Almost two-thirds of women have experienced sexual discomfort…

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but only around half of men have noticed

By Jessica Lindsay

Lubrication is one of the main ingredients for a successful sexual experience.

It turns out, however, that many women are experiencing sexual discomfort, and are reluctant to use lube for a variety of reasons. What might be even sadder is that there is a big disconnect between women having painful sex and men’s awareness of it.

A study by Durex found that 73% of British women have had discomfort during sex, but only 57% of men have noticed it with their female partners.

One third of women said discomfort made them want sex less, and 9% said it had affected their relationships as a result.

Surprisingly, however, only a third would use lubricant in bed despite 9 out of 10 agreeing that sex felt better with it.

This resulted in a number of those asked saying they’d faked orgasms, hurried their partner to finish, or quit having sex altogether due to the pain.

Although the reasonings behind the discomfort range from simply feeling drier at points in their menstrual cycle to not enough foreplay, it’s odd that this taboo still exists around using lube.

This study clearly shows that lack of lubrication is a common problem faced by women of all ages, even if it is one that isn’t often publicised.


 
Durex’s campaign aims to take a stand against the idea that we’re supposed to lie back and think of England, and instead asks why we’re still putting up with pain during sex that could be easily rectified.

They’ve got a number of influencers on board to raise awareness, including author Chidera Eggerue, who says: ‘In a world where women are constantly scrutinised for existing, it isn’t surprising that so many of us choose to silence ourselves in exchange for comfort or safety. But it’s time we choose ourselves for once.

‘We’re calling for all women to stop suffering in silence and prioritise their pleasure!’

Which lube should you go for?

Steer clear of sugars in lube (if you want to try something with flavour, look for those with aspartame or stevia instead to avoid thrush).

Water-based lubes are best for use with condoms or sex toys.

Silicone lubes can be more long-lasting, which is better suited to anal. Just make sure you don’t use these with silicone sex toys, as they can make surfaces more porous and more likely to harbour bacteria.

Try a small bottle first, and stay attuned to whether your body reacts well to it. You can then decide whether it’s the one for you.

Don’t bother with DIY solutions. Although you might that think the coconut oil or petroleum jelly in your bedside cabinet will do the trick, neither of these are condom-safe, and could cause a reaction.

Use as often and as much as you need. Forget the stigma, and forget putting up with uncomfortable sex.

Hannah Witton, British sex and relationships YouTuber echoed Chidera’s statements: ‘Using lube should be a totally normal part of sex as not only does it avoid any discomfort, but it’s also really fun! The female body is an amazing thing but depending on where we’re at in our monthly cycle, we shouldn’t have to ‘grin and bear it’ by pretending we’re enjoying sex when really we’re uncomfortable.

‘I hope this campaign encourages women to put their pleasure first and enjoy sex without compromise.’

The Durex study spoke to over 1,200 people, and the breadth of those grinning and bearing vaginal dryness issues is staggering.

It shows that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and that taking control of your sex life is something we should all be doing, whether that’s using lubrication for ourselves, or being more in tune with our partner’s needs.

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

Complete Article HERE!

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Cannabis, Women and Painful Sex

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Sex can be painful for women. There, we’ve said it. Now let’s talk about natural ways to deal with it.

We’ve all heard that women experience vaginal dryness after menopause, but what some of us on the Ellementa team have experienced goes way beyond a moisture-free environment.

“It feels like jagged razor blades slicing me up inside during penetration,” she said.

“It’s like having little elves with knives inside my vagina, cutting away.”

That is what we were hearing around our virtual water cooler when the topic of menopause and sex came up.

Being on a mission to help women better understand the health and wellness benefits of cannabis and CBD, one of our intrepid founders decided to try cannabis and CBD products to address unpleasant symptoms from menopause. She confessed that for the past year she had been experiencing mind-blowing pain that put a damper on any possibility of mind-blowing sex.

“Here I was telling women how beneficial cannabis and CBD can be for our health, and I wasn’t addressing a very real health and wellness issue of my own,” she said.

One evening, she decided to try some of the sample products she had received to review. And they worked!

Here is the recipe for relief that she found useful:

  1. Use a natural vaginal lubricant daily. Many women don’t realize you can apply lubricants daily, particularly after a shower or bath, inside your vagina. We’re not talking about drowning your vagina in oil but applying it internally using a small amount on your finger. Organic coconut oil can be a natural vaginal lubricant, and can be used intra-vaginally if you’re not allergic to coconut. Other fast-absorbing oils include Jojoba and Sweet Almond.
  2. Use a THC-based sexual lubricant or topical 20-30 minutes before sex. Note that many of the THC-infused sexual aids may not be very lubricating but are more warming as well as offering the analgesic effects of THC. THC shouldn’t actually numb the vaginal area but instead reduce the sensation of pain while increasing blood flow to the vagina.
  3. Add a CBD-based lubricant. Our intrepid team member tried a sample packet of Privy Peach’s Personal Lubricant with 250mg CBD. The product claims to “help stimulate your body’s own lubrication, increase circulation, and alleviate any present discomfort.” Note: NOT FOR USE WITH LATEX CONDOMS as any oil may degrade latex.

The results? Nearly pain-free penetration, and definitely pain-free, awesome sex.

This information was a revelation for another one of our founders who went into surgical menopause after a hysterectomy.

“I was just so unprepared for menopause,” she said. “I had no idea my sex life would end, and that I’d have my own private desert.”

As with many other women, she hadn’t looked up THC- or CBD-infused sexual products.

“I’m always taking care of everybody else,” she admitted but vowed to search her market for the right products to relaunch her sex life.

It’s Not Just Older Women Experiencing Painful Sex

“I personally faced quite the battle with my vagina the minute I started having sex,” Cyo Ray Nystrom, the founder and CEO of QuimRock, recalls. “I’ve had years of awful UTIs, forcing me to take intense rounds of antibiotics that, in turn, killed off all the natural vaginal flora and caused yeast infections. It affected my life and sex life greatly as vaginal health is such an important part of intimacy and sex for so many people.”

QuimRock is a cannabis-infused self-care line for women’s intimate care.

Cyo says cannabis can be “powerful sex-medicine for anyone using it intentionally and with her own personal needs in mind.” She also notes that the shame that’s historically associated with vaginal health issues, including those related to menopause, can be “particularly scarring.”

“Personally, cannabis has always been a great tool for getting me into my body, which is essential for me to really show up in my sex life,” Cyo explains, adding, “Cannabis has helped me in many ways—from cramp relief after getting a UTI to pain relief-focused topicals to the amazing benefits of cannabis-infused lubricants.”

What Does a Medical Expert Say About Cannabis to Relieve Painful Sex?

One of our Ellementa Advisors, Dr. Elaine Burns is the founder and medical director of Southwest Medical Marijuana Evaluation Center and founder of DrBurns’ ReLeaf tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) products. Dr. Burns was working with bio-identical hormones for women before she entered the cannabis industry seven years ago. We asked her about cannabis and specifically CBD for women’s sexual health during peri-menopause and post-menopause.

According to Dr. Burns, menopause is a “multifactorial issue,” meaning no woman can expect that what worked for someone else will work for them, too. She also emphasized that cannabis is only part of an overall health-care plan that could include botanicals (such as black cohosh, evening primrose and chamomile) for women before menopause or bio-identicals—non-synthetic, all-natural hormone replacements—for women no longer experiencing menses. She told us she would never solely recommend cannabis or CBD to relieve menopausal symptoms.

THC, by the way, can also be helpful with low libido and stress related sexual dysfunction. Dr. Burns reminded us there are two parts of support during menopause:

  • Relief from unpleasant symptoms ranging from vaginal dryness to hot flashes to painful sex.
  • Prevention of diseases such as osteoporosis.

Depending on your health goals, cannabis—and specifically CBD—can be integrated into your overall care plan to alleviate specific menopause symptoms and also help with general good health as you age.

