Doms or Subs: who works harder?

BDsM is largely about power exchanges.  Whether you’re into bondage, discipline, role play, impact play, service submission or any other facet of BDsM, chances are your play involves one party giving some or all of their power to the other party.  And a lot of work goes into making that power exchange happen successfully.  The question is: who does the work?

pexels-photo-220483.jpeg

I hear often that Dominants have the harder end of the deal in D/s relationships.  They have to plan and execute scenes.  They work hard to hone their skills and look after another person. All the submissive has to do is follow orders and enjoy the pleasure that comes with pain.  And with that, submissives cry out “we work hard too!”.  A submissive is tasked with looking after their top, obeying and following orders and being on the receiving end of some intense physical treatment.  Within the D/s dynamic, there is a kind of push-and-pull between work and pleasure.

 

So who does the work in a D/s relationship or scene?  The answer is far from simple.

 

Let’s start by looking at Dominants.  A Dominant’s role comes with a lot of responsibility.  Depending on the type of relationship they have, they may need to set tasks and rules for their submissive. This includes following up to make sure that these rules are being adhered to and dole out punishment as required.  Although the Dominant is being served, it is up to them to decide how they wish to be served and monitor the execution of that service.  They have to play an active role in training their submissive to do things just they way they want them.

 

Even if your D/s relationship exists only in the bedroom, the Top has to plan and execute the scene each time you play.  Creating a scene is no simple task, and requires a huge amount of thought into the mood that is to be created, the psychological journey the submissive will be taken on, the intensity of play and safety precautions.  Sunny Megatron has likened it to building a rollercoaster: you have to create the climbs, the turns and the dizzying drops. You have to craft an experience that has rhythm and plays with emotion and builds to a pinnacle before the ride ends.  In addition to that planning, the Dominant also has to carry out the scene, which can require a lot of concentration, control and physical skill.

 

There can be no doubt that the Dominant in any D/s dynamic works very hard to create and maintain the dynamic.  However, that doesn’t mean that the submissive party just lies back and enjoys the attention.  Being a submissive is difficult.  Again, the exact work a submissive does depends on the specific relationship.  If you’re a service submissive, then you have to do a lot of dirty work, such as cleaning house, cooking for your master or mistress, grooming them and presenting yourself in a particular way. But submission is a lot more than just blindly following orders.  Not only do you have to remember and execute the instructions your Dominant has given you, but a good service submissive will also be anticipating their needs.  Providing those small, special touches that make their day smoother and more pleasant. Service submission is both mentally and physically taxing.

 

When it comes to play, the submissive party hardly just “lies back and enjoys” what’s being done to them.  Any kind of pain play takes a physical and emotional toll.  You have to work to process the pain and use it before it will be pleasurable.  If you’re into bondage, you have to learn to be placed in uncomfortable positions sometimes, to be bound and gagged, to be caged even.  In addition to all that, you’re working to conquer your own fears, to trust in your Top and let yourself go.  That’s not easy to do, even when you know that you’re safe and being well cared for.

 

Obedience also takes practice and effort to master.  It’s very difficult to bite down on your inner voice and trust that what your Dominant asks of you is right.  It takes effort to learn to serve well and obediently, particularly if you are a strong-willed person outside of your dynamic. Submission takes a lot of work.

 

It seems apparent that both Dominant and submissive parties work hard in a D/s relationship.  Aside from the individual duties there is the collaborative work that they do together, negotiating limits, discussing needs and revisiting old rules and protocols.  D/s is a difficult dynamic to do successfully, and it takes a lot of work on either side of the slash.

 

If you’re not personally enticed by the idea of dominance and submission, you might be reading this and thinking “This all looks like so much work!  Why would anyone want to take on a relationship of that kind?”  And the simplest answer I can give is that for many, the work involved in a D/s relationship is worth it for the joy the relationship brings.  A Dominant might relish the planning and execution of a scene because doing so brings them a sense of happiness, because they enjoy playing with their submissive and revelling in that sense of control. Just like some people love building Lego models or writing short stories, a Dominant enjoys crafting scenes.  They’re willing to take on the responsibility of training a submissive because it makes them happy.  And a submissive might be honoured to serve their Dominant, even if it means a difficult training process or having to wrestle with their own inner voice a hundred times a day.  It’s worth it to make that person’s life easier and brighter. For many, service is calming and an act of love.  And taking a beating or having wax poured on your flesh or being tied up is a gateway to amazing pleasure. It’s worthwhile moving through that pain to experience the pleasure on the other side.

