As a certified sex therapist, I help people maximize their mojo and slam dunk shame. Listed below are some quick tips to jump start your Valentine’s Day with savvy and sexual intelligence:
1) Start with Sexual Health
Condoms and lube provide a good foundation for safer sex-ploration but not all products are created equal. Sir Richard’s Condoms are fantastic and free of chemicals such as glycerin, parabens, and spermicides. Additionally, these love gloves come in a stylish plaid wrapper and the company donates condoms to communities in need through their “Buy One, Give One” program. Sir Richard’s Condoms are available for purchase on their website (sirrichards.com) and at Whole Foods.
With regards to lube, many physicians will recommend K-Y Jelly or Astroglide, but these popular brands often contain glycerin, which can be problematic for individuals prone to vaginal irritation or yeast infections. I advise my clients to consider alternatives such as Sliquid, Uberlube, or Pink. The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health has published a comprehensive web-based guide on selecting lube (http://www.thecsph.org/lube/) that describes the specific varieties most compatible with your desired sexual activity. Heck, while you’re on their website consider donating to their amazing Sex Ed Squad—a perfect Valentine’s Day gift that supports queer-inclusive and socially conscious sex education.
2) The Masturbation Makeover
I field a lot of questions about masturbation and most go something like this, “Is it healthy/OK/normal to masturbate by doing X, Y, or Z?” My typical response is that anything goes, but to consider how your method of self-stimulation may impact partnered activities (if that is important to you). For example, the sensation created by contact with someone’s mouth, genitals, or anus will feel very different from humping a mattress or fast and furious hand strokes. It may be time for a masturbation makeover if you start having difficulty becoming aroused in other ways, or feel inhibited or frustrated when being sexual with others.
I often suggest that people mix it up and learn how to become excited from a broad variety of stimulation and sensations instead of relying of a single method. Tenga Eggs are great for this purpose if you have a penis and $25; these egg-shaped masturbation sleeves are discreetly packaged, pre-lubricated, and offer several unique internal textures. As noted on their website, you “get different strokes from different yolks.”
But if you’d rather stay low-tech or low-budget consider making subtle alterations such as changing which hand you use, the level of pressure applied, or your source material for arousal. So if you habitually watch lesbian porn before your “ménage à moi” then consider exploring erotica for a novel experience. Some recommended selections include Five Minute Erotica, Curvy Girls: Erotica for Women, Say Please, and Take me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica. Better yet, check out Hoochymail.com, a free internet service that allows you to create a personalized fantasy about yourself and a special someone using the MadLibs formula. Funny can be sexy, too!
3) Education + Communication = A Winning Combination
A free and fabulous way to boost your sexual IQ is by listening to podcasts. Among my favorites are:
Sex Nerd Sandra, which is a fun mix of hot tips, techniques, and practical information that strikes an ideal balance between science and human interest. Sandra is unabashedly sex positive and has a smooth radio voice that will endear your earholes.
Sex is Fun is a classic, long-running program (2005-2013) that tackles some topics most shows never address, including “Monogamous Group Sex,” “Christian Sex Websites,” and “Circumcision and Foreskin Restoration.” The chemistry between the three hosts is quite good and it feels like you are walking into a room full of knowledgeable close friends sharing stories, humor, and helpful information.
Betty and Carlin features candid discussion between two feminists of different generations, with lots of swearing, girl talk, and vodka-based cocktails. A lot of attention is given to the biological aspects of sex—orgasms, masturbation, ejaculation—mixed in with interviews and the hosts’ reflections on personal sexual experiences. FYI the episode on “Orgasming Virgins, Dog F*cking, and Hand Jobs” is a real gem.
Lastly, there are interactive sex questionnaires for couples that can facilitate those delicate conversations about desire and intimacy. Mojo Upgrade presents a list of sexual fantasies to both partners separately and asks them to indicate their level of interest. After the couple has finished their individual surveys, the internet genie compares the answers and only reveals the activities that share positive responses. That way if your partner is not game to have their toes sucked, but you secretly desire that activity, they won’t know and the potential for embarrassment is minimized. The questionnaire only takes about ten minutes per partner, and is geared to function more as an ice breaker rather than a substitute for in-depth dialogue, at which time you might want to discuss your turn-offs and limits in addition to what you find pleasurable.
Have a fabulous February and keep it consensual!