Ovarian Cysts and Your Sex Life

Do you feel sluggish? Still getting acne flare-ups way after they should be over and done with? Growing hair where hair has no right to be growing? And, um … how’s your sex life? It could be PCOS.

I have PCOS: Polycystic ovary syndrome. Basically, my ovaries look like Swiss cheese (My OBGYN helpfully referred to it as “Swiss cheese syndrome.” She may or may not have been joking.) They’re massively enlarged and filled with follicles containing unfertilized eggs that never ruptured during ovulation, and then turned into cysts.

Not all PCOS sufferers will actually have polycystic ovaries (yes, that is kind of confusing), but they do tend to share a set of criteria that normally includes ovarian cysts, because PCOS is a female endocrine disorder. That means it’s caused by hormones. And let me tell you, hormones can really mess up your day.

Female Biology 101

Here’s a quick lesson in female biology. Our ovaries are supposed to produce:

  • Estrogen (the female hormone)
  • Testosterone (the male hormone), and
  • Progesterone (the pregnancy hormone)

For those who suffer from PCOS, estrogen may be produced in low to normal amounts, while testosterone is produced in excessive amounts. Progesterone, which is normally produced during ovulation, is not produced at all. It’s the imbalance in the ratio of estrogen to testosterone that produces many of the symptoms of PCOS.

Doctors aren’t sure why some women develop PCOS. For some, it may run in the family. Weight gain can set it off too. And sometimes, there’s just no clear reason for why someone suffers from PCOS. But it is fairly common, affecting up to 15 percent of the female population. Of course, the one side-effect few doctors mention is that it can kill your sex drive.

I’ve been lucky to have been spared from some of the common symptoms of PCOS, such as hirsutism and acne, but I spent years in agony not understanding what was happening to my own body – and my sex life.

There are a few reasons why PCOS has this common sexual side effect. First, balanced hormones are vital to your libido, particularly the balance between male and female hormones. Plus, PCOS sufferers may have to deal with things like ruptured cysts; they feel like appendicitis, and are often accompanied by bleeding. Even if you’d like to have sex, it may be too painful. Or at least you’ll be afraid enough of possible pain that you’ll avoid it. (Get more tips on avoiding pain sex in Illness? Injury? How to Get Back In the Sexual Saddle.)

I get that. This has happened to me more frequently since I had a child and one of my ovaries decided to drop. It’s like they’re engaging in battle with me. My doctor tells me it’s now more prone to getting knocked around during sex.

How to Win the Battle With Your Body

I know this sounds pretty grim so far, but hang in there. There are thing you can do to reduce your pain and bring pleasure back to the bedroom. Here are a few things that have worked for me.

Think About Your Timing
The pain associated with PCOS tends to coincide with your cycle. You’ll need to take the most care when you’re menstruating.

Pick a Pain-Free Position
Experiment with positions to see which ones are most comfortable for you. Generally speaking, avoid being directly on top of your partner – even a slight angle makes a big difference. I don’t know if this goes for everyone, but positions like reverse cowgirl really hurt for me, even at times when the cysts aren’t as bad.

Stick With Soft Toys
Avoid very rigid sex toys, such as glass, wood and metal if playing with a partner. The lack of flexibility in these toys makes them very unforgiving when they hit a sore point.

Lube Up
Use a lot of lubrication. I personally like silicone lube since it doesn’t need to be reapplied, but others prefer water-based lubes. Either way, choose one that’s glycerin free. Glycerin can contribute to yeast infections; you don’t need more problems going on down there, trust me! When you’re in pain, or anxious, your vagina won’t lubricate itself as efficiently or effectively – lube can be your best friend in this situation. (For more info on choosing a lube, see The Ins and Outs of Sexual Lubricants.)

Don’t Power Through
If you feel any sharp stabbing pains during sex, stop. Don’t power through. That pain will turn into a dull throbbing pain that can stay with you for hours, or even days

Don’t Forget Foreplay
Foreplay! It’s great for relaxing your body, and great for reducing pain during sex. Plus, it’s fun! (Learn more in 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Foreplay.)

