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Maldives-Holiday

6 Real Women on Their Ultimate Masturbation Fantasies

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Masturbation is a perfectly healthy activity. It is not weird or abnormal to masturbate while in a relationship. Not at all. In fact, it is a good thing! Sexual intercourse, oral sex, hand sex, and masturbation are all unique sexual acts. Every one of them is valid.

Some of us think about people other than our partners when having sex with ourselves. Some of us don’t. Maybe it’s a combination depending on your mood. There is nothing wrong with you, no matter what you think about. We promise.

Instead of shaming our sexuality, we should embrace and appreciate all it has to offer us.

To help illustrate the dark and deliciously devious things many of us think about when getting ourselves off, here are 6 real women on their ultimate masturbation fantasies. We sincerely hope you find some inspiration.

The tryst with a friend’s hot brother

I think about when I was sixteen at my best friend’s lake house in Wisconsin. She had this super hot older brother. He was about nineteen at the time and in college. I’d only ever see him when I visited the lake house. Anyway, I used to pretend he’d sneak into my room at night and quietly f**k me or go down on me. He’d always whisper that I couldn’t tell anyone we were fooling around. This was all in my head and I don’t think he even thought of me as a female person, but that fantasy still gets me going every single time. It’s so dirty and wrong. Weirdly, I am also still quite good friends with that girl. I haven’t told her about this though. I don’t think she’d care as much as she’d tell me that was information she could live without.

—Grace, 33

Cheerleader and a football star

My favorite go-to these days is that I’m the head cheerleader at a super traditional public school. Like, the ones with football teams and mascots. I was homeschooled so maybe that’s why I like that so much. I’m either under the bleachers or at what I assume is a boy’s house. Location depends on how I’m feeling. He’s the quarterback or a linebacker or whatever it is. A super huge dude. And I’m a virgin, but we start fooling around and he wants to put it inside me. So, I let him. I like to think there’s a bunch of dirty talk that’s innocent like, “Promise not to come inside me,” or, “I’m still a good girl, but this just feels so good.” I’m sure there are all kinds of psychological reasons why this gets me off, but it works for me every time.

—Britt*, 26

The double team

I’m blowing one guy and then another guy is going down on me. I’m either on my back or on all-fours. Sometimes it’s my husband and other times it’s just two random guys. I specifically changed it up when we were in Paris visiting his parents. I imagined we’d met some other gorgeous French guy in a bar and brought him back to our hotel. My husband had me from behind while I blew the other guy. In other fantasies I’m just being double-teamed by two random guys in a van. Not in a scary, sexual assault way, but I guess I’m kind of a sex worker? I haven’t thought this one all the way through. All I know is that whenever I’m making myself come, in my head two guys are going to town on me—in a way I enjoy and feel is respectful.

—Malia, 28

You’d get it if you’d seen the movie

Don’t get me wrong, my wife is super hot, but I’ve always had this thing for Charlize Theron. I’ve been masturbating to her for years and years. Then, the movie Atomic Blonde came out and it was a whole new level of excitement for me. There’s this scene where she sleeps with this smoking French girl. They’re both very femme, which I am not, and that really does it for me. Charlize is super dominant. She has the girl on her back and is complete control. I swear to Jesus I have thought of nothing else when masturbating since I saw that film.

—Jessie*, 36

Fifty Shades of Grey

I’m not into bondage or BDSM at all so, this might be unusual. I’m blindfolded and my hands are tied above my head. My husband is a full-on leather daddy and I can’t see him because of the blindfold. He uses my mouth to get himself hard and then climbs on top of me to start having sex. He says all kinds of horrifying things to me. He calls me a cock-slut and a good little whore. Things he would never, ever say in real life. He makes me take it all until he comes. Then, to make it even better, he goes down on me until I come. Wow, I’ve never told my partner that I think about this! I think he’d be terrified.

—Lorraine, 41

A different kind of lube

OK, so don’t judge me because I bet some people would think this is so gross. When I’m masturbating, I pretend that the guy I’m having sex with, whomever that might be in whatever particular fantasy I’m having, comes inside me. He then takes his finger and slips it inside me to get some of his come. He uses his come to rub my clit and get me off. I know, I know. Grimy. But I love it so much.

—Michele, 29

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Maldives-Holiday

Try This If You're Ready to Get More Into Butt Play

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Rimming. Ever heard of it? Have you perhaps heard people discussing it and wondered what in the heck they were talking about? Or maybe you’re a step more rim-averse and can’t understand why anyone would want to engage in such an act in the first place.

To be frank: Rimming is licking your partner’s butt hole, or having your partner lick your butt hole. Anallingus. It is all the rage, and has been for a very long time (remember that one Sex and the City episode…you know the one).

Yes, it is a thing and there are some seriously pleasurable benefits to this kind of play. We know it may sound…umm, unusual, but people far and wide are engaging in anallingus. If you’re not down to try it, that’s totally fine! You get to make your own choices about your sex life.

What we have here is an explainer into its erogenous potential and some pointers, should you be curious to try it or are simply interested in knowing more.

Here is your complete guide to gettin’ into the butt. Happy hunting, ladies!

Why though?

You’re not ignorant or uncool for asking this question. Lots of people, both male, female, and gender non-conforming may wonder what the appeal might be of putting your mouth where you typically make number 2.

Potty humor aside, butt stuff is very common. And that’s because (cue the drum roll, please) it feels good!

The anal opening is clustered with nerves. It is a highly sensitive piece of anatomy. Having a tongue circle the anal opening, or even penetrate it can be a unique and very sexy feeling. We find pleasure in all kinds of unique ways, why wouldn’t anallingus make the list? Pssst. It does.

The same way having your partner insert a finger into your butt might feel good, so too could a mouth or tongue. Licking and penetration by a finger or toy are different sensations, but are similar.

But is it safe? Why sure, you just have to be sure you’re doing it correctly.

Be sure to clean up first

Now, you don’t need to be a super genius to know an anus is the same place where poop comes out. Let’s get over the “eww” factor—it’s 2018 and we’re adults. It’s OK to like what you like.

In order to give or receive pleasurable anallingus, you need to be properly cleaned up down there. If you want to do an enema, that’s totally up to you. (We recommend an enema bulb—they are safe to use and even the neophytes among us can figure it out.)

You do not, REPEAT, do not NEED to do an enema before anal play of any kind. Simply hopping in the shower and using a mild soap and warm water is completely fine. Everything is about preference.

Enemas can be quite challenging and uncomfortable for some. If it’s not your vibe, don’t feel pressured to do it.

Don’t go right for gold

If you’ve decided to try rimming, that’s awesome. Go for it and enjoy, brave traveler!

But, don’t just kiss your partner hello after work, pull his or her pants down, and go for it. Work up to it. Kiss their stomach, lick their thighs, nibble their butt cheeks. Warm them up to the anallingus. It can be very intense and the more relaxed you are, the better.

Just relax

If you’re receiving, don’t tense up. Try to breathe into your body and let your butt cheeks relax. If you’re giving, use those muscles, but encourage your partner to chill out. Remember, if you try anallingus and decide you’re not into it, you can always stop.

Gently tease the anal opening. You can try circular motions to start. Ask if your partner likes what you’re doing or if they’d want you to try a different technique.

One last thing: Always, always wash your mouth out before performing cunninlingus or receiving it, or you may end up with an infection such as bacterial vaginosis. The same rules apply to anal sex: If something went into your anus, it needs to be thoroughly disinfected before it enters your vagina.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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How to Get Camera Ready for Skype Sex

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Skype sex is different from regular sex in that, well, you’re not actually having sex. While this is obvious, it changes the game on how one properly prepares for this type of sex.

If you’re unsure what Skype sex is, let us fill you in: It’s when you and your partner masturbate together over Skype (or FaceTime) while one of you is in a different location. You might be doing a long-distance relationship, or perhaps your cutie is on a business trip or visiting friends. Either way, it is a fun and hot way to be intimate without the physical contact of face-to-face intimacy.

So, how does one get camera ready for on-camera sex with oneself whilst their wayward partner watches? No stressing out. We have you covered as always.

Now, don’t get worked up about the term “camera ready.” If you feel hot in a hoodie and a messy bun, do your thing. If you prefer dressing in a body-con dress and putting on a serious show for your boo, you go girl.

These are just a few helpful tips to assist you in looking and feeling your flyest before Skype sex. Can’t we all use a hand in feeling extra sexy and confident now and then? OK, here we go little cam girl.

Set yourself up near a window or soft lighting

If it’s daytime or evening, take advantage of that natural lighting. Sit in front of a window. You can close the blinds slightly so as not to wash out your face. You will look like a glowy angel and your partner will literally not know what to do with themselves.

If it’s nighttime, set up some low lighting. We suggest lamps with soft white bulbs. If you want to get extra sexy, wrap some fairy lights around the room, on the wall, or wherever there’s some space. (We love these from Amazon.) Lighting is super underrated and adds so much sexiness to a space in general. It’s just a good investment, TBH.

Plus, a soft glow on that gorgeous skin of yours is going to make those naked shots so incredible.

Pick your gear

This is Skype sex, baby. Get out your favorite vibrator and get ready to party. When choosing which of your sex toys to use, think about your partner. Is there a particular toy in your collection that he or she likes? Do you just have the one old faithful? Is your hand the go-to? Either way, make sure you are prepared.

Have your favorite lube on-hand, off screen. Lube is a must-have for masturbation, but with Skype sex, we suggest keeping the mystery alive and hiding the bottle to the side.

Unlike real sex, this is a fun, playful performance that involves very real orgasms. Lube up your gear beforehand and get ready to go.

