3 Experts on What’s Missing From the Consent Discussion

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By Kasandra Brabaw

In 1990, a group of women gathered at Antioch College to talk about the growing problem of rape on their campus, drafting the very first version of the school’s Sexual Offense Prevention Policy (SOPP). In doing so, they created what we now know as affirmative consent, decades before anyone else began using the term. The policy required that Antioch students ask for consent at every step of sexual encounters, from the first kiss, to taking off clothes, to oral sex or penetration. In short, the group who created the SOPP flipped the widely accepted “no means no” definition of consent to a “yes means yes” definition. They were then mocked mercilessly by everyone from their classmates to Saturday Night Live for challenging the status quo.

Nearly 30 years later, people are finally seeing the wisdom of affirmative consent, and attempting to push the concept even further; the most popular consent definition of the moment, for instance, is enthusiastic consent,. It encourages people to ask for a verbal yes at every step of intimate interactions, but also recognizes that someone may feel coerced into agreeing to sex. So, in addition to the yes, enthusiastic consent encourages people to also notice nonverbal cues, such as whether or not their partner is kissing back, moaning, arching their back, or doing any number of things that makes it clear that they’re really turned on.

The conversation about consent took another turn when the #MeToo movement arose late last year. Now, people are talking about how masculinity factors in. Instead of just demonizing men for not understanding consent, we’re asking why they’re struggling with the concept in the first place. Mothers of young boys are starting to think about how to raise men to be good allies and to understand that they have to both ask for what they want and graciously accept when someone says no. Maybe it sounds simple, but it’s a difficult task for a culture that tells boys and men that sex is, essentially, their birthright.

We’re just starting to deconstruct the concept of masculinity that makes consent so confusing for cisgender men. But we haven’t really touched upon how the narrative of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and consent change depending on someone’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, financial background, ability, or other marginalized identities. Those conversations are happening, but they’re often relegated to minority groups, instead integrated into the mainstream conversation. As the consent conversation continues to evolve, we need to consider and address how sexual harassment and assault impacts various communities. Ahead, we talk to three leaders in sexual education — Bethany Saltman, who co-wrote Antioch’s Sexual Offense Prevention Policy in the 1990s, Ted Bunch, the co-founder of the violence prevention organization A Call To Men, and Bianca Laureano, foundress of the Women Of Color Sexual Health Network — about the evolution of consent, what’s missing in mainstream conversations about consent, and what the next steps are to make consent unambiguous to all.

Bethany Saltman, co-writer of Antioch College’s SOPP

Bethany Saltman

Tell me a little about being at Antioch in the 1990s. How did your group start talking about consent?

“We heard the stories about women who had been raped and nothing was being done, and so we decided right then and there that we were going to do something. So in the conversation about what we wanted to change, we thought about how the current understanding of whether or not a rape had occurred was always looking for the woman saying no. That was the narrative. So, kind of in our innocence, we said, ‘Well why don’t we just turn it around and say that you have to actually say yes?’ Not only to intercourse, but every time you escalate the interaction.”

It’s only recently that people are starting to see how amazing SOPP was. How long do you think it takes for radical change to happen?

“Generations. There are still so many people who think that [affirmative consent] is insane and ridiculous. The legal definition of rape and sexual assault is changing — but slowly.”

Is there anything missing in the conversations we’re having about consent right now?

“There are some conversations happening that are about the joy of consent. And that’s the conversation I would like to bring forward; consent is a path to kindness and pleasure in our bodies and in ourselves. We shouldn’t be looking at sexual delight as something that needs to be hidden in these dark recesses of desire. There’s definitely something to mystery, but I think that the more enlightened we become as a culture, the more we’ll see that we can be really honest with ourselves and allow for all the variation that is part of human sexuality and and still have a rockin’ good time. And what it means to be joyful and really saying yes to ourselves, especially as women. Because in order to say ‘yes’ you have to really want sex.”

Do you think the voices of men have a place in the conversation?

“Definitely. I’ve been teaching my daughter about what it means to consent her entire life. She gets to say who can touch her and who can kiss her, and I think we need to do that with all of our children. It’s really not even about boys and girls. You’re born with certain karma and a certain bag of tricks, and you need to know how to wield them respectfully. So 100%, every single one of us needs to be part of this conversation.”

How does intersectionality play in? Do you think different populations are having different conversations about consent?

“Absolutely. Black women are sexualized in ways that white women are not, and white women are sexualized in ways that Black women are not. I like to approach all conversations with the posture of listening as much as possible.”

So where do you think we go from here?

“It depends on who the ‘we’ is. I think people who are already engaged in conversations about consent should keep listening and asking themselves the tough questions when they get stuck. ‘Where do I feel the line drawn between myself and someone else? Where do I get violent? Where do I get rigid? Where do I objectify? Where do I steal someone’s agency?’ The better we know ourselves, the better we can know other people, too.”

Ted Bunch, co-founder of A Call To Men

 

Ted Bunch

When #MeToo was in full swing, a lot of people started talking about how we raise men. Do you think that’s important in the conversation about consent?

“Oh, yes. Huge. One of the questions we ask high school boys in our workshops is ‘Can you define consent.’ Only 19% of those boys could actually define consent. Eight out of 10 boys did not know what consent was, which explains a lot. It explains why girls and women between 16 and 24 have the highest risk of being sexually assaulted. Boys actually think ‘no’ means try harder. They think ‘no’ means get her drunk or that they’re not approaching it right and they have to change their approach. Boys are taught messages around conquering women and girls. They’re not even supposed to have an interest in women and girls unless it’s about sex. If a boy has girls who are friends, most of the time the men in his life are going to question why he’d spend time with a girl he didn’t want to date, because it’s against his paradigm. Just being friends with a woman is against this man box that we teach boys to be in, which stipulates that girls and women are sexual objects.

“Now, we have conversations with our boys all the time about going away to college, going out on dates, but most of the time it’s about wearing a condom. Not about boundaries. Not about respect. So yes, [how we raise boys] needs to be a big part of the solution.”

Do you think enough people are talking about including men into the consent conversation right now?

“I think the beauty of the #MeToo movement and this moment in time is that we all have had to look at how we impact other people. I don’t think there’s a man who exists who hasn’t done something, said something, or witnessed another man committing sexual harassment or some sort of discrimination. So what’s happening with men now is that we have to realize that, ‘Oh wow, being a good guy with the women in my life is not enough. I have to look at how else I’m impacting women and girls, and how can I do better.’”

Do you think intersectionality plays into these conversations?

“It certainly does. When we look at the intersections — race, class, gender identity, sexuality, and [so] on — we can’t address one without addressing the other. When we look at sexism, we also have to look at racism, and we have to look at class, and we have to look at heterosexual-ism, and how that plays out with homophobic messages and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming community members.

“We have this saying at A Call To Men that the liberation of men is directly tied to the liberation of women. We really believe that, because we know that as we increase and promote a healthy and respectful manhood, we decrease the presence of domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, bullying, homophobia. It all would drop away.”

How long do you think it will take to change how people are seeing consent?

“I’m very encouraged because we’re developing the next generation of manhood right now. Historically, we’ve addressed this issue through intervention, right? Something has to happen to someone and then we respond to it. And now we’re working toward prevention, where it never happens in the first place. So that’s why these conversations are essential. And this is the first generation of men being held accountable for something men have always gotten away with.”

Bianca Laureano, Foundress of Women Of Color Sexual Health Network

 

Bianca Laureano

What do you think is missing in the mainstream conversation about consent right now?

“People always put consent in a sexual scenario, which is great, because it needs to be there. But it also needs to be in every other aspect of our lives: when we go to the doctor, when we’re out in the world, when we’re at school, when we’re at home. Every human has the right to make decisions about what happens to their body, no matter if they’re having sex or having a breast exam. And a lot of people don’t always put those two concepts and realities into conversation with each other. So the consent conversations that we’re having are very one dimensional and only focus on sexuality. And the sexuality conversations we have are very narrow, and they really only focus on ‘Okay, how do you not be a rapist?’

“Consent is required in many different situations. Asking my sibling if they’re done in the bathroom before entering, for example, involves consent. It’s about communication and feeling comfortable enough to be direct and clear about what we need and want, and listening and respecting what others need and want.”

Some people say that we should be teaching bodily autonomy from birth. Do you agree with that?

“What’s important there is the rejection piece. If you hear no, why do we call it rejection instead of self-determination? We’ve given the person an option and they’ve made a choice for themselves that’s very concrete, so why aren’t we celebrating that?

Is there anything that you think needs to change in the culture at large before we can change the way people are thinking about consent?

“I think having a clear definition and understanding of accountability and responsibility, and how those two things are essential to being a member of a community, a part of your family, an employee, a citizen of the world, whatever. When I say that, I think of bystanders. We hear a lot about bystander interactions and responsibilities.

“I’ve been at a crowded airport, crying, hysterically heaving, and everybody just stared at me. Then, Joe Schmo from the end of the line walks up to me and says, ‘Do you need help?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And he was like, ‘What do you need?’ And I said, ‘Here’s my airplane information. I need to change my flight. They just canceled it, and my mom just died.’ Meanwhile, everybody continues to stare. People don’t know how to act when they’re confronted with certain things, whether it be tears, violence, or even laughter and joy. And I think doing that hard work of learning understanding, responsibility, and accountability could make a huge difference.”

Are you seeing different conversations around consent happening in different identity groups? Are white women having a different conversation from women of color, for example?

“Oh, for sure, and there are definitely similarities, too. All of the communities that include people who identify as women or femmes talk about misogyny and how it impacts their lives every day. But the way that they talk about it and the examples that they use are very different. Black women might talk about when somebody calls them a ‘Black bitch,’ for example. And that being both racism and misogyny. White women might be complaining about being called a bitch, but they’re not being called a white bitch. So the conversations around consent and misogyny are very color-free in certain communities.

“And in communities of people where there are mixed financial backgrounds or that are more impoverished, conversations about consent are rooted in conversations of power. Going to work with people who have been harmed at their big Fortune 500 company, they’ve talked about power in a very covert way. So people talk about the same things, but they talk about it very differently.”

Do you think that those separate conversations need to start melding together in order to make any real change?

“Sometimes we do need to have isolated conversations that are free from the people who represent the groups that harm us. That can be essential to being able to understand and affirm that what you experienced really happened. Because if you’re the only Black woman and you had a confrontation with a white woman and everybody else was white and didn’t do anything, the feeling of rage is boundless. So, if you can’t talk about that with other Black people then you might think: ‘Am I making a big deal? What is happening?’ It becomes a form of gaslighting where the silence makes us question our existence in our reality.

“But the world that we live in requires us to interact and engage with other people. So we eventually have to have interracial, inter-ethnic, and all the other inter-conversations with different people, so that we can begin to understand what’s happening from others’ perspectives.”

What do you think needs to change about the mainstream consent conversation right now?

“When people say things like ‘enthusiastic consent,’ that drives me bananas. It’s ableist, and people can perform enthusiasm as a safety tactic. If I say to a young person, ‘I know you’re having a bad day, but I really need you to put on a happy face and act like you enjoy being here just for 20 minutes,’ my students know exactly what to do. They sit up straight. They raised their hand. They call me Miss Whatever. They know how to perform. And that’s a danger, I believe.

“Because then what happens to the neuro-diverse people who don’t perform enthusiasm the way we expect them to? If people have in their head that enthusiastic consent does not look like how I’m behaving, then I’m not going to get what I need. It’s difficult to find definitions that aren’t ableist, but I define consent as: Direct words, behaviors, and actions that show a voluntary agreement to engage with others. Someone who is consenting is comfortable and aware of their surroundings and options. They are not being coerced or manipulated and are not debilitated by drugs or alcohol.

