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Medically assisted sex? How ‘intimacy coaches’ offer sexual therapy for people with disabilities

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‘For me, the sex is obviously why I’m seeking this out, but I’m also seeking services like this out because … I feel the need to be touched, to be kissed,’ says Spencer Williams.

For years, Spencer Williams felt he was missing something in his love life.

The 26-year-old Vancouver university student and freelance writer has cerebral palsy. He says he meets lots of potential sex partners but had trouble finding what he was looking for.

“I always refer to my wheelchair as it comes to dating … as a gigantic cock block,” he says. “It doesn’t always get me to the places I want, especially when it comes to being intimate.”

“I thought, if something didn’t happen now, I was going to die a virgin.”

So he Googled “sexual services for people with disabilities.”

That’s how Williams found Joslyn Nerdahl, a clinical sexologist and intimacy coach.

‘Intimacy coach’ Joslyn Nerdahl says sex can be healing.

“I answer a lot of anatomy questions. I answer a lot of questions about intercourse, about different ways that we might be able to help a client access their body,” says Nerdahl, who moved from traditional sex work to working as an intimacy coach with Vancouver-based Sensual Solutions.

“I believe [sex] can be very healing for people and so this was a really easy transition for me, to make helping people with physical disabilities feel more whole.”

Sensual Solutions is geared toward people with disabilities who want or need assistance when it comes to sex or sexuality. It can involve relationship coaching, sex education or more intimate services. They call the service “medically assisted sex.” It costs $225 for a one-hour session.

Nerdahl notes that some people with disabilities are touched often by care aids or loved ones who are assisting with everyday activities such as getting dressed or eating.  But her clients tell her that despite that frequent physical contact, the lack of “erotic touch” or “intimate touch” can leave them feeling isolated, depressed or even “less human.”

‘Help a client access their body’

Nerdahl says each session with a client is different, depending on the person’s level of comfort and experience, as well as his or her particular desires and physical capabilities.

Williams says his sessions might start with breathing exercises or physio and move on to touching, kissing and other activities.

An intimacy coach may help a client put on a condom or get into a certain position.

A session might also involve “body mapping,” Nerdahl says, describing it as “a process of going through different areas of the body, in different forms of touching, to figure out what you like and what you don’t like.”

Social stigma

Sex and sexual pleasure remains a taboo topic when it comes to people with disabilities.

For Williams, accessing this service is about more than sexual pleasure. But it’s about that, too.

The sex is obviously why I’m seeking this out, but I’m also seeking services like this out because I feel the need to be close. I feel the need to connect. I feel the need to be touched, to be kissed.”

“Sometimes people … offer to sleep with me as a pity, and I often don’t appreciate that. I want things to be organic and natural,” says Williams.

He much prefers his sessions with Nerdahl, in which he is able to explore physical and emotional intimacy in a non-judgmental and supportive setting, even though it’s something he pays money for.

“I think it freaks people out when we talk about sex and disability because most of the time they haven’t thought about that person in a wheelchair getting laid,” Nerdahl says. “They just assume they don’t have a sex life because they’re in a chair, and that’s just not the case.”

Legal grey area

The stigma is further complicated because Canada’s prostitution laws have no provisions for services that blur the line between rehabilitation and sex work.

Kyle Kirkup is critical of Canada’s current prostitution laws that criminalize the sex trade regardless of context or intent.

Currently, it’s legal to sell sex and sex-related services, but illegal to purchase them. (Sex workers can be charged for advertising services or soliciting services but only if in the vicinity of school grounds or daycare centres.)

Kyle Kirkup, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, calls the current laws a “one-size-fits-all approach” that criminalizes the sex trade regardless of context or intent.

The current law doesn’t include provisions for people with disabilities, or which deal specifically with services like Sensual Solutions whose intimacy coaches may come from clinical or rehabilitation backgrounds.

“A person with a disability who purchases sexual services would be treated exactly the same as any other person who purchased sex,” he says.

“So it’s a very kind of blunt instrument that doesn’t actually do a very good job of contextualizing the reasons why people might pay for sex.”

There are other countries, however, such as the Netherlands that view medically assisted sex in another way entirely; sex assistants’ services may be covered by benefits, just like physiotherapy or massage.

Complete Article HERE!

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Welcome To The Wacky World Of Fetish Porn

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By Sarah Raphael

In 2017, Pornhub boasted an average of 81 million active users a day, culminating in 28.5 billion visits over the course of the year. For comparison, Twitter had 100 million active users per day, and the BBC had a global average of 372 million people per week. As responsible citizens, we like to keep abreast of current affairs, and it appears we like porn just as much.

