Lube, Butt Plugs, and Bondage, Oh My!

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Just another day at your friendly neighborhood sex shop

By: Emma Chekroun

Having a part time job in college isn’t uncommon. Some students wait tables, others have jobs through their university, and some, like Haydin Wellens, a junior at the University of Minnesota, work as a cashier at a sex shop. Similar to other students, Wellens goes through his week’s worth of classes before working eight to nine hours on the weekend. Wellens fights exhaustion and tries to keep up with homework while working his late night shifts. The highlight? Much better party stories.

Wellens revels in the opportunity to talk about his job. “People will be talking about their jobs, and I usually start out with I work at a sex shop and…” pause for reaction. What usually comes next is smiles and stares of anticipation.

That anticipation lingers. There is something exhilarating in talking about and going to sex shops. Staring wide eyed at all the toys and tools that decorate the walls is enough to make anyone feel eager and anxious. 

While customers may only dedicate a few hours to browsing a sex shop, for those maintaining these glimmering palaces of self-love, it’s a lifestyle. 

Not Just a Job

Vincent Valcroft, assistant manager at Bondesque near Uptown, said he loves building people up through his work at the BDSM and fetish wear specialty shop. “I get to contribute to something that helps people,” he adds, “to bring greater wellness, meaning, and pleasure into their lives and relationships.”

Wellens, cashier at Lickety Split, and Cat Charles, website manager at Smitten Kitten, both said the best part of their jobs was answering questions and giving customers a safe space to ask them.

Charles said it’s “delightful and fun” to have sex as the subject manner of work. They enjoy making sex a normal and comfortable topic for shoppers.

Education also takes an important role in working at a sex shop. At Smitten Kitten, every employee is trained in the store’s sex ed curriculum. The shop also holds periodic free sex workshops, such as “Anal 101.”

Bondesque also holds workshops centered around BDSM, which Valcroft hopes contributes to a “holistic kink experience” in the store. Meanwhile, Wellens takes on an informal education outside of work, utilizing the internet to be better informed.

“I love figuring out how the different toys and interests work,” Wellens said. “Doing research into products on my own time doesn’t really feel like work.”

Education is a major way these sex shops pay it forward to the community. A shop’s attitude also has a big impact on its workers and the community. Wellens described how his manager created a position for him when he applied to Lickety Split back in June of 2018 and how that contributed to the family-like workplace he enjoys so much.

Valcroft went as far to say at Bondesque it’s “not a sale, it’s a celebration” and described the fun and explorative setting he strives to achieve at the store. When the community you and your store are a part of branches off into a spectrum of gender identities, orientation, and age groups, it’s important to “celebrate people,” Valcroft said.

Funny Moments

Even a community saturated with pleasure and support has its occasional negatives. From drunken shoppers to more dangerous exchanges, it’s not always easy being the purveyors of pleasure.

Wellens has had his fair share of run-ins that range from hilarious to horrifying. One particularly frightening story involves a knife and customer named Jelly; “we learned he was called Jelly after the fact,” Wellens clarifies.

Jelly became irate, yelling slurs at Wellens’ co-worker. Wellens went on to say, “He got super frustrated and pulled out a knife.” He adds, “It was more funny after the fact,” although that seems hard to believe.

Wellens’ stories only get wackier from there. At one point, a man came in waving around a sizeable chunk of marijuana for no apparent reason. Drunk frat guys have played leapfrog, Wellens added. “One time a guy bought a cock ring,” Wellens continues, “and tried to put it on in the store.” This patron wasn’t drunk or high—just “very excited,” Wellens clarified.

For Valcroft, there hasn’t really been one defining hard part of his job, except maybe when “the gimp gets loose,” he explained, only half kidding while a devilish smile spread across his face.

But all laughs aside, the world of sex shops, is just that: a world.

There’s a Whole World Out There

Even sex shop workers encounter kinks they’re not familiar with. A resounding response from all three sex workers, no matter the kink, is that sex shops are a judgment-free zone. Don’t be afraid to have questions, just leave the nitty gritty personal experience out, according to Wellens.

Your kink isn’t that weird, Charles assures. They also encouraged beginners to be open to new experiences and not be discouraged if something doesn’t work out for you.

Valcroft described BDSM and fetish as a “journey,” which the other sex workers agreed with—it’s a journey to find what you like.

Lots of communities are included, so there is a good chance you can find what you are looking for. Smitten Kitten specifically identifies as “queer-centered.” Every shop mentioned here has some form of gender expression or cross dressing inventory, gender expression involving toys, and other items for persons in the transgender community to express their identity. This can include strap-ons or realistic artificial penises.

A tour of Bondesque illuminates several kinks that fall under the radar of popular culture, such as sex toys for electrosex, which involves electrostimulation, and is surprisingly safe. There are also tools/toys for medical fetishes and latex fetishes.

And yes, for those interested in feet, Lickety Split sells silicone feet, according to Wellens.

Aside from kinks, a few new things discovered this week through interviews, an anal workshop, and a sex shop tour: silicone lube is not good for silicone sex toys, fetish parties are like raves mixed with fashion mixed with latex, and there is something out there for practically everyone. Most importantly, sex shop workers make a rewarding career not only out of selling toys but also out of making comfortable environments for sexual deviants and newbies alike.

Complete Article HERE!

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Rev up your libido to the *most* satisfying heights

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By Jessica Estrada

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

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

1. Seek a professional opinion (seriously)

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

2. Reconnect with your body

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

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

3. Give your relationship with sex a tough audit

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

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

4. Stop being samey in the bedroom

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

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

5. Implement a healthy lifestyle

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

6. Do your kegels

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

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

7. Engage your senses

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

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

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Talk About Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

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Everything you need to know about three distinctly different things.

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When it comes to public understanding and acceptance of various gender identities and orientations, much-needed discussions are finally being had. The future is indeed non-binary, but it’s okay if you are still learning the correct language to use to keep up with the discussion. For instance, what is biological sex, gender identity, and what’s the difference between the two? And to top it all off, what does sexual orientation have to do with any of it? Three sex and gender therapists and experts break it all down here.

How Sex is Defined

Nope, we’re not talking about the physical act of getting it on. “I define sex from a biological standpoint,” explains sex educator and trauma specialist Jimanekia Eborn. “It is something that doctors put on your birth certificate after you come out of the womb, based upon what your genitals look like and the particular set of chromosomes that you are given.”

Generally speaking, if you are born with a penis and XX chromosomes, your sex is labeled as “male” on your birth certificate. If you’re born with a vagina and XY chromosomes, it says “female’ on your birth certificate. As sex therapist Kelly Wise, Ph.D. points out, there are also intersex folks, or those born with a variety of conditions in which their reproductive anatomy and/or chromosomes don’t match the traditional definitions of female or male.

The Difference Between Sex and Gender

Not everyone’s gender identity matches the sex they are assigned at birth. “Gender is a socio-cultural concept of the way that people express themselves,” Dr. Wise says.If you’re cisgender, it means that the gender you identify with matches the sex assigned to you at birth. For trans folks, their gender identity does not match what was assigned at birth. Others use labels like non-binary (an umbrella term for someone who doesn’t identify on the gender binary as either male or female). Gender fluid describes someone whose gender fluctuates and may have different gender identities at different times. Basically, there are as many ways to express gender as there are people in the world.