 

Dominance and submission each come with a unique set of responsibilities and duties.  As D/s relationships are tremendously varied, so too are the kinds of work that each individual person may have to do.  But I think it’s fair to say that neither party works harder than the other.  But like so many difficult things in life, if it’s something that you truly want, that you truly enjoy, the hard work is worth it.  Often, the work wont’ feel like work, or will be more manageable by virtue of the happiness it brings with it.

Advertisements

Safer sex and sex toys

Most sex ed lessons cover the topic of safer sex.  As teenagers a lot of us learned how to prevent pregnancy and avoid STI’s.  However, it’s rare that sex toys get a look-in during the safer sex talk.  This is a real worry, because many STIs can be passed along this way if you don’t take proper precautions.

Sex toys often get overlooked when we talk about safer sex because they’re not attached to our bodies.  They don’t excrete fluids and we don’t really think about their potential to pass along infections and diseases.  But the truth is that if you use sex toys with your partners you need to make sure that you’re using them safely, and taking the following things into consideration.

pexels-photo-951233.jpeg

Choose non-porous materials

Many materials used to make sex toys are porous, which means that they have tiny pores in the surface of the product.  Bodily fluids, bacteria and lube can live in these pores and breed.  Each time you play, you’re re-introducing that bacteria into your body.  And if you use the toy with a partner, you’re spreading that bacteria to them.  If you have multiple partners as you can easily spread an infection among all of your partners with one porous sex toy.  If one of your partners has an STI, then this could potentially pass the infection on to other people you’re sleeping with.  Even if everyone is healthy, then a porous toy can still harbour and spread bacteria which can cause yeast infections and irritation.

That’s why it’s so important to choose toys that are made of non-porous materials.  Silicone, glass and stainless steel are the gold star materials to look for.  Avoid toys made from jelly-plastic, cyberskin, PVC or rubber.  Be wary of toys that are made from wood or stone, as these may be porous unless they are sealed with a non-porous coating.

 

Clean your toys thoroughly after each use

Porous toys can never be thoroughly cleaned, because those tiny pores can easily trap bacteria.  But if you’ve selected a toy in a non-porous material then you can get it truly clean. And you should take the time to clean it completely each time you use it.

For dildos, butt plugs and other non-vibrating toys, wash them in the sink in hot water and a specialised toy cleaner.  To sterilize these toys, you can boil them in a pot on the stove for several minutes or even put them on the top shelf of your dishwasher.  If you share toys, or use toys for butt play, I definitely recommend sterilizing them after use.

If your toy has a motor then cleaning it can be a little bit more finicky.  Wash your toy in the sink with warm water, toy cleaner or a mild bleach solution. Wipe off any residue from cleaning products which may cause skin irritation.  Remember to dry your toy completely before storing it.

 

Wrap it up

Making sex toys safe is easy when you employ one of the oldest safer sex tools on the market: the condom.  Putting a condom over a porous toy will prevent fluids or bacteria coming into contact with the toy’s surface.  If you are sharing a toy with multiple partners, butting a fresh condom on your toy between partners will keep everyone’s fluids separate and avoid cross-contamination.

It’s also a great idea to slide a condom onto your toy if you’re planning to do a combination of anal and vaginal play in one session.  It’s vitally important to keep anything that has been in or on an anus far away from a vagina. Contamination between butt and vagina is one of the most common causes of UTI’s.  To stay safe, slip a condom onto your toy, do your butt play, then whip it off and dispose of it before you go anywhere near the front door.

 

Keep them separated

It can be nice to have separate toys for solo use, and toys that you use with your partner.  If you play with more than one person, ask each person to bring their own toys to the bedroom.  This may not always be feasible, particularly if you use toys during casual encounters or don’t have a lot of cash to splash on separate toys for everyone.  But if it works for your personal situation, having separate toy collections can help keep sex safer.

 

Don’t neglect your safer sex practices when using sex toys.  Toys often get overlooked when we discuss disease prevention and STI’s, but they can absolutely pose a threat if proper precautions aren’t taken.  Make sure that you choose toys carefully and clean them carefully after use.  And if in doubt, use a condom to keep yourself and all your partners safe from STI’s.