Do Orgasm
If you can have an orgasm prior to penetration, it’ll greatly reduce any pain you might experience during sex. If you can’t, have no fear – the above suggestions will all help you have better, more pleasurable, less painful sex.

Better Living, Better Loving

Another important aspect here is managing PCOS in your daily life. This will not only improve your sex life, but your quality of life overall, not to mention you future health. Managing weight gain is often a major part of this. The hormone imbalances that cause PCOS also cause your body to be poor at regulating insulin, which makes you more susceptible to weight gain. The weight gain makes the hormone imbalance worse, making weight loss a lot more difficult. The more weight you gain, the more out of control your hormones will be, which will make every symptom you have worse too. For people with mild PCOS, weight loss or management can reverse many of the effects of PCOS, including cyst formation and the subsequent pain that it causes.
And, of course, you should talk to your doctor. There are some treatments to help balance hormones for PCOS sufferers. They can also really help bring your libido back to life.

For a handy guide to both learning about and managing PCOS, its symptoms and even a guide to what you should eat, I’ve found “A Patient’s Guide to Understanding and Reversing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome” to be well written, easy to understand and very helpful.

How to Charm a Clitoris

For men who sleep with women, the clitoris has always been a bit of a riddle. It’s powerful, yet temperamental; it’s feared as much as it is revered. Then, of course, there’s always the old joke about the poor guy who still hasn’t figured out where it is.

But while this fascinating piece of sexual anatomy isn’t nearly as confounding as locker-room humor has made it out to be, really pleasing a clitoris does take some finesse. It’s worth the effort, though. When fully aroused, this area’s desire for touch can be insatiable – and its owner can become insatiably orgasmic.

Sounds good, right? But how, exactly, do you get there?

Well, we’ll get into that. In depth. But the answer amounts to one simple word: “charm.”

If, at this point, you are thinking this will be a piece about how to get a woman into bed, turn back now. It isn’t. That one isn’t about charm – it’s about consent, and you had better get some before you even think about getting it on. Got it? Good.

So. Back on topic: If you want to please a clitoris – and the person attached to it – you have to think of yourself like a snake charmer. The clitoris may look like a button you can just push for pleasure. It isn’t. Most of the time, this little bundle of nerve endings lies nestled comfortably in the dark; cool, covered, content. But, once coaxed out to play, it can rise up, stand to attention and radiate pleasure through the entire body. You just have to learn what it likes – and then use that knowledge to charm it to orgasm.

The Anatomy of the Clitoris

In order to begin, allow us to first take you on a tour of this fascinating piece of sexual anatomy.

If you have – or have interacted with – a clitoris before, you probably think of it as the small bit you can see outside the body. It’s located below the pubic mound, at the top of where the labia meet. For most people, it’s a very small and very sensitive area, which is why it’s huddle up inside a piece of skin called the clitoral hood.

This external portion of the clitoris – or the part you can actually see – is called the glans clitoris, and it packs more than 8,000 nerve endings. It’s no bigger than a pea, but the entire clitoris is a lot bigger than that. In fact, the glans is just a very small part of the clitoris, the rest of which is found inside the body. That’s right, the clitoris is actually a lot bigger than you’d think, which helps explain how it produces so much orgasmic sensation.

So what’s hiding behind the scenes? In addition to the glans, the clitoris consists of two corpora cavernosa, two crura and the clitoral vestibule, or bulbs.

See how the clitoris extends down, out and away from the glans and beyond the labia? That’s a much larger area of sensitive tissue than you may have imagined. Now, what’s really cool about this is the clitoral bulbs. See how they come down around the vaginal opening? These babies are composed of erectile tissue. So, when the clitoris is stimulated to create arousal, these bulbs engorge with blood and swell, creating tension and increasing sensation in the vagina.