If you’re wondering about your own gender identity, Dr. Wise, who is trans, reminds that there is no need to hurry to put label on yourself and that it’s okay to take your time, or change the way you describe your gender over time. “There is so much space to be an individual,” he says. “[Gender] ends up being one factor about you and not your whole defining exhibit. There is no rush to figure it out and you don’t have to limit yourself.”

What “Sexual Orientation” Means

One important thing to remember is that gender and sexual orientation are completely different. Gender is about your personal identity and expression, and sexual orientation simply refers to who you are attracted to. “I don’t think anyone would assume that a woman is automatically a lesbian or automatically bi,” says sex therapist Liz Powell, Ph.D. “We wouldn’t assume that a cisgender man is automatically gay—we look at them and don’t think that their gender necessarily determines what their sexuality should be. The same applies to people all across the gender spectrum.”

You may have heard a trans, non-binary, or genderfluid person describe themselves as “queer,” and think, well, doesn’t that mean that you’re gay? While the term “queer” is indeed significant to the LGBTQ community, as Dr. Powell explains, queer can mean anything that isn’t one hundred percent heterosexual and one hundred percent cisgender.

TL; DR: Sex is biological. Gender is a social construct, and each of us gets to decide our gender identity based on what we know to be true for us. And orientation simply means who you’re interested in dating and is entirely separate from biological sex and gender identity.

Complete Article HERE!

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More Sex Can Improve Later Years

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Study shows life enjoyment is linked to intercourse for men, kissing and connection for women.

Physical contact and sexual activity may be key to contentment.

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According to research published online on December 13, 2018, in the journal Sexual Medicine, frequent sexual activity can mean a more enjoyable life for older adults. Both men and women who reported any type of sexual activity in the previous year indicated greater happiness than people who did not. Feeling emotionally close to one’s partner during sex was also correlated with a more positive perspective for both genders.

These results are not surprising, says Pelin Batur, MD, associate professor of medicine in obstetrics and gynecology for the Women’s Health Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, who was not involved in the research. “We know connection and intimacy are important for people throughout all stages of life,” says Dr. Batur. “It is important to remember that people who are healthier are more likely to engage in sexual activity. Therefore, it may be the better state of health which contributes the most to the increased life satisfaction, as opposed to just the sexual activity itself,” she says.

Searching for a Link Between Well-Being and Sexual Trouble

The study set out to investigate possible associations between sexual activity, problems, and concerns, and how those factors might influence well-being in older adults. Researchers looked at 3,045 men and 3,834 women living in England whose ages ranged from 50 to 89, with an average age of 64 for men and 65 for women. 74 percent of the men and 60 percent of the women were married or living with a partner, and 95 percent of the study participants were Caucasian.

Frequent Kissing, Contact, Key for Women’s Well-Being

After allowing for sociodemographic and health-related issues, researchers found that among sexually active men, frequent intercourse as well as frequent kissing, petting, or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life. For women, frequent kissing, petting, or fondling was linked to greater life enjoyment, but frequent intercourse was not. Frequent masturbation wasn’t associated with greater life enjoyment for either sex. “Frequent” was defined as two or more episodes a month.

Measuring People’s Enjoyment of Life

Enjoyment of life was assessed with the pleasure subscale of the CASP-19 (control, autonomy, self-realization, and peasure), which has been used in previous research to measure happiness and contentment for older adults. Subjects were asked how much they resonate with statements such as “I enjoy the things that I do,” “I enjoy being in the company of others,” and “I feel full of energy these days.”

Is Sexual Intercourse More Important for Men’s Well-Being Than for Women’s?

“The most interesting finding for us was that among sexually active men, frequent intercourse or kissing, petting, or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life,” says Lee Smith, PhD, an epidemiologist with expertise in physical activity and exercise medicine at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, and a coauthor of the study. “However, among sexually active women frequent kissing petting or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life, but not intercourse,” says Smith. “It therefore appears that sexual intercourse may be more important for men than for women in terms of promoting well-being, whereas women’s enjoyment is more closely linked to other sexual activities.”

Insights Into Future Treatment for Age-Related Sexual Problems

These results could help improve the way that women’s sexual health drugs are developed and measured, says Batur. “In the past, these medications were judged based on how much increased sexual activity resulted from the use of these medications. If there were only one to two additional sexual acts over the course of the month, these medications were considered a failure,” she says.

Considering Desire, Satisfaction, and Future Treatments for Sexual Dysfunction

Studies like this highlight that it is not simply having sex that contributes to fulfillment, says Batur. “Moving forward, medications should look at sexual desire, satisfaction, pain, and other domains of sexuality that are important to women when judging whether potential new medications are helpful. Subjective quality of life benefits for women are probably more important than how often sexual activity occurs after initiation of medication,” says Batur.

The study found that sexual issues, such as difficulty having and maintaining an erection or achieving orgasm, were associated with less life satisfaction. Concerns about lack of desire and frequency of sex also had a negative connection with life enjoyment.

“Health professionals should acknowledge that older adults are not asexual and that a frequent and problem-free sex life in this population is related to better well-being,” said Dr. Smith in a statement. “However, encouragement to try new positions and explore different types of sexual activities is not regularly given to aging populations,” he added.

Making generalizations about either sex is hard to do from the survey results, says Batur. “What we do know is that sexuality is different for each individual and can vary throughout the lifetime for the better or worse, depending on circumstances,” she says. “Each person that we see in the office has their own story of what they are looking for in life and what makes them happy. One key point, on which we can all agree, is that the healthier a person is, the more they are likely to look for fulfilling relationships, including sexual ones,” says Batur.

Promoting overall wellness in later life is a public health priority, said Sarah Jackson, PhD, a senior research associate at the Institute of Epidemiology and Health at University College London in England, and coauthor of the study. “We know that psychological well-being is intricately linked with physical health, and as the population continues to age, the burden on health services increases,” she said in a statement. Encouraging and supporting people to continue to enjoy a healthy sex life in old age could have benefits both for the individual’s health and for the sustainability of health services, said Dr. Jackson.

Complete Article HERE!

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Modern sexuality: 8 terms you need to know in 2018

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By Maya Khamala

Back in the 70s, French philosopher Michel Foucault made the case that sexuality is a social construct used as a way of controlling people. In his History of Sexuality, he explores how Western society’s views on sex have undergone a major shift over the last few centuries. It’s definitely not that transgressive relationships or desires didn’t exist before. What’s relatively new, though, is the idea that our desires reveal some fundamental truth about who we are, along with the idea that we should (or must) seek out and express whatever such truth we may find. By this logic, sex is not just something you do, but the kind of sex you have (or want to be having) becomes a characteristic of your sexuality.

Freedom, or more boxes? 

But even though Foucault (who identified as gay) acknowledged constructed limitations, to him, getting to the highest truth of our sexualities can easily become an obsession, or a trap, and I’m inclined to agree. I mean, how do we actually know when to stop searching and defining? Some believe that grouping sexual identities into increasingly narrow categories can restrict a person’s freedom to express a truly fluid sexuality, and that each newly accepted sexual orientation demands both acceptance and adoption of increasingly specific criteria. There’s the danger, too, that self-definition pressures others to define themselves using the same parameters, whether they would otherwise choose to do so or not. 

Dissatisfaction with “traditional” labels is more than valid, but doesn’t necessarily have to lead to creating new ones. I’m all for the pro-choice approach, personally. Live and let lust: define away, or opt for the anti-identity and refuse to define yourself. Either way, no need to judge others for the path they choose. And reductive or frustrating though constructs may be for some, I personally don’t believe that makes them any less real or useful to others.

