Have Sex ‘Micro Talks’ With Your Kid

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By Catherine Pearlman

In the history of parenting, there might be nothing more dreaded than The Sex Talk. Masturbation, nocturnal emissions, menstrual cycles, how to use condoms—nobody wants an awkward lecture on these topics. I remember once joking with my mom about douching after seeing a commercial on television. She then took on a super serious tone and started to explain vaginal hygiene. I am not sure I’ve yet to recover.

At the same time, despite access to a plethora of internet resources and improved education in the classroom, kids do need their parents to step in to fill in the gaps. But how do you go about it with feeling like you’re busting into a private life without an invitation? And how do you cover the always-changing environment in which teens are living?

Maybe it’s time to retire the old, let-me-sit-you-down kind of sex talk in favor of something more palatable—and more effective. I suggest micro conversations numbering in the hundreds across years of young adulthood.

How to you engage in a micro chat? Simple. You look for moments in your everyday communication with your children to bring up important sex-related topics. You might use current events, community happenings, social media, television and books to ask questions and spark discussions.

The approach keeps your kids informed without having the stress of a single face-to-face onslaught of facts. Here are four ways to use micro conversations to broach the tough topics related to sex.

If you see something, say something

The other day, I was walking with my 12-year-old son into Costco. I see a girl with a hickey on her neck. So, I say, “Hey, Em, do you see the red spot on the girl’s neck? Do you know what that is?” He had no idea. I explained how people can make hickeys. When he asked why someone would do that, it opened up the conversation about young relationships.

Another time, I was watching a reality program with my daughter. There was a boyfriend who was becoming controlling with increasing levels of anger and even some violence. I asked her if she would be concerned if her partner acted like the boyfriend on the show. We both expressed concerns for the girl in the relationship, and then discussed intimate partner abuse.

 

Read what teenagers are reading

Young adult novels are not just for kids. In addition to helping parents know what is really going on in the private lives of teens, these books are windows of opportunity to talk about dating, sex, rape, consent, sexual identity, sexting and more. When I read Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, I was shocked and distraught about everything I was reading. Surely, this type of teen life is exaggerated. Turns out my daughter wasn’t shocked. Why? Because she had already seen glimpses of suicide, hazing and same-sex attraction. Reading that book allowed me to talk about those issues in a very real but not uncomfortable way.

Use the news

Every day there’s a story that can be discussed over dinner. Talk about the Brock Turner verdict and the latest #MeToo story. Mention the controversy of transgender athletes competing in high school and start a discussion about all of the potential concerns on both sides. Let that lead into the transitioning process, hormones, what makes someone a man or woman, and on and on. Bring up a recent study showing sexting with teens is on the rise. There’s an endless stream of topics. Just google “teen” and the subject of your choice.

Documentary movie night helps when experience fails

I regularly subject my kids to watching real stories about real people. Sure, they’d rather watch America’s Got Talent. But they sit through these movies and then the conversations begin and flow for days. My daughter and I watched Audrie & Daisy, a film about date rape in high school. We were able not only to discuss how and when sexual assault can happen but also the effects of drinking, drugs and cyberbullying.

Starting a sex-related conversation with children at any age isn’t easy, even in micro doses. If it doesn’t go well at first, no worries. Just try again another time. Keep at it. Eventually it does become easier as teens become accustomed to talking about a wide range of issues. Then in the future when your child is faced with sexting, drugs, sexual assault or relationship issues, they’ll know you can be approached for help.

Complete Article HERE!

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Hospital’s new online workshop helps parents talk about sexual health with kids with disabilities

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Having “the talk” fills most families with dread. For parents of teens with disabilities, the conversation often takes on an added layer of complexity. Parents want to keep their especially vulnerable children close and safe, while instilling independence and strong self-esteem. They want their kids to assert their own boundaries, even as these children often require assistance with many aspects of their daily lives. Parents want their youth to go out into the world and have healthy relationships, but they worry because disabled people are at increased risk of abuse.

In a bid to help, Toronto’s Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital launched a new online tool Monday designed for parents looking for insight into how to speak meaningfully with their disabled youth about sex. The new workshop, available free to the public off the hospital’s YouTube channel, covers everything from good relationships and consent to gender identity and social media – this for a cohort often left out of the sex ed discussion, thanks to lingering stigma around disabled people’s sexuality.

“We have needs and desires as well. We need to be educated on how to navigate these situations and have these conversations without it feeling like it’s such a taboo topic,” said Emily Chan, who co-designed the new workshop as chair of the hospital’s youth advisory council.

Chan, 22, has centronuclear myopathy, a rare neuromuscular condition. She said parents of those with disabilities often keep a “tight rein” on their children, but she urged them to speak with their kids about healthy relationships early, “not waiting until we’re heading into adulthood, or already in adulthood.”

The online workshop follows the release last week of new guidelines that recommended sexual health education be made available at short- and long-term care facilities serving youth with disabilities or chronic illnesses, with information geared toward their specific needs. Colleges and universities should offer comprehensive sex ed training to those studying to be caregivers and personal support workers for disabled people, according to The Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education from the Sex Information & Education Council of Canada, a non-profit organization promoting sexual and reproductive health.

Joanne Downing sets the same priorities when she talks to her three children, ages 17 to 21, including her 19-year-old son Matthew, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and is non-verbal. Downing wants them all to be safe, respectful and make good choices.

“We talk about ‘my space, your space,’ and ‘good touch, bad touch,’” Downing, 57, said about Matthew. “He can understand whether or not he’s crossed that barrier or if someone’s crossed that barrier on him.”

Downing offered a family perspective for the new webinar and coached parents at two workshops held at the hospital over the winter. Talking to her own son, Downing uses proper terminology for body parts, and explains the difference between private and public space. One thing she recommends parents do with their disabled teens is differentiate between platonic friendships and romantic or sexual relationships.

“[Matthew’s] perception of having a girlfriend is someone of the opposite sex who’s a friend that he can hang out with,” Downing said. “He definitely likes girls and he flirts. He loves it. He knows pretty much every single swim instructor at the pool.”

Downing stressed the importance of striking a balance between autonomy and safety. Even though she’s involved in every facet of Matthew’s life and care, the mother has also taught her son how to ask for privacy.

Autonomy is critical to discussions of sex ed with this cohort, according to Yukari Seko, a research associate at Bloorview Research Institute, who along with social worker Gabriella Carafa developed the new online workshop. “Research shows that parents of children with a disability can be overprotective, and understandably so because they need more help,” Seko said. “But it can sometimes hinder their transition to adulthood. They need to learn and practice taking some risks.”

Opportunities to be independent – and to fail – are integral to figuring out what you want and don’t want in adult life, said Chan. “Youth need the chance to explore their environment and their relationships with others, to not be afraid to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes,” she said. “You need to be able to get out into the real world and have those experiences to shape your personality, beliefs, values and how you approach different situations.”

At the same time, safety is a very real concern for these parents. Children and youth with a disability or chronic health condition are at an increased risk of sexual abuse, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society.

Miriam Kaufman, author of the Society’s report on this issue and the book Easy for You to Say: Q and As for Teens Living With Chronic Illness or Disability, said it is particularly important for parents of disabled youth to discuss consent, not only because these children can be more physically vulnerable but also because they’ve gotten conflicting messages about bodily autonomy all their lives.

“We have trained, from birth practically, young people with disabilities and chronic health conditions to put up with things that in any other context would be considered abuse: medical procedures, painful procedures … being held down for procedures and being told not to yell and to co-operate,” said Kaufman. “We train these kids from a young age that it’s okay for these strangers in the health care system to have access to their bodies. … They’ve learned that they don’t really have ownership of their bodies.”

It’s always a fine tightrope for parents of kids with disabilities, Kaufman said, who are trying to protect their children while helping them develop positive self-image. “Most parents also want their children to grow up sexually healthy, to be able to have relationships and be happy in those relationships,” Kaufman said. “They don’t want to totally freak them out about sexuality, in terms of protecting them.”

At Holland Bloorview, Seko urged families of disabled youth to educate themselves on these issues, but also to listen to their kids’ questions and observations.

“They are the experts of their life, too,” Seko said.

Complete Article HERE!

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There are infinite ways to have sex & there’s nothing unnatural about any of them

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The famous sex researcher Alfred Kinsey once said the only unnatural sex act is one that can’t be performed.

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Humans have discovered an almost infinite amount of ways to have sex — and things to have sex with. The famous sex researcher Alfred Kinsey said: “The only unnatural sex act is that which can’t be performed.”

From foot fetishes to the kinkiest outfit or habits, fetishes are an endless rainbow of preferences and practices. Although human studies on fetishes and atypical sexual interest are few, case studies and research on non-human animal behaviour have revealed some insights about them and how they may develop.

In fetishism, the subject of the desire is not necessarily related to sexual intercourse, yet the fetish drives a person’s sexual arousal, fantasies and preferences. Fetishes can be part of a healthy and playful sexual life for individuals and couples, and also forms the basis of some sexual subcultures.

Unfortunately, fetishes have often wrongly been associated with sexual deviancy, making it easy to feel weird or shame about them. Many of us are quick to judge things we do not understand or experience. When it comes to sex, we can believe that things we don’t do are weird, wrong or even disgusting.

Let’s not judge each other’s sex lives. Instead, embrace your curiosity.

The Pride marches taking place this summer began as a social movement against repressive and discriminatory practices against LGBTQ people following the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969. Fifty years later, Pride month has become a commemoration and celebration of sexual minorities and diversity.

Let’s take a look under the covers together to paint a more positive view of these so-called “perversions.” We all may have a kink or two. So why not feel more accepting of our more obscure sexual desires?

What are fetishes?

Fetishes are not just about whips and leather, but part of a natural curiosity to explore the unknown territories of our sexuality.

A lot of the early science claimed fetishes were sexual abnormalities or perversions. However, most researchers and clinical practitioners now only consider fetishes to be harmful if they cause distress, physical harm or transgress consent.

