This cooking staple is scientifically proven to boost your sexual performance

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Apparently it’s ‘better than Viagra’.

By Anna Lavdaras

Forget sex toys and oysters, apparently the secret to boosting a man’s performance in the bedroom is good weekly dousing of olive oil.

That’s right, just 9 tablespoons of your kitchen cooking staple is enough to reduce impotence by around 40 per cent by keeping blood vessels healthy and maintain circulation throughout the body.

Scientists from the University of Athens studies 660 men with an average age of 67 and found that those that adopted a Mediterranean style diet – rich in fruit and vegetables, legumes, fish and nuts, as well as olive oil – had far fewer problems in between the sheets and even saw a vast improvement in their bedroom prowess.

Olive oil can also help dramatically increase testosterone levels, which reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction, which is the inability to get and maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse.

Erectile dysfunction currently affects about 1 million Australian men, and experts predict this percentage will escalate as our population lives longer as the disease is strongly linked to age.

Lead researcher Dr Christina Chrysohoou, said diet and exercise were key to improving sexual capacity of middle age and elderly men.

“Men that follow a Med diet – particularly consuming lots of olive oil – see their risk of impotence reduced by up to 40 per cent in older age.”

She added that small lifestyle changes could prove more beneficial for those looking for a long-term solution. While Viagra, created in the 1990s and now available over the counter without prescription, has helped the sex life of millions, the side-effects include headache, back pain and visual disturbance.

“This diet keeps your blood vessels healthy and lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and central obesity.

“It offers men a long-term solution without taking any medication, such as Viagra. This diet keeps your blood vessels healthy.

“Viagra does not improve something long-term. It can only give some short effect in order to have sexual capacity.”

Julie Ward, of the British Heart Foundation, welcomed the findings, saying “It’s no surprise the Mediterranean diet – which we know is beneficial to heart and circulatory health – might benefit blood vessels and help men maintain healthy sexual function.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex, technology and disability – it’s complicated

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Media portrayals of sexuality often focus on a visual and verbal vocabulary that is young, white, cisgender, heterosexual and…not disabled.

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People living with disability are largely excluded from conversations about sexuality, and face overlapping barriers to sexual expression that are both social and physical.

Media portrayals of sexuality often focus on a visual and verbal vocabulary that is young, white, cisgender, heterosexual and … not disabled.

My research into inclusive design explores how design can – intentionally or unintentionally – exclude marginalised or vulnerable people, as well as how design can ensure that everyone is included. That might mean design of the built environment, everyday products, or even how information is presented.

UTS has been collaborating for over a year with Northcott Innovation, a nonprofit organisation based in NSW that focuses on solutions for people with disability, to understand the barriers people face, and how inclusive design can help break them down.

When it comes to sexuality, new technologies have a role to play – but we need to look at both the opportunities and risks that these developments bring.

Starting the conversation

David* is a young man living with cerebral palsy who expresses a deep frustration about being unable to have his sexual desires met. He revealed his thoughts during discussions around sex and disability.

I can’t get into a lot clubs in my wheelchair – or restaurant or cafés for that matter. So where do I go to meet someone? Or go on a date? Let alone if we wanted to be intimate!

Northcott Innovation’s executive director Sam Frain isn’t surprised by what these conversations are revealing:

People with disability want to date, fall in love, or even fall out of love. They want to be recognised as the adults they are. In acknowledging their capacity for meaningful relationships, we must also acknowledge their sexuality – in whatever form that takes.

David faces complex social barriers too. Because it’s hard to for him to discuss his sexuality at all, coming out to his mother feels particularly fraught:

My mum doesn’t really know that I want to meet a future husband, not wife. I want to go on more dates. I don’t just want to meet other men with disability either. I want to meet lots of guys – but where can I go and how do I do this?

Inclusive sex toys

People living with disability have diverse physical and social support needs when it comes to expressing their sexuality. That means there isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Rather we need a design approach that allows for customisation.

A new research project at RMIT, led by industrial design lecturer Judith Glover, is investigating the design of customised, inclusive sex toys.

Aside from some engineering research undertaken earlier this year at the University of São Paulo into the neurodildo – a sex toy operated remotely by brain waves – inclusive sex toys are an under-explored area of design research.

Glover feels strongly that designing sexual health products or services – whether for therapy or for recreation – should be treated as any other area of design. She acknowledges that the sex toy industry has barely started to address sex toys for an ageing population, let alone solutions for people with various disabilities:

Some of the people I meet, who are physically incapable of holding and moving objects, may have trouble communicating verbally – yet who really yearn to be able to develop their own sexual practice. Plus who doesn’t need to just get off every once in a while?

David agrees:

I really want to explore the option of sex toys more, but I don’t know what to try, or how to use it.

Social media and intellectual disability

Connecting communities together is an important strategy to overcome marginalisation and amplify the voices of people with disability.

Social media is a space where technology brings like-minded people together. But creating safe online spaces for people to express their sexuality can create unforeseen challenges – particularly for people with intellectual disability.

Deakin University and the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) set up a closed Facebook support group earlier this year for people with intellectual disability who identify as LGBTQI. Jonathon Kellaher, an educator with IDRS, says:

Group administrators quickly realised that people who were not “out” and did not understand that group members can be viewed publicly were at risk of accidentally “outing” themselves when requesting to join the group.

To address this issue, the group privacy setting was set to “secret”. But this meant new members had to wait to be added, so it became a barrier to the group’s potential as a social connector. Deakin is now working on a project with GALFA to learn more about how people connect in this space.

Technology must promote inclusion

Then there is the elephant in the room: sex robots.

Manufacturers claim sex robots provide health and social benefits for people with disability, but researchers have been quick to point out that there’s no evidence to support the range of claims that have been made.

While it’s possible to see the introduction of sex robots as a form of assistive technology – a new way to experience pleasure, or to explore preferences and body capabilities – there’s another, more tragic, side.

Viewing sex robots as a solution to the loneliness of people with disability (or anyone for that matter), or as a remedy for a lack of available dates, risks perpetuating and exacerbating the social and sexual exclusion of people with disability.

Technology can’t replace human connection, so it’s critical that new technologies support greater inclusion for people living with disability. It’s a human right to be able to safely express and enjoy sexuality, and have the choice to live a life with pleasure.

For David, that fits in to his ideal world very clearly:

One day I really want a husband to love me, two children, and to own my own restaurant.

Complete Article HERE!

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Art of Presence: Pleasure Mapping

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by KinkKit Team

Try the Yoni Pleasure Mapping Technique:

(Yoni, pronounced (YO-NEE), or “Vagina”, is derived from Sanskrit.)

The objective is not to achieve orgasm, though that may happen. The objective is to thoroughly learn and discover your partner’s pleasurable spots in a relaxed setting, with no expectations. As you massage your partner, focus all your loving emotion onto them.

1. Get your partner relaxed and comfortable.

Have your partner lie face-up with legs spread apart and knees bent. Optional: place a pillow under your lover’s head and/or hips. 

2. Both partners must remember to breathe.

Mindful breathing is a large part of what separates Tantra from regular sexual experiences. While you give your partner the lingam massage, try something called Ujiayi (ooh-JAH-yee), or “Bliss Breath”, in tandem:

To perform Ujjayi breathing:

  1. Close your mouth
  2. Take a long, deep inhale through your nose, while lightly constricting the back of your throat (your breath will make a whispery kind of noise)
  3. Hold it for a second
  4. Exhale slowly through your nose, while lightly constricting the back of your throat (your breath will make a whispery kind of noise)

3. Encourage your partner to breathe deeply.

Before you begin the yoni massage, tune into your partner by engaging in the “bliss breath” together. Just taking a few breaths at the same time will put you both at ease and match your bio-rhythms. You’ll both get all the good vibes. Ask your partner if you may continue before you begin.

4. Begin with both hands (or tool) well-lubricated.

Massager: If you started with Round 1, your hands may have the other hemp massage oil on them. Wash your hands and switch to the lube (it’s specially formulated to bio-match with the natural pH of the vagina). You may wish to also lube up the Gläs massager as well, if you plan to use this tool for pleasure mapping. Make sure the Yoni stays well lubricated throughout the entire Pleasure Mapping.

5. Massage the vulva first before slipping inside.

Gently rub the lube on the outer lips of the Yoni at least nine times. Using your thumb and index fingers, gently squeeze each lip of the vulva, sliding your fingers up and down the entire length of each lip. Then, carefully repeat this with each inner lip of the Yoni, being careful to vary the pressure and speed of your touch. Next, gently stroke the clitoris in a circular motion, clockwise and counter-clockwise. Then, squeeze the clitoris between your thumb and index finger.

As you do this, continue asking your lover to give their pleasure rating from 0 – 10. When a spot is given a rating of 5 or higher, push, caress, and gently squeeze that area more firmly to see if the pleasure rating changes. 

6. Move into the vagina.

Next, slowly and with great care, insert your middle finger into the vagina. Very gently explore and press the inside of the Yoni with your finger. As you do so, ask your partner how that feels and prompt more pleasure ratings. Varying the speed and depth of your finger, feel inside the Yoni up, down and around. With your palm pointing upward and your finger inside your partner’s Yoni, bend your finger to make contact with the G-spot. 