Gender: no longer the top determinant? 

One thing is for sure: in the last few decades, society has most definitely been hard at work constructing sexualities. Alongside the “traditional” heterosexual and homosexual orientations, a seemingly endless variety of other options and avenues now exist. Many of these newly created identities (originated in the past decade) reduce the role of gender in establishing sexual attraction, instead focusing on non-gendered attributes (like emotions, intelligence, or style, for example). As modern times and the dating sites that accompany them would have us believe, rather than emphasizing gender as the primary factor at play in determining who a person might be attracted to, many people are able to identify other features that attract them, which may actually overshadow or even supersede gender as the overarching thing.

Consider the following 8 ways of defining sexuality that I have seen floating around in recent times. They barely even scratch the surface in terms of what’s out there, but everything starts with a taste.

1. Asexual 

Being the absolute horn doggess that I am, I’ve tried and failed to wrap my mind around the asexuality thing. But I respect and believe in its existence. This orientation denotes a lack of any sexual attraction, regardless of gender. No matter what their reasons or lack of reasons are, asexuals are neither interested in nor desire any sexual activity. Nonetheless, they may or may not be in an asexual romantic relationship. Asexual is different from celibate- since the latter is about choosing to refrain from sex, despite desire still existing.

2. Demisexual 

This is one of those “entirely unrelated to gender” sexualities I was mentioning. Characterized by the need to develop a strong emotional connection before engaging in sex, demisexuals require a strong emotional bond before they feel capable of getting sexually involved with anyone. An initial attraction will never spring them into action. “Demi,” means half, and so demisexual kinda sorta means “halfway” between sexual and asexual—which is one way of looking at needing an emotional connection to get aroused, I suppose…

3. Sapiosexual 

I see this one a hell of a lot. I dare say it’s trending. If I was more into amassing identities, I’d claim this one too. Of course, intelligence is relative and varied. Sapiosexuals are those who find intelligence (whatever that may be to them) to be the most sexually attractive feature in a person. They become attracted to or aroused by intelligence and its use over other qualities. This may or may not override the preference for a specific gender, depending on the person.

4. Gynosexual 

Gyno what? Have you had your pap smear this year? Just kidding, different use of gyno. Gynosexuals are sexually and/or romantically attracted to anything associated with females, female parts, female identity, women, femininity. Obviously, this can be interpreted in any number of ways, and differs from person to person. Some people who identify this way may care more about gender, or specifically cisgender identity than others.

5. Androsexual 

This one is the sexual or romantic attraction to males, men, masculinity, male parts, male identity, and just like gynosexuality, can differ wildly in its expression from person to person. By some people’s standards, I very likely fit into this category (among others, of course). But other people’s standards hardly matter when expressing your own sexual identity, just remember that. So you might as well cherry-pick as/if you see fit!

6. Bisexual 

Bisexuality is a sexual attraction to both men and women. Basic, and accepted long ago, right? Except bi people happen to deal with a (not) surprising amount of stigma, even (or especially?) in the LGBTQ universe. Apparently being part of the acronym doesn’t equal acceptance. Most of the stigma comes from an unwillingness to “pick sides,” which is exactly the problem (sometimes) with too many definitions. People get judgy and end up replicating the same oppressive bullshit they were trying to define themselves out of.

7. Pansexual 

Some people conflate pansexuality with bisexuality, but they’re different. The former is a sexual attraction to people of any gender—not just men and women. Considered one of the most fluid orientations, pansexuality means feeling sexually attracted to people of any gender, including people who identify as transgendered, transsexual, androgynous, or gender fluid—to name a few. Pansexuality has been more in the spotlight recently, at least in part due to celebrities choosing to identify this way (including Miley Cyrus and Janelle Monae).

8. Skoliosexual 

To be skoliosexual is to be attracted to anyone who isn’t cisgendered. Skoliosexuality refers to sexual attraction to people who identify as non-binary, and apparently does not generally describe an attraction to specific genitalia or birth assignments. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a word for people who are only attracted to binary/cisgendered people, and while I didn’t come up with anything conclusive, controversial opinion would simply call that “transphobic”. 

Now, while I am inclined to believe that I’m attracted to what I’m attracted to, and that there’s not much I can do about it, labels be damned, maybe one real benefit of being able to cherry pick sexualities is that they get us thinking. They even challenging ourselves, sometimes in ways that help us grow and shed unhealthy habits (like being attracted exclusively to assholes, for example—what’s the word for that one?).

Complete Article HERE!

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Embrace And Then Move Past Your Scaring

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Name: NIta
Gender: female
Age: 40
Location: South Africa
I recently had abdominal surgery to remove a cancer. I’m recovering pretty well, and the prognosis for my future is also pretty good. But I am noticing two problems. The surgery left a really big scar. It’s still not fully healed yet, but I can tell it’s always going to be ugly. And my belly is really misshapen now. I felt pretty okay about my body before hand, but this scar really makes me look really unattractive. Also, my sex drive has completely gone away. I used to be a pretty sexual person, but now nothing excites me. Would you say this is normal?

How long ago was your surgery, I wonder? It’s got to be pretty recent, if you say the incision is still healing.

Darlin’, may I suggest that you’ve been through quite a trauma — a cancer diagnosis, recent surgery and all. This would throw anyone for a loop. I’d be willing to guess you’ve not had the proper time to process all of this. It comes as no surprise to me that your libido has gone south. I wouldn’t expect otherwise.

If you’re still healing on the outside, you know for sure your insides have a much longer way to go. You’re probably still feeling some discomfort, right? That’s enough to put the kibosh on sexual interest right there. You’re body is consumed with the job of healing itself. It probably hasn’t any energy to spare for sex. And why have a libido if ya can’t be sexual, right? So you see, your body is actually protecting itself and concentrating on the task at hand.

Maybe at this point in your recovery a little pampering would be better for you than a pursuit of sexual pleasure. Long luxurious baths will help soothe the tension, as well as giving your easy access to your fine pussy. Even folks with no discernable libido find touching themselves enjoyable. And just to keep your head in the game, even though you’re sitting on the sidelines, you could read some erotica or watch some sexy smut.

Some modest exercise like walking or swimming can perk up the libido too. Treat yourself to an erotic massage. Let a pro get his or her hands on you and make you glow. This may also help bring back some of the sensitivity to areas effected by the surgery. One things for sure, doing something is better than doing nothing but sitting there wondering what’s up.

An invasive and disfiguring surgery will always have a profound effect on one’s body image, which goes without saying. Feeling unattractive because of a scar? No doubt about it, it’s a bummer. But consider for a moment that you are here writing to me about it, instead of napping six-feet under. So I guess the scar is not the worst thing that could have happened, right? As you probably know, I hear from a number of my country’s war vets returning home with shattered bodies and lives. My advice to them is what I offer you now. Move through the scar’s impact…with a therapist if need be. And find within yourself the other things that make you beautiful, attractive, alluring and desirable. Who knows, you might luck out and find a scar fetishist out there who will worship you for what you find loathsome.

Embracing and then moving past your scaring will open you to find the myriad pleasures your body can still provide you and others. So while your body works on healing itself, your mind can do likewise. No need to have two scars, on one your belly and another one on your psyche. In the end you may find that flaunting your scar, like some women do with their mastectomy scars, will liberate you from feeling unattractive. After all, that scare and misshapen abdomen are your red badges of courage, honey. Not only do they make you distinct, but also they testify to you being a survivor.

