Not all lubes are created equal
And nine other considerations for the sexually active
If you are ever curious or seeking the most honest of sexual purges, indulgences, and conversations, seek no further than the Internet. Some of the best incognito discoveries regarding sex and humankind can be uncovered while browsing anonymous public forums such as Craigslist's Casual Encounters or Reddit's r/sex.
The range of the confessions unearthed span from sweet to bizarre, educated to misinformed, such as the other day when I stumbled upon a post from a young woman (presumably) asking about lubricants and some assholes (presumably) suggested baby oil.
It occurred to me later that the baby oil suggestion may not have been shared maliciously, but the result of the persons being unaware that oil-based lubricants, such as baby oil, have a chemical reaction with latex condoms that will likely cause them to dissolve, thus making the condom an ineffective use of contraception and STD protection.
Stumbling upon this misinformed thread got me thinking about other factors that play into our sexual interactions with our partners which the public at large may not know or have considered as of yet. With that in mind, here are 10 considerations for the sexually active.
You may already know not to use an oil-based lubricant versus a water-based lubricant (like K-Y Jelly and Astroglide), but here is some other lube-related info you may like to know about, especially if you're into anal sex. A 2010 study by a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles found that participants who used K-Y Jelly and Astroglide during anal sex while wearing a condom were three times more likely to have rectal STDs. Both brands were found to be highly toxic to rectal and cervical tissue as the lubricants dissolve the rectum's protective layer of cells exposing the person to a higher chance to contract a disease. The study found PRé (now Pre-Seed) and Wet Platinum to be the safest lubricant brands.
A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2002 found a correlation between semen and depression levels in women. Of the sexually active college females sampled, those who didn't use condoms with their male partners had fewer symptoms of depression and had twice as much as sex as subjects who used condoms. It is theorized that there are several mood-enhancing hormones found in a man's semen. (Good news for those in long-term, monogamous relationships.) Another survey of college women found a correlation between a woman's exposure to semen when not using a condom to that of a chemical dependency, suggestion that a man's sperm acts as a monogamy agent. (Yet another reason to use condoms in a friends-with-benefit situation.)
Nightmare firsthand experiences aside, there are several recent studies about birth control pills that illustrate the many ways they can (negatively) affect a woman and (therefore also) a man's relationships. Ladies, I'm not saying stop taking your pill, I'm saying if you choose this form of birth control, it may benefit you to research some general side effects, along with that of the pill prescribed for you specifically. An excellent research starting point is a 2012 article for sex and culture site Nerve.com by author Rachel Friedman (of The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost), titled, "How Does The Pill Affect Our Relationships? Six recent studies remind us that the questions surrounding the pill aren't solely political." Included in the roundup: The pill changes what women look for in men, and may reduce frequency of sex and arousal. Friedman is currently writing a book about birth control.
He was the sweetest gentleman, a self-identified feminist, we were friends months before we started dating. We had some understanding of our sexual preferences from casual conversations with each other or mutual friends, but our deck of cards had yet been laid on the table. The night came when we finally had sex and, suddenly, while deep into the rhythm of things — WHACK! — he slapped me right across the face. At least, he meant to. He hit my ear instead. "What the fuck are you doing?" I yelled, cupping my injured ear. I'm not saying I disapprove of this fetish or any other hardcore ones, so much as I'm suggesting you discuss such desires with your partner ahead of time before your fetish ends up getting you arrested for assault. And, of course, be considerate of your partner. Foot licking, fingers up rectums, anal sex, and facials are just some of the sex acts that a respectful and considerate partner would talk about before acting out.
In 2009, Consumer Reports tested 22 condom models for strength, reliability, leakage, and package integrity. Of those tested, seven condoms received perfect scores: Durex Performax; Lifestyles Ultra Sensitive Lubricated; Lifestyles Warming Pleasure; Trojan Her Pleasure Ecstasy; Trojan Magnum Lubricated; Trojan Ultra Ribbed Ecstasy; and Trojan Ultra Thin. Interestingly enough, Women's Health magazine recently tested 25 condom varieties while in search of the most pleasurable condoms for both women and men. Of the final five that made the cut, two of them — Durex Performax and Lifestyles Warming Pleasure — also happened to have landed on Consumer Reports' perfectly scored list. Condoms that are both safe and pleasurable? Get on it.
