Midlife sex problems?

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New research says you’re not alone

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Around 30 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 40 and 59 report at least one problem in the bedroom.

The most common sexual problem is low desire, according to a research study we recently published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Around 40 per cent of the women we asked, and 30 per cent of men, reported experiencing problems with low desire during the last six months.

Many women also reported difficulties reaching orgasm (15 per cent), as well as problems with vaginal dryness (29 per cent) and vaginal pain (17 per cent). Nearly a quarter of the men had difficulty ejaculating and maintaining or acquiring an erection.

These rates suggest that a variety of sexual problems are quite common among midlife Canadians. Our findings are also largely consistent with published research from the United States and the United Kingdom.

I am a PhD candidate in family relations and human development at the University of Guelph and my research typically focuses on “keeping the spark alive” in long-term relationships. My main interest is the intersection of relational and sexual elements within romantic relationships.

This study was co-authored with Robin Milhausen from the University of Guelph, Alexander McKay of the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada and Stephen Holzapfel from Women’s College Hospital Toronto. It was aimed at addressing a lack of available data on the frequency and predictors of sexual problems among midlife Canadians.

Novel sex enhances desire

Individuals who are married are more likely to report low desire than those who are not married, according to our results. Married men are more likely to report ejaculation difficulties.

These are interesting findings, and not unexpected. Other research has shown that sexual satisfaction decreases over time in long-term relationships. Together, this suggests that over-familiarity with a partner in some cases may lead to the sexual “spark” burning less bright, which may also contribute to sexual problems.

After years of marriage, it can take work to rekindle the sexual spark.

Our research also suggests that participating in novel sexual activities may enhance desire by breaking up routine and therefore enhancing the spark.

We also examined the effect of menopause — finding that postmenopausal women were more likely to report low desire and vaginal pain. This is consistent with other literature showing declines in desire for postmenopausal women. It complements other research, which suggests that physiological changes like thinning of the vaginal walls and reduced lubrication that can occur after menopause may lead to vaginal pain.

When doctors don’t ask

We conducted this research with a large national sample of 2,400 Canadians aged between 40 and 59. Our findings showed that sexual problems are very common in this age group. This is one of the largest Canadian demographics and will continue to grow. More national Canadian data is needed to understand the health-care needs for this group.

One important limitation of this study is that we based our research on participant self-reports and did not assess whether they met the diagnostic criteria for a clinical diagnosis of sexual dysfunction (e.g. erectile dysfunction).

Previously published research reveals that more midlife Canadians would like to be asked about sexual problems by their doctors, but more than 75 per cent had not sought help for these problems.

Read together with the results of our study, this suggests an emerging health-care issue that requires attention and research.

Complete Article HERE!

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Yes, Porn Can Be Healthy and Healing.

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Here’s How.

Most articles are written focusing on the negatives of porn, always slinging around a few good points but mostly just expressing sex and body phobia while ignoring the benefits. As a sex therapist and educator, my work is to help my patients use sex to heal, and to also see its medicinal values. And sometimes I can take advantage of how porn heals people as well.

Not all porn is the same, and I recommend the types that focus on sexual and body diversity, honoring the sexualities of all types of people: the butch, the femmes, the skinny, the queer, the POC, the kinky, the fat and also the unhung.

How porn heals people:

1. Helps normalize diversity

Not all art and media focus on representation of sexual and body diversity, leaving those not fitting into the white, cis, masc, gym-bodied industrial complex feeling both marginalized and not eroticized or valued. There are now many porn sites that focus on diversity in both sex acts and bodies. Viewing this type of porn heals sexual and body confidence, and also helps decrease erotophobia for those who have made their sexuality rigid and narrow by only sexualizing the standard one-size-fits-all sexual body and porn performer.

2. Provides sex to those without partners and the solosexual

Porn provides a sex life for those that don’t not have partners or don’t want partners. Not all people have access to or enjoy sex with Others, and solo sex as a lifestyle or sexual orientation is acceptable. Others don’t meet social desirability requirements and due to this oppression rely upon porn as one means of sexual health and expression. This is not a lesser form of sexuality; it’s just different.

3. Gives sex to the fetish sexual

Some of us are far kinkier than our partners, and for us porn becomes a way to engage fetishes and kinks. The ability to participate in your full sexuality is important for sexual health, and thankfully porn exists that can meet everyone’s needs. Anything can be eroticized, and porn for everything exists.

4. Helps higher desire partners in monogamous relationships

Monogamy is still a standard practice and means that the sex and body limits of your partner become your erotic limits. Porn allows for access to a diverse and creative spectrum of always-available sexuality. This takes the pressure and anxiety off the lower sexual partner and allows the higher or hyper sexual partner to not have to water down their sex drive.

5. Acts as a needed counter balance to our sex and body phobic culture

We live in a culture that is both obsessed and afraid of sex at the same time. We carry far too much anxiety about sexual bodies, arousal, and eroticism. The existence of porn, is an act of rebellion and resistance to the puritanical and modest values we are all raised in and oppressed by — or in other words, porn heals our culture, too.

6. Masturbation empowers and increases sexual autonomy

Due to our sex- and body-negative culture, its important, especially for women, the disabled, fat, POC and other minorities to see that their sexuality is not owned by anyone, including their partners.   Masturbation and porn act as practices and tools of liberation.

7. It’s a healthy place to learn sexual authenticity

Finding out who we are sexually is an important developmental stage that goes on for our entire lives, yet is legitimized by no one. Our sexuality is far more expansive and fluid than we realize, and sexual exploration is necessary. With your partners, and especially with porn, we can find and explore new parts of our eroticism, and discover new forms of arousal.

8. It’s a career choice

Porn and sex work are legit forms of labor, and also allow for many to further explore their sexual selves, help Others explore theirs, and provide sex for healing to those that need it. Studio porn, as well as the explosion of for-fee cam and amateur sex sites, allow all diverse bodies to now make an autonomous living with sex work.

Complete Article HERE!

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Fat Fetishes Are Complicated,

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Body Shaming Is Not

By Kasandra Brabaw

At 30 years old, Annette “Nettie” Hedtke is tired of dealing with family members, coworkers, and persistent diet ads all trying to control her weight. She’s fat, and she’s finally ready to embrace her body. We see her go through this journey, from pretending to drink a diet shake with her boss to loudly declaring “I’m fat!” at a family dinner, in TBS and Refinery29’s new web series, Puffy. But on her way to body positivity, Nettie encounters some roadblocks, including a cute man named Allen who seemed perfect for her…until he called her a cow.

It starts out innocently enough, when Allen tells Nettie that she’s hot “like a sexy farmer’s daughter.” Then, his fantasy quickly takes a turn from wanting to watch Nettie milk a cow to pretending that she is the cow and he’s “pulling on [her] soft pink udders.” Nettie backs off at this moment, feeling that Allen is calling her a cow and fetishizing her body. And her instinct to run is totally understandable. Fetishization is a complicated subject in the fat activist community. Like Nettie, many people want to run at the first sign that someone is attracted to them because of their body type. Many plus-size women have had similar experiences with people who reduce them to nothing more than a body, or want to control their body and size through feeding (a sexual kink where one partner gets pleasure from feeding the other). Those kinds of kinks are totally fine, as long as both partners share that interest. But if the plus woman doesn’t want to be fed, realizing that her partner sees her body as a sexual object can be dehumanizing.