What’s most important to understand about clitoral anatomy is that clitoral arousal and stimulation is likely much broader than the clitoral glans suggests. In other words, you can stimulate a clitoris without actually stimulating the glans at all – or stimulating it significantly less than you’d think. In fact, many people prefer this because that little glans is oh- so-sensitive, and can’t always take a lot of lovin’.

It’s also why many people get such intense pleasure from clitoral vibrators, such as the LELO NEA or LELO LILY. Their deep vibrations are designed to penetrate beyond the surface to stimulate the entire clitoral structure, allowing users to get the most of this amazing pleasure center.

Researchers have only recently achieved a more thorough understanding of clitoral anatomy thanks to 3D imaging. In other words, there is probably still a lot to learn about this amazing, wishbone-shaped bit of sexual anatomy. What we know for sure is that the clitoris is the center for sexual pleasure for the vast majority of female-bodied people. The research suggests that 70-80% of people require direct clitoral stimulation to orgasm, whether vaginal stimulation is involved or not. In other words, if you want to please a person with a clitoris, the clitoris is probably your best target. Now, onto some tips on how to charm it.

Connect, Respect and Get Consent

We’re talking about a body part here, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t address the body to which that organ is attached. In order to do that, you’ll have to start by talking to your partner about what feels good. Ask your partner what she likes, and use feedback as you’re touching her by saying things like “Like this?” or “How does that feel?” or “Harder or softer?” This is a great – and super sexy! – way to get instant feedback about what works. Plus, ensuring consent and fostering respect and connection with your partner is as charming as it gets.

Work Your Toward Your Target

As you’ve now discovered, the clitoris is oh-so-sensitive. That isn’t to say that it can’t take plenty of pressure and stimulation; it just can’t take it up front. In fact, this bundle of 8,000 ultra-sensative nerve endings (twice as many as the penis!), is usually covered by a piece of skin called the clitoral hood to keep it from feeling much at all. This is because for many people, any form of pressure or stimulation up-front feels like way too much. Seriously. It’s a sensation that’s difficult to describe, but for those of you who don’t have a clitoris, the experience is a bit like getting a massage and having your therapist hit a spot that’s just way too deep and sensitive. You tense up. You recoil. And it feels like every cell in your body is trying desperately to move away from the locus of sensation. Not cool.

The best way to prevent this unpleasant sensation is to avoid touching the clitoris directly – at least at first. In fact, for some really sensitive people, enjoying mind-blowing pleasure might mean not touching it at all. Instead, start by touching other erogenous zones. Start as far away from the clitoris as possible, and work you way toward it as your partner becomes more aroused. So, you might start by kissing, moving down her body, touching and caressing as you go. Do this slowly and, as you get closer, slow things down even more. Linger around the stomach, the hips, the inner thighs. Touch or lick the pubic bone. Get closer. But try steering clear of the clitoris for as long as your partner will let you. What you’re doing is moving blood into the area, creating arousal and making this ultra-sensitive spot more receptive to touch – and more amenable to orgasm.

Work Your Way Up

As you slowly arouse your partner, the clitoris will swell (remember, it’s made of erectile tissue, just like a penis!), and may even emerge from its hood. Now, if your partner is into it, you may be able to begin touching it directly. That said, even at this point, some people still prefer to be touched slightly off the mark, such as by circling the clitoris, or stroking one side or the other. (Ask your partner which side feels better – many clitorises are righties or lefties!) Start with a light, gentle touch. You can increase the pressure, speed and intensity depending on how your partner responds. It’s best to go in with less and wait for your partner to ask for more – too much stimulation can cause your partner to tense up or even create numbness. Charm involves patience. Take the time that it takes.

Use Lube!!!

