‘Set aside time for sex’

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– how to get better at long-term relationships

By Miranda Christophers with

As a counsellor I say to my clients: ‘You need to invest as much energy and time in your relationship as you would for work, studies, children or friends’

It’s not inevitable that the romance will die in a long-term relationship, but things do change. When you first meet someone, you focus on them entirely, want to spend all your time with them and have a lot of sex. That crazy, romantic love settles down within six months to two years. Other things get in the way, such as work and children. And unexpected challenges, such as bereavements or financial pressures, can test a relationship.

You need to focus on keeping your relationship alive. As a counsellor, I always say to my clients: “You need to invest as much energy and time in your relationship as you do for anything else, whether it’s your work, studies, children or friends.”

Schedule time together, for just the two of you. That might be date nights or weekends away, or it might be creating new interests together, such as rock climbing or going to gigs. A shared calendar is a good idea, so you are aware of the other person’s schedule. And be considerate. If you’re going out with friends after work, send your partner a message and let them know. It shows you’re thinking of them.

Think about how you’re communicating with your partner. Does your partner often misunderstand what you’re saying? Do you tend to leave issues unresolved? Unresolved issues have a tendency to mount up. Something that might not have started as a massive problem – your partner’s chronic lateness, say – can become one if you don’t discuss it.

If you still end up arguing, try to see things from the other person’s perspective. Most of us find that extremely hard.

Ask your partner what makes them feel loved. Is it you cleaning their car? Taking the kids to the park on a Sunday so they can have a lie-in? Do it for them. Often, people need to hear verbal expressions of love. Tell them that you love them, unprompted. Give them a hug or bring them a cup of coffee. Little things like that make a huge difference.

You should never try to change your partner’s personality, because it was that personality that you fell in love with. But that doesn’t mean you can’t identify behaviours you don’t like. For example, if they are very impatient and always interrupt you when you’re speaking, tell them: “When you interrupt me, it makes me feel as if what I’m saying isn’t important.” You can’t knock the impatience entirely out of their personality, but you can work on the interrupting.

Try to recognise the positive things your partner does. You can fall into the habit of expecting them to be good to you, and complaining when they’re not perfect. Take stock of the nice things they do.

The main things that kill relationships are criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt. Defensiveness is often a response to previous criticism, so when you’re communicating with your partner, be very careful that they don’t feel that you’re attacking their character. And vice versa: if your partner is annoyed at you for something you have done, try to hear what they are saying.

Although communication is key, sometimes you need to bite your tongue. Perhaps the way your partner makes the bed really annoys you. Is there something wrong with the bed or is it that you have a way of doing things that you prefer? Even if you don’t like how they have made the bed, they have made an effort to do it, so say thanks.

Most people hate to schedule sex, but spontaneity doesn’t always work. In the same way that you set aside time for the gym or hobbies, set aside time for sex – or, if that makes you uncomfortable, some form of physical intimacy. Say: “On Wednesday night we’re going to get into bed together and just be close, even if it’s only kissing, cuddling or massaging each other.” That can lessen the pressure to perform.

And if you’re having sexual difficulties, such as erectile dysfunction, get some professional help. Don’t think that going to a hotel for a dirty weekend will be a quick fix. If your sex life is basically good and you want to spice it up a little, then a hotel is great. But if you have got issues around sex, or more broadly in your relationship, a dirty weekend won’t help, because you need to work on those issues first.

If you’re thinking: “I’d like to have sex with other people,” think about how you can bring those desires into the relationship. It might be that there are certain things you would like to try, but don’t feel comfortable raising with your partner. Now is the time to say: “What about trying this?”

When your life is busy, and you have got burdens and commitments such as kids or elderly parents, it’s easy to put your relationship on the backburner. But that’s a mistake; it needs to be a priority. Because if your relationship is good, other things become more manageable. There is someone who has got your back, and will support you. It makes life that little bit easier.

Complete Article HERE!

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How To Talk To Your Partner If You Want Them To Initiate Sex More Often

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In the beginning stages of a relationship, whether you or your partner initiated sex may not have mattered much because you were both so into each other, it was probably pretty mutual. But as the relationship begins to transition to a new normal where you and bae probably aren’t having sex as often as you were before, you may find yourself initiating sex more often. So, if you’re trying to figure out how you can talk to your partner if you want them to initiate sex as often as you do, worry not. I spoke to sex and relationship experts about the topic, and here’s what they had to say.

“About these conversations, it’s really important to have them outside of the bedroom, not to have them when you want sex initiated or when you’re in the middle of it,” sex and intimacy coach Irene Fehr tells Elite Daily. “It’s always important to have it in a calm, relaxed place, where you’re not already turned on, where you’re not already kind of into it. The one thing that I really emphasize around all topics around sex is to come from a place of curiosity, as opposed to, ‘I don’t like this,’ ‘This is not working.’ And so, curiosity in terms of asking your partner what works for them.”

You can talk specifically about wanting bae to initiate sex more often or you can broaden the topic a bit and talk about what you like versus what your partner likes. Fehr recommends asking your partner, “How do you like to initiate?” or “How do you like to be initiated towards?” By making it a somewhat objective conversation, it can seem less like pointing fingers and more like just wanting to talk to your boo. “Get a sense of what works for them, and then, on the flip side, also share what works for [you],” she says. “We all know what works for us to some level. We know what feels good. We know what things we want more of, and we welcome it.”

If you and your partner tend to be more hands-on, you can also make a game out of who initiates sex more. “Create coupons for your partner,” Nikki Leigh, a love and relationships coach and host of Ready for Love Radio, tells Elite Daily. “One can let you redeem it for them to initiate sex, one could let them redeem it for a massage, and so on to subtly let them get the message.” If you and bae gravitate toward even more subtle ways of communication, Leigh also recommends sharing an article or podcast with your partner about initiating sex. “Let them know that you would love for them to initiate sex more and why,” she says. “We all love for our partner to show their desire for us, and initiating sex and intimacy is a great way to do that.”

When approaching the topic, Leigh suggests bringing it up in a positive way. “Let them know you appreciate that they do [initiate sex], and you would love for them to do it more,” she says. If you’re satisfied with you and your partner’s sex life, but you just wish they would initiate more, chances are you don’t want them to feel like you’re unhappy with sex in general. So, “don’t discourage what they are currently doing, keep it positive, praise their current efforts and encourage more,” Leigh advises.

Make sure that you and bae still feel connected to each other beyond your sex life. “It’s very hard to initiate sex if you don’t feel connected to your partner or if they’re not connected to you,” Fehr says. “Connecting to your partner, whether it’s by asking them about their day or meeting them where they are, if they’re tired or cranky, or initiating something playful. Sex and intimacy work really well when partners are playful with each other.” If you and your boo are as connected as you’ve ever been, then the sex build-up will happen on its own, she says. “When you initiate the touch or initiate a conversation, then you create the kind of context where sex can happen as a natural outcome of what you’re doing, and it’s going to be a lot more fulfilling.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Talk About Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

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Everything you need to know about three distinctly different things.

