9 Tips For Bondage Beginners

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By Kasandra Brabaw

Have you ever thought about tying your partner up with rope? Or being tied up yourself? It’s a kink that more people than you’d probably think are interested in trying. But as intriguing as the thought of bondage is, it can also be pretty scary.

There are so many questions when you first start out. What kind of rope do you get? What body parts are okay to tie up? Is it possible to seriously hurt your partner (or get hurt yourself)? How do you tell your partner what you do and don’t want to try? And what happens if you do it wrong?

Ahead, we talked with Yin Q, a dominatrix and writer/producer of BDSM webseries Mercy Mistress, to answer some of those questions. Read on for tips about consent, safety, rope types, and safe words.

1) Negotiation and consent.

Before anyone gets tied up, you and your partner(s) need to have a negotiation about what’s going to happen. And in that negotiation, you have to talk about consent, Yin says. “You have to know how you’re going to actually explore,” they say. You could start exploring bondage in an experiential way, where no still means no. But you could also try a theme where struggle is part of what makes bondage erotic. So, you’ll need to talk to your partner up front about what you want.

“It’s not that you just say yes to bondage and then that means that you’re saying yes to everything that happens after you’re in bondage,” Yin says. There are multiple things you and your partner have to consent to, whether you’re the top or the bottom in the bondage situation. But especially if you’re the bottom (the one being tied up). Once someone is in bondage, Yin says, they might enter something called “subspace” and might no longer feel comfortable negotiating what they do and don’t want to try. So it’s essential to have negotiation and consent up front.

2) Safe words.

Part of the negotiation process is establishing a safe word (or multiple safe words) with your partner. In BDSM, a safe word is something other than “no,” “don’t,” “stop” or any other word you’d usually use to tell someone to slow down. Because those words tend to be part of the play. “If you want to play with those roles and power dynamics, language can start changing meaning,” Yin says. Instead, use a word that usually wouldn’t come up in the context of sex. For beginners, Yin suggests “yellow” and “red.”

“‘Yellow’ meaning that you’re getting to your edge where you know something doesn’t feel right or that this is basically as much as you can take,” they say. “Red” meaning that you’re totally done with the scene and you want to be untied.

3) Knowing your bodies (and minds).

Does your partner have bad knees? Are you prone to back aches? Does anyone have diabetes or epilepsy? These are all things you and your partner should discuss before anyone gets tied up, because where you place the rope might exacerbate any of those problems.

And mental health is just as important as physical health. “If somebody has gone through trauma, language can become a trigger when you’re playing,” Yin says. Some people enjoy what’s called “slut play,” which is essentially dirty talk that uses words generally considered humiliating or degrading. But, for some, certain words can bring up insecurities. Yin, for example, feels totally fine using words like “slut,” “submissive,” and “dirty dog” in their play. But can’t stand saying or hearing the word “stupid.”

“For some reason, that triggers something in childhood for me,” they say. “It’s just not sexy to me. I’m very cerebral, so that’s going to call up a lot of insecurity for me.” So, like everything else, you’ll need to talk with your partner about which words are a no-go for them, and keep the communication open so they can tell you if something feels wrong in the moment.

4) Triggers

Just like words can be triggering, so can actions. And it’s important not to assume that something won’t be triggering, Yin says. As a switch (someone who both tops and bottoms), Yin says they can take a lot of masochism, like flogging and canning. “But, the one thing I cannot take is tickling,” they say. “I get angry, first of all, and then I also get nauseous.”

Their partners might not even consider that tickling could be a trigger — after all, tickling is something we do to tiny children, and it doesn’t hurt — but it’s important that they listen to them when they say they can’t handle it. As a beginner, you and your partner(s) might not yet know what your physical triggers are, so communication becomes important again.

5) Nerve damage.

Once you’re done with the negotiations and consent and other talking, there are some things you should know before tying someone up. Mainly, that certain areas are more prone to nerve damage than others. “Usually it’s around the elbows or the knees and especially the neck,” Yin says.

So, if you’re idea of bondage comes from beautiful photos of Shibari-style knots, then you’ll have to adjust your expectations. “Going into it as a beginner, one must learn the basics and also understand that each person’s body has it’s own capabilities,” Yin says. Anyone who’s just starting out should never put rope near the neck, because doing it wrong has the potential to cause serious damage.

6) Tingling.

If you’re the person being tied up, it’s important to tell your partner when you’re experiencing tingling in your fingers, toes, or anywhere else. That could be a sign that the rope is too tight or that you’re not in a comfortable position, Yin says. Tingling is fine for about 20 minutes, as long as it’s just a light tingle. But you should be able to move, to struggle against the rope (that’s part of the fun), and to move the rope around your skin.

When you’re tying someone up, Yin says to make sure their hands are below the heart and to get them into a position that’s going to be comfortable for them.

7) Safety.

When tying someone up, tighter might seem better. But that’s not true, Yin says. “If you’re the top, you want to be able to slip about two fingers underneath the rope, so that the rope can be moved around on the skin,” they say. That’s going to make bondage safer for the partner who’s on the bottom.

But, even if you’ve made the ropes loose enough, it’s important to have a pair of safety scissors like these close by, in case your partner needs to be cut out of the ropes quickly.

8) Types of rope.

Stretchy rope is best for beginners right? Wrong. Rope that has any elastic in it is dangerous, especially for beginners, because you can’t tell how much give it will have, Yin says. Instead, you’ll want to use a sturdy rope that moves nicely against skin. “I tend to start my classes with nylon rope, because it slides nicely against the skin, is laid very flat, and is smooth,” Yin says. “And then we graduate on to either cotton or hemp rope, which are the natural fiber ropes that are going to be a little bit more sturdy for any knots.” Cotton and hemp are more likely to give rope burn, though, so they’re not essential for beginners.

9) Aftercare.

People who do bondage often practice something called aftercare, which involves sitting down with your partner afterward and talking about what you did and didn’t like. This is especially important for beginners, since you don’t yet know what about bondage turns you on.

But don’t think that you can’t continue talking about it once that first sit-down is done. Aftercare can last days, Yin says. “If something comes up three days later and you think, ‘Oh my God, that was triggering something else for me,’ to share that with your partner or at least to be able to honestly pinpoint it for yourself is really important.”

So, once your first-time bondage is done, replay the experience again and again. Even if it doesn’t make you realize something that could have gone better, it’ll likely make you even more excited for the next time.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex workers offer intimacy and connection for disabled clients in the age of the dating app

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Oliver Morton-Evans visits sex workers as he says potential partners cannot see past his wheelchair.

By Sarah Matthews

Oliver Morton-Evans has sought the services of sex workers over the years, because dating can be especially tough for anyone with a disability.

Despite having tried “every dating app out there”, Oliver, 39, has never been in a long-term relationship.

The Sydneysider, now a successful tech entrepreneur, said despite looking for a partner ever since finishing high school, he has had no luck.

In the modern dating world, in which apps such as Tinder rely on appearance and snap judgements, Mr Morton-Evans said most people could not see past his wheelchair.

“It’s been really hard because I’m kind of always in a quandary of, ‘do I disclose my disability straight up or do I not?’,” he said.

“I kind of don’t want to, because although it’s a part of me it’s not all of who I am.

“The moment they see a wheelchair, people tend to create a story in their head of what that might mean.”

But he said visiting sex workers was not just about the physical pleasure.

“I have no shame or anything like that, but that’s just not what I most deeply desire,” he said.

“There’s so much more to sex than just the physical activity.”

Mr Morton-Evans said everybody needed the feel of human touch to feel connected.

Mr Morton-Evans said seeing sex workers provided him with the intimacy he craved in his everyday life, and motivated him to keep looking for a partner.

“I think for an able-bodied person they forget about how much, particularly touch for example … humans need touch to feel connected with others,” he said.

“So when I would see a sex worker, it tends to make me feel a lot more able to then go out and find the kind of relationship I want.”

People with disabilities seek intimacy from sex workers

Although often viewed as taboo, many people with disabilities seek the services of sex workers as an outlet for their sexual and intimate desires.

Brisbane escort Lisa said she regularly saw clients with disabilities and was proud to provide a service for people struggling to find intimacy in their everyday lives.

“I see this job as just an extension of the caring person that I am,” she said.

Brisbane escort Lisa says clients with disabilities may want affection or a chat, not always sex.

“Not everyone wants to have sex. They just want a bit of affection, or to chat to someone, all that sort of thing.

“It’s just me giving to the person what they need, and I feel that I’m doing a worthwhile job by helping other people.”

She said access to sexual services, especially for marginalised people, was vital for their health and wellbeing.

“It’s a genuine health issue,” she said.

“Like a baby needs affection, needs cuddles, needs touch, needs food, needs all these things [so too] an adult does.

“It doesn’t matter what age you are … it’s so basic of a human need.”

