How to Use A Wand Vibrator During Sex

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By GiGi Engle

It’s no secret that a wand vibrator is the cornerstone of any notable sex toy collection. There is a reason why Hitachi wands have been best sellers since their advent in the 70s: They deliver powerful, insanely awesome orgasms.

The wand is the clit-whisperer. No matter who you are or what you like, almost every woman will agree that a wand vibrator is the best thing in the world.

Did you know that the love you have for your wand can be a part of partner sex and not just your favorite masturbation accomplice? Yes, that’s correct. The two things are not mutually exclusive. Here’s how to use your favorite giant sex toy during sex.

Why a wand vibrator during sex?

Bringing sex toys into the bedroom is finally becoming a new normal for many people — as .it should. Nearly every woman requires stimulation of the external clitoris to experience orgasm. Sex toys are a conduit to this necessary sexual touching, and vibrators are designed to help you orgasm. Any partner who is comfortable with themselves will not be intimidated by a sex toy, but rather open to experimentation. After all, who doesn’t want their partner to come?

If you’re in the early stages of your sex toy adventures, you’ll probably want to start with something small and non-threatening. Finger vibrators and pocket rockets are excellent for beginners, but eventually you’ll probably be ready to graduate to something bigger and more powerful. That’s where wang vibrators come in.

Wands are, for the most part, freaking enormous. I’m currently looking at my favorite wand and this sucker is a solid twelve inches long. It’s a subway sandwich-sized sex toy.

We love our wands because of their power-packed charge and long handles. They make masturbation easy. You can hold the handle at chest-height and reach the clitoris without moving a muscle. Convenient! The girthy head gives you all-over clitoral stimulation without having to do much in the way of maneuvering.

For the brave amongst you, these same positive attributes can be utilized during partner play. You may have cornered the wand as your solo-only toy, but its big head and long body make orgasms during intercourse even easier.
If you want to ease your partner into it, start by having them watch you use it on yourself. This can be a huge turn on. Seeing how you make yourself orgasm could be just the push your partner needs to get on board.

The best positions for wand play

Starting out with wand play means finding the right positions that are both comfortable and orgasmic for you. Now is not the time to be getting acrobatic. There will plenty of opportunities for that later down the line. For now, stick to these three basic positions to get placement in order.

Don’t worry if it feels awkward at first. All new sex things are weird in the beginning.

Missionary: Your wand can seriously spice up this go-to position. When you’re in missionary, slip the wand between you and your partner. If they are able to stay propped up on the their arms, it will help make some extra room for the wand. Hold the wand like you would while masturbating on your back.

The reach of the wand’s base helps you access your clitoris without reaching down too far. You’ll have ample opportunity to make out with your partner and focus on the combination of internal and external stimulation. Your partner’s weight will add to the pressure of the wand head on your clitoris for intense, full-body orgasms

Open-Legged Spoon: This is like a regular spoon only, you know, open-legged. Lie on your back and spread your legs, bent at the knee. Have your partner enter you from below, perpendicular to your body. Drape your knees over their side. You can align bodies like you would in a classic spoon for more intimacy

Grab your wand and rest it on the clitoris. This is an ideal lazy-girl sex position. You have total access to your clitoris, while your partner penetrates you. This low-impact position will change how you see your wand forever. Plus, it’s super sexy and dirty looking.

Doggy Style: For those of you who enjoy masturbating on all-fours with a wand, this will be your bread and butter. Lie on your stomach, sticking two or three pillows under your hips. Prop your wand against the pillows so you can lean your vulva against the top. Have your partner enter you with either their penis, fingers or dildo from behind.

A wand is amazing for doggy style because you get to ride it while your partner is riding you. You’re basically the center of a filthy nasty sandwich — something everyone deserves.

Queening: This position is great for everyone, but works especially well for same-sex couples. Lean your back against a throne of pillows like a queen. Grab the wand and hold it against your glans clitoris while your partner uses their tongue on the rest of your vulva. The vaginal opening is full of nerve endings and is amazing for exploration. They can also lick up and down your labia. Want to make it even more intense? Have them place a stainless steel dildo inside your vagina while they lick around the opening. The weight of the toy will pull the entire pelvic floor and internal clitoris downwards, resulting in an orgasm for the books.

If you don’t already have a wand vibrator, stop what you’re doing right now! You need one. Whether you’re planning to use it for partner play, by yourself, or both, it’s a must-have.

While Hitachi has long reigned supreme, it’s never admitted to being a sex toy. To this day it claims to be a neck massager. There are approximately zero people on this planet who have used a Hitachi magic wand as a neck massager, but I digress.

Female-run companies have stepped up and created wands that are proudly marketed as sex toys. Plus, they’re made from high quality materials you can trust. Our favorites are Le Wand and Ollie from Unbound. We like our sex toys like we like everything else: Highly quality, feminist, and orgasmic.

Complete Article HERE!

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Talking sexual health with older patients

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Dr Sue Malta and her research team want to promote more positive social perceptions of older people’s sexuality, in general practice and beyond.

By Amanda Lyons

It is no secret that Australia’s population is ageing.

But that doesn’t mean older Australians are leaving the pleasures of the bedroom behind – and nor should they, argues Dr Sue Malta.

‘Having a healthy sex life when you’re older, even when you do have disability and disease, is actually really good for your health and wellbeing, and also your overall cognition and cognitive function,’ the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health research fellow told newsGP.

‘So there’s lots of reasons for people to remain sexually active in later life, and for GPs to encourage them to be so, if that’s what the older patient wants.’

Our culture contains many deeply embedded stereotypes about older people, and one of the strongest is that they are asexual. But, as shown by Sex, Age & Me, a national study conducted on the sexual and romantic relationships of over 2000 Australians aged 60 and older, this is very far from the case: almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents reported having engaged in a variety of sexual practices in the preceding year, ranging from penetrative intercourse to mutual masturbation.

Despite this kind of eye-opening data, stereotypes about older people’s sexuality – or lack of – persist, even among older people themselves and the health professionals who treat them.

The Sexual Health and Ageing, Perspective and Education (SHAPE) project, for which Dr Malta is a researcher and project coordinator, also revealed these stereotypes could cause significant barriers in discussion of sexual health between GPs and older patients.

‘GPs don’t want to initiate these conversations, they want them to be patient-led,’ Dr Malta said.
‘But older patients won’t talk to GPs because they are embarrassed, and for reasons that go back to an historical lack of sex education when they grew up: the context and eras these patients were born into, they just didn’t talk about sex.

‘So it leads to this Catch-22 situation.’

The SHAPE team wanted to further investigate the reluctance of GPs to raise sexual health issues with older patients, so they conducted semi-structured interviews with 15 GPs and six practice nurses throughout Victoria. The resulting paper, ‘Do you talk to your older patients about sexual health?’ was published in the most recent edition of The Australian journal of general practice (AJGP).

Dr Malta explained that semi-structured interviews allowed the researchers to access richer and more detailed information from their GP respondents.

‘It’s very easy to say ‘“yes, no” in a survey. We don’t really find out people’s underlying or unconscious views and attitudes,’ she said.

Researchers ultimately found many of the GPs feel uncomfortable broaching the subject of sexuality with older patients, and some found it difficult to reconcile sexuality with ageing.

As one GP said, ‘It’s a bit like you don’t really want to know your mum and dad have sex, you know? Because that’s just gross’.

However, as Australia’s ageing population grows, and divorce, online dating and sexually transmissible infections (STIs) become more common among older people, neglecting issues of sexual health can lead to harms.

There’s a whole issue around [the fact that] they’re not practising safer sex, so the STI rates are going up,’ Dr Malta said. ‘It has gone up 50% in five years, but from a low base.

‘But if we continue in this vein, with more and more single older adults coming into the population, this could potentially be more of an issue in the future.’

Furthermore, if GPs and other health professionals are unaware that they should be looking out for sexual health issues in older patients, they may miss important signs.

‘A lot of the symptomology [of STIs] actually mimic diseases of ageing,’ Dr Malta said. ‘So if there is a stereotype of the asexual older person in the GP’s mind, and an [older patient] has a symptom that might or might not be an STI, which side do you think the GP is going to err on? Not the possible STI.’

A vivid anecdote that Dr Malta encountered during her teaching work is a telling illustration of the importance of not making assumptions.

‘One of the registrars at a presentation I gave had a consultation with an older man, a gentleman on a walking frame, who was 90 or so, and presented with what looked like an STI,’ she said.

‘The consultant the registrar was working under said, “No, it wouldn’t be an STI, just look at him, he’s past it. That’s ridiculous.” But the registrar decided she would ask him.

‘So she asked and he said, “Yes, actually, it could be an STI. I went to see a prostitute last week and it was the best thing I’ve done in ages”.

‘So the registrar then had the opportunity to have that discussion about safer sex and give him some treatment.’

Many of the GPs interviewed for Dr Malta’s paper felt they would appreciate interventions designed to help facilitate discussions about sexual health during consultations with older patients.

Dr Malta agrees this would be helpful, but believes it would also be useful to start earlier, with better information about ageing and sexuality provided during general practice (and other medical) training.

‘In training, you learn about ageing, but in the context of disease and dysfunction,’ she said.

‘So the only thing about sex and ageing you might learn is about erectile dysfunction, how beta blockers affect your ability, vaginal dryness, menopause, prolapse. You don’t actually learn about positive sexuality in later life.’

Dr Malta has found that most older patients would like sexual health screening to become a normalised part of routine care in general practice. She also believes it is necessary to make changes in overall health policy to make it more inclusive.

‘There is no sexual health policy targeting older adults,’ she said. ‘They get lumped into general sexual and reproductive health policy, and the only mention that’s made of them is about menopause and the like.

‘There should be a specific sexual health policy for older adults because the issue is more involved than we think.’

Complete Article HERE!

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Encourage teens to discuss relationships, experts say

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BY Carolyn Crist</a

Healthcare providers and parents should begin talking to adolescents in middle school about healthy romantic and sexual relationships and mutual respect for others, a doctors’ group urges.

Obstetrician-gynecologists, in particular, should screen their patients routinely for intimate partner violence and sexual coercion and be prepared to discuss it, the Committee on Adolescent Health Care of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises.

“Our aim is to give the healthcare provider a guide on how to approach adolescents and educate them on the importance of relationships that promote their overall wellbeing,” said Dr. Oluyemisi Adeyemi-Fowode of Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, who co-authored the committee’s opinion statement and resource for doctors published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

“We want to recognize the full spectrum of relationships and that not all adolescents are involved in sexual relationships,” she said in an email. “This acknowledges the sexual and non-sexual aspects of relationships.”

