iconic film Mean Girls formed the bulk of my understanding of sex-ed class.

But on this afternoon in my high school library, as my classmates and I giggled, two sexual health educators taught us how to put on a condom on a banana — or as per the demonstration — a wooden dildo painted as the universally-loved Nintendo character Yoshi.

As the educator slid the condom down the shaft of the dildo (or in this case Yoshi’s pink tongue), my best friend and I held back laughter as we did the same to our bananas, unaware how normal this practice would become in our lives years later.

The educator followed the demonstration by briefly discussing a wide variety of topics, without going in-depth into the many aspects of sex education that concern LGBT people and the distinctive qualities that concern the queer community.

Instead, a majority of the conversation focused on contraceptives, bullying, pregnancy and heterosexual-centric information involving relationships between men and women.

Even then, these classes were short. I can say with absolute certainty that I spent more time in high school memorizing the periodic table of elements than the sum of classes that were focused on sexual health.

My school’s sexual education primarily equipped me with misapplied information on how to be a respectful cisgender heterosexual man — although topics concerning queer people were brought up in sex-ed class, the majority of the focus was allocated towards heteronormative material, which bolstered the feeling that my concerns came second to that of my heterosexual peers.

Even though information on LGBT relationships and sexual health was somewhat of an afterthought compared to my heterosexual counterparts, the brief acknowledgement that I could one day get married — and that my feelings were valid — was enough for me to seek out more information on my own.

I had grown up in an environment where I was assumed to be heterosexual, and I often internally questioned my sexuality. At an early age, I was rarely given information that reassured me I belonged or what I was feeling was valid.

Nathan Sing at a younger age.

Having no LGBT figures in my life, I formed an idea of what it meant to be gay through stereotyped characters in television and film. These stereotypes permeated my perception of what it was to be a gay man so deeply that in my early years as a teenager I equated an interest in fashion and speaking with an “unmasculine” way to being a gay man.

I could not go to my heterosexual parents although they raised me with progressive and inclusive views, because they had no knowledge of same-sex relationships or answers to my questions about being a gay minority man. Instead, I sought out this information from online forums, various blogs and informative videos on YouTube.

Being that I had no queer friends or family members and was not openly gay myself, consuming this information solitarily felt isolating at times. Still, watching these videos offered a sense of inclusivity and community through my screen, as I discovered resources that my school’s sex-ed class lacked.

Through these digital resources, I watched hundreds of videos where individuals shared their coming out stories, learned of the mistreatment of gay men during the HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as other cases of mistreatment of LGBT people throughout history, and became educated on the precautionary measures to take while on dating apps.

Even though I found answers to my questions independently, not all youth will go to these lengths for the information they need.

Young LGBT people, especially those in marginalized communities where talking about queer identity with family may be difficult, will undoubtedly benefit from being taught comprehensive and representative material in school instead of being taught a curriculum that largely benefits youth in heterosexual relationships. I am a young gay minority and part of a community that is often underrepresented, heavily stereotyped and misportrayed in the mainstream — it’s incontrovertible that I would have benefitted from that kind of sexual education.

For a time, it seemed that this ideal world could become a reality in Ontario high schools: in 2015, three years after I saw a condom being slid over Yoshi’s tongue, the Liberal BC and Ontario governments updated the sexual-education curriculum to cover areas including mental illness and stereotypes in media.

In Ontario, the changes were even more considerable being that this was the first update to the curriculum since 1998; the new 2015 curriculum added new topics including same-sex relationships and gender identity, the concept of consent, homophobia, sexting and cyberbullying, to name a few.

Yet on July 11, 2018, less than three years after the Ontario Liberals introduced the new sex-ed curriculum, Ontario’s education minister announced that in September, students would be going back in time: the revised curriculum will be replaced with the one from 1998. Students will be taught a sexual-education program that is as old as I am.

This is a curriculum that was designed well before the creation of Tinder and Grindr, let alone the devices they are powered by. In an age where youth are exposed to sex by virtue of social media, technology and dating apps, this curriculum will not equip young students with the information required to properly learn about and deal with revenge porn, cyberstalking and consent, issues that were not as prevalent or discussed two decades ago.