Your No.1 ally when it comes to charming a clitoris is lube. A nice, smooth, body-safe lubricant helps reduce unpleasant friction and creates a bit of a cushion between your skin and your partner’s. You can also use your partner’s own, natural lubricant, but a little (or a lot) of extra lube never hurts and can help make sure that everyone stays comfortable. Also, longer play can often be really pleasurable, and a good lube can help make that possible. If you are pleasing your partner with your mouth, things are a lot softer and this may not be necessary (although there are some flavored lubes out there that can be fun!) Part of the key to keeping a clitoris happy is to ensure that you protect this sensitive area. Lube keeps everything soft, slippery and friction free.

Pay Attention to Body Language

Your partner’s body language is one of the best tools you can use to gauge whether your charm is working. Listen to your partner’s breathing. Is it getting faster? Are they moaning in pleasure or have they suddenly gone silent? This will help you decide whether you should keep doing what you’re doing, speed up, slow down or check in with your partner for more information. You can also pay attention to your partner’s other physical cues. Are they pressing their body towards you? Opening their legs for more? Or, are they tensing up and pulling away? Your partner’s body speaks loudly. Learn to pay attention to what it is saying, and to either adapt or ask questions in response.

Amp Things Up

When the clitoris is fully aroused, many people find they can enjoy lot more pressure, friction and speed. If your partner is getting close to the edge, now may be the time to really go all in. What this means will depend on your partner. If they prefer external stimulation, you could increase that and try applying a lot of friction, vibration, pressure or some combination of the three. You could also add internal stimulation, either with a penis or a dildo. Some people enjoy G-spot stimulation at this point. In fact, the G-spot is much more receptive to pressure and touch at this stage of arousal. Remember that the rest of your partner’s body will be less sensitive when fully aroused too, so it could be a good time to try rougher play around other erogenous zones such as the stomach, breasts and butt.

 

Consider Adding a Clitoral Vibrator

If your partner has a clitoris, learning to charm it with your hands or mouth is a key sexual skill – you should learn how to do this! That said, there’s nothing wrong with getting a little help from technology. Clitoral vibrators are purpose-built to stimulate the clitoris to orgasm and they do that job very well – and very efficiently – for most people. This can be particularly helpful if your partner is slow to climax. Bringing in a vibrator can mix things up and give your hands and mouth a bit of a break!

 

The LELO LILY 2 or NEA are both great clitoral vibes, particularly for beginners. Their contoured, ergonomic bodies make them easy to hold and use and their shape allows for broad or pinpoint vibrations.

If your partner is into a powerhouse, though, you could try a wand like the LELO Smart Wand. This powerful vibe is designed to stimulate way deep down through those clitoral crura (remember them?). For those who can tolerate this higher degree of intensity, this sort of toy can provide knockout clitoral orgasms.

Don’t Stress About Orgasm

If you’ve succeeded at charming a clitoris to an explosive orgasm, well, you’ll know it. But if there’s one thing that really isn’t charming, it’s pressure to get there. Charming a clitoris is about trying to make your partner feel amazing – with no end goal. Plus, whether because of stress, illness, mood, medication or some other factor, a big, old orgasm can be elusive sometimes. Don’t sweat it. If it isn’t happening for your partner, check in with them to see if it’s time to stop. Your partner’s orgasm (or lack thereof) isn’t about you. Create the opportunity for your partner’s orgasm, but leave space for it to not happen as well. Charm is a long game.

Bring Her Down Easy

An orgasm can be an intense – and even highly emotional – experience. When it’s all over, it helps to give your partner some extra care and attention. In the BDSM world, this is called aftercare. Other people just call it cuddling. You could also bring your partner a glass of water or a snack. Whatever you do, cap it all off by ensuring that your partner feels comfortable, cared for and supported. This cements your role as charmer and helps your partner float down from that orgasmic high in the most pleasant way possible. The clitoris has been charmed, its orgasm unleashed. Until next time …

The 8 Best Sex Positions for Exhausted Parents

When you’re tired and overwhelmed, sex can become one more thing on your to-do list. But it doesn’t have to be. Nor does it have to be taxing or further exhaustive. Remember, once upon a time, when sex was fun? After all, that’s how you ended up with those never-ending bundles of energy you call children – by having great sex!

