How to Have Sex if You’re Queer

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What to Know About Protection, Consent, and What Queer Sex Means

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Happy Pride!

Rarely does traditional sex education tackle pleasure for pleasure’s sake, how to have sex for non-reproductive purposes, or the wide spectrums of sexualities, bodies, and genders that exist. Instead it tends to cover penis-in-vagina penetration only, pregnancy risks, and STI/STD transmission, leaning heavily on scare tactics that may not even work.

Traditional sex ed is failing us all, but when it comes to standardized sex education in the U.S., the LGBTQ community is especially left out of the conversation. A GLSEN National School Climate Survey found that fewer than 5% of LGBTQ students had health classes that included positive representations of LGBTQ-related topics. Among self-identified “millennials” surveyed in 2015, only 12% said their sex education classes covered same-sex relationships at all.

The good, and even possibly great news is that not being boxed in by the narrow definitions of sex provided to us via traditional sex ed means that we are free (and perhaps even empowered!) to build our own sex lives that work uniquely for us, our partners, and our relationships. But we still need some info in order to do so.

Let’s talk about what classic sex education might’ve missed about how to have sex if you’re queer, from what sex between queer people means to how to keep it safe and consensual between the rainbow sheets.

What Queer Sex Means and How to Have it

Redefine and self-define sex. Sexual desire exists on a spectrum just like gender, sexuality, and other fluid and fluctuating parts of our identities. From Ace to Gray-Ace to Allosexual and everywhere in between and beyond, check in with yourself and your partners about how they experience sexual desire (if at all).

Similarly, “having sex” can mean a million different things to a million different people from making out, to certain kinds of penetration, orgasmic experiences, etc. You get to decide “what counts as sex” to you which is especially true when it comes to sexual debuts — a necessary and inclusive term for self-determined first times that looks beyond the traditional, heterosexist version of “losing your virginity.”

Honoring the identities and bodies of ourselves and our partners with respect, kindness, compassion, and tenderness is crucial and can feel even more precious and rewarding when you’re queer. Truly pleasurable sex — regardless of your identity — starts with a sense of safety, clear communication, confident boundaries, active listening skills, and self-awareness.

Check in with yourself first. Active consent starts with knowing yourself and what your boundaries are. Though an important piece of practicing consent is asking your partner for permission and for their preferences, it can be easy to forget to ask yourself similar questions. What do you want out of a sexual experience? Where are you confident you don’t want to venture now, yet, or maybe ever? What are you super excited to explore?

This check-in can help you determine what you want from sex and what queer sex means to you. This is when you can think about experimenting with sex toys, whether you’re interested in penetration, and what kind of touch feels good to you.

Sometimes we don’t even know where to start if we’re not sure about what our options even are. Scarleteen.com or Girl Sex 101 (much more gender-spectrum-inclusive than the title suggests) are both great resources that can get some of your questions answered. You can also find more information here.

Name your own bits. Body parts, especially private body parts, can be complicated territory for LGBTQ folks, and understandably so. One of the main goals of sex for many of us is to feel good in our bodies. The first step to this can be feeling good about the terms we use for our body parts. Try on one or a few that might work for you, communicate them to your partners (especially new ones), and ask them how they like their bodies to be talked about or touched.

Gender roles are bendable roles. You don’t have to adopt traditional gender roles in sex unless you want to. Media mediums from PG-13 sex scenes to X-rated porn can create clear splits between what’s considered being “sexually masculine” (being the do-er, taking control, knowing the ropes) and being “sexually feminine” (being the receiver, being passive or reactive, being led rather than initiating the sexual interaction).

Just because you identify with being masculine, feminine, or somewhere in between doesn’t mean you need to act a certain way or do anything in particular in your sex life. You can be a Ferociously Fierce Femme, a Passive Prince of Pillows, a Non-Binary Take-Charge Babe, or any version of your sexual self that follows what feels good, affirming, and right to you and your partners.

Talk about sex outside of a sexual context. Talking about sex with your potential or current partners before the clothes come off can be a great way to keep clear-headed communication and consent thriving. Sexual interactions are vulnerable, exciting, and can get your body and brain functioning in all new ways. So, sometimes it can be easier to talk about your feelings about sex, your enthusiastic Yes-es, your definite No’s, and your curious Maybes over coffee or text first, in addition to in-the-moment communication about consent.

Make an aftercare plan. We know that consent, permission, and pre-sex talks are all important parts of a healthy sex life, but we can forget to think about what happens after we have sex (besides water, a pee break, and snacks, of course). This is aftercare — or, how we like to be interacted with after sex has ended.

Aftercare preferences can include what we want to do immediately after sex (cuddle? watch Netflix? have some alone time?) and can also include what happens in the upcoming days or weeks (check-ins over text? gossip parameters? is there anyone you and your partner definitely do or don’t want to dish to?).

No matter your aftercare preferences, a post-sex check-in conversation about how things went, what you’d love an encore of, and what you might want to avoid next time (if you’d like there to be a next time) is always a good idea.

Always keep it consensual. Consent starts with asking permission before any sexual touch or interaction begins, continues with checking in about how things are going, and ends with talking with each other about how the sexual interaction went overall so that feedback can be exchanged and any mistakes can be repaired.

True, enthusiastic consent thrives in a space where each person feels free, clear-headed, and safe to speak up about what their No’s, Yes-es, and Maybes are.

Safer Sex for Queer Sex

Hormones matter. Even though testosterone hormones can decrease your risk of unwanted pregnancy, folks on T can still become pregnant, so make sure to use condoms if sperm is likely to be in the mix. Estrogen hormones can slow sperm production, but if your body is still producing sperm, an egg-creating partner could still get pregnant, so put your favorite birth control method to work.

Starting or ending hormone therapy, whether it’s testosterone or estrogen, can impact your sexual response, your desire levels, your emotions, and even your sexual orientation — so don’t be surprised if these changes crop up. Find safe people to talk to about any complicated feelings this may trigger rather than keeping them bottled up.

Condoms aren’t a one-trick pony. Though the gym teacher might think that putting a condom on a banana tells students all they need to know about wrapping it up, they’re usually doing little more than wasting a high-potassium snack. Condoms can help reduce pregnancy and STI/STD transmission risk for all kinds of penis-penetrative sex (vaginal, anal, and oral) so they’re important to learn to use correctly. But, they can also be used in other ways. Condoms can be put on sex toys to help with easy clean-up, or if you want to share the toy with a partner without getting up to wash it (just put on a fresh condom instead!), and can even be made into dental dams.

Gloves are another important piece of latex (or non-latex if you’re allergic) to keep…on hand…in your safer-sex kit, as they can prevent transmission of fluids into unnoticed cuts on your hands and can protect delicate orifice tissues from rough nails or your latest catclaw manicure (Pssst: if your nails are extra long and pointy, you can put cotton balls down in the tips of your glove for extra padding).

Lube is your friend. Lube is a great addition to all kinds of sex, but comes highly recommended for certain kinds of sex. A good water-based lube (avoid the ingredient glycerin if you’re prone to yeast infections!) can add pleasurable slip to all kinds of penetration, is latex-compatible, and reduces friction from sex toys or other body parts.

Lube can also be put on the receiver’s end of a dental dam or a small drop can be added to the inside of a condom before you put it on to create more pleasure for the condom-wearer.

Anal sex especially benefits from lube as your booty doesn’t self-lubricate like the vagina does, so it can be prone to painful tearing or friction during penetration. Using a thicker water-based lube like Sliquid Sassy for anal sex reduces friction, increases pleasure, and decreases chances of tearing which, also lowers risk of STI/STD transmission.

Sadly, no one is immune to STIs. Though it’s true that certain sex acts come with greater or lesser risk of STI/STD transmission, it doesn’t mean that certain partner pairings are totally risk-free. The Human Rights Campaign’s Safer Sex Guide (available in both Spanish and English) contains a helpful chart that breaks down the health risks associated with specific sex acts, complete with barrier and birth control methods that’ll help lower your risk.

Remember, some STIs/STDs are easily curable with medication, some are permanent-yet-manageable, and some can be lethal (especially if left untreated). So, knowing the difference and knowing and communicating your status are all important pieces of your sexual health. You can continue to lower STI stigma while reducing rates of STI transmission by keeping conversations about sexual health with your partners open and non-judgmental.

Sex toys need baths, too. When choosing sex toys, it’s wise to pay attention to the kind of material your toy is made out of. Medical grade silicone, stainless steel, glass, and treated wooden sex toys are all, for the most part, non-porous, meaning that they can (and should) easily be washed with soap and water between uses, between orifices, and between partners.