“I would just love for us to get to a point where asking for what we want is so common and so comfortable that it’s not some big thing people are afraid of.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How To Make Consent Sexy, According To A Dominatrix

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By Kasandra Brabaw

When Mistress Velvet, a BDSM dominatrix in Chicago, spanks a client, she demands that they tell her how much it hurts on a scale from 1 to 10. “I have to be careful and not just ask them, ‘Do you like this?’ Because I need them to feel submissive to me,” she says. That means she’s continually asking clients for their consent to hit them and tie them up, which can be tricky when the whole point is that they feel submissive to her. “When I ask for a scale, I’m gauging where they’re at so I know how to play with them next time.”

Mistress Velvet calls covert questions of this sort “consent training,” because even though people seek her out to dominate them in a sexual manner, getting consent from her clients is paramount to everything that she does. People who don’t engage in BDSM may assume that consent isn’t a huge part of bondage and masochism. How much can you really care about what a person feels if you’re intentionally causing them pain, the thinking may go. But purposely inflicting pain is a delicate task, especially when struggles, shouts, yelps, and begging someone to stop are all part of the experience. That’s why dommes and their submissives establish safe words before a BDSM scene even gets started, and why consent is so vital to the work Mistress Velvet does. It ensures that both she and her clients have a safe and satisfying experience. The argument that asking for consent “ruins the mood” is infuriating to her. There’s never a reason to risk someone’s bodily autonomy, she says, and it’s 100% possible to ask for consent while keeping the sexy mood alive — in fact consent can heighten the erotic energy in both BDSM and non-BDSM exchanges in ways you might not expect.

Just because someone let you put your hands up their shirt, doesn’t mean that they want you to put your hands down their pants.
Mistress Velvet, BDSM Dominatrix

In both Mistress Velvet’s work and personal life, she’s a huge proponent of affirmative consent, the idea that you should be asking for a verbal “yes” at every step (from kissing to caressing to penetration) of intimate and sexual encounters. “Just because someone let you put your hands up their shirt, doesn’t mean that they want you to put your hands down their pants,” she tells Refinery29. “Just because my client is okay with me spanking them in some ways doesn’t mean they’re okay with me spanking them in other ways.”

Similar to sex, consent should be fun, even if you’re not into BDSM. Asking someone, “Can I kiss you?” isn’t a mood killer, it’s an important step for intimacy to continue in a way that confirms everyone is on the same page, comfortable, and safe. You can also get creative with how you say it by lowering your voice or throwing some sexy eyes your partner’s way. As long as you remain clear and give the person you’re being intimate with the space to object or say “no,” asking for consent shouldn’t be much different from other communication during intimacy.

You can use the same kind of language throughout a sexual experience — saying things such as, “I’m going to rip your clothes off now, okay?” or “What do you want me to do to you?” — so you don’t have to stop having sex in order to obtain ongoing consent.

“If I was having sex with someone for the first time, I wouldn’t want them to assume that I like to be choked,” Mistress Velvet says. “But there’s a way to ask when they’re pounding me and they’re like, ‘Do you like to be choked? And then I can be like, ‘Yes, choke me daddy.'” The same scenario works in the reverse if you want to offer consent. So, if you like to be choked, but aren’t sure that your partner will ask, then you can say, “Can you choke me?” during sex. Asking for what you want — whether it’s choking, oral, or a simple ass grab — won’t ruin the moment, it’ll make things even more steamy.

If I was having sex with someone for the first time, I wouldn’t want them to assume that I like to be choked.
Mistress Velvet, BDSM Dominatrix

Of course, you might feel as if you’re being thrown out of your sexy headspace at first if you or your partner aren’t accustomed to asking questions before, during and after sex. But practice makes perfect, and eventually you’ll not only get used to it, but also come to appreciate the benefits of getting exactly what you want, and being able to give someone else exactly what they want.

Mistress Velvet says that she struggled to make consent sexy at first, too. “Definitely at times [in my vanilla sex life], people would say, ‘Why are you asking me so many questions?’ and it would sometimes pause things,” she says. In those moments, she would explain that she has a history of sexual trauma, and so it’s important to her that her needs are being heard.

Maybe there’s no trauma in your past, but it’s still important to ask for and give consent regardless of your sexual history. When you’re first starting to have these conversations, you’re likely not going to be good at it. And there’s a chance that starting the consent convo will take you out of the mood, or that someone might no longer want to have sex with you because they feel that you’re making it too complicated. Those are moments to ask yourself: Is it more important to have sex or more important to learn how to stand up for my needs?

“If someone doesn’t make the space to have that kind of conversation with you, I would question if they’re a person that you feel safe with,” Mistress Velvet says. “A conscious and aware person would be like, ‘Yeah, this feels really awkward and I don’t have experience with this. Let’s just try it out.'”

Complete Article HERE!

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New Studies Show That Marijuana Enhances And Increases Sex

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by Sara Brittany Somerset

Recent scientific studies substantiate what many marijuana users have claimed all along — that it enhances sexual relations. Currently, almost all research into the effects of the cannabis plant is prohibited by the U.S. government due to its classification as a Schedule I substance. However, 31 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, while nine states have also legalized adult use of recreational marijuana. Legalization benefits academia, as it finally allows researchers to study and analyze marijuana’s effects, including its impact on sexual intercourse.

According to a research study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (JSM), entitled the Association Between Marijuana Use and Sexual Frequency in the United States: A Population-Based Study, the goal of the study was, “To elucidate whether a relation between marijuana use and sexual frequency exists using a nationally representative sample of reproductive-age men and women.”

The analysis represented 28,176 women and 22,943 men nationwide who were surveyed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) via a questionnaire. The CDC’s broad, all-encompassing survey is often utilized by researchers as a basis for further, more specific analysis.

Researchers Dr. Michael L. Eisenberg and Dr. Andrew J. Sun are both affiliated with the Department of Urology, at Stanford University, in California. The duo accessed the CDC’s study to research marijuana’s effects on male sexual and reproductive function, which is Dr. Eisenberg’s area of expertise. As such, he sees men with various forms of sexual dysfunction. As for medical or lifestyle factors that may influence function, he is often asked about what role, if any that marijuana may play.

The clinical implications of their study revealed that “Marijuana use is independently associated with increased sexual frequency and does not appear to impair sexual function.” In fact, daily users across all demographic groups reported having 20% more sex than those who have never used cannabis.

Dr. Eisenberg thinks doing more research in this area is important. Previously, most doctors had generally counseled men that marijuana, like tobacco, is harmful. However, his current study suggests that may not be the case.

An additional JSM-published study entitled, The Relationship Between Marijuana Use Prior to Sex and Sexual Function in Women, conducted at Saint Louis University in Missouri claims, “The internet is rife with claims regarding the ability of marijuana to improve the sexual experience; however, scientific data is lacking.” The objective of this study “is to determine if marijuana use before sex affects the sexual experience, by how much, and which domains of sexual function are affected.”

In this survey, researchers polled 133 sexually-active adult women at one particular, academic ObGyn practice, during their annual check-ups. The female patients filled out a lengthy questionnaire regarding marijuana use before sex (hashtag #MUBS).

Thirty-eight women (29%) disclosed consuming cannabis prior to copulation. Of those 38 women, 68 percent reported more pleasurable sex, 16% said it ruined their sexual experience, while the remaining 16% were undecided or unaware.  

Among the enhanced sexuality camp, 72% said it always increased their erotic pleasure, while 24% said it sometimes did. Almost 62% said it enhanced the quality of their orgasms and their libidos in general. Additionally, 16% of MUBS adherents disclosed they purposefully puff pot prior to sex, specifically to relieve any potential pain associated with the act. There were conflicting reports as to whether or not it enhanced vaginal lubrication.

The same research team later widened the scope of their survey to 289 adult MUBS women, with similar results: 65% decided it enhanced their sexual experience, 23% said it did not matter one way or the other, 9% had no significant feedback and 3% said it sabotaged their sexual experience.

Dr. Monica Grover of Asira Medical is double Board certified in Family Medicine and Gynecology, with practices in both Midtown, Manhattan and Westchester, New York. Although she did not participate in either clinical study, she is currently conducting independent research.

“Although some studies have shown results that are equivocal, anecdotally patients have reported positive feedback,” says Dr. Grover.

“Consumption of small quantities [of marijuana] prior to sex may increase libido in female patients, which in turn can release positive endorphins and increase vaginal lubrication.”

Dr. Grover believes this may be due to the short-term anxiolytic of cannabis.  In women. Reduced sexual libido in women usually correlates with any anxiety or stress they are experiencing. So, in the short-term, cannabis has anxiety-reducing effects. However, in the long-term, it can increase anxiety, which may explain the lack of libido in possible habitual users. Dr. Grover is currently working on a study to determine this theory.  

Notable clinical implications among male users reported in the Stanford study were that Cannabis does not impair sexual function nearly as much as alcohol does. Nor are there any contraindications of mixing marijuana with other drugs for sexual performance enhancement such as Viagra or Cialis.  

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, unlike alcohol, so far there is no direct correlation between marijuana consumption and a significantly increased risk of fatalities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 88,0008 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.  The Journal of the American Medical Association corroborates these findings. The first preventable cause of death in the United States is tobacco use and the second is poor diet combined with physical inactivity. These findings may help build the case for consuming cannabis to become more sexually active to benefit one’s overall health.

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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Can yoga improve your sex life?

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The Internet abounds with wellness blogs that recommend yoga for a better sex life, as well as personal accounts of the practice improving sexual experience — often to an enviable degree. Does the research back up these claims, however? We investigate.

Modern research is only just starting to unpack the numerous health benefits of the ancient practice of yoga.

Some conditions that yoga reportedly helps with include depression, stress, and anxiety, as well as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and thyroid problems.

Recent studies have also delved into the more complex mechanisms behind such benefits.

It turns out that yoga lowers the body’s inflammatory response, counters the genetic expression that predisposes people to stress, lowers cortisol, and boosts a protein that helps the brain grow and stay young and healthy.

On top of all its benefits, we must add, it just feels good. Sometimes — if we’re to believe the hype around the mythical coregasm during yoga — it feels really, really good.

Getting in touch with our bodies can feel replenishing, restorative, and physically pleasurable. However, can yoga’s yummy poses improve our sex lives? We take a look at the research.

Yoga improves sexual function in women

One often-referenced study that was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that yoga can indeed improve sexual function — particularly in women over the age of 45.

The study examined the effects of 12 weeks of yoga on 40 women who self-reported on their sexual function before and after the yoga sessions.

After the 12-week period, the women’s sexual function had significantly improved across all sections of the Female Sexual Function Index: “desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain.”

As many as 75 percent of the women reported an improvement in their sex life after yoga training.

As part of the study, all of the women were trained on 22 poses, or yogasanas, which are believed to improve core abdominal muscles, improve digestion, strengthen the pelvic floor, and improve mood.

Some poses included trikonasana (also known as the triangle pose), bhujangasana (the snake), and ardha matsyendra mudra (half spinal twist). The full list of asanas can be accessed here.

Yoga improves sexual function in men

Yoga doesn’t benefit just women. An analogous study led Dr. Vikas Dhikav, who’s a neurologist at the Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi, India, examined the effects of a 12-week yoga program on the sexual satisfaction of men.

At the end of the study period, the participants reported a significant improvement in their sexual function, as evaluated by the standard Male Sexual Quotient.

The researchers found improvements across all aspects of male sexual satisfaction: “desire, intercourse satisfaction, performance, confidence, partner synchronization, erection, ejaculatory control, [and] orgasm.”