Wand vibrators 101

I recently saw a Twitter conversation that shook me.  A blogger had posted a picture of their Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator and a commenter had written “How does that even work?  How are you meant to get that inside of you?”  It broke my heart that this poor reader hadn’t been educated in the way of wand vibrators, and I thought it was high time I did a little 101 class for anyone else who isn’t sure what wands are or how you’re supposed to use them.

What are wand vibrators?

Wand vibrators are a type of external vibrator. They typically feature a large head that vibrates and a long handle.  Wands are generally a quite powerful type of vibrator, many plug into the wall but there are rechargeable versions on the market.

What are they for?

Wands are used for external stimulation of the genitals.  You’re not supposed to insert a wand inside your body, they’re used to run over the outside parts of your genitals to wake them up and stimulate them.  Wands can be used during sex or for solo play.  A wand vibrator provides a more broad stimulation than say, a bullet vibrator.  Many people with clitorises find this type of vibration more pleasurable and find that they have stronger orgasms when they use a broader source of vibration.  And there’s a very good reason for this.  To find out why, we’re going to take a look at some clitoral anatomy.

9db7367cd2d22881ff050854e39e4cb7

See, the clitoris is actually much larger than what most of us realise.  That little nub that perches atop the vulva is actually just the tip of a much larger collection of nerves.  The clitoris also has two long “legs”, which run down underneath the labia and inner thighs, wrapping around the entrance to the vagina.  This whole area is packed with nerve endings and is sensitive to pleasurable touch. The glans clitoris, that little pea-shaped button that most of us think of as the clit is the most sensitive part.

Wand vibrators provide a much broader surface of vibration, which stimulates the internal clitoris creating a fuller sensation.  Engaging this entire erogenous zone with a powerful vibrator can bring on bigger, more satisfying orgasms.  Some people with vulvas also find that pinpoint stimulation directly on the clitoris is too intense, and prefer the more broad-brush approach that a wand offers.

Who might enjoy using a wand?

Wands are perfect for anyone who wants to have a powerful orgasm, but finds direct clitoral stimulation too intense.  They also come with a range of attachments, so you can have the power of a wand with a variety of different sensations and shapes.

Even though I’ve talked mostly about the clitoris, wands aren’t only for people with vulvas.  Their simple shape make them very adaptable to be used on a range of body parts.  You could experiment using the wand on nipples, testicles, the perineum, labia and inner thighs.  In a pinch, they even work to ease sore muscles (as that was the original purpose of the iconic Hitachi Magic Wand).

Wands are also fantastic for BDsM play.  The long handle means that you can easily lash them to someone’s inner thigh or torso, pressing them up against the genitals for forced orgasm or tease and denial scenes.

I also recommend wands for people who have hand or wrist issues, or anyone who has trouble reaching comfortably to use a traditional bullet or smaller clitoral vibrator. The handle gives you plenty of extra reach so you can more easily access your genitals during solo play.  Many designs have curved handles that angle the toy towards your body, making it more ergonomic and easier to hold in place.

Which wands do you recommend?

There are several wand vibrators that I sing the praises of.  My all time favourite is the Medicil Magic wand (the same as the Hitachi). It’s mains powered, which is a little bit of a pain if you aren’t near an outlet but there is a rechargeable version. It’s very powerful and feels amazing.

I also enjoy the Tantus Rumble.  It’s not quite as powerful as some other wands, but it is feather light and easy to use.  Tantus also has a number of attachment heads for it to allow you to experience different sensations.

There are a couple of wands that I’ve not personally tried, but I’ve heard are great.  The Doxy Diecast is high on my wishlist for it’s rumbly power.  The Embrace Body Wand has an elegant shape and the handle also vibrates, meaning it doubles as an external vibrator.   I’ve also heard great things about the Lelo Smart Wand.

 

In summary, wand vibrators are perfect for powerful, broad surface stimulation for bigger orgasms.  They also solve some issues with grip and accessibility for folks who have hand or wrist complaints.  Wands are a very versatile, powerful toy that can be used in so many creative ways with exciting results.

My Implanon experience

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that over the last year I’ve had a bit of a struggle with birth control.  I came off the pill after more than ten years in an attempt to ease my chronic migraines.  I tried a Mirena IUD, which initially was great.  But my body expelled the IUD so I was back to square one. After a lot of research and debate, I decided to give the Implanon implant a try.

What is implanon?

Implanon is a long-term contraceptive option.  It’s a flexible plastic rod that’s about the same size as a matchstick. The rod is inserted below the skin on the upper arm.  Once inserted, the rod gradually releases hormones to suppress ovulation.  Implanon lasts three years.

