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Life as a sex worker for people with disabilities

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By Vanessa Brown

WHEN Fleur first started working in the sex industry, receiving a phone call from a parent or guardian on behalf of a potential client was “unusual”.

“It’s not an experience that many people have to go through, arranging a sexual experience on the behalf of someone else,” she told news.com.au.

Miss Fleur, as she calls herself, became a sex worker at 18. Ten years later, she’s built up a diverse client base, including many people with disabilities.

“In a lot of ways, there’s no difference,” Fleur said of her clients. “I’m dealing with adults who have a fantasy that they haven’t been able to explore. The main thing that’s different is that sometimes, but not always, appointments are facilitated through parents or carers.

“Carers listen to their clients and take their needs seriously. But it’s not that these people are arranging appointments without consent. They are doing it on the instruction of the person with the disability.”

Rachel Wotton

Rachel Wotton is a sex worker who works with people with disabilities.

About 4 million Australians, or one in five people, are living with a disability. More than million of these people are aged between 15 and 64.

In Australia and overseas, disability advocacy groups are trying to raise awareness about disabled people and sex.

Veteran sex worker Rachel Wotton is one of the co-founders of Touching Base, an organisation that allows people with disabilities to connect with sex workers.

She says the stigma surrounding the sex lives of people with disabilities is disheartening.

“It’s ridiculous. Just because someone can’t walk the same way as others, or doesn’t have the same technique to use their voice, doesn’t mean they haven’t got the same sexual desires as other people,” Ms Wotton told news.com.au.

“We are sexual human beings. How dare someone tell another person how they should or should not feel. The most beautiful thing about skin to skin contact is the idea of being.

“People need to move away from the idea that sex is intercourse. Our sexuality is expressed in many different ways,” said Ms Wotton, who has worked in the industry for more than 20 years and was featured in the documentary Scarlet Road.

achel’s client John died in November 2011. They both appeared in the documentary Scarlet Road.

Rachel’s client John died in November 2011. They both appeared in the documentary Scarlet Road.

Her clients live with a wide range of disabilities. One of her regulars, 61-year-old Colin Wright, came from a family that didn’t talk about sex. In the SBS documentary I Have Cerebral Palsy and I Enjoy Having Sex, Colin revealed that he found his first sexual partner through a carer.

“There was a lady who I felt close to so, one day, while we were alone, I asked Kerry if she would organise for me to visit a lady,” he told SBS. “To my surprise, straight away, she said ‘yes’.”

Ms Wotton says this is common in her line of work.

“Imagine if you had to ring your mother or carer and say ‘this is what I’d like to do, can you help me?’” Ms Wotton said.

“Imagine the fear of opening up about your sexual desires, as a middle-aged man or woman, to your family. Some of the parents have been amazing, and really work through this stigma. It’s very brave of them.”

Colin Wright is a client of Rachel Wotton.

Colin Wright is a client of Rachel Wotton.

When a carer or parent contacts a sex worker or sex work organization, they must provide the worker with complete consent from the client before the appointment can be scheduled.

“If someone’s father organises for me to see their adult son, I don’t care if he has paid me money. I’m going to make sure my client is consenting to the services,” she said.

“The only person who can give consent is the very person themselves. No one can give consent on their behalf.

“Some clients will contact me directly. Otherwise it’s parents or carers or support workers contacting on behalf of someone.”

Ms Wotton says the same protocols apply to any other service.

“It’s like any other appointment. The client is asking for available times, payment options, letting them know if it’s a home appointment and we discuss the disability of the client.

“The appointment is set up exactly the same as if they were ringing up for a dental appointment, hairdressing appointment or a tattoo,” she said.

“Of course people are nervous, because they have to speak with a sex worker and because of the myths around the industry. But once they talk to us, they see that we are general members of society like anyone else.”

Rachel 2

Rachel Wotton has been a sex worker for over 20 years.

Ms Wotton and her colleagues will spend a good percentage of the discussion talking about what they can and can’t do with their clients.

“There is a stigma around sex work that we will do anything. That’s not true. We are negotiating, it’s a mutually consensual adult activity,” she said.

“People often think that if they can’t verbalise yes or no, they can’t give consent. That’s just ridiculous because there are so many ways that people can communicate. There’s boards, eye movement, nodding heads, hand signals, apps and even iPads.

