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Women don’t need to ‘switch off’ to climax, orgasm study shows

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Not switching off

By Helen Thomson

The most detailed study yet of orgasm brain activity has discovered why climaxing makes women feel less pain and shown that ‘switching off’ isn’t necessary.

It’s not easy to study the brain during orgasm. “A brain scanner like fMRI is the least sexy place in the world,” says Nan Wise at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. “It’s noisy, claustrophobic and cold.” There is also the problem of keeping your head still – movement of little more than the width of a pound coin can render data useless.

Despite these hurdles, Wise and her colleagues recruited 10 heterosexual women to lay in a fMRI scanner and stimulate themselves to orgasm. They then repeated the experiment but had their partners stimulate them.

Wise’s custom-fitted head stabiliser allowed the team to follow brain activity in 20 second intervals to see what happens just before, during, and after an orgasm.

Pain relief

Back in 1985, Wise’s colleagues Beverly Whipple and Barry Komisaruk, both at Rutgers, discovered that, during self-stimulation and orgasm, women are less likely to notice painful squeezing of a finger, and can tolerate more of this pain. They found that women’s ability to withstand pain increased by 75 per cent during stimulation, while the level of squeezing at which women noticed the pain more than doubled.

Now Wise’s team has explained why. At the point of orgasm, the dorsal raphe nucleus area of the brain becomes more active. This region plays a role in controlling the release of the brain chemical serotonin, which can act as an analgesic, dampening the sensation of pain.

Her team also saw a burst of activity in the nucleus cuneiformis, which is a part of brainstem systems that are thought to help us control pain through thought alone.

“Together, this activity – at least in part – seems to account for the pain attenuating effect of the female orgasm,” says Wise.

Turn on, not off

Wise’s team also found evidence that overturns the assumption that the female brain “switches off” during orgasm.

In 2005, Gert Holstege at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands used a PET scanner to analyse brain activity in 13 women while they were resting, faking an orgasm and being stimulated by their partner to orgasm. While activity in sensory regions of the brain increased during orgasm, activity fell in large number of regions – including those involved in emotion – compared with their brain at rest.

Based on this finding, it was suggested that women have to be free from worries and distractions in order to climax. From an evolutionary point of view, the brain might switch off its emotional areas because the chance to produce offspring is more important than the immediate survival to the individual.

But the new study saw the opposite: brain activity in regions responsible for movement, senses, memory and emotions all gradually increased during the lead-up to orgasm, when activity then peaked and lowered again. “We found no evidence of deactivation of brain regions during orgasm,” says Wise.

The difference between the two studies may be because PET can only get a small snapshot of brain activity over a short period of time, unlike fMRI scanners.

Better understanding

It’s not yet clear why pain sensation decreases during orgasm, or if men experience the same phenomenon. It may be that, in order to feel pleasure in the brain, the neural circuits that process pain have to be dampened down.

Whipple suggests that the pain-dampening effects of the female orgasm could be related to child birth. Her research suggests that pain sensitivity is reduced when the baby’s head emerges through the birth canal. Vaginal stimulation may therefore reduce pain in order to help mothers cope with the final stages of birth, and promote initial bonding with the baby.

The ability to study what happens during stimulation and orgasm could be used to better understand and treat those who have mood disorders like anhedonia – the inability to experience pleasure, says Wise. “We know so little about pleasure in the brain, we are just now learning the basics.”

You might wonder what it’s like to participate in such experiments. Wise says people often think her participants must be exhibitionists, but it’s not the case, she says. “Some women do like that aspect, but most are doing it because it’s empowering to them. Some find it difficult to orgasm, others don’t. One of our participants in this experiment was a 74-year-old lady who had two fabulous orgasms in the machine. I said to her, ‘You go girl!’ ”

Complete Article HERE!

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Why Can’t I Orgasm During Sex? Chronic Pain And 5 Other Factors That Affect Ability To Climax

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Imagine this: You and your partner are getting hot and heavy in between the sheets. You’re feeling sexually aroused — but you’re unable to climax. In frustration you ask yourself: “Why can’t I orgasm during sex?”