Find your angles

There are two angles that make Skype sex extra dirty (in a good way). You can either use your phone and hold it above you for a downward angle of your torso and vulva, or straddle your computer so your partner gets an up close and person view of everything you have going on.

We personally prefer option two. It’s a really easy way to be sure your hubs or wifey is seeing everything. And we do mean everything. If you’re unsure which angle works best for you, turn your camera around pre-Skype call and do some experimenting. At the end of the day, it’s about how you feel sexiest.

Talk dirty

Skype sex is like phone sex, only with visuals. Talking dirty really ups the game. Think of a few key phrases before you get on camera. Since they’re on screen, talk about how sexy they look. Tell them how much you love seeing them touch themselves.

If you want them to reciprocate, ask them how they want you to touch yourself. If talking is too much, make some noise. Those moans and sighs go a long way to turn each other on. You got it, babe.

See more: How to Have Hot (Not Weird) Phone Sex

Don’t worry about makeup

Throw on a sexy shade of lipstick and call it a day. On your computer’s camera, you’ll barely be able to tell whether you’re wearing makeup or not.

In the same vein, if you want to groom your downstairs bits, feel free, but you don’t need to spend $50 on a Brazilian wax for a Skype session.

The camera isn’t high-quality enough to catch those details. Plus, your partner is not going to be looking at your bikini line. They have other, more important things to be focusing on right now, OK?

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Maldives-Holiday

5 Extremely Helpful Tips to Avoid UTIs After Sex

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A urinary tract infection is one of the most profoundly annoying and painful things one can endure. The symptoms are legitimately unbearable: A constant urgency to pee, no matter how many times you pee, along with a burning sensation every time you DO pee. Whyyyyy!!!

Any woman who has had a UTI can attest.

UTIs are very common and nearly half of all women will have at least one at some point in her life. Why? Because the vaginal, anal, and urethral openings are all depressingly near one another. Thanks for nothing, anatomy.

“It’s all about that pesky bacteria from your vagina and anus that can easily travel to your urethra, bladder, and kidneys after sex,” Emily Morse, sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast tells Brides.

Plus, the urethral canal is actually only a few centimeters long. “Any bacteria that exists outside the urethra does not have a long way to travel to get into the bladder,” says Dr. Emily Blanton, OB-GYN, MD.

We all know to pee after sex, right? When you pee after coitus, you flush out all of that bacteria that has traveled to parts unknown. If you let the bacteria fester, you will get an infection. Yet, despite all this religious wee-ing, women are still getting UTIs after sex.

So, we asked for a few tips on preventing these post-sex infections from the bottomless reaches of hell.

1. Pee before sex

“Pee after sex. Pee after sex. Pee after sex.” It is the advice any smart mother teachers her daughters around high school. But, did you know that you should also pee before sex? Since your vaginal, urethral, and anal openings are in such close proximity, there can be bacteria hanging out near the area.

When you have sex, you’re pushing all that bacteria way up in there. Pee before sex to clear the pipes before getting busy. Roger that!

2. Clean up

You don’t have to jump up the second you finish getting down, but cleaning up after sex is important for avoiding UTIs.

Both you and your partner should shower after sex. Morse suggests showering before sex too, if you can. Again with the bacteria! Rise your vulva and vagina with warm water. You can use a mild soap on your butt.

Do not put soap in your vagina or you will be sorry. “Regular soaps and body washes, lotions, anything with very heavy perfumes [are] all are not good to use in your vaginal area,” Morse says. Hello, bacterial vaginosis! Hard pass on that.

3. Don’t use “feminine hygiene products”

Don’t ever use douches, vaginal “washes” or other ridiculous scam products. Ever.

Vaginas smells the way they are supposed to smell so don’t go buying products that promise to turn your cooter into a cherry pie. These products contain harsh chemicals that can throw off your pH, leading to infection.

Your vagina is self-cleaning. Don’t listen to an industry that has made billions of dollars off of making women feel insecure. If you irritate the skin on your vulva, you’re more likely to get a UTI when it comes in contact with bacteria during sex.

4. Stay hydrated

Prone to UTIs? Drink a ton of water. Load up the Swell bottle, ladies, because we are taking down the H2O in buckets.

Staying hydrated is a secret trick to staving off those pesky infections. “This is the fastest way to get rid of bacteria and prevent it from staying in your urinary tract,” Morse tells us.

5. Regular UTIs might mean a regular antibiotic

There is nothing quite as irritating as going to the clinic, peeing in a cup, and getting antibiotics for your delightful UTI. Well, maybe except for the actual UTI.

Blanton tells Brides that for those women who see frequent UTIs after sex, they may need to take a regular antibiotic following penetration. “Usually this is one pill of an antibiotic after sex to help prevent the infections,” she says.

See more: How to Take Care of Your Vagina On A Daily Basis

To soothe symptoms, try AZO (Phenazopyridine). Blanton tells us that AZO, “is a type of medication that can soothe the symptoms of a UTI: urinary frequency, urgency and general bladder/urethra irritation.” You can get it at your local pharmacy without a prescription.

You should absolutely go see your doctor ASAP, but AZO can help in the meantime. Anything to stave off that wretched need to pee, right?

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Maldives-Holiday

Essential Oils That Will Up The Ante on Your Sex Life

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We obviously hear much about touch and taste when it comes to sexual turn-ons. We’re encouraged to eat strawberries and indulge in sensual massage. Yet, we have other senses that play an important role as well.

There is nothing like engaging your sense of smell during sexual foreplay. Scent has a powerful way of changing our mood. The right scents can relax, encourage sensuality, and relieve stress.

Now, we here at Brides know how to spritz a lavender oil blend on our sheets for relaxation, but we aren’t the experts on essential oils. So, we enlisted the help of a true pro, Aba Gyepi-Garbrah, Founder of Aba Love Apothecary.

“Essential oils in the right pairings have the ability to shift our focus, captivate our senses and coax our minds to creative heights,” Gyepi-Garbrah says. “When we get into aphrodisiacs, what we are really looking to do is to tune into our bodies and engage in the subtleties of the mind-body connection – true presence. When shared and experienced in the presence of a beloved, this is magical, to say the least!”

Man, is it hot in here or is that just us? Gyepi-Garbrah whipped us up some seriously sexy blends to help get you going. Prepare to be dazzled and amazed.

Here are some amazing essential oil blends that will really up the ante on your sex life. You can find all of these ingredients at your local health food store, apothecary, or even on Amazon.

How to use essential oils for sex

Aba Love Apothecary

There are three main ways you can choose to use your essential oil blends: In your essential oil diffuser, as a massage oil or body oil, or in an aromatherapy roller, which can be utilized as a perfume on date night (or anytime, really).

In a Diffuser

Place 5-10 drops in diffuser for a sensual aromatic aroma. “It should just give the air you breathe a sensual lift,” Gyepi-Garbrah tells us. Start with 5 drops and see how it works for you. You can always add more for a more powerful aroma.

Massage or Body Oil

Place 20 drops total per ounce of oil in a container. Gyepi-Garbrah tells us organic fractionated coconut oil or organic jojoba oils are ideal for body oil as the have “stable shelf life and virtually odorless.” You can apply your homemade oil all over your body, “but don’t forget the bottom of the feet – this is a direct entryway for essential oils to be carried into the bloodstream.” See, you always thought the eyes were the window to the soul, but it’s the feet. Go figure.

Aromatherapy Roller

An aromatherapy roller allows you to make your very own original perfume. Put 10-15 drops total for 10ml in an aromatherapy roller. You can find some right here.

For application, Gyepi-Garbrah suggests behind ears, back of the neck, chest, wrists, below navel, between the thighs, and behind knees. Of course, you can put it wherever you’d like.

You want to use your organic fractionated coconut oil or organic jojoba oil as the base for body oils and rollers. You then add in your drops of essential oils to create your magical, sexy scents.

See more: 7 Workouts That Will Boost Your Sex Life

Original essential oil blends you can make at home

Calm, Ground & Connect (stress relief)

1. Lavender, Kashmir (Lavandula Angustifolia): Warm floral-spice (richer version of French Lavender). This calms anxiety and nerves.

2. Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea): Herbaceous and tea-like. This oil is mood balancing and an aphrodisiac. It also helps eases restlessness.

3. Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides): Earthy, mineral–kind of watery. This oil helps with grounding and slows down a hyperactive mind.

Aba Love Apothecary

Woody Floral Aphrodisiac (boost libido)

1. Pink Pepper (Schinus molle): Fresh, dry, woody and effervescent. Pink pepper invites spontaneity, just the thing you need for a sexy night.

2. Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum): Rich floral, narcotic. This eases emotional blocks and inhibition while encouraging sensuality.

3. Sandalwood (Royal Hawaiian) (Santalum paniculatum): Full bodied, rich, earthy. This oil encourages speaking from the heart and opening your heart center.

Aba Love Apothecary

Dark Citrus Aphrodisiac (boost libido)

1. Lime (Citrus aurantifolia): Zesty, juicy, and sweet. Lime uplifts the spirit. It is highly energizing.

2. Patchouli, Dark (Pogostemon cablin): Rich, spicy, earthy sweet. Patchouli relieves stress and acts as a natural aphrodisiac.

3. Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata): Heavy floral. This magical oil is heart-opening, warming to the entire body and encourages receiving of love and erotic energies.

*Editor’s note: some essential oils may be harmful during pregnancy and nursing. Check with your doctor before using any of these blends.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Wedding

How Mutual Masturbation Increases Intimacy

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Mutual masturbation: is this the thing your relationship needs? Jury is in: Most def.

Firstly, you might be thinking, What is mutual masturbation? That’s alright. It’s not a practice widely discussed. Mutual masturbation is when you and your partner masturbate next to each other (or within view of each other).

