Your Clitoris Is Like an Iceberg — Bigger Than You Think

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by Sarah Aswell

Who says the clitoris is pea-sized? Well, for a very long time, science did. But sometimes science gets it wrong before it gets it right.

And even when science gets it right, sexism still takes the stage and moves away the spotlight. It’s time that both men and women learn that a woman’s pleasure center isn’t a tiny nub: It’s an expansive playground, and we need to relearn the rules to having fun.

Why has the clit been left in the dark?

It’s little wonder that the penis receives the vast amount of attention in research and under the sheets. The male sexual organ isn’t just external. It’s also attached to what has historically been considered the dominant sex.

The clitoris, on the other hand, took much longer to discover, let alone correctly comprehend. It also has the unique distinction of being the only organ in the human body dedicated solely to pleasure, an amazing fact that has ironically been left neglected by science and romantic partners alike.

Dr. Sybil Lockhart, PhD, is a mom, neuroscientist, and full-time researcher at OMGYES, a website that focuses on research and content related to understanding and enhancing female pleasure. Lockhart has a few ideas as to why the clitoris has been given the cold shoulder by science.

Who says the clitoris is pea-sized? Well, for a very long time, science did. But sometimes science gets it wrong before it gets it right.And even when science gets it right, sexism still takes the stage and moves away the spotlight. It’s time that both men and women learn that a woman’s pleasure center isn’t a tiny nub: It’s an expansive playground, and we need to relearn the rules to having fun.

Why has the clit been left in the dark?

It’s little wonder that the penis receives the vast amount of attention in research and under the sheets. The male sexual organ isn’t just external. It’s also attached to what has historically been considered the dominant sex.

The clitoris, on the other hand, took much longer to discover, let alone correctly comprehend. It also has the unique distinction of being the only organ in the human body dedicated solely to pleasure, an amazing fact that has ironically been left neglected by science and romantic partners alike.

Dr. Sybil Lockhart, PhD, is a mom, neuroscientist, and full-time researcher at OMGYES, a website that focuses on research and content related to understanding and enhancing female pleasure. Lockhart has a few ideas as to why the clitoris has been given the cold shoulder by science.

“In order to get funding, researchers must often pitch their projects as solutions to problems,” she explains. “But the clitoris is not problematic. It is a pleasure enhancer!”

“We hope that in 10 or 20 years, health researchers will look back and say, wow, we knew for years how physical exercise and brain exercise improve our longevity and happiness — why didn’t we get to the clitoris sooner?” adds Lockhart.

Not only has the clitoris been largely ignored throughout history, information about it — when given — has often been partial or plainly incorrect. In the 1400s, a guide for finding witches considered the clitoris the “devil’s teat,” and any woman with one was a witch.

Even in the early 20th century, Freud was convinced a woman’s ability to orgasm was based on her psychological maturity and that only mentally healthy women could have vaginal orgasms.

Ignorance surrounding the clitoris isn’t just bad for women. It’s also bad news for the significant number of women who experience clitoral pain caused by disease or infection.

Not knowing how to talk about the clitoris — let alone not knowing how a healthy clitoris functions — harms our quality of life, our health, and even our chances at equality in general.

The good news is that the tide is shifting.

On the flip side, knowledge about the clitoris can improve lives

“What we’ve observed again and again is that as women begin to discuss their pleasure with [OMGYES] and with their sexual partners, they report more fun, improved relationships, and better orgasms,” Lockhart says.

The advent of female doctors and researchers has pushed back against the sexism of science, while general societal changes have made space for open discussion of the clit.

At the same time, new technology allows us to better see, understand, and utilize all of the clitoris.

We now know that the tiny, pea-sized body part most people think of as the clitoris is only the gland — and the tip of the iceberg.

We also know that while “clitoral orgasms” and “vaginal orgasms” were once seen as different entities, all female orgasms are technically the result of clitoral stimulation (i.e., different parts of the iceberg).

As the award-winning mini-documentary “Le Clitoris” explains, there are two 4-inch roots that reach down from the gland toward the vagina.

Le clitoris – Animated Documentary (2016) from Lori Malépart-Traversy on Vimeo.

The clitoris might also be the “woman behind the curtain” when it comes to the G-spot. A study using ultrasound found that that magical area is likely so sensitive because the clitoral root is located right behind the anterior vaginal wall.

Reclaim the clitoris and get ‘clitorate’

A growing body of knowledge and research is great. So is a slow lifting of the taboos surrounding sex, female anatomy, and female pleasure. But how can these things help you, your clitoris, and your female pleasure? Well…

Start reading. Lockhart’s research, for example, can be accessed at OMGYES, where it has been condensed into dozens of short videos.

Say goodbye to taboos. A lot of the ignorance about women’s bodies is because of taboos. It’s time to be open and honest, beginning with the realization that women’s sexual pleasure is good and healthy. Also, our ideas that tie the worth of women to whether they can orgasm solely through penile penetration? That has to go.

Check out a 3-D model. Unlike the penis, much of the clitoris is internal. You can either check out pictures in the mini-doc above or print out your own three 3-D model. (The website is in French, but you can use Google Translate to find the instructions for the 3-D printer.)

Schedule a date with yourself. “There are many different ways to touch a clitoris … just as we might prefer different combinations of menu items at a restaurant,” Lockhart says. “Learning and finding words for the particulars of how you or your lover like to be touched can take the pleasure to a whole new level.”

Get your partner involved. Even just talking with your partner about these topics can make you closer and improve your bedroom romps. Once you’re educated, educate the person or people in your life who happen to have a relationship with your clit.

Talk to your doctor. Women are turned on by many, many different things, and can orgasm in many, many different ways. Some women have trouble reaching orgasm (research puts the number around 10 percent), while others might have an issue with clitoral health. Both topics are totally normal to talk to your doctor about.

Lockhart has one last tip as well: “After the first orgasm, many women have a completely different sensitivity to touch. One wouldn’t have brisket for two courses in a row. It is well worth one’s time and energy to investigate what new dishes you or she might enjoy for dessert.”

Keep the learning inside and out

The clitoris can seem like a mystery, but the time to get a healthy understanding of it is now. Ignoring or misunderstanding the clitoris is also ignoring female health and pleasure.

And health and pleasure come from knowledge, so let’s get learning, inside and outside the bedroom. We’ve been in the dark for too long. It’s time for everyone to get clitorate.

Complete Article HERE!

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Pelvic floor physio: Treating pain during sex and other common women’s health issues

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Anniken Chadwick is a physiotherapist who focuses on the muscles and ligaments in the pelvic region.

By Maryse Zeidler

Pain during intercourse. Incontinence. A prolapsed uterus.

Pelvic floor physiotherapist Anniken Chadwick helps her clients with problems rarely discussed at the dinner table, but that are common nonetheless.

“Mostly my job is oriented around women’s health, and we just don’t do that well with women’s health in our medical system,” Chadwick said, sitting on a chair in her small, quiet office on West Broadway in Vancouver.

Chadwick, 33, specializes in healing and strengthening the muscles, ligaments and connective tissues in the pelvic area. Her job can be quite intimate, with her often working internally in those areas.

Her most typical clients are pre- and post-natal women, although she also works with men for similar issues like sexual disfunction, incontinence and pelvic pain.

