I know it’s been awhile since posting about Living with a Sex Therapist, but the BFF and I recently had a wonderful interaction that is a must-share! After several weeks of a male masturbation sleeve just sitting on the living room end table and no comment at all, the BFF sees my Magic Wand lying on the kitchen counter.
This Wand isn’t for Harry Potter
Before we get to his reaction and our conversation, let’s review the Magic Wand and why it is totally awesome. The Magic Wand is a ‘personal massager’ with intended uses for general muscle aches and soreness as well as sexual pleasure. Granted, a majority of its use is, more than likely, for sexual pleasure. However, not pointing fingers (or using them!), some may use it for muscle soreness after leg day at the gym! More about that to “come”….
Now, why is the Magic Wand so amazing? If you listened to the Let’s Talk Sex Podcast, Episode 16: “Your Mindset on Masturbation,” then you heard Magnus Sullivan educating us about the technology behind the Magic Wand. The Magic Wand was designed to allow clitoral stimulation without over stimulating the clitoris’s 8,000 nerve endings, an unacknowledged problem with some stimulation devices. Overstimulation can cause sensitivity to the clitoral head, which can lead to premature orgasms or even discomfort that makes continuing intercourse unpleasant. Yes, gentlemen readers, this happens to ladies as well! By reducing sensitivity and slowing stimulation, we get more time for play! Seriously, check out the episode to learn more, and check out the Magic Wand at Manshop.com.
What’s THAT on the Counter??
Back to why the Magic Wand was on the kitchen counter. As I said, the Magic Wand can help relieve muscle soreness, which I was experiencing after a great squat session. I figured, why not test it out on sore muscles? My Wand has a cord and needs to an outlet to function, and I needed a chest-high outlet for maximum reach. This is beginning to make sense, right? Well, after my research, I left the Wand on the counter to go look at shoes online (totally reasonable, right?). Half asleep, the BFF emerges from his room, walks into the kitchen and says, “What is that on the counter?” To which I respond, “A Magic Wand.”
“What does that do?”
“You use it to massage your back.” He stands for a moment, shakes his head and just walks back into his room. After a second or two, he pops his head back out and says in a concerning yet hesitant tone, “It looks kinda…big.”
“Yes, it’s external.”
I receive a dumbfounded look for a brief moment while he is processing this information. Then, his face contorts with disgust (maybe?)and he goes, “Get that off my counter!” Hold up! He’s ok if a vaginal toy is on the counter, but not an EXTERNAL only toy??
Living with a sex therapist… the Magic Wand remains on the counter as I type this post.
As many of my clients, readers, and listeners know, I am a HUGE proponent for pelvic floor strength. Your pelvic floor can be weakened both by atrophy and by a variety of medical experiences – for women, pregnancy and childbirth are the most common, and it’s a seldom-discussed side effect of prostate issues for men. Strengthening your pelvic floor can help with recovery from procedures related to these issues and help prepare the body for birth. Perhaps the most desirable benefit is that, for both women and men, a stronger pelvic floor can intensify and lengthen orgasms. I also have personal experience with pelvic floor treatment, including kegel exercises (90 a day!), which can become monotonous and boring. When things become boring, we tend to stop doing the exercises, and this is how our muscles begin to atrophy.
Well, when I found out that my newest affiliate partners, Intimina, manufactured kegel exercisers, I jumped at the opportunity to test the product to see if this would help motivate me to perform my kegel exercises more often without getting bored. At a minimum, I was excited and impressed that this tiny device could measure the strength of your pelvic floor muscles and help me track my progress!
The KegelSmart is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and is made of smooth, medical-grade silicon. KegelSmart is inserted into the vagina like a tampon and provides a vibration to indicate when contract your pelvic floor and muscles and
stops vibrating to allow for “rest” between contractions. For those concerned with removal, KegelSmart also features a looped string for easy removal. The KegelSmart also has an indicator light that not only shows the product is turned on, but also shows your current program level. Did I mention KegelSmart is also 100% waterproof, meaning you can perform kegels anywhere including the shower or bath. If you’re feeling daring, you could even take your KegelSmart to your beach vacation for even more excitement in the ocean. (Of course, please be aware of all public indecency laws before inserting and removing the KegelSmart or just proceed to the nearest ladies room for privacy.)