As Cyo from QuimRock explains, “It’s hugely important to figure out what turns you on and what turns you off.” And that takes time and trying different things. Just as menopause is a journey, so is naturally addressing your sexual health with botanicals like cannabis.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How To Navigate 6 Common Sexual Health Conversations With Your Partner

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By Jen Anderson
The pillar of any good relationship is open communication — and that doesn’t stop at being honest about whose turn it is to do the dishes. Opening up about sex with your partner, whether it’s about your birth control options, the positions that make you feel best, or the need to take emergency contraception, is essential to truly enjoying your sex life.

That’s why, in partnership with Plan B One-Step, we created a handy guide to the most common sex conversations you might encounter, tapping Katharine O’Connell White, MD, MPH, and Rachel Needle, PsyD, for their best advice on how to navigate each. No matter if it’s a new Hinge fling, a veteran booty call, or a long-term relationship, you should feel empowered to have these conversations — especially when they help ensure safe sexual health practices and more enjoyment to help you reach that O. Read ahead to see how Dr. White and Dr. Needle break it all down. A better sex life awaits you

The Birth Control Conversation

Before you engage in sex at all, it’s crucial that you and your partner are transparent with each other about what contraception you plan to use to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancies. This means talking about the methods you might already be using, like the pill or the IUD, plus barrier methods like condoms or a diaphragm. Be open and honest about your prior experience so that you’re both on the same page.

“The condom discussion is paramount, for the safety of all involved,” Dr. White says, and she suggests always having a supply of condoms on hand. This way, both parties can feel more comfortable going into sex knowing that you’re taking precautions to reduce the risk of STIs and STDs.

The Frequency Conversation

While you may feel like you’re the only couple that struggles with differing opinions on how often you want to have sex, the truth is that it’s very common. The key here is to bring up your feelings about frequency when you’re not hot and heavy. “Start off with something positive about your relationship, including your sexual relationship,” Dr. Needle advises. Then, “use feeling words and ‘I’ statements, [so you don’t put] your partner on the defensive.” Use the conversation to establish the factors that are contributing to either party’s decrease in sexual desire, and make plans to work on them, either on your own, together, or with a professional. Just remember: “There is not really a ‘normal’ amount or an amount of sex that is good or correct to have. Each couple is different.”

The Emergency Contraception Conversation

So the condom broke during sex, or it never got used. There’s no need to skirt around the issue. Dr. White suggests bringing up the emergency contraception conversation by saying something like, “Whoops, I think we forgot something,” if you and your partner forgot to use your preferred birth control method. If it broke, just say so, point blank. It’s likely that your partner is thinking the exact same thing as you are — someone just needs to break the ice and bring it up.

Make arrangements to buy Plan B One-Step for emergency contraception together, or, in the case of a fleeting one-night stand or a FWB-gone-awry, the conversation might not be necessary, and you should still feel empowered to get your emergency contraceptive on your own. It’s easier than ever, with Plan B available on the shelf at all major retailers without a prescription, age restriction, or ID. Just keep in mind: You have 72 hours after unprotected sex to take it, and the sooner you take it, the more effective it will be at helping prevent pregnancy.

The Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) & Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Conversation

When it comes to asking your partner to get tested, Dr. White advises keeping the convo friendly and factual. Try telling them your plans to get tested, and suggest they do the same. “That way, getting tested is a joint venture and not a one-way request,” she explains. If you already have an STI or STD, it’s important to chat about this prior to any sexual encounters — your partner has a right to know about their own risks. “Pick the right time and place for a serious conversation, and try [saying something like], ‘I like you a lot, so there’s something you need to know.'”

The Period Sex Conversation

Period sex isn’t for everyone. But for some, it can be just as enjoyable as non-period sex and even bring couples together in a new way. According to Dr. White, the best way to approach this topic is with a casual conversation that signals you’re not embarrassed and allows your partner to follow your lead. “Mention [upfront] that you’re on your period, so [you can] throw down a towel on the bed to protect the sheets,” she says — especially those white cotton sheets. Not only is this conversation important to have for transparency, but it could introduce a favorite new time of the month to get intimate. “Sex during your period has a lot of advantages,” she adds. “The blood can act as a [secondary] lubricant, and the endorphins released with orgasm can help soothe period cramps.”

The Painful-Sex Conversation

Plain and simple, painful sex isn’t good sex for anyone. “Any decent human will not want to cause you pain and will work with you to make it more comfortable,” Dr. White says. So use your voice to tell your partner immediately if something isn’t feeling quite right — even if this means stopping sex early. If the pain persists, “Trust your body… You should not keep doing the same thing that hurts. This will only teach your body to associate pain with sex, which can be a brutal cycle to break,” she adds.

Complete Article HERE!

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9 ways to make sex less painful

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Sex should not be painful.

By

[F]eeling some sort of physical pain during intercourse is incredibly common — according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, nearly three out of four women experience painful sex at some point in their lives.

Though it might make you feel slightly better to know you’re not alone, this fact likely offers little comfort when you’re in the middle of a sexual encounter and things just aren’t feeling right. Whether you’re dealing with muscle aches due to a position that doesn’t work for your body, irritation or burning on your skin, or a gynecologic condition like vaginismus or vulvodynia, there are definitely ways to help ease your pain so you can enjoy the pain-free, happy sex you deserve.

Here are nine ways you can make sex less painful.

1. Take things slowly — very slowly.

Foreplay is important.

Some people can just go right into sex as soon as the opportunity presents itself, but others require lots of foreplay before they’re ready to go. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but if you start having sex before you’re adequately turned on, you might feel pain, especially when it comes to penis in vagina intercourse.

“Many women think that if they feel excited, then they’re ready for sex,” Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, told Women’s Health magazine in 2014. “But your body needs time to lift the uterus and make room for the vagina to expand. The latter can stretch from four inches long to a fully aroused seven inches.”

Quickies are great under the right circumstances, but if you rush into the main attraction without enjoying some previews before the show, you might feel pain, soreness, or irritation down below, so be sure to slow things down as needed. Herbenick recommended 20 minutes of foreplay to adequately prepare your body.

2. Be sure you’re using enough lubrication.

Vaginal dryness is common.

Although you still need to be sure that your body is ready for sex before your partner enters you, vaginal dryness can occur even if you’re fully ready to go. This is where lube comes in, so you’ll want to snag a silicone- or water-based lubricant, particularly one without harsh chemicals or fragrances so that you won’t risk irritating your genitals or skin.

There are no shortage of great lubricants for sex out there, but after you’ve found the one that works for you, you might want to look into the reason you’re feeling dry down below. Dryness can be caused by a slew of medications, including birth control pills, allergy medications, antidepressants, and even over-the-counter cold medicines, as well as soaps, and even smoking cigarettes, so check with your doctor.

Everyday Health also noted that vaginal dryness can happen due to a drop in estrogen levels, which happens at certain points of your menstrual cycle, if you’ve recently given birth, are breastfeeding, or are going through menopause.

Also, if you’re bathing in hot water pre-sex, you could be inadvertently drying out vaginal tissue. Checking with your doctor about any discomfort due to dryness is always the best option.

3. Check for allergies or other health conditions.

You could have a latex allergy.

If you’re feeling itchiness, burning, or irritation down below, you could be dealing with a number of health issues, so you’ll want to check with your doctor.

An itchy rash or hives can be symptoms of a latex allergy, as can vaginal irritation or burning. As Jonathan Schaffir, M.D., an OB-GYN at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told SELF magazine in 2016, “it is also possible to have a more severe form of allergy that leads to anaphylaxis, which involves system-wide swelling, dropping blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. That would be rare, but needs immediate medical attention.”

But acute reactions aside, latex allergies aren’t a huge deal, and you can safely switch to polyurethane condoms without issue. Still, pain, itchiness or irritation can be signs of other health conditions, including a yeast infection, STIs, vaginismus, vulvodynia, or an ovarian cyst, so paying a visit to your doctor is never a bad idea.

4. Try a different position.

Some positions may hurt more than others.

Unfortunately, some sex positions are more likely to cause pain during sex than others, which means you might need to get creative. Positions that allow for deep thrusting (such as doggie style) are often more painful for women, while those that allow the woman more control of the pace (such as woman-on-top, missionary, or side-by-side spooning) are often helpful if you’re experiencing painful sex.

Experiment with different positions to see which ones feel the most comfortable for you and your body.