7. Continue for as long as your lover desires.

Continue massaging with different speeds and pressures. At this point, your lover may wish not to give pleasure ratings anymore — let your lover just relax and keep breathing. If your lover has an orgasm, keep up with the breathing, and continue massaging if your lover desires. More orgasms may occur at this point, though, if they do not, just enjoy the ride! 

Keep massaging until your partner requests that you stop. Slowly, and with respect, remove your hands. Allow your partner to lay there and bask in the afterglow of the Yoni massage, while you experience the joy of being of service. If your lover wishes, at this point you can gently massage the hands or feet using the mushroom massager.

Try the Lingam Pleasure Mapping Technique:

(Lingam, or “Penis”, is derived from Sanskrit.)

1. Get your partner relaxed and comfortable.

Have your partner lie face-up with legs spread apart and knees bent. Optional: place a pillow under your lover’s head and/or hips. 

2. Both partners must remember to breathe.

Mindful breathing is a large part of what separates Tantra from regular sexual experiences. While you give your partner the lingam massage, try something called Ujiayi (ooh-JAH-yee), or “Bliss Breath”, in tandem:

To perform Ujjayi breathing:

  1. Close your mouth
  2. Take a long, deep inhale through your nose, while lightly constricting the back of your throat (your breath will make a whispery kind of noise)
  3. Hold it for a second
  4. Exhale slowly through your nose, while lightly constricting the back of your throat (your breath will make a whispery kind of noise)

3. Encourage your partner to breathe deeply.

Before you begin the lingam massage, tune into your partner by engaging in the “bliss breath” together. Just taking a few breaths at the same time will put you both at ease and match your bio-rhythms. You’ll both get all the good vibes. Ask your partner if you may continue before you begin.

4. Lubricate and massage lightly around the penis with both hands.

Massager: If you started with Round 1, your hands may have the other hemp massage oil on them. Wash your hands and switch to the lube or a food-grade oil (coconut oil is fantastic: not only does it smell delicious, it has a very light, slippery texture without being sticky.). Make sure you oil both the shaft of the penis and the testicles. Start by sliding up and down the thighs before getting to the good stuff. This will also make your partner feel more relaxed. Feel free to compliment your partner, though don’t lose focus on the Ask and Answer. 

Receiver: Give your Pleasure Rating on the sliding scale of 1 – 10. Don’t worry about whether or not you are impressing your lover; only focus your breathing and on the pleasure you are feeling.

Massager: Move onto the testicles. Gently, slowly massage them. You can use your fingernails gently on his testicles, or pull them slightly. You can also cup them in your hands and fondle them in the palm of your hand.

Massage each of the areas around the testicles and penis (i.e., the pubic bone in the front, the inner part of the thighs, and the perineum—or “taint”—which is the area between the testicles and the anus).

5. Massage the shaft.

Once you’ve teased the areas around the lingam, move to the shaft. Vary your grip between harder and lighter. Vary your stroke sequences between straight up and down and a twisting motion.

Vary the action from one hand to two hands. When using just one hand, alternate between using the right and left hands.

Start slowly and build up to a faster pace, then make it slow again. Keep alternating the pressure, speed, rhythm, and methods.

Also, alternate the shaft strokes to start from the root of the shaft all the way up to the head. Once at the head, you can either continue the straight up and down motion, or you can do the twist—going from the root of the shaft and stopping just below the tip of the penis.

Variety is the key here.

When using two hands, you can do it a few different ways:

1. Both hands hold the penis in the same direction with the fingers pointing the same way.

2. One hand holds the penis facing one way and the other hand faces the other way.

3. Both hands move up and down at the same time. Use plenty of lube to keep the texture slippery and smooth.

4. The bottom hand moves up and down while the top hand does a swirling/twisting action at the tip of the penis.

6. Edge your lover – don’t allow climax. Rather, keep your lover at the edge of orgasm.

By now, your lover might be very worked up and might want to come. If you are paying close attention to breathing patterns, how the body moves, and the moaning, you should be able to predict whether your partner is nearing orgasm. At this point, slow it down and remind your partner to breathe and ride the wave of orgasmic feelings. At this point, your lover might go from being rock hard to semi-hard. Don’t worry. That’s what’s supposed to happen.

7. Continue for as long as your lover desires.

Continue massaging with different speeds and pressures. At this point, your lover may wish not to give pleasure ratings anymore — let your lover just relax and keep breathing. If your lover has an orgasm, keep up with the breathing, and continue massaging if your lover desires. More orgasms may occur at this point, though, if they do not, just enjoy the ride! 

Keep massaging until your partner requests that you stop. Slowly, and with respect, remove your hands. Allow your partner to lay there and bask in the afterglow of the Yoni massage, while you experience the joy of being of service. If your lover wishes, at this point you can gently massage the hands or feet using the mushroom massager.

Try the Prostate Pleasure Mapping Technique:

8. Stimulate the p-spot externally.

The prostate, or “male g-spot”, which is a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis. When stimulated properly, it is very pleasurable.

You can access the prostate either internally (by inserting your fingers or the Gläs curved massage toy into the booty) or externally (through massaging the outside without penetration).

If your lover isn’t experienced with prostate massage, start externally. Look for an indentation somewhere between the size of a pea and a walnut midway between the testicles and the anus. Push gently inward. As you do so, have your lover continue to give you numbers. Be careful to go slowly and let your lover guide you in terms of pressure.

When you hit the right spot, massage it by pushing in with your fingers or knuckles, then backing off and pushing in again. You can also use a circular massage motion. If he’s especially hairy, use more lube so you can get to the area more easily.

9. If your lover is comfortable, stimulate internally.

If your lover enjoyed the prostate massage, take it to the next level with an internal massage. If the game, you’ll want to loosen up the anus with lube. Start by massaging the outside of the anus with your fingers in a slow, smooth, and gentle circular motion. Don’t insert a finger without express permission. Ask if your lover is ready for more.

If he is ready for insertion, make sure his anus and your fingers are oiled up. Make sure your nails don’t have any jagged edges. Start by inserting just the tip of one finger at first. Wiggle it back and forth to loosen him up. Once he’s comfortable with that, you can insert your finger(s) more deeply, as the prostate is about 2 to 3 inches inside the anus, closer to the anterior wall of the rectum.

Once there, you can gently caress it by moving your finger from side to side, up and down, or “milking” it with a come hither motion with your finger(s). Continue asking for Pleasure Ratings.

10. Keep massaging until your partner wishes to stop.

Continue massaging with different speeds and pressures. At this point, your lover may wish not to give pleasure ratings anymore — let your lover just relax and keep breathing. If your lover has an orgasm, keep up with the breathing, and continue massaging if your lover desires. More orgasms may occur at this point, though, if they do not, just enjoy the ride! 

Keep massaging until your partner requests that you stop. Slowly, and with respect, remove your hands. Allow your partner to lay there and bask in the afterglow of the Yoni massage, while you experience the joy of being of service. If your lover wishes, at this point you can gently massage the hands or feet using the mushroom massager.

Complete Article HERE!

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Mindful sex: could it put an end to unhappiness in bed?

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Mindfulness has been used to treat depression and encourage healthy eating. Now, with huge numbers of men and women reporting sexual dissatisfaction, it is being applied to our relationships

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So there you are, in bed with your partner, having perfectly pleasant if serviceable sex, when your mind starts to wander: what was it you meant to put on your shopping list? Why didn’t your boss reply to your email? Don’t forget it’s bin day tomorrow.

Many of us feel disconnected during sex some or most of the time. At the more extreme end, sexual dysfunction – erectile problems, vaginal pain, zero libido – can severely hamper our quality of life and our relationships. In many cases, there could be a relatively simple, if not easily achieved, fix: mindfulness.

In essence, mindfulness involves paying attention to what is happening in the present moment and noticing, without judgment, your thoughts and feelings. It can reconnect us with our bodies – stopping us spending so much time in our heads – and reduce stress. It has been used by the NHS as a treatment for recurrent depression and popular books and apps have made it part of many people’s everyday lives. After mindful eating, drinking, parenting and working, mindful lovemaking is starting to be recognised more widely as a way to improve one’s sex life. (Earlier this year, the couples therapist Diana Richardson gave a TEDx talk on mindfulness in sex, which has been viewed 170,000 times on YouTube.)

A survey published in June by Public Health England found that 49% of 25- to 34-year-old women complained of a lack of sexual enjoyment; across all ages, 42% of women were dissatisfied. The most recent National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, published in 2013, found that people in Britain were having less sex than they once did, with low sexual function affecting about 15% of men and 30% of women. Difficulty achieving orgasm was reported by 16% of women, while 15% of men suffered premature ejaculation and 13% experienced erectile dysfunction. Problems with sexual response were common, affecting 42% of men and 51% of women who reported one or more problems in the last year.

At the time, the researchers said modern life could be affecting our sex drives.
 
“People are worried about their jobs, worried about money. They are not in the mood for sex,” said Cath Mercer from University College London. “But we also think modern technologies are behind the trend, too. People have tablets and smartphones and they are taking them into the bedroom, using Twitter and Facebook, answering emails.”

