5 Ways Seniors Can Get Back To Having Great Sex Lives

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By Kelly Gonsalves

Sex is good for your health, and some research suggests it might be particularly beneficial to older people: It keeps your body physically active, keeps the mind sharp, encourages intimate connections with others, and instills a sense of joy and excitement into your life.

Despite the cornucopia of benefits, we don’t talk a lot about seniors having sex. Part of it simply has to do with cultural narratives about sexuality: The dominant image we all carry of what sex “looks like” (as told to us on screens big and small) always involves people who are young, thin, able-bodied, physically fit, and conventionally attractive. The lack of representation or conversation about other types of people having sex contributes to an unspoken assumption that those folks just aren’t doing the deed.

But the truth is, racking up years doesn’t mean your sexual needs automatically vanish into thin air. Sure, your sexual preferences and appetite might shift as you get older, but there’s no reason to believe all people over the age of 60 just suddenly prefer celibacy.

Are 60-year-old, 70-year-old, and older people sexually active?

Yes! They certainly can be, and many are. The 2017 National Poll on Healthy Aging found 40 percent of men and women between ages 65 and 80 are sexually active. Among people in relationships, that rate bumps up to 54 percent. Some studies suggest there might be differences between men’s and women’s sexual interest: One U.K. study found 60 percent of men between ages 70 and 80 are having sex, compared to 34 percent of women in that age group. That said, women over 70 years old report that their sex lives are way more pleasurable now than when they were in their 40s.

Of course, some people as they get older do just become less interested in explorations of the flesh. For many, that has to do with health: Your hormones, sexual responses, and general physical condition may shift with age, making some sexual activities a lot more difficult or just exhausting than they used to be. For others, losing a spouse to death or divorce later in life can also make sex seem less enticing or accessible.

Other than consent and physical safety, there are very few “shoulds” when it comes to sex. If you want to be having sex after 60, 70, 80, or 90 years old, you have every right to pursue an enjoyable and fulfilling intimate life.

The importance of talking about your sexual needs.

A recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE found nearly 60 percent of older people are unhappy with their sex lives. One big reason why? They weren’t talking about it. But those who had asked for support from others, from their doctor to their spouse, were much more likely to be sexually active and sexually satisfied.

Here’s the thing: Most things in life get easier the more we talk about them. When it comes to sex—something that carries so much stigma on its own, let alone the added invisibility of seniors having sex—talking becomes especially important. Moreover, if physical ailments, a sense of isolation, or something about your environment is keeping you from having the sex life you want, it’s important to seek help from others. There’s absolutely nothing shameful about advocating for your sexual well-being: It’s a vital part of your physical, mental, and spiritual health.

If you’re of a certain age and looking to reconnect with your sexuality or simply give a little more attention to your sex life, here are a few ways for you to get started:

1. Ask your doctor.

Especially if you’ve got a lot of other health problems to deal with, your sex life might feel like a pretty low priority and perhaps nor worth bringing up at your next doctor’s appointment. But the truth is, your doctor knows your health condition well and can offer up specific suggestions for how to help improve your ability to have sex, whether that’s prescribing medications or adjusting your health plan in a way that keeps your sexual functions thriving.

2. Find a sex therapist or other professional who works with people in your age group.

If talking to your main health care provider doesn’t feel right to you or doesn’t bear a lot of fruit, try a sex therapist or another professional who can help you feel comfortable and safe exploring your sexual needs. You might be surprised what kinds of services exist out there—sex coaches, sex educators, tantra teachers, sexual healers, some doulas, and many other professionals can all guide you and give you support exploring this part of your life.

3. Open up to your friends and romantic partners about sex.

Communication about sex, both with your partner and with others, can lead to a more satisfying sex life. If you have a romantic partner right now—even if it’s someone you’ve been with for decades—consider speaking with them about how they feel about your sex life right now and whether they’d be interested in reprioritizing it. Tell them what you’ve been thinking about, what the health benefits are, and ways that you’d like to start dabbling in this area again.

Additionally, talking about sex with your friends has been shown to improve sexual confidence and sexual self-efficacy. As you develop comfort talking about this intimate part of your life, you’ll also find it easier to talk about your needs and ask for what you want.

4. Find a community or retreat to help you explore.

If you don’t have close friends who you want to share this stuff with, seek open-minded communities of people in your age group with whom you can engage in more dialogue about sex. Intimacy retreats and workshops can be a great way to learn, reconnect as a couple, and find others who are on a similar journey. (Bonus: If you or your partner feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or shy about the idea of exploring sexually, these types of events can be very welcoming, approachable spaces to help you open your mind, get more comfortable, and shed some of your apprehensions.) If you’re not sure which events are right for you, you can always reach out to the organizer to get a sense of the target age groups.

The internet is also a vast and wonderful resource for finding such communities in your neighborhood: Google around, look through Meetup.com, or post in social media spaces you feel comfortable with. You can also try asking people in real life who are your age to see what resources they know about. While putting this article together, I spoke with several people who run private groups in their own neighborhoods for discussing senior sexuality.

5. Do some reading!

There are many excellent resources that can provide you with endless ideas, inspiration, and resources about exploring your sexuality at any age. Try these for starters:

6. Expand your definition of what sex means.

This one’s important! As we get older, some types of sex that might’ve been exciting in the past are just less feasible—but that doesn’t mean all sex now needs to be off the table. For example, if sex in the past meant a lot of thrusting and acrobatics, consider exploring other types of sexual expression and activities: Focus totally on using your hands, arms, and mouths, for example, to give and receive pleasure. Plenty of sexual acts will still yield those blissful neurochemical rewards. Cuddling is associated with significantly more sexual pleasure and more sexual satisfaction, for example, and even the brain can be a sex organ. Reading, watching, and creating erotica can be excellent ways to stimulate sexual energy.

There are so many ways to share passion, intimacy, and pleasure, both alone and with a partner, that have little to do with making the headboard shake. Find something that fits with your lifestyle, abilities, and interests.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexual satisfaction among older people about more than just health

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Communication and being in a happy relationship, along with health, are important for sexual satisfaction among older people, according to new research published in PLOS ONE.

Sexual expression is increasingly recognised as important throughout the life course, in maintaining relationships, promoting self-esteem and contributing to health and well-being. Although are being urged to be more proactive in helping achieve a satisfying sex life, there is a distinct lack of evidence to help guide practitioners.

Led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the University of Glasgow and UCL, the study is one of the first to look at how health, lifestyle and relationship factors can affect sexual activity and satisfaction in later life, and examine how people respond and deal with the consequences.

The researchers carried out a mixed methods study combining from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) and in-depth interviews with older men and women. Out of nearly 3,500 people aged between 55-74, the survey found that one in four men and one in six women reported having a health problem that affected their sex life. Among this group, women were less likely than men to be sexually active in the previous six months (54 percent vs 62 percent) but just as likely to be satisfied with their sex life (42 percent vs 42 percent).

Follow up interviews with a sample of participants revealed that older people found it difficult to separate the effects of declining health from those of increasing age. Ill health impacted sexual activity in many ways but most crucially it influenced whether individuals had a partner with whom to have sex. Some older people were more accepting of not having a sex life than others.

For those in a relationship, was strongly associated with both the quality of communication with their partner and contentment with their relationship. The impact of health issues was not always negative; some men and women found themselves having to experiment with new ways of being sexually active and their sex lives improved as a result.

Natsal-3 is the largest scientific study of sexual health and lifestyles in Britain. Conducted by LSHTM, UCL and NatCen Social Research, the studies have been carried out every 10 years since 1990, and have involved interviews with more than 45,000 people to date.

