By Ronnie Cohen
Men and women who trimmed or removed their pubic hair were nearly twice as likely to report having had a sexually transmitted infection, or STI, compared with non-groomers, researchers found after adjusting for age and number of sexual partners.
The lesson, according to the study’s senior author, Dr. Benjamin Breyer: “I wouldn’t groom aggressively right before a sexual encounter with a partner I didn’t know well, and I would avoid having sex with an open cut or wound.”
Removing pubic hair might tear the skin, opening an entryway for bacteria or viruses, the authors write in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.
But in a phone interview, Breyer, a urology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, cautioned that pubic hair grooming also might mask other contributing factors to STIs. Groomers, for example, could be more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors – behaviors not considered in the study.
It is the first large-scale investigation into the relationship between grooming practices and STIs.
Researchers surveyed 7,470 randomly sampled adults who reported at least one lifetime sexual partner. Some 84 percent of the women and 66 percent of the men groomed their pubic hair.
The 17 percent of groomers who removed all their hair were more than four times as likely to report a history of STIs compared to those who let their hair grow naturally, the study found.
The 22 percent of groomers who trimmed their pubic hair at least weekly reported more than triple the rate of STIs compared to those who left it alone.
U.S. cases of the three most common sexually transmitted infections – chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis – reached an all-time high last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But Debby Herbenick, a sex researcher and professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health in Bloomington, isn’t ready to advise people to discard their razors on the basis of the study.
“What was really missing from the paper was the aspect of sex,” she said in a phone interview. “That’s important because you’re not getting an STI from shaving or trimming your pubic hair.”
The only question researchers asked about sex was how many partners participants had in their lifetimes.
“For me, the study isn’t enough to urge anyone to change anything about what they’re doing about the body,” said Herbenick, who was not involved with the research.
A previous study found that women who removed all their pubic hair were more likely to engage in casual sexual hookups as opposed to long-term relationships – possible evidence that something other than grooming itself caused the STIs, she said.
Along those lines, in the romantic comedy, “How to be Single,” Rebel Wilson playing Robin laments her friend’s LTRP, or “long-term relationship pubes.”
Regardless of whether and how people groom their pubic hair, Breyer stressed the importance of practicing safe sex, especially using a condom when engaging in casual sex.
Pornography and Hollywood, particularly a painful-to-watch 2000 episode of HBO’s hit “Sex in the City,” with Sarah Jessica Parker playing Carrie Bradshaw getting a Brazilian bikini wax, popularized women stripping their genitals bald, Herbenick said.
The trend appeared to slow during the recession and may be reversing. Earlier this year, Vogue magazine ran a story headlined, “The Full Bush Is the New Brazilian.”
But men and women still remove their pubic hair. Because they frequently do so in preparation for sex, Herbenick sees groomers as unlikely to heed Breyer’s advice about waiting to heal after grooming and before having sex.
“We know people are grooming in preparation for sex,” she said. “So I don’t think waiting is the answer.”
In another recent study in JAMA Dermatology, more than 80 percent of American women said they groomed their pubic hair, and 56 percent reported doing so to get ready for sex. Women groomed regardless of how often they had sex, the gender of their sex partner and their sexual activities.
Complete Article HERE!
Q: I’m a larger lad than I was a few years ago. Even though my boyfriend still says he finds me attractive and wants to sleep with me, I no longer have any interest. How can I learn to be confident in the bedroom?
A: Carrying extra weight can dent a person’s sexual self-confidence, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, but the precise nature of the negative self-talk can vary from person to person.
Melbourne sex therapist Dr Christopher Fox (sexlifetherapy.com.au) says gay men are often confronted with cultural images of svelte, muscular, hairless young men. “This is not the only image in the gay community. ‘Bears’ [hairy, and often larger men] also feature. Yet, like the straight community, youth and beauty is still a focus.”
When we carry a mental template of what a “sexy” person looks like, even if we know, intellectually, that it is an unrealistic and unachievable ideal, we cannot help feeling we fall short by comparison, which causes us to feel ashamed of our bodies.
Carrying weight can impact on your self-esteem, Dr Fox says. “The self is an important aspect of us feeling sexy. The way we view our bodies also impacts on our feeling sexy. When our sense of self [esteem] and our body are both challenged, our levels of desire, and of feeling sexy, are also challenged.”
Once low self-esteem and negative self-talk have become entrenched, they can lead to a general feeling of ennui, and a shutting down of the senses. That sluggish, dulled mindset makes it difficult to truly enjoy all of life’s pleasure, but it particularly affects the libido. One of the first challenges you face is to find the motivation to make any changes, no matter how small. So make yourself move your body.
I am not talking about going to the gym, taking up yoga, or doing anything with a view to losing weight. Simply get your system turning over, like warming up the engine of your car. Research has shown that physical activity, even merely going for a walk, releases the feel-good hormones, endorphins. You will start to feel a little more positive, which will help you to take another step.
