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What falling in love does to your heart and brain

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Getting struck by Cupid’s arrow may very well take your breath away and make your heart go pitter-patter.

By Loyola University Health System

Falling in love causes our body to release a flood of feel-good chemicals that trigger specific physical reactions,” said Pat Mumby, PhD, co-director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic and professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM). “This internal elixir of love is responsible for making our cheeks flush, our palms sweat and our hearts race.”

Levels of these substances, which include dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, increase when two people fall in love. Dopamine creates feelings of euphoria while adrenaline and norepinephrine are responsible for the pitter-patter of the heart, restlessness and overall preoccupation that go along with experiencing love.

MRI scans indicate that love lights up the pleasure center of the brain. When we fall in love, blood flow increases in this area, which is the same part of the brain implicated in obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

“Love lowers serotonin levels, which is common in people with obsessive-compulsive disorders,” said Mary Lynn, DO, co-director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic and assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, SSOM. “This may explain why we concentrate on little other than our partner during the early stages of a relationship.”

Doctors caution that these physical responses to love may work to our disadvantage.

“The phrase ‘love is blind’ is a valid notion because we tend to idealize our partner and see only things that we want to see in the early stages of the relationship,” Dr. Mumby said. “Outsiders may have a much more objective and rational perspective on the partnership than the two people involved do.”

There are three phases of love, which include lust, attraction and attachment. Lust is a hormone-driven phase where we experience desire. Blood flow to the pleasure center of the brain happens during the attraction phase, when we feel an overwhelming fixation with our partner. This behavior fades during the attachment phase, when the body develops a tolerance to the pleasure stimulants. Endorphins and hormones vasopressin and oxytocin also flood the body at this point creating an overall sense of well-being and security that is conducive to a lasting relationship.

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Straight men share what sex feels like when you have a penis

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If you’re a person born with only a vagina, it’s a sad day when you realise you’ll never truly know or understand what it’s like to have sex if you had a penis.

And vice versa, for people born with penises.

It’s a fact of life. An unbridgeable gap in understanding. It is something that will always come up in hypotheticals, when asked what we’d do if we had a penis for the day or whether we’d rather change sex every time we sneezed or always smell like butter.

Sadly, us vagina-havers will never truly know what it’s like to have sex when you have a penis.

But we asked a bunch of straight men to be as descriptive as possible when telling us what it actually feels like to put their penis in a vagina, so we can all get a little closer to understanding.

All names have been changed, because few men want to publicly declare what sex feels like on the internet.

Let’s find out all the bodily sensations men feel when they slip their penis into a vagina.

Sam, 35

‘It feels like a warm cushion.

‘The weird part is, the penis doesn’t really “absorb” the feeling. It’s your head/brain that starts rushing.’

David, 31

‘It feels like a snug glove filled with warm oil.’

Eric, 34

‘Entering a vagina for me is a very intense moment because for me – it’s the ultimate agreement of intimacy between a man and woman.

‘If I am wearing a condom it feels different to going natural – my penis feels less sensitive and less connected to the woman with a condom on.

‘There is a warm soft feeling of entering her, she has a moistness that cant be matched.

‘I guess you could say it’s like scuba diving penis first.’

Steve, 24

‘It’s hard to describe, but it kind of feels like pushing yourself into a lubed inflatable armband.

‘I’d say it feels a little like going underwater too.

‘Imaging eating the best brownie you’ve ever had, then imagine that sensation over all your nerve endings and taking up your entire headspace, rather than just having a party in your mouth.’

Chris, 43

‘Like your penis is being stroked and hugged from all directions at the same time.’

Ross, 27

‘Warm with a bit of tightness so there’s feeling all over, but soft enough so it’s not like the thing’s getting squeezed.

‘However in some circumstances it can be a bit like penetrating a keyhole where the inside’s lined with some kind of dry rubber.’

Ron, 42

‘Gooey warm softness. It feels like a warm smooth jam doughnut that you’ve just pierced with your cock.’

Aaron, 36

‘There is always the initial sensation when entering the vagina, a certain warmth, and this tickles the nerve sensations up and down the shaft of the penis.

‘It’s a bit like the feeling of heat when you open an oven on a cold day.

