Why Is There So Little Help For Women With Sexual Dysfunction

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(But Plenty For Men)?

By Natalie Gil

It’s not just that we’re having less sex – problems between the sheets (or wherever you have sex) are common, even among young people, if countless surveys, problem pages and pieces of anecdotal evidence are to be believed. The most recent National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) quizzed more than 15,000 British people about their sex lives and found that 42% of men and 51% of women had experienced at least one sexual problem for three months or longer in the previous year; and the figures for 16-21-year-olds weren’t much lower (34% of men and 44% of women).

Evidently, women of all ages are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction than men, with symptoms ranging from a lack of interest in sex to painful intercourse and difficulties climaxing – but studies of male sexual dysfunction vastly outnumber those on issues that affect women, whose needs are frequently neglected by the scientific community, many experts believe

Because many of women’s sexual dysfunction symptoms are psychological – such as diminished arousal, a lack of enjoyment during sex, feeling anxious during sex and difficulty reaching orgasm – treatment is often more complex than it is for men, whose issues can often be solved with a single drug: Viagra. This is according to Dr David Goldmeier, consultant in sexual medicine at St Mary’s Hospital and chair of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV’s sexual dysfunction special interest group.

“Up until recently there were no medications for low desire in women,” he explains. “Giving women sildenafil (Viagra) does engorge the genitalia, but this does not translate to increased desire. Desire in women is much more of a primarily cerebral event.” However, hope is on the horizon for women, Dr Goldmeier adds: “There are two candidate medications that may appear in the UK at some time that address this: flibanserin and bremelanotide.”

In the absence of drugs to treat their sexual problems, many women turn to their NHS doctor or sexual health clinics. But government cuts to these services in recent years and a general lack of specialist training among health professionals means that women are left with few places to turn

“There is little money in the NHS [and] treating women’s sexual issues is time consuming. It has been neglected really because of lack of resources,” Dr Goldmeier explains. “Psychological therapies are the mainstay for low desire and other female problems. These are time and personnel expensive and require specialist units. [Whereas] GPs can easily hand out male medications.”

A lack of interest in sex (low libido) (34%), difficulty reaching orgasm (16%), an uncomfortable or dry vagina (13%), and a lack of sexual enjoyment (12%) are the most common issues women experience in the bedroom, according to the most recent Natsal statistics, with over a fifth of women (22.4%) experiencing two or more of these symptoms. Painful sex – which can be caused by conditions such as vaginismus, endometriosis and lichen sclerosus, and hormonal changes – is also an issue for 7.5% of women.

Dr Leila Frodsham, consultant gynaecologist and lead for psychosexual services at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital, says women who have given birth within six months and those going through the perimenopause, are particularly susceptible to painful sex as a result of reduced oestrogen levels. But these groups can also “feel reluctant to talk about sex with their specialists,” so the issue may be even higher than suspected. “Some say that sexual difficulties are only relevant if they last for six months or longer… In reality, it can take longer than six months for most to access specialist help

Around a fifth of referrals to gynaecology clinics are for sexual pain, Dr Frodsham explains. “Women with sexual difficulties will most commonly be referred to gynaecologists. They are unlikely to have had specialist training in this area.”

Many women with sexual difficulties are learning to adapt their sex lives accordingly – by accepting that they won’t reach orgasm through intercourse because of anorgasmia, or by diverting their focus away from climax as an end goal entirely, for instance. But others are coming up with alternative ways to address the issue and improve understanding on women’s sexual experiences. Twenty-two-year-old Caroline Spiegel, the younger sister of Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, last month launched a non-visual porn platform for women after experiencing sexual difficulties during her junior year at Stanford University, which arose from an eating disorder

“I started to do a lot of research into sexual dysfunction cures,” Spiegel told TechCrunch. “There are about 30 FDA-approved drugs for sexual dysfunction for men but zero for women, and that’s a big bummer.” In the absence of adequate medical help for women with problems in the bedroom, Spiegel hopes that Quinn, her platform of erotic stories and sexy audio clips, will inject some fleeting pleasure into their lives.

Others are breaking the taboo with comedy. Fran Bushe’s new musical comedy Ad Libido at London’s Soho Theatre, which runs from 7th-11th May after a sellout Edinburgh run last year, explores Bushe’s own experience of sexual dysfunction through her past and present sexual experiences – including men who offer their ‘magic penis’ to fix her, dubious remarks from medical professionals, dangerous remedies and gadgets, and even a sex camp that the writer attended “after feeling as if there was no help available,” as she told the Guardian recently</a

Some argue that the narrative about women’s sexual health has been hijacked by pharmaceutical companies to sell their products, and that given how common the symptoms of female sexual dysfunction are, the ‘condition’ shouldn’t be classed as a medical issue at all. “In contemporary sexual culture, it seems the line between dissatisfaction and dysfunction is increasingly blurred,” wrote journalist Sarah Hosseini last year.

“Women with any level of sexual decline or discontent have been cleverly convinced they are defective and need treatment. As such, feminists and clinicians have started to question the possibility that [female sexual dysfunction] was constructed by pharmaceutical companies through inflated epidemiology and our culture’s sexual illiteracy.”

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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What To Do If You Want Sex To Last Longer

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By Erika W. Smith

There have been a lot of studies about how long sex lasts on average — but most of those studies focus on the length of P-in-V sex between a cis man and a cis woman, whereas we know that sex can encompass a lot more. When it comes to studies looking at how long sex — including foreplay, outercourse, oral sex, and any other kind of non-P-in-V sex — lasts on average, for people of any gender and sexuality, we have less data to go by. But even if we did have exact data, those numbers don’t really matter. Because the only real answer to “How long should sex last?” is “A length that you and your partner are happy with.”

In fact, studies and averages are “a comparison trap,” says Megan Fleming, PhD, a sex and relationships counselor who practices in New York. “It’s really more about what works in your relationship.”

Sex therapists generally consider someone with a penis to be experiencing premature ejaculation if they are ejaculating after less than two minutes of penetrative sex, Dr. Fleming says. The Mayo Clinic’s definition of premature ejaculation adds an important caveat: “Premature ejaculation occurs when a man ejaculates sooner during sexual intercourse than he or his partner would like.” If both partners are happy with how long sex is lasting, then it’s not something to be concerned about — there’s a lot more to sex than penetration, after all. “How much does [the partner] enjoy penetration?” Dr. Fleming asks. “Maybe they already had an orgasm first because of foreplay, oral, or manual stimulation.”

But if both partners — no matter their gender or genitalia — want sex to last longer, they can try some different tactics to make that happen. Dr. Fleming divides these strategies into two groups: the physical and the psychological. On the physical side, there are masturbation exercises. In particular, people with penises can “learn to stay in the safe zone before the point of inevitability, which is ejaculation,” says Dr. Fleming. If sex isn’t lasting long because one person is experiencing pain or discomfort, see a professional who can see if there’s an underlying health condition. If you’d like sex to end more quickly, masturbation exercises also apply. And whether you’d like sex to last longer or end more quickly, you should be using lube it helps reduce friction, makes sex feel more comfortable, and feels great. Try experimenting with different amounts lube, or trying different kinds of lube, to see how that feels.

There’s also the psychological side of sex. Along with trying out positions and types of sex, “that might mean including fantasy, or talking dirty,” Dr. Fleming says. It can also mean reframing what you think of as sex to include sexual activities outside of penetration — and if there’s a cis man in the couple, it can mean rethinking the idea that sex ends when he has an orgasm.