Yet, some fat activists push back against fetishization concerns. “There are some fat women I know who describe nearly any physical attraction from men as fetishizing,” fat activist Your Fat Friend tweeted. She and other fat activists wish that wasn’t the case. “I’d love to get us to the point where attraction to fat bodies is normalized, and we don’t read it as somehow necessarily unsafe/unsavory,” she wrote. We call someone who has a preference toward plus size bodies a fetishist, but fat is only a fetish because society tells us that it’s not normal to find it attractive, body positive advocate Marie Southard Ospina previously told Refinery29. “Telling your bros you like fat chicks? That’s weird, at least in some communities,” Ospina said. “If your preference is something that isn’t conventionally attractive…it can still be deemed a fetish.” And having a fetish has it’s own set of stigma attached to it (just look at how quickly Nettie dismissed Allen when his farm role play stepped a little too outside of the norm for her interests).

So, having a fat fetish isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on whether the person who’s attracted to fat bodies is seeing their partner as a whole person, not just a soft stomach. And what Allen did at first, while definitely a little tactless and abrupt, wasn’t terrible. If he and Nettie had a chat about fetishization and desire and boundaries before they got into the farm role play, maybe she would’ve been able to go along with it. Maybe she could have dealt with being the cow in his fantasy if he explained that it had nothing to do with her weight or that he’s attracted to her fat body but also interested in her personality. But what he did next was unforgivable. And it happens way too often to fat women who reject thin men.

As soon as Nettie walks away from Allen, telling him “don’t call me,” he shouts back, “You know, I don’t even date fat girls.” It’s a reaction that happens all too often, says Laura Delarato, a body positive activist and sex educator who works at Refinery29. And it happens because being rejected by a fat person is so shameful that often, a person’s first instinct is to lash out. It’s like getting fired and then telling your boss that actually, you quit. “The idea of a fat woman rejecting a person is so outside of our understanding because we see plus size women, and fat women, and chubby women, and bigger bodies as desperate, like they’ll take anything,” she says. Of course, that’s not true. A fat woman can and will reject anyone she’s not interested in, especially if she feels that they’re objectifying her.

Ultimately, changing that reaction and changing the idea that being attracted to fat is a fetish at all comes down to representation, Delarato says. It’s 2018, and just about every fat woman on TV has a storyline about weight, as if they don’t have lives outside of worrying about their size. We need to see a plus-size woman who has already embraced her body and who has sex with people who find her desirable just because she is.

Overweight and overconfident, 30-something Nettie decides to openly embrace her abundance and “comes out” to the world as a fat person. When she’s met with a range of reactions, from BBW fetishizing suitors to her diet pushing family, she discovers that her weight is a heavy matter — for everyone but her. Watch the full film from Refinery29 and TBS’s comedy lab HERE.

Complete Article HERE!

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7 Ways To Have Sex Without A Penis

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— Because You Really Don’t Need One

By Kasandra Brabaw

When most people think about sex, their minds likely jump to penis-in-vagina (P-in-V) sex. And it’s no wonder, given that the sex ed many of us had (if we had it at all) focused on teaching us how to not get pregnant. When pregnancy is the concern (or the goal) then the only kind of sex that seems to “count” is P-in-V sex. We’re so invested in the penis’ involvement in sex, that when the story of a man who lost his penis in a childhood accident came out on Reddit, people had one burning question: How can he fuck his girlfriend?

“We typically end up having this picture in our brain that sex involves a penis and vagina,” says Laura Deitsch, PhD, resident sexologist of Vibrant. “It starts when a penis is hard and it ends when a penis ejaculates.” That fixation on penis-in-vagina penetration as “real sex” not only leaves a bunch of people out, it also ignores all kinds of sexy things couples could be doing instead of sticking a penis into a hole, she says. Plenty of people default to penis-less sex because they have to — including cisgender women in queer relationships and trans or non-binary people who feel gender dysphoria around their genitals — but even straight, cisgender people could benefit from giving the penis a break. Taking one night off from P-in-V sex could inspire creativity in straight couples’ sex lives, and that helps to stave off boredom.

Whether you’re a cis queer woman wondering what to do with her penis-less partner, a trans person looking for ways to avoid gender dysphoria, a straight and cis person whose partner can’t use his penis for medical reasons, or someone who simply wants to add a little excitement to your sex life, we’ve rounded up five ways to have sex without a penis. So, consider giving the P-in-V sex a break, and trying something new.

Put your tongue to work.
You’ve likely heard of the orgasm gap — the fact that straight women orgasm significantly less often than straight men — but have you heard of the oral sex gap? According to at least one study, women are more than twice as likely to go down on a sexual partner than men. So if you’re in a straight pairing, use your penis-less night to start filling in that gap.

Often, oral sex is way more effective (in terms of having orgasms) than penetrative sex alone for people who have vulvas, because there are about 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris. But, regardless of your gender identity or sexuality, eating someone out for the first time can be scary. Vulvas and vaginas seem like this big mystery, simply because no one talks about them.

So let’s shatter the mystery. All it takes is a little bit of anatomy knowledge and some stellar communication to know what you’re doing. Things to remember: 1) All clits look different, but they’re generally located toward the top of your partner’s vulva. If you can’t find your partner’s clit, ask if you’re in the right spot. 2) Talk to your partner about what they like. It’s the best way to get them off, promise. 3) Have fun! Oral sex is hot.

Get your fingers (or fist) in there.
Fingering isn’t just for foreplay. When done correctly (meaning, there’s plenty of lubrication and it feels good), fingering can be just as satisfying as other forms of penetration. Plus, if your partner has a vulva, using your fingers gives you plenty of mobility to add another finger, tongue, or vibrator circling their clit. And that combo is amazingly good at creating explosive blended orgasms.

If your partner has a penis, you can finger them, too. It’s called “muffing.” People with penises have two spots tucked behind the scrotum and testicles called inguinal canals, which are about the diameter of a finger (but also stretch). Mira Bellwether first wrote about this kind of fingering in a zine called Fucking Trans Women, but the sex act can feel good for anyone who has a penis, regardless of gender identity.

Kick it old school.
Think back to the days of your first romance. You were likely waiting a while to have “real sex.” So, instead, you’d rub your fully clothed body against your partner’s. That, my friends, is dry humping and it can count as sex, too. If you rub in the right places, it can also result in orgasm.

“The main thing for people to remember is that you’re going to try getting some constant friction on the clit,” Laura McGuire, PhD, a sexologist and consultant, previously told Refinery29. So just swivel your hips around on a partner’s erection, hip, thigh, or a sex toy, until you hit a spot that feels good.

Take out the toy box.
Sex toys are your friend, and they can make any kind of sex much more interesting (whether or not the penis is in play). If at least one partner has a clitoris, toys like vibrators and dildos can be used either in combo with oral sex or fingering or they can be used on their own to stimulate any part of the body, Dr. Deitsch says.

Strap-ons can also be a great addition to your sex adventures, whether or not your partner has a penis. And if they do have a penis, toys can still come in handy. Anyone who has a prostate can get lots of pleasure from anal sex, so you can use a strap-on to peg your partner (aka, enter them from behind).

Share your fantasies.
Sex means so many different things to different people that it sometimes doesn’t require much touching at all, Dr. Deitsch says. “If we opened our minds, we’d realize that sex is a whole lot of stuff,” she says. “And I challenge someone, if they’re thinking that something like tying your partner up and reading them erotic fiction isn’t sex, would they do that with a family member or with someone who they just met at the grocery store?”

To some people, sharing sexual fantasies can be highly erotic. So Dr. Deitsch recommends laying with your partner and describing the sexy things you want to do to them, or watching porn together, or engaging in some light bondage as you read sexy stories.

