Does cannabis affect men’s sexual health?

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There’s a lot of information floating around the interwebs on how weed affects your erection. What’s the truth?

Cannabis may not impact sexual health as previously thought.

By Alana Armstrong

Have you ever wondered, somewhere in the back of your mind (minimized to a tiny voice so as to not freak yourself out) whether the weed you smoke affects your erection?

Yeah, we all have. At least those who are equipped to get erections.

And it’s no wonder. The internet is full of anecdotal descriptions of marijuana-triggered erections, something Urban Dictionary contributors call “stoner boner.” To quote the entry, this is “an erection obtained for no reason other than the fact that the obtainee was too damn high.” (Let’s face it. That’s way better than whisky dick.)

And there is maybe even more content out there about how marijuana impedes the boner. So, what’s real?

As far as we can tell, you can rest easy, brother. The facts about weed use and erections are uncertain at best, with one investigation suggesting that frequent cannabis use caused the men in their study to reach orgasm too quickly, too slowly, or not at all.

And then there’s this other study, which suggests that cannabis could be used to treat erectile difficulties in men with high cholesterol.

In short? The jury is still out. If you’re concerned about how marijuana affects your bedroom presence, try out some different strains and consumption methods. It’s certainly more fun that way,  and you can see how each one affects your desire and ability to perform. Bring on the boner!

Complete Article HERE!

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Overcoming intimacy challenges after 50

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By Julie Pfitzinger

Confidence: “The quality or state of being certain.” That’s the Merriam-Webster definition, but for many people who are starting to date again after 50, confidence can falter and it can be difficult to be certain about anything.

For those who have lost a spouse or partner to death, divorce or a break-up, a feeling of being vulnerable may begin to settle in, leading to concerns about finding intimacy, as well as about when and how to fully open up to another person.

In the Dating After 50 series on Next Avenue, we’ve covered several topics including online dating and dating etiquette, which have provided tips and suggestions for the “how” on ways to start dating again.

But there’s another kind of how — how to make yourself emotionally, and physically, available to someone new. Taking a risk to share yourself and everything you have to offer at this stage of your life. Accepting and acknowledging what potential partners are offering you. Being confident about what will happen next. And knowing that even though it might not be easy, you are certain that you are genuinely ready to find fulfillment and happiness with another person.

Are You Ready to Move On?

Experts like Lisa Copeland, an author, speaker and dating coach in her fifties, say the first step to tackling that feeling of vulnerability and to start building confidence is to properly grieve the end of a marriage or relationship, whether through a break-up, divorce or death, before you even think about moving on.

For those who have divorced, Copeland says the best way to tell if you are truly ready to date is to gauge if “you’re feeling fairly neutral about your former partner.” She notes, “If you don’t feel that way yet, you are going to bring that [experience] right into the new relationship.”

The situation is different for widows or widowers. “If they had a good marriage, they are wanting to repeat the same relationship with a different person,” Copeland says. The lost spouse is also often brought into a new relationship, but that person frequently becomes “like a saint,” she says, which can be counterproductive to establishing an authentic connection with another person.

Before opening yourself up to dating, start by building a new social circle. The first step, says Copeland, is “to get out of the house.”

“Make friends. Take classes. Get involved with activities. When you are involved in doing things you love, you will light up,” she explains.

Taking that first step to put yourself out there can be uncomfortable. Copeland is a big fan of Meetups, which she says are “an amazing way to connect with others.” In her view, going into a Meetup gathering with a mindset of simply making new friends is best.

“If you meet someone, that’s just a bonus,” she says.

Different Ideas About Sex

Fast forward a bit: You’ve met someone, the two of you have found common ground and the relationship is progressing well. But what comes next could produce the biggest crisis of confidence you’ve had, well, in years: the thought of a sexual relationship.

“People often approach sex with very different ideas,” says writer and speaker Walker Thornton, who is in her 60s and the author of Inviting Desire: A Guide for Women Who Want to Enhance Their Sex Life. “The basic question most everyone starts with is: ‘Am I going to get naked with this person? And then what do I do?’”

The first roadblock is often body image, which Thornton says is typically more of an issue for women than men, although men are definitely not immune to concerns.

“Women are more concerned about sags and folds,” she says. “But men are worried about getting an erection or about satisfying a woman.”

When it comes to sex, Thornton encourages women “to share the valuable information” they have about what they like and don’t like with a partner.

“What we desired at thirty is different from what we desire at fifty,” she says, adding that she understands that for many women, the conversation about likes and dislikes is uncomfortable.

“But if you can’t even ask [a partner] about sex, how are you going to do it?” Thornton wonders.

The Myth of STDs and STIs

One particular conversation that is vitally important is around the topic of STDs and STIs, explains Thornton, and it really is non-negotiable.

“Here’s the simplest way to couch that conversation: I care about your health, so I will be tested. If you care about my health, I ask you to do the same,” she says. “Offer to send him or her a copy of your test results and ask them to send theirs in return.”

The conversation shouldn’t stop there. Thornton goes on to say that if a partner is unwilling to use a condom, for example, “they aren’t showing you that they respect your health and well-being.” If that is the case, Thornton says, “be prepared to say ‘No’ to sex, and say that this refusal makes you question their commitment to being in a relationship.”

It’s a myth that older adults don’t get STDs or STIs such as syphilis and gonorrhea; condoms can protect from genital herpes, which while not life-threatening, can be very uncomfortable and more so for women than men, says Thornton.

Make a List of What You Need

Other health issues may also come into play in sexual relationships between older adults. “Sometimes, you have to broaden your definition of sex,” says Thornton. “Focusing on pleasure, in ways inclusive of orgasm or not.”

Chronic illness can be an issue, as can cancer treatment, which often results in hormonal changes; other challenges may include fatigue or muscle/movement problems. “That can lead to a discussion about a time of day that’s better for sex, or accommodations that are needed for a bed,” explains Thornton. “Again, the best way to address all of these issues is through conversation.”

Thornton, who most frequently speaks to groups of women, often suggests making a list of just what you are looking for when it comes to a sexual relationship in midlife and beyond.

“If you have sex with someone, do you anticipate that this will be an exclusive relationship? Or if your partner decides he or she doesn’t want a sexual relationship, is that okay? Maybe it is,” says Thornton. “For you, is sex merely a goal or a natural progression of becoming intimate with another person?”

‘You Have More Freedom’

Copeland, who has been divorced twice and is now in a relationship, says there is often healing to be done before people are ready to fully open themselves up to a new person. Still, she adds, it’s vital “to know your value and know that you are worthy of someone.”