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When it comes to public understanding and acceptance of various gender identities and orientations, much-needed discussions are finally being had. The future is indeed non-binary, but it’s okay if you are still learning the correct language to use to keep up with the discussion. For instance, what is biological sex, gender identity, and what’s the difference between the two? And to top it all off, what does sexual orientation have to do with any of it? Three sex and gender therapists and experts break it all down here.

How Sex is Defined

Nope, we’re not talking about the physical act of getting it on. “I define sex from a biological standpoint,” explains sex educator and trauma specialist Jimanekia Eborn. “It is something that doctors put on your birth certificate after you come out of the womb, based upon what your genitals look like and the particular set of chromosomes that you are given.”

Generally speaking, if you are born with a penis and XX chromosomes, your sex is labeled as “male” on your birth certificate. If you’re born with a vagina and XY chromosomes, it says “female’ on your birth certificate. As sex therapist Kelly Wise, Ph.D. points out, there are also intersex folks, or those born with a variety of conditions in which their reproductive anatomy and/or chromosomes don’t match the traditional definitions of female or male.

The Difference Between Sex and Gender

Not everyone’s gender identity matches the sex they are assigned at birth. “Gender is a socio-cultural concept of the way that people express themselves,” Dr. Wise says.If you’re cisgender, it means that the gender you identify with matches the sex assigned to you at birth. For trans folks, their gender identity does not match what was assigned at birth. Others use labels like non-binary (an umbrella term for someone who doesn’t identify on the gender binary as either male or female). Gender fluid describes someone whose gender fluctuates and may have different gender identities at different times. Basically, there are as many ways to express gender as there are people in the world.

If you’re wondering about your own gender identity, Dr. Wise, who is trans, reminds that there is no need to hurry to put label on yourself and that it’s okay to take your time, or change the way you describe your gender over time. “There is so much space to be an individual,” he says. “[Gender] ends up being one factor about you and not your whole defining exhibit. There is no rush to figure it out and you don’t have to limit yourself.”

What “Sexual Orientation” Means

One important thing to remember is that gender and sexual orientation are completely different. Gender is about your personal identity and expression, and sexual orientation simply refers to who you are attracted to. “I don’t think anyone would assume that a woman is automatically a lesbian or automatically bi,” says sex therapist Liz Powell, Ph.D. “We wouldn’t assume that a cisgender man is automatically gay—we look at them and don’t think that their gender necessarily determines what their sexuality should be. The same applies to people all across the gender spectrum.”

You may have heard a trans, non-binary, or genderfluid person describe themselves as “queer,” and think, well, doesn’t that mean that you’re gay? While the term “queer” is indeed significant to the LGBTQ community, as Dr. Powell explains, queer can mean anything that isn’t one hundred percent heterosexual and one hundred percent cisgender.

TL; DR: Sex is biological. Gender is a social construct, and each of us gets to decide our gender identity based on what we know to be true for us. And orientation simply means who you’re interested in dating and is entirely separate from biological sex and gender identity.

Complete Article HERE!

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The 7 Rules of a Healthy Long-Distance Sex Life

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Sometimes a long-distance relationship is unavoidable. Here are some expert tips and clever tech we suggest to keep an intimate relationship lively and hot from miles away.

Couple Apps

Tristen Weedmark, Global Passion Ambassador for vibrator company We-Vibe, recommends that long-distance partners look into Avocado or Couple, apps that both offer multiple ways for couples to connect in daily life. They are multi-purpose apps with built-in capabilities for partners, such as sharing sexy photos, working simultaneously on doodles, sending virtual “kisses,” or coordinating calendars and to-do lists.

Lay the Ground Rules

There are so many different options for connecting remotely. Texting, photo chats, live video, and phone calls are just a few options, and each comes with its pros and cons. “Figure out what works best for you in an LDR,” says Weedmark. “For some it might be constant texting throughout the day, while others prefer long phone calls a few times a week.” Mix and match your options and see what sticks. Once you can settle on a style that suits you both, you might be amazed at how multi-faceted LDRs can be.

Making Memories

Just because you’re separated doesn’t mean you’re not part of each other’s lives. Take the time to celebrate special days, like birthdays, anniversaries, or life achievements in ways that are memorable. Send cards, flowers, or homemade gifts the old-fashioned way. To keep track of past efforts and future events, consider the two-person messenger app Twyxt, which auto-generates a relationship journal from your messages and allows users to make a “Keepsake” collection of their favorite messages and photos.

Rules of Sexting

A couple can be great at texting, calling, and sending presents while skimping on more intimate ways to relate. “Without the regular sexual contact that many couples take for granted, you may start to feel more like friends rather than intimate partners,” says Weedmark. The trick here, she says, is to develop intimacy in other ways, which comes down to being more straightforward about your desires and emotions. It’s also probably time to boost your virtual sex skills. Learn how to avoid saving sexy pics and video to the cloud and be careful not to sext anyone you don’t mean to. Then, try something new with your partner.

Toys

There are many sex toys that allow couples to pleasure each other from afar. Weedmark’s company has the We-Vibe Sync, which is an app-enabled, adjustable vibrator that allows a woman’s partner to control the toy while also sexting or chatting in the app. Toys like this can help make partners feel more in tune with their partner during long-distance sex.

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Queering sex education in schools would benefit all pupils

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All power to the pupil activists drawing attention to the lack of information about LGBT issues in sex education in England

‘Being LGBT+ in school can be an isolating experience.’

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All I remember from my relationship and sex education in school is phallic objects, condoms and everyone being terrified of pregnancy. Looking back it’s clear how disjointed and inadequate this was at a time when I was struggling with the complexity of being a black, queer, working-class boy navigating life inside and outside school.

If I had been given information about the kind of relationships I would later come to be in and given the space to think critically about my gender it would have made my road to self-acceptance a less bumpy one. It was also a missed opportunity to address toxic elements of masculinity such as suppressing emotion or objectifying women. Modernising the sex and education curriculum wouldn’t just make LGBT+ people safer, but would benefit the wellbeing of all students.

So when I found out that young south Londoners had put this particular new year’s resolution to the Department for Education, I was elated. Students put banners on every secondary school in Lambeth, demanding that relationship and sex education (RSE) in schools be inclusive of LGBT+ relationships and for it to examine gender and stereotypes. When you consider that inclusive RSE isn’t mandatory in schools in England, hasn’t been updated for well over a decade and almost half of young people no longer identify as exclusively heterosexual, it’s clear it’s time for a much-needed overhaul.

The demand is there. According to a report published by the Terrence Higgins Trust looking at responses from 900 young people aged between 16 and 25, 97% of them thought RSE should be LGBT+ inclusive, but the vast majority (95%) had not been taught about LGBT+ sex and relationships.

This isn’t the only front the current RSE is failing on: 75% of young people were not taught about consent and 50% of them rated their RSE as “poor” or “terrible” with only 10% rating it as “good”. In this context, the shocking 22% rise in cases of gonorrhea between 2016 and 2017 is sadly unsurprising.

I spoke to one of the students responsible for this action; they are 17 years old and asked to remain anonymous. When asked why they felt this action was necessary they said: “Being LGBT+ in school can be an isolating experience … I have experienced ignorant remarks from students and teachers alike. We wanted to do this visual action to draw attention to what feels like a hidden issue, but the impact of which I and many like myself feel on a day to day basis.”

