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Popping For Pleasure

Dr. Melinda Myers

Pleasuring vaginas requires an understanding of how they’re put together.  The nerve pathways that connect to different parts of the vulva, clitoris, and vagina all have the capacity to transmit pleasurable sensations, and they aren’t all tuned to the same frequency.  Figuring out what each vulva loves is a great exploration practice.  For example, the parts of the clitoris that are able to be stimulated easily from the outside of the body tend to prefer different frequencies than those more handily reached through the front and side walls of the vagina or the skin of the vestibule.  The vestibule is the part of the vulva from just below the clitoris to just in front of the anus- think of the area surrounded by the labia minora and you’ll be close.  Some people prefer deeper, rumbly (thunder) vibration here while others prefer the higher frequency, more tickly (lightening) sensations. 

Likewise, the entrance to the vagina itself has a different enervation than the inside.  Most people enjoy more pressure-type sensations inside the vagina, around the g-spot, for example. But what about the outside?  Since the entrance to the vagina has more and different nerves than the inside, it isn’t surprising that what feels good to the opening of the vagina is different, too. People with vaginas often enjoy the sensation of what we at Good Relations call Popping.  Think of the sensation you get when you pop your finger out of your cheek and you’ll have the general idea.  Toys with a gentle edge, like our Nu Sensuelle  Sola bullet, or the Exciter, are great for trying this sensation.

Popping can be done alone or with a partner. To try it, first put a little water-based or hybrid lube around the entrance of the vagina. Put just the round tip of the toy inside the vagina, and then apply pressure to the inside of the outer vaginal muscular ring, and “pop” it out sideways.  See if it feels better to pop it left or right!  You might also enjoy it top to bottom.  Popping can be enjoyed at any stage of arousal, and the sensations will be experienced differently closer to orgasm than earlier in the process.

Try it several ways to see all the different ways you can enjoy it, and which frequencies of vibration you enjoy combined with it.  For more of an edging experience, put pressure at the opening on the inside but delay the “pop”, heightening both the anticipation and the enjoyment. The Sola Bullet and Pixies Exciter are just two of the new toys we’ve stocked for your enjoyment.  Stop by today to see what’s in store at Good Relations, 223 2nd St. Old Town Eureka.

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HPV Orally

Q. I attended your “Love Line” last night and you mentioned some pills that you can insert in your vagina to balance your pH levels. I was wondering if this was just for during a yeast infection or if you can do it on a regular basis. Also can HPV be transmited orally (i.e. can I get them in my mouth from giving oral sex or can my boyfriend get them in his mouth from giving me oral sex?) Thanks for your time and the talk the other night was great.
It was very interesting and I really want to take your Human Sexuality class next semester. Oh, and someone said that you can take that course or Women’s Studies with you and it’s the same course, they just count for different units, is this true? Thanks again.

A. Yes, it’s true that you can take 436 as either CRGS or Psych, your choice, same class. You can even take it twice, once each way, although I’m not sure why you’d want to.

I’m glad you enjoyed the talk. I had fun. Lots of great questions. You can use home made Boric Acid capsule suppositories to balance the Ph of the vagina, but most healthy people don’t need to. Usually, it all takes care of itself. If you have frequent sex with people who ejaculate semen into your vagina without condoms, the semen could put your Ph off a bit, in which case using the capsules in your vagina say once a week would be a good idea to keep things where they should be.

Yes, HPV can be transmitted orally, you or your partners could get them in your throat/mouth from contacting the lesions. It’s VERY transmissible when the warts are present, even when they’re really tiny, so it’s important to keep a close eye on it. It MAY be transmissible at other time, the jury’s still out. Recent research shows HPV is a leading cause of throat cancers. Your dentist is probably screening you for this without your even being aware of it.

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I am Reasonably Handsome

Q. I am reasonably handsome, in very good physical condition and even my ex-girlfriend says I am a great guy. I just read your column in this week’s Lumberjack, and I have a somewhat related question/problem. You see I am able to have intercourse, for well over an hour or even two, without achieving orgasm. I have tried all things to hurry the process along: oral sex, anal sex, different positions, etc, and nothing seems to help. So my question is this: would you share my phone number with your readers?

