How Do I Bring Up Sex Toys With My Partner?

Team Sex Ed!

Team Sex Ed!

“I’d like to bring a sex toy into my relationship but I’m not sure how to bring it up with my partner.”

Looking to introduce sex toys in the bedroom? Kate and Louise over at Team Sex Ed answer this question and offer some tips and tools to make the conversation more easeful.

Many women and men are curious about sex toys but feel reluctant to talk with their partner about it for fear of offending them. One misconception is that sex toys act as replacements or make up for a partner’s inadequacies. As Kate and Louise discuss in the video below, it’s important to be prepared for this reaction. Be sensitive and stroke his or her ego a bit. As with any relationship, good communication goes a long way in solving any problem.

To start the conversation with your partner, consider these strategies:

  • Make sure you start the conversation in a relaxed and comfortable environment so it doesn’t feel rushed or pressuring.
  • Reassure your partner that the toy is not making up for any inadequacies, but simply is a fun addition to sex.
  • Go sex toy shopping together and pick one out that you both like. Kate and Louise offer recommendations for toy shops.
  • Select a toy that is proportional to your level of experience. Smaller toys are a good place to start if you are new to using sex toys.
  • Maintain a playful attitude and keep it fun. This will go a long way in nurturing your connection with your partner.
  • Check out our articles on body safe sex toys and how to safely share a dildo.

This video was originally published on the Team Sex Ed channel

BY KATE MCCOMBS & LOUISE BOURCHIER | Team Sex Ed! Kate & Louise

condom ad condoms too loose

kate_mccombsKATE MCCOMBS is a NYC-based sex educator, writer, and maker of puns. Ultimately, all of Kate’s work is about helping people feel more comfortable talking about sex. She believes that meaningful conversations + accurate information can help us create a healthier and more pleasure-filled world. Kate writes articles and teaches workshops about sexual health, pleasure, and communication.
Follow Kate on Twitter @katecom

louise bourchier 150 150LOUISE BOURCHIER, MPH is a sex educator who knows health and pleasure. She teaches workshops to adult audiences throughout Australia and New Zealand, where her mission is to facilitate access to information that allows people to experience healthy and pleasurable sex lives. She works closely with D.VICE: the toy shop for grownups and is a proud emissary of Sex Geekdom Melbourne. Follow her on Twitter @louiselabouche

Virginity Myths and Facts: The Hymen

SSSVirginitylThe phrase “losing your virginity” is often used without much thought. When a girl loses her virginity, that means she has penetrative sex for the first time and she breaks her hymen, right?

Not necessarily. As Bry’onna Mention of The CSPH (the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health) explains, defining virginity as having an intact hymen is limiting, excluding those who were born without a hymen or who tore it before ever having sex, whether by falling on a fence post, masturbating, or inserting a tampon.

Now, this may shake your world, but did you know that the hymen is something that stays with you (that is, if you have a vagina) your whole life? It is not something destroyed during your first sexual experience.

The following article explains that inside the tangled misconception of female virginity lies inaccurate beliefs about the hymen. Bry’onna Mention sets the record straight and explains just how diverse hymens actually are. Some people are born with a hymen that covers the opening of the vagina fully or partially, but these are considered rare anomalies and necessary to repair with surgery.

Take a look at the first steps to debunking the myth that virginity is an actual, quantifiable thing. It all starts with our misconceptions of what is the hymen.

The first lesson of debunking the “virginity myth” was originally publish by Bry’onna Mention of The CSPH.

BY THE CSPH | theCSPH.org

“Shiny and new, like a virgin, touched for the very first time.”

Gee, Madonna, that sounds an awful lot like change or some other inanimate metal object. But, virginity is not about newly minted money, no. It’s about having sex for the first time!

Sex (as well as sexuality) is extremely important to our existence on this planet. Without sex, none of us would be here. And not unlike embarking on any new experience, having sex for the first time is kind of a big deal. So important in fact, a term for those who haven’t had sex was created: virgins.

According to Merriam Webster, virginity is the state of never having had sexual intercourse. Now this minimal definition, is actually quite inclusive, and encompasses all gender types and sexual orientations. However, the historical concept of virginity and the etymology behind it (which we’ll discuss in detail in Lesson 2), mostly meant the virginity of cis women, hence the problem.

Yes, concept. Before moving forward, first things first: virginity is a social construct.

Ed Note: The CSPH knows that not all women have a vagina and not all vaginas belong to women. This lesson talks about the social construct of virginity, which is rooted in a hetero- and cis-normative understanding of the world.

Hymen, Shmymen

Inside the tangled webbed concept of female virginity, lies an inaccurate understanding of the hymen. This misunderstanding of the hymen is perpetuated by society’s lexicon and it’s approach to the hymen. Phrases like “popping the cherry,” “loss of virginity,” or “deflowering” leads us to believe that once sexual intercourse occurs, the hymen is destroyed or compromised in some way. This is not true.

The hymen is a very thin, elastic membrane that rests either outside of the vagina or just inside of it. During sexual intercourse, or the usage of tampons, fingers, etc. the membrane (hymen) is simply stretched, due to the elastic nature. However, if one or their partner is too rough, too fast, or if not amply lubricated, the membrane can tear. This can cause a sharp sensation outside the vagina and it can cause bleeding. So, ultimately the hymen stays with one, their entire life!

Different Types of Hymens

Hymens and vaginas, not unlike snowflakes are not all the same.

Sunday-Sex-School-Lesson-1

Image from the CSPH

Average hymen (or The Sailor Moon hymen)

This hymen has a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina. It can come in different shapes. It is the most common hymen in vulva owners. It is shaped like a half moon. This shape allows menstrual blood to flow out of the vagina.