“One thing that’s often overlooked when it comes to dating after fifty is that you have more choices. You have more freedom than you did when you were younger,” she says. “You can have companions or lovers, or be in a committed relationship.”

However, Thornton — also divorced and in a relationship — understands how some might not perceive this place in life as a place of freedom.

“If we think our time is limited, we can feel more vulnerable,” she says. “But it’s really all about going into dating with an open attitude. Be willing to take the risk.”

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The biggest reason older women have less (enjoyable) sex

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Just 22.5% of women over 50 surveyed were sexually active

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Women are more likely than men to be affected by age-related sex issues — challenges like hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.

Now, a new study by the North American Menopause Society reveals a major reason for women having less sex as they age: the lack of a partner, most often because of widowhood.

In fact, just 22.5% of postmenopausal women surveyed were sexually active. And of the 65% who did have significant others, just over 34% were sexually active in the past 30 days.

The study looked at roughly 4,500 women in the United Kingdom who were enrolled in a trial for ovarian cancer screening. As the trial continued, the women reported having less sex and that it was less enjoyable over time.

Only 3% of participants described positive sexual experiences, whereas only 6% sought medical help for sexual problems, despite the availability of effective therapies, ScienceDaily.com reports.

Most studies look at the physical reasons for a decline in satisfactory sex during and after menopause (usually captured from a checklist of complaints). This one instead examined free-text data to try to understand why women feel the way they do about sex.

“Sexual health challenges are common in women as they age, and partner factors play a prominent role in women’s sexual activity and satisfaction, including the lack of a partner, sexual dysfunction of a partner, poor physical health of a partner, and relationship issues,” NAMS medical director Dr. Stephanie Faubion wrote.

And there are a variety of psychosocial factors that come into play, too: body-image concerns; self-confidence; and perceived desirability, stress, mood changes, and relationship issues. The study also cited how their partner’s physical condition, as well as their own health, played a major role.

The bottom line: Having an intimate partner with whom you share good physical health are key to sexual activity and satisfaction.

Complete Article HERE!

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A sexual wellness app for women could be a game changer

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Recent research has revealed that far from letting their sex lives wane over 50s are continuing to carve out some dedicated time between the sheets each week.

But making the leap from an active sex life, to one that actually satisfies, can be easier said than done; and this is where a new sexual wellness app for women comes in.

Launched on the Apple Store and Google Play late last month, Emjoy, founded by Andrea Oliver Garcia and Daniel Tamas in 2018, is an app offering up more than 80 audio sessions covering topics including how to boost libido, developing self-knowledge, increasing pleasure and improving sexual communication.

Experts in the fields of psychology, sex therapy, education and mindfulness also impart their wisdom on all aspects of sex.

Revealing the inspiration behind the app, Andrea said, “I have always considered myself a feminist and as I grew up, I realised that many girlfriends of mine lived their sexuality with shame and knew very little about themselves – some even doubting if they had or hadn’t experienced an orgasm.

“Then I came across several studies such as the pleasure gap and sexual wellbeing reports showing that cisgendered heterosexual women consistently experience less pleasure than their male counterparts. Shockingly, data from several studies show that over 40 per cent of women struggle to attain an orgasm and that 30 per cent of women worldwide experience libido issues.”

Continuing she added, “As I was researching and talking to sex therapists and industry experts, I noticed the internet was crowded with inconsistent and untrustworthy information.

“That’s when I decided to stop backing amazing entrepreneurs to become one myself in order to help women enhance their sexual wellbeing with Emjoy.”

With an average 4-star rating on Google Play and an average 5-star rating on the Apple Store, here’s what those who’ve already downloaded it had to say:

‘Finally an app addressing this subject the proper way. Already addicted to all the great quality content (keep it up!).’

‘I’m delighted there is an app that breaks all taboos about women’s sexuality. It was time for something like this to exist! Thank you :)’

‘Can’t wait to…get home from work and continue “my journey”.’

‘I’ve used this app for a couple of months and its really made a difference! The quality of the content is great. It’s made me feel much more comfortable in my relationship, communicating what I want to my partner and helping me get out of my mind.

‘It’s also done in such a classy/easy way – I never feel akward [sic] or embarrassed when I listen to these sessions, it’s very natural and easy to relate to. Honestly, it’s about time someone created this type of product!!’

Would you try it out?

Complete Article HERE!

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Bed Death Is Real.

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Here’s How to Keep It from Turning into a Sexless Marriage

by PureWow

If you and your S.O. haven’t done the deed in six months or longer, you are not alone. In fact, you are trending. If you believe recent headlines, tons of married or long-term couples all over the world are in the midst of a full-blown sex strike. Even Pink is talking about it: “…you’ll go through times when you haven’t had sex in a year,” the singer and mom of two recently said of her 13-year marriage to Carey Hart. “Is this bed death? Is this the end of it? Do I want him? Does he want me? Monogamy is work! But you do the work and it’s good again

According to the New York Post, “’Dead bedrooms,’ the buzzy new term for when couples in long-term relationships stop having sex, are on a zombie-apocalypse-like rise.” It cites a study that shows 69 percent of couples are intimate 8 times a year or less; 17 percent of those surveyed hadn’t had sex in a year or more. This is on the heels of research out of the University of Chicago demonstrating that between the late 1990s and 2014, sex for all adults dropped from 62 to 54 times a year on average. And, per Time, “The highest drop in sexual frequency has been among married people with higher levels of education.”

In her cover story on The Sex Recession, The Atlantic’s Kate Julian reports on the many possible causes behind this unsexy ebb: “hookup culture, crushing economic pressures, surging anxiety rates, psychological frailty, widespread antidepressant use, streaming television, environmental estrogens leaked by plastics, dropping testosterone levels, digital porn, the vibrator’s golden age…helicopter parents, careerism, smartphones, the news cycle, information overload generally, sleep deprivation, obesity. Name a modern blight, and someone, somewhere, is ready to blame it for messing with the modern libido.”

Chances are you and/or your spouse are impacted by one (if not several) of the above. So what can you do to break a dry spell? Read on for expert tips.

1. Focus on each other as well as the kids

We could tell you to start putting each other first. But chances are it’s not gonna happen. Parents with children between the ages of 6 and 17 are having less sex than even those with younger children, according to research. Blame co-sleeping, snowplow parenting or “generalized family anxiety” caused by everything from travel soccer to SAT prep. More than past generations, parents are putting kids front and center, and their sex lives are taking a hit. Here’s advice from psychologist and author Dr. Debra Campbell: “Dispense with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ attitude to sex because passion and excitement thrive most on creativity and a bit of novelty. That means, don’t limit yourselves by thinking about sex as purely intercourse, as only happening at a particular time of day or night, or requiring certain circumstances— especially now circumstances have changed.” A weekly date night might not be feasible, but making out in the car after a parent-teacher conference could be. Hug occasionally. Say thank you. Kiss hello and goodbye. As relationship guru Dr. John Gottman says, good marriages thrive on “small things often” as opposed to the single, annual, grand romantic gesture.