“We know how people consent when they understand what services and experiences they are consenting to. They have the right to withdraw consent, and that’s for the sex worker as well.

“The sexual desires of those with a disability are in line with the rest of society. It’s as far as their imaginations go.”

Fleur says more education is needed about the sex lives of disabled people.

“Adults with disabilities have all the same needs and desires as anyone else,” she said.

“I think people should take a moment to think about their own lives, and if their needs and desires would change if they became disabled. We are only a car accident away from it.”

Rachel uses a board with her late client, Mark.

Rachel uses a board with her late client, Mark.

Touching Base is a charitable organisation that requires support from the public to continue their work. More information can be found here.

Complete Article HERE!

I Can’t Believe People Tell Sex Workers to “Go to the Police” If They’ve Been Raped

A Few Thoughts About Stoya, James Deen, and the Rape Allegations Made on Social Media

by Mistress Matisse

deen

The law does not give a shit about sex workers. Neither do many people on Twitter.

On November 28, writer, director, and porn actress Stoya fired off two tweets that would upend the porn world.

@Stoya: “That thing where you log in to the internet for a second and see people idolizing the guy who raped you as a feminist. That thing sucks… James Deen held me down and fucked me while I said no, stop, used my safeword. I just can’t nod and smile when people bring him up anymore.”

Stoya was talking about her former partner, James Deen—the adult-video-industry icon, he of the boyish good looks and crossover media fame, whose swooning female fan base dubbed him “the feminist porn star.”

Deen was silent for a day and then posted to Twitter: “There have been some egregious claims made against me… I want to assure my friends, fans, and colleagues that these allegations are both false and defamatory… I respect women and I know and respect limits both professionally and privately.” He then went silent until earlier this week, when he gave an exclusive interview to the Daily Beast denying all allegations. He has not replied to a request for comment from The Stranger.

I believe Stoya. Unpleasant stories about Deen have circulated in the sex-work community since well before they were a couple, and in the days following her tweets, nine other women also came forward to say that Deen has assaulted them. One of the women, Joanna Angel, was in a relationship with him for six years. Their stories don’t sound like descriptions of misunderstandings or moments of bad judgement. They sound like persistently abusive behavior, dating back nearly 10 years in Deen’s life. I believe all of them.

However, one development of all this did pleasantly surprise me: Major porn companies responded swiftly to the womens’ allegations. Shortly after the allegations began coming out, major porn studios Kink.com and Evil Angel announced they would no longer work with Deen, effective immediately. Other adult businesses that had connections with Deen also distanced themselves, and non-porn website The Frisky dropped Deen’s sex-advice column from its site. In a matter of days, James Deen went from being the golden boy of porn to probably unemployable in the industry.

Of course, there was a backlash. Any allegation of sexual assault invariably brings forth strident deniers, and this was catnip for whorephobes. But it wasn’t just people accusing the women of “lying” and “slander.” One person replied to Stoya’s original tweet with “Rape a whore? Isn’t that just shoplifting?”

Defending a man accused of rape by calling his accuser a “whore” is especially irksome when that man is himself a sex worker. But there’s another reaction that bothers me, not only from outsiders, but also from a disturbing number of women in the sex industry. They’re defending Deen because Stoya accused him on Twitter.

Over the last two weeks, I have had a lot of conversations with people who say things like Deen is being tried in the court of social media. His professional reputation is ruined because he can’t prove himself innocent. None of them made a police report at the time, so how do we know it was REALLY rape? You can’t accuse someone of a crime without proof! There was a nearly constant thread of “innocent until proven guilty.”

But no one has filed criminal charges against Deen. He has exactly the same access to social media as his accusers do, he can talk to the reporters of his choice, and he has an agent and a lawyer to advise him. In my opinion, James Deen is not being victimized by the women who are saying he has harmed them.

When you say, “If it was rape, why didn’t you go the police?” here’s what it really means: If you don’t go to the police, you’re not allowed to talk about your sexual assault. Rape is like a ticket in a parking garage, apparently—if you didn’t get it validated by the powers that be, you will pay for that later. This is a silencing tactic, nothing more. No one spewing about “due process” to a sex worker who’s been assaulted until her ass needs stitches actually gives a shit about the sanctity of law.