Did KegelSmart live up to my expectations? Well, I began looking forward to my kegel exercises and performing them more regularly. I also progressed in the programs as my pelvic floor strength increased. The KegelSmart is programmed with five levels suited to your current pelvic floor strength and aimed at increasing it from your starting position. In my opinion, this helps keep your muscles working and building strength without overworking the muscles. The program and vibration keep you focused on the exercises instead of becoming distracted and loosing focus on your goal. Oh, did I mention each routine only lasts five minutes!? Come on: we all have five minutes out of 24-hours a day to work our core muscles!
Although I highly endorse this product, I do have to provide honest feedback about some cons of the device. KegelSmart requires a battery, which is not included with the product. This is clearly stated at Intimina.com – but who really reads the fine print? You can only imagine how disappointed I was to open my new toy to discover I needed a battery! As I don’t keep batteries in stock at home, I was very grateful to my physical therapy office for providing the AAA battery. Of course, they all got enjoyment from seeing this new toy as well.
Although KegelSmart is safe and will be effective for most women, I do caution women with less strength or experience in how to properly squeeze your PC muscles. It’s a skill that’s easy to learn, but that like many exercises takes some instruction from a professional and a bit of practice to get the hang of. The vibration routine provides only 5-6 seconds (at least from my count) for contractions and rests. The short rest time may be too short for some women. Please check with your current medical provider that this product is safe for your current treatment before using. I also recommend testing KegelSmart in your hand before inserting it into your vagina. This will help you become more familiar with the vibration sequence, including the delay pulse provided while you insert into your vagina as well as the ending pulses for once the program is complete. Don’t be like me and lay for an extra minute saying to myself, “Is it done yet? Do I remove it now?” and trying to grab the user manual for answers!
There you have it! Now, go check out the KegelSmart and other women’s intimate health products including other pelvic floor conditioning products, the menstrual cup, and intimate massagers at Intimina.com.
For more information about the pelvic floor, don’t forget to check out the Let’s Talk Sex podcast, “All About the Pelvis,” with Dr. Shelley DiCecco!
This blog is a spinoff from my Spice Up Your Date Night blog. For all kinds of reasons, any couple can get into a sexual rut. If allowed to persist, these ruts can lead to mixed signals in the bedroom, less frequent sex, sometimes even no sex at all! Here are few tips that have helped my clients revive their sexually struggling relationships.
Go to Bed Angry AND Get It On!
Angry sex is acceptable and enjoyable! Most people believe we “can’t go to bed angry” or “sex will make him/her think all forgiven.” False! Sex is a natural behavior for humans. The part of the brain that is triggered by anger is the same part triggered during sex. Therefore, it’s natural to want sex when angry even if you haven’t made up. Another benefit of angry sex is focusing a bit more on your own needs than your partner’s needs. As I discuss with many clients, it’s all right to be a little selfish in bed at times! Plus, during this moment, you might focus a little more on yourself, which is also acceptable.
That Old Trunk Holds WHAT?
No one likes eating the same thing every night! Wink wink. One way to add variety and spice to your sexual diet is to be adventurous with different toys or activities. For example, create an adult toy box with your partner. Regularly add to the toy box, and replace when things get worn out. And no adult toy is pleasurable with dust all over it: don’t forget to use the toy box on a regular basis. Do you find yourself ‘forgetting’ about using those toys or feeling embarrassed talking about using the toys? Create a code word or system to let your partner know you’re excited to use a certain toy. I suggest clients put the toy on top of the toy box, on the bed, or another place to indicate to your partner you want to play!
Not Your Average Romantic Getaway
Not into toys or curious about a more advanced activity? Find an adult workshop in your area such as a couple’s retreat to build more intimacy and closeness, a tantra workshop to tap into your inner sexuality, or a kink workshop to learn ‘the ropes’ of bondage.