This can include coming on each other’s bodies, but it doesn’t have to. It can also involve one partner masturbating while the other simply watches. It might be fun with porn, it might not. It’s a very customizable sexual activity. You can try it however you’d like!

Does this sound kind of weird to you? It shouldn’t! This is a very healthy and normal part of relationships. Masturbation doesn’t stop just because you’re married or are in a long-term relationship. Anti-masturbation folks might tell you this is the case or that masturbating is cheating. This is utterly ridiculous. Masturbation is not cheating and it is not bad.

It is its own separate and enjoyable sexual act. Here is why masturbating with your partner is actually amazing for your relationship and can increase intimacy.

It’s hot to see you touch yourself

One of the main things that deters us from touching yourself in front of our partners is a lack of body confidence. It’s a pretty vulnerable place in which to be. They have an up close and personal view of your entire body and everything it does when you’re in the unencumbered throes of pleasure. It’s kind of intimidating. We get it.

Something to remember: Your partner thinks you’re hot. And they definitely think you’re super hot when you orgasm. When you love someone, seeing them in ecstasy is almost as sexy as being in the same position yourself. It’s like your own personal erotic material.

Masturbating together is a big step towards comfort with your partner. Intercourse may be touted as the ultimate act of love, but couples who masturbate together are the ones who are truly at ease with one another.

Like, how much better can you know a person when you’ve seen them jack off on the regular?

It’s forbidden (or whatever)

There is an element of the forbidden. Masturbation, both doing it and speaking openly about it, are still somewhat in the conversational shadows. Of course, things that we think are “bad” turn us on. Taboo is sexy. When we have a sense that masturbating with our partner is something we shouldn’t be doing, we just want to do it even more.

You get to share this “dark secret” with your partner. Everyone sees the two of you out and about, your friends and family have you over for dinner and to parties. By all accounts you’re a perfectly normal, vanilla couple.

Yet, no one knows that when you get home your partner is going to watch you use your vibrator on yourself. It’s like being two different people and only the you and your partner know that dirty little alter ego.

Up the kink factor by introducing porn to the games. If you’re wary of watching porn, we promise there are options you’ll adore. Check out this list of female-centric sites that will rock your world. Again, no pressure. Do your thing.

You learn more about what your partner likes

Having incredible sex is about more than knowing where a clitoris is or the sensitivity of the frenulum, it’s about knowing exactly what your partner likes in bed. There is no better way to learn how to give an epic hand-job, oral sex, et cetera than by watching your partner touch themselves.

Every single body is different. You may think you know your spouse like the back of your hand, but watching their hands (or toys) is always going to be a lesson. Perhaps you never realized your partner likes to touch the head of his penis alone sometimes. Maybe you never considered that she’d like internal stimulation in tandem with oral sex.

Opening yourself up to mutual masturbation might feel a bit odd at first, but it will soon become a treasured part of the sexual repertoire.

Sometimes you want closeness without intercourse

Now, let’s touch base on semantics. Mutual masturbation is straight up less work than intercourse. If the only way you know how to express ourselves sexually is by ending every encounter with intercourse, your sex life will probably suffer.

See more: How to Use Edging for Stronger Orgasms

Why? Because when you’re tired, overworked, and stressed, the last thing you want to do is climb on top of someone and get in a full cardiovascular workout. Well, at least sometimes.

Mutual masturbation doesn’t replace intercourse, oral sex, or any other form of play. It is supplemental. When you want to feel close to your partner, see and watch them come, but are worn out – this is an excellent way to experience that intimacy without it feeling like a burden or chore.

You’ll wind up having MORE sex. Who knew?

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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When to See a Sex Therapist

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Sex therapy is a term you hear tossed around quite a bit, but it’s sort of confusing as to what a sex therapist actually is and what they do. If you’re already in therapy, why would you need a sex therapist?

Well, a sex therapist is different than a regular therapist in that he or she specializes in sexual issues. Many therapists don’t offer treatment of sexual concerns in their practices. Whether or not this has something to do with our Draconian views on sex as a society as a whole is up for debate. It could also have to do with preference or a need for additional training.

Either way, sex therapy is a real thing and it is helping couples far and wide.

Are you having issues in your sex life and aren’t sure who to talk to or where to turn? Is the internet turning up a bunch of articles that are vaguely helpful, but don’t have any actionable tips you can use?

Is the idea of talking to your partner about your sex life stomach churning?

If any of this is ringing true in your own life, you might be in need of sex therapy. Here is what you need to know.

What is sex therapy?

Sex therapy is a specialized form of therapy designed to help treat sexual problems, dysfunctions, and concerns. It’s like any other form of therapy, only for sex-based treatments. The therapist works with the client(s) to diagnose certain issues and then develops a treatment plan to tackle these issues.

It can be a wonderful process for those struggling with sexual difficulties, marital issues, sexual dissatisfaction and much more. A sex therapist is a clinician trained to help you with your most personal sexual troubles. When it comes to sex, we often don’t know how to address concerns nor do we feel equipped to discuss sexual concerns with our partners.

A sex therapist can be the conduit to greater sexual happiness and wellness.

If you think you’re in need, it’s probably best to try it out

If you have sexual concerns and are questioning whether or not you should see a sex therapist, we suggest giving it a try. Once you begin questioning your sex life and are able to pinpoint areas in which you are unhappy, you might be in need of some therapy.

There is nothing wrong with seeking assistance for your sex life. Most couples go through periods where sex therapy can be helpful. Whether you want more sex, less sex, are concerned about fantasies you’re having, want to change your relationship dynamic or anything else, sex therapy may be beneficial.

You’re not saying your relationship is broken by seeking therapy, you’re taking steps to make positive changes so that your relationship can thrive. You go, girl!

Therapy is something you need to want to do

This is a choice you need to make for yourself. If you’re attending with a partner, it is a choice both you and your partner need to make together. Therapy is a choice, first and foremost. Making improvements in your sex life is a decision, not a prison sentence.

If you go to therapy for a few sessions and decide it’s not for you, you don’t have to go back. Remember, the situation is always in your control. You call the shots.

What’s the difference between a sex therapist and a sex coach?

If you’re reading this and thinking: What the heck is a sex coach? You wouldn’t be alone. Sex coaching is a relatively new branch within the sexual health field. It essentially combines sex education, life coaching, and sex therapy into one, unique practice.

A sex coach doesn’t focus on the deep backstory of your childhood, nor does he or she attempt to diagnose you with dysfunctions. Instead, a sex coach aims to set goals for your ideal sexual self and create game plans to reach those goals. You know how you have a coach to help you be a better swimmer, dancer, math student etc.? A sex coach is like that, only for your sex life.

See more: Couple’s Therapy: The Pros and Cons You Need to Consider

It is a future-oriented practice aimed to help you have the sex life you want. A sex coach doesn’t pathologize and doesn’t “treat.” A sex coach is an advocate for your sex life, there to help you reach specific targets.

Keep in mind coaching the therapy are similar, but different. Neither is better than the other. It’s about what you need as an individual or couple. You can read more about coaching here or you can find one that fits your needs here.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Why You Should Never (Ever!) Use Flavored Lube for Sex

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There is this scene in Juno when Ellen Page’s character goes to a clinic and a very scary looking teenage girl offers her a boysenberry flavored condom. She says it makes her boyfriend’s “junk taste like pie” and then something about having intercourse. It’s an alarming interaction. We’re all for using condoms to prevent STIs and pregnancy, but a boysenberry flavored condom?! Gag.

What we must assume, though the movie never does follow up with said scary looking teenage girl, that she wound up with a raging yeast infection. Why? Flavored lube.

This scene haunts our dreams. As Metro UK puts it so very eloquently, the abomination needs to stop and it needs to stop now. Using flavored lube during sexual intercourse (or cunnilingus) will ruin your life. OK, maybe not ruin it, but you will get an infection. If you give a blowjob using flavored lube, get your partner in the shower and wash up before having sex. You will be sorry if you don’t.

What’s actually in flavored lube?

Flavored lube has appeal, don’t get us wrong. Lube that tastes like cherries? Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Except it really, really is not.

Flavored lubes are full of chemicals that are not good for your precious lady bits. Your vulva is one of the most absorbent parts of the body. It’s membrane soaks stuff up. You don’t want to put anything inside of it that isn’t healthy or pure.

The biggest culprits when it comes to flavored lube: sugar and glycerine. Even flavored lubes that claim to be “sugar-free” somehow manage to sneak “glycerine” into the ingredients. Glycerine and sugar are basically the exact same thing.

Why is glycerine so bad for your vag? Your vagina has a very precarious set of bacteria and yeast that flourish when your pH is balanced. It is a delicate ecosystem, one that you do not want to mess with. For the most part, a vagina will expel toxins, foreign substances, etc. But not always.

When you use flavored lubes, your vagina is exposed to that glycerine and sugar. Sugar feeds yeast. When you throw off the balance and the yeast begins to overgrow, you get a yeast infection.

Another fun thing that can happen with flavored lube: Bacterial vaginosis. Not fun.

On top of all of this delightfulness, most flavored lubes are sticky and will get into your pubic hair (yuck) and possibly stain your sheets.

When is flavored lube OK?

You can use flavored lubes for blow jobs. Not cunnilingus, for the reasons we’ve already listed. Flavored lubes have the potential to make giving blow jobs more pleasant. If you want to use some flavored lube to make YOUR partner’s junk taste like pie, be our guest.

You essentially turn your partner’s penis into a lollipop. If that is something you’re into, we’re not judging. This is the only appropriate use for flavored lube. Do not get it anywhere near your vagina. If you want a good flavored lube recommendation, we like Good Head by Doc Johnson.