Bob Erens, lead author and Associate Professor at LSHTM, said: “Looking at the impact of health on sexual activity and satisfaction as we age is important, however few studies have examined the between the two.

“Health can affect an individual’s sex life in various ways, from having or finding a partner, to physical and psychological limitations on sexual expression.

“We identified that not many people who reported experiencing problems or lack of satisfaction sought help. Although this could be an individual choice or because of a perceived lack of support, it is vital that individuals feel able to make enquiries with health care professionals. In particular, discussing problems can often lead to identification of underlying medical conditions.”

Although some individuals the research team spoke to were not affected by not being sexually active, it seemed to be important that health professionals make sensitive enquiries for patients who might want to access help, which can lead to significant improvements in their wellbeing and quality of life.

Kirstin Mitchell, co-author and Senior Research Fellow in Social Relationships and Health Improvement at the University of Glasgow, said: “We’re seeing numerous, interconnected factors influencing sexual activity in older people. Not being in good health can influence mood, mobility and whether a person has a partner, which in turn impact on . Medication taken for health conditions often compounds the problem.

“The study findings suggest that pharmacological approaches, like Viagra, do not always help to resolve sexual difficulties, which need to be seen in the wider context of ‘s lives.”

The authors acknowledge the limitations of the study, including that Natsal had an upper age limit of 74 years, and so the study is unable to describe the sexual health and wellbeing of people at older ages.

Natsal-3 is the largest and most comprehensive study of sexual attitudes and lifestyles in the world, and is a major source of data informing sexual and reproductive health policy in Britain.

Complete Article HERE!

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Five things I wish I’d known about sex and relationships in university

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By Simone Paget

Fun fact: During my first year at the University of Toronto, I was in a student film appropriately titled, Sex and the University. Before your mind travels too far down the gutter, it was a sweet romantic comedy that parodied the famous HBO show of a similar name. The irony being that the film didn’t contain a single sex scene. However, the title of the film couldn’t have been more on-point for that era of my life.

Like many people, my late teens and early twenties were a time when I was exploring my sexuality, all the while trying to get a grip on relationships and other adult responsibilities, often with confusing, painful results. The university years are an emotional minefield. Whether you’re wrapping up first year or your collegiate days are long behind you, there are probably a few things you wish you’d done differently.

Here’s what I wish I’d known about sex and relationships when I was a university student.

1. Prioritize people who prioritize you.

One of my favourite quotes by Maya Angelou is, “never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” I had this taped to my mirror in university, but I often failed to take heed. I spent a lot of time chasing after partners who (in retrospect) didn’t prioritize my feelings or time. People who really want you in their life, will make it happen. Letting go of lopsided relationships will give you more time to hang out with your friends and allow for better, more deserving people to walk into your life.

2. The only person keeping track of how many people you’ve slept with is you.

I used to spend a lot of time worrying about my “number.” I was always worried that I was having too much sex, while my male friends were concerned they weren’t hooking up with enough girls. Hello, sexist double standards. Long story short: none of us were truly living our best sex lives.

When it comes to the number of people you’ve hooked up with, there’s no right or wrong answer. As long as you’re protecting your health, engaging in consensual encounters and treating the people you hook up with respect, the number doesn’t matter.

3. If you have a bad experience, help is available. Take it.

Within the first two months of university I was sexually assaulted. Six months later, I had another bad experience with someone I was dating. I honestly can’t explain why I didn’t get help at the time (it took me until I was in my thirties to finally see a therapist). I think part of me thought I could handle all of the feelings on my own. As a result, the aftershock of these experiences seeped into nearly every area of my life over the next decade. Even if you don’t think what’s happened to you is that serious, go talk to someone. It’s worth it.

4. You can have a safe, healthy, satisfying sex life.

The underlying theme of the sex education I received in high school echoed what the gym teacher says in the movie Mean Girls: “Don’t have sex because you will get pregnant and die.” The fear associated with sex held me back and caused a lot of undue anxiety. However, if you use safer sex methods and get tested regularly (which is essential for your health and peace of mind), you can protect yourself and still have a healthy, fun sex life.

5. It’s okay to experiment.

In my early 20s, I had several opportunities to date and experiment with other women (gorgeous, smart, cool women), but I never followed through. Now I wish I had. I think at the time I was scared, but of what I’m not really sure. Once again, it took me until my thirties to explore this part of my sexuality. Stop worrying about what other people think. Whether you’re gay, straight or somewhere happily in between, you’re not required to define your sexuality for other people. You deserve pleasure. Give yourself permission to explore.

Complete Article HERE!

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Why Pregnant Couples Should Totally Have Sex

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(And How To Do It Well!)

By Julia Guerra

A survey issued by the parenting website ChannelMum back in 2017 found that, on average, couples will have sex 78 times in a matter of six months (that’s 13 times per month) before they conceive. But what happens after they score a positive on the stick? Do they stop, for lack of a better word, scoring in the bedroom?

In life, and in pregnancy, it’s important to listen to your body and honor its needs. This includes any sexual desires that may (and usually do) arise. Of course, if you aren’t comfortable having sex while you’re pregnant, that’s perfectly fine. But while pregnancy is a lot of things, it doesn’t have to be a celibacy sentence.

The stigma around pregnant sex.

It’s one thing to put physical intimacy on pause if it’s uncomfortable or harmful to the mother, or if someone in the relationship feels genuinely uncomfortable having pregnant sex. However, there’s nothing inherently “dirty” or “wrong” about having sex while pregnant. But according to Sofia Jawed-Wessel, Ph.D., MPH, sex researcher and co-director of the Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the taboo pitted on pregnant sex isn’t directed at the sex itself but rather at pregnant women having sex. 

“Our culture has a difficult time juxtaposing motherhood and sexiness without fetishizing—without objectifying the pregnant person,” Jawed-Wessel explains in an interview with mbg. “We have a difficult time seeing the pregnant person as a whole person beyond their pregnancy.”

It all comes back to the “why,” she says. In other words: Why is a pregnant woman having sex?

If it’s to meet her own sexual needs, a pregnant woman pursuing sex is often seen as an “aggressor,” as selfish. If it’s to meet the man’s needs, that’s another story, Jawed-Wessel says. “If [a pregnant woman is] having sex not for her own pleasure but for her partner’s, because nine months is a long time for men to be celibate, then we understand. If she’s partnered with a woman, well, we won’t even acknowledge that!”

How attitudes about pregnant sex can affect an expecting couple’s sex life.

In her most recent study, Jawed-Wessel and her team of researchers followed 116 couples in which one partner was between eight to 12 weeks pregnant. Researchers asked participants to complete four surveys over the course of three months, with questions focusing on their attitude toward sex before pregnancy, their attitude toward sex during pregnancy, how often they were having sex (with their partner and/or solo), sexual activities that gave them the most and least satisfaction, and so on.

The cross-sectional study, published last month in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, found that a couple’s attitude toward pregnant sex could actually affect their overall sexual satisfaction. Partners who shared a positive attitude toward pregnant sex were more satisfied overall than couples who went into the experiment with reservations toward pregnant sex.

Jawed-Wessel says a negative attitude toward pregnant sex can be a reflection of one or all of the following:

1. They’re choosing to believe pregnant sex myths over their doctor’s advice.

Jawed-Wessel says experts are seeing a “disconnect” between what the doctor prescribes and the negative attitudes couples have about pregnant sex because of myths about the potential risk of either compromising the pregnancy or harming the fetus directly.