According to Pornhub’s survey, the most searched terms on the site last year were, in order: lesbian, hentai (anime/ manga porn), milf, stepmum, stepsister, and mum. Lesbian is perhaps unremarkable, since it appeals to several genders and orientations, but hentai at number two is a surprise, and it only gets weirder from there. Hentai loosely translates from Japanese as ‘a perverse sexual desire’ – but when manga and mummy porn are among the top six search terms of 81 million watchers a day, is it time we reconsider what constitutes ‘abnormal sexual desire’?

In his masterpiece podcast The Butterfly Effect, journalist Jon Ronson interviews the founders of Anatomik Media, a company based in LA which produces made-to-order fetish videos for private clients. The videos, produced by the company’s founders, husband and wife duo Dan and Rhiannon, cost anywhere between a few hundred and several thousand dollars, and the clients will often send a script or a specific set of instructions for how the fetish fantasy should play out. Some of the videos they talk about on the podcast include burning a man’s very expensive stamp collection, and pouring condiments like ketchup on a woman in a paddling pool. “We take everyone’s fetish very seriously, we don’t laugh at them,” Rhiannon tells Jon. In the same episode, Jon interviews fetish actress/ producer Christina Carter, who stars as Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman vs. The Gremlin, a custom video series for a private client in which Wonder Woman is controlled by a gremlin who hits her over the head to keep her in the room. Jon emails the client to ask where this scenario came from and eventually he replies, saying that his mother left when he was five and he remembers watching her leave; the inference is that he is the gremlin in the scenario, trying to make his mother (Wonder Woman) stay

“I don’t consider any of the fetishes people come to see me to explore as being ‘unusual’,” Miss Bliss, a 31-year-old pansexual, feminist dominatrix with 10 years’ experience in the sex work industry, tells me over email. “I try and break down barriers, not reinforce them. I teach my clients that it takes courage to embrace one’s desires and strength to experiment and understand and indulge in them, regardless of what their particular fetish is. There are no unusual fetishes, just unusual societal standards.” The services Miss Bliss offers include ‘corporal punishment’ (spanking, slapping, whipping, etc), ‘foot/high heel worship’, ‘wax play’, ‘puppy play’ (being treated like a dog), ‘adult baby care’ (being treated like a baby) and ‘consensual blackmail’, which, as she explains, is an act “involving one person or people giving written or verbal permission to release sensitive and potentially damaging information, and/or agreed-upon falsehoods/embellishments if previously agreed-upon actions/terms are not met.” On her website, the explanation is a little easier to comprehend: “Beg and plead with me not to release any intimate images, videos and messages to your partner, family, co-workers or on social media.” Miss Bliss says she sees the game of consensual blackmail as “just another way of stripping someone of ego, control and power, which allows the person to be vulnerable and in a constant state of heightened excitement.”

Humiliation is a common theme in Miss Bliss’ services, and an inherent part of BDSM. “When conducted consensually, safely and appropriately, it can be incredibly liberating,” she explains. “People enjoy humiliation as a way to break down the boundaries we put up in our day-to-day lives and stay ‘safe’ behind. It opens a door to vulnerability, repressed emotions and allows feelings like control, responsibility and ego to take a back seat in a safe environment.” Miss Bliss describes an “outpouring of emotion” from some clients after a session and includes aftercare as part of the package – “to build the submissive back up so they feel supported, nurtured and protected.”

When I ask why Miss Bliss thinks people end up in her dungeon or domestic space, she answers: “For so many reasons. A lot to do with their upbringing, their relationship with others and themselves, the power struggle they feel in their careers… Everyone wants to feel heard, to be seen and to feel understood. Coming to see a professional who bears no judgement, has only the best intentions and understands boundaries and respect is one of the most healthy ways to work through psychosexual subjects. It is certainly a form of therapy.”

When you put it like that, it’s hard to remember why stigma exists at all around fetish. And yet, if you found out your colleague watched hot wax porn every night, you might raise an eyebrow, or if someone in your circle revealed that they were a client of Miss Bliss and enjoyed puppy play on a Saturday, you might fall off your chair – because these things aren’t talked about and they come as a shock.

“There’s generally two reasons that fetishes are talked about in the public domain,” explains Professor Mark Griffiths, a chartered psychologist and professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University, over the phone, “either because somebody has been criminally arrested because the fetish constitutes some kind of criminal activity or it’s people who are written about because they’re seeking treatment for their fetish. But I would argue with the vast majority of fetishes – what we call non-normative sexual behaviours – there’s absolutely no problematic element for anyone engaging in them.”

