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No matter how long you’ve been out of school you spent enough Septembers in your formative years preparing to go back that when that month rolls around it’s easy to get into the learning spirit. When you’re all grown up, though, one thing you don’t know as much about as you’d like is yourself: what gives you pleasure, what you like, what you don’t and how to find it, independently or with your partner. 

The adult toy industry is wonderfully and dizzyingly varied. Compared with the limited choices we once had (‘this one vibrates; this one doesn’t’), there’s enough stuff out there that could make even a seasoned buyer swoon. Choice is a great thing, of course, but you want to make sure you’re getting what you want – what you really, really want. So in the back-to-school spirit here are a few tips to help you decide what that is.

  • Body focus: Everyone’s pleasure zones are different. Before you decide on a toy because ‘it has so many buttons it must be good,’ or ‘it’s a bestseller so I’m sure I’ll like it,’ think about what you want. The humblest little bullet can be your ticket to heaven so consider what’s really your pleasure– size? external stimulation? breast play? – before you plunk down your hard-earned cash.
  • Feel it: Even if you prefer to buy online, sometimes it’s good to go into an adult store just to check out the materials and vibrating power of some of the toys. If you’re an inexperienced buyer how will you really know if you like the texture of a product – jelly? Realistic rubber? hard plastic? – unless you’ve felt it? There’s no harm in asking questions, either: even if you’re not buying, the staff is there to help and if it’s a good store they know as much about these products as the manufacturers do.
  • Use us: We want to be used! Seriously, how much easier would shopping be if you could always have an expert with you to listen to your desires and tailor a selection for you? Fancy stores have personal shoppers and now we, do, too…and a doctor, no less! Dr. Sandor Gardos, sex therapist and founder of MyPleasure, can be your guide through our Shopping with Sandor page. Answer a few quick, multiple-choice questions about your preferences and you’ll get a selection of products customized to your needs, getting rid of that overwhelmed “There’s too much to look at!” feeling. All the toys have all been approved by Dr. Gardos, so you can be assured of quality. It’s a fun feature, too – even if you haven’t thought about buying, say, a product for anal stimulation, this pares down the selection to what would be right for you so that when you’re ready for a new sensation you’ll have an idea of what’s available.

 Welcome back to the school year! Isn’t adult education just the best?

Image courtesty of The US National Archives

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Question

My partner and I were thinking about experimentation with vibrators, but I’ve heard that they can cause loss of sensation in the female genital area with prolonged use. Is this true or are there other dangers?

Answer

Vibrators are not only not dangerous to use, they are actually the treatment of choice for women who are having difficulty reaching orgasm. They are recommended by almost every sex therapist exactly for this use. Indeed, most women not only do not find that there is a loss of sensation, but exactly the opposite: As they begin to experiment with new ways of pleasuring themselves, they learn more about their bodies and the kinds of sensations they like. This leads to more sensitivity and ease of reaching orgasm even without a vibrator.

Although it is always possible for someone to become overly dependent on any one way of masturbating or having sex, I think that normal use would not lead to such a situation.

As I have stated before, research (Davis et al., 1996) has definitively shown that the use of sex aids is not only not detrimental to an individual’s sexual functioning or satisfaction, but that, actually, those individuals who use such devices alone also have more frequent and satisfying sex with a partner.

So my suggestion is that you and your partner browse through a good vibrator catalog (like our own vibrator section) that lists both the pluses and minuses of different vibrators, and explore together without worry that using one will have harmful effects.

Best,
Dr. Sandor Gardos

MyPleasure provides up-to-date and useful sexual education materials in combination with a store that allows people to buy, try, and learn about new aspects of sexuality. We believe everybody deserves a great sex life.

Have a question you’d like answered? Email AsktheDoctor@mypleasure.com

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This tip is of special benefit for the men out there. The next time you are giving your man a little manual attention — otherwise known as a hand job — don’t just use your hand. Add a little vibration to the experience to up their excitement. You could do this in a number of ways. You might choose to apply light vibrations to the sensitive tip of his penis using a bullet vibrator or slimline vibrator in one hand while you continue to stroke with the other. You could also tickle his perineum and scrotum with a pocket rocket as you attend to him with your other hand. Finally, you might consider using a fingertip vibe like the Fukuoku 9000 on your stroking hand, using it all the way along the shaft. Whichever technique you choose, never stray from the main rule of a good hand job: use a lot of lube!

