Sex After Cancer

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Helping female survivors regain their sexual satisfaction and confidence

By Ronni Gordon

After Naomi’s breast cancer treatment — the lumpectomy, the chemotherapy, the 33 radiation treatments — she lost her desire for sex. But she wanted to please her husband, so she had sex with him. And bled for three days.

“The bleeding was unbelievable, and the pain was so much I could hardly take it,” says Naomi, a Bronzeville resident who asked that her last name be withheld due to the sensitive nature of the topic.

“I didn’t know what to do. I thought that was supposed to be my life from then on. I felt less than a woman. I had extremely high anxiety and depression,” says Naomi, a 68-year-old clinical massage therapist. It went on like this for years.

Naomi’s doctors never asked about this part of her life, so she suffered in silence. Then she found her way to Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UChicago Medicine and director of the Program in Integrative Sexual Medicine for Women and Girls with Cancer (PRISM).

“[Lindau] started asking about my sex life. It just floored me that I wasn’t alone; that other cancer survivors were going through the same thing,” Naomi says. “She said she would help me. It changed my life.”

Preserving sexual function

Lindau knows many women like Naomi and says they often live with fear, shame and embarrassment because of their sexual problems.

In 2010, Lindau was the lead author of a study that found many women who survive breast and gynecologic cancers want medical help for their sexual issues but most do not get it.

Multiple datasets show that the incidence of sexual dysfunction ranges from 30 percent to 100 percent among female cancer survivors, according to a review in The Oncologist. The authors write that multiple barriers, such as time constraints, keep providers from engaging in sexual health discussions, but “taking a sexual history of our patients becomes as important as understanding their past medical and social history.”

At the PRISM clinic, specialists in gynecology, psychiatry, physical therapy, oncology and nursing work to change this pattern. “We’ve seen some growth in programs that seek to help women recover sexual function,” Lindau says, “but we’re far from providing care in this domain that prevents unnecessary pain and suffering for women and their partners.”

They clump sexual well-being into one of those losses that cancer took away.”

By contrast, she says, men have more resources on the topic. Twenty years ago, when Bob Dole did commercials for Viagra in the context of his prostate cancer, it changed the conversation about sex after cancer for men.

“We haven’t had a spokesperson like that for women,” she says. “It’s a health equity issue.”

Raising awareness

Chicago has become a hub for raising the level of awareness around sexual function for women living with cancer. Last year saw the opening of the Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Medical director Lauren Streicher, MD, says that about 50 percent of patients come because of issues related to cancer treatment.

With more women surviving cancer, it’s critical to discuss sexuality, says Streicher, author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common sexual side effects for women after cancer treatment are:

  Difficulty reaching climax

  Less energy for sexual activity

  Loss of desire for sex

  Pain during penetration

  Reduced size of the vagina

  Vaginal dryness

Also, sexuality after breast cancer can be affected by the loss of part or all of a breast (or breasts) after surgery.

“Even after treatment, there is a cloud hanging over women’s heads,” Streicher says. “Many women are given an antidepressant, [which] can have an effect on libido.” In addition, chemotherapy and radiation can often cause early menopause and all the symptoms that go with it, such as thinning and shortening of the vagina.

“Too often women feel, ‘That’s the way it is, and I should be glad to be alive,’” Streicher says. But women shouldn’t settle for that. “We certainly are able to alleviate many of the consequences of menopause or cancer treatments and restore sexual function. If your doctor doesn’t help you, that doesn’t mean help isn’t available.”

Promoting sexual well-being

Catalina Lawsin, PhD, director of psychosocial oncology and integrative medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, says it’s understandable that sex is not at the top of the list after a woman’s — or a man’s — cancer diagnosis.

“They’re just thinking, ‘I just want to get cured.’ Sexual side effects are not talked about,” she says. “They clump sexual well-being into one of those losses that cancer took away.”

“When they’re feeling distressed, they tend to generalize [and think], ‘I’m never going to have sex again.’ We talk about how we can neutralize that thought and say, ‘I might not be able to have sex when I’m in pain, but I can look for times when I can plan sexual activity.’” From open communication to medication to sex toys, there are ways to reignite sex after cancer, Lawsin says.

Single people who are dating have another challenge: when to bring up their cancer diagnosis.

“They wonder [whether] they want to bring up the diagnosis. Will it turn this person off? How many dates into it? Each person has to decide,” Lawsin says.

At UChicago Medicine, Lindau and her team recently launched WomanLab, a platform for personal and informational essays and videos about sex — starting with sex and cancer and including sections on self-care and what to do before, during and after cancer treatment.

Naomi says that before she learned what to do, “I didn’t care if I lived or died.” But eventually, she found a solution. A gynecologist examined her; a psychiatrist helps with her anxiety and prescribed medication for her depression; and a pelvic floor therapist treated her vaginal tightness, taught her relaxation breathing and advised her about lubricants.

“It brought me life,” she says. “Sex stopped hurting. It was embarrassing for me to talk about it, but now I am so open and so free, and I [feel] no shame.”


Questions for women to ask before starting cancer treatment

1. Are there treatment options that would give me a good cancer outcome and also preserve my sexual function?

2. Do I need to stop having sex? If so, how will I know when it’s okay to start again?

3. Will chemotherapy affect my sexual function?

4. How will surgery affect my ability to have normal sexual arousal and pleasure?

5. Will blocking my ovaries from making estrogen affect my sexual function?

6. How will radiation to or near my sexual organs affect me?

Complete Article HERE!

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A Sexuality Researcher Explains a Big Unanswered Question in Sex Studies

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By Cari Romm

Most of the time, the people who ask how you’re doing will be satisfied by the rote, two-word reply: I’m fine. I’m good. Really, it was the question that mattered, not the answer. Every so often, though, you’ll encounter someone who truly wants to know about the state of your emotional/physical/spiritual existence, who puts a hard emphasis on the last word to show that they’re trying to go deep: No, really, how are you doing?

It’s a question that sex researchers, too, would love to be able to ask, explains Kristen Mark, a professor of health promotion at the University of Kentucky and a sexuality researcher at the Kinsey Institute. The problem is that the vocabulary for it doesn’t really exist: Scientists have tools to measure various facets of our sex lives, from pain and dysfunction to communication and overall satisfaction, but they don’t have a tool to holistically assess all of those things together. Sexually, how are you doing? We don’t really know.

The Cut spoke to Mark about the concept of “sexual well-being,” why researchers don’t yet have a way to measure it, and why, without one, we’re missing out on a trove of information about what makes for good sex, bad sex, happy and unhappy couples, and fulfilling individual sex lives. Below is a lightly edited and condensed version of our conversation.

Sexual well-being involves the absence of sexual problems, but to me, that’s kind of neutral. That’s baseline. My colleagues and I think about sexual well-being as going beyond risk reduction to the point where one is in a state of feeling safe, feeling trusting of their partner, feeling satisfied, fulfillment, attachment — especially in the current climate that we’re in, the safety and trust piece, I think, is quite important. Sexual well-being really plays a huge role in people’s overall sex lives, their romantic lives, and also their overall well-being. And it’s really quite crucial for the success of long-term relationships.

But it’s beyond each of those alone. And the reason it’s kind of complicated is because we do have definitions of all the constructs that I mentioned, but there’s no gold standard measure of sexual well-being, which would encompass all those things and would take this in sort of a holistic way.