Imperforated Hymen (or The Tuxedo Mask hymen)

This hymen is extremely rare, but does exist. An imperforate hymen is a thin membrane that completely covers the opening to the vagina. Menstrual blood cannot flow out of the vagina. This usually causes the blood to back up into the vagina which often develops into an abdominal mass and abdominal and/or back pain. An imperforate hymen can be diagnosed at birth. Rarely, the diagnosis is not made until the teen years. Fortunately, there is a form of treatment for an imperforate hymen. It is a minor surgery to remove the extra hymenal tissue and create a normal sized vaginal opening so that menstrual blood can flow out of the vagina.

Microperforate hymen (or the Sailor Chibi Moon)

This thin membrane almost completely covers the opening to a vagina. Menstrual blood is usually able to flow out of the vagina but the opening is very small. This hymen usually will not be able to get a tampon into and the owner will mostly like be unaware of the tiny opening. This hymen can also be treated by a perforation surgery.

Septate hymen (or Sailor Uranus)

The thin hymenal membrane has a band of extra tissue in the middle that causes two small vaginal openings instead of one. Owners of this hymen will also have trouble inserting and removing tampons. Again, a minor surgery to remove the extra band of tissue and create a normal sized vaginal opening can be done.

Image from the CSPH

Image from the CSPH

Now that you know the truth about vulva owner virginity:

tw: mention of rape

Here, in less than 3 minutes, Alyssa combats any and all arguments regarding the “Virginity Standard.”

Make sure you come back next Sunday for Lesson 2! We’ll further dissect the historical concept of virginity and it’s present standing.

condom ad condoms too loose

csphThe CENTER for SEXUAL PLEASURE and HEALTH (The CSPH) is designed to provide adults with a safe, physical space to learn about sexual pleasure, health, and advocacy issues. Led by highly respected founder and director, Megan Andelloux, The CSPH is a sexuality training and education organization that works to reduce sexual shame, fight misinformation, & advance the sexuality field.

When Sex Is Just A Bummer

Head in HandsHave you recently had a sex experience that was less than fulfilling? Sex bummers can put a real strain on your emotional well being. But as Heather Corinna explains, they don’t have to be that way. In this article, Heather offers new and helpful perspective on sex faux pas that can make you thankful for the experience.

Here’s a summary of key benefits that sexual bummers can provide:

  • Sex bummers can teach us more about what and who we do and don’t like.
  • Bummers offer clues for what needs to be changed and communicated better.
  • Bummers can help us improve our expectations as well as demonstrate what we need and want.
  • Bummers can build intimacy.

This article was originally published at Scarleteen.

BY HEATHER CORINNA | Scarleteen

Sometimes sex is freaking amazing. Sometimes it’s not, but it’s still mighty good. It’s little more than nice at other times, but as fine a way to have spent those twenty minutes as any other. Then there are times when it’s none of those things: when it’s an oh-well, an oh-that’s-so-good-oh-wait-now-it’s-so-NOT-ACK-STOP!, a WTF was that even? or even an OMFG-WHY-ME-WHYYYYYYY. And times when there’s little to no humour in a sexual disappointment or outcome at all, just some seriously rough feelings or difficult things to contend with.  

Everyone is going to have at least some of those times, way more than just once or twice. Sometimes, or in some interactions, relationships or phases of life, we may even experience sex more often being a bummer for us than being satisfying and awesome.

Maybe sex stunk because someone seemed to think trying to lick your eyeball was sexy, while you felt like they were coming at you with some kind of cannibal agenda they’d clearly kept hidden until now. For every single time one of you moved one way, the other guessed wrong and moved the same way, so all you both got out of sex was bumps on your head and a shiny new tube of Neosporin for where your lip got split by their earring. Your little sister walked in on you, or you shot a condom across the room while trying to get it on and your unstoppable laughter kept you from getting back into your sexy. You and someone else just may not be clicking: everything you do starts out being something one of you likes, and turns out to be something the other doesn’t. Maybe you just can’t get out of your head enough to stay in the groove, or get in the groove to begin with. Or perhaps you’ve become a new member of the statistically large group* who discover that a bed surrounded by candles more often creates smoke damage and a need for new curtains than it does romance.

Many sex bummers are silly or funny, so long as we have a sense of humor about them. Others aren’t, like being triggered during sex from previous trauma or abuse, or having someone you just had otherwise-amazing sex with open their mouth after and say something carelessly stupid that gets them the gold in the Douchebag Olympics. Sometimes people have a hard time being kind or patient with themselves with the learning curve of masturbation or sex with partners. Some people have sexual expectations and ideals that are clearly unrealistic, but they still have a very big, sometimes even religious, emotional attachment to those ideals, so being shown the realities can feel devastating. Being unpleasantly surprised by our emotional reactions to certain things — like having post-breakup sex you thought you were cool with, only to find out that you are in no way cool with it — can also be something we may need to cry out rather than laugh off. Some bummers are more challenging or emotionally rough than others.

We know that resilience is key in healthy sexual and personal development. Being able to experience and move forward from anything from a mere disappointment to a terrible trauma or tragedy is vital for being able to live our lives and find happiness in them. Being resilient is ultimately about having the tools and the desire to adapt to life and its experiences, rather than getting stuck or mired down under the weight of things.

Resilience is what’s asked of us when sex is disappointing, especially if we don’t want it to be chock full o’bummer evermore. Perspective is a big help with resilience, because it lets us know the real gravity of something. When it’s truly not a big whoop, it helps us to let it go more easily. Someone should be able to easily cope with not getting an erection or not reaching orgasm now and then, or finding out that a partner just isn’t into one or two sexual things they are. Those things are, indeed, bummers, but great tragedies they are not. On the other hand, struggling for years to reclaim a sexual life that was hijacked by sexual abuse or assault, feeling so unaccepted and unsafe in being queer that you never even let yourself love whoever it is you love, battling serious sexually-transmitted illness and its worst complications: that’s huge stuff we can’t (and shouldn’t) just brush off.