Noriel works as an escort and is the Cairns representative for Respect Inc, the Queensland sex worker support group.

She said she believed access to sex workers for people with disabilities should be covered under the NDIS.

Cairns escort Noriel believes access to sex workers for people with disabilities should be covered under the NDIS.

“Whether you are a wage-earner or you’re on any type of benefit from the government, you have a right to spend your money however you want,” she said.

“And if you would like to spend your money hiring the services of a sex worker, I think you should be able to do that.”

Social attitudes have harmful impacts

Counsellor and registered NDIS provider Casey Payne said it was a common misconception that people with disabilities were non-sexual.

“Just because you live with something that’s different to everybody else doesn’t mean that your life can’t still be the same in every aspect, especially in sexual health.

“Everybody deserves the right to have a pleasurable, sexual, healthy life.”

Deakin University Associate Professor in disability and inclusion Dr Patsie Frawley said research had found people with disabilities were disproportionately affected by breast and cervical cancer — but also by sexually transmitted infection (STI).

“If you’re not seen as sexual and as a sexual person, the range of sexual health screenings, sexual health prevention and response services won’t be offered to you,” she said.

“It’s been identified in research that men with an intellectual disability have eight times greater rates of STIs than their non-disabled peers.”

Sex worker with a disability challenges perceptions

Raivynn DarqueAngel has met the stereotypes of both sex workers and people with disabilities head on.

Raivynn has cerebral palsy and has worked in Melbourne’s sex industry for more than 20 years.

Raivyn, who has cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair, has worked in Melbourne’s sex industry for more than 20 years, mostly as a dominant escort.

“I chose to be a dominant to … change perceptions,” she said.”

The submissive people that I see make me feel strong and in charge and I like that. I’ve taken it back home and I’m much more confident saying what I need with my support workers.

“It’s given me the confidence to trust that I’m worth my needs.”

Despite his disappointing dating experiences, Mr Morton-Evans insisted he had not given up on finding love.

He had one thing to say to potential partners: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Complete Article HERE!

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‘Compulsive sexual behaviour’ is a real mental disorder, says WHO, but might not be an addiction

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Global health body not yet ready to acknowledge ‘sex addiction’, saying more research is needed

The World Health Organisation logo at the headquarters in Geneva.

The World Health Organisation has recognised “compulsive sexual behaviour” as a mental disorder, but said on Saturday it was unclear whether it was an addiction on a par with gambling or drug abuse. 

Dr. Geoffrey M. Reed

The contentious term “sex addiction” has been around for decades but experts disagree about whether the condition exists.

In the latest update of its catalogue of diseases and injuries around the world, the WHO takes a step towards legitimising the concept, by acknowledging “compulsive sexual behaviour disorder”, or CSBD, as a mental illness.

But the UN health body insisted more research is needed before describing the disorder as an addiction.

“Conservatively speaking, we don’t feel that the evidence is there yet … that the process is equivalent to the process with alcohol or heroin,” said WHO expert Geoffrey Reed.

In the update of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), published last month, WHO said CSBD was “characterised by persistent failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges … that cause marked distress or impairment”

But it said the scientific debate was still going on as to “whether or not the compulsive sexual behaviour disorder constitutes the manifestation of a behavioural addiction”.

Maybe eventually we will say, yeah, it is an addiction, but that is just not where we are at this point

Geoffrey Reed, World Health Organisation

Reed said it was important that the ICD register, which is widely used as a benchmark for diagnosis and health insurers, includes a concise definition of compulsive sexual behaviour disorder to ensure those affected can get help.

“There is a population of people who feel out of control with regards to their own sexual behaviour and who suffer because of that,” he said pointing out that their sexual behaviour sometimes had “very severe consequences”.

“This is a genuine clinical population of people who have a legitimate health condition and who can be provided services in a legitimate way,” he said.

It is unclear how many people suffer from the disorder, but Reed said the ICD listing would probably prompt more research into the condition and its prevalence, as well as into determining the most effective treatments.

“Maybe eventually we will say, yeah, it is an addiction, but that is just not where we are at this point,” Reed said.

But even without the addiction label, he said he believed the new categorisation would be “reassuring”, since it lets people know they have “a genuine condition” and can seek treatment.

Claims of “sex addiction” have increasingly been in the headlines in step with the so-called #MeToo movement, which has seen people around the world coming forward and claiming they have been sexually abused.

The uprising has led to the downfall of powerful men across industries, including disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has reportedly spent months in treatment for sex addiction.

[Film producer Harvey Weinstein arriving at Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday, July 9, 2018. Photo: TNS]

Reed said he did not believe there was reason to worry that the new CSBD listing could be used by people like Weinstein to excuse alleged criminal behaviours.

“It doesn’t excuse sexual abuse or raping someone … any more than being an alcoholic excuses you from driving a car when you are drunk. You have still made a decision to act,” he said.

While it did not recognise sex addiction in the first update of its ICD catalogue since the 1990s, the WHO did for the first time recognise video gaming as an addiction, listing it alongside addictions to gambling and drugs like cocaine – but only among a tiny fraction of gamers.

The document, which member states will be asked to approve during the World Health Assembly in Geneva next May, will take effect from January 1, 2022 if it is adopted.

Complete Article HERE!

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Being paralyzed does not mean I can’t have sex…

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and six other myths about sex and disability debunked

Samantha Baines, Matt Tuckey and Shannon Murray debunk some of the biggest misconceptions they come across

By Poorna Bell

Despite pockets of progress, such as online fashion retailer ASOS recently releasing wheelchair-friendly clothing, there is a long way to go when it comes to representation of people with disabilities.

Ignorance abounds because of narrow depictions of living with a disability. Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to sex.

To counter this, people such as disability awareness consultant Andrew Gurza are driving candid conversations about sex and sexuality. Andrew’s Disability After Dark podcast addresses all kinds of stories around disability and sex. Andrew, who has cerebral palsy, told the Huffington Post last year: “Whenever we talk about sex and disability ― if we dare ― it is in this painfully sanitised way that tends to tell you nothing about the person with a disability, their sex or what they actually want ― it doesn’t shed any light on how it really feels.”

Here, four men and women debunk some of the myths and misconceptions they encounter about sex and disability.

1: ‘Sex with a disabled person must be pretty boring’

Actress Shannon Murray, 41, who experienced a spinal cord injury when she was 14, tells misconceptions about sex and disability still come at her from all corners. “Just like any other human being, disabled people have desire. We want to be touched, to touch, to feel pleasure – why is that still such a ridiculous taboo? Why are intelligent people genuinely shocked when they learn that I have sex?

“If anything, I’d say some of my disabled friends are some of the more sexually adventurous and confident people I know. We have to be creative and find different techniques that work for us and spend every waking hour being adaptable to the environment around us.

“Sex is no different, though it’s much more fun.”

2: ‘I’m not a sexual being’

“There has been a real disservice done to disabled people by the mainstream media who have only told very one-dimensional stories,”  Shannon adds. “You see disabled men who use sex workers, or people who are frustrated and angry at their bodies.

“It can feel very marginalising; it’s all very woe is me. I think that suits the idea that non-disabled people have about our lives: that we’re asexual, incapable or it’s too complicated. However if you venture on to websites or publications aimed at a disabled audience you’ll see a much more rounded and interesting experience.”

3: ‘Being paralysed means I can only have sex missionary style’

Shannon says: “Some of the misconceptions I’ve faced is that I can’t have sex; that I am incapable of having sex; that I must be numb from the waist down; that because I’m paraplegic I can only have sex in the missionary position; that I can only have sex in my chair; that I can’t feel pleasure; that I can’t give pleasure; that orgasms are impossible and that I can’t have children. All of which are untrue.

“It’s also interesting how frequently strangers think it’s perfectly acceptable to ask me about my sex life within an hour of meeting me.”

4: ‘I must be shy in bed because I have a disability’

Far from it, says Joanne*, 51, a housewife who is profoundly deaf. “When I first started having sex, because I could not hear anything, the sounds I was making were extremely loud. I only found out because the man I was having sex with put his finger on his lips in a ‘sssh’ motion. I got really self-conscious – I mean, how loud was I?

“So I decided to record myself masturbating, and asked my best friend to listen to it. To my embarrassment she said I was very, very loud! I soon met my now-husband and our first sexual encounters were strained as I always stopped before things got to a point where I thought I would start getting ‘excited’.

“Finally, I decided to tell him and he laughed because he thought it was his fault and was relieved. In a sensitive way, he said he would always let me know if I was getting too loud and I’ve sort of trained myself to be less noisy.”

5: ‘My hearing aid must be a turn-off’

“I love sex and hearing aids don’t stop me from loving it,” says comedian Samantha Baines, 31, who acquired her disability at the age of 30. “I mean, I do need to take my hearing aid out before sex as they aren’t good with fluids – I don’t want to see my audiologist and explain how I got spunk in my hearing aid.