It definitely can be something you have as a single person. This is not reliant on relationships. A couple may have a higher or lower sexual well-being based on how their relationship is going — certainly, if you’re in a relationship, that’s going to contribute to your sexual well-being. But being single and being happy about that, and feeling like you are sexually satisfied by being alone — you can reach a state of sexual well-being by single as well.

So much of the work that we do in the sexual-health world, or really just generally in society, looks at sexuality as being this thing that one either shouldn’t talk about, or should only talk about in the context of disease avoidance and risk reduction. And it’s quite important to our overall well-being that we go beyond that risk-reduction model, because what sort of level of satisfaction, or level of security, are we getting when we’re just looking to avoid getting pregnant or getting an STI? If you think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, sexual well-being is kind of that self-actualization piece, but within the context of sex.

The idea would be to create some sort of scale to measure these things, and there are people looking to try and figure this out. If we create a comprehensive measurement tool, we have a better ability to figure out, what variables are related to this? And how can we improve well-being in individuals and couples? I would love to see an increase in the number of people using sexual well-being as an outcome measure in a variety of clinical-type uses. That could be therapeutic techniques, or it could be pharmaceutical drug development.

A lot of the research that I do looks at happy couples, well-adjusted couples — we like to be able to study them in order to learn what’s working, because we can learn a lot from these couples who are really thriving. And so if we could come up with a measurement tool, we could standardize this so that we could all be studying sexual well-being in a way that’s consistent. And then we can draw cross-cultural comparisons related to sexual well-being.

And it just improves our knowledge in this area that’s so under-studied. Sex is seen as such a taboo topic in our society, and all the funding for sexuality research goes toward risk reduction, HIV, unintended pregnancy. It’s never focused on, how do we optimize people’s sex lives? We’re not seeing any research grants go out to improve sexual well-being. But I would argue that if our society at large could become more sexually healthy through sexual well-being, and through improving pleasure and satisfaction and communication, then we would see a larger and more population-level change in some of these sexual-health outcomes that are being funded, like STIs and unintended pregnancy.

I think the measurement stuff is less relevant to the general public as opposed to the general idea that sexual well-being is quite multifaceted, and having people realize that sexual well-being is important. Our society doesn’t really acknowledge that, and doesn’t really place an emphasis on that, especially for women. When we look at statistics of the level of sexual pain than women experience, that alone is so much higher than what we would hope for women’s sexuality. Women have always been taught not to prioritize a sex life, not to really make pleasure a priority, and sexual well-being provides a framework within which women can prioritize their sex lives. And men as well, but women have so regularly and historically been told, Pleasure is not part of sex for you.

So I think just acknowledging sexual well-being is a really important piece, and that sexual well-being is beyond just feeling satisfied. It’s not about that. It’s about this fulfillment, and feeling you’re in a relationship where you feel safe and feel like you can express yourself in a meaningful way that enriches your life. So it’s about going beyond, Okay, let’s get rid of the pain during sex. It’s going beyond that and going into the fulfillment and excitement and really valuing sex as a part of your life. I feel like people don’t think about sex in this way, and I wish they would more.

Complete Article HERE!

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We women need to stop allowing men to have bad sex with us

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Unsatisfactory sex is a type of subjugation. By allowing yourself to lie back and think of England, you’re adding sex to the litany of things women do as emotional labour, not because they want to but because they have to

If you can’t get no satisfaction, you may be among the 42 per cent of British women who suffer from a ‘lack of sexual enjoyment’

By Rebecca Reid

Sometimes if I get really stuck on an issue of romance or dating, I look to Greek mythology. This is just one of the many reasons my little sister tells me weekly that I’m “so lucky” I found someone to marry me.  

Anyway, research from Public Health England, which revealed that 42 per cent of British women suffer from a “lack of sexual enjoyment”, sent me running to the myths. Specifically, the story of Lysistrata. Lysistrata is the story of a load of women who decide they’re so sick of their husbands going off to pointless wars and coming back missing bits, or worse, not coming back at all, that they’re not going to provide them with sex until they agree to stop fighting. All the women stick to this (I’m abbreviating a bit here) and the war stops. Moral of the story? Have sex on your own terms, and understand the power of the word no.

As a woman you absolutely must not – cannot – accept mediocre sex.

The reason that 42 per cent of women in the UK are having shit sex is because 42 per cent of women in the UK are allowing men to have shit sex with them. To quote Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, “screw me badly once, shame on you, screw me badly twice, shame on me”.

Unsatisfactory sex is a type of subjugation. By allowing yourself to lie back and think of England, you’re adding sex to the litany of things women do as emotional labour; not because they want to but because they have to. Women are estimated to do 26 hours of unpaid work in the home every week (compared to 16 for men). If you’re having sex because you think you owe it to someone, or because it’s “just part of being in a relationship” then you’re tacking on yet more hours to your running total. You’re doing yourself an enormous disservice and I’m afraid to say you’re also short changing the person you’re sleeping with.

Straight women have the least orgasms of any demographic in the world. And in my experience that’s not because men are bad or selfish or don’t want to give their sexual partners pleasure – it’s because they don’t know how to.

The female anatomy is quite complicated. Bringing a woman to orgasm takes a lot more work than getting a man there. Broadly speaking, most men need a variation on the same theme to enjoy sexual gratification. But with women? We’ve got clitoral stimulation, the G-spot, women who like lots of pressure, women who like very little. Some women can orgasm from penetrative sex (though only around 25 per cent), others need a specific sex toy or oral sex. Some women need an hour of gentle coaxing and others can come from having their nipples stimulated.

So, awkward or difficult as it might sound, if we want to close the orgasm gap, to prevent women from benevolently allowing mediocre sex to happen to them, we have got to empower them to say “actually, that really wasn’t much good for me” or “no, I didn’t come”.

We all know that faking an orgasm does more harm than good (you might as well put a gold star on a D grade piece of homework) but I’m afraid we need to go further than just not faking orgasms. We need to tell our sexual partners in no uncertain terms that we did not orgasm, and then we need to give them the specifics of why.

t’s not easy to tell someone you’re sleeping with, especially if you’re fond of them, that they’re not getting it right. Especially if you’ve been sleeping together for a long time. But if you don’t? You’re sentencing yourself to lifetime of chronic dissatisfaction.

As women we’re encouraged to seek out promotions and pay rises, to speak up rather than being spoken over. And those things are huge, vital, essential steps forward for society. But can we really make any progress at all if a woman who refuses to be talked over in a meeting or patronised by a male friend then goes home to her partner and accepts mediocre sex without complaining? Of course we can’t.

Complete Article HERE!

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Performance issues in the bedroom are not just an older man’s problem

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[A] study has revealed that 36% of young men between the ages of 16 and 24 have experienced sexual performance problems in the last year.

The figures are higher for men between 25 and 34, with nearly 40% of those surveyed admitting to having issues in bedroom.

Sexual dysfunction is often linked to older men and Viagra use in the public consciousness, but it’s not just the over 50s who can have problems with sexual function.

The Sexual Function in Britain study shows that men of all ages are experiencing a range of sexual issues, including lack of interest in sex, lack of enjoyment in sex, feeling no arousal in sex, experiencing physical pain, difficulty getting or maintaining an erection and difficulty climaxing or climaxing too early.

