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The Secret to Sexual Compatibility

How much sex is normal?

As a sexologist, I hear this question often from singles, couples, men, women, youth, older adults and everyone in between. And my clients are often disappointed in the answer. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what works for you and your partners if they are a part of the picture.

Sexual compatibility within a relationship involves balancing your needs with those of your partner. This applies to many components of sex other than frequency, but discrepancies in desire are a common relationship challenge that can be addressed with a healthy dose of compromise and understanding. When one partner wants it more than the other, couples can work toward finding some middle ground; and expanding definitions of sex is an important first step toward striking a fair balance.

If you love sex and want it more often than your partner, do not fret. You have every right to communicate your burning desire, but you do not have a right to demand sex and need to be understanding of your partner’s limitations. You can help by working to cultivate intimacy within your relationship and learning to be affectionate even when sex is not on the table.

Even a long hug can increase oxytocin levels which promote feelings of closeness and intimacy. Pressuring your partner is never a good approach, as this is one of the best ways to turn a relationship sour and pressure is a major turn-off. No one is ever obligated to have sex regardless of relationship status.  You may want to ask your partner about his/her fantasies so that you can do more to nourish them and help foster desire. This might involve setting the scene with romantic music, candles, massage, sexy outfits or role-play. You also need to learn to take care of yourself. That’s right! If you like sex everyday and your partner is happy with it once a week, be a great lover and love yourself.

If, on the other hand, you do not want sex as often as your partner, rest assured that you are probably healthy and normal as well. Though the medical community is quick to label “low” sexual desire as a problematic condition, it only becomes a problem if you feel it is. You can see a doctor to test hormone levels and check your overall health, as low sexual desire may be connected to other health issues. But if your reliable medical practitioner gives you a clean bill of health and you feel just fine about your so-called low libido, embrace that feeling. Each person is unique and our levels of sexual desire fluctuate with the wind. It is important to note that medical research is often at odds with the subjective lived experiences of women and men when it comes to sexual desire.

However, if you are concerned about your low levels of sexual desire or and would like to crave and enjoy sex more often, you can consider some strategies to help cultivate desire. Begin by checking your diet and exercise regime, as healthy people tend to have more sex. Start reading erotic fiction or looking for erotic triggers in films or photography and when you find something that works for you, keep it by your bedside. Take steps to feel great about yourself and your body and learn more about the importance of a positive body-image.

Many people report that the more sex they have (alone or with a partner), the more they crave it, so consider getting sexy even if you’re not in the mood from the onset. Touch and explore your whole body from head to toe to learn more about what makes you tick. You can share your discoveries with your partner by gently guiding his/her hand the next time you get intimate.

If you need help getting motivated, bear in mind that sex is associated with a range of health benefits from improved cardiovascular health to glowing skin and shiny hair.

Sexual compatibility in relationships is important and it doesn’t always come naturally, as our levels of desire fluctuate over time. Open communication, a willingness to compromise and the acknowledgment that sex and intimacy go far beyond intercourse alone will take you a long way on the road to happily ever after in the land of sex.

JessicaOReilly-Headshot125x167framedDr. Jessica O’Reilly is a board-certified sexologist committed to helping clients enjoy healthy, pleasurable sex lives. She has completed her PhD in human sexuality with a focus on training teachers to deliver effective sex education. She loves her work (obviously!) and splits her time between public speaking engagements, freelance writing, program development and consulting in the field of sexual health. Learn more at www.jessicaoreilly.com

Timing Can Affect Whether Minorities and Women Face Discrimination

May 22, 2012 (reposted from lisaliving.com online magazine)

Timing is everything – especially if you are female or a minority.

A study published in Psychological Science, found that minorities and females were more likely to be discriminated against due to timing.

Emails were sent out to 6500 professors across 258 institutions from fictional prospective doctoral students requesting a meeting for either the same day or the following week. The names were reflective of minorities -African American, Hispanic, Indian, Chinese and female.

Students with Caucasian male names were 26 per cent more likely to get an appointment and a quicker response for the following week.  However, on request for the same day, all were “equally likely” to get an appointment.