Sex toys made out of cyberskin, jelly rubber, elastomer, or other porous materials have small pores in them that can trap dirt and bacteria (kind of like a sponge), even after you wash them! This means that you could reintroduce dirt and bacteria to your own body causing bacterial or yeast infections for yourself, or you could pass bacteria or STIs to a partner via the toy. You could avoid these porous materials entirely (check the packaging to see what your toy is made out of) or you could use a condom on them every time like you would a body part.

For more tips on building a culture of consent in your communities and relationships, head to yanatallonhicks.com/consenthandout.

Complete Article HERE!

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14 Sex Questions To Ask Your Partner

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To Ensure Sexual Consent

By Stacie Ysidro

Get comfortable talking about sex.

Before getting intimate with your partner, there are a few consensual sex questions that are worth asking.

Over  the last 10 years of coaching and connecting, I have worked with mostly men and couples. I started out with tantra and sacred sexuality focusing on premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.

I have helped men connect to get out of their heads(quiet thoughts) and into their bodies(feel sensations), harness and control their sexual energy and orgasm. I have helped them get to know women’s bodies and women’s sexual response.

They have gained confidence and knowledge that helped them have more sex and importantly more satisfying sex.

Along the way many men have opened up to me about their concerns and fear around dealing with masculinity and understanding women in and out of the bedroom. Men either feel like aggressive entitled jerks or passive pushovers stuck in the friend zone.

Men need an assertive safe zone.

In the wake of this ‘Me too’ movement there has been a rise in fear around masculine energy. It has been framed as toxic and detrimental.

Not every touch, compliment or glance is an assault. Not every woman feels like a victim. The toxic masculinity frame has harmed men as well as women! The time has come to bring the conscious divine masculine to clarity and shatter the toxic masculine image!

Instead of taking sides let’s come together and communicate in a healthy, loving way.

Fact is, we have a lack of sex education in our country and most of the world. We are not taught communication skills in general. It is clear why we have so much miscommunication or lack of communication about sexuality.

Women and men have been taught opposite messages around sexuality. It is time to unlearn these harmful ideas, attitudes and beliefs.

Always talk about sex before diving in. If you are not comfortable talking about it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

Here are some helpful questions everyone can use, for having sexual consent conversations with your partner/partners or a potential partner.

Say out loud and agree up front: there are no judgments or expectations and nothing will be taken personally, this is all just information.

What to say, what to ask:

1. Do you want to be in a monogamous relationship?

2. What does monogamous mean to you? 

3. I’m really into XYZ are you comfortable with that?’

4. I recently saw this type of play and I am interested in experimenting.

5. How do you feel/what do you think about that?

6. Would you like to try XYZ with me?

7. Tell me if I am using too much or too little pressure.

8. Does XYZ feel good to you?

9. Would you like more pressure than this or less?

10. What are your boundaries in the bedroom? What is completely off the table?

11. What do you find pleasurable?

12. What is not pleasurable to you?

13. What are some things you would like to experiment with?

14. What is you definition of kink? what is taboo to you but is a turn on?

Always keep in mind that in the heat of the moment a yes can become a no but a no can not become a yes. The last thing you want to do is break trust.

You can always have another conversation and create new boundaries for next time. Better to take it slower and be conscious than to have remorse later for crossing a line in the heat of the moment.

A little bit of communication even if it feels awkward, can guarantee a more satisfying experience for you both. Keep in mind the more you have these conversations the more comfortable they will become.

Complete Article HERE!

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5 Things Straight People Can Learn from Queer Sex

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By Ariana DiValentino

Being queer, in some ways, is a blessing. If there’s one thing the queer world is good at, it’s having really, really good sex.

Of course, there’s no such thing as “the” queer world — it’s a multitude of communities, localities, subcultures, and identifications. Within queer spaces, there tend to be prevailing attitudes of sex positivity and adventurousness that are hard to come across elsewhere.

While things like consent, communication, and kink have entered conversations about sex on a grand scale, some aspects of these things are just baked into queer sexuality. When there’s no set script for a standard sexual encounter — who does what and to whom — it’s liberating. And it makes communication, exploration, and mutual comfort absolutely fundamental.

The first time I had sex with a woman, my partner asked if I enjoy penetration. I was taken aback, because I realized I had literally never thought about it. No previous partner had ever asked me. It had never occurred to me that as a woman, I couldn’t like penetration.

Simply being asked about the very basics of what you like can be powerful, because it centers your actual preferences and experience over the assumptions that go along with whatever social categories you’ve been assigned due to your gender identity, presentation, or having certain body parts. It gives you permission not to like whatever it is you’re supposed to like, and to like whatever you’re not supposed to.

But these moves shouldn’t be exclusive to queer sex by any means — anyone, including cishet (cisgender heterosexual) people — can learn a lot from queer sex. Here’s some advice from queer folks* that’s good for everyone.

*Some last names have been omitted in the interest of privacy.

Sex doesn’t have to follow the same basic hierarchy of acts

If you’ve been through middle school, you’re probably familiar with the baseball metaphor for sex: First base is kissing, second base is feeling up (usually boobs) or sometimes handjobs or fingering, third base is oral sex, and a home run — going all the way — is vaginally penetrative sex — typically with a penis.

But if both partners have a vagina or a penis — or they don’t ascribe to the gender roles typically assigned to those parts — the script sort of goes out the window. For queer people, going all the way can mean whatever we want it to.

“Sex doesn’t always have to happen a certain way,” Isaac Van Curen, an artist based in New York City, says. “You should check in on how you’re feeling that day, what will give you pleasure in that moment. I first and foremost think sex should be for pleasure.”

The main event doesn’t need to be vaginal penetration, or any kind of penetration at all. If oral sex or digital stimulation gets you there, perfect! A sexual encounter isn’t any less valid if it doesn’t follow an arbitrary progression of acts. Just focus on doing whatever gives you and your partner(s) pleasure.

Mutual safety, comfort, and enthusiasm come before all else

This one point was echoed by everyone I spoke to for this piece. Because sex isn’t necessarily expected to happen one particular way, communication is extremely necessary to find out what each of you likes and definitely dislikes.

Sam Smith, a storyboard artist based in NYC — and my partner — explains that his transness makes boundaries crucial to intimacy for him, even in relationships.

“I don’t like to remove my shirt, with or without a binder. I’ll only allow you to put your hand on my chest if I’m wearing a binder,” Smith says.

“In the heat of the moment, people think that anything is up for grabs, like literally up for grabs, but that’s not true.” When he explains to other people that these lines remain even after being with a partner for any amount of time, he says, they often express disbelief.

“They’re like, ‘What do you mean? Why not?’ Because that’s my boundary.” Many trans people have firm rules regarding where they do and don’t like to be touched and which clothing articles they don’t want to remove during sex, often because they experience dysphoria pertaining to sexualized body parts. Talking about these boundaries before sex is necessary to having a good time.

But by no means should this respect for boundaries and tendency to ask questions — not make assumptions — be exclusive to trans and queer folk. Any individual may need to put boundaries in place for any multitude of reasons, ranging from past traumas to simply feeling uncomfortable with certain parts of one’s body.

Absolutely everyone should feel secure in setting limits to protect themselves from emotional distress. Knowing your partner’s preferences and boundaries — not guessing them — is the foundation of any good sexual experience.

“There should definitely be a level of trust between partners. I should be able to stop in the middle of sex and say hey, this isn’t for me, and not feel weird trying to communicate that I’m uncomfortable,” says Van Curen.

In addition to consent, safety and comfort pertain to other factors involved in sex as well. Van Curen points to the existence of medications like PreP, which can prevent the transmission of HIV, as something that a person might require to feel safe during sex. For others, that might mean one or more other tools, like condoms, dental dams, or oral contraceptives.

Good communication creates room for trying new things

BDSM, when practiced properly, involves lots of boundary setting and advance communication, for the sake of the physical and emotional well-being of everyone involved. All that talk might seem exhaustive, but it shouldn’t feel that way — limits and terms are as important as pleasure.

Tina Serrano, an art director based in NYC, describes her first experience with a femme domme: “She asked if I was into BDSM and I said yes without thinking — so we sat and talked about it. She asked me a lot of questions, we talked about consent and limits, about our lives, who we’d loved, she talked about her field research,” Serrano says. “We didn’t even have sex that night, we sat and drank and talked until we fell asleep on the couch.”

Communication shouldn’t feel an obstacle to sex — it’s a kind of intimacy that happens before clothes come off. Talking openly and genuinely caring about your partner’s limits, even in a casual context, can be romantic and sexy.

Claire and Katja, a newlywed couple who have been together for six and a half years, iterate that feeling safe and comfortable enough to talk with your partner means not only avoiding bad experiences, but laying the groundwork for interesting, new, good ones.

“Provide space for your partner to bring up things they might want to try sexually with you. Listening doesn’t mean you have to do or try anything, but it does mean that you are building trust,” they tell Greatist.

