Category Archives: Ask the Sexpert

Fun Friday: Top 10 Signs You Might Be a Sex Educator

Top 10 Signs You Might Be a Sex Educator:

10. You know how to spell

9. Your old yearbooks are stored in this box in your garage.

8. You can tell what a condom is made out of without even touching it.

7. You can’t wait until your kid asks, “where do babies come from?”

6. You know all the latest slang for sex, vagina, penis, etc.

5. Everyone thinks you have the coolest job ever . . . because you do.

4. There’s no sexual behavior that surprises you.

3. Your computer’s search history would make others blush.

2. Teenagers actually listen to you.

1. Your friends and family will send articles like “HPV and Oral Cancers” to you and say, “I saw this and thought of you.”

Oops, I Forgot My Pill!

pillsThe pill is the most popular birth control method used in America to prevent pregnancy, but it is also the most forgotten. Many women choose the pill because they think it will be easy to take, but life happens and they forget. The pill is 99.7% effective (this means that of 333 women taking the pill for a year, one will become pregnant). “Perfect use” assumes that the user will take the pill every day at the same time and not miss any pills. When it comes to real life, many women fall into the “typical user” category which puts the effectiveness around 91% (That means that of 11 women taking the pill for a year, one will become pregnant.)

Here are a few helpful tips to ensure you remember. It is important to find a time that can work for you every day of the week, not just the weekdays. Put it next to your toothbrush, night stand, or in your purse. You can also set the alarm on your phone, create a calendar reminder, or have Bedsider send you a text message reminder. It is super easy to set up and they will send you a fun fact with a reminder at the same time every day. They can also send a reminder message to individuals who use the shot, the patch, and the ring. Remember, birth control pills can help prevent pregnancy but do nothing to prevent STD’s. If you and your partner have not been tested, get tested and make sure that you have had a conversation about safer sex and pregnancy prevention. Using both condoms and birth control at the same time (dual protection) helps to prevent STD’s and ensures that on those days when you forget to take the pill on time or at all, you have a back-up method to fall back on.

Hook Ups vs Relationships: Equal Satisfaction for Males and Females?

sexboxI’ve often wondered if males and females experience casual sex in the same way. Like most things, I guess it depends on the male or female. But general belief is that males can orgasm pretty easily and females do not. Men are like switches, easy to turn on and off, while females are like ovens, slow to heat up and slow to cool down or so the saying goes. So how would this translate to sexual satisfaction for both sexes? Not surprisingly, males come out on top, so to speak.

What makes a sexual experience positive? For many males it’s all about the orgasm. When having casual sex, there may be no attachment to the partner and no concern for her pleasure. Hence the phrase, “wham, bam, thank you mam.” According to Kinsey, males take about 2 minutes to orgasm. Females, on the other hand may take 4 minutes during masturbation but 10 – 20 minutes during intercourse. A male has to be patient and focused on pleasuring her first if there is to be even a chance she will orgasm. Throw in a few drinks and this may not be in the picture.

Several studies show that significantly fewer females orgasm during casual sex, although they may be just as willing to experience a hookup. They may go into the encounter with no expectation of having an orgasm. A recent NY Times article reported that only 40% of women had an orgasm during their last hookup involving intercourse, while 80% of males did. Women appear to be less concerned with achieving an orgasm as they are in experiencing the feelings of closeness, power or connection. The number of female orgasms equaled men’s in committed relationships.

For many women it takes time, trust, communication, and being able to read each other’s signals to have a successful sexual encounter, if your definition always includes an orgasm. A little to the left, not so hard, go faster NOW, are not conversations most females have with a partner they just met. Woman also have an element of potential danger in putting themselves in the position of being alone with someone they don’t know well or even someone they think of as a friend. Date rape is still extremely common.

More research is being done on the topic. Here are two more recent articles on the subject you may find interesting:

  1. Can Women Enjoy Casual Sex? Should They?
  2. Casual Sex: Are Men and Women So Different?

Did You Know May was National Masturbation Month?