And the law certainly does not give a shit about sex workers.

I have a lot of power and privilege for a sex worker, and still I can’t imagine going to the police if I were raped. To a sex worker, police are as likely to be the problem as they are to protect you from one. Take Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, for example, who’s on trial for sexually assaulting 13 black women, many of whom had been sex workers. We’re supposed to get a rape-note stamp of approval from that guy?

Another gut-churning lesson on how sex workers fare in courtrooms is the case of Christy Mack, a nude model, dancer, and porn performer who was the victim of a horrifically violent attempted rape by her ex-partner, MMA fighter War Machine. Last year, War Machine, aka Jonathan Koppenhaver, allegedly entered her Las Vegas house, assaulted a friend of Mack’s who was also present, and then beat Mack so savagely that she suffered 18 broken bones, missing teeth, and a ruptured liver.

Koppenhaver was arrested and is now facing trial on 34 felony charges, including attempted murder. His defense? Since Mack was a sex worker, she enjoyed the attack. Koppenhaver’s defense lawyer, Brandon Sua, said in court that Mack’s career shows she had a “desire, the preference, the acceptability toward a particular form of sex activities that were outside of the norm.” Koppenhaver laughed openly when Mack testified in court, and at another point blew a kiss at the prosecuting attorney.

Even if Koppenhaver is convicted, it’s a stark reminder of what every sex worker learns: For us, there is no due process, no unbiased hearing. When it first became known that police were seeking War Machine for the assault, MMA fans on social media vilified Christy Mack as (of course) a lying whore. Then she tweeted pictures of herself in the hospital with shocking injuries, and public sympathy shifted considerably (if not completely) in her favor.

In the case of Deen, Stoya’s high social-media visibility is part of what made it safe for her to speak. Other women joined her, and their supporters made the hashtags #standwithstoya and #solidaritywithstoya go viral. If our suffering is plain, or our numbers many, then the court of public opinion is a place where sex workers may have a chance of prevailing.

James Deen is a porn brand whose stock has dropped. Doubtless that stings, but Deen is not headed to court and he’s not headed to jail, so the frenzied cries of “twitter lynch mobs” are absurd. It’s too soon even to say for sure his porn career is finished; other pop-culture heroes have recovered from sexual-assault accusations. Although really, if Deen truly can’t tell when he’s crossed over someone’s boundaries, is he really a guy who should be employed pushing them?

Moral questions about Deen’s behavior aside, it’s simply his job to have the consent of his scene partners, the professional trust of his producers, and the admiration of his fans. If he loses that? Then he loses his livelihood. That’s how fame works: You must cater to “the court of public opinion,” or the public will have no use for you.

Stoya punched a hole in the wall of silence about sexual assault against sex workers, as did all the women who joined her, and I’m grateful. You may decry the court of public opinion, but until sex workers are given equality before the law, we will use it, because it’s the only one open to us. recommended

Complete Article HERE!

How to Stop Getting So Damn Distracted During Sex

By Vanessa Marin

001

During sex, do you frequently find yourself thinking about grocery shopping, or getting distracted by the cobwebs on the ceiling? It’s frustratingly hard to turn our brains off when we’re being intimate, even though we all know how much better sex can be when we’re mentally present. These tricks can help.

Practice Outside the Bedroom

The key to all of this is mindfulness, or put less jargon-y, learning how to be more present in the moment. If you spend your entire day adrift in a sea of anxiety, multitasking, and overactive thinking, you can’t expect to be perfectly calm and centered the second your partner starts taking your clothes off. The best way to learn how to be more present in the bedroom is to practice slowing your mind down outside of the bedroom. Being present is a skill that requires practice, and it’s usually easier to make the space for that practice when you’re not naked with another person.

Meditation can help a lot here. I highly recommend Headspace, an app that teaches you how to meditate. Headspace takes a topic that seems befuddling to most people, and breaks it down into simple, easy-to-understand concepts. It guides you through structured meditation sessions, so you’re never left wondering what you’re supposed to be doing. Even 10 minutes of meditation a day will naturally make it easier for you to feel more present during sex. If ever there was a good argument for starting up a meditation practice, this is it.