It’s easiest to voice your desire to try out new toys, positions, or kinky behaviors in a situation that feels safe and comfortable for experimentation. And if things don’t go porno perfectly? No sweat.

“Embarrassing things happen. Laugh about them,” the couple says.

Don’t be constrained by gender or appearance

Just like men are so often positioned to be dominant and women to be submissive, even non-heterosexual pairings can sometimes be subjected to gendered assumptions. Van Curen emphasizes that his appearance, down to whether or not he has facial hair at a given moment, leads people to make assumptions about his preferred sex positions — i.e, whether he’s a “bottom” or a “top.”

In sapphic or lesbian settings, the butch-femme dichotomy can function similarly. Katja and Claire point out the tendency of other people to identify them as the butch and the femme, respectively, when in reality they don’t feel that this binary describes them very well.

Attached to both of these scenarios is the assumption that the more masculine partner “performs” the sex act while the more feminine person “receives” it. But here’s the secret that queer people know: Gender doesn’t have to mean anything more than you want it to.

Gender doesn’t have to determine what you do in bed — but it can function as a sex toy in and of itself. Gender play can involve heightening or swapping typically gendered roles and behaviors.

“Performing gender roles during sex is a kind of kink,” according to Claire and Katja. Lots of queer people strongly identify with labels like butch or femme, twink, bear, sub, dom, and so on — Isaac mentions having friends who proudly call themselves dom bottoms, sub tops, bratty tops, and more — and some people think of themselves as verses or switches. Sometimes dabbling in behavior you otherwise wouldn’t, in life or in the bedroom, can be sexy.

And finally, don’t neglect the basics of having a body

Whenever, wherever, and however you’re having sex, stay in touch with your body — not just what it likes, but what it needs. “Sex is a physical activity,” Van Curen advises. “I take water breaks. Sometimes I make sure I have a snack on hand.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Educate yourself in the sexiest way

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By Gabrielle Kassel

Finding answers to questions relating to sex and sexuality is easier than ever before. No matter what you’re looking for, there’s likely a sexpert or a podcast or another source to point you in the right direction. There’s even a whole Netflix show, Sex Education, devoted to the filling in the gaps of our knowledge. Still, there’s a (tech-free) resource you’re probably not utilizing to the max that can seriously boost your sex IQ: books.

Below, Well+Good’s go-to sex experts and educators share their favorite sex-education books—including buzzy newer releases and tried and true faves alike—that’ll rock your mind.

Add the following 12 sexpert-approved reads to your TBR pile and boost your sex IQ in the process.

1. The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love, by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton

“This was one of the most transformative books for me. I grew up in a community where having many sexual partners, engaging in kinky activities, or having relationships outside of strict monogamy was seen as abnormal, even immoral. The Ethical Slut changed my entire concept about what sex and relationships can be. It validated my sexual desires, encouraged exploration, and valued sex with consent and respect. Its explanation and understanding of jealousy also reframed my perception of the feeling. I would highly recommend this read for anyone who feels outside the sexual norm (whatever that is), who is looking to explore (whether they’re single or partnered), and/or who wants to transform how they think about relationships and sex.”

—Amy Boyajian, co-founder and CEO of Wild Flower, a sexual-wellness and adult-product online store

2. Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá

“This book played a significant role in my journey of sexual self-discovery. The authors target and explain where many staunchly held oppressive beliefs about sexuality originate. They unravel the ways even scientists are affected by personal bias, social norms, and heteronormativity. The truth of the matter is that we all have to figure out what we think about sex, gender, and love for ourselves…through experience!”

MacKenzie Peck, founder of Math Magazine, a modern pornographic magazine celebrating sex and sexuality

3. Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters—And How to Get It, by Laurie Mintz, PhD

“This is is a must-, must-, must- read for all vulva owners, and their sexual partners. Mainstream media has taught us that sex = penis + vagina, and that everything else is “foreplay,” or appetizers to the main course that is penetrative sex. The author explains how we’ve been thinking about sex all wrong, all this time, and how as a result, we’ve created a very real pleasure gap between women and men. The key to closing this pleasure gap? The clitoris.”

—Michelle Shnaidman, founder and CEO of Bellesa, a sex-toy company run by women

4. On Chesil Beach: A Novel, by Ian McEwan

“This isn’t a traditional sex-ed book, but On Chesil Beach is a beautiful depiction of how sexual shame can negatively impact your relationships. The young newlyweds think sex is supposed to be easy and come naturally, but it doesn’t. Even though the story takes place prior to the sexual revolution, I believe many couples still suffer from the inability to talk openly to each other about sex.”

Brianna Rader, founder and CEO of Juicebox, a sex and relationship coaching app

5. The Pursuit of Pleasure, by Lionel Tiger

“This book is my all-time favorite, as it’s really about discovering why pleasure is important and what all the fuss is about. Tiger details our evolutionary entitlement and what we want our pleasure legacy to look like. Sex aside, this book will make you think twice before placing pain as your pathway to gratitude when pleasure is an option (and a far more rewarding one, at that). It’s witty and poignant in explaining that pleasure is impressively normal.”

—Dominique Karetsos, resident sexpert with MysteryVibe

6. Tabú, Kinkly, and O.school

“I wish there were more books that talk about sex education. But since anal sex has always been so taboo, I’ve found that for anal sex and butt-play information, blogs are best. Some of my favorite sex-forward blogs are Tabú (which is super visual) Kinkly (because it’s not afraid to go there and it takes a, well, kinkier approach), and O.school (which uses a more traditional approach, but has a lot of video content).”

Evan Goldstein, MD, CEO and founder of Bespoke Surgical, a health-care provider that specializes in helping patients engage in anal sex acts

7. Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, by Emily Nagoski, PhD

“For those who are more into empirical evidence than abstract theories, Come As You Are offers an excellent exploration of sexuality. This book is a great companion for women who benefit from reassurance that they are perfectly complex and perfectly normal. Dr. Emily Nagoski uses scientific research to prove to women everywhere that they are not defective; there are just some central factors involved for women in creating and maintaining a fulfilling sex life.”

Marissa LaRocca, author of Everyone Is a Freak: Intimate Confessions About Sexuality, Gender, and Desire

8. The Guide to Getting it On, by Paul Joannides and Daerick Gross

“My go-to sex book to recommend is The Guide to Getting it On. It’s on its 9th edition, because our understanding and research on human sexuality is ever-growing and evolving. I bought the 3rd edition when I was 17, and the 7th edition when I was 27. It’s thorough (1200 pages, and literally looks like a phone book) and is just so honest, so insightful, and cleverly written in modern language and helpful illustrations.”

Jill McDevitt, PhD, sexologist and author of Fighting the Crusade Against Sex: Being Sex-Positive in a Sex-Negative World

9. The Erotic Mind: Unlocking the Inner Sources of Passion and Fulfillment, by Jack Morin

“In this book, the author unfurls the rationality underlying seemingly illogical desires within most human beings. He presents his readers with what he called the Erotic Equation: attraction + obstacles = excitement. Basically, that means that what we may hold as taboo, naughty or frightening is what becomes the engine driving our erotic curiosity and passion. This is a book for folks curious to understand or embarrassed by what they or their partner(s) find erotically compelling.”

—Sari Cooper, sex therapist and founder of Center for Love and Sex

10.Our Bodies Ourselves, by the Boston Women’s Health Collective

“A think a good one for anyone is Our Bodies Ourselves for anatomy lessons and open conversation about sex. It’s a literal bible.”

Remy Kassimir, host of the How Cum podcast

11. Mating in Captivity Reconciling the Erotic + the Domestic, by Esther Perel

“This book challenges the concept of maintaining the sense of security in a love relationship and delves into the psychological implications behind sexual desire, eroticism, fantasies, and certainty and uncertainty. Where certain subjects or ideas might be too taboo, insulting, or uncomfortable for partners or individuals to bring up, Esther pitches the importance of erotic intelligence, the space that creates, and bringing that space to life within even a monogamous relationship. Whether single or in a long-term partnership, anyone who experiences points of insecurity in sex and love, dirty secretive fantasies, or simply desires to grasp a different perspective on the “taboo” boundaries established by society in general should read this book.”

—Grace Ho, leading pleasure expert with Sweet Vibrations, an online adult boutique

12. Jewel in the Lotus: The Sexual Path to Higher Consciousness, by Bodhi Avinasha and Sunyata Saraswati

Recently I’ve been immersed in the book, Jewel in the Lotus: The Sexual Path to Higher Consciousness, which is one of the best books I’ve read about tantric sex. It has excellent breath work instructions and meditations that help relax and free the mind.”

