There are a load of health benefits related to not drinking – even if you just ditch the booze for one month.
But for many of us, health and a lack of hangovers just isn’t enough to make us reject a G&T.
So here’s another reason to do Dry January, no matter how ‘boring’ your terrible mates may call you: not drinking can seriously improve your sex life.
And no, that’s not just in the whole ‘being really present in the moment’ way. Sobriety can significantly improve the physical side of sex.
If you’ve ever experienced drooping after drinking, you’ll know that the curse of whiskey dick is a very real thing. Drinking booze can cause struggles to get and maintain an erection, both immediately after downing beer and in the longterm, after regular drinking.
Ditch the booze, and it’s easier to get an erection and last longer in bed. Simple.
What’s less discussed than whiskey dick is whiskey clit.
Studies have shown that women are more likely to orgasm when they’re completely sober, and their likelihood of orgasm decreases the more drunk they get.
That’s because booze reduces your physical sensitivity. Think about the last time you were hammered and fell over, only to pop right up again without any pain – then remember the extent of the bruises the next day. Just as you don’t feel as much pain when you’re drunk, it’s also harder to feel pleasure… and you need that for sexy stuff.
‘Drinking alcohol to excess can make having good sex difficult,’ Annabelle Knight, sex and relationships expert at Lovehoney, tells Metro.co.uk. ‘This is because alcohol reduces both men’s and women’s sexual sensitivity.
‘In both sexes, sexual response is reduced by regular and prolonged drinking.
‘In men, alcohol can cause difficulties getting and maintaining an erection – while women may experience reduced lubrication, find it harder to have an orgasm, or have orgasms that are less intense.’
Ah, yes, the curse of cotton vagina. As well as a lower likelihood of orgasm, you might also struggle to get aroused in the first place when you’re boozing it up. Release your vagina from the influence of booze, and you get ready of the hazy numbness that’s holding you back from getting properly lubricated and ready to party.
Then there’s the impact of Dry January on the morning after.
‘Drinking alcohol can lead to riskier sexual conduct,’ notes Annabelle. ‘Studies show that people who have drunk alcohol are less likely to use protection, particularly condoms, because alcohol lowers your inhibitions.
It’s hard to look back on a night of passion fondly when you’ve followed it up with a panic about pregnancy and STIs. Go alcohol-free and you’ll be fully conscious and able to have sex responsibly, leaving you free of worries and able to enjoy that bone session to its full potential.
Drunken you may also choose sexual partners you might not actually be that keen on.
It stands to reason, then, that doing Dry January will ensure you’re choosing the right sexual partners, – people you actually properly fancy (yep, even when sober) – making sexual decisions you’re comfortable with, and having sex that you genuinely enjoy and don’t regret the next day.
Then there are the indirect effects of abandoning alcohol for a month.
‘It’s likely that giving booze a break for a month will improve your sex life,’ Adam Lewis, CEO and co-founder of Hot Octopuss, tells us. ‘Cutting out alcohol may improve your quality of sleep and overall physical health, leaving you feeling well rested and more energetic – which is likely to increase your libido.’
You’ll be astounded to know that downing pints of beer or rum and Cokes isn’t particularly healthy. Cut it out and you’ll see health benefits, which will in turn improve your sex life.
Your energy will increase, your mood will improve (remember how alcohol is a depressant?), and even your digestion could get better. Being more energetic, happier, and free of stomach upsets – all of those sound like things that’d make you more keen for sex and more likely to enjoy it.
Plus, Dry January means no hangovers, which opens up the glorious world of morning sex. Imagine starting your Sunday with multiple orgasms rather than hugging the toilet and vowing to never be tempted by tequila shots again.
Think of Dry January as a fun experiment: Go a month without booze and just see how you feel.
To fill the evenings newly free of pub trips and club nights, have sex – which handily makes you question why you ever thought stumbling around a sticky nightclub floor would be more fun than cosying up and trying out a new vibrator.
At the end of the month, you can always go back to boozing. But you might find you don’t want to. It’s entirely your choice (isn’t that great?), and you can do your own research on the benefits by having as much sex as possible sober. Fun.
So many people question if animals can be gay, and the answer is, of course.
Every LGBT+ person will cringe upon hearing that their lifestyle is a “choice.” Unfortunately, people around the world still firmly believe that.
For those who believe that homosexuality is a result of being “brainwashed” by society, they should turn their attention to homosexuality in nature.
Indeed, there are bisexual and homosexual members of the animal kingdom beyond mere humans. (And we’re pretty sure that the sheep weren’t ‘turned gay’ from watching ‘gay agenda’ on television.)
Homosexuality in nature
From birds to mammals and reptiles, homosexuality is present in all kinds of animals who are able to have sexual intercourse.
These bisexual and gay animals include penguins, lions, bats, birds, dolphins, elephants and much more.
Join us as we go through some animals that are out and proud.
Bisexual and gay animals
Penguins are known to mate for life, and they certainly are romantic specifies as they are often in monogamous pairings. Indeed, a penguin is probably more faithful than your ex.
And among these monogamous couples, there are many same-sex couples among penguins.
These gay animal couples will often even adopt their own baby chick, either by caring for an abandoned penguin or by kidnapping one from another couple.
Homosexuality among penguins has actually been known for some time. It was discovered and hidden from the public in 1911 as it was deemed ‘too shocking’. The information was then released over 100 years later in 2012.
George Murray Levick had the privilege of observing a wild colony of Adélies penguins at Cape Adare during 1911-1912. There, he described the “astonishing depravity” of “hooligan males” as they had homosexual intercourse, which was highly controversial during the time (apparently even among penguins), as well as conducting in necrophilia and forcefully entering female penguins.
From bonobo apes to snow monkeys and orangutans, there are countless reports of homosexual activities within the primate kingdom.
All bonobos are bisexual species, and other kinds of primates show various homosexual behaviour, found in both zoos and the wild.
3) Black swans
An estimated one-quarter of all black swans are in gay couples.
The same-sex pair of black swans often steals nests from the female so they can raise the chick. Equally, they often form threesomes (or thruples) with the female in order to do this.
The bird couple spent “18 happy gay years together” before Henry left Thomas for a female swan.
Then, after Thomas got over his heartbreak, he joined them to make the threesome a thruple.
Homosexuality is also present in lizards in a rather unique way.
Certain species of whiptail lizards are exclusively female, and the females are able to reproduce from the ovum without the fertilization of a male.
In order to stimulate ovulation, female lizards engage in homosexual behaviour.
Geckos are also known to shown homosexual behaviour in a non-reproductive manner.
You’ve probably heard that dolphins are among the few animals that have sex for pleasure.
It’s therefore not that surprising that the adorable sea creatures get involved in some saucy acts of love.
There have been reports of dolphins having same-sex group sex, with spottings of the Amazon river dolphin forming bands with up to five bisexual dolphins.
Without regard to gender, dolphins are observed having non-reproductive sex, rubbing each other’s genitals and using their blowhole, anus, penis, snouts, vagina and flippers.
At Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, two male griffon vultures named Dashik and Yehuda were somewhat of a couple.
The bisexual vultures hit headlines in 1998 when they were often seen having “open and energetic sex.”
Not only that, the couple even raised a chick together. Zookeepers had provided the couple with an artificial egg which the birds had looked after through incubation. Once it was time to hatch, zookeepers put in a baby vulture.
They each moved on to have female partners, leaving their wonderful, gay animal romance behind.
African and Asian elephants will engage in homosexual animal relationships, and males will engage in homosexual intercourse.
There are reports of affectionate same-sex interactions beyond mere sex. Elephants virtually hold hands by intertwining their trunks, groom and kiss.
The same-sex companionships may last for several years and are apparent in both sexes.
From oral sex to homosexual masturbation and intercourse, various bat species often engage in homosexual behaviour, even cross-species with different kinds of bats forming homosexual animal relationships.
Such behaviour has been observed in both wildlife and in captivity.
