Category Archives: Sexual Awakenings

A Boy’s Own Story

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What follows is an exchange I had recently with a young Catholic Canadian man.

Hi Dr. Wagner

My Name is Jack, I am a catholic teenager who is wondering if the act of masturbation is still considered to be a sin. Also is it really considered to be gravely disordered and always morally wrong? I am 18 years old and I am somewhat late going through changes physically. I do believe that it is a natural way to find out about ones body and how it can be used. I have heard that it is not a sin but a natural and healthy thing to do. I have also heard that it is a sin. I have heard mixed reviews I have heard that a vast majority of both boys and girls do it. I can understand if one does it while thinking about other people then it is a sin but if one is doing it to get rid of old stuff then does it count as a sin. I have done it recently and I am going through puberty. There are no thoughts, images or fantasies involved. I do think that it is better then having a nocturnal emission and having to clean your underpants and to hide it so no one think that I wet the bed. I also believe that it is better to masturbate rather than waking up to find a sticky mess in my underpants, which has happened to me, and it was not fun. I don’t want to have to go to bed worrying about a mess in the morning. I have also heard that it can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Is it normal to feel confused about it after doing it? I am planning to talk to my parents and a priest to see what they think of it. If my parents say that it is natural and a normal thing to do does that mean it is all right to do. The only tricky thing is that I am not entirely sure how to approach the subject with them. I have mentioned it to my mother and she doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. She said that it is better to do that than to be out having intercourse with girls. I haven t done it in 3 weeks and I feel conflicted over it I see both views on the issue and I am not sure. I don’t want to feel guilty for doing something that has been labeled natural and normal. I love and believe in god and want to know what the views are on it. I do not have any addiction whatsoever I have very good control over myself nor do I need counseling or therapy. I am just a curious teenager wondering if masturbating is a sin or not.

I live in Ontario where the ministry of education has released a updated sexual education curriculum where it mentions that masturbation is natural and normal. There is a part of me that really wants to do it as I feel it takes the edge off. I have heard that some catholic organizations are backing it. This leaves me confused if it is still considered to be a sin. I also believe that it is a crucial part of understanding how ones body works and learning about oneself. I do find it a little hard to understand that we can somewhat accept the sexual orientation of people but people still consider touching ones genitals to be a sin.

Thank you
God Bless

Dear Jack,

Thanks for your question. Might I add, you are exceptionally articulate for a teenager.a boy's own story

If ya ask me, Jack, and you are actually asking me, you’ve pretty much answered all of your own questions. And that tells me you are on the right track.

You ask about Catholic sexual ethics. Before you wrote, did you know that I was a Catholic priest for 20 years? And, not to boast, I am the only Catholic priest in the world with a doctorate in human sexuality. This later part explains why I no longer practice as a public minister. It’s a real long story and I’d be happy to tell you all about it sometime, but for now know that I didn’t go quietly. I wrote my doctoral thesis, Gay Catholic Priests; A Study of Cognitive and Affective Dissonance, back in 1981. And once word got out about this groundbreaking research, the writing was on the wall, so to speak, for my public ministry. I fought for my priesthood and ministry for 13 year, but it all pretty much came crashing in on itself in 1994. If you’ve got nothing better to do, you can read about it HERE.

Enough about me, let’s get back to you and your questions. Although, I wanted to mention that when I was in seminary, way back when god was young, in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, enlightened spiritual directors were already beginning to advise us seminarians that masturbation wasn’t sinful or disordered. Of course, even now you’ll find orthodox hard-liners who insist that self-pleasuring is a moral sin, but they think all sexual expression is sinful. Here’s a tip: you’re never gonna find consensus on any sexual matter.

Like you, I found it difficult to believe all that mortal sin stuff that the hardliners promote. I mean, if mass murder and genocide are mortal sins, how could a little wank be their equal. It just don’t make no sense, right?

However, I can’t agree with you that masturbation might be sinful if there are fantasies involved. Remember, using your mind is an essential part of learning about your sexuality. That being said, most teenage boys are randy at the drop of a hat, so maybe you don’t need to be all that specific with your sexual mental imagery.

I also caution you to be careful when tossing around words like normal and natural. What’s normal and natural to some may be abnormal and twisted to others. But you’re right; few people, professional as well as lay people, these days would consider self-loving anything but normal and natural.