Many of my clients have also had success planning a sexcation: a vacation centered around sex and intimacy! Book a nice cabin in the woods or a ritzy hotel room for the weekend. Pack your favorite toys and sexy outfits (or no outfits at all!), leave your phone(s) and other devices off, and enjoy the time with your partner. To spice things up even more, plan your own spa times giving and receiving massages or facials! Who says you need to leave the room on vacation?
Kick Aging in the Butt!
You and your partner aren’t as young as you once were though that doesn’t mean your sex life has to suffer. Don’t let aging get in the way of your sex life! Talk to your doctor or sex therapist if there are changes in erectile functioning or if vaginal pain occurs. Yes, I know it’s embarrassing talking about these issues with your doctor, but it’s important! Although many causes of male and female sexual dysfunction are harmless, some sources could cause more long-term damage or chronic medical conditions. Especially as we age, it’s vital to stay on top of all medical issues, not just sexual ones, because we have a more difficult time recovering. Have you started a new medication and noticed a decline in sexual desire or function? Talk to your doctor as well. Making a small adjustment to a medication or trying a different medication is all it takes to resume a great sex life.
I work with many clients on embracing the present and learning a “new normal” for sexual functioning. Our bodies might not work like they did 10 or 20 years ago – but they still work! Embrace your age and change. Sometimes, it’s easier to accept the present than to try to replicate the past. After accepting the body’s new normal, many clients create a new and satisfying sex life with their partners and themselves!
Make Sex a Priority
Let the house stay dirty! Who wants to waste time and energy on boring chores when you can have sex?! We often get caught up in our daily routine that puts sex on the back burner. Before you know it, a month has gone by without sex! Of course, we need to take care of ourselves and our households, but sex is as important a part of a household being ‘whole’ as buying groceries, cleaning the kitchen, mowing the lawn. Indeed, sex is more important, because the intimacy that sex is part of is the whole reason we choose to have partners, to live and grow with them, in the first place. The chores will always be there, but time for sex may be limited, by schedules, children, medical conditions, or work. Even better, make a sexy game or reward out of the chores! The guests won’t know what really happened in the bathroom!
Last week, BFF went out of town on one of his many excursions. I’ve stopped trying to keep up with him. While that cat was making calls to local contractors for quotes on kitty play room, I was checking out my newest product to test. (That’s right! A new review blog is coming soon!)
After the dining room experience, BFF sarcastically asked if I was going to have a sex toy party while he was gone. Therefore, I only found it fitting to place the newest addition on the table with colorful “rope” (aka the cat’s leash) and snap a picture. I sent the picture to BFF with the statement, “When BFF isn’t home…”
His response, “Hell, that happens when I am home.” Does he realize how envious many men would be of him right now?
Yes, the toy still sits on the end table…
Hashtag Living with a Sex Therapist to be continued…
As a therapist, I enjoy helping women explore their orgasm as I can relate to the experience! Honestly, I can’t remember my first big “O,” because my brain is getting old or I never knew the sensation was an orgasm! This is common for many women. Until women become mindful with their bodies, including understanding sensations felt with sexual stimulation, it may be difficult to achieve or even know when they’ve had an orgasm. Anatomically speaking, the clitoris has both external and internal parts. It’s really bigger than we think! Check out this article for more detail explaining the clitoris and its function with orgasm. The internal parts are close to our urethra. The resulting response to stimulation can cause women to feel reactions from other organs including the bladder and urethra. If your bladder is full or begins to fill with urine during sex, it may feel as if you need to urinate during climax or orgasm. This causes many women to cease the experience to prevent an embarrassing moment with her partner.
Get to Know Yourself
Start by exploring your body and erogenous (or pleasure) zones alone without any distractions. Having a partner around may create unintended anxiety that will prevent you from focusing on yourself and becoming mindful of your body. This can be done anytime. Does your bedroom after waking up sound inviting? Then do it! How about the tub after a long day at work? Go for it! Choose a time and place that feels comfortable for you.
