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What is tantric sex, and how can it help heal sexual trauma?


By Brook Bolen

Conversations about sexual violence and trauma have long been overdue but are finally happening. Conversations about how survivors of sexual violence endure and overcome their trauma is of equal importance — and with symptoms ranging from emotional to physical to psychological, physiological, and sexual, there are a host of repercussions. Experts estimate that one in six women has been the victim of attempted or completed rape; similarly, while the precise number is not known, professionals estimate that one in four women will be sexually abused before the age of 18. For many of these women, some of whom have been victimized as adults and children, the struggle to maintain or achieve a fulfilling relationship with their sexuality can be chronic and long-lasting.

While traditional kinds of talk therapy, such as psychoanalysis and cognitive-behavioral therapy, are often helpful in overcoming trauma, they are not always sufficient — particularly where sex and sexuality are concerned. Somatic therapy, which is a type of body-centered therapy that combines psychotherapy with various physical techniques, recognizes that trauma can be as much a part of the body as of the mind. “Somatic” comes from the Greek word soma, which means “body.” According to somatic therapy, trauma symptoms are the result of an unstable autonomic nervous system (ANS). Our past traumas disrupt the ANS and can manifest themselves in a wide variety of physical symptoms. This type of holistic approach can be especially useful for survivors of sexual violence.

Staci Haines, somatic teacher, practitioner, and author of Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma, agrees. In a 2007 interview with SF Gate, she said, “Many people can understand intellectually what happened to them, but put them in a stressful situation like having sex, and their bodies continue to respond as they did during the abuse. … That’s why somatic therapy is so powerful for recovery. Survivors learn to thaw out the trauma that is stored in their body. They learn to relax and experience physical pleasure, sexual pleasure.”

Most Americans’ understanding of tantra is limited to Sting’s now-infamous boast about his seven-hour lovemaking prowess — but tantra is actually a type of somatic therapy. As such, tantra can be used to help people achieve the same types of goals as traditional talk therapy does, such as better relationships, deeper intimacy, and a more authentic life. Furthermore, while tantra frequently incorporates sexuality into its focus, it’s not solely about sex — though that seems to be how it is most commonly perceived in the West.

Devi Ward, founder of the Institute of Authentic Tantra Education, uses the following definition of tantra for her work: “Tantra traditionally comes from India; it’s an ancient science that uses different techniques and practices to integrate mind, body, and spirit. It’s a spiritual practice whose ultimate goal is to help people fully realize their entitlement to full pleasure. We also use physical techniques to cultivate balance. The best way I have of describing it is it’s a form of yoga that includes sexuality.”

Internationally acclaimed tantra teacher Carla Tara tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “There are about 3,000 different definitions of tantra. One of them is this: Tantra is an interweaving of male and female energies, not just one or the other. I start there. Having both energies means knowing how to give and receive equally. Its basis is equanimity. It’s the foundation for conscious loving and living.”

Using equanimity as a starting point for individual or couples therapy can be useful in every facet of life, but particularly for survivors of sexual violence. “Tantra is important to any kind of healing,” says Tara, “because it teaches you to be present through breathing. Deep, conscious breathing is nourishing for every cell of your body. And they were not nourished when you were abused; they were damaged. This kind of breathing teaches you to be present. These breathing techniques help stop you from returning to the past. This makes it so powerful, and that feeling is so important for people who have been abused. Most people go first to psychotherapy, but for people who have survived sexual violence, it takes touching, not just talk, to heal.”

Yoga’s mental and physical health benefits are well established, making the addition of sexuality an even more promising tool for people struggling to have a more fulfilling sex life. “We use somatic healing,” Ward, who teaches individual and couples classes on-site in British Columbia and internationally, tells Yahoo Lifestyle via Skype. “When we’re traumatized, the body can become tense and tight where we have been injured. We refer to this as body armoring, because the body is storing the trauma in its cells. That kind of tight defensiveness can be impenetrable. But here’s the beautiful thing: When the nervous system is relaxed, it releases trauma. And that is a healing practice. We know that trauma gets stored in the body. Through combining meditation, sexual pleasure, and breathing practice, the body can then learn to let go and release that trauma. And that can look like tears, laughter, orgasms. It depends on the trauma and the person.”

Single or partnered, tantra can be beneficial for anyone looking to have a happier, healthier sex life. “The most promising sexual relationship we have is the one we have with ourselves,” says Ward. “If we don’t have that, how can we expect to show up for our partners? We all deserve to have a celebratory, delightful relationship with our body, but if we have unresolved trauma, we bring all that to our relationship. A lot of relationships we are in tend to be dysfunctional because of our unresolved trauma and wounding.”