Also, a comparative trial carried out by the same team of researchers found that yoga is a viable and nonpharmacological alternative to fluoxetine (brand name Prozac) for treating premature ejaculation.

It included 15 yoga poses, ranging from easier ones (such as Kapalbhati, which involves sitting with your back straight in a crossed-legged position, with the chest open, eyes closed, hands on knees, and abdominal muscles contracted) to more complex ones (such as dhanurasana, or the “bow pose”).

Yogic mechanisms for better sex

How does yoga improve one’s sex life, exactly? A review of existing literature led by researchers at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, helps us elucidate some of its sex-enhancing mechanisms.

Dr. Lori Brotto, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at UBC, is the first author of the review.

Dr. Brotto and colleagues explain that yoga regulates attention and breathing, lowers anxiety and stress, and regulates parasympathetic nervous activity — that is, it activates the part of the nervous system that tells your body to stop, relax, rest, digest, lower the heart rate, and triggers any other metabolic processes that induce relaxation.

“All of these effects are associated with improvements in sexual response,” write the reviewers, so it is “reasonable that yoga might also be associated with improvements in sexual health.”

There are also psychological mechanisms at play. “Female practitioners of yoga have been found to be less likely to objectify their bodies,” explain Dr. Brotto and her colleagues, “and to be more aware of their physical selves.”

“This tendency, in turn, may be associated with increased sexual responsibility and assertiveness, and perhaps sexual desires.”

The power of the moola bandha

It is safe to say that stories about releasing blocked energy in root chakras and moving “kundalini energy” up and down the spine to the point that it produces ejaculation-free male orgasms lack rigorous scientific evidence.

However, other yogic concepts could make more sense to the skeptics among us. Moola bandha is one such concept.

“Moola bandha is a perineal contraction that stimulates the sensory-motor and the autonomic nervous system in the pelvic region, and therefore enforces parasympathetic activity in the body,” write Dr. Brotto and her colleagues in their review.

“Specifically, moola bandha is thought to directly innervate the gonads and perineal body/cervix.” The video below incorporates the movement into a practice for pelvic floor muscles.


 
Some studies quoted by the researchers have suggested that practicing moola bandha relieves period pain, childbirth pain, and sexual difficulties in women, as well as treating premature ejaculation and controlling testosterone secretion in men.

Moola bandha is similar to the modern, medically recommended Kegel exercises, which are thought to prevent urinary incontinence and help women (and men) enjoy sex for longer.

In fact, many sex therapy centers recommend this yoga practice to help women become more aware of their sensations of arousal in the genital area, thus improving desire and sexual experience.

“[M]oola bandha stretches the muscles of the pelvic floor, […] balances, stimulates, and rejuvenates the area through techniques that increase awareness and circulation,” explain Dr. Brotto and colleagues, referring to the work of other researchers.

Another yoga pose that strengthens the pelvic floor muscles is bhekasana, or the “frog pose.”

As well as improving the sexual experience, this pose may help ease symptoms of vestibulodynia, or pain in the vestibule of the vagina, as well as vaginismus, which is the involuntary contraction of vaginal muscles that prevents women from enjoying penetrative sex.

How reliable is the evidence?

While it is easy to get, ahem, excited by the potential sexual benefits of yoga, it is worth bearing in mind the large discrepancy between the amount of so-called empirical, or experimental, evidence, and that of non-empirical, or anecdotal, evidence.

The Internet hosts a plethora of the latter, but the studies that have actually trialed the benefits of yoga for sexual function remain scarce.

Additionally, most of the studies mentioned above — which found improvements in sexual satisfaction and function for both men and women — have quite a small sample size and didn’t benefit from a control group.

However, more recent studies — which focused on women who have sexual dysfunction in addition to other conditions — have yielded stronger evidence.

For example, a randomized controlled trial examined the effects of yoga in women with metabolic syndrome, a population with a higher risk of sexual dysfunction overall.

For these women, a 12-week yoga program led to “significant improvement” in arousal and lubrication, whereas such improvements were not seen in the women who did not practice yoga.

Improvements were also found in blood pressure, prompting the researchers to conclude that “yoga may be an effective treatment for sexual dysfunction in women with metabolic syndrome as well as for metabolic risk factors.”

Another randomized trial looked at the sexual benefits of yoga for women living with multiple sclerosis (MS). The participants undertook 3 months of yoga training, consisting of eight weekly sessions.

Importantly, women in the yoga group “showed improvement in physical ability” and sexual function, “while women in [the] control group manifested exacerbated symptoms.”

“Yoga techniques may improve physical activities and sexual satisfaction function of women with MS,” the study paper concluded.

So, while we need more scientific evidence to support yoga’s benefits for our sex lives, the seeds are definitely there. Until future research can ascertain whether “yogasms” are a real, achievable thing, we think that there’s enough reason to incorporate yoga in our daily routines.

Trying it out for ourselves could prove tremendously enriching — and our pelvic muscles will definitely thank us for it.

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6 sex-positive YouTube channels you need to follow

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By Emma Elizabeth

These YouTubers are giving the progressive, inclusive and sex-positive sex ed we never got in school. A huge chunk of (majority straight!) women today are not having orgasms- partly because they never learned how to masturbateor that they should. Having these awesome, sex-positive resources available to young people is revolutionary. Of course we’re here for it.

Without further ado… 

1. Hannah Witton 

Sex, masturbation, sex work, contraception- when it comes to the human body, there’s little that Hannah Witton won’t discuss. Hannah works to educate her viewers about sex, relationships, and feminism. 

2. Melanie Murphy 

Melanie is your Irish Internet big sister. She’s been making quirky and awesome videos on YouTube since 2013, sharing her thoughts on body positivity, sexuality, mental health, and much more.

3. Chelsea Nichole 

Chelsea is a breath of sex-positive fresh air. Sex toys, STIs, oral sex, masturbation, period sex…homegirl covers all the bases in a way that is both matter-of-fact and judgment-free. 

4. Grace Victory 

Grace is a writer/speaker/YouTuber who discusses everything to do with sex, body-positivity, mental health and self-love in her videos. This queen started her channel because she wanted to see more people like her represented in the media- and she really wanted to make these subjects less taboo.

5. Stevie Boebi 

Stevie Boebi is a modern-day gift to us looking for progressive/sex-positive/inclusive sex ed. Stevie makes epic (and hilarious) queer, educational, and sex-positive videos about sex, dating, and relationships.

6. Rose Ellen Dix 

Married and hilarious Youtubers Rose Ellen Dix and Rosie Spaughton have captured the hearts of hundreds of thousands, and are quite literally #CoupleGoals. Rose and Rosie’s natural way of talking comfortably about sex in their relationship really shows their audience what it’s like to have a healthy sexual relationship with open and honest communication. Swoon.

Complete Article HERE!

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More People Than Ever Identify As Bisexual

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— So When Will We Be Taken Seriously?

By Bobby Box

Coming out as bisexual is a strange experience. You’re telling people something they already know: that you have a sexual interest in the opposite gender, and you’re mixing it with something they don’t know: that you also dig the same gender. It’s like mixing a super strong cocktail that some will slug back and others will spit out. Generally speaking, coming out as bisexual can communicate two very different and conflicting message to heterosexual and homosexual communities. As they say, the bisexual closet has two doors.

While most peers are (hopefully) supportive, straight people tend to think you’re experimenting, attesting your sexuality is temporary when it’s not. In the LGBT community, they tend to believe you’re only halfway out of the closet. You’re not entirely homosexual, so bisexuality is merely a pit-stop before admitting you’re gay (“bi now, gay later”). This double stigma can be incredibly frustrating and perhaps why the majority of bisexual individuals remain closeted, especially men.

It’s discouraging because we can’t seem to collectively understand a sexual orientation that one-third of today’s youth identifies with. A survey commissioned by the BBC last year found that percentages of people identifying as bisexual steadily increased the younger the respondents were. In Gen Z, 24 percent reported being mostly attracted to the opposite sex or equally attracted to both sexes compared to 18 percent of Gen-Yers and eight percent of Gen-Xers.

The majority still thinks in binary terms, especially with regard to sexuality and orientation. Bisexuality doesn’t sit well with that.  “I think the fact that there are varying ‘shades’ of bisexuality also throws people off a bit and this vaugery makes people uncomfortable,” Lawrence Siegel, clinical sexologist, tells Into. “For many, there is a distinct preference for one sex, but they enjoy occasional sexual and intimate contact with another (but they don’t all identify as bisexual),” he shares. “Others are equally attracted to men and women.  For many, this is still seen as a binary and those who are attracted to any type of sexual or gender expression are more likely to refer to themselves as ‘pansexual’ these days.”

Bisexual people comprise the largest segment of the LGBT community, and these numbers are increasing. Research from the Center for Disease Control found percentages of bisexual men and women had increased a considerable amount. As most of these studies conclude, more women report having sexual contact with both genders than men. This is partially due to the fact that bisexual women tend to be more accepted than men. Women liking women can be considered “hot” (though that’s definitely not what bisexual women are after). Bisexual men, on the other hand? They’re just gay and not willing to admit it. However, the number of men to identify as bisexual nearly doubled in five years. Among those who labeled themselves heterosexual, 13 percent of women and three percent of men had engaged in sexual contact with the same sex. “Mostly straight,” perhaps?

Still, the stigma persists and has affected the collective comfort levels of bisexual people. Only 28 percent of bisexuals said most or all of the important people in their lives knew about their sexual orientation, compared to 71 percent of lesbians and 77 percent of gay men. Again, the numbers were especially small among bisexual men, where only 12 percent said they were out to that degree, compared to one-third of bisexual women.

Workplace stigma is no different. Only 11 percent of bisexual people polled by Pew said most of their closest co-workers know about their sexual orientation, compared to 48 percent of gay men and 50 percent of lesbians. Bisexuals were also less likely to say their workplaces were accepting of them, and a separate study published in the Journal of Bisexuality found half of bisexual people surveyed said their coworkers misunderstood bisexuality.

The bisexual orientation is commonly misunderstood in a few ways (in addition to those already outlined). One is that we’re seen as promiscuous and cannot be trusted. “There’s a biphobic undercurrent of perceived disloyalty when it comes to bisexuality,” Page Turner, relationship coach, author and proud bisexual woman, tells INTO. As a relationship coach specializing in consensually non-monogamous relationships, Turner believes biphobia has greatly contributed to the stigma against people who are polyamorous or in open relationships. “While there are plenty of bisexual people who are also quite monogamous, I found many people think being bisexual means that you have to have at least one partner of each gender you’re attracted to at the same time,” she says. “And that if you’re bisexual you can’t really be happily monogamous with a single partner. That’s simply not the case.”

Bisexual women are viewed as either showgirls for straight men or sexual tourists for women. Bisexual men must convince men and women that they aren’t gay. Together, bisexuals are seen as more privileged in the LGBT community as we’re able to “duck” discrimination by entering straight relationships.

People like to put others in boxes: you’re gay or you’re straight; male or female. The reality is, gender and sexuality exist on a spectrum, this was established years ago. “I have bisexual friends who mostly date men and others who mostly date women,” Andrea Gonzalez, a bisexual woman, tells Into. “That doesn’t make them any less bisexual, just like being married to a woman or man doesn’t automatically change your sexuality. Now that I’m married to a woman, people assume my sexuality has been defined by that and I am no longer bisexual. It’s like the second you put a ring on it, you have to pick a side. That’s foolish.”

In fact, Gonzalez never officially came out as bisexual. “I never saw that as a real option,” she says. “I was made to feel like if I was going to come out, it had to be as gay, not anything in-between. I had always dated men. Then, at 18, I dated a woman so I thought, ‘OK, I’m a lesbian, I’ll come out as that.’” Later, Gonzalez went back to dating men and thought maybe people were right and that was just a phase. At 21, she started dating both men and women and became more open about her sexuality. That’s when she realized that she didn’t have to choose a side.