For the record, there is little evidence to prove sex can induce a miscarriage, and experts say it’s highly unlikely. Doctors do suggest patients with very specific medical issues—such as placenta previa (when the placenta covers all or part of the uterus), and cervical insufficiency (when a woman’s cervix is weak and dilates too early in the pregnancy)—abstain from sex during their pregnancy. For the average pregnant person who isn’t experiencing a high-risk or abnormal pregnancy? As long as your doctor says it’s safe, you’re good to go.

And yet many couples are still apprehensive or just unable to shake off the fear of doing damage to their future baby.

2. Societally speaking, women are desexualized when they become pregnant.

As Jawed-Wessel points out, most cultures—definitely America’s—view motherhood as a kind of pure, moral, and exclusively family-oriented state, whereas having sex still carries overtones of being immoral or selfish. Even if they don’t recognize it, some men buy into this sexist dichotomy and struggle to find their partner sexually desirable during pregnancy, seeing their partner transitioning from “lover” to “mother.” It’s not about the physical bump or even the baby per se (though it may be the case for some men); it’s more about that psychological shift taking place in how they’re viewing their partner.

3. They’re viewing vaginal intercourse as the end-all-be-all of physical intimacy.

Most straight people tend to think sex needs to involve vaginal intercourse. Of course, there are numerous sexual behaviors and experiences that a couple can explore that have nothing to do with penetration, but because couples fall into a routine, they lose that sense of adventure and mystery in the bedroom. Then when pregnancy comes along and makes P-in-V intercourse perhaps less accessible or comfortable, they assume that means sex can’t happen.

What should sex look like for pregnant couples?

According to the team’s findings, sexual satisfaction during pregnancy was extremely contextual for each couple and for each individual partner. The paper outlines that kissing, intercourse, and using sex toys as a couple all led to more sexual satisfaction. But some sexual acts didn’t bring as much joy: For instance, men experienced high levels satisfaction using toys alone (likely while masturbating) and low levels of satisfaction from vaginal fingering (maybe because they couldn’t get off from it, the researchers posit). Women reported the opposite: They were most satisfied through vaginal fingering and actually less satisfied when they used sex toys on their own (perhaps because it was a last resort when they weren’t being satisfied by their partners, the researchers say).

Clearly there wasn’t one overarching solution to being sexually satisfied while pregnant, and more sex didn’t necessarily correspond to being more sexually satisfied. Specific sex acts were more enjoyable for some partners than for others. That being said, the researchers’ model showed one common thread: The more positive of an attitude a couple had toward pregnancy sex, the more sexually satisfied they felt overall.

Sexual satisfaction is important for a healthy relationship—yes, even for soon-to-be parents.

“Pregnancy does not suddenly leave a couple void of sexual needs,” Jawed-Wessel and her team write in their paper. “Sex is important to individuals and their relationships, and pregnant people and their partners are no exception. Relationship satisfaction has been frequently linked to sexual satisfaction among the general population, and pregnant individuals follow a similar pattern.”

They add that pregnant women also experience unique benefits from being satisfied with the state of their sex life and relationship: “Pregnant women with higher relationship satisfaction have also been found to be more positive about their upcoming role as a mother and experience less maternal emotional distress.”

In a recent edition of her newsletter, sex researcher and educator Dr. Zhana Vrangalova emphasized why it’s so important for couples not to lose sight of their sex lives due to a pregnancy: “I know that sex during and post-pregnancy may feel strange, or different, or awkward. But I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for the health and quality of your relationship to maintain your sexual connection during this time. The longer you go without it, the harder and weirder it’s going to be to come back to it and reconnect in that way.”

Her advice?

“If you’re the one pregnant, give yourself the right to be a sexual being, and revel in your new body. A lot of women report that pregnancy sex was the best sex they’ve ever had!” she writes. “And if you’re the partner of someone who’s pregnant, please work on overcoming the harmful myths and negative feelings about pregnancy sex you’ve internalized, and make your partner feel beautiful, sexy, sexual, and desired.”

Communication is key.

Of course, this isn’t meant to put pressure on couples to do what they’re just not feeling. If a couple or partner just doesn’t want to have sex for whatever reason, Jawed-Wessel says there is nothing wrong with pushing pause. But she stresses: Communication is key.

“We see partners making assumptions or jumping to conclusions on what the other is thinking, and this is never good,” Jawed-Wessel explains. “[Pregnancy] can be a time to really explore each other’s sexuality and come to a closer understanding of one another so that when both partners are ready to push play again, it is easier to navigate and relearn each other’s needs and wants.”

As long as both partners have an open line of communication flowing and are being honest about their needs, Jawed-Wessel tells mbg, “there is no reason for sex or lack of sex during pregnancy to be harmful to either partner.” It’s only if either partner feels unsatisfied, or if the woman feels as though her partner does not find her sexually desirable, that may cause an issue.

Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., sex researcher and director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University–Bloomington, tells mbg that ultimately the importance of sexual intimacy during pregnancy will depend on the couple. For some, keeping things fresh in the bedroom during pregnancy is a priority. For others, sex is put on the back burner. “[New parents] have bigger fish to fry, focusing on staying and feeling healthy, caring for their pregnancy, getting things for their baby, napping more, doctors’ appointments, etc.,” Herbenick says. But she does suggest pursuing physical closeness in other ways: “Those who abstain [from penetrative sex] might find [satisfaction] connecting to kiss and cuddle to nurture intimacy.”

Overall, navigating the ways in which you and your partner can stay sexually satisfied during pregnancy is a personal process. As long as your medical provider gives you the OK, try your best to home in on how this experience can enhance your sex life and bring you closer, not only as new parents but as a couple. By keeping the communication flowing and maintaining a positive attitude, satisfaction will come—in and outside the bedroom.

Complete Article HERE!

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6 Questions to Ask Before Sex

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By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Despite how we see it portrayed in the media, sex is a very personal act – with both emotional and physical consequences. So, it’s extremely important that you approach it with the serious thought that it deserves. This includes asking yourself and your partner some key questions.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Does having sex fit with my core values? At a very basic level, it helps to be clear about the extent of emotional intimacy and commitment you believe there should be in a relationship before having sex.

There is also the question of whether being physically intimate with a particular person fits with your morals or values. If either you or your potential sexual partner is in a committed relationship with someone else, pause before acting on your desires. There are also other situations worth thinking twice about, such as sleeping with your boss. So whatever your circumstance, consider the problems you might be creating by acting on your passions.

Is this person a wise choice for me? Even if you are incredibly attracted to someone or they look great on paper, you may know in your heart that they are not right for you. Or, you may have some nagging doubts. Maybe they treat you poorly, are insensitive to others (even while they idolize you), struggle with an anger or alcohol problem, or raise concerns in some other way. In all of these situations, you may want to, at least temporarily, override your libido. When you have sex with someone, you are bringing that person more into your life and heart – a choice you may live to regret. 

Is the timing right? Sex can increase emotional closeness, so if you’re not ready to get closer, you may want to hold off. For instance, if you have just gotten out of a long-term relationship, having sex too soon could interfere with developing what could have been a good match. Similarly, acting on sexual attraction before getting to know someone might feel good in the moment, but also create problems in developing a deeper connection.

3 Questions to Ask Your Partner

What are we to each other? You want to know whether you are on the same page so that you don’t set yourself up for heartache. To clarify your situation, you might directly ask about whether they are single or romantically involved with someone else; and whether they are looking for a fling or a committed relationship.

When were you last tested for STDs and HIV? This may be an uncomfortable question to ask, but you need to be sure that you’re safe from these potentially serious health risks before you move forward.

What will we use for birth control? Whatever you decide to use, make an informed choice to prevent a possible unwanted pregnancy or disease.