Scientists have recently begun to understand how some fetishes develop. Several animal studies and case reports on humans suggest that early imprinting and Pavlovian or classical conditioning can shape the formation of fetishes. We believe learning from experiences plays a large role in forming fetishes.

From a Pavlovian conditioning perspective, fetishes are seen as the product of associating early and rewarding sexual experiences with objects, actions or body parts that are not necessarily sexual. This is perhaps why different people have different fetishes.

As for early imprinting, the best example comes from a study in which newborn goats and sheep were cross-fostered by a mother of another species. Goats were mothered by sheep, and the sheep mothered by goats. The results showed male goats and sheep had sexual preferences for females of the opposite species, meaning the same species as their adopting mothers, while females on the other hand were more fluid in their choices and were willing to have sex with males of both species.

Studies with rats have shown that other non-human animals also develop fetishes.

This study shines some light on sex differences in human fetishes, as men with fetishes tend to vastly outnumber women with fetishes.

These sex differences appear to be explained solely by differences in sexual urges, where men tend to show higher arousal or less repulsion towards various “deviant” sexual acts than women do. This, nevertheless, does not imply men have more psychological disorders.

Fetish-related disorders

Fetishes, just like any other thing in life, can be taken to where it may be a little “too much.” They may not only be preferred, but also needed in the expression of sexual arousal, which can impair the preferred pattern of arousal or performance.

Fetish-related disorders are characterized by the expression of two main criteria: recurrent and intense sexual arousal from either the use of objects or highly specific body part(s) that are not genitalia manifested by fantasies, urges or behaviours; those which can cause great distress or impairment of their intimacy, social or occupational life.

Some are particularly troubling, like exhibitionism or frotteurism. These paraphilias are believed to be distortions of normal sexual interactions with others. Sadly, both of them still remain poorly understood.

As previously mentioned, if by some reason we can establish associations that can drive our arousal through learning experiences, research has also shown that these associations can be “erased.” However, this process can be quite slow, difficult to change and susceptible of being spontaneously triggered by familiar cues.

No definition of normal

Fetishes have the potential of enhancing or expanding the repertoire of sensations we experience during sex. In fact, experimental data shows that animals become more sexually aroused when they learn to associate sex with fetish-like cues.

Instead of focusing on what you should like or what should get you off or not, you’re better off wondering how that thing suits you or your partner. Normality falls within blurry lines, and it is up to you to expand its limits or not.

There is no exact definition of what constitutes normal or healthy. These definitions are highly dependent of the context (historical time and culture).

We get caught up with what appears to be more frequent, healthy, natural or normal: but what about what feels right?

So how do you know if you have a fetish? If there is consent and respect, it really doesn’t matter what you do between the bed sheets, on the kitchen table or on that secret hidden spot.

Perhaps you don’t have a fetish. But it’s never too late to try.

As North Americans celebrate Pride this summer, we should take it as a reminder of our colourful sexual diversity —and also the infinite ways to have sex, with nothing unnatural about any of them.

We believe all people should be allowed to express their sexuality and embrace it without the weight of stereotypes or “normal” standards to live by. Life is too short to not make the best out of it, especially when it comes to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh.

Complete Article HERE!

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Getting Kinky In a Relationship?

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Don’t worry, it’s okay to be freaky in a relationship and most of the time the other person will love you for it. If you feel that your sexual taste goes beyond that of the average person, have no fear as most Americans feel just like you.

As a society, we tend to move on from what is regarded as normal in order to satisfy our needs. According to surveys, couples who have been going out for more than four years tend to move on to other means of sexual desires that are regarded as less common by many.

Couples who go out for more than four years are moving past the stigma and shame associated with fetishes and kinks, and are becoming more and more comfortable in sharing their pleasures and desires.

If you’re a kinky person, then your partner needs to hear out your desires and fulfills your needs. A mismatch is a relationship killer, and if you’re the kinky one, then there are a few things that you need to do in your relationship in order to get accepted from your partner.

Talk With Your Partner

This might sound weird, but a lot of relationships tend to move past their problems by simply communicating with each other. We understand that you might be afraid to tell your partner about your fetishes and desires, but trust us that communication is key in a relationship. Start off slow and start by talking about what you like most in the bedroom. Explain what that is and why that turns you on. Make sure to make the mood as comfortable as possible, as you don’t want to make things weird.

When you start to talk things out, you will find out if your partner approved of your kinks, if he/she is/are open to them, and if they’re interested in doing them. Your partner might hide it at first, but we’re positive that they will grow into it.

Give Your Partner Time to Think

Most intercourse therapists say that you should always give your partner think about your kinks and desires. You might have told your partner that you’re into restraints and harnesses, and that might sound too much for your partner. But the key is to give your partner room to think it out. Never demonstrate the kink without the approval of your partner. He/she needs to feel safe at all times during bedroom business, and forcing your kink onto your partner is an instant red flag. If your partner eventually approves of your restraint kink or you have agreed on a sex toy you would like to use, you can go to Extreme Restraints and choose the type of restraint together that you will both enjoy.

Show Your Appreciation for Trying Something New Together

If your partner doesn’t feel as kinky as you, and if your partner agrees to your kink, then always show your appreciation for trying something new with you. They might not know how to do it at first, so you should never judge them for doing it wrong. Always be encouraging,  supportive, and avoid making any negative comments towards your partner.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Have Sex if You’re Queer

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What to Know About Protection, Consent, and What Queer Sex Means

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Happy Pride!

Rarely does traditional sex education tackle pleasure for pleasure’s sake, how to have sex for non-reproductive purposes, or the wide spectrums of sexualities, bodies, and genders that exist. Instead it tends to cover penis-in-vagina penetration only, pregnancy risks, and STI/STD transmission, leaning heavily on scare tactics that may not even work.

Traditional sex ed is failing us all, but when it comes to standardized sex education in the U.S., the LGBTQ community is especially left out of the conversation. A GLSEN National School Climate Survey found that fewer than 5% of LGBTQ students had health classes that included positive representations of LGBTQ-related topics. Among self-identified “millennials” surveyed in 2015, only 12% said their sex education classes covered same-sex relationships at all.

The good, and even possibly great news is that not being boxed in by the narrow definitions of sex provided to us via traditional sex ed means that we are free (and perhaps even empowered!) to build our own sex lives that work uniquely for us, our partners, and our relationships. But we still need some info in order to do so.

Let’s talk about what classic sex education might’ve missed about how to have sex if you’re queer, from what sex between queer people means to how to keep it safe and consensual between the rainbow sheets.

What Queer Sex Means and How to Have it

Redefine and self-define sex. Sexual desire exists on a spectrum just like gender, sexuality, and other fluid and fluctuating parts of our identities. From Ace to Gray-Ace to Allosexual and everywhere in between and beyond, check in with yourself and your partners about how they experience sexual desire (if at all).

Similarly, “having sex” can mean a million different things to a million different people from making out, to certain kinds of penetration, orgasmic experiences, etc. You get to decide “what counts as sex” to you which is especially true when it comes to sexual debuts — a necessary and inclusive term for self-determined first times that looks beyond the traditional, heterosexist version of “losing your virginity.”

Honoring the identities and bodies of ourselves and our partners with respect, kindness, compassion, and tenderness is crucial and can feel even more precious and rewarding when you’re queer. Truly pleasurable sex — regardless of your identity — starts with a sense of safety, clear communication, confident boundaries, active listening skills, and self-awareness.

Check in with yourself first. Active consent starts with knowing yourself and what your boundaries are. Though an important piece of practicing consent is asking your partner for permission and for their preferences, it can be easy to forget to ask yourself similar questions. What do you want out of a sexual experience? Where are you confident you don’t want to venture now, yet, or maybe ever? What are you super excited to explore?

This check-in can help you determine what you want from sex and what queer sex means to you. This is when you can think about experimenting with sex toys, whether you’re interested in penetration, and what kind of touch feels good to you.

Sometimes we don’t even know where to start if we’re not sure about what our options even are. Scarleteen.com or Girl Sex 101 (much more gender-spectrum-inclusive than the title suggests) are both great resources that can get some of your questions answered. You can also find more information here.

Name your own bits. Body parts, especially private body parts, can be complicated territory for LGBTQ folks, and understandably so. One of the main goals of sex for many of us is to feel good in our bodies. The first step to this can be feeling good about the terms we use for our body parts. Try on one or a few that might work for you, communicate them to your partners (especially new ones), and ask them how they like their bodies to be talked about or touched.

Gender roles are bendable roles. You don’t have to adopt traditional gender roles in sex unless you want to. Media mediums from PG-13 sex scenes to X-rated porn can create clear splits between what’s considered being “sexually masculine” (being the do-er, taking control, knowing the ropes) and being “sexually feminine” (being the receiver, being passive or reactive, being led rather than initiating the sexual interaction).

Just because you identify with being masculine, feminine, or somewhere in between doesn’t mean you need to act a certain way or do anything in particular in your sex life. You can be a Ferociously Fierce Femme, a Passive Prince of Pillows, a Non-Binary Take-Charge Babe, or any version of your sexual self that follows what feels good, affirming, and right to you and your partners.

Talk about sex outside of a sexual context. Talking about sex with your potential or current partners before the clothes come off can be a great way to keep clear-headed communication and consent thriving. Sexual interactions are vulnerable, exciting, and can get your body and brain functioning in all new ways. So, sometimes it can be easier to talk about your feelings about sex, your enthusiastic Yes-es, your definite No’s, and your curious Maybes over coffee or text first, in addition to in-the-moment communication about consent.

Make an aftercare plan. We know that consent, permission, and pre-sex talks are all important parts of a healthy sex life, but we can forget to think about what happens after we have sex (besides water, a pee break, and snacks, of course). This is aftercare — or, how we like to be interacted with after sex has ended.

Aftercare preferences can include what we want to do immediately after sex (cuddle? watch Netflix? have some alone time?) and can also include what happens in the upcoming days or weeks (check-ins over text? gossip parameters? is there anyone you and your partner definitely do or don’t want to dish to?).