There are many reports of gay lion pairings within the wild. Males are observed engaging in homosexual intimate behaviour.
However, exclusively female relationships are rare with most reports of lesbian activity within captivity rather than the wild.
Gay sex is very common among various kinds of insects. Scientists found that 85 percent of male insects engage in homosexuality in nature.
This means that billions of bugs around the world are having gay sex each year.
You’ve probably heard of this highly publicised study by Oregon Health and Science University in 2003.
While most members of the animal kingdom swap between male and female partners, domestic rams are unique in that they can be completely gay, with 8-to-10 per cent of sheep exclusively homosexual.
A similar percentage of sheep also appear to be asexual, however, many believe that a large part of them could be lesbian sheep who do not have the physical capacity to show their lust given their structure as female sheep simply stand still regardless of whether they want intimacy or not.
However, instead of just letting these sheep be, heterosexual reproductive sex is considered so important in agriculture that experiments were conducted on the gay sheep to attempt to “cure” their homosexuality by altering their hormone levels in the brain.
The reality is that the discoveries from these sheep, along with other members of the animal kingdom, suggests that homosexuality in nature is indeed biological, despite what many homophobic people may argue.
Not to mention, of course, what we see and know from human beings. Surely, what we observe in society and throughout history should be enough? But that combined with the amazing facts about the animal kingdom tips the scales.
There is homosexuality in nature all around the world, whether people like it or not. These are just a few animals that we listed. No doubt, there are hundreds upon hundreds more.
Here’s some straight talk about the value of “the talk.”
Fathers who talk with their teenage sons about condom use can help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies, researchers say.
Condoms are the only contraceptive method that can prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Yet, recent U.S. government data showed that condom use among teens steadily declined over the last decade.
And as condom use dropped, the number of sexually transmitted infections increased, researchers found. In 2017, the number of STIs reached an all-time high for the fourth year in a row, with teens and young adults accounting for about half of the cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Two out of three new HIV infections in young people are among black and Hispanic males, and more than 200,000 births a year are to teens and young adults, the study authors noted.
For the new study, researchers interviewed 25 black and Hispanic fathers and sons (aged 15 to 19) from New York City. The research was led by Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, a professor at New York University and a nurse practitioner specializing in adolescent sexual and reproductive health at the Adolescent AIDS Program of Montefiore Medical Center, in New York City.
The interviews made it clear that fathers talking to their sons about using condoms consistently and correctly is not only possible, but acceptable. The sons said they wanted their dads to tell them how to use condoms and problems with them, such as breakage and slippage, as well as incorrect use.
Fathers also saw these conversations as a way to improve their own condom use, the study authors said.
The findings showed that communicating about condom use can be a powerful way to help prevent teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, the researchers concluded.
“Helping fathers teach their sons about the consistent and correct use of condoms by addressing common communication barriers — and focusing specifically on strategies to avoid condom use errors and problems — is a promising and novel mechanism to increase the use of male condoms and to reduce unplanned pregnancies, STIs, and sexual reproductive health disparities among adolescent males,” the study authors said in a New York University news release.
The report was published online Dec. 17 in the journal Pediatrics.
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.
“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.
“If you had a question about sex, where would you go?” I ask my 12-year-old daughter, Orla. She doesn’t look up from her phone. “I’d ask online,” she deadpans. “then delete my browser history.”
“You wouldn’t come to me?” I venture, worried, hurt, amused and (a tiny part) relieved. “Mum, if I asked you about sex, I’d then have to imagine you having sex and that would be traumatic for me,” is the answer I get back.
So … on the face of it, perhaps I’ve failed in the “how to talk about sex to your daughters” section of parenting, especially if, compared to the likes of Emma Thompson, who not so long ago appeared on a podcast to discuss the “sex handbook” she wrote for her daughter when Gaia was only 10 (she’s now 18).
In it, Thompson called sex “shavoom” and pornography “the Kingdom of Ick”. (“If anyone does anything, says anything, implies anything, shows anything or suggests anything that makes you feel ick, move away, get away, say no thank you. Or even just no without the thank you,” reads part of Thompson’s mother-daughter guide.)
As parents, we all know that talking about sex to our children is part of the job. And, with the Government’s updated sex education curriculum delayed by another year – it will become compulsory in schools from September 2020 – we also know it’s more urgent than it’s ever been. Hardcore porn is ubiquitous.
Studies suggest that parents tend to underestimate the extent of their own child’s exposure, but it’s safe to assume that, years before they’ve reached “first base”, boys in particular will have seen images which could create a horribly warped picture of consent, pleasure, health and safety. Add into that the “superbug” STDs, online grooming, the fact that “safe sexting” is now a thing (that’s taking care to cut your face and home from your body shots), and we’ve got our work cut out for us.
All this I know – and yet, the longer I’m a parent, the harder it has become. My daughters are 19, 17 and 12 and the recent study from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, which found that parents talk about sex to their firstborns, then get progressively worse with the rest, rings horribly true. There’s the awkwardness, of course. (I have a friend who’ll happily tell strangers about her dress-up games and spontaneous encounters yet has never managed to talk about sex to her own kids. She thought it would be a breeze, but was shocked to find it mortifying.) But it isn’t just that. I’ve seen how quickly the “issue s” change, how easy it is to fall hopelessly behind. When my youngest pointed to an 11-year-old who was “pansexual”, I couldn’t recall what it even meant. Went home, Googled it, still don’t know.
On top of that, the older I get, the more uncertain I’ve become. I’m more aware than ever how much sex education is really personal opinion. While leading “sexperts” tend to offer reassuring, accepting messages about what’s normal, I feel loathe to repeat them. I vividly recall telling my oldest daughter, aged about 13 at the time, that certain acts commonly found in pornography, such as anal sex, were less common in real life and extremely unlikely to feel good for a girl.
Her 11-year-old sister hovered in the doorway soaking up the message, too. Now, the repeat phrase in the “anal sex” section of one lead sex education website, is “lube and patience”. Which message is more helpful? When it comes to guiding my daughters around the physical acts, probably I “could do better”. But I think, I hope, that where it matters most, I’ve done okay.
Alice Hoyle, relationships and sex advisor with Durex’s sex education arm Durex Do, believes in shifting the emphasis away from practical topics towards a more emotional open-ended approach. This should cover how young people feel about themselves, how society makes them feel, what they want from a relationship and how to communicate that.
“Understanding consent starts really early, age appropriately,” says Hoyle, who also has three daughters, the eldest now eight. “I was watching two-year-olds in a nursery recently, one girl patting the other on her face. The adult in charge was asking the girl to look at the other’s body language. Was she smiling? Did she look cross? Might she want her to stop?
At home, with party games, tickling, whatever, we have the standard family rule – unless everyone’s having fun, it stops. Sometimes, this can be a real challenge. I was doing nit treatment on my daughter’s hair the other day. She had the ‘No Means No’, the good strong body language, the hand up …”
Playground politics are another link to power dynamics, ethical behaviour, what you can and can’t accept. I’ve always encouraged my daughters to tell me everything when it comes to friends and frenemies (I’m fascinated anyway). After school, at bedtime, in the kitchen, in the car, we’ve always talked.
I’ve tried to help them listen to their gut instincts – what feels fun, what feels uncomfortable – and find their own strategies to deal with tricky situations. Sometimes I’ve suggested they walk away and find people who treat them better. This led one daughter to make an entirely new gang of mates, aged nine, and never look back.
If you’re in touch with their highs and lows and talk about your own experiences at their age, then you’ve laid the basics for building healthy relationships and made it easier for them to open up to you. Hoyle keeps lines open with mother-daughter diaries – notebooks where they write messages to one another. On their Jenga set, she has written sentences on each brick which you can complete when you put one in place. “I feel happy when …” or “I feel cross when …” She also recommends Sussed, a family conversation game her children love.
