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Researchers Reveal an Evolutionary Basis for the Female Orgasm

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Though a common occurrence (hopefully), the female orgasm has been a biological mystery.

by Philip Perry

Few things are as magical as the female orgasm, whether you are experiencing it, inducing it, or just a casual observer. It is essentially pure art in motion. Yet, there are many things we don’t know about the phenomenon, scientifically speaking, such as, why it exists. Scientists have been pondering this for centuries.

Apart from vestigial organs, there are few structures in the body we don’t know the function of. It seems that the clitoris is there merely for pleasure. But would evolution invest so much in such a fanciful aim? Over the years, dozens of theories have been posited and hotly debated.

One prevailing theory is the “byproduct hypothesis.” The penis gives pleasure in order to drive males toward intercourse and ensure the perpetuation of the species. The sex organs are one of the last things developed in utero. Due to this, and the fact that women develop their pleasure organ from the same physical structure the penis is formed from, the clitoris is therefore a “byproduct” of the penis. You could imagine how some women feel about this theory.

Another is the mate-choice hypothesis. Here, it is thought that since a woman take longer to “get there,” it would pay for her to find a mate invested in her pleasure. A considerate lover would make a good father, the theory posits. Yet, the female orgasm happens rarely during penetrative intercourse, undercutting this theory.

It’s been thought that the act plays a role in conception. Several studies have shown that the woman having an orgasm during intercourse increases the likelihood of impregnation. But how and why is not well understood. Now, a team of scientists suggest that the female climax once played a role in reproduction, by triggering ovulation.  

Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy. By: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. 1606.

Researchers at Yale University posed this theory, in a study published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B Molecular and Developmental Evolution. Gunter Wagner was its co-author. He is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the university. According to him, previous research has been looking in the wrong place. It focused on how human biology itself changed over time.

Instead, these Yale researchers began by analyzing a large swath of species and the mechanisms present in females associated with reproduction. Wagner and colleagues also looked at the genitalia of placental mammals. They focused on two hormones released during penetrative intercourse across species, prolactin and oxytocin.

Prolactin is responsible for the processes surrounding breast-milk and breast feeding, while oxytocin is the “calm and cuddle” hormone. It helps us to bond and feel closer to others. Placental mammals in the wild need these two hormones to trigger ovulation. Without them, the process cannot occur.

One major insight researchers found is that in other species, mammalian ovulation is induced by contact with males, whereas in humans and other primates, it is an automatic process operating outside of sexual activity, called spontaneous ovulation. From here, they looked at those female mammals who induce ovulation through sexual contact with males. In those species, the clitoris is located inside the vagina.

Evolutionary biologists believe that spontaneous ovulation first occurred, in the common ancestor of primates and rodents, around 75 million years ago.  From here, Wagner and colleagues deduced that the female orgasm must have been an important part of reproduction in early humans. Before spontaneous ovulation, the human clitoris may have been placed inside the vagina. Stimulation of the clitoris during intercourse would trigger the release of prolactin and oxytocin, which would in turn, induce ovulation. This process became obsolete once spontaneous ovulation made it onto the scene.

“It is important to stress that it didn’t look like the human female orgasm looks like now,” said Mihaela Pavličev, Wagner’s co-author of this study. “Homologous traits in different species are often difficult to identify, as they can change substantially in the course of evolution.” She added, “We think the hormonal surge characterizes a trait that we know as female orgasm in humans. This insight enabled us to trace the evolution of the trait across species.”

While the hypothesis is compelling, it has drawbacks. The biggest is that it’s difficult, if not impossible, at least currently, to investigate what, if any, sexual pleasure other female animals derive during copulation. Other experts say, more data is needed from other organisms to shore up this theory. Still, it seems the most persuasive argument to date.

To learn more about the biological basis of the female orgasm, click here:

 

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex and parenthood for people with disabilities

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By Kristin Linton

Do people with disabilities have sex? Should they marry and have children?

As part of a research project, Emily Hops, a graduate of CSU Channel Islands, and I interviewed eight college students with disabilities about their general experiences with intimacy and sexual health last spring.