No matter your aftercare preferences, a post-sex check-in conversation about how things went, what you’d love an encore of, and what you might want to avoid next time (if you’d like there to be a next time) is always a good idea.

Always keep it consensual. Consent starts with asking permission before any sexual touch or interaction begins, continues with checking in about how things are going, and ends with talking with each other about how the sexual interaction went overall so that feedback can be exchanged and any mistakes can be repaired.

True, enthusiastic consent thrives in a space where each person feels free, clear-headed, and safe to speak up about what their No’s, Yes-es, and Maybes are.

Safer Sex for Queer Sex

Hormones matter. Even though testosterone hormones can decrease your risk of unwanted pregnancy, folks on T can still become pregnant, so make sure to use condoms if sperm is likely to be in the mix. Estrogen hormones can slow sperm production, but if your body is still producing sperm, an egg-creating partner could still get pregnant, so put your favorite birth control method to work.

Starting or ending hormone therapy, whether it’s testosterone or estrogen, can impact your sexual response, your desire levels, your emotions, and even your sexual orientation — so don’t be surprised if these changes crop up. Find safe people to talk to about any complicated feelings this may trigger rather than keeping them bottled up.

Condoms aren’t a one-trick pony. Though the gym teacher might think that putting a condom on a banana tells students all they need to know about wrapping it up, they’re usually doing little more than wasting a high-potassium snack. Condoms can help reduce pregnancy and STI/STD transmission risk for all kinds of penis-penetrative sex (vaginal, anal, and oral) so they’re important to learn to use correctly. But, they can also be used in other ways. Condoms can be put on sex toys to help with easy clean-up, or if you want to share the toy with a partner without getting up to wash it (just put on a fresh condom instead!), and can even be made into dental dams.

Gloves are another important piece of latex (or non-latex if you’re allergic) to keep…on hand…in your safer-sex kit, as they can prevent transmission of fluids into unnoticed cuts on your hands and can protect delicate orifice tissues from rough nails or your latest catclaw manicure (Pssst: if your nails are extra long and pointy, you can put cotton balls down in the tips of your glove for extra padding).

Lube is your friend. Lube is a great addition to all kinds of sex, but comes highly recommended for certain kinds of sex. A good water-based lube (avoid the ingredient glycerin if you’re prone to yeast infections!) can add pleasurable slip to all kinds of penetration, is latex-compatible, and reduces friction from sex toys or other body parts.

Lube can also be put on the receiver’s end of a dental dam or a small drop can be added to the inside of a condom before you put it on to create more pleasure for the condom-wearer.

Anal sex especially benefits from lube as your booty doesn’t self-lubricate like the vagina does, so it can be prone to painful tearing or friction during penetration. Using a thicker water-based lube like Sliquid Sassy for anal sex reduces friction, increases pleasure, and decreases chances of tearing which, also lowers risk of STI/STD transmission.

Sadly, no one is immune to STIs. Though it’s true that certain sex acts come with greater or lesser risk of STI/STD transmission, it doesn’t mean that certain partner pairings are totally risk-free. The Human Rights Campaign’s Safer Sex Guide (available in both Spanish and English) contains a helpful chart that breaks down the health risks associated with specific sex acts, complete with barrier and birth control methods that’ll help lower your risk.

Remember, some STIs/STDs are easily curable with medication, some are permanent-yet-manageable, and some can be lethal (especially if left untreated). So, knowing the difference and knowing and communicating your status are all important pieces of your sexual health. You can continue to lower STI stigma while reducing rates of STI transmission by keeping conversations about sexual health with your partners open and non-judgmental.

Sex toys need baths, too. When choosing sex toys, it’s wise to pay attention to the kind of material your toy is made out of. Medical grade silicone, stainless steel, glass, and treated wooden sex toys are all, for the most part, non-porous, meaning that they can (and should) easily be washed with soap and water between uses, between orifices, and between partners.

Sex toys made out of cyberskin, jelly rubber, elastomer, or other porous materials have small pores in them that can trap dirt and bacteria (kind of like a sponge), even after you wash them! This means that you could reintroduce dirt and bacteria to your own body causing bacterial or yeast infections for yourself, or you could pass bacteria or STIs to a partner via the toy. You could avoid these porous materials entirely (check the packaging to see what your toy is made out of) or you could use a condom on them every time like you would a body part.

For more tips on building a culture of consent in your communities and relationships, head to yanatallonhicks.com/consenthandout.

Complete Article HERE!

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7 Kinky Sex Tips For Curious Vanilla Girls

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Are you ladies more kinky than you are admitting? Considering the popularity of “50 Shades of Gray,” the erotica book burning the laps of lady readers across the country, I’m guessing you gals might be a tad kink-curious. Of course, there is a difference between reading about kinky sex and actually doing it– but both can be hot. Why not give those fantasies a whirl in the bedroom?

Being a vanilla girl who is curious about BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism) can be intimidating. You’re probably conjuring images of dog collars, dungeons and the leather-clad man who calls himself Master DragonBallz. Fret not, there are ways for a normal gal to try this stuff out with her partner in the comfort of her bedroom. No dungeon is necessary. Click through for some tips on how to dip a perfectly manicured toe into the dark waters of BDSM. And remember, you can use your safe word at any time during this slideshow.

Initiate A Kink Conversation

It all starts with talk. Kinky sex educator Maggie Mayhem has some ideas for broaching the topic: “If you’ve never discussed your fantasies out loud with your partner it may be helpful to refer back to a song, blog-post, movie or even porn/erotica.” Saying something like, “I just saw a movie where a woman’s partner tied her up to the bed while they had sex. And the connection they had was intriguing. Wanna watch it with me?”

If you want to take a more blunt route, frame the suggestion for kinky sex as a compliment, rather than as an accusation that there is something missing in your sex life. “You could say something like, ‘I really enjoy having sex with you because you listen to my body and make me feel safe. The idea of [being tied up during sex/spanked/dirty talk/doing chores naked] is something that makes me feel turned on and a little vulnerable, but I think it would be sexy to explore.”’ Maggie suggests using “and” instead of “but.” Example: “I really enjoy sex with you and I want to try spanking” sounds much different than “I really enjoy sex with you but I want to try spanking.”

Start Off Slow

You don’t have to try everything all at once! Looking at rows of floggers, paddles, and nipple clamps at the sex shop can be a little overwhelming. There are so many things you can do with BDSM, but there is nothing wrong with starting slow. Try mixing one new thing into your sex routine at a time. You can start with a blindfold during sex or maybe a little spanking in your foreplay (you can always use your bare hands before forking over the money for a paddle.)

Books, websites, workshops can be helpful as well. You can try saying something to your partner like, “I have so much fun with you in the bedroom, and you make me feel so good that I feel comfortable checking out something I’ve never done before, like maybe bondage. I don’t really know very much about it. Do you think that we could attend a workshop just to find out how it works?”

Do Some Erotic Brainstorming

Okay, sure all of this is great if you know what you want to try, but what if you don’t know? Brainstorm it out. Think back on the (kinky) sexual images that have turned you on. What elements stick out and what parts you could do without? Is your goal to feel the physical sensations involved in a particular act, or are you more interested in the emotional side of the fantasy?

Make a list of the things you might want to try. “Write down a basic idea such as ‘Bondage’ or ‘Spanking.’ Then make one column for the different things about spanking you think are sexy and another column for what you don’t find sexy at all,” Maggie encourages. Then share that list with your partner.

Tantalize Your Partner’s Senses

So you know what you want to try, but how do you get around to actually trying it? Start with the senses. Tantalize your partner. Bring a sensual surprise into the bedroom to break out of your routine — a tray of fruit, wine, chocolate (or all of the above). Try rubbing your partner’s body with furry or feathery things, massage, bite, find dull kitchen utensils to graze over their skin, use ice cubes.

Then work your way up the sensory ladder to something more intense. If you want to get rough, try a handkerchief as a gag. “It can be a reminder of how much tension we release through our voices and can heighten the feel of an orgasm,” says Maggie. The rope is also fun. “For some, bondage is about the vulnerability of being unable to escape, but for others, it’s about the sensation of smooth rope gliding over different parts of their body like their arms, legs, or torso,” she says.

Take turns doing this stuff to each other. But if you already know that it only turns you on to be the “bottom” in the situation, take the reigns and get the ball rolling. Lay out some toys, put on your sexiest outfit and ask, “What can I do to serve you? What would please you?”

Be Creative

Trying out kinky things is all about getting creative with sex. Role play and other sex games are just that — games. So have fun. Try putting on sexual performance or ask your partner to perform for you. “Stripping or masturbating for your partner can be a sexy and kinky experience, especially if your partner (or you) remain fully clothed the whole time,” says Maggie. Or try getting it on in public. Go to a fancy restaurant dressed to the nines, then excuse yourself. Go to the bathroom, slip off your panties and then discretely hand them to your partner under the table. It’s a safe way to play with being an exhibitionist. “Play wrestling is another way to explore power dynamics,” Maggie suggests. “Or turn on a sports game and assign a sexual act that one of you performs on the other every time their team scores a point.” Whatever you decide to try, its’ most important that you be creative and have fun.

Use Safe Words

In the world of BDSM, consent is paramount. And one of the first things you can start with is a “safe word”– a single word that stops the scene. You can make one up, but I personally like using the stoplight system. Red for Stop.Yellow for Slow down and Green for Oh god yes. But let’s admit it– it can be hard to speak up in the heat of the moment.

While exploring, try to establish non-verbal cues together to help you communicate at the moment. If you like something, you can make it a point to moan in appreciation or give a thumbs up. If something is getting too intense, pantomime turning down the dial or put a hand up in a Stop sign. Remember to always honor your safe word. Unexpected things can happen in our minds or bodies. A cramp in the foot! A buzzing cell phone! A sudden feeling of discomfort!

Have A Post-Kink Debrief

Having fulfilling kinky sex with your partner can be a great way to bond as a couple and build trust with each other about exploring any sexual fantasy. If you are playing bottom, also be aware you just might find yourself in sub-space, a mental state of euphoria that comes from playing with BDSM. Regardless, after that, toe has been dipped into kinky waters, don’t forget after-care.