A. What an interesting dilemma! I was wondering what I was going to do with my life after I quit teaching, and now I think I’ve got it. I’ll become a match-maker!

I’m glad your self-concept isn’t suffering over this. It sounds like you have framed it in the proper perspective. My editor suggests that you check out the Jack Personals to see if you can remedy the lack of partner problem. It doesn’t sound to me like you’d have too much trouble.

I would be remiss in my duties, however, if I didn’t tackle some of the underlying issues in your question. Good sex isn’t enough on which to build a relationship, although it’s certainly easier than to build one around bad sex. You may be the Goddess’ gift to women (or men) in bed, but if you don’t put the seat down, s/he won’t put up with you for long. Good relationships are built around mutual trust, intimacy, and daily uplifts. Those are the things people say and do that increase good feelings in a partnership like remembering to buy flowers for no particular reason, compliments, and thoughtful favors.

The other possibility is that you could be one of the 8-10% of men who have a sexual dysfunction called male inhibited orgasm. Like most sex troubles, it’s only a problem if you and/or your partner(s) have a problem with it, and it doesn’t sound like you do. Should you ever want to be able to orgasm more quickly or easily, let me know and I’ll steer you in the right direction.

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Man Can’t Come

Q. I’m a 39 year old male in a relationship with a wonderful lady that I love very much. She is smart, beautiful and extremely sexy and making love with her is always wonderful. I do have a problem though in that I’m having a difficult time reaching orgasm. I could understand it if I were having some difficulty maintaining an erection, but that certainly isn’t the case. I love the sexual chemistry we have and that she wants to make love as much as I do.

She is so wonderful about this and has been a great partner trying pretty much anything from oral sex to different positions to get me to climax. But for the most part, in order for me to reach orgasm, I have to masturbate myself while she watches. You need to know that this has happened in previous relationships but I was always able to hide the fact that I didn’t reach orgasm during sex even though my partners would.

So, I don’t know where to turn with this problem and since this is the lady I want to spend the rest of my life with I need some help. Because I love her so much I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get me through this.

A. As you probably know, last semester a man wrote me who was experiencing something similar. That column generated more comments than any other single thing I’ve ever written. There are a couple of major differences between his experience and yours, and those differences change my recommendations entirely.

Sexual dysfunctions generally have in common something called “subjective discomfort”. This means that if you have a problem with it, it’s a problem. If you’re OK with it, then you don’t. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but in general, it’s your feelings about what’s happening that determine whether or not something is a dysfunction.

What you’re describing affects about 10% of those with penises at some point in their lives. It is fairly easy to treat, and I think you and your partner can probably do it by yourselves. To start with, I would suggest that you try Bridging.

Bridging is similar to Edging in some ways. In this case what I mean is to engage in an activity likely to result in orgasm, in your case self-pleasuring, and then when you are very close to coming, your partner would pleasure you. This can be done in a variety of wonderful ways, but given what you’ve said in your question, I would suggest that she continue to pleasure you with her hand to start with. The trick to this is to COMMUNICATE. You need to be able to let her know when you are very close to coming, and she needs to continue to stimulate you as similarly to what you were doing yourself as she can.

Like many types of sex therapy, this treatment is gradual. It might not work the first time, or even the second. It is likely to work, though. Once you can come with her pleasuring you in that manner, try switching a little earlier. Continue with that until it’s easy and comfortable. You can try the same thing with other activities at that point. Pleasure yourself until you are close, and then your partner can continue to stimulate you orally or in whatever ways you and she like.

It sounds like you and she are already communicating well, and that you’re being honest with her about your experience. Good luck, and let me know how it works. I’ve got other tricks up my keyboard if necessary.

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Is He Gay?

Q. I have been with my boyfriend for three years now, and we have been living together for about 5 months. I believe I have become more liberal and accepting of people’s sexual orientations. My boyfriend is quite interested in anal sex, which I thought was a gay activity. We tried it about a month ago; we used a condom, and lots of lube. He was very gentle and encouraging, and I hated it. I also felt used afterwards, and that had to be the worst sexual thing I’ve ever participated in. Later I wanted him to do something for me, so I bribed him with anal sex, and it was still uncomfortable for me. I don’t understand why it is so uncomfortable, since I enjoy that area being stimulated, but entering it is not fun. I also don’t understand his interest in that area since he is so homophobic. Is he gay? Or am I a prude?