2. Check your meds

This one’s complicated. Depression and anxiety inhibit sexual desire. But often, so do the essential antidepressants and birth control pills we take to mitigate both. However, depending on multiple personal factors, from physiology to psychology, you may find that a lower dose or a certain type of birth control impacts your sexual desire differently. You may have a better response to an IUD than to an oral contraceptive, for example. Definitely talk to your doctor. And (here’s an idea) bring your spouse in on the conversation.

3. Banish tech from your bedroom

For many long-term couples, Netflix and Chill evolves into Netflix and Pass Out. We’ve done deep dives into how phubbing can be toxic for romantic relationships. And research shows that sleep deprivation (whether it’s caused by parenthood, work worry or tech use) reduces sexual desire. More sleep = more and better sex. And it turns out all that late-night Instagram scrolling may be eating away at your self-esteem and your sex life as well as your sleep. “A large and growing body of research reports that for both men and women, social-media use is correlated with body dissatisfaction,” writes Julian in her Atlantic story. Feeling hot is key to arousal. Is watching a 26-year-old travel Influencer jog down the beach in Phuket going to help? “A review of 57 studies examining the relationship between women’s body image and sexual behavior suggests that positive body image is linked to having better sex. Conversely, not feeling comfortable in your own skin complicates sex.” Anything healthy and positive you can do for your body—and the less time you spend comparing it to anyone online in a bikini—will probably improve your sex life.

4. Stop counting

When it comes to sex, it’s quality over quantity. How often you do it matters less than how happy you are with your sex life, according to relationship therapist, author and sex researcher Dr. Sarah Hunter Murray. The average married couple has sex once a week or less, and those who do are just as happy—and perhaps happier—than those having it two to three times a week, per research in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. “The frequency with which we have sex receives a lot of attention because it’s the easiest way to measure and compare our sex lives to our peers,” writes Hunter Murray. “But having lots of bad sex isn’t going to make anyone happy nor is it going to leave you feeling satisfied.” She advises looking at the reasons why you’re not having sex and doing what you can to work on those together. Is it because you approach money differently? He’s critical of your parenting style? Your careers are in different stages? You resent the division of household labor or carry more than your share of the mental load? What can you do to communicate about or change your circumstances? “If we are fighting or falling out of love with our partner, not having sex could be a symptom of a much larger problem,” writes Hunter Murray. “However, if we are simply busy, sick, navigating parenthood, or identify as asexual (and the list goes on) then it may be more circumstantial and nothing to panic over.” The bottom line? Less frequent good sex is better than bi-weekly sex that leaves you cold or not feeling any closer.

Complete Article HERE!

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Too Stressed Out To Have Sex?

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Do These 3 Things

By Myisha Battle

Anticipation is part of the reason why sex is so hot at the beginning of relationships

Inevitably, having sex becomes a part of most romantic relationships but, sometimes, there is a hindrance that couples can’t always stop from happening: stress.

A new client recently began our session with “I’m just not that into sex anymore. It’s not that I don’t think about it, I just don’t have the same kind of drive for sex that I used to have.”

Lack of interest in sexual intercourse is one of the most common concerns I see as a sex coach. It affects all kinds of people of all relationship statuses, but its roots can be found in similar areas.

Single men and women come to me explaining that they don’t think about themselves sexually and they feel out of touch with their own sexual energy.

Couples tend to come to me after dating for some time and feel that the sex they have now isn’t as fulfilling as the sex they had at the beginning of their relationship.

But, why are they feeling less into sex?

  • Stressed out singles

Today, the average person is busier and more consumed by distraction than ever before. Most of us work long hours, maintain busy social calendars and have numerous commitments to family and friends.

To stay on top of everything, the average person checks their cell phone approximately 80 times a day. Why should this matter when it comes to our desire for sex? Because we don’t have an endless supply of energy.

If the energy we do have is used to accomplish things outside of ourselves all the time, it can’t be used to connect to our deepest needs if it’s been depleted.

In my experience, this is the number one reason why people can go weeks or months without even checking in with themselves about their sexual needs.

On top of energy depletion, we are also tapped into what feels like an endless supply of potential sexual partners through online dating sites and apps.

Dating can be another stressor when you’re single. It can be fun, for sure! But there’s a lot that goes into finding a match, sparking up a conversation, and moving that conversation into real life.

Some single folks are so burned out by the process that online interactions are all these relationships end up being, which is fine if you’re a digisexual, but most of us are looking for in-person sexual experiences.

  • Long-term loving couples

Some married couples or couples in a relationship are concerned that they’re not having enough sex. This might be a legitimate issue if they’ve seen a dramatic drop in frequency or quality — or the concern may be rooted in the myth that the sex you have at the beginning of a relationship will continue to be the sex you have for the duration of your relationship.

In general, there is a natural bend towards less frequent and less explosive sex as a relationship develops over time. On average, most long-term couples have sex about once a week. Knowing these two facts can sometimes alleviate any concerns the couple might be having.

Couples are not immune to stress as individuals or as a unit, so some of the stressors mentioned previously for single people apply to couples as well.

Couples also have sources of unique stressors including but not limited to shared household and financial responsibilities, childcare, managing in-law relationships, finding time for individual pursuits and making sure that the overall health of the relationship is good. This is a lot of unsexy stuff that’s all part of a loving relationship.

If any of the above sounds familiar, then there are ways to help you tap back into your sexual connection with yourself and your partners.

Ask yourself, “What kind of sex life do I want?”

Answering this question is a worthwhile activity for anyone regardless of their relationship status.

Being single might mean that your sexual life is deprioritized because of your busy life, but it’s a good idea to take a few minutes to think about what kind of sex and sensual experiences you would like to have as part of your life. This can give you some clarity about what to work towards.

If you are partnered, do this activity separately and then share your results. There may be some things on your partner’s list that will surprise you and will even make your marriage better than ever!

So if stress has made you less interested in sex, here are 3 ways to fix that.

1. Respect your need for pleasure

Many clients tell me that they think about sex regularly, but that they don’t allow themselves to engage in fantasies.

Your body has natural sexual rhythms, and it will communicate to you what it wants. Your job is to listen to it. Of course, you do not have to indulge in every fantasy that pops into your brain, but take note of when you’re having fantasies and rather than pushing those thoughts away allow yourself to entertain them a little longer.