The reason for the discrepancy, according to the study, is that time delay affects how the request is processed. “An individual considering scheduling an appointment today thinks concretely and considers “Can/where/when will I do it?” whereas an individual considering the same appointment in the distant future thinks more abstractly, and considers “Is doing it worthwhile/valuable/desirable?” Those who focus on the desirability of a meeting are more likely to discriminate against women and minorities than those who focus on logistical concerns.”

The lesson-if you are a minority, don’t give them time to think, be strategic. It’s a sad state of affairs that one has to think of such measures, but the study clearly shows …discrimination continues to be the reality.

Spice Up Your Sex Life: A Guide for Adventurous Women

New relationship sex and sex-on-the-fly may burn up your sheets, but as routine and increased comfort levels settle in it can be hard to keep things hot in the bedroom. What’s a frisky girl to do? Try out these strategies to reignite your sex life and feel free to share your own with the lisaliving community.

One easy way to keep sex hot and keep your partner guessing is to initiate sex in unexpected locations.   Leave the boring old bedroom behind and surprise your partner at work, in the shower, at the theatre, in the car, at the dinner table or in the kitchen. Obviously take the necessary safety precautions, think beyond intercourse and be aware of the laws in your area. Nothing turns a sweet sex session sour faster than a visit from the local authorities or a trip to the emergency room – trust me on this one.

One easy way to keep sex hot and keep your partner guessing is to initiate sex in unexpected locations.

Another simple way to make relationship sex hotter is to play with your timing. Instead of having sex right before you nod off to sleep, try it out in the morning or afternoon. You’ll never wake up on the wrong side of the bed again if you get it on before getting out of bed, as the increased oxytocin levels will ensure you start your day on the right foot. Afternoon delight is a real treat and if you have a partner who enjoys the visual aspects of sex, the natural daylight can be a big turn-on.

As the weather cools and you trade in your sexy summer dresses for sweatpants and furry boots, you may feel less than sexy beneath the layers of clothing. Combined with the drops in temperature and greyer skies, it’s enough to make you want to stay in and hide beneath the covers instead of getting out and getting it on. But if you want to keep your sex drive revving, you’ll need to be proactive and get moving to boost your energy levels. Be sure to make exercise a part of your regular routine, as it’s not only good for your heart, but active people report improved levels of sexual response, stronger sex drives and greater sexual satisfaction. So sweat it out in a hot yoga class, tear up the dance floor at a salsa workshop or sign up for a sports team full of athletic and eligible mates.

Last but not least, fine tune your sex skills and learn new techniques that will leave your partner begging for more. Read a new book or sign up for a sexy workshop to learn new ways to touch your partner and intensify pleasure and orgasms in and out of the bedroom.

Have fun, experiment and always practice safer sex.

Dr. Jessica O’Reilly is a board-certified sexologist committed to helping clients enjoy healthy, pleasurable sex lives. She has completed her PhD in human sexuality with a focus on training teachers to deliver effective sex education. She loves her work (obviously!) and splits her time between public speaking engagements, freelance writing, program development and consulting in the field of sexual health. Learn more about Jessica at www.jessicaoreilly.com

Oral Sex – The Right Way

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We have been taught that sex is something that can only be discussed in certain areas, with certain people or groups and at certain times – from a young age we have been wired to withhold. It is no wonder it is difficult to talk about sex with our partners!  Today, right now, is the time to rewire, reboot and resuscitate your sex life.

It is strange that something that so definitively and literally lays us bare can be so difficult to talk about.  Let’s face it if something is not working – you both know it – but why aren’t you talking about it?  It is like the big purple naked elephant in the room!  You talk to your friends about it but why not your partner? Take a risk, start talking:  If it is bad sex, you want to be spanked, it hurts, safer sex practices, you want to try a three some, STI’s, who cares!

In 1990, Salt-N-Pepa came out with the hit song “Let’s Talk About Sex”.  While this controversial song got people talking it did not tell us “how” to talk about sex. Of the hundreds of things that we can do with our mouths while having sex the most important thing we can do is to talk about it.  So let’s talk about how to talk about sex.

Ladies, men need your help.  Let’s face it generally speaking, women are the more communicative gender and it is usually you who bring up the topic of sex – go forth and speak. You are the one who can and will make a difference.