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives’ decision to return to a 20-year-old way of teaching a subject as ever-changing and complex as sexuality is not only absurd but irresponsible. What a young person learns in sex ed during their formative years sets the groundwork to cultivate their identity, build their confidence and have agency over their own sexual health.

Nathan Sing as a teenager.

The information that is taught in sex ed goes beyond courses such as chemistry and calculus; while those classes may get some in the door to college, topics related to sexual health are fundamental to everyone. We are sacrificing medical- and fact-based information for the next generation over intransigent moral opposition from parents and politicians.

Even if the 2015 curriculum is not taught in schools, young people will still seek out information about sex, but from potentially dangerous sources. In today’s world where knowledge is in the hands of every young person with a cell phone or laptop, offering students comprehensive information about sexual health in a place meant for learning can help keep youth from believing and acting on false and potentially damaging information they might discover on their own. This is especially true for LGBT students, who often don’t see themselves reflected in sex-ed programs.

The world has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, as has our knowledge of sexual health. The way Ontario’s educators — and all educators for that matter — teach sexual health and education must reflect that.

Come September, young people in Canada’s most populated province will be learning about sexual health from a curriculum that predates the impact of the internet, the cultural shift towards the mainstream acceptance of LGBT people, and the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada. If I am proof that this more recent curriculum still has a ways to go in meeting young people’s needs, the announcement that students will now be taught a more dated program should be hard to swallow for everyone.

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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Why do we have difficulty accepting the variety of gender expressions?

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Isn’t it self-evident that gender would always be uniquely expressed in each person?

Gender is not binary, but alters from culture to culture, from generation to generation

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I know we’ve all heard this stuff before: men and women and boys and girls are “different”: they think differently, they think about different things, and they interact with the world in different ways. But those are dangerous ideas. Why? Because they simplify both women and/or men as stereotypical, and we know that stereotypes flatten the complexity of the human person. Each of us is complicated, amazing, contradictory, mysterious, hopeful, sad – and in all other matters of being human. We have already left other stereotypes behind us. For instance, we know not all Canadians are polite or Irish people good singers and dancers. Furthermore, we as individuals appreciate being taken as we are, in our own lives as ourselves, and not as representations of all women and/or all men in all circumstances, all of the time.

So why is it that we have so much difficulty in accepting the variety of gender expressions and in being nice about it? Isn’t it self-evident that gender would always be uniquely expressed in each person? For a long time feminist and cultural studies scholars have made the convincing case that sex is primarily the biological reality of someone as male and/or female, while gender is what is socialised. Gender is not binary, but alters from culture to culture, from generation to generation, from family to family and community to community.

It is time to embrace the incredible variety of gender identities and gender expressions as part of societal change. In Canada, a bill was introduced by Justin Trudeau’s government in May of 2016, passed the legislative process and, upon receiving Royal Assent in June of 2017, became law. The purpose of Bill C-16 was to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code by adding “gender expression and gender identity” as protected grounds to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

Seems like a no-brainer but there was a backlash in regards to the use of pronouns (he, him, his or she, her, hers or they, them, theirs). The backlash rested on an argument about government infringing on freedom of speech and enacting something called “compelled speech”. The protesters wanted to be able to refuse to use different pronouns for those who do not subscribe to binary gender. If someone asked them to refer to them as “they” or “them”, they didn’t want to feel “compelled” to honour this because of freedom of expression.

But what’s so difficult about it? If Elizabeth Jones at the bookstore, say, asked me to call her Mrs Jones, why would I say “Nope. I am more comfortable with calling you Betty”? And if Pat asked you to call Pat “them”, wouldn’t you?

It’s not a big ask, and the world would be a better place if we were nice to each other. In any event, the Canadian Bar Association argued that the Bill C-16 provides necessary protections for transgender people in particular and posed no risk to freedom of expression. Thankfully, the debate seems to have settled down but, sad to say, often rages elsewhere.