Anniken Chadwick sometimes uses a model to show her patients the muscles, fascia and ligaments around the pelvis.

Physiotherapy centred on the pelvic floor is a mainstay in countries like France, where women routinely see practitioners like Chadwick after they’ve given birth.

Here in Canada, physiotherapy is often recommended after surgery or trauma on other parts of the body. But Chadwick says the taboo of pelvic issues makes her field of work less normalized — and that’s something she’s hoping to change.

Chadwick says up to one in four women will experience pain during intercourse in their lifetime.

Her female clients sometimes come to her after years of pain and discomfort. Their doctors just tell them to relax and have a glass of wine, she said.

“I would love for pelvic floor physio to be a routine part of obstetrics care,” she said. “I would also love for particularly sexual pain and dysfunction to be understood as a physical thing and not just a mental thing.”

Chadwick grew up in Nottingham, England, where she trained to become a physiotherapist.

She briefly practised in the public health system there, then she moved to Canada. A few years into her private practice in Vancouver, she began to notice a pattern — young and middle-aged women who said they were “never the same” after having children. 

“I just wanted to learn more about why that was,” Chadwick said.

The more she started learning about pelvic floor issues, the more she realized how much more she — and the people around her — needed to know. 

“And so I started down that track, and now it’s all I do,” she said. 

“As soon as I started helping women regain continence or be able to have sex with their partner again without pain … it was just hard to get passionate about an ankle sprain after that.”

Holistic approach

Chadwick’s training for pelvic floor problems included specialty post-graduate courses and independent learning. 

She likes to take a holistic approach to her work. In her specialty area, injuries often have an emotional or psychological component to them. For women who experience pain after sexual assault, for example, she ensures they’re also seeking help from a counsellor or psychologist.

Because of the intimate nature of her treatment, Chadwick is mindful about creating a calm, quiet environment for her clients to feel comfortable in. 

But the one aspect of her job that Chadwick really wants people to know about is that pelvic floor issues are relevant to everybody. And although those problems can be scary, getting treatment for them doesn’t have to be. 

“I get so much satisfaction when people get better. It really gives me a lot of energy,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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10 things you need to know about vaginas

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From the science of the orgasm to cannabis tampons, there’s a lot to learn. Warning: explicit content

By and

Mae and I thought we were well informed when it comes to vaginas (between us, we have 58 years’ experience of them), but the more we researched the subject for our new video series, Vagina Dispatches, the more we discovered that, like most people, we don’t know our asses from our elbows – let alone our vulvas from our vaginas.

Does it matter that we don’t know what a perineum is, never mind where to find one? It turns out it does. Even though there are lots of parts of our bodies we don’t know well (neither of us can explain the full process from sandwich to stool), there is something particularly damaging about vagina ignorance.

Despite the fact that we spend more time peeing or menstruating out of them than anything else, sex remains the primary association when people think of female genitalia. And that emphasis distracts from the stuff that really matters: health. Women (or, to be more specific, anyone with a vagina) can struggle to understand how much menstrual blood is too much, what healthy labia look like, or what to expect during childbirth. Those blind spots make it hard to understand when or whether we need treatment. So, in a spirit of generosity, we wanted to share some of the things we learned.

1 That thing you’re calling a vagina? It probably isn’t a vagina

You’re likely thinking of a woman’s external genitalia. But that’s actually the vulva; the vagina is on the inside.

A survey released earlier this month by the Eve Appeal, a gynaecological cancer charity, found that two-thirds of women were unable to identify the vulva. More shocking is that women know men’s bodies better than they do their own: 60% of women could correctly label a diagram of male anatomy, but only 35% could do the same for female anatomy.

According to a recent survey by Eve Appeal, half of women aged 26- 35 were able to label the vagina in a diagram like this one.

These days, there are endless articles claiming every woman should have body confidence. Body knowledge, on the other hand, seems like a nice bonus. That emphasis is misplaced: if women don’t know what their vulva is, how can they check it for changes in colour – a potential symptom of gynaecological cancer?
2 No one really knows what a female orgasm is

The male orgasm isn’t exactly ambiguous. But there’s no standard way to measure a female orgasm, which means that research has begun to question whether some women are experiencing them at all.

Dr Nicole Prause is a neuroscientist who founded Liberos, a research firm that studies sexual desire and function. In men, as well as ejaculation, there are regular, measurable muscle contractions. In a 1980 study in the journal Archives Of Sexual Behaviour, 11 male participants all behaved in a similar way during orgasm: the muscles in their anus contracted in spasms that were 0.6 seconds apart and continued for 10-15 contractions. But in the women Prause has studied, while some had these same contractions, others reported an orgasm without any being measured. (How do they measure these? Using a butt plug that monitors sound waves.) We said we were interested in measuring our own orgasms, so Prause is sending us some. Stay tuned.

3 Orgasms can make you need a wee

From a biological perspective, there has long been curiosity about what function the female orgasm serves (from our own personal perspectives, the case is closed). According to Prause, one reason might be that women who orgasm are more likely to urinate after sex. And urinating after sex is a great idea because it helps prevent bacteria from getting into the urethra, reducing the chances of a urinary tract infection. Win, win.

4 You can build a vagina from a penis and scrotum

At first glance, vulvas and penises look pretty different, but they are actually quite similar. That’s because we all started out as foetuses with the same genitalia; our sex organs don’t start to differentiate until the end of the first trimester (around about nine to 12 weeks). That skin fold line between the testicles? It’s because the male scrotum is the homologue of the female labia majora. Learning that was a real “aha” moment.

We met Callie, an American trans woman who was waiting for bottom surgery, a procedure where a vulva and vagina are created from the penis and scrotum. Aside from price (the surgery costs around $20,000 and isn’t always covered by health insurance), we were interested in knowing what concerned Callie when she booked her procedure. We’d mostly been discussing aesthetics, so Callie’s response caught us off guard: functionality. She is considering whether she wants a vagina that would self-lubricate (this can be possible using tissue from the anus) and whether it would be painful to pee (the surgery is complex and recovery can take weeks). In other words, really important health issues that most women take for granted. Prettiness? Not so much.

5 You can buy weed tampons

Menstrual cramps affect up to 91% of women, and can have a huge impact on quality of life. Given that so many women experience this pain, and that painkillers don’t always work, some women have tried alternative treatments including cannabis.

There’s very little scientific research into the effectiveness of cannabis in treating menstrual cramps, partly because that research would be illegal in many countries. But some entrepreneurial companies that are part of a growing US cannabis market are investigating. Once you’ve confirmed that you’re over 21 and a resident of either Colorado or California, the website foriapleasure.com offers a four-pack of “weed tampons”, priced at $44 (£33). It’s not actually a tampon; it’s a pessary containing cannabis oil.

Actor Whoopi Goldberg has teamed up with businesswoman Maya Elisabeth (who used to sell award-winning edible cannabis) to market products they claim are designed to provide relief from period pain. Their company, Whoopi & Maya, produces a bath soak, an edible spread (which “may be enjoyed plain with a spoon, on fruit or toast”), a rub and a tincture.