“Taking your hearing aid out isn’t a very sexy procedure when you are in the moment. It’s a bit like taking your socks off or peeing after sex – it just has to be done.”

@samanthabaines 

6: ‘It’s ok for disability to be treated as a sexual fetish’

Joanne says: “Growing up as a child I was made to wear hearing aids which really were of no benefit to me at all. When I used to go out I always was conscious of it and deliberately made sure that I wore my hair to cover them.

“When I got older, I looked just like any other woman, I just couldn’t hear. Except one guy I dated for a few months always wanted me to wear my hearing aids during sex. I think he found my deafness a turn-on which was strange.”

Shannon adds: “When the odd TV drama includes a story about disability and sex it is always negative or traumatic, or conversely our bodies are fetishised for the non-disabled gaze.

“People with disabilties are not curiosities, we are humans with wants, needs and desires. Treat us with the same respect you would any other person that you’re interested in. It’s really not rocket science.”

7: ‘You don’t look disabled so you don’t have to tell sexual partners about it’

“I’ve been guilty as anyone else of not seeing disabled people as sexual beings,” says Matt, “but I’ve realised keeping it hidden is so much harder than being honest about it. Around the time I was correctly diagnosed, I met someone in a club.

“After a couple of conversations over the next few days she started to realise that I had short term memory loss. For the first time I could be open with a woman about my memory difficulties, rather than pretending I’d just forgotten something as a one-off. Two weeks later, I’d lost my virginity to her.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s the lowdown on a lesser-known sexual orientation: asexuality

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Debunking some myths regarding people who identify on the asexualility spectrum

by: Simran Randhawa

Sex usually is directly associated with romance and intimate relationships, but what if you love someone and you still don’t feel sexual attraction towards them? Experiencing this without understanding it can often lead a person to feel inadequate, rejected, and isolated. To make it worse, there are many myths about asexuality and not enough information to go around.

Well, today is your lucky day. Here’s some of the most essential information regarding asexuality.

Asexuality, just like other sexualities — and almost everything — is on a spectrum. One end is a complete lack of sexual attraction and the other end is total sexual attraction. There are multiple sexual and romantic identities that are in-between, such as:

Demisexual: sexual attraction contingent on romantic attraction and a connection to the other person.

Grey-A: the grey area between sexuality and asexuality.

Aromantic: people who experience little to no romantic attraction to others, and can be content with non-romantic partners or friends.

Being a person who identifies as asexual doesn’t mean that you hate sexual intimacy; it only means that this particular form of intimacy is not necessary for you to have a fulfilling relationship. Just like how people who identify as heterosexual don’t feel sexual attraction towards people of same gender. Your romantic attraction is different than sexual attraction, and is treated as such. You could be asexual and still only feel romantic attraction towards people of the same gender, or of different genders.

Although many who identify as asexual do not experience sexual attraction, you can be asexual and still experience other forms of attraction. Some commonly mentioned categories include romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction, and sensual attraction. Aesthetic attraction is when you are attracted only to a person’s looks and how they present themselves. You appreciate their beauty. That doesn’t mean you either want to fall in love with them or have sex with them. Sensual attraction is when you have a desire to engage physically with another person while remaining nonsexual. You might want to platonically sniff, hug, kiss, or cuddle them.

Asexuality is not made up. It is not an excuse to not have sex with you. This cannot be said enough.

Asexuality is not the same thing as celibacy. Being celibate is a choice, regardless of whether it’s for religious or personal reasons. Asexuality isn’t a choice; it’s just who you are. If a person on the asexual spectrum feels sexual arousal, it is very specific to that person and where they are on the spectrum.

Asexuality is also not the same as impotence. Impotency implies that one is unable to perform sexually, and has nothing to do with willingness to do so. Asexual people can perform sexual acts, but would not necessarily want to do so. It does not mean there is something wrong with them or with their significant other, but just that sexual attraction isn’t the defining trait for them. Just because asexual people may not want to have sex with others, doesn’t mean that they don’t masturbate or have sexual fantasies. They can think about others in sexual connotations, but would not want those fantasies to become reality.

Asexuality is not a medical or mental health condition. It’s a sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality and homosexuality — it is just not widely known. The “A” in LGBTQIA doesn’t stand for ally; A is for the people who identify as asexual. But asexuality needs to be just as visible as the other parts of the acronym LGBTQIA, as the lack of information and visibility means that people of this orientation are left to feel like there is something wrong with them.

In summary, sexuality is different from person to person, and everyone falls on the spectrum between a lack of sexual attraction and complete sexual attraction. Some still feel romantic attraction, and they are capable of sexual intimacy. They just don’t feel the need for it, and their relations aren’t contingent on them. The best way to interact with asexuals is exactly the same as with members of other sexual orientations: just be respectful and kind.

Just remember, if you are asexual, there is nothing wrong with you — regardless of what others might say.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Stop Being Jealous

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Occasional jealousy is natural and can even be motivating. But if you find yourself getting upset when seeing Instagram photos of clothes, jobs, or cars that you envy, you might need to work through this issue. Or maybe your jealousy is making you paranoid and causing problems with you and your significant other. Curbing these emotions can be difficult, but it’s often necessary to move forward and feel secure and confident. Work through your jealousy by addressing it, finding a new focus, and improving yourself. You got this!

Method 1 Handling Jealousy in the Short Term

1 Take a few deep breaths when you start feeling jealous. Perhaps you see your boyfriend talking to another girl or find out your friend got the exact truck you want. Instead of freaking out, calm yourself instead. Take a deep breath in through your nose for five seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Do this until you feel calm.[1]

  • If you want to address the issue, do so only when you’ve calmed down. For instance, if you see your boyfriend talking to a girl, calm down first, then approach him and say ‘hello’ to both of them. She may just be a friend or classmate.

2 Stay off social media. Social media floods you with images of people sharing fragments of their lives that might spark your jealousy. But, what you may not know is the girl who constantly posts pics of the flowers her boyfriend gets her may be unhappy in her relationship. People tend to only post things that show them in a positive light, so stay off social media while you’re overcoming your jealousy.[2]

  • If you can’t stay off of social media, unfollow or unfriend the people you’re jealous of.

3 Avoid criticizing or using sarcasm. When you’re feeling jealous, you might resort to name-calling or trying to diminish the accomplishments of others. However, this only shows your insecurity and makes others feel bad. Instead of being negative, keep your comments to yourself or compliment them.[3]

  • For instance, if your girlfriend comes home telling you about her new coworker, don’t say something like, “Oh, so since he’s so smart, you wanna go out with him now?” Allow your significant other to tell you things without fear of rudeness.

4 Confess your feelings if the person is close to you. If you’re very jealous of a sibling, best friend, or significant other, and have been for years, tell them. Getting it off your chest can help you move on from this negative feeling and clear the air.[4]

  • For instance, you might say, “Sis, I know that I’ve been a bit rude to you for a while. But when you got into Stanford and I didn’t, it hurt me. I’ve been so jealous of you because I feel like you’re living my dream. I know it’s not your fault, and I wish I didn’t feel this way.”

5 Focus on what you have in common with the person you’re jealous of. Unravel your jealousy by looking at the similarities you and the person you envy share. The more you two are alike, the less you have to feel jealous over![5]

  • For example, maybe you’re jealous of your neighbor because they have a nice car. But remember that the two of you live in the same neighborhood and probably have similar houses. Maybe you went to the same school, too, and have friends in common.

Method 2  Refocusing Your Attention

1 Identify the source of your jealousy. Understanding why you are jealous can help you overcome it. Is it because of low self-esteem and insecurity? Do you have a past history with infidelity? Or are you placing unreasonable standards on your relationship? Once you have identified the source, reflect on ways that you can improve upon or fix the issue.

  • Writing in a journal every day can help you discover where your jealousy might be coming from.
  • Professional therapy can help with this process. A therapist may be able to help you find the source of your jealousy while working through the issue.

2 Praise those who are doing well. Hating on someone’s accomplishments won’t put you closer to your own goals. When you see others doing the things you want to do, give them kudos. This shows respect and humility.[6]

  • For instance, if your friend has an awesome career, say, “Molly, your job seems so cool. It seems like you’re always getting awards and promotions, too. You’re really killing it! Got any tips?”
  • Perhaps your boyfriend has been doing a great job lately of being more affectionate; tell him you appreciate his effort.

3 Reflect on your own strengths. Instead of harping on what others are doing, focus on yourself! Take a moment to either list or think about at least three things that you are good at. These can range from organizing or cooking to being a good listener or hard worker.[7]

  • Do one thing related to your strengths list today to build your confidence, like cook an awesome meal.

4 Compile a list of what you’re grateful for. Every day that you wake up is truly a blessing. Remember that and think about one thing that you’re thankful for each day. This will help reduce your feelings of jealousy because you’ll become more appreciative of what you do have.[8]

  • Maybe you have an awesome mom who supports and loves you. Or perhaps you got into a really good school and you’re starting soon. Be thankful for these blessings!