Each student expressed his or her own internal struggle with whether or not they should bear children themselves.

One said, “Is it selfish to have a kid? Even if your kid doesn’t have a disability, are you putting that burden on that kid to one day take care of you because you have a disability?”

Some students shared stories about professionals, even teachers, who dissuaded them from developing intimate relationships with others.

Even though California passed the Healthy Youth Act of 2015, which mandates adapted sex education for students with disabilities, I wonder if we have fully embraced the sexual rights of people with disabilities — especially considering California’s dark past with something called the “eugenics movement.”

Eugenics is essentially selective breeding in order to increase the occurrence of desirable inherited characteristics. California was a leader in the eugenics movement, which resulted in the sexual sterilization of 20,000 people in the state between 1909 and 1979. Seventy percent of those sterilized without their consent had various disabilities, spanning from schizophrenia to a casual diagnosis of being “feeble-minded.”

With a total of 60,000 sterilizations across the U.S., California was responsible for a third of all the procedures. Castrations and tubal ligations were common procedures performed. Some even argue that the U.S. led the way for Nazi Germany’s mass use of sexual sterilizations during the Holocaust.

Along with sexual sterilization laws in the eugenics movement came laws prohibiting marriage between people with disabilities, with the assumption being that reproduction was the reason for marriage.

California passed an annulment law, which specifically stated physical or mental capacity and consent as reasons for deeming a marriage null and void.

While there were other reasons that a marriage could be annulled, physical and mental capacity as well as lack of consent were the only reasons that involved third parties, such as parents or physicians.

These third parties could argue that either the bride or groom was “physically incapable of entering into the marriage state” or “was of unsound mind” at the time of marriage, and the marriage could be annulled.

If third parties were aware of a couple with disabilities planning a marriage, those third parties could make an argument about the incapacity of the bride and/or groom before the marriage date and shut it down altogether. In the early 1900s, 28 percent of marriages were annulled on these grounds.

The law is still on the books. Although rarely enforced today, these reasons for annulment remain in the wording of California Family Code Section 2210.

Not only is marriage annulment due to disability still lawful, but our history of perceiving people with disabilities as “asexual” beings still lives on today.

My hope is that we can learn to appreciate all people with disabilities as sexual beings with full sexual citizenship in hopes that they themselves do not question their own rights as human beings.

Complete Article HERE!

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

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By Leah Fessler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Complete Article HERE!

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Romping 50 Shades of Grey-Style? Rope in your Doctor

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Whips. Chains. Paddles. Rope. Thanks to the pop culture explosion that is 50 Shades of Grey, these words are now part of the mainstream sexual lexicon. But while the book and film franchise has increased awareness about kink, many people are still keeping their bedroom habits secret, and it’s impacting their health.

Amy in Winnipeg has lived the BDSM lifestyle (that’s bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism) and she’s the first to admit that, “it’s nothing like the tame version of the books or movies.” She’s experienced, abrasions, rope burn, sciatic nerve pain and spankings that left her so raw that “it got to the point where I had huge pieces of flesh missing…I couldn’t sit for a week.”

As Amy explains, “if not looked after properly, abrasions can lead to bacterial infections,” which is exactly what happened to her after a particularly painful spanking injury. “I went to the doctor to get cream and I explained myself,” she says.

While Amy wasn’t afraid to open up to her healthcare practitioner, she’s in a minority. According to a new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine titled “Fifty Shades of Stigma: Exploring the Health Care Experiences of Kink-Oriented Patients,” less than half of individuals surveyed were open with their doctors about their kinky sexual practices. The main reason for keeping quiet? Fear of judgement. Also, as the study highlights, many individuals are afraid their physician will misinterpret their consensual sexual acts as partner abuse.

It makes sense. While my experience with anything kink-oriented is extremely limited, years ago I sustained some gnarly carpet burns after an encounter with an ex. When I went to see my family doctor for my annual exam, I blurted out, “I slipped while playing a game of Twister with friends!” I have no idea why I thought this sounded remotely plausible to anyone, but it was the first thing that came to mind. In retrospect, I think she knew what the deal was, but chose to be discrete. However, not everyone is so lucky.