Mindfulness is one of the tools that can help people focus in a world full of distractions. Kate Moyle, a psychosexual and couples therapist, says mindfulness is a recognised part of therapeutic work, even if it has not always been given that name. “When people have sexual problems, a lot of the time it’s anxiety-related and they’re not really in their bodies, or in the moment. Mindfulness brings them back into the moment. When people say they’ve had the best sex and you ask them what they were thinking about, they can’t tell you, because they weren’t thinking about anything, they were just enjoying the moment. That’s mindfulness.” Moyle says the techniques involve “encouraging people to focus on their sensations, explore their senses, hone in on what is happening in their body and how they’re experiencing it”.

A simple exercise Moyle recommends is “getting in touch with the senses in the shower – listen to the noise, the sensation of the water on your skin, notice any smells, see what the water tastes like, look around you. You’re really encouraging people to try to stay in their bodies, rather than be in their heads. It’s about refocusing their attention on what they can feel right now.”

Ammanda Major, the head of clinical practice at the relationship support organisation Relate, says mindful sex “is about focusing in the moment on what’s going on for you and making sure all the extraneous things get left behind. For example, if you’re being touched by your partner, it’s really focusing on those sensations. People may find themselves very distracted during sex, so this is a way of bringing themselves into their body and being totally aware of themselves in that moment.” It is now part of the standard advice and support Relate offers to clients, she says. “It can feel clunky to start with, but with practice people realise they’re able to engage in mindfulness without realising they’re doing it.” In short, it becomes a way of life. Other than focusing on sensations, people can bring into sex an awareness of “how nice your partner feels, or how nice they smell, or the sound of their voice – something that will bring you right back into the moment. When you have thoughts that distract you, one of the key issues is not to blame yourself, but just to acknowledge it and cast them adrift.”

At the Jane Wadsworth sexual function clinic at St Mary’s hospital in London, mindfulness is used in almost all sexual problems, says David Goldmeier, a clinical lead and consultant in sexual medicine. These approaches have been used in sex therapy since the 50s, but they were not known as mindfulness at the time. The American researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson used a technique called “sensate focus”, emphasising the exploration of physical sensations rather than focusing on the goal of orgasm.

A mindful approach can help men with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. “If you have a man who has an erection problem and is stressed by it, a lot of his mind [during sex] will be worrying: ‘Have I got an erection or not?’” says Goldmeier. It is also used to help men and women who find it hard to orgasm or have low desire, as well as in sexual problems relating to abuse. “In our clinic, we see an awful lot of people with historical sexual abuse and [mindfulness is] a foundation for the trauma therapy they have. It is useful in sexual problems that are based in large part on past sexual abuse,” he says.

Lori Brotto, one of the leading researchers in this area, agrees. In her book Better Sex Through Mindfulness, she wrote of a study she published in 2012, which noted that “teaching sexual abuse survivors to mindfully pay attention to the present moment, to notice their genital sensations and to observe ‘thoughts’ simply as events of the mind, led to marked reductions in their levels of distress during sex”.

Brotto is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and the executive director of the Women’s Health Research Institute in Canada. Having started sex research during her graduate degree, she began studying mindfulness in 2002. Mindfulness-based treatments had been used effectively for people with suicidal tendencies – these ancient techniques started to be used widely in western medicine in the 70s – and Brotto realised they could also be helpful for addressing the sexual concerns of women who had survived cancer. “What struck me was … how the patients I was seeing with suicidal tendencies, who would talk about feeling disconnected from themselves and having a real lack of awareness of their internal sensations, were very similar to the women with sexual concerns,” she says. “At that time, I thought: ‘If mindfulness could be an effective way of staying in the present and helping them manage these out-of-control behaviours, I wonder if it could also be a tool to help women reconnect with their sexual selves and improve their sexual functioning.’”

Sexual problems can be caused by a huge range of factors. Depression and stress can be triggers, as can the side-effects of antidepressants. Over time, these side-effects can become a psychological factor, as people worry that they are no longer sexually responsive. Problems can also be caused by physical conditions such as vaginal pain, or inhibitions and shame about sexual desire, particularly for some women and people in same-sex relationships. Survivors of sexual abuse, who learned to dissociate during an assault, can also experience distressing sexual problems in a later consensual and otherwise happy relationship. “Mindfulness is such a simple practice, but it really addresses many of the reasons why people have sexual concerns,” says Brotto.

At its most basic, she explains, mindfulness is defined as “present-moment nonjudgmental awareness. Each of those three components are critical for healthy sexual function. For a lot of women who report low desire, lack of response and low arousal in particular, all three of those domains are problematic.” Being “present” is critical. “Then there is the nonjudgmental part – countless studies have shown that people who have sexual difficulties tend also to have very negative and catastrophic thoughts: ‘If I don’t respond, my partner will leave me,’ or: ‘If I don’t have an adequate level of desire, I’m broken.’ Mindfulness and paying attention nonjudgmentally is about evoking compassion for yourself.”

Body image issues come up consistently, she says. “Women will often say they prefer to have the lights off, or they’ll redirect their partner’s hands away from the areas of their body they’re not happy with, or they may be worrying that a partner is perceiving their body in a negative way. All of those things serve to remove them from the present moment.”

As for awareness, Brotto says, “lots of data shows us that women, more so than men, tend to be somewhat disconnected from what’s happening in their bodies”. Her experiments have shown that women can experience physical arousal, such as increased blood flow to their vagina, but it barely registers mentally. “There may be a strong physiological response, [but] there’s no awareness in their mind of that response. We know that healthy sexual response requires the integration of the brain and body, so when the mind is elsewhere – whether it’s distracted or consumed with catastrophic thoughts – all of that serves to interrupt that really important feedback loop.”

It can be the same for some men, she says, but “there tends to be more concordance between the body’s arousal and the mind’s arousal. When men have a physical response, they’re also much more likely to have a mental sexual arousal response.”

While working with a group or a sex therapist can be helpful for people with sexual concerns, others can teach themselves mindfulness techniques using books or any number of apps. In her book, Brotto says mindfulness practice can be as simple as focusing on your breath. An exercise she uses involves focusing on a raisin (this is a well-established practice and there are many tutorials online). First, scrutinise it – its shape, size, smell, feel, its ridges and valleys – then put it to your lips and notice your anticipation and salivary response; finally, bite into it and observe, in detail, the taste and texture. This can teach us to focus on sensations and the moment, rather than mindlessly eating a handful of raisins. The same sort of attention can be applied to sex.

In Brotto’s eight-week group programme, people practice mindfulness techniques for 30 minutes each day, followed by a maintenance plan of between 10 and 15 minutes a day. For someone doing it on their own, she recommends starting with 10 minutes a day and trying to include a few 30-minute sessions. “The benefit of a longer practice is you get to deal with things such as boredom and frustration, and physical discomfort in the body, all of which you want to be able to work through,” she says. “A body scan is one of our favourites within the sexuality realm – that involves closing your eyes and really tuning in to the different sensations in different parts of your body and not trying to change anything, just observing. If people can start to do that in their life generally, on a regular basis, they strengthen that mindfulness ‘muscle’ and start to become more aware generally and they can take that newfound awareness into their sexuality.”

When we have better sex, we tend to want more of it, so it becomes a satisfying circle. “Desire is not a fixed level that each one of us has, but rather is adaptive and responsive to our situation,” says Brotto. “When sex is not satisfying, it makes sense that the brain adjusts itself and creates less [desire].”

Mindful sex does not have to be an intense, time-consuming session. “It can be very everyday; it doesn’t have to be a different type of sex,” says Moyle. “You might have sex the same way, in the same position, but you’re in a different headspace, so you’re experiencing it differently. People can think: ‘I’m not into mindfulness,’ or: ‘It’s a bit spiritual and I’m not,’ but it doesn’t have to be that. It can just be really straightforward – focusing your attention and fully experiencing sensations.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How Orgasms Actually Happen

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The complicated ways we experience sexuality.

By Gigi Engle

What leads us to orgasm? What if we haven’t experienced an orgasm? What happens to the body during orgasm? Have you had an orgasm? Is orgasm important?

These questions have been asked for many, many years. We’re constantly trying to break down orgasm. We want to know how to have one, how we get there, and how we get our partners there.

There is so much variance in the way women experience desire, pleasure, arousal, and orgasm. There are no true black and white answers. “Most of us tend to think of sex as linear and it doesn’t have to be. It’s great to use it as a guideline, but everyone’s experience is subjective,” Dr. Emily Morse, a sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast tells Brides.

While we can suss out facts based on scientific research, it is important to recognize that there are vast personal differences. We each fall on a kind of spectrum. In no way is this information meant to incite feelings of “lacking” or “abnormality.”

The only normal that exists is the abnormal. We are all complex, unique, and different.

That being said, here is everything we know on the stages of sexual response and, yes, orgasm.

A wee bit of history

Not to bore you with a bunch of facts and history, but it’s actually quite important when discussing the ways we’ve come to understand (and not understand) female sexuality. If we don’t have the facts, what do we even have? It’s not like the information we receive on sex from school or family is highly reliable. (If you hate history and facts, just skip to section three).