Experiment with texture and touch.
If non-penetrative sex is new for you, then now is a great time to really get to know your partner’s body. “An interesting way to conceptualize a partner is having them be your canvas,” Dr. Deitsch says. Use whatever you can find, that your partner feels good having on their body, and explore different parts of your lover’s body. That can mean a wooden spoon or spatula, a comb, an ice cube, a smooth piece of cloth or a fork. “Rake a comb across their back or take a piece of cloth in between the cleavage area,” Dr. Deitsch says. “Just making a big long production out of feeling different types of touch with different materials.” It’s fun, but can also help you get intimately acquainted with all of your partner’s sensitive spots. (Maybe you can even attempt the elusive nipple-gasm.)

Make it booty-licious.
(Almost) everyone has an anus, Dr. Deitsch says. So anal sex is the great equalizer. “There are a plethora of new toys on the market, like butt plugs and anal beads, that you certainly don’t need a penis to be able to utilize,” she says. And whether any partner involved has a prostate or not, anal sex can feel amazing.

But, it’s also easy to have anal sex that hurts. So, if you’re a first-timer, make sure you’re buying smaller butt plugs that have a flared base and using plenty of lube.

Complete Article HERE!

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Men, like women, can have post-sex blues

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By Cheryl Platzman Weinstock

After sex, men can sometimes experience a myriad of confusing negative feelings, a phenomenon called post-coital dysphoria (PCD), which can interfere with relationships, researchers say.

The research team analyzed responses from over 1,200 men to an anonymous international online survey that asked whether they had ever experienced symptoms of PCD, which can include tearfulness, sadness or irritability following otherwise satisfactory consensual sex.

The men, aged between 18 and 81 years, were primarily in Australia and the U.S., but the sample also included men in the UK, Russia, New Zealand, Germany and 72 other countries.

The study team, led by Joel Maczkowiack, a master’s student at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, found that 41 percent of the men reported having experienced PCD in their lifetime, with 20 percent saying they had experienced it in the previous four weeks. Between 3 percent and 4 percent of the men reported experiencing PCD on a regular basis.

“I would like to think that this study will help males (and females) reflect on their experience of sex, as well as encourage communication between partners about their experience,” Maczkowiack told Reuters Health by email.

“In addition, we hope that this type of research will help people whose experience of sex is dysphoric (or dysphoric at times) to know that they are not the only ones who feel this way. In this sense, we hope this study normalizes a variety of human experiences following sex,” he said.

Past research has found that PCD is common among women. This is the first time it has been documented in men, Maczkowiack said.

PCD can occur despite satisfying and enjoyable sex. One man in the study reported that PCD made him feel “self-loathing.” Another reported, “I feel a lot of shame.” One participant said, “I usually have crying fits and full on depressive episodes following coitus that leave my significant other worried . . . .”

The study, published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, found that PCD may be related to previous and current psychological distress and past abuse, including sexual, emotional and physical abuse in childhood and adulthood.

Emotional abuse was the most common form of abuse reported by the men both before and after age 16, researchers found. Sexual abuse in childhood was reported by 12.7 percent of the men and sexual abuse in adulthood was reported by 3.5 percent of the men. Their most common reported mental health concern was depression (36.9 percent), followed by anxiety (32.5 percent) and bipolar disorder (3 percent).

Current psychological distress was the strongest variable associated with lifetime and four-week PCD. Higher levels of psychological distress were more strongly associated with PCD.

The data for this study was collected from February to June 2017 and drawn from a larger questionnaire that examined the post-coital experience of men and women.

“While this research is interesting, the study of PCD needs psychometrically valid instruments, said Rory Reid, an assistant professor of psychiatry and research psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.

The study used a few questions to measure PCD, but there is ambiguity in those items, Reid said in a phone interview. “They lack precision and there was no specificity about frequency in responses as to exactly how often was ‘a little’ or ‘some of the time’,” he noted.

“Future studies of PCD need to utilize qualitative approaches where participants are interviewed about their PCD experiences so we can further understand this phenomenon, why people might experience it, the extent to which it is causing individuals psychological distress, and whether it is negatively impacting their romantic relationship,” Reid added.

One of limitations of the study was that the men self-reported their emotional response to previous sexual experiences. “This information can be difficult for participants to recall,” Maczkowiack, said.

“The findings of this study could influence marital therapy by normalizing different responses. In addition, it may open up communication between partners,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!

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Yes, we can.

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And we can also change the way we talk about disability and sex

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There are major barriers for disabled people who want to pursue sex and relationships. They are real and deeply felt. Yet the stigmatising tone of public conversation makes me wary, writes Henrietta Bollinger

“Um … advice? From me? Yes, we can,” was my cautious, then tongue-in-cheek answer. “As Obama would say!”

The others laughed. It was a joke. But I’d just been asked what advice I might have for young people like me who were exploring sex and sexuality. It was also a pithy summary of what 16-year-old me had needed to know.

As a disabled woman this was not something I’d been sure of: could sex be part of my life? When I later conducted research on the experience of young disabled people in sexuality education the question repeated itself. Being unsure if sex and relationships would feature in their lives meant they were unsure if any of the information about safe sex or healthy relationships applied either. They largely disregarded what they had learnt as irrelevant , increasing the risk of abuse. So, I know how important it is to clearly say: “Yes. As a disabled person sex is for you, too.”

This sentiment in the piece headlined “The reality of having sex when you live with a disability” I had to agree with. I also agree that there are major barriers for disabled people who want to pursue sex and relationships. These range from a lack of affirmative education, to the inaccessibility of places where people usually meet potential partners, disabled people’s social isolation and stigma towards disabled people, including assumptions that may come from their own families or the people who support them. There are related issues too, like people’s rights to marriage, fertility or to have children. In this country, it is still legal under the Adoption Act for children to be removed from their parents’ care on the grounds of parental disability. Disabled people are also still far too frequently subjected to sterilization.

The barriers are real and deeply felt. They absolutely need addressing as part of realising equitable and full lives for disabled people. I would absolutely advocate for the removal of all barriers that inhibit us from exploring sexuality or entering sexual relationships as equals to non-disabled people. Yet the tone of public conversation makes me wary. On the rare occasions we do talk about disability and sex it is either to highlight the barriers or to equivocate about sex work. Advocacy which claims the act of sex as something we are entitled to often misses the fact that good sex should be a negotiation, a social interaction. Nobody – including those who work in the sex industry – owes it to anyone.

Sex work as a way for disabled people to access sex has been brought to popular attention by films like The Sessions or Touching Base. The Sessions was a dramatization of Mark O’Brien’s life; a man with polio who decided he wanted to have sex before he died. Touching Base is a documentary about an Australian sex worker who visits disabled clients. Stories like these have a lot of value in terms of amplifying the “Yes we can” message. For many disabled people working with sex workers provides intimacy they may not have and the opportunity to explore their own bodies, take “safe-risks”. But these stories are told into a context where sex workers continue to be stigmatised and so do disabled people.

When this is made the dominant narrative, it allows the rest of “able” society off the hook in terms of examining its own prejudices. Instead of asking hard questions about attitudinal, social, educational and physical barriers that exist to all people being full sexual citizens – we outsource. We tell sex workers that there are morally more and less acceptable ways of doing their jobs, instead of constantly supporting them in their choice of work.

Disabled people, we say to ourselves, are entitled to sex as a service, the uncomplicated meeting of a need. But as partners, lovers in their own right?

There is another story, too, a story that we tell less often – maybe because it is more mundane.