These questions are just a start. From there you might want to get to know each other better, deepening your emotional and sexual intimacy. But these basic questions are an essential starting point for any new sexual relationship.

Complete Article HERE!

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How To Admit You’ve Been Faking Orgasms

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By Aimée Grant Cumberbatch

Faux moans, simulated sheet grabs, exaggerated eye rolls. Fake orgasms are unlikely to be anyone’s first choice, but it’s not difficult to see how you might find yourself in a situation where it feels unavoidable.

It’s tempting to attribute the problem to a lack of skills among women’s partners, particularly if those partners happen to be members of the patriarchy. And that does come into it — the orgasm gap between men and women is real.

However, it isn’t the whole story, as although faking occurs most frequently among straight women (with 68% of those surveyed by Zava Med admitting to it), it’s also common in same-sex pairings too, with 59% of lesbians saying they’ve done it.

It’s not always clear if a woman is really having an orgasm, as Meg Ryan demonstrated in When Harry Met Sally.

Lack of enjoyment is one obvious reason. One woman I spoke to, Sarah*, told me: “Whenever I’ve faked an orgasm it’s mostly because I wasn’t really enjoying the sex, and wanted it to get over quickly.”

A lack of understanding around female sexual pleasure can be the cause of unenjoyable sex. It’s something Tierra, another woman who opened up to me, says has made her fake it in the past. “In my particular case, I would like to call it ‘unaware of my own body’. Most visuals of sex are of men and men only reaching climax. [I would say] most men having sex don’t know how to make a woman reach orgasm. So until she understands and feels orgasm, she doesn’t know [any] better.”

Sex and relationship therapist Krystal Woodbridge echoes the idea that certain portrayals of pleasure can make it harder for women to have a fulfilling sex life. “It could well be that [people] just have a lot of assumptions about sex that are probably a bit faulty, that come from the culture around sex in society and what the media portrays about it.

Although you might think faking is more likely to happen with a new partner or in a casual relationship, studies show it’s actually most common in long-term relationships, although less so in marriage.

This suggests that emotional factors could be at play, which is something Sarah experienced. “I didn’t stop [unfulfilling sex] midway either because I cared for the partner and felt affectionate towards [them],” she says. “If I was with a partner I didn’t really care about, I wouldn’t bother faking it.”
If you find yourself faking and start to fear the impact it’s having on you or your relationship, then it could well be time to talk. For those concerned about their partner’s reaction, Woodbridge advises being mindful about how you broach the issue.

“I think it’s important for [people] to ask themselves if it’s potentially damaging [to the relationship] to say to their partner that they have been faking orgasms,” she says. “If they make it about themselves instead, without sounding like a bombshell or as if they are blaming their partner, they perhaps wouldn’t need to overtly say they have been faking at all.”

She explains: “You can give guidance without [saying] ‘I’ve been faking it all this time’ or ‘What you’re doing is not working’. So you’re basically saying ‘I’ve got this issue that I’ve noticed more and more recently and I’m finding it more difficult to have an orgasm, so I wondered what we could do to work on that’.”

Woodbridge believes the problem can arise regardless of how skilled a partner is, so it’s crucial to feel able to discuss your individual preferences. However, faking can be caused by a lack of understanding of what those preferences actually are.

For this reason, it can be helpful to take some time alone to explore what you find pleasurable, so that you feel more relaxed during sexual encounters and better able to guide your partner on what works for you. Woodbridge explains: “An orgasm starts in the mind, so how [someone] becomes aroused in the first place is to do with their own ability to understand their pleasure.”

“We’re [all] aroused in different ways, it could be looking at erotic pictures or literature or it could be listening to certain music,” she suggests. “Then you can start thinking about physical sensations. So what actually feels nice. And then once you’ve worked that out you might feel you can then share that with your partner.”

It’s also important to ask yourself some questions about the cause of your faking. If you’re finding it difficult to unpick, or feel it’s the result of internalised sexual shame or past/present trauma, you might want to seek help from a qualified therapist. The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) website has a directory where you can find accredited psychosexual therapists in your area.

Woodbridge states: “It depends on how long they’ve had the problem and whether it’s been with every partner or just a current partner, whether they can have an orgasm on their own but not with a partner, [and] how they feel about their own body. When they went through puberty were they able to enjoy exploring their body or was that frowned upon

An understanding of sexual pleasure outside of penetration, particularly for straight couples, can also be helpful, as only around 18% of women achieve orgasm through intercourse alone. Changing the focus and making sex less goal (orgasm)-oriented and more about a general sense of pleasure could help take the pressure off. “Even people who can achieve orgasm don’t always have an orgasm when they have sex and they don’t always want to,” Woodbridge adds.

For Olney, being able to discuss faking it with a partner has been a useful indicator of the health of the relationship. She says: “[In] my last two relationships I was aware enough of what I needed to discuss, what I would like, even if they were unaware of what my needs were. But the fact that the very last partner was not into making sure it was a mutually rewarding experience [meant] I just moved on.”

“Things don’t change when conversations are not being had. The discussion helped my partners help me orgasm, or the lack of discussion allowed me to realise [it was time] to move on.”

Woodbridge also notes that if your partner has a problem with you struggling to orgasm or not wanting to, that’s on them, not you. “If you genuinely are happy whether you have one or not then your partner shouldn’t be particularly worried about it. If they are, that is probably to do with their own pride.”

While the desire to fake can be a sign that there are deeper problems in the relationship, talking about it can provide an opportunity for greater intimacy and a more fulfilling sex life. In fact, 31% of women surveyed by Zava said their partners “decided to try harder” after they admitted they had been faking orgasms.

However this approach isn’t always successful, as Rashawn discovered: “I’d never had an orgasm before and I felt inadequate, like something was wrong with me. I told him I had never had one so he made it his mission to make me. He tried and tried and since I wanted to please him, I faked it.”

And while Woodbridge says that a partner can help, she advises that establishing a more fulfilling sex life involves owning your pleasure first.

“[That way] you’re taking responsibility for your own orgasm and you’re taking responsibility for your own pleasure and your own experience,” she says. “You have to start with yourself. You can bring your partner into it, but you have to start with yourself.”

Complete Article HERE!

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5 Healthy Relationship Boundaries You Should Set From The First Date

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When you first start seeing someone new, the thought of setting healthy relationship boundaries might slip your mind. It’s easy to get caught up in all the butterflies when your date walks in and seems to be every bit as cute and charming as you hoped they’d be, but setting clear boundaries from the beginning is a great dating habit to have. Talking about what you want and need and figuring out where you stand helps set you up for success with a person you might want to enter into a relationship with. And at the very least, it helps you weed out people who aren’t as compatible with you.

“The first few dates can set the foundation for your reading your potential partner accurately,” psychotherapist, author, and relationships specialist LeslieBeth Wish tells Elite Daily. “But you need to be sure to use the best building blocks. The goals of your first few dates are to test your initial intuitive assessments about this new person. And the smartest way to do that is to ask effective questions and to set clear boundaries.”

So, what kind of boundaries should you be setting from the beginning of a budding new relationship? From communication to intimacy, here are some things you might consider discussing from the first date.

1 Clarify Your Communication Styles

From the beginning, you should both make it clear how you prefer communication to be. This means mentioning things like texting styles and talking about how you feel about social media. Do you want to text all day, every day? Or would you prefer to touch base once a day and maybe share the occasional meme on Instagram?

“[Both people] should identify what their communication styles are going to be so that one is not either offended or overwhelmed by the communication,” author and relationships expert Alexis Nicole White tells Elite Daily.