6 The clitoris looks like a spaceship

If you’ve been looking at medical diagrams lately (just us?), the clitoris is often depicted as a little button. A more realistic image would be something similar to the Starship Enterprise. Underneath the labia, there are two long structures that fall on either side of the clitoris (the protruding bit). If you’re interested in female sexual arousal, you should know about those – they’re called the clitoral crura. They can become engorged with blood when a woman is aroused, which causes the vulva to expand outwards, creating a tighter vaginal opening (bonus fact: women have nearly as much erectile tissue as men).

On the subject of sex tips: stop searching for the G-spot. Not only because it’s weird to use terms for women’s bodies that are named after men (the Gräfenberg spot, after the German gynaecologist Ernst Gräfenberg, who also developed the IUD). It probably doesn’t exist, at least not in the push-button way it’s often imagined.

An article published in Nature Reviews Urology in 2014, titled Beyond The G-spot, found that women can experience sensitivity in lots of different places, including but not always the area where the G-spot was thought to be (the upper side of the vaginal wall). In other words, it’s complicated.

7 Your vagina might benefit from a personal trainer

Sex doesn’t always feel good – especially if you have vaginismus (a painful condition that results in involuntary vaginal muscle spasm) or vulvodynia (chronic pain around the opening of the vagina).

One possible treatment is pelvic physical therapy, which can involve external and internal massages of the pelvic floor area, and the use of dilators (they look like oversized plastic crayons) and lubricants. The treatment is frequently misunderstood, says Jessica Powley, a pelvic physical therapist. For one thing, it’s not just women, or postpartum women, who get this therapy; men can get it, too, to treat pelvic floor pain. You can also buy vaginal weights and create your own home gym to tighten your pelvic floor muscles.

8 Things change with age, but it’s not all bad

Ageing, and menopause in particular, causes a woman’s oestrogen levels to decline. According to the North American Menopause Society, the vagina can become shorter and narrower in menopausal women who aren’t sexually stimulated. Then, when those women do have sex, it can be painful. Their advice? Menopausal women should have vaginal sex on a regular basis. So if you’re an older woman who enjoys sex, you should continue to have it regularly (hooray), and if you don’t enjoy sex, don’t bother (hooray, too).

What’s more, in 1998, the US National Council on the Aging found that 70% of sexually active women over the age of 60 said they were as satisfied, or even more satisfied, with their sex lives as they were in their 40s (74% of men in the same age group said the same). So, if you’re under 60, the best sex of your life may well be to come.

9 Breastfeeding can make you horny

We spoke to Christen, a performance artist and writer, who wrote about maternal sexuality in a one-woman show called BabyLove. She told us that she got aroused when breastfeeding; one time, she tried to use a vibrator while feeding, but got interrupted by a delivery man. She claimed lots of other women felt the same way. Of course we wanted to investigate.

Many forums for mothers confirm Christen is not alone. In a 1999 study in The Journal Of Perinatal Education, the author, Dr Viola Polomeno, explained that sexual arousal during breastfeeding “is a normal phenomenon”, although women often feel guilty when it happens to them. Arousal can happen because there are some parallels between breastfeeding and having an orgasm: both situations involve contractions of the uterus, nipple erection and skin-to-skin contact, and both can involve strong, uninhibited emotions. Neither of us has ever breastfed, but if and when the time comes, boy is this information handy.

10 You can make art with menstrual blood

From Judy Chicago’s 1972 installation Menstruation Bathroom to Ingrid Berthon-Moine’s 2009 work Red Is The Colour (photographs of 12 women wearing their menstrual blood as lipstick), lots of artists have explored the use of menstrual blood.

We met Jennifer Lewis, who was one day removing her menstrual cup and wondered why the blood on her fingertips disgusted her. With the help of her partner Rob, she began taking photographs of her menstrual blood in water. We watched Jennifer and Rob using refrigerated bottles of the stuff to make Beauty In Blood. The images look beautiful, but if we’re honest, the smell wasn’t so pretty. We went there to challenge our attitudes because, like so many, we think of periods as a gross inconvenience. We both use a hormonal IUD that stops us menstruating, which has always just seemed like a bonus.

Jennifer challenged these attitudes, not just because her art is beautiful, but also because she made us reconsider the health consequences of stopping our periods. Like us, Jennifer also used a contraceptive that stopped her period – until she found out it had caused her early-onset osteoporosis.

When Jennifer told us this, we looked at each other wide-eyed. Even though we had been researching this subject for months, there was still so much we didn’t know. The point is, we, like so many others, had put convenience ahead of being informed about our health. And that’s our final tip: get smart, get a mirror out and find out what’s up down there.

Complete Article HERE!

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Take a Little Look-See

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[J]essica Biel and Chelsea Handler are getting up close and personal with their bodies for a good cause. In “Look See,” a hilarious new short, Biel and Handler finally answer the question “What is a vulva?” and encourage women everywhere to become more familiar with their bodies. The NSFW video aims to de-stigmatize the vagina, and, most importantly, encourage women to take a look down there every now and then.

“Look See” opens with Handler walking in on Biel using a hand mirror to look at her vagina (tampon instructions style), and things only get more open and wild from there. “Is it weird?” Biel asks Handler. “No! You have to check in with your vagina. How else are you going to know what’s going on down there?” Handler responds. And then, the debate begins: was Biel looking at her vagina, or was she looking at her vulva? “The vagina is in, so, technically, we’re just looking at our vulva,” Biel says.

For the record: Biel is correct, the vulva is the word for exterior female genitals, but Handler also has a point when she says, “Let’s just say vagina, because vulva’s gonna confuse people.” But, while language is important, the main message of the video isn’t so much that one has to know the scientific terms, it’s that a woman should feel no shame in getting to know their bodies. Because after all, women should be familiar enough with their own vaginas to know if theirs looks like “a smug, young Burt Reynolds — with the mustache,” like Biel’s.

 

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9 Sex Resolutions Every Woman Should Make for the New Year

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By Danielle Friedman

For those of us who make New Year’s resolutions, we too often focus on doing less—eating less sugar, drinking less booze, spending less time in pajamas binge-watching The Crown. And while those goals may be worthy (though, really, The Crown is pretty great), this year, we’d also like to encourage women to do more—when it comes to pleasure.

As research consistently shows, the “orgasm gap” between men and women is real. A study published this year in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found that, while 95 percent of heterosexual men said they usually-to-always orgasm when sexually intimate, only 65 percent of heterosexual women said the same. Meanwhile, along with simply feeling good, orgasms bring an impressive list of health benefits, from decreased stress to better sleep. “There’s freedom in pleasure,” Kait Scalisi, MPH, a sex educator and counselor and instructor at the Institute for Sexual Enlightenment in New York City, tells Health.

Convinced yet? We culled sexual health research and called on Scalisi’s expertise to bring you nine tips for getting the pleasure you deserve in 2018.

Carve out time for solo pleasure

If masturbation feels self-indulgent, that’s because it is—in the best way possible. Still, in a recent national survey out of Indiana University, one in five women said they had never masturbated in their lifetime—and only 40.8% said they had masturbated in the past month. In the year ahead, consider devoting more time exclusively to solo sexual satisfaction.

“The more you learn about your body and what feels good—and what doesn’t feel good—the more you can bring that into partner sex,” says Scalisi. And if you aren’t having sex with a partner, well, “the more you are able to bring yourself oodles of pleasure.”