For you edification I suggest you use the search function or CATEGORY pull-down menu in the sidebar of my site and search for pertinent topics, like masturbation, wet dreams, sexual response cycle, etc. You’ll find a wealth of information about all these topics in both written and podcast form.

the shadowI too reported, back in 2011, on the startling new data that came out of Australia about masturbation. Australian researchers questioned over 1,000 men who had developed prostate cancer and 1,250 men who had not, about their sexual habits. They found those who had ejaculated the most between the ages of 20 and 50 were the least likely to develop prostate cancer. The protective effect of poppin’ one’s nut was greatest while the men were in their 20s. And get this; men who ejaculated more than five times a week were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life.

I also contend that masturbation is the most basic building block to all of our sexual expression. When you know how your body works; when you are familiar with your sexual response cycle and are confident about talking to others about it; you’ll be better situated to be a good sexual partner to another.

In the end, I encourage you to continue to think for yourself when it comes to things sexual. I can see that you are already doing that, so keep it up. Continue to ask questions and consider the input you get from others, myself included; but then make up your own mind. When you own your sexuality and your sexual response, you’ll be a grown-up. Notice I didn’t say you’d be an adult. That’s because there are lots of adults out there who don’t own their sexuality and sexual response and despite being grown up, they’re not grownups.

Good luck, pup

Hi Richard,
Thank you for responding. You have cleared come of the confusion. I guess I got confused because when I would masturbate I would feel like I let my self down.
Thank you again
God Bless

One thing you should know is there is generally a sort of “let down” phase after orgasm. (See information about the refractory phase of the sexual response cycle HERE.) Your body can’t stay in that heightened state of arousal so there’s often a “deflated” feeling.

There’s even a name for if. It’s called post-coital tristesse. And you should know that it’s a physiological phenomenon rather than an emotional one.

Feelings of elation and wellbeing that accompany arousal and orgasm can sometimes morph into a sense of shame during this “deflated” phase. People with lot of scruples about sex are particularly vulnerable to this.

Thank you for clearing that up and for the reassurance that it is natural and normal and not considered to be a sin.
— Jack

One Of The Willie Worrisome

Name: lup92
Gender: Male
Age: 15
Location: England
I’m 15 and masturbate often but have had no form of sex although my girlfriend wants to start. However my penis and scrotum have extremely small lumps all over. I also have a purple red large lump on the rim of my bellend. What do I do? Should I start? Or do I risk giving something to my girlfriend?

A quick note before we begin. I’m a Ph.D. kind of doctor. not MD type of doctor. You know that, right? While I know my way around the human body, I never offer medical advice of any sort. And, just so you know, no self-respecting physician, MD kind of doctor, is gonna offer you medical advice online either without seeing you in person first. Which, if you ask me, is a real good thing.

teen intimacy

Here’s the thing about lumps and bumps and discolorations of the skin anywhere on your body, especially on your precious willie, pup. They are signs that all is not well. Do us all a big favor and have your johnson looked at by a physician. Your health is nothing to fool around with. Everything you describe could be completely harmless, but you don’t want to take the chance that it isn’t, right? And here’s a tip: don’t do it for your girlfriend. DO IT FOR YOU! It’s your dick, you gotta lean how to take care of it. And there’s no time like the present to start properly lookin’ after it.

willy_worryJust so you know, I’m not suggesting that your have a STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection). I mean, how could you? You’ve only been wanking, right? Still, if you’re concerned enough to write to me about it, you should take yourself in for a look-see. Since you are underage, you’ll probably need one of your parents to arrange the appointment. But if you are typical teenager, you’ll probably be embarrassed to discuss this with your parents. Still, there’s no getting around this. I think your parents will be proud of you for being proactive about your health and wellbeing. Besides, there’s nothing to be ashamed about.

Another option is to contact a sex-positive resource near you. Check out the folks at FPA. Surely they’ll have a resource for you.

Please take care of this ASAP.

There is one more thing. And I’m gonna be as blunt as I know how. If you think you’re old enough to fuck, you’re old enough to know all about condoms and how to use them. If ya don’t, you’re just a dumb kid who may function like a grown-up, but doesn’t know how to behave like one. And I don’t want to believe that about you.

What it is with young people (old people too) who are still fuckin’ clueless about unprotected sex in this day and age? I have nothing against younger people being sexual. That pretty much is to be expected. But I am totally opposed to kids having kids! Like I said, if you’re old enough to swing it around, you’re old enough to know how to swing it responsibly.

Good luck

Review: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner

Hey sex fans!

I have another swell sex-positive book to tell you about today. Anyone who frequents this site will already be familiar with my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Cheryl Cohen Greene. If ya don’t believe me type her name into the search function in the sidebar to your right and PRESTO!