Dr. Fleming also suggests trying new sexual activities more than once — even if the first time you try a new position doesn’t have an effect on how soon your orgasm happens, that might be different the third time you try it. “When you try something new, you want to try, try again,” she says. She refers to the safe word system of red, yellow, and green, where red means “stop,” green means “go,” and yellow means “slow down” or “give me a moment.” “If it’s awful, ‘red light,’ then obviously don’t” try it again, she says. “But if it’s more like a yellow, then hang out and see if it turns green. Sometimes we have to do things enough to really be present and relax, and relaxation is the foundation of arousal.”

Complete Article HERE!

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This Might Be Why You Struggle To Get Turned On

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By Kelly Gonsalves

For those who struggle with sexual desire and arousal—i.e., they just don’t get turned on that easily, that often, or when they want to be—sex can be a pretty frustrating affair. Even if you’re in a loving relationship and like the idea of physical intimacy, for some reason you just can’t get yourself in the mood for it.

A new study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy offers some clues as to what’s going on with your libido: Apparently women who have difficulties with sexual desire tend to have stronger sexual concordance, meaning their mental and genital arousal levels generally tend to align.

Researchers had 64 women individually come into a lab and watch a series of erotic videos while their vagina and clitoris were hooked up to a device that monitored physical markers of arousal: pulsing in the vaginal canal and increases in blood flow to the clit. The women also continuously indicated their subjective level of arousal (i.e., how aroused they felt in their heads) throughout the video by pushing a button to indicate when they were feeling more or less turned on. Later, each woman’s sexual concordance was measured based on how much their physical arousal levels matched up with their subjective, self-reported arousal levels.

All of the women also completed a questionnaire to determine their sexual functioning, which refers to a person’s ability to experience sexual desire, get aroused, lubricate, have an orgasm, and engage in pleasurable, pain-free sex. As far as sexual functioning, the researchers specifically homed in on women who struggled with desire versus those who didn’t.

The mind-body connection may be stronger with some women.

Here’s what the researchers found: Women with lower sexual functioning tended to have more alignment between their genital arousal and their mental arousal (i.e., sexual concordance). In other words, for women who had more trouble with sexual desire, their bodies and minds were actually more synced up than for other women.

What exactly does that mean? It means your body doesn’t get turned on without your mind also in the game, and vice versa. The two work in tandem.

Of course, this is true for most people. (“Your brain is your most important sex organ,” self-love guru and mbg Collective member Melissa Ambrosini tells mbg. “If it’s not in the game, you’re going to struggle to experience anything close to bedroom bliss.”)

But these findings suggest this mind-body connection might be especially important for women who have trouble accessing sexual desire. One theory the researchers posited in the paper is that women with higher concordance might be more likely to be very aware of all the physical sensations in their body and thus be less able to specifically focus on sexual sensations around the clitoris and vagina. Likewise, the body might be hyper-sensitive to unrelated thoughts buzzing in the mind and thus not respond to sexual stimuli because of all the other mental information it might be engaging with.

Importantly, the study also found sexual functioning and concordance were particularly linked when mental arousal predicted changes in genital arousal. In other words, when the body got aroused as the mind got aroused.

“These results coincide with previous research suggesting that the subjective experience of arousal may be particularly important in influencing genital responses in women with sexual desire and arousal difficulties,” the researchers write in the paper. “Therapeutic approaches that enhance women’s emotional or subjective experiences of sexual arousal may therefore be beneficial for improving sexual functioning.”

How to kick the desire system into gear.

If you struggle with desire, these results suggest it’s likely your body and mind’s sexual responses are more closely connected than in other people. And your mind may be particularly important for getting your body on board.

That suggests your road to tapping into your sexual desire isn’t going to be about initiating physical acts and waiting for your body to feel a spark before you’re able to feel mentally turned on. It’s going to be about first getting mentally stimulated and then letting your body follow your mind’s lead.

How do you get mentally stimulated? Consuming good erotica alone or with a partner can be a great way to whet the mind’s appetite, as can sending each other racy messages by text or email. Relationships expert and mbg Collective member Esther Perel advocates for the power of fantasy and even suggests exploring a little role-play in her mbg course on erotic intelligence.

If you’re looking for something simpler that you can tap into in the moment, master confidence coach and host of the UnF*ck Your Brain podcast Kara Loewentheil recommends reflecting on some of your most heated moments of the past and looking within for inspiration: “Think about a time you felt really sexy—what was going on? What were you thinking about yourself? There’s always a thought even if you weren’t aware of it at the time. Wearing something that makes you feel sexy or putting on a slow jams playlist can help, but fundamentally it’s thinking about yourself as a sexy and sexual person that will really light the fire within.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Reignite Your Sex Life After Going Through Cancer

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Your body will feel different. These tips can help.

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After cancer, bodies and relationships change. In fact, many men find their sex lives look and feel different from their pre-cancer days. Although you may feel embarrassed or nervous to open up to your partner about sexual changes, talking about post-cancer intimacy can help you re-envision your body and your relationship. These tips can help pave the way for establishing a new sex life after a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Start talking early

Although it seems like physical contact is one of the most important parts of intimacy, the truth is that communication is essential for establishing and igniting closeness. Remember, there’s no one way affection should look, and previous relationship expectations can be difficult to maintain during cancer recovery.

For men in particular, sexual function changes can manifest as shifts in desire, the impacted ability to get or maintain an erection, or even delayed or dry ejaculation. Instead of withdrawing and avoiding intimacy or affection, I advise my patients at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) to talk with their partner right when they’re diagnosed to start the dialogue about possible changes in your sex life. Before you go into surgery or start therapy, have a conversation about your sexual self-esteem and identity as a sexual person. You and your partner can check in with each other a few months later to see how you’re both feeling about your sexual self-identity and work on identifying a new vision of intimacy in your relationship.

And it’s not just your partner you should be talking to—communication is equally important between you and your doctor. Going through cancer can change your sex life, but that doesn’t mean your doctor has covered all the sexual function differences you may notice. If you notice sexual functioning changes, talking with your doctor can open up the possibilities of personalized treatment options. By speaking up and asking questions, you can better establish a healthy approach to reclaiming your sexual identity.

“Date” your partner again

Partnership is a key part of any relationship, and should be just as important after diagnosis. During cancer, relationships can transition from partner/partner to patient/caregiver, and returning to old “norms” can be challenging. A good way to approach this is to continue to date your partner throughout treatment. By dreaming together or going out to eat, you can help refocus your relationship around things that aren’t related to cancer. You can also try scheduling time for intimacy and affection, which can help rekindle intimacy found in partnership. Try to take your time and get to know each other again.

Redefine intimacy

After treatment, sexual desire can wane. A lot of things can impact desire including hormonal changes, pre-occupation/focus changes, decreased self-esteem/confidence, and mental health issues (e.g., anxiety or depression). Remember, intimacy might not happen spontaneously and might not involve sex at all. Try playing to other strengths and learning to perfect new types of intimacy—not every sexual interaction requires an erection or an orgasm. If your goal is satisfaction, it’s important to note that men can still reach orgasm without an erection and the penis itself can still experience sensation. There are many ways to feel pleasure, these just might not look the exact same as they did before diagnosis. Remember you’re in charge of defining what you want intimacy to be—it can even be as simple as connection.

The sexual side effects that you may experience from cancer can happen to anyone—cancer treatment just speeds up the process. Normalizing and understanding issues of intimacy after cancer is just one step you can take to acknowledge habits or preconceptions that may be harmful. Sex doesn’t have to be a certain way to be fun and exciting. With these guidelines, you can work on re-establishing intimacy and gaining newfound confidence post-cancer.

Complete Article HERE!