“I think a lot of people are underwhelmed by someone coming out as bisexual simply because they don’t see a real need to do so,” Siegel says. “They don’t see it the same way as coming out as gay, usually because they relate to the struggle of having a ‘different’ orientation.  There’s not a struggle they can see in being bisexual, especially if they don’t consider it a legitimate orientation.”

However, the very fact that there are more people identifying as bisexual speaks to the fact that bisexuality is being recognized; we’re at least acknowledging the subtleties of sexuality. Understanding it on the other hand? Not even close. And that’s an issue. “I do think bisexual people will be taken more seriously in the future,” Turner says. “The trends that I’ve observed over my lifetime have been extremely encouraging and I only see those continuing. I think it’ll be important for people to continue coming out and sharing their stories. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that the best defense against biphobia and bi erasure is existing and staying visible.”

Siegel agrees. “Where I see it not be taken more seriously is in the growing rejection of the binary view of both sex and gender,” he says. “As sexual and erotic orientations are opening up and expanding for people, there is less of an inclination for them to identify themselves according to traditional lines of male-female or gay-straight; or even bisexual.”

If you aren’t able to come out for whatever reason, Turner says it’s important to have conversations with people you trust. “People close to you don’t always understand right away,” she says. “It can take some time. In my own life, I’ve found that people close to me need time to really adjust and internalize new information. It might take longer than you like, but it does happen.”

Complete Article HERE!

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The Puberty Book Embraced by Preteens, Parents, and Sex Educators Alike

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Since its publication 20 years ago, The Care and Keeping of You has taught young girls about their bodies in a uniquely forthright and approachable way.

by

I first learned about periods from a cartoon. Just before I started middle school, my mom handed me a large white book with three cartoon girls on the cover, each wrapped in a towel, dripping wet, as though fresh out of the shower. The book, which was published by American Girl, was called The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls. On the opening spread was a letter to readers: “The more you know about your body, the less confusing and embarrassing growing up will seem—and the easier it will be to talk about.”

The head-to-toe guide started by explaining that “everybody” goes through puberty, and then broke down into sections on everything from regular body hygiene to getting your period for the first time. Each page featured smiling cartoon girls of all races and sizes demonstrating everything from how to shave your legs to how to shop for a first bra. As my mom and I read the book together, I remember feeling a little less afraid of what my body would become. But after we finished reading about the difference between training and underwire bras, my mom closed the book. “We’ll read more when you’re older,” she said.

I couldn’t wait. I snuck the book off of her dresser that night, and, crouched next to the night-light in my room, I read about periods and vaginas, and the hormones that would change my body from “little girl to grown-up woman.” I came back to the book many times in the coming years, including when I eventually got my own period two years later.

I wasn’t the only one who found solace in The Care and Keeping of You. The book, which turns 20 years old in September, has sold more than 5.1 million copies since its initial release. And as recently as 2016, it was still spending time on the New York Times best-seller list. It has been embraced by preteens, parents, and sex educators alike for its approachable tone and gentle introduction to big bodily changes.

“In terms of just a good, basic, ‘This is your body and this is how it works, and this is what’s going to happen to it,’ this book is one of the best there is,” says Heather Alberda, a sexuality educator with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health in Michigan.

The book was an immediate best seller, and Barbara Stretchberry, the executive editor at American Girl, who has been with the company for 20 years, remembers letters pouring in from tweens offering thanks for the book. In 2013, the company updated the book, featuring even more diverse illustrations, and released a second book, The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls, which delved more into emotional changes felt during puberty and is meant for readers ages 10 and up. (The original and its updated counterpart are meant for ages 8 and up). American Girl has also released several other advice books on topics ranging from understanding feelings to friendship troubles, and last year it came out with a puberty guide for boys called Guy Stuff:The Body Book for Boys.

But all of the books are meant to be approachable to young readers, which is why the company says there’s no mention of sex. The intended audience, the authors say, is readers “on the front end of puberty.” The majority of girls begin to go through puberty between the ages of 9 and 13. But many medical experts agree that today’s kids are going through puberty at younger ages than before. A study published in the medical journal Pediatrics in 2010 found that about 23 percent of African American girls, 15 percent of Latina girls, and 10 percent of Caucasian girls had marked breast development at age 7.

Early-onset puberty is what inspired American Girl to publish the book in the first place. The company was—and still is—largely known for its expensive dolls and accompanying books featuring young girl characters living in different eras of American history. It has also published a bimonthly magazine for preteens since 1993. After the magazine debuted, the company quickly amassed a giant folder of handwritten letters from young readers inquiring about their changing bodies. Some letter writers asked whether they were pretty. Others wondered why they hadn’t grown breasts yet, or whether they needed to lose weight. Then in 1997, American Girl’s founder, Pleasant Rowland, read a New York Times article about early-onset puberty and sensed an opportunity.

“These are very difficult things for girls to talk about,” says Valorie Lee Schaefer, the book’s author, who had previously been a copywriter for the American Girl Doll catalog. “We were thinking, ‘We can normalize this conversation. We can give girls words to use, we can tell them some of the things they’re thinking about are absolutely normal, all the things that make young girls feel like, I’m a freak.’”

The company held focus groups, and found that tween girls were curious not only about their periods, but also about when they should start wearing a bra and how they should deal with pimples that popped up out of nowhere overnight. Schaefer says the company took this feedback, as well as the letters, and used it to develop the book’s structure, targeting it explicitly toward younger girls about to experience puberty, not preteens already in its throes. It begins with friendly tips on hair care, and then slowly progresses to more advanced physical and emotional changes and other challenges encountered by this age group, including how to identify the onset of eating disorders. “A girl of 7 doesn’t wonder about the same things a girl of 12 or 14 does,” Schaefer says. “So just meeting a girl right at that place—7, 8, 9—was what we tried to do.”

The company consulted a pediatrician to make sure the information was medically accurate, and Schaefer wrote the text in a deliberate, reassuring tone, one she called the “trusted, cool aunt.” “It wasn’t your mom or dad’s older sister,” Schaefer says. “It was probably their younger sister, someone with a few years under her belt, but also someone who wasn’t so out of touch with her adolescence that she couldn’t remember what a confusing time that was.”

That cool-aunt tone was also reassuring to parents. Many parents I spoke with for this article said they chose to give the book to their daughters because they recognized the American Girl name and thought the book was age appropriate. Lisa Goldschmidt, an attorney who has two daughters and lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania, remembers standing overwhelmed in front of an adolescent-health section at a bookstore, looking for a good resource for her then-9-year-old daughter. Some books, she says, were written for parents and were too clinical. Others didn’t seem detailed enough. But The Care and Keeping of You “struck the right note between chatty and serious in an approachable way.” She gave it to her elder daughter, who immediately handed it back to her. She had already read the book and giggled over the illustrations with friends at a sleepover.

Every woman I spoke with who grew up reading the book remembers something a bit different. Jensen McRae, a 20-year-old student at the University of Southern California, first read the book as a 10-year-old and, along with her friends, often flipped back to the breast-development page, which shows five illustrations of a topless girl standing in front of a sink. In the first, the girl is flat-chested, and in the last, she has round, developed breasts. When she learned about puberty at school, McRae remembers her teacher spinning a metaphor about how some students would have “grapes” and others would have “watermelons.” “So the book was definitely more informative than that,” she says.

Danielle Weisberg, a 27-year-old comedy writer living in Los Angeles, remembers the book’s lesson on shaving to this day. “There’s this part that says you don’t have to shave your thighs because that’s ‘an awful lot of leg to shave,’” she says. “And I think about that almost every single time I’m about to shave my legs above the knee.”

The illustrations, clever captions, and factual information are why Alberda, the sex educator in Michigan, continues to recommend the updated versions of the book to parents. Michigan mandates HIV education for school-age students, but lets individual school districts decide how to handle sex education, including lessons on puberty. Across the country, only 24 states mandate sex education, and even in those states it’s likely that many students learn about puberty outside of the classroom.

“When parents think about giving ‘the talk,’ their immediate thoughts often go to genitals and what we do with them,” Alberda says. “And I think The Care and Keeping of You is a great book to get away from the whole sex piece, and focus on what’s going to happen to your body, physically, mentally, and emotionally in regards to puberty in those early stages.”

Still, there were aspects of the book that some found to be inappropriate for its young audience, such as the two-page spread on how to insert a tampon, which broke it down into four steps, and included an anatomical diagram of the vagina. The company received feedback from many parents who felt the diagram was too advanced—if not graphic—for their young daughters. “That section, that spread of the book, is the one that gave everyone the most sleepless nights,” Schaefer, the original author, says. “When I think back on it now, I wonder, why were we so stressed about it? But it was a place many books for girls that age hadn’t gone before.”

Even though in 2013 the company made the decision to split the books by age, they overlap quite a bit, though the “older girl” book goes into more depth about eating disorders and the emotional changes of puberty. (It also features a more descriptive diagram of the female anatomy, including a labeled clitoris, something nearly every sex educator I spoke with noted was missing from the original.) But there’s another noticeable omission in the updated younger-girl book—the tampon spread.

“The tampon information was so critical, but I’m a believer in meeting kids where they are and giving them information they’re ready to take,” says Cara Natterson, a pediatrician and the author of the “older girl” version of the book. “Because when girls start their periods, the vast majority of them use pads, and there was really no pad information in the original book. So it wasn’t to keep the tampon information from the youngest kids. It was just to pace them and give them information for the stage they were at.”

But some sex educators say the books suffer from a pretty big blind spot. Perryn Reis is the associate director of Health Connected, a sex-ed nonprofit based in Northern California. Reis has encountered the book in some of the classrooms she’s visited, and appreciates some things about it. But, she says, the book is heteronormative. At one point, it says readers “may begin to notice boys in a whole new way.” It also frequently refers to changes that will happen to “girls,” a generalization Reis avoids when in the classroom so as to better include transgender students. “The language we use in the classroom is ‘a person born with a female’s body,’” she says. “We go into the difference between biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender in fifth grade. It’s really hard because puberty is about the physical changes of getting a period and growing breasts, but there is a lot of variation and variability in our world, and we want to be inclusive of that, and also careful with our language.”

The Care and Keeping of You was a formative book for many Millennial women who were in the target audience when it was first published, and for younger generations of girls, but it is just one of many such at-home guides to sex and puberty that kids have learned from over the years. The creators of the seminal Our Bodies, Ourselves, published in 1970 and known for teaching women about their anatomy and sexuality, published a teen version of the book in 1998, the same year as the first edition of The Care and Keeping of You. It went in-depth into topics related to puberty, including eating disorders, teen pregnancy, STDs, and relationship violence. Fictional books for teens have also provided some practical lessons over the years — Judy Blume’s classic Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., a coming-of-age novel published in 1970, tackles puberty, crushes, buying a bra, and, yes, periods.

Then there are books like It’s Perfectly Normal, which has been frequently banned from school libraries since its release in 1994. Written by Robie Harris, the book is intended for children 10 and up, and covers puberty, pregnancy, STDs, and sexual orientation, while also featuring full-color pictures of naked people. In 1999, Harris published It’s So Amazing, a book for younger children about pregnancy and childbirth. “Those have been controversial, but have some great, accurate information,” Reis says.

Many sex educators I spoke to also recommended Sex Is a Funny Word, a comic book for kids ages 8 to 10 released in 2015 that has reached acclaim for being trans-inclusive, and for using diverse representation across race, ability, gender, and sexuality.