Debrief and talk about what just happened. Did you enjoy it? Was there something that didn’t turn you or your partner on? Keep the communication going so that next time you can push the envelope even further … ya know, if you’re into that.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex: Getting back in the saddle after a dry spell

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What to do, what not to do, and what to stop worrying about

Let’s talk about sex.

More specifically, let’s talk about getting back in the groove after taking some time off. Becoming sexually active again after a dry spell can seem intimidating, confusing, or even embarrassing.

Whether the time away from the bedroom was the result of the passing of a partner, menopause, or just a natural decrease in libido, it’s easy to jump to imagining a world without any sex going forward.

But for older women who want more, a gap in sexual activity certainly doesn’t have to mark the end of the road.

Just because it’s been underrepresented in popular culture, assuming that older people aren’t interested in sex is incorrect. Indeed, it can be downright dangerous if the health concerns associated with sex aren’t addressed in people over a certain age.

For women, it can be especially embarrassing to try to discuss sexual health with doctors, but it’s important to engage in any sexual activity safely and healthily.

In a recent poll conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, 40% of people aged 65 to 80 said they’re sexually active, with plenty of older people reporting that sex has only gotten better as they’ve aged.

So what should older women keep in mind if they’re ready to jump back between the sheets?

As Dr. Kameelah Phillips, an obstetrician/gynecologist in New York, told Considerable, “It is important that women prepare themselves to have sex before jumping right in. Often menopause has changed the vagina, and sexual experiences can be uncomfortable. This discourages further exploration.”

Instead of becoming discouraged if sex is initially different than it was pre-menopause, Dr. Phillips recommends that older women take some time to become reacquainted with their bodies and their sexuality.

“I highly encourage women to use lubrication,” she said. “I especially like silicone or hybrid lubrications to decrease friction. I also encourage them to masturbate, [which] can be quite taboo in the senior population. This helps return blood flow to your pelvis, especially to the vagina and clitoris. It can also alert you to any narrowing the vagina has experienced. Self-pleasure also helps remind women that intimacy with a partner can be pleasurable.”

Dr. Anika Ackerman, a urologist in New Jersey, has a lot of older female patients who are sexually active. She has some recommendations about what to do when topical and over-the-counter lubricants aren’t cutting it.

“The tissues of the vagina are thinner after menopause when [women] no longer have the female sex hormones,” she explained to Considerable. “[This] can lead to pain with intercourse. Topical estrogen creams are helpful in these cases to revitalize vaginal tissues. We also have CO2 lasers for vaginal rejuvenation. These treatments, like the estrogen cream, increase vaginal lubrication, restore vaginal epithelium, and increase tissue thickness.”

Medical professionals acknowledged that many women’s libidos decrease after menopause — but they emphasized that sexuality doesn’t always switch on and off. As psychotherapist Jacob Brown told Considerable, “Just because [post-menopausal women] may not want to do it as often doesn’t mean [they] don’t want to do it at all.”

At any age, sex can be difficult to discuss, especially for people experiencing pain or discomfort. But as Brown put it, “Open and honest communication is the most effective tool for working through changes in sexual experiences as we age.”

And on the upside: A lot of insecurities of youth are long gone, and if an older person is revisiting sex with a partner they’ve been with for decades, they ideally have the advantage of years of trust built with that person.

And though pregnancy is no longer an issue after menopause, it’s important for older people to remember to practice safe sex and use protection if they have a new partner or partners. The risk of STDs and STIs is still very much present — in fact, these diseases are rampant in assisted-living facilities.

Sex is a healthy and fulfilling part of many older people’s lives. While navigating new physical challenges like achy joints or decreased libido might make sexual activity trickier than it was in younger years, these hurdles don’t mean that a fulfilling sex life has to be a thing of the past.

Communication about any aches or concerns with both a doctor and one’s sexual partner is key, and will lead not only to healthier sex, but a better experience for both parties involved.

Complete Article HERE!

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Wondering About Your Libido?

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Libido intel awaits.

By Carolyn L. Todd

You’ve probably wondered more than once if your relationship to sex is normal. Do you think about it enough or too much? Are you having more or less sex than everyone else? And, more importantly, should you care?

When broaching the subject of libido, it’s hard not to immediately question how “normal” your thoughts, habits, and preferences are. But, like most concepts having to do with our bodies, libido is a lot more complicated than many of us think. So, we asked sexual health experts to walk us through Libido 101, delving into the common questions and the fascinating nuance that surrounds this subject. Hopefully you’ll come away from this with a better understanding of what’s “normal” and what to do if you still have questions.

1. What is libido, exactly?

You might have heard this term used as a catch-all to describe a few different sexual phenomena. “It’s one of those words that gets thrown around a lot, and [people can have] a different idea of what it means,” Madeleine M. Castellanos, M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist specializing in sex therapy and author of Wanting to Want, tells SELF.

Experts, however, typically use the term “libido” to refer to the psychological aspect of sexual desire.

“It’s that feeling of drive or motivation to engage in sexual behavior,” sex and relationships researcher Kristen Mark, Ph.D., M.P.H, director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab and an associate professor of health promotion at the University of Kentucky, tells SELF.

2. Is it the same as sexual arousal?

Not really, but they can be related. As Dr. Castellanos explains, libido is about what’s going on in your mind (like when you’re lost in a hot fantasy) while sexual arousal is about what’s happening in your body (like getting wet if you have a vagina or getting an erection if you have a penis).

The confusion comes in because libido and sexual arousal often rise and dip together, says Mark, who is also an affiliate faculty member at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University. This is why difficulty getting physiologically aroused can inhibit psychological desire and vice versa.

But arousal and libido aren’t always connected. You may experience high levels of libido without the physical signs of arousal (like when you feel really turned on but aren’t getting wet). Or you may experience physical signs of arousal (like increased lubrication or erection) even if you’re not really mentally in the mood.

This is known as arousal non-concordance. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just something that can happen sometimes when you have a body. It’s typically thought that people with vaginas who identify as women tend to have less coordination between their physiological sexual arousal and psychological desire than people with penises do, Mark says. But, like many other things when it comes to sex, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.

3. Is it weird if I don’t feel turned on until things get going?

Not at all. That’s called responsive desire, and it’s the primary type of libido for many people, Mark says. Responsive desire doesn’t arise until someone begins engaging in sexual activity, Dr. Castellanos explains. Maybe you were theoretically open to having sex with your partner but didn’t really feel the urge until they started rubbing your back.

This is as opposed to spontaneous desire. In this case, you pretty much want sex out of nowhere, like if you look at your partner and realize their hair is falling in that swoopy way you love.

Both forms of desire are perfectly natural. It’s also normal to experience both forms at various points or in different contexts. In our society and in common examples in the media (think: romantic comedies, erotica, etc.), spontaneous desire is often portrayed as the ideal kind, or even the only kind, so you might feel weird if you’re more of a responsive type. Trust us, you’re not.

4. What counts as a “normal” libido?

Great news: “There is no normal,” Leah Millheiser, M.D., clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and ob/gyn at the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford Medicine, tells SELF.

Each individual has their own baseline of what feels good, natural, and satisfying libido-wise, Dr. Millheiser explains. You might have no noticeable libido to speak of and feel perfectly fine with that. You might feel some level of sexual attraction every day and be fine with that. Both are fine. Libido can fluctuate due to various factors we’ll get into later, but our point still stands.

Also, keep in mind that increasingly outdated assumptions about sex and gender play a huge part in our conception of “normal” libido, Mark says. Many of us have been fed the lie that men think about sex 24/7 and that women can basically take it or leave it (consider the old stereotype of a woman using a headache as an excuse to not have sex with her partner). This kind of reductive thinking is oppressive to people of all genders. Yes, it’s true that certain hormones typically thought of as “male,” like testosterone, are linked with increased libido and typically found in higher levels in people with penises. But to use that reasoning to claim that every person with a penis experiences high levels of libido at all times is ridiculous, not to mention scientifically unfounded. The important thing to remember is that there’s a ton of room for what counts as a “normal” libido, no matter your sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

5. Is there such thing as too low or too high libido?

This goes back to that whole no-normal thing. Your libido can be too high or low for you if it’s persistently deviating from your norm or bothering you in some way.

A person whose sex drive has plummeted may be experiencing low libido due to a health issue like depression, which can sap a lot of the pleasure from normally enjoyable activities. Also, even if you do mentally want to have sex when you have depression, you might have trouble getting physically aroused or having an orgasm. An imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain can make it difficult for brain cells to coordinate blood flow to the sex organs, the Cleveland Clinic explains.

Another common issue that can lead to a lower libido is dyspareunia, the medical term for pain during sex. Many conditions can cause it, like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, vaginismus (when the vaginal muscles reflexively tighten, making penetration hurt), and vulvodynia (chronic pain surrounding the vaginal opening). In addition to the physical discomfort, dyspareunia can contribute to feelings of distress around the mere thought of sex, further reducing libido, Dr. Millheiser says.

There’s also a lot of medical interest around what has come to be known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). If you’ve been disturbed by a chronically low or absent libido for at least six months and you’re able to rule out other factors, then you could have HSDD. “These are people who typically feel fine in every other area of their life except their sex drive,” Dr. Castellanos says. “It just evaporates, and there’s no other cause we can find.” Researchers are investigating whether or not neurological differences could be seen in those experiencing HSDD, Dr. Millheiser explains.

Then there are issues that can cause a sex drive that feels too high for you, such as compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD), which only became a recognized condition in the mental health field in 2018. This is characterized by an inability to control strong, repetitive sexual impulses despite negative consequences, like an impact on your relationship or job

Another example: For some people, manic episodes of bipolar disorder manifest as having more-than-normal amounts of sex or reckless sex. During a manic episode, a person typically experiences a heightened mood in addition to at least three symptoms suggesting a drastic, elevated shift in behavior, and that can include engaging in way more sex than usual.