Good luck

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Debunking Common College Sex Myths

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by and

[S]ex is among the most talked-about subjects on college campuses. Yet myths and misconceptions pervade almost every discussion of sexual activity and sexuality, subtly infiltrating the beliefs of even the best-informed people. Sexually inexperienced young people are likely to become confused by the dizzying array of information and opinions that assails them in conversations about sex.

Only by evaluating common sexual myths and the harmful effects they can have are we able to move past ignorance into a healthier understanding of our bodies and ourselves.

Myth 1: The withdrawal method is safe.

The withdrawal method, which is when the penis is pulled out of the vagina before ejaculation, is among the most dangerous and least effective birth control techniques. According to Planned Parenthood, this method is 78 percent effective. Pre-ejaculatory fluid can sometimes contain sperm, which can put a partner at risk of pregnancy. In addition, physical contact and the exchange of fluids can put both partners at risk for sexually transmitted infections. Just because the man has not ejaculated does not mean that the sex is safe.

Moreover, this technique requires very good timing and self-control to be successful.

“It’s just not very reliable to rely on that in the heat of the moment,” said Talia Parker (COL ’20), director of tabling for H*yas for Choice. If the man accidentally ejaculates before pulling out, the woman will be at an even greater risk of pregnancy, have to deal with a sticky cleanup and sex will end without satisfaction. Plan B, emergency birth control, costs more than $50, too. Getting a condom might seem inconvenient or less fun, but it’s worth it to prevent the consequences possible with the pull-out method.

Myth 2: Men just want sex all the time.

One of the most pernicious sex myths is the notion that men only think about sex all the time. This myth would have us believe that the primary motive behind male behavior is lust. But men have many motivations and drives apart from their sexuality. Relationships between men and women do not always have to be about sex, nor should we callously assume that a man’s actions are motivated by the desire to have sex.

The next time we attribute a man’s actions to his desire for sex, we should take a step back and evaluate why we believe that. More often than not, we will find that we have been making gendered assumptions. Moreover, if a person who identifies as a man does want consensual sex, we should accept this and not try to shame him.

Furthermore, we must remember that not all students in college are having sex. Some students may be choosing to abstain for personal or religious reasons, and others, including asexual students, may not be interested.

“Just having a positive attitude about sex is important and not judging other people for their choices as well,” Parker said.

Myth 3: The only way to experience pleasure is through penetration.

In most of our imaginations, sex means one thing: intercourse between a man and a woman with vaginal penetration. But this image is deeply flawed. It neither incorporates the experiences of gay, queer or intersex people nor accurately conveys the whole array of sexual possibilities available to people regardless of preference or gender.

“The arousal period for a woman is almost twice than [that of] a man,” Lovely Olivier (COL ’18), executive co-chair for United Feminists, a student group dedicated to combating influences of sexism and heteronormativity, said. “Oral sex, erotic massage, hand jobs, mutual masturbation, petting and tribbing, to name a few, are all non-penetrative options for you and your partner to consider. Furthermore, non-penetrative foreplay can increase satisfaction in intimacy altogether. Talk with your partner, share what you want and be open to new experiences.”

Myth 4: Protection doesn’t exist on a Jesuit campus.

Throughout the week, H*yas For Choice tables in the middle of Red Square from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., giving out lube, latex condoms, internal condoms and dental dams for free. For some, long-term birth control, like the pill, may be a better solution. Although intrauterine devices do not prevent STI transmission, the Student Health Center hopes to start giving the devices out next month.

Myth 5: Women do not masturbate.

The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior published by the Indiana University School of Public Health found that 24.5 percent of women aged 18 to 24 said they masturbated a few times per month to weekly, compared to 25 percent of men in this range who masturbate a few times per month to weekly. Masturbation can help people achieve pleasure and help individuals in relationships by “finding what is best for you,” Parker said.

Trying sex toys can also allow women to embrace their sexuality and experience their first orgasms.

Complete Article HERE!

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The Reason Most Couples Stop Enjoying Sex

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(And How To Heighten Your Capacity For Pleasure)

Everywhere I go, I hear stories about the challenges professional women are having sexually with their partners. It happens to women between 20 and 70, with kids and without. It’s described in one of a few ways:

  • “I used to like sex, but then we had kids, our careers picked up, and something changed.”
  • “When we do have sex, half the time I’m thinking about my to-do list. I feel relieved when it’s over, because then I can do what I really want to do—like finish my book.”
  • “We feel more like roommates or business partners than lovers.”
  • “I’m worried my libido is broken and there’s something wrong with me.”

The high stakes of intimacy in long-term relationships mixed with the inaccurate beliefs about female sexuality we face from all sides make for a volatile combination. But I’ve seen these issues get resolved. It’s absolutely possible. No matter where it’s coming from, sexual dissatisfaction can be remedied when both people commit to learning a new way to relate intimately. These are the keys to creating mutually fulfilling intimacy that lasts a lifetime.

I see that these patterns can change when couples commit to learning a new way of relating sexually that women enjoy. Here are the keys to successfully moving toward intimacy that’s mutually fulfilling:

1. Normalize your experience.

When intimacy is the issue, it can be very difficult to discuss openly. Often, we feel alone and don’t realize that sexual struggles in long-term relationships are not just normal, but they happen to the majority of couples at one time or another. Having discussed these issues with countless female clients who believe that they are to blame for their unhappiness, I realized that we just tend to place blame on ourselves. The truth is that there’s nothing wrong with you. Your libido is not broken. You’re not alone and this IS fixable.

2. Clearly articulate your need for change.

One of the biggest mistakes I see otherwise straightforward women make is downplaying their sexual distress to their partner. Many of us believe our male partners don’t care about our sexual fulfillment, or that enjoying sex isn’t worth the tension it would place on your relationship to bring up what isn’t working. Don’t let this stop you from getting what you need.

I have almost as many male clients as female ones, and they all want the same thing when it comes to sex: a partner who is turned on, happy, and enjoying themselves. Regardless of gender or relationship style, if sex only works for one partner in the relationship, then the sex isn’t working.

Have you clearly articulated to your partner that you aren’t sexually satisfied and that you need something to change? If not, your chances of fulfillment are slim. Blaming yourself doesn’t make anything better; taking responsibility for dealing with it as a team does. Get in the habit of talking with your partner regularly about what’s working for you and what isn’t.

3. Stop following a script.

We seem to all have been given the same misinformation about how sex should go: It starts with kissing and ends with intercourse. We’ve also been taught that happy couples have sex once per [day, week, month, insert stereotype here]. We’ve learned that sex is over when the man reaches orgasm. But I’m here to tell you that every single one of these statements is not only false but harmful.

The truth is that when couples drop expectations about sex and adopt a new approach—one that makes both parties’ genuine fulfillment a prerequisite rather than a bonus—women’s genuine fulfillment (which includes much more than having orgasms)—it supports deeper intimacy and can make a woman’s libido more active than it ever was before. Learn more about how to enter a new, infinitely satisfying paradigm here.

4. Recognize that orgasms are not sex’s raison d’être.

Orgasms are wonderful, but in truth, our fixation on them keeps our sex lives from becoming extraordinary. Let’s get real: If orgasms were all it took for radical fulfillment, far more of us would feel fulfilled. We wouldn’t even need relationships to make that happen. But we know it’s not the same. Self-pleasure is healthy, and may temporarily alleviate feelings of exhaustion or anxiety, but it doesn’t provide us with the connection or intimacy that partnered sex can.