Despite increased visibility in pop culture, the stigma associated with BDSM is still very real. However, so are the potential risks. Injuries that arise from BDSM can potentially mushroom into more serious issues if left unattended. Anna M. Randall, LCSW, MPH, is a San Francisco-based sex therapist and the executive director of The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance (TASHRA), the team behind the study. As she told Cosmopolitan magazine recently, “big bruises can develop into hematomas, for example.” She goes on to say that “there are rare injuries from rough sex that may lead to serious complications, such as torn vaginal tissue or scrotum injuries, and because more risky sexual BDSM behaviors may include controlling the breathing of

a partner, those with asthma face real risks if they’re not treated for attacks immediately.”

However, for Cassandra J. Perry, an advocate, researcher and writer, her injuries were all due to health conditions she didn’t realize she had at the time. Perry’s first injury occurred when she shredded the cartilage in her left hip joint (an injury called a labral tear.) She says, “even if you think you’re sex-savvy smart, you could probably be and likely should be safer!” Also, as she points out, “If we practice bdsm, that’s a good reason why we should have our annual physicals. And it’s a really good reason to pay attention to what our mind-body tells us. If something seems off, we need to be persistent with getting answers and care (when possible) and to be cautious when engaging in BDSM activities that may interact with some part of our health that concerns us.”

However, as Stella Harris, a Sex Educator & Intimacy Coach explains, “The risks of BDSM aren’t just physical.

Make sure to look out for the emotional implications, as well. Some of this play can be very intense, and you want to make sure you’ve planned all the necessary aftercare.” This is going to look different for everyone and can include everything from cuddling with your partner to routine check-ins with them over the following days.

Lastly, Harris reminds us, “I always advocate honesty with your medical professionals. When you’re finding a doctor, screen for someone you can be open and honest with, who has passing knowledge of kink, and who isn’t judgmental. If you go to the doctor with visible bruises, just be honest about it and tell them the bruises are from consensual kink activities. They might have questions, but it’s best to be clear and upfront, before they assume the worst.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Multiple Orgasms for Men?

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Multiple Orgasms for Men? The Fascinating Technique That Might Open Up Whole New Sexual Experience

 

Women aren’t the only ones capable of a multi-orgasmic experience

By Carrie Weisman

As a society we carry a lot of entrenched ideas about sex. Perhaps one of the most deeply ingrained assumptions is that women can have multiple orgasms, and that men can’t. But is that really true?

In 1986, sex therapists William Hartman and Marilyn Fithian put together the book, Any Man Can. They describe that by withholding ejaculation, men can experience “a number of sexual peaks.”

“The multi-orgasmic men we have studied have chosen to develop that capacity (stopping ejaculation using learned techniques)… The behavior itself (interrupting orgasm via such techniques) appears to be at least four thousand years old,” they wrote,

More than a decade later, sex educator Jack Johnston came out with a training program to help men work towards this experience. Johnston told me over the phone that he’s made it his life’s work to dispel the myth that only women are capable of experiencing multiple orgasms.

“Men and women are physiologically a lot more similar than people realize. Vive la différence, of course, but in terms of the neurological capacity for experiencing the orgasmic impulses, we’re wired in quite a similar manner.”

He added, “I try to help reacquaint people with the idea that orgasm is an energetic event, and that for men, it’s not automatically linked to ejaculation. They’re two separate events. Two separate reflexes.”

In contrast to other “experts,” Johnston avoids conventional “squeeze techniques” that encourage men to stop just short of “the point of no return.” These techniques typically require that men clench pelvic floor muscles, slow their breathing and allow the urge to ejaculate to pass.

As Johnston explained, “That’s not really a whole lot of fun for anybody. You’re constantly monitoring, it’s like ‘Am I there yet? Maybe I can go a little further. Oh shucks, I went too far.’”

“My working hypothesis was that there’s got to be a better way than that. I don’t think our creator was sadistic in that way.”