‘An inclusive RSE curriculum could mean LGBT+ identities could be celebrated.’

Only 13% of LGBT+ young people have learned about healthy same-sex relationships. Those who do receive inclusive education are less likely to experience bullying and more likely to report feeling safe, welcome and happy according to Ruth Hunt, chief executive of the LGBT+ equality charity Stonewall.

The feeling that this is a “hidden issue” comes as no surprise given the long history of active exclusion of LGBT+ people and their experiences from public life. In 1988, the Thatcher government introduced section 28 which stopped local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality in schools. It took 15 years for this piece of legislation to be overturned, but many teachers still don’t know if they are legally able to openly discuss LGBT+ topics, and many feel that they lack the expertise to do so.

The reason inclusive RSE isn’t mandatory is because sex education as we know it today was introduced by a Labour government in 2000, but section 28 (the law that banned “promoting” homosexuality) wasn’t overturned until 2003. It is humiliatingly out of date. An inclusive RSE curriculum could mean LGBT+ identities could be celebrated in a place they were once erased and demonised.

Thanks to campaigning organisations such as the Terrance Higgins Trust, the government has committed to making RSE lessons compulsory in all secondary schools in England and relationship education compulsory in primary schools. This was meant to be rolled out in 2019, but has now been pushed back to 2020. Whether this will cover LGBT+ relationships and gender adequately remains to be seen, as the finalised guidance that will be used by schools to deliver the RSE has yet to be published.

The rollout can’t come soon enough. LGBT+ people are more likely to experience poor mental health in the form of depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and substance misuse due to the pervasive discrimination, isolation and homophobia they experience. This shake-up of RSE could be an important step towards changing this.

Complete Article HERE!

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Having a gay friend makes you a better person according to science

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It seems like a no-brainer: having LGBTQ friends leads to more accepting attitudes towards the rights of queer people, but until now, little has shown this all goes together when someone comes out to their straight friends.

Now, a recent study has shed light into the connections, showing that people who have LGBTQ friends are more likely to change their attitudes towards LGBTQ people and issues over time.

Using data from the 2006, 2008, and United States General Social Survey (GSS), Daniel DellaPosta, a sociology professor at Pennsylvania State University, was able to show evidence of change in the culture attitudes towards LGBTQ people.

What he found was clear: those who responded to the GSS that they had one or more LGBTQ friend in 2006, “exhibited greater shifts toward increased acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage in 2008 and 2010.”

Of those in the 2006 sample, 54% had at least one gay acquaintance, with 47% of those reporting a gay coworker and 31% a gay family member.

The change in attitudes towards LGBTQ people may even be more pronounced when people face an acquaintance like a family member coming out to them after knowing them for some time, implying that great weight is attached to those with whom one has already formed a bond.

“This theory is perhaps most eloquently expressed in Harvey Milk’s famous exhortation for gays and lesbians in all walks of life to ‘come out’ to their friends, relatives, and coworkers in order to ‘end prejudice overnight,’” said DellaPosta in the study.

Perhaps most notably, the effect of such contact is strongest among “older, politically conservative” straight people. While they were most likely to be against same-sex marriage in 2006, for example, they are also the ones more likely to change their viewed based on having a close friend of acquaintance come out to them in the ensuing years.

Of course, the study is reluctant to say that such a change in attitudes will happen in every case, particularly in casual contact. It also questioned those who remain negative in the face of an LGBTQ friend or acquaintance.

“There are clear limitations to the analysis undertaken here that should make these findings necessarily provisional,” reads the study. “Most critically, we might wonder whether there is some underlying and unobserved selection in the type of person who reports relatively negative views toward homosexuality at baseline but nevertheless reports a gay acquaintance.”

Nevertheless, they do recommend more study in the field, looking at how the change in attitudes can be affected by population shifts and other factors.

Complete Article HERE!

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The Biggest Wellness Trend This Year?

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Female Pleasure!

By OLIVIA CASSANO

You wouldn’t typically consider vibrators or lube as part of your beauty regime, but soon you might. Sexual pleasure products have been infiltrating the wellness and beauty scenes recently and are slowly becoming daily care necessities, much like a good under-eye cream or body oil.

Although demand for sex products is universal, historically very few brands have spoken honestly and respectfully to women about their sex lives. Nowadays, as society challenges taboos around sex and female-led sextech companies strive to provide retail experiences that aren’t shameful or seedy, sexual pleasure is going mainstream – so much so that products like sex toys, condoms and lube are no longer exclusive to sex shops or the pharmacy’s “family planning” aisle.

According to a recent study by the market research firm Technavio, the sexual wellness industry is growing exponentially and will be worth $32 billion in 2019 – it’s true what they say, sex sells – and the 2018 Global Wellness Summit Report states that “sexual pleasure brands are strongly aligning themselves with wellness, and sex is fast shedding its taboo status.” Products that were once sold in basement sex shops and spoken about in hushed tones have become this generation’s go-to form of self-care, and sexual pleasure is 2019’s wellness cause célèbre.

Lucie Greene, worldwide director of trend forecasting agency JWT Innovation, believes sexual pleasure will be this year’s biggest wellness trend. “We’re seeing a move away from sexual fulfilment and health as an overly eroticised tone [and] sex is being positioned as part of a 360 make-up of being a healthy person,” she tells Refinery29. “We’ve seen a marked rise in this and raised awareness that sexual fulfilment is something to focus on and optimise. What’s interesting is that the idea of sexual pleasure, rather than be dependent on your partner, is being internalised as part of self-care. It’s also being linked to skin health, appearance, and general glow and vitality – as a beauty proposition.”

That sex (solo or partnered) is good for your wellbeing isn’t exactly a revelation, and brands are finally tapping into that by marketing sexual health products like toys, lube and condoms as everyday body care, bridging the gap between sex and wellness. Cult Beauty, the beauty junkie’s online mecca, sells aphrodisiac supplements, Boots has started stocking So Divine vibrators, and body care brand Nécessaire, launched less than two months ago by Into The Gloss cofounder Nick Axelrod and former Estee Lauder executive Randi Christiansen, offers lube as one of the three products in its range.

By bringing sexual wellness into the mainstream, brands are destigmatising sex goods by marketing them as any other wellness product. “The other interesting thing is the design of many of these brands. The new language around sex is sophisticated, straight-up and pithy. There’s a tasteful level of humour and empathy,” adds Greene. Brands like Nécessaire are catering to the millennial zeitgeist and overcoming the taboos and misconceptions with Insta-friendly aesthetics, offering products you’d proudly display on your nightstand next to a Le Labo fragrance or a Drunk Elephant serum. Take Lelo, the Swedish sex toy company created by three designers whose popular products are crafted with the same Scandinavian sophistication that we’ve come to expect from our homeware.

“More and more women are aware how their sexual health is linked to their overall mental and physical wellbeing,” says Jacqueline Husin from Smile Makers, whose vibrators are sold only in mainstream health and beauty retailers. “Noticing this, retailers, from drugstore chains to department stores, have launched new sexual wellness categories to cater to the woman who cares about all aspects of her health, from inner to outer beauty.”