I chose the Implanon for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, even though it’s a hormonal birth control method, it’s a  steady dose of hormones.  I already knew that my migraines were aggravated by the varying dose of hormones in the pill, and that they settled down when I was using the IUD.  So I felt confident that the Implanon wouldn’t trigger my migraines.

I was also keen to try the implant because it is extremely effective.  Implanon is more than 99.9% effective, making it the most effective birth control method on the market. I also liked that it was a “set and forget” method that didn’t require remembering to take a pill or get a shot regularly.  Implanon is also fairly cheap.  I paid $35 for the implant itself and then $70 for the doctor’s appointment to have it inserted.  So all up it was around $100 for three years of contraceptive protection.

Initial difficulties

I had a fair amount of difficulty getting the implant inserted.  I made an initial appointment with my doctor, who answered all my questions and gave me a prescription for the implant.  She explained that she isn’t trained to insert the device herself, but there are five other doctors at my practice who are.  For best results, it’s recommended that the Implanon is inserted on the second or third day of your period, because this reduces the likelihood of side effects.  My doctor instructed me to wait until I had my period and then call the surgery to make an appointment for the insertion.

 

Now, I live in a small country town, and it is very difficult to get a doctors appointment.  I usually wait up to three weeks for a doctors appointment. So I tried to plan ahead.  I got out my calendar and made an educated guess at when I expected my period to arrive, and then made an appointment three weeks in advance.  However I miscalculated and when that day rolled around my period hadn’t started yet.  I went to the appointment anyway but the doctor told me he couldn’t do the procedure until my period began.  He assured me that if I rang on the day my period arrived and explained the situation, I’d be able to get an appointment on the right day.

 

So three days later I got my period.  I immediately rang the clinic to book my appointment, and was told that there were no available appointments.  I explained to the receptionist that my doctor had told me I needed an appointment on this specific day, and that I’d been waiting weeks without contraception.  I asked if she had any emergency appointments set aside.  She said she did, but this isn’t an emergency so I couldn’t have one.  By this point I was fed up.  I was frustrated from the trial and error with birth control, sick of doctors appointments, tired of being anxious about accidentally becoming pregnant (despite being exceptionally careful) while I waited for long term birth control and angry that I wasn’t able to get an appointment on the day I badly needed one.  I burst into tears on the phone.  I think the receptionist was shocked and offered me an appointment the following day.  I tearfully accepted it.

 

Insertion

The day I had the Implanon inserted I was very nervous.  I was mostly anxious that the doctor would refuse to do the procedure again, and that I’d be left without contraception for another month.  But luckily for me, he was happy to put the implant in once I’d confirmed that my period had arrived.

 

The insertion process was very quick and almost completely painless.  The doctor had me lie down and remove my shirt so that my arm was exposed.  He then cleaned the inside of my upper arm and marked the spot where the implant would be inserted.  He gave me an injection of some numbing solution which stung the tiniest bit, and was the most painful part of the whole process.  After that he quickly inserted the implant using  the applicator it comes in. The applicator looks scary, like a plastic gun with a giant hollow needle poking out of it, but it really wasn’t anything to be frightened of.  Basically the needle went right into my arm, under the skin, he slid a lever across which pushed the implant out of the needle and into my arm and then carefully removed the applicator.  He then gently pressed on my arm to make sure that the implant was in there and in the right spot and let me feel it for myself.  Then I got a bandaid and a bandage on my arm and I was allowed to leave.

The results

After the numbing wore off my arm was a little bit tender.  I had some light bruising and I had to leave the dressing on for a few days.  My arm was a little stiff for about three days after the procedure, but not really sore.  I had a little puncture mark where the needle had gone in and I now have a tiny diamond-shaped scar.

 

I love the fact that I can feel the rod under the skin of my arm.  It feels very reassuring to know that it’s right there, doing it’s job.  And it’s a cool party trick to be able to show it off to my friends.

 

I haven’t had any side effects at all since I had the rod inserted.  Some women report itching at the insertion site, headaches, nausea and irregular bleeding.  I have had none of that.  The only thing that’s happened is that my periods have stopped, which is very common with the Implanon.

 

After all the drama I went through to actually have the Implanon put in, I’m so relieved to have found a contraceptive that is working for me without triggering my migraines.  I feel confident that I’m protected from unwanted pregnancy for the next three years, and I don’t even have to think about it.  I’d definitely recommend considering the Implanon if you’re looking for a set-and-forget birth control method that’s fairly inexpensive and very effective.