5. Change things up completely.

Props are your friend.

If you’ve tried different positions but are still experiencing discomfort, Health suggested using props, pillows, or toys to make things feel better. Pillows are great to help align your body in a more comfortable position, and there are no shortage of sex toys and props out there to help alleviate any tension or stress in your muscles and joints. Getting a bit creative can help you explore new options while also helping to reduce pain.

6. Create a relaxing, sex-positive environment.

Clear your mind.

For many people, it can be hard to fully relax and enjoy the moment, which leads to tension in our bodies as we are having sex. So doing some things to help yourself feel connected in the moment is a great way to have more pleasurable sex.

Relaxation looks different for everyone, but some helpful tips include keeping a space free of clutter and mess, so you won’t be worried about getting cozy on top of a pile of clothes. Playing relaxing music, lighting candles, and keeping a comfortable temperature and linens might sound like a scene from a cheesy romance novel, but these things can all truly help you feel more at ease and able to be more present in the moment.

Trying out different mindfulness techniques can also help, and MindyBodyGreen reports that plenty of people enjoy meditation or breathing techniques to help their brain stay present and connected. Most of us lead such busy, hectic lifestyles that it can be hard to truly disconnect and enjoy sex, which could unknowingly be causing you pain or discomfort.

Meditation is a proven stress reliever, and research shows that when your body is producing too much of the stress hormone cortisol, it can be hard to get aroused. When you meditate, you’re naturally lowering the levels of cortisol in your body, which can help your mental health both in the sheets and outside of them.

7. Take a break from intercourse.

There are other ways to have intimacy.

It might sound obvious, but pain can often be a signal that your body needs a break, so it won’t hurt to listen to your body and explore other options for a little while. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy other forms of intimacy — if you haven’t enjoyed a makeout session in a long time, it can be a surprisingly fun way to keep the spark alive without the worries of pain down below.

Sometimes, all it takes is a little exploration of your bodies to figure out what works best — without pressure to climax or have a full-on sex session. It’s entirely possible you’re trying to have too much sex, which is especially common in the early stages of a relationship.

You should never push through pain or something that doesn’t feel right — forcing yourself to do something you’re not enjoying is not okay, so taking notice of your body and brain during sex is crucial.

8. Communication is key, so you’ll want to speak openly with your partner.

When you talk about it, you can take some of the scariness away.

No matter the reason you’re experiencing pain during sex, talking it out with your partner is a great way to help get you to a place where you’re both enjoying sex … without wincing in pain.

No one deserves to engage in sexual activity that makes them feel pain or discomfort, so sitting down with your partner is a good way to brainstorm solutions to help you both feel great. Maybe it’s a matter of changing up the speed or pace of sex, or you’re hoping to try new things.

Experimenting and giving honest feedback is never a bad idea, but it’s especially important if things haven’t been feeling right.

Also, if you have experienced sexual abuse of any kind, it can be understandably difficult to enjoy sex. It’s entirely up to you whether you discuss your feelings with your partner and when, but know this: your feelings are absolutely valid, and you have every right to discontinue sexual activity at any point, no matter the reason.

9. Be honest with yourself about what you want.

It may not be sex.

Our bodies are all different, and we all have different wants and needs, especially when it comes to sex. People of all genders are entitled to the sexual experiences they want, but it’s also OK if you’re not interested in sex right now or ever.

Pop culture might have you think that people want to have sex all the time, but there are plenty of reasons you might not want to, and they’re all perfectly valid.

New moms are often given the green light for sex around six weeks after giving birth, but not all people who give birth are ready right away, thanks to a drop in estrogen levels and healing scar tissue after giving birth. If you’re simply not ready for sex, there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you’re recovering from illness or trauma, or simply don’t enjoy sex and think you might identify as asexual, you have every right to explore your feelings without forcing yourself to have painful sex. Talking with your partner can help, as can seeking the advice of a doctor or therapist you trust. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do sexually, no matter what movies or porn might suggest to the contrary.

Complete Article HERE!

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8 Things Doctors Wish You Knew About Dyspareunia, AKA Painful Sex

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Yup, we mean the bad kind of pain.

[P]op culture’s depictions of sex typically focus on the romantic, the salacious, and (in some refreshing cases) the embarrassing.

But one thing that’s still rarely mentioned—both on screen and IRL—is pain during sex (also known as dyspareunia), or the shame, confusion, and stigma that often accompany it. (And we’re not talking about the good, consensual kind of pain during sex, FYI, we’re talking about sex that hurts when you don’t intend it to.)

While dyspareunia may be absent from many sexual-health discussions, it’s not rare, and it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Here, doctors walk us through what they wish more people knew about painful sex:

1. Unfortunately, pain during intercourse isn’t that rare. In fact, it’s really common.

Nearly 75 percent of women will experience pain during sex at some point in their lives, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG). Sometimes, this pain will be a one-time thing. Other times, it will be more persistent.

2. The thing is, sex isn’t supposed to hurt unless you want it to.

Some people accept painful sex as the norm, but it shouldn’t be. “The most crucial thing for women to know is that pain during or after intercourse is never really OK,” Antonio Pizarro, M.D., a Louisiana-based gynecologist specializing in pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, tells SELF. There are, of course, some circumstances in which someone might seek out some level of pain during sex. But there’s a difference between a sexual kink and undesired, severe, or persistent pain in the vulva, vagina, or pelvis.

3. Minor soreness during or after sex and intense, chronic pain are not the same thing.

There are tons of reasons you might be sore after sex, Natasha Chinn, M.D., a New Jersey-based gynecologist, tells SELF. They include inadequate lubrication, penetration with a particularly large object or body part, and sex that was especially rough or fast.

If these are minor issues you only encounter every now and then, Dr. Chinn says you can usually pinpoint the cause of the problem and address it on your own (use more lube, seek out smaller sex toys, or have slower, more gentle sex). (Of course, you can go straight to seeing a doctor if you prefer.)

But what if your problem isn’t an every-now-and-then thing? If these issues are happening every time you have sex, happening more frequently than they used to, or if they’re not going away after you try to address them on your own, your painful-sex cause might be more complicated.

4. Unfortunately, there are a ton of health conditions—like endometriosis, cervicitis, and vaginismus—that can lead to painful sex.

Some of these include:

  • Contact dermatitis: a fancy medical name for an allergic reaction on the skin—and yes, that includes the skin on your vulva. This can happen if, say, the delicate skin around your vagina doesn’t react well to a soap, body wash, or detergent you’re using. Contact dermatitis can leave your skin cracked and uncomfortable, and chances are that any kind of sex you’re having while you’re experiencing this reaction is going to be pretty painful.
  • Cervicitis: a condition where the cervix, or lower end of the uterus connecting to the vagina, becomes inflamed, typically due to a sexually transmitted infection. While it often presents without symptoms, Dr. Pizarro cautions that it sometimes causes pain during urination or intercourse.
  • Endometriosis: a condition associated with pelvic pain, painful periods, and pain during or after sex. While the exact cause of endometriosis is not well understood, it seems to be the result of endometrial tissue (or similar tissue that’s able to create its own estrogen) growing outside of the uterus, which can cause pain, scarring, and inflammation. This can lead to pain that’s sometimes worse around your period, when going to the bathroom, and even during sex.
  • Ovarian cysts: fluid-filled sacs found in or on the ovaries. Sometimes they don’t cause any symptoms, but other times they rupture, causing pain and bleeding, including during sex.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): this condition is typically caused when bacteria from a sexually transmitted infection spreads to the reproductive organs. PID can cause pain in the abdomen or pelvis, pain during urination, pain during intercourse, and even infertility if left untreated.
  • Uterine fibroids: noncancerous growths in or on the uterus. Fibroids often don’t cause symptoms, but they can make themselves known via heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure or pain, during sex or otherwise.
  • Vaginismus: a condition that causes the muscles of the vagina to spasm and contract. This can lead to pain during sex—or even make any form of vaginal penetration impossible, whether it’s sexual or just inserting a tampon.
  • Vaginitis: an umbrella term for disorders that inflame the vaginal area. Examples include bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, both of which occur when the balance of microorganisms in the vagina gets thrown off, causing some kind of bacterial or fungal overgrowth. Other forms of vaginitis are sexually transmitted infections such as trichomoniasis (an STI caused by a parasite), chlamydia, and gonorrhea. All three of these infections are characterized by changes in vaginal discharge, vaginal irritation, and, in some cases, pain during intercourse.
  • Vulvodynia: a condition charactized by chronic pain at the opening of the vagina. Common symptoms include burning, soreness, stinging, rawness, itching, and pain during sex, Dr. Chinn says, and it can be devastating. According to the Mayo Clinic, vulvodynia consists of pain that lasts for at least three months that has no other identifiable cause.