Between 36% and 40% of men under 35 are experiencing one or more of these problems.

An honest conversation around these issues is long overdue.

The lead author of the study, Dr Kirstin Mitchell from the University of Glasgow, believes that sexual problems can have a long term impact on sexual wellbeing in the future, particularly for young people.

‘When it comes to young people’s sexuality, professional concern is usually focused on preventing sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy. However, we should be considering sexual health much more broadly.’

Due to the sensitive and potentially embarrassing nature of the issue, it’s likely that many young men are not confiding in their partners or friends about it or visiting their GP.

Lewis, 32, has suffered from several of the problems mentioned in the Sexual Function study. He tells Metro.co.uk: ‘It can become a real issue in the bedroom but being completely open with your partner is always the best solution’.

After Lewis discussed what was going on with his girlfriend, they talked about how they could take the pressure off him to perform. Just being able to communicate the problem made it feel ‘less of a big deal’ and in turn made sex easier.

Men are far less likely to visit the GP than their female counterparts, with men only visiting the doctor four times a year compared to women who go to the GP six times annually. This can be potentially devastating for physical and mental health, and it also means that there are likely to be many men suffering in silence from serious sexual dysfunction issues who don’t feel able to reach out for professional help.

Last year, the government announced plans to make sex and relationships education compulsory for all schools in England. If young people are taught about the importance of consent and healthy relationships early on, it’s much easier for them to communicate with their partners without embarrassment and have positive, respectful sexual interactions.

Aoife Drury, a sex and relationships therapist based in London, blames the rise in sexual dysfunction among young men on easy access to porn without high-quality sex ed to offer a more balanced perspective on relationships.

She tells us: ‘Young men who lack sex education may be comparing themselves to porn stars on a physical and performance level (size of penis and how long they seem to last).

‘This can cause anxiety and self-esteem issues and can make intercourse with their sexual partner difficult. Erectile dysfunction may be the result alongside low libido.

‘The younger the age of the male when they begin to regularly watch porn, the greater the chance of it becoming their preference over partnered sex and the likelihood of developing a sexual dysfunction increases.

‘These is still more research needed around sex education, the ease of access to porn, potential for viewing preferences to escalate to more extreme material and the consequences for the younger generation.’

However, not everyone sees a direct correlation between porn viewing and problems in the bedroom. Kris Taylor, a doctoral student at the University of Auckland, writes for VICE: ‘While searching in vain for research that supported the position that pornography causes erectile dysfunction, I found a variety of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction.

‘Pornography is not among them. These included depression, anxiety, nervousness, taking certain medications, smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use, as well as other health factors like diabetes and heart disease.’

According to a 2017 Los Angeles research study, sexual dysfunction may be driving porn use, not the other way around. Out of 335 men surveyed, 28% said they preferred masturbation to intercourse with a partner. The study’s author, Dr Nicole Prause, concluded that excessive pornography viewing was a side effect of a sexual issue already being present as men who were avoiding sex with their significant others due to a problem would watch it when masturbating alone.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with masturbating or watching videos of consenting adults having sex. The issue is choosing this because you’re unable to perform with a partner and feeling too ashamed to talk about it or seek help.

24-year-old Jack from London agrees. He told Metro.co.uk that he’d experienced sexual problems when he was with new partners.

He said: ‘After one month, you think you’re worthless and that she will leave you – this can cause a downward spiral and once you start thinking negatively, you’re even less likely to perform.

‘I talked with my partner about this (she was relieved it wasn’t something she’d done wrong) and opened up to my trusted friends. It felt like I really needed to do both of these to stop a shadow following me around.’

Jack spoke about growing up with male friends who wouldn’t talk about their feelings.

‘It was considered “gay” to do so. This whole culture needs to change.’

It’s absolutely essential that young people are given access to comprehensive sex and relationships education that emphasises the importance of communication and mutual respect. Partners who can effectively communicate with one another are more likely to have pleasurable and rewarding sexual experiences.

If you can’t ask for what you want in bed or speak up when there’s an issue, there’s a risk that sex will be dull, awkward, uncomfortable or worse.

Toxic masculinity also plays a role here, preventing men from opening up to friends or partners, or going to seek professional help. This can keep young men trapped in a cycle of sexual dysfunction and propagate the myth that sex issues are something that only old blokes need to worry about.

It can be a tricky subject to broach with your mates or your partner, but it doesn’t need to be. If you’re struggling in the bedroom, you’re certainly not on your own.

Ben Edwards, a relationship coach, is clear that the stigma around sexual dysfunction needs to change.

‘We need to accept that mental illness, anxiety and sexual difficulties are not weaknesses,’ he tells us. ‘They’re actually very common and should be dealt with. Admitting you need help is a great step and you’ll reap the rewards.

‘Men often feel they shouldn’t show their emotions, but it’s important to put egos aside and fix these issues for our own benefit.’

Basically, stress and shame are huge boner-killers. Ditch them in favour of openness, honesty and mutual pleasure.

Complete Article HERE!

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Performance Anxiety Doesn’t Mean the End of Your Sex Life… Here’s Why

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Sometimes sex can be stressful, but these steps may help you get your groove back.

by Stephanie Booth

[A]fter her first sexual partner belittled her in the bedroom, Steph Auteri began second-guessing herself when it came to sex.

“I felt self-conscious and nervous about being a disappointment to the other person,” the 37-year-old says. “I found myself never feeling sexual, never wanting to be intimate, and never initiating anything.”

Even with different partners, Auteri “went through the motions” of sex, always hoping the act would be over quickly.

“I felt broken,” she admits. “And more than anything else, I felt guilty for being weird about sex. I felt that I wasn’t someone who was worth committing to. Then, I would feel resentful for the fact that I had to feel guilty and would want sex even less. It was a vicious circle.”

“Sex anxiety,” like Auteri experienced, isn’t an official medical diagnosis. It’s a colloquial term used to describe fear or apprehension related to sex. But it is real — and it affects more people than is commonly known.

“In my experience, [the incidence] is relatively high,” says Michael J. Salas, LPC-S, AASECT, a certified sex therapist and relationship expert in Dallas, Texas. “Many sexual dysfunctions are relatively common, and almost all of the sexual dysfunction cases that I’ve worked with have an element of anxiety associated with them.”

How sex anxiety manifests can occur in a wide variety of ways for different people. Women may have a significant drop in libido or interest, have trouble getting aroused or having an orgasm, or experience physical pain during sex. Men can struggle with their performance or their ability to ejaculate.

Some people get so nervous at the idea of having sex that they avoid having it altogether.

However, Ravi Shah, MD, a psychiatrist at ColumbiaDoctors and assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, suggests one of the keys to overcoming sex anxiety is viewing it as a “symptom” instead of a condition.

“You’re getting anxious around sex, but what’s the real diagnosis?” Shah asks.

The link between anxiety and sex

If it seems like just about everyone you know is anxious about something these days — well, that’s because they are. Anxiety disorders are currently the most common mental health issue in the United States, affecting about 40 million adults.

When a person senses a threat (real or imagined), their body instinctively switches into “fight or flight” mode. Should I stay and fight the snake in front of me, or book it to safety?

The chemicals that get released into the body during this process don’t contribute to sexual desire. Rather, they put a damper on it, so a person’s attention can be focused on the immediate threat.