This is the idea that disabled people can and do have sex – without the help of any support or sex workers. We are straight, queer, alone, together. We are partners, lovers, parents and all the rest. It is the kind of conversation that is happening privately, or being just lived. It is the mundane story we need to make sure people know is out there too.

Because after we understand that “Yes we can” we ask: how? And we have to know there is not one reality of sex and disability but many. The more varied the stories we tell, the more will seem possible to the disabled kid in their sex ed class, as well as to their potential partners.

Complete Article HERE!

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The first app to get approved as birth control in Europe has now been green-lit in the US, despite controversy

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  • Birth-control app Natural Cycles has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration — the first app to be approved for contraception in North America.
  • The app uses an algorithm to tell women when they have the highest and lowest chances of getting pregnant, but it ultimately relies on men and women changing their behavior.
  • The app recently came under fire in Sweden when 37 women reported getting pregnant while using it.

A birth-control app called Natural Cycles has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, marking the first time an app has been approved for contraception in North America.

Designed by physicist couple Elina Berglund and Raoul Scherwitzl, the app doesn’t involve a pill and contains no medication. It works by giving heterosexual couples recommendations about when to avoid sex or use protection, based on a woman’s daily temperature measurements and the regularity of her period.

“Consumers are increasingly using digital health technologies to inform their everyday health decisions, and this new app can provide an effective method of contraception if it’s used carefully and correctly,” Terri Cornelison, assistant director for women’s health at the FDA’s Center for Devices, said in a statement. “But women should know that no form of contraception works perfectly, so an unplanned pregnancy could still result from correct usage of this device.”

Natural Cycles only helps prevent pregnancy if people using it behave in the way it prescribes. The app also recently gained regulatory approval in Europe — the first app to do so there as well — but it came under fire in Sweden several months later when 37 women reported getting pregnant while using it.

Those pregnancies ignited a small controversy about how the app works and what it can — and can’t — do. But Scherwitzl told Business Insider in January that he was not surprised women had become pregnant.

“We give red and green days and clear recommendations on which days to abstain and which days we consider the risk of pregnancy to be negligible,” he said.

The problem with saying ‘as effective as the pill using only math’

Natural Cycles was initially portrayed by multiple news outlets — including Business Insider — as being “as effective as the pill using only math.”

When is used properly, Natural Cycles may be comparable in effectiveness to the pill. But that doesn’t always happen, as the controversy in Sweden revealed.

So the problem with these types of statements is that the app relies on couples to change their behavior and either not have sex or use protection based on the app’s recommendations.

“Just like with the pill, you have scenarios where women take the pill everyday” and it’s as reliable as possible, Scherwitzl said, and then there are “scenarios where they don’t take it every day” and the reliability decreases.

How Natural Cycles compares with simply using a calendar

Natural Cycles’ approach puts it in a larger category of birth control known as fertility awareness, which is similar to the calendar-based approach people have used for decades.

The company’s founders published a study on the app’s effectiveness in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care in 2016. The research involved 4,000 women between the ages of 18 and 45, and the results showed that out of every 100 women who used the app in a “typical” way for a year (meaning certain common slip-ups were accounted for), seven of them got pregnant.

That rate is and significantly lower than the traditional calendar method, which has an average fail rate of 24%, according to the CDC.

The “typical use” scenario for the pill leads to about nine out of 100 women getting pregnant within a year, so the study suggests Natural Cycles is on par with an oral contraceptive. But the app still leads to more pregnancies than would be seen among people using injectable birth control or an IUD. The typical use fail rate for an IUD is 0.2-0.8%, or less than one out of 100 women getting pregnant each year.

Apps can ‘provide encouragement,’ but still have key limitations

As far as the women who got pregnant while using the Natural Cycles app are concerned, the same European study found that more than half of them had unprotected sex with men on the days when the app advised against it. Those instances are evidence of a longstanding human reality: behavioral control is difficult, especially when it comes to sex, and not a guaranteed way to prevent pregnancy.

“While smartphone apps may provide encouragement, they can’t stop [men and women] from … sex altogether,” Susan Walker, a professor of sexual health at Anglia Ruskin University, wrote in an article for The Conversation.

A handful of other factors can also get in the way of the app working correctly, including having multiple sex partners and having a partner who is not equally committed to birth control.

So if you’re planning on using the app — or one of the dozens like it that have not been approved as medical devices — experts say you should have a predictable sex schedule, regular periods, be willing to check your temperature every day, and have the ability to abstain from sexual activity on consecutive days every month.

If you can do all that, the app could work for you.

“In the end, what we want to do is add a new method of contraception that women can choose from without side effects,” Scherwitzl said. “I think there are many women who this will be great for.”

Complete Article HERE!

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What does it mean to be a submissive?

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Until a few years ago, unless you were part of the BDSM community, submissive was just a word. 

You’d probably have thought that submissive meant meek, respectful, compliant and passive. And then 50 Shades of Grey arrived and the word took on a whole new meaning.

These days, the sexual side of the word ‘submissive’ means something else. It’s a descriptive word for a role that some people like to take during sex, role play or within their kinky relationship.

The submissive partner can be either the male or the female. It’s also possible for people to take it in turns to be the submissive one, which is known as ‘switching’.

Being submissive can be limited to during sex, when the submissive partner might be on the receiving end of masochism, bondage or other forms of domination. However, some submissive don’t limit their submission to within the bedroom, and will be a ‘lifestyle’ submissive.

Lifestyle submissive have sets of rules between themselves and their partners which govern their relationship. It might be small things such as calling your partner a term like ‘sir’ or ‘master’, it could be doing domestic labour, or it could involve spending large amounts of time naked in a cage.

Every submissive and dominant relationship is different and has different levels of intensity and different rules. It is more common to keep the dominant and submissive roles to the bedroom (or to specific periods of time) rather than living the lifestyle 24/7, as it can be difficult to sustain a relationship with an inherent imbalance, especially if you have a family.

It can be hard to understand why another person wants to be submissive if that’s not something you’re personally interested in. It’s important to try to understand and not to judge. As we have written before, there is a real difference between kinky and abusive. That difference is active consent.

Submissive relationships only work when they are based around consent. If you’re worried that a relationship has become toxic or dangerous, you should contact Relate or the National Domestic Violence hotline.

Complete Article HERE!

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Men And Women (But Especially Men) Are Confused About How Much Sex Everyone Is Having

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By Aliyah Kovner

Psychologists and social theorists are well aware of the fact that popular culture has been perpetuating myths about human sexuality since, well, forever. But given that we are living in an era of increasing sexual liberation, at least in Western nations, and social media oversharing, this has gotten better in recent years – right? Maybe not.

According to a survey by polling firm Ipsos, both men and women in the UK and US are wildly out of touch with reality in regards to the intimate activities of the opposite sex. But (some) men are particularly clueless.

The research data – collected from online queries given to between 1,000 and 1,500 people, aged 16-64 or 18-64, in each country – reveals that the average guess among men for how often a typical young woman (18 to 29 years old) has sex is 23 times per month in the US and 22 times a month in the UK. However, the women of this age group who were polled reported having sex an average of five times per month – a more than four-fold difference in expectation vs reality.

“It’s interesting that this misperception is so profound. It really illustrates the extent to which men really don’t understand female sexuality,” Chris Jackson, a spokesperson for Ipsos, told BuzzFeed News. “Men just don’t seem to have a good understanding of the reality for women. I guess that’s not actually news.”