Dr. Chinn says that women going through menopause might also experience pain during sex as a result of vaginal dryness that happens due to low estrogen levels.

People who recently gave birth may also grapple with discomfort during sex, Dr. Chinn says. It takes time for the vagina to heal after pushing out a baby, and scar tissue could develop and make sex painful.

5. There are so many other things that can mess with your sexual response, making sex uncomfortable or legitimately painful.

Any negative emotions—like shame, stress, guilt, fear, whatever—can make it harder to relax during sex, turning arousal and vaginal lubrication into obstacles, according to ACOG.

Of course, the source of these negative emotions varies from individual to individual, Dr. Pizarro says. For some, it’s a matter of mental health. Feeling uncomfortable in your body or having relationship issues might also contribute.

In an unfair twist, taking care of yourself in some ways, like by using antidepressant medication, blood pressure drugs, allergy medications, or some birth control pills, can also cause trouble with lubrication that translates into painful sex.

6. You shouldn’t use painkillers or a numbing agent to try to get through painful sex.

This might seem like the best way to handle your pain, but Dr. Pizarro cautions against it. Your body has pain receptors for a reason, and by numbing them, you could end up subjecting your body to trauma (think: tiny tears or irritation) without realizing it—which can just leave you in more pain.

7. If you’re not ready to see a doctor yet, there are a few things you can try at home, first.

According to ACOG, a few DIY methods might mitigate your symptoms:

  • Use lube, especially if you feel like your problem is caused by vaginal dryness.
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to your vulva to dull a burning sensation when needed.
  • Have an honest conversation with your partner about what’s hurting and how you’re feeling. Let them know what hurts, what feels good, and what you need from them right now—whether that’s a break from certain sex acts, more time to warm up before you have sex, or something else.
  • Try sex acts that don’t involve penetration, like mutual masturbation and oral sex, which may help you avoid some of the pain you typically experience.

It’s totally OK to experiment with these things, Dr. Pizarro says, especially if they help you associate sex with something positive. But these tactics cannot and should not replace professional care.

8. If you’re regularly experiencing painful sex, you should talk to a doctor.

It’s really up to you to decide when to see a doctor about painful sex. “It’s like a cold,” Dr. Pizarro says. “If you’ve got a little cough, you might be all right. But if you have a cough and fever that haven’t gone away after a few days, you might want to see a doctor.” When in doubt, mention your concerns to your care provider, especially if any of these sound familiar:

  • Sex has always been painful for you
  • Sex has always been painful but seems to be getting worse
  • Sex is usually pain-free but has recently started to hurt
  • You’re not sure whether or not what you’re experiencing is normal, but you’re curious to learn more about painful sex

When you see your doctor, they’ll likely ask questions about your medical history and conduct a pelvic exam and/or ultrasound. “It’s important for doctors to ask the right questions and for patients to voice concerns about things,” Dr. Pizarro says.

From there, your doctor should take a holistic approach to treatment to address the possible physical, emotional, and situational concerns. “You really have to look at the total person,” Dr. Chinn says. Treatment options for painful sex vary wildly since there are so many potential causes, but the point is that you have options. “Many people think that it’s acceptable to experience pain during intercourse,” Dr. Pizarro says. “Use your judgment, of course, but it probably isn’t acceptable. And it can probably be made better.”

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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For Menopause Sex Discomfort, Gel Worked as Well as Estrogen

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Study find gels worked as well as prescription hormone tablets at reducing symptoms of menopause-related sexual discomfort.

By Lindsey Tanner

[I]n a study of women with menopause-related sexual discomfort, gels worked as well as prescription hormone tablets at reducing symptoms.

The researchers say the results suggest low-cost, over-the-counter moisturizers might be the best option.

Most women in the study reported some relief from their most bothersome symptoms — painful intercourse, vaginal dryness or itching — regardless of treatment. Still, not quite half the women experienced what researchers considered a meaningful decline in symptom severity.

The problems are linked with declining levels of the hormone estrogen, which happens to all women when they reach menopause.

What baffles researchers is why only about half of women experience bothersome symptoms. Without that answer, pinpointing the cause and finding the perfect solution is difficult, said Dr. Caroline Mitchell, the study’s lead author and a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Continue reading the main story

“Until we know why, our treatments are really just pretty broad attempts,” Mitchell said. “We’re not targeting the true biological root cause.”

Researchers enrolled 300 women at a Kaiser Permanente research institute in Seattle and at the University of Minnesota. Women were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: prescription vaginal estrogen tablets and a gel with inactive ingredients; placebo tablets and Replens over-the counter moisturizer; or placebo tablets and the inert gel. Treatment lasted 12 weeks.

The results were published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. The National Institutes of Health paid for the study and the researchers have no financial ties to the products studied.

A journal editorial says there have been few similar studies and most were too small to reach conclusive results.

The latest results show that prescription treatment that can cost $200 is no better than over-the-counter moisturizers costing less than $20. The researchers noted that some women may prefer tablets to creams, which can be messy, but the extra money won’t buy extra relief.

Women with troublesome symptoms “should choose the cheapest moisturizer or lubricant available over the counter — at least until new evidence arises to suggest that there is any benefit to doing otherwise,” the editorial said.

Complete Article HERE!

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Nienke Helder designs therapy tools for women recovering from sexual trauma

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Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Nienke Helder has created a set of sensory objects that can be used to rehabilitate women affected by sexual abuse.

Presented at this year’s Dutch Design Week, Sexual Healing is designed to help women who are suffering from trauma-induced sexual problems, such as pelvic muscle blockage.

According to the designer, current treatment available often focuses on a clinical perspective – putting too much emphasis on physical issues, rather than the psychological aspects of trauma.

From her own experience, Helder recognised the frustration this can cause, which prompted her to develop an alternative therapy which focuses more on the emotional aspects of sexual trauma.

“I was really frustrated with the way we treat these kinds of issues. In my opinion, the treatments that I got only made it worse,” she told Dezeen.

“It was totally taking me away from the sexual context; it became really clinical. It was so focused on this end goal of penetration that I totally lost all fun in my sexuality.”

The designer worked with medical experts and women in recovery to develop a set of five objects which invite users to discover their own sexual pleasure.

The objects encourage women to explore what feels good to them, which in turn, relieves fear and pain, and help them regain a sense of security about their bodies.

The first object is an ergonomically shaped mirror that lights up.

“Research shows that if you look at your own vulva, it increases your body positivity a lot. But if you have a trauma, it can really be confronting to look at your own body,” Helder said.

She made the mirror in such a way that it only shows exactly what you hold in front of it, allowing users to take their time and slowly start exploring their own bodies.

The second object is a brush made from horsehair, which is meant to help users become comfortable with being touched again. It also enables them to invite their partner to the healing process.

“If you have a trauma, it can be really difficult to talk about it. But by giving someone an object and making them part of the therapy, it opens a lot of doors for conversation,” Helder explains.

Two of the objects focus on biofeedback and are designed to help the user detect if they are feeling tense or stressed.

“Trauma creates certain reflexes in your body that comes from your subconscious mind,” the designer said. “To break that cycle, you need to rationally understand what is causing these processes in order to overcome them emotionally.”

One is a sensor that is meant to be placed on the abdomen. The device lights-up when the user’s breathing becomes tense, functioning as a signal to relax again.

A second is an object that measures the pressure in pelvic floor muscles. If the user tenses up, the device starts to vibrate, signalling the need to relax.

The final object is a kimono made of silk jersey, which emphasises the need to feel warm and relaxed in the bedroom.