 

Have you tried Implanon?  Did you like it?  Do you have any questions for me about mine?

Does pegging make you gay?

I get a fair number of emails and messages from men who are interested in trying pegging.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, “pegging” was coined by Dan Savage to describe when a person (usually a woman) penetrates their partner (usually a man) in the butt with a strap-on.  And it seems like a lot of you guys are interested in this particular sex act, because it’s one of the topics I get asked about most often by readers.

wooden laundry washing clothes line

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

 

I’ve noticed something really interesting about these messages though.  When the author of the message is a guy, it usually goes something like “I’m not gay, but I’m really curious about pegging.  I want to ask my girlfriend to use a strap-on on me, but i don’t want her to think I’m gay”.  Or “I am really turned on by the idea of my wife having strap-on sex with me.  Does that mean that I’m gay?”.  Occasionally I will also get a woman asking for tips for successful pegging who also throws in a question about her partner’s sexuality.  So I wanted to unpack that question a little, and ask if pegging, or wanting to be pegged, means that a man is gay?

 

First of all, let’s talk about the reasons why someone might like to be pegged.  The most obvious answer is “because it feels good”.  The anus is packed with nerve endings which, when stimulated, can feel incredibly pleasurable.  Anal penetration is a great way to engage the prostate, which can feel amazing for the receptive partner.  Pegging also allows for multiple avenues of stimulation at once, as the partner wearing the strap on can also use their hands to play with their partner’s genitals or nipples.  So from a purely physical level, pegging feels great and that’s one reason why people like doing it.

 

Secondly, pegging creates a scenario that is mentally stimulating.  For a heterosexual man who has a penis, being penetrated is not something they typically get to experience.  Pegging flips the sexual script somewhat, and this can make the receptive partner feel vulnerable and even submissive.  Pegging often features in BDsM play where a male partner wishes to be dominated or “taken” by a female partner.  In addition to this, anal play is still considered something of a taboo, and so there’s the excitement that comes with doing something that we feel is illicit or naughty.  Pegging can be very intimate and romantic, and for some couples it’s an opportunity to try something new, to share a novel and special experience together. The emotional and intellectual stimulation is as much, if not more, a part of why people enjoy playing with strap-ons.

 

Just as anal play is still thought of as being “risque” there’s also a stereotype that anal penetration is “gay”.  There’s this idea that anal sex is a favourite pastime of all gay men, and so if you’re a man who craves butt sex, maybe that’s a sign that you’re secretly gay? Anal play has become stereotypically intertwined with homosexuality, so for a lot of people, wanting it up the butt is inherently gay.

 

I find this idea interesting for a couple of reasons.  First of all, anal play isn’t exclusive to men.  Literally anyone who is willing is able to experience butt play.  Everyone has a butt, and so anal play is one of the least gendered types of sex play available.  And yet it’s become so deeply linked in the public psyche with gay male culture.  Furthermore, anal sex isn’t as popular among homosexual men as you might think.  In a 2003 study of homosexual experiences in Australia, Andrew Grulich et al reported that only one third of their participants who identified as homosexual men engaged in anal sex.  On the other hand, three quarters of their gay male participants reported that they regularly engaged in oral sex.  So in actual fact, blow jobs are much more popular among homosexual men than anal sex.  Although some gay men do enjoy and engage in anal play, many do not.  And many people who are not gay men like having their butts played with.  The idea that anal sex is “gay” just isn’t correct.

 

Further to that, I don’t think that wanting to do particular sexual acts is an indicator of your sexuality.  I think what’s more important is who you want to be doing those acts with.  What defines homosexuality is being attracted to people of the same gender as yourself.  So if you’re a man, and you’re not attracted to other men, then you’re not gay.  If you’re a man who wants his wife/girlfriend/female sexual partner to bone him with a dildo, you’re probably not gay.  What matters here is who you’re attracted to, not which acts you include in your sexual repertoire.

 

And finally, there isn’t anything wrong with being gay, although I completely understand the confusion and fear that comes with questioning your own sexuality.  If you do have an inkling that you’re attracted to members of the same gender, that’s ok.   I think the fear that many people have of being “secretly gay” is one that stems from a worry that our identity is fluid, that things we feel are true about ourselves might not always be so.  In my limited experience, I’ve never met a person who was personally surprised to realise that they were not heterosexual.  Generally, people who are homosexual or bisexual tend to have an inkling that this is the case, even well before they’re willing to take on that label.