When we talk about human sexual response, orgasm, etc. we usually jump to the original model created by pioneering sex researchers, Masters and Johnson, in the 1960s. These groundbreaking researchers broke the human sexual response cycle into excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. While a huge contribution to sexual science, Rena McDaniel, a certified sex therapist, tells Brides that this isn’t where the story ends.

In the 70s, this original model of human sexual response was further developed by Helen Singer Kaplan, adding in desire as the beginning of the sexual response cycle. This made way for a new framework which broke sexual response into a Triphasic Model: desire, arousal, orgasm.

“I’m most concerned with women knowing the difference between desire and arousal. Desire is our sex drive, our pilot light, or mental stimulation – whereas arousal is what happens when we’re physically turned on,” says Morse. Desire is in your mind, arousal is in the body. Including desire in the overall sexual cycle is crucial.

This three-part model may seem a little simpler than the Masters and Johnson’s, but it actually accounts for the overlapping, broad way we experience desire and arousal. Each of these three phases is complex and are experienced differently from woman to woman.

But, there’s more!

Sexual response was even further developed by researchers Janssen and Bancroft’s Dual Control Model and Basson’s Sexual Response Cycle.

These models map out sexual response as a super complex, overlapping, nonlinear system. McDaniel tells us that for female sexual experiences, desire may not be the first thing you feel; it might develop as you brain recognizes and codifies sexually relevant contexts. For example, your partner has lit candles and you start making out. Your vagina may lubricate before you think, “This is hot. I’m into it.”

“The Dual Control Model speaks to a similar system of ‘accelerators’ and ‘brakes’ that govern sexual response in a non-linear way,” McDaniel says. Accelerators move you forward in the sexual response cycle, while breaks slow you down. (To learn more, read on here.)

It’s complicated to say the least!

So, why does this matter?

It’s, like, why are we talking about this history stuff when there are juicy sex things to discuss? Because if you’re a woman, or a man, or a genderqueer person, or a non-binary person, or ANY person, you know that sexuality is complex AF.

It’s important to know how far science has come in order to get a better grasp on how your body works. If anything, all of this history and research can show you how we’re still figuring stuff out. You are not broken or lacking. Bodies are not a one-size-fits-all model.

Orgasm is not some ‘big finish” or “goal”

If the history lesson above should teach you anything it’s that sexual response and experience is anything but simple. Orgasm is defined as the involuntary release of sexual tension. That’s it. The word pleasure ain’t present in there, y’all.

We put a bunch of pressure on “orgasm” as this exciting big finish. If we don’t “get there” or if our orgasm is anything other than earth-shattering, we’ve failed. This is the wrong way to think about it. And frankly, it just makes women feeling like crap about themselves.

Orgasm isn’t the goal—sexual pleasure is the goal. If orgasm happens to take place, great. If not, your sexual experience is not invalidated. “When we reframe orgasm as the ‘cherry on top’ of a pleasurable and intimate sexual experience, it takes the pressure off and gives us more space to be present and enjoy the pleasurable sensations for their own sake instead of a means to an end,” McDaniels explains.

What this all means

Stop forcing an orgasm! It’s not doing anything for you. Putting pressure and stress on yourself will not result in the framework needed to relax into an orgasm.

If your partner is constantly asking you, “Did you come?” Have a conversation with them about how orgasm works. Pressure = breaks.

“It’s most important for women to figure out what turns them on and explore their body rather than worrying about whether or not they’re experiencing the ‘correct’ model of sexual arousal,” Morse says.

If we stopped freaking ourselves out so much, we’d probably all have more orgasms. Ah, a lovely sexual catch-22. Take time for yourself and figure out what works for you. Whatever works is right. That’s all there is to it. “Self-exploration is the key to understanding what it takes to orgasm during sex,” Mose says.

Masturbate, masturbate, masturbate. Consider this your call to action.

Complete Article HERE!

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Enjoy kink?

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Here’s how to handle the ‘drop’ you may feel after you play.

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‘I tend to play pretty hard,’ Rizzo Barajas from Martinez, California told Gay Star News. ‘Usually involving blood or very hard physical impact play.’

Rizzo identifies as a queer agender person of color.

He’s also a switch, which means he alternates between taking either the submissive or dominant role during Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism (BDSM) sessions.

But sometimes after a heavy session (also known as a scene) he’ll go from extreme pleasure to an intense drop in his mood.

‘It’s kind of like extreme temperature changes,’ he said. ‘Running from the pool to the hot tub and then back to the pool.’

He continued: ‘It’s jarring for me to go from having the hell beaten out of me to sitting and having a cup of water while trying to socialize.’

Marilyn Hollinger from Millbrae, California describes herself as a ‘sadist, mistress, femme top who likes to play very hard’. She’s been in the leather scene since 1986 and identifies as a lesbian.

She described a ‘drop’ as a bit like a skydive.

Marilyn said: ‘In a usual scene, I find I experience euphoria and it’s almost like an altered state – it can feel like a drug sometimes where you’re just in such a state of pleasure and extreme emotional or physical feelings.

‘So when you’re in this high state, at some point, you come down. You come down into this normal state but sometimes you dip and that’s called a drop,’ she said.

What is a ‘drop’?

Susan Wright from Phoenix, Arizona is the founder and spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

She said: ‘A drop is a feeling of depression or bodily decline.’ Susan said it’s a drop from the intense emotional, physical and mental feelings you had during the scene.

Dr Brad Sagarin is the Head of the Science of BDSM Research Team at Northern Illinois University.

Their research examines the positive physiological and psychological effects of consensual BDSM activities.

Sagarin explained: ‘Both bottoms and tops show increases in relationship closeness and reductions in psychological stress from before to after their scenes.’

Bottoms show increases in cortisol (a hormone associated with physiological stress) during scenes and tops show a ‘pleasurable altered state associated with optimal experiences.’

Dr Richard Sprott at the California State University wrote in the 2016 Journal of Positive Sexuality that ‘drops’ can happen to anyone.

They believe there are two different types of drop – immediate after-scene drop and drops that can happen days later.

Both types can leave people in a deep psychological process that leads to feeling ‘lost, ungrounded, disconnected, unsatisfied, depressed, irritable, vulnerable, raw, sad’.

The science behind a drop

Sprott and Randall theorize a ‘drop’ can be a process of grief and bereavement. Grief ‘refers to the emotional and cognitive reactions that a person has when one experiences a loss or separation.’

They also believe drops can be the result of a person losing their identity.

They wrote: ‘One’s self, or a central identity, is changing in some way. And that change involves a loss of the old self – the old identity.’

Susan said drops can range from being very mild to very intense, boiling down to endorphins and adrenaline.

She said: ‘After a scene, my body is trying to deal with flushing those chemicals out of your system and you really feel it.’

Susan also says a person experiencing a drop might have a little internalized shame.

She said: ‘For some people, the shame of being kinky and having done what you did may be the reason for a drop. We have so much societal disapproval and perhaps what they did conflicts with what their ideas of what a good person does.’

She added: ‘It’s a terrible thing for someone to feel bad about who they are – it’s why community is so important.’

Marilyn agreed: ‘Sometimes the bottom might think: “Oh well how can I be a good person if I like being hit?” or humiliated, or whatever it is we’re doing.

‘How can I be a good person and person of value? That all hits you in a drop,’ she said.

Another part of feeling a drop might be a physical reaction.

During an intense scene, you might be putting your body through strenuous positions.

If you strain your muscles too hard, you might get a build up of lactic acid. This, in turn, can lead to you feeling sore.

How to prevent a drop

The best way to prevent a drop is open and honest communication with any scene partner you might have.

An important way to do this is to negotiate with your partner beforehand about what you might need after the scene.

This could be as simple as a back rub, a cuddle or sharing a meal together.

Another great way to prevent a drop is to take things slow.

Susan explained: ‘One of the ways to prevent a drop is to have a more gradual build-up in the scene and then a more gradual drop off.

‘For example, if you wanted to do a caning scene, you start with the spanking, you warm up with a good 15 minutes of spanking and tapping lightly with the cane. Then you might administer a stroke of the cane.

‘Then you do your caning for however long you want and then you taper off. You stroke the rest of the body as a decline or you cuddle a lot afterwards,’ she said.

Rizzo agreed: ‘I like to do a cool down period where the impact is not as hard but is still present. It’s a slow change instead of a hard stop.’

Vigorous stretching beforehand and taking vitamin B is also a good way to deal with lactic acid build up.

Susan also said it helps not to do drugs or drink alcohol before or during a scene.

After care: Dealing with a drop

Every good BDSM-lover knows to have good after care when your scene is done.

After care is giving your body or mind what it needs in order to alleviate or stop a drop from happening.

Marilyn is a mistress and is currently in several master/slave relationships, where she’s the authority.

Even though she’s a top, she says she still experiences a drop in ‘virtually every level of play scene’ she does.

She explained she can be doing some very intense scene work, involving inflicting high levels of pain. But this is the complete opposite to how she is in the real world.

So a form of after care for her is scheduling a check-in with her partner after the scene is done.

She said: ‘Even though I’m the top, I need reassurance that I’m not evil. So that’s the reason I personally need a check in.’

Rizzo agreed and said he likes to follow up with subs he plays with in the days after, via text or phone calls. He always wants to make sure they’re OK physically and mentally, and if there is anything he can do for them.