“I made it because the bedroom is one of the coldest rooms in the house,” said the designer. “As I mentioned in my project video, it is important to keep your socks on when having sex because women could not have an orgasm when they have cold feet.”


 
Mental health is becoming an increasingly explored topic in design, particularly among graduates.

At last year’s Design Academy Eindhoven graduate show, designer Nicolette Bodewes presented a tactile toolkit designed to be used in psychotherapy sessions, while Yi-Fei Chen channelled her personal struggle with speaking her mind into a gun that fires her tears.

Helder’s Sexual Healing project was presented at this year’s Design Academy Eindhoven‘s graduate show as part of the annual Dutch Design Week event, which took place from 21 until 29 October 2017.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Rethink Intimacy When ‘Regular’ Sex Hurts

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There’s no rule that says sex has to be penetrative.

By Breena Kerr

[W]hen sex hurts, women often feel alone—but they’re not. About 30 percent of women report pain during vaginal intercourse, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine which surveyed a subsample of 1,738 women and men ages 18 and older online.

Awareness of painful vaginal sex—sometimes lumped under the term Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD)—has grown as more women talk about their experiences and more medical professionals start to listen.

Many conditions are associated with FSD, including vulvodynia (chronic vulva pain), vestibulodynia (chronic pain around the opening of the vagina), and vaginismus (cramping and tightness around the opening of the vagina). But they all have one thing in common: vaginal or vulval pain that can make penetrative sex anywhere from mildly uncomfortable to physically impossible. However, you can absolutely still have sex, which we’ll get to in a minute.

First and most important, if you are experiencing any type of genital pain, talk to your doctor.

There’s no reason to suffer in silence, even if it seems awkward or embarrassing or scary. Your gynecologist has heard it all and can help (or they can refer you to someone who can). The International Pelvic Pain Society has great resources for finding a licensed health care provider who specializes in genital pain.

“We don’t yet know why women get vestibulodynia or vulvodynia,” Kayna Cassard, M.A., M.F.T., a psychotherapist who specializes in vaginismus and other pelvic pain issues, tells SELF. “[There can be] many traumas, physical and psychological, that become internalized and add to vaginal pain. Women’s pain isn’t just ‘in their heads,’ ” Cassard says.

This kind of pain can affect anyone—regardless of sexual orientation or relationship status—but it can be particularly difficult for someone who mostly engages in penetrative sex with their partner. The important thing to remember is that you have options.

Sex does not have to revolve around penetration.

Hell, it doesn’t even need to include it. And for a lot of people, it doesn’t. Obviously, if P-in-V sex is what you and your partner are used to, it can be intimidating to consider redefining what sex means to you. But above all, sex should be pleasurable.

“The first thing to do is expand what ‘counts’ as sex,” sex educator and Girl Sex 101 author Allison Moon tells SELF. “Many people in heterosexual relationships consider only penis-in-vagina to count as sex, and everything else is some form of foreplay,” she says. But sex can include (or not include) whatever two consensual people decide on: oral sex, genital massage, mutual masturbation, whatever you’re into.

“If you only allow yourself one form of sex to count as the real deal, you may feel broken for enjoying, or preferring, other kinds of touch,” Moon says.

To minimize pain, give yourself time to prepare physically and mentally for sex.

That might sound like a lot of prep work, but it’s really about making sure you’re in the right mindset, that you’re relaxed, and that you’re giving your body time to warm up.

Heather S. Howard, Ph.D., a certified sexologist and founder of the Center for Sexual Health and Rehabilitation in San Francisco, publishes free guides that help women prepare physically and mentally for sex. She tells SELF that stretching and massaging, including massaging your vaginal muscles, is especially helpful for women with muscle tightness. (Too much stretching, though, is a bad idea for women with sensitive vaginal skin that’s prone to tearing.)

Starting with nonsexual touch is key, as Elizabeth Akincilar-Rummer, M.S.P.T., president and cofounder of the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco, tells SELF. This puts the emphasis on relaxation so you don’t feel pressured to rush arousal.

Inserting a cool or warm stainless steel dilator (or a homemade version created with water and a popsicle mold) can also help reduce pain, Howard says. Women can tailor the size and shape to whatever is comfortable. If a wand or dilator is painful, however, a cool cloth or warm bath can feel soothing instead. Again, do what feels good to you and doesn’t cause pain.

Several studies have shown that arousal may increase your threshold for pain tolerance (not to mention it makes sex more enjoyable). So don’t skimp on whatever step is most arousing for you. That might mean some solo stimulation, playing sexy music, dressing up, reading an erotic story, watching porn, etc.

And of course, don’t forget lubrication. Lube is the first line of defense when sex hurts. Water-based lubricant is typically the safest for sensitive skin. It’s also the easiest to clean and won’t stain your clothes or sheets. Extra lubrication will make the vagina less prone to irritation, infections, and skin tears, according to Howard. But some people may also be irritated by the ingredients in lube, so if you need a recommendation, ask your gynecologist.

Now it’s time figure out what feels good.

Women with pain often know what feels bad. But Howard says it’s important for them to remember what feels good, too. “Lots of people aren’t asking, ‘What feels good?’ So I ask women to set what their pleasure scale is, along with their pain scale. I ask them to develop a tolerance for pleasure.”

To explore what feels good, partners can try an exercise where they rate touch. They set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and ask their partner to touch them in different ways on different parts of their body. Sex partners can experiment with location, pressure, and touch type (using their fingertips, nails, breath, etc.) and change it up every 30 seconds. With every different touch, women should say a number from 0 to 10 that reflects how good the touch feels, with 10 being, “This feels amazing!” and 0 meaning, “I don’t like this particular kind of touch.” This allows women to feel a sense of ownership and control over the sensations, Howard says.

Another option is experimenting with different sensations. Think tickling, wax dripping, spanking, and flogging. Or if they prefer lighter touch, feathers, fingers, hair, or fabric on skin are good options. Some women with chronic pain may actually find it empowering to play with intense sensations (like hot wax) and eroticize them in a way that gives them control, according to Howard. But other women may need extremely light touch, she says, since chronic pain can lower some people’s general pain tolerance.

Masturbating together can also be an empowering way for you to show a partner how you like to be touched. And it can involve the entire body, not just genitals, Akincilar-Rummer says. It’s also a safe way for you to experience sexual play with a partner, when you aren’t quite ready to be touched by another person. For voyeurs and exhibitionists, it can be fun for one person to masturbate while the other person watches. Or, for a more intimate experience, partners can hold and kiss each other while they masturbate. It feels intimate while still allowing control over genital sensations.

If clitoral stimulation doesn’t hurt, feel free to just stick with that.

It’s worth noting that the majority of women need direct clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, Maureen Whelihan, M.D., an ob/gyn in West Palm Beach, Florida, tells SELF. Stimulating the clit is often the most direct route to arousal and climax and requires no penetration.

Some women won’t be able to tolerate clitoral stimulation, especially if their pain is linked to the pudendal nerve, which can affect sensations in the clitoris, mons pubis, vulva, vagina, and labia, according to Howard and Akincilar-Rummer. For that reason, vibrators may be right for some women and wrong for others. “Many women with pelvic pain can irritate the pelvic nerve with vibrators,” says Akincilar-Rummer. “But if it’s their go-to, that’s usually fine. I just tell them to be cautious.”

For women with pain from a different source, like muscle tightness, vibrators may actually help them become less sensitive to pain. “Muscular pain can actually calm down with a vibrator,” Howard says. Sex and relationship coach Charlie Glickman, Ph.D., tells SELF that putting a vibrator in a pillow and straddling it may decrease the amount of direct vibration.

Above all else, remember that sexual play should be fun, pleasurable, and consensual—but it doesn’t need to be penetrative. There’s no need to do anything that makes you uncomfortable physically or emotionally or worsens your genital pain.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexual pain after cancer treatment an unspoken affliction for many women, UC Davis oncologist says

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[S]exual pain is a common, but unspoken, aftermath of women’s cancer treatment. Doctors can be reluctant and patients too embarrassed to discuss it.