 

So no, I don’t think that wanting to try pegging means that you’re gay.  It could mean that you’re interested in exploring a new sensation, or you already know how great prostate stimulation is and you want more.  Or maybe you’re drawn to the power dynamics and sexual rebelliousness that pegging represents.  Whatever the reason, I don’t think that being curious about or turned on by pegging means that a man is harbouring same-sex tendencies.  (or that same-sex desires are something to be feared or ashamed of, but that’s a whole other blog post).

 

 

How to stop menstrual cup leaks

I had a question from a reader a few weeks ago about menstrual cup leaks.  This reader was discouraged from using her menstrual cup because she was experiencing frequent leaks, particularly when she wore her cup on the heaviest days of her period.  The potential for leaks is one of the main deterrents from trying a menstrual cup.  However, during my experience I’ve found leaks to be very uncommon, provided that you’ve chosen the correct cup for your body and you’ve inserted it correctly.  To help you out if you’re experiencing leaks with your cup, I’ve created a little troubleshooting guide for you to run through.

 

Are you sure your cup is actually leaking?

I’ve had moments when I’ve thought that my menstrual cup has leaked, but it was a false alarm.  Sometimes, if you’ve removed the cup, emptied it, and then reinserted it, or if you’ve inserted the cup after a period of not wearing it, there can be traces of blood left on the walls of the vagina that wind up on the outside of the cup after it’s inserted.  If this is the case, you might get a small amount of blood in your underwear even though you’re wearing the cup.  If you notice a little bit of blood on your underwear, this is probably what’s happened.  However, if there is a lot of blood or the amount of blood increases throughout the day, you might have a leak that needs to be addressed.

 

Has your cup opened fully after you’ve inserted it?

One of the main reasons a cup will leak is that it is not inserted properly.  If the cup hasn’t popped open fully after insertion, it won’t create the seal it needs to work effectively.

 

If you’re not certain if your cup is properly opened, it’s very easy to check.  Once you’ve inserted the cup, insert a finger into your vagina alongside the cup.  Gently feel all the way around the cup.  If it is open, it should feel smooth and round.  If you feel any puckers, folds or dips, then the cup has not opened up fully.

 

Another way to check is to very gently pull on the base of the cup, being careful not to pinch the cup (which will break the seal).  If there is resistance, then the cup is properly sealed in position.  If you can easily move the cup, then it’s not properly inserted and you need to take it out and try again.

 

There are certain cup folds that make it easier for your cup to pop open.  Every body is different and some people find that certain folds work best with their bodies.  I personally find that the often-used C-fold makes it harder for my cup to pop open.  I have three favourite folds that work best for me:

The Punch Down fold is achieved by pushing one edge of the cup down inside the cup and then pinching the two edges closed to hold the punched-down edge inside.  This fold pops open the most easily once inserted.

The 7 fold is where you flatten the cup and fold one of the upper corners down diagonally to meet the opposite lower corner.

The Labia or Diamond fold is achieved by taking hold of the rim on one side and bending it to meet the lower edge of the cup.  Then pinch the two outer corners of the cup to fold the cup in half vertically.  This one is a tricky fold to master, but it’s one of the best because it gives you a really narrow width to insert.

 

Both the Labia and 7 folds have the added advantage of having the rim of the cup folded downwards.  This makes it really easy to feel if the cup hasn’t opened, because you’ll feel that ridge with your finger.  And if it hasn’t opened, you can just nudge that rim up with your finger to open the cup.

 

This fantastic video gives really clear instructions to help you find a fold that works for you.

 

 

 

Is your cervix inside your cup once it’s inserted?

Your cervix is the point where your vagina opens into your uterus. It’s the opening where menstrual blood comes out during your period. In order for the cup to catch all your menstrual fluid, your cervix must be contained completely within the cup.  Before you insert your cup, it’s worthwhile checking the position of your cervix.  To do this, insert a finger into your vagina and feel for the top of your vagina.  Your cervix feels like a little dimple, and has some resistance to it.  Feel for something that has roughly the same resistance as the tip of your nose. This is your cervix.

 

You might notice that your cervix is off to one side, or tilted back rather than dead centre.  That’s ok and totally normal.  But you will need to take this into account and angle your cup accordingly to make sure that your cervix is inside the cup once it’s inserted.

Is your cup large enough for your body?