Guesses about young men’s sexual frequency were also far off the mark, but not as dramatically. The overall average estimate (from both men and women) was that 18 to 29-year-old males are doing it about 14 times per month, whereas the average self-reported number was four.

And demonstrating that women are not free from misunderstanding, the Ipsos survey showed that the average guess among females of all ages for the frequency of young women’s sexual encounters was 12 times a month.

Of course, because the survey assessed a broad group of people, likely with large differences in lifestyle, and didn’t account for differences in sexual activity between those in relationships or single, the “real” figures listed must be taken with a massive grain of salt. In addition, relying on people’s self-reported numbers leads to dubious accuracy, and it is important to note that this survey is not peer-reviewed research and focused only on heterosexual encounters.

Keeping these limitations in mind, it is still amusing to look at the outcomes of the next section of the study, which asked participants to guess how many sexual partners the average man and woman in their country have had by age 45 to 54. Men and women in the US, UK, and Australia (where another ~1,500 people were polled) were pretty good at guessing the average man’s number (between 17 and 19), as you can see in the chart below. But American men did an appalling job at guessing for women – estimating an average of 27 compared to the reported 12 – and both men and women in the UK and Australia were also far off.

When guessing why men’s numbers are so much higher than women’s considering that heterosexual sex involves one of each, the Ipsos pollsters report that such findings are common in sex polls.

“There are a number of suggested explanations for this – everything from men’s use of prostitutes to how the different genders interpret the question (for example, if women discount some sexual practices that men count),” they wrote.

But it seems most likely to be a mix of men’s rougher and readier adding up, combined with men’s conscious or unconscious bumping up of their figure, and women’s tendency to deflate theirs. It seems that the most reasonable conclusion is that men up their number a bit, women downplay theirs a bit more, and we actually reveal something close to the truth when guessing for ‘other people’”

Complete Article HERE!

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What Do You Do If You Have An STI?

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Stay Calm, Here Are 3 Steps To Take

By Laura Moses

Years ago, a friend raged into my apartment with bad news: the guy she had been hooking up with had given her an STI. She knew he was seeing other people, but he had just written her a lovey-dovey email from his business trip, asking about her upcoming schedule, and saying how much he missed her. She was gobsmacked about what to do. I mean… what do you do if you have an STI? Like a good friend, I made her a drink and then we made a plan. She wrote a nice email back to him saying she’d check her schedule, hoped he had a nice trip, and ended with “P.S. We have gonhorrea.” Boom.

Although we still laugh about that to this day, your sexual health is something to take very seriously. If you think you might have an STI, you probably feel anxious, scared and pretty physically uncomfortable. I connected with Dr. Gillian Dean, Senior Director of Medical Services at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, about this topic. She observes, “The reality is that there are 20 million new STI cases each year. Getting an STI or having a partner with an STI is extremely common — it’s the result of intimate contact with other people and not something to be embarrassed about. It doesn’t make you any less valuable or worthy of love, and your STI status doesn’t make you “clean” or “dirty.” So take a deep breath, you got this, and read on for steps to take to address what might be going down… down there.

Step One: Get Tested

It’s important to note what your specific symptoms are and when they first occured. While a girl’s gotta pay attention to everything going on below her belt, keep in mind that not every itch or sore spot is caused by an STI. Dr. Dean explains, “painful or frequent urination could be a symptom of an STI — or it could be caused by a urinary tract infection or vaginitis. Both yeast infections and pubic lice cause itching. Is that bump a wart or a pimple? It can be hard to tell sometimes.”

While noting and keeping track of your symptoms is important, most common STIs out there — chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV — often don’t have any symptoms, Dr. Dean says. That’s why there’s no accurate way to tell if you have an STI without being tested. STI testing is quick, easy and painless. All STIs are treatable, while many are curable — but you have to know your status before you can get treated. So go.

Step Two: For Real, Get Tested

Let’s say you feel fairly fine, just a little irritation down south, but you would rather wait it out and hope it goes away than trek to your gyno’s office and do the whole pelvic exam thing. Most of the time, STIs have no symptoms or may be so mild that they don’t bother you, but that doesn’t mean they’re not harmful.

Dr. Dean cautions, “Just because you don’t have physical symptoms doesn’t mean you can’t pass it [an STI] to a partner or that it can’t lead to more serious health problems in the future. If you’ve had vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a new sexual partner or multiple sexual partners, you should talk with a nurse or doctor about getting tested.”

Now, if you have physical symptoms such as sores or bumps on and around your genitals, burning or irritation when you pee or flu-like symptoms like fever, body ache, and swollen glands… then please put your phone in your bag and go right to the doctor. (You can finish reading this later!) You can also get rested — often for a reduced rate or even for free — at Planned Parenthood or a sexual health clinic.

Once you’ve been tested and you know exactly what you’re dealing with, the treatment your doctor prescribed to you will get to work. Going forward, be sure you take all precautions to protect your precious health, like using protection and getting tested regularly. Dr. Dean explains, “At a minimum, sexually active people should get tested once a year — but it also depends on your personal risk factors, such as if you use protection or if you have a new sexual partner since you last got tested.” She suggests talking with your doctor about what makes sense for your life.

Also, you should talk to your sexual partner or partners about this. If you’re unsure how to have this super fun talk with a sexual partner about STI testing and protection, or that you have an STI, Planned Parenthood created a set of videos to help you out. If you truly don’t want to have a face-to-face chat, you can always do it in an email postscript, like my dear friend once did. Your sexual health is part of your physical, emotional and mental health, so being able to communicate with your sexual partners is key.

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s how marijuana use affects sex drive

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by Philip Perry

Do you and your lover sometimes have a glass of wine or two to help set the mood? Alcohol, while it can soften inhibitions, may also cause trouble when it comes time to perform, especially for men. Some turn to cannabis as an alternative. Unfortunately, research on how marijuana affects sexual performance is conflicting.

Some studies say it inhibits capability while other say it enhances it. A new, large-scale study finds that marijuana use increases the sex drive and probably doesn’t inhibit performance. Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine conducted the study and published their results in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Cannabis has been thought an aphrodisiac in the folk medicine traditions of many cultures throughout history. Today, a small but growing segment in the West are using it to help enhance their sex lives. One California woman is even selling “Sexxpot,” a low-THC variety (the psychoactive component) said to increase female sexual desire and pleasure.

As for men, though online forums and advice columns praise it as a “natural Viagra,” some studies have found that cannabis may actually inhibit performance. Previous work has also suggested that chronic use inhibits sex drive. A 2009 study found that everyday use may make it difficult for some men to achieve orgasm. While a 2011 review concluded that chronic use may lead to a higher risk of erectile dysfunction.

This new study however seems to undermine the case for inhibited performance or libido. Stanford researchers analyzed the responses of 50,000 Americans who took part in the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth. They looked at the years between 2002 and 2015. Each participant was between ages 25 and 45. The average age for both men and women was actually 29.5.

Respondents indicated how often they smoke marijuana, either monthly, weekly, or daily, and how many times they had sex in the last 12 months. Assistant professor of urology Michael Eisenberg, MD, was the senior author. “Marijuana use is very common,” he said. “But its large-scale use and association with sexual frequency hasn’t been studied much in a scientific way.”

“What we found,” Eisenberg said “was compared to never-users, those who reported daily use had about 20 percent more sex. So over the course of a year, they’re having sex maybe 20 more times.” Women who didn’t smoke pot had sex an average of 6 times per month. While those who were daily users did it 7.1 times per month. With men, non-potheads had sex 5.6 times per month, while daily users did it 6.9 times per month.