No one is going to know and you’ll benefit from maintaining your connection to your body’s need for sexual pleasure.

2. Find pleasure in everyday activities

When we’re stressed out and living in our head, we forget to use all of our senses, which are crucial for tapping into our sexuality. That’s why I encourage my clients to develop mindfulness as they move through the world.

This can start with the simple act of invoking all of your senses while enjoying your cup of coffee or tea first thing in the morning. Create time to hear the sound of the boiling water or coffee pot brewing, take in the sight of the liquid being poured into your cup, smell the aroma, feel the heat of the mug in your hand and notice the taste.

This is a classic mindfulness practice that can set the tone for your day and get you rooted in your body.

3. Put sex on the calendar

This may sound cheesy, but for some couples, putting sex on the calendar is a great tactic to build back that anticipation for sex that was there at the beginning of courtship.

Think about it this way: when you were dating you set up a time in the future to meet and you had all this time before the date to fantasize about how the night would go.

That anticipation is part of the reason why sex is so hot at the beginning of relationships, so building it back in is such a game-changer when couples need to recharge their sex life.

Single folks or individuals within a couple can benefit from calendaring in solo sex as well. I often recommend that busy folks put masturbation on their calendars. Think of it as part of your wellness routine or self-care.

A regular masturbation practice can help you maintain a healthy amount of sexual desire while also reducing stress. For these reasons, your sexual connection to yourself deserves a place on your calendar.

If you feel that you could use some help putting practices in place to re-connect to your sexual self, consider working with a sex and dating coach like myself.

Complete Article HERE!

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These Badass Women Are Fighting To Close The Orgasm Gap For Good

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by Carrie Arnold

The big O can boost your mood, help you sleep better, strengthen your immune system, improve your relationship, and more. But it makes everyone—and we mean everyone (doctors, universities, government agencies)—flinch. WH investigates why women are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to getting off, and talks to the brave ladies who are cutting through the red tape, so you can.

Lora Haddock figured her company might be controversial in some circles. After all, she was starting a woman-oriented pleasure-tech company and designing a sex toy that mimicked all the motions of a human partner. Better still, the gadget stimulated the clitoris and vagina simultaneously, without needing a hand to hold it in place.

But Haddock thought the tech world was ready for a product that was part robot, part vibrator, and all about a woman’s sexual pleasure. The Osé (pronounced oh-SAY) that Haddock designed as the head of her company, Lora DiCarlo, had 52 complex engineering requirements, as well as a slew of patents pending before it hit the market. Haddock knew the Osé was something special—and groundbreaking—because it used the latest technology to give women what they want.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) thought so too, notifying Haddock last fall that it would be awarding the Osé its 2019 Robotics & Drones Innovation Award. But before the ink had dried on the notice of their honor, the CES revoked its award. “Our jaws hit the floor,” Haddock says.

In a letter Haddock shared with WH, CES quoted terms buried deep in the small print: “Entries deemed by CTA [Consumer Technology Association, the organization behind the annual CES show] in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane, or not in keeping with CTA’s image will be disqualified.” Never mind, of course, that current and past exhibitors had demoed augmented reality porn and a robot sex doll that can give blow jobs.

The double standard struck a nerve, and Haddock fired back with an open letter to CES, writing, “You cannot pretend to be unbiased if you allow a sex robot for men but not a vagina-focused equivalent.” In other words, the organization was okay with helping a guy get his rocks off, but not a woman. The implied message was that women’s sexual health is not worthy of innovation.

Months passed after that slap in the face. Then, fortunately, CES reinstated Haddock’s award in May 2019, right before this story went to press, stating that “CTA recognizes the innovative technology that went into the development of Osé and reiterates its sincere apology to the Lora DiCarlo team.”

As this debacle shows, in our boner-centric culture, female orgasm still remains taboo. Climaxing is all well and good if it gives a man another notch on his belt, but when a female-identifying individual has an orgasm for the sake of an orgasm, people start to squirm (and not in a good way).

“There’s an overvaluing of male sexual pleasure and a devaluing of female sexual pleasure,” says Laurie Mintz, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Florida and the author of Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters—And How to Get It. And this imbalance, more than anything else, is helping to drive what researchers call the orgasm gap. A large survey of American adults found that nearly 95 percent of men had an orgasm during their last sexual encounter, but only two-thirds of women did.

The big O can boost your mood, help you sleep better, strengthen your immune system, improve your relationship, and more. But it makes everyone—and we mean everyone (doctors, universities, government agencies)—flinch. WH investigates why women are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to getting off, and talks to the brave ladies who are cutting through the red tape, so you can.

Lora Haddock figured her company might be controversial in some circles. After all, she was starting a woman-oriented pleasure-tech company and designing a sex toy that mimicked all the motions of a human partner. Better still, the gadget stimulated the clitoris and vagina simultaneously, without needing a hand to hold it in place.

But Haddock thought the tech world was ready for a product that was part robot, part vibrator, and all about a woman’s sexual pleasure. The Osé (pronounced oh-SAY) that Haddock designed as the head of her company, Lora DiCarlo, had 52 complex engineering requirements, as well as a slew of patents pending before it hit the market. Haddock knew the Osé was something special—and groundbreaking—because it used the latest technology to give women what they want.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) thought so too, notifying Haddock last fall that it would be awarding the Osé its 2019 Robotics & Drones Innovation Award. But before the ink had dried on the notice of their honor, the CES revoked its award. “Our jaws hit the floor,” Haddock says.

In a letter Haddock shared with WH, CES quoted terms buried deep in the small print: “Entries deemed by CTA [Consumer Technology Association, the organization behind the annual CES show] in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane, or not in keeping with CTA’s image will be disqualified.” Never mind, of course, that current and past exhibitors had demoed augmented reality porn and a robot sex doll that can give blow jobs.

The double standard struck a nerve, and Haddock fired back with an open letter to CES, writing, “You cannot pretend to be unbiased if you allow a sex robot for men but not a vagina-focused equivalent.” In other words, the organization was okay with helping a guy get his rocks off, but not a woman. The implied message was that women’s sexual health is not worthy of innovation.

Months passed after that slap in the face. Then, fortunately, CES reinstated Haddock’s award in May 2019, right before this story went to press, stating that “CTA recognizes the innovative technology that went into the development of Osé and reiterates its sincere apology to the Lora DiCarlo team.”

As this debacle shows, in our boner-centric culture, female orgasm still remains taboo. Climaxing is all well and good if it gives a man another notch on his belt, but when a female-identifying individual has an orgasm for the sake of an orgasm, people start to squirm (and not in a good way).