Next, you can begin exploring different parts of your body and how your body responds. The body has a natural sexual response with involuntary movements including flushing of the skin, nipple erection, muscle tension, and curling of the toes. Some areas of your body may have a stronger response than others. There is no right or wrong when it comes to sexual stimulation and response. During this exercise, you can also use toys or other objects such as a vibrator, ice, feather, or anything that is safe and won’t cause harm. Does a feather over your thighs feel different than your hands or ice over your thighs? Mentally make note of your explorations and discoveries.
Now, let’s see what you feel stimulating the clitoris with mindfulness. When exploring your clitoris, also keep a mental note of where you experience sensation externally and internally in addition to the listed sexual responses above. You may feel internal sensations such as a tightening of your pelvic muscles or sensation (such as tingling) near your pubic bone or urethra. As stated above, it may feel like you are about to pee! At this point, trust yourself and your body! Keep going until you reach climax and orgasm. Feel free to check the sheets for a pee spot. Get down there, sniff it and touch it! Does it smell like urine? Honestly, it might or it might not. Some studies have shown that urine can be released with female “ejaculation” or “squirting” though it’s not all urine. Female ejaculation and squirting come from the urethra. Therefore, if there is urine in your urethra or bladder at the time of orgasm, some may come out though it is not fully concentrated urine.
Get Your Partner Involved
Once you are comfortable with yourself, try allowing yourself to experience the full sensation with a partner. First talk to your partner about your exploration so they know what to expect and can provide support. Also, talk to your partner about your thoughts and feelings of possibly urinating during sex or orgasm, and ask their thoughts about this too! You might be surprised to learn that this isn’t a big deal for them either.
Get Some Toys Involved
Toys can be an added benefit to sexual play whether with a partner or solo. If you’re looking to enhance your solo exploration or partner play, check out these suggested toys:
Lelo Ora 2 was created to stimulate tongue movements.
Magic Wand was created to stimulate the clitoris without causing it become over stimulated.
Tantus’ Rumble will add additional stimulation and offers detachable heads for a variety of stimulation.
My first thought when seeing INA Wave was, “Oh my gosh! It’s like getting fingered but without fingernails!” When Lelo provided an opportunity for me to test this product, I jumped on it like a cat pouncing a mouse! I am so glad I agreed, as this toy does not disappoint.
Soft and Smooth Fingers
As with most Lelo products, the first thing you notice about INA Wave is the soft and slick material. The material is body safe silicon for a more enjoyable experience and easier penetration. However, if extra lubricant is needed, avoid silicon-based lubricant as this could damage the silicon material of the product.
Next, you’ll notice the “two heads” with the smaller one resembling a thumb and the larger and longer one resembling fingers fused together. Lelo.com describes these as the “pleasure points.” The shorter, thumb-like structure stimulates the clitoris while the larger structure provides internal stimulation. I’m going to let this sink in for a moment…yes, ladies and gents, Ina Wave can simultaneously can provide dual stimulation without the awkward adjusting your hand for the best fit or forgetting to rub one spot while trying to focus on the other!
Again, let that sink in for a minute before continuing to read…
Now that you’re all excited to purchase INA, get her charged up, and test her out, here are some tips for a pleasurable first experience. INA Wave offers ten different vibration modes a including steady patterns and pulsating patterns. INA Wave also allows you to control the intensity of the vibration as well. Before jumping into bed or closing your office door at work, check out the “control” panel located on the inside of the handle. The up and down buttons change the vibration pattern while the left and right buttons change the intensity. Also, note that the vibration patterns do not cycle through at the first or tenth pattern. If you start at the bottom and reach the top, you must use the arrows to go back to the bottom. I learned this after about five minutes of laying going “why doesn’t it feel like it’s changing?” Well, it wasn’t changing that’s why!