According to Eisenberg, “The overall trend we saw applied to people of both sexes and all races, ages, education levels, income groups and religions, every health status, whether they were married or single and whether or not they had kids.” Researchers called it a “dose-dependent relationship.”

The more people used marijuana, the more sex they had. These findings also alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding performance inhibition. “Frequent marijuana use doesn’t seem to impair sexual motivation or performance,” Eisenberg said. “If anything, it’s associated with increased coital frequency.”

There are of course, some caveats. For couples who are trying to have children, several studies have found that chronic pot use can cause a man’s sperm count to plummet. Toking just once a week can sink the number of swimmers a man has by about a third. There’s also still a lingering fear among some experts that chronic use can lead to ED.

It’s important to note that the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, merely a strong correlation. Smoking marijuana doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be having more sex. There may be another factor or factors that are influencing the two. For instance, those drawn to marijuana may also be less inhibited or thrill-seekers, who are naturally more inclined to seek out sexual encounters.

Eisenberg says he thinks marijuana’s positive correlation with intercourse isn’t just a tendency among the less-inhibited. He points out that the number of sexual encounters rose steadily with increased use. If these findings prove correct, certain synthesized cannabinoids or elements in marijuana, may someday be used as a medical treatment, to foster libidinous feelings in those who find that their desire has waned. Eisenberg cautions, “We don’t want people to smoke to improve sexual function.” But he admits, “it probably doesn’t hurt things.”

To learn how a segment of young women using marijuana to improve their sex lives, click here:

Complete Article HERE!

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What It’s Like to Reclaim Your Sex Life After Sexual Assault

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Survivors share their stories.

By Zahra Barnes

When she was 16, Lindsay Marie Gibson was raped. After her assault, life continued, as it does. Years later, in college, she met the man who would become her husband. She fell in love. They got married. Life was good. Yet her assault from years before still wreaked havoc, here and there. If Lindsay, now 34, didn’t flinch when her husband reached for her hand, it was only because she didn’t realize he was touching her in the first place. Her mind-body disconnect, which had come about as what she calls a “self-protection” of sorts after she was raped, was that powerful.

Many people struggle to feel connected with their bodies after experiencing an assault.

Lindsay is not the only survivor to unintentionally rely on this coping mechanism in the aftermath of sexual assault. “It sounds odd, but sexual abuse actually makes you forget that your body is yours and not property or an object,” Lauren*, 26, a survivor who often thought of herself as a “body-less soul” after her rape, tells SELF. “The minute you realize your body is indeed your own, you are instantly reminded that it was forcefully taken from you

This physical numbness stems from an emotional one, and it’s a natural impulse after undergoing something as horrendous as rape. But it is also an intimidating force blocking many survivors from what they say is one of the most empowering parts of reclaiming their lives after rape: Enjoying sex again, or for the first time ever

The yawning chasm between mind and body can make it impossible to fully connect with another person, says Lindsay, who was only able to fall in love with her husband mentally at first: “In my head, I knew I loved him, but I couldn’t feel it in my body.”

Integrating the mind and body is essential for a happy, healthy sex life after assault.

“There needs to be integration,” Holly Richmond, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist who has counseled survivors at the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, tells SELF. “The trauma happened in the past, and a new, healthy, sexual self is moving into future, but it’s all the same person—one body, one mind.”

The goal, says Richmond, is for the survivor to process the trauma so it does not affect her daily life, without compartmentalizing what happened to her to the point of suppression. Attempting to completely stanch the flow of painful memories can contribute to that mind-body disconnect, as well as anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Unpacking that trauma in a healthy way is what helps survivors enjoy many facets of life—including sex, Indira Henard, M.S.W, executive director of the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, tells SELF. “Each survivor is different, and it’s a lifelong journey,” she says.

Survivors must navigate various obstacles on the journey towards integration.

For starters, they often struggle with feeling comfortable around men. “If I saw a man in an elevator, I would turn and run the other way,” Lindsay says. “I was fighting anxiety through all my dates—I would sit and stare as they talked, but my head was going, Run, run, run. Get away from this guy.”

When a survivor does eventually wrangle that anxious impulse and start dating someone, she’ll likely disclose what happened at some point. At first, sharing details about her rape would often send men “running for the hills,” Anna*, 36, tells SELF. Now she is in a wonderful relationship with a man who responded to her story with kindness.

Even once a survivor is ready to have sex, issues like anxiety and PTSD can still rear their ugly heads. “When you’re having flashbacks or intrusive thoughts about your assault or rape, it’s very, very difficult to want to have sex,” says Lauren, who has PTSD. “Or worse, if you are having sex when these things arise, sex can become scary and intimidating, not to mention triggering.”

Avoiding triggers after sexual assault can feel like a minefield.

For Jess*, 24, a nickname her attacker called her is now off-limits. When dating after her rape, hearing the nickname during sex could prompt her to “100 percent flip out and start crying,” she tells SELF.

And after being raped from behind, Anna has drawn a line at certain kinds of touch with her husband. “Sometimes, as much as he wants to touch that area, it’s just too much,” she says.

That decision brings Anna a measure of relief while also prompting guilt at times, which experts say is normal but unwarranted. No matter what a trigger is, having one doesn’t mean you’re weak or wrong—it means you’re human, says Richmond.

To manage triggers, assault survivors must regain control over their sex lives, which often includes absolving themselves of any wrongdoing.

In order to heal, it’s vital to set sexual boundaries and hammer out a definition of consent and what is or isn’t OK between two people, says Henard: “Survivors have a right to ask for consent and negotiate what that looks like for them.”

This requires survivors to let themselves off the hook, which many have trouble doing due to persistent feelings of shame, says Richmond.

“It’s about recognizing that you did not do anything wrong, that there’s nothing you could have done to prevent this, and that you are not alone,” says Henard. Richmond adds, “I don’t care if you were sitting naked on a street corner. The only reason you were raped is that you were in the presence of a rapist.”

“When you realize it’s not your fault, it’s kind of like a weight is lifted off of you,” Jennifer*, 44, tells SELF. That self-acceptance often gives survivors the feeling that it’s OK to articulate what they need in order to feel in control of their sexual destinies.

Once survivors have established boundaries, they’re one step closer to truly connecting with someone else, which is an integral part of moving forward.

“This is what so much of my therapeutic practice is about: being able to authentically connect with another human being without going into the shame, guilt, and anger brought up during and after sexual assault,” says Richmond. “There might be some bumps in the road, but when the partner can continue to offer security and safety, it’s an amazing thing

Jennifer recalls how comfortable she felt when she first met her now-fiancé. “He was very compassionate, and he was very patient,” she says. Her fiancé—whom she describes as very focused on helping her to associate sex with good feelings instead of bad ones—is the first person she’s been able to get fully naked in front of since her rape. “I’ve always been very self-conscious of my body, but I don’t feel that way with him,” she says. Now, sex feels freer and is without the tense fight-or-flight mode that marked other encounters after her rape.

For Lindsay, something about her husband’s energy quieted the alarms that would clang whenever she was around men. “The first time he looked at me, I didn’t feel like I needed to run,” she says. “For the first time ever, in my head, I was able to have peace.”

And, of course, pleasure plays a crucial role in this equation.

The best-case scenario, says Richmond, is that a survivor isn’t thinking about the assault when she’s having sex. Instead, the hope is that she feels safe, secure, connected, and is feeling pleasure. But that’s easier said than done

“I got to a point where I was able to be intimate, but I didn’t feel passion,” Lindsay says. “I knew in my head he was safe…I just kind of wanted to get through it and wanted him to be satisfied because I love him.”