Set Yourself Up for Success

The distractors that I hear about most frequently from my clients are clutter, electronics, and to-do lists. You can transform your bedroom a sex haven by making it a clutter- and electronics-free zone. If you’re a frequent to-do list ruminator, quickly jot down your list items before you go pounce on your partner.

Take a moment to think about any other distraction triggers that you might have. Do you tend to get distracted if you know there are dirty dishes in the sink? Or maybe the peeling paint on the wall always catches your eye. Take any necessary steps to remove that distraction. Some distractors can be eliminated permanently, while others may require ongoing effort, but the idea is to try to create more mental space for yourself. You don’t want to create a situation where things have to be perfectly in place before you’re able to be intimate with your partner, but you can try to keep your usual distractions at a minimum.

Expect Distraction

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably had the experience of thinking about the cupcakes you need to bake for your kid’s soccer team, and the consequent feelings of guilt for thinking about baked goods while balls deep in your partner. You get so derailed by your frustration that you wind up getting even more distracted than you were by the original thought.

The truth is that it’s impossible to be present and focused 100% of the time. You can’t stop your brain from thinking. You’re going to have unwanted (and incredibly random) thoughts pop into your head at all moments of the day, including during sex. If you have the expectation that your mind should be clear of all thoughts except for how much fun you’re having with your partner, you’re going to be bitterly disappointed. Instead, acknowledge that distraction is the price we pay for having brains. Try to reframe your goals and think about minimizing distractions rather than eliminating them altogether.

Don’t Fight Your Thoughts

Trying to prevent yourself from thinking never works, and usually just intensifies the distraction. You’ve got to figure out a way to let the thoughts just be, without making them take up even more space.

 


 
Headspace has a great metaphor where they compare mindfulness to sitting beside a busy intersection. Imagine that your thoughts are the cars driving down the roads. You can’t stop the flow of cars, but you can prevent yourself from hopping into one of the cars and driving off in it. Try to allow thoughts to pop into your head during sex, but don’t actively think about them. You may even find it useful to visualize them driving out of eyesight.

Use Your Breath

Focusing on your breath is one of the core principles of mindfulness. It’s a great way to let go of your thoughts and bring yourself back into the moment. When you feel yourself hopping into that little hot rod with one of your thoughts, take a deep breath and imagine gently opening the car door and escorting your brain out of the car. One particularly effective breathing technique is to imagine sending your breath down to your X-rated bits as you inhale, and back up to your nose as you exhale. This requires a bit of extra attention, and brings your focus back to your body.

Narrate What’s Going On

Here’s another super simple mindfulness technique that can work wonders during sex: Tell yourself a story (in your head) about what’s happening from moment to moment. It might sound something like, “now he’s running his hand up my thigh. Now he’s spreading my legs apart.” This trick gives your brain something to do, but focuses it on the sex itself. You can also narrate your body’s reactions to the events at hand, which will help you tune in to the sensation even more. For example, “now I’m feeling my breath start to quicken. Now I’m feeling my stomach flutter. Now my skin feels like it’s tingling in anticipation.” It’s like writing your own erotica.

Consider Your Choice in the Moment

Sometimes the best way to combat distraction is to remind yourself of the decision you have in front of you. You can allow yourself to get swept up in your thoughts, or you can make an effort to stay present with your partner. Try something like, “I can keep thinking about the asshole who cut me off on the freeway, or I can enjoy finally getting a chance to be alone with my incredibly sexy partner” or “I can spend all of my mental energy worrying about when I’m going to work out, or I can spend it on this beautiful ass in front of me.” You can try being gentle with yourself, like, “It’s okay to feel annoyed about my client no-show, but I’ll have plenty of time to worry about that after I’ve boned down,” or you can try being a little sassy, like, “am I really going to think about my mother while I’m getting it in?” These kinds of statements help bring you back into the moment and focus on what’s actually important.

Staying in the moment during sex can seem like a challenge if you’re used to constant distraction, but it’s much more doable than you might think. Plus, is there any great motivation for learning to improve your mindfulness skills than hotter sex?

Complete Article HERE!

My Sex Positive Doctrine

Have you ever wondered about the term, sex positive?