When it comes to using tantra to heal from sexual trauma, reading alone won’t cut it. Expert assistance, most often offered in person and online, is recommended. “There [is help for] certain muscle tensions, and things like that, that you can’t get from a book,” says Tara. “You need a person to guide you.” Ward echoes this idea: “Especially if you’re healing trauma, it’s best to have a coach. Humans learn best through modeling. Reading is great, but nothing can substitute what we learn from follow-the-leader.”

Healing from sexual violence is a daunting task, and everyone who struggles to do so has their own personal journey to healing. Each person’s recovery is unique, and tantra can help every survivor. “The body is designed to heal itself,” says Ward. “We just have to learn how to relax and let it happen.”

Complete Article HERE!


Why Erotic Fan Fiction Might Be the Key to a Better Sex Life


By Jandra Sutton

Where I come from, sex is taboo. I never learned how to use a condom, I never learned anything about birth control, and abstinence was preached above all else. I was even given a fake plastic credit card as a symbol of my pledge to remain abstinent, a tiny golden card that told us of the “importance of abstinence” that we could carry around in our wallets, intended as something that would remind us of the gift and value of our virginity, along with our commitment to not have sex—and yes, I attended public school.

At the private Christian university I attended, it got worse instead of better. Professors gave talks about how masturbation was evil and addicting, not to mention the sins of pornography. We were told that pornography was basically a gateway drug to sexual promiscuity and broken relationships. Pornography was whispered about in church like it was heroin, making it one of the worst things in which you could possibly indulge. Sex and everything related to sexuality quickly became terrifying, although of course, I was still curious, but clueless. TV and movies were all I had to learn about sex, but I soon discovered that the library scene in Atonement doesn’t quite count as a proper sexual education.

I’ve recently started coming to terms with sexuality, however. I’ve realized that there are issues with my limited knowledge of sex that aren’t just dangerous (hello, condoms) but severely limiting in terms of my relationship with my husband—yup, I’m married now.

So what options are left? My conservative upbringing made it uncomfortable (and embarrassing) to talk to a professional about sex, and I could never dream of mentioning my burgeoning sex life with my friends. Hell, even writing an article about sex is enough to make me blush. Like right now.

Weirdly enough, fan fiction saved my sex life. It’s strange to admit, especially to countless strangers on the internet, but it taught me that sexuality isn’t just OK, it’s a part of life and something to be embraced.

I stuck with fan fiction about fictional characters, mainly because I was (and am) uncomfortable with reading fan fiction about real people—especially sexual scenarios—but also because it allowed me to explore without any secondhand embarrassment. I didn’t want to watch porn or hear about real people having sex because, truthfully, I couldn’t handle it. Sticking with the fictional, however, lowered the barrier of entry (pun intended).

By reading about characters with whom I already identified, fan fiction taught me that I’m not a light switch to be turned on and off when convenient. I knew that arousal was different for men and women, but I assumed that I was defective if I couldn’t get “into the mood” without proper, erm, stimulation. Even then, there were times that sex still wasn’t on my agenda, but I had no guidelines for how to deal with that except TV shows where the woman would feign a headache (and be portrayed as a frigid b*tch for doing so).

Fan fiction provided me with a safe space to explore my sexuality. With only one sexual partner in my life, I’d never had the opportunity to discover what I liked in bed. Sex, as I soon discovered, isn’t something to be ashamed of—and it shouldn’t be.

Not knowing anything about the different types of foreplay, role-playing, different positions, masturbation, and more, I came into my marriage relationship as a virtual tabula rasa. And while that could be viewed as a good thing depending on your personal beliefs, it definitely made sex awkward. I had a vague idea of things I thought I should be doing, but I had no idea how to do them. I didn’t know how to take an active role in pleasing my husband, and I had even less of an inkling on how to enjoy myself in the process. Sure, I could talk to my spouse about these issues—and did—but it often left me feeling deficient.

Fan fiction, however, let me read about healthy sexual relationships without feeling embarrassed or overwhelmed. I could delve into different sexual scenarios on a whim, and I was in control of the process. It allowed me to explore (or avoid) whatever I wanted, which I could then take back to the bedroom thanks to the support of my husband.