5 Meditate daily. Meditation can clear your mind and help you focus on what’s important. Your thoughts of jealousy might cloud your headspace daily, but get some relief by sitting quietly in an uninterrupted space in the mornings for at least ten minutes. During this time, focus only on your breathing and how your body feels.

  • If you’re unfamiliar with meditation, you can also download an app like Simple Habit or Calm.

6 Call the shots. You might have a rich friend who’s always asking you to go to expensive restaurants or on extravagant trips. This might make you feel jealous of their money. Instead of letting that control you, take the reins! Pick the restaurants you go to and choose not to go on vacations if you can’t afford it. Plan something locally, instead.[9]

  • You can say, “Hey Josh, I enjoy eating at five-star restaurants with you, but to be honest, it’s a little out of my price range. If you still wanna get dinner once a week, that’s cool, but you’ll have to let me pick the place most of the time. I hope you understand.”

7 Have fun daily to distract you from your jealousy. You won’t be able to think about your jealousy as much if you’re out having fun! Schedule something to look forward to every day, like watching your favorite show, getting ice cream, or going shopping. Life is short, so make the most of it every day!

Method 3 Improving Your Own Life

1 Set short- and long-term goals. Use your jealousy to motivate you to become the best version of yourself. Based on the things you want in life, create action steps to help you achieve it. Set goals that you can achieve within the next five days and things to focus on for the next five years.[10]

  • For instance, maybe you want to get a high paying job. As a short-term goal, try to get A’s in all your classes for the semester. A long-term goal could be finding a mentor or getting an internship in your field.

2 Plan a fun getaway. Maybe you’re jealous because it seems like everyone else is having all the fun. Create some fun for you! Plan a fun weekend away for you and your bae, go to a theme park, or go hang out on the beach. Do whatever makes you happy![11]

3 Take care of your health. You’ll be a lot less worried about others if you’re focused on your own health. Build your confidence up by exercising at least three times a week. Eat a healthy meal by having veggies, fruits and lean meat. Be sure to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.[12]

  • Drink a lot of water, too!

4 Surround yourself with positive people. Maybe your jealousy comes from hanging around friends who try to make you jealous on purpose. That’s definitely not cool. Instead of being around that negativity, spend more time with your kind-hearted, honest, and down-to-earth friends!

  • A positive person will be supportive, honest, kind and helpful. A negative person will insult, criticize, and drain you.

5 Consider seeing a counselor to work through your jealousy. If your jealousy is making it hard for you to enjoy life anymore, it might be time to seek outside help. There are many therapists who are trained to help their clients work through feelings of envy or inadequacy. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with getting help! It’s much worse to suffer in silence.[13]

  • Search online for therapists or counselors in your area. You can also get a referral from your doctor’s office or insurance provider.

Complete Article HERE!

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7 kinks and fetishes that are more popular than you think

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By Lea Rose Emery

No matter how comfortable you are with a new partner, talking about kinks/fetishes can feel like a big step. But the truth is, they’re way more common than you might think — and if you feel sure that you have a totally weird kink or quirk, you’re almost certainly not alone. Most fetishes are way more common than you would imagine, so there’s really nothing to be embarrassed about.

There are so many popular fetishes out there. That’s because not only are fetishes totally normal, but many of us actually have more than one.  According to one survey by Ann Summers, the sex toy retailer, it’s not uncommon to have more than one kink or fetish. In fact, while more than a quarter of people said they had more than one, 17 percent of people said that they had three or four. So just because somebody’s into BDSM or has a hair fetish, doesn’t mean that’s their only one. That means if you’re feeling self-conscious about your own proclivities, it’s time to relax — we’ve all been there. The more you start talking about and exploring your kinks and fetishes, whether with a partner or a community or even at a sex shop, the more normal you’ll realize they are.

And if you don’t think of yourself as a fetish person, it may be that you just have found yours yet. If you’re interested in playing around, knowing the most common fetishes is a good place to start. Though there’s no international fetish database, you can glean a pretty good idea of the most popular options by seeing what comes up in surveys the most frequently. Once you get a sense of those, you can decide what appeals the most and start experimenting.

Here are the kinks/fetishes that tend to come up the most — because you never know until you try.

1. BDSM

Call it that 50 Shades of Grey effect, call it human nature, but again and again, BDSM tops the list of fetishes. In fact, in that same survey from Ann Summers a whopping 74 percent of people said they were into it. Try subbing, try domming — who knows? You may love both.

2. Foot fetishes

Foot fetishes are another quirk that repeatedly comes at the top of fetish lists. Seriously — having a thing for feet is way more common than you think. This isn’t to be confused with a shoe fetish, which is also very popular, though they two can certainly overlap. Apparently, foot fetishes are so popular because of the way our brains are sometimes wired, although Freud thought it was all to do with the fact that feet look like penises. Which makes me wonder — what the hell did Freud’s penis look like?

3. Costumes and role play

A classic and popular fetish is dressing up and role-playing. In fact, one survey found that this was a fetish that ranked high on the desirability scale and low on the taboo scale, which means it’s an ideal way to ease yourself into trying fetishes. A lot of people are open to it and it’s nothing to feel weird about bringing up. From the classic maid’s uniform to something more daring, there are plenty of costumes to try.

4. Voyeurism and exhibitionism

There’s a reason that “dogging” is so popular in Britain. Some people like to watch others have sex — and some people like to be watched. And of course, some people like both. This fetish can manifest in more vanilla or kinkier ways. It might be that you just watch your partner masturbate or vice versa, maybe you experiment with sex in public places, or maybe group sex helps scratch that itch. You can start with more vanilla versions and work your way up to find where your boundary is.

5. Rubber, latex, and leather

For some people, it’s all about the texture. According to the sex toy retailer Lovehoney, “rubberists” and other texture fetishisms are very popular. It has a BDSM twist, with some people finding that the material itself has a bondage-like quality, although apparently for some it’s the smell that turns them on.

6. Crossdressing

Gender play is another exciting option — and one that you can experiment with to find different limits. Cross-dressing continues to be a popular fetish and can be a great way to experiment with slightly kinkier sex because it can be as simple as switching clothes.

7. Spanking

Though some might put spanking in the BDSM realm, it actually seems to be so popular in its own right that it deserves its own category.  That may be because, for a lot of people, spanking provides a slightly more vanilla option — or an intro to BDSM. It can also be combined with many other fetishes, while for some just a good spanking is enough.

There is no limit to what can be fetishized, but some fetishes are definitely more popular than others. Start experimenting with the more common ones and see what excites you — you never know where it might lead.

Complete Article HERE!

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We women need to stop allowing men to have bad sex with us

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Unsatisfactory sex is a type of subjugation. By allowing yourself to lie back and think of England, you’re adding sex to the litany of things women do as emotional labour, not because they want to but because they have to

If you can’t get no satisfaction, you may be among the 42 per cent of British women who suffer from a ‘lack of sexual enjoyment’

By Rebecca Reid

Sometimes if I get really stuck on an issue of romance or dating, I look to Greek mythology. This is just one of the many reasons my little sister tells me weekly that I’m “so lucky” I found someone to marry me.  

Anyway, research from Public Health England, which revealed that 42 per cent of British women suffer from a “lack of sexual enjoyment”, sent me running to the myths. Specifically, the story of Lysistrata. Lysistrata is the story of a load of women who decide they’re so sick of their husbands going off to pointless wars and coming back missing bits, or worse, not coming back at all, that they’re not going to provide them with sex until they agree to stop fighting. All the women stick to this (I’m abbreviating a bit here) and the war stops. Moral of the story? Have sex on your own terms, and understand the power of the word no.

As a woman you absolutely must not – cannot – accept mediocre sex.

The reason that 42 per cent of women in the UK are having shit sex is because 42 per cent of women in the UK are allowing men to have shit sex with them. To quote Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, “screw me badly once, shame on you, screw me badly twice, shame on me”.

Unsatisfactory sex is a type of subjugation. By allowing yourself to lie back and think of England, you’re adding sex to the litany of things women do as emotional labour; not because they want to but because they have to. Women are estimated to do 26 hours of unpaid work in the home every week (compared to 16 for men). If you’re having sex because you think you owe it to someone, or because it’s “just part of being in a relationship” then you’re tacking on yet more hours to your running total. You’re doing yourself an enormous disservice and I’m afraid to say you’re also short changing the person you’re sleeping with.

Straight women have the least orgasms of any demographic in the world. And in my experience that’s not because men are bad or selfish or don’t want to give their sexual partners pleasure – it’s because they don’t know how to.