Ours is a world of incredible social change. We will need to make necessary adjustments as we go forward as a society. We should all get to decide how we are to be addressed. This matters because our words reveal us and create us. Words reveal how we see the world, how we see and understand others and can create our views and attitudes.

A civilised society respects all people. We live our lives as free agents who love, work, rest and think in our own unique ways. If we can’t see the commonalities of all people and the uniqueness of each person, if we always see sex and gender as the biggest deal in who someone is, then we are doomed to this gender/sexuality conflict forever.

To be kind and gracious with some added Canadian politeness to all persons through thoughtful language, regardless of gender expressions, sexuality, sex, religion, ethnicity, race and socio-economic status, is the only way forward. Whether we be men and/or women, teachers and/or lawyers, straight and/or gay, conservative and/or liberal, we can respect all persons. Basic respect for others is necessary for all of us to live good, just and peaceful lives with those around us. Let’s play nice.

Complete Article HERE!

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Why “Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder” Isn’t the Same as “Sex Addiction”

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The WHO’s newest mental health disorder isn’t what you think.

By Sarah Sloat

A decade-long debate seemed settled in June when the World Health Organization officially added “compulsive sexual behavior disorder” to the newest edition of the International Classification of Diseases. Unfortunately, in the aftermath, many publications declared “sex addiction” was officially a mental health disorder. Technically, that’s wrong, but the blunder sheds light on the controversy surrounding the diagnosis. Even now, scientists are still trying to figure out the best way to think about people with very strong sexual urges.

It was a calculated choice by the WHO to replace the existing ICD-10 category of “excessive sexual drive” with “compulsive sexual behavior disorder” — not “sex addiction” or “hypersexuality.” It’s also very purposefully classified as an “impulse control disorder” instead of a disorder related to addiction. Impulse disorders, wrote members of the WHO ICD-11 Working Group in a 2014 paper, are defined by the repeated failure to resist a craving despite knowing the action can cause long-term harm.

The reason for this linguistic and categorical change is to make clear there’s no “right amount of sexuality” and to acknowledge that “it is important that the classification does not pathologize normal behavior.” Ultimately, the goal is to help identify repetitive behavior that can shut down a person’s life, though the language we use about it continues to be controversial. Despite the vagaries, Marc Potenza, Ph.D., M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, says the WHO’s move is a good thing.

“I believe that the inclusion of compulsive sexual behavior disorder within the ICD-11 is a positive step,” Potenza tells Inverse. “My experience as a clinician indicates that there are many people who experience difficulties controlling their sexual urges and then engage in sex compulsively and problematically. Having a defined set of diagnostic criteria should help significantly with respect to advancing prevention, treatment, research, education, and other efforts.”

Why Some Think It’s an “Addiction”

Potenza co-authored a 2016 paper questioning whether compulsive sexual behavior should be considered an addiction, concluding that significant gaps in the understanding of the disorder mean that it can’t technically be called an addiction yet. Today, however, the disorder continues to be described as “sex addiction” by universities, medical centers, and researchers. It’s unclear whether the word addiction here is colloquial or clinical.

For his part, Potenza suspects compulsive sexual behavior disorder may eventually be reclassified as an addictive disorder in future editions of the ICD. It’s not currently in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), but he predicts it might likewise be introduced and classified as an addictive order there once more data is gathered.

The central elements of addictions, he explains, include continued engagement in a behavior despite adverse consequences, appetitive urges or cravings that often immediately precede engagement, compulsive or habitual engagement, and difficulties controlling the extent of engagement in the behavior.

“From this perspective,” Potenza says, “compulsive sexual behavior disorder demonstrates the core features of addictions.”

Why Some Think It’s Not an Addiction

But Nicole Prause, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and sexual psychophysiologist who founded the sexual biotechnology company Liberos LLC, argues that sex is not addictive and that “compulsive sexual behavior” shouldn’t have been included in the ICD-11. In 2017, Prause and her colleagues published a paper in The Lancet in response to Potenza’s study, arguing that while “sex has components of liking and wanting that share neural systems with many other motivated behaviors,” experimental studies don’t actually demonstrate that excessive sexual behavior can be classified as addiction.