The good news is, you can still have great sex as a tired, overworked parent. Part of how sex gets relegated to the back of the closet and forgotten about is because you’re tired. The time since you last had exciting sex may have blurred that memory, and innovation got lost in transition. However, trying something different and sneaking it in while the kids are busy/sleeping/away can reinvigorate some of the excitement that sex once held for you. Treat sex as special time between you and your partner. Plan for it. Anticipate. Make it happen. While planned sex doesn’t always sound exciting, if you think of it more like a trip you’re getting ready for, it might remove some of the stigma. Plus, when all is said and done, you might not be so tired once you’re finished.

That said, when you’re squeezing in some loving at the end of a hard day (or week), the last thing you may want is a fussy sexual position. Here are some ideas for hot sex between tired partners.

The Spoon Sex Position

The spoon is a great position for when one or both of you is tired! You both lie on your side, with him entering from behind. The overall position does not require a huge amount of energy to pull off, and it’s very comfy and cozy. It is a great way to just be close, to feel each other. With a bit of tweaking, it is also a great rear entry position for deep penetration.

The Scissor Sex Position

The scissor sex position is another position that keeps things pretty relaxed. In this one, she lies on her back, him on his side for entry. With one of his legs between her legs, scissor sex can provide friction for her clitoris. Bonus!

The Tabletop Sex Position

If she is the really tired partner, she can lie on the bed or a table for what we call the Tabletop position. He stands in front of her to penetrate. This works great if the bed height and his height aren’t at odds. If he is much taller, try bolstering her butt up with pillows. Also great for a different sensation/angles of penetration, based on his height and her feet/leg positioning. If she needs external stimulation for orgasm, she will have to manually stimulate herself or grab a toy to help out.

The Reverse Spoon Sex Position

The reverse spoon is similar to the spoon, but with a bit of a different approach. In this one, both partners lie on their sides, but with his feet behind her head. This is another good option that is comfortable, relaxing and intimate. If there is a foot fetish involved, this provides access to the feet during sex as well.

The Lazy Doggy Sex Position

The lazy doggy, or flat doggy, is much like traditional doggy style, but for those with less energy. In this one, he enters from behind, but rests his weight on top of his partner during sex. This positions provides a great angle for deep penetration. She may need a bolster under her hips for best results, and less energy spent.

 

Reverse Cowgirl Sex Position

Reverse cowgirl is one of the most popular sex positions out there – and for good reason. It’s easy, but it provides great stimulation for both partners. Takes turns doing the work here so you can both relax and enjoy the ride.

Mutual Masturbation

OK, this one isn’t a sex position, exactly, but if you both are too tired to handle intercourse, here’s an option where you can both still get off together. All you need to do is to get comfy, get naked and start touching each other in ways that you enjoy. If you want more tips, read Double the Fun! 5 Hot Tips on Self Touch for Two.)

Take a Bath Together

Bathing together can be very intimate – with or without the orgasm. Either way, it is a great way to decompress and relax together to get in the mood. Spend time in the bath just touching each other. Got a favorite waterproof toy? You could try some edging instead of allowing each other to reach orgasm, or maybe you go all out. The choice is yours. You could also try the wet ride position, as shown below. Enjoy!

Great, Now I’m Being Asked To Do It Froggy-Style

Like a lot of couples, when my husband and I are looking to spice up our sex life a bit, we’ll often explore the possibility of new and different sexual positions. My husband counts each piece of furniture in the house as a variable, however. Allowing him to claim doggy style on the couch is something distinct from doggy style on the bed, which is both a brazen attempt to circumvent the point of the experimentation in the first place and an underhanded way of assuring he never has to put in more than the bare minimum amount of physical exertion.