The Kinsey Institute indicates 20 to 30 percent of women don’t have orgasms during intercourse, compared to only 5 percent of men who don’t climax every time they have sex. Men and women who are unable to sustain an erection or reach orgasm, respectively, are usually labeled as having some type of sexual dysfunction. However, the inability to orgasm could be triggered by several issues that range from physiological to psychological.

Below are six causes of why you have trouble orgasming during sex.

Tight Condoms

Condoms are often seen as an “evil” necessity that reduces sensitivity and sensations for men. The truth is condoms can inhibit male orgasm if they do not fit properly. A condom that is too tight can feel like the penis is in a chokehold, which can be distraction, and make it difficult to keep an erection. A 2015 study in journal Sexual Health found about 52 percent of men report losing an erection before, or while putting a condom on or after inserting into the vagina while wearing a condom.

Stress

High levels of stress impact your psychological and physiological health, which can interfere with the ability to orgasm. This makes it harder to concentrate on the sensation and relax during sex. Women with high salivary cortisol and stress levels have significantly less desire to masturbate or have sex with their partner.

Stress causes us to produce fewer sex hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, and more cortisol and stress hormones. When the body releases cortisol, a fight-or-flight response kicks in, and redirects the blood flow away from the sex organs, causing you to breathe shallowly.

couple-holding-hands

Depression

Depression affects your mood, and even the desire to have sex. A 2000 study in the American Family Physician found 70 percent of adults facing depression without treatment had problems with their sex drive. This is because sexual desire starts in the brain as sex organs rely on chemicals in the brain to jumpstart your libido, and change blood flow. Depression disrupts these brain chemicals, making sexual activity more difficult to initiate and enjoy.

Chronic Pain

More than 75 million people live  with persistent or debilitating pain, according to the national pain foundation, which can often lead to a low sex drive. Chronic pain sufferers find it difficult to feel pleasure during sex since the body hurts all the time. This is unfortunate since having an orgasm can alleviate some pains and aches.

Prescription Meds

Drugs tend to be among the most common causes of sexual problems. Prescription meds are responsible for as many as one of every four cases of sexual dysfunction. A 2002 study published in Family Practice found statins and fibrates (used in lowering LDL “bad” cholesterol) may cause erectile dysfunction, while later research has found both men and women taking statins showed increased difficulty achieving orgasm. The levels of sexual pleasure declined along with LDL cholesterol.

Negative Body Image

When you feel good about your body, you tend to feel better psychologically as well. The mind-body connection is imperative in sexual pleasure. For example, if you feel bad about your body, it;ll become more difficult to enjoy sex and have orgasms. A 2009 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found women between the ages 18 to 49 who scored high on a body image scale were the most sexually satisfied. Positive feelings associated with weight, physical condition, sexual attractiveness, and thoughts about our body during sex help promote healthy sexual functioning.

Complete Article HERE!

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Max, Part 2 — Podcast #114 — 04/15/09

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Hey sex fans,

We’re back with my guest, Max, the Seattle-based bondage artist, educator and Dom.  This is Part 2 our chat in this podcast series called Sex EDGE-U-cation.   As you know, max-picthis series is all about the world of fetish sex, kink and alternative sexual lifestyles.

Max and I will be exploring all sorts of interesting topics; not least among them is his polyamorous life with Mistress Matisse and the oh so charming Lorelei.

If you somehow missed Part 1 of our conversation, look for last week’s podcast, #113 on the PODCAST PAGE at the top of this page.  Or simply use the site’s search function.  Type in podcast #113; don’t forget to include the # sign.

Just a quick aside…as most of you know I was one of the many presenters at the Seattle Fetish & Fantasy Festival this past weekend.  When I wasn’t teaching I had an opportunity to sit in on a couple of the other fine workshops offered by some of the Northwest’s most illustrious kink educators.  And I’m here to tell you, as delightful and informative and Max is in this podcast conversation, this medium does not compare to Max in front of a live audience with a length of rope in one hand and beautiful Lorelei in the other.  They are phenomenal together, and not to be missed.