He joked: ‘Remember – if you break it, you buy it. So don’t break it!’

Susan said a great way to deal with a drop is to have some chocolate.

She explained: ‘It helps mirror the oxytocin. So it can really help. Often, at parties, they can have little tables of sweets and chocolates.’

Marilyn said: ‘If I’m doing a scene on a Sunday for example, on Tuesday I’m going to time it so I’m not doing anything emotional because I know I’m going to be in a little bit of a funk.

‘That might be the time that I go do a massage,’ she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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Yes, Porn Can Be Healthy and Healing.

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Here’s How.

Most articles are written focusing on the negatives of porn, always slinging around a few good points but mostly just expressing sex and body phobia while ignoring the benefits. As a sex therapist and educator, my work is to help my patients use sex to heal, and to also see its medicinal values. And sometimes I can take advantage of how porn heals people as well.

Not all porn is the same, and I recommend the types that focus on sexual and body diversity, honoring the sexualities of all types of people: the butch, the femmes, the skinny, the queer, the POC, the kinky, the fat and also the unhung.

How porn heals people:

1. Helps normalize diversity

Not all art and media focus on representation of sexual and body diversity, leaving those not fitting into the white, cis, masc, gym-bodied industrial complex feeling both marginalized and not eroticized or valued. There are now many porn sites that focus on diversity in both sex acts and bodies. Viewing this type of porn heals sexual and body confidence, and also helps decrease erotophobia for those who have made their sexuality rigid and narrow by only sexualizing the standard one-size-fits-all sexual body and porn performer.

2. Provides sex to those without partners and the solosexual

Porn provides a sex life for those that don’t not have partners or don’t want partners. Not all people have access to or enjoy sex with Others, and solo sex as a lifestyle or sexual orientation is acceptable. Others don’t meet social desirability requirements and due to this oppression rely upon porn as one means of sexual health and expression. This is not a lesser form of sexuality; it’s just different.

3. Gives sex to the fetish sexual

Some of us are far kinkier than our partners, and for us porn becomes a way to engage fetishes and kinks. The ability to participate in your full sexuality is important for sexual health, and thankfully porn exists that can meet everyone’s needs. Anything can be eroticized, and porn for everything exists.

4. Helps higher desire partners in monogamous relationships

Monogamy is still a standard practice and means that the sex and body limits of your partner become your erotic limits. Porn allows for access to a diverse and creative spectrum of always-available sexuality. This takes the pressure and anxiety off the lower sexual partner and allows the higher or hyper sexual partner to not have to water down their sex drive.

5. Acts as a needed counter balance to our sex and body phobic culture

We live in a culture that is both obsessed and afraid of sex at the same time. We carry far too much anxiety about sexual bodies, arousal, and eroticism. The existence of porn, is an act of rebellion and resistance to the puritanical and modest values we are all raised in and oppressed by — or in other words, porn heals our culture, too.

6. Masturbation empowers and increases sexual autonomy

Due to our sex- and body-negative culture, its important, especially for women, the disabled, fat, POC and other minorities to see that their sexuality is not owned by anyone, including their partners.   Masturbation and porn act as practices and tools of liberation.

7. It’s a healthy place to learn sexual authenticity

Finding out who we are sexually is an important developmental stage that goes on for our entire lives, yet is legitimized by no one. Our sexuality is far more expansive and fluid than we realize, and sexual exploration is necessary. With your partners, and especially with porn, we can find and explore new parts of our eroticism, and discover new forms of arousal.

8. It’s a career choice

Porn and sex work are legit forms of labor, and also allow for many to further explore their sexual selves, help Others explore theirs, and provide sex for healing to those that need it. Studio porn, as well as the explosion of for-fee cam and amateur sex sites, allow all diverse bodies to now make an autonomous living with sex work.

Complete Article HERE!

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7 Ways To Have Sex Without A Penis

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— Because You Really Don’t Need One

By Kasandra Brabaw

When most people think about sex, their minds likely jump to penis-in-vagina (P-in-V) sex. And it’s no wonder, given that the sex ed many of us had (if we had it at all) focused on teaching us how to not get pregnant. When pregnancy is the concern (or the goal) then the only kind of sex that seems to “count” is P-in-V sex. We’re so invested in the penis’ involvement in sex, that when the story of a man who lost his penis in a childhood accident came out on Reddit, people had one burning question: How can he fuck his girlfriend?

“We typically end up having this picture in our brain that sex involves a penis and vagina,” says Laura Deitsch, PhD, resident sexologist of Vibrant. “It starts when a penis is hard and it ends when a penis ejaculates.” That fixation on penis-in-vagina penetration as “real sex” not only leaves a bunch of people out, it also ignores all kinds of sexy things couples could be doing instead of sticking a penis into a hole, she says. Plenty of people default to penis-less sex because they have to — including cisgender women in queer relationships and trans or non-binary people who feel gender dysphoria around their genitals — but even straight, cisgender people could benefit from giving the penis a break. Taking one night off from P-in-V sex could inspire creativity in straight couples’ sex lives, and that helps to stave off boredom.

Whether you’re a cis queer woman wondering what to do with her penis-less partner, a trans person looking for ways to avoid gender dysphoria, a straight and cis person whose partner can’t use his penis for medical reasons, or someone who simply wants to add a little excitement to your sex life, we’ve rounded up five ways to have sex without a penis. So, consider giving the P-in-V sex a break, and trying something new.

Put your tongue to work.
You’ve likely heard of the orgasm gap — the fact that straight women orgasm significantly less often than straight men — but have you heard of the oral sex gap? According to at least one study, women are more than twice as likely to go down on a sexual partner than men. So if you’re in a straight pairing, use your penis-less night to start filling in that gap.

Often, oral sex is way more effective (in terms of having orgasms) than penetrative sex alone for people who have vulvas, because there are about 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris. But, regardless of your gender identity or sexuality, eating someone out for the first time can be scary. Vulvas and vaginas seem like this big mystery, simply because no one talks about them.

So let’s shatter the mystery. All it takes is a little bit of anatomy knowledge and some stellar communication to know what you’re doing. Things to remember: 1) All clits look different, but they’re generally located toward the top of your partner’s vulva. If you can’t find your partner’s clit, ask if you’re in the right spot. 2) Talk to your partner about what they like. It’s the best way to get them off, promise. 3) Have fun! Oral sex is hot.

Get your fingers (or fist) in there.
Fingering isn’t just for foreplay. When done correctly (meaning, there’s plenty of lubrication and it feels good), fingering can be just as satisfying as other forms of penetration. Plus, if your partner has a vulva, using your fingers gives you plenty of mobility to add another finger, tongue, or vibrator circling their clit. And that combo is amazingly good at creating explosive blended orgasms.

If your partner has a penis, you can finger them, too. It’s called “muffing.” People with penises have two spots tucked behind the scrotum and testicles called inguinal canals, which are about the diameter of a finger (but also stretch). Mira Bellwether first wrote about this kind of fingering in a zine called Fucking Trans Women, but the sex act can feel good for anyone who has a penis, regardless of gender identity.

Kick it old school.
Think back to the days of your first romance. You were likely waiting a while to have “real sex.” So, instead, you’d rub your fully clothed body against your partner’s. That, my friends, is dry humping and it can count as sex, too. If you rub in the right places, it can also result in orgasm.

“The main thing for people to remember is that you’re going to try getting some constant friction on the clit,” Laura McGuire, PhD, a sexologist and consultant, previously told Refinery29. So just swivel your hips around on a partner’s erection, hip, thigh, or a sex toy, until you hit a spot that feels good.

Take out the toy box.
Sex toys are your friend, and they can make any kind of sex much more interesting (whether or not the penis is in play). If at least one partner has a clitoris, toys like vibrators and dildos can be used either in combo with oral sex or fingering or they can be used on their own to stimulate any part of the body, Dr. Deitsch says.

Strap-ons can also be a great addition to your sex adventures, whether or not your partner has a penis. And if they do have a penis, toys can still come in handy. Anyone who has a prostate can get lots of pleasure from anal sex, so you can use a strap-on to peg your partner (aka, enter them from behind).

Share your fantasies.
Sex means so many different things to different people that it sometimes doesn’t require much touching at all, Dr. Deitsch says. “If we opened our minds, we’d realize that sex is a whole lot of stuff,” she says. “And I challenge someone, if they’re thinking that something like tying your partner up and reading them erotic fiction isn’t sex, would they do that with a family member or with someone who they just met at the grocery store?”

To some people, sharing sexual fantasies can be highly erotic. So Dr. Deitsch recommends laying with your partner and describing the sexy things you want to do to them, or watching porn together, or engaging in some light bondage as you read sexy stories.

Experiment with texture and touch.
If non-penetrative sex is new for you, then now is a great time to really get to know your partner’s body. “An interesting way to conceptualize a partner is having them be your canvas,” Dr. Deitsch says. Use whatever you can find, that your partner feels good having on their body, and explore different parts of your lover’s body. That can mean a wooden spoon or spatula, a comb, an ice cube, a smooth piece of cloth or a fork. “Rake a comb across their back or take a piece of cloth in between the cleavage area,” Dr. Deitsch says. “Just making a big long production out of feeling different types of touch with different materials.” It’s fun, but can also help you get intimately acquainted with all of your partner’s sensitive spots. (Maybe you can even attempt the elusive nipple-gasm.)