A. I’m having trouble understanding why you’d bribe your boyfriend with sex of any kind that you didn’t want to engage in. It seems like it would have been much easier on you to just do whatever it was by yourself, or get another friend to help you if necessary. Sex is fun, and it’s supposed to be. Why make things uncomfortable for yourself by doing things you don’t like. I suggest you stick with the kinds of sex you DO like.

Sometimes there are activities that one person in a couple really likes, but the other likes less. For example, one person might really like oral sex in a ‘69’ position, while the other person likes to concentrate on giving or receiving separately. They can negotiate that in a way that feels good to them. Maybe they sometimes do it one way, and sometimes the other. The difference is that both of them DO like the activities, just to different degrees. But no one in a relationship needs to compromise about something that they really dislike. To do so creates far more problems than any “favor” is worth.

I don’t know if your boyfriend is gay or not, and neither of us can tell by what kinds of activities he likes. If the two of you are in love, it doesn’t really matter, anyway. Some people like anal stimulation with penetration, some like anal stimulation but not penetration, and some people don’t like either. Sexual preference is like that. So is orientation, but the two aren’t related. Orientation is about who you love, not just whom you have sex with nor the type of sex you like. Not liking an activity doesn’t make you a prude, and liking it doesn’t make him, or anyone else gay.

Besides, it’s a stereotype anyway. The most common activity between gay men is oral sex, not anal sex. Straight couples experience anal sex, as do lesbians. It’s that “flavor of ice cream analogy” I use all the time. You can choose whatever flavors you like, and liking chocolate syrup on your mango sorbet can develop from your genes, your experiences, or a combination of both. You wouldn’t worry if your sweetie suggested one flavor and it didn’t sound good to you. You’d probably just suggest he not share it with you. You can watch him eat it if you want to, or you can taste it and decide whether or not you like it, or you can suggest a compromise flavor, but you wouldn’t eat it if you hated it, now would you?

And since we’re on a roll, you probably wouldn’t support a constitutional amendment requiring the government to censure anyone else that ate it, either.

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Erectile Dysfunction

Q. My problem is that I am sexually “shy”, for lack of a better euphemism. I have no problem achieving an erection during foreplay, even for extended periods of time, but the moment that it’s time to actually have sex I lose it. This used to happen only on random occasions but my fear of recurrence has become a self-fulfilling prophecy and I think that for all concerned I should give up trying to have sex altogether. To make matters worse, ( if that’s possible) when I am able to have an erection, I experience premature ejaculation! I wonder if it is because every woman I’ve been with has cheated on me. When I last had a long-term relationship the problem completely went away. I never had trouble having sex with her, and it was probably partly due to the fact that I didn’t feel inhibited even walking around naked in front of her. For almost anybody else though I just don’t want to be seen naked. I cannot get myself to believe that I am very attractive (especially without clothes), and I think that male genitalia and especially mine are hideous. Please help! 

A. I may be jumping to conclusions, but it sounds like you aren’t in an emotionally close relationship at the moment but rather have been attempting to have sex within the context of more casual dating scenarios. That just might not work for you; at least it might not work for parts of you. If you are with someone long enough that you’re more comfortable with whatever happens, your problem might take care of itself. If you’re trying to have sex absent the intimacy, as much as that’s the macho American ideal, it could easily explain your experience. Casual sex just doesn’t work very well for lots of folks. I think it’s particularly significant that in a long-term relationship, this problem goes away. That says that as much as you might think it should be otherwise, you are the kind of person that needs that for sex to be good. It could be lots, lots worse!

Depending on how long you’ve experienced this, and under what circumstances it occurs; I would suggest a couple of different things. It sounds fixable, but I think you’re going to need help (of the professional sort) to do it. I can also tell you confidently that the sooner the better. Unfortunately, there are very few therapists in this area with expertise in treating sexual dysfunctions. I’ll send you some suggestions privately.