Porn is something you have to address. I’ve taken the “it’s make believe” line, like watching Superman jump from buildings – don’t expect similar results if you try it at home. It’s that tricky business of sounding a warning without appearing so out of date, they disregard you.
“In the past, sex education has been criticised for being too negative,” says Hoyle, “for not looking at pleasure. That has got better, but there’s a lot of talk among young women that sex positivity has been mis-sold to them. They’ve done things to please men and not themselves.
“You can’t avoid talking about porn, but it’s a tricky one. People use it for pleasure or even sex education, but the sex it portrays is often very male focused and you can’t know if the women in it were abused or trafficked.”
All of the above has been discussed in our household and pretty much anything can open the door: a selfie; a song lyric (Blurred Lines’ I know You Want It, Meghan Trainor’s All About ww.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2014/sep/01/pops-weighty-issue-all-about-that-bass-body-positive-anthems” data-link-name=”in body link”>That Bass); the Cristiano Ronaldo rape allegations (one daughter has a poster of him above her bed); Love Island (the politics of hair removal and breast augmentation); Love Actually (porn, stalking, cheating … so many issues, where to start?)
Janey Downshire, counsellor and co-author of Teenagers Translated (and another mother of three daughters) believes all these conversations are more crucial than “what goes where”.
“When you’re a teenager, your identity, your sense of who you’d like to be and what’s possible, is a work in progress,” she says. “As parents, we need to help them see all the choices, to think as widely as they can. Most important is that you help your daughter put a high value on herself – to know she’s pretty special.”
Parent coach Judy Reith agrees. “A parent’s job is to help her daughter believe she deserves to have a fantastic relationship with someone,” she says. “Don’t just criticise when her behaviour worries you. Show her great qualities and always praise praise praise when she swims against the tide.”
Perhaps most important is the example you set. “The truth is girls growing up watch their mums like hawks,” says Reith. “If you’re insecure about the way you look, always on a diet, if you don’t expect to be treated well yourself, then that’s the message you send them. If you’re confident, and home is a safe zone where you’re happy to slob around, no makeup and greasy hair, that’s not a bad thing.” (In this department, I’ve excelled.)
So far my eldest girls look like they’re entering adulthood as wise, strong and sorted as any mother could wish them to be. When Orla quipped that taking her sex questions to me was too traumatic, I suggested she ask her oldest sister instead. She’s an adult now after all – and the more safe adults girls have in their lives the better. I have to admit, it felt good to delegate.
When a couple finds themselves in a sexual rut, it can be hard to even pinpoint what got them there in the first place, let alone figure out a way to climb out. Oftentimes it’s a series of accumulated factors that have contributed to a slower or stagnant intimate life—a particularly time-consuming project at work, paired with the kids just entering a challenging new grade level, plus residual tension between the two partners after a recent argument, and then add in any health trouble that might be making physical touch difficult.
One other potentially major exacerbating factor? Mental health.
Depression can lower a person’s libido, both as a symptom of the chemical imbalances present in a depressed person’s brain and as a side effect of certain kinds of treatment. But additionally, a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships suggests there might be another explanation for how depression can disrupt a couple’s sex life: a phenomenon that researchers call interference, which refers to the small but consistent ways being in a relationship can affect someone’s daily life.
“Interference focuses on the ways partners can disrupt day-to-day routines and individual goals. It happens because our relationships have interdependence—our lives overlap with our partners’ lives,” Amy Delaney, Ph.D., a Millikin University assistant communication professor and lead author of the study, tells mbg. “The example I always give my students is my husband putting his socks on the floor instead of in the laundry basket (which is right there). Because our lives are interdependent, when he doesn’t get his laundry in the basket, he’s interfering with my goal of not having dirty socks on the floor.”
Past research has posited that relationship turbulence is triggered by two qualities: relational uncertainty (that is, the degree to which each party feels confident or uncertain about the status of the relationship and each person’s investment in it) and interference from a partner.
All this in mind, Dr. Delaney surveyed 106 different-sex couples where one or both people in the relationship had been diagnosed with depression, asking them about their depressive symptoms, their sexual intimacy challenges, their levels of relational uncertainty, and the ways each partner interfered with the other’s daily life. Her findings? People with more depressive symptoms also tended to report more relational uncertainty and increased perceptions of interference. But it was the latter—perceiving interference from a partner—that predicted sexual intimacy challenges.
In other words, even just one partner’s depression was associated with both partners feeling like their lives were being disrupted by the other person, and feeling this interference was associated with more stress on the couple’s sex life.
“For couples with depression, interference could really damage partners’ connection,” Dr. Delaney explains. “First of all, interference means that couples are having trouble coordinating routines and goals. If two partners aren’t working well together to accomplish their day-to-day goals, they probably won’t feel very connected in a way that allows them to connect sexually. Second, the relational turbulence model says that interference prompts negative emotions, like frustration. If, for example, one partner is dealing with a lot of interference because their spouse won’t take their medication, doesn’t clean up their dishes, and keeps bailing on plans for date night, that is likely to cause some frustration! And if frustration is added to the already negative emotional climate of depression, partners probably have lots of barriers to creating a positive emotionally and physically intimate connection.”
Interestingly, this effect was particularly significant for men with depression: Men with more depressive symptoms perceived more interference, as did their partners. Dr. Delaney’s theory posited in the paper: “Perhaps men notice goal blockages when they are cognitively and emotionally taxed by depression, whereas women perceive interference when their partners are limited by depressive symptoms.”
So why is this all important? Dr. Delaney believes these results highlight the relational effects of depression and the relational causes of intimacy challenges.
“Lots of existing research really dismisses sex problems as either a symptom of the depression or a side effect of treatment,” she says. These two things can definitely be true, but her findings suggest the qualities of the relationship itself can also be important contributing factors. “Sex problems aren’t just a lack of interest or difficulties with physical function; they’re more nuanced than that.”
If you and your partner are currently in a sexual slump and one or both of you struggle with mental health difficulties, it might be worth it for each of you to consider how your behaviors, habits, and lifestyle might be affecting the other’s day-to-day life and energy. The effects of mental health difficulties, particularly depression, will not be solved over the course of one conversation, but just opening up that dialogue can be a good way to begin working toward improving your life together and minimizing the feelings of tension, disruption, and discordance between you.
“Approach rather than avoid,” writes sex therapist Jessa Zimmerman at mbg. “I recommend that you come from a positive place, making it clear that you’re interested in creating your best possible relationship. Express how you’ve been feeling about the cycle you’re in and specifically acknowledge your own contribution, in thought and in deed, to keeping the two of you stuck.”
Difficulties in the bedroom can indeed be one step in a frustrating cycle—life’s struggles lead to less sexual energy and less sex, less sex can create turbulence in your relationship, and relationship turbulence just adds to more overall struggles, and then the cycle just spirals on and on. Having a healthy and satisfying sex life, on the other hand, can actually improve your mental health and your overall relationship well-being. That’s an equal and opposite kind of cycle, one with so many ongoing positive benefits that it’s certainly worth trying to set it in motion.
The sex tech industry is booming and you’re the last one to know. How do you feel about that? If I were you, I’d feel lame as hell. So, why not do something about it? They’re all gonna laugh at you either way. At least you’ll be having back-to-back orgasms while the nay-sayers snicker behind your back.
Our beloved gods of good sex have bestowed upon us a myriad of perverted pleasure products that pique every nook and cranny of our depraved interests. It’s time we took advantage of that. In today’s world, it’s possible to find a male sex toy that can do just about anything you can imagine. In fact, some manufacturers still know how to surprise me, believe it or not.
As John James, the Sex Toy Expert, I know all about sex tech and the products that have come out of its catacombs in the last few years. I’ve made it my life’s mission to “stay on top” of every sex toy I possibly could (pun most definitely intended). The results haven’t always been pretty but they’ve almost always been fun.
What Is Sex Tech?