Whether you’re an orgasm expert or not, Ina Wave will not disappoint! The variety of vibration patterns and intensity levels allow you to explore and experience different types of orgasm from a slow build to an intense explosion. For women learning about orgasm and your erogenous zones, the steady vibration patterns, without the use of the wave motion, are a great place to start! You can begin to explore erogenous zones of the external genitalia (or any other part of your body!) to see what areas are more arousing and lead to orgasm than others. If you’re exploring your body with a partner, they can help by allowing you to focus on yourself while they control the movement and vibrations. These patterns can help bring on a slower climax or orgasm as well as help you gain control of your orgasmic release.
Another orgasm, courtesy of INA Wave, is an intense, explosive orgasm. I suggest inserting Ina on a steady vibration pattern and playing around a little here. Keep in mind that the clitoral pleasure point will be touching the clitoris though the vibration may feel more or less intense depending on the pattern selected. (Keep reading for more about the clitoral pleasure point.) Once inserted, play around with the steady vibration patterns and intensity levels. Once you’re at a climatic point, adjust the patterns to move into the wave motion pattern and BAM! Your body and brain might not be used to such an intense change leading to a more explosive orgasm. This might not happen all the time though it could occur more often with partner play when your partner controls the patterns and speed.
Waving into the G-Spot
Speaking of the wave motion, this technology not only enhances your overall orgasm, but also stimulates the elusive G-spot. One reason I was excited to take Ina Wave for spin was to test out the G-spot. The G-spot is said to be an erogenous zone on the anterior wall of the vagina and near the urethra. However, it is still up for debate on whether this tiny spot exists or not. Therefore, I try to encourage men and women to enjoy ALL aspects of the female body and not become focused on a spot that might or might not exist for some or all women.
After discussion with one of my favorite women’s sexual health professionals, we determined that it is possible INA Wave could hit the possible G-spot. At one point, the wave motion stimulated a spot where I felt an intense and tightening pressure near my urethra. I felt a sensation as if I needed to pee though my bladder was empty and I did not actually pee. This orgasm was also more intense and stronger though not explosive. I was also able to control the climax better than the former.
Quiet Zone Not Approved
As with all wonderful things that exist, nothing is perfect including INA Wave. If you were hoping to sneak around with Ina for some fun at the library, the parent’s house, or in the mile high club, do so at your own risk! The back and forth motion of the wave technology also comes with a squeaky sound that you need covers to muffle. During play, the sound could be slightly distracting though the vibrations, wave motion, and your arousal will easily distract.
Another minor concern with INA Wave is the clitoral pleasure point. At times, it put extra pressure on the clitoris and mons pubis. Since the clitoral pleasure point extension has limited flexibility, it took some adjustment to find a comfortable spot. Also keep in mind that the extra pressure with vibration could cause extra stimulation on the clitoris. For some, this may be extra pleasure though for others it could be uncomfortable. I did find that moving INA Wave in and out or up and down allowed for adjustment of the clitoral stimulator. Don’t let this be a deal breaker! If you want the pleasure of the wave motion though can forego the clitoral stimulation, check out Mona Wave! Mona Wave is just like Ina Wave though without the clitoral pleasure point and slightly different vibration patterns.
The on going battle between the sexes is masturbation…the new “leaving the seat up or down” fight. Many clients schedule appointments over “sex addiction.” Once in my office, the couple reveals one partner’s desire for self-pleasure and the other partner’s dissatisfaction with this behavior.
To Masturbate or Not to Masturbate
Well, ladies and gents, I’m here to help relieve the anxiety and fighting. First, masturbation is a healthy and normal behavior for both men and women. It is unclear at exactly what age masturbation begins. However, reports show male babies touching their genitals in the womb and all babies showing interest with “what’s down there” while infants and toddlers. Although our genitals main function is for reproduction, stimulation of the genital areas (including the anus) can create a soothing or calming sensation. Some cultures rub babies genitals in order to calm them while other cultures rub a baby’s butt to calm them. Therefore, we learn from an early age that “what’s down there” feels good. However, as we grow and show more interest in our genitals, we are often scolded. Many times, we begin to associate our genitals with shame or stigma.