The female anatomy is quite complicated. Bringing a woman to orgasm takes a lot more work than getting a man there. Broadly speaking, most men need a variation on the same theme to enjoy sexual gratification. But with women? We’ve got clitoral stimulation, the G-spot, women who like lots of pressure, women who like very little. Some women can orgasm from penetrative sex (though only around 25 per cent), others need a specific sex toy or oral sex. Some women need an hour of gentle coaxing and others can come from having their nipples stimulated.

So, awkward or difficult as it might sound, if we want to close the orgasm gap, to prevent women from benevolently allowing mediocre sex to happen to them, we have got to empower them to say “actually, that really wasn’t much good for me” or “no, I didn’t come”.

We all know that faking an orgasm does more harm than good (you might as well put a gold star on a D grade piece of homework) but I’m afraid we need to go further than just not faking orgasms. We need to tell our sexual partners in no uncertain terms that we did not orgasm, and then we need to give them the specifics of why.

t’s not easy to tell someone you’re sleeping with, especially if you’re fond of them, that they’re not getting it right. Especially if you’ve been sleeping together for a long time. But if you don’t? You’re sentencing yourself to lifetime of chronic dissatisfaction.

As women we’re encouraged to seek out promotions and pay rises, to speak up rather than being spoken over. And those things are huge, vital, essential steps forward for society. But can we really make any progress at all if a woman who refuses to be talked over in a meeting or patronised by a male friend then goes home to her partner and accepts mediocre sex without complaining? Of course we can’t.

Complete Article HERE!

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The 6 Most Common Female Sexual Fantasies and Why Women Have Them

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By Alexia LaFata

In 1973, it was believed that only men had sexual fantasies.

In fact, Cosmo even opened up a feature article that same year with, “Women do not have sexual fantasies, period. Men do.”

Much has changed since then, of course. While we still live in an age where female sexuality is more taboo than it should be, let the records show that women enjoy sex just as much as men.

Women even have sex drives so high that men may not be able to handle them, considering men have been so socialized to value their own pleasure above a woman’s.

Did you know that a man can show his orgasm face in a movie, and the movie can still be rated PG-13, but if a woman shows her orgasm face, the film is automatically bumped to R or NC-17? What does this say about how society perceives women experiencing pleasure?

It’s time we contribute to the discussion and ponder our deepest sexual fantasies.

If you’ve ever had a sexy thought pop into your head that flushed your cheeks and made you shift in your seat, know that it probably wasn’t that crazy at all. Always kinky and sometimes uncontrollable, sexual fantasies are far more common than you think.

Since these fantasies live within the unconscious mind, they sometimes go a little further than your actual body might want to — but, hey, that’s why they’re called fantasies.

1. Dominance

Matthew Hudson of Psychology Today says, “It’s been said that those who are easy-going in real life tend be dominant in the bedroom, and those with type-A personalities like to be submissive.”

In an age where men systematically rule, women fantasize about being dominant in the bedroom. Women want to have their bodies worshipped, call the shots in bed and be begged for more.

Laci Green, YouTuber and public sex educator, says it’s about a combination of being in a position of power and being desired.

In her book “Garden of Desires,” Emily Dubberley, British author and journalist who specializes in sex and relationships, notes that dominant sexual fantasies can include cheating on your boyfriend, controlling a personal erotic slave, decking out in leather and embodying a true dominatrix, or sticking to an assertive version of yourself. This fantasy focuses on the woman mainly receiving the pleasure and the man giving it to her without question.

Female sexuality is often overshadowed by a man’s desire for sex, so it’s only natural that women fantasize about being the most important person in the bedroom.

2. Submission

Submission fantasies are a surprisingly common category, and they include everything from simply giving in to the desires of a dominant man, to BDSM, to sexual assault, to rape.

These fantasies tap into the question, “To what extent is the personal political?” That is if you’re a feminist and a strong, powerful woman, why would the idea of completely submitting yourself to someone else be such a turn-on?

Green hypothesizes three main theories: Submission fantasies, specifically the most intense ones like rape, could be 1) an internalization of extreme expressions of “normal” power dynamics, 2) an extension of how our culture eroticizes aggression and violence, or 3) a guilt mechanism.

Submission means force, so women would be able to engage in wild and crazy sexual escapades without feeling weird, or a sense of guilt, about it. The idea would be that the woman tried to stop the kinky sex from happening, but the pleasure came anyway, so you can’t blame her! She’s still innocent.

This is not to suggest that women want to be raped, sexually assaulted, or give up control in life. Sex and life run on separate tracks, says Linda Alperstein, a sex therapist from San Francisco. Being spanked doesn’t mean you wish for your husband to hurt you. Real-life power struggles, Alperstein says, are not reflected in sex.

In some ways, according to Dr. Leon F. Seltzer, a woman putting herself in a sexually submissive role is the ultimate level of control because it’s such a stark variant from what she would do in real life.

The element of control here is having the choice to make such an extreme decision. Forced submission, as is the case with real rape or sexual assault, is obviously not a choice. In a submission fantasy, however, a woman wants to be submissive. In other words, it is her choice to do so.

3. Watch or Be Watched

Ah, voyeurism and exhibitionism. Whether you’re doing it in a crowded nightclub, in front of a large window so your neighbors can get a show or watching other couples get it on, women fantasize about sex that includes a witness. This can even include filming yourself and creating a mini-porno to watch later.

Dr. Laura Berman says it’s all about the adrenaline that comes with the fear of being caught in the act. I’d say it’s like an extreme version of that because, well, in some cases you’ve been caught.

Exhibition-style sex can also provide a huge ego boost. Dr. Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center, told Maxim that “there’s a sense of power that can be derived from seducing someone at a distance.”

Embodying a porn star and having someone watch you and get super turned on is enough to make the even shyest girls get freaky. It’s all about being in control of someone else’s pleasure.

4. Role-Playing

This can include simple or complicated role-playing. Simple role-playing can mean just a change in your personality or embodiment of someone else without getting dressed up.

Complex role-playing, such as dressing up as a teacher/student, nurse/patient, or even stripper/CEO, involves acting and shamelessness.

Feeling comfortable in real life, after telling your partner he’s overdue for a check up and you have to examine his prostate, is the key to role-playing fantasies.

This includes another element of submission and dominance. It’s about taking a relationship between two people where one has more power than the other (nurse and patient, for example, where the patient is at the mercy of the person taking care of him), making the power dynamic in said relationship extreme, and eroticizing it.

It’s also about the anticipation. You and your partner are coming together creatively to set a mood, set up an atmosphere and anticipate the pleasure; all of this preparation heightens the excitement for the main event.

As we know, anticipation increases levels of excitement, so taking the time to construct and arrange the scene creates a big script to lead to the finale.

5. Atypical One-On-One Session

How does sex with a woman or a celebrity sound? What about with an ex or a stranger? Single women and women in relationships alike often fantasize about these things.

These fantasies don’t mean women in relationships love their partner any less or that they’ll necessarily act upon those fantasies; in fact, many healthily married couples fantasize about having sex with other people.

Dr. Joyce Brothers says this kind of fantasy is a “perfectly legitimate way to add variety to sex,” since it spices things up without messing up the monogamy. As long as it remains a fantasy and doesn’t lead to infidelity, it’s okay.

Celebrity

Ryan Reynolds is hot. No further explanation needed here.

Girl-on-Girl

Many women fantasize about having sex with another woman. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lesbians. Green points out that these kinds of fantasies mean you can appreciate a woman’s body and curves just as much as society does.

It also means women know that another woman would understand her body perfectly and would know exactly how to get her to climax.

An Ex

As far as an ex goes, Dr. Berman says it’s normal to fantasize about an ex who may have rocked you sexually, loved you and then left you behind. In this case, it’s the familiarity that turns you on. You know your ex knows exactly how to push your buttons.

Stranger

Women are turned on by the idea of having sex with a stranger. It’s about the spontaneity and the fact that you’ll never see this person again.

Green says that women often feel inhibited in their sex lives and unable to have casual sex without social repercussions, so in this fantasy, a woman can let her freak flag fly without shame or guilt. This person doesn’t know her, and she doesn’t know him. No judgment here.

6. Group sex

Ménage a trois, anyone? Group sex, says Dubberley, is appealing because it would literally be very stimulating. Multiple hands would be touching you all over, in all of your erotic zones, whether the hands are those of strangers or of other women to whom you’re not normally attracted.

About 15 percent of women fantasize about group sex, which means it seems to offer the greatest division between emotions and pleasure.

It’s a widely accepted idea that women need to feel emotions towards someone to have sex with them. However, since a woman is probably not going to be in love with everyone she’s orgy-ing with, this fantasy breaks that accepted stereotype.

Complete Article HERE!

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Do You Have Sexual Side Effects From Antidepressants You Stopped Taking?

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From low libido to erectile dysfunction, some people report suffering from enduring sexual problems.

From low libido to erectile dysfunction, some people report suffering from enduring sexual problems.