“In general, people who experience anxiety disorders in the rest of their lives are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction, too,” says Nicole Prause, PhD, a sexual psychophysiologist and licensed psychologist in Los Angeles.

Additionally, trauma — such as sexual abuse or sexual assault — can trigger apprehension about sex. So can chronic pain, a change in hormones (like right after giving birth or when going through menopause), and even a lack of quality sex education.

“Abstinence-only education tends to create a stigma and shame around sex that can continue into adolescence and adulthood,” says Salas. “Sex education that focuses only on pregnancy ignores the importance of sexual stimulation and pleasure. This can leave people looking to porn for their sex education… [which] can increase myths of sexual performance and increase anxiety.”

“Some people may have anxiety around sex because they have unrealistic expectations about what healthy sex is,” agrees Shah. “Across both men and women, that has to do with low self-esteem, what sex is like in porn and movies versus in real life, and how much sex they feel they ‘should’ be having.”

“People wrongly believe everyone else is having sex all the time and it’s great and no one else has problems except them,” he adds.

How to alleviate sex anxiety

There are plenty of benefits to maintaining a healthy sex life. Sex improves your bond with your partner, gives your self-esteem a boost, and can lower your blood pressure and strengthen your immune system.

The “feel good” hormones released during sex can even help combat feelings of stress and anxiety.

So how do you get past your current anxiety about sex to reap those benefits?

Talk to your doctor

First, rule out any physical problems.

“Many physiological problems can increase sexual dysfunction, which can then increase sex anxiety,” Salas says. These include chronic health issues like arthritis, cancer, and diabetes. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can also do a number on your libido.

Explore intimacy in different ways

“Sensate focus” exercises, which involve touching your partner and being touched for your own pleasure, are meant to help you reconnect with both your sensual and sexual feelings.

“Initially, no genital touching is allowed,” explains Prause. “More touching is gradually added back in as exercises progress, which are often done with a therapist between home sessions. These are done to help identify sources and times of anxiety and work through what those might mean.”

Since anxiety “most often is about something failing around the moments of penetration,” says Prause, you could also choose to avoid that specific act until your confidence builds back. That way, you can learn how to enjoy other pleasurable sexual activities that still provide intimacy, but without the pressure.

Just make sure you talk with your partner if you decide this direction is best for you. As Prause cautions, “There’s no skirting good communication on this one.”

Be mindful

During sex, you may find yourself trying to read your partner’s mind or worrying that you’re not living up to their fantasies. “Mindfulness can help keep you in the present, while managing negative emotions as they arise,” says Salas.

To do that, he urges his clients to view the signals they get from their body as information, rather than judgments. “Listen to your body, rather than try to override it,” he says.

For instance, instead of worrying why you don’t yet have an erection — and panicking that you should — accept that you’re still enjoying what you’re currently doing, like kissing or being touched by your partner.

“Noticing without judgment and acceptance are key aspects of lowering sexual anxiety,” says Salas.

Make sex a regular conversation

“It’s a fantasy that your partner should know what you want,” says Shah. “They don’t know what you want for dinner without you telling them, and the same goes for sexual activity.”

Choose a private moment and suggest, “There’s something I want to talk to you about in regards to sex. Can we talk about that now?” This gentle heads-up will give your partner a moment to mentally prepare. Then approach the heart of the matter: “I love you and want us to have a good sex life. One thing that’s hard for me is [fill-in-the-blank].”

Don’t forget to invite your partner to chime in, too, by asking: “How do you think our sex life is?”

Talking openly about sex may feel awkward at first, but can be a great starting point for working through your anxiety, Shah says.

Don’t discount foreplay

“There are so many ways to get sexual pleasure,” says Shah. “Massages, baths, manual masturbation, just touching each other… Build up a repertoire of good, positive experiences.”

Explore issues of shame

Maybe you’re embarrassed about your appearance, the number of partners you’ve had, a sexually transmitted disease — or perhaps you were raised to believe that your sexuality is wrong.

“When it comes to sex, shame isn’t very far behind,” says Salas. “The problem with shame is that we don’t talk about it. Some of us won’t even own it.” Identify which aspect is causing you to feel ashamed, then consider opening up about it to your partner.

“When people survive sharing the information that they’re most ashamed about, the fears of sharing it lessen,” says Salas. “They realize that they can share this, and still be accepted and loved.”

Seek professional help

If your anxiety isn’t confined to the bedroom, or you’ve tried without success to improve your sex life, seek professional help. “You may need more robust treatment with a therapist or even medication,” says Shah.

Life after sexual anxiety

Steph Auteri didn’t find an instant cure for her sex anxiety. It stuck around for 15 years. Even when she met her current husband, their first sexual encounter was marked by Auteri’s tears and a confession that she had “weirdness” about sex.

An accidental career as a sex columnist helped her slowly start to realize that her anxiety wasn’t so unusual. “People would comment or email me thanking me for being so open and honest about a thing they were also experiencing,” says Auteri, who’s now written a memoir, “A Dirty Word,” about her experience. “They had always thought they were alone. But none of us are alone in this.”

When she and her husband decided to have a baby, Auteri was surprised to find that the more she had sex, the more she desired it. A regular yoga practice also helped her improve a sense of mindfulness, and she started asking her husband for more foreplay and nonsexual intimacy throughout the day.

“I also became more open to intimacy even when I wasn’t necessarily ‘in the mood.’ Although let’s be real,” Auteri adds, “sometimes I’m really not in the mood, and I still honor that.”

And honoring our own feelings is often the first (and biggest) step toward overcoming sex anxiety.

Complete Article HERE!

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Want better sex? Try getting better sleep

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[O]ne in 3 American adults do not get enough sleep. Sexual issues are also common, with as many as 45 percent of women and 31 percent of men having a concern about their sex life. While these might seem like distinct concerns, they are actually highly related.

How are sleep and sex related? I’ll state the obvious: We most commonly sleep and have sex in the same location – the bedroom. Less obvious but more important is that lack of sleep and lack of sex share some common underlying causes, including stress. Especially important, lack of sleep can lead to sexual problems and a lack of sex can lead to sleep problems. Conversely, a good night’s sleep can lead to a greater interest in sex, and orgasmic sex can result in a better night’s sleep.

I am a sex educator and researcher who has published several studies on the effectiveness of self-help books in enhancing sexual functioning. I have also written two sexual self-help books, both based in research findings. My latest book, “Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters – and How to Get It,” is aimed at empowering women to reach orgasm. More pertinent to the connection between sleep and sex, my first book, “A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex,” was written to help the countless women who say they are too exhausted to be interested in sex.

The effect of sleep on sex among women

The reason I wrote a book for women who are too tired for sex is because women are disproportionately affected by both sleep problems and by low sexual desire, and the relationship between the two is indisputable. Women are more likely than men to have sleep problems, and the most common sexual complaint that women bring to sex therapists and physicians is low desire. Strikingly, being too tired for sex is the top reason that women give for their loss of desire.

Conversely, getting a good night’s sleep can increase desire. A recent study found that the longer women slept, the more interested in sex they were the next day. Just one extra hour of sleep led to a 14 percent increase in the chances of having a sexual encounter the following day. Also, in this same study, more sleep was related to better genital arousal.