“There’s an overvaluing of male sexual pleasure and a devaluing of female sexual pleasure,” says Laurie Mintz, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Florida and the author of Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters—And How to Get It. And this imbalance, more than anything else, is helping to drive what researchers call the orgasm gap. A large survey of American adults found that nearly 95 percent of men had an orgasm during their last sexual encounter, but only two-thirds of women did.

It’s likely that gap only gets wider when sex happens outside of a committed relationship, because in those circumstances men may not feel the need to reciprocate pleasure, and women may not know how to approach the topic. The impact is felt far outside the bedroom. Missing out on orgasm means not only that you’re unable to enjoy its health benefits, such as better mood, deeper sleep, relief from headaches, and glowing skin, but also that you’re missing out on a fundamental human experience that’s fun to boot.

Well, that blows (for lack of a better term). There’s a lot to unpack here, and it’s a twisted tale of gender-biased hookup culture, poor research funding, hypocritical subway advertising rules (we’ll get to those later), and oh-so-much more. But the promising news is that women are fighting back and taking charge of their bodies and their sex lives—for good.

Pleasure 101

It starts as early as our first class in sex ed. We learn the names and functions of the different genitals, and, if we’re lucky, we learn about more than just abstinence, including how to prevent pregnancy and STDs. There are periods and body hair, and that’s about it. One of the many things missing? Pleasure, especially for her.

It’s no surprise, then, that in a survey of college women, nearly 30 percent could not identify the proper location of the clitoris. Alison Ash, PhD, a sex and relationship expert in San Francisco, says it’s not just a lack of proper sex ed that’s causing this ignorance. “Scientists didn’t discover the full anatomy of the clitoris until 1998—decades after they put a man on the moon,” she says. So the results of being sidelined become apparent as soon as women start having sex.

As a doctoral student in sociology at Stanford, Ash studied heterosexual hookup culture and found that “a lot of women don’t know what they want or how to ask for it,” she says. “Women are prioritizing what they think is their partner’s well-being over their own pleasure.”

Her data revealed that hookups were focused on him. Only 11 percent of women experienced climax the first time with a new partner, although the percentage increased in long-term relationships. Researchers from Indiana University analyzed data from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, with a pool of 1,931 adults in the U.S. ages 18 to 59, and found that this gap wasn’t just a youth phenomenon—it was happening at all ages. Men are 27 percent more likely to report having an orgasm than women during a sexual encounter, found research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

What’s more, in many heterosexual relationships, a woman’s orgasm is seen as a reflection not of her desire and satisfaction but of her partner’s sexual prowess and masculinity, according to a study in the Journal of Sex Research. It’s partly why 67 percent of women have faked an orgasm with a partner, compared with just 28 percent of men: Heterosexual women know that what’s at stake is not so much our own pleasure, but his ego.

Although it’s easier for people with penises to be sure they’ve climaxed because they release semen, another factor is that women understand so much less about what they want and what brings them pleasure. And that’s a major problem. Not only do orgasms boost immunity and help combat stress (yes, please!), but the chemical release actually helps partners bond. Fibbing about the big O or avoiding it altogether? It might be easier in the short term to avoid asserting your needs in bed, but over time, couples lose a valuable opportunity to communicate.

“You have to figure out what you like, then you have to be brave enough to ask for it specifically, and ask and ask again until your partner gets it right,” says sex therapist Aline Zoldbrod, PhD.

Paging Dr. Orgasm…

Hello? Is anybody there? With so much cultural and medical ignorance around female orgasms, you might think funding agencies would be willing to support scientists who are studying the problem. You’d be wrong.

Despite 43 percent of women reporting some type of sexual dysfunction, research on women and orgasms is shockingly sparse—or nonexistent. The National Institutes of Health funded no research over the past decade specifically devoted to improving women’s orgasms, according to a WH analysis of NIH grants.

Female researchers are feeling this discrepancy firsthand. As a junior faculty member at UCLA, neurophysiologist Nicole Prause, PhD, says the university ethics board refused to let her conduct experiments measuring the physiological responses of couples having sex in the lab without providing her with specific objections about why the research was blocked.

After a decade of trying to make it in academia, this obstacle was the last straw. Prause finally gave up and founded Liberos, an independent sex research institute in Los Angeles, to continue her work around sexual pleasure. (When contacted, a UCLA rep responded that “out of respect for all employees and consistent with university policy, we do not discuss circumstances surrounding change of employment status.”)

Blunt without being rude, Prause urges her colleagues to take female pleasure seriously and bring more rigor to their work. At a recent conference, she attended a session where researchers asked study participants to eat chocolate in order to measure pleasure.

“I asked why they didn’t have the participants stimulate their own genitals. And they looked at me like I was an alien,” she says. Prause points out that the general public is eager for this type of research. She never has problems recruiting participants for her studies. When she recently placed an ad on Craigslist for one, she had more than 400 calls and emails within 30 minutes. “Orgasm is safe, free, and accessible; why wouldn’t we want to fund research about it?” Prause asks.

University of Michigan bioengineering PhD student Lauren Zimmerman, 25, knows this problem all too well. Her lab at the university is devoted to the stimulation of nerves in the lower leg and near the genitalia for treatment of overactive bladder. What piqued Zimmerman’s interest was when she learned that stimulating these same nerves might also help women who couldn’t achieve orgasm. She received funding for a small pilot trial to see if small amounts of painless electrical stimulation on the tibial nerve in the ankle and a nerve near the clitoris could improve women’s ability to climax, but she ran into difficulties securing funding for follow-up research. When she talked with officials about her project, they seemed interested. “When it came time for decisions, it never seemed to fall in my favor,” Zimmerman says.

Clinical psychologist Erin Cooper, PhD, says this is par for the course among sex researchers. “We’re trying to understand the female orgasm, more than ever. But there simply isn’t much money going toward this research.”

After rounds of applications, Zimmerman found funds that would provide financial support for her as a scientist rather than for her specific project. She easily recruited participants and discovered that 12 weekly stimulation sessions could improve a woman’s ability to reach orgasm. But when she presented those results at one scientific conference, she says she was laughed out of the room. “They thought it was a dirty joke and not a real clinical need,” Zimmerman says.

Saying yes to feeling good

Entrepreneur Polly Rodriguez, 32, learned the hard way how lightly female desire is taken. When radiation treatment for stage III colon cancer sent the then 21-year-old into menopause, doctors told her she would never be able to have children but failed to mention that her sex drive and ability to enjoy sex could be affected.