No anal sex with flavored lube either. It’s another porous region. Don’t do it!

What to use instead

Get yourself a solid water-based or silicone lube. Now, this doesn’t mean you go shopping willy nilly at the drugstore. We’re not in the business of putting chemicals in our vaginas, remember? Flavored lubes are not the only culprit. Brands like KY Jelly are full of petro-chemicals, parabens and, you guessed it, glycerine.

When it comes to lube, it’s OK to be picky. Nay! It is encouraged.

See more: 7 Items Every Newlywed Couple Needs in Their Bedside Drawer

Get an organic, body-safe lubricant. There are so many options! We love Unbound Jelly, Good Clean Love, UberLube, and Babelube. For more on this, check out our complete guide to lube.

There are straight up a million better options than using flavored lube. It may sound fun and flirty and cute. It’s not. Throw it in the trash. Burn it to the ground! No, don’t burn anything to the ground. That’s a bit dramatic. But, do throw it away. You don’t need your vulva to smell like a watermelon mojito to enjoy sex.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Why Some Women Have A Series of Shorter Orgasms

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Remember the scene in American Pie when Viki’s best friend tells her if she’s not sure if she’s had an orgasm, she definitely hasn’t? We all nodded our heads, right?

Welcome to a cultural lie we’re all subject to. We’re made to believe that orgasm will be this thing that changes us forever. It’s something we need and will be incomplete without. Sex will never be good if we don’t have these enormous orgasms that make our thighs quiver and shake.

Like, cool, that’s not setting the bar high or anything for something we cannot control.

While this highly theatrical orgasm has been smashed into our collective psyche, leaving many of us feeling lacking, it turns out orgasms come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Yes, the earth-shattering orgasm of the movies is the experience of some women, but not all.

The truth about orgasms is that not all are the same. They are quite like snowflakes (or penises): No two are exactly alike. You may think you’ve never had an orgasm or are incapable of orgasm. While some women are a-orgasmic, it’s more likely that the orgasms you’re experiencing are simply unconventional.

And by unconventional we mean: Not the ones you’ve heard about in romance novels or seen in porn—AKA the Oh GOD YES! *glass shatters and stars align or whatever*

You may be having one, or even short series of smaller orgasms and not even know it.

What does it mean to be “mini-orgasmic”?

“Mini-orgasmic” is a freshly minted term from Everyday Feminism (and highly reported on by Vice) used to describe those who experience a series of short, small orgasms as opposed to some huge, monumental, life-altering, I-see-the-light orgasm.

Does this seem a bit confusing? That’s because sexuality is confusing and complex. Go figure.

Sexual response happens in five main phases: desire, excitement. plateau, and orgasm. Even though it is technically broken down, it’s not as simple as these linear stages appear. These stages overlap and interchange from person to person. Not everyone’s sexual response will start with desire, and not everyone’s will end with a noticeable orgasm. (For more on this, read our definitive piece on how orgasms actually happen).

Those who have a smaller orgasmic experience may find the plateau phase has a lot of little peaks that never (or almost never) reach the intensity of the single or multiple orgasm pattern.”The most common experiences of mini-orgasmic women are that you have a bunch of orgasms that never seem to end or, conversely, that you never have one at all. Everyone is a different unicorn.

Does this sound like it could be you or your partner? You may have been having orgasms all along! We hope you feel a least partially vindicated.

Orgasm isn’t even all about pleasure, anyway

Why does this happen? It’s actually quite simple: Our definition of orgasm and pleasure is kind of messed up.

More recent definitions of orgasm include the word “pleasure,” but it actually isn’t centered around pleasure. Weird, we know.

Orgasm is the involuntary release of tension and contractions that occur at the culmination of sexual activity. This can mean a whole lot of things. Involuntary release and contractions? Doesn’t exactly get you horny, does it?

Despite what Hollywood would like you to think, orgasm feels different for everyone. Plain and simple. In most cases, orgasm will feel extremely pleasurable. In other cases, it may be so underwhelming that you don’t know it’s happened.

Set more realistic standards

Enough with the ridiculous standards. If this new information shows you anything, we hope it’s that every human person is different. It’s unfair for a woman to feel shamed by a sexual partner because she experiences orgasm differently.

On a even grimmer note, pressure around orgasm is what causes so many women to fake it. That is too depressing for words. This is not the way to live. We have to change the way we define what makes good sex and broaden our understanding of how the body responds to pleasure.

See more: Tips for How to Stop Faking Orgasms During Sex With Your Partner

If we keep setting the orgasm bar at IT MUST BE EXPLOSIVE TO COUNT, many women (and men, to be honest) will be disappointed. It’s important to lean into the kind of orgasms you have (or think you’re not having). Instead of focusing on some “big finish,” breathe into everything that is happening to your body. Take note of what you’re feeling. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel, without expectation.

Pleasure is the goal, not the orgasm. Check it.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Wedding

Men Experience Sadness After Sex, Too

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Have you ever experienced a quiet sadness after sex? A feeling of emptiness? Perhaps even so much as misery and tears? Even after some of the most beautiful and romantic sexual interactions with someone we love we feel lost, lonely, and raw. It can be rather alarming. Not to mention it can scare the heck out of our partner.

You’re with someone you care very deeply for, perhaps you’re married or have been in a long-term relationship for multiple years. Yet, you are depressed after sex.

Isn’t sex supposed to make you feel happy? We see so much information on the afterglow, but we’re over here like: I want to cry and will probably never find joy again. Cool.

For your 411: You’re not necessarily supposed to feel good after sex. Sure, you can. But there are a ton of emotions you might encounter, both high and low. The sadness you feel is perfectly normal and is part of a condition called Post Coital Dysphoria.

And guess what? It’s not only us ladies who feel sad. Men get PCD too.

What is PCD?

Post-Coital Dysphoria is hard to hammer out. Researchers believe it likely has something to do with the rush of hormones we experience after sex.

After an amazing orgasm, your brain is flushed with dopamine and oxytocin, the body’s motivation and love hormones. It’s a cocktail of feel-goodness. But, sometimes this intense combination can have an adverse effect, causing feelings of despair.

Another reason for PCD might be societal shame around sex and pleasure. It may be a combination of a number of factors.

So, why exactly this happens we’re not entirely sure, but it is quite common.

This condition has long been studied in women. According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, nearly 50 percent of women have reported Post-Coital Dysphoria at some point in their lives. It’s believed that about 2 percent of women see PCD recur regularly when they have sex.

However, surprise! This is not some “female thing.” Men get sad after sex, too.

While studies on PCD have largely been lacking a male population, new research shows that men may not only experience Post-Coital Dysphoria, but perhaps even more often than their female counterparts.

A new study looked at 1,208 men who completed an online survey about their post-coital experiences and their feeling therein. Participants ranged in age from 18-81. 84 percent of those involved reported to currently be in a form of sexual relationship.

Participants were asked if they had: “Experienced inexplicable tearfulness, sadness, or irritability following consensual sexual activity.” Oh, doesn’t that sound all too familiar?

41 percent of men reported having PCD at some point in their lives, 20 percent had experienced it in the previous four weeks, and 4.5 percent said they felt post-sex sadness on the regular.

We can learn something from these findings. Namely, that men and women aren’t so different from each other. We’re just taught different things about what it “means” to be a man or woman.

Men and boys are taught not to talk about their feelings and to bottle everything up. If you feel sadness or unhappiness after getting laid, you must not be a man. You must be weak. These are damaging teachings that have dire consequences for our interpersonal relationships.

When women wind up doing all of the emotional labor in a relationship, the partnership is damaged. How could it not be? Seeing science that supports that men having dysphoria after sex has the potential to help change the narrative around sexuality. We’re all emotional. It’s human-nature. Nothing with a human being is black and white.

See more: Why Men Should Share The Birth Control Burden

Men are not simply these savage creatures doing anything they can to have sex. They are capable of having a wide range of emotions before, during, and after sexual activity. Likewise, women are not these “crazy” or “emotional” cyclones, but are simply humans experiencing a normal set of human emotions.

We have to normalize the feelings we have and talk about them, whatever those feelings may be.

In heterosexual relationships especially, both partners must be willing to have empathy for one another. There may be misunderstandings, but by allowing ourselves to process and understand the emotions of the person we love, we make that love stronger.

And ultimately, the sex will be better. If you’re going to feel sad after sex, wouldn’t it be better to know your partner understands and loves you no matter what? We’re thinking yes.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Everything You Need to Know Before Getting an IUD

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Looking for a new birth control and not really sure where to begin? Allow us to introduce the IUD (Intrauterine Device). The IUD is a T-shaped device made of plastic (and sometimes copper), about three inches long and very thin, with two small strings that hang from the bottom. This form of birth control is over 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.

With an IUD, you don’t have to worry about pregnancy for up to five years (or ten if it’s copper)! No pills. No daily reminders. No muss. No fuss.

“Studies show that the IUD has the ‘highest patient satisfaction’ amongst contraception users,” Dr. Sherry A. Ross, women’s health expert and author of She-ology tells Brides. “I would say IUDs are making a serious and purposeful comeback especially with the threat of losing birth control accessibility for women.”

We couldn’t agree more. Not to get too political here, but we do need to talk about this. With everything currently happening in the Supreme Court, it’s important to know your long-lasting birth control options should the pill, progesterone shot, or other forms of birth control become compromised.

Medical experts across the board agree that the IUD is working for women. According to a 2013 survey from Planned Parenthood, IUDs are the #1 choice of OB-GYNs for birth control.

Is the IUD the right choice for you? We have all the information you need right here.