Not only will you find the fabulous two-part SEX WISDOM podcast we did together, (Part 1 is HERE! And Part 1 is HERE!) you will find a posting about the movie The Sessions. You’ve seen it right? It’s the award-winning film staring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy. It’s the story of a man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity.  He contacts a professional surrogate partner with the help of his therapist and priest. Ms. Hunt plays Cheryl, the surrogate partner in the movie

Cheryl also contributed a chapter on sex and intimacy concerns for sick, elder and dying people for my book, The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying.

With all that as a preface, I now offer you Cheryl’s own story: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner. The first thing I want to say is this book is it’s not a clinical or technical tome. It is an easily accessible memoir. And that, to my mind, is what makes it so fascinating.

She writes in the Introduction:An Intimate Life

I started this work in 1973, and my journey to it spans our society’s sexual revolution and my own. I grew up in the ‘40s and ‘50s, a time when sex education was—to put it mildly— lacking. As I educated myself, I found that most of what I had been taught about sex was distorted or wrong. The lessons came from the playground, the church, and the media. My parents could barely talk about sex, much less inform me about it.

What follows is a candid and often funny look into the personal and professional life of a woman on the cutting edge of our culture’s movement toward sexual wellbeing.

Cheryl comes out of her conservative Catholic upbringing and her often tortured family dynamics with what one would expect—her own sexual awakenings as well as the conspiracy of ignorance and repression that wanted to stifle it. This is a common story, the story of so many of us.

Starting when I was around ten, I masturbated and brought myself to orgasm nearly every night. … If my nights began with anxiety, my days began with guilt. I became convinced that every earache, every toothache, every injury was God punishing me. … I couldn’t escape his gaze or his wrath. Sometimes I imagined my guardian angel looked away in disgust as I touched myself and rocked back and forth in my bed.

The miracle here is that this troubled tween would blossom into the remarkable sexologist she is today.

rsz_1greenecherylSome of the chapters in her book describe one or another of her hands on therapeutic encounters as a surrogate partner, but equally important and compelling are the chapters that describe Cheryl’s own sexual struggles as she moved to adulthood and beyond. Cheryl’s acceptance of her own sexuality enables her to build a career out of helping others do the very same thing.

Everyone has a right to satisfying, loving sex, and, in my experience, that most often flows from strong communication, self-respect, and a willingness to explore.

Despite the frank discussion of sexual topics within the book, there is no prurience or sensationalism. For the most part, Cheryl’s clients are regular people, mostly men, who have pretty ordinary problems—erection and/or ejaculation concerns, dating difficulties, as well as self-esteem, guilt and shame issues. Cheryl helps each of her clients with the efficiency and confidence of the world-class sex educator she is. Most of her interaction involves her supplying her clients with some much-needed information, dispelling myths, and giving them permission to experiment. As she says;

I continue to be amazed at how solid education delivered without judgment can eradicate much of the guilt and shame that turns life in the bedroom into a struggle instead of a pleasure.

Her most famous client, Mark O’Brien, the 36-six-year-old man who had spent most of his life in an iron lung after contracting polio at age 6, was the author of How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence, in which he writes about his experience with Cheryl. This, of course, was adapted into a film, The Sessions, which I mentioned above. For her part, Cheryl delivers a most poignant remembrance of Mark early in her book.

I explained Sensual Touch to Mark. Although he was paralyzed, he still had sensation all over his body, so he would feel my hands moving up and down. … I encouraged him to try and recognize four common reactions: feeling neutral, feeling nurtured, feeling sensual and feeling sexual.

An Intimate Life chronicles Cheryl’s life-long interest in human sexuality. Her life and sometimes-turbulent loves are on display, but in the most considerate fashion. She teaches by example. She’s even able to speak with great compassion of her time living with and through cancer.

As I inch toward seventy, I appreciate more and more how much I have to be grateful for and how fortunate I’ve been. I was lucky to find a wonderful career and to be surrounded by so many smart, adventurous, caring people. My personal sexual revolution auspiciously paralleled our culture’s, and in many ways was made possible by it. I am eternally grateful to the pioneers, rebels, and dreamers who made our society a little safer for women who embrace their sexuality.

There is so much I loved about this book, but mostly it’s the humanity I found in abundance. Cheryl’sdr.-cheryl-cohen-greene enlightened soul shines brightly from every page. Her no nonsense approach to all things sexual is an inspiration. And her perseverance to bring surrogate partner therapy into the mainstream is laudable.

…what separates surrogates from prostitutes is significant. When people have difficulties grasping [that], I turn to my beloved and late friend Steven Brown’s cooking analogy that I’ve so often relied on to help me through that question: Seeing a prostitute is like going to a restaurant. Seeing a surrogate is like going to culinary school.