I’m a gentleman and a scholar but even I don’t know the actual definition of “sex tech”. My best guess is that is has something to do with sex toys and technology. As far as I’m concerned, they can fuck off with their technical jargon. For our purposes, the term “sex tech” refers to any sex toy or arousal product that utilizes some form of technology in its design, features and/or functionality. Got it?
What Kind of Toys Are We Talking about Here?
One of the first questions I get when introducing someone to sex tech is, “So, what kinds of toys use technology like that?” I suppose it’s because most people only know about the traditional stuff, having little to no experience with the world of luxury brands and tech-savvy features. That’s okay though, because ole J.J. is here to help.
First of all, there are 5 main types of male sex toys that generally have a techie component or two. Know them and find your way to some of the best orgasms you’ve ever had. Ignore them and keep beating your meat like your granddad.
Known for their durability and simplicity, handheld masturbators allow for manual manipulation of your penis and a fully customizable experience for you and/or your lover. Often made with pre-programmed speed or intensity settings and graced with the ability to connect via Bluetooth or internet for a real-time sex session, today’s masturbator isn’t the simple pocket pussy of yesteryear.
Automatic Blowjob Machines
Once I tried an auto-blow device for the first time I started to wonder why the sex toy industry even bothered making anything else. These things are amazing and I’ll tell you why: Not only do they feel almost exactly like a real deep-throat knob-job but they also work without manual manipulation and can (sometimes) link up to other devices. While some masturbators do that too, only automatic blowjob machines simulate the kind of shameless, enthusiastic head you have to pay good money for.
FUN FACT: Many masturbators and auto-blow machine models come with orifices and/or skin-like sleeves that have been molded after famous porn stars.
If you want to get REAL nasty, go for a humanoid torso that has tech-friendly features like touch-sensitive controls, sync-motion, vibration and Bluetooth connectivity. Among the most high-tech (and most expensive) male sex toys on the market, torsos are also among the most realistic in terms of visuals and can sometimes be have their hyper-humanistic skins and canals warmed.
There are a lot of p-spot stimulation toys out there that are designed with high-tech features and pleasure-seeking settings. Although usually not as futuristic as the auto-blow machines or the torsos, prostate and perineum massagers come in all shapes and sizes from beginner to pro. The higher-end models can be synced to Bluetooth, smart phone apps or other toys for an interactive or long-distance party.
A staple of the modern-day bedroom in my humble opinion, the cock ring is a must-have for any contemporary pervert with something to prove. A good high-tech cock ring can be controlled via wireless remote or smart phone app, plus it’s generally rechargeable and waterproof. Made for discreet guys who like safe restriction and convenient kink, well-made cock rings with high-tech features bring out the animal in any man.
The Final Verdict
Doesn’t it feel so much better to be “in the know” about male sex tech and the options that currently flood the market? I know I feel much better having schooled you on what’s up. If variety is the spice of life, then an existence without several high-tech sex toys must be an extremely bland one. I, for one, have better taste than that.
After the shimmery dresses come off and the Champagne hangover comes on, you may find yourself looking at your “resolutions” as a means to doubt how amazing you are. So, I’m going to cut to the chase: You’re beautiful and amazing and your weight, your clothes, and your skincare routine don’t need to change. But if you’re feeling stuck in a sexy rut, manifesting some New Year’s resolutions for exploring your sexuality in 2019, can be a fun and empowering way to feel more in tune with your body.
At it’s best New Year’s can be an empowering time to set intentions for the future and cultivate gratitude for the past. Taking a moment to focus on all you’ve made it through in the past year can propel you take the next 12 months head on. Whether you’re single, dating, or on a self-inflicted six month vow of celibacy, exploring your own sexuality can be a cool way to learn about your body, it can also be really fun. Of course, when trying new things, you may find out the stuff you’re not into. And if something’s not floating your sexual boat, you never need to push your boundaries, no matter the month.
Here are nine resolutions aimed at feeling in tune with your sexy side in 2019.
1 I will take time to day dream about what I want.
Sometimes we don’t even know what we’re into because we’ve never thought enough about it. Take some time to fanaticize and daydream about your desires. Think about what makes you feel sexy, and ways you can bring those feelings into the bedroom.
2 I will get it on with myself.
Knowing what physically feels good for your body may mean some self-discovery. Taking time to touch different parts of yourself, in sexual and non-sexual ways can be a great way to sense how and where you like to be touched.
3 I will not be ashamed to read or watch sexual media.
There’s no shame in reading about sexuality, erotica, or even wanting to watch sexual material. If you have questions, urges, or know some things that pique your interest, reading articles or watching videos can be informative and sexy.
4 I will journal.
Journaling about the best sex you’ve had or things you want to try can help you remember what has worked in the past. Having yourself literally sit and write can be a structured way to really dig into your sexy side while strengthening your ability to articulate your desires.
5 I will talk about sex.
Opening up a dialogue with the people you’re sleeping with or even with friends you feel comfy sharing with can be a great way to understand other people’s perspectives and feel validated in your desires. Hearing that others have shared your experiences or desires, even swapping tips and advice can make you feel less alone, and give you some sexy inspiration.
6 I want to take some (healthy) risks.
If you’ve always wanted to go to a bar by yourself, or try having sex wearing a blindfold, the New Year can be a time to roll the dice (within reason.) Of course, your well-being is the most important thing and if something is way out of your comfort-zone or kinda dangerous, there’s no need to feel pressure to perform. But if there’s something fun you’ve always wanted to try, like a new move or a new naughty night club, Jan. 1 may give you the boost you need.
7 I will do more of what feels good.
There is nothing wrong with having a plan or knowing what works. If you’ve found what works for you, it’s also awesome to continue to do that. Routine doesn’t need to be boring. Knowing what makes your sex good and enjoyable sex and doing more of that, is a great way to go into the new year.
8 I will pump myself up.
Your biggest cheerleader should be yourself. Whether it’s looking at your body in the mirror and saying positive affirmations to singing Cardi B songs or spending a little more money on a haircut, doing more of what makes you feel sexy, and puts you in the mood is a great way to explore your body and sexuality.
9 I will cut myself some serious slack.
If you’ve farted during sex, if you’ve tried to sexy talk and ended up laughing, if you’ve set up a sex swing and landed butt first on the floor — you don’t need to feel ashamed. It’s OK for sex to be funny, for it to be awkward, silly, or gooey and romantic. You don’t need to be a ballerina sex-kitten with grace, perfect hair, and no bodily functions. Remembering you cut yourself some slack in the streets and in the sheets can keep you feeling strong and good about trying new things and feeling what works.
As we look to the New Year, may we relinquish all the bad dates, idiot people, and terrible sex we dealt with in the past 12 months. Having empowering resolutions about exploring your body and your sexuality can help when manifesting our future plans. Feeling yourself and knowing what you’re into can really help the New Year come in with a bang.
I’ll admit it: I was known to doodle in the back of chem class, and I dipped out of physics whenever I could. Simply put, science has never been my thing — except, however, when it involves the dating realm. With each study that’s released, I eagerly read the findings, hoping that I may glean some wisdom from other couples’ lives that may impact mine. And what science discovered about sex & relationships in 2018 is nothing short of groundbreaking. The insightful research conducted this year can not only help us understand what behaviors, traits and qualities make for more successful relationships and healthier sex lives, but also which ones could be detrimental.
As they say, knowledge is power. Here are some of the most profound findings science offered up in the realm of dating, relationships, and sex over 2018.
The more you think your partner depends on your relationship, the less likely you are to break up with them.
There are many reasons why someone might put off a breakup, despite feeling unhappy in a relationship. According to a pair of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2018, people often avoid breakups when they feel like it may take a toll on their SO because the relationship is very important to them. In fact, the more dependent on the relationship people perceived their partner to be, the less likely they were to initiate a breakup.
It makes total sense when you think about it: No one wants to hurt someone who has played an important role in their lives, and obviously, breaking off a bond that matters to them will likely be hurtful.
Problematic Facebook use is linked to relationship anxiety.