Make it booty-licious.
(Almost) everyone has an anus, Dr. Deitsch says. So anal sex is the great equalizer. “There are a plethora of new toys on the market, like butt plugs and anal beads, that you certainly don’t need a penis to be able to utilize,” she says. And whether any partner involved has a prostate or not, anal sex can feel amazing.

But, it’s also easy to have anal sex that hurts. So, if you’re a first-timer, make sure you’re buying smaller butt plugs that have a flared base and using plenty of lube.

Complete Article HERE!

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Men, like women, can have post-sex blues

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By Cheryl Platzman Weinstock

After sex, men can sometimes experience a myriad of confusing negative feelings, a phenomenon called post-coital dysphoria (PCD), which can interfere with relationships, researchers say.

The research team analyzed responses from over 1,200 men to an anonymous international online survey that asked whether they had ever experienced symptoms of PCD, which can include tearfulness, sadness or irritability following otherwise satisfactory consensual sex.

The men, aged between 18 and 81 years, were primarily in Australia and the U.S., but the sample also included men in the UK, Russia, New Zealand, Germany and 72 other countries.

The study team, led by Joel Maczkowiack, a master’s student at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, found that 41 percent of the men reported having experienced PCD in their lifetime, with 20 percent saying they had experienced it in the previous four weeks. Between 3 percent and 4 percent of the men reported experiencing PCD on a regular basis.

“I would like to think that this study will help males (and females) reflect on their experience of sex, as well as encourage communication between partners about their experience,” Maczkowiack told Reuters Health by email.

“In addition, we hope that this type of research will help people whose experience of sex is dysphoric (or dysphoric at times) to know that they are not the only ones who feel this way. In this sense, we hope this study normalizes a variety of human experiences following sex,” he said.

Past research has found that PCD is common among women. This is the first time it has been documented in men, Maczkowiack said.

PCD can occur despite satisfying and enjoyable sex. One man in the study reported that PCD made him feel “self-loathing.” Another reported, “I feel a lot of shame.” One participant said, “I usually have crying fits and full on depressive episodes following coitus that leave my significant other worried . . . .”

The study, published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, found that PCD may be related to previous and current psychological distress and past abuse, including sexual, emotional and physical abuse in childhood and adulthood.

Emotional abuse was the most common form of abuse reported by the men both before and after age 16, researchers found. Sexual abuse in childhood was reported by 12.7 percent of the men and sexual abuse in adulthood was reported by 3.5 percent of the men. Their most common reported mental health concern was depression (36.9 percent), followed by anxiety (32.5 percent) and bipolar disorder (3 percent).

Current psychological distress was the strongest variable associated with lifetime and four-week PCD. Higher levels of psychological distress were more strongly associated with PCD.

The data for this study was collected from February to June 2017 and drawn from a larger questionnaire that examined the post-coital experience of men and women.

“While this research is interesting, the study of PCD needs psychometrically valid instruments, said Rory Reid, an assistant professor of psychiatry and research psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.

The study used a few questions to measure PCD, but there is ambiguity in those items, Reid said in a phone interview. “They lack precision and there was no specificity about frequency in responses as to exactly how often was ‘a little’ or ‘some of the time’,” he noted.

“Future studies of PCD need to utilize qualitative approaches where participants are interviewed about their PCD experiences so we can further understand this phenomenon, why people might experience it, the extent to which it is causing individuals psychological distress, and whether it is negatively impacting their romantic relationship,” Reid added.

One of limitations of the study was that the men self-reported their emotional response to previous sexual experiences. “This information can be difficult for participants to recall,” Maczkowiack, said.

“The findings of this study could influence marital therapy by normalizing different responses. In addition, it may open up communication between partners,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!

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Yes, we can.

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And we can also change the way we talk about disability and sex

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There are major barriers for disabled people who want to pursue sex and relationships. They are real and deeply felt. Yet the stigmatising tone of public conversation makes me wary, writes Henrietta Bollinger

“Um … advice? From me? Yes, we can,” was my cautious, then tongue-in-cheek answer. “As Obama would say!”

The others laughed. It was a joke. But I’d just been asked what advice I might have for young people like me who were exploring sex and sexuality. It was also a pithy summary of what 16-year-old me had needed to know.

As a disabled woman this was not something I’d been sure of: could sex be part of my life? When I later conducted research on the experience of young disabled people in sexuality education the question repeated itself. Being unsure if sex and relationships would feature in their lives meant they were unsure if any of the information about safe sex or healthy relationships applied either. They largely disregarded what they had learnt as irrelevant , increasing the risk of abuse. So, I know how important it is to clearly say: “Yes. As a disabled person sex is for you, too.”

This sentiment in the piece headlined “The reality of having sex when you live with a disability” I had to agree with. I also agree that there are major barriers for disabled people who want to pursue sex and relationships. These range from a lack of affirmative education, to the inaccessibility of places where people usually meet potential partners, disabled people’s social isolation and stigma towards disabled people, including assumptions that may come from their own families or the people who support them. There are related issues too, like people’s rights to marriage, fertility or to have children. In this country, it is still legal under the Adoption Act for children to be removed from their parents’ care on the grounds of parental disability. Disabled people are also still far too frequently subjected to sterilization.

The barriers are real and deeply felt. They absolutely need addressing as part of realising equitable and full lives for disabled people. I would absolutely advocate for the removal of all barriers that inhibit us from exploring sexuality or entering sexual relationships as equals to non-disabled people. Yet the tone of public conversation makes me wary. On the rare occasions we do talk about disability and sex it is either to highlight the barriers or to equivocate about sex work. Advocacy which claims the act of sex as something we are entitled to often misses the fact that good sex should be a negotiation, a social interaction. Nobody – including those who work in the sex industry – owes it to anyone.

Sex work as a way for disabled people to access sex has been brought to popular attention by films like The Sessions or Touching Base. The Sessions was a dramatization of Mark O’Brien’s life; a man with polio who decided he wanted to have sex before he died. Touching Base is a documentary about an Australian sex worker who visits disabled clients. Stories like these have a lot of value in terms of amplifying the “Yes we can” message. For many disabled people working with sex workers provides intimacy they may not have and the opportunity to explore their own bodies, take “safe-risks”. But these stories are told into a context where sex workers continue to be stigmatised and so do disabled people.

When this is made the dominant narrative, it allows the rest of “able” society off the hook in terms of examining its own prejudices. Instead of asking hard questions about attitudinal, social, educational and physical barriers that exist to all people being full sexual citizens – we outsource. We tell sex workers that there are morally more and less acceptable ways of doing their jobs, instead of constantly supporting them in their choice of work.

Disabled people, we say to ourselves, are entitled to sex as a service, the uncomplicated meeting of a need. But as partners, lovers in their own right?

There is another story, too, a story that we tell less often – maybe because it is more mundane.

This is the idea that disabled people can and do have sex – without the help of any support or sex workers. We are straight, queer, alone, together. We are partners, lovers, parents and all the rest. It is the kind of conversation that is happening privately, or being just lived. It is the mundane story we need to make sure people know is out there too.

Because after we understand that “Yes we can” we ask: how? And we have to know there is not one reality of sex and disability but many. The more varied the stories we tell, the more will seem possible to the disabled kid in their sex ed class, as well as to their potential partners.

Complete Article HERE!

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The first app to get approved as birth control in Europe has now been green-lit in the US, despite controversy

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  • Birth-control app Natural Cycles has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration — the first app to be approved for contraception in North America.
  • The app uses an algorithm to tell women when they have the highest and lowest chances of getting pregnant, but it ultimately relies on men and women changing their behavior.
  • The app recently came under fire in Sweden when 37 women reported getting pregnant while using it.

A birth-control app called Natural Cycles has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, marking the first time an app has been approved for contraception in North America.

Designed by physicist couple Elina Berglund and Raoul Scherwitzl, the app doesn’t involve a pill and contains no medication. It works by giving heterosexual couples recommendations about when to avoid sex or use protection, based on a woman’s daily temperature measurements and the regularity of her period.

“Consumers are increasingly using digital health technologies to inform their everyday health decisions, and this new app can provide an effective method of contraception if it’s used carefully and correctly,” Terri Cornelison, assistant director for women’s health at the FDA’s Center for Devices, said in a statement. “But women should know that no form of contraception works perfectly, so an unplanned pregnancy could still result from correct usage of this device.”

Natural Cycles only helps prevent pregnancy if people using it behave in the way it prescribes. The app also recently gained regulatory approval in Europe — the first app to do so there as well — but it came under fire in Sweden several months later when 37 women reported getting pregnant while using it.

Those pregnancies ignited a small controversy about how the app works and what it can — and can’t — do. But Scherwitzl told Business Insider in January that he was not surprised women had become pregnant.

“We give red and green days and clear recommendations on which days to abstain and which days we consider the risk of pregnancy to be negligible,” he said.

The problem with saying ‘as effective as the pill using only math’

Natural Cycles was initially portrayed by multiple news outlets — including Business Insider — as being “as effective as the pill using only math.”