Finally, An Intimate Life is the culmination of Cheryl’s life as a sex educator, her surrogate partner therapy practice being just part of that mission. I highly recommend you read this book. You will, I assure you, come away from it as I have, a better person—enriched, informed, as well as entertained.

Cheryl, thank you for being in my life and being such an abiding inspiration. Thank you too for this marvelous book; now you can be in the lives of so many others who need you so that you can inspire them along their way.

Be sure to visit Cheryl on her site HERE!

We’ve Only Just Begun…

Name: Donna
Gender: Female
Age: 18
Location: Salt Lake City.
I’m turning to you for help, because I don’t have anyone else to ask. My boyfriend, who is 19, and I are very much in love. We plan to marry next year. But we both want to start having sex now. We are both virgins and we think we need help overcoming the natural obstacles, if you know what I mean.

Gee, I’m not sure I know what you mean by natural obstacles. Are you talking about physical things? Emotional things? Maybe you just need a little tutorial on how to get started. I’ll try to at least touch upon all these things, but first I want to thank you for entrusting me with your concerns. I’m sorry to hear that you don’t have others in your community to approach. I guess that says a lot about the family values and community standards where you live.

teen_sexuality.jpgI have lots to say about beginning a sexual life with another person. Curiously enough the information I am about to share is applicable to both women and men and it applies to any and all sexual orientations. That’s the beautiful part of human sexuality. There is so much common ground. In fact, there is way more that we have in common than what separates us.

Ok, so here goes. Be yourselves. Let your natural feeling of affection for one another lead you. Always use a condom (This applies to penis/vagina and/or anal sex.) Be gentle; be curious; seek your partner’s pleasure before your own; and most importantly, have a sense of humor about the whole damned thing.

Just about everyone who is sexually inexperienced will also lack sexual confidence. It can be nerve-wracking not being sure what to do to satisfy your partner. Sometimes this nervousness is contagious. Your anxiety can make your partner anxious. The surefire way to get around this is to not pretend you know what the fuck you’re doing, if ya don’t. The best way to find out what to do is to ask your partner what he/she likes and how she/he likes it. If they don’t know or can’t tell you, then you can find out together with some sex play. And I do mean play, not work.1sexual_response_cycle_male

This is where our natural sexual curiosity comes in. And we all have that to one degree or another. Sexual confidence comes from knowing. Curiosity will bring you knowledge.

There will be no room for curiosity if the only thing on your mind is the old in an out. That’s why I suggest you put off full-on fucking till you get the lay of the land, so to speak. Besides, there are lots and lots of ways to pleasure yourself and your partner that doesn’t involve intercourse.

Like I said, sexual confidence comes with understanding the mysteries of our sexual response cycle. Each one of us is different and the differences are most pronounced between the sexes. If you haven’t discovered at least the fundamentals of your own response cycle through masturbation; then you’re really not really ready to gift yourself to another person just yet.

female sexual response cycleYa see, the more you know about your body; how it works; where your pleasure centers are; the kind of stimulation you need and want to come to full arousal; the more information you’ll have to pass on to your partner. Even if your partner is more experienced than you, he/she will still need to get to know the intricacies of your individual response cycle.

Sexual confidence stems from being able to please your partner. When you know what you are doing you project an air of self-assurance. This is not the same thing as cockiness, mind you, although that might be a very fun attribute to have too.

The best lovers look to pleasure their partners before they expect to be pleasured. Delaying your own pleasure, particularly if you’re a guy, so that you can provide multiple orgasms to your partner will reap great pleasurable rewards for you when it’s your turn. Besides, giving pleasure is often as pleasurable as being pleasured.

Sexual confidence translates into sexual assertiveness. Each partner should take equal responsibility for initiating sex. Trust me, this is not merely a man’s role. And sexual assertiveness translates into sexual creativity. If you’re timid about trying new things, you’re gonna short-circuit a whole lot of pleasure.black teens

Learn to ask for what you want and how you want it. Communication is key to a healthy and vibrant sex life. Never underestimate the your partner’s ability to develop and grow sexually. Check in with your partner on a regular basis. Don’t assume you know what turns him/her on today, just because it turned her/his crank the other day.

Feelings of sexual inadequacy, discomfort with your body, anxiety about your skills will destroy your sex life. If you are plagued with any of these things get help with them before your bring them to a sexual partnership.

sexual confidenceSexual confidence comes down to knowing yourself and being able to communicate your likes and wants to your partner. If you’re simply gonna be passive about your pleasure, you’ll wind up getting only what is dished out to you. And for many women, that is woefully insufficient. Don’t expect your partner to know any more about pleasuring you than you do, even if she/he has had more partners then you.