It all comes down to your attachment style. People with high attachment anxiety agree with statements such as “I am afraid that I will lose my partner’s love.” And the study revealed that attachment anxiety was associated with comparing oneself to others, oversharing personal information about oneself, and creating a false impression of oneself while using Facebook. Moreover, these people were more likely to use the social network at the expense of other activities. Meanwhile, people with high attachment avoidance agree with statements such as “I get uncomfortable when my partner wants to be very close.” And those people were more likely to use Facebook to create a false impression of oneself as well. Not only that, but researchers discovered that the link between attachment insecurity and these Facebook behaviors was even stronger among people with low self-esteem.
Sharing the dishwashing duties can improve relationship satisfaction.
No one loves vacuuming or taking out the trash. But as it turns out, of every possible chore, washing the dishes causes the most conflict in relationships — only, of course, when the responsibility is mainly left to one partner. A report from the Council of Contemporary Families revealed that when women are often left to clean all the dishes, they tended to argue more with their partner and reported lower sexual satisfaction compared to those who had a partner who helped out.
Ultimately, the study showed that sharing all household chores can improve a relationship. Fortunately, the study also revealed that men have taken on more household chores over the past several decades: in fact, they perform twice as much housework on a weekly basis than they did in 1965.
Relationship gains is a real thing.
It’s long been speculated that there’s a link between one’s relationship status and their weight — and this was confirmed by a recent study conducted at the University of Queensland in Australia. Researchers found that couples in happy relationships weighed an average of 13 pounds more than single people, and that they experienced an average weight gain of four pounds per year. Could it possibly be because once you’re comfortable in a relationship, your self-confidence soars, so you’re less concerned with obsessing over the scale (hooray!)? It’s unclear why this happens, but it’s worth noting that there’s really nothing wrong with it, as long as you’re physically healthy — in fact, note that the study specified it’s happy couples who experience this weight gain.
And here’s another tidbit of good news: The study also found that people in relationships tend to have healthier habits overall than single people, including eating less fast food, and consuming more fruits and veggies.
Feeling obligated to work after office hours can hurt your relationship.
“Let me just make sure that client hasn’t responded,” you think to yourself while anxiously checking your email before you and bae have dinner. Apparently, while this kind of behavior may make you look good to your boss, it can be detrimental to your relationship. New research published in Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings found that being expected to monitor work emails around the clock can take a toll on your mental health and overall well-being. People who felt obligated to check emails outside of traditional office hours reported higher levels of anxiety. Remarkably, that seemed to have a spillover effect, as those people’s partners reported not only decreased well-being but also lower relationship satisfaction.
“Phubbing” is associated with relationship dissatisfaction.
It’s no secret that nowadays, people may ignore their SO while they’re in their presence to use their smartphone instead. Just take a look around next time you’re out to eat, and notice how many people on dates are checking their email or scoping their Instagram feeds. According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, this phone snubbing behavior — deemed “phubbing” — actually increases the likelihood of relationship dissatisfaction. How? Phubbing seems to create emotional distance between partners, which then obviously takes a toll on their bond.
The study’s authors concluded that phubbing “violates fundamental human needs” and ultimately results in “negative communication outcomes.”
Talking about sex with friends can boost your sexual well-being.
If watching Sex and the City feels downright autobiographical, you and your besties may be doing something right: A new study published in the International Journal of Sexual Health revealed that discussing sex with friends is associated with greater overall sexual well-being for women.
According to the study, when women had supportive female pals who offered up encouraging or positive advice or feedback, they were more likely to confront a partner to ask for a change in their sex life. They were also more likely to ask their SO if they’d been tested for STDs.
On-again, off-again relationships can negatively impact mental health.
From fictional couples like Rachel and Ross to real-life ones like Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick, we’re all familiar with the on-again, off-again relationship. And as you may have suspected, science has shown that these relationships aren’t exactly healthy. A study published in Family Relations in August 2018 found that the uncertainty that results from breaking up and reuniting over and over again is linked to a higher risk of mental health issues. Both straight and gay couples who engage in these kinds of relationships were more likely to experience depression and anxiety.
It’s not the first time science has shown that some surprising things take priority over getting some, either. One previous survey by Max Borges Agency showed that shopping on Amazon is more important to many millennials than sex.
The more you know, eh? Next time you’re looking to boost your dating or sex IQ, look to science for some seriously thought-provoking knowledge. We may not have all the answers yet, but at the very least, we’re getting a little wiser to what works — and what doesn’t.
After having cancer, a person’s sensitivities to touch, intimacy, and physical activities like sex, can be complicated. The things you wanted before may be different now.
I will not claim to have been a crazy sex kitten before cancer because I was not. My husband and I were a normal married couple of 15 plus years with 4 kids. While we did not have wild sex nightly, we were active and I certainly was not self conscious. I am not going to beat around any bushes here – this post is about trying desperately to get back what was robbed from so many us after cancer: sex.
If you have read anything I write, you know that I am not a doctor, rocket scientist or even a pharmacist so that is not where I am going here. I want to talk mental and why this is such a sexual mind fuck. I hope you don’t mind my use of the phrase, but that’s just the best way I can put it.
1. It’s hard to feel sexy after cancer.
My husband loves me, supports me and cherishes me like the princess I am. Tells me I am gorgeous, even hot. He does not care a freaking damn about my scars or how much weight cancer has made me gain. Why do I have a problem feeling sexy as he touches me? In my head I wonder how can he feel that way when I can not even stand to see myself. I do not even want to touch myself, why on earth would he want to? What does he find beautiful in these extra 15 pounds of scared ragged doll? I just do not see it. I am self conscious as he touches me- even pulling away because I am afraid that if he touches my scars (and there are many) he will realize how ugly and broken I am. I am nervous that he will realize that under the clothes I really am what I see: a mess. Not the women he has created in his eyes. I want to keep my tank-top on and not show him what I see in the mirror. How can he feel sexy when I look like this? Better yet, how can I feel sexy? I want this part of me back.
2. Cancer stole my sex drive.
I should fall his arms and be thrilled to have sex with my adoring husband…but I have no drive. None. I cannot even feel his hand under my shirt. I have no idea what part of my breast he is touching and it makes me mad. I try hard to push that anger aside and focus on how it used to feel but I want to cry. Tears of sadness and anger mixed together while I should be feeling lust and desire to be with the man I love so much. FUCK YOU, cancer. You did this to me and took my sense of feeling along with everything else. My nipples are gone too. Now I am a clean slate with no erotic zone- it makes me feel empty and for lack of creative terms: plain.
3. It hurts like hell.
Now I am honest to a fault, I had a little filter once but cancer broke it right off. When you mess with a women’s hormone’s you then take not just her desire but her lubrication. Vaginal dryness is a HUGE factor. The pain of sex is massive – like grabbing the sheets, “OMG when is this over” type of pain. Yes we have tried different gels but the issue is that you have check and make sure they are safe – some contain estrogen in them, which is a no no. So, now on top of all of the mental pain, there is physical pain too. I know what you are thinking reading this, “there are other things to do”. Tell me would you want to do any of it after everything I just wrote? He does not want to hurt me so I mask the pain and push through. I miss orgasms so terribly bad. This is not something I lost with old age – I am 43 not 93. Cancer took this from me too. We need to be discussing this with our doctors to get help, don’t you think? But talking to them can be embarrassing and make you feel even more broken. It is a vicious cycle.
4. Sometimes I hate being touched.
Wanting human touch is in our DNA but after all the poking, testing, prodding and surgeries, it almost makes me flinch now. At doctors appointments I feel like I am in a straight jacket and I need out of this body that I now have to live in. Every time I am touched it reminds me that I am in it with no way to get out.
I miss the touch so bad yet at the same time I hate it because I can not feel it. I want to shove my husband’s hand away like he is violating me which makes no sense but all the sense in the world. To see him touch me but not feel it is mentally painful. And to tell him breaks his heart and mine. This part is just not fair.