By positioning sexual pleasure in the beauty and wellness sphere, brands are promoting the idea that body care goes beyond scrubs and lotions, and aligning themselves with a more modern and sex-positive understanding of sexual pleasure. Sceptics might argue that making sex goods “trendy” is nothing more than a marketing ploy, but the bottom line is that sexual pleasure is being normalised.

“It’s great to see more mainstream retailers promoting sexual products, moving away from the narrative of sex-related items being seedy and only available in sex shops or online,” says Ruby Stevenson, sex educator at Brook, the young people’s sexual health charity. “It’s hard to tell how attitudes could change, but it’ll improve accessibility to products that should be normalised.”

“We’re taught to be aware of our physical and mental wellbeing far more than the sexual side of our identity, so it’s nice to see this being celebrated in varying ways,” adds Stevenson, who believes that making sexual pleasure more mainstream would also open up the conversation around sexual violence and consent. “In the aftermath of the #MeToo movement I think it’s important to shine a light on pleasure-focused consent. Culturally, there’s so much fear around the word ‘consent’ when in reality it’s an essential part of all sexual pleasure.”

Stevenson rightly points out that while making sex toys more available isn’t enough to eradicate sexual violence (we need to reform laws to ensure just legal systems, more support for survivors, and informative education from an early age), it’s a good place to start. “I make sure to shout about positive pleasure-related messages as well as addressing sexual violence. It’s so important to make people aware that consent is not a constraint on your pleasure, but an integral part of it. I’m excited for how these conversations will evolve in 2019!”

Female sexual pleasure has been neglected for way too long, so the more sex products enter the wellness scene, the closer we’ll get to erasing the stigma and taboos around sexual pleasure.

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Anal Beads

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First things first—don’t be afraid!

By Gigi Engle

You’ll find no shortage of explanatory pieces on the Internet when it comes to butt stuff. There are so many ways to explore the butt. Some people use fingers, while others prefer dildos or butt plugs. And, of course, people enjoy a mix of things. Yet in all of this ongoing hoopla, we’ve forgotten a key player: anal beads.

Anal beads are the unsung hero of butt play. They are freakin’ amazing, and yet when asked about butt play from readers, I never get questions about anal beads.

Butt plugs and anal beads are two different toys, although they both go in the anus. “Anal beads provide stimulation through movement, while a butt plug offers internal ‘fullness’ or pressure,” explains Alicia Sinclair, a certified sex educator and CEO of the butt-centric company b-Vibe. “Unlike a butt plug, which is often used in preparation for penetrative anal sex, and is only meant to go in and stay [in place], anal beads were designed to stimulate inside the body and specifically to move in an out of the bum.”

There is no reason to feel embarrassed about wanting to explore butt stuff. Will there be some poop? Possibly, but if you clean up thoroughly, you’ll be just fine. You might come in contact with some fecal matter, but this simply goes with the territory. The sooner we move on from that, the sooner we can delight in the butt fully. I love butt play of any kind because it is an equalizing sex act that everyone can enjoy, regardless of gender. Everyone, after all, has an anus.

“Playing with products like anal beads allows you to really create equality in the bedroom and experience pleasure for the sake of pleasure, rather than tying it to identity in any way,” Sinclair adds.

The anus is a huge area of pleasurable possibility. You don’t need to put anything all the way inside of the butt to enjoy it. The anal opening is clustered with nerves, making any play with toys very enjoyable.

“As the beads are removed, they arouse the sensitive nerve endings of the sphincter muscle,” Sinclair says. “This stimulation creates a series of pleasurable sensations, like having a muscle massaged. The beads can be removed at varying speeds, depending on the desired effect, and can amplify the intensity of orgasm or even initiate for some. A great element is that using anal beads can be a hands-free path to stimulation, which means you can use your hands for other important erotic matters.”

Sign me up, please. Here is what you need to know about anal beads and all their multidimensional wonders.

Anal beads can be for newbies.

If you’re unsure if you’re ready for le beads de anal, Sinclair assures me that anal beads are totally fine for butt play beginners. While your forays ought to begin with a well-lubed finger or two, she assures SELF that there are “anal beads available in sizes for folks at all entry levels.”

Where to begin as a newbie when you’re looking for that perfect fit? Sinclair says that if you’re a beginner, it’s best to choose beads with “graduated sizes.” Meaning, ones that start small on the string and grow in size as you move up. “This allows the user to start with the smallest beads and then works towards the larger beads as they become comfortable with the sensation,” she says.

You should start with anal beads that come with three to four beads. You don’t need some long, snaking set of 15 balls when you’re starting out—that could be a little intimidating. “Make sure there is a good-sized flared base or circular handle at the end of the beads, otherwise there the beads may get lost inside the body,” Sinclair adds. Yikes. No one needs a trip to the ER, amiright? The rectum is not a closed area like the vagina; once something goes up the butt and disappears, it probably won’t be coming back on its own.

Stick to medical grade or body-safe silicone.

Materials for anal beads, like all sex toys, vary widely depending on where you buy them. Simply put: Do not buy cheap, crappy sex toys. If you buy beads made of jelly or non-ABS plastic (the only non-porous grade of plastic) then you risk leaving bacteria behind. These materials can never be fully disinfected. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like: Your anal beads will have lingering poop on them.

“Silicone is my go-to material of choice,” Sinclair tells SELF. “It’s body-safe, non-porous, and all you need is mild soap and warm water to clean.”

Vibrating anal beads can be a super-fun way to ease yourself into playing with this new toy. “It promotes relaxation and can amplify the pleasurable sensations,” she says. “At b-Vibe, we specialize in vibrating anal beads and playing with different points and patterns of vibration.” (If vibration isn’t your thing, there are plenty of body-safe silicone anal beads that don’t vibrate. It’s all about preference.)

If you’re truly not sure what sensation you want to feel, start with a basic set of three to four non-vibrating beads and see how you feel about them. If you’d like to experiment with bigger beads, vibration, or a larger number of beads, go from there. There are so many different kinds to choose from.

Grab some lube.

You can use anal beads alone or with a partner. It can be easier to give toys a try alone for the first time to avoid awkwardness or nerves, but this is completely up to you.

Be sure you have a ton of lube on hand. Avoid silicone-based lubes with silicone toys; in other words, stick to water-based lube. I recommend Sustain Natural for all play, including anal. If you are more of an oil-based lover, I’m obsessed with CocoLube. Oil-based lubes are great for anal play because they are super slippery and don’t need to be applied as often as water-based options.

If you are sharing butt toys, be sure you are thoroughly cleansing them before using them with a different partner. Otherwise, you risk transferring bacteria or STIs.

Relax and breathe before insertion. You can lie either on your back or side, whichever is most comfortable for you. I suggest starting on your side if this is your first time. You don’t want your butt hole to be tensed up. Put the beads in one at a time, checking in with yourself and your partner along the way.

“Once they are inside, you’ll feel ‘fullness’ and receive pleasure as they move inside you,” Sinclair says. “You can stop wherever—there’s no pressure at all to go the full length of the beads. You can then leave them in during partner play or pull them out at varying speeds, depending on the desired effect.”

Sinclair suggests leaving the beads in during intercourse, slowly removing them one by one when you’re nearing climax for “toe-curling orgasms.”