Alexandra Fine, CEO and co-founder sex-toy company Dame

For more sex wisdom, check out what Esther Perel has to say about why sex gets better as you age, and how to bounce back when your sex life becomes “blah”. Oh, and BTW, scheduling sex is actually great for your relationship.

Complete Article HERE!

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How Couples Can Deal With Mismatched Sex Drives

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By Kelly Gonsalves

One of the most common problems faced by long-term couples is desire discrepancy—one partner wants more sex than the other. It’s a frustrating place to be for both parties: One person doesn’t feel sexually satisfied or desirable in their relationship, the other feels pressured to have sex they don’t really want, and both usually feel guilty for putting their partner in this position.

One excellent way couples can deal with the issue is to see a sex therapist, who can work with them in building a new, mutually satisfying intimate life together. How does sex therapy work? A new paper published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy gives us a pretty good picture, describing one treatment approach for desire discrepancy developed by certified sex therapist and clinical psychologist Barry McCarthy, Ph.D.

Here are the most important steps for dealing with mismatched sex drives, according to McCarthy. Don’t worry—you can get through this.

1. Team up.

One of the most important steps of dealing with desire discrepancy is to stop viewing each other as representatives of opposing sides.

“In the first session, the task of the therapist is to confront the self-defeating power struggle over intercourse frequency and replace it with a new dialogue about the roles and meanings of couple sexuality,” write McCarthy and Tamara Oppliger, M.A., co-author of the study and clinical psychology Ph.D. student at American University, in a draft of the paper shared with mbg. “No one wins a power struggle; the fight is over who is the ‘bad spouse’ or ‘bad sex partner.'”

Stop trying to make one person out to be the enemy. You’re a couple—you’re on the same side of the table, looking over a shared problem that’s hurting your relationship. Come together to make an agreement that this is a journey you’re going to undertake together.

And by the way, your goals for this journey should be clear—and it should not be about making sure you have sex a certain number of times a month. Sexuality is about much more than how often you do it. “The goal of couple sex therapy for desire discrepancy is to reestablish sexuality as a positive 15 to 20% role in their relationship,” the authors write. “It is not to compensate for the past, to declare a ‘winner,’ or to reach a goal for intercourse frequency.”

In other words, your goal is simply to make intimacy a positive force in your relationship, something that feels good to both people.

2. No pressuring another person to have sex, ever.

“Sexual coercion or intimidation is unacceptable,” McCarthy and Oppliger write. That kind of behavior can be terrifying for the person getting intimidating and can lead to someone saying yes to sex they don’t want. Any sex that’s only agreed to because of pressure is going to feel more like a violation than anything else. There’s no faster way to kill desire and make sex feel toxic.

3. Prioritize desire, not intercourse or orgasms.

When a relationship involves a man and a woman, couples often fall into the trap of using intercourse (i.e., putting a penis in a vagina) as the definition of sex. They believe sex is only sex when intercourse happens, and how often you have intercourse becomes a pass-fail measure of your sex life. One of McCarthy’s key points: “When it is intercourse or nothing, nothing almost always wins.”

No matter what genders you and your partner are, stop trying to use any one act like intercourse or penetration as the only marker of whether you’ve had sex—and while you’re at it, forget about having orgasms too. All these things can be great parts of a healthy and satisfying sex life, but they’re by no means the most important or crucial parts. All kinds of touch can be pleasurable and connective.

If not intercourse or orgasms, what exactly should you be striving for in your intimate life? “Desire is the most important dimension,” McCarthy and Oppliger write. Desire is the key to sexual energy and excitement, and it’s often what we’re truly seeking when we pursue sexual gratification. “Satisfaction means feeling good about yourself as a sexual person and energized as a sexual couple.”

4. Not all sex needs to be earth-shattering for both parties.

“The best sex is mutual and synchronous,” the authors write. “Yet, the majority of sexual encounters are asynchronous (better for one partner than the other). Asynchronous sexuality is normal and healthy as long as it’s not at the expense of the partner or relationship.”

For example, sometimes one partner might just go down on the other so she can have a good orgasm, and then the two cuddle as they fall asleep. Both people don’t need to get off every time, as long as the pleasure balances out and is satisfying for both parties over time.

5. Start with touch.

Not sure where to start? After assessment, one of McCarthy’s first suggestions is for couples to begin with getting reacquainted with touching each other again. Those touches don’t need to be a whole sexual act—they can be as simple as holding each other in bed or rubbing each other’s backs. “The focus is using touch as a way to confront avoidance and build a bridge to sexual desire,” he and Oppliger write.

In other words, the more you get comfortable with touching each other and sharing skin-on-skin contact, the more your desire will eventually build up. (Past research shows desire is indeed buildable, with having a spark of erotic energy one day leading to more of it the following day, even if you didn’t have actual sex.)

Complete Article HERE!

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6 Questions to Ask Before Sex

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By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Despite how we see it portrayed in the media, sex is a very personal act – with both emotional and physical consequences. So, it’s extremely important that you approach it with the serious thought that it deserves. This includes asking yourself and your partner some key questions.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Does having sex fit with my core values? At a very basic level, it helps to be clear about the extent of emotional intimacy and commitment you believe there should be in a relationship before having sex.

There is also the question of whether being physically intimate with a particular person fits with your morals or values. If either you or your potential sexual partner is in a committed relationship with someone else, pause before acting on your desires. There are also other situations worth thinking twice about, such as sleeping with your boss. So whatever your circumstance, consider the problems you might be creating by acting on your passions.

Is this person a wise choice for me? Even if you are incredibly attracted to someone or they look great on paper, you may know in your heart that they are not right for you. Or, you may have some nagging doubts. Maybe they treat you poorly, are insensitive to others (even while they idolize you), struggle with an anger or alcohol problem, or raise concerns in some other way. In all of these situations, you may want to, at least temporarily, override your libido. When you have sex with someone, you are bringing that person more into your life and heart – a choice you may live to regret. 

Is the timing right? Sex can increase emotional closeness, so if you’re not ready to get closer, you may want to hold off. For instance, if you have just gotten out of a long-term relationship, having sex too soon could interfere with developing what could have been a good match. Similarly, acting on sexual attraction before getting to know someone might feel good in the moment, but also create problems in developing a deeper connection.

3 Questions to Ask Your Partner

What are we to each other? You want to know whether you are on the same page so that you don’t set yourself up for heartache. To clarify your situation, you might directly ask about whether they are single or romantically involved with someone else; and whether they are looking for a fling or a committed relationship.

When were you last tested for STDs and HIV? This may be an uncomfortable question to ask, but you need to be sure that you’re safe from these potentially serious health risks before you move forward.

What will we use for birth control? Whatever you decide to use, make an informed choice to prevent a possible unwanted pregnancy or disease.

These questions are just a start. From there you might want to get to know each other better, deepening your emotional and sexual intimacy. But these basic questions are an essential starting point for any new sexual relationship.

Complete Article HERE!

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Rev up your libido to the *most* satisfying heights

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By Jessica Estrada

Since everyone is different, there’s obviously no norm for sex-drive intensity. What is normal, however, is for your libido to fluctuate, says Emily Morse, sex expert and host of the Sex With Emily podcast. So, if you’re currently going through a dry spell of your own making, there’s no need to be alarmed—it happens!

Still, the sich can be über-frustrating, especially if your partner is ready to go at all times despite knocking boots being the last thing on your mind. To help you get your mojo back, here, Morse shares seven ways to seriously rev up your libido.

1. Seek a professional opinion (seriously)

As a first point of entry, Morse suggests checking in with your doctor because a low libido can be a symptom or a side effect of a number of different medical conditions: unbalanced hormone levels, medications you’re taking, depression, anxiety, thyroid imbalances, or arthritis. So, to be safe, go see your MD for a chat and potentially some tests.

2. Reconnect with your body

If your health checks out, the issue is may skew more psychological. “Women get aroused through thoughts,” Morse says. “If your brain is not onboard for sex, then your body is not going to follow.”

One solution? Get down with yourself (yes, that means masturbating). Doing so will help you reconnect with your body again, and it will help keep sex at top of mind. Think of it like exercise—or any other healthy habit for that matter: the more you get your sweat on, the more and more your body starts to crave it.

3. Give your relationship with sex a tough audit

A stagnant sex drive might not actually have to do with your libido at all: It could be about your relationship with your significant other. If you’re constantly fighting, or you’re growing apart for one reason or another, of course it’ll affect what’s happening (or not happening, in this case) between the sheets.

“Whatever challenges you’re having with your partner outside the bedroom are going to absolutely impact your relationship when you’re inside of the bedroom,” Morse says. She recommends taking an honest look at your relationship and focusing on fixing the non-sex-related  issues. It’s totally possible these resolutions could reignite that bedroom fire.