Max and I discuss:

  • The role of endorphins and adrenaline in power play.
  • BDSM as both recreation and catharsis.
  • Polyamory, a working definition.
  • Poly-fidelity and cohabitation.
  • Developing a vocabulary for discussing poly structures.
  • Managing a poly relationship — jealousy and compersion.

Be sure to visit Max at his website HERE!

See a slideshow of some of Max’s work.  Click on the thumbnails below.

[nggallery id=8]

Today’s Podcast is bought to you by: FetishMovies.com.

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Sex EDGE-U-cation with Max – Podcast #113 – 04/08/09

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Hey sex fans,

Today I have the distinct pleasure of welcoming the Seattle-based, yet internationally known and respected, bondage artist, educator and Dom, who goes by the name Max.  We will be exploring all sorts of interesting topics; not least among them is his polyamorous life with max-picSeattle’s finest professional Dominatrix, Mistress Matisse. This is exciting and thought provoking stuff, sex fans.  You don’t want to miss this.

Max is my latest guest in this new series of podcast interviews I’m doing called Sex EDGE-U-cation .  As you know, we’re taking a look at the world of fetish sex, kink and alternative sexual lifestyles. We are touching on topics both familiar and exotic.  We are chatting with prominent educators, practitioners and advocates of unconventional sexual expressions and lifestyles from all over the world.

Max and I discuss:

  • Seattle being a hotbed of perversion.
  • How BDSM, polyamory and kink infuse his life.
  • His role as an educator and activist.
  • His workshops at The Center For Sex Positive Culture and his private lessons.
  • Safety and compatibility issues between top and bottom.
  • Building intimacy through BDSM.
  • Differentiating between BDSM, kink and genital sex.

Be sure to visit Max at his website HERE!

See a slideshow of some of Max’s work.  Click on the thumbnails below.

[nggallery id=7]

Today’s podcast is bought to you by: Dr Dick’s Stockroom.

drdicksstockroom.jpg

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How giving up porn could help your sex life

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For many of us, watching porn can be like eating a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream; regularly done, enjoyable – no doubt – but can also often leave us feeling, well, a tad ashamed…

by Edward Dyson

However, pushing aside those pride-deprived moments spent reaching for discarded socks, could it be true that by indulging our cravings for explicit material on the web – c’mon now, you all know the sites… – we might actually be damaging our mental health? Not to mention our sex lives (you know, the one we’re supposed to be doing… in person?)

Earlier this year pop star Will Young opened up about having a porn problem, sharing with fans that his childhood trauma and shame was at the root of his dependency on several vices. These included alcohol, shopping but – the one that grabbed the most headlines, predictably – was the revelation that he had developed an obsessive level of consumption when it came to pornography, which he believes he used to ‘fill a void.’ And if the rich and famous feel empty enough to be filling their voids with porn, exactly what hope is there for the rest of us – the great unwashed?

Admittedly, most of us probably won’t have thought into the matter too deeply, and while we might not be broadcasting the number of weekly web wanks we’re racking up, neither are we too worried that a cheeky three-minute viewing of a US College Boys video might, in fact, be a reflection of some underlying issue. Most of the time, it’s fair to say most of us have already forgotten about the content we’ve, ahem, enjoyed – before the Kleenex has even been safely disposed of.

But it isn’t just the original Pop Idol winner who began to wonder whether there might be a darker side to viewing all this badly-shot -and even more terribly acted – footage we’re apparently so fond of. Recent research suggests that by watching porn, we could be debilitating our ability to form healthy sexual relationships – in the living breathing world – and could potentially be inflating any pre-existing mental health issues we might already be dealing with, whether or not we’re aware of these threats.

Many psychological experts have repeatedly stated that – despite being laughed off by naysayers for obvious reasons – porn obsession is undeniably real, and forms as a type of process behavioural dependency. The reaction of the brain to this material can be very similar to the stimulation that happens after taking drugs. And in even more limp news, doctors have also reported on the growing trend amongst men who struggle to get an erection with a real-life partner because they’re so used to using explicit imagery in order to help them get off.