First, pick a time and place. Avoid the talk about sex right before the sexual escapades or right after.  If you try talking before you may run the risk of getting carried away with the desire and passion, not to mention your words may be difficult to understand with different body parts in your mouth.  If you talk about sex right after your sexual adventures you run the risk that your partner may interpret your discussion as judgment.

Second, operate from a place of honesty. Share with your partner that this conversation is difficult, scary, awkward, a first for you and you are taking a risk.  This sets the emotional tone and alerts your partner to the fact that this is an important conversation.

Third, tell them why you are bringing this up. “I really enjoy having sex with you and love what you do when you XXX with your XXX.  And I want to continue to strengthen our sex life because it is important to me.  One of the things that I want to talk with you about is XXXX.  It is really important to me and I want to know if it is ok for us to talk about this and I want to hear your thoughts”.  Use “I” language as you are taking responsibility for this conversation.  Not “you” do this or “you don’t” do that.  When you put the issue on the table and ask their permission to talk about it, it balances out the power in the conversation.

I always encourage people when they feel that awkward, uncomfortable feeling in the pit of their stomach to just do it. That feeling is the big purple naked elephant standing on you!  We all know it is there. We can all “see” it.  Now to get rid of it, just talk about it.  I remember the first time a partner spoke to me about sex in an honest and respectful way.  It was an eye opener … “Oh, really, I can talk about sex like this? Wow.”  It was a great feeling of freedom and the sex just got better and hotter.  And really who doesn’t want better and hotter sex?  I do!

Oh yeah and here is that great track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzfo4txaQJA

Stephen de Wit

Stephen de Wit

Dr. Stephen de Wit is a Toronto sexologist and sexual communications coach. Stephen is on a one man mission to ensure that everyone lives the sexually empowered existence they want.  He has completed his Doctorate of Human Sexuality and focuses his energy on keynotes, workshops, seminars, writing and media appearances always with a fun, interactive, high impact approach.  For more information visit www.drdewit.com.

Ginger: The Universal Medicine

By Sabrena Salahudeen

This spicy root vegetable, also known as a rhizome, is considered in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, to be the universal medicine in all ancient prescriptions. Ginger is found in all tropical and sub tropical environments throughout the world. This natural stimulant is used medicinally for digestion, circulation, nervous system and respiratory system. As a complete cleanser it works on the skin, colon and kidneys. Mostly known for its impact on nausea, morning sickness and a staple in most homes as a cold remedy, ginger also aids nausea associated with chemotherapy. The anti-inflammatory effect works best on intestinal parasites.

Ayurveda, or ancient Indian medicine texts dating back to the 16th century informs us of the harmful effects ginger has on certain skin diseases, incontinence and hot symptoms.

Best to take ginger as a cold drink offset with lemon or lime and honey during the warm months. When adding it to cooking, less is more. This fiery root does not need to be peeled for cooking purposes and dehydrated ginger tends to be less potent medicinally. If you want more of a delicate flavour to your meals, use young smaller ginger fingers whereas bold spicy flavour is found in mature ginger. Stem ginger is less peppery than mature ones. Look for firm, fleshy ginger with smooth skin. It’s important to store refrigerated and uncovered in a vegetable drawer to prevent moulding. Use within three days on refrigeration, or grate and store 1 tsp. in freezer ice cube trays for up to several months to be used when cooking.

Papaya: Good for Asthma, Coughs and Indigestion

By Sabrena Salahudeen

Papaya, or pawpaw, is native to Central America. Throughout the migration of this succulent plant, papaya leaves were used to wrap tough meat in order to soften it. Papaya seeds are renowned for killing off intestinal and parasitic worms. The peppery papaya seeds, once sun dried, act as a substitute for black pepper. Within Chinese medicine, papaya is known for its warming nature, rather than cooling, like other fruits. Green papayas can be unripe, but yellow or orange skin indicates the ripe ones. Ripe papayas are soft to the touch like avocados. They should ripen at room temperature. Unripe or green papayas contain the papain enzyme used to breakdown proteins. Ripe papayas are good for asthma, coughs, stomach ulcers, excess mucus, indigestion, diarrhea, rheumatism, liver-spleen-pancreas dysfunction and cancer prevention. Papayas are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, E, and rich in phosphorus, calcium, iron, and potassium.