While this study was conducted with college women, those in other life stages have even more interrelated sleep and sex problems. Menopause involves a complicated interaction of biological and psychological issues that are associated with both sleep and sex problems. Importantly, a recent study found that among menopausal women, sleep problems were directly linked to sexual problems. In fact, sleep issues were the only menopausal symptom for which such a direct link was found.

nterrelated sleep and sexual issues are also prevalent among mothers. Mothers of new babies are the least likely to get a good night’s sleep, mostly because they are caring for their baby during the night. However, ongoing sleep and sexual issues for mothers are often caused by having too much to do and the associated stress. Women, who are married with school-age children and working full time, are the most likely to report insomnia. Still, part-time working moms and moms who don’t work outside the home report problems with sleep as well.

While fathers also struggle with stress, there is evidence that stress and the resulting sleepless nights dampen women’s sexual desire more than they do men’s. Some of this is due to hormones. Both insufficient sleep and stress result in the release of cortisol, and cortisol decreases testosterone. Testosterone plays a major role in the sex drive of women and men. Men have significantly more testosterone than women. So, thinking of testosterone as a tank of gas, the cortisol released by stress and lack of sleep might take a woman’s tank to empty, yet only decrease a man’s tank to half full.

The effect of sleep on sex among men

Although lack of sleep and stress seems to affect women’s sexual functioning more than men’s, men still suffer from interrelated problems in these areas. One study found that, among young healthy men, a lack of sleep resulted in decreased levels of testosterone, the hormone responsible for much of our sex drive. Another study found that among men, sleep apnea contributed to erectile dysfunction and an overall decrease in sexual functioning. Clearly, among men, lack of sleep results in diminished sexual functioning.

I could not locate a study to prove this, as it stands to reason that the reverse is also true. That is, it seems logical that, as was found in the previously mentioned study among women, for men a better night’s sleep would also result in better sexual functioning.

The effect of sex on sleep

While sleep (and stress) have an effect on sex, the reverse is also true. That is, sex affects sleep (and stress). According to sex expert Ian Kerner, too little sex can cause sleeplessness and irritability. Conversely, there is some evidence that the stress hormone cortisol decreases after orgasm. There’s also evidence that oxytocin, the “love hormone” that is released after orgasm, results not only in increased feelings of connection with a partner, but in better sleep.

Additionally, experts claim that sex might have gender-specific effects on sleep. Among women, orgasm increases estrogen, which leads to deeper sleep. Among men, the hormone prolactin that is secreted after orgasm results in sleepiness.

Translating science into more sleep and more sex

It is now clear that a hidden cause of sex problems is sleeplessness and that a hidden cause of sleeplessness is sex problems. This knowledge can lead to obvious, yet often overlooked, cures for both problems. Indeed, experts have suggested that sleep hygiene can help alleviate sexual problems and that sex can help those suffering from sleep problems.

Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that both sleep hygiene suggestions and suggestions for enhanced sexual functioning have some overlap. For example, experts suggest sticking to a schedule, both for sleep and for sexual encounters. They also recommend decreasing smartphone usage, both before bed and when spending time with a partner. The bottom line of these suggestions is to make one’s bedroom an exclusive haven for the joys of both sleep and sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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Most relationships start off with rubbish sex

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Don’t despair if you just had sex with someone you really, really like, and it was a bit disappointing.

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[I]t turns out that the majority of relationships start with rubbish sex, so the first time you bone really isn’t a good indicator of how compatible you are. That’s good news, right?

A survey of 2,000 Americans found that 58% of those in relationships had sex for the first time with their partner that was awkward or terrible.

That’s around six in ten people. Reassuring, right?

With rubbish sex being so common, it’s not surprising that the study, by OnePoll and Pure Romance, found that the majority of us feel anxious before having sex with a new partner.

53% say they worry about how their body looks, while 48% panic about being able to please their partners.

Maybe we should all openly say that we won’t ditch a relationship just because the first time isn’t great. The study also found that three in ten people would break things off with someone if the sex wasn’t good the first time, which isn’t exactly reassuring.

On average, people will tolerate four or five bad sexual experiences with someone before breaking things off, which seems fair. At that point you’ve got rid of the first-time nerves, you’re comfortable with each other, and hopefully you’re able to do the best you can. If the sex still isn’t great at that point, there may need to be a conversation.

That conversation needs to explain what works for you, what doesn’t, and needs to involve total honesty and openness. It’s key to be open to trying new things and experimenting to find out how to make sex work for the two of you.

Maybe you’ll swap techniques and skills. Maybe you’ll up their game and they’ll up yours.

The good news is that 71% of those surveyed don’t believe the first time ultimately defines a relationship, and figuring out how to make things better should be pretty fun. Practice makes perfect.

Complete Article HERE!

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Reasons Guys Should Do Kegels

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(Including Better Sex for Both of You)

By Jenna Birch

[I]f a woman visits her ob-gyn because of urinary problems or a sexual issue relating to arousal or orgasm, her doctor might advise her to start a regimen of kegel exercises. These moves strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which can lose tone due to age or pregnancy. Stronger pelvic floor muscles lead to better bladder control and more sensation during sex.

But it isn’t just women who can benefit from doing kegels; men can gain advantages as well. “Both men and women have these muscles,” says James Dupree, MD, an assistant professor of urology at Michigan Medicine. “A kegel exercise is the name given to any exercise strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. For guys, those are the muscles supporting organs like the penis, prostate, and rectum.”

Curious as to how they can help your partner—especially the way they can have an impact on your sex life? Here’s what you need to know.

Kegels can help him stay harder during sex

Kegel exercises strengthen the shelf of muscle supporting the penis. Stronger muscles in this area can mean improved blood flow when your partner gets an erection—similar to the way working out any muscle gives circulation to nearby organs a boost. The result: stronger erections. While it’s normal for a guy to occasionally experience erection issues, if he has regular trouble getting and staying hard, it can have an impact on your sex life, says Dr. Dupree.

They can prevent premature ejaculation

These small-but-powerful moves can also give men more control over ejaculation, helping the pelvic floor muscles lengthen and contract appropriately. That helps him last longer in the bedroom. Dr. Dupree points to a small 2014 study, which showed that pelvic floor strengthening helped 82% of study participants (age 19 to 46) improve their premature ejaculation issues.

Kegels boost bladder and bowel control

For men, kegel exercises can also help improve bowel control (jokes asides, it’s not the kind of leakage anyone wants to deal with). They can also make it less likely he’ll experience stress incontinence, or accidentally dribble a little urine while pumping iron at the gym or on a run, for example. Strengthening those muscles is especially useful if, for instance, your guy “laughs, sneezes or lifts a heavy box” and he’s leaking a little pee in the process, says Dr. Dupree.

How can guy do kegels?

Pretty much the same way women do them. First, he has to find those pelvic floor muscles. “When a man is standing to urinate, those are the muscles he’d use to abruptly stop mid-stream,” says Dr. Dupree. “On a separate note, you can think of tightening the muscles you’d use to hold in gas.”

Once he’s identified the right muscle group, Dr. Dupree advises that he “hold for three seconds, relax for three seconds.” Do this 10 times in a row, twice a day. “You can do them anywhere, really,” he says. “Sitting at a desk, in the bathroom. It should only take a few minutes.”

Before he starts, a word of caution

Prior to your partner embarking on a kegel exercise routine, Dr. Dupree says he should first talk to his doctor about any potential underlying medical problems that might be behind his symptoms. For instance, it’s normal to have drip a tiny bit of pee after emptying the bladder; it’s not normal to be leaking urine between trips to the restroom. “For urinary issues, we’d want to check for UTIs or neurologic problems,” he explains.