"Geez," he says, "you're so sensitive." Or, "You gotta relaaaxxxx." Sound familiar, ladies? Gaslighting, or when a jerk psychologically manipulates a situation to make the other person come off as crazy, is a form of emotional abuse and dismissal of feelings that most, if not all, women have experienced at the hands of a man at some point in their lives. Gaslighting is not necessarily gender specific, but women undeniably have a longer history of being deemed overemotional and "hysterical" by society than men ever have. A woman should be able to stand up for herself, voice her opinion or frustrations, and have a conversation with a man without him flipping the script and dismissing her feelings as unfounded.
A man posted this question on Reddit a few weeks ago, adding, "Or is this something women tell men to make them feel better about themselves?" In my experience, a man being on the larger side does not guarantee quality sexing. Some of the best sex partners I've had were on the smaller side physically, but managed to deliver great orgasmic result. Urban myths and porn stars aside, the average erect penis length is somewhere between 5.1 to 5.7 inches. Research has also concluded that a man's girth, not his length, is what greater impacts a woman's sexual satisfaction (wider being considered better), but there is no average guaranteed to bring women vaginal pleasure. Of course, female size matters, too, except we're kinda like a one-size-fits-all scenario (body size withstanding), our vaginal muscles expanding and contracting when necessary. It takes approximately 30 minutes of foreplay before a woman is aroused to the point of vaginal relaxation, so if your lady feels extra tight, you haven't done your job of turning her on. Whether a man or a woman, the best way to guarantee sexual satisfaction is to familiarize yourself with you and your partner's body, each other's desires, and realizing that sex isn't just a round of the ol' in-out, in-out.
While deep thrusts certainly have their pleasurable purpose, whenever I've encountered a man who does the cliché jackhammer thrust I cannot help but wonder if he thinks a woman's G-spot is a stargate to orgasm heaven located by her cervix. A woman's G-spot is about two inches inside the vagina facing north toward her belly button. To find a woman's sweet spot, insert your index finger into the woman in a "come hither" motion, reaching as far deep as your second knuckle. The texture of a woman's G-spot is not smooth like a woman's vaginal walls, but instead a ribbed, cushion-like sponge. For many women, stimulation of the G-spot is what allows them to have a vaginal (versus clitoral) orgasm, as that spongy tissue has a complex grouping of nerves. Stimulation of the G-spot can also result in a woman ejaculating, or as it's known colloquially, squirt.
Did you ever hear the one about that hooker that someone somewhere saw shoot ping-pong balls out of her vagina? Yeah, that's the result of kegels, or exercises that help strengthens a person's pelvic floor muscles. Most commonly associated as a vagina exercise for women, kegels can help both sexes have better control of their sex organs and ejaculation, as well as enhance orgasmic intensity for both the person and his or her partner. It is suggested that men and women do several rounds of exercise a week (or day), and takes only about five to 10 minutes per round. So how do you do a kegel exercise? Hold your PC (pubococcygeus) muscles as hard as you can and then release. Vary the routine from holding the PC muscles for five to 10 seconds, up to 30 seconds — even up to a minute. How do you know if you're holding your PC muscle? The best way for the unfamiliar: Next time you need to release your bladder, contract your pelvic muscles to stop your stream. Congratulations, you just did a kegel exercise. Keep up the routine and next time try the contraction while having sex and see if your partner notices any difference. Women can tighten and flex themselves around their man's member, while for men it's more about ejaculate control and being able to stay harder for longer. Kegels are also good for men to stave off erectile dysfunction during the aging process.
There's no such thing as straight or gay. Sexuality is a gray, sliding scale. It's not as simple as straight or gay or bi or trans. See: Dr. Alfred Kinsey's Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale. According to one of the grandfathers of sexuality research and founder of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, humans do not exist exclusively as one defined sexual preference, instead most of us live somewhere in the middle of a seven-point scale with zero defined as "exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual" and six defined as "exclusively homosexual." There's a whole world that exists deep in the marrow between all societally appointed terms and it's perfectly OK, normal, and reasonable if you can't or don't want to pick a term or desire, because the truth is all that marrow is too mushy and beautiful to distinguish. To quote Margaret Cho: "I was like, 'Am I gay? Am I straight?' And I realized ... I'm just slutty."