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***UPDATE: The contest has ended. Thank you all for playing and congrats to the winner!**

Not too long ago, anal sex play was considered an odd “fetish” and not a fun, new area to explore. In the last twenty years, however, anal has gone from an out-there preference to a standard option in many bedrooms today. It’s now really easy to get info on how to try out and enjoy anal sex. Not to mention all the awesome butt toys on the market!

So, with anal sex becoming more popular and anal specific sex toys (think butt plugs, prostate massagers, and anal beads) becoming more socially acceptable – where do you think the most anal toys are sold? Here is a hint: it is not where you think.

Okay. Ready? Are you sitting down? Because…

…It is ALASKA.

Ponder that one for a while.

If you look at our graphic map, you’ll start to see an obvious pattern to where anal toys are sold. On the other hand, perhaps you will spot a trend that is less obvious. For us? The clearest pattern is … weather!

Alaska, Vermont, New Hampshire… they all share one thing in common: long winters, and many dark, dark nights. It makes sense that folks who have to endure the endless days of snow and cold turn to warm nights in bed and explore the limits of what can be done there. Add in the fact that Maine, Massachusetts, Montana and Minnesota also indulge in the anal toy habit, you can really see a pattern.

However, that does not explain outliers like California or Virginia or why some states do not show much of a penchant for anal toys at all (although in some cases, such as Alabama, where it’s actually against the law to sell sex toys, well, it’s easy to figure out).

So, what is your theory? Is it a Red State vs. Blue State thing? What other patterns can you see here? Tell us your idea, and the staff here at MyPleasure.com will select their favorite one and reward that person with a $25 gift certificate!

Take some time to look over the map and come up with your theories. While you are at it, maybe you can come up with an explanation of the popularity of anal toys in Washington, DC. Cause all the ones we come up are about how the politicians are all screwing everyone…

We think we will like your theory better.

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Don’t bother asking if it’s hot out there or if it’s you – you’re hot, but yes, it’s hot out there. Not only was this past June the hottest on record but so were the March, April and May proceeding it. You have every right to walk around half naked.

But if you’re going to do that you might as well get something out of it. Movie theaters and their cool, empty darkness are traditionally one of the best places to go in the blistering heat but who can afford theaters anymore? Instead get yourself a steamy rental, turn down the lights, crank up the air and get some ideas. Here are five scenes from films where the heat itself is a character that helps steam up the camera lens and make summer a little brighter.

1. Do The Right Thing- Spike Lee was already getting to be Spike Lee when he made the movie that would launch him to serious stardom in 1989. A sweltering New York summer makes tempers and racial tensions flare, but for a little while Mookie and Tina (played by Lee and Rosie Perez) find an oasis of cool thrills with a lot of naked skin and just a little bit of ice.

2. Fried Green Tomatoes- It’s not as overtly sexual as Spike and his ice cube…in fact there’s a certain ambiguity in the relationship between Idgie (Mary Stuart-Masterson) and Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker) in this 1991 film, but the chemistry between them is as sultry as a Southern accent on a summer day and the way in which Idgie charms the bees into giving up their honey for her to give to Ruth will charm any sensualist or romantic as well.

3.The Seven-Year Itch- Ah, yes, the cool, cool breeze of the subway on a summer night that inspired what might be the most famous image in pop culture history: Marilyn Monroe and her white dress blowing up around her thighs and showing us her historic 1955-era gams. The scene is more charming than nasty but it’s a classic and the thought of that breeze going up her dress can get your mind to thinking that would feel delicious…

4. Fast Times at Ridgemont High- She was every high school boy’s inspiration (to do what we don’t really need to say, do we?) in 1982 when she climbed out of the pool in her red bikini and walked straight into their dreams. Even though it was just a fantasy (and ended in some serious humiliation comedy for poor Judge Reinhold) the future Mrs. Kevin Kline dripping her way into cinematic history is still one of sexiest summer scenes of all time.