Adeyemi-Fowode and her coauthor Dr. Karen Gerancher of Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, suggest creating a nonjudgmental environment for teens to talk and recommend educating staff about unique concerns that adolescents may have as compared to adult patients. Parents and caregivers should be provided with resources, too, they write.

“As individuals, our days include constant interaction with other people,” Adeyemi-Fowode told Reuters Health. “Learning how to effectively communicate is essential to these exchanges, and it is a skill that we begin to develop very early in life.”

In middle school, when self-discovery develops, parents, mentors and healthcare providers can help adolescents build on these communication skills. As they spend more time on social networking sites and other electronic media, teens could use guidance on how to recognize relationships that positively encourage them and relationships that hurt them emotionally or physically.

Primarily, healthcare providers and parents should discuss key aspects of a healthy relationship, including respect, communication and the value of people’s bodies and personal health. Equality, honesty, physical safety, independence and humor are also good qualities in a positive relationship.

As doctors interact with teens, they should also be aware of how social norms, religion and family influence could play a role in their relationships.

Although the primary focus of counseling should help teens define a healthy relationship, it’s important to discuss unhealthy characteristics, too, the authors write. This includes control, disrespect, intimidation, dishonesty, dependence, hostility and abuse. They cite a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of young women in high school that found about 11 percent had been forced to engage in sexual activities they didn’t want, including kissing, touching and sexual intercourse. About 9 percent said they were physically hurt by someone they were dating.

For obstetrician-gynecologists, the initial reproductive health visit recommended for girls at ages 13-15 could be a good time to begin talking about romantic and sexual health concerns, the authors write. They also offer doctors a list of questions that may be helpful for these conversations, including “How do you feel about relationships in general or about your own sexuality?” and “What qualities are important to someone you would date or go out with?”

Health providers can provide confidentiality for teens but also talk with parents about their kids’ relationships. The committee opinion suggests that doctors encourage parents to model good relationships, discuss sex and sexual risk, and monitor media to reduce exposure to highly sexualized content.

“Without intentionally talking to them about respectful, equitable relationships, we’re leaving them to fend for themselves,” said Dr. Elizabeth Miller, chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, who wasn’t involved in the opinion statement.

Miller recommends FuturesWithoutViolence.org, a website that offers resources on dating violence, workplace harassment, domestic violence and childhood trauma. She and colleagues distribute the organization’s “Hanging Out or Hooking Up?” safety card (bit.ly/2PQfxEM), which offers tips to recognize and address adolescent relationship abuse, to patients and parents, Miller said.

“More than 20 years of research shows the impact of abusive relationships on young people’s health,” Miller said in a phone interview. “Unintended pregnancies, sexually-transmitted infections, HIV, depression, anxiety, suicide, disordered eating and substance abuse can stem from this.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Recovering the Beauty of Sex

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By Joseph A. Barisas and William F. Long

Last week, a group of students hosted Harvard Sex Week, a series of widely-publicized events with titles ranging from “Hit Me Baby One More Time: BDSM in the Dorm Room” and “Bloody Good! An Intro to Period Sex” to “One is Not Enough: Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, & Polyamory.” The Undergraduate Council and the Harvard Foundation shared the distinction of sponsoring these talks with, among others, various retailers of exotic sex toys, lubricants, and condoms.

Over our years at Harvard, we’ve seen our fair share of the extreme and the avant-garde, but this year’s programming managed to shock even us. The idea that a week including BDSM and polyamory could possibly contribute anything to a healthy understanding of sex struck us as entirely backward. Why has our dialogue about sex, something which should be considered intimate and reverent and profound, become simply an outlet for our unrestrained desires and debased passions?

The answer, we suspect, likely has something to do with the fact that Harvard teaches us from our very first week on campus an oversimplified attitude towards sex that we might call the “consensual” philosophy of sex. Each year during Opening Days, freshmen sit through a mandatory theatrical production called “Speak About It” in which, over an hour of sexual reenactments, they learn that as long as they have “consent,” they are free to engage in whatever with whomever they please. What matters is not the act consented to, but the consent itself. While consent is obviously essential to the very nature of sex, there is so much more to it than just a verbal assent extracted from the other party in order to do whatever one desires.

Because there are no other normative guidelines on what true and good sex is, this ambivalence inevitably reduces sex, one of the most powerful and meaningful components of the human experience, to what many young people invariably want it to be: a purely physical act whose primary function is to produce pleasure and satisfy passions. It matters not with whom one engages in it, neither the duration or depth of that relationship, nor yet the further continuance of the relationship. To speak of its emotional and spiritual aspects feels awkward and anachronistic, and discussion of its procreative nature, arguably the most essential characteristic of sex, is avoided like the plague.

But the consequences of this cheapened, hollowed-out view of sex are heartbreaking. They can be seen in a culture of one-night-stands and hook-ups, fueled by alcohol, often ending in indifference and, occasionally, emotional trauma. Young men and women learn to see one another as means to gratification and not ends in themselves, infinitely valuable and unique. A woman who had suffered the emotional toll of being ghosted once too many times asked in a New York Times column whether by consenting to hook-up culture, she had also consented to its premise of detachment and self-centeredness. When we lower our standards of acceptable sexual behavior to merely what is legal, we should not be surprised to see our personal standards of sexual morality drop and unbridled license expand to fill the void.

A sexual ethic that bases its standards solely on what is allowed teaches students that they are being moral by merely staying within the bounds of the law. A robust ethic has positive rather than solely negative norms. Students learn implicitly a definition of sex as allowance, where anything not prohibited is good, instead of realizing that boundaries and reason help make sex the entirely unique and wonderful thing it is. Paradoxically, this prohibitive ethic in which we are currently immersed destroys the possibility of allowing people to see sex as a good and honorable and beautiful thing.

One of the self-proclaimed objectives of Sex Week was to “connect diverse individuals and communities both within and beyond Harvard,” and the group that runs it aims to “open up campus dialogue.” This is an aspiration we can certainly agree with, and we want to begin engaging in this dialogue by rejecting the premise that the ethic of “consent” is sufficient to create a culture of sex that truly empowers and connects.

Couldn’t we all agree that true sex requires genuine care for the other party and to have their best interest at heart? The moment we impose this reasonable requirement, we recategorize a wide swath of sexual behavior — drunken one-night-stands for instance — as instead a sort of glorified mutual masturbation. As we continue to positively construct sex by considering its many natural and valuable facets, we begin to elevate its dignity and purpose and reestablish a philosophy of sexual ethics that we believe benefits everyone. At the Harvard College Anscombe Society, we believe among other things that true sex should be a total and unreserved giving of oneself to another, physically, emotionally, psychologically, biologically, and spiritually. Its primary function is unitive, tying two people in an indissoluble bond, and procreative, wherein the love shared between the two manifests itself in the miracle of human life.

Only when we take every aspect of sex seriously and consider it in its proper framing, can we recover its natural beauty and value. Admittedly, constructing a full alternative vision of sex is not something that can be easily done in an op-ed, and the Anscombe Society — through meetings and public talks, including one with world-renowned moral philosopher Dr. Janet E. Smith this week — hopes to continue this ongoing dialogue about true love.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to have the talk with your partner

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Since the most common symptom is actually having no symptoms, talking to any partners about sexual health is even more important than it is awkward. The good news is talking about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and getting tested leads to more honesty, open communication and better relationships (and health) in the long run. Here’s how to start that particular conversation.

Taking the lead

“Just so you know, I got tested for STIs last month…” is a strong start. Taking the initiative yourself to get tested, get treated if necessary and know your status keeps you and your partner safer. Then, when you’re ready to have the conversation, you can open by sharing your results and normalizing getting tested for your partner.

If they respond that they haven’t been tested or it’s been a while since their last appointment, encourage them to do it, too, so you can be on the same page. This also is a good time to remind them that getting tested doesn’t mean they do have an STI, and if they do, most are curable and all are treatable (and having one doesn’t say anything about them).

Jumping in together

If you haven’t been tested recently either, start a conversation with your partner about both of you getting tested. You can even introduce it as something uncomfortable if that’s where you are, i.e., “This is awkward, but I care about our health and I think it’s time for us to get tested for STIs. Would you want to go get tested together?”

This kind of conversation lets you share an awkward experience while empowering you both to take care of yourselves and each other, creating stronger communication in the long run. It’s also a quick way to hear from your partner if they have recently been tested, and if so, they can serve as your support system in taking on your health.

Sharing results

Talking about an STI you had or have, or hearing about one from your partner, can be a stressful situation. A few things to keep in mind: STIs don’t define people or behaviors, many are curable and all are treatable, millions of people contract STIs every year and even in monogamous relationships an STI doesn’t necessarily mean someone cheated (in some cases, it can take years for symptoms to show up, if at all).

Start a conversation like this one in a safe place where you won’t be interrupted and practice what you’d like to say ahead of time. “I had chlamydia and took medicine, so I don’t have it anymore, but it made me realize we should be getting tested more…” or “I was just diagnosed with gonorrhea and my doctor said you can also get a prescription for the antibiotics…”

Sometimes people need time to process this information, and that’s okay—let them know you’d like to continue talking about it when they feel ready.

If your partner is disclosing an STI to you, remember these facts and consider how you’d want to be treated on the other side. Be compassionate, avoid judgment and take on your health as a team. If you have questions or would like to get tested, Medical Services offers STI testing by appointment with a health care provider and on a walk-in basis through the lab.

Free safer sex supplies (condoms, lubricant, etc.) are available through Health Promotion on the first floor of Wardenburg Health Center. For general information on sexual health and sexually transmitted infections, visit beforeplay.org

Complete Article HERE!

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5 Ways to Be More Sexual…

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Even When You’re Not in Bed

By Amy Stanton & Catherine Connors

Getting in touch with your erotic self can help you feel more authentic, and confident too.

This may seem counterintuitive in a culture that celebrates the Kardashians and made 50 Shades of Grey a bestseller, but female sexual power has always been controversial.

Women who own their erotic power have, for pretty much all of human history, been seen as dangerous and disruptive. (Who is Eve, after all, if not a brazen woman who tempts an otherwise innocent man? And she, apparently, caused humanity to be kicked out of paradise as a result!) History and theology are full of tales of women whose sexual power caused the downfall of nations and peoples. From the Hindus’ Mohini to the Greeks’ Sirens to the Old Testament’s Jezebel, Delilah, and Salome to Stormy Daniels—sexually confident women have been long characterized as capital-T Trouble.

It’s not hard to figure out why: women’s sexual power has long been directly associated with men’s sexual weakness. Delilah’s cutting of Samson’s hair is a figurative castration: a sexually powerful woman can rob a man of his strength and will and render him vulnerable. Other cultures viewed a man’s falling under the influence of a woman as so disempowering that it could only be the work of demons or other supernatural forces. And we all know the tragedy of the cuckold (who persists to the present day in the idea of the “cuck”): sexually duped by a woman, the cuckolded man can’t know who his real children are, and so is effectively impotent. (That this became the basis for The Maury Povich Show is arguably a compounded tragedy.)