‘She gets wetter and wetter, it becomes more difficult to maintain friction and sometimes it can feel as if the orgasm is running away from you.

‘The intensity of my own release can vary, it can always be satisfying, but the bigger orgasms are obviously better, like a volcano erupting inside you – your whole body feeling every part.

‘Sometimes to heighten my orgasm I may suck her toes towards the end (I have a foot fetish)

‘After a particularly big release, there’s little can be done above collapsing on top of her, drained and content. Everything spent, but too weak to just roll over.’

Harry, 30

‘Well, the initial feeling when you first go inside is pretty unreal. Especially when the vagina is really tight and wet.

‘Then when you’re inside the only way to describe it is if you were to squeeze your penis with your hand, like the vagina is gripped to your penis.

‘Then different positions give you different sensations, for example from behind can feel really deep and intense, more so than missionary.’

Jerry, 30

‘Warm, soft and sensitive with that slight rubbing.

‘A rush of adrenaline and excitement and then a satisfying feeling, like when you have that first sip of a cold beer on a really hot summer’s day.’

Mark, 32

‘It doesn’t feel like I expected it to as a young man.

‘Before I had sex, I expected it would feel wet and noticeably warm, Stifler’s words from American Pie ringing in my teenage ears.

‘It is however a different sort of pleasure from masturbation and I wondered why for a while.

‘I think a big part of the erotic sensation comes from the pressure applied to the base of the penis. Men tend to focus on the tip when they masturbate, but during sex there is a lot more going on with the base of the shaft, and it contributes greatly to sexual pleasure.

‘Thrusting sends a tingling sensation down the penis as the sensitive portions of the tip are stimulated. There is no grating shove or resistance, really, another pre-sex misconception.

‘The penis does not feel consumed or surrounded, but functionally positioned like an elevator in its shaft. Pleasure comes in occasional jolts and not a constant sensation of deepening or rhythmic enjoyment.’

Tom, 28

‘Imagine a thick sock made of velvet. Then add in some ridges.’

Paul, 24

‘Warm, comfortable and (usually) wet, but if it is dry it’s very uncomfortable. But, in the odd occasion, over quicker than I’m able to actually think what it’s like.’

Joe, 34

‘The quelling of long standing wonder, akin to Indiana Jones finding a way into a cavern he long hoped he’d find. Like entering a brave new world that’s quite snug, warm, and eventually hot. Good kind of hot.

‘There’s tingling and further hardening and excitement and the feeling of growth and the will to go forward even deeper.’

Oliver, 28

‘Putting your penis in something is a bit like putting your foot in something, but if your foot was extremely sensitive.

‘If you put your foot in a slipper that is cold, hot, dry, wet, small, big, whatever, then you will feel the appropriate feeling. The penis is much the same, although you are generally a lot more careful with where you’re putting it than your big old hoof.

‘Also, what is positive/negative is very different between the foot and the penis. You wouldn’t want your slippers to be wet and warm, although that is absolutely fine when it comes to the vagina.

‘The similarities come in terms of fit, a snug fit is ideal for both and you can certainly notice if your slipper/vagina does not fit as you may have hoped.

‘Much like if you were to try on every pair of slippers in Debenhams, each vagina is different, specifically on entry. Some much more of an issue than others in terms of each of entry. I guess this is just down to shape and size of the respective genitals.

‘Once in, there is notable difference in terms of how snug the fit is and how aqueous the area is, which makes a big difference to the general feel.

‘But, unless circumstances are particularly extreme, it’s all a lot of fun regardless of variables.’

Ned, 27

‘I once read that it feels like sliding into warm custard.

‘I’ve never slid into warm custard, but that sounds similar to the feeling of going in a vagina – just very warm, wet with a slight thickness, and comforting.

‘It’s also like a well-fitting shoe, or getting tucked into bed. It feels like exactly the right size, nice and snug without cutting off circulation.’

Ryan, 50

‘Every experience is different and very much age and childbirth dependant. It also depends on the type of sex you are having, position and a multitude of other variants.

‘First full penetration is simply heaven – smooth, encompassing, embracing – a huge depth of sensations across your whole penis.

‘Subsequent thrusts – again depending on speed, angle and depth – give you different sensations across different parts of your willy.