Fox warns that learning to accept our bodies and ourselves is not an easy process. “It is an achievable process though,” he says. “On an immediate level I think it is important for you to challenge your thinking about yourself. Your boyfriend says he finds you attractive and he wants to sleep with you. Consider how he looks at you. Maybe he sees something you don’t. This is important to consider.”
When we feel bad about ourselves we often react to compliments with “deflection”. We challenge every compliment, or counter a positive observation by drawing attention to a perceived flaw, “but what about my gut!”. This can feel like rejection to your partner, and, if you do it too often, he might either give up, or start to agree with you.
Practise accepting compliments and endearments graciously, with a simple “thank you”, even if that inner voice is screaming out objections. Let the positive words land, and allow yourself to enjoy them.
It can be difficult to make changes without support, and another good way to begin would be to seek professional assistance. Fox suggests finding someone who has experience in working with gay men, body image and sexuality.
“Through therapy we would explore how your changing body impacts on your sense of self and your body image,” he says. “We would explore how you could develop tools and strategies to challenge your own perceptions.”
Remember that although sex and arousal involve elements of fantasy, the true enjoyment comes from the lived experience in the moment. Car lovers might drool over images of unattainable Ferraris and Bugattis, but the pleasure of enjoying the car that belongs to them, that they can drive, and polish, and experience, is the real pleasure.
Complete Article HERE!
Whether you’re in a new relationship or a well-established one, there’s every reason to introduce toys for your mutual sexual happiness. Put simply, the couple that plays together are more likely to stay together – and there’s some science behind that.
First of all, the excitement of trying out sex toys stimulates the production of dopamine – the chemical that plays a big role in both sexual arousal and pleasure in general. Meanwhile, for the large majority of women the simple in-and-out of vaginal penetration alone isn’t usually the route to orgasm, but add some clitoral stimulation and you’re far more likely to score a “Yes!”. Having an orgasm produces oxytocin – also known as the ‘bonding’ hormone – which has the long term effect of making people feel closer to and more supportive of their partner.
So, the science is great – but if you’re not yet using sex toys together, how do you get past any potential embarrassment, and avoid either partner being made to feel defensive about their bedroom technique? Here are some possible dilemmas and corresponding suggestions that could help you set off on a new adventure together.
It’s always best to be honest, but be sensitive and approach the subject in a casual manner outside of the bedroom. Maybe mention that you recently saw lubricant for sale in your local supermarket and how it made you smile! Judging by your partner’s reaction, you’ll know right away if you could immediately let on about your sex toy collection, or whether to stick to a more subtle hint such as, “Do you think we should pick up some lube next time we’re out?” By keeping the conversation light-hearted and jovial, you can easily disperse any tension and it will be easier to gauge what they think of the idea. It’s always a good idea to be honest from the beginning.
The trouble is that people who aren’t familiar with sex toys are often thinking of huge dildo vibrators that are, quite frankly, intimidating! But these are really just a fraction of what’s available. The most popular toys are actually things like small bullet vibrators for clitoral stimulation, or stretchy cock rings for happy erections, and they’re far from scary.
Reassure your partner that you find your sex life fulfilling but that you don’t want them to feel under pressure to be responsible alone for bringing you to orgasm. Using a mini vibrator or a cock ring can provide pleasure for you both.
A great way to turn a man’s prejudices on their head might be to buy a male toy for you both to enjoy using on him first. A textured stroker sleeve adds a whole new dimension to a hand job, and could prove to be the path to his sex toy enlightenment…
It should be noted that toys are not supposed to replace nor detract from what your partner brings to your play time in the bedroom. If anything, toys should be seen as a treat designed to enhance the experience and discover more about each other.
It’s a great idea to choose something together. Cuddle up with a glass of wine on a weekend evening and browse the Lovehoney website – you’re sure to find something you both like. There’s lots of advice in the ‘Help’ section to assist you, too.
If you’re in a male/female couple you could start with a toy that stimulates you both at the same time. The Tracey Cox Supersex Twin Vibrating Love Ring is great for getting you both off, for example. The stretchy cock ring part can give him a bigger, harder erection and more powerful orgasm, while the vibrating bullet in the top provides vibrations to both her clitoris and his testicles.
Same sex relationships benefit from toys just the same as hetero relationships. And strap ons aren’t just for the girls! Guys are also both using and allowing their partners to please them with these helpful and amazing tools to enhance their experience between the sheets..and anywhere else!
Or why not go for a vibrating wand massager? Originally created for soothing tired muscles, wands are also great for stimulating erogenous zones such as inner thighs or the nape of the neck, plus intimate parts such as the labia, testicles and more.
The most important part of using sex toys together is to communicate. Go ahead and experiment, and if at any point you start to feel numb or uncomfortable, speak up – your partner won’t know unless you tell them. By the same token, if you especially enjoy something, let your partner know – the joy of discovering a new favourite sensation together is what sex toys are all about!
Complete Article HERE!