At what age does one begin to masturbate? Very few studies report on infancy and early childhood sexual development and behaviors. However, The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) studied males and females from ages 14-70+ regarding a range of sexual behaviors including solo masturbation and
masturbation with a partner. In this study, 62% of males ages 14-15 reported masturbating. Male masturbation rate increased until age 40 when the rate began to decrease again…though not by much compared to females. The study also revealed that 40% of females ages 14-15 reported masturbating with slight increases until age 30-39. Female masturbation rate begins to decrease after age 39. This study also shows that males are more likely to masturbate with a partner than females and the percentages are much lower than solo masturbation.
Why Masturbation becomes the Enemy
Many societies create negative connotations around masturbation. We learn it is a “dirty” activity for “horny boys.” Girls receive messages that masturbation or touching their genitals is “not lady like,” and sexual play is for marriage or only with a partner. Therefore, our brains are embedded with messages that men can masturbate until they have a partner, and women have no need for masturbation or sexual pleasure without a partner. Once two people couple up, there is this expectation that the male will completely cease masturbation, only masturbate seldom, or masturbate when his partner is not available. Many women will also internalize a sense of worthlessness if her partner masturbates instead of seeks her out for sex. However, masturbation and intercourse are two different activities just like fried chicken is different from sushi. I enjoy both fried chicken and sushi and would hate if a new partner told me I couldn’t eat either or both anymore.
Jokes aside, it is acceptable for women to feel disappointment if her mate pleasures himself and she was hoping for playtime with him. This is not masturbation’s fault though a lack of communication about each other’s needs. Going back to my food analogy, remember that your partner engaged in activities (including masturbation) prior to your relationship. Just like you both probably ate fried chicken and sushi before the relationship. Instead of asking your partner to completely eliminate an enjoyable activity, let’s look at how masturbation can benefit your health and relationship.
Benefits of Masturbation
1. Stress relief: One of the biggest benefits of masturbation is alleviating stress through the release of endorphins or the “happy” chemical.” This applies to both men and women.
2. Self-exploration: Masturbation also always men and women to explore their bodies and learn new erogenous zones. Erogenous zones are areas of our body that increase sexual arousal. Since all bodies are not alike, what stimulates one person may not even affect another person. Therefore, I encourage clients to use masturbation as a time to learn about their own bodies in order to teach your partner. Just like women are encouraged to perform at home breast exams, masturbation can also help you find possible medical concerns such as a new lump or tender spot.
3. Improve erectile dysfunction (ED): Like many other body parts, the penis can atrophy if not used. Many men seek therapy reporting difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection. More times than not, they report lack of sexual intercourse and minimal masturbation. Once we discuss the function of the penis, I encourage increasing masturbation and men report a significant difference in ability to obtain and maintain an erection. Masturbation also helps with premature ejaculation. The longer a man goes without sex, the quicker he may ejaculate due to the renewal of stimulation and pleasure with arousal. He may also feel a
loss of control with less frequent orgasms whether with masturbation or intercourse. Although this could be a one-time instance, anxiety could arise exacerbating further sexual encounters. Therefore, masturbation allows a man to maintain a sense of control and prolong ejaculation.
4. More Exciting Sex: Masturbation is a form of sexual behavior and activity. Although many people associate it with an “alone time” activity, partner masturbation can be extremely fun and erotic. Partner masturbation could be oral sex on your partner or stimulating yourself with your partner watching. Couples can also introduce sex toys for added fun and to help prolong your playtime session together. Sex toys can do the work while you rest and get ready for the next round. Many clients complain about either their sex life entering a rut or not being aroused before intercourse. Partner masturbation not only spices things up but can help prepare both partners for intercourse. Orgasms are beneficial for women as it can relax the vaginal muscles to prevent tightness upon entry. Masturbation can also help the penis become fully erect by helping pull blood into the penis.
Interested in adding masturbation into your sexual play script? Click the toys below to get the party started!