Professor Griffiths has written extensively about fetish on his blog, and says he almost always concludes his posts with the fact that we just don’t know enough about fetishes or how many people have them because the studies that have been conducted are so small. “We recently interviewed eight dacryphiles – people who are sexually aroused by crying,” he says, “and found that there were three completely different types of dacryphile even in the sample of eight people. Half were ‘sadistic’ dacryphiles where their pleasure came from making other people cry, three people were ‘compassionate’ dacryphiles who were sexually aroused by men crying, and one person’s particular fetish was when people are about to cry and their lower lip starts to wobble – that was the sexually arousing part – so we called that a ‘curled lip’ dacryphile. These eight people were from one forum – the crying forum – but there could be many other types of dacryphile.”

Having researched and written about all sorts of fetishes, from bushy eyebrow fetishes to injection fetishes, shoe fetishes and fruit fetishes, Professor Griffiths reaffirms that “the vast majority of people with fetishes don’t have psychological problems or mental disorders, it’s just something they like. We have to accept, in terms of how we develop sexually, that there are going to be lots of different things that get people aroused, and some things are seen as normal, and others are seen as strange and bizarre. For example, if you’ve got a fetish for soiled underclothes – which is called mysophilia – that’s more embarrassing to talk about than if you’ve got a fetish just for knickers. One is seen as bizarre, one isn’t.”

Professor Griffiths’ first port of call in his research on fetish is online forums – like the crying forum – where people connect with others who have the same or a similar fetish. Natasha (not her real name) uses online forums to explore her fetish, which is hair, specifically haircuts, known as trichophilia. “I masturbate while watching videos of women having their hair cut,” she explains on email. “It freaks me out that I like it, I used to be really scared of having my hair cut when I was a child, and somehow as I got older, it became a sexual thing.” Natasha goes on websites such as Extreme Haircuts and Haircuts Revisited and watches videos of and reads stories about women having their hair cut. “I feel like a freak,” she tells me, “but there’s a whole world of haircut porn on the internet, so I’m not the only one.” Natasha says that discovering porn catered to her fetish was liberating, but she still deletes her search history so that her boyfriend doesn’t find out.

“We are led to believe that there are few options in which we can express our sexuality healthily, when nothing could be further from the truth,” says Miss Bliss. “This, in conjunction with the various religious messages which restrict our sexual expression, leaves people feeling so isolated, which is what I am here to change.” Miss Bliss is on a mission to open up sexuality and empower people to explore their kinks in a safe, consensual setting.

Whether we know about it or not, the world of fetish and its many online and offline facets has a place in our society. It might be something we frown at, but there’s no denying that people have a need and are using these services – Pornhub search terms are the tip of the iceberg. As Professor Griffiths concludes: “It might be non-normative, but that doesn’t mean it’s abnormal.” Who knows what dreams may come when you approach the dungeon.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexual Attraction

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Sexual Attraction

By Driftwood Staff

Have you ever wondered why you are attracted to the people you are attracted to? Despite surface guesses, there are common generalizations of sexual preferences that seem to make sense, or are at least exhibited by the average human male or female.

Have you ever noticed that your preferences have changed or change constantly? Well, there’s an answer to that too. “Female preferences are especially interesting because they are dynamic and influenced by the individual menstrual cycle,” said Dr. Simon Lailxaux, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and the Virginia Kock/Audubon Nature Institute Chair in Species Preservation. “Women prefer different things when they are ovulating to when they are not, and women using hormonal contraceptives also show different preferences to those who are not. Additionally, both men and women appear to look for different things in a short-term vs a long term partner.”

Despite the social connotations of sexual preferences in the modern world (e.g., the growing acceptance and understanding that gender, sex and sexuality are all different aspects of the human self), many preferences men and women have for each other come from biological occurrences.

“Evolutionary explanations for human sexual attractiveness have long fallen under the purview of ‘evolutionary psychology,’” said Lailvaux. Though it gained a controversial reputation, “The rigor of evolutionary psychology has improved over the last 20 years, but there is still a lot of misinformation surrounding questions of the evolution of human sexual attraction largely as a result of this period where evolutionary psychologists weren’t really evolutionary biologists and were still figuring out how to approach this topic.”

“Our genetic legacy predisposes us to certain behaviors and preferences but it does not condemn us to them. Culture can play a large role in sexual attractiveness as well, and it’s important to bear that in mind,” mentioned Lailvaux.

That being said, below are some common aspects of sexual selection.