If we sweat the small stuff a lot, we won’t be able to deal with the truly hard and challenging stuff. When we learn to let go of the small stuff, so it’s not part of our stresses and strains, we have way more of our own emotional reserves to help us through the big stuff. And when aren’t sweating the small stuff, we’re far more likely to actually enjoy most of our lives, including our sexual lives, fumbles and all.

But isn’t sex supposed to be about pleasure?

Sex of any kind, be it masturbation or sex with partners, is primarily about seeking and intending physical and emotional pleasure. But seeking something out or intending it doesn’t mean we’ll always get or find that thing, or have it go as we expected or intended. Sex being about pleasure also doesn’t mean that every nanosecond we’re sexual in some way will be amazing, without fumbles or moments where things are only so-so. Like any other part of life, sex is something we’re likely to have a wide range of different experiences with, including how much pleasure we do and don’t wind up experiencing each time, and how much what we experience is or isn’t as we expected or were going for.

There are things we can certainly do to make it more likely we’ll experience pleasure with masturbation or sex with partners, including the most basic stuff we need to do to just be safely and soundly sexual with ourselves and others. We can all do consenting well, so no one is doing anything to the other they don’t want or aren’t okay with.  We can aim to please ourselves or each other, and put our all into that. We get to choose what we do with which body parts, and how we use them, how we communicate and how we listen and what we do with that information.

But there’s a lot about engaging in sex, alone or with partners, that is simply not entirely within our control. Always doing all of those things above that are within our control still can’t make it so sex is always fabulous. Doing those things, for instance, doesn’t always mean we’ll discover or answer what we or others really want just yet, that our intent to please will always result in pleasure, or the kind of pleasure we want, or that even open, rich shared communication will result in agreement, compatibility or all the orgasms all the time. Just because we are seeking out and can find pleasure and other kinds of awesome in sex and sexuality doesn’t mean we always will.

Same deal, different context: I’ve been making music since I was a kid: it’s one of my first loves in my life. It’s my happy place. Except for the times that it isn’t, or it is, but it just doesn’t make me as happy as I know it can, or doesn’t go the way I expected.

Sometimes practicing is pure bliss; other times it’s a total drag. Some days my hands work beautifully; other days, my fingers feel clumsy and I can’t sustain a pattern or rhythm to save my life. Playing with other people rocks when we all really get in the groove together. But we can’t always do that, so sometimes it feels more like work than play, and can result in hurt feelings or petty resentments. Sometimes I grab an instrument excited to play, but once I start playing, I just can’t get into it that day at all. Sometimes I break a string and don’t have an extra set (and once sliced my cheek open in the process of breaking one, just to add injury to insult), discover the piano’s fallen out of tune, or have a cold, so singing feels and sounds like a duck on its deathbed instead of feeling and sounding good. All of these things are out of my control, and all can totally tank what could have been an opportunity for me to play and enjoy playing.

Sex is a lot like that, for most people, often as much of the time as it is all they want or expect it to be. Because of the bonkers-high expectations that get placed, or we place, on sex, it can be harder to see it the way we would similar things that we seek pleasure in, but just don’t find sometimes, whether that’s about playing music, eating cupcakes, getting a haircut or falling in love. But just like other things that don’t go as we wanted have a potentially positive value, the same goes here. Today’s sex bummer could result in next month’s victory dance if you let it.

Using Bummers for Good

Besides furnishing you with some dishy content for your memoirs, there are other hidden upsides to sex that isn’t great….

Continue reading the full article at Scarleteen.

Unsure what size

heatherHEATHER CORINNA is an activist, artist, author and the director of Scarleteen, the inclusive online resource for teen and young adult sex education and information. She is also the author of S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College and was a contributor to the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She’s received the The Champions of Sexual Literacy Award for Grassroots Activism (2007), The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Western Region’s, Public Service Award (2009), the Our Bodies, Ourselves’ Women’s Health Heroes Award (2009), The Joan Helmich Educator of the Year Award (2012), and The Woodhull Foundation’s Vicki Award(2013).

scarleteenSCARLETEEN is an independent, grassroots sexuality education and support organization and website. Founded in 1998, Scarleteen.com is visited by around three-quarters of a million diverse people each month worldwide, most between the ages of 15 and 25. It is the highest-ranked website for sex education and sexuality advice online and has held that rank through the majority of its tenure.
Find Scarleteen on twitter @Scarleteen

Condom Love: Find Out How Amazing Safer Sex Can Be…

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You’ve probably been told how to use a condom but have you ever been told how to choose a condom? It’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are sizes, shapes, materials, flavors, lubes- oh my!

Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke, to the rescue! She explains everything you need to know, from size to shape, from flavor to lube, so that you can find the perfect prophylactic for you!

This article is meant to help you to navigate the condom market, understand the options available to you and ultimately, make the best decision for your body and pleasure.

Here are some main points to take away:

  • Condoms are available in three basic size categories: Smaller condoms fit 35% of men, standard condoms fit 50% of men and larger condoms fit 15% of men.
  • If you’re unsure on size, try Melissa’s sizing tip or test out a sampler.
  • Condom samplers are a great way to try out premium condoms without committing to an entire box.
  • Non-latex condoms are great for those with allergies, though lambskin condoms are not effective against STIs.
  • Study showed that men who used lube with condoms became more aroused.
  • Don’t miss the discount code for Bedsider readers!

Read the full post at Bedsider.

BY MELISSA WHITE | CEO of LuckyBloke.com

1. Condoms aren’t one-size-fits-all.

Little-known fact: condom size is the most critical factor in increasing safety and pleasure with condoms.

Have you ever worn a bra that didn’t fit right? Whether you endured straps digging into your shoulders, relentless underwire stabbings, or cups that bunched up, you understand that an ill-fitting bra is at best distracting and at worst downright painful.