Jess would similarly go through the motions, humming songs or making grocery lists in her head to get through sex

But eventually, many survivors realize they deserve pleasure, too, and that seeking it out is essential for healing. “I found the only way to truly move on was to be vocal and to speak up for myself,” Lauren says. Sometimes, she needs to halt all sexual activity. “Other times, I just need a second to re-ground myself and allow my body to remember its present circumstance and realize it is not in danger,” she says.

Having good sex is more than a marker of healing—it’s a liberating step in the process.

Some time after her assault, when Lauren felt ready, she dove eagerly into sexual exploration with her then-boyfriend. “Learning what my body loves and wants has been an exciting journey and one that is incredibly empowering,” she says

But after they broke up, the uncertain world of dating pushed her into more exploration than was ultimately right for her. “I decided to—no strings attached—explore sex just for sex,” she says. “The experience I gained was not worth the emotional toll. I realized sex cannot be, at least for me, something [frivolous] without thought and true emotional connection.”

Now, Lauren is in a happy marriage with a great sex life. “My partner encourages me to be vocal, and we spend a lot of time communicating our needs, our wants, and our thoughts and desires about sex,” she says. “Finding out just how sexually compatible we are has been amazing.”

After some time in therapy, Jess gave herself a mission similar to Lauren’s: “My goal was to have as much sex as possible [with my boyfriend] until I felt normal.”

It helped her make leaps and bounds in her recovery. “I can do everything that might be illegal in some states and countries, and I’m fine with that!” she says. “I feel like my body is special now—there’s no one who can tell me otherwise.”

Sometimes therapy, yoga, or even a tragedy is what helps survivors move forward.

Although not for everyone, many survivors cite therapy as a crucial part of the equation. It helped Lindsay cut her panic attacks down from five to six per day to maybe five per month, and Jennifer and her fiancé sometimes go to couple’s therapy to figure out the best way to approach her lingering anxiety and trust issues

Lindsay has also found solace in trauma yoga, which helped her reconnect her mind and body. Part of this involved a focus on clearing negative energy from parts of her body, like her ribcage and neck, that had ached since the rape due to injuries she sustained during the assault. “Once I became aware that’s what my body was holding, I haven’t had a problem since,” she says. The yoga also encouraged her to sit with her pain instead of trying to deny it.

But what helped Lindsay truly mend her mind-body disconnect was actually another tragedy—the pain she endured after a stillbirth of a much-wanted son. “Losing him burst me open,” she says. The visceral pain made it impossible to suppress her feelings. “My body was trying to go back into denial, but this time it was different—I couldn’t deny the fact that I loved him,” says Lindsay, who wrote about the transformative experience in Just Be: How My Stillborn Son Taught Me to Surrender. “I was actually healing for the first time.”

Now, thanks to that combination of factors, Lindsay’s sex life has changed dramatically for the better. “I’m able to be present and let go, and I can feel my desire for [my husband], which is a completely new thing.”

If you’re on this journey, remember: It’s a work in progress, but healing is indeed possible.

<It’s normal to grapple with mixed feelings about sex and sexuality after an assault. “I want to feel like a sexy person, and I want to feel like I can be more vocal about what I like and what I enjoy,” says Anna. “But at the same time, is that me being like the men that attacked me, in a sense? I know it may sound silly, but I don’t want to be that aggressive person

Confronting these feelings is part and parcel of working through the aftershocks of sexual assault. It sounds like an unfathomable burden, but survivors consistently rise to meet the occasion.

“Survivors are the strongest people I’ve ever met,” says Richmond. “Almost across the board, these people come out with more strength, more empathy, and more insight into the human condition.”

Although Anna says reclaiming her life is something she’s “still struggling with,” she’s determined to keep at it. “We have three children. I want them to know their mama is strong, resilient. There can be love, and a family, and more to life than [my assault].”

That focus on a better future, many survivors say, is part of what helps them form bonds with potential partners with whom they can have healthy relationships—and repair their relationships with themselves. “There is hope,” says Lindsay. “The physical pain, the emotional pain—all that stuff is passing clouds. Joy is the sky. It’s always there

Names have been changed.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the 24/7 National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). More resources are available online from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. To find a sexual assault service provider near you, visit RAINN.

Complete Article HERE!

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Disabled LGBT+ young people face a battle just to be taken seriously

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Following their own path.

By

As young people navigate adolescence, they ask questions about their sexual attractions and how they understand gender. If they are fortunate, they have access to sex and relationship educators or mentors and support networks. But my research with young people who identify as LGBT+ and disabled shows that they are often treated as though their gender or sexuality is just a phase.

In my research looking at the experiences of young people aged between 16 and 25, we’ve seen how harmful this approach can be. Not recognising that young disabled people can be LGBT+ can reduce their ability to have fulfilling sexual lives. It also reduces the chance that they will receive appropriate help and support in relation to their sexuality or gender throughout their lives.

Seeing sexuality or gender as a phase is not new. But for the young people we work with, it comes as a result of misconceptions about their disability, sexuality and their age. As one young person put it, with regards to their disability:

I do sometimes think that my mum thinks my whole mental health issues and my autism…I think she hopes it’ll go away, she goes on about me getting a job which makes me feel even worse. It makes me feel panicky. It makes me feel like she wants a better child than I am, like I am not good enough because I don’t want work.

These ideas about disability often work alongside misconceptions about sexuality. One young person explained how being gay was “blamed” on their disability. They felt that people think you are LGBT+ “because you are ill or have autism”.

In addition to confusion about disability and sexuality, young people reported challenges due to their age. One interviewee was told to hold off on identifying in one way until they’re older and more mature; “so that you know for sure, so it gives you time”.

These reactions suggest that there is resistance to young disabled people identifying as LGBT+. There seems to be a perception that young disabled people cannot understand LGBT+ sexuality. But the stories the young people told me show a long process of working to understand sexuality and gender. Such decisions were not trivial or a result of trends.

It’s not a phase

Labelling sexuality as a phase suggests that it is something through which one will pass, emerging on other side as heterosexual. This frames anything other than heterosexuality as being flawed and suggests that there is something undesirable about being LGBT+. One young person said that they thought being “LGBT in the heterosexual world is a bad thing”. As a society, we appear to be more accepting of LGBT+ identities. Yet not for young disabled LGBT+ people who are seen as non-sexual and unable to understand what LGBT+ means.

Young people have thought this through.

We need to think about sexuality and gender as part of life and not a passing moment. This is important because young disabled LGBT+ people need appropriate support. Labelling their sexuality as a phase denies them access to information and support as their sexuality is not seen as being valid. They may suffer physical and mental violence and discrimination because of who they are, and are left to fight on their own because no one recognises them for who they are.

In order to work against societal attitudes and misconceptions, we need to listen to the experiences of young disabled LGBT+ people and understand that they are experts in their own lives. Dismissing sexuality as a phase says a lot about societal attitudes towards what it means to be young, disabled and LGBT+. Yet most importantly, such reactions have a direct impact upon the intimate lives of young disabled people as they work against such challenges to make sense of who they are.

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Are You Ready for a Sex Toy Revolution?

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By Hallie Lieberman & Maxine Lynn

For 16 years, purveyors of dildos and vibrators have seen their dreams crushed by lawsuits owing to a 2002 patent that covers the fundamental technology behind computer-controlled sex toys. The transgression? Launching their products after the patent went into effect.