But it’s an all-too-real aspect of cancer treatment for women, according to Dr. Vanessa Kennedy, a gynecological oncologist for the UC Davis Health System.

Dr. Vanessa Kennedy, assistant professor in gynecological oncology, UC Davis Health System, Sacramento.
Dr. Vanessa Kennedy, assistant professor in gynecological oncology, UC Davis Health System, Sacramento.

“Some patients are two to three years out of treatment and they’re dealing with sexual pain and no one’s talked about it. Patients hesitate to bring it up because it’s a sensitive issue,” said Kennedy, who recently discussed the problem in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Her co-author, Dr. Deborah Coady of New York University Langone Medical Center in New York, is author of the book, “Healing Painful Sex: A Woman’s Guide to Confronting, Diagnosing and Treating Sexual Pain.”

Kennedy estimates that about 50 percent of female patients with cancer – of any type – experience some form of sexual pain, due to physical changes caused by surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. It can range from vaginal dryness caused by early menopause to anatomical changes that can make sex uncomfortable.

Some women feel guilty they’re even concerned about their sex lives, given what they’ve been through battling cancer. “There’s some guilt that they should just feel lucky to be alive and shouldn’t ask about these other things,” she said. But when sexual health is addressed, “They’re actually relieved to know they’re not alone.”

Twice a month on Fridays, Kennedy holds a regular clinic, seeing UC Davis patients who’ve been referred for post-cancer problems with sex. She works with patients on a number of interventions, including physical therapy, lubricants (even coconut or olive oil), vaginal dilators and couples counseling to re-establish intimacy.

Kennedy said doctors and medical students need to learn to be comfortable broaching the topic. “A lot of students and providers are still a little bit nervous asking about sex,” she said. “How do you get comfortable talking about these things? You just do it. It’s just like asking a patient about changes in appetite or changes in sleep. Sex is another thing (on the list). Get over it and ask about it.”

There’s a difference in how men and women cancer patients deal with sexual health, Kennedy contends. For men who’ve undergone prostate cancer treatment, there’s an emphasis on restoring their sexual function. For women, there’s often physical pain and a loss of intimacy, along with the added fear by some that their partners view them as less desirable. In some cases, where sex has become nonexistent, patients confide that their partners have threatened to leave or cheat on them.

Kennedy, who did fellowship training at the University of Chicago, which has a sexual health program for women cancer patients, says research on women’s sexual health issues is lagging, compared with that for men with prostate cancer. Next April, she’s hosting a national gathering of the Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer, which promotes research and information for women patients and their providers.

“Sex is a quality-of-life issue and a core of our well-being,” Kennedy concludes. “We have to bring back the intimacy and make this a part of the body that’s associated with pleasure, rather than an uncomfortable, negative place.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Why Can’t I Orgasm During Sex? Chronic Pain And 5 Other Factors That Affect Ability To Climax

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Imagine this: You and your partner are getting hot and heavy in between the sheets. You’re feeling sexually aroused — but you’re unable to climax. In frustration you ask yourself: “Why can’t I orgasm during sex?”

The Kinsey Institute indicates 20 to 30 percent of women don’t have orgasms during intercourse, compared to only 5 percent of men who don’t climax every time they have sex. Men and women who are unable to sustain an erection or reach orgasm, respectively, are usually labeled as having some type of sexual dysfunction. However, the inability to orgasm could be triggered by several issues that range from physiological to psychological.

Below are six causes of why you have trouble orgasming during sex.

Tight Condoms

Condoms are often seen as an “evil” necessity that reduces sensitivity and sensations for men. The truth is condoms can inhibit male orgasm if they do not fit properly. A condom that is too tight can feel like the penis is in a chokehold, which can be distraction, and make it difficult to keep an erection. A 2015 study in journal Sexual Health found about 52 percent of men report losing an erection before, or while putting a condom on or after inserting into the vagina while wearing a condom.

Stress

High levels of stress impact your psychological and physiological health, which can interfere with the ability to orgasm. This makes it harder to concentrate on the sensation and relax during sex. Women with high salivary cortisol and stress levels have significantly less desire to masturbate or have sex with their partner.

Stress causes us to produce fewer sex hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, and more cortisol and stress hormones. When the body releases cortisol, a fight-or-flight response kicks in, and redirects the blood flow away from the sex organs, causing you to breathe shallowly.

couple-holding-hands

Depression

Depression affects your mood, and even the desire to have sex. A 2000 study in the American Family Physician found 70 percent of adults facing depression without treatment had problems with their sex drive. This is because sexual desire starts in the brain as sex organs rely on chemicals in the brain to jumpstart your libido, and change blood flow. Depression disrupts these brain chemicals, making sexual activity more difficult to initiate and enjoy.

Chronic Pain

More than 75 million people live  with persistent or debilitating pain, according to the national pain foundation, which can often lead to a low sex drive. Chronic pain sufferers find it difficult to feel pleasure during sex since the body hurts all the time. This is unfortunate since having an orgasm can alleviate some pains and aches.

Prescription Meds

Drugs tend to be among the most common causes of sexual problems. Prescription meds are responsible for as many as one of every four cases of sexual dysfunction. A 2002 study published in Family Practice found statins and fibrates (used in lowering LDL “bad” cholesterol) may cause erectile dysfunction, while later research has found both men and women taking statins showed increased difficulty achieving orgasm. The levels of sexual pleasure declined along with LDL cholesterol.

Negative Body Image

When you feel good about your body, you tend to feel better psychologically as well. The mind-body connection is imperative in sexual pleasure. For example, if you feel bad about your body, it;ll become more difficult to enjoy sex and have orgasms. A 2009 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found women between the ages 18 to 49 who scored high on a body image scale were the most sexually satisfied. Positive feelings associated with weight, physical condition, sexual attractiveness, and thoughts about our body during sex help promote healthy sexual functioning.

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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Are you getting any closer? A pocket-sized primer on female sexuality

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By Clarissa Fortin

Stay curious between the sheets, friends.

Closer: Notes from the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality
by Sarah Barmak
(Coach House Books, 2016; $14.95)

If it weren’t for Sarah Barmak’s Closer: Notes from the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality I might have gone for years of my life without ever finding out what my clitoris actually looks like.

“Illustrations of it resemble a swan with an arched neck,” Barmak writes. “When I saw an closerillustration of the clitoris’s true shape for the first time I felt like a blind man finally seeing a whole elephant when all he’s ever known was the tip of it’s trunk.” I realized while reading those sentences that no one in my Catholic high school health class ever bothered to show me such an image and I’d never thought to seek one out.

I consider myself a feminist and a sexually liberated woman. Yet, there are still surprising gaps in my understanding of my own body. And that’s why a book like Barmak’s is important. Closer tackles its subject with eloquence, intelligence and humour.

The book is split into five essays that tackle the “fear of pleasure,” the history of female sexuality, the science and psychology of the orgasm, the “female sexual underground” and the politics of acknowledging female desire.

While each essay has its own strengths, I think the most effective chapter is “A History of Forgetting.” This section aligns the historical “discovery” and “loss” of the clitoris with the individual experience of a woman named Vanessa — an actual interview subject.

We first meet Vanessa on the table at the doctor’s office filming herself masturbating in order to prove to the doctor that she can indeed ejaculate. We learn that Vanessa has been having a series of problems — pain after sex, recurring yeast infections and so on — that no doctors can figure out.

From here Barmak momentarily leaves Vanessa’s story behind and turns her attention to the clitoris itself, noting that “the mapping of the human genome was completed in 2003, years before we got around to doing an ultrasound on the ordinary human clit.”

While the tendency is to see history as ever moving forward and progressing, Barmak counters that “women’s sexuality began by being celebrated, then was feared as too potent, before being downplayed and denied in the scientific era.”

The Christian church, the scientific revolution and various other factors resulted in a demonization and rejection of female bodies. It’s a generalized historical account to be sure, but Barmak does point readers in the direction of Naomi Wolf’s Vagina, a much more comprehensive book on the subject.

What makes this essay so powerful is the way it revisits and concludes with Vanessa and her struggle. Her story held up against the larger history of the clitoris itself demonstrates all too well an overall contempt for and neglect of the female genitalia.