Just like a perfect-fitting bra, a well-fitting condom will take your (and your partner’s) mind off of the condom and onto giving and receiving pleasure.

Condoms are available in three basic sizes.

Smaller condoms are the best option for 35% of men. If you have ever had sex and the condom slipped around or came off inside of you (and yes, that does happen)—or if your partner’s chief complaint is that wearing condoms feels like a paper bag–that partner probably should switch to using a smaller-than-standard condom.

PRO-TIP: If your partner would benefit from a slightly-smaller-than-standard condom yet doesn’t need a true “small condom,” there are a few excellent Japanese condoms that are simply narrower than standard condoms. These include some of the thinnest condoms on the market–so there will be very little getting between you and your partner.

Standard condoms are the best option for 50% of men. If your partner is in this category, you’ll have a wealth of condoms from around the world to choose from. That includes lots of premium options that are likely superior to anything you’ve tried before.

Larger condoms are the best option for 15% of men. If your partner has a history of broken condoms and serious discomfort when it comes to wearing condoms, he has likely been wearing condoms that are too small for him and needs a larger condom. Female condoms are another option worth exploring, especially if your partner finds even larger condoms uncomfortable.

PRO-TIP: It’s good to be aware that there are also a number of between-size condom options available—for example Kimono Microthin Large—that bridge the gap between “standard” and “large” size condoms.

Here’s a trick to determine the best condom size for your partner. If you’re still at a loss regarding your partner’s perfect condom size, or if you have multiple partners or just want to stock up on a variety of sizes, Lucky Bloke has a “Not Sure What Size Condom to Buy” Sampler.

2. Shapes, and materials, and flavors…Oh my!

Getting a general idea on what condom size you need to buy is just the beginning. Just as not every bra in your size is equally comfortable, not all condoms in the same size range will feel the same. And while you may have a go-to bra for when you want comfort and something sexier for a night out, I hear from lots of condom users who switch up shape, texture, and flavor to match their mood.

My best advice (once you’ve determined the best size to use) to those committed to improving their sex with condoms is to get ready to explore a variety of condoms. And I often find that with condoms, as with so many things, you get what you pay for. Nothing against free or low-priced condoms, but high quality condoms are often worth the price. Premium condom samplers provide an inexpensive way to start exploring. (Lucky Bloke’s samplers include top-rated condoms in categories like Ultrathin, Flavored, and Textured.) Not only will you get a great condom variety, you will do so without having to buy entire boxes of twelve identical condoms in order to find the condoms that work best for you and your partner.

Non-latex condoms might be worth investigating even if you’re not allergic to latex. (And naturally we have a condom sampler for that, too) The non-latex options in our sampler* protect from STIs and pregnancy and offer amazing sensitivity, heightened feeling, and heat transfer.

*Note: Lambskin condoms, while in the non-latex category, aren’t included in the samplers since they’re not ideal for everyone. While they do prevent pregnancy, they will not protect you or your partner from contracting HIV or other STIs.

3. Lube Matters. (And how!)

The truth is that most everyone’s sex life can benefit greatly from some high-quality lubrication. However, there are many lube myths that may be keeping it out of your bedroom.

Do you think you need to be a certain age to use lube? You don’t! Are you afraid that using lube might mean that there’s something wrong with your sex life? Really, nothing could be further from the truth!

For condom users, extra lube has some major benefits. Simply put, exposing your most delicate parts to latex will dry you up—no matter how excited you may be. A study that looked at people’s arousal levels with and without condoms found that men who used a condom without lube were slightly less aroused than those who didn’t use a condom or lube. The kicker? The men who used a condom with lube got as aroused as those who didn’t use a condom at all! And provided you are using a high quality, condom-compatible lubricant, your condom is less likely to break during intercourse.

It’s time to declare your days of suffering through mediocre experiences with condoms officially over. Your sex life will thank you. Guaranteed.

bedsiderBEDSIDER is an online birth control support network for women operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy. Bedsider is totally independent (no pharmaceutical or government involvement). Honest and unbiased, Bedsider’s goal is to help women find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively, and that’s it.
Find Bedsider on twitter @Bedsider

Fifty Shades of Grey: Has It Changed the Way Women Think About Sex?

Photo credit: Todd Mecklem

Photo credit: Todd Mecklem

No matter how you feel about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ one must admit it has opened up our national conversation about sexuality,” says sex educator Elle Chase.

In response to the recent movie release and blockbuster hit, Elle Chase reflects on the fame of this story and why the book trilogy resonates with so many women. In many ways, she argues, it has actually changed the way women think about sex and sexuality. Elle brings up three very interesting and original points that many critics have overlooked.

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has changed the way we think about sex in at least three ways:

  • The book was released during the economic recession. Such hardships have forced many people to reflect on their basic needs, but also find escape from the stressors of work and joblessness. Our carnal desires are something we do have control over, and it has no monetary cost!
  • Due to massive public acceptance of the trilogy, women are finding it easier to openly talk about traditionally taboo subjects like female sexual pleasure and fantasy.
  • It is not a standard love story. It isn’t even about BDSM. It is about a woman’s self discovery. Our sexual experimentations (or lack of experience) play an important role in the process of self discovery for each one of us.

This post was originally published on smutforsmarties.com

BY ELLE CHASE | ElleChase.com

Image from smutforsmarties.com

Image from smutforsmarties.com

By now, you’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t at least heard of the E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, let alone not read the trilogy. Fifty Shades is Twilight for the “Soccer Mom”, and just as poorly written, yet women can’t get enough of it … in fact, no one can. Sex clubs, sex shops and even New York’s Museum of Sex are having Fifty Shades themed events. Even cottage industries of vanilla-friendly BDSM seminars and ladies nights have popped up faster than you can say “Yes, Sir, may I have another?” Dateline, Primetime, Nightline – all the news shows have covered it since it’s blockbuster release in 2011, including the dependably milque-toast morning shows. Back in 2011, even Psychology Today and People Magazine, two publications that couldn’t be more different, had written articles about the Fifty Shades phenomenon. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about Fifty Shades, and not only did the E.L. James blockbuster birth a movie franchise, but it continues to inspire merchandise, news articles, events and sex toys. In fact, even one of the bastions of conservative family ideals, Target, is selling Fifty Shades of Grey sex toys. But why did a poorly written romance novel, originally self-published as a fan-fiction e-book, capture the imagination and sex drive of American women? Erotica isn’t new, and neither is BDSM.