6. How normal is it for my libido to yo-yo?

Extremely. “If you’re human, you’re going to have fluctuations in your sexual desire,” Dr. Castellanos says. Like energy and appetite, your libido can be in constant flux as it responds to the many variables in your brain, body, relationships, and environment, she explains. Dr. Castellanos thinks about libido as a scale that can be tipped in either direction—towards desiring sex or not—at any moment as various factors pile up.

7. How do my hormones influence my libido?

Various hormones can affect libido throughout a person’s monthly cycle (if they have a vagina) and lifespan, Dr. Castellanos says. Experts don’t fully understand how this works yet. Here’s how the three sex hormones produced by the ovaries are thought to influence libido, plus a few caveats afterwards.

Estrogen: Some experts believe that higher levels of circulating estrogen may play a role in increasing libido. This is put forth as one possible reason why sex drive can dip after menopause, when the ovaries no longer create as much of this hormone. This can also be part of why sex drive can go down right after childbirth, when higher levels of this hormone suddenly taper off. (In addition to that whole sustaining a new life thing.)

Progesterone: This hormone appears able to inhibit libido to an extent, though experts aren’t totally sure how or why. A 2013 Hormones and Behavior study on 43 women found that heightened progesterone levels (like those that occur right after ovulation) consistently predicted reduced sexual desire.

Testosterone: As mentioned above, testosterone is a pretty major player in this game. In fact, if you’re not on ovulation-suppressing birth control and your libido tends to peak mid-cycle, that could be your testosterone’s doing. As SELF previously reported, when your estrogen rises in preparation for ovulation, so does your testosterone, the goal being that you might want to have sex the most when you’re most fertile.

If you’re on birth control that suppresses ovulation (like the combination birth control pill), you may not experience that mid-cycle testosterone spike the way someone would off birth control, so it’s possible you’d notice a libido change on the pill.

8. What if my partner’s libido is higher or lower than mine?

This is called a sexual desire discrepancy, Mark explains, and it’s not inherently a problem. Think about how you and your partner likely need or desire different amounts of sleep, food, and exercise. But it can create relationship tension when one person gets blamed or pathologized for having what the other perceives as a too-low or too-high libido. (You never/always want to have sex, what’s wrong with you?) It can also become a problem when one person takes the imbalance personally. (He doesn’t want to have sex because he doesn’t find me attractive</em

It’s important for couples with sexual desire discrepancies to talk openly about it, try to meet in the middle, and find ways other than sex to satisfy each other’s intimate needs, Mark says.

9. Can I increase my libido?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: Any herbs or supplements claiming to increase libido do not legally have to prove they do what they promise before they hit the market. And, spoiler alert, none of these “natural aphrodisiacs” have solid scientific evidence to back them up

Beyond that, increasing your libido really depends on why it was low in the first place. If you have a medical issue impacting your desire, such as depression or painful sex, talking to a doctor may put you on a path to treatment that changes your libido. Or if you feel like you and your partner have fallen into a rut, you can definitely work to amplify your closeness.

“Because sexual desire is related to satisfaction in the relationship, it can be really helpful to improve the parts of the relationship where something’s missing,” Mark explains. “You might see that sexual desire will follow.”

If your spontaneous desire has been low, you can try to feed your responsive desire, like with physical intimacy that doesn’t involve sex but might lead to it. It can be healthy for some people to consciously choose to engage in sex with the aim of increasing intimacy in the relationship or meeting each other’s needs, Mark says. What’s less healthy is feeling like you need to have sex to “get it over with,” avoid a fight, or fulfill a duty to someone else that doesn’t make you satisfied or happy. This produces a negative sexual experience that “can actually further decrease desire and satisfaction in relationships,” Mark explains.

10. Who should I talk to if I’m unhappy about my libido?

If your sex drive is causing you distress, seeking professional help is important given how complex libido is. “This usually isn’t really something you can just diagnose yourself,” Mark says.

The best provider depends on your underlying issue and the kind of care to which you have access. Not all doctors are well-informed about libido, but most are equipped to help you start ruling out basic causes or refer you to someone else. If you think something physical might be going on or don’t know where else to start, bring it up with your primary care physician or any kind of clinician who focuses on sexual health (like an ob/gyn), Dr. Millheiser says

Although therapy can be cost-prohibitive and hard to find, seeing a sex therapist or couples counselor can be a fantastic option if it’s within your means, Mark says. They have the specialized knowledge to help you explore issues like a sexual desire discrepancy or lack of communication

No matter the case, remember that it’s normal to want to have great, satisfying sex, and there are people out there who can try to help if you’re having trouble achieving it.

Complete Article HERE!

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Just Learning About The Orgasm Gap Improves Women’s Sex Lives

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By Kelly Gonsalves

You’re probably familiar with the concept of the orgasm gap, which refers to the gendered orgasm disparity between straight men and women. A whopping 95 percent of straight men orgasm almost every time they have sex, compared to just 65 percent of straight women. This isn’t the case in non-straight sexual encounters by the way (89 percent of gay men and 86 percent of lesbians get off basically every time they have sex), and 94 percent of women typically climax while masturbating. So clearly this isn’t a biology problem.

A lot of the orgasm inequality between straight men and women can be explained by a combination of (1) lack of knowledge of female pleasure, namely how the clitoris works and why it’s vital to female orgasms, and (2) the male-oriented sexual scripts most heterosexual sexual encounters follow, in which P-in-V penetration is considered the main sex act, men’s pleasure and orgasms are considered mandatory parts of sex (the sex ends when the guy gets off), and women’s pleasure and orgasms are considered optional or incidental.

Researchers wanted to know if knowledge of the orgasm gap and the unequal gender scripts contributing to it could improve women’s sexual experiences. So they surveyed women before and after taking a Psychology of Human Sexuality course that specifically discussed the orgasm gap and inclusive, sex-positive sexual practices. To compare, they also surveyed women before and after taking a Human Sexuality and Culture class (which discussed sex from an anthropological point of view but didn’t mention the orgasm gap or the gendered social dynamics of particular sexual encounters) and a Psychology of Personality class (which didn’t discuss sex at all).

Their findings? Of the 271 women they surveyed in total, those who’d taken the class that talked about the orgasm gap saw a clear improvement in their sexual functioning. Not only did they have more and better orgasms, but they felt more entitled to sexual pleasure during sex and communicated more with their partner during sex. They were more able to advocate for their own pleasure in bed, more confident about how their genitals looked, and less distracted by performance anxiety or anxiety about how they looked during sex.

Those are some serious benefits from just a little more knowledge about sex!

Published in the journal Sex Education, these findings demonstrate that educating ourselves about how our bodies work, what gender dynamics might be in play during sexual encounters, and the importance of being confident communicating your needs in bed can make an actual difference in a woman’s ability to orgasm with ease during sex. Past research has similarly found taking classes about sex improves people’s body image, willingness to try new things in bed, health precautions during sex, and even sexual pleasure.

And by the way, sex education isn’t just for kids and college students. There are tons of excellent sex classes for adults available online and in person with professional sex educators, sex therapists, and other experts. Here are a few to consider and places to look for more:

Complete Article HERE!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Impact Play

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We’re here to answer all your questions about this particular kink and how to practice it safely, spank you very much.

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Impact play, simply put, refers to any form of impact on the body for sexual gratification purposes. Many sexual partners practice impact play the most common way, through spanking, but those who are more experienced will often bring toys into the mix or try a slew of other acts. Impact play is a prevalent kink with a wide umbrella.

Some people prefer various toys, such as whips, floggers, and paddles. Each instrument delivers a different sensation. While it can be tempting to spend money on beautiful black leather BDSM accessories, for those new to the experience, it’s best to start small and use what you have at home. Your hand is the most obvious answer, but even a kitchen spatula can double as a paddle. In addition to saving money, using what you have on you familiarizes you and your partner with where to hit on the body, how hard is comfortable, and what you’re each looking for out of a scene. Are you unsure what a “scene” means? Keep reading. Allure created a glossary of common impact play terms and what they mean. After you brush up on our kinky dictionary, learn how to negotiate with your partner, where it’s safe to hit on the body, and what kink guidelines encourage for post-play etiquette. We spoke to a New York City professional dominatrix and a sex therapist to ensure you have accurate and important information, so you can explore impact play from a place of understanding and confidence.

Common Impact Play Terms and What They Mean

Aftercare: Aftercare is post-play etiquette in which all parties check in on one another to ensure the scene was enjoyable, tend to any bruises as well as emotional needs, and communicate how all parties feel.

BDSM: BDSM stands for bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism, and is an umbrella term for any kinky play that involves a consensual power exchange.

Bondage: Bondage is when one partner (typically the submissive) is tied up by the dominant partner. Bondage is frequently part of impact play, because tying up the submissive, who then consensually can’t move, adds to the thrill of the scene.

Dom drop and sub drop: During a BDSM scene, endorphins and adrenaline run high for all partners. As a result, like a comedown from a drug, both the submissive and dominant partner may experience a comedown immediately after or even a few days later. All parties involved have a responsibility to tend to their partner during their drop.

D/S: D/S stands for dominance and submission. Typically one partner takes on the dominant, or top role. In impact play, this is the person inflicting the spanks or other forms of play. The submissive is the bottom, or the person receiving the impact on their body.

Edge play: Edge play refers to BDSM activities that push the limit of what is considered safe, sane, and consensual. This often refers to activities involving bodily fluids and blood. Single-tail whips are considered a form of edge play as they can draw blood and inflict harm if not used correctly.

Hard limits: Your hard limits are activities that are absolutely off-limits and should be communicated to your partner prior to play.

Kink: A kink refers to any sexual interest that is outside the heterosexual vanilla norm.

Pain slut: Pain sluts are people who enjoy erotic pain.

Play: Play is a word used within the kink community to refer to any erotic activity, from penetrative intercourse to impact play.

RACK: RACK stands for risk-aware consensual kink, and is the guideline all kinky play should follow. It means all parties understand the risks they are taking and consent.