Clean your anal beads immediately.

After you’re finished getting busy, wash your anal beads right away. You don’t want to leave lingering bacteria on your toys. Use a mild antibacterial soap and leave them on a towel to air dry. Be sure to pay special attention to any nooks and crannies. Be thorough.

If you’re really into sanitizing, I absolutely love the UVee Box. It uses UV light to remove 99.9 percent of surface bacteria on your toys. I use it for everything in my house from my cell phone to my jewelry. It’s a worthy investment.

Do away with shame! Go boldly into butt play and have the most fun!

Complete Article HERE!

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How Alcohol Impacts Your Sex Life

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By GiGi Engle

The situation looks something like this: You’re out with on a date, the drinks are flowing and you’re feeling decidedly frisky. Somewhere between your third drink and that Cardi B song you love, you decide your date is definitely coming home with you.

Once you get there, you are both ready and willing to get in the groove. Unfortunately, your body is not as enthusiastic as your brain. You still want to have sex, but no matter how much you rub your clitoris, it is not down for the count. You’re on an endless plateau and no orgasms can be found.

Alcohol has loosened your inhibitions, but it has also taken the wind out of your sails. The situation is … not great.

So, why do we drink when we’re out partying, on dates, or with hanging with friends? What impact does alcohol have on sex, orgasm, and libido? Here is what we know.

Alcohol can act as social lubricant
While alcohol and sex don’t always mix well, it can act as a social lubricant, easing tension in social situations. When you’re trying to get some action, a couple of drinks can make the initial awkwardness less overwhelming, “The only possibilities for positive effects is for alcohol to create a feeling of less self-consciousness and to reduce inhibitions,” says Felice Gersh, M.D., OB/GYN, and founder/director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, CA.

This is why we often feel sexy and in the mood after we’ve had a couple glasses of wine, our nerves are settled and we feel freer. “For women, moderate alcohol intake may increase libido and reduce anxiety or inhibitions toward sex,” addes Dr. Anika Ackerman, MD, a New Jersey based urologist.

Boozy vaginas are dry vaginas
Have you ever heard of Whiskey Vagina? This charming term (popularized by yours truly) refers to when you’ve had too much to drink. You start fooling around, and suddenly realize your vagina is not in on this game. Your drunk brain might be saying, “YES! I WANT TO GET IT!” but your vagina is not having it.

“Alcoholic beverages do have a negative impact on the development of sexual health,” Gersh says. “[It] can impact vital female sexual functions, such as the creation of vaginal moisture, by impacting the autonomic nervous system.”

In short, alcohol might calm you down by affecting the nervous system, but it will also dry you out for the same reasons.

Alcohol can inhibit orgasm
Drinking is all fun and games until you can’t have an orgasm. Not only has alcohol been shown to decrease natural vaginal lubrication, it increase issues with erection in men and destroys orgasm. “Alcohol can increase impotence and reduce the ability to orgasm and their intensity,” Gersh tells us.

Again, this is due to the negative impact alcohol has on the nervous system, a vital component in orgasm. Gersh says that without a normally functioning nervous system, orgasm might be off the table entirely.

Not to mention, the drunker you get, the sloppier and less coordinated you become. “The more inebriated a person becomes the more impaired they become,” Gersh says. This is both not particularly cute and overall super dangerous, especially if you’re going home with someone for the first time.

Alcohol complicates consent

Another critically important factor in this situation is consent. When you’re drunk, you don’t have ability to consent to sexual activity, according to the law. What’s more, you may be too impaired to even remember what happened the night before at all. Perhaps you didn’t even want to have sex, but were too drunk to say no. These are dark implications, but ones that need to be addressed. Sex an alcohol are a dangerous combination. And consent is an ongoing conversation.

It’s about moderation
If you want to have a glass or two of wine, that’s perfectly OK. Having a drink won’t harm you. It’s when you start pounding shots or take a bottle of wine to the face that your sex life (and life in general) will suffer consequences. So keep tabs on your intake and don’t overdo it. If you have issues with controlling your alcohol intake or have had struggles with abuse, it’s best stay away from alcohol altogether

In the end, alcohol is a big part of our social system, but when it comes to sex, the negative effects seem to outweigh any positive aspects. If you’re trying to have a screaming orgasm tonight, it might be an idea to not go overboard on the booze.

Complete Article HERE!

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How Dry January can improve your sex life

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By Ellen Scott

There are a load of health benefits related to not drinking – even if you just ditch the booze for one month.

But for many of us, health and a lack of hangovers just isn’t enough to make us reject a G&T.

So here’s another reason to do Dry January, no matter how ‘boring’ your terrible mates may call you: not drinking can seriously improve your sex life.

And no, that’s not just in the whole ‘being really present in the moment’ way. Sobriety can significantly improve the physical side of sex.

If you’ve ever experienced drooping after drinking, you’ll know that the curse of whiskey dick is a very real thing. Drinking booze can cause struggles to get and maintain an erection, both immediately after downing beer and in the longterm, after regular drinking.

Ditch the booze, and it’s easier to get an erection and last longer in bed. Simple.

What’s less discussed than whiskey dick is whiskey clit.

Studies have shown that women are more likely to orgasm when they’re completely sober, and their likelihood of orgasm decreases the more drunk they get.

That’s because booze reduces your physical sensitivity. Think about the last time you were hammered and fell over, only to pop right up again without any pain – then remember the extent of the bruises the next day. Just as you don’t feel as much pain when you’re drunk, it’s also harder to feel pleasure… and you need that for sexy stuff.

‘Drinking alcohol to excess can make having good sex difficult,’ Annabelle Knight, sex and relationships expert at Lovehoney, tells Metro.co.uk. ‘This is because alcohol reduces both men’s and women’s sexual sensitivity.

‘In both sexes, sexual response is reduced by regular and prolonged drinking.

‘In men, alcohol can cause difficulties getting and maintaining an erection – while women may experience reduced lubrication, find it harder to have an orgasm, or have orgasms that are less intense.’

Ah, yes, the curse of cotton vagina. As well as a lower likelihood of orgasm, you might also struggle to get aroused in the first place when you’re boozing it up. Release your vagina from the influence of booze, and you get ready of the hazy numbness that’s holding you back from getting properly lubricated and ready to party.

Then there’s the impact of Dry January on the morning after.

‘Drinking alcohol can lead to riskier sexual conduct,’ notes Annabelle. ‘Studies show that people who have drunk alcohol are less likely to use protection, particularly condoms, because alcohol lowers your inhibitions.

It’s hard to look back on a night of passion fondly when you’ve followed it up with a panic about pregnancy and STIs. Go alcohol-free and you’ll be fully conscious and able to have sex responsibly, leaving you free of worries and able to enjoy that bone session to its full potential.

Drunken you may also choose sexual partners you might not actually be that keen on.

A 2016 study found that alcohol is likely ‘to lead to atypical partner choice or post-sex regret’ – more so than smoking weed – as well as ‘less post-sex satisfaction’. Blame the beer goggles, as drinking booze tends to make you choose partners who aren’t really your type, and engage in sex that you might not actually enjoy. Not great.