Learning how to embrace this body is new and figuring out how to adjust is a challenge. It takes adults years to be self confident right? So how can we expect someone who just went through all this shit cancer gives us to adjust to this body over night? Cancer happens fast. After the treatment, surgeries, and the dust settles you are left staring in the mirror trying to understand this new you. There seems to be lack of support on how to proceed and cope with the aftermath. All the while your spouse just wants to get their groove back, wanting you to “get over it”. It is not as easy as sexy lingerie (and for the record that is HARD to find) and high heels. It is about getting outside your own head and grasping the reality of where you are now, who you are now and how you feel in this new changed body.
I just want to straighten my tiara, get into bed, have my husband hold me and feel it. Is that too much to ask?
Frank Kameny, the last century’s greatest gay-rights activist, filed the first-ever Supreme Court petition challenging discrimination against homosexuals. He led some of the first gay-rights demonstrations. He was the first openly gay congressional candidate. He spearheaded the challenge to the psychiatric establishment’s categorization of homosexuality as a mental illness. He fought tirelessly against sodomy laws. He did a lot more than that. But there is one thing he never did—at least to my own recollection and that of associates of his whom I consulted. He did not use the term LGBTQ, or any of its variations.
This is partly because he was a creature of his era, born in the 1920s and active in an age when the whole argot was different. But he lived until 2011, well into the age of LGBTQ. He had plenty of time to make peace with the term, but his friends say he abjured it. “My recollection is LGBT or its derivatives were expressly disliked by Frank,” one of them told me. “He would use gay to cover the full range; or gay and lesbian.” Another said: “Frank was quite indignant about the alphabet soup. When it started in the ’80s with gay and lesbian, he correctly predicted that there would be no end of it.”
Kameny especially prized, among his many accomplishments, his slogan “Gay is good!”—a proud claim that homosexuals are heterosexuals’ moral as well as legal equals. He wasn’t excluding anyone by using the word gay. He didn’t mean that gay is good but lesbian, bisexual, and transgender are not. He believed he was fighting for the values that define all Americans—the values he had fought for in combat during World War II. Gay rights, to him, meant American rights. Human rights.
A generation younger than Kameny, I came of age accustomed to the phrase gay and lesbian. Later, when LGBT arrived, it seemed cumbersome and artificial, but its inclusive aspirations struck me as honorable. So I learned to live with it.
In the past couple of years, however, I have come to believe, at long last, that Kameny was right. The alphabet-soup designation for sexual minorities has become a synecdoche for the excesses of identity politics—excesses that have helped empower the likes of Donald Trump. It’s time to retire the term and find a replacement. I propose a single letter: Q.
Like a lot of historical wrong turns, LGBTQ means well. As gay people fought the stereotype of brokenness, homosexual came to be seen as clinical and pathologizing. Gay, by contrast, had a long linguistic history and no pseudoscientific baggage. In Kameny’s heyday and my youth, that seemed just fine. But the male and female homosexual populations differed in some ways, and so gay became gendered to complement lesbian. By the early 1990s, when some of us founded a group for homosexual journalists, we didn’t think twice about calling it the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.
Meanwhile, as recognition grew that trans people faced discrimination and ignorance comparable to what homosexuals endured, the addition of T made gradual inroads. By 2007, when gay-rights advocates decided to make their support for a federal antidiscrimination bill conditional on the inclusion of protections for transgender people, it was clear that the gay-and-lesbian and trans movements had become politically joined at the hip; including the T made undeniable sense. Bisexual people, concerned that their issues would be overlooked, also sought acknowledgment, and their initial was stapled in too.
And so the unwieldy four-letter acronym reigned. It had its advantages. It signaled factional inclusion to those inside the movement, and factional solidarity to those outside the movement. In that sense, it was good politics and good symbolism. But it wasn’t stable. Factionalism rarely is. As activists and theorists sought to cover every base, they recognized asexuality and intersexuality and various other identities by coining LGBTQIAA+, LGBTTIQQ2SA, and other telescoping designations. Lately LGBTQ seems to have become the norm, on the assumption that Q, for queer, can stand in for all the rest.
To some extent, the very artificiality and awkwardness of the acronymic acrobatics speak to their ecumenical aspirations. Unlike designations popularized by oppressors (Negro, Oriental) or based on national or ethnic particularism (Italian, Jew, wasp), LGBTQ is pointedly coalitional and inclusive, and we chose it ourselves. In that respect, its intended message is admirable. But it carries an unintended message as well: an embrace of the identity politics and group separatism that have soured millions of Americans on progressivism and egalitarianism.
Once activists started listing identities and groups, they realized that anyone not specifically included might feel specifically excluded. Their solution has been to keep expanding the list. But no matter how many letters are added, one group is still pointedly excluded: the cisgender heterosexuals who make up the vast majority of the U.S. population. Not surprisingly, many members of that group resent civil-rights claims that are presented as a succession of carve-outs for minorities, to the benefit of everyone except themselves. Imagine if the religious-liberty movement instead styled itself the CJMHBSBA+ (Catholic-Jewish-Muslim-Hindu-Buddhist-Sikh-Baha’i-Animist-plus) movement. The symbolism ceases to be about equality for all Americans and becomes instead about naming particularistic claimants. And the very act of asking ordinary Americans to drag themselves through a list of initials is redolent of special rights, not equal rights.
For me, the ugliness and unwieldiness of LGBTQ add insult to injury. As does the fact that it is not a label that accurately describes me or any other American. It describes a coalition, yes, but not any actual person. Even as it seeks to explicitly include groups, the concatenation of initials implicitly blots out individuals.
In his 2017 book, The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics, Mark Lilla, a humanities professor at Columbia, makes a powerful case for returning to an earlier, more broadly inclusive vision of citizenship and civil rights. “Identity liberalism banished the word we to the outer reaches of respectable political discourse,” he writes. Lost was the vision of civil-rights leaders, like Kameny and Martin Luther King Jr., who always insisted that they were fighting for the equality, and the benefit, of all Americans. In Kameny’s 1961 Supreme Court petition (challenging the federal government’s ban on the employment of homosexuals), he built his argument on the Declaration of Independence’s promise that the pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right. He insisted that “our government exists to protect and assist all of its citizens,” and he rested his claim on “the interest of the public at large and of the nation as a whole.” By contrast, writes Lilla, “in movement politics, the forces are all centrifugal, encouraging splits into smaller and smaller factions obsessed with single issues and practicing rituals of ideological one-upmanship.” It is hard to think of a clearer instance of that sort of balkanization than a string of initials like LGBTQ, much less an absurdity like LGBTQIAA+.
None of this would matter much if today were, say, 2015, when identity politics seemed like a low-cost enterprise. Now, however, we see its price. So long as the libertarian right and the progressive left fail to speak to the country’s yearning for a transcendent identity, and majorities feel they are being ignored or disfavored, someone is bound to fill the resulting political vacuum. Political analysts and researchers find that resentment of political correctness and identitarian excess drove a lot of voters, including a lot of nonbigoted voters, toward Trump’s toxic version of national identity. When Steve Bannon, one of the Trump movement’s leading strategists, said, “If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats,” he knew what he was talking about.
No, I am not blaming Trump’s presidency on LGBTQ (or even LGBTQIAA+). Trump himself uses LGBTQ. But the term has become symptomatic of the parochialism that is alienating white, straight, male America from the claims of the civil-rights movement. Every time lesbian and/or gay and/or bisexual and/or transgender and/or QIAA+ activists demand the recitation of a string of initials, they implicitly tell a story about seeking equality and betterment for groups, not for individuals, and not for that other set of initials, U.S.A.
In short, if there ever was a time when sexual minorities were served by reminding the world of their factionalism, that time is past. Kameny’s preference for a single, simple, overarching designation was well founded. It deserves to be rediscovered.