By Michael O. Schroeder

Antidepressants are widely prescribed, commonly used for depression and recommended to treat a range of other issues, from anxiety disorders to pain. But the medications aren’t without risk – and some potentially serious side effects start, or continue, after a person has stopped taking them.

These effects vary by the individual and the drug, but for the most commonly prescribed antidepressants – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SSNIs – side effects, or adverse events reported by patients, range from headache, nausea and fatigue to paresthesia, or an abnormal sensation that can feel, to some, like electrical shocks, to insomnia to seizures. And though less widely recognized, some patients also report another enduring effect of SSRIs and SSNIs: sexual dysfunction.

To be sure, sexual side effects ranging from lower libido to erectile dysfunction are known and detailed in drug labeling information. But though online support groups have cropped up for people who experience persistent sexual dysfunction after going off antidepressants – post-SSRI sexual dysfunction, or PSSD – it’s not clear how common the concern is.

However, one recent paper co-authored by researchers linked with an independent drug safety website RxISK.org that collects reports of side effects – including after people stop medications – recently reported on 300 cases of enduring sexual dysfunction. These were reported by people from around the world who were taking SSRIs, SSNIs and tricyclic antidepressants, as well as drugs called 5α-reductase inhibitors and isotretinoin. which are used to treat male hair loss (baldness) and benign (non-cancerous) prostate enlargement, and acne respectively. Reports by patients who’d taken 5α-reductase inhibitors and isotretinoin to RxISK of enduring problems with sexual function after stopping these medications appeared to have similar characteristics to those related to antidepressants, notes co-author Dr. Dee Mangin, the David Braley and Nancy Gordon Chair in Family Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and chief medical officer for RxISK.org.

“We were really looking at sexual dysfunction both on and after taking medication, because some of the reports we were getting were suggesting that sexual dysfunction, which is a known side effect of a number of drugs, seemed to be persisting once the drugs were stopped,” Mangin says.

As noted in the paper published in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, there have been limited references to the potential for such issues to occur after patients stopped antidepressants. In the U.S., the product information for Prozac (fluoxetine) – the oldest of the SSRIs – was updated in 2011 to warn, “Symptoms of sexual dysfunction occasionally persist after discontinuation of fluoxetine treatment.” What’s more, the authors noted, “The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published in 2013, states that ‘In some cases, serotonin reuptake inhibitor-induced sexual dysfunction may persist after the agent is discontinued.'”

But the authors go further in detailing reports of enduring sexual dysfunction such as the onset of premature ejaculation and persistent genital arousal disorder (whereby a person becomes aroused without any stimulation) as well as losing genital sensation, or genital anaesthesia, pleasureless or weak orgasm, loss of libido and impotence. “Secondary consequences included relationship breakdown and impaired quality of life,” the authors note.

The individuals weren’t independently evaluated before, during or after taking the medication, and more study is needed. Still, Mangin asserts, “The study provides the strong signal that there is a group of people who seem to experience enduring side effects that affect their sexual function after they’ve stopped taking the drug.”

Experts say just as patients should never stop antidepressants abruptly, or without consulting with their provider – since doing so is known to increase side effect risk and worsen those effects – patient and provider should discuss any adverse effects that start or continue after stopping a medication.

Dr. Eliza Menninger, who directs a behavioral health program at McLean Hospital in Boston, says she hasn’t heard from patients voicing serious concerns about sexual side effects after stopping their medication. For the most part, sexual side effects seem to go away after patients stop taking the medication, Menninger says. “Some will indicate it’s still an issue, but they don’t seem as bothered by it – and I don’t know if it’s as bad an issue as when they were on the SSRI,” she says.

However, clinicians say, it would be helpful to have more clarity on the issue – including how likely it may be that patients could experience enduring sexual side effects. In part due to the sensitive nature of sexual complaints, experts point out, these effects often go unacknowledged in patient-provider conversations.

One problem is that sexual side effects aren’t tracked in a systematic way like other drug side effects – even though they can be severely damaging to intimate relationships and undermine a person’s overall quality of life and well-being. “There’s no requirement, for example, for drug companies to track sexual side effects. They’re not considered serious adverse events, although the potential for them to continue post-medication I would consider extremely serious – even a disability,” says Audrey Bahrick, staff psychologist at the University of Iowa’s counseling service.

Bahrick recently signed onto a petition, along with Mangin and others who’ve researched enduring sexual side effects, asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory bodies to require makers of SSRIs and SSNIs to update drug labeling to warn that such legacy effects can occur and continue for years or even indefinitely.

Sandy Walsh, a spokesperson for the FDA, said it would review the petition and respond to the petitioner, but declined to comment further regarding the petition. Drugmakers who responded to a request for comment say they work closely with regulatory agencies to keep information updated.

Mads Kronborg, a spokesman for pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck, notes that summary production information for its SSRIs, citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro), “already states that side effects can occur upon discontinuation, and that such side effects may be severe and prolonged.” Specifically, it’s stated that “generally these events are mild to moderate and are self-limiting, however, in some patients they may be severe and/or prolonged.” The side effects listed for citalopram and escitalopram “include sexual side effects,” he says, though he adds that sexual side effects are not among the most commonly reported reactions to discontinuation. “So information about potential enduring side effects is actually already included.”

But the petition asserts drug companies aren’t going far enough to acknowledge these concerns.

Bahrick says though the prevalence of enduring sexual side effects remains unknown, “My own impression clinically is that it’s not at all uncommon, and that it can range from subtle – not returning to sexual baseline – to really a complete sexual anesthesia, where a person who has been without any significant sexual problems prior to taking the medication might be rendered unable to experience sexual pleasure, unable to have sensation in the genitals, having orgasms that are not associated with pleasure,” she says. “These are clearly, I think, drug effects. [Issues] like genital anaesthesia and pleasureless orgasm – these are not symptoms that are associated with any sexual problems, say, that are commonly associated with depression. We can see these as legacy effects of the SSRIs.”

In the absence of prevalence data, clinicians continue to debate the potential extent of enduring sexual side effects for those who have stopped antidepressants. Some worry about unnecessarily scaring patients away from antidepressants who may benefit from taking the drugs.

“These medications are used to treat symptoms of illnesses that are potentially quite debilitating and can be lethal, so while I want to encourage a discussion of side effects, the intent is to use medications to help improve significant symptoms,” Menninger says. She points out, as the petition notes, that to date no prospective studies have been done assessing sexual dysfunction prior to SSRI and then during and after SSRI use. Though certainly side effects are real and concerning, she says, “there is clinical evidence the medications make a significant difference in helping [and/or] saving a life.” That’s something some clinicians emphasize shouldn’t get lost in the discussion.

But Bahrick says for patients, not having information that these effects may occur undermines their ability to make a fully informed decision when deciding to go on antidepressants, and deciding whether to try alternative treatment options first. “It’s so important to get this information out there on the front end. Because these injuries are very real and can be lifelong and seriously limit intimacy and create a lot of shame and isolation and despair,” she says. While for some the side effects go away on their own, for others they persist – and Bahrick says there’s no known cure for PSSD. “So this is in service of informed consent that is quite lacking at this time.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How Satisfying Are Open Relationships Compared To Monogamy?

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By

Monogamy;— to have only one partner at a time — is considered a social standard in modern human society. But is it a necessary component of a satisfactory relationship?

Canadian researchers present new findings, suggesting that it may not have to be the ideal relationship structure. People in open relationships report feeling just as happy and content as those in conventional, monogamous ones.

The study titled “Reasons for sex and relational outcomes in consensually nonmonogamous and monogamous relationships” was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships on March 23.

“We are at a point in social history where we are expecting a lot from our partners. We want to have sexual fulfillment and excitement but also emotional and financial support,” said lead author Jessica Wood, a Ph.D. student in applied social psychology at the University of Guelph.

“Trying to fulfill all these needs can put pressure on relationships. To deal with this pressure, we are seeing some people look to consensually non-monogamous relationships.”

While monogamy is omnipresent, Wood said that open relationships are actually more common than most people would expect. Currently, somewhere between three to seven percent of people in North America are said to be in a consensual, non-monogamous relationship.

For the study, the team surveyed around 200 people in monogamous relationships and around 140 people in open relationships to compare the data sets. Both groups were asked questions regarding how satisfied they felt, whether they considered separating, general happiness levels, etc.

Research has shown that many people tend to have a negative perception of open relationships. Some find it to be immoral, some equate it to cheating or sex addiction, and some simply believe it offers low levels of satisfaction.

“It’s assumed that people in these types of relationships are having sex with everyone all the time. They are villainized and viewed as bad people in bad relationships, but that’s not the case,” Wood said. “This research shows us that our choice of relationship structure is not an indicator of how happy or satisfied we are in our primary relationships.”

The results of the study revealed that people in open relationships actually had similar levels of relationship satisfaction, psychological well-being and sexual satisfaction as those in monogamous relationships.