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How To Admit You’ve Been Faking Orgasms

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By Aimée Grant Cumberbatch

Faux moans, simulated sheet grabs, exaggerated eye rolls. Fake orgasms are unlikely to be anyone’s first choice, but it’s not difficult to see how you might find yourself in a situation where it feels unavoidable.

It’s tempting to attribute the problem to a lack of skills among women’s partners, particularly if those partners happen to be members of the patriarchy. And that does come into it — the orgasm gap between men and women is real.

However, it isn’t the whole story, as although faking occurs most frequently among straight women (with 68% of those surveyed by Zava Med admitting to it), it’s also common in same-sex pairings too, with 59% of lesbians saying they’ve done it.

It’s not always clear if a woman is really having an orgasm, as Meg Ryan demonstrated in When Harry Met Sally.

Lack of enjoyment is one obvious reason. One woman I spoke to, Sarah*, told me: “Whenever I’ve faked an orgasm it’s mostly because I wasn’t really enjoying the sex, and wanted it to get over quickly.”

A lack of understanding around female sexual pleasure can be the cause of unenjoyable sex. It’s something Tierra, another woman who opened up to me, says has made her fake it in the past. “In my particular case, I would like to call it ‘unaware of my own body’. Most visuals of sex are of men and men only reaching climax. [I would say] most men having sex don’t know how to make a woman reach orgasm. So until she understands and feels orgasm, she doesn’t know [any] better.”

Sex and relationship therapist Krystal Woodbridge echoes the idea that certain portrayals of pleasure can make it harder for women to have a fulfilling sex life. “It could well be that [people] just have a lot of assumptions about sex that are probably a bit faulty, that come from the culture around sex in society and what the media portrays about it.

Although you might think faking is more likely to happen with a new partner or in a casual relationship, studies show it’s actually most common in long-term relationships, although less so in marriage.

This suggests that emotional factors could be at play, which is something Sarah experienced. “I didn’t stop [unfulfilling sex] midway either because I cared for the partner and felt affectionate towards [them],” she says. “If I was with a partner I didn’t really care about, I wouldn’t bother faking it.”
If you find yourself faking and start to fear the impact it’s having on you or your relationship, then it could well be time to talk. For those concerned about their partner’s reaction, Woodbridge advises being mindful about how you broach the issue.

“I think it’s important for [people] to ask themselves if it’s potentially damaging [to the relationship] to say to their partner that they have been faking orgasms,” she says. “If they make it about themselves instead, without sounding like a bombshell or as if they are blaming their partner, they perhaps wouldn’t need to overtly say they have been faking at all.”

She explains: “You can give guidance without [saying] ‘I’ve been faking it all this time’ or ‘What you’re doing is not working’. So you’re basically saying ‘I’ve got this issue that I’ve noticed more and more recently and I’m finding it more difficult to have an orgasm, so I wondered what we could do to work on that’.”

Woodbridge believes the problem can arise regardless of how skilled a partner is, so it’s crucial to feel able to discuss your individual preferences. However, faking can be caused by a lack of understanding of what those preferences actually are.

For this reason, it can be helpful to take some time alone to explore what you find pleasurable, so that you feel more relaxed during sexual encounters and better able to guide your partner on what works for you. Woodbridge explains: “An orgasm starts in the mind, so how [someone] becomes aroused in the first place is to do with their own ability to understand their pleasure.”

“We’re [all] aroused in different ways, it could be looking at erotic pictures or literature or it could be listening to certain music,” she suggests. “Then you can start thinking about physical sensations. So what actually feels nice. And then once you’ve worked that out you might feel you can then share that with your partner.”

It’s also important to ask yourself some questions about the cause of your faking. If you’re finding it difficult to unpick, or feel it’s the result of internalised sexual shame or past/present trauma, you might want to seek help from a qualified therapist. The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) website has a directory where you can find accredited psychosexual therapists in your area.

Woodbridge states: “It depends on how long they’ve had the problem and whether it’s been with every partner or just a current partner, whether they can have an orgasm on their own but not with a partner, [and] how they feel about their own body. When they went through puberty were they able to enjoy exploring their body or was that frowned upon

An understanding of sexual pleasure outside of penetration, particularly for straight couples, can also be helpful, as only around 18% of women achieve orgasm through intercourse alone. Changing the focus and making sex less goal (orgasm)-oriented and more about a general sense of pleasure could help take the pressure off. “Even people who can achieve orgasm don’t always have an orgasm when they have sex and they don’t always want to,” Woodbridge adds.

For Olney, being able to discuss faking it with a partner has been a useful indicator of the health of the relationship. She says: “[In] my last two relationships I was aware enough of what I needed to discuss, what I would like, even if they were unaware of what my needs were. But the fact that the very last partner was not into making sure it was a mutually rewarding experience [meant] I just moved on.”

“Things don’t change when conversations are not being had. The discussion helped my partners help me orgasm, or the lack of discussion allowed me to realise [it was time] to move on.”

Woodbridge also notes that if your partner has a problem with you struggling to orgasm or not wanting to, that’s on them, not you. “If you genuinely are happy whether you have one or not then your partner shouldn’t be particularly worried about it. If they are, that is probably to do with their own pride.”

While the desire to fake can be a sign that there are deeper problems in the relationship, talking about it can provide an opportunity for greater intimacy and a more fulfilling sex life. In fact, 31% of women surveyed by Zava said their partners “decided to try harder” after they admitted they had been faking orgasms.

However this approach isn’t always successful, as Rashawn discovered: “I’d never had an orgasm before and I felt inadequate, like something was wrong with me. I told him I had never had one so he made it his mission to make me. He tried and tried and since I wanted to please him, I faked it.”

And while Woodbridge says that a partner can help, she advises that establishing a more fulfilling sex life involves owning your pleasure first.

“[That way] you’re taking responsibility for your own orgasm and you’re taking responsibility for your own pleasure and your own experience,” she says. “You have to start with yourself. You can bring your partner into it, but you have to start with yourself.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Where Sex Education Fails, Technology Can Help

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The Juicebox app connects people with sex coaches to get their questions answered—anonymously.

Juicebox, along with similar apps, has made it a mission to take the awkwardness and shame out of the “birds and bees” talk and encourage more sex-positive conversations.

By

One day last year, Evan Conaway realized he had a problem. He’d been through a series of breakups in a short span of time, and the ensuing stress manifested with the onset of erectile dysfunction.

He didn’t know what to think. And he felt embarrassed even talking about it.

After trying to research solutions to his problem online, he discovered Juicebox, a smartphone app that connects anonymous users with certified sex coaches to ask questions about sex or relationships.

Working with a coach motivated him to talk about the issue with his sexual partners. “She made it seem like a normal thing to go through,” Conaway said.

Conaway said he didn’t know how to talk about what he liked or expected out of a sexual encounter. In his home state of Georgia, sex was treated as a shameful subject, especially for gay people like Conaway.

“Before I was talking to the coach, I don’t think I would’ve had the confidence to express myself,” he said. “The way I approach sex is way more open and transparent.”

The slow process of public policy making means that technology has become a resource for filling in the gaps left by sparse sex education curricula that dominate U.S. schools. Juicebox, along with similar apps, has made it a mission to take the awkwardness and shame out of the “birds and bees” talk and encourage more sex-positive conversations.

While an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, Brianna Rader, Juicebox’s founder, saw her peers enduring the consequences of a poor sex ed curriculum. She’d grown up in the state and also had to educate herself, especially as she came to identify as bisexual.

“Being queer in the South made me question the information I was given more critically,” Rader said.

Many students who had come through Tennessee’s mandated abstinence-only curriculum had a general lack of knowledge about sex and sexual health that, combined with newfound freedom at college and the ready availability of alcohol, led to disastrous situations.