Today, however, that designation can no longer be gay, which, apart from being gendered, won’t do for transgender people. Queer is inclusive, but its radical baggage and derogatory undertones have precluded its mainstream acceptance. And so, herewith, my modest proposal: Q.
If you like, you can think of it as short for queer. Or, if you don’t like, just Q. Give it any etymology you wish. Regardless, the term would be understood to encompass sexual minorities of all stripes. When we speak of ourselves as individuals, we would use gay or lesbian or transgender or whatever applies. When we need a blanket term, we would simply call ourselves Q. As in: the Q population and Q equality. Q is simple and inclusive, and carries minimal baggage. When we speak of Q equality, we are saying that discrimination against sexual minorities—or for that matter sexual majorities—is not the American way.
In that respect, although I am not LGBTQ, I am certainly Q. I think Frank Kameny might have been, too.
Sex education and research use a medical model of sexual health focusing mainly on pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and sexual dysfunctions. However, sexuality is complex. Beyond genitals and Kama Sutra-like positions, it considers sexual and gender identity; sensuality; sexual response; intimacy; and positive and negative ways we use our sexuality.
As we age, the complex interplay among biological, psychological, cognitive, socioeconomic, religious and even societal factors, contribute to changes in our roles and responsibilities. For example, changes in physical or cognitive health over time can create differences in analytical thinking, mobility, and health care needs. We also experience changes in work, social and family roles and responsibilities over time. Examples include transitions from working to retirement, parenting to empty-nesting, child-rearing to caring for aging parents or partners.
Evolving social support and activities may change opportunities for sex and intimacy. Partners may disappear through death or moving away, or appear, such as when meeting new people after moving to an aging community. Over one-third of adults over age 65 use social media or internet technologies. These tools may expand sexual interest or activities by increasing access to sexual aids and partners.
Sex after 60
There are myths, misconceptions and stigma associated with aging and sexuality that hinder older adults’ ability to openly communicate with family, friends and health care professionals. This misinformation limits their access to sexual education, health care, and ultimately, their sexual rights.
The first myth is that older adults are not as sexually attractive or desirable as their younger counterparts. While an 80-year-old may not be as appealing to an 18-year-old, he or she may be very desirable to peers. More importantly, he or she may feel more sexually desirable and confident than their younger self.
A second myth is that older adults lack interest in and desire for sexual activity – and that they are somehow asexual. Research from ongoing national surveys support the ideas that sexual interest, desires and behaviors can decrease over the life course. For example, among women ages 57 years and older, over 80 percent of participants expressed interest in having sex, but less than two-thirds of women surveyed perceived sex as “important,” and fewer than half reported having sex in the previous year. However, the reality is that these trends are not universal among older adults. Results from another recent survey found that 39 percent of men and 17 percent of women ages 75 to 85 years are sexually active.
Another myth is that older adults are so medically fragile that sexual activity is dangerous. This is simply not true in many cases. Recent studies have shown that healthy older adults are more likely to have sex. Even when chronic illnesses are present, sexual abstinence is not a foregone conclusion. For example, a 2012 American Heart Association statement contains evidence-based recommendations about sexual activity among patients with specific cardiovascular conditions. The recommendations generally advise assessing risks with a doctor and disease management, rather than abstention.
There are well-documented relationships between common medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes and treatment-related effects on sexual functioning. Yet, older adults and their health care providers are not discussing sexual concerns during routine care. Missed opportunities during visits deprive older adults of access to newer treatments and other best practices in sexual medicine, which can impact their mental and physical health.
A bigger problem may be ageist attitudes among providers and internalized ageism in their patients that may interfere with sex education and application of newer standards. The result is that many believe older adults are uninterested in, or lack desire for, sexual activity and cannot engage in these activities.
Love has a lot to do with it
There is more to sexuality than physical acts. While much of the existing research focuses on sexual activity and intercourse as predictors or outcomes, most older adults also desire companionship, intimacy and closeness. Non-intercourse-focused activities, such as hand-holding, cuddling and massage, have not been studied as much as intercourse. Yet, there is reason to believe that they can enhance intimacy. Research about physical and mental health outcomes resulting from older adult sexual activity reveals additional benefits, including reduced cognitive decline, loneliness and depression, and improved reported health status, physical functioning, and other aspects of quality of life.
Discussions should promote understanding about sexual risk behaviors for STIs and effects of physical and cognitive or psychological aging on sexual health and sexuality. To maintain or improve older adults’ sexual health and well-being, health care providers should provide safe and welcoming environments for patient-provider collaboration, resources and interdisciplinary referrals to clinical social workers, sex therapists, physical therapists and other allied health specialties.
When you’re not enjoying sex, you might be wondering why, but the truth is that our sex drives are impacted by so many things.
Both your physical and mental health can be the cause of a low libido.
Stress, certain medications, and a feeling of shame could all be reasons you may not be enjoying sex.
Your sex drive is determined by so many factors and it can constantly change depending on what’s going on in your life, as well as your physical and mental health. Whether you’re dealing with short-term or long-term sexual dissatisfaction, it’s normal to wonder why you’re not enjoying sex.
According to experts, here are some reasons you may not be enjoying sex.
Editor’s note: This post contains some information that may be triggering to those who have experienced sexual assault or trauma.
You’re engaging in sexual activities before you’re adequately aroused.
Preparing your mind and body for sex can be crucial to actually enjoying it and taking time to get aroused may help prepare your body for sex.
“Foreplay gets the ‘blood flowing’ to the genitals and helps with lubrication and the ability to climax during sexual activity,” Michael Ingber, MD, Board-certified in Urology and Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery at the Center for Specialized Women’s Health, division of Garden State Urology/Atlantic Medical Group told INSIDER.
“Many people get caught up in the idea that sex is equivalent to intercourse,” added Melissa Coats, psychotherapist and owner at Coats Counseling, LLC. “Foreplay is sex and by taking the pressure off of the thought that there must be one outcome in a sexual experience, you can free yourself up to enjoy foreplay and focus on your own pleasure rather than the worry.”
You’re not mentally or emotionally ready to have sex.
As important as it is for your body to be ready for sex, your mind also needs to be ready, too. “Context is everything,” said Coats. “For example, If you come home from a long day of work feeling anxious, upset, and overwhelmed and your partner tries to make sexual contact, you will most likely not be able to access your [feelings of] desire and pleasure easily.”
She said context includes a variety of things including your environment, level of stressors, or even the state of your relationship with a sexual partner.
You’re dealing with anxiety about your body or appearance.
Sex can be an extremely vulnerable situation, so if you’re not feeling comfortable in your own skin, you may find it more difficult to enjoy sex.
“Anxiety is the enemy of desire and pleasure,” Coats told INSIDER. “In order to experience sexual pleasure, we need to be present in the moment and with our bodies. If you are experiencing negative self-talk about your body, your mind is not on how much you are enjoying your body and what it is experiencing.”
You’re uncomfortable about past sexual experiences.
Whether you’re dealing with a past sexual trauma or worrying that your experience level is different from your partner’s, these feelings can understandably creep up before, during, or after sex, making it tough for you to find enjoyment in a sexual experience.
Coats said that communicating with your partner can help you to feel more comfortable during sex.
You’re not comfortable around your partner.
Since sex oftentimes involves so many layers of intimacy, if you’re not fully comfortable with your partner, you’ll likely have a difficult time fully enjoying your experience.
“By expressing these aspects of your sexuality with someone, you are trusting them with that vulnerability,” said Coats. ” If you are not comfortable with your partner, feeling vulnerable will not seem appealing and may even feel physically or emotionally unsafe.”
You feel shame or stigma about your sexual needs or wants.
Sexuality exists on such a wide spectrum and everyone has different wants, needs, and desires. Opening up about what you like and don’t like can feel intimidating, even if you’re with a long-term partner. And, feeling like you cannot express your wants or needs can be making sex less pleasurable for you.