Masturbation_EECard_WideWho knew masturbation had its own month! I would have been thrilled if it just had a day. I thought I knew nearly everything there is to know about masturbation, but two recent articles (this one and this one) even taught me a few things. Masturbation is a way for everyone to increase their understand of their own bodies and consequently allows them to guide a partner to increase the chances of a favorable “outcome.” Many couples have discordant sexual needs, schedules or medical situations where one partner is not willing or able to have sex on a specific day. If a couple is open and honest about their sexual desires and needs, and don’t feel threatened by a partner masturbating, it can be an enhancement, not a detraction to their sex lives.

First, the male:

  • Apparently, male masturbation does not have the same health benefits as sex with a partner. Multiple studies demonstrate that intercourse benefits a male’s blood pressure, heart and prostate health, and helps manages pain. Even the makeup of semen is different.
  • It’s not entirely risk free. Frequent or rough masturbation can cause minor skin irritation and forcefully bending an erect penis can rupture the chambers. Surgery may be required.
  • How much is too much? There is never too much masturbation unless it starts to disrupt your work, social obligations, or you stop having sex with a partner because of it.
  • Most guys masturbate. They masturbate if they are single, in a good relationship, or in a bad relationship. It’s more about relieving stress, clearing their head or helping them sleep than a reflection of how attractive they find their partner.

Next, the female:

  • Even though most females don’t chat about masturbation with their friends like males tend to do, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Women tend to feel more shame, but most women have masturbated at least once. Since way fewer women than males fail to orgasm, masturbation can be very helpful to having her understand what she needs to do.
  • Women have a greater variation of methods and props than men. Most women need direct stimulation of the clitoris, so a vibrating ANYTHING may do the trick. Women who masturbate using a vibrator tend to have more orgasms with a partner.
  • Women tend to focus on pleasing their partner, be thinking about the kids, going through a mental “to do” list during sex with a partner. While masturbating, she may concentrate just on herself.
  • Masturbation can improve her mood, help her relax, and ease menstrual pain.

So, let’s be honest with what we need, what we do, and what we want to find pleasure and reap all the benefits of self-pleasuring.

To Pull Out or Not to Pull Out? That is the Question.

I am noticing that more of my friends are using the pull-out method when they are in a monogamous relationship versus a hormonal or barrier method. Several of them have asked me how effective the method is at preventing pregnancy so I thought I would share with you what I told them.

If someone used this method their chances of becoming pregnant would be:

  • Perfect Use: 4 out of 100 women will become pregnant within a year if they always use it correctly.
  • Typical Use: 27 out of every 100 women will become pregnant within a year if they don’t always use it correctly.

You may be asking yourself, “Well how hard is it to pull-out before ejaculation?” It can be very difficult to control when someone is going to ejaculate because a male ejaculates at 15-28 miles per hour. Even if he releases a few drops of semen it can contain millions of sperm. The average ejaculation contains 200-500 million sperm! It only takes one ‘Michael Phelps’ out of the group to make it to the egg. The other concern is even if he pulls out in time, there is the possibility of sperm being in the pre-cum/pre-ejaculate. FYI – pre-ejaculate and semen can contain any infection (ex. Chlamydia or HIV) he has in his body and be spread to his partner. There are a lot of people who have gone back and forth on whether there is sperm in the fluid from the Cowper’s gland. The fluid itself doesn’t contain sperm, but because the fluid is going through the same tube (urethra) it may pick up sperm on its way out that was left from a previous ejaculation.

leaking_tapIt is also possible that some men “leak” sperm. According to a small study administered by the NIH, some men repeatedly leak sperm in their pre-ejaculatory fluid while others do not. The study goes on to say that even urinating after ejaculation may not clear the tube and a male could still leak sperm. The study inferred that the use of this method might be more successful for some men because they are less likely to be leakers. In conclusion, if you want to help prevent an unplanned pregnancy or STD, a condom should be worn EVERY time.

Sex and Disability

We talk about sex a lot as a society. But we don’t talk about a lot of types of sex. The vast majority of the discussions follow a pretty predictable formula – take a young-ish, attractive guy and a young-ish, attractive girl, add chemistry, flirting and some amount of time, then you get to sex. There are lots of variations (as Netflix’s seemingly infinite number of Romantic Comedy subgenres will show), but the broad strokes don’t tend to vary all that much.