Allow yourselves the time or space you need to feed your intimacy needs. If you expect to discover sexuality with your partner in the backseat of a car, you’re gonna cum up short. Passion and spontaneity is great, but what I’m talking about is different from that. Think of it as learning to walk before you run.

Being a terrific lover is dependent on know-how. Skill comes through practice. So practice, practice, practice! Keep it fun. When it stops being play and starts being work, put it aside for another day.

Good luck

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Ready Or Not

Name: Allie
Gender: Female
Age: 18
I feel kinda silly asking a complete stranger this, but here goes. I’m a pretty normal 18year old female. I’m in my freshman year at a college in upstate New York. I’ve had a few boyfriends over the years, nothing really serious though. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of this one guy; he’s 20, a junior at my school. I really like him and we’re discussing taking our friendship to the next level. He’s not pressuring me for sex or anything, even though he’s more experienced than I am. In fact he wants me decide when the time is right. My question is how will I know when I’m ready for sex. Obviously, Jason will be my first. Thanks.

Thanks for entrusting me, a complete stranger, with this very intimate concern. I have a question for you, Allie, and I hope it doesn’t sound flippant. When do you know it’s time to eat, or sleep? I know lots of us eat even when we’re not hungry and don’t sleep even when we’re tired, but that aside, I suggest that the same body signals that alert you to hunger and exhaustion will let you know when it’s time for sex. You’ll want to have sex when you feel the desire to be sexual. I’m not trying to be evasive; I’m trying to get you to listen to your body, because that’s how you’ll know. To be perfectly frank, that’s how all of us know it’s time for sex. We get a hankerin’ for some pleasure and we pursue that until, hopefully, we’re satisfied.

teen sex anxietyYou’ll notice that I’m not specifically referencing fucking when I say you’ll know when it’s time for sex. Sex, at lest in my book, involves a whole lot more than the old in and out, don’t cha know. Take a look at the sexual enrichment tutorial I posted just last week. It’s titled: Beginning Sex Play — Tips and Techniques. http://www.drdicksexadvice.com/2014/02/26/sex-play-tips-and-techniques/

If I were to advise you further I’d want to know how much sex you’ve already had with Jason. Has there been any sex play at all? Probably some, huh? Otherwise how would you know you like him well enough to consider taking the play to the next level?

Penis/vagina intercourse, or as I like to call it “fucking” can bring more intimacy and more pleasure than some other sex play, but it’s not the be all and end all either. Fucking also carries a lot it more responsibility, particularly for fertile young puppies like you and Jason.intimacy021

You sound like an intelligent lass, at least you can write in complete sentences. Is it safe to assume that you are well versed in the complexities of the human reproductive system? I hope so. Not everyone is, of course, even some otherwise smart young people. If you’re not clear on the whole concept, there’s no time like the present to do a little boning up…so to speak. Being responsible with your sex is as important as being sexual. And being informed about health risks and contraception is the beginning of taking responsibility for your sexual activity.

Every sexually active young woman is subject to becoming pregnant every time she accepts a cock in her cooch. I’m not a woman, nor do I play one on the internets, but I’ve been around more than my share of the fairer sex, and I am certain that every woman who fucks for the first time will wonder if she is pregnant the next morning. I suppose the same is true for any sexually active woman of childbearing age, even those who are very knowledgeable about birth control and are prepared for sex when it presents itself. Seems to me that that kind of apprehension or concern could easily put a dent in pleasure.

makin' babiesRemember what I said a little earlier; that you’ll want to have sex when you feel the desire to be sexual? Well, if you take the time to prepare now, you won’t need to interrupt the sexually charged moment when your body tells you I want some of that hot monkey love. You should choose the birth control method that suits you best. You should have condoms and lube available. Don’t expect your beau to have his wits about him when his dick is hard. While Jason does sound like a swell guy, conscientious too, you’re the one who will get pregnant if ya’ll screw up. And I’ll bet ol’ Jason will be impressed with your forethought too. There’s nothing like gettin’ it on with a chick who knows the score, even if it is her first time.

Remember, even if you’re on the pill or have a diaphragm, condoms are a must. One of every ten sexually active teens carries one or more STDs or as we call them nowadays, SDI (sexually transmitted infections). You can consider dropping the condoms when you’re in an exclusive relationship.

Finally, you may be ready for sexual release — i.e. an orgasm, and I hope you’re already enjoying an abundance of those little buggers through jilling off — but that does not mean you are ready for, need, or even want full-on fucking. But when you do and you get that hankerin’, feed it. It will be as natural as falling off a log.

Good luck

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