“Scientists generally were glad to see ‘sex addiction’ was kept out of the ICD-11,” Prause tells Inverse. “Therapists created ‘sex addiction’ training 40 years ago and were pushing to get it in with no good evidence.”

Prause generally doesn’t believe “compulsive sexual behavior” needs a name at all. Creating a means for diagnosis, she says, can increase “shame on sexual behaviors,” and people conditioned to think that sex is bad are more likely to think they have a problem. She argues that the population most likely to be classified as sexually compulsive are gay men, noting that there are even “examples of ‘sex addiction’ therapists offering to help gay men stop being gay,” which is “reparative, anti-gay therapy all over again.”

“The diagnosis has never been tested,” Prause says. “We have no idea if these patients even exist. The committee invented a new diagnosis and added it without ever seeing if anyone would meet the criteria.”

She argues that the grounds for such a diagnosis haven’t been backed up by research on actual sex in a lab. So far, estimates of how many people who identify as having a compulsive sexual behavior disorder vary and are predominantly based on self-reports. Epidemiological estimates have the number at three to six percent of adults, writes the WHO ICD-11 Working Group in a paper released this year, but more recent studies have suggested that range is closer to one to three percent of adults. Researchers at the University of Cambridge, meanwhile, reported in 2014 that compulsive sexual behavior can affect as many as one in 25 adults.

Now that it’s in the ICD-11, researchers are waiting to see how that will affect the official rates of identification.

“Growing evidence suggests that compulsive sexual behavior disorder is an important clinical problem with potentially serious consequences if left untreated,” writes the ICD-11 Working Group. “We believe that including the disorder in the ICD-11 will improve the consistency with which health professionals approach the diagnosis, and treatment of persons with this condition, including consistency regarding when a disorder should be diagnosed.”

Potenza says that it can be hard for a specialist to diagnose a person with compulsive sexual behavior disorder because, like alcoholism or a gambling addiction, it probably doesn’t have visible signs. But Potenza says the disorder can seep into and negatively impact other parts of a person’s life.

Complete Article HERE!

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9 Tips For Bondage Beginners

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By Kasandra Brabaw

Have you ever thought about tying your partner up with rope? Or being tied up yourself? It’s a kink that more people than you’d probably think are interested in trying. But as intriguing as the thought of bondage is, it can also be pretty scary.

There are so many questions when you first start out. What kind of rope do you get? What body parts are okay to tie up? Is it possible to seriously hurt your partner (or get hurt yourself)? How do you tell your partner what you do and don’t want to try? And what happens if you do it wrong?

Ahead, we talked with Yin Q, a dominatrix and writer/producer of BDSM webseries Mercy Mistress, to answer some of those questions. Read on for tips about consent, safety, rope types, and safe words.

1) Negotiation and consent.

Before anyone gets tied up, you and your partner(s) need to have a negotiation about what’s going to happen. And in that negotiation, you have to talk about consent, Yin says. “You have to know how you’re going to actually explore,” they say. You could start exploring bondage in an experiential way, where no still means no. But you could also try a theme where struggle is part of what makes bondage erotic. So, you’ll need to talk to your partner up front about what you want.

“It’s not that you just say yes to bondage and then that means that you’re saying yes to everything that happens after you’re in bondage,” Yin says. There are multiple things you and your partner have to consent to, whether you’re the top or the bottom in the bondage situation. But especially if you’re the bottom (the one being tied up). Once someone is in bondage, Yin says, they might enter something called “subspace” and might no longer feel comfortable negotiating what they do and don’t want to try. So it’s essential to have negotiation and consent up front.

2) Safe words.

Part of the negotiation process is establishing a safe word (or multiple safe words) with your partner. In BDSM, a safe word is something other than “no,” “don’t,” “stop” or any other word you’d usually use to tell someone to slow down. Because those words tend to be part of the play. “If you want to play with those roles and power dynamics, language can start changing meaning,” Yin says. Instead, use a word that usually wouldn’t come up in the context of sex. For beginners, Yin suggests “yellow” and “red.”