5. Seriously, get rid of the script—before you even start the first act.

You’ll see a night-and-day difference in your sexual encounters if you let go of expectations before either of you starts getting hot and bothered. Nothing hinders women’s enjoyment of sex more than feeling pressured in bed. It’s almost impossible for us to enjoy ourselves if we’re worried about expectations about how or how much we are. Instead of feeling the pleasure, we get stuck wondering whether we’re doing it right or whether our partner is satisfied. Tossing expectation out the window is the most reliable way to start having fantastic sex immediately.

6. Touch each other for the sake of touching—with no apprehension or expectation about where it might lead.

Physical contact is essential for sexual fulfillment. But when sex isn’t working, we often avoid touching each other. I encourage couples to touch each other frequently and in a wide variety of ways—foot massages, hand-holding, and everything in between. But, by the same token, I encourage couples to stop tolerating touch they don’t like or want.

Tolerating touch leads to sexual shutdown—the person being touched isn’t enjoying themselves but won’t say it; the person doing the touching knows something is wrong but isn’t being told how to fix it. It creates distance rather than fostering intimacy. The solution is to have physical contact with zero expectations. When pressure and expectations are lifted, touch becomes an exploration of sensation and connection rather than a race to orgasm or “those same three moves.”

7. Don’t look at sex as a means to achieve any goal other than giving and receiving pleasure for pleasure’s sake.

Goals are great for business plans and exercise regimens, but they have the opposite effect on sex. Few of us have ever touched our partner without trying to achieve a goal. We use our touch to prove we’re a good lover, to make peace in the relationship, or to bring our partner to climax. How would we touch each other if we weren’t trying to achieve anything except to connect and explore each other’s bodies? Given an open-ended approach to sex that is full of touch and free of pressure, both desire for and enjoyment of sex will grow exponentially.

8. Learn what you like, and allow yourself to receive it.

Desire is vital to fulfillment. When we lose touch with that inner spark, our sex lives fall flat. Ask yourself the question, “What do I want?” 10 times a day. Seriously. And get very good at answering it. Desire is the first step. Only then can we receive it. It may sound simple, but I see women struggle sexually for years because they don’t know how to receive the help, love, and touch their partner wants to give. It takes as much work to receive as to give—sometimes more.

Practice receiving by focusing on the enjoyment of what you’re experiencing. Sink into the warm embrace of a hug. Delight in the smell of your favorite baked good. Relax as your partner touches you. Think less; feel more.

9. Practice, practice, practice.

Yes, even great sex requires practice. Create habits that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. I encourage all couples I work with to develop a habit of sexual research—open-ended sessions where couples explore new ways to connect without pressure. Like any new habit, allowing yourself to feel more pleasure and connection takes practice.

10. If it seems helpful, get professional coaching.

If you don’t feel like you can do it alone, don’t. There’s nothing to be ashamed of except not using every tool at your disposal to create the relationship you want. Get the support of a coach whose philosophy inspires you.

11. Be patient with yourself and with your partner.

Sexual connection is deeply personal and one of the most vulnerable elements of our identities. Don’t be discouraged if you, your partner, or your sex life doesn’t change as quickly as you’d hoped. People transform in different ways, through different means, over different periods of time. In seeking long-lasting change, favor paradigm shifts over quick fixes. Stick with it and be patient with each other.

Complete Article HERE!

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Writing Graphic Sex Scenes Can Be a Feminist Act

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‘We don’t put enough value on female pleasure in our culture’

By Stef Penney

[W]hy is there explicit sex in my new book? Because I’m a feminist.

Under A Pole Star, my third book, is a novel about late 19th century arctic explorers that features, alongside ice, ambition and rivalry, more than one sexual relationship. And there’s a lot of detail. My central characters fall in love, and yes, they have a lot of sex. I was nervous about how the passages would be received. One Amazon reviewer has already complained about “copious quantities of copulation.” The specter of the Literary Review’s Bad Sex Award, given annually to authors of “poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction,” hovers over us all, tittering. Some judge writing explicitly about sex to be less than literary — or worse, discrediting of female characters. But why should achieving romantic and sexual satisfaction — one of the most difficult challenges we face as humans — be redacted or blurred?

There’s a problem with leaving “it” up to the reader’s imagination: Every reader will fill your tasteful ellipsis with something different — possibly with unachievable fantasy, with prejudices, with bad experience, with pornography. I wasn’t going to do that to my characters. I felt I owed it to readers to treat the characters’ intimacy with the same precision and seriousness I would any other intense human experience.

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I’ve read too much bad sex in otherwise good books: bizarre, metaphorical sex; coy, breathless sex; baffling, what-just-happened-there sex; most of all, phallocentric, male-experience-dominated sex. Too often, in sex scenes between a man and a woman, the woman’s sensations are barely mentioned, as if her experience is incomprehensible or irrelevant. It’s important to ask why this is — and the fact that a lot of those writers are male is not a satisfactory answer. We don’t put enough value on female pleasure in our culture. The way we write about sex only exacerbates that problem.

In my quest for knowledge and precedent, I sought out scientific research, erotic poetry and literature. I trawled the Internet as much as I could bear. I wanted to dissect the composition of sex scenes — and waded through many, many passages that didn’t come close to answering essential questions: Did she climax? Has this man heard of a clitoris? What were they using for contraception? Some uncovered even more questions about our culture’s perception of female sexuality: Did men in D.H. Lawrence’s time really accuse women of “withholding” their orgasms, as happens to Lady Chatterley? Because that’s absurd.

There’s so much ignorance, confusion and frustration out there. Delving into sex forums online, I was shocked by the prevalence of questions from women like, “How do I know if I’m having an orgasm?” The fact that so much confusion prevails is no surprise: studies have found that more men orgasm more frequently than women and 40% of women have sexual dysfunction, which can make it difficult to achieve climax. One study found that 80% of women fake orgasms.

The more I read, the more I realized how important it would be for me to write my scenes in steamy, awkward, mutual and real graphic detail. I wanted to write about a sexual relationship in a way that convinced me and reflected what I know to be true about female sexuality — that it’s complicated, beautiful and worth equal attention. So I included accounts of great sex, horrible sex, indifferent sex, sex that just doesn’t work despite both partners’ best intentions — and I showed how and why they were different.

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I wanted to create a story that honored the sexual biographies of both partners from both points of view, that showed how they reach the point where they come together and why their relationship is the way it is. And while we’re on the subject of coming together, simultaneous orgasm was one myth I encountered over and over again in my research that was never going to get an outing here.

When my friends began to read my book and wanted to talk about it, I learned things I’d never known about them, and I became more forthright in turn. We tumbled through a flood of questions. Why had we never talked about our sexual pleasure in explicit detail before? Why did we not achieve good, orgasmic sex until our mid-twenties, or later? Why were we too ignorant, too embarrassed to ask? Why did we expect so little in bed?

One reason, we all agreed, was that we’d had to learn about good sex through trial and error, because that behavior wasn’t modeled for us in a healthy, explicit way.

We need to be able to talk, teach, learn, write and read about sex, honestly and seriously, without — or in spite of — derision and censure. Unless we share specifics, we’ll never understand one another’s experiences. You can’t support women’s empowerment without frank and open discussion of their sexuality.

Complete Article HERE!