5. Body Heat- This 1981 Florida thriller starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner is often cited for it’s electric sex scenes as well as it’s gripping story. Kathleen Turner was one of the sexiest women ever to burn up the screen and the chemistry between her and the young William Hurt is seriously wicked. Interestingly enough taking a cold shower (or in their case a bath) only serves to make things warmer…warmer….red hot.

Image Credits: Do the Right Thing – The Young and the Reckless, Fried Green Tomatoes – HubPages, The Seven Year Itch – Film Forum, Fast Times at Ridgemont High – Stars.ign, Body Heat – Collider

About Liz Langley
Liz Langley is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in about 20 publications – to see more go to www.lizlangley.com.  Liz is a regular contributor to MyPleasure.com.

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By LiYana Silver

Are you really surprised Tiger Woods was cheating on his wife? Were you surprised Bill Clinton, Jude Law, Leann Rimes, David Letterman, Jon Gosselin, Mark Sanford and Hugh Grant were? We shake our once-again disappointed heads over yet another public figure or leader who has proven to be a cheater, liar or hypocrite, but why exactly are we so surprised and disappointed? Of course it can feel like a betrayal when someone you look up to, a mentor, leader or teacher, turns out to have cracks in their morals. I’m not saying that all public figures, celebrities and leaders are cheaters, liars and hypocrites – I’m saying MOST OF US are cheaters, liars and hypocrites.

Hear me out. A large majority of us consider monogamy and sexual exclusivity to be the ideal structure for relationships and marriages, and a reported 90% of us believe that adultery is wrong; however, between 25-50% of married women and 50-65% of married men admit to having affairs. And since not all of those cheaters are married to each other, the numbers of those engaged in infidelities increases dramatically. Picture a room of 10 people; between 2-6 (or more) of those people are or have been cheaters. You might have to count yourself.

We cry for monogamy in morals, but our actions say something very different.

As hard on everyone as infidelity is, cheating deserves a closer examination. Cheating is defined by the context it is set in and the rules it breaks, not by the action itself. In one context, having a knife plunged into your abdomen in the middle of the night by a strange masked man could be a very bad thing; yet in another context, if you are suffering a burst appendix, you are wildly thankful for that surgeon’s scalpel. By one set of rules, copying out of the textbook in an exam is blatant cheating; in an open-book test, it is accepted and encouraged. It’s not the act of having sex, intimacies or emotional connections with people other than our partners that is inherently the problem, it’s the secrecy and dishonesty as well as the unexamined rules so many of us strive to live and love by.

We take for granted that monogamy is gold standard, and when we can’t manage it, we blame ourselves – or our partner. But we could stop and consider a third option; that perhaps there’s something outdated or ill-fitting for some of us, about the structure, confines and pressures of monogamy itself.

I’m not letting Tiger, Bill, Jude – or those fictional 2-6 of 10 folks in the room – off the hook for cheating, lying, deception and infidelity. Dishonesty is a tragedy for everyone. But does everyone who has an affair do it for the sole purpose of breaking up a family or betraying the trust of their loved ones? Are all cheaters callous cads, letting wanton selfish desires take precedence over the sacrifice and self-discipline that is often necessary in loving relationship? Are a majority of us simply just rotten, bad people?

With deep respect to his wife and family, let’s also look at what Tiger (our token cheater) was going FOR, not just what he managed to mess up. It’s a powerful force; call it freedom, lust, limerance, infatuation, love, difference, otherness, intimacy, desire, or thrilling newness. For as long as there have been partners to cheat on, we humans have risked loved ones, jobs, careers, nations, our lives – and endorsements – for this force. It’s powerful, enlivening stuff, of which it seems we’d jeopardize just about anything for a taste, and which is as much a part of our humanity as is our integrity and honesty. It deserves to be dealt with head-on, with a healthy dose of respect.

Has monogamy outstayed its evolutionary welcome?

We’ll discuss this in Part 2 of this post.

About LiYana Silver

LiYana Silver is a relationship counselor, author, teacher and speaker, living in San Francisco with her extraordinary fiancée, Nathan and their cat Mishka. For more about LiYana and her work, visit her at www.redefiningmonogamy.com.

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