Most menstrual cup brands make their cups in two different sizes.  This is done to accommodate variations in cervix size and vaginal depth.  Generally, it’s advisable to purchase the larger of the two sizes if you have given birth.  The reason for this is that after giving birth, the cervix tends to be softer and wider, and the vaginal canal may also be wider.  This is true even if you didn’t have a vaginal birth, because the muscle contractions experienced during labour still dilate the cervix, even you didn’t end up pushing a baby through that opening.

 

Even if you haven’t given birth you may want to try a larger sized cup.  This will help you to make sure that your cervix is fully contained inside the cup. Additionally, if you know that you have a heavier flow, a larger cup will accommodate that and make leaks less likely.

 

Is your cup firm enough for your body?

One thing a lot of people don’t really consider when shopping for a menstrual cup is how firm the cup is.  Although all cups are made of silicone, silicone can range in texture from very soft to quite rigid, and cups come in a variety of levels of firmness.  Many people prefer to buy a softer cup, because they believe it will be the most comfortable, but softer cups can be tricky to insert as well as being more prone to leaks.

 

If you have strong pelvic floor muscles, it’s really important that you choose a firmer cup to avoid leaks.  During activities where your pelvic floor is engaged, such as during yoga, pilates, weightlifting or using the bathroom, your kegel muscles can squeeze your cup.  If the cup is too soft, this squeezing might break the seal of the cup, and cause a leak.  So if you know you have strong kegels, or you are very active and enjoy sports like yoga or pilates, a firmer cup might be a good choice.

 

It can be tricky to know how firm a cup is without feeling it.  This is especially hard when you’re shopping online for cups.  Luckily, the awesome folks at Put a Cup in It have created this fantastic table comparing the firmness of most of the popular cup brands.

 

 

Have you left the cup in for too long?

It’s perfectly safe to leave a menstrual cup in for up to eight hours.  However, if you know that your flow is on the heavy side, you’re going to want to empty it much more frequently than that.  Once you use your cup more, you’ll get to know how often you need to empty it in order to prevent leaks.  But if you are leaking, then you might want to try emptying your cup more often.

 

Hopefully once you’ve run through all these tips, you’ll be able to put a stop to menstrual cup leaks.  If you choose the right cup and use it correctly, leaks are very rare.

 

Do you have any further menstrual cup questions that you’d like answered?  If you do, leave a comment down below.  Also, if you have any other tips for preventing leaks, I’d love to hear them.

 

Coming too soon? Dealing with premature ejaculation.

I’m excited to be answering another question from a devoted reader today.  I received a message from one of my single heterosexual male readers who is experiencing premature ejaculation.  He’s feeling ashamed about this and is hesitant to initiate sex with new partners because he’s worried that he won’t be able to satisfy them or that they will think he’s bad in bed.  I thought a lot about this and I can offer several suggestions for dealing with premature ejaculation and the shame that comes with it.

fountain-black-white-splash-546321.jpeg

What is premature ejaculation?

The International Society for Sexual Medicine has defined premature ejaculation as “ejaculation which occurs before or within one minute of penetration”.  However, popular opinion suggests that a lot of men consider premature ejaculation to be “coming too soon”.  For some, they feel that reaching orgasm well before their partner does, or sooner than they’d like, is premature ejaculation.  So it seems that while perhaps many people don’t fall within the medical definition of premature ejaculation, their expectations of how long they “should” be able to last colours their perceptions of their sexual ability.

 

Why is it a problem?

There are a few reasons why premature ejaculation is seen as an obstacle to great sex.  Firstly, there’s the idea that sex = penis in vagina.  And so if the “P in V” part of sex doesn’t last long, or if both partners aren’t satisfied during intercourse then we think that the sex was bad.  Secondly, we are constantly presented with sex scenes in movies and television shows where a couple having sex falls into bed, rolls around a little and then orgasms in unison.  So when our sexual responses don’t synch up with our partner’s, we feel like we’ve done something wrong.  And finally, a lot of the time premature ejaculation is the punchline of jokes in movies, so there’s this idea that men who come early are losers.

In actual fact though, premature ejaculation doesn’t have to be a barrier to awesome sex.  The way I see it, a lot of the time men feel like they’ve come to early when their body’s performance doesn’t match their expectations of how long they should be able to last in bed.  And so there are two ways to tackle this issue: either change the way your body performs or change your expectations (or a combination of the two).