Try a vibrator

Thanks to lingering stigmas around sex and pleasure, many women still feel too shy to purchase a vibrator. But research shows this is changing: In the same Indiana University survey, about half of women said they had used a sex toy. And that’s a good thing!

“Vibrators give us one more way to explore what feels good and what doesn’t,” says Scalisi. And the more methods we experiment with, “the more flexible we’ll be in terms of our ability to experience pleasure.” If you haven’t given one a whirl, why not start now?

Focus on foreplay

For the majority of women, research has shown that intercourse alone isn’t enough to orgasm—but a little bit of foreplay can go a long way. “One of the most common things I hear from clients is that [sex moves] too fast, from kiss kiss to grab grab,” says Scalisi. “Most women need time to transition from their day to sexy time. And that’s really what foreplay allows.”

Foreplay can start hours before the act. “When you say good-bye in the morning, have a longer, lingering hug,” she says. Send flirty texts during the day, or read or listen to erotic novels on your commute. As for in-the-moment foreplay, make time for kissing, touching, and massaging. “That allows the body to really experience a higher level of pleasure, and then satisfaction.”

Resolve to never fake an orgasm

If you’ve faked it during sex, you’re not alone. But chances are, if you’re feigning an orgasm, whether to avoid hurting a partner’s feelings or to hurry sex along, you’re missing out on having a real one. And if you want to be having a real one, that’s a situation worth remedying. “If [your partner isn’t] stimulating you in the way you enjoy, have that conversation,” says Scalisi. Maybe not in the heat of the moment, but at a later time when you’re feeling connected.

Don’t apologize for body parts you don’t like

When we’re self-conscious about our bodies during sex, we’re distracted from the act itself—and when we’re distracted, research shows, the quality of sex can suffer.

“So much of what impacts sex has nothing to do with the mechanics of sex,” says Scalisi. A very worthy goal for sex in 2018 is to “learn to be with your body as it is. You don’t necessarily have to be totally in love with it, but just be with it as it is. That allows you to be present, and to process sensation in a more pleasurable way.”

Try a new move or position

Changing up your sexual routine can feel daunting if you’re not especially sexually adventurous, but a tiny bit of risk can bring big rewards. Just the act of trying something new together can help you feel more connected to your partner, “no matter how it turns out!,” says Scalisi. “It can be a tweak to a position that you already know and love or an entirely new position. It can be as big or as small, as adventurous or as mundane, as you and your partner are comfortable with.”

Discover a new erogenous zone

Women’s bodies are filled with erogenous zones—some of which you may only stumble upon if you go looking! (Did you know the forearm ranks among women’s most sensitive parts?) “Have a sexy date night in,” says Scalisi. “Strip down and take the time to explore your partner’s body from head to toe. … The goal here is not orgasm. The goal is to answer the question: What else feels good? What else turns me on?”

Watch woman-directed porn

When women call the shots in porn—literally and figuratively—the final product tends to be “a bit more realistic and a bit more body- and sex-positive” than male-directed porn, says Scalisi, “and that means you can see a bit more of yourself of it.” Not only is women-directed porn excellent for stoking desire and arousal, but it can also inspire new ideas for your IRL sex life.

Speak up if you’d like your partner to touch you differently

It doesn’t have to be awkward! And even if it is, it’s worth it in the long run. “If you’re in the moment, rather than focus on the negative stuff, focus on what would feel good,” says Scalisi. “So rather than say, ‘I don’t like that you’re doing this,’ say ‘It would feel so good if you stroked me softly.’” Then, later, consider having a conversation about your likes and dislikes.

Complete Article HERE!

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Female sex tech pioneers are turning pleasure into empowerment

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Women are founding startups to design sex toys and wearables that appeal to female sensuality and increase representation in the tech industry

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[T]he percentage of female leaders working in technology is notoriously low and the sex tech industry fares no better. But there has been a surge in the number of sex tech businesses founded by women in recent years – so much so that 2017 has been hailed the year of the ‘vagina-nomics’ by the intelligence agency JWT. But how is the rise of female sex tech disrupting the industry and empowering women?

For years sex toys have largely been designed around the idea that they can only be effective for women if they’re penis-shaped.

“It’s a misconception that largely stems from the fact we’ve mostly had men designing sex toys and, well, God forbid women would find anything other than penises pleasurable,” says Alexandra Fine, clinical psychologist and co-founder of sex tech company Dame Products.

“In this same vein, there are design flaws – like on-off buttons facing the wrong direction or small quirks that give away the fact that women haven’t been designing these toys.”

Because gaudy sex toys aren’t for everyone, they’re now being joined by delicate, intuitive products that wouldn’t look out of place in an Apple store. These are lifestyle products that are customisable and personalised, rather than simply bigger and faster because technological advances allow it.

“Women are driving a huge increase in demand for sex toys which are ergonomically designed and beautiful,” says Stephanie Alys, co-founder of Mystery Vibe, the company behind Crescendo, the world’s first completely bendable smart vibrator.

Wisp, a sex tech start-up run by Wan Tseng, is designing wearables that recognise, for women, sexuality is not black and white.

“Our products don’t resemble things that go in holes, it just feels a bit too male,” says Tseng. Instead Wisp’s products are designed to be worn like jewellery and tap into the arousing sensations of touch, breath and smell.

“For lots of women, a good sexual experience is not just about orgasming, but everything up until orgasm. We want to empower women and help them relax and get into the mood.” It’s a concept that some men have struggled to grasp, according to Tseng. The first collection will release arousing scents, while another product in development simulates the warm sensation of breath blown gently into the ears.

Last year Alys co-founded a collective for women in the UK sex tech industry, to complement the New York-based Women of Sextech group. “The women in the industry are really up for collaborating and supporting one another.” She adds they are driven to “close the orgasm gap” – referring to the fact that men tend to climax more than women – and “help create a more sex-positive and equal society”.

The wealth of data that can be collected from smart sex tech should mean the offering will continue to improve. Mystery Vibe plans to incorporate sensors into its products that learn what stimulation methods work best, unveiling more data about the often elusive female orgasm.

Having a woman behind the creation of sex products means the stock is more relatable to other women – something that Fine believes has been missing. The company was the first to successfully fund the Fin sex toy on Kickstarter, bringing sex toys closer to being treated like any other consumer product.

Women-led companies are recognising that, just as not all women are turned on by toys that are flesh-coloured and phallic, not all women see simultaneous orgasming with their partner to be the holy grail of sexual fulfilment.

Fine, of Dame Products, adds: “I think our culture sometimes promotes orgasms over factors like intimacy and overall pleasure. Most people aren’t trying to attain the rare simultaneous climax – they want to share pleasure with their partner in a more general, less goal-oriented sense.”

Women are also harnessing sex tech to create products with women’s sexual fitness in mind. Tania Boler is co-founder of Elvie, which has created the Elvie Trainer – a mint-coloured, pebble sized kegel trainer that connects to a smartphone app to track and improve a woman’s pelvic floor muscles.

She argues the more traditional offering of kegel trainers have not been designed from the perspective of the user; they’re hard, clinical, cumbersome. Boler, who has a PhD in women’s health, was dismayed to discover there are only a few recognised scientific studies about the anatomy of the human vagina, despite half the population of the planet being in possession of one.