Now, obviously, a lot of us who don’t fit that mold are still having sex – norms aren’t rules, after all. But one area that doesn’t get talked about often at all is sex with disabilities. Part of this is because you’re not just changing the casting of the expected narrative – substituting in two queer women, someone older, someone heavier, etc. You often have to change up the story entirely.

When you’re in a wheelchair, the idea of just letting things progress from making out to making love can’t be done without some kind of discussion. Getting undressed and moving to the bed can be sexy and part of foreplay, but it’s not going to be something that can happen without talking about it. And for someone with a condition like Fibromyalgia, spontaneous sex at the end of the day can be amazing and fun, or something that’s physically off the table because of pain.


And this is all once you’re at the point of having sex – our society can resurrect its Puritannical roots with a vengeance when it comes to thinking about people with disabilities as sexual beings. Dating is hard enough – doing it when a lot of the dating pool thinks that you’re non-sexual is far trickier. (It’s particularly ironic since most of us will, at some point in our lives, experience disability in some capacity.)

Thankfully, there are some good discussions going on, even if they’re not yet part of the mainstream approach to sexuality. This piece from a couple of months ago has some great points about how sex with a disability (and sex with people with disabilities) can be way more amazing than “standard” sex. In a nutshell, communication and being in touch with your body are both things that make sex better, and they’re both elements that are a lot more present when one (or more) people who are having sex also have a disability.

And as complicated as all of this can be, there are still a ton of other areas that will come up depending on your situation. This is a great first-person account from Autostraddle about exploring kink with Cerebral Palsy, and this piece talks about a lot of the intersections between s/m and disability.

Here’s to more, better sex for all of us, and to making our stories about sex as diverse as we all are.

“So, You’re a Virgin!?”: Thinking about the “Morals” of Virginity

What do you think of when you picture a “virgin?” Do the pictures in your head change when you imagine the virgin as either a young man or a young woman? Often times, in mainstream culture, it seems as though virginity for young women is a “prize.” Virginal women are seen as pure and innocent, and the loss of virginity may be associated with shame. For young men, virginity seems to be thought of as more of a burden. It can be associated with a lack of masculinity or seen as a source of embarrassment. These stereotypes regarding virginity highlight the ways in which the concept of virginity is highly gendered, meaning that the way we think about virginity is different whether it’s applied to men or women. Discussions surrounding gender and virginity highlight a lot of the issues that our society has with sex and gender.

consentWhy would we value someone more or less for never having had sex? It is most definitely of the utmost importance that sex take place between individuals who are able to consent. Sex should also include risk management strategies such as a barrier method (condoms, dental dams), and birth control (such as the pills, the shot, or the ring) if there is a possibility of pregnancy.  However, why do we place more focus on the moral weight of purity or the burden of proving oneself masculine, instead of paying greater attention to legitimately preparing people to know whether or not they are ready to have safe, consenting sex?

Why do we “count” some forms of sex, namely penile/vaginal intercourse, while other kinds of sex, such as oral, are not given as much attention? By limiting discussions about various kinds of sex, and by ignoring discussions about safe sex and consent, in favor of gendered stereotypes we lose sight of what’s important in any sexual relationship! The gendered stereotype for young women might limit them from learning about safety, desire, and recognizing whether or not they are ready. Young men may relate not having sex to insecurity, and feel the need to push themselves when they aren’t ready! Additionally, stereotypes associated with young men can be hyper-aggressive, and ignore the consent of their partner in favor of male desires. Forcing these kinds of ideas onto young adults and teens may mean that their relationship with sex can have very negative components from the get-go. It’s time to place more value on personal awareness and safety, and move away from harmful stereotypes!

Fun Friday: Things To Do With Your Hands That Men Like

Friday is here! Woo-hoo! Time to laugh with us – today we’re sharing this *gem* dug up by the Huffington Post. “Things To Do With Your Hands That Men Like” appeared in a 1970’s issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine and it is the funniest thing I’ve seen all week. Nuance Communications, Inc.