You just want to make sure that you’re both on the same page about how you want to communicate and how often from the get-go. And of course, if you end up in a relationship, things might change as you get more serious, so make sure you think about your needs and talk about them as they evolve.

2 Share Your Personal Space Requirements

Personal space encompasses a lot of things, so make sure you really think about your needs. How much time do you need to yourself? How private do you prefer to be? (Would you share your phone password with a partner?) Ask yourself questions like this so that, when you find yourself on a date that’s going well with someone you want to keep seeing, you can talk about what’s important to you.

“Individuals should address their space requirements immediately in the beginning of the relationship so that it is clear,” White says.

This is another thing that will likely change over time, as more and more things come up over the course of a relationship. On the first date, it might just be a discussion of how much time you like to spend with a partner, for example. In a serious relationship that’s moving toward living together or getting married, on the other hand, you’ll definitely want to talk boundaries in terms of finances.

3 Get On The Same Page About Future Dates

You can tell a lot about how you’re really going to click with someone by trying to make plans for future dates. You want to be on the same page in terms of what sorts of things you’re interested in and what activities suit both of your lifestyles. Wish suggests talking about what kinds of dates you both like going on and setting boundaries that way — with an emphasis on making your dates “resemble real life.”

“Most of healthy, long-term relationships spend their time doing ordinary things!” Wish says. “Take charge to set a boundary for how you would like your next few dates to be. Go for walks, attend free local events, meet at your favorite breakfast or lunch spot. And, yes, even add a few errands.”

This will help set the course for how your (potential!) relationship goes, and as a bonus, will help you get to know your date better.

4 Be Clear About Commitment And What You Want

White also points out that it’s important to address commitment head-on.

“[Both people] should be clear about what their expectations are in a relationship as far as commitment is concerned,” White says.

If, for example, you’re looking for a serious, monogamous relationship, but the person you’re on a date with is looking for something more casual or open, it doesn’t really matter how much chemistry you have — it’s just not going to work out. This is definitely something you want to be up front with about from the beginning, so that neither person gets hurt or feels like they’ve wasted their time.

5 Know Where You Stand On Physical Intimacy

And last but not least, if physical intimacy comes up on the first date, it’s best to address it before anything happens. If, for example, you don’t like to kiss on the first date, mentioning it before it happens ensures that you both feel more comfortable. Or, if you can’t tell if your date is OK with a first date kiss or even something like holding hands, the best thing you can do is just ask! “Can I kiss you?” is both a great way to get consent and an opportunity to start a conversation about how you both want to move forward.

It’s OK to be intimate or even have sex on the first date (though Wish does suggest setting a “sex-pectation boundary”) so long as you both are into it. White brought up an important reminder, which is that “no one should feel entitled to having sex” when dating new people. (And really, that goes for every scenario!)

The important thing to remember in any dating situation is that you want to make sure you and the other person are on the same page. Whether it’s when you want to text each other or if and when you want to take things to a more physical level, it’s all about communication. Setting healthy boundaries from the beginning can only help.

Complete Article HERE!

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Ten things you should know about your waning sex life

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In a 2014 survey by the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture, it was found that 12 percent of married people hadn’t had sex for at least three months. Six and a half percent of married women and almost five percent of married men reported that they hadn’t had sex with their spouse in over a year.

A lack of sex in marriage or otherwise committed long-term relationships is something that’s joked about all of the time. In general, though, married couples do have more sex than people who are single or dating.

However, for the not insignificant minority of committed couples who have lost the sexual side of their relationship, it is anything but funny.

It is important to note that regular sex is not an imperative part of life or of some relationships. If you’re both happy with anniversary sex, or never sex, then we’re happy for you.

For those of you that aren’t happy, for those of you who feel stuck, confused, resentful, guilty or scared, we talked to two experts—Amy Bucciere, a certified sex and relationship therapist practicing in Pittsburgh, and Dr. Erika Evans-Weaver, the director of the Center for Human Sexuality Studies’ Sex Therapy Clinic at Widener University—to find out what you should know.

1. Rule out physiological causes.

Both experts agree that it’s important to first rule out medical conditions that could be causing changes in your libido or bodily function.

“Diseases or conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer—any of those conditions can impact your sex drive,” said Evans-Weaver.

2. Don’t assume that you know how your partner feels.

Simply put, the only way to find the cause of the problem is to look for the cause of the problem. We all have a tendency to assume that the way our partners are acting is directly related to how they feel about us. In many cases, this isn’t the truth.

Bucciere says that’s why it’s important to stay curious about what’s causing the sexual problems in your relationship, instead of coming to a conclusion on your own.

“[Ask yourself] is this actually true or is this something that I’m assuming? What is genuinely going on here? And it can be a lot of work to get an accurate answer to that question,” Bucciere said.

3. Remember that things are always in flux.

As your life circumstances change, so will the circumstances of your relationship. One of the hardest times is what Evans-Weaver refers to as the “sandwich generation,” which is when a couple is caring for both their young children and their aging parents.

“You’re exhausted, so you might want to be sexual, but at the same time you might say ‘I’d like to just cuddle up and take a nap,’” she explained. “And that’s real and fair.”

You may think that the root of your problem is that your partner has a different sex drive than you, and you could be right. But, that’s a reality in most relationships and it, too, can change over time.

“What are the chances that two people are going to be 95 percent in the same place when it comes to desire and arousal and availability to be intimate?” Bucciere said. “So it’s kind of a given that somebody is going to be higher and somebody is going to be lower, and you may go through different seasons…It’s not a stable position.”  

4. Be mindful of the story you tell yourself.

“The most important thing is that if my goal is to assign blame and to alleviate myself of doing the hard things then what happens is nothing changes,” Bucciere said.

Believing that you are right and your partner is wrong is easy and convenient, and it doesn’t get you any closer to a solution.

“It’s in our ability to make a conscious, painful decision to say, ‘I wonder what’s really happening here because if the story I’m telling myself is somehow a reductionist story about my goodness and your badness’ or something like that, then that’s the story I’m going to end up with,” Bucciere continued.

5. Talk to your partner, not everybody else.

To get more familiar with this issue, I dove into some online forums for people in sexless relationships. What I found was a lot of people commissorating about their problems, while encouraging a lot of vitriolic behavior.

“Everybody wants to let off some steam, but you’ve got to let it off with the person that’s driving you batty, not everybody else,” said Evans-Weaver.

“The folks that you are commiserating with validate you, so you feel right, and by the time you get ready to actually have the interaction with your partner, it’s still [the same] issue but not necessarily one that you have the same motivations to confront because you already felt this validation,” she continued.

So whether they’re your friends, or strangers on the internet, it’s often best to avoid airing out your grievances with people who aren’t your partner. Consider going to your partner first.

6. Don’t lose sight of the ‘us’ in your relationship.

A lot of people end up sitting with and dissecting this problem for a while, and in that time the frustration, desperation and resentment have been piling up. It’s easy to lose sight of the point of it all.

“What happens is you end up neglecting what I have come to refer to as the ‘physics of the relationship’ and you’ve become solely focused on ‘me’ and ‘you,’ and I’m neglecting the ‘us’ that exists between us and it’s in that misfocus that we end up trekking down a long and painful road,” Bucciere cautioned.

7. It’s not all about intercourse.

Evans-Weaver said that sometimes the problem can be due to boredom because the societally-driven focus on penetrative sex isn’t satisfying to one or both partners.

“[People] get stuck in these really basic sexual scripts that are no longer pleasurable for them, but they don’t know how to communicate about creating something different that is fun and invigorating to them,” she said.  