Even with all of these options, Alberda, the Michigan-based sex educator, says The Care and Keeping of You still stands out for the way it focuses on questions tween girls have about their bodies. She believes it helped pave the way for books like The Girls’ Guide to Sex Education, a question-and-answer book published earlier this year, and Puberty Girl, another illustration-heavy guide to growing up. Alberda also recommends HelloFlo: The Guide, Period., an illustrated guide to puberty that talks about periods, and also gives historical context for society’s changing attitudes about ideal breast size and pubic-hair grooming.

Of course, all of these books exist in a world where kids can easily find similar information on Google. But Natterson, the author of The Care and Keeping of You 2, still feels there’s a place for books that are introduced at just the right time. And she’d love to publish a book about sex under American Girl’s brand name. She just doesn’t see that happening yet. “I tell everyone I would love to write that book with American Girl, but that’s not what these books were meant to do,” she says. “It’s funny how this one book is sort of a safe reminder of what it was like to go through puberty. There’s something really comfortable about that.”

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25 things all girls should know about sex by 25

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By disappointed girls

Practical advice included

By 25 you feel like you should’ve hit some pretty big milestones in life. Like getting a promotion, paying for your phone bill, moving out and understanding what the tax code on your payslip actually means. You should know who your real friends are, how many drinks will cause a hangover and the types of boys you should avoid on Tinder at all costs.

But if there’s one thing which shouldn’t be happening at 25, it’s bad sex. By then, you want to know exactly what makes you come, how a guy’s gonna do it and should own at least one sex toy. Here’s the 25 things all girls should know about sex by 25:

1. YOUR ORGASM IS AS IMPORTANT AS HIS

When you first started having sex it felt like the main event was the man coming, the man getting close and basically him having a good time – but that shouldn’t be the case. Sex is about both of you getting pleasure, so if you’re shagging someone who isn’t putting the time in to make sure you climax also, bin him.

2. SEX ISN’T HOW IT IS IN PORNOS, SO STOP FAKING IT AND MAKING LOUD PORN STAR NOISES IF YOU’RE NOT ACTUALLY FEELING IT

“OH YEAH BABY, HARDER, HARDER, FUCK ME HARDER!” – girl, it’s unnecessary for you to feel like you should be doing this just because some 40-year-old woman in the Nevada Desert is doing it. Boys see right through it, they know the noises aren’t genuine, and you know it’s not genuine. Save noises for when you actually feel it, that way he knows what you like and what feels good.

3. SOMETIMES IT’S OKAY TO FAKE AN ORGASM EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE

Never get into the habit of having fake orgasms all the time – it just means when you’re actually having an orgasm the guy doesn’t know what he’s done to get you there. But sometimes you might be a bit tired during sex and having a fake orgasm means it’ll end sooner – which is fine to do.

4. FINGER YOURSELF

Whether you’re bored, stressed or sexually frustrated, you should definitely be fingering yourself. Get to know your body, what feels good and what doesn’t – just have a lil you time. Some girls find using toys, lube or watching porn helps get them in the mood.

5. IT IS NORMAL TO WANT SEX AND TO LIKE HAVING SEX, SO DON’T BE ASHAMED OF IT

For too long we’ve been made to think a girl is slutty for enjoying sex. That if a girl has slept with 20 people she’s gross and “not girlfriend material”, but if a guy has he’s a legend and “one of the boys”. Wrong – we can enjoy having sex whether that’s through fingering ourselves or sleeping with 100s of people.

6. MORNING SEX IS RARELY SEXY SO DON’T LET HIM MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY ABOUT NOT BEING IN THE MOOD

His dick will always be hard in the morning but that doesn’t mean you have to do anything about it.

7. BUY A SEX TOY

Not only is it great for you for when you want some alone time, it’s fun for you and your partner during sex. Once you buy one vibrator you won’t stop.

8. IT’S ACTUALLY REALLY HARD TO COME VIA PENETRATIVE SEX

It can take ages for a woman to come through penetrative sex, with only 20 per cent actually able to do so from no clitoral stimulation, so don’t freak out thinking you’re abnormal if you’re not getting there. The clit however should always be able to get you off – so get acquainted as to what feels good. Always go slow first in small circular or “up and down” motions, then build up the speed and pressure once you’re getting into it.

9. WATCHING PORN IS NOT A SIN

Everyone’s doing it, trust me.

10. IF YOU’RE SLEEPING WITH A SET MENU FUCKBOY, CHUCK HIM

The set menu fuckboy is the guy who does the same things in bed every single time. They have a routine which they swear by, because it always gets them to climax, but probably doesn’t take you into consideration. For example, he might always kiss you for five minutes, finger for two, go down for three (but doesn’t even use his tongue) and then shags in the same two positions before coming way before you were reaching an orgasm. These boys have one agenda, and it’s not making you come, so get rid!

11. HOW MUCH HAIR YOU HAVE ON YOUR VAG IS UP TO YOU

As you get older, you realise that how much hair you have really doesn’t matter. Like seriously think about it, why do you spend £30 a month having hot wax poured on your vagina, or wake up 10 minutes earlier than usual so you can hack at your vag with a shit razor? If the answer is “my boyfriend likes it” and it’s not because YOU like it, then you need to reassess. Good boys don’t care either way.

12. BE VOCAL WITH WHAT FEELS GOOD AND IS TURNING YOU ON

Never be embarrassed to guide a guy on how to finger you, what to do when he’s licking you out and basically how to make you come. They want to know what turns a girl on to make you come – they don’t want to be faced with your vagina licking around completely clueless.

13. NEVER ABANDON THE CLIT DURING SEX

Essential for the best orgasm. If you’re on top, get him to place his hand flat on himself so your clit rubs against it when your riding him. When spooning, either get him to reach around or just do it yourself. Guys won’t ever get annoyed you’re getting yourself off during sex – they love it. Plus, it’s hot.

14. DON’T FEEL YOU HAVE TO CONSTANTLY DEEP-THROAT WHEN GIVING A BLOW JOB

Again, real life isn’t a porno, instead you can have a lot of fun teasing when giving a blowjob. Like give the bottom half of his dick a handjob whilst you suck the top half – the top of the penis has the most nerves, so this means you won’t be gagging the whole time.

15. CLENCHING YOUR FIST WHEN GIVING A BLOW JOB ACTUALLY STOPS GAGGING

Idk what voodoo or science there is behind this, but thanks to whoever made this knowledge known.

16. PERIOD SEX IS TOTALLY NATURAL AND NOT SOME STUPID TABOO

Obviously it’s up to you if you want to do it, but having sex on your period shouldn’t been seen as this gross thing like you probably thought it was in secondary school. Bleeding, like coming, sweating and any other bodily fluid which is present during sex, is totally normal. Plus if you’ve got a medium flow that day it’s not like your sheets or his dick are going to look like a crime scene, there will probably be a small amount of blood maximum.

17. ALWAYS STOP HAVING SEX IF IT’S HURTING RATHER THAN CARRYING ON FOR HIS SAKE

Don’t feel like you should just stick it out if you’re sore and it’s feeling a bit rough. It’s okay to just stop and take a minute or 20 or just stop altogether. The guy’s orgasm is not worth you being in pain or uncomfortable, plus if he’s really that desperate he can go wank in the bathroom and you can go make yourself a nice soothing cuppa or a glass of wine.

18. SOMETIMES NEITHER OF YOU WILL BE ABLE TO COME, AND THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU OR HIM ARE SHIT IN BED

Maybe you’ve drank too much, taken some drugs or either of you are overthinking it. Whichever way, sometimes it’s impossible to come. It’s better to just stop rather than aggressively hump for 40 minutes for something which definitely won’t happen. Reassure him it’s all good, because he will feel like he’s failed otherwise which is definitely not the case.

19. GO BETWEEN FOREPLAY AND SEX

Foreplay doesn’t always need to be during the building up stage – it can happen at any time. Like you could be on top then have a break and sit on his face. It doesn’t have to be only thrusting after the fingering, eating out, handjob, blow job stage.

20. IF THEY’RE NOT GOOD AT KISSING, THEY’RE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO BE GOOD IN BED

It’s true.

21. ALWAYS, ALWAYS HAVE A WEE AFTER SEX

Unless you really want a UTI, go to the loo after you have done the deed to get rid of gross bacteria that can cause some pretty uncomfortable infections – cystitis I’m looking at you.

22. GO EASY WITH HIS PENIS – YOU’RE NOT TRYING TO LAUNCH A ROCKET

In the same way you want him to be gentle, don’t tug or suck too hard – one girl gave a guy friction burn and that is NOT sexy.

23. SOME PEOPLE HAVE KINKS, GET OVER IT

Some people are really into BDSM and being a submissive, or dressing up, and that’s totally fine. It can be fun trying out people’s kinks, unless it’s something like beastiality then maybe not.

24. IF HIS DICK SMELLS FUNKY, ABORT THE MISSION

Seriously though, your nose isn’t there just for piercings babe, if something smells bad, it probably is and bacteria in your vagina equals a UTI.

25. GUYS HAVE A WEIRD OBSESSION WITH DOING ANAL

Maybe it’s part of the male chromosome but guys just have a weird thing for anal and bums and wanting to “try it out”. Only do it if you really want and have loads of lube and maybe a butt plug. If he’s that into it, you could even slip a cheek finger in his bum during sex – it’s a super sensitive area for them.

Complete Article HERE!

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This cooking staple is scientifically proven to boost your sexual performance

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Apparently it’s ‘better than Viagra’.

By Anna Lavdaras

Forget sex toys and oysters, apparently the secret to boosting a man’s performance in the bedroom is good weekly dousing of olive oil.

That’s right, just 9 tablespoons of your kitchen cooking staple is enough to reduce impotence by around 40 per cent by keeping blood vessels healthy and maintain circulation throughout the body.

Scientists from the University of Athens studies 660 men with an average age of 67 and found that those that adopted a Mediterranean style diet – rich in fruit and vegetables, legumes, fish and nuts, as well as olive oil – had far fewer problems in between the sheets and even saw a vast improvement in their bedroom prowess.

Olive oil can also help dramatically increase testosterone levels, which reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction, which is the inability to get and maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse.

Erectile dysfunction currently affects about 1 million Australian men, and experts predict this percentage will escalate as our population lives longer as the disease is strongly linked to age.

Lead researcher Dr Christina Chrysohoou, said diet and exercise were key to improving sexual capacity of middle age and elderly men.

“Men that follow a Med diet – particularly consuming lots of olive oil – see their risk of impotence reduced by up to 40 per cent in older age.”

She added that small lifestyle changes could prove more beneficial for those looking for a long-term solution. While Viagra, created in the 1990s and now available over the counter without prescription, has helped the sex life of millions, the side-effects include headache, back pain and visual disturbance.

“This diet keeps your blood vessels healthy and lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and central obesity.

“It offers men a long-term solution without taking any medication, such as Viagra. This diet keeps your blood vessels healthy.

“Viagra does not improve something long-term. It can only give some short effect in order to have sexual capacity.”

Julie Ward, of the British Heart Foundation, welcomed the findings, saying “It’s no surprise the Mediterranean diet – which we know is beneficial to heart and circulatory health – might benefit blood vessels and help men maintain healthy sexual function.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex, technology and disability – it’s complicated

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Media portrayals of sexuality often focus on a visual and verbal vocabulary that is young, white, cisgender, heterosexual and…not disabled.

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People living with disability are largely excluded from conversations about sexuality, and face overlapping barriers to sexual expression that are both social and physical.

Media portrayals of sexuality often focus on a visual and verbal vocabulary that is young, white, cisgender, heterosexual and … not disabled.