Cooking it deactivates the enzyme, so prepare green/unripe papaya in fruit salads, kebobs and frozen smoothies. Ripe papaya and lemon or lime juice enhance its flavour. Also adding extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs and seasonings to taste with purée seeds makes an excellent salad dressing. Its peak availability falls within January to April. If you have allergic reactions to insect bites, rubbing green papaya into a mosquito bite irritation, greatly reduces inflammation. Sizes of papaya vary from strain to strain, however smaller papayas have more distinct flavour. The bitter leaves of the plant are believed to prevent malaria because mosquitoes avoid people whose blood isn’t “sweet”.

Cherry: A Healing Fruit

By Sabrena Salahudeen

Cherries – a relative of the plum family – are an extremely healing and juicy fruit that contain medicinal, nutritional and culinary benefits. Bing and Lambert cherries are the most commonly eaten. Availability begins early June until late July. However picking too early might cause a nasty surprise as certain cherry fruit fly larvae that nest within the fruit cause these infested fruit in early season to appear ripe. When selecting, choose to eat from full coloured, shiny, plump, soft cherries with strong stems. This fruit in particular should be organic, because its fragility causes commercial growers to rely heavily on toxic pesticides.

Sweet cherries increase strength within the spleen, pancreas, kidneys and liver. The ability to excrete excess body acids and act on blood stagnation enables cherries to be used therapeutically on pain, inflammation, rheumatism, gout, paralysis, and numbness in legs and arms. Anthocyanins and antioxidants make cherries a free radical’s nightmare. Cherries are an excellent source of iron and sources of phosphorus, potassium, calcium and vitamin A. Acerola cherries are renown as being one of the highest sources of naturally sourced vitamin C available.

Orgasms II: Making it Happen

In Part I of Orgasms we discussed the range of orgasmic experiences and highlighted that the brain is really our most powerful sex organ. However, some women have never experienced an orgasm, so we will now consider some approaches to learning how to orgasm.

No single sexual act will guarantee an orgasm each and every time for each and every person. This is because we are each unique (thank goodness) and our bodily responses, mindsets and personal tastes vary significantly. This means that despite well-intentioned how-to headlines that promise to help you “give” your partner a mind-blowing climax, there is no perfect recipe for achieving orgasm.  And no person can really “give” another an orgasm since we ultimately exercise control over our sexual response, including orgasm.

This does not mean that sexy tips and techniques are not helpful – they can, in fact, be very useful to get you started with some fun sexual experimentation, but you should play with them and make them your own according to what works for you. Below, I offer some thoughts and exercises for women who have yet to experience orgasm:

Masturbate! Most people experience their first orgasm through self-stimulation. There are no right or wrong ways to masturbate – play with your labia, pubic mound, butt, anus, thighs, nipples, belly button, collar bones, underarms and any other part you can reach until you figure out what works for you. Enjoy your self-pleasure sessions regardless of whether or not you reach orgasm, because touching yourself should always feel great.

Do your Kegel exercises to promote healthy blood flow to the genitals and learn to control and recognize your sexual response.

Learn to love your body and its unique shapes, textures, colours and curves. A positive body-image facilitates enjoyable sex.

Precede sex sessions (partnered or solo) with some genuine relaxation time including a warm bath, gentle massage or meditation. Many people can’t enjoy orgasm (or sexual arousal) if they are distracted or stressed out, which makes sense since the brain is ultimately responsible for orgasmic response.

Play with running water over your vulva. Many pre-orgasmic women find that the unique sensations of water can be arousing even to the point of orgasm. Water play is safe — just don’t force water up into your vagina.

Consider experimenting with sex toys to see if you enjoy the feeling of vibrations on your stomach, back, neck, thighs, clitoris, breasts, labia, g-spot or anus. Try different lubes to see if your body reacts positively to tingling and warming sensations.

Fantasize! Embrace your thoughts and let them run wild. It is not cheating to think about people other than your partner and it is perfectly normal to fantasize about scenarios, people and activities that you may not actually want to embrace in real life. Check out Nancy Friday’s book My Secret Garden to learn more about the infinite range of normal fantasies women share.