When is used properly, Natural Cycles may be comparable in effectiveness to the pill. But that doesn’t always happen, as the controversy in Sweden revealed.

So the problem with these types of statements is that the app relies on couples to change their behavior and either not have sex or use protection based on the app’s recommendations.

“Just like with the pill, you have scenarios where women take the pill everyday” and it’s as reliable as possible, Scherwitzl said, and then there are “scenarios where they don’t take it every day” and the reliability decreases.

How Natural Cycles compares with simply using a calendar

Natural Cycles’ approach puts it in a larger category of birth control known as fertility awareness, which is similar to the calendar-based approach people have used for decades.

The company’s founders published a study on the app’s effectiveness in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care in 2016. The research involved 4,000 women between the ages of 18 and 45, and the results showed that out of every 100 women who used the app in a “typical” way for a year (meaning certain common slip-ups were accounted for), seven of them got pregnant.

That rate is and significantly lower than the traditional calendar method, which has an average fail rate of 24%, according to the CDC.

The “typical use” scenario for the pill leads to about nine out of 100 women getting pregnant within a year, so the study suggests Natural Cycles is on par with an oral contraceptive. But the app still leads to more pregnancies than would be seen among people using injectable birth control or an IUD. The typical use fail rate for an IUD is 0.2-0.8%, or less than one out of 100 women getting pregnant each year.

Apps can ‘provide encouragement,’ but still have key limitations

As far as the women who got pregnant while using the Natural Cycles app are concerned, the same European study found that more than half of them had unprotected sex with men on the days when the app advised against it. Those instances are evidence of a longstanding human reality: behavioral control is difficult, especially when it comes to sex, and not a guaranteed way to prevent pregnancy.

“While smartphone apps may provide encouragement, they can’t stop [men and women] from … sex altogether,” Susan Walker, a professor of sexual health at Anglia Ruskin University, wrote in an article for The Conversation.

A handful of other factors can also get in the way of the app working correctly, including having multiple sex partners and having a partner who is not equally committed to birth control.

So if you’re planning on using the app — or one of the dozens like it that have not been approved as medical devices — experts say you should have a predictable sex schedule, regular periods, be willing to check your temperature every day, and have the ability to abstain from sexual activity on consecutive days every month.

If you can do all that, the app could work for you.

“In the end, what we want to do is add a new method of contraception that women can choose from without side effects,” Scherwitzl said. “I think there are many women who this will be great for.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s how marijuana use affects sex drive

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by Philip Perry

Do you and your lover sometimes have a glass of wine or two to help set the mood? Alcohol, while it can soften inhibitions, may also cause trouble when it comes time to perform, especially for men. Some turn to cannabis as an alternative. Unfortunately, research on how marijuana affects sexual performance is conflicting.

Some studies say it inhibits capability while other say it enhances it. A new, large-scale study finds that marijuana use increases the sex drive and probably doesn’t inhibit performance. Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine conducted the study and published their results in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Cannabis has been thought an aphrodisiac in the folk medicine traditions of many cultures throughout history. Today, a small but growing segment in the West are using it to help enhance their sex lives. One California woman is even selling “Sexxpot,” a low-THC variety (the psychoactive component) said to increase female sexual desire and pleasure.

As for men, though online forums and advice columns praise it as a “natural Viagra,” some studies have found that cannabis may actually inhibit performance. Previous work has also suggested that chronic use inhibits sex drive. A 2009 study found that everyday use may make it difficult for some men to achieve orgasm. While a 2011 review concluded that chronic use may lead to a higher risk of erectile dysfunction.

This new study however seems to undermine the case for inhibited performance or libido. Stanford researchers analyzed the responses of 50,000 Americans who took part in the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth. They looked at the years between 2002 and 2015. Each participant was between ages 25 and 45. The average age for both men and women was actually 29.5.

Respondents indicated how often they smoke marijuana, either monthly, weekly, or daily, and how many times they had sex in the last 12 months. Assistant professor of urology Michael Eisenberg, MD, was the senior author. “Marijuana use is very common,” he said. “But its large-scale use and association with sexual frequency hasn’t been studied much in a scientific way.”

“What we found,” Eisenberg said “was compared to never-users, those who reported daily use had about 20 percent more sex. So over the course of a year, they’re having sex maybe 20 more times.” Women who didn’t smoke pot had sex an average of 6 times per month. While those who were daily users did it 7.1 times per month. With men, non-potheads had sex 5.6 times per month, while daily users did it 6.9 times per month.

According to Eisenberg, “The overall trend we saw applied to people of both sexes and all races, ages, education levels, income groups and religions, every health status, whether they were married or single and whether or not they had kids.” Researchers called it a “dose-dependent relationship.”

The more people used marijuana, the more sex they had. These findings also alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding performance inhibition. “Frequent marijuana use doesn’t seem to impair sexual motivation or performance,” Eisenberg said. “If anything, it’s associated with increased coital frequency.”

There are of course, some caveats. For couples who are trying to have children, several studies have found that chronic pot use can cause a man’s sperm count to plummet. Toking just once a week can sink the number of swimmers a man has by about a third. There’s also still a lingering fear among some experts that chronic use can lead to ED.

It’s important to note that the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, merely a strong correlation. Smoking marijuana doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be having more sex. There may be another factor or factors that are influencing the two. For instance, those drawn to marijuana may also be less inhibited or thrill-seekers, who are naturally more inclined to seek out sexual encounters.

Eisenberg says he thinks marijuana’s positive correlation with intercourse isn’t just a tendency among the less-inhibited. He points out that the number of sexual encounters rose steadily with increased use. If these findings prove correct, certain synthesized cannabinoids or elements in marijuana, may someday be used as a medical treatment, to foster libidinous feelings in those who find that their desire has waned. Eisenberg cautions, “We don’t want people to smoke to improve sexual function.” But he admits, “it probably doesn’t hurt things.”

To learn how a segment of young women using marijuana to improve their sex lives, click here:

Complete Article HERE!

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What it’s like to struggle to ejaculate during sex

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‘Only one woman has ever made me cum from oral sex. It took 45 mins and it only happened because she handcuffed me to a chair, blindfolded me and said she wasn’t stopping until I came.’

Matt,* who’s 35, suffers from delayed ejaculation, which means it can take him a long time to achieve orgasm – if he’s able to achieve it at all.

Delayed ejaculation is the third most common male sexual disorder – after erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

But while lasting all night might sound about as problematic as, ‘my wallet can’t fit all these fifties,’ for men like Matt, it’s a genuine source of stress.

‘I get in my own head and worry about how long it’s taking, instead of enjoying it,’ he tells Metro.co.uk.

Matt achieves orgasm on around a quarter of the occasions he has sex. While he accepts this on the basis that, ‘you can have good sex without cumming,’ his partners aren’t always so relaxed about it.

He explains: they get frustrated, and question whether I fancy them or if they’re doing something wrong. I can go for over an hour, and sometimes they ask, “are you ever going to bloody cum?” That can reinforce the feeling that I’m failing.’

Currently single, Matt’s longest relationship was at the age of 20. It lasted a year, but they didn’t actually have sex. He explains: ‘I’d lost my virginity at 18, but she was a very nervous virgin, and it didn’t get there.’

Matt hopes that a long term relationship would make it easier for him to achieve orgasm as, ‘you grow to know each other sexually – it’s better sex when you know what each other likes.’

The stumbling block for Matt is getting a relationship off the ground. Having been single for five years, his delayed ejaculation makes him wary of sex with someone new, ‘even more so if they know my friends – I’d be embarrassed if they found out.’

Sometimes, when Matt’s talked about the issue up front, women have taken it as a challenge to make him cum. This is what happened in the case of The 45 Minute Blowjob, and another time it led to sex that saw him reach orgasm in record time.

He says: ‘when I explained I take ages, and that it was fine if she wanted to stop, she said she wouldn’t stop until I came – then she got on top and grinded until I did.’

Matt fast-tracked to orgasm in a swift 15 minutes, but unfortunately, this didn’t boost his confidence in his ability to cum more easily.

‘It’s not like it happened naturally, it was like, “WE ARE GOING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN!” which made me feel kind of uncomfortable. She was grinding so hard, the condom broke.’

Having Googled delayed ejaculation, Matt believes condoms, alcohol, his diet and being circumcised all contribute to his issues with achieving orgasm. ‘It’s known that circumcised penises are less sensitive, and from what I’ve read, fatty foods can dull the senses,’ he explains. ‘I think feeling happier naked would relax me more as well.’

While being a stayer is usually seen as a badge of honour, for Matt, it’s nothing but a headache. ‘I sometimes worry it could have an impact on my ability to start to a family and it’s even made me question my sexuality,’ he says. ‘It’s not as much of an issue when I wank – maybe I’m just too used to my hand.’

There are various possible causes of delayed ejaculation, and some research suggests that masturbation may be one of them. Ian, who’s 50, thinks this is definitely the root of his problem.

‘I can end up f***ing for ages without cumming, but when I’m by myself it takes ten minutes,’ Ian tells us. ‘I think masturbating is why I take a while, as I was much more used to that than having sex.’