Why is this particular book resonating with so many women? I have a few ideas:

#1 IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID

Timing. My feeling has always been that under times of socio-economic stress or crisis that people tend to move inward and reflect on what they really have in life, what they can call their own. Taking personal inventory and whittling ones needs down to just the basics illuminates within us what we really care about, what we have control over and how it adds to our life. In a time of economic unreliability, we are forced to define what it is that really makes us happen, what we really need and how to pare down all the extraneous trappings of a life distracted by panaceas of success. Without the sparkly diversion of “things” we want or need, discovering that there is nothing more “our own” than our bodies and our sexuality, can be a realization that changes how we look at sex forever. Sex: if we’re not doing it, we’re thinking about doing it because let’s face it … it’s fun, it’s free and it feels good.

To paraphrase John Mayer, our bodies “are a wonderland” … a wonderland of sensation, feelings and hormones that can give us great pleasure. What could feel more exciting and enticing than a semi-subversive roll-in-the-hay with your neighbor? Or, letting go of your Type-A personality and allowing someone else call the shots … in bed? Maybe the scintillating thought of sharing a surruptitous touch with a stranger on a train, has put a little spring in your step or devilish grin on your face? Our sexual desires are inherent, and for some, might not have been exploited to their fullest potential. Feeling free to indulge in our carnal desires, is the gateway to exploring our sexual selves or at least choosing whether we indulge or not. In a recession, there are very few things we feel we have control of, and even fewer that has the emotional and physical potential to bring us a respite from the stressors and the financial constraints of seeking out a living.

In 2011, Fifty Shades of Grey arrived at such a time of economic upheaval. It’s no accident that it garnered it’s initial success by word of mouth as a free online publication. Mostly hetero/cis women sought out distraction from the hamster wheel of daily life and, in the face of joblessness, foreclosures, war and waning affordable healthcare, and made this book a must-read. Easy and inexpensive escapism into a world of passion, lust and romance … as J. Lo says “Love don’t cost a thing,” and that is precisely the appeal of a Rabelaisian fantasy like Fifty Shades of Grey.

#2 WE’RE MAD AS HELL AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!

For far too long in western culture, women’s sexuality has been at the very least marginalized and at the most extreme, vilified. In modern society, women are not portrayed as wanting sex. In fact, if you grew up during any part of the women’s movement, you might’ve been led to believe that ‘sexual freedom’ for a woman only meant she had the right to say “no.” However, as a woman and a feminist, I have benefited from the freedom of choice to say “yes,” to my control over my sexuality, “yes” to how I choose to express it and “yes” to sexual pleasure. It seems that Fifty Shades was just the gateway for some women- women who may have felt stultified sexually, to give themselves permission to explore an enjoyable sex life.

Nature dictates that we are all sexual and sensual beings. It’s beginning to dawn on the modern woman that sexual pleasure isn’t just acceptable for men, but just as acceptable for women. Because of the popularity and the subsequent main stream media frenzy of Fifty Shades of Grey, women are feeling more empowered to talk about what sexual pleasure means to them, regardless of whether they are, or are not into “BDSM.” This is a huge step in the evolution of female sexual acceptance where shame had shrouded it for centuries. Through the public acceptance of Fifty Shades of Grey, women have started to give themselves permission to accept and seek out sexual pleasure. These same women began to feel as free to explore their sexual urges as men had been doing for since time immemorial.

It stands to reason, that women who have found sexual liberation in the E.L. James’ books, might possibly be more open to teaching their daughters that sex and the pleasure we derive from it is healthy, and that their right to express it verbally or physically is nothing to be ashamed of. Without trying to, Fifty Shades of Grey has taken away a bit of the taboo for a certain segment of the female population. Women who normally didn’t discuss “such things” are now sharing the titillation and thrill they get from reading modern erotica. Because this book has been so popular, the discussions have started and have even freed a great many women from the bad kind of ties that bind.

#3 THIS IS NOT ABOUT BDSM

Quotation-Tristan-Taormino-freedom-sexuality-human-feminism-Meetville-Quotes-21462-300x205Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t a book about BDSM. It’s not even a love story. At its core, this book is an allegory of one woman’s unexpected journey of self-discovery. The heroine, smart yet un-experienced, yields to her feelings, and follows Mr. Grey on a titillating sexual adventure. She’s not an idiot, she recognizes how extreme and foreign her situation with Mr. Grey is, and struggles with it. Yet, measured, she feeds her desires and discovers, in the process what she does, and does not like about this specific kind of sex.

Experimenting with our turn-ons and turn offs is an essential part of discovering what kind of sex we like best and, therefore, having a satisfying sex life. After all, how do we know what we like, if we don’t even know what we don’t like? We try out what makes us curious in other parts of our lives; like trying new foods or choosing an exercise we enjoy (or at least don’t hate). Why should it be any different with sex? E.L. James has given us a sort a heroine’s journey of sexual self-discovery and we see ourselves in that journey. It’s empowering.

Even if we don’t identify with the characters in the book – we want to, it’s the pull of sexual pleasure. For some of us, we’ve masked the seduction of sexual adventure and enjoyment, putting it on the back-burner in order to (perhaps) build a career, take care of a family member or build our own families. Because of this, the tug of this pilgrimage can come late in life, if we allow it to at all.