‘Getting to know your partner’s fanny and how to work together can build and release all kind of sensations.’

Complete Article HERE!

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Most relationships start off with rubbish sex

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Don’t despair if you just had sex with someone you really, really like, and it was a bit disappointing.

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It turns out that the majority of relationships start with rubbish sex, so the first time you bone really isn’t a good indicator of how compatible you are. That’s good news, right?

A survey of 2,000 Americans found that 58% of those in relationships had sex for the first time with their partner that was awkward or terrible.

That’s around six in ten people. Reassuring, right?

With rubbish sex being so common, it’s not surprising that the study, by OnePoll and Pure Romance, found that the majority of us feel anxious before having sex with a new partner.

53% say they worry about how their body looks, while 48% panic about being able to please their partners.

Maybe we should all openly say that we won’t ditch a relationship just because the first time isn’t great. The study also found that three in ten people would break things off with someone if the sex wasn’t good the first time, which isn’t exactly reassuring.

On average, people will tolerate four or five bad sexual experiences with someone before breaking things off, which seems fair. At that point you’ve got rid of the first-time nerves, you’re comfortable with each other, and hopefully you’re able to do the best you can. If the sex still isn’t great at that point, there may need to be a conversation.

That conversation needs to explain what works for you, what doesn’t, and needs to involve total honesty and openness. It’s key to be open to trying new things and experimenting to find out how to make sex work for the two of you.

Maybe you’ll swap techniques and skills. Maybe you’ll up their game and they’ll up yours.

The good news is that 71% of those surveyed don’t believe the first time ultimately defines a relationship, and figuring out how to make things better should be pretty fun. Practice makes perfect.

Complete Article HERE!

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6 Essential Resources for Victims of Sexual Assault

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This Sexual Assault Awareness month, share these resources who a friend who may benefit from them.

By Katie Mitchell

In the past year, more people have felt empowered to speak openly about sexual assault. As most survivors know, sexual violence is an all too common of an issue and rape culture permeates our everyday lives. As we continue to consume stories about sexual harassment, rape and violence, it’s important to not forget that survivors deal with the aftermath of assault long after an article goes viral or an interview is aired. Often times, it takes survivors decades to heal properly, but healing is possible. Below, find six resources for sexual assault survivors.

National Sexual Assault Hotline

RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, has an online hotline for survivors, their friends, and their family. When you call 800.656.HOPE (4673), you’ll be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. The trained staff member will give you confidential support and connect you with local resources, referrals, and provide basic information about medical concerns.

On Campus Resources

In recent years, there have been changes regarding how sexual assault on campus is handled. If you’re a student on a college campus, consider visiting the Center for Changing Our Campus Culture, which is an online resource that provides student-specific information regarding rights, instructions, and guidelines for when a sexual assault happens on campus, from how to file a complaint against a school, to how to help bystanders.

Anti-Violence Project

The Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is an organization specifically for LGBT and HIV-affected folks. AVP offers support groups, legal assistance, and even “arts expression groups” for victims of hate violence, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence. AVP’s direct action work is primarily in New York City.

The Network/La Red

The Network/La Red aims to end partner abuse in LGBT, BDSM, and polyamorous communities. Survivors can read through their manuals, which outline  how to identify partner abuse — especially how to distinguish consensual BDSM behavior from abuse. This organization even provides free, short-term housing for those in need residing in Boston.

Therapy

Therapy can help sexual assault survivors with their healing journey by acknowledging what happened and learning new coping skills. Most therapists have specialties, so when you’re choosing a therapist, consider asking them if they have experience working with sexual assault survivors. Therapy for Black Girls is great resource to find therapists in your area.

Healing Retreats

While most healing retreats aren’t specifically focused on sexual assault, it is so common that it’s likely to be what led several participants to the retreat. At healing retreats, you can relax, meditate, journal, do yoga, and much more in a non-judgemental environment with others who are focused on healing themselves as well.

This Sexual Assault Awareness month, share these resources with a friend who may benefit from them.

Complete Article HERE!

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How To Be A Good Partner To A Survivor Of Sexual Assault

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

January 20, 2018 San Francisco / CA / USA – “Me too” sign raised high by a Women’s March participant; the City Hall building in the background.