Safe word: A safe word is a word agreed upon by all parties that indicates it’s time to immediately stop the play. A safe word is used over “stop” or “no,” as some people enjoy scenes in which they (consensually) “fight back.”

SCC: SCC stands for safe, sane, and consensual. It is another acronym for safety guidelines, although RACK is more commonly used today because what is considered safe and sane varies from person to person.

Scene: A scene refers to the time in which the agreed upon kinky play occurs.

Soft limits: Soft limits are things that you are curious about but hesitant to try. Perhaps in the future, you’ll want to try them, but as of now, it’s a no. Your limits may change with time.

Switch: A switch is someone who can literally switch and enjoy both the dominant and submissive role.

What is impact play?

As stated before, spanking counts as impact play, but toys such as floggers, paddles, whips, and crops may also be used, though most people don’t start there. “At least 50 percent of people have some interest in spanking,” says somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist Holly Richmond. “When we’re talking about anything harder than that, the number drops a bit, for sure.” Whether you want to try some light spanking or learn more about how to practice impact play in BDSM, there are some things you should know to do it safely.

How do I talk to a partner about trying impact play?

First things first: You must negotiate and communicate with your partner about what you both desire from the experience. “For my clients who want to be slapped, or spanked with a paddle, I prefer they start the conversation days before the actual event itself,” Richmond says. She suggests an in-person conversation to discuss what you both want and what is off-limits.

Nervous about sharing your kink? “Always lead with a compliment,” Richmond suggests, “if possible, like, ‘I’m really happy with our sex life, but I saw this scene in a movie,’ or ‘I saw this scene in porn, and it really titillated me. I’m curious to try it. Could I show it to you and see what you think?'”

How do I safely try impact play for the first time?

After you’re on the same page, pick out a safe word. “Safe words are just a really easy way for your bottom [submissive] to communicate when they’ve hit their limit,” says New York City professional and lifestyle dominatrix Goddess Aviva. “I use the words ‘yellow’ and ‘red,’ so yellow is slow down and red is a full stop for whatever activity is taking place.”

Whether you take Aviva’s advice and use “yellow” and “red” or choose a word specific to your relationship, it’s important to have a safe word. Some people who enjoy impact play also role-play as part of a BDSM scene. “They might be into a role-play and say things like ‘no,’ or ‘stop,’ but they really want to keep going. That’s why you’d use safe words rather than ‘oh, no, that’s enough,’” Goddess Aviva explains.

In addition to communicating, you need to know where it’s safe to be hit. “You want to hit areas on the body that are fleshier and fattier,” Aviva says. “The ass, thighs, and front of the legs. You want to avoid hitting someone on their spine. You want to avoid hitting someone on the lower back where the kidneys are. You want to avoid basically any area in which you could damage organs.” If you’re into slapping, make sure to avoid the eyes, mouth, and nose, and keep a flat hand on the fleshy cheek. It’s a good idea to practice on a pillow before engaging in impact play. If you are curious about BDSM impact play toys, start small with a hand, and then work your way up to some of our favorites.

What sex toys can be incorporated into impact play?

Different toys feel different on the body. Goddess Aviva suggests starting with a crop because it’s multifunctional. “I personally love using a crop for impact play because you can angle it really well and it can go on lots of parts of the body. You can use the crop in more of a sensual teasing manner, or you can whack it down really hard,” she tells Allure. Try the Kookie Riding Crop from Babeland, $24.

If you want something harder that hits with a “thud,” opt for a paddle. “If someone is really into hard spanking, I tend to like a paddle, because you can deliver a lot of force and impact,” Aviva says. Try the Bondage Boutique Faux Leather Spanking Paddle available at Lovehoney, $20. If you’re curious about floggers, which can be gentle or extremely painful, depending on how hard you use them (do not flog a person without practice), try Lovehoney Beginner’s Flogger, $20.

Whips, despite the frequent use of their name, can actually be the most dangerous toy of them all, because longer whips can wrap around the body and cut through flesh. “Whips are always just so beautiful and I love the way they sound,” Goddess Aviva says. That said, if you’re new to this, stick with a paddle for a while. But if you or your partner absolutely know what you’re doing and are at least an intermediate, try the Bondage Boutique Faux Snakeskin Whip from Lovehoney, $30.

What is aftercare, and how do I practice it properly?

Aftercare is a word used in BDSM circles that refers to checking in with your partner post-sex, or in kink speak, after a scene has ended, to make sure you both feel good and secure with what went down. It’s an essential part of any sex that involves risk of physical harm, including impact play, and may require bringing the submissive partner (or the one who was hit) food, water, a blanket, and ice for any bruises.

Dominants need love, too, so both parties should share how they felt, tend to each other, and discuss how to improve the next time. Aftercare is a term that has grown out of the BDSM community, but all sex should involve checking in with each other afterward to make sure you’re feeling taken care of.

Complete Article HERE!

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Is This Common Hang-Up Messing With Your Sex Life?

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By Kelly Gonsalves

Here are some questions not a lot of people ask each other: How do you feel about your private bits? Do you like the way your vulva, penis, or what-have-you looks? How about the way it feels and functions?

Some people have perhaps never given these questions any thought at all; for many others, however, they’re the source of a lot of deeper anxieties they have around sex. And according to a growing body of research, a person’s so-called “genital self-image” is actually closely linked to their sexual satisfaction, levels of sexual desire, and even their ability to have an orgasm.

A new study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy surveyed over 6,000 cis men and women between ages 18 and 40 about their general body image, their genital self-image, and their sex lives. People who felt more confident about their genitalia tended to have a more positive body image and reduced stress about “performance” during sex. Women with a higher genital self-image not only enjoyed sex more—they also tended to have higher sexual functioning, which includes getting turned on more easily, having more vaginal lubrication, being able to reach orgasm with more ease, and even having less sexual pain.

Those are some huge gains from a little genitalia confidence.

Feeling self-conscious about how you look down there.

Feeling self-conscious about your genitals is actually quite common. We’ve all heard the jokes, judgments, and jabs about penis size regularly tossed around at men (usually by other men) as some kind of arbitrary barometer of manliness or sexual prowess.

“Satisfaction with penis length and/or circumference is often related to men’s self-confidence and feelings of masculinity,” the researchers note in the paper. “However, many men hold misconceptions about the average penis length and often misjudge their own penis length to be shorter than the average.” (For the record, the average penis size is about 5.5 inches while erect.)

Meanwhile, people generally have far less of an understanding of what vulvas look like, which can lead to women who have them having distorted or unrealistic expectations. “Images of women’s genitals in pornography and other media can contribute to societal biases about the way that women’s genitals ‘should’ look. As well, women’s genitalia are generally less visible and traditionally have been more taboo for discussion, thus they may seem more ‘unknown’ or unfamiliar to women,” the researchers write.

Furthermore, general expectations for vulvas to look “beautiful” and “smell good” (in line with other standards of “femininity”) have given rise to a thriving industry of vagina facials, aesthetically driven labiaplasties, various vagina “perfumes” and cleansing products, and much more, all of which claim to make for a more “attractive” vulva and vagina—usually at the expense of their health.

In addition to worries about the appearance of their pelvic region, women with vaginas also tend to have an additional layer of anxiety about how well they work. Can they get wet enough? Do they get off quickly enough? Can they get off at all? “In a qualitative analysis of women’s attitudes about their genitals, participants tended to focus their anxieties concerning their sexuality and their bodies onto their genitalia,” the researchers write. “Women may feel dissatisfied with their genitals if they feel that they do not meet an internalized ideal for their function and/or appearance.”

Transgender and intersex people may carry a combination of many of these anxieties, in addition to the hurtful messages they may receive from unaccepting outsiders and the generally dissociative experience of having sexual body parts that may not align with your gender identity. 

How genital self-image affects sex.

Dozens of past studies have shown our body image can directly affect our sex lives: People who are self-conscious about their bodies tend to engage in riskier sexual behaviors because they’re less likely to advocate for themselves in bed. Meanwhile, just having a partner who loves and celebrates your body can boost your sexual desire, satisfaction, and orgasms. It follows that how we feel about our private parts in particular might follow these same trends.

A lot of this stems from how distracting body anxiety can be during sex. One 2015 study found men with poor genital self-image tend to have more erectile difficulties because of their anxiety.

“These men may find themselves distracted during sex by sexual anxiety, and thus experience difficulties with sexual functioning,” the researchers of the present study explain. “Poor genital self-image and self-consciousness about their genitalia also affects women’s experiences during sexual encounters. Women who are concerned about their partner’s perceptions of their genitals are more likely to report decreased self-esteem, reduced sexual satisfaction, and reduced enjoyment of sexual activity, as well as increased genital-related self-consciousness during sexual activity.”

It’s hard to enjoy sex when you’re too busy feeling bad about your body and worrying about what your partner thinks of it. Moreover, the idea that loving the look and feel of your genitalia can affect the way your body physically functions and responds during sex is clear proof of the mind-body connection.

“It likely works both ways,” explains Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., a professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health who’s researched genital self-image extensively and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction, in an interview with mbg. “On one hand, people who feel better about their genitals may feel more comfortable receiving oral sex, for example, which may then translate into easier orgasms. It’s also possible that the reverse is true—that those who lubricate more easily or orgasm more easily feel better about their sexuality and their bodies, including their genital self-image. We also know that all kinds of mental states translate into physical responses—feeling aroused can translate into lubrication or erections; feeling anxious can decrease both.”

How to increase your confidence in bed.

If you tend to be self-conscious about the way your private bits look, it’s worth spending some time building up that confidence—both because it’ll make for much more enjoyable sex and also because our bodies are where we live, and we should be able to honor them for the marvelous things they are. Our genitalia, in particular, have the opportunity to bring us so much pleasure, intimacy, and fun, so they deserve a whole lot of love.