 
If you’re like me, you see it all over the place, especially on sex-related sites. I confess I use it way more often than I should. It’s become one of those industry buzzwords that has, over time, become so fuzzy around the edges that it’s now virtually meaningless. In fact, if the truth be known, I believe the term sex positive has been taken over by the sex Taliban who have made it a cover for their strict code of political correctness. Oddly enough, this is the very antithesis of its original meaning.

sex-on-the-brainIf you want to shame someone in the sex field—be it a sex worker, blogger or adult product manufacturer—you label that person as sex-negative. You may not know anything about that person other than you were offended by something they did, said or made. But still, you hurl the epithet as if you were exorcising a heretic. This is a very powerful tool for keeping people in my industry in line. But I’ve begun to wonder, who is setting themselves up as the arbiter of what is and what is not sex positive? I have to ask: What is the agenda? I mean, could compulsory ideological purity of some artificial standards of thought or behavior be “positive” anything? I say, no!

Like all good ideas that have gone bad due to overuse—or worse, sloppy use—the sex positive concept once had meaning that was life-affirming and enriching. Sex positive has been in the lexicon at least since the mid-1950s. It frequently appears in journals and research papers to describe a movement that examines and advocates for all the other beneficial aspects of sex beyond reproduction.

I’ve been using the term since 1981 when I opened my practice in Clinical Sexology and Sexual Health Care. The opening words of my mission statement read: “I affirm the fundamental goodness of sexuality in human life, both as a personal need and as an interpersonal bond.” Way back then, I was flush with my quixotic pursuit to stand steadfast against all the cultural pressures to negate or denigrate sexuality and pleasure. I dedicated myself to spreading the gospel that healthy attitudes toward sex not only affect a person’s sex life, but his/her ability to relate well with others.

This came relatively easy for me, because I’d learned something very important about evangelization in my life as a Catholic priest. (Another quixotic pursuit, but we’ll have to save the details of that misadventure for another time. Or you could read about it HERE!) One of the first things one learns in seminary is how to proselytize, to sow the seeds of a creed, and then nurture them taking root by endless repetition of the articles of faith. Of course there is a downside to this, too. Repetition fosters mindlessness, stifles creative thought, and worse makes things boring.Negative-Positive

But the creed statements of the world’s three great monotheistic religions are masterful works of theological art.

  • Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’olam!
  • Allaahu Akbar!
  • In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Each contains the most profound kernel of religious truth the believer needs to know, but all are easy enough for a child to learn. And like I said, the secret is in the repetition. For the true devotee, these creedal statements are uttered dozens of times a day and to great effect.

Early on in my career as a sexologist, I decided to put the principles I learned in the Church into disseminating my new belief system. First, keep the message simple! I settled on: “Sex is Good—and Good Sex is Even Better.” This has been my mantra for decades. It contains everything you need to know about being sex positive, but it’s easy enough for a child to learn. Even now it soothes me to hear myself say these words. And it comforts me in the same way blessing myself did in my priestly days.

sex positiveDespite my apprehensions, I continue to be an apostle of the sex positive doctrine. I know that even though my industry has corrupted the concept, others have yet to hear the good news. And there’s something almost spiritual about seeing someone grasp the idea for the first time. Let me tell you about one such instance. Some time ago I was asked to address a group of doctors on the topic Health Care Concerns Of Sexually Diverse Populations. Unfortunately, just a handful of doctors attended the workshop—which was pretty disconcerting, considering all the work I’d put into the presentation. I guess that’s why kinksters and pervs, as well as your run-of-the-mill queer folk, are often frustrated in their search for sensitive and lifestyle-attuned healing and helping professionals.

Since the group of doctors attending was so small, I decided to ask them to pull their chairs in a circle so that our time together could be a bit more informal and intimate. Frankly, I’ve never found it easy talking to doctors about sex; and discussing kinky sex was surely going to be very tricky. So, I decided to start off as gently as I could. My opening remarks included the phrases “sex positive” and “kink positive.”

Sitting as close to my audience as I was, I could see at once that these fundamental concepts weren’t registering with them. I was astonished. Here was a group of physicians, each with a large urban practice. Could they really be this out of touch? I quickly checked in with them to see if my perception was correct. I was right! None of them had heard the term, sex positive. The two who hazarded a guess at its meaning thought it had something to do with being HIV+. I had my work cut out for me.