4. Stop being samey in the bedroom

Your libido might have taken a nosedive simply because you’re bored of the type of sex you’ve been having. Hey, you might even get sick of avocado toast (which has itself been tied to a revved up sex drive, BTW) if you have it every. single. day. So, consider changing things up a bit. “Variety is the spice of your sex life,” Morse says. “It’s the novelty and the newness that enhances intimacy and will make you want to connect.”

So try out new positions. Buy some toys. Do the deed in a surprising location. Do whatever you have to do to make things fun and interesting again. 

5. Implement a healthy lifestyle

If you’re not feeling so hot, of course you’re not going to be in the mood for love making, Morse says. That’s exactly why implementing healthy habits that make you feel sexy inside and out are an important part of maintaining a fired-up sexual appetite. Consider incorporating some libido-boosting foods into your diet, like avocado and honey and penciling in workouts that will help supercharge your love life.

6. Do your kegels

Not only do kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles (which can translate to better orgasms—score!), they also force you to connect with yourself and your lady parts. And again, the more you think sexy thoughts, the more and more you’ll want to get it on.

And since kegels are so easy to do inconspicuously (doing mine now at my work desk!), it’s hard to find a reason not to abide by Morse’s prescribed two-a-day regimen. Just squeeze the muscles in your nether region, as if you’re trying to hold your pee, for five seconds. Then release and repeat for an effect of having things tightened up down there. Wondering how you’re possibly going to remember to do your kegels twice a day? Don’t worry. There’s an app for that.

7. Engage your senses

Another way to help you get your groove back is to entice your five senses, because when you do this, “you’re no longer in your head and automatically you feel very in touch with your body,” Morse says. So the next time you plan on getting lucky, create a full-on sensory experience.

Set the scene. Put some jasmine essential oil in your aromatherapy diffuser. Play some Marvin Gaye. Bust out the coconut whipped cream. Yes, it sounds totally cliché, but what do you have to lose other than another sexless night? 

Complete Article HERE!

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The pansexual revolution…

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How sexual fluidity became mainstream

Rigid definitions of sexuality are on the way out, as a younger generation embraces a ‘never say never’ approach to sex and gender

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Nick Meadowcroft-Lunn has a girlfriend, whom he has been seeing for three years. Jezz Palmer has a girlfriend, too, and they have been together for five. You might assume therefore that Nick is straight and Jezz is gay; or, if not, that both must be bisexual. But you would be wrong.

“I always describe my sexuality as: ‘If you’ve got nice hair and pretty eyes, I’m down for it,’” explains Jezz, a 26-year-old editor working in historical publishing. “It’s not that gender doesn’t matter, because it can be important, but it’s a bit of an afterthought. It’s just like: ‘Oh, hello.’” For a while, she wasn’t sure what to call this, but eight years ago she settled on “pansexual” as the closest word. “It took me a while to figure it out. [The TV series] Torchwood was about the only thing I’d heard of. I was talking about maybe being pansexual and someone said: ‘Oh, like Captain Jack in Torchwood.’”

Nick, a 22-year-old physics and philosophy masters student at the University of York, initially thought he was bisexual as a teenager, but also now feels “pansexual” better fits his view that attraction isn’t really about gender. “I just find characteristics generally about people attractive. Pan is simply easier to understand, and much closer to the truth for me. It’s not specific to any gender.” He often explains it, he says, by talking about height: a bi person might find tall guys attractive, and short girls. But he tends to fancy tall people, regardless of whether they are male or female.

Last year, “pansexual” briefly became the online dictionary Merriam-Webster’s most searched word of the day after the singer Janelle Monáe defined herself as a pansexual and “queer-ass motherfucker”. The Panic at the Disco frontman Brendan Urie and the singer Miley Cyrus both also identify as pan, with Urie explaining that, to him, it means: “I really don’t care … If a person is great, then a person is great. I just like good people, if your heart’s in the right place.” The singer Demi Lovato, meanwhile, identifies as “sexually fluid”, or “having a shifting gender preference”, while other labels for being neither exclusively straight nor gay include “heteroflexible” and “questioning”.

For bisexual activists who have long felt erased from the picture, many of these new identities can sound suspiciously like elaborate ways to avoid the word “bisexual”. But Meg-John Barker, psychology lecturer and author of The Psychology of Sex, argues that, while “bisexual” is a useful and widely understood umbrella term for being attracted to more than either gender, labels such as “pansexual” do capture a specific sense that fancying someone isn’t just about gender. And if all this seems confusing, the all-purpose “queer” is increasingly used to mean anything other than plain-vanilla 100% straight, a visibly expanding category.

Pansexual performer Demi Lovato (left) live in Lisbon.

When YouGov asked people to place themselves on a sliding scale where zero equals exclusively straight and six equals exclusively gay, more than a quarter of Britons polled identified as something other than 100% heterosexual. But strikingly, 54% of people aged 18 to 24 did. That arguably makes them the most sexually liberated, least socially repressed group of adults in British history.

Baby boomers saw homosexuality decriminalised, if not destigmatised. Their children grew up with Brookside’s celebrated lesbian kiss and the scrapping of Section 28. But it is their grandchildren who have grown up taking the idea of gay rights almost for granted. “The working assumption is that’s because we have progressed as a society in the last 30 years. We’ve become much more accepting and that’s allowed people to explore their sexuality,” says Paul Twycock of the LGBT rights group Stonewall.

And yet, for all that, heterosexuality is hardly dead yet. According to the Office for National Statistics, 93.2% of Britons still call themselves heterosexual, although that figure is down slightly from 94.4% in 2012. So how did YouGov get its headline-grabbing figures? It changed the question, which turns out to change the answer significantly.

It is well over half a century since Alfred Kinsey, who was himself bisexual, published his conclusion: “Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual … The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats.” His successors are still arguing over whether the godfather of research into human sexuality was broadly right to describe it as a sliding scale with numerous stopping points along the way, or whether that is overly simplistic. But in popularising the idea that same-sex attraction was far more common than acknowledged, Kinsey’s work was a landmark moment for gay rights nonetheless.

When YouGov asked its respondents whether they were straight, gay, bisexual or something else, 89% identified as heterosexual and 6% as gay. But when asked to place themselves on the Kinsey scale, that fell to 72% straight and 4% gay. The more choices people are given, the more shades of grey they acknowledge. But does that mean heterosexuality is genuinely rarer than we think, or is sexuality more multifaceted than was previously accepted?

According to one US study, half of male college students and eight out of 10 female ones have fantasised about someone of the same sex. (Evidence is divided on whether women are more sexually fluid than men or just more willing to admit it.) More than a quarter of British 25- to 39-year-olds told YouGov they had had some kind of same-sex experience. But Generation Z are not necessarily having more adventurous sex than anyone else; they are more inclined to what might be called a “never say never” approach, with a quarter of those identifying as straight saying they couldn’t rule out a gay relationship if the right person came along.

“This suggests that being attracted to more than one gender is becoming a majority, not a minority, position,” says Barker. “But wider culture is taking a long time to catch up to that fact, still tending to assume that people are either straight or gay, and presenting non-binary attraction as confused, a phase, or somehow suspicious.” The gradual easing of those assumptions, however, has implications for more than one generation.

Andrea Hewitt has known since her schooldays that she was attracted to girls. But growing up in the US south in the 1970s, she didn’t dare think too hard about what that meant. “I didn’t really know any gay people until I was an adult. I didn’t understand a lot of the feelings I was having, so I put them on a shelf,” she recalls. “It just wasn’t an option. Nobody spoke of it.”

So, she duly got married and had two children; when that marriage broke down, she married again. It was only after her older daughter left for college that she finally plucked up courage to come out as lesbian and ask for a divorce.

Hewitt’s children and her wider family were supportive, but it was, she says, an isolating time. “I Googled ‘coming out’, but it was all geared towards teenagers coming out to their parents, and here I was a 40-year-old woman with two kids. I truly thought I was the only person who had ever done this.” It was only when she started her blog, A Late Life Lesbian Story, that she realised she was very far from alone.

Two years ago, the author Elizabeth Gilbert revealed she had left her husband Jose Nunes – the man she described travelling halfway round the world to meet in her bestseller Eat Pray Love – for a female friend, Rayya Elias. The British retail expert Mary Portas famously fell in love with the fashion writer Melanie Rickey after an amicable divorce from the father of her two children. Hewitt now runs a Facebook group for women coming out in later life with more than 1,100 members worldwide; while some identify as lesbians, others prefer not to define their sexuality or swear they were straight until the moment they fell for a woman. But one common thread, says Hewitt, is having parked their own lives on a back burner while they were raising children. “I’d say a lot of the people in my group have a very similar personality type. We’re mothers, we’re fixers, we’re problem-solvers; we want to focus on everything but ourselves. It isn’t until you have time to do some self-reflection that you go: ‘Wait a minute, what about me?’”