And, let’s face it, it’s all very much out there, readily available for the watching. According to the website Paint Bottle, 30 per cent of all data transferred online is porn, and Virginia lawmakers claim that all pornography is “addictive,” can promote the normalisation of rape, can lessen the “desire to marry, equate violence with sex,” as well as encouraging “group sex,” (not necessarily a bad thing… who are we to judge?) and –of course – “risky sexual behaviour and infidelity,” among other effects.

But are they all just taking it too seriously? Perhaps being a little too prude-ish… right in front of our salads?

Sex guru Jerry Sergeant – a self-confessed former sex and porn obsessed himself – believes that one vital component to a healthy sex life is to quit porn and traditional masturbating, and instead follow a tantric path.

Never mind cold turkey. This here is cold jerk-y. (Sorry.)

Speaking about the perils of consuming X-rated content to Gay Times, he warned: “Porn is dangerous, and people do get obsessed with it. I was for many years. At my worst, I was watching videos on the internet all the time, every day, four hours on end. When I stopped, it was like being a heroin addict going clean. It’s just a fantasy, but it means people are no longer looking in the most important places for what they want.”

And the damage it does to us when we are forming our ideas about sex during our younger years is difficult to reverse, he admitted.

“It’s almost a violation,” Jerry says. “I believe meditation, and tantric sex should be taught in schools. Unfortunately, the schooling system takes kids outside of themselves, and just pushes facts, figures and information on them.”

Tantric sex in schools? Well, beats PE, that’s for sure. But now, not only does Jerry not watch porn – (never, not even Justin Bieber’s nude leaks, for crying out loud!) – but he doesn’t even masturbate. No, never. Now that’s a hard one… (so to speak.) He explains: “What a load of people don’t know is, you can have the most incredible orgasm all on your own, without ever putting your hand on your penis. Masturbating tantrically is extremely powerful.”

But in an age where people are too busy to even pick up the phone and order their own takeaway – thanks Hungry House! – can we reasonably expect people to take the time to bring themselves to orgasm with just the power of their mind?

Jerry assures us: “It’s worth it. OK, so what you do is start with something that can be quite tough at first: you have to give yourself an erection without thinking of something sexual.”

Does the men’s rugby team count? Apparently not, as Jerry continues: “Perhaps think about a partner, or someone you know would like to be with, and imagine yourself getting to that state – then squeeze the muscles that are just between your anus and testicles, squeeze them for ten seconds, then release for ten seconds… squeeze again, release again. Eventually you’ll start getting an erection, and the more excited you get, eventually you will come to the point where orgasm happens.”

Blimey. Who needs porn when even the tantric guide is this steamy? “I’ve taught this to a lot of people,” Jerry says, unfazed. “Close your eyes, take long deep breaths, and settle into a space, and combine it with meditating if you can. You can light candles or incense, really relax and enjoy stimulating yourself. And it doesn’t have to be done alone, either.”

Phew. We were beginning to worry that all this tantric malarkey might be so enjoyable it might make the idea of partners redundant… “Another way, which is really cool, is to do this with a partner, sit opposite each other, breathing together, getting into a rhythm and building it up,” he shares. “Tense those muscles, and let them go, continue that process thinking of only each other, not physically touching each other, and then experience it together. The more you practise it, the closer you’ll come to reaching orgasm at exactly same time. It’s a mind-blowing experience – you connect on such a deeper level.”

This may be all very well and good for those who have enough time in the day for hour long sessions of mental self-pleasure. But how does it help with our actual sex lives?

Jerry promises: “Once you’ve learnt to harness and keep that energy inside of you, you’ll never go back to normal orgasms again. It’s like having a big carrot being dangled in front you, then nothing’s there – an anti-climax. It can last for at least 30 seconds, sometimes a minute and a half if you’re doing it and holding it… your whole body vibrates and vibrates. Compared to a ten second shot, which is wasted time, it’s just amazing. This will follow into your regular sex life, and this kind of orgasm will become your norm.”