If you’re dealing with problems in the bedroom, your guy should also bring that up with his physician before jumping right into kegels. “For erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, it’s an issue that can be an early sign of what could eventually become heart disease, so we’d want to check out things like cholesterol,” Dr. Dupree says.

Complete Article HERE!

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9 Reasons You Might Not Be Orgasming

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By Sophie Saint Thomas

[W]hile orgasms don’t define good sex, they are pretty damn nice. However, our bodies, minds, and relationships are complicated, meaning orgasms aren’t always easy to come by (pun intended). From dating anxiety to medication to too little masturbation, here are nine possible culprits if you’re having a hard time orgasming — plus advice on how to deal.

1. You expect vaginal sex alone to do it for you.

One more time, for the cheap seats in the back: Only about 25 percent of people with vaginas come from penetration alone. If you’re not one of them, that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you or your body. As licensed psychotherapist Amanda Luterman has told Allure, ability to come from vaginal sex has to do with the distance between the vaginal opening and the clitoris: The closer your clit is to this opening, the more vaginal sex will stimulate your clit.

The sensation of a penis or a dildo sliding into your vagina can be undeniably delightful. But most need people need that sensation paired with more direct clitoral stimulation in order to come. Try holding a vibrator against your clit as your partner penetrates you, or put your or your partner’s hands to good use.

2. Your partner is pressuring you.

Interest in your partner’s pleasure should be non-optional. But when you’re having sex with someone and they keep asking if you’ve come yet or if you’re close, it can throw your orgasm off track. As somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist Holly Richmond points out, “Being asked to perform is not sexy.” If your partner is a little too invested in your orgasm, it’s time to talk. Tell them you appreciate how much they care, but that you’re feeling pressure and it’s killing the mood for you.

It’s possible that they’re judging themselves as a partner based on whether or not you climax, and they may be seeking a little reassurance that they’re making you feel good. If they are, say so; if you’re looking to switch it up, this is your opportunity to tell them it would be so hot if they tried this or that thing next time you hop in bed.

3. Your antidepressants are messing with your sex drive.

As someone who continues to struggle with depression, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to seek treatment and take medication if you and your care provider decide that’s what’s right for you. Antidepressants can be lifesavers, and I mean that literally.

However, certain medications do indeed affect your ability to come. SSRIs such as Zoloft, Lexapro, and Prozac can raise the threshold of how much stimulation you need to orgasm. According to New York City sex therapist Stephen Snyder, author of Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long Lasting Relationship. “For some women, that just means you’re going to need a good vibrator,” says New York City sex therapist Stephen Snyder, author of Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long Lasting Relationship. “For others, it might mean your threshold is so high that no matter what you do, you’re just not going to be able to get there.”

If your current medication is putting a dramatic damper on your sex life, you have options, so talk to your doctor. Non-SSRI antidepressants such as Wellbutrin are available, while newer medications like Viibryd or Trintellix may come with fewer sexual side effects than other drugs, Snyder says. I’m currently having excellent luck with Fetzima. I don’t feel complete and utter hopelessness yet can also come my face off (a wonderful way to live).

4. Your birth control is curbing your libido.

Hormonal birth control can also do a number on your ability to climax, according to Los Angeles-based OB/GYN Yvonne Bohn. That’s because it can decrease testosterone levels, which in turn can mean a lower libido and fewer orgasms. If you’re on the pill and the sexual side effect are giving you grief, ask your OB/GYN about switching to a pill with a lower dose of estrogen or changing methods altogether.

5. You’re living with anxiety or depression.

“Depression and anxiety are based on imbalances between neurotransmitters,” OB/GYN Jessica Shepherd tells Allure. “When your dopamine is too high or too low, that can interfere with the sexual response, and also your levels of libido and ability to have sexual intimacy.” If you feel you may have depression or an anxiety disorder, please go see a doctor. Your life is allowed to be fun.

6. You’re not having sex for long enough.

A good quickie can be exciting (and sometimes necessary: If you’re getting it on in public, for example, it’s not exactly the time for prolonged foreplay.) That said, a few thrusts of a penis inside of a vagina is not a reliable recipe for mutual orgasm. Shepherd stresses the importance of foreplay, which can include oral, deep kissing, genital stimulation, sex toys, and more. Foreplay provides both stimulation and anticipation, making the main event, however you define that, even more explosive.

7. You’re recovering from sexual trauma.

Someone non-consensually went down on me as part of a sexual assault four years ago, and I’ve only been able to come from oral sex one time since then. Post-traumatic stress disorder is common among survivors of sexual trauma; so are anxiety and orgasm-killing flashbacks, whether or not the survivor in question develops clinical PTSD. Shepherd says sexual trauma can also cause hypertonicity, or increased and uncomfortable muscle tension that can interfere with orgasm. If you’re recovering from sexual trauma, I encourage you to find a therapist to work with, because life — including your sex life — can get better.

8. You’re experiencing body insecurity.

Here’s the thing about humans: They want to have sex with people they’re attracted to. Richmond says it’s important to remember your partner chooses to have sex with you because they’re turned on by your body. (I feel confident your partner loves your personality, as well.) One way to tackle insecurity is to focus on what your body can do — for example, the enormous pleasure it can give and receive — rather than what it looks like.

9. You’re shying away from masturbation.

Our partners don’t always know what sort of stimulation gets us off, and it’s especially hard for them to know when we don’t know ourselves. If you’re not sure what type of touch you enjoy most, set aside some time and use your hands, a sex toy, or even your bathtub faucet to explore your body at a leisurely pace. Once you start to discover how to make yourself feel good, you can demonstrate your techniques to your partner.

Complete Article HERE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

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I’m not that sexually experienced. How can I be more confident in bed?

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Buck up, champ: Feeling a little anxious about your sexual history (or lack thereof) is totally normal. Here are 10 ways to improve your sexual performance without having to have sex first.

by Vanessa Marin

[E]veryone has anxiety about being great in bed, but when you don’t have much sexual experience that anxiety can feel sky high. For some guys, that concern about experience turns into a horrible cycle: You don’t feel confident about your sexual experience, so you end up not having sex, and your experience level remains the same.

Here’s the good news: Experience is a good teacher, but you can still learn how to be great in bed without it. Here’s how.

1. Put it in context

As a sex therapist, I can tell you that just about everyone has self-confidence issues when it comes to sex—even people with a lot of experience. The insecurities are different from person to person, but they’re insecurities nonetheless. And keep in mind that many of the women you’re intimate with may be inexperienced or insecure as well. You’re certainly not alone.

2. Do your research

You can school yourself on how to have great sex without having any experience whatsoever. I also recommend Guide To Getting It On: Unzipped by Paul Joannides or The Big Bang by Nerve for general sex education topics like STIs and pregnancy prevention, anatomy, communication, and consent. She Comes First by Ian Kerner is a fantastic guide to the art of pleasuring a woman, and I recommend it to almost every man in my sex therapy practice. Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski is a great book about female sexuality in general.

One caveat: Don’t get your sex education from porn! Porn is meant to be entertainment, not education. Porn sex has very little resemblance to real sex. It’s all about angles, lighting, and editing. Most of the moves you see in porn simply won’t go over well in the real world.