“We have to expand our perspective on what it means to be sexual with our partners because it can be anything from a sensual massage to mutual masturbation. Or it can be oral sex. It could be just touching. And it could be penetrative intercourse, but doesn’t have to be.”

And it isn’t all about orgasm, either. Making sex too goal-orientated can kill sex drive. According to Evans-Weaver, the focus should be pleasure and fun.

8. Affection and connection.

Sometimes you need to create the space for sex in your relationship though affection and re-establishing a connection.

“I remember working with folks and saying, ‘alright, what’s going on here is that one of you just wants more expression of affection and one of you actually wants to be more sexual with one another. Two different things, but the more that you express affection it’s going to also titillate your partner which might increase their desire to be sexual,’Evans-Weaver said.  

Bucciere emphasizes that feeling truly connected to your partner can change your whole approach to the issue for the better.

“It’s this idea that if we’re really feeling connected and the space between us feels safe and warm and open and loving, from there we’ll be able to figure it out,” she said.

9. Relationships take work. And they can work, if you do.

Start from a place of understanding that lasting relationships don’t happen because there’s no conflict or messiness, they last because both partners have decided that they’re going to work through the bumps.

“If people are genuinely looking to one another to say ‘I want this to get better,’ the implications of that are life-giving and tremendously healing and just a shit ton of work,” Bucciere said.

If you can develop a healthy method that you use to handle problems in your relationship, that’s a tool you’ll be able to come back to again and again.

“I genuinely, 100 percent believe that when two people are truly committed to making a process work, that it will,” Bucciere said. “If we can have our process down about how we work on this stuff, then we’re ultimately going to be able to handle whatever comes down the pike.”

10. Get help if you need it.  

This is a complicated problem. There are professionals out there, like Bucciere and Evans-Weaver, who can help. Whether you need a mediator, an idea-generator or a fresh set of eyes to look at your situation, therapists are trained to assist you.

“My approach is: listen, nobody has all the answers, right? I don’t have all the answers to fixing the problems in my own life. So my role is not to tell you, ‘well, you’ve been doing this wrong all your life,’” Evans-Weaver said.

“It’s really just to ask insightful questions that provide you with an unbiased opportunity to examine what it is that you want to do and how do you want to get there.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How this polyamorous couple makes their marriage work

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‘Just because it doesn’t look or sound ‘normal,’ doesn’t mean that it can’t be wildly beautiful’

Bryde MacLean and Jeremie Saunders, a married polyamorous couple, talk candidly about sex and relationships on their podcast Turn Me On.

Bryde MacLean and Jeremie Saunders have talked about sex and relationships more than most couples.

That’s partly because they co-host Turn Me On, a podcast they describe as “a no-holds-barred conversation about what it is to be a sexual being in the world.”

It’s also because they’re a married, polyamorous couple, and in the last few years they’ve been navigating the rocky terrain that comes with opening up a committed relationship. Polyamory is a form of non-monogamy in which individuals form intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved.

Today MacLean has a long-term boyfriend. Saunders has a long-term girlfriend and casually dates other people.

“Together the four of us have a very platonic and supportive relationship,” said Saunders.

He recognizes that their marriage is not a conventional one.

“I also feel like it’s important to remind people that just because it doesn’t look or sound ‘normal,’ or doesn’t fit inside a particular box that that you’re used to, doesn’t mean that it can’t be wildly beautiful and work really well, and be super valuable to the people involved.”

Here are some of things that have helped keep their marriage on track.

Put it on paper

Bryde MacLean: “[Before opening up our marriage] we wrote up a contract [which is on our website] in as much detail as we could about all the potential concerns we had. Don’t talk about our problems with other people, don’t criticize each other with other people, have lots of respect and no sleep-overs… We pretty much reviewed and edited that, almost every day, if not once a week, for the least the first six months to a year. It really helped us define what we were doing as we went.”

Be trustworthy

Bryde MacLean: “I remember the first time Jeremie told me that he was in love with somebody else. That was really, really challenging. After a couple of weeks of them hanging out a lot, I had to ask him, to ask them both, if they could take it a little slower, if they could limit the number of days per week … Neither one of them wanted to do that, because you’re in the the energy of a new relationship and it’s exciting … But they did and it was really respectful. It’s really important to be trustworthy.”

Work together

Jeremie Saunders: “It was always an experience that we were doing together, not separately, even though we are separately seeing other people, we’re doing this as a team.”

Choose your path

Bryde MacLean: “It doesn’t have to be … one path fits all. And if you choose monogamy, that’s fantastic. You’ve just got to choose it. If it’s something that you just fall into, because that’s all you’ve ever been taught, then you might feel like something’s wrong with you if it’s not working. It’s just important to recognize that there are there are other choices and they don’t have to threaten one another.”

Family matters

Jeremie: “My parents are super cool and they’ve always been very supportive. We struck gold with the people we’ve chosen to surround ourselves with, because they’ve all been extraordinarily supportive and understanding and excited for us.”

Bryde MacLean: “In Jeremie’s family, Bekah (his girlfriend) and I will both be over for Christmas and birthdays… That evolution has been really nice.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How To Navigate 6 Common Sexual Health Conversations With Your Partner

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By Jen Anderson
The pillar of any good relationship is open communication — and that doesn’t stop at being honest about whose turn it is to do the dishes. Opening up about sex with your partner, whether it’s about your birth control options, the positions that make you feel best, or the need to take emergency contraception, is essential to truly enjoying your sex life.

That’s why, in partnership with Plan B One-Step, we created a handy guide to the most common sex conversations you might encounter, tapping Katharine O’Connell White, MD, MPH, and Rachel Needle, PsyD, for their best advice on how to navigate each. No matter if it’s a new Hinge fling, a veteran booty call, or a long-term relationship, you should feel empowered to have these conversations — especially when they help ensure safe sexual health practices and more enjoyment to help you reach that O. Read ahead to see how Dr. White and Dr. Needle break it all down. A better sex life awaits you

The Birth Control Conversation

Before you engage in sex at all, it’s crucial that you and your partner are transparent with each other about what contraception you plan to use to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancies. This means talking about the methods you might already be using, like the pill or the IUD, plus barrier methods like condoms or a diaphragm. Be open and honest about your prior experience so that you’re both on the same page.

“The condom discussion is paramount, for the safety of all involved,” Dr. White says, and she suggests always having a supply of condoms on hand. This way, both parties can feel more comfortable going into sex knowing that you’re taking precautions to reduce the risk of STIs and STDs.

The Frequency Conversation

While you may feel like you’re the only couple that struggles with differing opinions on how often you want to have sex, the truth is that it’s very common. The key here is to bring up your feelings about frequency when you’re not hot and heavy. “Start off with something positive about your relationship, including your sexual relationship,” Dr. Needle advises. Then, “use feeling words and ‘I’ statements, [so you don’t put] your partner on the defensive.” Use the conversation to establish the factors that are contributing to either party’s decrease in sexual desire, and make plans to work on them, either on your own, together, or with a professional. Just remember: “There is not really a ‘normal’ amount or an amount of sex that is good or correct to have. Each couple is different.”

The Emergency Contraception Conversation

So the condom broke during sex, or it never got used. There’s no need to skirt around the issue. Dr. White suggests bringing up the emergency contraception conversation by saying something like, “Whoops, I think we forgot something,” if you and your partner forgot to use your preferred birth control method. If it broke, just say so, point blank. It’s likely that your partner is thinking the exact same thing as you are — someone just needs to break the ice and bring it up.