The idea that women shouldn’t be sexually empowered runs so deep that we often don’t realize how much it influences us. Take the notion of the “slut” and the double standard it purveys. According to author and journalist Peggy Orenstein, “A sexually active girl [or woman] is a slut while a similar boy [man] is a player.” Apart from “player,” we don’t really have words to describe the sexually active boy or man. Girls and women are called “sluts,” “whores,” “slags,” “slatterns,” and (for older women) “cougars,” to name a few. And although we shame unabashedly sexual women (think of how much vitriol gets aimed at Kim Kardashian), we also vilify the so-called prude who suppresses her sexuality. To say that these double standards and contradictions create a confusing landscape for girls and women is an understatement.

It’s not only confusing… it’s also a dangerous landscape. In the era of #metoo, #BelieveHer, and #WhyIDidntReport, we are more aware than ever that our confidence—sexual or otherwise—won’t protect us from the risk of assault. And even though we know that the arguments about constraining women’s sexual freedom for our own protection are completely bogus–even dangerous—it’s hard to not absorb the chill of those messages. So how do we claim and own our sexual power? How can we use it in a way that promotes our emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being?

We think the starting point is to get in touch with your erotic self. Explore your sexual identity so that you can get to know it better. As Amy discusses in our book, The Feminine Revolution, one of the ways she does this is by embracing her love of lingerie—a love that started for her, because it made her feel great and then if men appreciate it, even better. For Catherine it’s been a process of embracing sensuality in all its forms—not just sexual—and getting to know what moves and inspires her senses. For you, it could be something completely different—what matters is only that you get started. Ask yourself, What makes me feel good? What makes me feel sexually and sensually gratified—and confident? And consider trying a few of these tricks:

Practice the skill of erotic observation

Explore what it feels like to “love” a sunset or the curve of smoke above a fire—and cultivate connection to beauty everywhere you find it. Your erotic self is defined by its connection to beauty and spirit in all forms, so being in touch with your erotic—and, by extension, sexual—power requires practicing appreciation of those things outside the sphere of sex and romance.

Use your senses

Sexuality is a power of the mind, but also, of course, of the body, and so the practiced exercise of sexual power requires connection to the senses. But this isn’t restricted to the sexual experiences of the senses—on the contrary, honing your senses more broadly can only enhance more, um, specific sensual experiences. Pay attention to what delights your senses. Is it the taste of fine wine or great chocolate? Is it the warmth of crackling fires, the feel of wind in your hair, the tingling of your muscles after a run? Do more of that. Find more of that.

Own your physicality

The way you sit, the way you walk—every movement plays into your sexual power. How can this work to your advantage? How can you express yourself intentionally through your movement? Pilates is a great way to get really specific with your various body parts and learn how to move and control them. Dance allows you to free and express yourself. Bring attention to how you’re walking down the street and how you feel.

Experiment

Try different ways of expressing and feeling your sensuality and sexuality. See how it feels. Play with it—visit extremes and fantasies. What feels right? Perhaps you’ll find you’ve been playing it too safe, and there’s room to indulge. Or maybe you’ll find that you want to dial it back. No matter what, the result is clarity and power.

Find inspiration in others

Look to sexual/sensual/erotic role models as a way to find your own approach to sexuality. Consider people across the gender spectrum: Whom do you find sexy? Why? What about that person is sexually or erotically compelling? Is it his or her physical beauty or sense of style, intelligence, or charisma? Understanding what we find erotic—what we desire—can help us find our own sexual being.

As we explore our femininity, our feminine power and, as part of that, our sexuality and sexual power, let’s not forget it’s a journey. A journey of freeing ourselves, learning what makes us feel our best and most confident and moving towards true authenticity. Towards a better world for us and for those around us.

Complete Article HERE!

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The XConfessions app

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Erika Lust’s new app is making it easier to talk about kinks and fantasies

By Marianne Eloise

The XConfessions app lets users swipe left or right on sex acts they’re willing or not willing to try

Erika Lust is currently making five films at once – no small undertaking, especially as her erotic films are cinematically beautiful; often feature-length, with professional crews who work on styling, location, cinematography, and everything else to make it visually arresting.

But that’s just a small part of the filmmaker’s mission to promote and create feminist pornography that centres women’s experiences and desires. Lust believes the most important thing with sex is communication and consent; clear rules that many people seem to skim over. She’s serious about promoting those values, too – she is determined to maintain an ethical work environment where all actors are comfortable, which she tells me goes from “feeding everyone on set” to “performers being able to stop shooting anytime they feel uncomfortable”.

Lust’s series XConfessions, which saw her win a Feminist Porn Award in both 2014 and 2015, is based on crowd-sourced erotic stories and fantasies from confessions that viewers can leave on her website. Now, she’s released the XConfessions app, an app which presents users (either playing alone or in a couple) with kinks: each person swipes left or right depending on whether they’re willing to try it. It’s billed as an inclusive app, taking into account all genders, sexualities, and types of relationships.

The XConfessions app takes the most awkward and complicated part of kink – the fear that your partner mightn’t want to try what you do; the fear of exposing yourself only to be embarrassed – and makes it disappear. We speak to Lust about the app, her work, and the ever-evolving porn industry.

One of the options on Erika Lust’s XConfessions app

I think the best thing about XConfessions is that – with trying new things sexually – there’s always the fear that your partner won’t want the same thing and it’ll get awkward. Was that your primary motivation?

Erika Lust:
It was designed for exactly that – to open up conversation and take away some of the pressure of broaching the topic of fantasy with your partner. I think the fear of embarrassment is really common. It can be very difficult to open up about your fantasies, even to someone you’ve been with for a long time, but these conversations can potentially take your sex life to the next level and intensify your bond and relationship with your partner. It’s really important in a relationship to have strong, open communication and I believe that this is part of it. Sexual fantasies are perfectly healthy and normal, and sharing them can be a really fun experience.  

Where do you think that embarrassment comes from?

Erika Lust: I think a lot of it stems from the shame tied up with sexuality. Unfortunately shame is cultivated in the society we live in and the sex education (or lack of) we receive growing up. We’re also taught to view sex in a very narrowly defined heteronormative way, which makes it seem that anything outside of this is deviant or weird. Women especially have to confront shame within their sexuality because they’re fed the message from a young age that they shouldn’t enjoy it too much.

Do you think that’s the most important thing in both kink and sex – communication?

Erika Lust: I think there are two equally important things, communication and consent. When we don’t communicate about sex, our wants and our needs aren’t met. A lack of communication means that we don’t try things that interest us and we will go along with things that we may not necessarily want to. We must always be aware of consent when having sex – ongoing conversation or clear non-verbal cues.  

It baffles me that the kink community has a bad reputation in ‘mainstream’ circles when they have such a strong model of what it means to obtain consent and speak about what they’re comfortable doing. It’s the norm in kink situations to speak about what sexual activities you want to do. I’m not saying that the kink community is perfect or that boundary violations don’t exist, but I think there is a lot we can learn. I think it’s also important to remember that consent and communication are not one-time conversations.

The app takes away something that can be common in kink – a perceived pressure to comply. If your partner says ‘I want this’ and you say ‘well, I don’t’, you can feel ‘boring’ or like you’re depriving them of something they want. This makes the conversation more positive and takes away that fear, while prioritising pleasure.

Erika Lust: I wanted to make the app in a way that users can play individually, as well as with their partner. In part, to take away some of the pressure to comply, specially when fantasies are spoken about during sex, there can be a pressure to say yes to avoid making things uncomfortable.

I think it’s a good idea to first have the conversation of fantasy with your clothes still on with a fun app. This is where the app works well, by going through the cards individually, and thinking about them alone you can decide if the fantasy is something that interests you. This also allows you to develop your sexuality and fantasies independent from your partner.

What is it like for you looking back on your career?

Erika Lust: I often tell people about the book that influenced me which was Linda Williams’ Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the ‘Frenzy of the Visible’. It gave me my lightbulb moment and I realised that pornography was a genre, a specific cinematic trend with its own history. It wasn’t just ‘porn’ to me anymore, it was part of a discourse on sexuality making a statement and expressing ideologies and values on sex and gender.

I shot The Good Girl when I moved to Barcelona, which was a humorous take on the classic pizza delivery boy porn trope. To be honest I can’t really watch it now without cringing but it was a start and it changed my life! That’s when I realised there were other people out there looking for alternatives to mainstream pornography, and I decided to start making adult films that reflected my own ideas.

What drives you to make these films?

Erika Lust: My mission was, and always will be, to show that women’s pleasure matters. I want to show that women have their own sex drive and desires, and are not passive objects exclusively focused on pleasuring the men. XConfessions is adult cinema that is smart, sex positive and respectful to women. It offers a representation of women’s pleasure and sex on screen that challenges the unchecked misogynistic attitudes, racist categorisations, and degrading narratives of mass-produced porn. Gagging, slapping, vomiting… some women may like it. But it is not a niche, it has become mainstream. That is extremely problematic. Studios produce it as it is the alpha and the omega of sex while it is content made with a very misogynist male-centric standard. It seems it is not arousing unless it is degrading to women. In my cinema, I show women enjoying themselves while receiving and giving pleasure in relatable scenarios. Women have their own sexual agency and take ownership of their bodies.

I also want to fight the fetishising and categorising that the mainstream industry does. Performers are categorised by their race, age or body type. I am really concerned with such ‘othering’.

What else are you doing to change the industry?

Erika Lust: With my ongoing guest directors open call I also have that community of new filmmakers. There are more female filmmakers in the industry who have loud voices and who stand by their work, and it’s great to be able to get more depictions of sex and sexuality, and more people doing something different to a lot of the mass produced stereotypical porn on the free tube sites. 

What sets your work apart?

Erika Lust: I think working with a female team really shapes my films. From the moment I created Erika Lust Films I knew I wanted to get more women in positions of power in all aspects of the business. I have a mostly female crew when I’m working on set, it can vary slightly but it’s usually 80 per cent women, with women working as camera people, producers, editors, runners. The female viewpoint is vital for me and to really get that I need to have a predominantly female team. With tube sites and the vast majority of studios, you don’t know who made those films. We should be asking ourselves who is making the porn that we watch.

You can download the XConfessions app and find out more about it here

Complete Article HERE!

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6 things I wish I knew about sex as a teen

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It’s up to you to define what constitutes losing your virginity

By Olivia Cassano

Growing up we receive so many problematic messages about sex that it’s no wonder we still consider it such a taboo.

Although I consider myself a very sex-positive person now, it took years to unlearn most of what mainstream society taught me about doing the deed.