All those positions in which a man stands up and suspends his partner? I gave up on those around the same time I gave up on him joining me for hikes – which, to be fair, may be a leisure activity for me, but amounts to a form of inhumane cardiovascular torture for my not-so-outdoorsy spouse.

Still, despite his stubbornness when it comes to both hiking and humping, when something novel catches his eye in the news, whether it’s about the anticipated growth of the consumer drone market or greatly anticipated virtual reality games about to hit the shelves, he wants to try it out … even if doing so is likely to leave him bruised, exhausted, or with an angry wife straddling him while wearing a decidedly disapproving look on her face.

I’m Not an Amphibian, Dear

Most recently, my husband’s new fascination is the sexual positions employed by frogs. (Seriously.)

“Hey,” he shouted from the living room the other morning. “Did you know frogs only have sex in six different positions?”

Actually, dear, I’d never really given much thought to how frogs have sex. Why don’t you tell me, since that’s clearly where this conversation is headed (whether I like it or not) …

“Well, now there’s a new frog-sex position. Something they just discovered.”

I don’t bother asking who “they” are in this context; I’m just going to assume he means herpetologists, not very strange, highly inquisitive pornographers with way too much time on their hands.

The new frog-mating position is being called the “dorsal straddle,” and as it is described, I just know it’s going to be one of my husband’s new favorites – with one small exception, which we’ll get to in a minute.

“While performing the ‘dorsal straddle,’ the male sits above his mate’s back with his hands and feet grasping or resting on a leaf, branch or tree trunk,” my hubby read enthusiastically from his tablet, grinning like a filthy-minded Cheshire Cat.

“I’m sure the arm of the sofa would work just fine as a substitute for a tree branch,” he added helpfully.

I’ve learned over the years the best way to derail my husband’s many, many stupid ideas is to kill them in their infancy, before they can evolve from the merely dumb to the profoundly disastrous. The best approach is usually to zero in on a single deal-killing logistical problem he has failed to consider.

“Honey, I don’t have dorsal fins,” I pointed out. “How can you straddle something I don’t have?”

Unfortunately, my husband isn’t quite as clueless as my brain typically perceives him to be.

“Frogs don’t have fins either,” he correctly noted. “They do, however, like both of us, have dorsal muscles, which is what the name of the position is referencing.”

Well, fuck me; whaddya know? The guy can read.

Why We Won’t Be Doing It “Froggy Style”

As it turned out, though, my surprisingly literate husband hadn’t read quite far enough.

Taking the tablet from him, I quickly scanned the article, looking for an inarguable deal-killer that could dampen my spouse’s enthusiasm for a new form of mounting me from behind.

As it turned out, all I had to do was to finish reading the same paragraphs he had been quoting to me.

“The male releases sperm over the female’s back before moving away,” I read aloud. “The female then lays her eggs, which are fertilized by the sperm trickling down her back…. there is no actual physical contact between the sexes during egg laying and fertilization.”

The look on his face was like I’d just told him he couldn’t have a puppy.

“Give me that,” he snapped as he snatched the tablet from my grasp.

His face sank as he continued to read down the screen. Even so, I knew the wheels in his mind must be spinning, searching desperately for a rationalization which would keep his frog-mimicking sexual fantasy alive.

“Well, what if I just kinda rubbed it between your butt cheeks without putting it in?” he asked hopefully.

I crossed my arms, tilted my head forward slightly, tapped one foot and glared at him over the upper rim of my glasses with a look he long ago coined the “Sonoran Death Stare.”

“Nevermind,” he wisely replied, gently setting the tablet back on the coffee table.

I would declare victory at this point – except I know the latest edition of National Geographic just arrived, and there’s a big section about the behavior of Great White sharks – so it’s bound to be a long week.

Hate Your Body? How It’s Ruining Your Sex Life and What to Do About It

No matter how much preparation and foreplay you do, it’s easy for the mind to wander. Your to-do list, that issue at work, the fight you had, and, oh, how many more days until you run out of underwear? As familiar as this list may be, none of these worries likely occurs as often as ones about your body. In fact, body dissatisfaction is one of the most common distractions during sex. It’s so common that psychologists gave it its own name: body appearance cognitive distraction during sexual activity (BACDSA). Whew!