Hewitt, who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her partner Rachel, says she cannot be sure that if she had been born two decades later she would have identified as lesbian from the start. But while some of her Facebook group wish they had had the courage to do so years earlier, she cautions against assuming that the marriages of women who come out later must have been a sham all along. “You can only know what you know when you know it. You can’t go back and judge your past self on thoughts you didn’t have.”

Changing social attitudes are clearly enabling some older people to explore feelings repressed for decades. But coming out in middle age does not necessarily imply a life spent in the closet, according to Barker, who points to the US psychologist Lisa Diamond’s landmark study following 79 non-heterosexual women for 10 years. The women originally identified as either lesbian, bisexual or preferring not to put a label on their sexuality. Over time, two-thirds of their sexual identities shifted, and a third changed more than once; overall the most common identity adopted was “unlabelled”, and more women moved towards identifying as bi or unlabelled than away from it.

Yet, as Hewitt points out, the idea that sexuality can change across the course of a life is threatening for some. “If you allow for the possibility that people can change their sexuality, what’s to say your wife couldn’t do that, or you couldn’t?” Some of the later-life lesbians she knows were asked when they were going to “change back” to being straight, while one of her own friends suggested that perhaps she hadn’t just met the right man yet.

And if it is difficult for seemingly straight people to come out as bi, then it is perhaps even more controversial for gay people to do so. If sexuality really is fluid, then it might logically be expected to flow both ways; yet in practice it is not always easy for members of a historically oppressed group to admit to sleeping with the perceived enemy.

The idea that sexual identity is set in stone has been useful in some ways to the gay community, especially in tackling the offensive idea that homosexuality might somehow be “cured”. Parents struggling to deal with their children coming out are often encouraged to accept that sexual preference is just something we are all born with, as immutable as race or age and just as deserving of protection from discrimination. So, what if it isn’t as fixed as we thought?

In the US, Diamond’s work has been used by campaigners against same-sex marriage, who argue that it shows some gay people can change their minds – even though Diamond has stressed the changes she saw were involuntary and sometimes against the women’s wishes. Meanwhile, even pointing out that having visible bi role models in public life can help teenagers to come to terms with their own bisexuality risks being twisted into an argument that kids are only choosing it because it is fashionable.

But the pressure to argue for gay rights on the grounds of fixed identities has, Barker argues, led to some inconvenient truths being swept under the carpet. “Part of the reason bisexuality and sexual fluidity are so erased and rejected is because they’re seen as muddying the water.” When Antoni Porowski of the TV show Queer Eye, which involves a panel of gay men making over a generally hapless straight one, came out as sexually fluid, he was accused on social media of being a traitor and a fake, despite having been with his boyfriend for seven years.

Kate Harrad is a bi activist and editor of Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain, a collection of essays exploring all forms of bisexuality. One of the recurring themes in the book is, she says, people describing going to an LGB group or bar for the first time “and being rejected by the gay and lesbian people they met because they ‘weren’t really queer’ or ‘hadn’t made a choice yet’ or because they were seen as innately faithful and untrustworthy. Imagine finally getting up the courage to go to a place you think will accept you and instead experiencing hostility or scorn, or disbelief that your sexuality even exists. It’s no wonder bi people have worse mental health than any other orientation.”

Bisexual people are also less likely than gay ones to be out at work, which Harrad argues is not surprising: “Bisexuality is heavily associated with explicit sexuality, for a lot of people even more than gayness is. So people feel entitled to ask weirdly intrusive questions, like how many people you’re sleeping with, or to assume that you’re interested in them sexually.”

That may go double for pansexuals. As Palmer puts it, there is often a knee-jerk assumption that they are all out swinging from chandeliers when “half the time you’re spending Saturday nights watching documentaries in your pyjamas”. When bi or pan people settle into long-term relationships, that can prompt hurtful assumptions that they have either finally “picked a side” or else may secretly hanker after whichever gender they are not currently with. “There’s this whole thing coming from the LGBT community: ‘Oh, you’re dating a girl, you must be gay,’” says Palmer. “But I’ve also had a partner’s parents saying: ‘Aren’t you scared Jezz is going to run off with a man?’ as if you’re always wanting what you can’t have, when it doesn’t really feel that way.”

Yet as Generation Z grow older, and become the dominant cultural influence, their belief that, as Meadowcroft-Lunn puts it, “people have the right to identify however they choose” is only likely to become more mainstream. Could we eventually reach a point where heterosexuality, or at least the uncompromising version at one end of the Kinsey scale, is no longer considered the norm and “coming out” as anything else is practically superfluous? “It’s still true that over 90% of the country identifies as straight, so I don’t want to overstate this,” says Harrad. “It’s more that awareness-raising is a virtuous circle – the more you know about minority sexualities and the more people you meet who identify as one of them, the less it feels like a big deal. And in an ideal world, why wouldn’t it be?”

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Have Sex in the Shower:

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A Safety Guide for Even the Clumsiest People

 

Shower sex can be hot and steamy, but it can also be dangerous. Here are some tips and positions to help you avoid unnecessary trips to the ER.

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Shower sex is the stuff that Hollywood love-making magic is made of. In real life, though, it’s more complicated than you might think — meaning, no showing off your yoga moves to your partner in the shower because we don’t want you to end up in the ER. When it comes to sex acts and positions, shower sex proves that there’s more to sex than just penetration. For example, you’re unlikely to slip if you’re on your knees, and since you’re already in the shower it’s super easy to get clean when you’re done.

You’ll have to think about barriers and not just condoms and dental dams, but also things like nonslip shower mats that can help ensure you have a much safer time while getting it on. Additionally, there are lubes that can help to make penetrative shower sex more enjoyable. That’s just the beginning of what’s good about shower sex — when you know how to do it right, it can be really amazing. Allure spoke to sex experts about the safest and steamiest (horrible pun intended) ways to have shower sex.

Which sex positions work best in the shower?

Those with nicer showers simply have an unfair advantage in the shower sex game, at least when it comes to space and positions. (Sigh — the one percent wins yet again.) If your shower has room for a chair, a bench, or has railings to hold onto, you’re far more likely to enjoy shower sex, as you have an array of seated positions available, such as cowgirl, reverse cowgirl, and seated oral sex.

To prevent a potentially painful spill, somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist Holly Richmond encourages using a railing to hold onto if you’re going to be lifting legs up or trying any positions that require balance. “People get really injured from slipping and falling,” says Richmond. “A mat or some kind of rail to hold onto is always helpful.” While installing a rail is more time-consuming, you can grab a nonslip mat from Amazon for $10.

However, that doesn’t mean that those of us with small showers can’t have a great time, too. The safest standing position in the shower is from behind, as you can leave both legs planted. “Unless you have safety rails installed, keep both feet on the ground if you’re using a standing position,” says sexologist Timaree Schmit.

And who says there needs to be any penetration involved? Oral shower sex can be super hot, too, not to mention a little simpler for the accident-prone. (Just be careful that you don’t choke on shower water.) There’s also nipple pinching, neck kisses, shoulder massages, and any other fun you can imagine.

What precautions should I take with using condoms in the shower?

While shower sex using condoms isn’t impossible, it’s not always the easiest — or the most fool-proof. “Have condoms or other barriers readily accessible, but be mindful that oil-based products degrade latex so consider what other soaps and lotions are on your hands,” explains Schmit. If you’re in a fluid-bonded relationship (meaning you have both been tested and have agreed to have sex sans condoms), shower sex comes with less stress.

Someone once told me in high school that you could have sex in the water and not get pregnant because the water would wash all the sperm away. Seriously. If you have heard any such rumor, don’t believe it; it’s dangerous fake news. “Don’t think because you’re submerged in water and you’re getting washed off that you can’t get pregnant or get an STI; you absolutely can get those,” says Richmond. If you’re not in a fluid-bonded relationship and feel apprehensive about the reliability of condoms in the shower, you can always move things to the bedroom after enjoying some bath-centric foreplay.

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Age Doesn’t Determine Whether A Person Is Ready For Sex.

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Here’s What Does!

By Nichole Fratangelo

First-time sex has a lot of logistics attached to it—like where it happened, when it happened, and who it happened with. For most of us, it’s the “when” that holds a ton of weight. As a society, we tend to place so much importance on how old we were when we first shared that intimate moment with someone else. We rarely even consider if we were mentally, emotionally, and physically ready to do it. Now, new research shows your age really isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to sexual readiness; there’s much more in-depth criteria that includes physical, emotional, and psychosocial well-being.