There’s a lot to be learned about the nuanced experience of sex and I full-heartedly believe that we can never stop learning.

But here are the things I think everyone, young women especially, should know in order to foster a healthy, fulfilling relationship with sex.

Virginity is a heteronormative myth

Almost everything we know about virginity is either wrong or misogynistic.

First of all, it completely excludes same-sex experiences and focuses only on hetero PIV (penis in vagina) sex, alienating gay sex and turning it into the ‘other’.

If we were to take virginity for how it’s taught, technically gay people are all virgins.

See? It makes no sense.

All sex is sex and, ultimately, it’s up to you to define what constitutes losing your virginity, because it’s nothing more than a concept.

Losing your virginity is also somehow simultaneously romanticised and made out to be this horrific, traumatising, painful milestone.

It’s an oxymoron, but your entry point to sex will most likely be unremarkable.

It doesn’t have to hurt and you might not bleed (I didn’t), because another fallacy is that losing your V-card is all about the hymen breaking.

We’re taught that the hymen is like a fleshy roadblock that needs to be crashed into to officially lose your virgin status, but none of that is true.

The hymen is a thin, perforated membrane most, not all, women have, and it can be torn from pretty much anything, like tampons, masturbation and even some types of sport. It’s not proof of your virginity or lack thereof because, newsflash, women don’t come with a freshness seal.

The first time can be uncomfortable and the pain often associated with it most likely comes from nerves and a lack of lubrication.

Relax, lube up and enjoy (once you’re ready of course).

Had I known this before my first time, I wouldn’t have looked forward to it with such dreaded anticipation.

All sex is sex

As mentioned above, society has a tendency to think of sex as intercourse.

Again, this alienates same-sex experiences and trivialises other sexual activities like oral, anal and masturbation.

This way of thinking is so embedded in how we understand and talk about sex that it took me a while to dismantle this way of thinking, but it’s crucial to abandon this hierarchy.

And – lazy, straight men – foreplay is sex. Stop acting like it’s a nuisance you have to quickly get rid of before sticking your dick in us.

Which brings me to my next point.

Sex is not a race

Orgasms feel incredible and provide a wide range of mental and physical benefits, but, that being said, they’re not the only reason we have sex. Sex should be a whole experience and should be enjoyed even though it doesn’t end in climax, especially since the sad reality is that most hetero women don’t come from intercourse alone. Slow down, savour the experience and stop trying to hit a home run straight away. Masturbating is awesome

Women do it too.

It doesn’t make you desperate.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

It’s healthy. It’s amazing.

DIY sex is more than just satisfaction, it’s an act of self-love that reinforces your own pleasure and agency in sex.

Knowing how to please yourself means knowing what you want out of a sexual experience with a partner, if you wish to have one.

STIs don’t make you dirty

Although I was lucky enough to attend a school that offered a sex ed class, all it consisted of was our teacher showing us a slide show of disease-ridden genitalia.

The aim wasn’t so much to spread awareness but rather disgust us into not having unprotected sex.

It reinforced the stigma that people with STIs are dirty and stupid for catching them in the first place, most likely from having sex with a lot of different people.

Yes, we should teach kids to use a condom and get regularly tested – this advice applies to adults too – but we should also be taught how to talk about STIs without judgement or shame.

The easier it is to talk about them without wanting to recoil, the easier it is to approach the subject with a partner should you find out you caught something.

I didn’t get my first sexual health test until six years after being sexually active because I was terrified of knowing if I had anything.

Now I get a routine check every six months even though I am in a committed relationship, and it’s something I look forward to because it’s a way to make sure I’m being safe and keeping my partner safe too.

STIs aren’t something to be happy about, but they’re also not the end of your sex life.

Literally anything about consent

It’s 2018 and most people still don’t have a clear grasp on consent.

Growing up, I had never even heard of consent, because no one taught me.

Consent isn’t just the absence of a ‘no’, it’s a voluntary, explicit and enthusiastic verbal and non-verbal ‘yes’. It can be withdrawn at any point and consenting to one activity does not mean consenting to any future activities.

Sex without consent is abuse or rape, so it’s probably the first and most important thing we should be learning when it comes to sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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Fire & Ice:

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A How-To Guide To Temperature Sex Play

By Kasandra Brabaw

Temperature play might sound kind of intense, but working hot and cold into your sex life is actually pretty easy. All you need to get started is a bowl of ice or a glass of hot water. But why play with temperature at all? Besides the obviously sexy thought of rolling an ice cube around your lips and then down your partner’s body, what does adding heat or cold to your sex life actually do? It’s all about the psychology of it.

“When temperature play is negotiated and consented to, the brain starts preparing for a sexy and exciting experience, and basically puts nerve endings in the body — erogenous zones, but also everywhere else — on high alert for new sensations,” says Dulcinea Pitagora, a sex therapist known as the Kink Doctor.

Of course, not everyone is going to be interested in temperature play. And if you’re not into it, don’t feel like you have to be, says Holly Richmond, PhD, a somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist (CST). Temperature play can be fun, but not wanting to play with ice or heat doesn’t make you boring in bed. “My husband absolutely detests cold,” Dr. Richmond says. So he wouldn’t find it sexy if she pulled out a bowl full of ice, and that’s totally fine.

If you are intrigued, using cold or heat can be a fun way to mix up your usual sex routine. Pro tip: Consider blindfolding the partner on the receiving end of the temperature play. Restricting their sense of sight can make the feelings of hot and cold more intense.

But like many kinks, temperature play can range from harmless to potentially dangerous. So if you’re a beginner, start slowly. You don’t want to dive in with the more edgy forms of temperature play like fire play or branding, Pitagora says. Instead, try the tips listed below

1
Put your dildo in the freezer, or stick it in a cup of hot water

Certain sex toys, like those made from glass or metal, are great for temperature play because they hold the heat or the cold really well. Put your toy in the freezer for a while or warm up a glass of water and dunk it in for a few minutes to heat it up.

Be careful: You don’t want to stick either a scalding or a totally frozen sex toy inside of your body. Place the dildo against your wrist to check that it’s a comfortable temperature before you start using it.

2
Drip ice cream (or whip cream, or another tasty treat)

Why not combine food play and temperature play — all you need is some ice cream or whip cream. Drip or spray the treat over your partner’s body. They’ll get to feel a fun cold sensation as it hits their skin and then a nice warm up when you lick it off. Sure, playing with food can be sticky, but it’s also sweet.

Be careful: If either partner has a vagina, be careful not to get ice cream too close to their vulva. Sugar can cause yeast infections, and no one wants that.

3
Warm your mouth before oral sex

Before you go down on someone, it can be fun to warm up your mouth. How do you make your mouth hot, you ask? With hot tea, coffee, or any other hot thing you want to drink.

Be careful: Again, sugar near a vagina can cause yeast infections. So if you’re planning to go down on someone who has a vagina, maybe drink your coffee or tea black.

4
Play with ice

This is maybe the most obvious tip, but it’s also one of the most versatile. With an ice cube, you can cool you mouth down before performing oral sex, drip melted ice water over your partner’s body, rub the ice around their nipples, and lots of other things if you know how to get creative.

Be careful: It might sound counter-intuitive, but there’s a chance your ice could be too cold. Like that scene in A Christmas Story when the kid sticks his tongue to a metal pole, a too-cold ice cube could stick to your partner’s skin. But it’s an easy fix: Either take some ice out and let it warm up in a bowl for a bit or stick the cube in your mouth and warm it with your body heat.

5
Try wax play

Think of it like dripping cold ice water over your partner’s body, except instead of freezing water it’s melted wax. With the right kind of candle, you can turn temperature play into a sexy massage.

Be careful: Don’t just use any old candle from your cupboard. Melted wax from regular candles can be so hot that it causes burns, Pitagora says. “When playing with hot wax, it’s important to use the right kind of wax, as some candles burn hotter than others and vary in terms of toxicity,” they say. Instead of a regular candle, use a massage oil candle that you can buy in any sex toy shop (or online, like this one). Candles made for sex burn at cooler temperatures, so they’re less likely to burn your skin.

6
Warm up your lube, or cool it down

If you’re a fan of lube (and really, why wouldn’t you be?), then you can use your favorite lube for temperature play. “If lube is at body temperature, we’re not feeling it. All we’re feeling is the penetration or the vibration,” Dr. Richmond says. “But if you add that extra layer, that extra element of warmth or cool, that takes things to another sensory level.” Stick your lube in the fridge for a few minutes to cool it down, Dr. Richmond suggests. Or, get a lube warmer, such as a Touch or a Pulse.

Be careful: Just like with your sex toys, you don’t want to get your lube too warm or too cold. Test a few drops on your wrist before using the lube if you’re concerned.

Complete Article HERE!

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What it really means to be in a dominant/submissive relationship

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Real D/s relationships go beyond ‘Fifty Shades.’

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When it comes to understanding BDSM, non-practitioners generally equate the kinky lifestyle with the chains, ropes, whips, and handcuffs found in Christian Grey’s “red room of pain” in Fifty Shades of Grey. And among the different elements included in the BDSM portmanteau (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism), the middle portion (a dom sub relationship) may be the most difficult to understand for those outside the kink community.

Often equated with sadism and masochism (SM), dominance and submission plays with the concepts of power and control rather than physical sensation. In a Dominant/submissive, aka Dom/sub or simply D/s, relationship, the power dynamic between the participants is the kink. Essentially, the person in the dominant role takes partial or total control over the person in the submissive role.

What defines a dom sub relationship?

Types of dom sub relationships

While the D/s relationship can be physical and/or sexually intimate, physical contact is not necessary for domination and submission, which may be conducted digitally or over the phone as well. For example, financial domination (findom) doesn’t require any physical contact, just monetary transactions. There is no singular way to be in a D/s relationship. People in D/s relationships can also be romantically involved with one another or not, monogamous or not (as in polyamorous or open), and of any gender or sexuality.

 

Some dominants and submissives (doms and subs) only remain in their roles during play scenes; a “switch” can play either role and may even negotiate swapping in the middle of a session. The ones that take on their D/s roles full-time are often in what is called a Total Power Exchange (TPE) relationship. In the BDSM community, the participants in these types of relationships are typically referred to as a “master/mistress” or a “slave,” depending on their role. Master/slave relationships (M/s) must always be consensual, and sex is not necessarily involved in these relationships. 

D/s relationships can be between BDSM lifestyle practitioners, or with a professional dominator/dominatrix (pro-domme) or a professional submissive (pro-sub).

Taking on the Dominant role

Also referred to as a “top,” the dom exerts power over the sub in a D/s relationship. This dynamic is made obvious even in the capitalization of the letters, as members of the BDSM community intentionally leave the “s” in D/s lowercase to easily denote the lower hierarchical position.