Make arrangements to buy Plan B One-Step for emergency contraception together, or, in the case of a fleeting one-night stand or a FWB-gone-awry, the conversation might not be necessary, and you should still feel empowered to get your emergency contraceptive on your own. It’s easier than ever, with Plan B available on the shelf at all major retailers without a prescription, age restriction, or ID. Just keep in mind: You have 72 hours after unprotected sex to take it, and the sooner you take it, the more effective it will be at helping prevent pregnancy.

The Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) & Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Conversation

When it comes to asking your partner to get tested, Dr. White advises keeping the convo friendly and factual. Try telling them your plans to get tested, and suggest they do the same. “That way, getting tested is a joint venture and not a one-way request,” she explains. If you already have an STI or STD, it’s important to chat about this prior to any sexual encounters — your partner has a right to know about their own risks. “Pick the right time and place for a serious conversation, and try [saying something like], ‘I like you a lot, so there’s something you need to know.'”

The Period Sex Conversation

Period sex isn’t for everyone. But for some, it can be just as enjoyable as non-period sex and even bring couples together in a new way. According to Dr. White, the best way to approach this topic is with a casual conversation that signals you’re not embarrassed and allows your partner to follow your lead. “Mention [upfront] that you’re on your period, so [you can] throw down a towel on the bed to protect the sheets,” she says — especially those white cotton sheets. Not only is this conversation important to have for transparency, but it could introduce a favorite new time of the month to get intimate. “Sex during your period has a lot of advantages,” she adds. “The blood can act as a [secondary] lubricant, and the endorphins released with orgasm can help soothe period cramps.”

The Painful-Sex Conversation

Plain and simple, painful sex isn’t good sex for anyone. “Any decent human will not want to cause you pain and will work with you to make it more comfortable,” Dr. White says. So use your voice to tell your partner immediately if something isn’t feeling quite right — even if this means stopping sex early. If the pain persists, “Trust your body… You should not keep doing the same thing that hurts. This will only teach your body to associate pain with sex, which can be a brutal cycle to break,” she adds.

Complete Article HERE!

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9 things to try if you and your partner are sexually incompatible

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  • If you feel as though you and your partner are sexually incompatible, there are some things you can do.
  • Consider seeing a therapist or, specifically, a sex therapist, to determine the underlying reasons you and your partner aren’t enjoying sex together.
  • The most important thing you can do is communicate your expectations and desires with your partner.

Having a satisfactory sex life is often assumed to be had by everyone in relationships. Unfortunately, though, this is not always the case

In fact, a New York Times article revealed that 15% of married couples are in a sexless relationship. And, if you’re not familiar, the term “sexless relationship” consists of couples who have not had sex more than 10 times in one year, no sex in the last six months, or no sex in the last year. Unrecognized or disregarded sexual incompatibility is often a cause for this

If you’re in a sexually incompatible relationship, there are things you can try to fix the issue.

See a mental health professional.

Not all issues with sex are caused by physical limits. For some, mental or emotional blocks can be the cause, too. Psychotherapist Dr. Kathryn Smerling told INSIDER that you should consider seeing a mental health professional if this happens to be an issue in your relationship.

“There are all kinds of reasons that people are sexually incompatible,” she said. “If that is consistent for you, I’d suggest finding a mental health professional because it’s most likely not a physical problem, but an emotional issue that needs to be addressed. Very often, sexual incompatibility is due to one person withholding from another person; so explore that dynamic as well.”

Try visiting a sex shop.

Sex toys aren’t just meant for nights when you’re alone. Though pretty taboo in the past, many couples are taking more trips to sex shops to help spice up their time in the bedroom.

“Visiting a sex shop can help you find new ways to make sex exciting,” Smerling confirmed. “This helps with opening up the possibilities and opening up a dialogue.”

Don’t think about sex.

Not thinking about sex can be difficult when that’s the issue between you and your loved one, but according to Smerling, this could be a way to truly help the problem.

“Do something counterintuitive,” she said. “Cuddle, hold hands, touch each other — but refrain from actual intercourse. See if that takes the pressure off.”

Doing this can also build up the anticipation of wanting to be with one another intimately.

See a sex therapist.

Although Smerling suggested seeing a mental health professional to discover the underlying emotional or psychological issues dealing with your sexual performance, Heather Ebert — dating and relationship expert at WhatsYourPrice.com— told INSIDER that you shouldn’t count out seeing a sex therapist, too.

“The idea that we should work out our problems without help is slowly being deconstructed in society,” said Ebert. “Seeing a marriage counselor is becoming more and more acceptable and so should seeing a sex therapist. They can help you talk about sex and get to the root of the problem

Complete Article HERE!

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Age Doesn’t Determine Whether A Person Is Ready For Sex.

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Here’s What Does!

By Nichole Fratangelo

First-time sex has a lot of logistics attached to it—like where it happened, when it happened, and who it happened with. For most of us, it’s the “when” that holds a ton of weight. As a society, we tend to place so much importance on how old we were when we first shared that intimate moment with someone else. We rarely even consider if we were mentally, emotionally, and physically ready to do it. Now, new research shows your age really isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to sexual readiness; there’s much more in-depth criteria that includes physical, emotional, and psychosocial well-being.

A study published in the journal BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health questioned 2,825 people between ages 17 and 24 about their first sexual experience, including the nature of their relationship with the person they had their first sex with, both of their ages, and how much sexual experience their partner had. The researchers also asked about their socioeconomic status, their education level, family structure, ethnicity, and how and when they’d been taught about sex.

What does it mean to be “ready” for sex?

Rather than focusing on age as a key factor, the researchers used four distinct points to gauge how ready each person was based on the World Health Organization’s standards for sexual health. WHO defines sexual health as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality,” which includes a “positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.”

Only those who met all four criteria were considered “sexually competent”—that is, ready to have sex—at the time they first did it.

“The concept of ‘sexual competence’ represents an alternative approach to timing of first sexual intercourse, considering the contextual attributes of the event, rather than simply age at occurrence,” the researchers wrote in the paper. “This departs from the traditional framing of all sexual activity among teenagers as problematic, and recognises that young age alone does not threaten sexual health, any more than older age safeguards it.”

Here are the four main criteria:

1. Contraceptive use

Are you using birth control of some sort? A person who isn’t willing and prepared to use contraception during sex is not mature enough to be having sex. That’s why researchers included it as such a major point, especially for those doing it for the first time. Of those surveyed, most people did use reliable contraception, but around one in 10 did not.

2. Autonomy

Are you having sex because you truly want to do it, or does it have to do with peer pressure or drunkenness? Sex should always be on your own accord and not because it’s something everyone else around you is doing.

3. Consent

Here’s a crucial one: Did both parties verbally and physically agree to have sex? If not, neither party was ready to do the deed—one person was forced into it and experienced sexual assault, and the other person assaulted someone, which is the furthest thing from sexual competence. The researchers excluded instances of forced sex from their study, but they noted that almost one in five women had reported not being in charge of the decision to have sex for the first time.

4. The “right” timing

Do you feel like this is the “right time”? Participants reported whether they personally felt like they’d picked the appropriate time in their lives to start having sex. Though the study didn’t specify, there are many personal reasons why it is or isn’t a good time to start having sex; they weren’t ready to have sex—you might be struggling with stress or insecurity and don’t want to complicate it by introducing intimacy in your life, or you might be very erotically charged and have a lot of free time, so why not? Other factors like finding a partner they feel attracted to and comfortable with could factor into this question.

More women than men felt their first sexual experience did not happen at the right time—40 percent versus 27 percent, respectively. This was the most commonly reported negative feature of first-time sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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There’s a better way to talk to your kids about sex

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By Jenny Anderson

It’s no secret that many parents struggle with talking to their kids about sex. But a new study from Britain suggests those awkward conversations may be key in helping kids navigate their first sexual experiences—and offers some useful guidance on how to do it.