“‘Yellow’ meaning that you’re getting to your edge where you know something doesn’t feel right or that this is basically as much as you can take,” they say. “Red” meaning that you’re totally done with the scene and you want to be untied.

3) Knowing your bodies (and minds).

Does your partner have bad knees? Are you prone to back aches? Does anyone have diabetes or epilepsy? These are all things you and your partner should discuss before anyone gets tied up, because where you place the rope might exacerbate any of those problems.

And mental health is just as important as physical health. “If somebody has gone through trauma, language can become a trigger when you’re playing,” Yin says. Some people enjoy what’s called “slut play,” which is essentially dirty talk that uses words generally considered humiliating or degrading. But, for some, certain words can bring up insecurities. Yin, for example, feels totally fine using words like “slut,” “submissive,” and “dirty dog” in their play. But can’t stand saying or hearing the word “stupid.”

“For some reason, that triggers something in childhood for me,” they say. “It’s just not sexy to me. I’m very cerebral, so that’s going to call up a lot of insecurity for me.” So, like everything else, you’ll need to talk with your partner about which words are a no-go for them, and keep the communication open so they can tell you if something feels wrong in the moment.

4) Triggers

Just like words can be triggering, so can actions. And it’s important not to assume that something won’t be triggering, Yin says. As a switch (someone who both tops and bottoms), Yin says they can take a lot of masochism, like flogging and canning. “But, the one thing I cannot take is tickling,” they say. “I get angry, first of all, and then I also get nauseous.”

Their partners might not even consider that tickling could be a trigger — after all, tickling is something we do to tiny children, and it doesn’t hurt — but it’s important that they listen to them when they say they can’t handle it. As a beginner, you and your partner(s) might not yet know what your physical triggers are, so communication becomes important again.

5) Nerve damage.

Once you’re done with the negotiations and consent and other talking, there are some things you should know before tying someone up. Mainly, that certain areas are more prone to nerve damage than others. “Usually it’s around the elbows or the knees and especially the neck,” Yin says.

So, if you’re idea of bondage comes from beautiful photos of Shibari-style knots, then you’ll have to adjust your expectations. “Going into it as a beginner, one must learn the basics and also understand that each person’s body has it’s own capabilities,” Yin says. Anyone who’s just starting out should never put rope near the neck, because doing it wrong has the potential to cause serious damage.

6) Tingling.

If you’re the person being tied up, it’s important to tell your partner when you’re experiencing tingling in your fingers, toes, or anywhere else. That could be a sign that the rope is too tight or that you’re not in a comfortable position, Yin says. Tingling is fine for about 20 minutes, as long as it’s just a light tingle. But you should be able to move, to struggle against the rope (that’s part of the fun), and to move the rope around your skin.

When you’re tying someone up, Yin says to make sure their hands are below the heart and to get them into a position that’s going to be comfortable for them.

7) Safety.

When tying someone up, tighter might seem better. But that’s not true, Yin says. “If you’re the top, you want to be able to slip about two fingers underneath the rope, so that the rope can be moved around on the skin,” they say. That’s going to make bondage safer for the partner who’s on the bottom.

But, even if you’ve made the ropes loose enough, it’s important to have a pair of safety scissors like these close by, in case your partner needs to be cut out of the ropes quickly.

8) Types of rope.

Stretchy rope is best for beginners right? Wrong. Rope that has any elastic in it is dangerous, especially for beginners, because you can’t tell how much give it will have, Yin says. Instead, you’ll want to use a sturdy rope that moves nicely against skin. “I tend to start my classes with nylon rope, because it slides nicely against the skin, is laid very flat, and is smooth,” Yin says. “And then we graduate on to either cotton or hemp rope, which are the natural fiber ropes that are going to be a little bit more sturdy for any knots.” Cotton and hemp are more likely to give rope burn, though, so they’re not essential for beginners.

9) Aftercare.

People who do bondage often practice something called aftercare, which involves sitting down with your partner afterward and talking about what you did and didn’t like. This is especially important for beginners, since you don’t yet know what about bondage turns you on.