Rader saw other schools like Yale and Harvard organize Sex Week, a campus event that held workshops and talks from sex educators, plus free HIV testing. But when Rader decided to organize Sex Week on the Tennessee campus, the ensuing controversy across the state led the university to succumb to political pressure and defund the project. Rader and her co-organizers kept Sex Week running for two years solely from their own fundraising.

Founder and CEO of Juicebox, Brianna Rader.

The experience sparked Rader’s newfound passion for sexual health. It also led her to seek solutions that would address people’s needs immediately, and not have to wait for policy makers to come around in their thinking.

Rader later moved to San Francisco and got a master’s degree in global health. The proximity of Silicon Valley helped her realize technology’s ability to have a faster and more wide-ranging impact.

This lack of education about sex in many parts of the U.S. has led to some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections when compared to other industrialized countries.

Only 24 states require sex education be taught in public schools, and even when sex education is offered, the curriculum varies from state to state.

A 2017 report from the Guttmacher Institute said that 20 states require information on contraception, but 27 states also must stress abstinence. HIV education is required in 34 states, but only 12 states discuss sexual orientation. And out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, only 13 require the information presented to be medically accurate.

Research published by the Public Library of Science found that abstinence-only education does nothing to prevent teen pregnancy. In fact, it actually contributes to higher pregnancy rates in the U.S.

The LGBTQ community has suffered the brunt of poor sex education. The exclusion of sexual minorities from curricula has contributed to higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and unwanted pregnancies among the group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even with this data available, comprehensive sex education has yet to be universally adopted in the U.S.

Conaway didn’t receive much of a sex education growing up in Georgia, a commonplace situation throughout the South.

He said that when he began questioning his sexuality in middle school, he had to resort to the internet for information. At first, Conaway thought he was bisexual. Without anyone in school talking about LGBTQ identity positively, he assumed that something must be medically wrong with him.

“The first thing I Googled was ‘the cure for bisexuality’ because I’ve only heard of that as a disease, so it must be something that I can get rid of,” Conaway said.

Karen Rayne, a sex educator from Texas, has seen firsthand the result of a dearth of sex education. Much like Rader’s native Tennessee, Texas’ curriculum stresses abstinence. Texas also is one of the few states that forbids the curriculum from portraying LGBTQ identities positively.

Texas has some of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. About 35,000 teens get pregnant each year in the state. Rayne said that teens in other states have access to more progressive and medically accurate information, and the lack of that in Texas is largely to blame for the state’s high rate of teen pregnancy.

Juicebox initially launched as a resource for teens to ask the questions that couldn’t get answered in sex ed class. But then Rader noticed more adults using the app to get answers for much different questions. Users needed help with topics like erectile dysfunction, the female orgasm, or couples’ issues, for example.

An example of how the chat function on the Juicebox app is used.

Influenced by the reality of that additional demographic, Rader relaunched Juicebox last spring with an option that pairs users with a certified sex coach so they can receive personalized attention.

Rader now wants to help users move past sexual shame and learn to communicate openly about sex—both lingering effects of inadequate sex education.

“We’re helping address the trauma that comes from our country’s horrible sex ed system, pornography, and the way media discusses sex,” Rader said.

Juicebox users span across the country—they’re even in big cities like San Francisco and New York City, where sex education is more comprehensive than Texas or Tennessee. Rader said that despite how good the education system can be, there’s still a lot of confusion around sex.

That’s why Rayne stresses that nothing can really replace comprehensive sexuality education earlier in life. Without a template to understand sex, it’s hard to know how to broach the topic with a teen.

Both Rader and Rayne believe open communication will be key in addressing an epidemic of teen pregnancies and STIs and helping people feel comfortable in their sexuality.

“Sex education is fun—or at least it should be,” Rayne said. “Our sexuality should be forces of joy and pleasure, whether we’re actively engaging with sexual partners or not.”

Even though apps like Juicebox can serve as a supportive tool in developing a comprehensive curriculum, Rayne said a face-to-face education must still be the priority. Without it, people often don’t know what questions to ask. She sees tech working more in conjunction with sex education programs rather than substituting for it.

Rader hopes Juicebox can be an accessible resource for people wanting to learn more about sex and adopting a more sex-positive attitude.

“I believe we’re at the very, very beginning of a hopefully larger movement,” she said.

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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Why Female Sexual Dysfunction Therapy is Lacking

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By Kevin Kunzmann

The differences between the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) market for male and female sexual dysfunction therapies are severe, and Maria Sophocles, MD, doesn’t foresee the inequality lessening anytime soon.

The medical director of Women’s Healthcare of Princeton told MD Magazine® that a proven and profitable field of male sexual therapies has resulted in its continued funding and research, while a severely limited field for female sexual therapies leaves patients at the hands of a network of clinicians.

Sophocles explained the makeup of that treatment team, and what different specialists may bring to the table in female sexual dysfunction care.

 

What is the current standard of therapy for sexual dysfunction?

Well, female sexual dysfunction has been woefully underserved in the biopharma community and in society as a whole. I was just discussing last night what I call an androgenic model of sexuality in human culture for 4 centuries—which is that male sexual pleasure is sort of the ultimate goal of sexual interaction between men and women, and that female sexual pleasure has not really been prioritized.

This is reflected in the biopharmaceutical industry, if you look at Viagra and its overwhelming success and the numerous other drugs for male erection that have been marketed successfully. There is only one FDA approved medication that relates to or whose purpose is to enhance the female sexual experience.

And it’s also about money. When you have tried-and-true money makers that work to enhance the male sexual response, it’s cheaper for a pharmaceutical company to build another one like that than it is to sort of start from scratch and address female sexual dysfunction. It’s also, frankly, just more poorly understood by clinicians as a whole, by the lay public. As we said before, it’s not talked about. So, those are some of the problems.

The standard of care is really a multi-modal approach, a team-approach, behavioral therapy. Many therapists will address this, but there is a subset of therapists, psychologists, social workers who are certified by AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists). Clinicians and lay public can go on the AASECT website and find therapists who are certified in sex education and counseling, which is really beneficial, because the busy clinician just doesn’t always have time or expertise to sit and discuss sexual dysfunctions.

So, an AASECT-certified counselor is an excellent person to help a clinician address sexual dysfunction. Certainly if a clinician is comfortable taking a sexual history and addressing and treating sexual dysfunction, they should, but many are not. It’s a very poorly covered part of most medical training. So most clinicians, even if they have the time, lack the expertise or the comfort.

So, a sexual counselor or clinician to address for clinically treatable issues like vaginal dryness, and then sometimes a pelvic floor physical therapist. This is a physical therapist who has specialized training in treating the female pelvic floor, because some sexual dysfunction relates to problems with the pelvic floor muscles and nerves.

Complete Article HERE!

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How Alcohol Impacts Your Sex Life

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By GiGi Engle

The situation looks something like this: You’re out with on a date, the drinks are flowing and you’re feeling decidedly frisky. Somewhere between your third drink and that Cardi B song you love, you decide your date is definitely coming home with you.

Once you get there, you are both ready and willing to get in the groove. Unfortunately, your body is not as enthusiastic as your brain. You still want to have sex, but no matter how much you rub your clitoris, it is not down for the count. You’re on an endless plateau and no orgasms can be found.

Alcohol has loosened your inhibitions, but it has also taken the wind out of your sails. The situation is … not great.

So, why do we drink when we’re out partying, on dates, or with hanging with friends? What impact does alcohol have on sex, orgasm, and libido? Here is what we know.