“Pelvic floor is the most important but most neglected muscle group in a woman’s body – a stronger pelvic floor means higher levels of arousal, more lubrication and stronger orgasms for women – and yet the product has been accused by some in the past of being anti-feminist because it means men enjoying tighter sex,” says Boler.

“This is about breaking taboos and realising pleasure and sensuality can be enjoyed for both sides.”

Stories about sex robots which allow men to act out rape fantasies have sparked outrage from women’s rights activists. It is not just heartening but essential that women are part of the sex tech movement if it is to be maximally beneficial, responsible and healthily balanced, says sex educator Alix Fox. “That’s not to say that left to their own (vibrating, thrusting) devices, all the sex tech men create would be damaging – not at all,” she adds.

“But in this era of technological boom, when the digitised and the mechanised is infiltrating almost everything from our boardrooms to our bedrooms, we must include women – lots of women, diverse women – in every conversation and at every stage.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Taboo-busting sex guide offers advice to Muslim women seeking fulfilling love lives

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The Muslimah Sex Manual: A Halal Guide to Mind Blowing Sex is praised for empowering women

Many Muslim women enter into a life-long commitment with little knowledge of sex.

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[I]t was a confession by a newlywed friend about her disastrous sex life that gave Umm Muladhat an idea for a groundbreaking book.

Published last week, The Muslimah Sex Manual: A Halal Guide to Mind Blowing Sex is the first such guide written by a Muslim woman. The author has chosen to stay anonymous, using an alias.

Candid advice is offered on everything from kissing to cowgirl positions – with the core message being that Muslim women can and should enjoy a varied sex life and take the lead in physical relationships.

While some critics have accused the author of fetishising Muslim women and encouraging promiscuity, the book has been welcomed by readers who have lauded her as a Muslim Belle De Jour, bringing a taboo subject into the open. “I’ve received encouraging feedback, but also a significant number of demeaning and disgusting messages,” said Muladhat. “One woman said it’s not needed, they learn everything from their mothers. I doubt any mother speaks in as explicit detail as I have.

“I put an emphasis on having sex only with your spouse, but having the full range of sexual experiences with that spouse. Islamically, there’s an emphasis on enjoying physical relationships within the context of marriage, not just for procreation. It is the wife’s right that her husband satisfy her sexually.”

Muslim women’s organisations have praised her, saying the book will empower Muslim women and protect them from entering into sexually abusive relationships. Shaista Gohir, chair of the Muslim Women’s Network UK which runs the Muslim Women’s Helpline, said: “I’m all for women talking about sex. Why shouldn’t they? Talking about sex in Islam is not new, and past scholars highlighted the importance of sexual pleasure for women, which included advice for men to ensure this happens.

“However, in practice, sex seems to all be about men’s pleasure. Cases often come up on our helpline where women’s complaints range from being forced into participating in unwanted sexual acts, rape, to being treated like a piece of meat with zero effort made to ensure the woman has an orgasm. I suspect the problem is much bigger, as most would feel too embarrassed to talk about it.”

Muladhat said she felt compelled to write the book after she discovered women were entering into a lifelong commitment with little knowledge about sex other than snippets gleaned from the back of guides to marriage, with an emphasis on what was forbidden, rather than what was allowed, and with little from the perspective of women.

“I saw many Muslim women were getting married with no real avenue for learning about sex,” she said. “Couples knew ‘penis into vagina’, but little on how to spice up their sex life. Different positions, different things to try in bed – it’s all absent in contemporary Islamic literature. For those in the west, certain things permeate through osmosis, so women have heard about BDSM and doggy style, but only in a vague sense.”

Many misconceptions that the book deals with stem from cultural attitudes that decent women don’t enjoy sex and should “lie back and think of morning prayers”. Gohir said: “Guilt associated with sex is drummed into women from childhood. It’s portrayed as something dirty where women’s sexuality is often controlled. This does result in women going into marriages not having the confidence to say ‘I am not enjoying this’ or ‘I want this’. It’s time this topic is spoken about more openly.”

Muladhat also found that confusion about what sex acts were permissible in Islam was inhibiting women from experimenting in the bedroom. “Outside the house, culture varies a lot. Inside the bedroom, the concerns and desires of Muslim women from around the world were strikingly similar,” she said.

After holding informal workshops, she set up a website to ascertain interest in a book. Such was the response, that Muladhat is already considering a follow-up, after being inundated with emails from men also looking for advice. “I didn’t find any guides to sex aimed at Muslims, women or otherwise. There are plenty of books already on marriage, but spicing up a Muslim’s sex life while staying halal? There’s nothing.

“I’ve received dozens of emails from men asking if I had any plans to write a companion book to teach them how to please their wives in bed. I’ve taken that into consideration and plan to write a follow-up if this book is successful.”

The author chose to stay anonymous, partly for fear of a backlash but also because she didn’t want to be known in her tight-knit community as the “sex book aunty”. “Initially, I thought my real name would add credibility, but it’s a sensitive topic,” said Muladhat. “Whether it’s ethnicity, socioeconomic status or religiosity, people who want to attack the book will invariably do so by attacking the author. By separating my real self from the book, people are forced to deal with the content.”

What she will reveal, though, is that she is an American-born psychology graduate and much of the book is based on her personal experience of keeping the spark alive within her own marriage, along with tips picked up from friends and old copies of Cosmopolitan.

“My biggest qualification is the knowledge which comes only with experience. A doctor can explain the biology, but if you want an attractive physique you’re better off learning from a bodybuilder than an overweight doctor.”

Complete Article HERE!

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We need to show real photos of genitals as part of sex education

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Labiaplasty is on the rise. Boys and men continue to worry that their penis is too small. Every other week there seems to be a new treatment promising to make your penis longer and harder or your vagina tighter, smoother, and more sparkly.

These treatments prey on our insecurities – our deep, dark worry that there’s something wrong with our genitals. That they’re not ‘normal’.

It’s no wonder we think that, though, when we don’t get to see a range of all the different ways vaginas and penises can look.

If you’re interested in same-sex relationships or, well, sex, you’ll likely get to see a few more genitals that look a bit like yours.

But this only happens once you start getting to the point of stripping down – a point you’re unlikely to reach if you’re so filled with doubt and self-hatred for the appearance of your genitals that you can’t even imagine letting someone else see them.

And for those who exclusively get busy with people of the opposite sex, it’s easy to never see a real-life alternative of your own sex-specific genitals out in the world.

Instead, you see smoothed, Barbie-perfect versions of vaginas and whopping great penises that stay erect for hours in porn.

You see blurred out images online or dainty flowers, or bananas and crude doodles to illustrate their place.

When you never see genitals that look even a tiny bit like yours, you’re going to worry that you’re abnormal, that something’s wrong, that you need to change yourself.

That’s why we need to get in there early, and show students actual photos of actual vaginas and penises.

Not doodles.

Not just vague diagrams of the reproductive system.

Actual photos or – if that greatly offends you for reasons I don’t understand – a wide range of illustrations that shows all the parts of the genitals and all the different ways they can look.

Students should see where the clitoris is, because if they don’t they’ll struggle to give women pleasure or experience it themselves.