Types of IUDs

There are two main types of IUDs. Some release hormones (progesterone/levonorgestrel) that stop an egg from releasing during ovulation, just like birth control pills. Dr. Ross tells us that unlike the pill, which release hormones into the bloodstream, an IUD hormones are localized to the uterus.

Types of progesterone IUDs include Mirena (lasts 5 years), Skyla (lasts 3 years), Kyleena (lasts 3 years), and Liletta (lasts 3 years). Mirena is slightly bigger than the other three progesterone IUDs, but has less risk of becoming dislodged. Smaller IUDs will likely be less uncomfortable to insert, depending on your body.

The other IUD is a copper IUD, Paragard. This works by thickening the uterine lining to prevent egg attachment. This option contains no hormones and is a good choice for any woman with hormone sensitivity, or those who have been through cancer.

Dr. Ross explains that all IUDs are safe to use whether or not you have been pregnant before.

How insertion works

Your OB-GYN will put your feet in the stirrups as if you’re going to get a Pap, real up close and personal.

She or he will then insert the IUD through the cervix, where is sits inside of the uterus. It can be quite painful, but the entire process, start to finish, only lasts about five minutes. The insertion itself is, like, thirty seconds.

We’re not going to lie, it is not a walk in the park. It hurts. It feels a bit like a very intense period cramp. You may benefit from taking Ibuprofen (or another painkiller) before insertion. Always speak to your doctor first.

Usually, your doctor will request you come for insertion during your period, as your cervix is slightly more dilated during this week, but you can still get an IUD whether or not you’re on your period.

It may sound scary to have something placed up through your cervix, but remember that your cervix can dilate to allow a baby to pass through it. It can handle an IUD. Wait seven days after insertion to have sex so the IUD can take effect.

The side-effects you should know about

As with all forms of birth control, there are definitely side-effects with the IUD that every woman should know about. Knowing what to expect before getting and IUD will help you in the long run.

After insertion, you may experience cramping and bleeding for up to a week. You may experience irregular spotting or bleeding for the first three to six months. “Women using the copper IUD may experience heavier, longer and more painful periods,” says Dr. Ross. With the progesterone IUD, your period may stop altogether which can be a welcomed side-effect.

For some women, they may have cramping once a month without any bleeding. Don’t be alarmed if this happens. All of this varies from person to person. It is highly unlikely that you will gain weight, have mood swings, or experience acne as you might with the birth control pill, Dr. Ross explains.

An IUD may not be ideal if you have a sensitive cervix. If you experience cervical sensitivity after sex or spotting, talk to your doctor. While in most cases you won’t be able to feel an IUD, for those with cervical sensitivity, an IUD may be uncomfortable for you.

What are the risks?

Other than side-effects, the health risks are important as well. You need to know what you’re putting in your body and what can happen, however unlikely.

“The main risks of using an IUD include heavy bleeding and cramping mainly seen with the Copper IUD (Paragard),” Dr. Ross tells us.

Other, scarier risks include: “Uterine perforation, which can be a complication associated with faulty insertion and expulsion of the IUD from the uterus during the first year.” Uterine perforation is when the IUD comes through the wall of the uterus. We know that sound terrifying, but it is extremely rare. This only happens in about 1 in every 2,000 cases.

Expulsion is when the IUD decides it isn’t happy in your uterus and pushes itself out the cervix. It doesn’t hurt, per say, but it will stop the IUD from preventing pregnancy. To make sure your lil’ IUD is in place, put one or two fingers up your vagina and feel for the IUD strings. They are akin to dental floss. This will let you know your IUD is straight chillin’ and you are covered. Doctors recommend you do this after every period or every four weeks.

Could the IUD be right for you?

Ah, now this is the question. You’ll have to make the choice that works best for you! Most insurance will cover the IUD, so be sure to ask your doctor about your options. You and your OB-GYN can make this choice together. Lay out the pros and cons.

If you’re a person who forgets to take her pill everyday and wants a form of birth control that doesn’t require a daily G-cal reminder, an IUD might be just the thing you need.

See more: Birth Control 101: Types, Options, and Info

If you’re a highly anxious person who can’t stomach the idea of a device being inside their body, it might not be the best choice.

Think it through. It’s totally your game. Remember, if you get an IUD and hate it, you can always have it removed.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Lack of Sleep Will Destroy Your Libido

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If you ever needed a real, honest reason to stay in bed and get those extra Zs, we have you covered. Sleep is easily one of the most important things that you can do for your health. Pretty much everything going on in your bodily ecosystem centers around it—even sex.

No, we’re not talking about that time you fell asleep waiting for your partner to change into lingerie, we’re talking about how sleep affects libido. Sleep is at the center of your libido. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your sex drive is going to take a massive nosedive.

You might want to rethink taking on that extra project at work or staying up late to finish your favorite Netflix original. Here’s why sleep is so essential to maintaining a healthy libido.

Why sleep is so important

Experts say that adults require at least six to nine hours of sleep per night. This is how much time your body needs each evening to recover from the day’s exertions.

When you sleep, your body repairs itself. It is the time of day when your muscles, blood vessels, brain, and organs rejuvenate. Studies have shown that people who undergo regular sleep deprivation see a breakdown in their major muscles and organs, leading to such ailments as cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.

Sleep helps with everything in your life. When you sleep well, you make better decisions, your mood is more stable, and your overall wellbeing is drastically improved. If you don’t sleep, your brain starts to shut down. Your body stops responding to regular stimuli and your immune system bites the dust.

In a word: Sleep is not optional.

Lack of sleep has been linked to depression and anxiety, as well as a decrease your appetite for sex. You are less likely to want sex when you’re anxious or depressed. Oh, great. No sleep and no sex? You heard right.

Sex and sleep

A lack of sleep messes up your hormones in a big way. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you’re well-rested.”

It’s even more sinister than a few cookies, unfortunately. Hormones play an integral part in your body’s sexual cycle. Your body releases dopamine, the body’s incentive hormone, when it’s turned on. If you don’t sleep, your dopamine receptors don’t function properly, which screws up your sex drive.

Then, just to make everything worse, your body will have trouble reaching orgasm due to dulled pleasure receptors and exhaustion.

For women, a study showed that increased sleep had a direct impact on sexual response. Meaning, you’re more likely to orgasm if you’re sleeping your full eight hours. We know this might add more stress to an already stressful situation, but seriously: If you don’t sleep, you won’t be able to come. According to the Journal of Sex and Medicine, getting just one more hour of sleep per night could increase your libido by 14 percent.

For men, a lack of sleep can lower testosterone levels and interfere with sperm count. Not a great way to be.

How to get more sleep with the help of sex

Now, the two worlds collide! Sleep and sex are not only directly correlated to each other in the ways we’ve already mentioned, but the two can actually work hand-in-hand.

How? Orgasms, of course. If you want to get more sleep and have tried all the usual things to relax, you can always have an orgasm. When you experience an orgasm, your brain releases oxytocin, the brain’s bonding and pain-relieving hormone. Oxytocin helps decrease stress so you can drift off into a restful slumber.

During sexual activity your body also releases norepinephrine and serotonin, two of the main hormones that contribute to REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. REM cycles increase the restorative quality of sleep. Studies have shown that having an orgasm right before bed can notably improve sleep quality.

See more: 9 Tips to Improve Your Sleep and Get Super Rested for Your Wedding Day

Try taking a hot bath thirty minutes before bedtime. This will help relax your muscles. Then, take some time with your vibrator or your partner. You don’t have to jump into intercourse if you’re tired. Sleep deprivation makes your libido plummet. Having sex in order to sleep, when you’re sleep deprived, and therefore not into sex may sound a bit, well, far-reaching.

Instead, try mutual masturbation. You and your partner can lie next to each other and stimulate yourselves. It is a way to experience closeness and intimacy without the physical effort penetration or oral sex often takes.

Who knew sleep and sex could be such close friends?

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Blended Orgasms: What Are They and Can You Have One?

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Vaginal orgasms, G-spot orgasms, anal orgasms, clitorial orgasms—there are so many orgasms to be had! Google it, girl! Now, to complicate things further, there are countless pieces on how to have not just one, but all of these orgasms—AT THE SAME TIME.

Yet, we’re over here in the real world just trying to figure out our bodies, and how communicate to our partners how to touch us in order to get off in the first place. Blended orgasms, huh? Say what?

Before we talk more about what a blended orgasm actually is (and how to have one), allow us first to address the elephant in the room: There are too many articles designed to make women feel “less than”, especially when it comes to sex. Let’s face it, ladies. There is a lot of pressure to have all kinds of Olympian orgasms, all while attending to our partner’s needs over our own. Why not add blended orgasms to the mix, right? Pile on that pressure.

We want to be clear that while Brides is in the business of accurate information and sex positivity, we are not trying to add complexities and unrealistic expectations to your life. We want to encourage you to explore your sexuality and love every minute of it.

It just so happens there are lots of different ways the beautiful, majestic, glorious female body experiences pleasure and orgasm. You should see what works for you and revel in all that divine discovery.

What is a blended orgasm?

Now, you might be up in here thinking: OK. What in the heck in a BLENDED orgasm????!?!?! I just need my clitoris rubbed and I have enough trouble with that.

You’re not alone on that one. Blended orgasm is actually as straightforward as the term sounds: It’s an orgasm that comes from blended pleasure. Meaning: You’re experiencing multiple sensations at once during the time of orgasm. Or, you need multiple forms of stimulation to experience orgasm.

Blended orgasm is usually a blanket term for those who like both internal stimulation as well as external stimulation of the clitoris. See, blended! Most women require external stimulation of the clitoris to experience orgasm. If you orgasm during penetrative sex while stimulating the clitoris with your hands or fingers, you have blended orgasms.