Alcohol can act as social lubricant
While alcohol and sex don’t always mix well, it can act as a social lubricant, easing tension in social situations. When you’re trying to get some action, a couple of drinks can make the initial awkwardness less overwhelming, “The only possibilities for positive effects is for alcohol to create a feeling of less self-consciousness and to reduce inhibitions,” says Felice Gersh, M.D., OB/GYN, and founder/director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, CA.

This is why we often feel sexy and in the mood after we’ve had a couple glasses of wine, our nerves are settled and we feel freer. “For women, moderate alcohol intake may increase libido and reduce anxiety or inhibitions toward sex,” addes Dr. Anika Ackerman, MD, a New Jersey based urologist.

Boozy vaginas are dry vaginas
Have you ever heard of Whiskey Vagina? This charming term (popularized by yours truly) refers to when you’ve had too much to drink. You start fooling around, and suddenly realize your vagina is not in on this game. Your drunk brain might be saying, “YES! I WANT TO GET IT!” but your vagina is not having it.

“Alcoholic beverages do have a negative impact on the development of sexual health,” Gersh says. “[It] can impact vital female sexual functions, such as the creation of vaginal moisture, by impacting the autonomic nervous system.”

In short, alcohol might calm you down by affecting the nervous system, but it will also dry you out for the same reasons.

Alcohol can inhibit orgasm
Drinking is all fun and games until you can’t have an orgasm. Not only has alcohol been shown to decrease natural vaginal lubrication, it increase issues with erection in men and destroys orgasm. “Alcohol can increase impotence and reduce the ability to orgasm and their intensity,” Gersh tells us.

Again, this is due to the negative impact alcohol has on the nervous system, a vital component in orgasm. Gersh says that without a normally functioning nervous system, orgasm might be off the table entirely.

Not to mention, the drunker you get, the sloppier and less coordinated you become. “The more inebriated a person becomes the more impaired they become,” Gersh says. This is both not particularly cute and overall super dangerous, especially if you’re going home with someone for the first time.

Alcohol complicates consent

Another critically important factor in this situation is consent. When you’re drunk, you don’t have ability to consent to sexual activity, according to the law. What’s more, you may be too impaired to even remember what happened the night before at all. Perhaps you didn’t even want to have sex, but were too drunk to say no. These are dark implications, but ones that need to be addressed. Sex an alcohol are a dangerous combination. And consent is an ongoing conversation.

It’s about moderation
If you want to have a glass or two of wine, that’s perfectly OK. Having a drink won’t harm you. It’s when you start pounding shots or take a bottle of wine to the face that your sex life (and life in general) will suffer consequences. So keep tabs on your intake and don’t overdo it. If you have issues with controlling your alcohol intake or have had struggles with abuse, it’s best stay away from alcohol altogether

In the end, alcohol is a big part of our social system, but when it comes to sex, the negative effects seem to outweigh any positive aspects. If you’re trying to have a screaming orgasm tonight, it might be an idea to not go overboard on the booze.

Complete Article HERE!

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How Dry January can improve your sex life

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By Ellen Scott

There are a load of health benefits related to not drinking – even if you just ditch the booze for one month.

But for many of us, health and a lack of hangovers just isn’t enough to make us reject a G&T.

So here’s another reason to do Dry January, no matter how ‘boring’ your terrible mates may call you: not drinking can seriously improve your sex life.

And no, that’s not just in the whole ‘being really present in the moment’ way. Sobriety can significantly improve the physical side of sex.

If you’ve ever experienced drooping after drinking, you’ll know that the curse of whiskey dick is a very real thing. Drinking booze can cause struggles to get and maintain an erection, both immediately after downing beer and in the longterm, after regular drinking.

Ditch the booze, and it’s easier to get an erection and last longer in bed. Simple.

What’s less discussed than whiskey dick is whiskey clit.

Studies have shown that women are more likely to orgasm when they’re completely sober, and their likelihood of orgasm decreases the more drunk they get.

That’s because booze reduces your physical sensitivity. Think about the last time you were hammered and fell over, only to pop right up again without any pain – then remember the extent of the bruises the next day. Just as you don’t feel as much pain when you’re drunk, it’s also harder to feel pleasure… and you need that for sexy stuff.

‘Drinking alcohol to excess can make having good sex difficult,’ Annabelle Knight, sex and relationships expert at Lovehoney, tells Metro.co.uk. ‘This is because alcohol reduces both men’s and women’s sexual sensitivity.

‘In both sexes, sexual response is reduced by regular and prolonged drinking.

‘In men, alcohol can cause difficulties getting and maintaining an erection – while women may experience reduced lubrication, find it harder to have an orgasm, or have orgasms that are less intense.’

Ah, yes, the curse of cotton vagina. As well as a lower likelihood of orgasm, you might also struggle to get aroused in the first place when you’re boozing it up. Release your vagina from the influence of booze, and you get ready of the hazy numbness that’s holding you back from getting properly lubricated and ready to party.

Then there’s the impact of Dry January on the morning after.

‘Drinking alcohol can lead to riskier sexual conduct,’ notes Annabelle. ‘Studies show that people who have drunk alcohol are less likely to use protection, particularly condoms, because alcohol lowers your inhibitions.

It’s hard to look back on a night of passion fondly when you’ve followed it up with a panic about pregnancy and STIs. Go alcohol-free and you’ll be fully conscious and able to have sex responsibly, leaving you free of worries and able to enjoy that bone session to its full potential.

Drunken you may also choose sexual partners you might not actually be that keen on.

A 2016 study found that alcohol is likely ‘to lead to atypical partner choice or post-sex regret’ – more so than smoking weed – as well as ‘less post-sex satisfaction’. Blame the beer goggles, as drinking booze tends to make you choose partners who aren’t really your type, and engage in sex that you might not actually enjoy. Not great.

It stands to reason, then, that doing Dry January will ensure you’re choosing the right sexual partners, – people you actually properly fancy (yep, even when sober) – making sexual decisions you’re comfortable with, and having sex that you genuinely enjoy and don’t regret the next day.

Then there are the indirect effects of abandoning alcohol for a month.

‘It’s likely that giving booze a break for a month will improve your sex life,’ Adam Lewis, CEO and co-founder of Hot Octopuss, tells us. ‘Cutting out alcohol may improve your quality of sleep and overall physical health, leaving you feeling well rested and more energetic – which is likely to increase your libido.’

You’ll be astounded to know that downing pints of beer or rum and Cokes isn’t particularly healthy. Cut it out and you’ll see health benefits, which will in turn improve your sex life.

Your energy will increase, your mood will improve (remember how alcohol is a depressant?), and even your digestion could get better. Being more energetic, happier, and free of stomach upsets – all of those sound like things that’d make you more keen for sex and more likely to enjoy it.

Plus, Dry January means no hangovers, which opens up the glorious world of morning sex. Imagine starting your Sunday with multiple orgasms rather than hugging the toilet and vowing to never be tempted by tequila shots again.

Think of Dry January as a fun experiment: Go a month without booze and just see how you feel.

To fill the evenings newly free of pub trips and club nights, have sex – which handily makes you question why you ever thought stumbling around a sticky nightclub floor would be more fun than cosying up and trying out a new vibrator.

At the end of the month, you can always go back to boozing. But you might find you don’t want to. It’s entirely your choice (isn’t that great?), and you can do your own research on the benefits by having as much sex as possible sober. Fun.

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

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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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17 reasons you might not be enjoying sex

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  • When you’re not enjoying sex, you might be wondering why, but the truth is that our sex drives are impacted by so many things.
  • Both your physical and mental health can be the cause of a low libido.
  • Stress, certain medications, and a feeling of shame could all be reasons you may not be enjoying sex.