It stands to reason, then, that doing Dry January will ensure you’re choosing the right sexual partners, – people you actually properly fancy (yep, even when sober) – making sexual decisions you’re comfortable with, and having sex that you genuinely enjoy and don’t regret the next day.

Then there are the indirect effects of abandoning alcohol for a month.

‘It’s likely that giving booze a break for a month will improve your sex life,’ Adam Lewis, CEO and co-founder of Hot Octopuss, tells us. ‘Cutting out alcohol may improve your quality of sleep and overall physical health, leaving you feeling well rested and more energetic – which is likely to increase your libido.’

You’ll be astounded to know that downing pints of beer or rum and Cokes isn’t particularly healthy. Cut it out and you’ll see health benefits, which will in turn improve your sex life.

Your energy will increase, your mood will improve (remember how alcohol is a depressant?), and even your digestion could get better. Being more energetic, happier, and free of stomach upsets – all of those sound like things that’d make you more keen for sex and more likely to enjoy it.

Plus, Dry January means no hangovers, which opens up the glorious world of morning sex. Imagine starting your Sunday with multiple orgasms rather than hugging the toilet and vowing to never be tempted by tequila shots again.

Think of Dry January as a fun experiment: Go a month without booze and just see how you feel.

To fill the evenings newly free of pub trips and club nights, have sex – which handily makes you question why you ever thought stumbling around a sticky nightclub floor would be more fun than cosying up and trying out a new vibrator.

At the end of the month, you can always go back to boozing. But you might find you don’t want to. It’s entirely your choice (isn’t that great?), and you can do your own research on the benefits by having as much sex as possible sober. Fun.

Complete Article HERE!

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Homosexuality in nature: Bisexual and gay animals

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So many people question if animals can be gay, and the answer is, of course.

Every LGBT+ person will cringe upon hearing that their lifestyle is a “choice.” Unfortunately, people around the world still firmly believe that.

For those who believe that homosexuality is a result of being “brainwashed” by society, they should turn their attention to homosexuality in nature.

Indeed, there are bisexual and homosexual members of the animal kingdom beyond mere humans. (And we’re pretty sure that the sheep weren’t ‘turned gay’ from watching ‘gay agenda’ on television.)

Homosexuality in nature

From birds to mammals and reptiles, homosexuality is present in all kinds of animals who are able to have sexual intercourse.

These bisexual and gay animals include penguins, lions, bats, birds, dolphins, elephants and much more.

Join us as we go through some animals that are out and proud.

Bisexual and gay animals

1) Penguins

Penguins are known to mate for life, and they certainly are romantic specifies as they are often in monogamous pairings. Indeed, a penguin is probably more faithful than your ex.

And among these monogamous couples, there are many same-sex couples among penguins.

These gay animal couples will often even adopt their own baby chick, either by caring for an abandoned penguin or by kidnapping one from another couple.

 

Homosexuality among penguins has actually been known for some time. It was discovered and hidden from the public in 1911 as it was deemed ‘too shocking’. The information was then released over 100 years later in 2012.

George Murray Levick had the privilege of observing a wild colony of Adélies penguins at Cape Adare during 1911-1912. There, he described the “astonishing depravity” of “hooligan males” as they had homosexual intercourse, which was highly controversial during the time (apparently even among penguins), as well as conducting in necrophilia and forcefully entering female penguins.

2) Primates

From bonobo apes to snow monkeys and orangutans, there are countless reports of homosexual activities within the primate kingdom.

All bonobos are bisexual species, and other kinds of primates show various homosexual behaviour, found in both zoos and the wild.

3) Black swans

An estimated one-quarter of all black swans are in gay couples.

The same-sex pair of black swans often steals nests from the female so they can raise the chick. Equally, they often form threesomes (or thruples) with the female in order to do this.

Not only that, but black swans may also have relationships with other kinds of birds as seen with the infamous New Zealand love story between Thomas the goose and Henry the swan.

Thomas the goose (left) and Henry the swan.

The bird couple spent “18 happy gay years together” before Henry left Thomas for a female swan.

Then, after Thomas got over his heartbreak, he joined them to make the threesome a thruple.

4) Lizards

Homosexuality is also present in lizards in a rather unique way.

Certain species of whiptail lizards are exclusively female, and the females are able to reproduce from the ovum without the fertilization of a male.

In order to stimulate ovulation, female lizards engage in homosexual behaviour.

Geckos are also known to shown homosexual behaviour in a non-reproductive manner.

5) Dolphins

You’ve probably heard that dolphins are among the few animals that have sex for pleasure.

It’s therefore not that surprising that the adorable sea creatures get involved in some saucy acts of love.

There have been reports of dolphins having same-sex group sex, with spottings of the Amazon river dolphin forming bands with up to five bisexual dolphins.

Dolphins are known to have group sex.

Without regard to gender, dolphins are observed having non-reproductive sex, rubbing each other’s genitals and using their blowhole, anus, penis, snouts, vagina and flippers.

6) Vultures

At Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, two male griffon vultures named Dashik and Yehuda were somewhat of a couple.

The bisexual vultures hit headlines in 1998 when they were often seen having “open and energetic sex.”

Not only that, the couple even raised a chick together. Zookeepers had provided the couple with an artificial egg which the birds had looked after through incubation. Once it was time to hatch, zookeepers put in a baby vulture.

Of course, not all love stories last forever and after some rocky years together, Dashik and Yehuda split up.

They each moved on to have female partners, leaving their wonderful, gay animal romance behind.

7) Elephants

African and Asian elephants will engage in homosexual animal relationships, and males will engage in homosexual intercourse.

Elephants often engage in homosexual intimate relationships

There are reports of affectionate same-sex interactions beyond mere sex. Elephants virtually hold hands by intertwining their trunks, groom and kiss.

The same-sex companionships may last for several years and are apparent in both sexes.

8) Bats

From oral sex to homosexual masturbation and intercourse, various bat species often engage in homosexual behaviour, even cross-species with different kinds of bats forming homosexual animal relationships.

Such behaviour has been observed in both wildlife and in captivity.

9) Lions

There are many reports of gay lion pairings within the wild. Males are observed engaging in homosexual intimate behaviour.

There are countless reports of homosexual activity between lions

However, exclusively female relationships are rare with most reports of lesbian activity within captivity rather than the wild.

10) Insects

Gay sex is very common among various kinds of insects. Scientists found that 85 percent of male insects engage in homosexuality in nature.

This means that billions of bugs around the world are having gay sex each year.

Despite the high number, many scientists claim that it’s a case of mistaken identity, with insects doing it by accident, actually intending to impregnate a female mate.

The infamous gay sheep studies

You’ve probably heard of this highly publicised study by Oregon Health and Science University in 2003.

While most members of the animal kingdom swap between male and female partners, domestic rams are unique in that they can be completely gay, with 8-to-10 per cent of sheep exclusively homosexual.

A similar percentage of sheep also appear to be asexual, however, many believe that a large part of them could be lesbian sheep who do not have the physical capacity to show their lust given their structure as female sheep simply stand still regardless of whether they want intimacy or not.

However, instead of just letting these sheep be, heterosexual reproductive sex is considered so important in agriculture that experiments were conducted on the gay sheep to attempt to “cure” their homosexuality by altering their hormone levels in the brain.