3. Take care of your body

One of the best things you can do to improve your confidence is to take great care of your body. Sex is a physical act. Not only do you need endurance, but you also have to feel comfortable and confident in your own skin. You already know what you should be doing—eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. Exercise, in particular, can also have added sexual benefits, like increasing your sex drive and improving your erections and your orgasms.

Grooming is important too. Wear clothes that flatter your body and make you feel good. Get your hair cut and your beard trimmed. The better you feel about yourself and your body, the more confident you’ll feel in bed.

4. Masturbate

Yes, masturbation can improve your partnered sex life! Most men masturbate pretty thoughtlessly, zoning out to porn while they try to get the job done as quickly as possible. This actually serves to disconnect you from your body, and decreases your control over your erection and orgasm.

Instead, you can use masturbation to help increase your stamina. First, think of how long you’d like to last with a partner. That becomes your new masturbation session length. During that time, really pay attention to your body. Notice what it feels like when you start getting close to orgasm, and train yourself to back off when you’re on the edge.

You can also practice purposefully losing your erection, then getting it back again. This will help decrease anxiety about losing your erection with a partner.

5. Go slow

When you’re feeling anxious about sex, you’re more likely to rush. Lots of inexperienced men have the tendency to jump right to intercourse, but it’s so much more fun to take your time and go slow. Spend plenty of time on kissing, touching, and performing oral sex, and even slow down your physical movements. A slower pace will help dramatically decrease your anxiety levels.

Plus, keep in mind that most women feel more physical pleasure from oral sex and fingering than from intercourse, and a lot of women love being teased. She’ll appreciate your pace, too.

6. Focus on her pleasure

Being fantastic in bed means genuinely caring about your partner’s pleasure. It’s arguably the most important quality in a great lover. If you spend time specifically focusing on her body—taking your time with her, kissing her all over, fingering her, going down on her—you’re going to impress her way more than the guy who has a ton of experience but is selfish in bed. Plus, seeing the pleasure that you bring her will naturally help you feel more confident.

7. Treat her like an individual

I’m all about sharing sex tips and techniques, but the reality is that every woman likes different things. No one technique is going to work for every woman. This is great news for you because it shows that experience only goes so far. We’re all beginners when we have sex with someone brand new. Try to explore her body with openness and curiosity. Pay attention to how she responds to your touch. Does she moan? Does she start breathing more heavily? Does she arch her body toward you? Don’t be afraid to ask her what she wants or likes! One super-simple way to ask for feedback is to try two different things on her, and ask her, “Do you like it better when I do this or this?”

8. Keep it simple

So many men overly complicate sex, especially when they’re feeling anxious. Technique is important, but you don’t need to go crazy trying out a million different things on her. The key to female orgasm is actually consistency, not complicated tongue maneuvers or finger gymnastics. Switching things up usually throws her off and distracts her. Find something simple that seems to be working for her, and stick with it. Increase your pace and pressure gradually, but stick to the same basic technique.

9. Don’t think of it as a performance

One of the biggest mistakes that sexual newbies make is thinking of sex as a performance. They get overly fixated on the idea of maintaining a perfect erection, having the utmost control over their orgasms, and mastering their technique. But the truth is that no one likes feeling like they’re having sex with a robot. She doesn’t need you to perform for her like a circus animal. She wants to feel connected to you, and she wants to have fun. You can do that, even without any prior sexual experience.

10. Have a sense of humor

Sex is never perfect, no matter how much experience you have. Sex can be awkward, weird, and sometimes downright hilarious. You’re bound to try out a position that doesn’t work, bump foreheads, or get a cramp in your leg. Having a sense of humor is so important in those moments. If you can laugh it off, you’ll get back to the fun much faster.

Complete Article HERE!

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The 55-year-old newlywed

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It’s not just about technique – it’s about being with someone who cares enough to invest the time

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[I] had a few relationships in my 20s. In some, the sex was OK, in others just boring. I blame it on the fact that I was brought up to believe sex was functional, that men wanted it and women put up with it.

In my early 30s I married a man with limited sexual experience. He was from a religious background and wanted to wait till we were married: boy, was that a mistake. Sex was focused only on what he wanted. We were together for over 20 years and had three kids, and I can probably count the orgasms I had in single figures. Trying to talk about it caused angry outbursts. It was horrible and led to our breakup in my early 50s.

At that point, I decided to figure out if there was something wrong with me. I read Becoming Orgasmic and bought a vibrator, terrified my teenagers would hear me experimenting. I found that, like many women, I just needed sufficient time and attention to reach orgasm.

I began seeing a man, also just out of a sexless relationship, and we talked a lot about what we enjoyed before we did anything. For me, it’s not just about technique – it’s about being with someone who cares enough to invest the time. Sex is finally fun for both of us and we have been quite adventurous – even al fresco. We’ve been together for over two years, and recently married.

My message to other women is: you can start over in later life. This might involve a new partner. Take time to get to know your body after childbirth, breastfeeding and menopause. Do this on your own, if you prefer, then bring what you’ve learned into your relationship(s). And don’t settle for boring sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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5 problems sex can (probably) fix

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Everyone’s sex life hits a slump, but if you’re feeling blah, try out these sexy ideas.

By Kimberly M. Aquilina

[L]azy please-don’t-smell-my-breath morning sex. Make up sex. Christening your new apartment sex. Sloppy, dirty-talk-fueled drunk sex.

We can make sex fit into whatever situation we’re in, but can it be a quick fix?

“Sex can be a tremendous resource for managing emotions, coping with stress, reducing heart rate, regulating breathing, grounding yourself in the present and connecting with others,” Angie Gunn, clinical social worker and sexuality expert at Talkspace, told She Knows. “Sex can also be a resource for more complex challenges like relationship conflict, boredom or feeling distress in your life.”

OK, so the tango-for-two can’t fix all. Remember the rumors that Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck were thinking of having a fourth child to save their marriage? That’s an example of something sex can’t fix.

But below are some things it can fix (and if it doesn’t work, at least you’ll have fun trying!)

You and your lady have been bickering.

If you or your partner are feeling nitpicky and are squabbling a lot, try an amped up — and a little kinky — activity to release the stress.

“This can include mutual spanking, hard and enthusiastic penetration and even a bit of BDSM if that’s something you both agree to try,” Coleen Singer, sexpert at Sssh.com, an erotic entertainment website for women, told She Knows.

“The sheer physicality of rough sex can shed some built-up emotional tension between you. Just be careful not to go overboard with this technique and establish a safe word so you can put on the breaks if anything becomes uncomfortable or painful.”

Even in the most intense BDSM play, consent and respect are key. And don’t forget the aftercare! After a rigorous romp, be sure to shower each other with gentle affection and bask in the afterglow together.

 

One (or both) of you have P.M.S.

Studies have shown that the “feel-good hormones” like oxytocin released during sex can help alleviate pain.

“Period cramps put your body under a lot of stress, leading to more pain and mood swings,” Singer told She Knows. “When we orgasm, the body releases oxytocin and dopamine along with other endorphins that can ease any PMS and period-related pains. Those hormones are far stronger than any over-the-counter painkillers.”

Your sex life has lost some of that “oomph.”

No matter how much you love each other, sex can become routine, boring and less of a priority. Bring back that spark with some role playing.