A study published in the journal BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health questioned 2,825 people between ages 17 and 24 about their first sexual experience, including the nature of their relationship with the person they had their first sex with, both of their ages, and how much sexual experience their partner had. The researchers also asked about their socioeconomic status, their education level, family structure, ethnicity, and how and when they’d been taught about sex.

What does it mean to be “ready” for sex?

Rather than focusing on age as a key factor, the researchers used four distinct points to gauge how ready each person was based on the World Health Organization’s standards for sexual health. WHO defines sexual health as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality,” which includes a “positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.”

Only those who met all four criteria were considered “sexually competent”—that is, ready to have sex—at the time they first did it.

“The concept of ‘sexual competence’ represents an alternative approach to timing of first sexual intercourse, considering the contextual attributes of the event, rather than simply age at occurrence,” the researchers wrote in the paper. “This departs from the traditional framing of all sexual activity among teenagers as problematic, and recognises that young age alone does not threaten sexual health, any more than older age safeguards it.”

Here are the four main criteria:

1. Contraceptive use

Are you using birth control of some sort? A person who isn’t willing and prepared to use contraception during sex is not mature enough to be having sex. That’s why researchers included it as such a major point, especially for those doing it for the first time. Of those surveyed, most people did use reliable contraception, but around one in 10 did not.

2. Autonomy

Are you having sex because you truly want to do it, or does it have to do with peer pressure or drunkenness? Sex should always be on your own accord and not because it’s something everyone else around you is doing.

3. Consent

Here’s a crucial one: Did both parties verbally and physically agree to have sex? If not, neither party was ready to do the deed—one person was forced into it and experienced sexual assault, and the other person assaulted someone, which is the furthest thing from sexual competence. The researchers excluded instances of forced sex from their study, but they noted that almost one in five women had reported not being in charge of the decision to have sex for the first time.

4. The “right” timing

Do you feel like this is the “right time”? Participants reported whether they personally felt like they’d picked the appropriate time in their lives to start having sex. Though the study didn’t specify, there are many personal reasons why it is or isn’t a good time to start having sex; they weren’t ready to have sex—you might be struggling with stress or insecurity and don’t want to complicate it by introducing intimacy in your life, or you might be very erotically charged and have a lot of free time, so why not? Other factors like finding a partner they feel attracted to and comfortable with could factor into this question.

More women than men felt their first sexual experience did not happen at the right time—40 percent versus 27 percent, respectively. This was the most commonly reported negative feature of first-time sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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The Psychological Benefits of Sex Toys

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There is no doubt that sex is great. However, it can use something to make it more passionate and wild from time to time. The best thing to achieve that is to find the right “hardware” for your games and let it all play out really really well.

Besides making sex better, sex toys can bring many different benefits to the table, or into the bed, however you like it (this is a judgment-free zone). But among all the physical benefits, there are some psychological ones, too.

Eliminating shyness

Some people are shy about their sexual lives or talking about sex in general. What is more, at the very mention of sex toys even they can get all giggly and blood rushes to their cheeks like they are teens again. However, what not many of us know is that if you get over it and talk about sex toys, you can actually feel more confident to talk about sex.

Sex toys are not a taboo anymore and everyone uses them; either with their partners or by themselves. So, if you are able to talk about them in any way, be sure you will be more free to talk about sex with your partner, for example. You will eliminate that shyness, guilt or embarrassment you might be feeling, and your sex life will get better and more satisfactory in no time.

“Cure” for sexual dysfunction

There are both men and women who can have sexual dysfunction, and sex toys are something that can aid in that. For example, there are women who suffer from anorgasmia, which means they can hardly reach orgasms while having sex. That is why vibrators and relaxing sex toys, are recommended. As far as men are concerned, a helping hand of sex toys can make them climax without having to get an erection. There is no harm in trying kinky toys like Hustler Hollywood has, for example, and giving it a shot.

Plus, if you manage to finally get that orgasm, there is no doubt that your confidence will rise. Another positive thing is that they will take the pressure off of you because you won’t be overthinking what you’re doing in bed. You just need to relax and let the toys do their thing. And, at the end, you will feel confident about your relationship, things will get back on track sex-wise and you will relieve stress!

Great sex equals a great relationship

You might have that spark with your partner, but things are bound to get boring sometimes. That is why you need to communicate. Surprisingly or not, sex toys will lead to better communication with your partner. Even a simple visit to the sex shop with your partner will make you communicate better. You do need to be open about what you want, like and dislike, so it is a great way to get to know each other better.

Furthermore, you will learn how to “navigate” your partner better. Without the toys, you might feel shy about telling him “a bit to the left” or her “to use less teeth”, but with sex toys, things can change. If you’re using vibrators you will be more relaxed and open about where he or she needs to go in order to hit the spot. Plus, some toys can reach places no man or woman has ever touched.

According to Bustle, you can say that sex toys can improve your honesty and communication because they will spark the conversation and make your relationship even better.

They just make you feel good

The mental benefits of using sex toys are almost the same as the benefits of sex. But double the dosage! Sex boosts your confidence, but with the use of sex toys, you are even more confident because you managed to go pass that stigma and taboo.

Sex leads to increased intimacy, love and trust in a relationship, but with the toys, you two can get even closer. This is because your aforementioned communication is better, you made that special bond when buying sex toys and you learned new things about each other and your bodies. Plus, a lot of oxytocin is released after each passionate, sweaty and successful round in the bed, which only leads to stronger relationships and more respect towards each other.

After all this, we can say for sure that sex toys are beneficial. Forget about all that kink-shaming and go a little wild. Your relationship can use a little something new and fun, and your partner will be happy about it, too! Not to forget about that confidence boost and more happiness in your lives. So, take your partner’s hand, find the toys you both like and go on an adventure of kinky fantasies and plenty of fun.

Complete Article HERE!

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‘Set aside time for sex’

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– how to get better at long-term relationships

By Miranda Christophers with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

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9 New Year’s Resolutions For Exploring Your Sexuality In 2019

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They Will Make You Feel Empowered AF

By

After the shimmery dresses come off and the Champagne hangover comes on, you may find yourself looking at your “resolutions” as a means to doubt how amazing you are. So, I’m going to cut to the chase: You’re beautiful and amazing and your weight, your clothes, and your skincare routine don’t need to change. But if you’re feeling stuck in a sexy rut, manifesting some New Year’s resolutions for exploring your sexuality in 2019, can be a fun and empowering way to feel more in tune with your body.

At it’s best New Year’s can be an empowering time to set intentions for the future and cultivate gratitude for the past. Taking a moment to focus on all you’ve made it through in the past year can propel you take the next 12 months head on. Whether you’re single, dating, or on a self-inflicted six month vow of celibacy, exploring your own sexuality can be a cool way to learn about your body, it can also be really fun. Of course, when trying new things, you may find out the stuff you’re not into. And if something’s not floating your sexual boat, you never need to push your boundaries, no matter the month.

Here are nine resolutions aimed at feeling in tune with your sexy side in 2019.

1 I will take time to day dream about what I want.

Sometimes we don’t even know what we’re into because we’ve never thought enough about it. Take some time to fanaticize and daydream about your desires. Think about what makes you feel sexy, and ways you can bring those feelings into the bedroom.

2 I will get it on with myself.

Knowing what physically feels good for your body may mean some self-discovery. Taking time to touch different parts of yourself, in sexual and non-sexual ways can be a great way to sense how and where you like to be touched.

3 I will not be ashamed to read or watch sexual media.

There’s no shame in reading about sexuality, erotica, or even wanting to watch sexual material. If you have questions, urges, or know some things that pique your interest, reading articles or watching videos can be informative and sexy.

4 I will journal.

Journaling about the best sex you’ve had or things you want to try can help you remember what has worked in the past. Having yourself literally sit and write can be a structured way to really dig into your sexy side while strengthening your ability to articulate your desires.

5 I will talk about sex.

Opening up a dialogue with the people you’re sleeping with or even with friends you feel comfy sharing with can be a great way to understand other people’s perspectives and feel validated in your desires. Hearing that others have shared your experiences or desires, even swapping tips and advice can make you feel less alone, and give you some sexy inspiration.

6 I want to take some (healthy) risks.

If you’ve always wanted to go to a bar by yourself, or try having sex wearing a blindfold, the New Year can be a time to roll the dice (within reason.) Of course, your well-being is the most important thing and if something is way out of your comfort-zone or kinda dangerous, there’s no need to feel pressure to perform. But if there’s something fun you’ve always wanted to try, like a new move or a new naughty night club, Jan. 1 may give you the boost you need.

7 I will do more of what feels good.

There is nothing wrong with having a plan or knowing what works. If you’ve found what works for you, it’s also awesome to continue to do that. Routine doesn’t need to be boring. Knowing what makes your sex good and enjoyable sex and doing more of that, is a great way to go into the new year.