But don’t think that you can’t continue talking about it once that first sit-down is done. Aftercare can last days, Yin says. “If something comes up three days later and you think, ‘Oh my God, that was triggering something else for me,’ to share that with your partner or at least to be able to honestly pinpoint it for yourself is really important.”

So, once your first-time bondage is done, replay the experience again and again. Even if it doesn’t make you realize something that could have gone better, it’ll likely make you even more excited for the next time.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex workers offer intimacy and connection for disabled clients in the age of the dating app

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Oliver Morton-Evans visits sex workers as he says potential partners cannot see past his wheelchair.

By Sarah Matthews

Oliver Morton-Evans has sought the services of sex workers over the years, because dating can be especially tough for anyone with a disability.

Despite having tried “every dating app out there”, Oliver, 39, has never been in a long-term relationship.

The Sydneysider, now a successful tech entrepreneur, said despite looking for a partner ever since finishing high school, he has had no luck.

In the modern dating world, in which apps such as Tinder rely on appearance and snap judgements, Mr Morton-Evans said most people could not see past his wheelchair.

“It’s been really hard because I’m kind of always in a quandary of, ‘do I disclose my disability straight up or do I not?’,” he said.

“I kind of don’t want to, because although it’s a part of me it’s not all of who I am.

“The moment they see a wheelchair, people tend to create a story in their head of what that might mean.”

But he said visiting sex workers was not just about the physical pleasure.

“I have no shame or anything like that, but that’s just not what I most deeply desire,” he said.

“There’s so much more to sex than just the physical activity.”

Mr Morton-Evans said everybody needed the feel of human touch to feel connected.

Mr Morton-Evans said seeing sex workers provided him with the intimacy he craved in his everyday life, and motivated him to keep looking for a partner.

“I think for an able-bodied person they forget about how much, particularly touch for example … humans need touch to feel connected with others,” he said.

“So when I would see a sex worker, it tends to make me feel a lot more able to then go out and find the kind of relationship I want.”

People with disabilities seek intimacy from sex workers

Although often viewed as taboo, many people with disabilities seek the services of sex workers as an outlet for their sexual and intimate desires.

Brisbane escort Lisa said she regularly saw clients with disabilities and was proud to provide a service for people struggling to find intimacy in their everyday lives.

“I see this job as just an extension of the caring person that I am,” she said.

Brisbane escort Lisa says clients with disabilities may want affection or a chat, not always sex.

“Not everyone wants to have sex. They just want a bit of affection, or to chat to someone, all that sort of thing.

“It’s just me giving to the person what they need, and I feel that I’m doing a worthwhile job by helping other people.”

She said access to sexual services, especially for marginalised people, was vital for their health and wellbeing.

“It’s a genuine health issue,” she said.

“Like a baby needs affection, needs cuddles, needs touch, needs food, needs all these things [so too] an adult does.

“It doesn’t matter what age you are … it’s so basic of a human need.”

Noriel works as an escort and is the Cairns representative for Respect Inc, the Queensland sex worker support group.

She said she believed access to sex workers for people with disabilities should be covered under the NDIS.

Cairns escort Noriel believes access to sex workers for people with disabilities should be covered under the NDIS.

“Whether you are a wage-earner or you’re on any type of benefit from the government, you have a right to spend your money however you want,” she said.

“And if you would like to spend your money hiring the services of a sex worker, I think you should be able to do that.”

Social attitudes have harmful impacts

Counsellor and registered NDIS provider Casey Payne said it was a common misconception that people with disabilities were non-sexual.

“Just because you live with something that’s different to everybody else doesn’t mean that your life can’t still be the same in every aspect, especially in sexual health.

“Everybody deserves the right to have a pleasurable, sexual, healthy life.”

Deakin University Associate Professor in disability and inclusion Dr Patsie Frawley said research had found people with disabilities were disproportionately affected by breast and cervical cancer — but also by sexually transmitted infection (STI).

“If you’re not seen as sexual and as a sexual person, the range of sexual health screenings, sexual health prevention and response services won’t be offered to you,” she said.

“It’s been identified in research that men with an intellectual disability have eight times greater rates of STIs than their non-disabled peers.”