Subs are usually required to address their doms by a specific title—for example ”sir” or “mistress.” Doms can wield their power in various ways, in and out of the bedroom. There are different play scenes they can perform with their subs, from whipping and bondage to humiliation and forced chastity. Doms must have received consent from their sub to carry out any of these acts.

There are many misconceptions about doms. “Women who take on the dominant role are stereotyped as cruel and bitchy,” dominatrix and BDSM practitioner Yin Q. said in an interview with Apogee. “But to be a responsible dominant or top, one must embody humility and mercy.” Contrary to the optics, there is a lot of care and labor that goes into being a dom, from getting proper training on how to tie ropes and use toys to providing aftercare following a scene.

Two popular categories of domination are “femdom,” in which the dom is female, and “maledom,” in which the dom is male. However, a quick Google search reveals that the search term “femdom” has over 20 times more search results than “maledom” (309 million vs. 14.5 million)—it was also searched far more frequently by users, according to Google Trends.

How to be a sub

Even as femdom imagery becomes more popular online, the archetype of the feminine submissive (i.e., Anastasia Steele from the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy) remains ever-prevalent, though there are subs of all genders.

A sub, or “bottom,” releases some or all control over to the dom in a D/s relationship. In the case of male submission (malesub), scenes can take the form of forced feminization, cuckoldry, and more. Because gender is inexplicably entangled with sex and power, it often—though not always—plays a major role in scene playing. Once again, the sub must consent everything that occurs during a play scene or session with a pro-domme.

The necessity of consent ensures the sub is never truly powerless during D/s play. The sub is also playing out their own kinks and fetishes in a D/s relationship. While less common than pro-dommes, pro-subbing also exists for those seeking to play the dom role in a more professional setting.

“A pro-submissive session is similar to what’s happening when you go to see immersive theatre or performance art,” pro-sub Louisa Knight told Dazed. “You go into this space that has been created, it’s very atmospheric, and you’re able to lose yourself in the experience, because you know it is a held space.”

Taking on submission as a lifestyle can lead to more than just satisfying one’s kinkiness; D/s or M/s relationships can even lead to self-improvement in other areas, including improving one’s diet and health

Consent is key

In case you haven’t caught onto the recurring theme yet, consent is vital to a functional D/s relationship. While the Fifty Shade of Grey misses the mark on consent, it at least introduced the masses to the concept of a D/s contract, which those beginning a D/s relationship can draw up to negotiate and define their arrangement. Contracts can be drawn up per play scene, as well as when entering a longer-term TPE or M/s relationship.

A safeword can also be used if a player gets uncomfortable during a scene—”mercy” is a commonly used safeword.

There is a massive difference between D/s relationships and abusive relationships, and that distinction is consent. Without consent, BDSM acts—such as sexual humiliation and caning—would be considered immoral and likely felonious.

Demystifying dom sub relationships

Being in a D/s relationship doesn’t mean you’ll start dressing up in latex and bondage gear 24/7 all of a sudden. People in D/s relationships do many of the same things as those in “vanilla” relationships—which is what those in the kink community call couples who engage solely in normative, kink-free sex—like fart in front of each other or get the flu.

Though some lifestyle slaves or subs may choose to sport a collar to signify their D/s relationship, others may be wearing more covert accessories, like labeled underwear, or otherwise appear completely vanilla. While sex positivity has allowed some to be more open about their kinks, including BDSM, there are still many who choose to keep this part of their lives private due to the stigmatization of non-normative sexuality.

Sarah, a lifestyle practitioner who has been in different types of D/s relationships for 10 years, didn’t want to share her last name, as she has yet to come out publicly about her kink. “I have not shared it with my parents, because as immigrants and as people of color, I don’t think they would appreciate the appeal or value of something that appears akin to slavery,” Sarah said.

The benefits of D/s relationships

While BDSM and/or kink cannot substitute real psychotherapy, sex therapists and practitioners have suggested that playing out these fantasies can have therapeutic benefits and can help some heal from trauma.

“I also don’t think that people would understand the spiritual or therapeutic way in which I approach D/s.” Sarah elaborates, “When I was a 24/7 slave, I really feel like it helped me stay grounded and attached to the world. The stability of that relationship did a lot for my feelings of abandonment and desire to be heard. My master had a singular commitment to me, my well-being physical and mental. I am no longer in that relationship, but we are still in touch over five years later.”

Complete Article HERE!

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The Surprising Benefits Of Talking About Sex With Your Friends

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By Kelly Gonsalves

When it comes to improving our sex life, we’re told over and over how important it is to talk to our partner about our desires, turn-ons, worries, ideal frequency, and every other little detail. Communication is crucial to making sure both partners are satisfied with every encounter and are maximizing their pleasure; one recent study found both members of a couple were more pleased with their sex lives and their relationships the more each person communicated about their sexual needs.

But according to a new study in the International Journal of Sexual Health, it’s not just talking to your partner about sex that matters. Talking about sex with your squad is also crucial.

Researchers surveyed over 600 women about a handful of their sexual behaviors, how often they talked to their women friends about sex, and what those conversations involved—such as general support and encouragement, advice about specific sexual activities, and advice about STIs and birth control, to name a few. The study found that women who talked more with their friends about this stuff also tended to have more of two specific qualities: more sexual self-esteem, meaning they felt way more confident about how they express themselves and perform in bed, and more self-efficacy, meaning they felt more confident about protecting their sexual health and asking for what they needed to feel safer.

Let’s be clear here: Those are two huge benefits! Not only are these conversations just a great way to bond with the people in our lives, but it seems they’re also making us more confident and able to assert our needs when it comes to sex. These findings prove just how powerful it can be to share even the most intimate parts of ourselves with the people we care about.

“The relationship between sexual self-esteem and expressive sexual communication is not surprising, given that expressive communication is about encouragement and other confidence-building communications,” writes Katrina L. Pariera, Ph.D., a George Washington University communications professor who led the study. “Women may also benefit from exposure to sexual scripts that promote sexual agency and assertiveness.”

And by the way, the women in the study were an average of 36 years old, so we’re not just talking about teen girls giggling about crushes at a sleepover here. If you’re someone who tends to be pretty unsure or anxious during sex, consider reaching out to a close friend and opening up some sincere dialogue about what’s going on. You don’t even necessarily need to ask for help or advice—the study found the majority of women mostly talked to express themselves and simply seek encouragement and validation about their own experiences. Everyone can benefit from knowing they’re not the only ones going through something weird behind closed doors; it’s a great way to turn something that you might feel embarrassed about into something you can laugh about and grow from.

“The current study adds to mounting evidence that peer sex education is a promising avenue for promoting sexual health and wellness,” Dr. Pariera writes. “Silence begets shame and misinformation.”

In a country like America, where comprehensive sexual education is seriously lacking, it looks like plain ol’ word-of-mouth information sharing might be an effective way of disseminating knowledge about safer sex.

You know what that means: Time to crack open a bottle of wine and get the squad together for some real talk.

Complete Article HERE!

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8 Signs a Sex Therapist Might Improve Your Life

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(and How to Find One)

People are trained to make your sex life better! What a world.

By Sophie Saint Thomas

You may have joked to friends that you don’t need therapy—you have them. But sometimes working through the hard stuff requires help from a neutral party who happens to be a licensed professional. If your hard stuff is about sex, a sex therapist may be your best option. Here are eight signs a sex therapist could be a great addition to your life, and after that, advice on actually finding one.

1. You’re experiencing pain or physical difficulty when you try to have sex.

It’s important to see a medical doctor first to rule out any physical conditions behind this, somatic (body-based) psychologist and certified sex therapist Holly Richmond, Ph.D., tells SELF. Unfortunately, a ton of things can cause horribly painful sex, like cervical inflammation from a sexually transmitted infection, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. In that kind of situation, medical treatment may help ease difficulty having sex.

If you see a medical doctor and there is no physical issue at the core of your trouble with sex, that doesn’t make what you’re dealing with any less significant. Seeing a sex therapist to discuss any psychological components at play can be helpful, Richmond explains.

For instance, vaginismus, which causes painful vaginal muscle spasms during penetration, can stem from anxiety about having sex, according to the Cleveland Clinic. (That could include anxiety about it being painful even if any condition causing the pain has been treated.) It can also happen due to issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder from a sexual assault. Stress is one of many possible psychological causes behind erectile dysfunction, too.

Point is, the mental and physical are often so closely intertwined that painful sex is a very valid reason to see a sex therapist.

2. You’re processing sexual trauma.

It’s a misconception that trauma leaves all survivors incapable of being sexual beings. Enjoying sex after an assault is possible, and a sex therapist might help you get there.

Of course, recovering from a sexual assault is a different process for everyone. But for some people, a sex therapist is a better option than a more generalized mental health professional. “Oftentimes therapists will talk about the trauma, but there’s no resolution on how we move forward as our sexual selves,” says Richmond, who treats many survivors. “[Sex therapists] process the trauma and move forward to help you have sex with your partner. We can help you move from survivor to thriver.” That’s not to say a therapist who doesn’t specialize in sex can’t help you heal after an assault. But if you’d like to specifically focus on the sexual aspect, a sex therapist may be ideal.

3. You’re in a partnership with mismatched desires.

This can mean many things, like one person having a higher libido than the other or being interested in exploring a kink such BDSM, sex therapist Liz Powell, Ph.D., who often sees partners with mismatched desires, tells SELF.

While having a kink is generally becoming more accepted, disclosing one can still be scary. This is where a sex therapist can help. For instance, Richmond recalls a couple who came to her because the male partner was struggling with the female partner’s urge to explore her submissive side in a specific way. “She wanted to be called a slut, a whore, and her partner just could not do it. So, we had to figure out other ways for her to work within her fantasy,” Richmond says

If necessary, a sex therapist can also guide you through the realization that the partnership isn’t working due to incompatible desires. “So many people are just petrified of breakups [and] they choose to stay even when they’re not happy,” Powell says. Seeing a therapist together may help you figure out whether to salvage the relationship or bring it to a respectful end.

4. You want to explore opening up your relationship.

This is another scenario Powell, who specializes in LGBTQ+ communities along with kink and polyamory, sees quite often. A sex therapist can help a couple in this situation craft a relationship format that allows both of them to feel safe and fulfilled. That can mean everything from the freedom to have a one-night stand once a year while in another country to dating multiple partners.

Having an impartial, trained person involved can help ensure that no one is simply capitulating to something like an open relationship due to pressure (even the internal kind) and that both partners are respecting each other’s boundaries—even if that means splitting up.

5. You have questions about your gender identity.

The gender revolution is making progress. In one recent win, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a provision that creates room for a third gender, X, on birth certificates.

But there are setbacks, too, as evidenced by the recent news that the Department of Health and Human Services wants to define gender as a fixed identity determined by a person’s genitals at birth. (It’s not.)