HIP-TO-WAIST RATIO (HTWR)

“The ‘traditional’ explanation for this has to do with childbirth; the reasoning goes that childbirth is traditionally dangerous for both the mother and baby. Women with large hips relative to their waists have a wider pelvic girdle, which means they will have an easier time when giving birth relative to someone with smaller hips,” said Lailvaux.

“It is an innate, honest signal to men about a woman’s age and reproductive status across all human cultures and ethnicities,” said Dr. Jerome Howard, UNO Associate Professor of Biological Sciences. “The male brain has receptors that evaluate HTWR in females, and MRI studies have measured maximum responses to female silhouettes that display a HTWR of about 0.7 compared to lower values or higher values.”

Thinner waists could signify poor nutrition, which lowers fertility, and the HTWR of a woman generally increases as a woman ages and become less fertile.

“Large breasts tend to elevate attractiveness only in combination with narrower waists, and eye-tracking studies have found that men tend to look at either the bust or the waist region first, as opposed to the facial or pubic region,” said Lailvaux.

Nutrition varies due to cultural differences, and larger bodies that indicate more fat storage are sometimes more attractive in non-Western cultures where food availability is a problem.

HEIGHT AND STATURE

Height and shoulder width are signals to women about male health and nutritional status. “Women do prefer men with the traditional ‘triangle’ shape: broad shoulders, narrow waists. Women also tend to prefer men with broad faces; this is interesting because facial broadness in men is linked to high levels of testosterone,” added Lailvaux.

Women also tend to prefer men who are taller than they are, but the reason for this has not been thoroughly researched.

SYMMETRY

Both sexes generally find symmetrical facial features more attractive. There are plenty of studies to show this, but the significance of that attraction has yet to be established.

“The best supported and most widely accepted explanation is that symmetry is a measure of developmental stability, which is related to how well suited an individual’s genes are for the environment in which it lives,” said Howard. “An individual that is well-suited to his or her environment is likely to produce children that are also well-suited, and able to respond robustly to any environmental challenges they might experience in that environment.”

SMELL

Body odor is produced by Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) genes, which mainly work in the immune system. “We strongly prefer mates with different MHC alleles, because the more similar they are, the more likely that you are genetically related, and we avoid mating with relatives to avoid inbreeding,” said Howard.

HEAD AND FACIAL HAIR

Hair length preference is more culturally influenced than other signals, but in Western cultures, young women have a tendency to wear their hair longer on average than older women. This is less labile than HTWR for mate preference among men; it is not an honest signal of age or quality as a mate.

However, a recent study examined why beards became so popular among men in recent years. “They linked beards to male facial attractiveness and to negative frequency-dependent selection, where things that are uncommon are considered attractive, until they become too common and are no longer considered so.” said Lailvaux.

Complete Article HERE!

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Viagra rising: How the little blue pill revolutionized sex

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Twenty years ago, a little blue pill called Viagra unleashed a cultural shift in America, making sex possible again for millions of older men and bringing the once-taboo topic of impotence into daily conversation.

While the sexual improvement revolution it sparked brightened up the sex lives of many couples, it largely left out women still struggling with dysfunction and loss of libido over time. They have yet to benefit from a magic bullet to bring it all back, experts say.

About 65 million prescriptions have been filled worldwide for the blockbuster Pfizer drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration on March 27, 1998.

It was the first pill aimed at helping men get erections.

Suddenly, talk of an amazing drug that could make an older man’s penis hard again was all over television and magazines.

The Viagra boom also coincided with the rise of the internet, and the explosion of online pornography.

Ads for Viagra were designed to reframe what had been known as “male impotence” as “erectile dysfunction” or ED, a medical condition that could finally be fixed.

Republican senator, military veteran and one-time presidential candidate Bob Dole became the first television spokesman for Viagra, admitting his own fears about erectile dysfunction to the masses.

“It’s a little embarrassing to talk about ED, but it is so important for millions of men and their partners,” he said.

The strategy worked.

Before Viagra, men wanted to talk about their erectile problems, and did, but the conversations were awkward and difficult, recalled Elizabeth Kavaler, a urology specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

“Now, sexuality in general is very out there,” she added.

“Sex has become an expected part of our lives as we age. And I am sure Viagra has been a big part of that.”

MISUNDERSTOOD DRUG

Viagra has had a “major impact” — on a par with the way antibiotics changed the way infections are treated, and how statins became ubiquitous in the fight against heart disease, said Louis Kavoussi, chairman of urology at Northwell Health, a New York-area hospital network.

Viagra’s release also came amid a “sort of a clampdown on physicians interacting with companies,” he said.