Given that women are more often stimulated by the written word than men, fan fiction helped cultivate a healthy sexual appetite within my relationship that had been previously inaccessible to me. Fanfic is often more female-friendly than porn in that it often gives women a more dominant role, especially one in which the female orgasm is just as important (if not more so) than the male’s, along with the ability to choose a story that has a plot (not just sex), making it more immersive in the process. Not only that, this makes erotic fan fiction more approachable—and beneficial—to people like me, who are interested in learning but are often uncomfortable with blatant displays of sexuality.

Honestly, I’m beyond grateful for erotic fan fiction. It’s free. It’s safe. It’s empowering. Why shouldn’t women—and men—be free to imagine themselves having kick-ass sex? And instead of taking away from my relationship, reading about sex this way has enriched our sex life in ways that I definitely didn’t expect. I learned that sex is normal, it’s healthy, and it’s whatever the f*ck I want it to be, because it’s mine (and my husband’s). The concept of “should” doesn’t belong in the bedroom.

Fan fiction doesn’t just offer readers the opportunity to escape, it also reminds us that sexuality— whatever form that may take for you—is perfectly normal. It’s OK to have experience, and it’s OK not to. Sometimes we feel like we need to be having sex (and lots of it), but we’re also expected to be the perfect blend of sexy and innocent, knowing exactly how to drive our partners wild, all while feeling incredibly confident in the bedroom and seeming like eternal virgins. The challenge for women can seem insurmountable, especially when the pressure to perform sexually can absolutely kill the mood.

I’d spent so much time worrying about how to do sex “right” that I forgot the importance of enjoying myself throughout the process. Yes, I want to please my partner, but my own pleasure should be of primary concern, as well. Over the course of our lives, women are subtly taught to view themselves as objects, and sexual objectification is no different. We exist as more than objects to fulfill our partners’ sexual desires, and in my experience, fan fiction can help teach that. As more and more women see and experience relationships—even fictional ones—in which a woman’s sexual enjoyment is just as valuable as a man’s, she can see her own pleasure as increasingly important.

And if you’re looking for an easy introduction to erotic fan fiction, a quick trip to Google will help you find a whole host of steamy scenarios. Start with something simple, like a longer fanfic that simply has sex woven into the broader plotline, or dive right in with a collection of smutty one-shots (these are short, one-chapter-length snippets). and Archive of Our Own are both great places to start, and you can even search based on your favorite pairing or how smutty you want the story to be. Want to imagine yourself as the object of Thor’s affection? It’s definitely doable with a quick search. Or if you’re just dipping your toes in, you can even filter the search results according to rating: If you’re more comfortable keeping it PG-13, do that. Want something more mature? Opt for that! Go forth and embrace your sexuality, find what works for you, and know that wherever you’re at is a great place to be.

Complete Article HERE!


Sex and relationship education should be about rights and equity not just biology



For decades, researchers, young people, and activists have campaigned for better sex and relationships education. Yet still today children and young people rarely have the high quality lessons they need in schools around the world.

International research has found that for it to be effective, sex and relationships education needs to start early, as well as be adaptable and needs-led. It must be delivered by well-trained and confident teachers, in partnership with external providers. It also needs to be of sufficient duration – not one-off sessions – as well as relevant, engaging and participatory. And, most importantly, it must be held in a safe, respectful and confidential learning environment, and embedded in a whole school approach.

But if we know what is needed, why are these lessons not in UK schools already? At present, the future of what the sex and relationship education curriculum will look like is still being discussed by politicians in England. Wales, however, is starting to make some headway.

Major reforms in Wales

Since education was devolved to the Welsh government in the 1990s, Wales has sought to embed policy and guidance on its sex and relationships education into a social justice model of rights, equity and well-being.

In March 2017, an expert panel – which I was invited to chair – was established by the Welsh Assembly’s cabinet secretary for education, Kirsty Williams. We were tasked with reporting on how teachers could be supported to deliver high quality sex and relationships education more effectively in schools in Wales. As well as help inform the development of the future curriculum in this area.

Drawing on the available national and international research, we found significant gaps between the lived experiences of children and young people, and the sex and relationships education they receive in school. We also found that the quality and quantity of these lessons vary widely from school to school.

Our panel has now made a series of recommendations to the Welsh government which collectively constitute a major overhaul of sex and relationship education in Wales. This is in line with significant curriculum and teacher training reforms, and is supported by the fact that health and well-being will be a core part of the 2021 Welsh curriculum, with equal status to other areas of the curriculum.