My research into inclusive design explores how design can – intentionally or unintentionally – exclude marginalised or vulnerable people, as well as how design can ensure that everyone is included. That might mean design of the built environment, everyday products, or even how information is presented.

UTS has been collaborating for over a year with Northcott Innovation, a nonprofit organisation based in NSW that focuses on solutions for people with disability, to understand the barriers people face, and how inclusive design can help break them down.

When it comes to sexuality, new technologies have a role to play – but we need to look at both the opportunities and risks that these developments bring.

Starting the conversation

David* is a young man living with cerebral palsy who expresses a deep frustration about being unable to have his sexual desires met. He revealed his thoughts during discussions around sex and disability.

I can’t get into a lot clubs in my wheelchair – or restaurant or cafés for that matter. So where do I go to meet someone? Or go on a date? Let alone if we wanted to be intimate!

Northcott Innovation’s executive director Sam Frain isn’t surprised by what these conversations are revealing:

People with disability want to date, fall in love, or even fall out of love. They want to be recognised as the adults they are. In acknowledging their capacity for meaningful relationships, we must also acknowledge their sexuality – in whatever form that takes.

David faces complex social barriers too. Because it’s hard to for him to discuss his sexuality at all, coming out to his mother feels particularly fraught:

My mum doesn’t really know that I want to meet a future husband, not wife. I want to go on more dates. I don’t just want to meet other men with disability either. I want to meet lots of guys – but where can I go and how do I do this?

Inclusive sex toys

People living with disability have diverse physical and social support needs when it comes to expressing their sexuality. That means there isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Rather we need a design approach that allows for customisation.

A new research project at RMIT, led by industrial design lecturer Judith Glover, is investigating the design of customised, inclusive sex toys.

Aside from some engineering research undertaken earlier this year at the University of São Paulo into the neurodildo – a sex toy operated remotely by brain waves – inclusive sex toys are an under-explored area of design research.

Glover feels strongly that designing sexual health products or services – whether for therapy or for recreation – should be treated as any other area of design. She acknowledges that the sex toy industry has barely started to address sex toys for an ageing population, let alone solutions for people with various disabilities:

Some of the people I meet, who are physically incapable of holding and moving objects, may have trouble communicating verbally – yet who really yearn to be able to develop their own sexual practice. Plus who doesn’t need to just get off every once in a while?

David agrees:

I really want to explore the option of sex toys more, but I don’t know what to try, or how to use it.

Social media and intellectual disability

Connecting communities together is an important strategy to overcome marginalisation and amplify the voices of people with disability.

Social media is a space where technology brings like-minded people together. But creating safe online spaces for people to express their sexuality can create unforeseen challenges – particularly for people with intellectual disability.

Deakin University and the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) set up a closed Facebook support group earlier this year for people with intellectual disability who identify as LGBTQI. Jonathon Kellaher, an educator with IDRS, says:

Group administrators quickly realised that people who were not “out” and did not understand that group members can be viewed publicly were at risk of accidentally “outing” themselves when requesting to join the group.

To address this issue, the group privacy setting was set to “secret”. But this meant new members had to wait to be added, so it became a barrier to the group’s potential as a social connector. Deakin is now working on a project with GALFA to learn more about how people connect in this space.

Technology must promote inclusion

Then there is the elephant in the room: sex robots.

Manufacturers claim sex robots provide health and social benefits for people with disability, but researchers have been quick to point out that there’s no evidence to support the range of claims that have been made.

While it’s possible to see the introduction of sex robots as a form of assistive technology – a new way to experience pleasure, or to explore preferences and body capabilities – there’s another, more tragic, side.

Viewing sex robots as a solution to the loneliness of people with disability (or anyone for that matter), or as a remedy for a lack of available dates, risks perpetuating and exacerbating the social and sexual exclusion of people with disability.

Technology can’t replace human connection, so it’s critical that new technologies support greater inclusion for people living with disability. It’s a human right to be able to safely express and enjoy sexuality, and have the choice to live a life with pleasure.

For David, that fits in to his ideal world very clearly:

One day I really want a husband to love me, two children, and to own my own restaurant.

Complete Article HERE!

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I Am A Barista By Day & A BDSM Teacher By Night

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By Kasandra Brabaw

To the people who come through the coffee shop where she works every day, Afrika is simply a barista. But to the BDSM community members who frequent the dungeon where she works every night, she’s Envy Adams, a “dom/sub/switchy sado-masochist” and all-around “kinky girl.”

In her dungeon life, Afrika is able to play with gender identity and power dynamics. She feels masculine and dominant in her everyday life, but is able to be more feminine and shy or submissive when she’s negotiating a BDSM scene with one of her play partners. “In my normal day, I’m wearing joggers and a button up and my backwards hats. And now I’m shopping for latex skirts and nipple tassels,” she says. In a new video for Refinery29, we see Afrika make the transition from masculine barista to hyper-feminine BDSM dungeon worker. As she shops for a wig and outfit for her alter ego, she explains how the BDSM community allows her to explore her sexuality and gender identity, and why consent is so essential for BDSM play.


 
“There is no sex involved, it’s just all play,” Afrika explains about the dungeons. The fact that BDSM doesn’t always involve sex — which Afrika defines as touching genitals — is only the first stereotype she breaks. She also shatters the idea that the BDSM community doesn’t really care about consent, given that the whole point is intentionally inflicting pain. In reality, people who practice BDSM are often way more skilled at asking for consent throughout an intimate experience than are people who don’t have kinky sex. “[BDSM is] a very consensual community. It’s an understanding, non-judgmental community,” Afrika says. “Gender and sexuality is not a big, important issue there. It’s all about how you treat the person, and your consenting and negotiating of the scene that you’re going to partake in.”

Without ongoing consent, Afrika wouldn’t be hitting her play partners, or tying them up, or doing anything else with them. It’s also very important to her that there’s never alcohol involved in any of her BDSM scenes, because alcohol blurs lines of consent. “Being sober during a scene is super critical,” she says. “You don’t want to negotiate anything under the influence.”

So while it may seem to non-kinky folks that BDSM is a free-for-all, do-whatever-you-want kind of sexual experience, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As Mistress Yin, a BDSM dominatrix, told Refinery29 previously: “Even if you’re saying ‘Yes, I want to be placed into bondage,’ it does not mean that you’re saying yes to all the different things that could happen to you while you’re in bondage. There has to be so much really honest communication with your partner.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Art of Presence: Pleasure Mapping

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by KinkKit Team

Try the Yoni Pleasure Mapping Technique:

(Yoni, pronounced (YO-NEE), or “Vagina”, is derived from Sanskrit.)

The objective is not to achieve orgasm, though that may happen. The objective is to thoroughly learn and discover your partner’s pleasurable spots in a relaxed setting, with no expectations. As you massage your partner, focus all your loving emotion onto them.

1. Get your partner relaxed and comfortable.

Have your partner lie face-up with legs spread apart and knees bent. Optional: place a pillow under your lover’s head and/or hips. 

2. Both partners must remember to breathe.

Mindful breathing is a large part of what separates Tantra from regular sexual experiences. While you give your partner the lingam massage, try something called Ujiayi (ooh-JAH-yee), or “Bliss Breath”, in tandem:

To perform Ujjayi breathing:

  1. Close your mouth
  2. Take a long, deep inhale through your nose, while lightly constricting the back of your throat (your breath will make a whispery kind of noise)
  3. Hold it for a second
  4. Exhale slowly through your nose, while lightly constricting the back of your throat (your breath will make a whispery kind of noise)

3. Encourage your partner to breathe deeply.

Before you begin the yoni massage, tune into your partner by engaging in the “bliss breath” together. Just taking a few breaths at the same time will put you both at ease and match your bio-rhythms. You’ll both get all the good vibes. Ask your partner if you may continue before you begin.

4. Begin with both hands (or tool) well-lubricated.

Massager: If you started with Round 1, your hands may have the other hemp massage oil on them. Wash your hands and switch to the lube (it’s specially formulated to bio-match with the natural pH of the vagina). You may wish to also lube up the Gläs massager as well, if you plan to use this tool for pleasure mapping. Make sure the Yoni stays well lubricated throughout the entire Pleasure Mapping.

5. Massage the vulva first before slipping inside.

Gently rub the lube on the outer lips of the Yoni at least nine times. Using your thumb and index fingers, gently squeeze each lip of the vulva, sliding your fingers up and down the entire length of each lip. Then, carefully repeat this with each inner lip of the Yoni, being careful to vary the pressure and speed of your touch. Next, gently stroke the clitoris in a circular motion, clockwise and counter-clockwise. Then, squeeze the clitoris between your thumb and index finger.

As you do this, continue asking your lover to give their pleasure rating from 0 – 10. When a spot is given a rating of 5 or higher, push, caress, and gently squeeze that area more firmly to see if the pleasure rating changes. 

6. Move into the vagina.

Next, slowly and with great care, insert your middle finger into the vagina. Very gently explore and press the inside of the Yoni with your finger. As you do so, ask your partner how that feels and prompt more pleasure ratings. Varying the speed and depth of your finger, feel inside the Yoni up, down and around. With your palm pointing upward and your finger inside your partner’s Yoni, bend your finger to make contact with the G-spot. 

7. Continue for as long as your lover desires.

Continue massaging with different speeds and pressures. At this point, your lover may wish not to give pleasure ratings anymore — let your lover just relax and keep breathing. If your lover has an orgasm, keep up with the breathing, and continue massaging if your lover desires. More orgasms may occur at this point, though, if they do not, just enjoy the ride! 

Keep massaging until your partner requests that you stop. Slowly, and with respect, remove your hands. Allow your partner to lay there and bask in the afterglow of the Yoni massage, while you experience the joy of being of service. If your lover wishes, at this point you can gently massage the hands or feet using the mushroom massager.

Try the Lingam Pleasure Mapping Technique:

(Lingam, or “Penis”, is derived from Sanskrit.)

1. Get your partner relaxed and comfortable.

Have your partner lie face-up with legs spread apart and knees bent. Optional: place a pillow under your lover’s head and/or hips. 

2. Both partners must remember to breathe.

Mindful breathing is a large part of what separates Tantra from regular sexual experiences. While you give your partner the lingam massage, try something called Ujiayi (ooh-JAH-yee), or “Bliss Breath”, in tandem:

To perform Ujjayi breathing:

  1. Close your mouth
  2. Take a long, deep inhale through your nose, while lightly constricting the back of your throat (your breath will make a whispery kind of noise)
  3. Hold it for a second
  4. Exhale slowly through your nose, while lightly constricting the back of your throat (your breath will make a whispery kind of noise)

3. Encourage your partner to breathe deeply.

Before you begin the lingam massage, tune into your partner by engaging in the “bliss breath” together. Just taking a few breaths at the same time will put you both at ease and match your bio-rhythms. You’ll both get all the good vibes. Ask your partner if you may continue before you begin.

4. Lubricate and massage lightly around the penis with both hands.

Massager: If you started with Round 1, your hands may have the other hemp massage oil on them. Wash your hands and switch to the lube or a food-grade oil (coconut oil is fantastic: not only does it smell delicious, it has a very light, slippery texture without being sticky.). Make sure you oil both the shaft of the penis and the testicles. Start by sliding up and down the thighs before getting to the good stuff. This will also make your partner feel more relaxed. Feel free to compliment your partner, though don’t lose focus on the Ask and Answer. 

Receiver: Give your Pleasure Rating on the sliding scale of 1 – 10. Don’t worry about whether or not you are impressing your lover; only focus your breathing and on the pleasure you are feeling.