I would hate to see you avoid sex altogether rather than risk it happening. In the short term, I would suspect that erection dysfunction medications like Cialis and Viagra would work well for you, and that could help you get over the psychological self-fulfilling prophecy part. You should be able to get a prescription from your provider. And no, it isn’t just you. Especially when it comes to condoms, many, many men have erection trouble. In fact, I have 3 questions in my “to be answered” file that are variations on this same theme.

You’re dealing with a learned response, and what you need to do is unlearn it. That’s a little harder to do than it sounds, but certainly not TOO hard (ouch, really bad pun, sorry). And just so you know, people with ED (erectile dysfunction) very often have Premature Ejaculation when they finally do get an erection.

Good sex happens within the context of healthy relationships. I recommend that you spend some energy figuring out what you need to do to be able to handle a mature, adult, honest relationship and I would bet a large sum of money that will take care of the issue once and for all.

In general, this kind of dysfunction is related to anxiety. It is just another form of it. Probably beats panic attacks, but it still sucks. Feeling like you’re unattractive to your partner almost necessarily precludes that your experience will be satisfying. Feeling like your penis is unattractive, in particular, will make this problem much worse. In relationship, people become more comfortable with each other, and those voices inside become quieter as they’re replaced by the compliments partners pay one another.

You could think about it this way. Lots of unattractive people, probably much more unattractive than you imagine yourself to be when you’re beating up on yourself, are having good sex. Your anxiety is triggering your self-doubt, and also pushing the play button on those tapes inside your head. The things I know of that work for anxiety are: Stop smoking pot (really, I know it sounds crazy but it matters), avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate), meditate regularly, exercise regularly, avoid heavily processed foods and very importantly, identify the irrational thoughts that are keeping you from feeling good and replace them with self-statements that serve you.

Lastly, and I hope you already know this; there are LOTS and LOTS of amazing ways to “satisfy” your sexual partners even if your penis doesn’t cooperate. What makes sex really, really good doesn’t have much to do with perfect bodies or perfect penises, it has to do with knowing your partners, and allowing them to know you.

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Should I Make a Move

Q. I know this girl who just broke up with her sweetheart of two years. They have been separated for a month. I really like this girl and I want to tell her but I also want her to have time to heal. What is the best thing for me to do in this situation? Thanks for your help. 

A. You’re right that a month isn’t very long after a two-year relationship. Focusing on your friendship with her is good, because you can still have a great time hanging out and she can sort out her feelings. Enjoy spending time, without trying to force an agenda. Chances are she is probably aware of your attraction, anyway.

Making yourself available sends a signal that you’re interested, whether that’s in making a more intimate friendship, or something more. Letting things take a natural course could save you both some heartache. There isn’t any hurry.

On the other hand, really cool people sometimes don’t stay single for very long if they want to be in relationship. Some people just like being partnered, and others want time to be alone to sort themselves out. I’m not sure there’s anything psychologically better about either option, and it probably has more to do with people’s temperaments and personalities than any deep-seated need to be in relationship to feel whole.

I’m not sure what the best course of action is, because it depends on your personalities. Forget playing her, that’s a bad choice no matter what. Forget trying to manipulate her, either, because that’s even worse. Think about what it is you really want, and honestly communicate that.

You might, for example, tell her that you really like her and that you’re OK staying “just friends” if she wants, but you’d love the opportunity to sweep her off her feet. Let her decide. If you’re open to both possibilities, then say so. You could mess up a perfectly good friendship if you’re not up front, and that would be a sad outcome for someone who’s already lost an important relationship.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes…

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Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Q. I had a couple of questions I’m hoping you can answer. How soon does morning sickness start after you’re pregnant? How often does birth control not work? Are there any reasons that could cause it to not work? What are other early symptoms of pregnancy?
Also, I’ve heard that the first time a girl (sic) gets pregnant, her body will abort the baby…is that true?

A. Wow. Important questions. Some of your questions have been answered in earlier columns, but I’ll repeat the information briefly, because nobody should have to wonder about these things.

Morning sickness doesn’t ALWAYS happen, and it can begin at any time during pregnancy and last anywhere up to the entire 40 weeks. Most commonly, it begins somewhere around 8-14 weeks (6-12 from the last period), and lasts during the first trimester.