Students should understand what a circumcised penis looks like versus an uncircumcised one.

Students should see longer labia, different skin tones, penises that are short and fat, penises that are long and lean. A range of healthy genitals to expand the definition of ‘normal’ in young people’s minds.

‘Relationships and Sex Education is an opportunity to challenge the idea that any one type of body is ‘normal’,’ Lisa Hallgarten, coordinator of the Sex Education Forum, told metro.co.uk.

‘Learning about and celebrating body diversity may start with simply thinking about the different heights; body shapes; hair, eye and skin colour of people we can see around us; and learning about the difference between female and male body parts.

‘When it comes to genitals young people may think their own are unusual or unhealthy because they haven’t seen any images of different bodies, or because many sexual images they have accessed online depict a particular type of body (e.g. men with very large penises and women with hairless, surgically-altered vulvas).

‘Whether we use photographs, anatomical drawings or art works (such as Jamie McCartney’s Great Wall of Vagina) it is essential that any images we show properly represent the great diversity that exists in the shapes and sizes of people’s genitals.’

Hear hear.

Seeing these images before we start having sex or having the power to make changes to our bodies through surgery or other means is incredibly important.

How we view our bodies informs how we view ourselves. It affects our sexual relationships, our decisions, our mental state.

Knowing that our genitals are okay, that there’s nothing wrong, gross, or weird about them just because they don’t match the images we see in porn, will inform healthier sexual decisions, make us more confident, and prevent people from considering drastic measures to ‘fix’ themselves.

As someone who was so self-concious about my vagina that I blamed it for breakups and went to the doctor to beg them to change the appearance of my vulva, I know how powerful learning that your genitals are normal can be.

It’s not just about seeing genitals similar to your own, mind you.

Seeing real, intimate pictures of bits of all genders will make sex significantly less intimidating.

If you’re shown accurate images of all different genitals, you won’t be confused and horrified when you start having sex and are greeted by a penis or vagina that looks entirely unlike the ones you’ve seen in porn.

Adding real images to sex ed will make people more understanding of the range of normal for the opposite sex, too. So boys won’t take the piss out of women’s labia or the size of their vagina*, and girls won’t say cruel things about the size of someone’s penis.**

*No, you can not tell how much sex someone’s had by how tight or loose a vagina feels. No, you should not make up songs about women’s ‘flaps hanging low’.

**No, it’s not cool to tell people your ex has a small dick just because he p*ssed you off.

It’ll make our sex lives better, too. There’ll be a greater understanding of how penises and vaginas work, and lots more pleasure happening when everyone understands where the clitoris is, which bits of the penis are more sensitive, and what to expect when they start going down.

Oh, and knowing the range of normal will make it easier to know when something’s gone a bit wrong.

If we know all the different ways a healthy vagina or penis can look, we’ll be more able to quickly notice a change in appearance or a dodgy symptom – and because we’re not holding on to the heavy worry of ‘what if my entire downstairs area is completely abnormal and the doctor will recoil in horror’, we’ll feel more able to ask for help.

And, of course, openly presenting students with pictures of genitals is all part of chipping away at our general silence and squeamishness around our bits.

Penises and vaginas are not inherently gross, or dirty, or wrong. We should be able to talk about them, ask questions about them, and not feel disgusted or scared when it comes to being presented with their natural states (*cough* periods are not gross, neither is body hair, and ‘vagina’ is not a dirty word *cough*).

Complete Article HERE!

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Is There A Vulva Version Of Morning Wood?

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By Cory Stieg

[W]hen your alarm clock rings, there’s a good chance that the only thing on your mind (besides your snooze button) is sex. People can feel very horny in the morning; John Legend even wrote a whole song about it. For people with penises, morning erections are an inevitable part of their sleep cycle, and even though a lot of people wake up with boners, it’s not always a sign that someone is aroused. But if someone with a vagina gets horny as hell in the morning, can they just blame it on biology? Maybe.

Turns out, people with vaginas also respond to their sleep cycle, and they can have increased clitoral and vaginal engorgement during the REM stage of sleep, says Aleece Fosnight, MSPAS, PA-C, a urology physician assistant and a sexual health counselor. “The clitoris has erectile tissue just like the penis, but instead of being out in the open for everyone to see, the clitoral engorgement happens internally and most women aren’t aware of the process,” Fosnight says.

Here’s how it works: During REM sleep, your body pumps oxygen-rich blood to your genital tissues to keep your genitals healthy, Fosnight says. This is also what happens when a person with a vagina gets aroused by something sexual: The erectile tissue in the clitoris becomes engorged and red because of the changes in circulation and heart rate, says Shannon Chavez, PsyD, a certified clinical sexologist. “The labia also has erectile tissue, and can become larger and more red in color as the arousal triggers a release of blood flow through the entire genital area,” she says. A person’s vagina could also get wetter or more lubricated during these bouts of arousal.

But, like penises, the changes your genitals experience at night don’t always occur because you’re exposed to something that arouses you — they just sort of happen. (Though if you woke up during one of these periods when your body thinks it’s aroused, you could subsequently feel more aroused and want to have sex, Fosnight says.)

That being said, some people do feel extra aroused in the morning, regardless of what their genitals are doing, because that’s when people’s testosterone levels peak, Dr. Chavez says. “This hormone is responsible for triggering feelings of sexual desire,” she says. You also might feel hornier in the morning because you’re more refreshed, relaxed, and comfortable than you are at night, according to Dr. Chavez. “This is the perfect formula for sexual arousal to take place,” she says, since sex at night can feel like work for some people, because you’re stressed and have used all your energy during the daytime. “There is lower tension in the morning when you are about to start the day ahead,” Dr. Chavez says.

So there you go: Women can have it all, even “morning wood.” There are tons of reasons why a person feels aroused when they do, but the time of day might have something to do with it after all. The next time you wake up with an urge to have sex, do it — morning sex is awesome, and your body knows it

Complete Article HERE!

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What your gynecologist wishes you would do

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By Linda S. Mihalov, MD, FACOG

[N]o matter a woman’s age or how comfortable she is with her gynecologist, she may still be unsure about a few things — like which symptoms are worth mentioning, how often to make an appointment and how to prepare for an exam.

Based on my 30 years of providing gynecologic care to women of all ages, I thought it would be helpful to provide a few tips about how to make the most of your care visits.

Keep track of your menstrual cycle

Dr. Linda Mihalov

Menstruation is a monthly recurrence in women’s lives from early adolescence until around the age of 51, when menopause occurs. Because of the routine nature of this biological process, it’s easy to become complacent about tracking your periods. Thankfully, there are numerous smartphone apps that help make tracking periods easy.

Keeping track of your period is important for numerous health-related reasons. A missed period is usually the first sign of pregnancy. Determining the due date of a pregnancy starts from the date of the last menstrual period. Most forms of birth control are not 100 percent effective, and an unplanned pregnancy is best recognized as soon as possible.

Conversely, women attempting to get pregnant can use period tracking to learn when they are most fertile, which may greatly increase the chances of conception.

In addition, a menstrual cycle change can indicate a gynecologic problem, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, or even uterine cancer. It is also often the first obvious symptom of health issues that have no obvious connection to the reproductive organs. When a regular menstrual cycle becomes irregular, it may indicate a hormonal or thyroid issue, liver function problems, diabetes or a variety of other health conditions. Women also often miss periods — or experience menstrual changes — when adopting a new exercise routine, gaining or losing a lot of weight or experiencing stress.