Your sex drive is determined by so many factors and it can constantly change depending on what’s going on in your life, as well as your physical and mental health. Whether you’re dealing with short-term or long-term sexual dissatisfaction, it’s normal to wonder why you’re not enjoying sex.

According to experts, here are some reasons you may not be enjoying sex.

Editor’s note: This post contains some information that may be triggering to those who have experienced sexual assault or trauma.

You’re engaging in sexual activities before you’re adequately aroused.

Taking extra time for foreplay can help.

Preparing your mind and body for sex can be crucial to actually enjoying it and taking time to get aroused may help prepare your body for sex.

“Foreplay gets the ‘blood flowing’ to the genitals and helps with lubrication and the ability to climax during sexual activity,” Michael Ingber, MD, Board-certified in Urology and Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery at the Center for Specialized Women’s Health, division of Garden State Urology/Atlantic Medical Group told INSIDER.

“Many people get caught up in the idea that sex is equivalent to intercourse,” added Melissa Coats, psychotherapist and owner at Coats Counseling, LLC. “Foreplay is sex and by taking the pressure off of the thought that there must be one outcome in a sexual experience, you can free yourself up to enjoy foreplay and focus on your own pleasure rather than the worry.”

You’re not mentally or emotionally ready to have sex.

Your body and mind should both feel ready.

As important as it is for your body to be ready for sex, your mind also needs to be ready, too. “Context is everything,” said Coats. “For example, If you come home from a long day of work feeling anxious, upset, and overwhelmed and your partner tries to make sexual contact, you will most likely not be able to access your [feelings of] desire and pleasure easily.”

She said context includes a variety of things including your environment, level of stressors, or even the state of your relationship with a sexual partner.

You’re dealing with anxiety about your body or appearance.

Focusing on negative thoughts about your body and self could make sex less pleasurable.

Sex can be an extremely vulnerable situation, so if you’re not feeling comfortable in your own skin, you may find it more difficult to enjoy sex.

“Anxiety is the enemy of desire and pleasure,” Coats told INSIDER. “In order to experience sexual pleasure, we need to be present in the moment and with our bodies. If you are experiencing negative self-talk about your body, your mind is not on how much you are enjoying your body and what it is experiencing.”

You’re uncomfortable about past sexual experiences.

If you don’t feel safe, it can be tough for your body to relax.

Whether you’re dealing with a past sexual trauma or worrying that your experience level is different from your partner’s, these feelings can understandably creep up before, during, or after sex, making it tough for you to find enjoyment in a sexual experience.

Coats said that communicating with your partner can help you to feel more comfortable during sex.

You’re not comfortable around your partner.

Sex could make you feel vulnerable.

Since sex oftentimes involves so many layers of intimacy, if you’re not fully comfortable with your partner, you’ll likely have a difficult time fully enjoying your experience.

“By expressing these aspects of your sexuality with someone, you are trusting them with that vulnerability,” said Coats. ” If you are not comfortable with your partner, feeling vulnerable will not seem appealing and may even feel physically or emotionally unsafe.”

You feel shame or stigma about your sexual needs or wants.

Having a conversation with your partner about what you want and what you’d like to try might help.

Sexuality exists on such a wide spectrum and everyone has different wants, needs, and desires. Opening up about what you like and don’t like can feel intimidating, even if you’re with a long-term partner. And, feeling like you cannot express your wants or needs can be making sex less pleasurable for you.

“Shame and stigma are attacks on identity,” Coats told INSIDER. “Whether the shame is related to a sexual identity, fantasy, kink, (or something similar,) feeling attacked either by your own thoughts or someone else’s thoughts or actions, you may automatically feel unsafe and want to retreat.”

You’ve been given false or sex-negative messages about sex or sexuality.

Not everything you were taught in sex education is necessarily accurate.

Similarly, it can be easy to believe things you’ve heard about sex, from how much you should be having to stereotypes about the kinds of sex people have, and these can seep through to your own sexual experiences, likely without you even realizing it.

“There is an abundance of misguided, harmful, and plainly false messages about sex that people take at face value as fact. If something doesn’t feel right, allow yourself to question that message, whether it is from yourself or someone else,” said Coats. In these cases, she suggested exploring sex-positive resources to help you to feel more comfortable with sex.

You’re on a medication that impacts your libido or physical sensations during sex.

Antidepressants commonly cause a decrease in sexual desire.

You might not link your medications to your sex drive, but plenty of over-the-counter and prescription medications can impact your sex drive, including birth control, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, blood pressure medications, and even allergy meds and antihistamines.

“Several medications can affect not only libido, but also the sexual experience in men and women,” said Dr. Ingber. “Antidepressants are notorious for this, causing a decrease in sexual desire and often interfering with the ability to orgasm.”

If you think a new or existing medication is causing a dip in your libido or ability to orgasm, check with your doctor.

You’re dealing with a medical condition that makes sex painful.

Endometriosis can cause intense cramps and make sex painful.

Even though it’s incredibly common, experiencing pain during sex can be the quickest way to put the brakes on your enjoyment in the moment. There are several medical conditions that can contribute to pain, dryness, or irritation during or after sex, as Jessa Zimmerman, a certified sex therapist and author of “Sex Without Stress,” previously explained to INSIDER.

“There are some medical causes of sexual pain, including skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, pain conditions due to overgrowth of nerves, endometriosis, and vaginismus, an involuntary clenching of the vagina that develops in anticipation of pain and is painful in itself,” said Zimmerman.

Other medical conditions that might cause painful sex include prostatitis, dyspareunia, and even skin allergies.

If you suspect a medical condition is causing you to feel pain during sex, check with your doctor, who can help you to find treatment options and ways to help ease your pain or discomfort.

You may be trying positions that make you feel uncomfortable or pained.

If certain positions cause you pain, your body could be trying to tell you something.

Pain or discomfort during sex isn’t always due to a chronic medical issue — some positions may not be enjoyable to you.

“If you have sought medical attention with no clear answers, try using different positions, lubricant, or talking to a pelvic floor physical therapist to help figure out what your body is trying to tell you,” said Coats

Dr. Ingber agreed, adding that everyone is different and what’s comfortable and enjoyable for one person isn’t necessarily pleasant for another.

You’re not prioritizing sleep, eating well, or exercising regularly.

If you’re feeling constantly hungry or moody, your body might be trying to tell you that you need more sleep.

As Coats told INSIDER, “Physical, mental, emotional, and sexual health are all connected. When one is being neglected, it is like trying to drive a car with the emergency brakes on. It will go, but it will slow you down a lot and it’s not great for your engine. Engaging with your sexuality when you feel physically un-aligned can be stressful and difficult.”

Taking care of your entire body by getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise will help give you the energy your body needs to not just have sex, but thoroughly enjoy it, too.

You’re not sure what feels good for you and your body.

Figuring out what you like and don’t like can make sex more enjoyable.

Sexual desire and preferences are different for every person. And, according to Coats, popular misconceptions about sex being a “task to be mastered instead of an activity to enjoy” could make it tough for someone to figure out what they like.

Taking time to explore your own body by way of masturbation or trying new things that you’re comfortable with, whether with new toys, positions, or other sexual stimuli, can help you learn what feels enjoyable for you.

You’re skimping on water intake.

Being dehydrated can also cause you to feel dizzy or pass out.

Believe it or not, being dehydrated can lower your libido and even make sex painful. If you’re not drinking enough water, you might experience headaches, fatigue, and irritability, which can definitely hinder your ability to get in the mood.

But the same way that your cells need water to remain adequately hydrated, dehydration can cause dry, irritated skin, potentially leading to pain and irritation down below.