Ian masturbated two or three times a day from the age of 15. He first had sex at 21, but says, ‘the lack of sex in my 20s and 30s got me more used to masturbating.’

Ian says that when he was younger, sex could often last several hours, but it wasn’t continuous: ‘Sometimes we’d need a breather – I play cricket, so I’m used to a tea break!’

Although Ian’s physical experience is similar to Matt’s, Ian doesn’t see delayed ejaculation as an issue. He says: ‘taking a long time hasn’t had any great negative impact on me. I’d prefer to come a bit quicker, but it’s just the way I am.’

‘This can never be as much of a problem as premature ejaculation – then the show’s over before the orchestra has finished the overture – that’s not fun for anyone.’

Overall, the reaction that Ian’s had from partners has been positive. He never mentions delayed ejaculation beforehand, explaining, ‘I think I’m safe in saying that men don’t say anything to women that might remotely put them off sex’.

When he has taken a while, ‘it’s never been a big issue’.

‘Sometimes they’ve got sore, but in the main, I’d like to think they were ecstatic,’ says Ian. ‘They have commented when I haven’t cum, but only to ask if there was anything else they could do.’

Ian has a list of fallback tricks for just this occasion. ‘I suggest oral, or letting me watch them masturbate,’ he tells us. ‘I’m inclined now to finish with my own hand, on them, if they like that – it brings things to a conclusion.’

Complete Article HERE!

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How mental health issues are preventing couples from having sex

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Unconsummated relationships, where couples don’t have sex due to difficulties, trauma or sexual dysfunction are not often spoken about.

Usually, the couple feel embarrassed to discuss their sexual difficulties – but they are not alone.

According to an AXA PPP survey, a third of Brits are fearful of getting naked, largely due to body image and self esteem issues.

But nerves around body image aren’t the only reason couples aren’t able to consummate their relationships.

Why aren’t couples having sex?

Sarah-Jane Otoo, psychosexual therapist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Birmingham, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Unconsummated relationships including marriages are largely unspoken about and the reasons behind them are often complex.

‘Some of the most common reasons are from a psychological viewpoint and include a general lack of education around sexual intercourse, fear, anxiety, shame and/or past trauma.

‘In addition, sexual dysfunction like erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, performance anxiety in males and vaginismus in females has been reported in several studies as well as vulvodynia, an often unbearable pain when the genitals are touched’.

Relationships expert Ben Edwards expands on this, telling us: ‘Post-traumatic stress and the psychological damage from past sexual abuse, low self-esteem or unhealthy relationships can be very hard to overcome.’

We must not overlook the impact of sexual trauma and mental health issues.

Aubrey Good has bipolar disorder, which dramatically affects her sex drive.

‘I can sometimes see a decreased or lack of libido, due to my bipolar disorder,’ Aubrey tells Metro.co.uk. ‘During periods of depression, my self-esteem tends to plummet.

‘Mixed with decreased energy and an increase in apathy, my body rejects physical intimacy in favour of seeking emotional nourishment.

‘I suffer from frequent bouts of hypersexuality. I am unable to receive any satisfaction from sexual intimacy and am often in pain or discomfort because of this.’

Aubrey takes medication, but like many taking pills for their mental wellbeing, has found that this has an effect on her sex drive, too.

‘A medication increase has caused me to have loss of libido,’ she explains. ‘Gaining weight from medication has contributed to my struggles.’

For Aubrey, the key is being able to communicate with a partner who understands her struggles.

‘Libido changes are a chronic challenge,’ says Aubrey. ‘Maintaining open dialogue with my partner has helped to ease the anxiety.

‘Sex is an emotional act as well as physical; we discuss the struggles and have seen progress. Therapy has also been a relief. Our strong emotional connection has allowed us to make it through.’

For Emma (name has been changed), anorexia has brought on issues with intimacy.

‘My body image is awful,’ she tells us. ‘I am embarrassed and ashamed of the way I look and it takes me an extremely long time to feel comfortable with men.

‘It’s been the cause of many of relationships endings. Ironically, my eating disorder started at age 19 in large part due to a guy telling me I was overweight so it’s something I’ve never shaken off.

‘I had a lot of negative thoughts about my body during sex so wasn’t able to enjoy the moment, don’t enjoy being touched or looked at, and have difficulty relaxing.

‘If I had eaten too much, was having a bad day or  stressed, then the eating disorder symptoms would creep in and I wouldn’t be able to have sex.

‘Counselling has helped me somewhat and taking things very slowly so I build up trust.’

Kate Moyle, a sexual and relationship psychotherapist, explains that anxiety is a common factor for a lack of sex in a relationship.

‘Every couple is unique and will have their own reasons and experiences for not consummating their relationship,’ she tells us. ‘These situations are often linked to some form of anxiety around sex which can in some instances impact sexual functioning. Some people may struggle with intimacy.’

For Sarah, 35, who has borderline personality disorder, that anxiety comes from a lack of self-confidence as well as a lingering shame around sex.

‘My husband and I have been together for 16 years, married for 12,’ Sarah tells us. ‘I always felt very prudish talking about sex due to my family background, before, during or after.

‘I was told not to have sex before marriage, so it always felt dirty and wrong.

‘My mental health issues mean my self confidence is rock bottom. I’m at my heaviest weight and although occasionally I enjoy sex, I mainly do it so he doesn’t leave me.

‘We had marriage counselling which helped for a while, but nothing really helps.

‘My husband manages to stay with me. He says he misses not having more sex but he says it would never be a cause to leave me. I wish I could be more confident.’

So what can you do if you need help with psychosexual issues?

The main remedies are psychosexual therapy, counselling and working on communication, touch and intimacy.

Sarah Jane Otoo says: ‘It is important to remember that not one person in the relationship has the “problem”; you are both impacted. Psychosexual relationship therapy can be beneficial to help support couples that are experiencing problems with sex.

‘People may choose to enter therapy individually; however it is often advised for couples to enter therapy together. By giving them a safe and confidential space, they may be able to come to a place of understanding.’

Ben Edwards recommends understanding each other’s reasons for a lack of sexual desire or drive, and to avoid blame or shame.

‘When working with my clients on their relationships, I encourage them to understand each other’s “why”,’ he states. ‘We all have our reasons for wanting certain things and you must communicate this to your partner.

‘Lack of communication could be detrimental and to your partners own self-esteem. When it comes to abstaining from sex, the last thing you want is for a partner to harbour feelings of rejection because of an emotional barrier.’

It’s crucial to have a safe space where both parties feel comfortable talking about difficult issues.

‘Doing this work with couples is about opening up a safe space and the hopes and fears to do with sex to be discussed,’ explains Kate. ‘It’s important to see what has been tried and not tried and the ways that couples express intimacy.

‘Integrating touch slowly and becoming more comfortable with each other in states of undress is also a gradual process.

‘I aim to help couples understand desire and arousal so that we can try and get them to a place where they can meet sexually.’

Complete Article HERE!

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Finding it difficult to get that big O? Here’s all you need to know about orgasmic disorder

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Bookmark these 5 tricks to deal with inconsistent orgasm.

By Aishwarya Vaidya

During sexual activity, there is a feeling of intense sexual pleasure which is known as an orgasm but many women find it difficult to get it and hence don’t tend to enjoy the sexual activity. But, do you know that women who find it difficult to get an orgasm or there is a reduced intensity of sensations can suffer from an orgasmic disorder. A woman can fail to get an orgasm due to relationship problems, alcohol consumption, anxiety and pregnancy concerns. Here, we decode the female orgasmic disorder for you and tell you how to get the best orgasm.

Orgasmic disorder
Difficulty or inability for a woman to reach orgasm during sexual stimulation is known as an orgasmic disorder (female orgasmic disorder). Orgasm is either absent or significantly reduced in intensity on almost all or all occasions of sexual activity in women with the female orgasmic disorder. Though, this can affect their relationship and cause distress.

The causes

A woman can experience orgasm during masturbation than during sexual intercourse. Mental health, low sexual desires, marital difficulties, boredom and monotony. Hormonal disorders and even sexual health can get affected due to chronic illnesses which can also be some of the factors. Furthermore, the woman may be shy or embarrassed to ask about the stimulation which can work wonders. Lack of emotional bonding can also be the culprit.

Here are 5 ways to get the best orgasm

Use fantasies
To turn off your anxiety and get turned by coming up with a fantasy while masturbating or during sex. You need not worry if your fantasy doesn’t involve your partner with whom you are in the act. This can help you to get rid of your anxiety and you can get orgasm with ease.

Masturbate regularly
Orgasm issues related to a lack of awareness about what stimulation works best can result, as most of the women do not self-stimulate. Masturbating regularly can help you to get arouse and can regulate your hormones.

Relax yourself
Stress and anxiety can wreck your sex life. You can try yoga, meditation or take up any hobby of your choice to beat that stress. This will help you to increase your libido.

Teamwork
Your partner and you should work as a team here. It is all about you and your orgasm. So, you should also help yourself in this process. While your partner is penetrating, going down on, or fingering you, don’t hesitate from touching yourself and feel yourself. This can increase your arousal.

Observe what you like
To  get that big O, you should discover where you like to be touched and which are your erogenous zones.

Complete Article HERE!

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