It was only thanks to some online searching that she finally figured it out. (The places Rodriguez could find that sold vibrators in her rural corner of the Midwest felt far too seedy for her to ask intimate questions about climax.) To fill the void, Rodriguez launched Unbound in December 2014, an online marketplace providing a sex-positive space for women to share experiences and find products that meet their sexual needs, ranging from lube and vibrators to handcuffs. “Men have had Playboy and Viagra, and I want those kinds of brands to exist for women,” Rodriguez says.

Though her company’s growth has surpassed her wildest dreams, with more than 200,000 unique hits per month, Rodriguez built her brand without advertising on social media or public transit. Facebook’s policies allow only the advertisement of condoms as family planning aids or to prevent STIs; for vibrators, forget it. When Rodriguez pushed back against this prudish policy, a representative wrote her that advertising for adult products and services wasn’t allowed.

The explanation? “This is driven by an understanding of people’s sentiment for these ads,” the email read. (When reached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson responded with the following: “We have long had a policy that restricts certain ads with adult content and adult products in part because Facebook is a global company and we take into account the wide array of people from varying cultures and countries who see them…As with all of our policies, our enforcement is never perfect but we are always improving.”)

And New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority refused to post an ad for Unbound, calling it “phallic,” despite Rodriguez’s efforts to show fully clothed women of various races with nary a penis in sight. According to Rodriguez, the same day she was rejected, the MTA green-lit ads for a company selling male sexual enhancement products that portrayed a limp cactus and a perky cactus—far more phallic than Unbound’s ads. (The MTA did not respond when asked for a statement.)

Where do we ‘O’ from here?

Despite these roadblocks, the breakneck pace of Unbound’s expansion and the buzz around—and ultimate recognition of—products like the Osé show that another sexual revolution is underway.

Women are tired of putting their desires on the back burner and have begun to realize it’s okay to ask for not only what they need, but also what they want, says Zoldbrod. Yet more research is critically important—in the lab, but also in your own bedroom.

“Only you can figure out what rings your bell,” she says. In the meantime, let’s hope the rest of the medical world gets on board so we can close the gap once and for all.

Complete Article HERE!

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A Big Reason Why Some People Don’t Enjoy Sex As Much

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By Kelly Gonsalves

Some of the biggest things that can get in the way of good sex: performance anxiety, relationship stress, life stress, lack of variety, lack of time, physical conditions that cause pain, sexual dysfunction where certain parts don’t work the way they should, mental health, antidepressants, orgasm focus, clitoris negligence, selfishness, selflessness, lack of communication, lack of lubrication, internalized shame about having sex…and those are just the ones that initially come to mind.

But here’s one that we don’t often hear or talk a lot about: childhood trauma. And that doesn’t include only childhood sexual abuse (although that’s a large and pervasive type of childhood trauma). It also includes being neglected by your parents, seeing aggressive or emotionally abusive behavior between your parents, getting bullied or mistreated by peers, dealing with identity-related discrimination, and more. These early negative experiences can psychologically shape us and the way we behave, think, and move throughout the world. And new research suggests those traumas can actually affect the way we experience our sexuality in a very specific way.

Researchers surveyed 410 people currently in sex therapy about their sex lives, childhoods, levels of psychological distress in the past week, and how mindful they are as people.

The results showed people who’d experienced more instances of trauma throughout their childhood tended to have less satisfying sexual lives than those without childhood trauma.

Why a bad childhood can lead to a less satisfying sex life as an adult.

It has to do with those other two variables: psychological distress and mindfulness. Predictably, the findings showed people with more childhood trauma tended to experience more daily psychological distress (that is, moments of fear, worry, anxiety, or other negative emotions felt throughout the day) than those without childhood trauma. That psychological distress was linked to lower mindfulness (i.e., the tendency to be attentive and aware of what’s happening in the present moment as it unfolds), and that lack of mindfulness was what was making sex less enjoyable. 

“Psychological distress (i.e., depression, anxiety, irritability, cognitive impairments) may encourage the use of avoidance strategies to escape from suffering or unpleasant psychological states, which may in turn diminish attentiveness and awareness of what is taking place in the present moment,” the researchers explain in the paper. “The numbing of experience or low dispositional mindfulness may diminish survivors’ availability and receptiveness to pleasant stimuli, including sexual stimuli, therefore leading to a sex life perceived as empty, bad, unpleasant, negative, unsatisfying, or worthless.”

In other words, people who’ve experienced bad stuff as kids tend to deal with more stress, anxiety, and negative emotions, and because of that, they’ve developed a specific coping strategy that involves distancing themselves from being fully aware of their emotional and perhaps even physical senses. That lack of mindfulness, however, ends up making good things—like sex—also less enjoyable.

How mindfulness affects sexual pleasure.

Plenty of past research has demonstrated how important mindfulness is to enjoying sex. One study earlier this year found people who are more in tune with their senses tend to have more sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, a higher sense of sexual well-being, and even more sexual confidence.

This isn’t just about woo-woo feel-your-feelings stuff—mindfulness is particularly key to physical pleasure. Here’s how the researchers explain it:

A lower dispositional mindfulness may be particularly detrimental to sexual functioning. Namely, individuals who are distracted, less present, less aware, or unmindful might report lower sexual satisfaction because (1) they may show less awareness of sexual stimuli or less capacity to identify and experience pleasant states as they unfold, therefore potentially experiencing less sexual satisfaction; and (2) their lack of self-regulation of attention might preclude psychological distance from anxious thoughts and decrease their contact with moment-to-moment experiences, hence tempering arousal reactions toward sexual stimuli. … A greater disposition to mindfulness has also been related to one’s ability to fully experience the sexual act.

If you’re someone who had a rough childhood for whatever reason, it’s possible that those experiences have shaped your ability to be fully present with your senses, which in turn can make sex just feel less good.

According to the study, the trauma-distress-mindfulness-pleasure connection accounted for nearly 20% of the variance in sexual satisfaction among people—in other words, these variables together were responsible for 20% of the difference between how good sex felt across all the people in the study, from the people with the lowest sexual satisfaction to those with the highest. That means this is something to seriously pay attention to if sex tends to not feel so great for you!

The researchers suggest people with childhood trauma consider spending time working to deal with their negative emotions via mindfulness—that is, learning to sit with those emotions instead of trying to avoid them. That practice, if mastered, can begin to seep into all parts of your life and change the way you tune into any and all experiences, good and bad.

“Higher levels of dispositional mindfulness may help to reroute one’s focus away from negative, critical, or anxiety-provoking cognitions and onto sensations that are happening during sexual activities with their partner, as they unfold from moment to moment, therefore promoting satisfying sexual experiences among partners,” the researchers write. “Partners presenting higher levels of dispositional mindfulness could be more aware of their internal (e.g., arousing sensations, thoughts, emotions) and external cues (e.g., erotic cues such as seeing the partner’s naked body).”