“Spend conscious, intimate time with your body,” Cyndi Darnell, clinical sexologist and creator of The Atlas of Erotic Anatomy & Arousal, suggests to mbg. “It could be as simple as creating space in your week to lie in bed and run your hands over yourself, either for pleasure or simply for exploration. These rituals allow us to become more familiar, comfortable, and close to our bodies—and thereby remind us that our body is ours and no one else’s.”

You might also consider spending some time with a hand mirror just scoping out your pelvic region. For people with vaginas, The Vulva Gallery and The Beautiful Cervix Project are also wonderful resources for celebrating the beauty and diversity of our bodies.

Complete Article HERE!

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How Better Sex Education Supports LGBTQ Kids’ Mental Health

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By Kelly Gonsalves

We know sex education in America needs a lot of work. Not only do most states lack comprehensive, medically accurate, and pleasure-positive sex ed programs, but they also tend to leave out or outright antagonize LGBTQ kids.

And according to recent research, sex ed that excludes sexual and gender minorities can have a severely damaging effect on these young people’s mental health: A new study published in the American Journal of Sexuality Education found a lack of inclusivity in sex ed was associated with more anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies in LGBTQ people both in high school and later in life.

Current LGBTQ sex education policies.

When it comes to American sex ed, the sorry stats speak for themselves: Just 24 states require sex ed be taught in schools at all, 27 states require abstinence be stressed in any sex ed programs provided, and just 13 states require all school sex ed programs to be medically accurate.

But if that picture looks grim, it’s even worse for LGBTQ kids. According to GLSEN, a national organization that promotes inclusive education, seven states still have laws prohibiting the “promotion of homosexuality” in classrooms. Three states (Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas) require “only negative information” on sexual orientation be provided in sex ed programs. For example, here’s a snippet of Alabama’s law on the matter: “Classes must emphasize, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.”

There are nine states that require inclusive and LGBTQ-friendly sex education, thankfully. (You can find out more about each individual state’s education policy from the Guttmacher Institute.)

Why LGBTQ sex education is important.

Researchers surveyed 263 people between ages 18 and 26, all of whom identified as sexual minorities (meaning they identified sexually as something other than straight). About 21 percent of them were also trans or nonbinary. They were asked about their experiences in their school sex ed classes, their mental health during high school and after presently, their substance use, and their sexual behaviors.

As expected, the results showed most sexual minority students received “highly heteronormative and exclusive sex education.” The greater the level of exclusion in the program was, the greater their rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide risk were as well. “Many of these associations persisted among the sample even after graduating high school,” the researchers noted. “Although poor mental health outcomes generally lessened over time, those reporting greater levels of exclusion endorsed lingering mental health consequences.” And students who were trans or nonbinary in addition to identifying as a sexual minority reported even worse mental health outcomes compared to cisgender sexual minority students.

But the flip side was also true: LGBTQ people who perceived their sex ed program to have been more inclusive tended to have less anxiety, less depression, and fewer suicidal tendencies.

“More inclusive sex education may fulfill a protective role, providing normalization and visibility of sexual minority orientations in the curriculum,” the researchers write. “These results highlight the potential power of sex education policies and laws at the national, state, and local level on sexual minority youth.”

The study found LGBTQ kids were not more likely to practice safer sex just because a program was inclusive, suggesting comprehensive, medically accurate sex ed is still paramount to protecting young people of all stripes in addition to increasing inclusivity. But in general, research shows inclusive classrooms benefit sexual and gender minority students in many tangible ways, including making them feel safer, encounter less bullying in middle and high schools, be less likely to engage in risky sexual or substance-related behaviors, and have better academic outcomes.

Inclusive sex ed as a mental health issue.

Why would sex ed have such a powerful effect on mental health, in particular?

“The immediacy of sex education during the process of sexual identity formation may help to explain these associations,” the researchers explain. Indeed, the major milestones of sexual identity formation tend to happen during middle and high school, around the same time kids are learning about sex in general and experiencing school sexual education programs. Gay kids, for example, tend to have their first experience with being attracted to someone of the same gender around age 11; by age 18, they’ve usually told at least one non-family member about their sexual orientation.

A large body of research shows denying or invalidating a person’s sexual and gender identity can harm their physical and mental health. These effects might be especially devastating during these vulnerable and formative adolescent years: “Minority stress and internalized homophobia appear to be powerful negative influences on sexual minority youth, and exclusion in education and particularly sex education may contribute to these forces,” the researchers write. “As students develop a sense of social and sexual identity, they receive messaging from their education about the acceptability and normality of their experiences. The connection between perceived inclusivity of sex education and mental health outcomes is unsurprising given these dynamic and powerful influences.”

The effects of an inclusive program were associated with better mental health even after graduation and into their adult years. Considering LGBTQ youth are much more likely to struggle with mental health than their cis and straight peers, often due to the discrimination they experience, the fact that a school sex ed program can have such a lasting impact on their mental health matters a lot.

Clearly, providing quality sex education for kids is a matter of health and wellness, which is why it’s vital that we push our schools to institutionalize better sex ed programs. If you’re a parent, call up your kid’s school and ask about how they do sex ed. Go to school board meetings, rally other parents, and make your voice heard. Parental buy-in can dramatically influence what kinds of sex ed curricula school administrators feel comfortable using.

Sex education classrooms have the potential to become sites of empowerment, both for LGBTQ kids and for everyone, as long as we’re willing to invest in them.

Complete Article HERE!

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Taking back control…

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You don’t owe anyone sex or a relationship

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Movie after movie, scene after scene, we see men and boys refuse to give up on the girl. Had a big fight? Give her a big speech about how she’s the only one! She told you to leave her alone? Go to her house with a bunch of flowers! She broke up with you? Never take no for an answer!

Once you put some music behind it and get Richard Curtis in to direct, of course it all seems unassuming – romantic, even. But real human emotions are much more complex, and coupled with a fundamental misunderstanding of what people want out of relationships, it can all lead to some seriously unwanted advances, or worse.

The fact remains that a man’s behaviour towards women doesn’t have to be violent to be aggressive. If you’ve ever met a boy who thinks he’s the star in a rom-com, you’ll understand the fear and dread that comes with having to confront him when he shows up at your door with a heartfelt poem yet again, after you’ve said ‘no’ more times than you can count on your fingers.

“God, I’m just being nice,” he’ll say – the words that boil my blood. I’ll say it loud for the people in the back: if you do something nice for someone, they don’t owe you anything, and they certainly don’t owe you sex or a relationship.

But well-meaning young men who just won’t get the message aren’t the whole story.

There are real women – and let’s be frank, there are also men as well – out there who face real, physical violence for rejecting unwanted advances. Actress Jameela Jamil has opened up about her personal, harrowing experiences with this, but those of us who don’t have an adoring fanbase and a huge online platform go through it too.

Furthermore, in a society where women still get asked to hide our skin at school and work, for those of us who aren’t in the public eye it’s easy to just shrink away and accept that there’s nothing we can do but cover ourselves up and hope for the best.

But there’s so much we can do! We don’t just have to wait for the world to change around us. You can shout that boys and men need to learn “not to rape” but let’s be honest – most of them bloody well know that already, and the ones who don’t are the ones who never will. So protect each other, stand up for your fellow woman, believe that you deserve better than someone who doesn’t respect you. And most importantly, don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t have been wearing.

So, to the woman who puts up with leery co-workers; to the teenage girl who doesn’t know she’s allowed to tell her boyfriend “no!”; to any and all of us who’ve had a #MeToo moment – know that you are in control of your destiny.

Regardless of what gender and sexuality you identify as, it is never too much to ask to not face violence for not being interested in someone romantically.

Learn to say no, and learn to protect yourself. Because with a US President who brags about “grabbing women by the pussy,” it doesn’t look like the world is going to change in the forseeable future. It’s time to take control.

Complete Article HERE!

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The Impact of Early Sexual Initiation on Boys

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A survey finds that most boys who had sex before age 13 had not yet had comprehensive sex education in school.

By Perri Klass, M.D.

Every couple of years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asks middle and high school students to fill out surveys in class for the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. If students are sexually active, it asks for the age of first sexual intercourse, which is an important milestone.

From a public health point of view, sexual intercourse initiates young people into certain kinds of risk, notably pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. In those terms, what is called early sexual initiation — that is, intercourse before the age of 13 — is well-known as a marker for other kinds of risk, in both girls and boys, including binge drinking and having multiple sexual partners.

These are associations, not cause-and-effect explanations. There are many factors that go into individual trajectories, including the individual child’s physical and emotional development; the home environment and parental supervision practices and the local culture and standards in the child’s community, school and circle of friends.

But kids who start having sex early are kids we should be worrying about, kids at risk.

In April, the journal JAMA Pediatrics published a study of early sexual initiation among males in the United States. The researchers combined data from three different survey years of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, giving them information from 19,916 male students.

The article also reports data from another very large and reputable survey, the National Survey of Family Growth, which gave them information on 7,739 males who had been 15 to 24 years old when they were interviewed.

Of the high school boys in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 8 percent reported sexual initiation before they were 13, and so did 4 percent of the 15- to 24-year-olds in the National Survey of Family Growth. That survey specifically asks about the age of first heterosexual intercourse, while the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System doesn’t specify the gender of the partner.

The researchers found striking geographical variations in the percent of young men reporting early sexual initiation, with some cities, such as Memphis, Milwaukee and Chicago, reporting much higher percentages. Of the males from Memphis, 25 percent reported early initiation, while in San Francisco, only 5 percent did.

They also found higher rates among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic males, and lower rates among those whose mothers had college degrees.

Any survey about sexual behavior raises the question of whether the respondents are answering accurately; Dr. Lee M. Sanders, the chief of the division of general pediatrics at Stanford, suggested that in some communities and neighborhoods, reporting early initiation may be a social expectation, while in others it may be loaded with stigma.

The majority of boys in the United States don’t get comprehensive sex education before they are sexually active, said Dr. Arik V. Marcell, an associate professor of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, who was one of the authors of the study. If that is true for boys who start sexual activity in high school, he said, the gap is even more significant for those who become sexually active at these young ages.