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How many times do women need to explain that penetration isn’t everything before everyone gets it?

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[T]his week, sex therapist Dr Janet Hall advised MamaMia of a catchy new term for sex that doesn’t just involve placing a penis inside a vagina and wriggling it about.

‘Introducing outercourse’, said MamaMia, explaining that ‘outercourse’ counts ‘kissing, massaging, using vibrators, touching erogenous zones, clitoral stimulation, oral sex or toe-sucking. Basically, everything else that might come with sex, but isn’t penetration.’

They go on to note that outercourse shouldn’t be thought of as foreplay, as it’s not an add-on to sex, but something that’s absolutely essential to female pleasure.

Which is all true, and incredibly important to point out.

The issue is that ‘outercourse’ has been picked up and spread around the internet as a catchy new sex trend, as if it’s an easy ‘trick’ to get women off.

Which is a bit irritating really, because women have been saying over and over that we need more than just a poke with a penis to enjoy sex.

So why is the world still not getting it? Why is the revelation that the penis isn’t a magic orgasm stick still being treated as truly shocking news?

The ‘penetration is everything’ idea has been f***ing over women who have sex with men for ages. Women are being left unsatisfied or putting up with painful sex, because we’re taught that foreplay is just build-up to the main event – and the main event is all about the man getting off.

There’s an orgasm gender gap as a result (straight women have been shown to have the fewest orgasms out of everyone else having sex), and an oral sex gender gap, proving that the importance of non-penetrative sex is huge.

There’s a load of reasons men and women expect that five minutes of foreplay is enough before popping a penis into a vagina.

Think of sex scenes in films, which go from ripping each others’ clothes off to the woman gasping as she’s penetrated in a matter of seconds.

Think of sex education, which mentions that the penis becomes erect before penetrating vagina, but rarely makes any reference to the process the vagina needs to go through before being penetration-ready – because our sex education focuses more on sex for the purposes of reproduction (for which a female orgasm isn’t essential) rather than sexual pleasure.

Think of porn, which will more often show bow jobs than a man going down on a woman, which shows fingering as sharp-nailed fingers sliding in and out as the woman writhes around in ecstasy, which shows women reaching orgasm within seconds of a dildo or dick entering her.

We’re taught about foreplay as an afterthought, as a ‘nice to have’ instead of a ‘need to have’.

And it’s women who are missing out as a result.

A recent study from OMGyes found that just 18% of women can orgasm from penetration alone (again, this isn’t surprising or new. Countless other studies have found similar results), and that 36% of women need clitoral stimulation to have a chance of climaxing.

Rushing through the non-intercourse bits of sex is leaving women unsatisfied and pressured into faking orgasms – because they’ve been taught that they’re supposed to be able to come from a few quick pumps of a penis, and feel like they’re failing, or there’s something wrong with them, if they don’t.

None of this should be news. We’ve known for decades that the clitoris is hugely important, and women have reported for decades that they feel more pleasure through oral or manual stimulation than penetrative sex.

And yet, penetration is still held up as the be all and end all. We still place value on the idea of losing ones virginity as having penetrative sex, ignoring that for many women who have sex with women, this definition would make them virgins after multiple sexual partners.

Sex is not just penis in vagina. Foreplay is not an optional add-on. Sex is oral, and touching, and sucking, and all the other stuff that gives us pleasure.

If you’re bothered about women’s pleasure, sex needs to involve things other than penetration for much, much longer than a half-hearted five minutes. Foreplay shouldn’t just be a chunk before the good stuff – for many women, it is the good stuff, the bit where they’re actually likely to have an orgasm.

Touching the clitoris orally or with your fingers, kissing, caressing. It’s incredibly difficult for a woman to even get wet without that stuff, let alone have any chance of achieving orgasm.

We need to stop viewing an erection as the start of sex and ejaculation as the end. If a woman is not aroused, if she’s not experienced genuine pleasure, sex isn’t done – and the only way to get that done is the stuff that isn’t penetration, because your penis, shockingly enough, is not uniquely gifted to give orgasms.

Basically, if you’re not doing the stuff that isn’t penetration, you’re not doing sex.

Listen to women. Value our pleasure. Stop viewing our bodies as mysterious, otherworldly things that can’t be understood when we keep shouting exactly what we want (decent oral, clitoral stimulation, more of the stuff that isn’t penetration).

If you’re confused, ask women what they want. Then give it to them for an adequate chunk of time – not as a starter for sex, but as an essential part of the entire experience.

Complete Article HERE!

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Here Are The Best Places In The World To Take A Sex Vacation

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By Bobby Box

[W]eather, affordability and sight-seeing and shopping opportunities are all definitive factors when planning a vacation, but have you ever considered the level of a city’s sex-positiveness? . undefined

If you’re on the hunt for a sex-fuelled sabbatical and need some direction, you’re in luck. Adult mobile app portfolio Lazeeva has put in a ton of work and consulted an assemblage of permissable research to determine which cities around the world are the most “sex-positive,” which Lazeeva describes as “having or promoting an open, tolerant, or progressive attitude towards sex.”

To quantify how sexual a city is, Lazeeva’s team began by researching 10 critical factors in over 200 cities from around the world. These components include: gender equality, LGBT friendliness, access to contraception, swinger-friendliness, adult entertainment, porn consumption, sex toy consumption, sexual satisfaction, willingness to experiment and sexual activeness.

To quantify how sexual a city is, Lazeeva’s team began by researching 10 critical factors in over 200 cities from around the world. These components include: gender equality, LGBT friendliness, access to contraception, swinger-friendliness, adult entertainment, porn consumption, sex toy consumption, sexual satisfaction, willingness to experiment and sexual activeness.

After attributing a rank for each category, Lazeeva used in-house data and combined it with research from the UN, the World Bank, as well as various listings in each city for sex and sexual health resources available for swingers, LGBTQ groups and charities, to give a comprehensive and decidedly fair score to each city studied. They then crafted a near-encyclopedic ranking of the 100 most sex positive cities worth the stamp in your passport. We’ve narrowed it down to the top 10.

The most sex-positive city in the world is–drum roll, please…–Paris, France! Which proved to be exceptionally sexually-active and gay-friendly. The city of love also boasts quite a thriving swingers scene.

In a very close second comes Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which received top scores in sexual activeness and willingness to experiment. However, their paltry score in gender equality brought the overall average down significantly.

London, England came third, thanks, in great part, to their thriving adult entertainment scene and praiseworthy scores in LGBT friendliness.

The first American entry is none other than Los Angeles, USA, ranking fourth overall. The porn capital recieved top scored in–you guessed it–porn consumption, as well as very imposing scores in its willingness to experiment sexaully. We should add that both Playboy HQ and the Playboy Mansion are located here and, in case you couldn’t tell, we love us some sex.

If you like to swing, you might want to book a trip to Berlin, Germany, which ranks fifth. In addition to a prosperous swingers scene, they also received soaring scores in adult entertainment. But be warned: Berlin has horrible access to contraception. So bring rubbers.

New York City comes sixth. The Big Apple was impressive across the board, but boasted exceptionally high scores in porn and remarkably low scores in gender equality, which evened themselves out.

In seventh comes Sao Paulo, Brazil, who earned the highest possible score in sex toy consumption and a commendable score in their willingness to experiment. No doubt a winning combination for the sexually dauntless.

Vegas, baby! Coming in eighth overall, sin city proved prolific in–duh–adult entertainment and–double duh–its swingers score.