Similarly, Healthline notes that there’s a link between dehydration and erectile dysfunction, and your body needs sufficient oxygen to help maintain an erection. When you’re not getting enough water, you might not get adequate blood flow throughout your body, which includes your sex organs.

You’ve recently given birth.

Postpartum is a different experience for everyone.

For those who have recently given birth, Dr. Yvonne Bohn, OB/GYN at Los Angeles Obstetricians & Gynecologists told INSIDER that postpartum tearing and healing can cause intercourse to be painful.

She said doctors typically recommend abstaining from sex for six weeks or longer post-delivery, but it depends on the patient’s body and their healing process. She also added that breastfeeding can decrease one’s estrogen levels, causing one’s vagina to be less lubricated and less elastic, thus making sex more painful.

You’re afraid of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

You’re afraid of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

Even if you’re taking precautions for safe sex, it’s natural to worry about pregnancy or STIs. “Any fear that exists while engaging in a sexual encounter is going to impact how you feel about your experience,” Coats told INSIDER. “If you are afraid of getting pregnant, remember, sex does not [have to] equal intercourse. There are plenty of ways to express and experience pleasure and eroticism other than intercourse.”

You’re stressed about other things.

If you’re stressed about work, you may find it hard to focus on enjoying sex.

Few things can kill the desire for sex quite like stress. From an emotional standpoint, Coats said mental energy plays an important role in enjoying sex.

“If that mental energy is being used to assess what is going on anywhere but within your own body, it is competing with your pleasure for your brain space. Creating a context where you can put other things aside and allow yourself to focus on you, also known as self-care, is crucial in sexual satisfaction.”

Your mental stress could even cause sex to be more painful. “All of these issues will impact your natural ability to relax, get aroused, lubricate and prepare the [body] for sex,” Dr. Bohn told INSIDER.

You’re just not interested in sex, either at the moment or in the long-run.

If you find yourself never really feeling sexual attraction or desire, you may identify as asexual.

The truth is that not everyone is interested in having sex and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

“If sex is not that interesting to you, you are not abnormal. If you would like to become more interested in sex and your sexuality, there are plenty of ways to spark curiosity,” Coats told INSIDER. “But it must come from your own desire and not someone else’s expectation in order to be pleasurable.”

Complete Article HERE!

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The Surprising Benefits Of Talking About Sex With Your Friends

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By Kelly Gonsalves

When it comes to improving our sex life, we’re told over and over how important it is to talk to our partner about our desires, turn-ons, worries, ideal frequency, and every other little detail. Communication is crucial to making sure both partners are satisfied with every encounter and are maximizing their pleasure; one recent study found both members of a couple were more pleased with their sex lives and their relationships the more each person communicated about their sexual needs.

But according to a new study in the International Journal of Sexual Health, it’s not just talking to your partner about sex that matters. Talking about sex with your squad is also crucial.

Researchers surveyed over 600 women about a handful of their sexual behaviors, how often they talked to their women friends about sex, and what those conversations involved—such as general support and encouragement, advice about specific sexual activities, and advice about STIs and birth control, to name a few. The study found that women who talked more with their friends about this stuff also tended to have more of two specific qualities: more sexual self-esteem, meaning they felt way more confident about how they express themselves and perform in bed, and more self-efficacy, meaning they felt more confident about protecting their sexual health and asking for what they needed to feel safer.

Let’s be clear here: Those are two huge benefits! Not only are these conversations just a great way to bond with the people in our lives, but it seems they’re also making us more confident and able to assert our needs when it comes to sex. These findings prove just how powerful it can be to share even the most intimate parts of ourselves with the people we care about.

“The relationship between sexual self-esteem and expressive sexual communication is not surprising, given that expressive communication is about encouragement and other confidence-building communications,” writes Katrina L. Pariera, Ph.D., a George Washington University communications professor who led the study. “Women may also benefit from exposure to sexual scripts that promote sexual agency and assertiveness.”

And by the way, the women in the study were an average of 36 years old, so we’re not just talking about teen girls giggling about crushes at a sleepover here. If you’re someone who tends to be pretty unsure or anxious during sex, consider reaching out to a close friend and opening up some sincere dialogue about what’s going on. You don’t even necessarily need to ask for help or advice—the study found the majority of women mostly talked to express themselves and simply seek encouragement and validation about their own experiences. Everyone can benefit from knowing they’re not the only ones going through something weird behind closed doors; it’s a great way to turn something that you might feel embarrassed about into something you can laugh about and grow from.

“The current study adds to mounting evidence that peer sex education is a promising avenue for promoting sexual health and wellness,” Dr. Pariera writes. “Silence begets shame and misinformation.”

In a country like America, where comprehensive sexual education is seriously lacking, it looks like plain ol’ word-of-mouth information sharing might be an effective way of disseminating knowledge about safer sex.

You know what that means: Time to crack open a bottle of wine and get the squad together for some real talk.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex & Accessibility 101:

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How to Have Super Hot Sex with or as a Disabled Person

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I was once a horny and confused disabled teenager, and somehow managed to come into my own as a horny and downright pervy disabled adult. Growing up, no one ever talked to me about sex or sexuality. Outside of my peer groups (and often times even within them), sex was a touchy issue. Doctors, educators, family — they all functioned from a place that sex wasn’t for someone like me. And woof, how do you feel good initiating conversations about your bod and all the things you find yourself wanting to do with it when even your doctor seems squeamish about it?

Fast forward to 2018, and doctors are still garbage. But I like to think that we queers of the world are ever-evolving, and as result, getting pretty hip to the concept that all different kinds of bodies want to connect with other bodies. With that in mind, I’m not going to waste any time defending the desirability of disabled folks. Disabled folks are desirable. Period. Disabled bods and access needs are still left out of the conversation when it comes to S-E-X and well… f*ck that. So settle in and hang out for a minute. We’ve got a lot to talk about.

Disability Sexuality

Disabled folks make up the largest minority population in the world; upwards of 20% of people in the US are living with a disability. This means whether you, yourself, are disabled or not, disability touches everyone in some way or another. Our genders and sexualities vary as much as anyone’s, but our access to communities that affirm (or allow us to explore) our genders and sexualities is frequently lacking. Navigating sex and disability as a queer person has its challenges, but outside of societal misconceptions and misinformation, it’s not necessarily any more (or less) complicated than navigating any other body or sexuality. Bodies are weird. Sex is weird. Weird is good.

While the information here can be useful for anyone, this guide primarily focuses on physical access needs in sex. Disability is an incredibly broad umbrella term. There are a lot of different ways that disability exists in the world, and needs and considerations vary greatly. This is in no way meant to be definitive or all-encompassing. All bods are different and need different things. That’s kind of the point. As always, take what applies and feels good for you.

Communication

Inarguably, communication is the key to good sex, period. But, for disabled folks (and the babes that love them), those conversations may feel a little more vulnerable than conversations some able-bodied folks are used to having, and it helps to learn better ways of navigating them.

It should go without saying, but assumptions never do anyone any good in the bedroom (or anywhere, really). It’s important to find ways to communicate your wants and needs without ambiguity. Knowing what you want can be half the battle whether you have accessibility needs or not, so don’t be afraid to do a little work in finding that out for yourself. Handy worksheets like this old gem from our own Austen, Ara, and Geneva can help you not only brainstorm your own wants and needs, but find common ground with your partner. Talking about you want to do with your partner, also opens up the line of communication to advocate for the things you may need in order to do it. If you’re feeling anxious, try to remember that these conversations feel vulnerable for all bods involved, so be kind to both yourself and your partner! Initiating potentially vulnerable conversations about sex and bodies can work best outside of the bedroom. Talking about sex can feel daunting enough; changing up the space and talking it out before you’re in the bedroom can help ease some of the pressure and help you connect.