“I don’t want to perpetuate the double standard that it’s O.K. for boys to start having sex,” Dr. Marcell said. “How can we think about addressing potential vulnerabilities, especially if those experiences were not wanted?”

In fact, of those who were 18 to 24 at the time of the survey who reported having initiated sexual activity before the age of 13, 8.5 percent characterized it as unwanted, choosing the response: “I really didn’t want it to happen at the time,” and 54.6 percent as wanted, responding, “I really wanted it to happen at the time,” while 37 percent “had mixed feelings” about it. Interestingly, those percentages were similar for those who began having intercourse when they were 13 or older.

The study was accompanied by a commentary which pointed out that only 13.9 percent of the adolescents in the latest National Survey of Family Growth cohort reported having had any education about saying no to sex by sixth grade, and called for “medically accurate, developmentally appropriate sex education starting in elementary school,” as is also recommended by the Future of Sex Education Initiative.

Dr. David L. Bell, an associate professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and the first author on the commentary, said, “Parents and pediatricians need to help our young men navigate their sexual lives by communicating with them, having open dialogues with them about many different aspects of having sexual relationships.” That includes conversations about consent.

In talking about sexual activity with his patients, Dr. Sanders said, “I’ve gotten really careful about using exactly the same language with boys and girls.” He starts with the question, are you dating. And then, whether they say yes or no, “I will ask if they’ve had sex, and whether they were pressured to have sex, and if they’ve had sex I will ask, was it consensual.”

Boys as young as 12 may not have the opportunity to have confidential conversations without their parents in the room, or be asked routinely by their pediatricians about any of this. Dr. Bell’s editorial called on clinicians to start these conversations earlier, not just in asking about activity, but in opening up conversations about “relationships and sexual decision making.”

In his own clinic for young men, many of the youngest come in with their parents, and he starts by asking them what they’ve heard about puberty, and who it is they go to when they have questions, he said, “letting them know that as their pediatrician, I’m also available to have conversations about how to think about their future in that space.”

The average age of first intercourse also gives public health experts (and educators and politicians and pundits) a way to track changes in social norms, and perhaps to look at the effects of sex education and guidance, which tends to recommend waiting and making good decisions, and the countereffects of media and a highly sexualized environment.

And overall, the public health news has been good: for both males and females, that age has actually been moving older in the United States, and is now at about 17, just as teenage pregnancy rates have declined steeply in recent decades.

It’s very hard not to slip into double standards where adolescents and sex are concerned. It’s easy to look at girls as victims and boys as perpetrators.

“We don’t really have a lot of information about what’s the context of these early sexual experiences for young people in general at ages 12 or younger,” Dr. Marcell said. “The next steps involve understanding a bit more about that.” Because some of this is reported by adults reflecting back, he said, research closer in time to the event might help in understanding young people’s feelings and the longer term consequences of early sexual experience.

“Our culture is always afraid that by talking about something, it encourages something,” Dr. Bell said. “It’s not true about sex. It doesn’t encourage them to have sex, it encourages them to be thoughtful.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Educate yourself in the sexiest way

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By Gabrielle Kassel

Finding answers to questions relating to sex and sexuality is easier than ever before. No matter what you’re looking for, there’s likely a sexpert or a podcast or another source to point you in the right direction. There’s even a whole Netflix show, Sex Education, devoted to the filling in the gaps of our knowledge. Still, there’s a (tech-free) resource you’re probably not utilizing to the max that can seriously boost your sex IQ: books.

Below, Well+Good’s go-to sex experts and educators share their favorite sex-education books—including buzzy newer releases and tried and true faves alike—that’ll rock your mind.

Add the following 12 sexpert-approved reads to your TBR pile and boost your sex IQ in the process.

1. The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love, by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton

“This was one of the most transformative books for me. I grew up in a community where having many sexual partners, engaging in kinky activities, or having relationships outside of strict monogamy was seen as abnormal, even immoral. The Ethical Slut changed my entire concept about what sex and relationships can be. It validated my sexual desires, encouraged exploration, and valued sex with consent and respect. Its explanation and understanding of jealousy also reframed my perception of the feeling. I would highly recommend this read for anyone who feels outside the sexual norm (whatever that is), who is looking to explore (whether they’re single or partnered), and/or who wants to transform how they think about relationships and sex.”

—Amy Boyajian, co-founder and CEO of Wild Flower, a sexual-wellness and adult-product online store

2. Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá

“This book played a significant role in my journey of sexual self-discovery. The authors target and explain where many staunchly held oppressive beliefs about sexuality originate. They unravel the ways even scientists are affected by personal bias, social norms, and heteronormativity. The truth of the matter is that we all have to figure out what we think about sex, gender, and love for ourselves…through experience!”

MacKenzie Peck, founder of Math Magazine, a modern pornographic magazine celebrating sex and sexuality

3. Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters—And How to Get It, by Laurie Mintz, PhD

“This is is a must-, must-, must- read for all vulva owners, and their sexual partners. Mainstream media has taught us that sex = penis + vagina, and that everything else is “foreplay,” or appetizers to the main course that is penetrative sex. The author explains how we’ve been thinking about sex all wrong, all this time, and how as a result, we’ve created a very real pleasure gap between women and men. The key to closing this pleasure gap? The clitoris.”

—Michelle Shnaidman, founder and CEO of Bellesa, a sex-toy company run by women

4. On Chesil Beach: A Novel, by Ian McEwan

“This isn’t a traditional sex-ed book, but On Chesil Beach is a beautiful depiction of how sexual shame can negatively impact your relationships. The young newlyweds think sex is supposed to be easy and come naturally, but it doesn’t. Even though the story takes place prior to the sexual revolution, I believe many couples still suffer from the inability to talk openly to each other about sex.”

Brianna Rader, founder and CEO of Juicebox, a sex and relationship coaching app

5. The Pursuit of Pleasure, by Lionel Tiger

“This book is my all-time favorite, as it’s really about discovering why pleasure is important and what all the fuss is about. Tiger details our evolutionary entitlement and what we want our pleasure legacy to look like. Sex aside, this book will make you think twice before placing pain as your pathway to gratitude when pleasure is an option (and a far more rewarding one, at that). It’s witty and poignant in explaining that pleasure is impressively normal.”

—Dominique Karetsos, resident sexpert with MysteryVibe

6. Tabú, Kinkly, and O.school

“I wish there were more books that talk about sex education. But since anal sex has always been so taboo, I’ve found that for anal sex and butt-play information, blogs are best. Some of my favorite sex-forward blogs are Tabú (which is super visual) Kinkly (because it’s not afraid to go there and it takes a, well, kinkier approach), and O.school (which uses a more traditional approach, but has a lot of video content).”

Evan Goldstein, MD, CEO and founder of Bespoke Surgical, a health-care provider that specializes in helping patients engage in anal sex acts

7. Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, by Emily Nagoski, PhD

“For those who are more into empirical evidence than abstract theories, Come As You Are offers an excellent exploration of sexuality. This book is a great companion for women who benefit from reassurance that they are perfectly complex and perfectly normal. Dr. Emily Nagoski uses scientific research to prove to women everywhere that they are not defective; there are just some central factors involved for women in creating and maintaining a fulfilling sex life.”

Marissa LaRocca, author of Everyone Is a Freak: Intimate Confessions About Sexuality, Gender, and Desire

8. The Guide to Getting it On, by Paul Joannides and Daerick Gross

“My go-to sex book to recommend is The Guide to Getting it On. It’s on its 9th edition, because our understanding and research on human sexuality is ever-growing and evolving. I bought the 3rd edition when I was 17, and the 7th edition when I was 27. It’s thorough (1200 pages, and literally looks like a phone book) and is just so honest, so insightful, and cleverly written in modern language and helpful illustrations.”

Jill McDevitt, PhD, sexologist and author of Fighting the Crusade Against Sex: Being Sex-Positive in a Sex-Negative World

9. The Erotic Mind: Unlocking the Inner Sources of Passion and Fulfillment, by Jack Morin

“In this book, the author unfurls the rationality underlying seemingly illogical desires within most human beings. He presents his readers with what he called the Erotic Equation: attraction + obstacles = excitement. Basically, that means that what we may hold as taboo, naughty or frightening is what becomes the engine driving our erotic curiosity and passion. This is a book for folks curious to understand or embarrassed by what they or their partner(s) find erotically compelling.”

—Sari Cooper, sex therapist and founder of Center for Love and Sex

10.Our Bodies Ourselves, by the Boston Women’s Health Collective

“A think a good one for anyone is Our Bodies Ourselves for anatomy lessons and open conversation about sex. It’s a literal bible.”

Remy Kassimir, host of the How Cum podcast

11. Mating in Captivity Reconciling the Erotic + the Domestic, by Esther Perel

“This book challenges the concept of maintaining the sense of security in a love relationship and delves into the psychological implications behind sexual desire, eroticism, fantasies, and certainty and uncertainty. Where certain subjects or ideas might be too taboo, insulting, or uncomfortable for partners or individuals to bring up, Esther pitches the importance of erotic intelligence, the space that creates, and bringing that space to life within even a monogamous relationship. Whether single or in a long-term partnership, anyone who experiences points of insecurity in sex and love, dirty secretive fantasies, or simply desires to grasp a different perspective on the “taboo” boundaries established by society in general should read this book.”

—Grace Ho, leading pleasure expert with Sweet Vibrations, an online adult boutique

12. Jewel in the Lotus: The Sexual Path to Higher Consciousness, by Bodhi Avinasha and Sunyata Saraswati

Recently I’ve been immersed in the book, Jewel in the Lotus: The Sexual Path to Higher Consciousness, which is one of the best books I’ve read about tantric sex. It has excellent breath work instructions and meditations that help relax and free the mind.”

Alexandra Fine, CEO and co-founder sex-toy company Dame

For more sex wisdom, check out what Esther Perel has to say about why sex gets better as you age, and how to bounce back when your sex life becomes “blah”. Oh, and BTW, scheduling sex is actually great for your relationship.

Complete Article HERE!

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