Ibiza, Spain, is known to be a party place, so it makes perfect sense that they’re sexually progressive. That is, if you’re a man. Gender equality in Ibiza, however, proved upsetting.

Bookending the top 10 is one I’m willing many of us predicted would be higher on the list. This is, of course, Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Surprising, considering the city is host to the world’s only (legal) Red Light District and lax laws around drug use.

Understandably, if you didn’t want to book a nine-hour flight in the interest of sexual exploits, a number of American cities broke the top 10, most of which are located across the map, making them a fun little road trip. These sex-positive American cities include: San Francisco (11th), Miami (14th), Austin (19th), Chicago (25th), Seattle (35th), Portland (36th) and Boston (49th).

To see the full list of sex-positive cities, click here.

Complete Article HERE!

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The Ingredients of a Healthy, Non-Sexual Intimate Relationship

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It takes one part communication and one part vulnerability.

by

[S]ex is everywhere these days. Unfortunately, we often let our relationships get clouded by sexual intimacy. Sometimes being physically intimate with another person blurs our vision of how we truly feel about that individual.

Believe it or not, but you can actually make your partner want you even more in a relationship by abstaining from sex. So what does a healthy, intimate relationship, without sex look like? I have just the recipe for you.

Honest conversations

Being able to have honest, open conversations, while maintaining eye contact and enjoying what the other person has to say is essential in creating and maintaining relationship intimacy. Once the beginning stages of that overpowering attractiveness dies down, you want to be able to carry on a conversation with the person you are with. Being vulnerable in your conversations will create a deeper intimacy as you learn to trust one another. Opening up and sharing your hopes, fears, and dreams helps intimacy develop and grow as both parties learn to trust one another more and more.

Enjoying each other’s company

If you can be comfortable together in sweatpants watching TV, or going to a black tie work function, you’re on the right track to a healthy, intimate relationship. It doesn’t really matter what you are doing together if you just enjoy being with one another. Focused one-on-one attention is a key ingredient in an intimate relationship and it must be fostered. Intimate moments can occur as you spend time together, having fun, talking, and building your relationship, but they do require intentionality to happen.

Both parties are themselves

Truly knowing the person you are with is one of the pillars in building intimacy in a relationship. While being able to be yourself will also be an important factor in your experiencing intimacy in your relationship. When you like the other person for who they are, and you feel loved and accepted just as you are, you are on the path to true intimacy.

Being a safe space

Being a comfort for your partner, whether they need to vent from a bad day or just want someone to talk to, is a sign of intimacy. When you are the one they seek out to provide that comfort, they know you are a safe place for them. You can increase intimacy even more by learning how to best comfort your partner in these situations. Learn how they want you to respond when they are upset, frustrated, or sad–listen, advise, console, hold …

Share what you like about one another

Providing positive affirmation and telling your partner specific things you like or love about them builds intimacy. It’s easy to assume that your partner knows why you like or love them, but sharing these specifics helps build closeness. Tell them you love their sense of humor or how much they care about family values. Through these interactions, we can grow a more secure emotional connection.

Think about your expectations about what intimacy in a healthy relationship looks like. Intimacy in a relationship means a deep closeness, affection, and acceptance. It’s essentially feeling comfortable and safe being completely vulnerable and real.

Make sure you don’t have a twisted view of intimacy as just being constant deep talks or long walks on the beach–because a healthy intimate relationship is so much more. A true healthy relationship is being with someone you care greatly for and are able to have open, honest communication about anything.

Complete Article HERE!

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A new study quantifies straight women’s “orgasm gap”—and explains how to overcome it

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By Leah Fessler

[E]ver faked an orgasm? Or just had orgasm-less sex? If you’re a woman—especially if you’re straight—your answer is probably “Ugh.” Followed by “Yes.”

Not reaching orgasm during sex is, obviously, a real bummer. Not only does it make the sex itself unfulfilling, but can lead to envy, annoyance, and regret. Thoughts like “Stop grinning you idiot, your moves were not like Jagger!” and “I didn’t ask him to go down on me…does that mean I’m not actually a feminist?” come to mind. It’s exhausting.

Traditional western culture hasn’t focused on female pleasure—society tells women not to embrace their sexuality, or ask for what they want. As a result many men (and women) don’t know what women like. Meanwhile, orgasming from penetrative sex alone is, for many women, really hard.

Many studies have shown that men, in general, have more orgasms than women—a concept known as the orgasm gap. But a new study published Feb. 17 in Archives of Sexual Behavior went beyond gender, exploring the orgasm gap between people of different sexualities in the US. The results don’t dismantle the orgasm gap, but they do alter it.

Among the approximately 52,600 people surveyed, 26,000 identified as heterosexual men; 450 as gay men; 550 as bisexual men; 24,00 as heterosexual women; 350 as lesbian women; and 1,100 as bisexual women. Notably, the vast majority of participants were white—meaning the sample size does not exactly represent the US population.

The researchers asked participants how often they reached orgasm during sex in the past month. They also asked how often participants gave and received oral sex, how they communicated about sex (including asking for what they want, praising their partner, giving and receiving feedback), and what sexual activities they tried (including new sexual positions, anal stimulation, using a vibrator, wearing lingerie, etc).

Men orgasmed more than women, and straight men orgasmed more than anyone else: 95% of the time. Gay men orgasmed 89% of the time, and bisexual men orgasmed 89% of the time. But hold the eye-roll: While straight and bisexual women orgasmed only 65% and 66% of the time, respectively, lesbian women orgasmed a solid 86% of the time.

These data suggest, contrary to unfounded biological and evolutionary explanations for women’s lower orgasmic potential, women actually can orgasm just as much as men. So, how do we crush the orgasm gap once and for all?

According to the study, the women who orgasmed most frequently in this study had a lot in common. They:

  • more frequently received oral sex
  • had sex for a longer duration of time
  • asked their partners for what they wanted
  • praised their partners
  • called and/or emailed to tease their partners about doing something sexual
  • wore sexy lingerie
  • tried new sexual positions
  • incorporated anal stimulation
  • acted out fantasies
  • incorporated sexy talk
  • expressed love during sex

And regardless of sexuality, the women most likely to have orgasmed in their last sexual encounter reported that particular encounter went beyond vaginal sex, incorporating deep kissing, manual genital stimulation, and/or oral sex.

The study’s authors noted that “lesbian women are in a better position to understand how different behaviors feel for their partner (e.g., stimulating the clitoris) and how these sensations build toward orgasm,” and that these women may be more likely to hold social norms of “equity in orgasm occurrence, including a ‘turn-taking’ culture.”

That might be true. But the study is pretty clear on the fact that anyone in a relationship of any kind can increase their partner’s orgasm frequency—and that it depends on caring about your partner’s pleasure enough to ask about what they want, enact those desires, and be receptive to feedback. Such communicative techniques—whether implemented by straight, gay, bisexual, or lesbian people—are what stimulate orgasm.

 Complete Article HERE!

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How your sex life can be improved with mindfulness

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Being more present with each other can lead to better sex, therapists say

 

By Olivia Blair

People have turned to mindfulness to make them happier, less stressed and even more able to deal with their mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression – but could it improve your sex life too?

Being mindful essentially means being present and aware of both yourself and your surroundings. The brain is trained to deal with negative and anxious or depressive thoughts through breathing and meditation exercises all stemming in part from ancient Buddhist philosophy.