“So this was a perfect medicine to advertise to consumers. It was a lifestyle type of medicine.”

Viagra, or sildenafil citrate, was first developed as a drug meant to treat high blood pressure and angina.

But by 1990, men who took part in early clinical trials discovered its main effect was improving their erections, by boosting blood flow to the penis.

For all its popularity, Viagra is still often misunderstood.

“It isn’t an aphrodisiac,” said Kavoussi.

“A lot of men who ask about it say, ‘My wife isn’t very interested in relations,” he added.

“And I say, ‘Viagra is not going to change that.'”

SEXUAL REVOLUTION

In 2000, the comedy show “Saturday Night Live” featured a spoof on ads that showed sexually satisfied men saying, “Thanks, Viagra.”

In it, one eye-rolling actress after another was featured groaning “Thanks, Viagra,” as a horny male partner groped her from behind or gripped her in a slow-dance.

The skit was funny because it reflected a reality few people were talking about.

“We are a very puritanical society, and I think Viagra has loosened us up,” said Nachum Katlowitz, director of urology and fertility at Staten Island University Hospital.

“But for the most part, the women have been left out of the sexual improvement revolution.”

Pfizer finally did include women in its marketing for Viagra, in 2014. The commercials featured sultry women, including at least one with a foreign accent, speaking directly to the camera, telling men to get themselves a prescription.

‘FEMALE VIAGRA’

In 2015, the FDA approved a pill called Addyi (flibanserin), which was cast in the media as the “female Viagra,” and was touted as the first libido-enhancing pill for women who experienced a loss of interest in sex.

The pill was controversial from the start.

A kind of anti-depressant, women were warned not to drink alcohol with it. It also cost hundreds of dollars and came with the risk of major side effects like nausea, vomiting and thoughts of suicide.

“It didn’t go over too big,” said Katlowitz.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals bought Addyi for $1 billion in 2015, but sold it back to the developer, Sprout Pharmaceuticals, at a steep discount last year.

Older women’s main problem when it comes to sex is vaginal dryness that accompanies menopause, and can make sex painful.

Solutions tend to include hormones, or laser treatments that revitalize the vagina. They are just beginning to grow in popularity, but still cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, said Kavaler.

“We are at least 20 years behind men,” she said.

For Katlowitz, Viagra was a prime example of “the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.”

Viagra cost about $15 per pill when it first came out, and rose to more than $50. It finally went generic last year, lowering the price per pill to less than $1.

“There was absolutely no reason to charge $50 a pill,” said Katlowitz.

“It was just that they could, so they did.”

Complete Article HERE!

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For Menopause Sex Discomfort, Gel Worked as Well as Estrogen

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Study find gels worked as well as prescription hormone tablets at reducing symptoms of menopause-related sexual discomfort.

By Lindsey Tanner

In a study of women with menopause-related sexual discomfort, gels worked as well as prescription hormone tablets at reducing symptoms.

The researchers say the results suggest low-cost, over-the-counter moisturizers might be the best option.

Most women in the study reported some relief from their most bothersome symptoms — painful intercourse, vaginal dryness or itching — regardless of treatment. Still, not quite half the women experienced what researchers considered a meaningful decline in symptom severity.

The problems are linked with declining levels of the hormone estrogen, which happens to all women when they reach menopause.

What baffles researchers is why only about half of women experience bothersome symptoms. Without that answer, pinpointing the cause and finding the perfect solution is difficult, said Dr. Caroline Mitchell, the study’s lead author and a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Continue reading the main story

“Until we know why, our treatments are really just pretty broad attempts,” Mitchell said. “We’re not targeting the true biological root cause.”

Researchers enrolled 300 women at a Kaiser Permanente research institute in Seattle and at the University of Minnesota. Women were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: prescription vaginal estrogen tablets and a gel with inactive ingredients; placebo tablets and Replens over-the counter moisturizer; or placebo tablets and the inert gel. Treatment lasted 12 weeks.

The results were published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. The National Institutes of Health paid for the study and the researchers have no financial ties to the products studied.

A journal editorial says there have been few similar studies and most were too small to reach conclusive results.

The latest results show that prescription treatment that can cost $200 is no better than over-the-counter moisturizers costing less than $20. The researchers noted that some women may prefer tablets to creams, which can be messy, but the extra money won’t buy extra relief.

Women with troublesome symptoms “should choose the cheapest moisturizer or lubricant available over the counter — at least until new evidence arises to suggest that there is any benefit to doing otherwise,” the editorial said.

Complete Article HERE!

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