Here are a few of the best meditations for improving your sex life, plus a guide to staying present during sex itself.

Complete Article HERE!

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Goodbye Bad Sex…

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How To Rewrite Your Sexual Story

By Us

Now, the team behind the raved-about podcast, led by Lisa Williams and Anniki Sommerville, are putting their considerable expertise down on paper with their debut book, More Orgasms Please: Why Female Pleasure Matters. In the book, the collective, who firmly believe that sex, relationships and body confidence are feminist issues that can no longer be ignored, take on everything from feminist porn to body image and the menopause.

Like the podcast that inspired it, More Orgasms Please is like a great conversation with friends: at once punchy and playful, normalising and educational. Featuring insight from doctors, bloggers, politicians, therapists and celebrities, it’s an eye-opening read that puts women’s pleasure firmly on the map at a time when it couldn’t be more crucial.

In the extract below, Anniki recounts a bad sexual experience she had as a teenager, which left her feeling anxious about her future sex life. If, like so many of us, you too have had a less-than-brilliant encounter between the sheets, you’ll want to read on for The Hotbed Collective’s straight-talking advice…

ANNIKI: It’s the late Eighties. I’m fifteen. I’ve been out at a nightclub with a bunch of friends. We’ve drunk Grolsch, and been chatted up by some students from St Martin’s School of Art. They are channelling the Levi’s 501 ads and wear white T-shirts and baggy jeans.

One of them asks if I want to go back to his room. My best friend Hannah accompanies me. He lives in a hall of residence in Battersea. To cut a long story short, the boy and I snog while Hannah sleeps in the same bed. This is not unusual as beds are often at a premium and we’ve become used to sharing this way. Without warning the boy clambers on top of me and starts thrusting. Hannah mumbles, ‘Can you please stop?’ but the boy continues. Eventually after three minutes he groans. I am still wearing my thick Wolford tights. They must be at least 200 denier.

‘You are completely gross,’ Hannah says waking up. ‘I’m getting out of here.’

I don’t want to stay without her so we leave. On the early-morning bus up the King’s Road, I look down at my tights. There is a white sticky substance. ‘I can’t believe you had sex in the bed next to me,’ Hannah says.

The conversation ended right there. Had I had sex? Was that it? The problem was I lacked the necessary vocabulary to explain what had happened. My sex ed lessons hadn’t included a session on ‘dry humping’. ‘Could I be pregnant?’ I wondered. There were rumours that sperm was so powerful that it could survive outside your body and crawl up your leg if it was determined enough. I never talked about this experience with anyone – not even my best mate.

I also felt ashamed but wasn’t quite sure why. There was no one I could talk to about it. I spent many hours fretting that my future sex life would be one where I always had sex through a pair of tights because I didn’t know any better.

‘Bad sex’ experiences such as the one Anniki describes above unfortunately are the norm for many young women embarking on those first few formative sexual experiences. Without a meaningful, realistic idea of what to expect or useful education about how sex is supposed to be pleasurable, then it’s a miracle that we ever end up enjoying it at all

If you don’t know your own anatomy, what a clitoris is, or the difference between foreplay and penetration, then having sex through a pair of tights can be the unfortunate outcome. Sex education lays the groundwork. It also encourages us to talk about our experiences so we don’t think we’re abnormal. It gives us the information we need to make the right choices (and these will hopefully lead to more orgasms and less worry, anxiety and ignorance).

Bad sex probably shares a few common traits (for us anyway).

FIRSTLY: no orgasm. Of course, you can have nice sex without an orgasm but if you are physically capable of an orgasm, it’s a bit like eating rhubarb crumble without custard. Or not having a bun with your burger. Or going out with trainers and no socks so your feet get blisters (come up with your own analogy here). You can fake an orgasm (and sometimes it’s just simply the easiest thing to do: if it’s someone you haven’t had sex with much yet and you like them but you haven’t finished this book yet and are therefore still mid-journey to becoming a fully qualified sex goddess who can ask for what she likes) but this isn’t a sustainable way forward and the sooner you can put things right, the better.

SECONDLY: bad sex often hurts. This may be because you’re not lubricated enough and your sexual partner has no clue or has forgotten about foreplay, or because they’ve watched too much porn, and think frantic, crazy, Jack Russell-style action is what turns you on (maybe it does, in which case: thumbs up).

THIRDLY: bad sex sometimes entails something happening which is so humiliating that your face burns whenever you think about it, even when it’s twenty-odd years later.

We know from our own conversations and from feedback from The Hotbed that plenty of bad sex is happening each and every day. Here are some quickfire stories about bad encounters, shared with us by our listeners:

The time I tried to give a blow job but thought you had to blow instead of suck…

The time toilet paper was still stuck to my bum and I was really into a guy and he discovered it there…

I had to pee really bad and ended up weeing all over our sleeping bag…

My entire first relationship involved sex which was OK but which never made me have an orgasm…

His mum rang him while we were at it, and he answered and had a full conversation with her before carrying on again…

In Not That Kind of Girl Lena Dunham describes a bad experience of cunnilingus, ‘I felt like I was being chewed on by a child that wasn’t mine.’

Author and columnist Caitlin Moran refers to bad sex as ‘the straight-up awful hump – a tale you will tell for the rest of time’. She tells a story of going back to a famous comedian’s house in the Nineties: ‘As we began the “opening monologue” on the sofa, he reached around for the remote control – and put on his own TV show

Perhaps you too have your own bad sex story to tell. Often the accounts of these experiences share certain commonalities: we’re disempowered, passive, naïve and insecure. We do something stupid and embarrassing and we don’t have the guts to ride it out.

Our partner is too rough, not rough enough, too fast, too slow, rude, arrogant, or picks his toenails afterwards.

Samantha from Sex and the City famously declared, ‘Fuck me badly once, shame on you. Fuck me badly twice, shame on me.’ You will have noticed that we’re not blaming our sexual partners exclusively for our bad sex. Of course, they should get clued up: read about some techniques; buy lube; ask you what you like and dislike; and know that women don’t tend to get turned on by having their head forced down into the crotch area. But while they should be able to read your body language, they can’t be expected to read your mind.

Bad sex can happen when expectations are running very high. It can happen when you’re fifteen and it can happen when you’re eighty-five. Unless women take responsibility for their own pleasure and get educated about what pleases them, and have the confidence to tell or show their partners, bad sex can last an entire lifetime

Here’s our Hotbed advice:

REMEMBER IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO REWRITE YOUR SEXUAL STORY. Just as we can change jobs and have multiple identities, so we can change the course of our sexual history. Have a frank look at your own sex life – look at the overarching narrative from teen to now. What percentage has been bad? Are there any patterns in terms of things you’ve put up with but would rather not anymore? How can you build on the stuff you love?