In light of the continued fight to have everyone’s gender identity respected, figuring out the right words or expression for your gender can be a daunting task. A sex therapist, particularly an LGBTQ+ friendly one, may be able to help you alone or with a partner, Powell says.

6. You’re exploring your sexual orientation.

As with gender, a sex therapist can help you navigate questions about your sexual orientation, reassure you that there’s nothing wrong with you, and aid you in your journey of self-discovery. This can be especially helpful if you’re in a monogamous relationship and experiencing sexual curiosity for people of genders other than your partner’s, Powell says.

A sex therapist could also be useful if you’re wondering whether or not you’re asexual or would like to talk about being asexual. “Some people think it’s a sex therapist’s job to make people have more sex and crazier sex, and [it’s] definitely not,” Richmond says. “You don’t have to have any sex. As long as you’re OK with it, I’m OK with it.”

7. You’re a current or former sex worker or dating someone who is.

Richmond says she frequently sees couples in which one person is or used to be a sex worker. A good sex therapist can help people uncover and eradicate any kind of internalized stigma around the profession. “In many people’s minds, because of our cultural lens, that’s something to be ashamed of,” Richmond says. “That’s not my view

Another important component may be helping the person not in the adult industry separate their partner from their sex work, Richmond says, explaining that people who are dating sex workers sometimes fetishize their partners accidentally. “Helping separate the person’s identity from [the adult industry] can be tricky because of the shame, but at the end of the day, you’re just dating another person,” she says.

8. You want to overcome sexual shame.

You may have noticed a theme here. From gender identity to surviving an assault to sex work and more, a sex therapist can help you deal with something that brings you shame even if that emotion is totally unwarranted. (As it is with everything on the above list.)

Both Powell and Richmond say that, deep down, most people who see them want to know if they’re “normal.” Shame has a funny way of making you feel like you’re not, and it’s the opposite of conducive to enjoying a healthy sex life. But it can also be almost impossible to escape. “Having grown up in a culture with so much shame, I think most of us could benefit from seeing a sex therapist,” Powell says. If anything is keeping you from having the love or sex life you always wanted, a sex therapist might be able to help you work through it.

Wishing you could teleport to a sex therapist’s office right now? Here’s the next best thing: advice on finding a great sex therapist you can afford.

Finding the right therapist can feel like dating. Despite their qualifications, therapists are humans, too. You might run into a therapist with their own sexual hang-ups or old-fashioned views, or just someone you don’t gel with. But when you find “the one,” there’s no feeling like it. Here are a few steps to try
1. If you have insurance, call and ask for help finding a local sex therapist. You can also look through their online directory. Since that may not allow you to filter specifically for sex therapists, you might still need to do some digging on the therapists’ backgrounds.

2. Richmond suggests looking into the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). They have an online directory of local professionals. Not all of the professionals list their insurance policies, though, so you’ll need to visit their websites or get in touch with their offices to ask about that.

3. Online services such as ZocDoc and Psychology Today have filters that allow you to get more specific about what you want. For instance, on Psychology Today, you can drill the results down to sex therapists who specialize in gender identity, take your insurance, and participate in online therapy. (Even if it seems like you’ve landed upon your dream therapist, it’s always smart to call the office and verify that all the information you’ve found is up to date.)

4. Try asking your potential therapist’s office if they ever accept payment on a sliding scale and, if they do, which income brackets qualify. Unfortunately, not all therapists take insurance. Even if they do, your insurance may not cover your One True Sex Therapist. If your therapist accepts payment on a sliding scale, that can be a great way to lower your financial burden.

5. If price is still an issue, consider seeing a sex educator or a counselor instead of a therapist. Someone with a degree such as an M.S.W. (masters in social work) may have a lower rate than someone with a degree like a Ph.D., but should still be highly skilled.

6. Google “sex-positive therapist in [insert your city here].” You may find a network such as Manhattan Alternative, which lists sex-positive therapists in New York City who specialize in areas such as kink, ethical non-monogamy, and sexual assault survivorship.

7. If you’re looking for help specifically related to an LGBTQ+ issue, check out SELF’s guide on how to find an LGBTQ+ friendly doctor. Much of it extends to finding a sex therapist as well.

8. Ask about virtual sessions. If the best therapist you find isn’t in your city, remember that many are open to coaching you over the phone or virtually with a service like Skype or FaceTime, Richmond says. For all its potential ills, technology can be a beautiful thing.

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MysteryVibe And The Surprisingly Difficult Challenge Of Selling Sex Toys To Men

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Sex tech startup MysteryVibe’s new penis-focused toy, the Tenuto.

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In 2016, British startup MysteryVibe made waves in the sex toy world, and the wider design and tech spaces, with its debut product, the Crescendo. A reimagining of the traditional vibrator, this flexible silicone rod with six vibrating motors, their intensities controlled via an app, promised customizability that could work for diverse body types and genders. It was not the first malleable, gender-neutral sex toy. And not every reviewer thought it lived up to its adaptable, accessible hype. But its clever yet simple innovation and sleek execution, not to mention effective marketing, made it a defining example of a new generation of smart, sensually novel, and customizable sex tech.

This year, MysteryVibe is taking a step away from anatomy-neutral malleability to try its hand at selling an explicitly penis-centric product, the Tenuto. They announced the new toy, their sophomore offering, in May, though the $130 device likely will not ship until sometime in December.

An L-shaped, flexible silicone loop similarly studded with six app-connected, variable intensity motors, the Tenuto fits onto a user’s penis in several possible ways. But no matter how one wears it, MysteryVibe suggests that it will offer a unique form of stimulation, more holistic and varied than any other male sex toy—the industry term for penis- and prostate-targeted devices—on the market now boasts. MysteryVibe co-founder and “Chief Pleasure Officer” Stephanie Alys recently told me that she thinks the Tenuto, by offering sensations people with penises may never have experienced or even conceived of before, could help men explore a satisfying new world of “pleasure-centered, versus orgasm-centered, goal-orientated sex. Slowing down, learning more about their bodies, trying new things.”

“That whole narrative,” she added, “is something we’re really keen to push forward.”

Given how limited male sex toy options are these days in both form and function—there are few offerings beyond masturbation sleeves, penis rings, and prostate massagers—the Tenuto probably will become, as MysteryVibe hopes, a category defining device. But it faces one major hurdle: Men (especially the large consumer base of cis-gendered, self-identified straight ones) notoriously do not buy many sex toys. And when they do, it is usually not because they are interested in exploring new sensations like those the Tenuto offers.

Granted, researchers haven’t probed how men engage with sex toys too deeply. Social psychologist and sex researcher Justin Lehmiller has speculated this may be because so many people only think of toys as a part of female sex and sexuality that few even consider exploring male toy usage.

Some sex store sales figures do suggest that men shop for sexual goods about as often as women. A 2014 deep dive on one chain’s sales by data journalist Jon Millward, though, showed that men mostly dominated purchases of things like condoms. Women dominated purchases of vibrating toys, the retailer’s highest selling device category. Men did dominate purchases in the lower selling anal toy category. But non-heterosexual men seemed to drive those figures, reflecting widespread and persistent stigmas around anal stimulation among straight men. Many men who bought toys that weren’t explicitly made or marketed for their gender seemingly did so for their female partners to use, whether in sex or on their own. And few women bought toys for their male partners. A 2009 survey similarly found that only a minority of American men had ever used a vibrator, and the vast majority of them only used these toys with (and likely only on) their female partners, rather than for solo fun.

When men do buy items for their own use, Millward and others have found, most seem to opt for penis rings, or other devices mostly meant to help people with erectile dysfunction get or maintain an erection. In Millward’s data, only about a fifth of his already limited pool of male consumers actually bought a device specifically made for penile stimulation. And his data came from the tail end of an apparent spike in male toy sales from the mid-2000s to the mid-2010s.

Sex culture observers have suggested any number of reasons for the anemic state of the male sex toy market, all of which probably have some merit: Most media, for instance, only depicts women as toy users—and increasingly represents them as sexually liberated souls. In the rare instances pop culture does show men using sex toys on their own, they are typically portrayed as sad sacks or weirdoes who can’t find a partner. The zeitgeist also increasingly seems to view sex toys as a vital tool for accessing female pleasure, and this pleasure as a vital component of holistic wellness, or a strong relationship. That is likely why big chain retailers like Walmart feel comfortable selling vibrators now. But the zeitgeist also insists that male sexuality and pleasure are simple, built around the quest for a quick and efficient orgasm, for which one only needs a hand and one frictional, repetitive motion. That implies that men who might want, or even need, toys for themselves are somehow deficient or deviant.

This is a fair amount of cultural and behavioral baggage for a company to push against. So I asked Alys: Why did MysteryVibe decide to move into the fraught male sex toy space in the first place? And how does the company plan to sell a novel device like the Tenuto to a limited, and likely skeptical, consumer base?

According to Alys, the MysteryVibe team decided to create Tenuto for a pretty simple reason. Their existing consumers said they wanted the company to make an explicitly male-facing toy.

Alys noted that while the Crescendo is gender-neutral, many consumers “still conceive of it as a product for people with vulvas.” That is not necessarily a problem. Many men find, through partnered or solo exploration, that they can bend even toys built explicitly for use on vulvas or in vaginas towards their wants and needs. So plenty of people who assume the Crescendo is a female-focused toy may learn, rather intuitively, that they can get some mileage out of it for their own erogenous anatomy.(Similarly, MysteryVibe points out that people with vulvas can likely still find uses for the Tenuto.) But many, if not most, men never do figure out that seemingly female-facing toys can work for them, too. “One of the core pieces of feedback we were getting from men who bought it for their partners,” Alys said, was “‘when are you going to create something for me?’”

MysteryVibe, in other words, seemed to see a clear male consumers base open to buying a high-end and novel toy for their own pleasure and exploration, like the company’s existing product, but waiting for something explicitly gendered that would, in a sense, give them permission to buy and use it.

Looking at the male sex toy space, Alys said, the MysteryVibe team realized there was plenty of room for innovation, especially by moving away from designs that try to mimic human anatomy in function and in form. Variable, unique sensations and a discreet design could together offer, as Alys put it, “something that people with penises can be proud to walk into a store, buy, and use.”

Alys seems to believe that stressing the Tenuto’s novel form(s) of stimulation can effectively draw men towards it—that many men are eager not just for a respectable company to tell them it is okay to buy a toy for their own pleasure, but for a product to encourage them to explore their bodies. “Elevating the conversation around pleasure is where we’re aiming, in terms of some of the marketing and some of the ways we’re hoping to talk to people” about the Tenuto, she explained.