Regardless of when we feel compelled to go on a sexual discovery journey, we all must. We all deserve to experience passion, discover what leads us to it, and recognize there are many different roads to take and ways to travel there. Fifty Shades of Grey illuminates just one of those paths and ignites in the reader a contemplation of one’s own passage through the hallowed halls of our sexuality.

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elle Sex educator, writer and coach, Elle Chase is best known for her award-winning and highly trafficked sites, LadyCheeky.com (NSFW) and SmutForSmarties.com, which have both garnered multiple awards, including LA Weekly’s Best Sex Blog 2013. Elle’s focus is on positive body image, reigniting sexual expression and better sex after 40. She speaks nationally at universities, conferences, and teaches workshops about all things “sex.” Currently, she is hard at work on a book based on her popular workshop “Big, Beautiful Sex”. Find Elle on facebook.com/TheElleChase and follow her @TheElleChase or @smutforsmarties.

Am I Normal? Are My Sexual Interests Boring?

team sex ed

Team Sex Ed! Kate & Louise

If I really love the missionary position am I too boring? Is it weird that I don’t like oral sex? For how long should sex last? Sex educators, Kate McCombs and Louise Bourchier receive these types of questions daily. The irony is that while we feel alone in our worry of being “abnormal”, it is very normal to question our sexual adequacy.

As part of their sex ed video series, Kate and Louise cover the importance of being honest with yourself about what you enjoy and doing what’s sexually authentic for you.

Here are their main points:

  • Our media culture promotes the idea that everyone should be a risque sex guru. Don’t buy into the hype!
  • It’s important to embrace what’s authentic for you sexually.
  • “Daggy” should be the new “sexy”. Watch the video to learn what “daggy” means.

BY KATE MCCOMBS & LOUISE BOURCHIER | Team Sex Ed! Kate & Louise

condom ad condoms too loose

kate_mccombsKATE MCCOMBS is a NYC-based sex educator, writer, and maker of puns. Ultimately, all of Kate’s work is about helping people feel more comfortable talking about sex. She believes that meaningful conversations + accurate information can help us create a healthier and more pleasure-filled world. Kate writes articles and teaches workshops about sexual health, pleasure, and communication.
Follow Kate on Twitter @katecom

louise bourchier 150 150LOUISE BOURCHIER, MPH is a sex educator who knows health and pleasure. She teaches workshops to adult audiences throughout Australia and New Zealand, where her mission is to facilitate access to information that allows people to experience healthy and pleasurable sex lives. She works closely with D.VICE: the toy shop for grownups and is a proud emissary of Sex Geekdom Melbourne. Follow her on Twitter @louiselabouche

20 Things I Didn’t Know About Love, Sex and Dating Until I Hit 40

Photographer Daniel Rocal

Photographer Daniel Rocal

Looking back on your love life, what do you know now that you didn’t understand in the past?

Love, sex and dating are all so multifaceted and complex, it’s a life dynamic that is never fixed or static. Rather, these parts of ourselves flux and change throughout time, and certainly don’t halt in your later life. What you found sexy 10 years ago will not likely match your current appeals. Your opinion about friends-with-benefits will be completely different. Your admiration of feet is now a full-blown fetish.

Sex educator and writer, Elle Chase, draws from her personal experiences to introduce 20 things she now knows about the joys of sex and dating. It’s pumped full of advice.

Try this exercise to tap into the present wisdom of your sexuality.

This piece was originally published at SmutforSmarties.com

BY ELLE CHASE | ElleChase.com

1. When going to a swinger’s retreat, make certain your partner isn’t packing a tiny, leather, Borat-style “unikini” to wear at the poolside fashion show.

2. Being “in love” and being “in lust” are both very disparate and different things that deceptively, can seem like one and the same.

3. Sex is messy. You’ll need a towel.

4. When dating a married man, never cling to the statistic that 1% of men having an affair will leave their wives for their mistress. Because no matter what he says, for every King Edward VIII who abdicated the throne for the woman he loved, there are 25 Joey Buttafuccos and you’re dating number 24.

5. Gentlemanly manners, a good upbringing and general social skills should never be underestimated.

6. Tattoo this Maya Angelou quote on the inside of your eyelids. “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

7. Though it might seem obvious, always query a date about the circumstances in which he lives. If he resides in a storage facility with no indoor plumbing and a Porta-Potty he cleans himself, chances are you’ll be doing all the driving.

8. Guys you meet on a fetish-dating site will never care if you haven’t dusted before they come over or the bed isn’t made. Don’t stress it. You’re mother will NOT be turning over in her grave (at least not because your house isn’t spotless).

9. Cigarettes, role-playing your True Blood fantasy character on Twitter and bucketloads of Xanax are not a new lifestyle regime, they are a red flag.

10. Contrary to what they may have you believe, the man with a 12-inch dick is not going to be the best sex you ever had. Two words: bruised cervix.

11. Approximately, one out of every five men you sleep with will be as good in bed as they think, or say they are.

12. It’s less important to a man what your body looks like than how you feel about it and what you do with it.

13. This may seem obvious, but never divulge the web address of the erotica and porn blogs you run on the first couple of dates. It sets up unrealistic expectations.

14. Only wax your vulva if it makes YOU feel better. If your lover suggests he’d like to see you with smooth genitalia, tell him you’d like him to go first.

15. Going to bed alone at night isn’t nearly as lonely as going to bed next to someone you’ve grown apart from.

16. When online dating, no matter how hard you work at making your profile accurate, smart, witty and pithy you will always get responses from 23 year old, trade students who wear their baseball caps sideways and think common texting abbreviations are what constitute an irresistible opening email.

17. Sexual chemistry and passion are inextricably linked, however it can take many different forms, come in many different packages and isn’t always instantaneous. If he doesn’t light your fire after 3 dates, he never will.