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The #MeToo movement has banded survivors of sexual assault together and forced a challenging discussion about how women and girls are treated in our society. But one of the toughest conversations still rarely seems to happen: how do you treat a romantic partner who is a survivor of sexual assault?

One in six women in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, so it is likely you may have dated, or are dating, a survivor. Still, few people, outside of trained professionals, are receiving an education about how to sensitively help their partners through the healing process.

“I think it can help to just normalize that [sexual assault] is something many people have experienced,” Laura Palumbo, the communications director for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), told A Plus.

The NSVRC, which provides resources and tools for people trying to prevent sexual violence and to help those living in the aftermath of it, also touches on best practices for being a partner to a survivor. Palumbo explained that for survivors of sexual assault, male of female, deciding whether to tell your partner is one of the hardest things to do.

Survivors may fear being criticized for their stories, or simply not being believed. They may also find it difficult to find the right time to confide in a partner, especially if it is a new relationship.

“It’s something that takes a lot of bravery and vulnerability to share,” Palumbo said. “That’s something for someone on the receiving end to consider: how you respond to someone who shares their experience of sexual assault makes a huge impact in how comfortable they are and their perceptions of whether or not you’re a safe person to talk about this with.”

The first step, Palumbo said, is simply believing what your partner is telling you. Do your best to make it clear that you trust their story, that you believe the assault happened, and that you know it wasn’t their fault.

“They may not want to talk about it in great detail either, and those are all normal ways for a survivor to feel,” Palumbo said. “You should follow their cue about what they are comfortable sharing and not press them for any more info or detail than what they have felt comfortable sharing already.”

If you’re in a new relationship, Palumbo says there are no tried-and-true telltale signs that a partner may have been the victim of an assault in the past. Some victims may have visceral reactions to scenes of sexual assault in movies or on television, but plenty of people who aren’t survivors have those reactions, too. The key is doing your best to pick up on certain signals that may repeat themselves, and adjusting your behavior accordingly. If a partner has a strong negative reaction like that to a scene of sexual violence, you should normalize the reaction and make it clear you noticed it — and then do your best to communicate to your partner that you’re happy to avoid that kind of content in the future.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)

Ultimately, being a supportive partner is about listening with care and focus. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape says you should avoid threatening the suspect who may have hurt your partner, maintain confidentiality no matter what, and — if the survivor hasn’t yet already — encourage them to seek counseling.

“The other step we can’t emphasize enough is really just about being a good listener,” Palumbo said. “What a good listener means in this context is just listening actively and listening to what your loved one is sharing without thinking about how you’re going to respond to them, if you’re going to be able to say the right thing or if you are going to have advice, because they really don’t need to hear that from you.”

There is no one way to approach this conversation, but the NSVRC’s guidelines provide a general rulebook. Palumbo says it’s also important to consider the misconceptions and stereotypes about sexual assault survivors and move past them, focusing on the individual you’re in a relationship with. Because of these misconceptions, many people believe survivors of sexual violence don’t want touch or physical contact and end up being less sexual. On the contrary, research shows that’s not the case. While some survivors do withdraw from sexual activity, most “continue to be sexual beings,” Palumbo said.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

“People who experience sexual violence are just like the rest of us in terms of having different sexual preferences and needs and their level of sex and frequency,” she added.

One way to be sure about what your partner is comfortable with is asking for consent to physical touch, particularly during conversations about the their past assault.

“There are going to be times where they may be really receptive to being asked for physical support, such as a hug or other physical intimacy, and there are going to be other times where that is not their preference,” Palumbo said. “By asking and always checking in with the person and being aware of their needs, you can make sure you’re respecting their preferences and re-establishing their preferences of security, safety and control.”

Finally, Palumbo said, be aware that a lot of survivors remain sex positive after their assaults. Some are into consensual alternative forms of sexuality like BDSM, others are comedians who joke about their experiences on stage, and some remain angry or upset about their experience for a long time. Some studies have found that certain rape survivors even have sexual fantasies about rape later in life.

All of these, Palumbo said, are normal and common reactions.

“Survivors are, even after they experienced some form of sexual harm, still going to move forward in their life as a human being,” Palumbo said. “There really is no script. That is something that comes up when a person is talking about their values or expectations for a relationship.”

Complete Article HERE!

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