The reality is that the discoveries from these sheep, along with other members of the animal kingdom, suggests that homosexuality in nature is indeed biological, despite what many homophobic people may argue.

Not to mention, of course, what we see and know from human beings. Surely, what we observe in society and throughout history should be enough? But that combined with the amazing facts about the animal kingdom tips the scales.

There is homosexuality in nature all around the world, whether people like it or not. These are just a few animals that we listed. No doubt, there are hundreds upon hundreds more.

Complete Article HERE!

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Father-Son Talks About Condoms Pay Health Dividends

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By Steven Reinberg

Here’s some straight talk about the value of “the talk.”

Fathers who talk with their teenage sons about condom use can help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies, researchers say.

Condoms are the only contraceptive method that can prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Yet, recent U.S. government data showed that condom use among teens steadily declined over the last decade.

And as condom use dropped, the number of sexually transmitted infections increased, researchers found. In 2017, the number of STIs reached an all-time high for the fourth year in a row, with teens and young adults accounting for about half of the cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two out of three new HIV infections in young people are among black and Hispanic males, and more than 200,000 births a year are to teens and young adults, the study authors noted.

For the new study, researchers interviewed 25 black and Hispanic fathers and sons (aged 15 to 19) from New York City. The research was led by Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, a professor at New York University and a nurse practitioner specializing in adolescent sexual and reproductive health at the Adolescent AIDS Program of Montefiore Medical Center, in New York City.

The interviews made it clear that fathers talking to their sons about using condoms consistently and correctly is not only possible, but acceptable. The sons said they wanted their dads to tell them how to use condoms and problems with them, such as breakage and slippage, as well as incorrect use.

Fathers also saw these conversations as a way to improve their own condom use, the study authors said.

The findings showed that communicating about condom use can be a powerful way to help prevent teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, the researchers concluded.

“Helping fathers teach their sons about the consistent and correct use of condoms by addressing common communication barriers — and focusing specifically on strategies to avoid condom use errors and problems — is a promising and novel mechanism to increase the use of male condoms and to reduce unplanned pregnancies, STIs, and sexual reproductive health disparities among adolescent males,” the study authors said in a New York University news release.

The report was published online Dec. 17 in the journal Pediatrics.

More information

For more about sexually transmitted infections, visit the American Sexual Health Association.

Complete Article HERE!

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More Sex Can Improve Later Years

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Study shows life enjoyment is linked to intercourse for men, kissing and connection for women.

Physical contact and sexual activity may be key to contentment.

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According to research published online on December 13, 2018, in the journal Sexual Medicine, frequent sexual activity can mean a more enjoyable life for older adults. Both men and women who reported any type of sexual activity in the previous year indicated greater happiness than people who did not. Feeling emotionally close to one’s partner during sex was also correlated with a more positive perspective for both genders.

These results are not surprising, says Pelin Batur, MD, associate professor of medicine in obstetrics and gynecology for the Women’s Health Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, who was not involved in the research. “We know connection and intimacy are important for people throughout all stages of life,” says Dr. Batur. “It is important to remember that people who are healthier are more likely to engage in sexual activity. Therefore, it may be the better state of health which contributes the most to the increased life satisfaction, as opposed to just the sexual activity itself,” she says.

Searching for a Link Between Well-Being and Sexual Trouble

The study set out to investigate possible associations between sexual activity, problems, and concerns, and how those factors might influence well-being in older adults. Researchers looked at 3,045 men and 3,834 women living in England whose ages ranged from 50 to 89, with an average age of 64 for men and 65 for women. 74 percent of the men and 60 percent of the women were married or living with a partner, and 95 percent of the study participants were Caucasian.

Frequent Kissing, Contact, Key for Women’s Well-Being

After allowing for sociodemographic and health-related issues, researchers found that among sexually active men, frequent intercourse as well as frequent kissing, petting, or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life. For women, frequent kissing, petting, or fondling was linked to greater life enjoyment, but frequent intercourse was not. Frequent masturbation wasn’t associated with greater life enjoyment for either sex. “Frequent” was defined as two or more episodes a month.

Measuring People’s Enjoyment of Life

Enjoyment of life was assessed with the pleasure subscale of the CASP-19 (control, autonomy, self-realization, and peasure), which has been used in previous research to measure happiness and contentment for older adults. Subjects were asked how much they resonate with statements such as “I enjoy the things that I do,” “I enjoy being in the company of others,” and “I feel full of energy these days.”

Is Sexual Intercourse More Important for Men’s Well-Being Than for Women’s?

“The most interesting finding for us was that among sexually active men, frequent intercourse or kissing, petting, or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life,” says Lee Smith, PhD, an epidemiologist with expertise in physical activity and exercise medicine at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, and a coauthor of the study. “However, among sexually active women frequent kissing petting or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life, but not intercourse,” says Smith. “It therefore appears that sexual intercourse may be more important for men than for women in terms of promoting well-being, whereas women’s enjoyment is more closely linked to other sexual activities.”

Insights Into Future Treatment for Age-Related Sexual Problems

These results could help improve the way that women’s sexual health drugs are developed and measured, says Batur. “In the past, these medications were judged based on how much increased sexual activity resulted from the use of these medications. If there were only one to two additional sexual acts over the course of the month, these medications were considered a failure,” she says.

Considering Desire, Satisfaction, and Future Treatments for Sexual Dysfunction

Studies like this highlight that it is not simply having sex that contributes to fulfillment, says Batur. “Moving forward, medications should look at sexual desire, satisfaction, pain, and other domains of sexuality that are important to women when judging whether potential new medications are helpful. Subjective quality of life benefits for women are probably more important than how often sexual activity occurs after initiation of medication,” says Batur.

The study found that sexual issues, such as difficulty having and maintaining an erection or achieving orgasm, were associated with less life satisfaction. Concerns about lack of desire and frequency of sex also had a negative connection with life enjoyment.

“Health professionals should acknowledge that older adults are not asexual and that a frequent and problem-free sex life in this population is related to better well-being,” said Dr. Smith in a statement. “However, encouragement to try new positions and explore different types of sexual activities is not regularly given to aging populations,” he added.

Making generalizations about either sex is hard to do from the survey results, says Batur. “What we do know is that sexuality is different for each individual and can vary throughout the lifetime for the better or worse, depending on circumstances,” she says. “Each person that we see in the office has their own story of what they are looking for in life and what makes them happy. One key point, on which we can all agree, is that the healthier a person is, the more they are likely to look for fulfilling relationships, including sexual ones,” says Batur.

Promoting overall wellness in later life is a public health priority, said Sarah Jackson, PhD, a senior research associate at the Institute of Epidemiology and Health at University College London in England, and coauthor of the study. “We know that psychological well-being is intricately linked with physical health, and as the population continues to age, the burden on health services increases,” she said in a statement. Encouraging and supporting people to continue to enjoy a healthy sex life in old age could have benefits both for the individual’s health and for the sustainability of health services, said Dr. Jackson.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to talk to your children about sex

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It’s no easy task for parents, but there are ways to start this crucial conversation

‘As parents, we know that talking about sex to our children is part of the job.’