18. Social media is great place to learn how to flirt with abandon.

19. It takes at least a week to properly seduce a woman.

20. Never reschedule time with friends for a date. Your friends are your gold. The date can wait.

elle Sex educator, writer and coach, Elle Chase is best known for her award-winning and highly trafficked sites, LadyCheeky.com (NSFW) and SmutForSmarties.com, which have both garnered multiple awards, including LA Weekly’s Best Sex Blog 2013. Elle’s focus is on positive body image, reigniting sexual expression and better sex after 40. She speaks nationally at universities, conferences, and teaches workshops about all things “sex.” Currently, she is hard at work on a book based on her popular workshop “Big, Beautiful Sex”. Find Elle on facebook.com/TheElleChase and follow her @TheElleChase or @smutforsmarties.

How Do I Get Wetter? Tips to Conquer Sexual Dryness

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Sex educator, Megan Andelloux of the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (the CSPH) answers the question:

I have trouble getting wet and staying wet before and during intercourse. What do I do?

Experiencing sexual dryness does not necessarily mean something is medically “wrong” with you. Vaginal wetness is unique to every woman. Just as bodies are individually different, we also vary in what turns us on and how we get wet. In the following three minute video, Megan Andelloux explains what can effect lubrication, which ranges from emotional stress to antihistamines to menstrual cycle, and more.

Here are Megan’s quick tips for how to get wetter in the sack:

  • Reflect on your stress level in day to day life.
  • Both hormonal and non-hormonal medication can effect wetness. Check your medication and talk to your doctor about alternatives.
  • Invest in personal lubrication. Megan recommends the silicone-based Move by ONE.
  • Explore what toys are designed to stimulate the anterior fornix erogenous zone (AFE zone).
  • Stimulation of the nipples increase vaginal lubrication.
  • Check out the book Women’s Anatomy of Arousal by Sheri Winston.

BY The CSPH | theCSPH.org

megan_andellouxMEGAN ANDELLOUX is a Clinical Sexologist and certified Sexuality Educator, listed on Wikipedia as one of the top sexuality educators in America, her innovative education programs, writing, social media presence, and ambitious speaking schedule has made her one of America’s most recognized and sought-after experts in the growing field of sexual pleasure, health, and politics.
Follow Megan on twitter @HiOhMegan

csphThe CENTER for SEXUAL PLEASURE and HEALTH (The CSPH) is designed to provide adults with a safe, physical space to learn about sexual pleasure, health, and advocacy issues. Led by highly respected founder and director, Megan Andelloux, The CSPH is a sexuality training and education organization that works to reduce sexual shame, fight misinformation, & advance the sexuality field.

5 Ways to Stay Sex Positive when Dealing with Depression

Photo credit: Martjin de Valk

Photo credit: Martjin de Valk

Sex may be the last thing on your mind when you’re depressed. But sex educator and coach, JoEllen Notte explains that being “sex positive” does not simply mean having lots of orgasms. In this article, she defines sex positivity as acknowledging and remembering part of your identity as sexual. This is important because regardless of gender, age, or state of health, a shameless, healthy sex life is the right of every person.

Yet as one is battling with the physical and emotional states of depression, it’s an enormous challenge to care for oneself and take pleasure in one’s sexuality. Here JoEllen offers five tips for doing all you can to make yourself feel good and stay sex positive when dealing with depression because ultimately this is what it is all about: taking good care of yourself.

After reading her piece, consider participating in JoEllen’s online survey about the impact of depression on sexuality.

Key points to remember are:

  • Sexuality can be a positive force in your life in which you grow and develop your passions. It is about respecting you for you.
  • When you aren’t feeling sexual, explore the sensual. Sexual and sensual are not necessarily the same thing.  Sensuality is about navigating your sense around what feels good. It can be as simple as taking a scented bath.
  • Be reflective about what motivates you to make certain choices in your sex life.
  • Sex positivity is not about the quantity of sex you are having. It’s about being aware of what you need that is right for you.
  • Advocate for yourself and talk to your doctor if you feel your depression and/or medication is affecting you sex life.

This article was originally published at theRedheadBedhead

BY JOELLEN NOTTE | theRedheadBedhead.com

I’ve been having a hard time writing these last couple of weeks. New insurance led to a switch in which particular generic form of my antidepressant I received and lo and behold, the different one isn’t quite getting the job done. I’ve been a bit weepy (ok, more than a bit, pretty much anything involving dads gets me choked up… just happened while I was typing that), a bit brain-foggy, having a hard time focusing or getting stuff done (sorry if I owe you an email!), taking occasional sobbing breaks and getting hit with intermittent waves of free-floating guilt and paranoia. It sounds really bad but it’s kind of like when you live on a street with a lot of potholes, people who never drive down it think it’s the worst thing ever but you’ve learned to navigate, right? Anyway, while my doctor and insurance company duke it out (that’s right, they are currently arguing over why it’s worthwhile to treat me with the correct medication) I’m taking my vitamins, exercising and trying to focus outward (speaking of, congrats to the giveaway winners!). To that end I have come up with this handy little list.

Sometimes depression can suck the sexy right out of you which can be even more depressing. Let’s talk about some ways to fight that, shall we?

1. Remember, sex positivity isn’t about having all the orgasms.

I suspect some of you read the title of this and thought “Seriously? I’m depressed and you want me to worry about sex? Why don’t I just cure cancer while I’m at it?!” But remember, staying sex positive doesn’t mean going and having all the sex with all the screaming orgasms. Take that pressure away first off. In this case, I’m not even asking you to stay sex positive in the broader whole-world, big picture sense. I’m talking about you for you. I’m just asking that you remember your identity as a sexual being. Some depressed people don’t want to have sex. Sometimes medications render depressed people incapable of orgasm (we’ll come back to that in a minute) this does not mean sex is something that exists separately from you and only for others. Sometimes one of the hardest parts of depression is the chasm that seems to exist between you and the rest of the “not depressed” world (as you perceive it) don’t add to that by saying “sex positivity? eff that noise! I’m depressed!” just work with me here. 🙂

Continue reading at The Readhead Bedhead

condom ad condoms too loose

 

 

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site theRedheadBedhead.com. Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting

Limp On Condoms? How to Rock the Sock in the Sack!