Along with research and anecdotes, Barmak amasses a diverse collection of interviews with doctors, researchers and sex educators. I was excited to learn many factoids that I will surely whip out at dinner parties in the future — for instance, vaginal self stimulation actually blocks pain in women, and even women who are paralysed can sometimes still feel sexual pleasure because of nerves which bypass the spinal cord and communicate directly with the brain!

Barmak combines this research and traditional journalistic writing with first-person narration, bringing her own experience into the story. This means attending seminars and workshops, watching a demonstration of a female orgasm at Burning Man, and getting a vaginal massage.

Barmak is open about her own skepticism and trepidation during these investigations. “I like to consider myself open to new things,” she writes. “Yet, the idea of a strange lady’s gloved fingers all up in my jade palace falls somewhat outside my personal boundaries.” She goes through with it and the personal account makes for a richer narrative overall.

A note about the term “woman”: Barmak uses it throughout the book to generally refer to the cisgendered female experience. If I have any strong critique of the book it is that by celebrating the distinctly female anatomy, the book sometimes verges on unintentionally emphasizing a gender binary. This is something Barmak herself seems aware of. She notes on pg. 21 that “the word woman can refer equally to cisgender, intersex, genderqueer and transgender women all representing varied shades of experience.” While it’s good that the acknowledgement is there, I think a declaration like this belongs even earlier on as a note for readers to keep in mind before the book even begins.

That said, Barmak does make an effort to include the experiences of typically marginalized women such as trans women and women of colour in her narrative. “Being white affords privileges even in non-mainstream spaces of revolt such as sexuality,” she notes.

The topic is something “that requires far more depth and attention than this little book can offer,” Barmak says and while this seems like a partial cop-out for having only a few pages devoted to women of colour and trans women specifically, Barmak makes a valid point. Issues regarding sexuality faced by marginalized women warrant entire books altogether, preferably penned by a writer who has lived those experiences.

Nevertheless, I think this book would have been more complete with a sixth section devoted specifically to these issues.

At its core this book is compassionately optimistic, celebrating the innate complexity of sexual pleasure itself and arguing in favor of orgasms for all, something I can definitely get behind.

Sex educator and vlogger Lindsay Doe has a motto she repeats at the end of each of her videos: “stay curious.” Closer isn’t the definitive book about female sexuality and it doesn’t claim to be. But it made me curious about my own body, and even more curious about the wonderfully vast array of experiences we humans have between the sheets.

I recommend it to my friends of all genders, my boyfriend, my sisters, and especially the woman who started it all, my mother.

Complete Article HERE!

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New At This?

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Name: Sita
Gender: female
Age: 19
Location: Delhi
Hi!
I came to know u through the net. I am from India and I am 19 years old. I am married for the past one year and I have a problem. Myself and my husband had sexual relationship which meant only breaking of the hymen but whenever he tries to insert it I cry out of pain and stop him from it. I really do not know how to overcome this problem. Kindly help me please.

The two most likely reasons for this painful fucking are: 1) you’re not aroused enough before the fucking begins, or 2) you have a physical condition that might make fucking painful, even if you are aroused.

I’d be willing to bet that, in your case, Sita, the first reason is the more likely cause of your discomfort. This is often the case with young people having their first go at sex. One can hardly fault them, both women and men in our culture as well as the women and men in yours are not particularly informed about their own sexual response cycle, much less the sexual response cycle of their partners.

Young women new to sex, may not have time to come to full arousal before their man starts trying to shove “it” in. A woman, particularly one who is new to fucking, must come to full arousal before her partner attempts penetration. A man, on the other hand, needs only to have a stiff dick. And if the young men in your country are anything like the young men here in the good old US of A, they pretty much have a hardon 24 hours a day. This obviously makes them ready and eager for the old in and out long before their female partners are ready and eager for the same. If your husband is guilty of this, and I’d bet my last rupee that he is, your body will resist him, even if you want to make a go of it.

I’d also be willing to bet that your culture, like ours, doesn’t value a woman’s sexuality or pleasure as much as it values a man’s sexuality and pleasure. If that’s the case, you’re gonna have to struggle against those cultural forces to gain your rightful place as an equal sex partner in your marriage.

jillin off

Start by being well informed about your own sexual response cycle. If you don’t know what turns your crank, don’t expect your hubby to know what to do.

My first question to you is: are you orgasmic? If not, there’s a whole lot of remedial sex learning for you to do on your own. If you resist doing this, for whatever reason — women are not supposed to do that, blah, blah, blah —you can say good by to ever enjoying sex with your man.

Once you figure out how your body work, it’s gonna be your responsibility to instruct your husband on the subtleties and points of interest of your particular pussy. Touch is very important to most women: often a woman will want to be touched and caressed all over, not just on the sexually charged points of her body like her tits and clit. Take your husband on a little touch tour of your body. Literally, take him by the hand and touch yourself with his fingers. Show him the kind of touch you like in the places you like to be touched. Take your time with this. I can guarantee he’s not gonna get it the first time out.

With your help he’s gonna be able to see your arousal build. He should be encouraged to use his lips and mouth as well as his hands. Make your man work for his bone, darling. If you let him just pounce on you like a sack of rice, that’s how he’s gonna respond to you. If you want him to behave like a lover rather than a conqueror, then you’re gonna have to demand that of him.

If you’re not fully aroused, your pussy will be dry. Use a lubricant to make yourself slippery and to facilitate penetration. If you can’t get commercial lube, cooking oil or saliva is better than nothing at all.

more lube

If you follow these simple steps, Sita, you will have greater success with your fucking. You will experience great pleasure and be a fount of great pleasure for your husband. In the end, it is you who must take the lead in this. Know your own body, so you can give teach your husband about it. Then insist that he must respect and use that information.

Good luck

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How things work down there

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Name: Samantha
Gender: female
Age: 17
Location: Kansas City, KS
I’m with this boy and his penis is too big. Like it literally hits the end of my vagina and there’s still an inch or two hanging out. I’m not sure why, but when he want to go all the way in it hurts. It hurts like virgin hurts. It’s not fun at all. But when he doesn’t go all the way in and keeps those couple of inches out, it’s the best sex of my life. But then he always ruins it by shoving the whole thing in, if you know what I mean. I’m just wondering if you have any advice on how he could control himself, or help me tolerate his thrusting. I’m just wondering if there is any help for this.
PS: I love your podcasts!

Aww shucks! Thanks for your kind words about the podcasts, darlin’. I really appreciate it.

As to the issue you raise about your horse-hung BF, I have a whole lot to say, don’t cha know. I have suggestions for him, suggestions for you, and suggestions for the both of you. You’ll also find one of my Sexual Enrichment Tutorials: Basic Sexual Positions For One And All, very helpful.

feet

First, here are my suggestions for your BF. I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and guess that he is a young thing like you, and he has yet to learn how to handle that big pipe of his. So many guys, regardless of their cock size, think that they are givin’ their woman some mighty fine pleasure by slammin’ into them like a wild stallion. These guys probably picked up this unfortunate information through watching porn. And if there is one thing that we all can say for sure it is, if a guy gets his sex education from porn, he’s gonna be poorly equipped for when he encounters a real woman who’s gonna let him jump her bones.Woman_On_Top

In your BF’s defense, he’s only doin what comes naturally. Here’s the thing; as he gets closer to cuming he will increase his thrusts and try to smash deeper inside you. Nature programmed us men folk to do this to insure the spunk we’re about to spew will land as close to the female’s cervix as possible. After all nature’s only concern is insuring successful impregnation of female, not insuring her pleasure. Bummer that, huh?

I guess you realize, as I do, that this brutish natural tendency needs to be tamed if there’s gonna be any pleasure in it for you. And guess what? There’s no one better situated to subdue the beast in your BF than you. Probably neither you, or you BF knows all that much about your internal anatomy. Am I right? Thought so. That’s why I think you both might benefit from a remedial anatomy lesson. Did you know a vulva is made up of the same tissue as a penis and scrotum? In other words a cock and balls are simply a pussy on a stick. And pussies come in a variety of sizes shapes, just like cocks & balls.