I decided to share my creed with them. “Sex is Good—and Good Sex is Even Better.” I asked them repeat it with me as if I were teaching a catechism to children. Surprisingly, they did so without resistance. After we repeated the mantra a couple more times, I exposed them to the sex positive doctrine unencumbered by political correctness.

  • Sex Is Good! Sex is a positive force in human development; the pursuit of pleasure, including sexual pleasure, is at the very foundation of a harmonious society.
  • And Good Sex Is Even Better! The individual makes that determination. For example, what I decide is good sex for me, may be boring sex to someone else. And their good sex may be hair-raising to me. In other words, consensual sexual expression is a basic human right regardless of the form that expression takes. And it’s not appropriate for me, or anyone else, to call into question someone else’s consensual affectional choices.
  • Sex Is Good! Everyone has a right to clear, unambiguous sexual health information. It must be presented in a nonjudgmental way, particularly from his or her health care providers. And sexual health encompasses a lot more then just disease prevention, and contraception.
  • And Good Sex Is Even Better! The focus is on the affirmative aspects of sexuality, like sexual pleasure. Sexual wellbeing is more than simply being able to perform. It also means taking responsibility for one’s eroticism as an integral part of one’s personality and involvement with others.
  • Sex Is Good! Each person is unique and that must be respected. Our aim as healing and helping professionals is to provide information and guidance that will help the individual approach his/her unique sexuality in a realistic and responsible manner. This will foster his/her independent growth, personal integrity, as well as provide a more joyful experience of living.
  • And Good Sex Is Even Better! Between the extremes of total sexual repression and relentless sexual pursuit, a person can find that unique place, where he/she is free to live a life of self-respect, enjoyment and love.

Finally I told them they ought to think creatively how they could adapt this concept to their own practice. It was up to each of them to make this creed their own. As it turned out, this primer was just the thing to open my planned discussion of health care for kinksters.

In a way this experience was a bit of a spiritual reawakening for me, too. Despite my misgivings about the contamination of the sex positive doctrine by malicious people bent on using it as a weapon against those they disagree with. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to watch these sex positive novices hear, and then embrace, the message for the first time. It was nothing short of a religious experience.

Female Sexual Dysfunction, Another Perspective

Hey sex fans,

It appears that my posting of last week, Female Sexual Dysfunction Is A Fictional Disorder, caused quite a stir.  As you recall, I was answering a question from a woman who asked if FSD, or female sexual dysfunction is real or a fictitious “ailment” that is being promulgated to sell pharmaceuticals to unsuspecting women.  I replied; “I think that, for the most part, female sexual dysfunction, or FSD, is a fictional disorder. I also think pharmaceutical companies are trying to hit on a female version of Viagra to treat this imaginary disorder so they can make a bundle, just like they did with as the male version.”

Well, that didn’t sit well with some friends and colleagues. One among them, Dr. Serena McKenzie took the most exception. She sent me a little note: “Your blog on female sexual dysfunction being fictitious is – respectfully – fucking bullshit sir.” Ok then!

I invited Serena to make her case not only to me, but to all my readers. What follows is Serena in her own words.

Flibanserin, the first and only medication available for use in reproductive aged women with low libido, becomes commercially available this week after a rocky and controversial road that led to its FDA approval Aug. 18. The view on the medication whose brand name is Addyi (pronounced ADD-EE) ranges from a historical achievement in women’s health care to an epic failure of commercialized medical propaganda. Despite the lengthy debate that has surrounded flibanserin, what most people want to know is whether it will help their sex life or not now that it is here.

addyi


First Things First

While sexual concerns can be difficult to discuss for many women and their partners, it is important to acknowledge that sex and intimacy are some of the great extraordinary experiences of being human. When sex goes badly, which statistically it does for 43 percent of U.S. women, the consequences can devastate a relationship and personal health. One of the biggest applauds I have for the FDA is their statement of recognition that female sexual dysfunction is an unmet clinical need.

Sexuality Is Mind-Body But Not-Body?