The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles poll delves into sexual behavior in Britain. It asks some obvious questions, such as “What age did you first have sex?” Others dig deeper: “Did you feel peer pressure to have sex when you did it for the first time?” “Were you drunk?” “Did you want it as much as your partner wanted it?”

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine used the survey to do a more in-depth study on the circumstances surrounding young people’s first time and how they felt about it, interviewing 2,825 young people from the survey. (The broader national survey included 15,162 men and women, aged 17-24, between 2010-2012.) The study, recently published in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, was retrospective, meaning that young adults were asked to reflect on their first experience, which could have been years earlier.

In an effort to get beyond the simplistic question of “When did you first have sex” to the more important ones around whether young adults felt ready, the authors sought to assess respondents’ “sexual competence” based on questions the young adults answered in the survey. The components of sexual competence include:

  • Did you use contraception?
  • Did you feel in charge of your decision (or was the decision influenced by things such as peer pressure and/or drunkenness)?
  • Were you and your partner equally willing to do it?
  • Did it happen at the right time?

Competence feels like a loaded word, especially in the context of sex. But if you lose the word and look at the questions embedded in the definition, you have an interesting road map to what readiness may look like, including consent, protection, safety, and interest.

Not surprisingly, many people found their first times to be not-so-great. A whopping 40% of women and 26% of men did not think that their first sexual experience occurred at the ‘right time,’ while 17.4% of women reported that they and their partner were not equally willing to have sex the first time it happened. A similar share of women reported a non-autonomous reason—such as peer pressure or drunkenness—for their first sexual encounter. Nine out of ten young adults used contraception.

According to the researchers’ definition of competence, 52% of women and 42% of men were not sexually competent for their first time.

The relationship between age and sexual competence was not straightforward, but it was clearly directional: 78% of 13-14-year-old girls were not competent, compared to 36% of 18-24-year-old girls. (For boys, 65% were not competent at 13-14, compared to 40% at 18-24.)

First times are often fraught for a variety of reasons: peer or partner pressure, expectations, mechanics. But being older clearly has advantages. The study suggested that there was also a connection—for girls at least—between having conversations with parents or learning about sex and relationships in school and feeling ready.

“That young women who had discussed sexual matters with their parents, and those who reported school to be their main source from which they learnt about sexual matters, were more likely to have been sexually competent at first sex resonates with previous research,” the study said. The authors suggest that may be because parental input and conversations, and school-based relationships and sex education, “may provide the knowledge and skills required to negotiate a positive and safe sexual experience.”

That association was not observed with men. The authors suggest one interpretation is that communication is less important for men as they reflect on their first encounter.

Self-reported retrospective interviews necessarily may be influenced by flaws of memory and bias. But if self-reporting shows this much uncertainty and openness about not being ready, it seems safe to assume the numbers are even greater.

Clearly, parents need to do more to help kids figure out the right time to become sexually active. Forty-seven percent of 14-year-old girls and 58% of 14-year-old boys said they had never discussed sex with either parent. And as awareness of sexual health and well-being develops, conversations between parents and kids must go beyond advice like “Use protection. Don’t get a disease” to what healthy relationships look and feel like, what consent is, how to say no, and how porn pollutes our idea about what sex should be like.

A starting point for those conversations is a vernacular that makes sense. The definition of competence laid out by the BMJ researchers is compatible with that of the World Health Organization, which also goes beyond physical health (contraception and sexually transmitted diseases) to include mental well-being and social aspects, referring to a “positive and respectful approach to… sexual relationships” and “safe sexual experiences, free of coercion.”

Based on the BMJ study, the BBC suggests that parents talk to teens about sex using this checklist:

When is the right time?

If you think you might have sex, ask yourself:

  • Does it feel right?
  • Do I love my partner?
  • Does he/she love me just as much?
  • Have we talked about using condoms to prevent STIs and HIV, and was the talk OK?
  • Have we got contraception organised to protect against pregnancy?
  • Do I feel able to say “no” at any point if I change my mind, and will we both be OK with that?

Also consider:

  • Do I feel under pressure from anyone, such as my partner or friends?
  • Could I have any regrets afterwards?
  • Am I thinking about having sex just to impress my friends or keep up with them?
  • Am I thinking about having sex just to keep my partner?

Research suggests that our early experiences with sex can have a long-term influence on sexual health. So it makes sense for parents to do what they can—from an ongoing conversation to an anonymous checklist left on the table—to increase the odds that teens’ first encounters are good ones.

Complete Article HERE!

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Couples Who Do THIS Have Better Sex

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By Georgina Berbari

It’s no secret that there’s enjoyment in feeling desired. In fact, a new study just revealed that how much you think your partner loves your body can have a significant effect on your sexual satisfaction—even more than your own appreciation for your body.

The study, published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, studied 244 women between ages 18 and 30, all of whom were in a committed relationship for three months or longer and sexually active within the last month. (Most of the women were white and straight.) The scientists assessed the participants’ own body appreciation by asking them to rate how much they related to statements like “I respect my body” and “I feel good about my body.” The women were also asked to complete the survey from their partner’s perspective, to assess their perceived view of their partner’s appreciation of their body (i.e., “My partner feels good about my own body”).

The researchers also asked questions about the women’s sexual functioning in the past four weeks, which includes how often they felt sexual desire, their level of arousal, lubrication, number of orgasms, sexual satisfaction, and pain during sex. Finally, women also reported their overall relationship satisfaction, including how pleasant, positive, satisfied, and valued they felt.

The findings showed the more you think your partner appreciates your body, the better your sex life tends to be—that is, more desire, arousal, lubrication, and orgasms—and the more satisfied with your relationship you are.

There was also a significant relationship between how much women appreciated their own body and how much they thought their partner appreciated it. In other words, having a more positive body image was associated with your partner loving your body more too. Interestingly, however, a woman’s own body image was much less of a predictor of her sexual functioning than how she perceived her partner’s view of her body. That suggests that there’s an element of being seen as attractive that’s uniquely important when it comes to having a satisfying sex life.

In the paper, the researchers theorize that this need to be seen as desirable and worthy might have to do with trust: When we’re having sex, we’re incredibly vulnerable—literally, we’re baring it all. So when we know our partner recognizes and even takes pleasure in our bare bodies, we feel more secure, confident, and able to let loose and enjoy ourselves.

Of course, the point here isn’t that we should all care a ton about what other people think about our bodies. When you’re confident in your own body, you’ll inevitably enjoy sex more because you feel less self-conscious and more inhibited.

“Our internal experience is mirrored back to us in our relationships,” marriage and family therapist Shelly Bullard tells mbg. “Therefore, the best thing you can always do is find love within. When in doubt, love yourself.” The same goes for body image—as you cultivate more and more love for your own body, there’s no doubt that you’ll see that body love radiating from your partner.

“As I began to feel full, beautiful, and magnificent internally, I experienced others feeling these things for me in a greater way than ever before,” Bullard writes.

In short, having the sense that your partner is obsessed with your body undoubtedly leads to great sex, and treating yourself with that unconditional adoration and acceptance is a great place to start. Of course, being comfortable and accepting of all aspects of your body is a journey—that you and your partner are both likely on. So, don’t be shy when it comes to being vocal about how much you’re sexually attracted to each other. Neither of you are mind-readers, and creating a healthy, open dialogue will have wonderful effects on both your sex life and your overall confidence.

Complete Article HERE!

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