If you’re able-bodied and your partner isn’t, remember that when your partner is opening up to you about their body, it’s a conversation, not an inquisition. Make sure you’re meeting them in the middle, not putting them through an interview. Talk about your own boundaries, needs, hopes and expectations. Rather than “How do you…?” or “Can you…?” lines of questioning, focus on pleasure (i.e. “What are you into?” “What feels good for you?”). Your interest is in finding out what makes them feel good, not unraveling the mystery of their body. Good conversation topics to consider: preferred words/terms for parts, parts of the body you do or don’t like to have touched/seen/etc., body sensitivity or pain.

A common don’t that comes up all too often is the dreaded “I don’t even notice,” “You’re pretty/handsome for a disabled person,” or “You’re not disabled to me!” Able-bodied folks tend to think these are compliments, but I can assure you as a person who’s heard it all, they aren’t. The last thing anyone getting down and dirty with you wants to hear is that you don’t see them, or that you have to avoid parts of them to feel attraction for them.

If you’re disabled and wanting to open up communication, remember that communicating with your partner is a back and forth. You’re not responsible for sitting under a spotlight and disclosing your medical history, and you should never feel pressured to say or do anything that doesn’t feel right for you. Everybody’s got needs and expectations in physical and intimate relationships! Try not to feel weighed down sharing yours.

Communication while getting down is important, too. Tell your partner when they’re making you feel good, and be open to vocalizing (and switching things up) when something’s not working for you. Likewise, be open to hearing from your partner when something isn’t working for them.

The effort it takes to hone your communication skills really pays off; it feels good to know what you partner needs and expects from you, and it feels really good to know that your partner cares about what you need. Besides, talking about sex is great foreplay, pal!

Getting Down

Setting the scene

One thing disabled folks with physical access needs are beyond familiar with is the need for preparedness. Sometimes we can get bogged down by all the little details needed to make a space accessible; sex is really no different in that regard. Setting the scene for the sex you want helps ease anxiety surrounding unwanted interruptions or time-outs. It helps keep things flowing, and builds up the anticipation — which can be exciting!

Making sure that your harnesses, toys, positioning furniture, lube, and clean up supplies are within reach is a great start, but there’s more you can do to set the mood. Don’t underestimate the power of intention!

For folks who experience incontinence, waterproof pads and blankets can help with anxiety surrounding unwanted (or wanted!) messes.  While any mattress pad could do the trick, items made for play such as the Liberator Fascinator Throw, or the Funsheet can make the playspace feel less sterile and more sexy. Think about what kind of material makes you feel best in these situations. Throws like the Fascinator absorb fluid without leaking through, whereas items like the Funsheet do not absorb fluids (which can potentially feel overwhelming for some folks). Regardless of your preference, when sexy time is over, just toss your sheets/throws into the washer and you’re good to go. Anxiety surrounding incontinence can feel like a lot, but try to remember that honestly all sex is messy and that’s often half the fun.

Lube & Barriers

Lube is f*cking important! This is true for everyone, but especially when stimulating a part of the body that has limited or no sensation. Apart from wanting to avoid general injury, many conditions can make it difficult for a body to produce its own lubricant. Find a lube that works well for you and your partner and use that lube generously.

I won’t go too ham in talking about barrier methods, but I will note that there are a lot of options to consider, from a proper fitted condom on penises and dildos/vibrators, to dental dams, and the very poorly named “FC2 female condom.” Be sure to be conscious of sensitivities to frequently used materials such as latex (and less commonly allergenic) nitrile/neoprene. It’s best to stay clear of barriers with added flavoring or spermicides. Always remember to check your lube is safe for use with the barrier method you’re using!

Positioning

There are an infinite number of ways to get two bodies to connect in just the right way. Shaking things up and exploring the way things feel best not only ensures you and your partner’s comfort, it’s also just hot and fun. There are gender- and sexuality-inclusive online quick guides like this one from The Mighty that may help get your creative juices flowing. There’s also positioning harnesses and slings like Sportsheets’ Super Sex Sling and Doggie Style Strap that can help take some of the pressure off of strenuous positioning. Sportsheets is a disability-inclusive brand also offering items like shower suction handles and foot rests, and other positioning tools that can aid in accessible play.

If your partner needs help transferring out of a chair or another assistive device, let them guide you in helping them properly. Don’t ever lift or move a partner without being asked to, and don’t ever move assistive devices to unreachable places unless your partner asks you to.

Harnesses

For some with limited mobility, spasticity or pain in the pelvic/hip region, standard harnesses may not be an option for strap-on sex. Fortunately, there are multiple harness options for those looking for accessible ways to engage in penetrative play, and getting creative in the harness department can be just as hot as it is practical! Sportsheets offers a thigh harness and the La Palma from SpareParts offers a gloved hand option. For folks with penises using strap-ons, SpareParts Deuce is a great option. Designed to be wearable regardless of ability to achieve erection, the harness has an upper ring for use with a dildo, and a lower ring for penis access.

Toys

This is the part where I might as well start by throwing my hands in the air praising the Hitachi Magic Wand. As a stubborn contrarian I’d love to find a reason to tell you why it doesn’t live up to its hype, but I’d be lying. Apart from being probably the greatest sex toy on earth, with its strong vibrations, large head, and versatile modification options, it’s also probably one of the most accessible. There are hitachi toy mounts like this one from Liberator, various head attachments, speed controllers (which do need to be plugged into the toy/wall, but also extend the range quite a bit), and good ol’ DIY mic stand setups. The rechargeable wand does away with the need to stay plugged in and is worth every penny for the upgrade.

For anal stimulation, b-vibe offers a wide selection of remote vibrating anal toys in a variety of sizes and shapes, eliminating the need to reach down to adjust or change settings on the toy during use. For comfortable wear in seated positions, try options with a thin base like the snug plug or the pleasure plug from Fuze.

For folks with penises who may be experiencing what sex expert Joan Price refers to as erectile dissatisfaction or unreliable erection due to paralysis, but want to engage in penetrative sex, ppa/extenders like Vixen’s Ride On paired with a comfortable harness can be helpful in achieving penetrative sex with a partner. The Pulse 3 Duo is also a great partner toy option for folks with penises of varying functionality.

If you can, skip the ableist toy manuals that come with most sex toys and instead, talk to a sex educator at your local progressive sex shop about your prospective products and how to use them safely and care for them. It’s well-documented that there’s historically been (and continues to be) a problem with unfavorable language in a LOT of sex toy user manuals and packaging. If you don’t have access to local progressive sex toy shops, shops like The Smitten Kitten, She Bop, Early To Bed, and Babeland all have online stores and customer service options that can be really helpful.

After Care

Lastly, be sure to check in. After care isn’t an option; it’s a major part of play. Talk to your partner about what feels good for both of you when play is over. Maybe you or they need to be held, or like a glass of water when things are winding down. If incontinence is a concern, it may help to have a course of action pre-planned for cleaning up in a way that helps to relieve stress or discomfort.

Ultimately, there are plenty of tools and tips to achieve the sex you want, but the bulk of the work relies on successful communication. Remember to think beyond speaking, and consider how you’re listening. Are you doing what you can to create a connection that supports your partner in voicing their wants and needs? Supporting your partner through the vulnerable parts paves way for the creativity that comes with engaging and fun sex.

A few quick references:

The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability

Disability After Dark Podcast

Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, & Liberation

Complete Article HERE!

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