Ok, so we’re clear on that point, right? Excellent. Now the variation in size and shape of the external components of female genitalia, the vulva, vaginal lips, clit, etc., are only a preview of the amazing capacities of the internal components, the vagina itself. A vagina is best understood as a potential space. It’s very expandable. It has to be, since whole babies come pushin’ through that space from time to time. I’m just gonna hope that you both are clear on that concept.

Again if you follow where I’m going with this you’ll realize that just about any adult female vagina is able to accommodate even the really big boys. However, being able to accommodate and wanting to be impaled by a giant johnson are two very different things.

This brings me to my suggestions for you, Sam. I wholeheartedly recommend that one day real soon you have a nice long talk with the BF about you and your parts. But you have to familiarize yourself with them first. It’s beyond me why the men folk don’t ask to be introduced to a new cunt before they start pokin’ at it. Like I said earlier, everyone’s is different. I mean, most guys will take some time to figure out what all the buttons, gizmos, gadgets, and levers do when he gets behind the wheel of a new car, right? Why they don’t to that with an unfamiliar pussy is beyond me. But I digress.

Take your BF by the hand, literally and show him around. It’ll be your job to point out all the really exciting points of interest in your neither regions…and there are plenty of ‘em, don’t cha know. I’d be willing to guess that you both will be sorely amazed. Most guys think their dick is talented. But let me tell you, it pales in comparison to a cooch.

Let me introduce you both to a little exercise called: THE AT HOME SEXOLOGICAL EXAMINATION. I use this exercise frequently in my private practice.

Disposable-Vaginal-SpeculumThis exercise is designed to facilitate communication with your partner about what each of you likes and dislikes about genital stimulation. You will need a good anatomically correct diagram of both the female and male genitalia — internal as well as external.   You will also need a speculum, hand mirror, and a flashlight. I suppose you know what a speculum is, right? It’s a medical device designed for investigating body cavities. You can get an inexpensive plastic disposable vaginal speculum online for around seven bucks.  Believe me it’s well worth the price. You probably could get one from your doctor or your local Planned Parenthood clinic too. All ya gotta do is ask.

How to proceed:

  1. Look online for a really good diagram of both the female and male genitalia. Make sure the diagrams you choose label all the parts, inside and out. Print these out if necessary. You’re gonna want to have the diagrams close to hand for this exercise.sex exam
  2. Take turns examining and being examined. It’s gonna be just like playing doctor. First, look for and then touch to all the parts of your external genitalia — he touches you and you touch him. This is touching for information as opposed to touching for pleasure, but it’ll be pleasurable nonetheless.
  3. Give each other plenty of specific feedback about what you are discovering. Be honest. Try different strokes on all of the parts. Use some agreed upon system for designating pleasure, like a scale of 1-5. 1 = discomfort, 3 = neutral, and 5 = hot, hot, hot. You could use colors just as well as numbers; it’s up to you.
  4. Once you have the parts down, so to speak, allow the person being examined (person A) to guide the hand of the examiner (person B). The examiner (B) allows the one who is being examined (person A) to be in charge for a few minutes. Person A guides person B’s hand in the areas, strokes, rhythms, pressures she or he prefers.
  5. Person B then takes over without guidance from person A. Person B spends some time giving the strokes he or she enjoys giving. Person A provides specific feedback — “I like that! I don’t much like that!” Use your fingers, hands, and mouth.
  6. Once you are familiar with one another’s external genitalia, you’ll want to use the speculum to take a peek inside your vagina. You, Sam will need a hand mirror and the BF will need the flashlight.
  7. With the speculum in place and open, see if you can find your cervix. It should be pretty obvious. I believe it is your cervix that your BF is bumping into with his deep manly thrusts. And that, as you well know, is pretty damn painful. Once he has an appreciation of how things are situated inside you, he will have a much better appreciation for how to pleasure you, without hurting you. And you will know what to do to help him get off without hurting you.
  8. If you feel like having sex when you’ve finished your exam, I encourage you to wait at least a couple of hours before you do. This way you can better focus on the educational aspects of this exercise as opposed to having it be just seductive foreplay.  Sometimes, information gathering can be really sexy too.

Finally, as I said earlier, check out that sexual positions tutorial. You may find that all you and the BF need to do is come up with a new position for the fuck, like you on top, or doggie style.

Good luck





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You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’

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Name: Heather
Gender: Female
Age: 36
Location: USA
I have been married for 10 years. I told my husband 6 years ago that I was not physically attracted to him anymore. I stopped wanting sex from him, because he just turned me off. No matter what he does — cleaning, cooking, running me a bath, eat me and so on but nothing works. I start to get wet and as soon as he gets started but I dry up like a prune what should I do? I have not had good sex in a long time.

Well, if you’re not attracted to him anymore, you’re not attracted to him anymore…plain and simple. But what I don’t get is, how come you’re old man is still hangs in there after six years of disinterest on your part? Is he some kind of glutton for punishment?he & she hips

If I was your long-suffering hubby and I was doin all this stuff, including cooking, cleaning and eatin’ out your pussy, I’d sure as hell demand an explanation for your attitude change. Of course, maybe he likes being the doormat. Some men really get off on being dominated and treated like shit. Is that why you are no longer into him, because he’s behaving like an emasculated pussy?

Or is there something else he’s done that has put you off? Did he gain weight? Does he not attend to his personal hygiene? Did he become a Republican? Ya know, things like that. If it is something he’s done or failed to do and he can change his behavior to better suit you, maybe you oughta clue him in on this.

haven't had sex in a whileHowever, if it’s not something he’s done or failed to do, but it’s you. Then he needs to know that too. You did say that you dry up like a prune. Are you using lube with your penetrative sex? Perhaps it’s your libido that’s gone south, not his relative attractiveness? Sometimes women get these two things confused. And there are any number of things that can mess up the arousal phase of your sexual response cycle.

Do you have sexual fantasies? Do you masturbate? Are horny for anyone else — either real or imagined? How’s your health? Are you on birth control? Are you depressed? Sleep deprived? Are you putting on the pounds? Could you be experiencing early-onset menopause? As you can see, there are innumerable reasons for a decrease in libido.

At any rate, Heather, you really need to get to the bottom of this, and soon, six years is a mighty long time to live like this. I’d look for a sex-positive therapist to connect with, if I were you. Clearly, you’ve been unable, in six years, to discern the cause of your attitude change on your own. It’s irresponsible to continue to drift with the status quo.

Good luck

Name: Pete
Gender: Male
Age: 33
Location: Florida
I’ve noticed that some of the skin on my dick is starting to wear away from me masturbating…there is no blood or anything like that. Just the skin turning light in color around head of my dick. I think it’s my grip. Is there a way the color will come back or have I rubbed the skin cells to death. I masturbate about 3-4 times a week. I’m not in a relationship and prefer masturbation over random sex.

Your dick skin is wearing away??? Really? What are you handling your unit with, darlin’, sandpaper?

You say you think it’s your grip. Ya think? Hey Pete, are you using lube when you stroke? Or are you just yanking away down there with wild abandon using a dry hand? If you’re not using a good jack off lube like, Spunk Lube then ya better start right away! This stuff is also great for use with condoms.jeans 1

As to the rather sudden coloration change on your dick, I’d be willing to guess that it has nothing to do with jerkin’ off, even like a maniac. More likely it’s a genetic condition known as vitiligo. And the coloration change is actually a loss in pigment. This is not a health concern. Really! Nor is it contagious. So you don’t have to worry about it in that regard. If it is indeed vitiligo, there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s irreversible, but it can and does spread.

Here’s a relatively easy way to self-diagnose this pesky, but benign condition. While naked as a jaybird, squat over a mirror. If what you have is vitiligo, you will also see the same kind of color changes (or more properly — loss of pigment) around your asshole. You may also notice it on your elbows and knees. If you are fair-skinned, the loss of pigment will be less noticeable then if you have a darker complexion.

If it’s not vitiligo, you might consider a check up with your physician. But I pretty much can guarantee you that unless you are absolutely ruthless in your masturbation technique, manhandling yourself is not the cause of the color change on your joystick.

Good luck

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