Sexual motivation appeared to be the biggest predictor of satisfaction, regardless of relationship structure. This was because of how closely sexual satisfaction is tied to our psychological needs.

“In both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships, people who engage in sex to be close to a partner and to fulfill their sexual needs have a more satisfying relationship than those who have sex for less intrinsic reasons, such as to avoid conflict,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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Nearly half of British women dissatisfied with sex lives, survey finds

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Those aged 25 to 34 were the least satisfied

By Olivia Petter

More than one in four British women report being unhappy with their sex lives, new research has found

The survey by Public Health England (PHE) of more than 7,300 women investigated problems relating to reproductive health and included an unsatisfactory sex life within this umbrella.

The report revealed that those aged 25 to 34 were the least satisfied in bed, with 49 per cent complaining of a lack of sexual enjoyment.

Dissatisfaction was slightly lower for women aged 55 to 64, less than a third of whom reported experiencing unfulfilled sex lives – however, it was not clear whether this was because they were enjoying sex more or simply having less sex.

Health officials found that women who experienced unhappiness in their relationships, had been diagnosed with STIs and had difficulty communicating with their romantic partners were more likely to have low sexual function.

Meanwhile, positive sexuality (defined by PHE as experiencing high levels of sexual satisfaction, sexual self-esteem and sexual pleasure) were associated with use of contraception, improved relationship quality and an absence of STIs.

For young women specifically, a healthy sex life was also linked to less alcohol use, improved mental health and a positive attitude towards education.

The report also found that nearly a third of women surveyed had suffered from severe issues relating to sex, such as heavy periods and menopausal symptoms.

Dr Jane Dickson, vice president of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, commented: “The importance of having a healthy, enjoyable sexual life cannot be overstated as this strongly contributes to general wellbeing.

“However, there is still much stigma and embarrassment when it comes to sexual function – especially when we are talking about women’s sexual pleasure. Society still relegates women’s sexual pleasure to the background.”

Public health consultant at PHE Sue Mann added that a fulfilling sex life is fundamental to women’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

“Our data show that sexual enjoyment is a key part of good reproductive health and that while many women are reporting sexual dysfunction, many are not seeking help.”

The research also found that there is a strong stigma associated with reporting sexual and reproductive health issues.

“This is particularly true in the workplace where many women do not feel comfortable speaking to their managers about the real reasons for needing to take time off work,” Mann continued.

“We want to empower women to educate themselves about good reproductive health and to feel confident speaking about it.”

Complete Article HERE!

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The End of Safe Gay Sex?

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By Patrick William Kelly

June is Pride Month, a ripe time to reflect on one of the most startling facts about our sexual culture today: Condom use is all but disappearing among large numbers of gay men.

Many rightly attribute the condom’s decline to the rise of PrEP — an acronym for pre-exposure prophylaxis, a two-drug cocktail that inoculates a person from contracting H.I.V. But another crucial component is the fading memory of the AIDS crisis that once defined what it meant to be gay.

After tracking the sexual practices of 17,000 gay and bisexual Australian men from 2014 to 2017, a team of researchers this month unveiled the most convincing evidence to date. While the number of H.I.V.-negative men who are on PrEP increased to 24 percent from 2 percent, the rate of condom use decreased to 31 percent from 46 percent. More troubling, condom use among non-gay men is also down significantly</a

Although public health advocates have been sounding the alarm on condom use for the last decade, their calls have gone largely unheeded. Part of that is because of a shift in how we talk about risky sex: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has replaced “unprotected” with “condomless” sex.

The dangerous implication is that PrEP alone may ward off all sexually transmitted infections. Indeed, studies have shown a strong correlation between PrEP use and the contraction of S.T.I.s. PrEP enthusiasts counter that PrEP mandates testing for S.T.I.s every three months, a practice that promotes rather than discourages a culture of sexual health.

But a 2016 study by the University of California, Los Angeles illustrated that PrEP users were 25.3 times more likely to acquire gonorrhea and a shocking 44.6 times more likely to develop a syphilis infection (other studies have found no significant uptick in S.T.I. rates, however).

More than the specific public-health risks of declining condom use among gay men is the shocking speed with which a sort of historical amnesia has set in.

The very idea of “safe sex” emerged from the gay community in the early 1980s, in response to the AIDS crisis. Drag queens once ended performances with catchy one-liners like, “If you’re going to tap it, wrap it.”

AIDS indelibly shaped what it meant to be gay in the 1980s and 1990s. When I came out at the tender age of 14 in 1998, I recall my mother’s reaction. As tears welled up in her eyes, she buried her face in her hands and said, “I just don’t want you to get H.I.V.” No stranger to controversial allusions, the AIDS activist and author Larry Kramer famously called it a homosexual “holocaust.” Condom use, therefore, was never a negotiating chip.

Until it was. PrEP, which the Food and Drug Administration approved in 2012, replaces the condom’s comforting shield. Liberated from the stigma of AIDS, gay men, many people think, are now free to revert to their carnivorous sexual selves. In this rendering, the condom is kryptonite, a relic that saps the virile homosexual of his primordial sexual power.

AIDS is no longer a crisis, at least in the United States, and that is a phenomenal public-health success story. But it also means that an entire generation of gay men has no memory or interest in the devastation it wrought. AIDS catalyzed a culture of sexual health that has begun to disintegrate before our eyes. What is there to be done to bring it back?

One answer is to recall the gay culture of the 1970s that gave rise to the AIDS crisis in the first place. The myth of a world of sex without harm is not new. The 1970s were a time of unprecedented sexual freedom for gay men, during which diseases were traded rampantly, fueled by a libertine culture that saw penicillin as the panacea for all ills.

The nonchalant dismissal of the condom today flies in the face of the very culture of sexual health that gay men and lesbians constructed in the 1980s. If a hyper-resistant strand of another life-threatening S.T.I. develops, we will rue the day that we forgot the searing legacies of our past. We might also recognize that PrEP has not proved nearly as effective a prevention strategy for women as it has for men, and that some strains of H.I.V. have developed resistance to the drug.

While we debate the utility of latex, what are we to think about the millions of sex workers, injecting-drug users and marginalized populations (in particular, black men who have sex with men) without adequate access to costly and coveted drugs like PrEP? If they develop AIDS, they also struggle to acquire the triple drug therapies that have since 1996 turned AIDS into a manageable if chronic condition. Millions have died from lack of access while pharmaceutical companies rake in billions every year.

We might also pivot away from the individualistic and privileged approach of our dominant L.G.B.T. organizations — what one scholar called the “price of gay marriage.” We might, then, regain a radical sense of queer community that we lost in the wake of AIDS.

Complete Article HERE!

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Trying to figure out where you fit on the sexuality spectrum?

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Dabbling in these tests might help.

Human sexuality spans too wide a scope to possibly be covered by a single test.

Be attracted to whomever—don’t stress about tests and scales.

By Sara Chodosh

Alfred Kinsey’s spectrum of human sexuality shocked the world when he published it in 1948. His book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male featured extensive interviews with 5300 people—almost exclusively white males along with a paltry number of racial and ethnic minorities about their sexual histories and fantasies. The second volume, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, came out five years later and made equally shocking claims about the inner lives of 5940 women, also almost exclusively white.

Kinsey’s ethical standards were questionable, especially by today’s standards—much of his research involved sexual contact with his subjects—but he also introduced the world to an idea that previously had little publicity: Human sexuality isn’t confined to the binary hetero- and homosexual standards; rather, it exists on a broad spectrum. Today, most people know that as the Kinsey Scale (though that’s just one way to measure sexuality). It runs from zero to six, with zero being exclusively heterosexual and six being exclusively homosexual. A seventh category, just called “X,” is often interpreted as representing asexuality.

It’s by far the best-known sexuality scale, both for its creator’s fame and for its simplicity, but it’s far from the most accurate or most helpful. In fact, it probably wasn’t ever intended to be a test for participants to take themselves.

Kinsey and his colleagues (among them, his wife) generally assigned their subjects a number based on the interview they conducted. This may be surprising. Many people, sex researchers included, mistakenly believe it was some kind of psychological test conducted exclusively to determine someone’s sexuality. But in a 2014 journal article James Weinrich, a sex researcher and psychobiologist at San Diego State University, dug back into the original Kinsey reports to investigate and found that only a small portion of Kinsey’s subjects were asked to assign themselves a number on the scale. “It was a self-rating only for those asked the question—those who had significant homosexual experience. Otherwise, it was assigned by the interviewer,” he writes.

Since most people’s score on the Kinsey Scale wasn’t their own assessment, it was more or less based on the subjective decision of the expert conductors. That means those online quizzes purportedly telling where you fall on the Kinsey Scale aren’t official in any way.

But that’s not to say that they can’t be useful. Plenty of people—perhaps even most—question their sexuality at some point in their lives. It’s natural. And it’s equally natural to feel anxious, unnerved, or uncomfortable about having feelings that you’re not sure how to categorize or think about. Society has a plethora of negative judgments for anyone who deviates outside of the cisgendered, heterosexual bucket.