Of course, there’s more!

You may be having blended orgasms already and just haven’t considered it. That’s right! It’s not some ridiculous thing only portrayed in porn.

For instance, if you enjoy external stimulation of the clitoris in tandem with having your nipples pinched or sucked, that is a blended orgasm, too.

It might sound kind of complicated, but it really isn’t. Saying “blended orgasm” is essentially a marketing scheme for women to try to achieve “higher” levels of pleasure and sexual diversity in the sack. But, it’s a tale as old as time.

There are literally too many different kinds of blended orgasms to count. To name a few: Combined anal and clitoral stimulation, G-spot and clitoral stimulation, cervical and clitoral stimulation, nipple and anal stimulation. It goes on and on.

You might only like to have very pinpointed, one-spot stimulation, but you might not. Whatever you enjoy is perfectly normal.

Can you have a blended orgasm?

The answer is, of course, not black and white. Every single body is different and enjoys different things. If you prefer multiple forms of stimulation during sexual play, you’re already having blended orgasms.

Perhaps you’re interested in exploring your sexual threshold further, and that is fabulous too. Try different things and see what works and what doesn’t. You may find a certain kind of stimulation you hadn’t previously considered is the thing you need to take your orgasms from great to AMAZING.

Again, there is no pressure here. Sexual pleasure is not about being able to do sexual acrobatics, where you’re able to have an orgasm with a butt plug in, your cervix stimulated, all while having intercourse.

See more: Women Can Have 6 Different Types of Orgasms

None of this is meant to make you feel like you need to perform or that what you like in bed isn’t “good enough.” All pleasure is good enough. If you’re having good sex, are loving everything you do in bed, and are happy—keep doing your thing!

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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How Masturbation Helps Decrease Anxiety

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As if you needed another reason to masturbate, try this one on for size: Masturbation can actually help you manage your anxiety. Much like meditation and exercise, masturbation connects you with your body and taps into the pleasure centers of the brain, helping to release much-needed stress-reducing chemicals that allow the body to naturally calm down.

Many medical professionals, coaches, and sex therapists recommend using sexual activity (whether with a partner or solo) as a way to reduce stress.

If you’re looking for a way to naturally calm your anxious mind, self-love might be just the thing you need. Even if you’re not feeling particularly in the mood, see if it helps. Sometimes our desire just needs a little hands-on attention.

Masturbation is a beautiful, natural expression of human desire—embrace it and enjoy yourself!

Orgasm releases feel-good chemicals

Orgasm creates a magnificent cocktail of pleasurable hormones. It’s like nature’s Ativan. Anxiety is naturally relieved when the brain is flooded in oxytocin and dopamine, which help bring down your stress levels and give you a sense of peace.

Orgasm is legitimately good for your health. It makes your skin look better, it improves mood, and it brings down levels of anxiety. Masturbation is amazing and everyone should be doing it. If you’re having anxiety, grab your vibrator! Get that oxytocin flow, girl.

Orgasm is like a hard workout

It’s no secret that working out is not just great for your butt—it can do wonders for your mental health. You know when you finish up a particularly intense weight class and suddenly are overcome with a feeling of euphoria and accomplishment? While, in many cases, working out and masturbation are not a replacement for taking doctor-recommended prescription drugs, they can offer you a way to control and manage your anxiety on a day-to-day basis.

When you have an orgasm (or get through a sweaty spin class), your body works out pent-up stress. Once it is finished putting itself through strenuous effort, you feel good after.

The same thing happens with masturbation. Through your deep breathing, build up in pleasure, and eventual release, you’re giving your body the same rush of dopamine (the reward hormone) that you need to calm down naturally.

It offers quick release

Sometimes the most intense anxiety and panic attacks are due to a buildup of seemingly innocuous things in your life. All of the minor annoyances, and inconveniences and last-minute deadlines really add up.

Suddenly you feel like you’re drowning and your heart will jump right out of your chest. Masturbate. Seriously. Your body is tightly wound and your brain is so full of chatter that you can’t focus on anything else. If you want to chill the heck out, have a quick orgasm. It might sound like a waste of time when there is so much to do, but trust us, it is just what you need.

It will get your head back on right. Plus, it only take around 20 minutes. No harm, no foul.

Releasing stress decreases cortisol

More about hormones, served up piping hot. When you’re particularly stressed out or overwhelmed, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol. This little devil is responsible for stress, a slower metabolism, feelings of mental dysphoria and so much more.

It is not good for you! Well, orgasm reduces cortisol levels substantially. Have an orgasm and literally decrease the amount of toxic energy that is polluting your body.

Self-love gives you a sense of peace and contentment

This one is definitely the most “woo-woo” of the bunch, but there is something about getting in touch with your body that is extremely therapeutic. When you masturbate and take time to love yourself and touch yourself, you’re reminded what a vibrant and sexy creature you are.

See more: Dealing with Wedding Planning Stress: 25 Things to do Instead of Wedding Planning

Anxiety has the ability to overtake our rational minds, making us feel like we’re on the edge of a cliff. Masturbation is a reminder that you are in your body and you are in control. Open yourself up to the self-healing power of self-love.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Maldives-Holiday

5 Natural Lubes You Should Try ASAP

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The benefits of natural lube cannot be understated, but most importantly, you don’t need to worry about harsh chemicals or ingredients causing problems for your vulva and vagina. You may not realize it, but so many lubes contain nasty ingredients—just go look at the list of stuff contained in KY Jelly. You will be scarred for life.

For those of you who like to keep it healthy and natural, a plant-based lube might be just the thing you want in your life. A 2014 study showed that a large portion of women use a personal lubricant (and you should be one of them!).

Do keep in mind that oil-based natural lubes are not compatible with latex (ie: condoms). They can corrode the material and cause breakage in condoms, so if latex condoms are your main form of birth control, or you are sleeping with more than one partner, don’t use an oil-based lube. You can instead use condoms made from polyurethane or latex-free condoms, which won’t suffer damage from oil.

Without further ado, here are 5 natural lubes you should definitely try. Pick them up at your local grocery store or organic food center ASAP!

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a great lube and it won’t damage latex condoms (it’s not oil based) which is always a bonus. Aloe is the main ingredient in lots of all-natural organic lubes such as Unbound Jelly or Sustain Natural.

You can buy 100% Aloe Vera at any WholeFoods (just be sure it isn’t mixed with any other ingredients). If you’re not using condoms, you can add a few drops of all-natural lavender oil. It smells amazing and turns the aloe into more than just lube, but a great massage oil as well.

For a guide on massages, check this out.

Almond Oil

Almond oil smells wonderful and is awesome for staying power. It’s a good choice for anal play, if that is something you’re looking to explore since it requires little reapplication. Almond oil is also safe to eat so it’s a nice choice for oral sex and blow jobs.

Almond oil is rich with antioxidants, which help to calm irritated skin. Since the skin on the vulva is such a sensitive area, the more soothing and skin-safe the oil, the better.

Combine some almond oil with your favorite vibrator for a magical masturbation experience. Another tip? Try using almond oil with your favorite wand vibrator—the added slide and barrier between toy and clitoris is truly life changing.

Organic Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is our favorite lube of all time. It smells like a cupcake and will NOT come off during sex. When you’re having marathon sex, it is the ideal choice. Seriously, is there anything coconut oil can’t do? It’s amazing for your skin, hair, and nails too!

Just be sure the coconut oil you buy is slightly hydrogenated and ultra refined. With unrefined coconut oil, it takes on antibacterial properties which can wipe out the good flora in your vagina. Some women have reported yeast infections or BV as a result. Pay attention to labels!

Sunflower Oil

All natural sunflower oil may seem like an odd choice, but it actually makes for stellar lube. It is non-greasy, light and has a pleasant aroma that won’t overwhelm the senses.

We love sunflower oil for erotic massages and hand jobs especially, as it stays on but will eventually absorb into the skin without any buildup. Additionally, sunflower oil contains the rich fatty acid linoleic acid which is good for skin health. Anything to keep the vulva healthy, right?

Vitamin E Oil

Organic, 100% pure vitamin E oil is a great choice for erotic massage and sex. Some women may experience irritation, so this might not be the right choice for you. Experiment with what works.

See more: The Ultimate Guide to Lube

Keep in mind that all-natural lubes such as Maple Holistics, Good Clean Love, Sustain Natural, Unbound, UberLube offer the same benefits of store-bought oils and plant-based lubes. These might be easier options as they are specially formulated to be used as personal lubricant.

There are plenty of options out there. Don’t be afraid to try new things!

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Wedding

6 Sex Positions for Couples of Different Heights

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It is totally amazing to take an Amazon goddess or incredibly hot and tall man out on the town. They make stunning arm candy and everyone is staring at the two of you with envy. Remember your wedding photos? Your partner looked so damn sexy.

But, when it comes to sex, it isn’t all being thrown about like a rag doll as if you were in a porno. You might be shorter than your partner, but that doesn’t mean he or she is the Hulk.

Nope, sex with a massive height difference is extremely challenging. Your body parts don’t match up properly, making penetration complicated, and in some cases, uncomfortable. What can you do when doggy-style just isn’t going to happen without some assistance?

Luckily, we have ways around a height discrepancy. Sexy ways. Here are 6 sex positions for couples of different heights. Hopefully you’ll find some, um, common ground.

1. Bed Stand

This take on missionary gives you deep penetration, without your partner dealing with arm strain. Lie on your back and have your partner stand next to the bed. Scoot down so your butt is right at the edge. Have him or her enter you while standing.