By “birth control”, I’m assuming you mean combination oral birth control pills. Taken correctly, the answer is virtually never. Unfortunately, they are rarely taken absolutely perfectly, and anytime a woman messes up taking them, pregnancy is a more likely result.

By correctly, I mean one a day, at roughly the same time each day, not with grapefruit juice, not while taking antibiotics. Once a woman misses a pill, she is advised to take two the next day. If she misses more than one, she is advised to use an alternate method of birth control for the rest of that cycle.

Other symptoms of early pregnancy are a missed period and tender breasts that sometimes are also enlarged. Once a period is missed, the home tests should be pretty accurate. There is a blood test that can be done at the Health Center even before a woman misses her period.

Also, pregnant women don’t ALWAYS miss their periods. If you’re worried, you should get a test. The earlier you know, the more options you have, and the better decision you can make. This would be a really bad time to bury your head in the sand.

It is a myth that a woman’s first baby will be miscarried. Lots and lots of women have perfectly healthy pregnancies (and babies) having had sex only once, let alone having been pregnant only once. Of all the women I know who have ever been pregnant, the vast majority have never miscarried.

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Condoms and Circumcision

Q. I am uncircumcised, and I have heard when using condoms, it is important to pull the skin back on the penis before putting on the condom. Is this true??? When I use a condom I do not have any trouble getting one on; however, I practiced getting one on with my skin pulled back and had a lot of difficulty for a couple of reasons. First, I can’t get a condom to fit. Secondly, my skin cannot stay pulled back when I have an erection. Any advice???

A. Whoever told you to pull the skin back on your penis before putting on a condom probably either didn’t own a penis, or was circumcised. You shouldn’t try to hold the foreskin back (as you figured out). I would suggest you try a variety of condom styles, by yourself, and practice until you figure out what works best for you. Just make sure you’ve got a sombrero and not a shower cap when you look at the condom, and roll it on down without trying to hold the foreskin any particular way.

Uncircumcised men have rated Lifestyles Extra Pleasure and Pleasure Plus most highly. They are cut differently, with more room at the tip. Both also work well for men with piercings of the frenulum, foreskin or corona. Last I checked, the Health Center, Open Door and Planned Parenthood have Lifestyles, (for cheap or free). Good Relations has both, and Long’s has Lifestyles.

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Condom Shyness

Q. Years ago when I tried using rubbers with my partner, I would go limp immediately when she put them on. When I put them on alone when masturbating I would go limp. At that time I quit using them altogether. Now I have to start using them again for medical reasons. My partner and I have tried them with the same results… I have gone limp as soon as they have been put on. We have tried blow jobs, and hand jobs but they don’t work. I need help. Got any ideas !!!!!! Please!!!!!!

A. This is actually a pretty common problem. All of us know that we should use some kind of a latex barrier to increase safety during sex, but if what you want to do involves using your penis, and it refuses to play if you cover it, what can you do?

I have a couple of suggestions. The easiest is to use Viagra for awhile while you are getting used to condoms. Sometimes, this is the easiest way. Viagra is a safe drug for most people, however, since you mentioned in your question that you were using condoms now for medical reasons, you should check with your Dr. to be sure Viagra is OK for you. That’s pretty easy to do because you do still need a prescription to get it. No, Pfizer isn’t paying me to write this column.

The way Viagra works is by relaxing smooth muscle in the penis, which facilitates the erection by allowing the arteries to let blood flow in, which naturally puts pressure on the veins that usually move blood away from the penis and back to the heart. This results in an erection. It doesn’t work in the absence of sexual stimulation. If there’s nobody around that stimulates you, or you aren’t stimulating yourself, Viagra won’t do anything. It lasts quite a long time, and in many men I’ve talked to it works nearly 24 hours. You can manage lots of sex in 24 hours I bet. This gives you ample time to see if it helps your condom shyness.

My second suggestion would be to try other activities. You can do massage, oral lovemaking (with or without a barrier), use sex toys or whatever else you and your partner like. Try putting on a condom, and if it doesn’t work, do other things. Attitude is important here. Gleefully experiment with all of the other non-penis ways there are to make love. Once your penis gets the idea that you’re going to play with or without him, he may decide to suit up and get in the game.