THINK ABOUT THE BEST SEX YOU’VE HAD AND WHAT SHAPED THOSE EXPERIENCES. Was it a specific technique? A mood? Location? It might not be possible to recreate a summer in Spain when you were twenty-two, but there will be certain ingredients that you can integrate into your sex life now…

GET OVER THE IDEA THAT SEX IS BEST WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG. The reality is often quite the opposite. The Public Health England survey that we referred to earlier found that forty-two per cent of women aged between twenty-five and thirty-four complained of ‘a lack of sexual enjoyment’, but in the fifty-five to sixty-four age group this percentage falls to twenty-eight per cent. Bad sex can be edifying in that it teaches you what you don’t want from a sexual encounter, meaning you can learn and improve as you grow older (despite the media’s failure to portray any woman past thirty as fuckable).

TAP INTO FANTASY. When we’re younger we have rich fantasy lives. Usually these take the shape of imagining sex with pop stars and actors. How can fantasy help now? How can you tap into that teen mindset where sex lived in your imagination?

OF COURSE IT MAY BE EASIER TO FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT, ESPECIALLY DURING NEW ENCOUNTERS, BUT THERE’S NO REASON WHY YOU CAN’T HAVE GREAT SEX WHILE DATING HOT STRANGERS. Showing someone where and how you liked to be touched, bringing along a tube of lube, and saying ‘softer’, ‘this is amazing,’ or ‘ooh, that hurts a bit’, are all completely acceptable from the first bonk, and could spare you both some embarrassment and wasted time.

OWN YOUR BAD SEX STORIES. Talk about them. You’ll soon discover that they’re pretty much universal. A bad sex story shared is a bad sex story out in the open and you can have a good old hoot about it and relieve yourself of any shame. We’re talking about the sex-through-tights stories here, of course. If they’re about anything abusive or damaging in any shape or form then seek help from a counsellor or therapist. The experience of abuse can’t be brushed under the carpet and will oftentimes leave heavy imprints in your memory, but with proper support and therapy they don’t have to be a barrier to improving your sex life either.

Bad sex may be a rite of passage but as we’ve explained, it can also continue from our teens into our twenties, thirties and beyond. There may no longer be Wolford tights involved, but there will certainly be times when your partner can’t perform, or you lose interest, or the baby cries, or you’re too tired, or the quality of sex is just not there for you.

In order to stop the rot and make sure that it’s not happening all the time, look out for unhelpful patterns that emerge. Do you always tend to prioritise your partner’s pleasure more than your own? Do you feel grateful if your partner makes your orgasm a priority but then worry afterwards that you were being too demanding and pushy? Do you cringe when you tell your partner about what turns you on?

It’s also worth remembering that famous Nora Ephron quote about how you can turn embarrassing stories around so you become the heroine: ‘When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. But when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it’s your laugh.’ That’s how Anniki feels about the whole tights story anyway. She’s ‘owning’ that bad boy.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex bans are manipulative and destructive to your relationship

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By Rebecca Reid

There’s a Greek myth called Lysistrata.

It’s a story about how the wives of the Greeks, sick of their husbands pissing off to war and coming back with a limb missing or not coming back at all, took matters into their own hands.

To create peace between various Greek factions, they went on a sex strike. No nookie for anyone until the war was over. And basically, it worked.

Lysistrata was first performed in 411BC. 2,430 years ago. And yet women are still doing the exact same thing – going on sex strike to get what they want.

Earlier this year Alyssa Milano suggested that we women go on strike from sex until the Georgia six-week abortion limit is overruled.

If you Google ‘sex strike’ you find hundreds of stories from women who got ‘their own way’ by going on strike. One woman got a new kitchen. Another convinced her husband to have another baby. Other women simply use it as a disciplinary measure to correct their husband’s behaviour.

Doesn’t anyone else find this unutterably depressing?

It’s 2019 and apparently the axis of our power as humans is still whether or not we will open our legs for our partners.

Sex shouldn’t be a reward. It should be an expression of lust, or love, or anything else that you want it to be. It should be fun, gratifying, enjoyable.

Sex shouldn’t be the adult equivalent of giving a child a chocolate button for hanging their coat up after school.

By taking sex away from your partner as a punishment you send the message that it’s an activity that you partake in for them in the first place – it suggests that sex is a favour you’ve been doing them and will no longer be doing until they toe the party line.

In every single example I could find online, the person doing the banning is the woman and the person on the receiving end is a man, which further perpetuates an untrue stereotype that men like sex and women put up with it.

Another problematic aspect of the sex ban is that often it’s women putting one in place because she wants to make a financial choice – like a new car or a holiday – that her partner isn’t comfortable with.

Instead of compromising – the money belongs to both of you – or just paying it for themselves, these women perpetuate the idea that their husbands are Chancellors of the Exchequer in their marriage.

They might as well be applying for more housekeeping money.

If your sex life is so lukewarm that the idea of giving it up to punish your partner is appealing, then you’ve got a wider problem which needs addressing.

If however you enjoy sex and withdraw it at your own deprivation then you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. Even if it works, do you really want to have won an argument with your other half by taking away sex, just like you would get a child to do their homework by offering screen time?

Back in 411BC Greece, women really didn’t have much power. Sex was one of the few things you had the ability to grant. But the world has moved on, and we are equal partners within our relationships and therefore we do not need to withdraw sexual favours to claw back power.

We’re intelligent, mature, sensible women with critical reasoning skills. Why would we resort to such reduced tactics to alleviate conflict?

Of course there is an element of sexual politics in any relationship – when you feel happier and closer to your partner you’ll probably have more sex. When you’re fighting or struggling through issues it might well be less. That’s normal.

No one is suggesting for a second that you should have sex with your partner if you don’t want to or you’re not in the mood. You should only ever have sex when you want to have sex. The issue is when you use ‘I’m not in the mood’ as a bargaining chip, which is patronising and controlling.

If your partner doesn’t take you seriously when you say you’re annoyed about the division of labour within the household, or that you think you need to redecorate your kitchen, then they’re not a good partner.

If you ignore their responses to your marital problems and decide to ‘punish’ your partner rather than compromising, then you’re not a good partner.

Relationships that work don’t involve point scoring. They’re not based around depriving someone else of privileges to train their behaviour. That’s how you treat a naughty child, not a spouse whom you respect.

You might get what you originally wanted – your partner might do more housework or ‘let’ you buy a new car, but what cost is this ‘victory’ to the long term health of your relationship?

Complete Article HERE!

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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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