While therapists are increasingly using it as part of their individual counselling, sex and relationship therapists have also adopted the advice.

“In its broad terms, mindfulness means focusing on the present moment so with couples, because they are often so distracted, stressed and over-committed, it can lead to lots of couples’ mind being elsewhere. A classic complaint is that a partner is distracted,” Krystal Woodbridge, a psychosexual therapist and a trustee of the college of relationship and sexual therapists says. “Mindfulness can mean you are really present with your partner and actually experiencing them in the moment and really paying attention to them.”

This in turn can then lead to better sex – because when partners really feel like they are being listened to, focused on and paid attention to is when better trust is going to be built so they are more likely to be intimate with someone.

“Really being in the moment, noticing their partners body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and what is actually being said is hard to do but it is being present,” Woodbridge says. “… It builds rapport. It you don’t have rapport, you don’t have trust. If you don’t have trust you are not going to be intimate with that person as you are not going to allow yourself tp be vulnerable with them.”

When clients put mindfulness into practice with each other, even if it is a struggle because they are so used to being distracted, it often has a “massive impact on their relationship and sex lives”, Woodbridge says.

Additionally, if someone is struggling with an issue in their sex life such as a performance issue like impotence or the inability to orgasm, mindfulness can also help in this aspect.

“In a sexual scenario what can happen is ‘spectatoring’, which is when a person is not paying attention to arousal or enjoyment and are instead observing and over-analysing themselves fearing the worst. If it is an erectile problem they will be hoping it does not fail or will feel anxious about whether their partner is enjoying it,” Woodbridge explains. “Spectatoring is often quite self-fulfilling so the person might not be able to maintain their erection, will experience sexual pain or they will just feel completely unconfident so they get into a horrible cycle.”

Sex therapists will therefore instruct the client to be mindful and to notice how they are feeling, even if that feeling is anxiety. Once they are aware they feel anxious or nervous they can focus on bringing the mind back to the physical feelings, such as arousal, and divert their focus to this instead.

“Mindfulness gets the person to notice when they are ‘spectatoring’, notice that they are distracted and not focusing on their arousal and physical sensations. It is hard in that moment as the person is anxious but if you don’t the mind will wander and go elsewhere,” Ms Woodbridge explains.

Ammanda Major, a trained sex therapist and head of service quality and clinical practice at Relate told The Independent they regularly introduce mindfulness to their sex therapy sessions for couples.

“We use mindfulness in sex therapy to help people experience more pleasure by being able to relax and stay focused and present in the moment.  Mindfulness can also benefit our relationships as a whole by relieving stress, building intimacy and enhancing inner peace. This in turn allows us to have more positive interactions with our partners,” she said.

She says couples can try mindfulness exercises at home, such as the following:

Individually: 

“Set some time aside every day to focus on your breathing. It doesn’t have to be long to begin with – maybe start with just five minutes a day and work your way up to 20. 

A good way to start is on your own with no distractions.  Close your eyes, relax and start to become aware of how you’re breathing. Breathe in slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat this and gradually become aware of sensations in your body. Recognise and welcome them and then allow those thoughts to drift away to be replaced with other feelings as they arise. Notice what you’re experiencing and feeling. The aim is to let go: rather than reject intrusive thoughts, just let them drift away.”

With a partner:

“Once you’ve practised the breathing exercise a few times on your own, why not with your partner?  Sit facing and look into each other’s eyes.  Breathe slowly in through your nose and exhale through your mouth as before but this time synchronise your breathing.  Do this for several minutes – it may feel a little strange at first but stick with it and it can have powerful results, increasing feelings of relaxation and intimacy.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Five things that everyone should know about sex

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The internet has changed sex and relationships forever. So if your education in the subject stopped at 16, here’s a refresher for the modern world

sex-education

 

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[W]hat was your sex education like? Did you get any at all past the age of 16? Given that only a quarter to a third of young people have sex before they are 16, but most will have had sex at least once by the age of 19, it seems remiss not to provide high-quality sex education for the 16-25 age range (especially since that is the age group most at risk of contracting STIs such as chlamydia).

Unfortunately, sex education hasn’t moved on much from puberty, plumbing and prevention, and is often reported as being too little, too late and too biological. In the new internet world order where porn and internet hook-ups prevail, and the use of dating apps by perpetrators of sexual violence was reported last week to have increased sharply, it is time we provided sex and relationships education fit for the 21st century, to help us to enjoy our bodies safely.

So if you missed out on quality sex education, or could do with a top-up, here are five things relating to sex and relationships you might want to think about:

1. Sexuality – We live in a heteronormative world, where gender binary and heterosexual norms prevail. Fixed ideas about sexual identity and sexuality can be limiting. We all need to understand sex as something more than a penis in a vagina and recognise that sex with all sorts of different body parts (or objects) in all sorts of wonderful configurations can be had. That’s not to say you have to experience kinds of sex outside your own comfort levels and boundaries. Be aware of how media, cultural background, gender and power dynamics influence sexuality. Monogamous heterosexuality does not have to be your path.

2) Consent – what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like. Enthusiastic consent should be a baseline expectation, not an aspiration. Without enthusiastic consent then sex is no fun (and quite feasibly rape). If consent is in any doubt at all, you need to stop and check in with your partner. You might even want to think about introducing safe words into your sexual interactions and ensuring you and your partner are confident using them.

‘Taking time to challenge and explore ideas around pleasure will help with your sex education.’
‘Taking time to challenge and explore ideas around pleasure will help with your sex education.’

3) Pleasure – sex can be one of the most awesomely fun things you do with your body. All sorts of things can affect your ability to give and receive pleasure, including your upbringing, self-confidence, physical and mental health, and communication skills. If sex isn’t pleasurable and fun for you, what needs to change? It is worth noting that male pleasure is generally prioritised over female pleasure. Consider, for example, when you would consider a penis-in-vagina sexual interaction to be finished – at male orgasm or female orgasm?

Taking time to challenge and explore ideas around pleasure as well as deepening your understanding of your own body (in other words, masturbation) will help with your sex education. Always remember, you don’t have to have sex if you don’t want to.

4) Health and wellbeing – Love your body and know what is normal for you. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. There are all sorts of pressures on us to make our bodies look a certain way, but take some time to appreciate the non-photoshopped, non-pornified variation in our bodies. Your shape and size (of penis, or breasts) do not matter – sex can be the best jigsaw puzzle, and genuine confidence in your body can help you figure out how to use it as an instrument for pleasure.

Knowing what is normal for you is also really important. There are women who continually get treated for thrush bacterial vaginosis and cystitis because they do not understand vaginal flora and the natural discharge variation in their monthly cycle. Nobody told them that having a wee shortly after sex is a good idea.

5) Safety – We are often taught to override our gut feelings. This sometimes stems from childhood, when adults have ignored our bodily autonomy. However it is vital we remember to tune into our gut instincts, especially given the rise in internet dating and internet dating-related crime. Being aware of your own personal safety and sexual boundaries when internet dating is essential.

Remember that no matter how you have been socialised, you do not need to be polite to someone who is making you feel uncomfortable. No is a complete sentence. If someone does not respect your right to bodily autonomy and violates your consent, it is never your fault; the blame lies entirely with them. Always trust your “spidey” sense – if it is tingling, it is trying to tell you something isn’t right, be that a relationship with unhealthy elements, or plans to meet up for a blind date. If a situation doesn’t feel right, think about what needs to change.

Complete Article HERE!

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