One late, early or missed period is not necessarily reason for alarm. But if menstrual irregularity is accompanied by other symptoms, a woman should schedule an appointment with her gynecologic care provider.

Get the HPV vaccine

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a very common virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80 million Americans — about one in four — are currently infected. About 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. Most people who contract the virus will clear it from their systems without treatment, but some will go on to develop precancerous or even cancerous conditions from the infection.

The HPV vaccine is important because it protects against cancers caused by the infection. It can reduce the rate of cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women; penile cancer in men; and anal cancer, cancer of the back of the throat (oropharynx), and genital warts in both women and men.

This vaccine has been thoroughly studied and is extremely safe. Also, scientific research has not shown that young people who receive the vaccine are more prone to be sexually active at an earlier age.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus. HPV vaccine also produces a more robust immune response during the preteen years. If you or your teen have not gotten the vaccine yet, talk with your care provider about getting it as soon as possible.

The CDC now recommends that 11- to 12-year-old girls and boys receive two doses of HPV vaccine — rather than the previously recommended three doses — to protect against cancers caused by HPV. The second dose should be given six to 12 months after the first dose.

Teen girls and boys who did not start or finish the HPV vaccine series when they were younger, should get it now. People who received some doses in the past should only get doses that they missed. They do not need to start the series over again. Anyone older than 14 who is starting the HPV vaccine series needs the full three-dose regimen.

Young women can get the HPV vaccine through age 26, and young men can get vaccinated through age 21. Also, women who have been vaccinated should still have cervical cancer screenings (pap smears) according to the recommended schedule.

Do not put off having children

Fertility in women starts to decrease at age 32 and that decline becomes more rapid after age 37. Women become less fertile as they age because they begin life with a fixed number of eggs in their ovaries. This number decreases as they grow older. Eggs also are not as easily fertilized in older women as they are in younger women. In addition, problems that can affect fertility — such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids — become more common with increasing age.

Older women are more likely to have preexisting health problems that may affect their or their baby’s health during pregnancy. For example, high blood pressure and diabetes are more common in older women. If you are older than 35, you also are more likely to develop high blood pressure and related disorders for the first time during pregnancy. Miscarriages are more common in older pregnant women. Losing a pregnancy can be very distressing at any age, but perhaps even more so if it has been challenging to conceive.

So, women who are considering parenthood should not put off pursuing pregnancy for too long or it may become quite challenging.

See your gynecologist for an annual visit

For women to maintain good reproductive and sexual health, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that they visit a gynecologist for an exam about once a year. Generally, women should have their first pap test at age 21, but there may be reasons to see a gynecologic care provider earlier than that if there is a need for birth control or periods are troublesome, for instance. Although pap tests are no longer recommended every year, women should still see their provider annually for a gynecologic health assessment. This may or may not involve a pelvic exam.

Other reasons to visit a gynecologist include seeking treatment for irregular periods, sexually transmitted diseases, vaginal infections and menopause. Women who are sexually active or considering it can also visit a gynecologist to learn more about contraceptives.

During each visit, the gynecologist usually asks about a woman’s sexual history and menstrual cycle. The gynecologist may also examine the woman’s breasts and genitals. Understandably, a visit like this can cause discomfort among some women. However, periodic gynecological exams are very important to sexual and reproductive health and should not be skipped. The patient’s anxiety can be significantly decreased if she knows what to expect from the visit. Prepared with the knowledge of what actually occurs during an annual exam, women often find it can be a straightforward, rewarding experience.

There are several things women should do to prepare for a gynecological exam, including:

  • Try to schedule your appointment between menstrual periods
  • Do not have intercourse for at least 24 hours before the exam
  • Prior to the appointment, prepare a list of questions and concerns for your gynecologist
  • Since the gynecologist will ask about your menstrual cycle, it will be helpful to know the date that your last period started and how long your periods usually last

The pelvic exam includes evaluation of the vulva, vagina, cervix and the internal organs including the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Appearance and function of the bowel and bladder will also be assessed.

The gynecologic provider will determine whether a pap test is indicated, and order other tests as necessary, including tests for sexually transmitted infections, mammograms and screening blood work or bone density studies. Even a woman who has previously undergone a hysterectomy and, as a result, no longer needs a pap test can still benefit from visiting her gynecologist.

Primary care providers, including family practitioners and nurse practitioners, internists and pediatricians can also provide gynecological care.

Menopause

Menopause can be a challenging time. Changes in your body can cause hot flashes, weight gain, difficulty sleeping and even memory loss. As you enter menopause, you may have many questions you want to discuss with your gynecologist. It is important that you trust your gynecologist so you can confide in them and ask them uncomfortable questions. The more open you are, the better they can guide you toward the right treatment.

Complete Article HERE!

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Heightened Awareness: Anxiety Can Lead to Pain During Sex

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Clearly anxiety can be an obstacle to a healthy sex life and needs to be talked about.

By Carrie Weisman

clenched-fists

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Vagina Dispatches episode one: the vulva

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Think you know about vaginas? Think again. In the four-part series running from now through November, we find out that even the most basic of body knowledge is lacking – people still don’t understand what vaginas look like or how they function. In episode one, we build a giant vulva, then talk to a gynecologist, a labiaplasty surgeon and a trans woman, to find out what vulvas really look like.

 

vulva-not-a-dirty-word

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Could my wife’s circumcision explain her lack of interest in sex?

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Our sex life has been underwhelming. I wonder if what happened to her as a child could be to blame

By Pamela Stephenson Connolly

I cannot even try to guess your wife’s experience’
I cannot even try to guess your wife’s experience’

I am in my mid-40s and have been married for 16 years. Our sexual life has been very underwhelming. I have tried everything I know but my wife seems to have little or no interest in sex. I do know that she was circumcised as a child. Could that have affected her sexuality?

A person’s sexuality is created through a complex combination of physical, psychological and physiological factors as well as the messages about sex they received from childhood onwards – religious beliefs, parental warnings, societal judgment and formative experiences. You have told me little, but the fact that she was circumcised suggests that she may have been raised in a society where the notion of female sexuality was not exactly appreciated. In many of the world’s societies – including our own – it is judged by some as inappropriate, and even feared, suppressed, or punished.

I cannot even try to guess your wife’s experience, or the motives of those who performed it, but I am sure it has had some effect on her conceptualisation of sex and her ability to experience pleasure. This would be particularly true if her clitoris was removed. Gently ask her if she could try to express what the circumcision was like for her, and how it might have affected her ability to enjoy sex. A gynaecologist could shed some light on how nerve loss or damage might have affected her ability to orgasm or even become aroused, and a psychosexual counsellor could suggest alternative sexual approaches. After 16 years, your wife and you deserve some understanding and hope.

Complete Article HERE!

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This Long-Lost Study On Victorian Sex Teaches A Very Modern Lesson

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By Sara Coughlin

female-sexuality

What comes to mind when you picture Victorian-era sex? Corsets? Marriages of convenience and social bartering? Repression? Maybe, like, a lot of repression?