Massager: Move onto the testicles. Gently, slowly massage them. You can use your fingernails gently on his testicles, or pull them slightly. You can also cup them in your hands and fondle them in the palm of your hand.

Massage each of the areas around the testicles and penis (i.e., the pubic bone in the front, the inner part of the thighs, and the perineum—or “taint”—which is the area between the testicles and the anus).

5. Massage the shaft.

Once you’ve teased the areas around the lingam, move to the shaft. Vary your grip between harder and lighter. Vary your stroke sequences between straight up and down and a twisting motion.

Vary the action from one hand to two hands. When using just one hand, alternate between using the right and left hands.

Start slowly and build up to a faster pace, then make it slow again. Keep alternating the pressure, speed, rhythm, and methods.

Also, alternate the shaft strokes to start from the root of the shaft all the way up to the head. Once at the head, you can either continue the straight up and down motion, or you can do the twist—going from the root of the shaft and stopping just below the tip of the penis.

Variety is the key here.

When using two hands, you can do it a few different ways:

1. Both hands hold the penis in the same direction with the fingers pointing the same way.

2. One hand holds the penis facing one way and the other hand faces the other way.

3. Both hands move up and down at the same time. Use plenty of lube to keep the texture slippery and smooth.

4. The bottom hand moves up and down while the top hand does a swirling/twisting action at the tip of the penis.

6. Edge your lover – don’t allow climax. Rather, keep your lover at the edge of orgasm.

By now, your lover might be very worked up and might want to come. If you are paying close attention to breathing patterns, how the body moves, and the moaning, you should be able to predict whether your partner is nearing orgasm. At this point, slow it down and remind your partner to breathe and ride the wave of orgasmic feelings. At this point, your lover might go from being rock hard to semi-hard. Don’t worry. That’s what’s supposed to happen.

7. Continue for as long as your lover desires.

Continue massaging with different speeds and pressures. At this point, your lover may wish not to give pleasure ratings anymore — let your lover just relax and keep breathing. If your lover has an orgasm, keep up with the breathing, and continue massaging if your lover desires. More orgasms may occur at this point, though, if they do not, just enjoy the ride! 

Keep massaging until your partner requests that you stop. Slowly, and with respect, remove your hands. Allow your partner to lay there and bask in the afterglow of the Yoni massage, while you experience the joy of being of service. If your lover wishes, at this point you can gently massage the hands or feet using the mushroom massager.

Try the Prostate Pleasure Mapping Technique:

8. Stimulate the p-spot externally.

The prostate, or “male g-spot”, which is a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis. When stimulated properly, it is very pleasurable.

You can access the prostate either internally (by inserting your fingers or the Gläs curved massage toy into the booty) or externally (through massaging the outside without penetration).

If your lover isn’t experienced with prostate massage, start externally. Look for an indentation somewhere between the size of a pea and a walnut midway between the testicles and the anus. Push gently inward. As you do so, have your lover continue to give you numbers. Be careful to go slowly and let your lover guide you in terms of pressure.

When you hit the right spot, massage it by pushing in with your fingers or knuckles, then backing off and pushing in again. You can also use a circular massage motion. If he’s especially hairy, use more lube so you can get to the area more easily.

9. If your lover is comfortable, stimulate internally.

If your lover enjoyed the prostate massage, take it to the next level with an internal massage. If the game, you’ll want to loosen up the anus with lube. Start by massaging the outside of the anus with your fingers in a slow, smooth, and gentle circular motion. Don’t insert a finger without express permission. Ask if your lover is ready for more.

If he is ready for insertion, make sure his anus and your fingers are oiled up. Make sure your nails don’t have any jagged edges. Start by inserting just the tip of one finger at first. Wiggle it back and forth to loosen him up. Once he’s comfortable with that, you can insert your finger(s) more deeply, as the prostate is about 2 to 3 inches inside the anus, closer to the anterior wall of the rectum.

Once there, you can gently caress it by moving your finger from side to side, up and down, or “milking” it with a come hither motion with your finger(s). Continue asking for Pleasure Ratings.

10. Keep massaging until your partner wishes to stop.

Continue massaging with different speeds and pressures. At this point, your lover may wish not to give pleasure ratings anymore — let your lover just relax and keep breathing. If your lover has an orgasm, keep up with the breathing, and continue massaging if your lover desires. More orgasms may occur at this point, though, if they do not, just enjoy the ride! 

Keep massaging until your partner requests that you stop. Slowly, and with respect, remove your hands. Allow your partner to lay there and bask in the afterglow of the Yoni massage, while you experience the joy of being of service. If your lover wishes, at this point you can gently massage the hands or feet using the mushroom massager.

Complete Article HERE!

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Mindful sex: could it put an end to unhappiness in bed?

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Mindfulness has been used to treat depression and encourage healthy eating. Now, with huge numbers of men and women reporting sexual dissatisfaction, it is being applied to our relationships

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So there you are, in bed with your partner, having perfectly pleasant if serviceable sex, when your mind starts to wander: what was it you meant to put on your shopping list? Why didn’t your boss reply to your email? Don’t forget it’s bin day tomorrow.

Many of us feel disconnected during sex some or most of the time. At the more extreme end, sexual dysfunction – erectile problems, vaginal pain, zero libido – can severely hamper our quality of life and our relationships. In many cases, there could be a relatively simple, if not easily achieved, fix: mindfulness.

In essence, mindfulness involves paying attention to what is happening in the present moment and noticing, without judgment, your thoughts and feelings. It can reconnect us with our bodies – stopping us spending so much time in our heads – and reduce stress. It has been used by the NHS as a treatment for recurrent depression and popular books and apps have made it part of many people’s everyday lives. After mindful eating, drinking, parenting and working, mindful lovemaking is starting to be recognised more widely as a way to improve one’s sex life. (Earlier this year, the couples therapist Diana Richardson gave a TEDx talk on mindfulness in sex, which has been viewed 170,000 times on YouTube.)

A survey published in June by Public Health England found that 49% of 25- to 34-year-old women complained of a lack of sexual enjoyment; across all ages, 42% of women were dissatisfied. The most recent National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, published in 2013, found that people in Britain were having less sex than they once did, with low sexual function affecting about 15% of men and 30% of women. Difficulty achieving orgasm was reported by 16% of women, while 15% of men suffered premature ejaculation and 13% experienced erectile dysfunction. Problems with sexual response were common, affecting 42% of men and 51% of women who reported one or more problems in the last year.

At the time, the researchers said modern life could be affecting our sex drives.
 
“People are worried about their jobs, worried about money. They are not in the mood for sex,” said Cath Mercer from University College London. “But we also think modern technologies are behind the trend, too. People have tablets and smartphones and they are taking them into the bedroom, using Twitter and Facebook, answering emails.”

Mindfulness is one of the tools that can help people focus in a world full of distractions. Kate Moyle, a psychosexual and couples therapist, says mindfulness is a recognised part of therapeutic work, even if it has not always been given that name. “When people have sexual problems, a lot of the time it’s anxiety-related and they’re not really in their bodies, or in the moment. Mindfulness brings them back into the moment. When people say they’ve had the best sex and you ask them what they were thinking about, they can’t tell you, because they weren’t thinking about anything, they were just enjoying the moment. That’s mindfulness.” Moyle says the techniques involve “encouraging people to focus on their sensations, explore their senses, hone in on what is happening in their body and how they’re experiencing it”.

A simple exercise Moyle recommends is “getting in touch with the senses in the shower – listen to the noise, the sensation of the water on your skin, notice any smells, see what the water tastes like, look around you. You’re really encouraging people to try to stay in their bodies, rather than be in their heads. It’s about refocusing their attention on what they can feel right now.”

Ammanda Major, the head of clinical practice at the relationship support organisation Relate, says mindful sex “is about focusing in the moment on what’s going on for you and making sure all the extraneous things get left behind. For example, if you’re being touched by your partner, it’s really focusing on those sensations. People may find themselves very distracted during sex, so this is a way of bringing themselves into their body and being totally aware of themselves in that moment.” It is now part of the standard advice and support Relate offers to clients, she says. “It can feel clunky to start with, but with practice people realise they’re able to engage in mindfulness without realising they’re doing it.” In short, it becomes a way of life. Other than focusing on sensations, people can bring into sex an awareness of “how nice your partner feels, or how nice they smell, or the sound of their voice – something that will bring you right back into the moment. When you have thoughts that distract you, one of the key issues is not to blame yourself, but just to acknowledge it and cast them adrift.”

At the Jane Wadsworth sexual function clinic at St Mary’s hospital in London, mindfulness is used in almost all sexual problems, says David Goldmeier, a clinical lead and consultant in sexual medicine. These approaches have been used in sex therapy since the 50s, but they were not known as mindfulness at the time. The American researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson used a technique called “sensate focus”, emphasising the exploration of physical sensations rather than focusing on the goal of orgasm.

A mindful approach can help men with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. “If you have a man who has an erection problem and is stressed by it, a lot of his mind [during sex] will be worrying: ‘Have I got an erection or not?’” says Goldmeier. It is also used to help men and women who find it hard to orgasm or have low desire, as well as in sexual problems relating to abuse. “In our clinic, we see an awful lot of people with historical sexual abuse and [mindfulness is] a foundation for the trauma therapy they have. It is useful in sexual problems that are based in large part on past sexual abuse,” he says.

Lori Brotto, one of the leading researchers in this area, agrees. In her book Better Sex Through Mindfulness, she wrote of a study she published in 2012, which noted that “teaching sexual abuse survivors to mindfully pay attention to the present moment, to notice their genital sensations and to observe ‘thoughts’ simply as events of the mind, led to marked reductions in their levels of distress during sex”.

Brotto is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and the executive director of the Women’s Health Research Institute in Canada. Having started sex research during her graduate degree, she began studying mindfulness in 2002. Mindfulness-based treatments had been used effectively for people with suicidal tendencies – these ancient techniques started to be used widely in western medicine in the 70s – and Brotto realised they could also be helpful for addressing the sexual concerns of women who had survived cancer. “What struck me was … how the patients I was seeing with suicidal tendencies, who would talk about feeling disconnected from themselves and having a real lack of awareness of their internal sensations, were very similar to the women with sexual concerns,” she says. “At that time, I thought: ‘If mindfulness could be an effective way of staying in the present and helping them manage these out-of-control behaviours, I wonder if it could also be a tool to help women reconnect with their sexual selves and improve their sexual functioning.’”

Sexual problems can be caused by a huge range of factors. Depression and stress can be triggers, as can the side-effects of antidepressants. Over time, these side-effects can become a psychological factor, as people worry that they are no longer sexually responsive. Problems can also be caused by physical conditions such as vaginal pain, or inhibitions and shame about sexual desire, particularly for some women and people in same-sex relationships. Survivors of sexual abuse, who learned to dissociate during an assault, can also experience distressing sexual problems in a later consensual and otherwise happy relationship. “Mindfulness is such a simple practice, but it really addresses many of the reasons why people have sexual concerns,” says Brotto.

At its most basic, she explains, mindfulness is defined as “present-moment nonjudgmental awareness. Each of those three components are critical for healthy sexual function. For a lot of women who report low desire, lack of response and low arousal in particular, all three of those domains are problematic.” Being “present” is critical. “Then there is the nonjudgmental part – countless studies have shown that people who have sexual difficulties tend also to have very negative and catastrophic thoughts: ‘If I don’t respond, my partner will leave me,’ or: ‘If I don’t have an adequate level of desire, I’m broken.’ Mindfulness and paying attention nonjudgmentally is about evoking compassion for yourself.”

Body image issues come up consistently, she says. “Women will often say they prefer to have the lights off, or they’ll redirect their partner’s hands away from the areas of their body they’re not happy with, or they may be worrying that a partner is perceiving their body in a negative way. All of those things serve to remove them from the present moment.”