“Shame and stigma are attacks on identity,” Coats told INSIDER. “Whether the shame is related to a sexual identity, fantasy, kink, (or something similar,) feeling attacked either by your own thoughts or someone else’s thoughts or actions, you may automatically feel unsafe and want to retreat.”
You’ve been given false or sex-negative messages about sex or sexuality.
Similarly, it can be easy to believe things you’ve heard about sex, from how much you should be having to stereotypes about the kinds of sex people have, and these can seep through to your own sexual experiences, likely without you even realizing it.
“There is an abundance of misguided, harmful, and plainly false messages about sex that people take at face value as fact. If something doesn’t feel right, allow yourself to question that message, whether it is from yourself or someone else,” said Coats. In these cases, she suggested exploring sex-positive resources to help you to feel more comfortable with sex.
You’re on a medication that impacts your libido or physical sensations during sex.
“Several medications can affect not only libido, but also the sexual experience in men and women,” said Dr. Ingber. “Antidepressants are notorious for this, causing a decrease in sexual desire and often interfering with the ability to orgasm.”
If you think a new or existing medication is causing a dip in your libido or ability to orgasm, check with your doctor.
You’re dealing with a medical condition that makes sex painful.
Even though it’s incredibly common, experiencing pain during sex can be the quickest way to put the brakes on your enjoyment in the moment. There are several medical conditions that can contribute to pain, dryness, or irritation during or after sex, as Jessa Zimmerman, a certified sex therapist and author of “Sex Without Stress,” previously explained to INSIDER.
“There are some medical causes of sexual pain, including skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, pain conditions due to overgrowth of nerves, endometriosis, and vaginismus, an involuntary clenching of the vagina that develops in anticipation of pain and is painful in itself,” said Zimmerman.
If you suspect a medical condition is causing you to feel pain during sex, check with your doctor, who can help you to find treatment options and ways to help ease your pain or discomfort.
You may be trying positions that make you feel uncomfortable or pained.
Pain or discomfort during sex isn’t always due to a chronic medical issue — some positions may not be enjoyable to you.
“If you have sought medical attention with no clear answers, try using different positions, lubricant, or talking to a pelvic floor physical therapist to help figure out what your body is trying to tell you,” said Coats
Dr. Ingber agreed, adding that everyone is different and what’s comfortable and enjoyable for one person isn’t necessarily pleasant for another.
You’re not prioritizing sleep, eating well, or exercising regularly.
As Coats told INSIDER, “Physical, mental, emotional, and sexual health are all connected. When one is being neglected, it is like trying to drive a car with the emergency brakes on. It will go, but it will slow you down a lot and it’s not great for your engine. Engaging with your sexuality when you feel physically un-aligned can be stressful and difficult.”
Taking care of your entire body by getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise will help give you the energy your body needs to not just have sex, but thoroughly enjoy it, too.
You’re not sure what feels good for you and your body.
Sexual desire and preferences are different for every person. And, according to Coats, popular misconceptions about sex being a “task to be mastered instead of an activity to enjoy” could make it tough for someone to figure out what they like.
Taking time to explore your own body by way of masturbation or trying new things that you’re comfortable with, whether with new toys, positions, or other sexual stimuli, can help you learn what feels enjoyable for you.
But the same way that your cells need water to remain adequately hydrated, dehydration can cause dry, irritated skin, potentially leading to pain and irritation down below.
Similarly, Healthline notes that there’s a link between dehydration and erectile dysfunction, and your body needs sufficient oxygen to help maintain an erection. When you’re not getting enough water, you might not get adequate blood flow throughout your body, which includes your sex organs.
She said doctors typically recommend abstaining from sex for six weeks or longer post-delivery, but it depends on the patient’s body and their healing process. She also added that breastfeeding can decrease one’s estrogen levels, causing one’s vagina to be less lubricated and less elastic, thus making sex more painful.
You’re afraid of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.
Even if you’re taking precautions for safe sex, it’s natural to worry about pregnancy or STIs. “Any fear that exists while engaging in a sexual encounter is going to impact how you feel about your experience,” Coats told INSIDER. “If you are afraid of getting pregnant, remember, sex does not [have to] equal intercourse. There are plenty of ways to express and experience pleasure and eroticism other than intercourse.”
You’re stressed about other things.
Few things can kill the desire for sex quite like stress. From an emotional standpoint, Coats said mental energy plays an important role in enjoying sex.
“If that mental energy is being used to assess what is going on anywhere but within your own body, it is competing with your pleasure for your brain space. Creating a context where you can put other things aside and allow yourself to focus on you, also known as self-care, is crucial in sexual satisfaction.”
Your mental stress could even cause sex to be more painful. “All of these issues will impact your natural ability to relax, get aroused, lubricate and prepare the [body] for sex,” Dr. Bohn told INSIDER.
You’re just not interested in sex, either at the moment or in the long-run.
The truth is that not everyone is interested in having sex and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
“If sex is not that interesting to you, you are not abnormal. If you would like to become more interested in sex and your sexuality, there are plenty of ways to spark curiosity,” Coats told INSIDER. “But it must come from your own desire and not someone else’s expectation in order to be pleasurable.”
When you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s perfectly normal to develop a sexual routine with your partner. After all, the more often you have sex with someone, the better acquainted you become with their body, their turn-ons, their erogenous zones, their fantasies, and more. But while that level of sexual comfort with a partner can be advantageous in plenty of ways — like knowing exactly how to get each other to orgasm — having a “predictable” (or worse, “boring”) sex life can also be a source of frustration for many couples.
Although refreshing your sex life might sound like a daunting task, rest assured that it doesn’t have to be. In fact, finding new and exciting ways to enjoy sex in your relationship can actually be a fun way to connect with your partner, build intimacy, and experience pleasure. Besides, making an active effort to diversify your sexual routine doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dissatisfied with your current sex life; it simply means that you and your partner are open-minded and willing to grow even closer by sharing new sexual experiences.
If things are starting to feel a little blah in the bedroom, all it takes is a little creativity to heat things back up — and playing a few fun, easy sex games with your partner is the perfect low-pressure way to do so. Whether it’s naughty truth or dare or naked Twister, trying out some flirty and frisky sex games is a lighthearted way to switch things up in the bedroom without feeling like you’re doing a complete overhaul of your sex life.
Here are three easy sex games you can play with your partner that are pretty much guaranteed to make everyone feel like a winner.
If you and your partner are in the habit of breezing through foreplay in order to get to the “main event,” you might be surprised by how much slowing down and focusing on foreplay can transform your sex life. By elongating your foreplay sessions and savoring every touch, you can build all kinds of sexy tension before moving on to intercourse — or maybe you’ll get so caught up that you skip intercourse entirely (after all, penetration is not a prerequisite for great sex).”
“Start a timer and agree for there not to be penetration until the timer runs out,” says Danyell Fima, co-founder of adult pleasure company Velvet Co. “The anticipation makes it all worth it. This is best if you use a random timer, and set it between 10-20 minutes. To go even further, don’t touch each other, just tease each other with a feather.”
You might have the most comfortable bed on Earth, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only worthwhile place to get your freak on. Whether you live in a tiny studio apartment or a multi-suite mansion, there are plenty of opportunities to get creative with where you have sex: a bathtub, a kitchen counter, atop a washer… the list goes on. Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to make the whole experience feel brand new — even if you’re not technically changing the way you have sex all that much.
“Make every time you have sex [in] a different place and position,” says Fima. “Alternate which partner has to come up with the location between every time. Pretty soon, you’ll have touched every piece of furniture in your apartment in a new and exciting way.”
When you’re in the mood for a little extra stimulation in your sex life, using sex toys with your partner is an easy way to raise the stakes and experience even more feel-good sensations during sex. If you own a toy or two that can be controlled remotely, try making a sexy game out of allowing your partner to take total control of your pleasure.
“Have sex toys? Hand the controls to your partner,” says Fima. “It’s best when each person has a toy they can use. Last as long as you can! Have multiple sex toys? Pick which ones you’ll use blindfolded to keep things interesting