He adds: “The beautiful thing this is, if you’re on the right frequency, you’ll meet the right person who will also be open to learning all about it.”

It’s certainly a tempting prospect. Jerry admits he’s not only more sexually satisfied now than he was when he was porn obsessed – spending thousands paying for sex and drugs – but he’s also generally happier in himself.

That doesn’t mean the journey is easy though. “I remember when I first found out, to start with – to masturbate while staying in your body and mind took a lot of practice,” he admits. “And I was practising a few times a day and would get it wrong; I was doing it two or three times a day, then once a day, then whenever I felt like it really. But I would suggest not having sex while you’re mastering this technique, then when you do, you can start experimenting, perhaps tantrically with a partner, or friend, in an open relationship, there are lots of options, and it can be really exciting.”

And even if the tantric route is not the right path for everyone, Jerry is adamant that quitting porn should be something everybody at least attempts. Basically, try to give a toss…

“I would suggest not watching anything for a month, first of all. Treat it like Dry January is to alcohol,” he says. “See how much you actually miss it. You might surprise yourself.”

To continue that comparison, highlighting the darker sides to the relationship you have with a certain vice, be it alcohol or porn, shouldn’t mean condemning every beer bottle – or every piece of voyeuristic sex – straight to Room 101. Plenty of people can enjoy a drink in moderation, and plenty of people also have a healthy relationship with porn. Most certainly, not everyone who partakes in a cheeky bit of ManHub or XTube is secretly turning into Michael Fassbender’s character in Shame – giving his tripod todger third degree burns from office computer misuse and compulsive masturbating. However, because watching porn is, by its very nature, a solo activity, rather than a social one – rarely discussed even with the closest of friends – as a habit that could spiral: it’s easy to take your eye of the ball, (or balls…)

Sure, we count the calories of our food, and the number of alcoholic drinks – that we can remember, anyway – largely due to fears that are related to social judgement and obvious physical effects. But usually, unless you’re really quite brazen, regardless of how much porn you’re watching, those around you will generally be none the wiser.

That’s why it remains, and will surely continue to remain, a habit that can only truly be monitored through maintaining a strong sense of self-accountability, and perhaps asking yourself some tough questions. Has your relationship with porn ventured into unhealthy territory?

Below are a few signs that your relationship with sexually explicit content might have got, ahem, out of hand…

So… do you have a problem?

1. Excessive time spent viewing porn

An obvious one, but a good place to start. Now, of course there are no NHS guidelines – like there are with alcohol – as to what counts as excessive. But a helpful question to ask yourself might be: does the time dedicated to this activity impact heavily on your day-to-day life? Signs could be: regularly finding yourself late for work because of watching porn. Watching inappropriate content on work (and not just NSFW gifs, we’re talking extended disabled lavatory visits….) Or cancelling on friends. Put simply, just because you have a wank doesn’t mean you have to be a wanker.

2. Notable negative consequences

Related to point one, but if you can link things that are going wrong in your life to your relationship with porn, then that’s a huge red flag that things might have got spiralled somewhat out of control. Are you left financially struggling because you’re spending so much of your income on explicit websites? Is it causing problems at work or in your relationship? This leads nicely to…

3. Loss of interest in sex

Whether in a relationship or not, if – like the growing trend that doctors have noticed emerging – your dependency on porn is so strong that you struggle to become aroused in real life scenarios, then this is definitely a major problem. Most people seeking a satisfying sex life with a partner – or multiple partners – should be fine to consume porn outside of that, usually privately, but if it becomes all you find yourself interested in, then this habit might just have slipped into compulsive territory.

4. A constant need to go further

Kinkiness is an interesting subject. We all have our little kinks, and it’s sometimes tricky to know how normal – or abnormal – these are. But a tell-tale sign that porn might be having a negative effect on your mental health is if you’re constantly feeling like you need to keep actively seeking more and more extreme, and unusual, content. If there’s material that a month ago was turning you on, and now you’re craving something that takes it on even further – and this is part of a pattern – then it also might be part of a problem…

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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