The bottom line? If you hate your body, it’s probably having a very negative impact on your sexual performance – and pleasure!

Body Image and Sex: The Research

In 2012, Portuguese researchers set out to take a look at how body image impacted sexual function and performance. They surveyed nearly 700 adult men and women from the community to explore:

 

  • Which, if any, specific body parts caused concern during sex
  • What aspects of body dissatisfaction contributed to BACDSA
  • Whether relationship variables also impacted it

 

As it turns out, two main factors predict BACDSA: overall body dissatisfaction and worrying about specific body part(s) during sex.

The more often participants reported experiencing negative thoughts, behaviors and feelings about their bodies, the more likely they were to report being distracted by their bodies during sex. It didn’t matter whether their stinkin’ thinkin’ happened during sex or at any other time. More “I hate my body”-esque thoughts, more BACDSA.

As for worrying about specific body parts, the belly was the most common source of distress for both genders. It was followed by the breasts for cis-women and the penis for cis-men.

Relationship factors played an indirect role. For example, some participants reported disliking their body but not experiencing BACDSA because they felt loved and sexy, secure in their relationship, and confident that their partner loved their body.

Gender Impacts on Body Image

Unsurprisingly, cis-women were more likely to report experiencing BACDSA than cis-men. They also reported worrying about more body parts.

Additionally, relationship factors played a bigger role. If cis-women reported perceiving that their partners had an issue with their bodies, they were also more likely to report experiencing BACDSA. On the other hand, those who said they felt satisfied with their partner’s feelings towards their body were less likely to do so.

For cis-men, relationship factors played a small yet unclear role in predicting BACDSA. Other factors that weren’t measured may impact the connection between relationship factors and BACDSA in cis-men. It also could be that they’re more likely to struggle with the other common cause of distraction during sex: performance anxiety.

Struggling with BACDSA? Here’s What to Do About It

Getting distracted by your body during sex has been shown to cause problems between the sheets, including lowered sexual:

  • Confidence
  • Assertiveness
  • Arousal
  • Pleasure
  • Orgasm
  • Satisfaction

Learning what causes this distraction gives you a starting point (or two) to improve your sex life. But you must start by loving your body, one part at a time. Why just one body part? Because healing your relationship with one body part can be easier than attempting to love on your entire body all at once. Start with your abs, breasts, genitals, butt, thighs, wherever it is on your body that causes you to struggle.

Look at it. Touch it. Make a list of all the things you like about that body part. Literally, write them down. All these negative thoughts will come up first. Don’t include them on your list. Do this at least once a week. Over time, the things you like become more noticeable, while the criticism gets quieter. Rinse and repeat for other body parts you don’t adore.

Combine Self-love with Mindfulness During Sex

Our brains like to go, go, go! Instead of bemoaning this, harness it! Use all your thinking to focus on (hopefully) yummy sensations. One of my favorite ways to do this is to cycle through my senses. Push yourself to think about five things you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel while you’re with your partner. Then cycle through as many times as you need to stay fully present.

Be Gentle with Yourself

Even people with amazing bodies still struggle sometimes with body image. It’s more than OK – it’s totally normal. The goal is to have more body love days than hateful ones, and more sexy times where you’re present than distracted. Any movement in this direction is bound to help you create the more intimate, exciting, and fulfilling sex life you crave.

The 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Orgasms

It seems silver screen goddess Mae West was onto something when she famously said, “An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away.” The elusive Big O doesn’t just bring on a flood of feel-good hormones; it also comes with a host of surprising health benefits. Here are 10 of our favorites.