Living curriculum

In our report, we have outlined a vision for a new holistic, inclusive, rights and equity-based sexuality and relationships education curriculum. We concluded that what children and young people need now is a “living curriculum”, relevant to their lives and real world issues.

The idea is that this living curriculum would respond to children and young people’s lives, and enable them to see themselves and each other in what they are learning. It will also evolve to meet changing biological, social, cultural and technological issues and knowledge.

Importantly, we have recommended that sexuality and relationships education should not be relegated to an individual lesson or subject. It should be embedded across the whole curriculum. This means that any subject – science, humanities, or any other – should be able to address key areas of learning about gender, sexuality and relationships. Issues like rights, identity, body image, safety, care, consent, among others will be taught across the school timetable.

To ensure that learning is reinforced beyond the classroom, we have recommended that sexuality and relationships education provision is part of a whole school approach. We also suggest that content and assessment is co-produced with children and young people themselves.

We have also suggested that the name is changed to “sexuality and relationships education”. This is important for children and young people who say that current provision is narrowly focused on the biological at the expense of learning about the social, cultural and political aspects of sexuality.

Making sexuality and relationships education a statutory part of the curriculum is a start, but to achieve all this we need to ensure that those who are delivering it are well-trained, supported and confident. There should be a sexuality and relationships specialist lead educator in every school and local authority. This is in addition to protected time in the curriculum for the topic, so that what is planned for can be delivered on, and not squeezed out by other subjects.

These are significant reforms which will demand investment and planning. But the outcome will be an inclusive, relevant and empowering curriculum that can learn from, respond to and support all children and young people’s needs. Our vision is a sexuality and relationship education curriculum for life long learning and experience.

Complete Article HERE!


We May Have Just Identified Genetic Evidence of Male Sexual Orientation


But that still doesn’t mean there’s a ‘gay gene’.


Scientists are reporting what could amount to be the firmest evidence yet of genetic links to male sexual orientation, in the first published genome-wide association study (GWAS) examining the trait.

Researchers recruited more than 2,000 men of both homosexual and heterosexual orientation and analysed their DNA, identifying two genetic regions that appear to be linked to whether individuals are gay or straight.

“Because sexuality is an essential part of human life – for individuals and society – it is important to understand the development and expression of human sexual orientation,” says psychiatrist Alan Sanders from NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Illinois.

“The goal of this study was to search for genetic underpinnings of male sexual orientation, and thus ultimately increase our knowledge of biological mechanisms underlying sexual orientation.”

To do so, Sanders’ team studied 1,077 homosexual men and 1,231 heterosexual men of primarily European ancestry, who were respectively recruited from community festivals and a nationwide survey.

For the purposes of the study, the men’s sexual orientation was based on their self-reported sexual identity and sexual feelings. Each individual taking part provided a sample of their DNA in the form of blood or saliva samples, which were genotyped and analysed.

When the researchers sifted through the data, they isolated several genetic regions where variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) signalled single-letter changes in the DNA, with two of the most prominent congregations located near chromosomes 13 and 14.

“The genes nearest to these peaks have functions plausibly relevant to the development of sexual orientation,” the researchers explain in their paper.

On chromosome 13, the variants were located next to a gene called SLITRK6, which is expressed in the diencephalon – a part of the brain that’s previously been shown to differ in size depending on men’s sexual orientation.

While the mechanisms here aren’t fully understood, the researchers explain the SLITRK gene family is important for neurodevelopment and could be of relevance for a range of behavioural phenotypes, not just sexual orientation.

On chromosome 14, the strongest associations were centred around the thyroid stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) gene, and it’s thought the cluster of SNP variants here could conceivably affect sexual orientation due to altered expression in the hippocampus – in addition to producing atypical thyroid function.

It’s not the first time scientists have examined our genetic code looking for hints as to predictors of sexual persuasion.

While there are numerous environmental factors to consider, previous research – that has not yet been replicated – linked a genetic marker in the X chromosome called Xq28 to male sexual orientation back in the 1990s.

This gave rise to the idea of the so-called ‘gay gene’, even though that’s technically a misnomer, since the Xq28 band actually contains several genes, and the science on the region remains unclear.

More recently, a controversial study presented in 2015 by UCLA researchers suggested an algorithm analysing epigenetic markers that affect gene expression could predict male sexual orientation with up to 70 percent accuracy, but the findings were never published.

Similarly controversial – but in a completely different field of science – researchers from Stanford University made headlines in September when they claimed an AI they had developed could correctly distinguish between gay and heterosexual men and women (81 percent of the time and 74 percent of the time respectively).