You can either wrap your legs around his or her waist, or lie them against their body. Bonus points if you can get your ankles to their shoulders! Do whatever feels comfortable for you. This is kind of the ultimate lazy girl position, wherein you still look super hot.

2. Adjusted 69

This is a take on your tried and true 69, only slightly adjusted for height difference. Instead of climbing on top of your partner to put your goods in his or her face, give each other oral sex on your side, facing each other. Since you’re different heights, this position is easy because your legs won’t get in the way.

This is an easy position that doesn’t involve suffocation, exhaustion, or a lack of orgasms. When you’re different heights, getting up and close and personal with your partner’s downstairs situation is still possible, you just want to be sure their (or your) long legs aren’t smothering you, so lift that superior leg!

3. Lotus

Climb onto your partner’s lap, facing him or her. Have them enter you while seated. You can wrap your arms around their shoulders or neck for support. Rock back and forth for optimal clitoral stimulation.

Again with the legs! This is where most of height different comes into play. Darn, stems. The lotus allows for face-to-face closeness without having to jump and/or climb your partner like a tree.

4. Counter Games

Have an island in the kitchen? A tall table? Make use of these makeshift sex-lifts. Have your partner join you in the kitchen.

Have them stand next to the counter while you sit. Allow them to enter you. This is an awesome position for deep thrusting and passionate makeout sessions.

If you partner has a ball sack, be a bit wary. You don’t want them slapping against the base of the counter, which can be painful. Communicate and go slowly.

5. Flat down doggy-style

Doggy style is extremely hot. It gives you all of that amazing, deep penetration you crave combined with animalistic raunchiness. The problem? When your partner is substantially taller than you, this position can be a challenge. Your hips are just too low!

Instead, give the lowdown doggy a go. Lie flat on your stomach and have your partner enter you from behind, resting flat against your body. He or she can even bite the back of your neck and shoulders. This position gets you everything doggy-style has to offer, without penetration at an uncomfortable (and painful) angle.

6. The Sexy Crab

Missionary is great and everything, but it lacks a certain sex appeal. It’s kind of the go-to when you’re different heights, but it doesn’t have to be … well, not exactly.

Try the sexy crab. Lie on your back with your legs spread and knees bent, almost as if you’re in Happy Baby. Have your partner lie perpendicular to you and enter you from underneath. You can drape your legs over their side for comfort. He or she will have access to your clitoris as well as reachable distance to your nipples.

Up the ante by skipping the pillows and investing in a lifted cushion designed for sex. Try the Liberator. It is a booster that is made for getting freaky. Sex accessories are hot AF.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Maldives-Holiday

Why Some Things Turn Us On While Others Don't

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You come home and your partner is standing in the kitchen, wearing a police officer’s uniform. He or she is holding handcuffs. And they want to cuff YOU. Damn, they look fine.

But, it’s been a long day. You’re worn out from work. You aren’t into it. And you cannot just make yourself be into it, right?

What is it that gets you turned on (or not)? Why is it that you can be in a super sexual situation that is objectively hot, but you just aren’t feeling it? Why is that you can be at yoga class and suddenly the only thing you want is some action? How come your partner is doing that one thing with her tongue, but orgasm eludes you?

Seriously, what gives? Well, sexual science has some answers and we are here for it.

Eagerness, enjoying, expecting: These are the three main components that lead to sexual wanting and enjoyment. These are the primary things we need to understand when learning how desire and sexual arousal work.

To properly map out the way we respond to sexual stimuli and the complicated factors therein, Brides spoke to Dr. Emily Nagoski, world-famous sex educator and author of Come As You Are.

Here is what we learned about why some things turn us on, while others don’t.

The body and the brain

A lot happens in the body and brain when we get turned on (or when we don’t). It’s not some simple black and white chart one can follow. It’s certainly not: Sees sexy thing or has sexy thought, vag is wet, sex happens.

It’s a lot more complex than that.

The ways our bodies and brains get in on being sexually aroused is part of an overlapping complex system. We have a series of brakes and accelerators in our brains. The brakes say: Nope. No sex for me. This is not a safe time to be getting randy!

Whereas the accelerators say: Oooo yeah, mama! It’s time for the SEX! They propel you forward. This line of thinking is called the Dual Control Model and it explains some of the more confusing aspects of human sexuality. (Read more about it here.)

Our brakes and accelerators can, more often than not, result in arousal non-concordance. What is arousal non-concordance? It’s where the brain is turned on, but the body doesn’t respond accordingly, or visce versa. To read more about this perfectly healthy thing that happens to MOST women, click here.

Eagerness, Enjoying, Expecting

When you get turned on (or don’t get turned on), three big things are taking place in your brain. They sometimes overlap, and sometimes they don’t.

Keep in mind, one thing doesn’t always follow the other. These are intersecting, winding emotions and feelings that happen in unique ways for each person and are highly context dependent.

You’re unique, girl. You’re a damn unicorn.

Eagerness

Eagerness is wanting. Wanting something is not liking, but they are related. Eagerness is the desire for something that has not yet transpired. It is step one in horniness, if you will. When you want something or are eager for it, Nagoski tells us, your brain’s motivation center lights up. You’re flooded with dopamine.

Nagoski gives Brides this tasty treat example to outline what we mean here: You want ice cream. You crave it. You then put the ice cream in your mouth. After tasting it’s creamy goodness, you decide you “like it.” So, you eat some more. The more you eat, the more your wanting decreases. Your craving for ice cream begins to subside. When this happens, your “liking” can stay the same or it can decrease.

Ice cream is just like sexual stimulation. You want it. Once you get it, you might like it or you might not. Getting it might increase how much you like it, or it might not. Suffice to say, everyone is different.

Enjoying

Enjoying is pretty straightforward: it’s experiencing pleasure. Enjoying is liking the thing you’re doing. When you enjoy something, the opioid center of the brain lights up. You feel the enjoyment. You feel GOOD. It isn’t just desire for the thing you want, it is actually enjoying the thing.

You eat the ice cream and it tastes good. You’re happy you are eating the ice cream. You like the ice cream. It’s the same with sex: You are experiencing sexual pleasure and it feels good. You are enjoying what you or your partner is doing to your body.

Expecting

Expecting is codifying the relevance of any given situation. It is learning. Is this a sexual situation? Do I like this sexual situation?

You know a given situation is going to be related to a set of feelings or emotions based on past experience.

Nagoski uses Pavlov’s dog as a metaphor for how expecting works in the brain: If you give a dog food whenever he hears a bell, he equates the bell with receiving food. When the dog hears the bell, he will salivate. Does the salivation mean the dog wants to eat the bell? No, it means he wants the food, but he associates the bell with food. The dog has learned that the bell means food.

With sex, expecting is the physiological reaction to a sex-related experience. You associate a certain experience with a sexual situation, and so your vagina gets wet, your clitoris becomes engorged, your nipples get hard.

See more: How Orgasms Actually Happen

This may be related to wanting and liking, but also maybe not. Again, this stuff is not simple. All three Es work in tandem with each other, but they don’t always.

Wow, sexuality sure isn’t straightforward, huh? But, hey, it’s good we’re finally recognizing that. If you’re ever feeling down on yourself for low desire, desire that feels out of control, or anything in between, remember that you are normal.

The only thing normal about human sexuality is how atypical it is.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Maldives-Holiday

How to Try Spanking During Sex For The First Time

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Are you interested in spanking, but aren’t quite sure where to begin? Are you looking to cause some pain, but not too much? Maybe no pain at all, but just excitement and novelty? You’ve come to the right place.

First things first, there is nothing weird or gross about spanking. Let that nonsense go.

Our brains closely relate pleasure and pain. The same areas light up when we experience both sensations. We love spanking because of the electricity and surprise, the twinning of pain and pleasure. It is erotic. There is a reason Fifty Shades was such a phenomenon, kiddo.

Spanking offers an element of control: Being spanked or spanking is the giving and receiving of control. It is giving total trust to your partner or taking it.

Spanking is an easy way into trying some light kink. The important part is to have your information on hand and being ready to step into this form of play without traumatizing anyone. Spanking is fun, but upsetting your partner and losing trust is not the goal.

Here is how to get started with spanking, for beginners.

Have a conversation before you spank anyone

As fun as spanking can be, it is not something you whip out (no pun intended) during sex. If you haven’t done it before, you need to talk about it beforehand. There is nothing sexy about getting smacked when you, in no way shape or form, want to get smacked.

That is a one-way ticket to sleeping on the couch, amirite?

You don’t have to necessarily carve out time on the G-cal to talk about this, but it does need to be discussed. Bring it up in a neutral way, as a part of a larger conversation about fantasy. Let your partner know you think it would be super hot if they spanked you (or if you spanked them). See what the feelings around spanking might be.

For some, spanking can be triggering. To ease into it, read or watch some erotic materials to suss out what works and what doesn’t. If your partner is apprehensive, figure out if he or she would feel more comfortable being the spankee or the spanker, and begin there.

Have a safe word

Always have a safe word when trying anything remotely kinky. We suggest using the stop light method: Green for “YES PLEASE THANK YOU,” yellow for “This is a bit uncomfortable, slow down,” and red for “STOP THAT NOW.”

This way you don’t have to worry about being yelled at, or doing any yelling, if the spanking is not working for you. It’s a neutral way to pull out of the scene and reassess the situation. It may feel a bit silly at first, but trying new sex stuff is hard.

It can be awkward and uncomfortable. Anything you can do to ease around the more difficult aspects is welcomed.

Start with hands

When trying spanking for the first time, always, always, always start with a bare palm on a butt. No slapping, for goodness sake! This is not your opportunity to grab a wooden spoon and go to town, full force on your partner’s bottom. Nope. This will not work out well for most people.