However, she does acknowledge the massive gap in the way pop culture and society talk about female versus male toys and sexuality. She also seems to acknowledge that there are not as many cultural forces normalizing male toys as there have been for female toys over the past couple of decades (e.g. Sex and the City, Goop), much less cultivating a complex view of male sexuality and encouraging slow, pleasure-not-orgasm-centered self-exploration. She maintains that this exploration would be valuable for the many men who have internalized a simplistic view of male sexuality. Exploring themselves, she stresses, could clearly help men achieve new heights of personal pleasure, and learn to explore their partners’ bodies as well, leading to more satisfying sensual lives overall. But it is hard to see how the sort of pleasure exploration-focused pitch she makes for the Tenuto could push past the largely intact cultural barriers against, and stigmas around, male sex toy usage to reach the bulk of male consumers.

So perhaps unsurprisingly, while the promotional materials for the Tenuto mention novel pleasure and self-exploration, they lean just as heavily, if not more so, on the rationales men already use for buying sex toys: satisfying their female partners and managing their erectile dysfunction.

“Why use a vibrator,” one promo asks, “when you can be the vibrator” by wearing the device so some of its motors act as a clitoral stimulator during penetrative vaginal sex? This, MysteryVibe’s press release materials argue, could help men close the orgasm gap between them and their female partners. They also boast that the Tenuto’s sensations can spark blood flow, which can help men get, or maintain, an erection.

These sales points position the Tenuto as a cross between a penis ring and a vibrator, items men might already be willing to buy for partnered sex. Its inconspicuous design, seen from this perspective, further positions it as something men might feel less embarrassed to buy than existing devices that could, in combination, serve the same purpose.

For Alys, though, that messaging is just a good hook to grab people initially. She believes that the same narratives that have helped to diversify female sex toys in recent years are bleeding into discussions of male sexuality. This seems to give her faith that, after the right introduction, men will be willing to engage with, and want to buy, the Tenuto as a more revolutionary tool for exploring new types of pleasure.

She also believes that, by presenting the Tenuto in spaces that usually do not feature sex toys, like tech conferences, she can create a moment of shock in unwitting audiences that opens a door of potential for some to reconsider the role and meaning of male sex toys. Novelty and surprise may be enough to give people permission to explore the Tenuto on its own unique sensory terms.

None of this is certain, though. The question of how to overcome the cultural forces that have limited male sex toys in the past “is a lot of the stuff that we’re still trying to figure out,” Alys admitted. She added that the Tenuto alone isn’t going to tear down longstanding social-sexual stigmas, and by so doing open up new potential in the male sex toy market. “I will probably spend my entire life talking about sexuality and breaking things down and establishing new attitudes,” she said.

In that sense, Tenuto may be as much a piece of sexual activism as entrepreneurship. It is, in part at least, a MysteryVibe manifesto on the realities and needs of male sexuality. And it is a gamble on the power of a few established marketing entry points, surprise, and innovation to encourage people to engage with, and hopefully embrace, a (for many) new and complex vision of male pleasure and sexuality. It is impossible to say whether the startup’s gambit will pay off. But even if it succeeds in moving the needle slightly, it could be a major step towards a more diverse, dynamic (and lucrative) male sex toy market.

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For the Best Sex of Your Life—Ask Old People

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Not only is senior sex better than younger sex, reveals sex expert Joan Price, but millennials could actually master a more fulfilling iteration of lovemaking from their elders—one that’s based on extended arousal and less pressure to perform.

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Most of us are scared to get old, anxious that silver hair, crinkly eyes and the looming possibility of needing a walker signal the end of life as we know it. More secretively, many of us fear that the outward signs and symptoms of a life long-lived make us less desirable—not just as people, but as partners.

Not surprisingly, one of the most common anxieties people of all ages harbor about growing older is the death of their sex lives.

“I genuinely fear the day I’m old and wrinkled and my boobs are saggy,” Sophie, a newly married 30-year-old fashion executive, tells me. “I wonder, ‘Will my husband and I still find each other attractive? What is sex going to be like for us after 40 years together when I used to be hot and now I’m 70

The answer to that question will vary depending on who you ask, but pose it to Joan Price and she’ll give you one you might not expect.

“At 70?” she laughs. “Sex can be amazing. Expiration dates are for milk, not for pleasure.”

At 74, Joan is the nation’s leading and most outspoken expert on senior sex. A prolific public speaker and the author of three critically acclaimed books, a bevy of free webinars and a popular blog on the subject, Joan traverses the globe, spreading the good word that for people over 50, sex can be not only just as good as it was during a person’s fertile, more flexible years, but better.

“With the right education and sense of humor, the so-called limitations of sexuality in your golden years can actually be reframed as benefits,” Joan argues from her sunny home in Sebastopol, California. “Later-life sex can mean more intimacy, more time spent giving and receiving arousal and pleasure, and a delicious expansion of what people thought they were capable of in bed.”

Truth be told, much research has found sex gets better with age. As the years add up, people become more comfortable in their bodies and are often more adventurous when it comes to trying new things. And while sex in a person’s later years is more often defined by quality rather than quantity, rates of sex amongst the elderly are nearly indistinguishable from those of younger generations: nearly 75 percent of people between the ages of 57-64, and a quarter of those aged 75-85, are still getting it on roughly three times per month, which is only slightly less than those aged 30-49.

Joan is also happy to report that seniors are doing a lot more exciting things with their time than chastely knitting in the warm glow of The Price is Right—they’re watching porn, having kinky sex, dating online, using sex toys and happily engaging in consensual non-monogamy. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that a recent survey by Match.com found that age 66 (not 26) is the age at which women report having the most pleasurable sex. For men, it’s 64.

This would have been valuable information for Joan to know when she experienced the best sex of her life at 57 with the 64-year-old man who’d eventually become her husband (the late and great Robert). It might have reassured them both that the “glorious” sex they were having wasn’t actually that uncommon for people their age. It might have confirmed her suspicion that, despite the messages mainstream media beats into all of us, a few gray hairs and a few less hormones aren’t actually obstacles to a long life of great, post-retirement sex.

At the very least, it would have been nice to have a resource that could explain the unlikely passion she was experiencing because she and Robert were having mind-blowing passionate sex during a period in their lives where they were supposed to focus on getting their hips replaced. She wanted help understanding why, after a menopause-induced dry spell that left her thinking her sex life was caput, she and her new lover were suddenly more sexually voracious than they’d ever been.

But that sort of information didn’t exist 14 years ago. In fact, hardly anyone even dared to broach the topic of old-age sex. Apart from the odd book that did little more than admit old people were sexually active, there weren’t many examples that Joan could find in literature, TV, film or research that portrayed old-age sex as healthy or normal—let alone hot. The long-lived stereotype of an old-married couple passing their sexual prime and living out their remaining years as platonic companions prevailed, and without role models or media representation willing to prove it wrong, it had run rampant.

“People didn’t want to hear about this stuff back then,” Joan remembers. “Publishing companies wouldn’t publish books about old-age sex. People wouldn’t hire speakers who wanted to talk about it. There was very little information.”

It was actually Robert who suggested that, since there was such little information in the arena of elderly sex, she should fill it herself. Why not write a book of her own that not just documented, but actually celebrated, senior sex? At age 61, she released her first book on senior lovemaking, Better Than I Ever Expected, a straight-talking ode to old age that detailed the passion she and Robert shared, chronicling in no uncertain terms the delights and challenges of sex after 60. The book attracted so much attention that she started a blog by the same name, which quickly became one of the only places on the internet where seniors could go for sex education that catered specifically to their needs.

No topic is too racy for Joan—she flits from masturbation to sex toys to non-monogamy with a fearless directness refreshingly uncharacteristic of someone with her mileage. She’s disarmingly buoyant too. Her voice conveys a certain brightness one might not expect during discussions about how Alzheimer’s affects a person’s sex life or how sex toys can facilitate orgasms when it’s no longer as easy.

While Joan says older folks are typically relieved by her willingness to go there, younger people are surprised to hear her talk like that. Why wouldn’t they be?

Apart from the stray sex-positive TV show (see: Frankie & Grace, Transparent, and, to a certain degree, Golden Girls), senior sex, if it’s shown at all, is almost always depicted as ridiculous, gross, or non-existent. Ever seen Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton’s 2003 film Something’s Gotta Give? There’s a sex scene in which they attempt to consummate their love, but that in itself is a punchline—Nicholson, it appears, can’t get it up without Viagra.

Likewise, films like Quartet and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel have tried their hands at septuagenarian romance, but whatever sex the characters are supposed to be having must have taken place just out of the camera’s frame, because we never actually see these people, in all their aged glory, making love.

Hollywood has never been good at depicting sex accurately, regardless of how old the people are on screen, but at least sex between people under 50 is acknowledged. Pass that age threshold, though, and it would seem audiences are being spared depictions of aged sex. This lack of visibility and its false representation as “gross” or embarrassing only contributes to the stereotype that older bodies are not worthy of desire, which stokes the fear of younger people who fall prey to the idea that good sex belongs to the taut.

“Although mainstream media tells us younger people are objectively sexier, that’s not necessarily true,” Joan says. “We need to unlearn our society’s attitude that only young, firm bodies are desirable. We are capable of sexual pleasure at any age, and we are also capable of inspiring sexual desire. If we feel sexy and see ourselves as sexy, we project a juicy attitude that is appealing and desirable. Our negative body image is our own worst enemy—that’s what we need to battle, not the wrinkles or sagging body parts!”

Many older people do see themselves and their partners as sexy. In fact, one 1999 survey conducted by AARP and Modern Maturity magazine revealed that the percentage of people age 45 and older who consider their partners physically attractive actually increases with age—a reassuring finding, no doubt, for the many young people biting their nails about growing old.

More soothing still is Joan’s point that it’s not just looks that matter when it comes to attraction. Non-physical qualities like humor, intelligence, kindness, communicative skills, thoughtfulness, sex technique and romanticism factor in equally, if not more, into a person’s allure. More importantly, these qualities—not a really thick head of hair and a glistening set of six-pack abs—are what creates the intimacy and connection that makes sex good. Of equal importance is technique, but even that is ageless. In fact, Joan, and many others, would argue that age only improves and refines a person’s bedroom aptitude.

“That’s why I say sex has no expiration date and that it’s better than anyone expected,” says Joan. “In general, we know ourselves pretty well by the time we hit 50. We know what we like, and we know what we’re looking for—not just sexually, but in life. We’ve already made the requisite mistakes in past relationships, and we’re more aware than ever that we’re not invincible. This makes us less inclined to settle and more interested in the idea of pursuing something, and someone, that works right for us.”

Joan’s message is not that sex-while-70 is fancy-free. Far from it. Those willing to brave it often, though not always, grapple with challenges like decreased libido, difficulty becoming aroused, erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, painful sex, a lack of mobility, depression and hormonal changes that can make the idea of sex seem like a lot more effort than it’s worth.