Sexuality is usually complicated, and problems with sex such as loss of libido are multifactorial for most women. Antagonists to flibanserin cite psychosocial contributions such as relationship discord, body image, or history of sexual abuse to be the most pinnacle causes of a woman who may complain of problematic lack of sexual desire, and that sex is always a mind-body phenomenon. While these factors often implicitly correlate to loss of sexual interest for a woman, they don’t always, and you cannot advocate that women’s sexuality is all inclusive of her mind, body, and spirit — and assert simultaneously that a biochemical contribution which flibanserin is designed to address in the brain to improve satisfying sexual experiences does not exist.

(c) Myles Murphy; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Myles Murphy; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The Biochemistry of Sex

Antidepressant medications that alter brain biochemistry are notorious for having sexual side effects which can be prevalent up to 92 percent of the time, and are known to decrease sexual interest, disrupt arousal, and truncate orgasm in some women. Ironically, flibanserin was originally studied as an antidepressant, and while the exact mechanism of how a medication can impair or improve sexual interest is unknown, it should not be difficult to consider that if biochemical tinkering can crush sexual function, it may also be capable of improving it.

Efficacy Data Dance

Flibanserin is a pill taken once nightly, and has been critiqued as showing only modest increases in sexual desire, with improvements in sexually satisfying events rising 0.4 to 1 per month compared with placebo. However just because flibanserin has lackluster efficacy data, that does not mean it is ineffective, and even small improvements in sexual function can be life altering for a woman struggling with disabling intimate problems. If only 1 percent of women with low libido were to improve their sexual function with use of flibanserin, that equates to 160,000 women, or the population of Tempe, Arizona.

Blue Sky Side Effects

Flibanserin has side effects, and the sky is blue. All medications have pro and con profiles, and for flibanserin the most common consequences of use include fatigue, dizziness, sleepiness, and a rare but precipitous drop in blood pressure. Women may not drink alcohol while taking this medication. Providers who will prescribe it and pharmacies that will dispense flibanserin must be approved through what is called a Risk Evaluation and Management Strategy, or REMS, which means they are educated on advising women on how to take flibanserin safely. While a REMS program is arguably overkill compared to numerous higher risk, common prescriptions which do not require a REMS, it is an excellent opportunity for clinicians who have a background in sexuality to be the main applicants since they are far more qualified to assess proper candidates for treatment as well as continue to endorse holistic measures alongside flibanserin. Women who are interested in trying flibanserin should only obtain it from sexuality trained professionals.

The Proof Is In The Sexy Pudding

If flibanserin is worthless, the marketplace will bury it in a shallow grave quickly. Women will stop paying for it, and conscientious medical providers will stop prescribing it. Yet 8,500 women taking flibanserin were studied, over a 1,000 of them for one year, and the data suggests it will help some. Women deserve to be educated on their options, because sexual health is worth fighting for.

Changing The World, One Orgasm At A Time

We simply cannot overlook how astronomical of an achievement it is to even have a mediocre medication approved for female sexual dysfunction. Women’s sexuality has been ignored by medicine for most of history. At least now we have something to fight over.

The controversy about flibanserin is in fact magnificent, and frankly, the entire point. We must talk openly about sexuality and sexual concerns to improve them, personally for one woman at a time, but also uniformly to embrace female sexuality as a vastly larger societal allowance.

A satisfying sexual life is far more than the restoration of sexual dysfunction, it’s a thriving, multi dimensional, ever evolving weave of psychology, relationships, life circumstances, and yes can include a milieu of biochemistry and neurotransmitter pools.

Is a pill ever going to replace the vastly complicated arenas that fuse into our sexual experience? Of course not — it’s absurd and lazy-minded for anyone to suggest that is even being proposed. But it is necessary and inherently responsible to allow for all possible puzzle pieces to be utilized through the ever evolving navigation of sensuality, intimacy, and erotic fulfillment.

So will flibanserin make your sex life better? Maybe. But considering the conversation about it valuable as well as its use as merely one tool among many options to improve sex and intimacy would be the better bet. Ultimately, we “desire” sex that is meaningful, erotic, and dynamic. The journey of seeking sexual vitality deserves every key, crowbar, heathen kick, graceful acrobatics, or little pink pill that lends its part to the process, no matter how small or big, for the opportunity to discover and embrace a sexual aliveness.

Holistic physician, certified sexual medicine specialist, sex counselor, medical director of the Northwest Institute for Healthy Sexuality

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