Don’t get into it by hammering away. Smack them once during sex and see how it feels. Were they turned on? Were you turned on? If you get a positive reaction, go for another spank. Always go slowly and proceed with care. Empathy is key here. Pay attention to both your own feelings and that of your partner.

Work up to harder strokes

You know when you’re playing baseball and you wind up to pitch a ball as fast and hard as you can? Yeah, this isn’t like that.

Do not spank someone with full strength, unless you are specifically told that is what they want. If you want to work up to hard spankings and/or spanking accoutrements (such as a riding crops or paddles), there is opportunity to do so. You, like everyone, need to start at the beginning.

Don’t rush things. There is plenty of opportunity to explore your sexual threshold and test boundaries.

Check in with your partner

Remember to check in with your partner before, during, and after play.

Before you begin, let them know you plan to do some spanking during whatever sex you’re having. After you spank them during sex, ask if it felt good before trying again. After you’re finished having sex, talk about how you felt during the experience.

See more: How to Get Your Partner to Dominate You During Sex

Checking in breeds trust. Make time for after care. Cuddle and hold your partner. If they are a person who prefers to have space after sex, let them have their space.

We all want to feel cared for and loved. It’s important that your partner knows you’re there for them and they you. You’ll be much more likely to play this way again if you both feel safe and connected throughout the experience.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Maldives-Holiday

How Orgasms Actually Happen

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What leads us to orgasm? What if we haven’t experienced an orgasm? What happens to the body during orgasm? Have you had an orgasm? Is orgasm important?

These questions have been asked for many, many years. We’re constantly trying to break down orgasm. We want to know how to have one, how we get there, and how we get our partners there.

There is so much variance in the way women experience desire, pleasure, arousal, and orgasm. There are no true black and white answers. “Most of us tend to think of sex as linear and it doesn’t have to be. It’s great to use it as a guideline, but everyone’s experience is subjective,” Dr. Emily Morse, a sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast tells Brides.

While we can suss out facts based on scientific research, it is important to recognize that there are vast personal differences. We each fall on a kind of spectrum. In no way is this information meant to incite feelings of “lacking” or “abnormality.”

The only normal that exists is the abnormal. We are all complex, unique, and different.

That being said, here is everything we know on the stages of sexual response and, yes, orgasm.

A wee bit of history

Not to bore you with a bunch of facts and history, but it’s actually quite important when discussing the ways we’ve come to understand (and not understand) female sexuality. If we don’t have the facts, what do we even have? It’s not like the information we receive on sex from school or family is highly reliable. (If you hate history and facts, just skip to section three).

When we talk about human sexual response, orgasm, etc. we usually jump to the original model created by pioneering sex researchers, Masters and Johnson, in the 1960s. These groundbreaking researchers broke the human sexual response cycle into excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. While a huge contribution to sexual science, Rena McDaniel, a certified sex therapist, tells Brides that this isn’t where the story ends.

In the 70s, this original model of human sexual response was further developed by Helen Singer Kaplan, adding in desire as the beginning of the sexual response cycle. This made way for a new framework which broke sexual response into a Triphasic Model: desire, arousal, orgasm.

“I’m most concerned with women knowing the difference between desire and arousal. Desire is our sex drive, our pilot light, or mental stimulation – whereas arousal is what happens when we’re physically turned on,” says Morse. Desire is in your mind, arousal is in the body. Including desire in the overall sexual cycle is crucial.

This three-part model may seem a little simpler than the Masters and Johnson’s, but it actually accounts for the overlapping, broad way we experience desire and arousal. Each of these three phases is complex and are experienced differently from woman to woman.

But, there’s more!

Sexual response was even further developed by researchers Janssen and Bancroft’s Dual Control Model and Basson’s Sexual Response Cycle.

These models map out sexual response as a super complex, overlapping, nonlinear system. McDaniel tells us that for female sexual experiences, desire may not be the first thing you feel; it might develop as you brain recognizes and codifies sexually relevant contexts. For example, your partner has lit candles and you start making out. Your vagina may lubricate before you think, “This is hot. I’m into it.”

“The Dual Control Model speaks to a similar system of ‘accelerators’ and ‘brakes’ that govern sexual response in a non-linear way,” McDaniel says. Accelerators move you forward in the sexual response cycle, while breaks slow you down. (To learn more, read on here.)

It’s complicated to say the least!

So, why does this matter?

It’s, like, why are we talking about this history stuff when there are juicy sex things to discuss? Because if you’re a woman, or a man, or a genderqueer person, or a non-binary person, or ANY person, you know that sexuality is complex AF.

It’s important to know how far science has come in order to get a better grasp on how your body works. If anything, all of this history and research can show you how we’re still figuring stuff out. You are not broken or lacking. Bodies are not a one-size-fits-all model.

Orgasm is not some ‘big finish” or “goal”

If the history lesson above should teach you anything it’s that sexual response and experience is anything but simple. Orgasm is defined as the involuntary release of sexual tension. That’s it. The word pleasure ain’t present in there, y’all.

We put a bunch of pressure on “orgasm” as this exciting big finish. If we don’t “get there” or if our orgasm is anything other than earth-shattering, we’ve failed. This is the wrong way to think about it. And frankly, it just makes women feeling like crap about themselves.

Orgasm isn’t the goal—sexual pleasure is the goal. If orgasm happens to take place, great. If not, your sexual experience is not invalidated. “When we reframe orgasm as the ‘cherry on top’ of a pleasurable and intimate sexual experience, it takes the pressure off and gives us more space to be present and enjoy the pleasurable sensations for their own sake instead of a means to an end,” McDaniels explains.

What this all means

Stop forcing an orgasm! It’s not doing anything for you. Putting pressure and stress on yourself will not result in the framework needed to relax into an orgasm.

If your partner is constantly asking you, “Did you come?” Have a conversation with them about how orgasm works. Pressure = breaks.

See more: Why Putting Pressure On Yourself To Orgasm Never Works

“It’s most important for women to figure out what turns them on and explore their body rather than worrying about whether or not they’re experiencing the ‘correct’ model of sexual arousal,” Morse says.

If we stopped freaking ourselves out so much, we’d probably all have more orgasms. Ah, a lovely sexual catch-22. Take time for yourself and figure out what works for you. Whatever works is right. That’s all there is to it. “Self-exploration is the key to understanding what it takes to orgasm during sex,” Mose says.

Masturbate, masturbate, masturbate. Consider this your call to action.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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Maldives-Holiday

Can You Have Good Sex Without An Orgasm?

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Can I have good sex without an orgasm? I feel weird.

My partner wants me to orgasm, but I can only have one on my own.

I’ve never had an orgasm during sex. Is that normal?

These are the questions that flood our inbox on a daily basis. Women everywhere want to enjoy sex, but don’t think it can happen without an orgasm. It’s not surprising. We have been taught that orgasm is the grand finale, the main attraction in this theme park called Sex.

So much leaning on the big O. You know what doesn’t lead to good sex (or orgasms for that matter)? Being obsessed with having an orgasm.

Good sex does not always equal sex with an orgasm. Say what? Yeah. Here’s why.

You’re smashing the breaks

Let’s talk about the Dual Control Model. So, your brain plays an enormous, starring role in whether or not you get in the mood for sex, feel pleasure, and orgasm.

The biggest sex organ in your body is not the clitoris (although the clit is queen). Sexual desire begins in the brain. If your mind is not in on the game, you’re not going to have a good experience.

Now, your vagina might lubricate and your clitoris may become engorged when thinking about sex or when they are touched, but that doesn’t mean you feel sexual desire—it just means your body is aroused. Not the same thing, girl.

The Dual Control Model goes down in the brain. You have brakes and accelerators. The breaks are things that your brain codifies as: Not sexy. Now is not a time to get busy. Stop now.

The accelerator is the thing that propels the brain forward. It says: Yes, very sexy. I enjoy this. Let’s do more of that. Now is sexy time.

Getting into an “orgasm is a must and if I don’t have one I am broken and will probably die” mentality smashes your breaks like you smashed the breaks in your mom’s car when learning to drive.

You are putting your brain in a non-sexual state. You will not have great sex if you convince yourself good sex requires orgasm — especially if you don’t have an orgasm during an otherwise perfectly lovely sexual encounter!

Pressure is not sexy

Stress is the ultimate libido killer. Pressuring yourself or your partner to have an orgasm does not good sex make. It will not turn you on and it will leave you feeling empty and broken if you don’t come.

Orgasm should just be taken off the table. It is not a must-have goal. It is not required. If you happen to have an orgasm, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s still great.

Look, orgasms are incredible. No one is going to deny that. Pay attention to the clitoris. Have your partner pay attention to the clitoris. Do all the things that feel amazing to your body. Relax into the pleasure instead of focusing on the need to finish. What a waste of time when you could be enjoying yourself!

Pressure to orgasm is not hot. It will not make sex good. Don’t even think about orgasm as a need. If you take pressure off the orgasm, more orgasms occur. Chill.

What makes sex “good”?

Here is the kicker: Good sex is defined by how you feel about the sex.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. If you enjoyed yourself, the sex was good. If your partner was empathetic to your feelings, paid attention to your body, asked you what you needed, and made you feel sexy and wanted, the sex was good! Sex is so much more complex than “OooOOOO. I came. Get off me now.”

Ask yourself: Am I happy? Was that fulfilling? Do I feel whole and safe?

Who cares if there was an orgasm if you are happy and satisfied? Tell yourself this constantly: Not all good sex ends in orgasm. Good sex ends in feelings of joy. If you need an orgasm to feel like sex was good, that is your prerogative. It isn’t how every woman (man or person) feels. No more definitions. It’s all a grey area.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, educator, and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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