Staying Connected to Your Partner

Couples-holding-handsI was in the airport the other day and came across an article on the breakup of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. They have been married for 10 years and have 2 children. Gwyneth stated that they are “consciously uncoupling” which is just a nicer was of saying they are getting divorced. I remembered seeing an interview with her several years ago and thinking she had it all figured out. She was balancing motherhood, fitness, her career, etc. She looked gleefully at peace with her life and the direction it was heading. We tend to envision movie stars as having lives that aren’t messy or difficult, but they obviously deal with the same challenges as the rest of us. I find for me that I need to continually check-in with myself to make sure I am creating a space and time to bond with my partner. Many of us have this idea that our relationships are supposed to be perfect and feel like we are characters in The Notebook. Unfortunately, relationships take time and a little effort to keep both parties happy. Here are a few quick tips to help ensure you stay connected.

  • Touch each other – a hug and a few kisses can go a long way.
  • Laugh together – watch a funny movie or your favorite standup comedian.
  • Recalling memories – talk about a vacation or moment that you remember fondly.
  • Disconnect from electronics – find time to talk to each other without distractions. You need to make sure you are actively listening and staying engaged in the conversation.
  • Don’t just say it, do it – telling your partner you appreciate them is great, but you should do something out of the blue to show them you care. It may be as simple as doing a chore that they usually do.
  • Have sex 3-4 times per week – watch the video below for the surprising secrets of happy couples.

The Power of Non-Engagement: Anti-Abortion Protesters and You

Found on the Nation</a.

Found on the Nation

We have a pretty active protester presence at the Planned Parenthood I work at. We are very lucky in that the protesters here mostly stick to yelling and being obnoxious as their main form of intimidation, as other health centers have to deal with individuals who are more willing to break the law. However, the fact that our local protesters are law abiding doesn’t mitigate their attempts to intimidate and shame our patients.

So, what should you do if you have to deal with abortion protesters?

Here at Planned Parenthood, we practice a non-engagement policy with anti-choice protesters. This means that we practice and promote avoiding any contact with the protesters ranging from physical, to verbal, to even non-verbal communication (i.e. no making faces or rolling eyes!) Before working here, I would have questioned the effectiveness of this policy. Often times when I tell patients or people visiting the health center that this is what we promote, they are confused. So, I think it might be time to explain why the non-engagement is awesome, and why it works so well for our health centers.
Pretty frequently, patients and their guests feel motivated to yell at the protesters, to try to defend their decision so that the protesters will know that their situation is different. It is an understandable desire to make someone see your side, especially when you have come to a decision that may have been very difficult to make. The words of the protesters are cruel, demeaning, and don’t reflect the individual life situations of our patients. The protesters aren’t taking into account financial situations, emotional states, health complications, or anything else related to the specific patient. They are making blanket statements about motherhood and fatherhood, and ignoring complex issues. However, it is important to remember that it is no one’s burden to change their minds, and that they are probably not the type of individuals who can easily have their opinions changed. They’ve heard lots of stories, from lots of people, and they are still stuck in their convictions. That is their right, just like it is our patient’s right to receive comprehensive, safe, and non-judgmental health care. By engaging with the protesters, by even acknowledging that they are important enough to talk to, they gain a certain level of power. Their opinion is important enough to get a rise out of someone. I have observed from working at the clinic that ignoring these individuals is the best way to take their power away from them.

When I talk to patients I try to frame them as “small people.” They’re not monsters or demons, they’re mostly just bullies. People who come to abortion clinics to yell at and intimidate individuals getting abortions are hoping they will catch someone in a vulnerable position. Does somebody who yells at strangers during a possibly difficult time seem like someone who is following a path that isn’t based on direct confrontation? It is generally not worth engaging with individuals who are just seeking to rile up emotions and rely on guilt and fear for their tactics.

At our health center, individuals receive time with staff and volunteers trained in non-judgmental options counseling. They have their space to speak their truth, and come to a decision to that is truly right for them. This time is much more important than the unfortunate and misguided insults and abuse that they have to face from clinic protesters.