Photographers Karen and Brad Emerson

Photographers Karen and Brad Emerson

Experiencing erectile dysfunction when using condoms is not uncommon. However, as Melissa White argues below, this has less to do with condoms being inherently un-pleasurable; rather, it has more to do with choosing and using the wrong condom. This is not surprising considering that most people are falsely taught that condoms are one-size-fits-all. The fact is that there is a lot of variation in quality condoms. In this article, Melissa explains how one can solve the problem of condom discomfort.

Here’s a quick summary of how you can improve your condom experience:

This piece was originally published on the Huffington Post. Don’t miss Melissa White’s interview (video below) in which she busts the myth that condoms and pleasure don’t mix.

BY MELISSA WHITE | LuckyBloke.com

“I peeled open the condom and as I rolled it on him, his shaft instantaneously went soft, softer. Limp. “Urgh, I hate condoms!” He exhaled. “I never had to use them in my last relationship. I’m not used to them.”

My story isn’t rare. I’ve encountered different versions by my friends and peers that, even in clear non-monogamous scenarios, men will complain that condoms dull sex- as if sex is not worth it if it involves a condom! This puts the woman in an incredibly confusing situation.

Speaking from my own experience, I felt it was implied that the problem was that I wanted him to use protection. This guy wasn’t just complaining. There was a real physical disdain to the condom. He kept losing his erection each time we tried.”

This story, first shared on Condom Monologues is alas far from uncommon. A study published in the journal Sexual Health found that – over the course of 3 months – 37% of men lost at least one erection while putting on a condom. As expressed above, this can make the partner doubt their own sexual worth or worry that they’re to blame for making great sex impossible by insisting on condom use.

What’s wrong with that picture? Well, first, remind yourself that being safe is a legitimate requirement of great sex. As in, a lifetime of great sex. Over the long-term, only being sexually safe allows for hot sex. No one is worth putting your own well-being at risk.

And it turns out that great sex is very much possible when using a condom. As long as it’s not just any old condom, mind you.

Most folks (even those who’ve been using condoms for decades) have little idea how to find a the most comfortable and pleasurable condom for their needs. This leads to men suffering through standard condoms that are too big (35% of men require a smaller than standard condom) or too small (15% of men require a larger than standard condom). And by “standard” I mean the vast majority of condoms sold at the local store.

Further, the selection offered at most conventional retailers does not focus on the brands leading condom innovations such as enhanced shape, ultra-thin premium latex or non-latex materials.

Which brings us to our blow-by-blow guide to optimize your condom sexperience:

1. Choosing the Right Condom Size and Type

He may need a different size condom. Did you know that there are three different size categories for condoms? Wearing the right condom will radically improve pleasure. Check out this condom size chart to know what will fit your penis of choice best.

Next I suggest that you explore different condom materials and shapes to find a better option for your partner.

Condoms with more headroom: There are a variety of condoms that offer a wider, dome-like shape that some men find very appealing in that there is less constriction, which can translate into greatly improved sensation during sex. Condoms with more headroom are great to explore in an effort to keep your partner …

Thin condoms: Ultra thin condoms enhance sensitivity. They are a great starting point if your partner complains that he simply can’t feel anything when using a condom.

Non-latex condoms: Many people prefer non-latex condoms regardless of having a sensitivity to latex. This is because polyisoprene and polyurethane transfer body heat better than latex. The material also is generally more comfortable and less restrictive than latex.

2. Buy and Use Your Own Lube

While most condoms are “lubricated”, I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to add additional lube to improve your condom experience. Both water and silicone-based lube (or a hybrid) are safe to use with condoms. Starting with a lube sampler is the most cost efficient and fun way to explore a variety of lubes and figure out what lube feels best.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice…with Superior Condoms

It’s likely your partner is not used to associating pleasure with condoms. Anyone with a penis would benefit from solo practice with a high-quality condom. Masturbating with a condom will help your partner determine his pleasure spots and what feels best with premium protection. This will also help if his issue is anxiety-related. I’ll add that mutual stimulation can be very sexy. So there is no reason you can’t help him here if he’d like an extra hand.

4. Make it Sexy

There is no one way to be sexy. Being sexy is about how you feel. And how you work it. If you pull out a condom with confidence, and you firmly believe that safer sex is sexy, then it’s likely to be perceived as much sexier.

A condom can be a turn on. Keeping condoms in an easily accessible place is very helpful, but that does not mean that it is always best to rush through the process of putting one on. When you introduce condoms, it’s a great idea to turn up the sizzle and have a sense of play.

For example, try putting the condom on your partner for them. When done in a deliberately slow manner with stroking, teasing and eye contact, putting on a condom can be very exciting. Try slipping it on his penis with your mouth. Spice it up by carrying a condom with you in your handbag or pocket (keeping in mind safe condom storage) when you are out together and discreetly show it to your partner to hint at what’s on your mind.

The possibilities are endless.

Remember: The goal is a long and healthy sex life. Asking someone to use a condom shows that you care about them, as well as caring about yourself. Communication really is key and talking about sex might mean sharing what you like, what your favorite position is, or how to choose and use condoms in ways that work for both of you. Talking together about these things will cultivate intimacy and deepen your bond (not hinder it) — and exploring the best premium condoms available (most you’ve likely not tried before) is a surprisingly enjoyable way to get on track in the sack.

For more on condom choosing, check out Melissa White’s interview with Huffington Post Live!

Interview with Melissa White begins at 7min 22 sec.