Of course, no one has to fall under specific labels. Many men interviewed for sex research, for example, avoid using the term “bisexual” even if they’ve had multiple sexual encounters with other men. San Diego State’s Weinrich spoke extensively with Thomas Albright, one of Kinsey’s original collaborators, who painted a likely far more accurate picture of how the interviews went and the challenges that the study presented. He wrote that a significant percentage of men in the Kinsey sample self-reported that they had “extensive” homosexual experiences, but when asked to rate themselves (men with homosexual experiences were the only ones asked to rate themselves) would self-identify as a zero (exclusively heterosexual) on the Kinsey scale when first asked. If pushed, they might push that back to a one or perhaps a two even as they acknowledge that they receive oral sex from other men.

While just one example, it highlights some of the inadequacies of the Kinsey Scale and of many other attempts to quantify human sexuality. One is that all answers are self-reported, and so rely on people to self-examine. Another is that there may be a disconnect between the attractions a person feels and the label they identify with. Perhaps they only have romantic feelings for people of the opposite sex, but are sexually aroused by men and women.

All of this intricacy is only magnified when you add the spectrum of gender identity. Transgender people, those identifying as gender-fluid or really anything outside of the traditional binary genders are often left out of these sexuality scales.

If you’re questioning your own sexuality, looking at some of these scales might be helpful in getting you to consider aspects of yourself that you might not think of. And if you’re not yet comfortable confiding in another person, these tests and quizzes may be a way of testing ideas and identities. Probably the healthiest way to explore would be with a psychologist who specializes in sexuality (you can find one here, as well as locate all manner of bisexuality-aware health professionals), but if you’re not ready for that step or can’t afford to see someone, these scales may be of some use.

The Kinsey Scale

The oldest and most basic spectrum, the Kinsey Scale is a straightforward numerical scale:

0 – Entirely heterosexual 1 – Mainly heterosexual, little homosexual 2 – Mainly heterosexual, but substantial homosexual 3 – Equally hetero and homosexual 4 – Mainly homosexual, but substantial heterosexual 5 – Mainly homosexual, little heterosexual 6 – Entirely homosexual X – “have no sociosexual contacts or reactions” (Kinsey didn’t use the word “asexual,” but modern researchers interpret the X this way)

Kinsey and colleagues allowed for intermediate numbers, like 1.5, along the scale in keeping with the idea that sexuality is a smooth spectrum. The Kinsey Scale is nice and simple—and that may make it useful to some—but it also focuses on behavior. Cisgender -women who have some unexplored feelings towards other cisgender -women or towards a transgender -woman may not find a place for themselves on the scale if they’ve never acted on those feelings.

The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid

The KSOG tries to remedy some of the nuance that’s not included in the Kinsey Scale. Rather than a single number line, the KSOG is a grid that asks you about sexual attraction, behavior, and fantasies along with emotional and social preferences (and even a few more variables) along a scale from 1 to 7. Importantly, it also asks about these variables in different time scales—past, present, and ideal. (It’s easiest to understand if you take a look at the grid on this page). Perhaps you have historically thought of yourself as an exclusively straight, cisgender male, but now feel some sexual attraction to men like yourself, though you still feel emotionally attached only to cisgender -women. There’s a place for you on the KSOG. There’s also a place for a cisgender -woman who feels equally attracted sexually and romantically to men and women.

It’s downfall is gender identity. In two studies of the KSOG, researchers asked non-cis participants to evaluate the scale on its ability to capture their own sexuality. Many felt it did not. One wrote that “it still does not capture my sexual expression as a genderqueer transwoman for whom the labels “same” and “opposite” sex are incoherent.” Another noted that “As a person who is gender queer and who prefers the same in partners, I have a hard time figuring out if I am homosexual or not! It depends on the solidity of your gender category which I don’t have.”

Multidimensional Scale of Sexuality & MoSIEC

As a reaction to the Kinsey Scale’s limitations, researchers in the 90s developed the MSS and later a more modern version called the Measure of Sexual Identity Exploration and Commitment (MoSIEC). It’s now one of the few (or perhaps the only) scale in the official Handbook of Sexuality-Related Measures.

MoSIEC measures sexuality across four subscales—commitment, exploration, sexual orientation identity uncertain, and synthesis—where participants score themselves on each of 22 statements based on how characteristic they find it. So for example, statement 1 says “my sexual orientation is clear to me,” and you as the test-taker would score yourself on a scale from 1 (very uncharacteristic of me) to 6 (very characteristic of me).

The MoSIEC questions are really intended for researchers, not self-exploration, so we’ll give you the warning here that this isn’t supposed to be a take-at-home quiz. But if you’re curious, you can find the full questionnaire on pages 101-2 of this pdf. The subscores are the averages of the scores for the questions in each subscale, but they’re not divided evenly nor are they in any particular order. For example, the “exploration” subscale is made of up questions 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, and 19. A higher score indicates “higher levels of the measured construct present in the individual” (we did warn you it was for researchers!).

Again, this isn’t a tool intended for lay people, but if you’re really motivated here are the breakdowns for the subscores:

Exploration: 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 19 Commitment: 10, 11, 15, 16, 18, 20 (#15, 16, and 18 are reverse-scored) Synthesis: 4, 7, 13, 17, 22 Sexual orientation identity uncertain: 1, 15, 21 (#1 is also reverse-scored)

The final option: no scoring at all

All of these measures play into both our desire to categorize ourselves as well as our peers, and the necessity of measuring sexuality when it comes to research. But numbers, like labels, can’t possibly capture the complex nature of human sexuality. A quiz or a test can prompt you to consider important questions, but it can’t give you any concrete answers. Don’t stress if you don’t feel like you belong in any one category—nobody really does.

Complete Article HERE!

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Embrace And Then Move Past Your Scaring

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Name: NIta
Gender: female
Age: 40
Location: South Africa
I recently had abdominal surgery to remove a cancer. I’m recovering pretty well, and the prognosis for my future is also pretty good. But I am noticing two problems. The surgery left a really big scar. It’s still not fully healed yet, but I can tell it’s always going to be ugly. And my belly is really misshapen now. I felt pretty okay about my body before hand, but this scar really makes me look really unattractive. Also, my sex drive has completely gone away. I used to be a pretty sexual person, but now nothing excites me. Would you say this is normal?

How long ago was your surgery, I wonder? It’s got to be pretty recent, if you say the incision is still healing.

Darlin’, may I suggest that you’ve been through quite a trauma — a cancer diagnosis, recent surgery and all. This would throw anyone for a loop. I’d be willing to guess you’ve not had the proper time to process all of this. It comes as no surprise to me that your libido has gone south. I wouldn’t expect otherwise.

If you’re still healing on the outside, you know for sure your insides have a much longer way to go. You’re probably still feeling some discomfort, right? That’s enough to put the kibosh on sexual interest right there. You’re body is consumed with the job of healing itself. It probably hasn’t any energy to spare for sex. And why have a libido if ya can’t be sexual, right? So you see, your body is actually protecting itself and concentrating on the task at hand.

Maybe at this point in your recovery a little pampering would be better for you than a pursuit of sexual pleasure. Long luxurious baths will help soothe the tension, as well as giving your easy access to your fine pussy. Even folks with no discernable libido find touching themselves enjoyable. And just to keep your head in the game, even though you’re sitting on the sidelines, you could read some erotica or watch some sexy smut.

Some modest exercise like walking or swimming can perk up the libido too. Treat yourself to an erotic massage. Let a pro get his or her hands on you and make you glow. This may also help bring back some of the sensitivity to areas effected by the surgery. One things for sure, doing something is better than doing nothing but sitting there wondering what’s up.

An invasive and disfiguring surgery will always have a profound effect on one’s body image, which goes without saying. Feeling unattractive because of a scar? No doubt about it, it’s a bummer. But consider for a moment that you are here writing to me about it, instead of napping six-feet under. So I guess the scar is not the worst thing that could have happened, right? As you probably know, I hear from a number of my country’s war vets returning home with shattered bodies and lives. My advice to them is what I offer you now. Move through the scar’s impact…with a therapist if need be. And find within yourself the other things that make you beautiful, attractive, alluring and desirable. Who knows, you might luck out and find a scar fetishist out there who will worship you for what you find loathsome.

Embracing and then moving past your scaring will open you to find the myriad pleasures your body can still provide you and others. So while your body works on healing itself, your mind can do likewise. No need to have two scars, on one your belly and another one on your psyche. In the end you may find that flaunting your scar, like some women do with their mastectomy scars, will liberate you from feeling unattractive. After all, that scare and misshapen abdomen are your red badges of courage, honey. Not only do they make you distinct, but also they testify to you being a survivor.

Good luck

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