Turns out, how we view that time in sexual history might be more than a little warped. We can start to get a better idea of what women of the time really thought about sex by looking at the work of Clelia Duel Mosher, MD. Years before Alfred Kinsey was even born, Dr. Mosher was already researching and discussing the sexual tendencies of Victorian-era women. (This, it should be noted, is in addition to her research that proved women breathe from the diaphragm, just like men, and that it was the corset and a lack of exercise that was to blame for many women’s health issues.)

Her sexual survey work started in the 1890s and spanned 20 years, during which time she talked to 45 women at length about their sexual habits and preferences, from how often they had an orgasm to whether they experienced lust independent of their male partners (Spoiler alert: They totally did).

Unfortunately, the report was never published in Dr. Mosher’s lifetime. It’s only thanks to Carl Degler, an author, professor, and historian, that we know of it at all. He stumbled upon Dr. Mosher’s papers in Stanford University’s archives in 1973 and published an analysis of her findings the following year.

As others have noted, Dr. Mosher’s research has played a major role in changing how historians think of Victorian attitudes around sex. Then, like today, a variety of perspectives on the subject existed. While this one report doesn’t sum up everything there is to know about how people had sex at this time, it certainly deepens our understanding of Victorian women, who are all too often painted in broad strokes at best.

Below, we’ve listed some of the most interesting findings from Dr. Mosher’s groundbreaking survey.

Not having an orgasm sucked back then, too.
One of the survey’s respondents said, “when no orgasm, [she] took days to recover.” In what might be an early description of blue balls for the vagina, another woman described a lack of climax as feeling “bad, even disastrous,” and added that she underwent “nerve-wracking-unbalancing if such conditions continue for any length of time.”

Yet another woman had something to say about the 19th-century orgasm gap, claiming that “men have not been properly trained” in this area. It seems that women have been taking their own sexual pleasure seriously for hundreds of years — even if the culture at large hasn’t.

Sex wasn’t just for procreation.
In keeping with Victorian stereotypes, one woman said “I cannot recognize as true marriage that relation unaccompanied by a strong desire for children,” and compared a marriage where the couple only has sex for pleasure to “legalized prostitution.” But several others disagreed completely.

One woman said that “pleasure is sufficient warrant” for sex, while another added that babies had nothing to do with it: “Even a slight risk of pregnancy, and then we deny ourselves the intercourse, feeling all the time that we are losing that which keeps us closest to each other.”

One woman even explained that sex helped keep her marriage strong: “In my experience the habitual bodily expression of love has a deep psychological effect in making possible complete mental sympathy, and perfecting the spiritual union that must be the lasting ‘marriage’ after the passion of love has passed away with years.”

Period sex was pretty cool.
Over a century before we threw around the term “bloodhound” like it was nothing, at least one trailblazing woman believed that sex was always on the table — whether or not it was your Time of the Month. She added that she was fine with getting down at all hours, too: “during the menstrual period…and in the daylight.” If anyone reading this just happens to be this woman’s lucky descendent, we’d like to send her a posthumous high-five through you.

Why This Is More Than A History Lesson
In his analysis, Degler writes that of course “there was an effort to deny women’s sexual feelings and to deny them legitimate expression” back then, but the women who participated in the survey “were, as a group, neither sexless nor hostile to sexual feelings.” They didn’t let any societal expectations or restraints stop them from having those feelings — and acting on them.

Though we may not live with the same barriers (or dress code) that women did back then, it’s reassuring to know that these women defied their time’s moral code to speak frankly about their sexuality. As frustrating as it is, women still deal with stigmas surrounding sex today, whether they’re at risk of being called prudes or sluts, or being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. This is what we’ll remember most about Dr. Mosher’s work — that, in the face of whatever shame you may be harboring about your own sexuality, or whatever pressures you may be feeling, you are most likely totally normal and definitely not alone. So why hide it? After all, you never know whom you might end up proving wrong a couple hundred years down the line.

The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we’re learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we’re helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it’s done to how to make sure it’s consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once.

Complete Article HERE!

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French Researcher Wants to Make Sex Education More Accurate With 3D Printed Clitoris

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clit
What’s this? Many people still don’t know.

Sex education varies greatly from school to school, location to location – some places don’t teach it at all, while others teach abstinence only; some schools are much more thorough in terms of discussing safe sex and birth control. I went to Catholic elementary school, and I remember getting a textbook called Gifts and Promises, a few awkward anatomical diagrams, and dire warnings about ruined lives and sin. That was more than two decades ago, so I don’t know how the program may have changed since then, but there has been some encouraging news lately about public schools introducing increasingly comprehensive programs that address issues of consent and safety, as well as same-sex relationships and non-binary gender identities.

Then there’s sex ed in France. According to researcher Odile Fillod, the system has a lot of room for improvement, especially when it comes to the female anatomy. She’s not the only one who thinks so – in June, Haut Conseil à l’Egalité (High Council for Equality), a government organization dedicated to issues of gender equality, published a report indicating that sex education in France is still full of woefully outdated and sexist ideas. The information – or lack thereof – about one particular female organ especially concerns Fillod.

She turned to Melissa Richard, mediator of the Carrefoure Numérique Fab Lab at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, who took to Blender to create a 3D model of an organ that remains a mystery to many, and one that’s still given little mention in many sex ed programs: the clitoris.

clit diagram

“The idea came as part of the preparation of videos dealing with non-sexist way of themes SVT program about sex and sexuality,” says Fillod. “In textbooks, the clitoris is often overlooked and is systematically misrepresented when it is. It was therefore able to show concretely what it looks like to talk about sexual anatomical and physiological bases of desire and pleasure remembering women, for once.”

Fillod has been working with V’idéaux, a Toulouse-based documentary film production company, to create a Ministry of Education-supported website dedicated to the promotion of respect and equality between men and women. V’idéaux wanted to include a video about the clitoris on the website, which is set to launch in January 2017, and Fillod realized that she could incorporate a film of the 3D design and printing process onto the site. You can see the video, which probably has the most sensual soundtrack you’ve ever heard in a film about 3D design, below:

It took a bit of work to find anatomically accurate drawings of the clitoris to base the 3D model on, showing that Fillod is correct in her assertion that this organ has been a highly misrepresented one. Once Richard had a realistic model designed, it was printed in PLA on a Mondrian 3D printer, and the open source file has been made available – the world’s first open source, 3D printable clitoris, if I’m not mistaken.clitoris

Fillod is hoping that 3D printed clitorises will be used by teachers and doctors to learn and teach about the actual structure, dimensions and function of this important part of the female body. Even though France has the reputation of being sexually progressive, Fillod told The Guardian, the focus is still mostly on male sexuality, to the extent that women and girls are largely uneducated about their own bodies.

“It’s important that women have a mental image of what is actually happening in their body when they’re stimulated,” she said. “In understanding the key role of the clitoris, a woman can stop feeling shame, or [that she’s] abnormal if penile-vaginal intercourse doesn’t do the trick for her – given the anatomical data, that is the case for most women.”

Will 3D printed clitorises start showing up in the classroom? We’ll see…but at least Fillod and Richard have brought some much-needed attention to the often-downplayed and still-taboo subject of female sexuality and pleasure.

Complete Article HERE!

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