 

Change the main event

A huge part of anxiety about premature ejaculation comes from the fear that once ejaculation happens sex is over and one party is left unsatisfied.   To overcome this idea, try switching up your perceptions of what “sex” entails.  It doesn’t have to just be about penis in vagina.  Expand your definition to include oral sex, mutual masturbation, kissing, humping and exploration.  Once you no longer consider “sex” to be just about penetration, the need to last longer becomes less important.

 

Get your timing right

It’s a well established fact that women usually take a lot longer to reach climax than men do.  The physical process of arousal tends to take up to three times longer for women, and actually reaching orgasm can take even longer.  If you know that you’re a bit of a quick-draw, try spending more time on your partner’s pleasure before you begin penetrative sex.  Use mouths, fingers or toys to bring your partner close to orgasm before you start boning.  Then, once she’s ready and close, you can begin P in V sex.  This closes the orgasm gap, making it a lot more likely that you’ll come in close succession.

 

Edge yourself

Some men have become conditioned to orgasm quickly from years of masturbating in secret, and trying to reach orgasm without getting caught.  Just as we can train ourselves to speed up our sexual climax, it is possible to learn to slow it down.

One way to do this is with a technique called “edging”.  To begin with, you want to masturbate on your own, ensuring that you have plenty of time and privacy.  Masturbate until you are right on the edge of having an orgasm, and then stop touching yourself and breathe slowly until the intensity dies down.  Then do it again, masturbate until you’re just about to come, then pull back from the edge.  Do this a couple of times before you allow yourself to orgasm. And then try this exercise a couple of times a week.  Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage to stop in time, just try again later.

 

This exercise does two things.  Firstly, it makes you aware of what your sexual response cycle looks like.  It gives you a clear picture of the signs that you are about to orgasm.  And then secondly, it allows you to practice recognising those signs and controlling your orgasm.  So when you are having penetrative sex, you will be better at noticing that you’re about to come and be aware of how to control your climax.  Over time, this can help slow down your climaxes, as well as building your confidence in your own ability.

 

Have a rehearsal before the main performance

Remember the part in There’s Something About Mary where Ben Stiller jerks off prior to his big first date?  Well, silly as that scene was, it actually had a valuable point.  If you know that you’re going to be having sex later, it can be very helpful to give yourself an orgasm before you leave for your date.  Not only will you be more relaxed, but typically men come most quickly the first time they have an orgasm within a 12 hour period, with each subsequent orgasm taking a bit longer to be reached. Having an early orgasm by yourself can draw out your stamina for a sexual encounter later in the night.

 

 

Wrap your junk

Condoms are a great tool for prolonging your orgasms.  Not only are they vital for safer sex, but they can dampen sensation so you don’t get too aroused too quickly.  Choose a thicker condom such as Lifestyles Extra Strength to reduce sensation and help you last longer.  Don’t be tempted to wear two condoms at once for this purpose.  During sex the two layers can rub against each other and this friction can cause tearing.

 

Diffuse the shame

Think about the way you talk to yourself about your sexual performance.   Instead of thinking about your propensity to come quickly as a deficit, try thinking of ways to view it more positively.  You are sexually enthusiastic!  You’re passionate and easily excited.  Reframe the way you talk to yourself about your performance and change the way you feel about yourself.

 

Talk it out

If you’re anxious about having sex with a partner because you’re worried that you’ll orgasm quickly, the best thing you can do is talk to them about it.  Shame, stress and fear all play a role in premature ejaculation, and studies have shown that these emotions can make it more likely that you’ll orgasm faster than you’d like to.  Fears thrive in darkness, and one of the best ways to deal with them is to shine a light on them.  If you’re feeling anxious, tell your partner that you feel nervous and awkward.  Mention that you’re worried that you’ll orgasm quickly and that they’ll think less of you if you do.  Believe me when I tell you that most partners won’t be fazed by the prospect of a speedy climax, and will be able to reassure you. Plus, you’ll be able to decide what to do if it does happen, so you won’t feel so nervous about the possibility of impending disaster between the sheets.  Communication is vital for good sex, and talking through your fears will solve about 95% of them.  Your partner will also be charmed by your willingness to be honest and vulnerable with them.

 

Premature ejaculation happens to most men at some point in their lives and it really isn’t that big a deal.  But if you’re feeling anxious or ashamed about your rapid climaxes, there are plenty of things you can do.  Be gentle with yourself, be honest with your partner, and find new ways to express yourself and make your sex life amazing regardless of how long you last in bed.