Expand your sexual repertoire beyond penetration. Most women do not consistently orgasm from vaginal penetration and this is perfectly normal. So do not rush into inserting objects (fingers, dildos, vibrators, penises) into your vagina and take time to arouse and pleasure the rest of your body and all of its wonderful parts.

Bear in mind that sex can be fantastic even without orgasms, so avoid putting pressure on yourself or your partner. While you are learning to orgasm, enjoy the process instead of focusing on a goal.

Have fun, experiment and always practice safer sex!

JessicaOReilly-Headshot125x167framed

Dr. Jessica O’Reilly is a board-certified sexologist committed to helping clients enjoy healthy, pleasurable sex lives. She has completed her PhD in human sexuality with a focus on training teachers to deliver effective sex education. She loves her work (obviously!) and splits her time between public speaking engagements, freelance writing, program development and consulting in the field of sexual health. Learn more about Jessica at www.jessicaoreilly.com

Thyme: An Excellent Source of Iron and Calcium

By Sabrena Salahudeen

This herb, whether fresh or dried, is a must-have in every kitchen. Not only does it lend a delicate scent, it packs a punch as an excellent source of iron, manganese, vitamin K, and a good source of calcium and dietary fiber. The volatile oil, thymol, is known for protecting all cell membranes from damage, especially the cell membranes within the brain, kidneys and heart, which contain high amounts of DHA healthy fats. Thyme essential oil is antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. Thyme should be eaten organically as it is treated with high doses of pesticides during its brief lifespan.

To store fresh thyme, wrap it in a damp paper towel and refrigerate. Dried thyme should be stored in a cool, dry place for up to six months from the day the container is opened.

Orgasms Part I: What is it?

Orgasm is the stage of human sexual response which is often marked by a release of tension and heightened sexual pleasure.

Orgasms usually involve involuntary muscle spasms, blood flow to the genitals, heightened sensitivity, increased heart rates and hormone release. They may also include ejaculation in both men and women, a visible sex flush and a subsequent state of deep relaxation.

Though often a highpoint of sexual activity, an orgasm should not necessarily be the primary aim, as goal-oriented sex often cultivates unnecessary pressure that detracts from the overall experience. Each woman experiences orgasms differently and no two orgasmic encounters will ever be the same. Some orgasms feel like a gentle flutter or tickle while others may be described as a tremendous release.

I advise clients to experiment with orgasms on their own to become comfortable with their natural response, which may include an infinite range of facial expressions, gestures, movements, change in breathing patterns, moans, sighs, sounds and emotions. There is no “right” way to orgasm or express orgasmic release and the porngasms that erotic film stars act out in adult films are not representative of the typical of female orgasmic response.

Some of the most satisfying orgasms may make you want to lie back and coo gently while others might induce thunderous screams, but sound volume is not positively correlated with pleasure intensity. Powerful orgasms can be experienced in near-silence to the quiet hum of deep exhales and fluttering lashes.

Most women do not experience orgasm through vaginal penetration alone and though there is a widespread debate surrounding clitoral versus vaginal orgasms, many sex experts believe that the orgasm originates in the brain and can involve the entire body. The brain, which regulates and controls our central nervous system, sends and receives the signals necessary to enjoy orgasm. This is why many people can experience physical arousal independent of subjective arousal. All the physical stimulation in the world often pales in comparison to the stimulation of our most powerful sex organ – the brain.

While we can play with our psychological, chemical and emotional arousal through fantasy, full body orgasms can be cultivated through thorough, slow exploration and stimulation of all of our beautiful body parts. The clitoris is a great place to start as you explore your orgasmic potential, but women can enjoy orgasms from stimulation of their breasts, pubic mounds, underarms, brains and even their feet.

For women who are yet to experience orgasm, masturbation is the best place to start, as it offers an opportunity to learn about your unique needs, hot spots, reactions and limitations. Tune in to Orgasms Part II for some advice on learning to orgasm for the first time.

JessicaOReilly-Headshot125x167framed

Dr. Jessica O’Reilly is a board-certified sexologist committed to helping clients enjoy healthy, pleasurable sex lives. She has completed her PhD in human sexuality with a focus on training teachers to deliver effective sex education. She loves her work (obviously!) and splits her time between public speaking engagements, freelance writing, program development and consulting in the field of sexual health. Learn more about Jessica at www.jessicaoreilly.com