Get dressed up like you would when you were single, go to a bar (or coffee shop) and pretend you are complete strangers. Introduce yourselves, flirt and buy a round of drinks.

Bring sexy to the max and spring for a hotel room to invoke the feel of a forbidden one-night stand.

 

Stress has turned your vagina into a desert.

Stress can zap libido, but it can also give you a jolt better than a 2 p.m. protein bar or coffee break.

If you know you’re going to have a busy week, start your day with a quickie to alleviate anxiety. Your coworkers will be in awe at how cool and collected you stay while facing deadlines.

You’re just in a funk.

If you just feel blah and need some excitement in your life, make a sex life bucket list. Having sex outdoors, roleplaying or trying a new position can give you that extra pep in your step. The orgasms help, but just having something to look forward to can pull you out of your slump.

 

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Why millennial sex sucks

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By Naomi Schaefer Riley

[C]ould sex for millennials get any worse? Late last month, researchers at Columbia uncovered a trend called “stealthing,” in which a man discreetly removes his condom during intercourse because he believes it’s a man’s right to “spread one’s seed.” According to the study women are calling rape crisis hotlines with stories of this practice and there are, of course, Internet chat rooms devoted to it.

We can now add stealthing to the growing list of trends that make sex seem anything but enjoyable for young adults today, and which seem to explain why millennials are having less sex than any generation in 60 years, according to a study published last year. Some believe young, ambitious adults are letting their careers get in the way of their sexual pursuits. But if you think about the sexual experiences available to most millennials, it’s a surprise more of them aren’t taking lifetime vows of celibacy.

Take the ubiquity of online porn. According to a Barna Group study from last year, 57 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 24) report “seeking out” porn regularly, compared to only 41 percent of Gen-X adults. For many young men, porn seems to be supplanting relationships as a way to, well, get their jollies.

In their 2011 book, “Premarital Sex in America,” Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker interview a young man who explains, “I think I like my own ‘personal time’ as much as I like having intercourse.” Regnerus and Uecker write that “if porn-and-masturbation satisfies some of the male demand for intercourse — and it clearly does — it reduces the value of real intercourse.” With the supply of sexual outlets rising, the “cost of real sex can only go down, taking men’s interest in making steep relationship commitments with it.”

But the effects of porn go even further than that. In a study in the Journal of Family Theory and Review, Kyler Rasmussen of the University of Calgary reviewed 600 pornography studies from the 1960s through 2014, and found that viewing porn “can reduce satisfaction with partners and relationships through contrast effects [i.e., where male viewers find their partners less attractive compared to the women they see in porn]; reduce commitment by increasing the appeal of relationship alternatives; and increase acceptance of infidelity.”

And if men aren’t enjoying sex because the women don’t look like porn stars, imagine how little women enjoy having to compete with porn stars. The number of women undergoing labiaplasty jumped 39 percent in the US from 2015 to 2016.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of ways to get sex outside of relationships now, thanks to technology. Apps like Tinder allow men and women to hook up with multiple partners within hours of each other if they like. And the technology allows people to keep such liaisons secret from their partners in ways that they never could have before.

It seems like paradise for some, but this much casual sex with strangers seems to be having discernible health consequences. The Centers for Disease Control reported a 19 percent increase in reported cases of syphilis, a 12.8 percent increase in gonorrhea cases and a 5.9 percent increase in chlamydia cases from 2014 to 2015. In New York alone reports of syphilis grew by 29 percent from 2015 to 2016, mostly among young adults.

Even college campuses, which were supposed to be fun places for young people to party before they had to get real jobs and wake up at a reasonable hour, are failing to bring much sexual satisfaction. One of the women in Lisa Wade’s book, “American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus,” describes the atmosphere at college parties as “a bestial rubbing of genitals reminiscent of mating zebras.” After the initial excitement of finding out that sex was readily available, even the men Wade interviews seem kind of annoyed by the whole atmosphere.

Wade, a professor at Occidental College, finds that sexual encounters with women mean there is no possibility that a friendship can continue. After any hookup, there is a kind of contest to see who can care about it less. And in order for any sexual encounter to happen in the first place, everyone has to be rip-roaring drunk.

And let’s not forget all the other problems that come when young people purposefully lose control of their senses and then hop into bed. Did anyone consent? Will someone be mad in the morning? Didn’t the dean tell us to ask before unbuttoning someone’s shirt? Couples married for decades can experience more fun and spontaneity than these kids who practically need a contract before getting undressed. When it comes to sex, at least, it seems youth is no longer wasted on the young.

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Revealed, fifth of women unhappy with sex lives

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One woman in five is unhappy with her sex life, a major survey carried out for the Daily Mail reveals.

Only 17 percent of women say they are very satisfied.

By SOPHIE BORLAND

[A]nd only 17 percent of women say they are very satisfied.

One in ten has sex only once a year at most, while two thirds make love once a month or less. Just 10 percent said they had sex at least once a week.

The survey of 2 002 women aged 30 to 80 was commissioned by the Daily Mail in association with LloydsPharmacy.

A quarter of all women said they sometimes avoided sex because they were too tired, while 13 percent did so because they were too anxious, 11 percent due to a lack of intimacy with their partner and 11 percent because sex was painful. Six percent said their partner had issues such as erectile dysfunction.

About 27 percent – mostly those who were single, divorced or widowed – said they never had sex.

The survey found that the 30 to 44 age group are the least happy with their sex lives, despite having sex the most often.

A quarter of this group said they were dissatisfied, including 11 percent who were very dissatisfied. Half those aged 65 to 80 declined to say how often they had sex, believing it a private matter.

Experts said many couples find sex a chore because they are too busy or exhausted to make it enjoyable. Peter Saddington, a Nottingham-based sex therapist for Relate, which provides counselling services, said: “The common problem is lack of time.

“People say they haven’t got the time, haven’t got the energy, they’re feeling pressured, it’s hard to switch off from work.

“Actually being in a relaxed enough state to have sex just doesn’t happen. You go through a period of time of squeezing sex in, then it becomes dissatisfying so you end up not doing it at all.

“It can become a chore, it can become boring if it’s repetitive, uninteresting and there’s no involvement or enjoyment.”

Krystal Woodbridge, a psychosexual counsellor based in St Albans, Hertfordshire, said: “It’s a very common issue and arguably it is becoming more common.”

Women do not enjoy sex if they do not feel a strong, emotional bond with their partner, she added. “If she’s angry, upset or resentful to her partner for any reason, she is going to have a low sexual desire.”

Professor Mary Ann Lumsden, senior vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said women who experience pain during sex may suffer from a medical condition.

“If women are concerned about changes in their sexual feelings, they should speak to a healthcare professional,” she said.

“Many women may feel too embarrassed to discuss intimate issues and suffer in silence, but it is important to remember that healthcare professionals are used to talking to women about this and are happy to offer treatments that could help women enjoy sex again.”

Natika H Halil, chief executive of the Family Planning Association said: “Sexual wellbeing is an important aspect of many people’s lives, but unfortunately many different factors can get in the way. Good communication can go a long way to help address anything that might be impacting your sexual wellbeing.

‘By sharing your sexual likes and dislikes, ideas about what you’d like to try, or speaking up about things you don’t want, it’s much easier to find pleasure with each other. It also means you don’t have to act as a mind reader and play a guessing game of what works.”

Complete Article HERE!

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