While those findings produced an uproar, the claims – if true – serve as another illustration that our biology may contain innumerable clues about things like our sexual orientation that science is only beginning to reveal.

In terms of the new results, there’s bound to be a lot of interest in the study, but the researchers are eager to emphasise their findings are largely speculative for now, since there’s still a lot we don’t know about what these genetic variations really mean.

There’s also the relatively small size and skewed European basis of the sample – not to mention the fact that it’s all men – which limit what it can tell us about genetic underpinnings to sexual orientation more broadly across race and sex lines.

Despite those shortcomings, there’s a lot for other researchers to consider here, and the team hopes this could lay the groundwork for future investigations that could more deeply penetrate the genetic factors that help influence our sexual identities.

“What we have accomplished is a first step for GWAS on the trait, and we hope that subsequent larger studies will further illuminate its genetic contributions,” says Sanders.

“Understanding the origins of sexual orientation enables us to learn a great deal about sexual motivation, sexual identity, gender identity, and sex differences, and this and subsequent work may take us further down that path of discovery.”

The findings are reported in Scientific Reports.

Complete Article HERE!


How to Do Prostate Massage (For Better Sex)



Men who are suffering with prostatitis or an enlarged prostate (aka, benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH) or who want to promote better sexual health can often benefit from prostate massage therapy (aka, prostate milking). If the thought of doing a prostate massage for yourself or having a partner do it for you is uncomfortable, you should know that learning how to do prostate massage or having it done for you could provide significant symptom relief and be highly beneficial for your sex life and sexual performance.

Historically, prostate massage has been used over the centuries to enhance a man’s sexual prowess. Men who had many partners or who were very sexually active used prostate massage to help ensure they could maintain their sexual activities. The benefits of prostate massage have now been expanded to include therapeutic advantages for men who are living with common prostate conditions as well as enhance orgasms and erectile function.

Please note, however, that you should not attempt prostate massage until you have consulted with your healthcare provider to ensure it is safe for you to do so.

How to do prostate massage manually

Prostate massage therapy can be performed in two basic ways: externally or internally, and each of these methods can be done manually or using a special prostate massage device. Some men prefer one approach over another, while others switch between them. In any case, prostate massage can improve blood flow in the treated area, enhance urinary flow, and help promote the integrity and health of the prostate tissue.

To prepare for a prostate massage, first empty your bowels and bladder. If you are going to have the massage done by hand, get a nonlatex glove or a condom and some lubricating gel, such as KY jelly. You can either lean over a table or get on all fours on the floor or a bed. Now you are ready for a self-prostate massage or one done by a partner or health professional.

Here is how to do a manual prostate massage using a finger:

  • Insert the lubricated finger into the anus and gently probe for the prostate. The prostate feels like a small round ball.
  • Once the prostate has been located, apply light pressure for several seconds, then pull back slightly to release the pressure.
  • Advance the finger again and apply gentle pressure on the same or a different spot if you can. Hold for several seconds and then release. Application of pressure to the center of the prostate releases fluid to the tip of the penis.
  • Repeat this massage process five to ten times. You may experience an erection, which is normal.

Another manual approach using a finger involves applying pressure to the perineum, which is the area located between the scrotum and anus. You can choose to use or not use a glove or condom with lubricant. Massage the entire length of the perineum for several minutes.

Here is how to do a manual prostate massage using a finger:

  • Insert the lubricated finger into the anus and gently probe for the prostate. The prostate feels like a small round ball.
  • Once the prostate has been located, apply light pressure for several seconds, then pull back slightly to release the pressure.
  • Advance the finger again and apply gentle pressure on the same or a different spot if you can. Hold for several seconds and then release. Application of pressure to the center of the prostate releases fluid to the tip of the penis.
  • Repeat this massage process five to ten times. You may experience an erection, which is normal.

Another manual approach using a finger involves applying pressure to the perineum, which is the area located between the scrotum and anus. You can choose to use or not use a glove or condom with lubricant. Massage the entire length of the perineum for several minutes.

When using an internal prostate massage product, you must lubricate it well before inserting it. Those with a vibration feature will vibrate when pressed against the prostate, which will help reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and relax the gland.

External prostate massage products are designed so you can sit on them, which applies pressure to the perineum.

Regardless of which prostate massage approach you choose, you need to be patient. It typically takes several weeks before you will notice appreciable benefits of daily prostate massage therapy.

Complete Article HERE!