As for awareness, Brotto says, “lots of data shows us that women, more so than men, tend to be somewhat disconnected from what’s happening in their bodies”. Her experiments have shown that women can experience physical arousal, such as increased blood flow to their vagina, but it barely registers mentally. “There may be a strong physiological response, [but] there’s no awareness in their mind of that response. We know that healthy sexual response requires the integration of the brain and body, so when the mind is elsewhere – whether it’s distracted or consumed with catastrophic thoughts – all of that serves to interrupt that really important feedback loop.”

It can be the same for some men, she says, but “there tends to be more concordance between the body’s arousal and the mind’s arousal. When men have a physical response, they’re also much more likely to have a mental sexual arousal response.”

While working with a group or a sex therapist can be helpful for people with sexual concerns, others can teach themselves mindfulness techniques using books or any number of apps. In her book, Brotto says mindfulness practice can be as simple as focusing on your breath. An exercise she uses involves focusing on a raisin (this is a well-established practice and there are many tutorials online). First, scrutinise it – its shape, size, smell, feel, its ridges and valleys – then put it to your lips and notice your anticipation and salivary response; finally, bite into it and observe, in detail, the taste and texture. This can teach us to focus on sensations and the moment, rather than mindlessly eating a handful of raisins. The same sort of attention can be applied to sex.

In Brotto’s eight-week group programme, people practice mindfulness techniques for 30 minutes each day, followed by a maintenance plan of between 10 and 15 minutes a day. For someone doing it on their own, she recommends starting with 10 minutes a day and trying to include a few 30-minute sessions. “The benefit of a longer practice is you get to deal with things such as boredom and frustration, and physical discomfort in the body, all of which you want to be able to work through,” she says. “A body scan is one of our favourites within the sexuality realm – that involves closing your eyes and really tuning in to the different sensations in different parts of your body and not trying to change anything, just observing. If people can start to do that in their life generally, on a regular basis, they strengthen that mindfulness ‘muscle’ and start to become more aware generally and they can take that newfound awareness into their sexuality.”

When we have better sex, we tend to want more of it, so it becomes a satisfying circle. “Desire is not a fixed level that each one of us has, but rather is adaptive and responsive to our situation,” says Brotto. “When sex is not satisfying, it makes sense that the brain adjusts itself and creates less [desire].”

Mindful sex does not have to be an intense, time-consuming session. “It can be very everyday; it doesn’t have to be a different type of sex,” says Moyle. “You might have sex the same way, in the same position, but you’re in a different headspace, so you’re experiencing it differently. People can think: ‘I’m not into mindfulness,’ or: ‘It’s a bit spiritual and I’m not,’ but it doesn’t have to be that. It can just be really straightforward – focusing your attention and fully experiencing sensations.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Your grandparents are probably having oral sex

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A new study from Michigan State University suggests that older adults may be having more oral sex than you think.

by Korin Miller

It’s easy to assume that once people reach a certain age, their sex lives dwindle to nothing. But the findings of a new study might help turn that belief on its head.

The researchers analyzed data, specifically regarding oral sex, from 884 heterosexual couples between the ages of 62 and 90 who had previously participated in the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. And they had some pretty interesting takeaways — including that 37 percent of the people reported having had oral sex in the past year.

The analysis, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Series B, also found that oral sex was linked to relationship quality. Specifically, older adults who reported having better relationship quality gave oral sex to their partner more often than those who rated their relationship quality as less positive. That link was stronger for men than for women.

Receiving oral sex seemed to influence how positively men and women felt about their relationships. Further, the more often a person gave oral sex to his or her partner, the more often the partner reciprocated.

“Stereotypes exist that most older people are sexually inactive or asexual, and that sex is not important for older people,” lead study author Hui Liu, a professor of sociology at Michigan State University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “However, emerging evidence has shown that sexuality remains an important part of life and is key to the quality of life and well-being for many older adults.” Liu explains that she wanted to research the topic because “sexuality in later life is an underexplored research area

Sex in general may bring couples closer together, she adds, but “oral sex may play a special role for older couples because many older adults suffer sexual dysfunction problems (which makes penile-vaginal sex challenging for them), but they still want to be sexually intimate and remain close to their partners in old age. And, as the findings suggest, she says, oral sex may be “an alternate way to maintain an active sexual life, a high-quality relationship, and psychological vibrancy

The study also found that men seemed to get more relationship satisfaction from giving, rather than receiving, oral sex. And that’s not surprising to David Ley, a clinical psychologist who specializes in sexuality issues. “A consistent finding in sexual research is that men gain a sense of masculinity, satisfaction, and pride from being able to give their female partner an orgasm and sexual pleasure,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I suspect this foundation may underlie these results, as a man who cares more about his partner, their relationship, and her pleasure is more likely to be willing to perform oral sex, focusing on her own needs. In other words, it’s easier to be sexually selfless when you feel good about your relationship and partner.”

Still, Ley assures, older couples who don’t practice oral sex shouldn’t worry that it will affect their relationship satisfaction. “Remember that 63 percent of these elderly couples aren’t having oral sex,” he says. “Couples with higher levels of sexual dysfunction, including erectile issues or problems with vaginal lubrication, were more likely to practice oral sex. So not having oral sex might just mean that intercourse is working just fine.”

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What Monogamous Couples Can Learn From Polyamorous Relationships

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By Samantha Cooney

Polyamory — having more than one consensual sexual or emotional relationship at once — has in recent years emerged on television, mainstream dating sites like OkCupid and even in research. And experts who have studied these kinds of consensual non-monogomous relationships, say they have unique strengths that anyone can learn from.

Consensual non-monogamy can include polyamory, swinging and other forms of open relationships, according to Terri Conley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who has studied consensual non-monogamy. While there aren’t comprehensive statistics about how many people in America have polyamorous relationships, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that one in five people in the U.S. engage in some form of consensual non-monogamy throughout their lives.

But these relationships can still be shrouded in stigma. And people in polyamorous relationships often keep them a secret from friends and family.

“Often they’re scared of losing their jobs, not getting a job, losing family or friends who won’t respect them anymore or scared that their children will be taken away,” says Carrie Jenkins, a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia and the author of What Love Is: And What It Could Be.

But Jenkins, who participates in polyamorous relationships herself, cautions that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to relationships. “One impression that I don’t want to give is that I think polyamorous relationships are better for everyone,” she says. “We’re all very different from one another.”

Still, experts who study relationships say polyamorous relationships can provide useful lessons for monogamous couples. Here are a few areas where, researchers say, polyamorous couples are particularly successful:

Communication

Successful monogamous relationships require communication about desires, needs and problems, says Joanne Davila, a professor of clinical psychology at Stony Brook University who studies monogamous relationships. And this is one area where polyamorous couples excel.

A May 2017 study published in PLOS One noted that people in consensual non-monogamous relationships communicate to “negotiate agreements, schedules, and boundaries, and to work through the kinds of problems that emerge when negotiating polyamory, amongst the typical relational problems that can emerge in any relationship.” The study found that polyamorous individuals tend to communicate better with their primary partner than secondary partners — because “greater communication may be necessary for primary relationships to endure while other relationships are pursued.”

This is one area particularly relevant to monogamous couples, according to Benjamin Karney, a professor of social psychology at UCLA who researches monogamous relationships. “I don’t see studying non-monogamous couples as studying a totally separate country with no relevance to monogamy at all,” he says. “Consensually non-monogamous couples might have a lot to teach everybody about negotiating desire and competing interests.”

Defining the relationship

Polyamorous partners often define boundaries and form agreements about what each relationship should look like, and Conley says these agreements can be beneficial to monogamous relationships, where partners might assume they’re on the same page about what monogamy means.

When deciding to enter a relationship, “there might be a conversation beyond that about what that means: does it mean we’re monogamous? What does it mean to be monogamous?” Conley says. “For some people, even mere thoughts of attraction to someone else can be defined as cheating. For other people, anything but intercourse is OK.”

Polyamorous relationships can take many different forms. Sometimes, partners will know each other and form a family-like network sometimes called “kitchen table polyamory“, according to Kate Kincaid, a psychologist at Tucson Counseling Associates who works with polyamorous couples. Another style, known as “parallel polyamory,” means that all of the partners are aware of each other, but have little to no contact, Kincaid explains.

Kincaid says that she works with couples to figure out which model is best for them — though she often recommends kitchen table polyamory because it’s often more efficient for all parties to communicate directly. She says that one of the biggest challenges she encounters with polyamorous couples is time management.

“Everyone jokes that love is not a finite resource, but time is,” Kincaid says. “You can have multiple partners you want to see a lot — you have to negotiate time and space to do that.”

Practicing safe sex

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that individuals in polyamorous relationships were more likely to practice safe sex than those who cheat in monogamous relationships. The study showed that monogamous individuals often consider monogamy a safe sex practice in and of itself, so “sexually unfaithful individuals may reject safer sex strategies because of the presence of a stable relationship.”

Kincaid says that she works with clients to fill out a questionnaire about what sexual acts they’d be comfortable with them doing with other partners to make sure they’re on the same page. Amy Moors, an assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University who conducted the 2012 study with Conley, says consensually non-monogamous couples often make explicit agreements with partners to use condoms and get information about STI history with each new partner.

“They have to navigate the sexual health of a bunch of people,” Moors says. “Implicit in that is that there’s very clear conversations about sexual health that are happening in consensual non-monogamous relationships that may not be happening in monogamous relationships.”

But in monogamous relationships, couples often “stop using condoms as a covert message of intimacy: now, we’re really dating,” Moors says. But if a monogamous individual decides to cheat on their partner, there’s no guarantee he or she will practice safe sex.

Managing jealousy

You might think that having multiple romantic partners would elicit more jealousy than being in a monogamous relationship. But according to a a 2017 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, that’s not necessarily the case.

The study, which surveyed 1,507 people in monogamous relationships and 617 people in consensual non-monogamous relationships, found that people in consensual non-monogamous relationships, including those who engaged in polyamory and swinging, scored lower on jealousy and higher on trust than those in monogamous relationships.

“People in monogamous relationships were really off the charts high on jealousy. They were more likely to check their partners’ phones, go through their emails, their handbags,” Moors says. “But people in consensual non-monogamous relationships were really low on this.”

Davila, who also works as a couples therapist, says that she’s observed monogamous couples avoid addressing jealousy altogether, whereas consensual non-monogamous couples might be more vocal with their feelings. “In consensual non-monogamous relationships, jealousy is expected,” Davila says. “But they see what feelings arise and actively work to navigate them in a proactive way.”

Maintaining a sense of independence

Another area where polyamorous couples tend to excel, according to Kincaid, is allowing their partners to maintain a sense of independence outside of their relationship. Conley and Moors found in their 2017 study that monogamous couples are more likely to sacrifice their own needs for the sake of their relationship, while polyamorous couples put their own personal fulfillment first.

“The biggest thing that I appreciate about poly people is that they focus on knowing what their needs are and get their needs met in creative ways — relying more on friends or multiple partners instead of putting it all on one person,” Kincaid says. “Once [monogamists] get into a relationship, they tend to value their romantic partner above everyone else.”

She suggests that doing the former allows your relationships to be deeper and can enable you to get a lot more support from your loved ones.

Karney says that he could also see how having your needs met by others might strengthen consensual non-monogamous relationships.

“If we’re a married monogamous couple, we have to figure out what to do about our problems. We’re either going to avoid them, resolve them or break up,” Karney says. “But if I’m in a non-monogamous relationship and I have the same problem, I might not have to resolve it if I’m not getting all my needs met from you.”

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