“One reason people give up on sex as they age is they don’t feel the same hormonal urges as they used to,” Joan explains. “We also may have medical or mobility issues, or we’re on medications that dampen our responses.”

Insecurity about the aging body’s appearance and physical abilities can also make older folk withdraw from sex. Many people Joan’s age retreat from the world of romance over anxiety about having sex with a new person, and many more are overly cautious about exploring pleasure in their older years because of lingering damage from a past relationship. New and unfamiliar feelings also come up as people age—a person’s sexuality, after all, is dynamic and often in flux across their lifetime. Not surprisingly, Joan says one of the most common things she hears from people is that they want a different kind of touch than they used to, in a different place, and by a different person (even by a different gender)

“Any combination of these things can lead us to assume that part of our lives is over,” she says. “But that doesn’t have to be true!”

What’s important for people her age to remember, she says, is that these changes and challenges are not insurmountable obstacles to satisfying sex. They just mean seniors have got to learn to work with what they’ve got.

Thankfully, Joan’s got an arsenal of reassuring tips to help them do that.

One of her favorite and most effective nuggets of wisdom is a concept called “responsive desire,” an idea popularized by author and sex researcher Emily Nagoski in her book Come As You Are. Responsive desire describes a simple method for getting in the mood when you’re not feeling aroused: stimulating yourself physically before you’re feeling randy. A diametric reversal of how pleasure works in a person’s younger years—arousal first, then stimulation—responsive desire is a game-changer for vintage bodies who, for the myriad reasons listed above, may not feel as lusty as they used to.

“Many seniors think, ‘If I don’t have the mental urge, it means I don’t want or need to have sex’,” says Joan. “Not so. You just have to create that urge yourself by getting revved up physically even if you don’t feel desire at that moment. Once you do, the desire will follow.” In other words, senior desire is there, it just needs to be awakened in the body first.

This is a life-altering revelation with real effects. One of Joan’s readers wrote in to say that learning about responsive desire saved her marriage. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to have sex, she discovered, it was just that she was waiting for desire to occur rather than creating it herself. Once seniors learn they have more control over desire than they think, explains Joan, an entire world of passionate and pleasurable sex opens up.

This is especially true if they’re willing to evolve their understanding of what the word “sex” actually means. As opposed to its standard definition of “penis going in and out of vagina,” Joan urges the people she speaks with to see sex as “anything that arouses them and brings them sexual pleasure.”

Defined in those terms, sex becomes more than just a single, penetrative act by which to judge the success of a romantic undertaking. Instead, sex can be viewed as a whole spectrum of acts: masturbation, using sex toys, kissing, a BDSM power exchange, watching porn together, the stroking of a partner’s newly replaced knee under the table. It all counts as long as it’s pleasurable.

Often, what feels good need not include orgasm or an erection to occur. In fact, taking the emphasis off both these things can provide an opportunity to explore a new, more intimate and more fulfilling iteration of lovemaking—one that’s based more on extended arousal and foreplay, an elongation of the pleasure process and less pressure to “perform.”

And while many younger people may gawk at the prospect of orgasm-less, erection-free sex, this expanded-definition approach has worked wonders for Joan’s senior readers (it can for people of all ages, actually—you don’t need to wait until you’re 75 to realize that goal-less, more full-body sex can be beyond pleasurable). One older gent who viewed one of Joan’s Great Sex Without Penetration webinars wrote:

Joan is flattered but not surprised by success stories like this. “Sex really opens up for us when we realize it doesn’t have to take a particular form, go in a particular direction or have a particular outcome,” she says. Viewed like that, it’s no wonder so many older people are maintaining healthy and active sex lives. They might not be having intercourse per se—though many are—but they are sure as hell having sex.

“We don’t have older-age sex ed, so when we start not being able to have orgasms with penetration or enjoy sex at all because of vaginal pain or erection problems, people are usually relieved to find out that sex isn’t over for them,” says Joan. “People just need the right education and a spirit of adventure.”

“That,” she adds, “and a sense of humor. If you can’t laugh at sex at our age, what can you laugh at?”

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A strong libido and bored by monogamy:

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the truth about women and sex

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When a heterosexual couple marries, who’s likely to get bored of sex first? The answer might surprise you…

What do you know about female sexuality? Whatever it is, chances are, says Wednesday Martin, it’s all wrong. “Most of what we’ve been taught by science about female sexuality is untrue,” she says. “Starting with two basic assertions: that men have a stronger libido than women, and that men struggle with monogamy more than women do.”

Martin pulls no punches. Her bestselling memoir Primates of Park Avenue cast her as an anthropologist observing the habits of her Upper East Side neighbours. She claimed among other shockers that privileged stay-at-home mothers were sometimes given a financial “wife bonus” based on their domestic and social performance. The book caused a furore, and is currently being developed as a TV series, with Martin as exec producer. Her new book, out this week, should be equally provocative. Entitled Untrue, it questions much that we thought we knew about women’s sexuality.

Her starting-point is that research into human sexuality has been, historically, overwhelmingly male-centric; “notable sexologists”, starting with Carl Friedrich Otto Westphal (1833-1890) are mostly male. You have to scroll through another 25, including Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey, before you arrive at a female name: Mary Calderone (1904-1998), who championed sex education. And even in the subsequent 30 names there are only five women, including both Virginia Johnson (partner of the famous, and male, William Masters), and Shere Hite.

All these men made certain assumptions about women’s sexuality. It’s no surprise that it was Hite who revolutionised thinking on female orgasm, arguing that it was not “dysfunctional” to fail to climax during intercourse. Crucial, too, says Martin, has been the work of Rosemary Basson, who realised that spontaneous desire, the kind sexologists had measured for years, was only one type of relevant desire, and that responsive or triggered sexual response is much more important for women. Measured on that scale it turns out that women are, in fact, every bit as sexually arousable as men.

New findings showed that women reported similar intensities of desire and arousal to men, and “a real shift in thinking” about females and monogamy. “We were taught that men were the ones who needed variety, but the exact opposite turns out to be the case,” says Martin. “Overfamiliarisation with a partner and desexualisation kills women’s libido. We used to think it’s only men who became sexually bored after marriage; turns out that’s not true. It’s when women get married that it’s detrimental to their libido.”

Martin isn’t here to talk about her own relationship, but for the record she’s 53, has been married for 18 years, still lives in New York, and has two sons aged 17 and 10 who are, predictably enough, “mortified” at what their mother writes about. She hopes her work will help validate the feelings of the next generation of young women: “It’s not about giving them permission to ‘cheat’, not even giving them permission to refuse monogamy, but I hope it does give them permission to feel normal if they don’t like monogamy,” she says. Because that’s the central fallacy: the belief that monogamy is harder for men than for women. In fact, argues Martin, the exact opposite is the case. “Women crave novelty and variety and adventure at least as much as men, and maybe more.” She talks me through what she says is the classic pathway for women when they marry or commit to one heterosexual partner long-term (the research has so far concentrated on heterosexual couples; more work is needed on gay women’s sex lives). “A couple live together, their libidos are matched, and they have a lot of sex. But after a year, two years, maybe three years, what tends to happen is that the woman’s desire drops more quickly than the man’s. At that point the woman thinks, ‘I don’t like sex any more.’ But what, in fact, is happening is that she is having a hard time with monogamy; because women get bored with one partner more quickly than men do.”

So women are socialised to believe that they’ve gone off sex, when in fact they’re craving variety. Instead of being the brake on passion, says Martin, the female half of the long-term partnership is the key to a more adventurous and exciting sex life. What it’s all about, she explains, is the existence of the only entirely pleasure-seeking organ in the human repertoire, the clitoris. For her portrait, she wears a necklace shaped like one. “Women evolved to seek out pleasure, women are multiply orgasmic, women’s biology sets them up to seek out pleasure,” says Martin. “The clitoris has a very important back story about female human sex which is that our sex evolved for the purpose of adventure.”

Another element in the mix, she says, was the finding that a third of women who are having an extramarital relationship say their marriage or long-term partnership is happy or very happy. “So we need to understand that women aren’t just seeking variety because they’re unhappy, they’re seeking it because they need variety and novelty,” she says.

What does all this mean, in a practical sense, for our sex lives? Martin doesn’t like the word “cheating” – she prefers to use the term “step out” – and that’s what some women decide to do. But it’s not the only solution. “There are many women who are suffering but don’t want to leave their relationship or to step out, and they’ve not yet discovered vibrators,” says Martin. “I can’t tell you how many women have told me they never had a vibrator – there’s a generation in their 40s and 50s who missed the vibrator revolution and never caught up. And there are all these new vibrators out there – and anything new you can introduce will make a big difference to your sex life.” Another way forward can be for a couple to open up their relationship in some way, and invite someone else in. And she has other ideas up her sleeve that seem a lot less risqué, like going on a zip wire, taking up dance lessons or going scuba diving together. Why does that help? “Research on the neurochemicals has found that our sexual desire is triggered when we do something new with a long-term partner. A thrilling activity is ideal: it can give you a wash of hormones that makes you feel new to each other again.”

Indeed, part of the narrative seems to be that men are too quick to settle for “the usual” (which makes sense now we know they’re not the ones who are bored); but opening up the conversation about what else they could try can relight the fuse. The trick here, counsels Martin, is for them to keep on and on asking. “Men really caring about what women want sexually makes a huge difference. You might need to have the conversation over and over, and women might keep saying they’re happy with things as they are – but keep asking, and eventually women will open up about their sexual fantasies. We find that their menus are more varied than men’s. Men are shocked, but also gratified and thrilled, when they find out how sexually exciting we can be when we get past the inhibitions that have been socialised into us.”

Paradoxically, there’s been a parallel shift in attitudes towards extramarital affairs and divorce alongside the growing studies into women’s sexuality. Martin quotes the US statistics: in 1976, fewer than half of well-educated Americans thought having an affair was always wrong; by 2013, that figure was 91%. “We’ve become a lot less tolerant of infidelity in recent years,” says Martin. “And meanwhile divorce has become much more common: a large number of people in the 1970s who thought affairs were OK, thought divorce was wrong.”

So at the precise moment science reveals women have the bigger “need” to be sexually adventurous, society clamps down on infidelity. And that, says Martin, is hugely significant. “The way we feel about women who refuse monogamy is an important metric for how we feel about equality.” She’s talking, she says, about women who openly refuse monogamy by being polyamorous. The overwhelming story we buy into, after all, is that men who “cheat” are just “men being men”; women who “step out” are far more likely to be criticised and shamed. Ultimately, though, they’re challenging something very deep in society’s expectations of them – and perhaps their stance is the most radical female stance of all.

Complete Article HERE!

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