A Natural Pain Killer

The endorphins released at the moment of climax can help you withstand a whopping 70 percent more pain. Some women even say that orgasms have helped beat the bite of contractions during childbirth. That’s because orgasm has an analgesic effect on the body, making them a great drug-free way to beat pain (and making a headache a very bad excuse for not getting busy).

The singles out there need not worry: Researchers say the pain-killing properties of partner sex and solo pleasure are pretty much the same. (Read more about it in Masturbation Each Day Keeps the Doctor Away.)

A Cure for Hiccups

Orgasms stimulate the vagus nerve, a long nerve that runs from the stem of the brain down to all the internal organs in the chest, pelvis and abdomen. American physician Dr. Francis Fesmire insists that stimulating this nerve is the best way to cure a case of hiccups.

“From now on, I will be recommending sex – culminating with orgasm – as the cure-all for intractable hiccups,” he says.

Who are we to argue with the good doctor’s advice? His remedy sounds a lot more fun that being frightened or standing on our heads!

A Big Sexy, Boost for the Immune System

During orgasm, your body releases an antibody known as immunoglobulin A. This clever chemical boosts the immune system, providing protection from infections and viruses like the flu and common cold. (Plus, winter’s a great time to stay under the covers!)

Better Than a Neti Pot

If you do happen to get the sniffles, don’t worry: It’s not too late for orgasms to work their magic. The body releases a hormone called prolactin during climax, which fires up neurons in your nose. This will clear up stuffy sinuses and heighten your sense of smell. And it’s a waaayy sexier than nasal sprays, tissues and neti pots.

A Dose of Happiness

Orgasms release the feel-good hormone oxytocin and a range of endorphins that act as natural antidepressants. Get them through intercourse or masturbation, or for an extra dose of happiness, try going down on the man in your life. He’ll feel good, and you’ll enjoy the surprising benefits of semen. which jut happens to contain mood-boosting chemicals. (Yes, really.)

Banish Morning Sickness

If you’re a woman wrestling with a nasty case of morning sickness, American psychologist Gordon Gallup insists your partner’s orgasm is just the thing to cure it. He reasons that your partner’s sperm was what made you sick, so building up a tolerance is the only way to fix your nausea. His prescription of oral sex is great news for fathers-to-be! (Got a bun in the oven but still horny as a Viking’s helmet? Read 7 Safe, Sizzling Sex Positions for Pregnant Women.)

Sleep Tight

We all know an intense bout of nookie can really take it out of you. However, it’s a combination of the orgasm as well as the energy you’ve expended that make you drowsy. The oxytocin that floods your brain creates endorphins with sedative properties. Can’t sleep? Get busy and you’ll be snoozing peacefully in no time.

Stellar Pubes

Sex is like exercise for your naughty bits – it keeps them toned, young and healthy. The extra stimulation to the genitals you enjoy during orgasm causes blood to rush to the tissues around this area, which helps refresh those pink bits. An orgasm a week will keep your genitals in tip-top condition. Use it or lose it, people!

Better Memory

Your genitals might be the only thing on your mind during orgasm, but that isn’t the only place blood’s rushing to – it’s also making a beeline toward your brain. In fact, some scientists suggest that enjoying regular orgasms is a better way to improve memory than old standards like completing crosswords or Sudoku puzzles. It’s also a lot more fun!

“Mental exercises increase brain activity but only in relatively localized regions,” explained American neuroscientist, Professor Barry Komisaruk. “Orgasm activates the whole.”

Less Painful Periods

This one’s for women, but most men are pretty happy to indulge in a little period sex with their parnters. The analgesic properties of orgasms can be lovely when Aunt Flo comes to call. Plus, orgasms can protect against endometriosis, a uterine condition that can lead to infertility. (Read Redhead Bedhead’s take on period sex in Bloody Hell! Is Period Sex Really a Big Deal?)

Get Busy, Get Healthy

Many of the things we’re supposed to do for our health are things we don’t always enjoy. So drop that salad, get off your stationary bike and start something with someone you love. Your body will thank you for it.