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“If you had a question about sex, where would you go?” I ask my 12-year-old daughter, Orla. She doesn’t look up from her phone. “I’d ask online,” she deadpans. “then delete my browser history.”

“You wouldn’t come to me?” I venture, worried, hurt, amused and (a tiny part) relieved. “Mum, if I asked you about sex, I’d then have to imagine you having sex and that would be traumatic for me,” is the answer I get back.

So … on the face of it, perhaps I’ve failed in the “how to talk about sex to your daughters” section of parenting, especially if, compared to the likes of Emma Thompson, who not so long ago appeared on a podcast to discuss the “sex handbook” she wrote for her daughter when Gaia was only 10 (she’s now 18).

In it, Thompson called sex “shavoom” and pornography “the Kingdom of Ick”. (“If anyone does anything, says anything, implies anything, shows anything or suggests anything that makes you feel ick, move away, get away, say no thank you. Or even just no without the thank you,” reads part of Thompson’s mother-daughter guide.)

As parents, we all know that talking about sex to our children is part of the job. And, with the Government’s updated sex education curriculum delayed by another year – it will become compulsory in schools from September 2020 – we also know it’s more urgent than it’s ever been. Hardcore porn is ubiquitous.

Studies suggest that parents tend to underestimate the extent of their own child’s exposure, but it’s safe to assume that, years before they’ve reached “first base”, boys in particular will have seen images which could create a horribly warped picture of consent, pleasure, health and safety. Add into that the “superbug” STDs, online grooming, the fact that “safe sexting” is now a thing (that’s taking care to cut your face and home from your body shots), and we’ve got our work cut out for us.

All this I know – and yet, the longer I’m a parent, the harder it has become. My daughters are 19, 17 and 12 and the recent study from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, which found that parents talk about sex to their firstborns, then get progressively worse with the rest, rings horribly true. There’s the awkwardness, of course. (I have a friend who’ll happily tell strangers about her dress-up games and spontaneous encounters yet has never managed to talk about sex to her own kids. She thought it would be a breeze, but was shocked to find it mortifying.) But it isn’t just that. I’ve seen how quickly the “issue s” change, how easy it is to fall hopelessly behind. When my youngest pointed to an 11-year-old who was “pansexual”, I couldn’t recall what it even meant. Went home, Googled it, still don’t know.

On top of that, the older I get, the more uncertain I’ve become. I’m more aware than ever how much sex education is really personal opinion. While leading “sexperts” tend to offer reassuring, accepting messages about what’s normal, I feel loathe to repeat them. I vividly recall telling my oldest daughter, aged about 13 at the time, that certain acts commonly found in pornography, such as anal sex, were less common in real life and extremely unlikely to feel good for a girl.

Her 11-year-old sister hovered in the doorway soaking up the message, too. Now, the repeat phrase in the “anal sex” section of one lead sex education website, is “lube and patience”. Which message is more helpful? When it comes to guiding my daughters around the physical acts, probably I “could do better”. But I think, I hope, that where it matters most, I’ve done okay.

Alice Hoyle, relationships and sex advisor with Durex’s sex education arm Durex Do, believes in shifting the emphasis away from practical topics towards a more emotional open-ended approach. This should cover how young people feel about themselves, how society makes them feel, what they want from a relationship and how to communicate that.

“Understanding consent starts really early, age appropriately,” says Hoyle, who also has three daughters, the eldest now eight. “I was watching two-year-olds in a nursery recently, one girl patting the other on her face. The adult in charge was asking the girl to look at the other’s body language. Was she smiling? Did she look cross? Might she want her to stop?

At home, with party games, tickling, whatever, we have the standard family rule – unless everyone’s having fun, it stops. Sometimes, this can be a real challenge. I was doing nit treatment on my daughter’s hair the other day. She had the ‘No Means No’, the good strong body language, the hand up …”

Playground politics are another link to power dynamics, ethical behaviour, what you can and can’t accept. I’ve always encouraged my daughters to tell me everything when it comes to friends and frenemies (I’m fascinated anyway). After school, at bedtime, in the kitchen, in the car, we’ve always talked.

I’ve tried to help them listen to their gut instincts – what feels fun, what feels uncomfortable – and find their own strategies to deal with tricky situations. Sometimes I’ve suggested they walk away and find people who treat them better. This led one daughter to make an entirely new gang of mates, aged nine, and never look back.

If you’re in touch with their highs and lows and talk about your own experiences at their age, then you’ve laid the basics for building healthy relationships and made it easier for them to open up to you. Hoyle keeps lines open with mother-daughter diaries – notebooks where they write messages to one another. On their Jenga set, she has written sentences on each brick which you can complete when you put one in place. “I feel happy when …” or “I feel cross when …” She also recommends Sussed, a family conversation game her children love.

Porn is something you have to address. I’ve taken the “it’s make believe” line, like watching Superman jump from buildings – don’t expect similar results if you try it at home. It’s that tricky business of sounding a warning without appearing so out of date, they disregard you.

“In the past, sex education has been criticised for being too negative,” says Hoyle, “for not looking at pleasure. That has got better, but there’s a lot of talk among young women that sex positivity has been mis-sold to them. They’ve done things to please men and not themselves.

“You can’t avoid talking about porn, but it’s a tricky one. People use it for pleasure or even sex education, but the sex it portrays is often very male focused and you can’t know if the women in it were abused or trafficked.”

All of the above has been discussed in our household and pretty much anything can open the door: a selfie; a song lyric (Blurred Lines’ I know You Want It, Meghan Trainor’s All About ww.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2014/sep/01/pops-weighty-issue-all-about-that-bass-body-positive-anthems” data-link-name=”in body link”>That Bass); the Cristiano Ronaldo rape allegations (one daughter has a poster of him above her bed); Love Island (the politics of hair removal and breast augmentation); Love Actually (porn, stalking, cheating … so many issues, where to start?)

Janey Downshire, counsellor and co-author of Teenagers Translated (and another mother of three daughters) believes all these conversations are more crucial than “what goes where”.

“When you’re a teenager, your identity, your sense of who you’d like to be and what’s possible, is a work in progress,” she says. “As parents, we need to help them see all the choices, to think as widely as they can. Most important is that you help your daughter put a high value on herself – to know she’s pretty special.”

Parent coach Judy Reith agrees. “A parent’s job is to help her daughter believe she deserves to have a fantastic relationship with someone,” she says. “Don’t just criticise when her behaviour worries you. Show her great qualities and always praise praise praise when she swims against the tide.”

Perhaps most important is the example you set. “The truth is girls growing up watch their mums like hawks,” says Reith. “If you’re insecure about the way you look, always on a diet, if you don’t expect to be treated well yourself, then that’s the message you send them. If you’re confident, and home is a safe zone where you’re happy to slob around, no makeup and greasy hair, that’s not a bad thing.” (In this department, I’ve excelled.)

So far my eldest girls look like they’re entering adulthood as wise, strong and sorted as any mother could wish them to be. When Orla quipped that taking her sex questions to me was too traumatic, I suggested she ask her oldest sister instead. She’s an adult now after all – and the more safe adults girls have in their lives the better. I have to admit, it felt good to delegate.

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