Johnston’s program is known as The Key Sound Multiple Orgasm (KSMO) training. The “Key Sound” refers to a particular sound one can make while engaging in some light stimulation during solo (or partnered) practice sessions, separate from the act of intercourse. He insists the vibrations brought on by the sound can help “unlock” the key to multiple orgasms.

One satisfied client writes, “As the sensations became stronger, my vocal expressions became deeper and louder. I continued until I was so overwhelmed by this feeling I literally could not move anymore – pleasantly paralyzed by orgasm with no urge to ejaculate.”

But while most men believe penile stimulation to be the primary means by which to experience orgasm, Johnston recommends  guys bypass the penis and head for the perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus) during their solo sessions.

Johnston’s refers to the perineal area as the “the male G-spot.” Part of his training revolves around “helping men locate that area of their body, and then, as part of the ‘Multiple Orgasm Trigger,’ practice to gently massage [the perineal] area just enough to get a little tingle, or a little rush.” Johnston calls these sensations “Echo Effects.”

“How does one increase arousal to orgasmic intensity without using lots and lots of stimulation? For men in particular, more and more stimulation tends to trigger the ejaculation reflex. So the idea is, in a sense, how do you learn to sneak up on the orgasm?”

“Very often, orgasm is centered right in the genital area, whereas the method that I teach tends to occur throughout ones body. One experiences arousal throughout one’s body. Neurologically, it’s all connected throughout the body, so the idea is to become aware of that. To become aware that when someone becomes aroused it’s not just in the genital area, those waves of energy start flowing throughout one’s entire body.”

On the official forum, one of Johnston’s clients reports, “As I am doing my sessions, I am really getting new sensations each time. Presently, I am feeling my prostate pumping (for lack of a better word) and this is causing me to get a slight erection. When my prostate pumps, it is sending pre-cum and I am beginning to leak a little. I have to stay relaxed because I feel that I could cross over and ejaculate. This pumping of my prostate are mini orgasms (I assume) and they feel great. My entire body is hot, shaking, and feeling really amazing. I can do this for about an hour and maybe a little longer.”

Another writes, “Tonight, after doing my 20 minutes and then sort of absent mindedly continuing, I do believe I had my first full body, non-ejaculatory orgasm. It just sort of came on as I was massaging the base of my penis, from out of nowhere–NOT like it came from within my body. It felt like a heat throughout my body, and a sort of giddiness, almost like the light, first rush of MDMA (er…or so I’ve read…).

“And the crazy thing was, instead of feeling like the orgasm was in me, it felt like I was in the orgasm–like it was surrounding and suffusing my whole body like a field of energy. Pretty wild.”

Johnston recommends that his clients practice the technique for 20 minutes every other day. He notes that ejaculation should be avoided on days devoted to practice.

He explained that in contrast to the “traditional” male ejaculatory orgasm, multiple orgasms typically arrive in “waves.” And since they aren’t linked to ejaculation, one’s energy doesn’t dissipate as it does when one ejaculates. He added that after having mastered the technique, most men come to prefer these kind of orgasms.

He continued, “It lasts so much longer. The after glow lasts so much longer too. It’s the kind of energy that can infuse your whole being.” He also notes that, after having completed the training, many men report experiencing more intense ejaculatory orgasms as well.

But mastering the physical technique is only half the battle. As Johnston explained, a good part of his training revolves around teaching men to expand their understanding of sexual pleasure, and open themselves up to the different means by which it can be attained.

He tells me, “There are a lot of people who think that it’s important for intellectual integrity to be really, really skeptical. I think it’s appropriate to have some skepticism, but it’s also really essential not to just be attached to being a skeptic. In the face of evidence to the contrary, one needs to have the intellectual integrity to consider it.”

“Once we learn the facts about our physiology, and what’s really possible. That’s a whole new world.”

Some people have years of sexual experience under their belt. Some don’t. But no matter where you land on the path of sexual self-exploration, it’s never too late to rewrite certain standards, and never too soon to start experimenting with different points of pleasure, no matter how obscure they may seem.

Complete Article HERE!

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