Sex worker with a disability challenges perceptions

Raivynn DarqueAngel has met the stereotypes of both sex workers and people with disabilities head on.

Raivynn has cerebral palsy and has worked in Melbourne’s sex industry for more than 20 years.

Raivyn, who has cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair, has worked in Melbourne’s sex industry for more than 20 years, mostly as a dominant escort.

“I chose to be a dominant to … change perceptions,” she said.”

The submissive people that I see make me feel strong and in charge and I like that. I’ve taken it back home and I’m much more confident saying what I need with my support workers.

“It’s given me the confidence to trust that I’m worth my needs.”

Despite his disappointing dating experiences, Mr Morton-Evans insisted he had not given up on finding love.

He had one thing to say to potential partners: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Complete Article HERE!

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‘Compulsive sexual behaviour’ is a real mental disorder, says WHO, but might not be an addiction

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Global health body not yet ready to acknowledge ‘sex addiction’, saying more research is needed

The World Health Organisation logo at the headquarters in Geneva.

The World Health Organisation has recognised “compulsive sexual behaviour” as a mental disorder, but said on Saturday it was unclear whether it was an addiction on a par with gambling or drug abuse. 

Dr. Geoffrey M. Reed

The contentious term “sex addiction” has been around for decades but experts disagree about whether the condition exists.

In the latest update of its catalogue of diseases and injuries around the world, the WHO takes a step towards legitimising the concept, by acknowledging “compulsive sexual behaviour disorder”, or CSBD, as a mental illness.

But the UN health body insisted more research is needed before describing the disorder as an addiction.

“Conservatively speaking, we don’t feel that the evidence is there yet … that the process is equivalent to the process with alcohol or heroin,” said WHO expert Geoffrey Reed.

In the update of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), published last month, WHO said CSBD was “characterised by persistent failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges … that cause marked distress or impairment”

But it said the scientific debate was still going on as to “whether or not the compulsive sexual behaviour disorder constitutes the manifestation of a behavioural addiction”.

Maybe eventually we will say, yeah, it is an addiction, but that is just not where we are at this point

Geoffrey Reed, World Health Organisation

Reed said it was important that the ICD register, which is widely used as a benchmark for diagnosis and health insurers, includes a concise definition of compulsive sexual behaviour disorder to ensure those affected can get help.

“There is a population of people who feel out of control with regards to their own sexual behaviour and who suffer because of that,” he said pointing out that their sexual behaviour sometimes had “very severe consequences”.

“This is a genuine clinical population of people who have a legitimate health condition and who can be provided services in a legitimate way,” he said.

It is unclear how many people suffer from the disorder, but Reed said the ICD listing would probably prompt more research into the condition and its prevalence, as well as into determining the most effective treatments.

“Maybe eventually we will say, yeah, it is an addiction, but that is just not where we are at this point,” Reed said.

But even without the addiction label, he said he believed the new categorisation would be “reassuring”, since it lets people know they have “a genuine condition” and can seek treatment.

Claims of “sex addiction” have increasingly been in the headlines in step with the so-called #MeToo movement, which has seen people around the world coming forward and claiming they have been sexually abused.

The uprising has led to the downfall of powerful men across industries, including disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has reportedly spent months in treatment for sex addiction.

[Film producer Harvey Weinstein arriving at Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday, July 9, 2018. Photo: TNS]

Reed said he did not believe there was reason to worry that the new CSBD listing could be used by people like Weinstein to excuse alleged criminal behaviours.

“It doesn’t excuse sexual abuse or raping someone … any more than being an alcoholic excuses you from driving a car when you are drunk. You have still made a decision to act,” he said.

While it did not recognise sex addiction in the first update of its ICD catalogue since the 1990s, the WHO did for the first time recognise video gaming as an addiction, listing it alongside addictions to gambling and drugs like cocaine – but only among a tiny fraction of gamers.

The document, which member states will be asked to approve during the World Health Assembly in Geneva next May, will take effect from January 1, 2022 if it is adopted.

Complete Article HERE!

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