Patents have long encouraged creativity by protecting ideas and research from theft and supporting those who spend years developing genuinely novel technologies and designs. Sex too inspires creativity — from positions and styles to external devices — to enhance the experience or to avoid pregnancy. The so-called teledildonics patent, however, has been leaving brilliant inventors frustrated, and all that is about to end. On Aug. 17, the patent will expire, freeing innovative firms to unleash new toys to the market.

Originally obtained by Warren Sandvick and two others in 2002, the patent has twice changed hands. Tzu Technologies, the patent’s current holder, has repeatedly sued or threatened to sue firms that have created technologies ranging from open-source vibrators to remote hand-held devices. Many companies, unable to negotiate license terms (i.e., permission to use the tech covered by the patent), withdrew their plans under financial pressure. Tzu Technologies’ lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

But with the patent expiring later this month, teledildonics innovators are preparing to bounce back. Soon, London-based MysteryVibe will release an internet-enabled men’s vibrator that doubles as a partner toy. Virtual-reality companies are developing new devices and games as the VR porn space increases in popularity. FookVR is creating a headset that connects vibrating penis sleeves with vibrators and also syncs to the movements of avatars on a screen. And Intimuse, a California-based startup, has developed haptic technologies that re-create the sensation of touch with devices that simulate a penis or a vagina. For years, the company has been designing around the teledildonics patent, says John McCoy, CEO of Intimuse. But not anymore.

These companies also no longer need to worry about the risks two Georgia Tech students faced when, in 2015, they created the Mod, an open-source vibrator that could sync with a partner’s heartbeat, be controlled by a banana or operated with a nipple piercing. Threatened with a lawsuit by Tzu, the students held back their plans. Fresh technologies won’t find themselves mired in courtroom battles that even established companies haven’t been able to avoid. In 2017, for example, Lelo, a Swedish-based company, was sued for its remote-controlled vibrator — as was Hong Kong–based SayberX for its masturbation sleeve.

“Tzu Technologies had a chilling effect on the industry,” says Kyle Machulis, who consulted with Comingle, the company that made the Mod.

The term “teledildonics” was coined 28 years ago by futurist Howard Rheingold to describe sex toys remotely controlled via computer. Today’s teledildonics come in different forms, such as a dildo controlled by an app or a sleeve-style device and a vibrator with the movements of one transmitted to the other — when the vibrator penetrates the vagina, the sleeve automatically squeezes the penis in response.

Patents typically allow creators of a unique and useful invention to protect it for 20 years. It’s a “give-and-take” deal — to encourage people to spend time and resources on the invention of new technologies, the government grants exclusive use to the inventor for a period of time via a patent. But because Tzu and the previous patent owners have had these powers while never manufacturing a sex toy themselves, they’re referred to as “patent trolls” by critics.

One way around the patent was for companies to license it from Tzu, as Dutch firm Kiiroo did, according to news reports. Some have carved out whole new portfolios of patents and patent applications — 67 in all for Intimuse — by working around Tzu’s patent. But that’s arduous and not everyone can afford it.

For small companies, the threat of an “international lawsuit looming over you” is debilitating, the creators of the Mod wrote on their website in February 2016. The costs of defending oneself could be more than a million dollars, they suggested. There was an era when grad students were designing sex toys, and Tzu Technologies put a halt to it, says Machulis, who has created his own open-source sex toy programming software and is a teledildonics blogger.

At least one company successfully fought a lawsuit from Tzu. Kickstarter, the mainstream crowdfunding platform, was sued in 2015 for hosting a crowdfund campaign for a teledildonic device. Kickstarter resisted, and the patent owner quickly capitulated. Many other lawsuits have been settled without the disclosure of terms.

Though most experts view patents as vital to protecting creativity, the expiration of the teledildonics patent may actually spark innovation within the sex toy industry, says David Parisi, an associate professor of emerging media at the College of Charleston. With the patent behind them, “they should be able to devote more resources” to designing innovative devices, he says, “free from the stress and financial drain of defending against overly broad claims of infringement.”

That won’t solve the myriad other challenges the industry continues to face. Just this past May, sex toy–maker and retailer Unbound had to battle New York City’s MTA to be allowed to advertise its products in the subway, even though erectile dysfunction products were already plastered throughout the city’s subway trains. Parisi says the “ongoing stigmatization” of sex tech leaves him suspicious that “we’re on the cusp of some great mainstreaming of teledildonics.” And Machulis worries that other sex-tech patents could replace the challenges the teledildonics patent posed for innovators.

Whether or not Machulis and Parisi are right, the teledildonics patent’s expiration signals a new beginning. Machulis is planning a party to celebrate, and he won’t be alone — the race will once again be on to create the best possible orgasmic experience.

Complete Article HERE!

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Silence has protected predators in too many institutions

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by Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA

The news that more than 300 Pennsylvania priests may have sexually abused more than 1,000 identifiable children during the last 70 years is shocking for the enormity of the accusation, but by now there have been enough of these tragic accusations against so many of our institutions that parents should be neither unaware of the risks to their children nor unwilling to confront those risks before their own child might be abused.

The grand jury indictments accuse the Catholic Church of covering up the abuse with criminal conspiracies of silence. Healthy institutions – and the family is the most basic institution of our society – need to break the silence about sexual health and safety, and there is never a better time than the present to do that.

Let’s start with a few basic ideas:

  • Children should have medically accurate, age-appropriate facts about sexual anatomy and physiology. Little kids should know all the external parts; as kids age they need to know the internal parts and all kids need to know that sexual arousal is an autonomic reflex. Too many predators entrap kids by convincing a child they were not a victim because they became aroused. Parents can neutralize the pedophile’s devastating, all too-common tool with medically accurate information.
  • Parents can open a conversation by reminding children that many people will put their own interests above that of someone else. Children may have already experienced that by being bullied or lied to or experiencing someone taking something of theirs. Abusing someone sexually is but one of the many ways people put their own feelings above those of another, and it’s one that can leave most damaging scars. Especially if faith plays a role in your family, you will want to address the difference between a person who espouses or teaches the words of your faith, and the meaning of those words. Widespread allegations of abuse can challenge the faith of both child and family, and this is a good chance to draw a defining line between the meaning of your religion and the actions of the accused priests and the people who protected them.
  • Focus on trust. Damage can cut the deepest when abuse is in the context of a trusted relationship. Pedophile priests are in our news now, but other trusted adults including physicians, educators, parental figures and coaches have been there, too. Parents can support their children to trust their own instincts when something doesn’t seem right, and to trust that their parents will listen to them and support them when they share those concerns. I’ve heard stories from peers growing up in the 1960s whose parents smacked them for speaking ill of a priest when the child tried to tell about sexual abuse. I hope those days are long gone—children deserve better, and parents can do better.

Too many parents still feel uncomfortable talking to their children about sexuality, yet research shows that parents consistently underestimate the importance children place on their thoughts. Parents may feel as if they don’t know to what say, but other professionals and I can provide resources to help you. Information from the American Academy of Pediatrics and my book The Sex-Wise Parent are but two of the places where you can find help. If you’re really uncomfortable, practice role playing with a friend, or ask your school or faith-based organization to schedule a parent workshop.

Our children deserve the very best from all the institutions designed to help bring them to healthy, productive adulthood. Parents can focus on their own children now, when headlines can be causing fear and confusion, but in the long term parents can focus on the policies, procedures and sexual climate of the institutions that serve their children.

Support for your children’s sexual health and safety must start at home and spread out into the community. Use this current spate of tragic stories to ensure there is no conspiracy of silence around sex in your home.

Complete Article HERE!

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