8 I will pump myself up.

Your biggest cheerleader should be yourself. Whether it’s looking at your body in the mirror and saying positive affirmations to singing Cardi B songs or spending a little more money on a haircut, doing more of what makes you feel sexy, and puts you in the mood is a great way to explore your body and sexuality.

9 I will cut myself some serious slack.

If you’ve farted during sex, if you’ve tried to sexy talk and ended up laughing, if you’ve set up a sex swing and landed butt first on the floor — you don’t need to feel ashamed. It’s OK for sex to be funny, for it to be awkward, silly, or gooey and romantic. You don’t need to be a ballerina sex-kitten with grace, perfect hair, and no bodily functions. Remembering you cut yourself some slack in the streets and in the sheets can keep you feeling strong and good about trying new things and feeling what works.

As we look to the New Year, may we relinquish all the bad dates, idiot people, and terrible sex we dealt with in the past 12 months. Having empowering resolutions about exploring your body and your sexuality can help when manifesting our future plans. Feeling yourself and knowing what you’re into can really help the New Year come in with a bang.

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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So You Want More Sex but Don’t Want to Hurt Your Partner’s Feelings…

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By Courtney Kocak

If you’ve been in a sexually intimate relationship for longer than a year, chances are you’ve experienced being in the mood when your partner isn’t—or vice versa. Having unequal libidos, at least occasionally, is a super-common long-term relationship issue.

My boyfriend and I just celebrated our two-year anniversary. It’s the best relationship I’ve ever been in by far, and I love him to pieces, but there’s no doubt about it: Sex columns (and columnists) imitate life. Just ask Carrie Bradshaw.

So I reached out to a few of my favorite sexperts for their advice on how to solve this common quandary. How do you ask for more sex… without hurting your partner’s feelings?

1. Talk about it.

“First of all, stop worrying about hurting your lover’s feelings when asking for more sex,” says certified sexologist and couples’ counselor Anka Radakovich. While it’s important to be kind to your partner while discussing any sensitive topic (more on this in a minute), mismatched sexual desire is a common problem with couples, especially in long-term relationships where needs and desires can change over time. Radakovich stresses that the important thing is to talk about it. “Never be afraid or ashamed of discussing sex with the person you’re having sex with!”

Emily Morse, sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast, agrees that communicating your desires and preferences is key. “Relationships are full of compromises, and your sex life is no different,” she points out. “In fact, many couples aren’t on the same sex schedule, but there’s no reason you can’t let it be known that it’s important to you.”

Radakovich warns that failing to address it will only breed resentment, which happens to be one of the biggest relationship killers out there. Who knows, your partner might tell you that they are completely stressed by a work situation or confess that they’ve been dealing with another issue that you didn’t even know about—the only way to find out is to talk about it.

2. Have the convo IRL, if possible.

“As uncomfortable as it may be, having a face-to-face conversation with your partner is the best way to go,” says sex researcher and neuroscientist Debra W. Soh, Ph.D. “Delivery is everything,” she says, noting that it’s a good idea to introduce the subject when neither of you is feeling rushed.

Radakovich agrees “Bring up the subject when both of you are relaxed and happy,” she says. “Or take a tip from the swinger crowd: Give them a nice back massage. Swingers know how to relax people… including other people’s wives,” she jokes. But it’s a seriously good tip! “A massage will relax anyone, creates intimacy, and the next thing you know, they might be down—or up!—for some long-awaited sex.”

3. Give the good news first.

This one’s extra important: You don’t want to put your partner on the defensive. To this end, Soh suggests starting off on a positive note by talking about what you like about your sex life. Besides, conjuring up some erotic memories might be just what the doctor ordered to help get your partner in the mood.

4. Speak for yourself.

Soh also recommends using “I” statements as another anti-defensive measure and all-around good relationship practice to get into so that your partner doesn’t feel like you are placing blame on them.

“My No. 1 tip when it comes to talking about sex in general without hurting your partner’s feelings is to make sure you’re not putting them on the defensive by blaming them,” Morse says. “Rather than saying, ‘You never want to have sex,’ or ‘We never have sex,’ lead with why you feel like having more sex would be beneficial for both of you.”

When your interests are aligned, you’re definitely more likely to get an outcome that both of you are psyched about—and then you can build a habit or routine based on that positive feedback loop.

5. Ask about your partner’s preferences.

Finding that alignment can come from discovering what would enhance your partner’s experience, Morse says.

“If your partner never seems in the mood, ask them what makes them feel sexy, what times of day they prefer to have sex, or which ways they would like you to initiate,” she says. “Even if it comes down to setting the alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning or setting up sex dates, at least you’re working toward a more satisfying, sexier solution.”

6. Be specific about your wants.

Because clarity is crucial when you’re trying to suss out relationship discrepancies, Soh encourages you to be as specific as possible about exactly what kind of sex you want to be having—and how often.

“Sex is such a huge part of our lives, and it’s important to feel fulfilled,” she reminds us. “If it isn’t a topic you usually talk about, doing so will hopefully open up the dialogue so that your partner will feel comfortable telling you about any concerns they have too.”

7. Find a win-win solution.

Ultimately, Morse advises sex-thirsting partners to proceed with a spirit of empathy and cooperation. “Tell them how much you love feeling close and intimate with them and how you could work together to make sure you’re both getting your needs met.”

This advice reminded me of the wisdom How to Keep Your Marriage From Sucking author Amiira Ruotola dropped on a recent episode of my podcast, “At the end of the day, it’s not like one of you gets to win. You either both win or you both lose.”

So use these tips to talk to your partner about how to achieve a sex life that works for you both… I know I will.

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Men, like women, can have post-sex blues

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By Cheryl Platzman Weinstock

After sex, men can sometimes experience a myriad of confusing negative feelings, a phenomenon called post-coital dysphoria (PCD), which can interfere with relationships, researchers say.

The research team analyzed responses from over 1,200 men to an anonymous international online survey that asked whether they had ever experienced symptoms of PCD, which can include tearfulness, sadness or irritability following otherwise satisfactory consensual sex.

The men, aged between 18 and 81 years, were primarily in Australia and the U.S., but the sample also included men in the UK, Russia, New Zealand, Germany and 72 other countries.

The study team, led by Joel Maczkowiack, a master’s student at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, found that 41 percent of the men reported having experienced PCD in their lifetime, with 20 percent saying they had experienced it in the previous four weeks. Between 3 percent and 4 percent of the men reported experiencing PCD on a regular basis.

“I would like to think that this study will help males (and females) reflect on their experience of sex, as well as encourage communication between partners about their experience,” Maczkowiack told Reuters Health by email.

“In addition, we hope that this type of research will help people whose experience of sex is dysphoric (or dysphoric at times) to know that they are not the only ones who feel this way. In this sense, we hope this study normalizes a variety of human experiences following sex,” he said.

Past research has found that PCD is common among women. This is the first time it has been documented in men, Maczkowiack said.

PCD can occur despite satisfying and enjoyable sex. One man in the study reported that PCD made him feel “self-loathing.” Another reported, “I feel a lot of shame.” One participant said, “I usually have crying fits and full on depressive episodes following coitus that leave my significant other worried . . . .”

The study, published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, found that PCD may be related to previous and current psychological distress and past abuse, including sexual, emotional and physical abuse in childhood and adulthood.

Emotional abuse was the most common form of abuse reported by the men both before and after age 16, researchers found. Sexual abuse in childhood was reported by 12.7 percent of the men and sexual abuse in adulthood was reported by 3.5 percent of the men. Their most common reported mental health concern was depression (36.9 percent), followed by anxiety (32.5 percent) and bipolar disorder (3 percent).

Current psychological distress was the strongest variable associated with lifetime and four-week PCD. Higher levels of psychological distress were more strongly associated with PCD.

The data for this study was collected from February to June 2017 and drawn from a larger questionnaire that examined the post-coital experience of men and women.

“While this research is interesting, the study of PCD needs psychometrically valid instruments, said Rory Reid, an assistant professor of psychiatry and research psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.

The study used a few questions to measure PCD, but there is ambiguity in those items, Reid said in a phone interview. “They lack precision and there was no specificity about frequency in responses as to exactly how often was ‘a little’ or ‘some of the time’,” he noted.

“Future studies of PCD need to utilize qualitative approaches where participants are interviewed about their PCD experiences so we can further understand this phenomenon, why people might experience it, the extent to which it is causing individuals psychological distress, and whether it is negatively impacting their romantic relationship,” Reid added.

One of limitations of the study was that the men self-reported their emotional response to previous sexual experiences. “This information can be difficult for participants to recall,” Maczkowiack, said.

“The findings of this study could influence marital therapy by normalizing different responses. In addition, it may open up communication between partners,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!

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