The frequency with which I text my aunt-slash-godmother, an OB-GYN nurse practitioner, with embarrassingly personal questions (or corner her at family functions on holidays, because #multitasking) doesn’t seem to be diminishing as I get older. As I get closer to 30, I’ve learned how to deal with certain lady and sex problems that plagued me through my teens and 20s, yet new ones just seem to appear to take their place.
And as tight as I am with Google, it isn’t exactly the most legit source of fact and science-based medical intel and sex advice, so I tapped clinical sexologist and couple’s therapist Dr. Eve, author of the bestselling book Cyber Infidelity: The New Seduction, for answers for answers to questions from friends, readers, and other real women. After giving us helpful hints on five burning questions in her last WTF column, she’s back with a fresh crop of wisdom.
Q: No Matter What I Try, Anal Sex Kills Every Time. Any Tips?
A: No butt is meant for sexual penetration. It’s interesting that anal sex has become trendy when actually there’s not a lot of direct pleasure women get out of this form of stimulation. I wish the same attention would be given to clitoral stimulation; then we could cut down the ridiculously high statistic of 33 pecent of women who’ve never had an orgasm. But back to butts.
Men enjoy anal penetration with a finger, toy, or penis, as their prostate—a super-sensitive gland located between the bladder and penis that produces semen—is stimulated this way. For women, it’s simply painful. Unless your clitoris is being stimulated simultaneously, or you enjoy the pressure on your vagina from anal penetration, there’s rarely pleasure or orgasm for women just from anal. However, some women love taking on the challenge, especially if it’s something their partner loves. Sometimes, the eroticism alone may get you off.
Either way, preparation is key to minimize pain and avoid anal tearing, which ups your odds of getting an STI. Start by having your partner tease your anus. Have him or her wear a latex glove or condom while exploring your perineum, the area between your vaginal and anal openings. Using lots of anal lube, slip a finger inside your anus, then two, and then three. This allows the sphincter muscles that surround the anus to relax and get used to the feeling of expansion. Breathing deeply also helps. Once this feels OK to you, insert a thin silicone vibe inside your anus. By then inserting larger and larger vibes, you’ll eventually be ready for a penis. Just don’t jump into it, or you’ll be in for some pain. And, of course, the golden rule applies here, as everywhere in bed: There must be consent. If a partner insists on anal when it’s not your jam, kick his butt out the door.
Q: How Do I Tell My BF His Porn Habit is Hurting Our Relationship?
A: A lot of research has explored the harmful effects of porn, and results show that the habit likely actually isn’t hurting your relationship—rather, your partner’s relationship with porn hurts you. I know it doesn’t feel great when your boyfriend seemingly prefers spending time masturbating to porn stars rather than having sex with you. So, it does make sense to talk about it—and talking about porn, as with talking about sexuality in general, can be touchy.
Start the conversation with a compliment about how much you love and miss having more frequent sex together. Then move into what you need from him to help you feel more satisfied. How many times a week do you want to be having sex? And is there a healthier way to work porn into your sex life together? I suggest spending time with your own porn collection to find out what gets you off. For instance, do you enjoy watching porn alone as well, and if so, is it still a betrayal? What are your sexual arousal cues? This is how the conversation becomes intimate and fun, rather than an attack-and-defense, lose-lose situation.
Q: Can I Tighten My Vagina Any Way Other Than Doing Kegels?
A: Tight vaginas are the thing right now. Companies are manufacturing a range of products that claim to tighten your vagina, feeding women’s insecurity and encouraging them to believe a tight vagina is the youthful norm to aspire to. It can make you feel humiliated, sexually insecure, and disempowered in the bedroom. Don’t be shamed into believing this myth.
The truth is that your vaginal wall muscles simply snap back after penetration. Vaginal tightness is directly related to your pelvic floor—not your sexual fidelity or number of partners. The pelvic floor muscles form a thick sling that supports your vagina, uterus, ovaries, bowel, and bladder. It weakens naturally over time due to things like weight gain, lifting heavy objects, frequent coughing or sneezing, and constipation. In other words, life!
Doing kegels can strengthen the muscles, prevent incontinence, and enhance orgasmic pleasure. If you want to do something else, get vaginal weights. Insert them daily and walk around with them inside your vagina for 10 minutes a day. After three months, you’ll feel tighter. Keep doing it every once in awhile for maintenance. Be wary of other products that promise to tighten your vagina. Only use ones that are organic and can have a short-term tightening effect for a particular sexual session—like this one, my personal favorite. Sit-ups, eating well, and a healthy lifestyle also go a long way towards overall sexual health. My plea: Avoid the temptation of having vaginoplasty, which is an extreme and unnecessary measure.
Q: How Should Tell My Partner About My Sexual Fetish?
A: Our culture has traditionally rejected outside-the-norm or non-vanilla sexual practices or preferences as strange, wrong, or bad. People with unique or non-heteronormative sexualities often face shaming and judgment, making it hard to accept your own sexual turn-ons, and even more terrifying to share it with a partner. But not talking about it can lead to confusion and emotional pain when your partner doesn’t understand why you’re not turned on by them during ‘normal’ activities.
The truth is that odds are, your fetish (clinically termed paraphilia—more background on fetishes here) isn’t going away and you can’t keep it under wraps forever. Over time, a partner will feel more betrayed by your secrecy. Becoming educated about your fetish by researching it and seeking support among existing communities of people who share your interests can help you begin to accept it yourself—which is the start of helping your partner accept it.
When you feel ready to bring it up, do so without shame or fear, but know that surprise and withdrawal might be his or her immediate reaction, until getting used to the idea. Give him or her time to warm up to your newly honest sexual identity. You may well be surprised at how this gives your partner permission to get real about his or her own sexual interests. If he or she doesn’t come around and embrace finding a way to incorporate it into your sex life, take that as a cue that you’re not meant to be together long-term. Whatever the outcome, lose the shame.
Q: Is it True You Don’t Get as Wet and Horny on the Pill?
A: As a woman, you may be tuned into how your emotional mood, sex drive, and orgasms vary from day to day. This is directly due to sex hormones that circulate and bring you a different mixture of hormones—mainly estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone—at different times of the month. Birth control pills, using a combination of these, works to suppress your ovulation. The effect those hormones have on your sexuality is unique to you. Then, add in the multiple other life factors that affect how you get interested and aroused, like the way your body feels, your self-confidence, stress levels, and the state of your relationships, and you have many factors that can affect your sex drive and natural lubrication.
Research shows that the pill may lower women’s libidos, cause weight gain, dry you out down there, or give you the blues—all of which can hinder your ability to orgasm. On the other hand, it also frees you up from worrying about unplanned pregnancy and offers relief from menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding, so it has the ability to enhance desire and arousal for some women. It all depends on what matters most to you, and whether the pill’s pros outweigh its cons. If you do decide to stay on the pill, you can use a high-quality, silicone-based lube (unless you’re using sex toys, in which case, use a water-based lube) to fight dryness. Otherwise, talk to your gynecologist about other birth control options.