Blog, Education

Sex And Pain: From Mitigation to Mastery

Sex and Pain

Sex and Pain:

From Mitigation to Mastery

by Jackie Velez

Sex and Pain

We here at As You Like It are in the business of pleasure. And as pleasure professionals, we know how difficult it can be when our pursuit of pleasure is interrupted by pain. But experiencing pain during sex is actually much more common than you might think!

It is estimated that around 75% of people with vaginas will experience sexual pain at some point in their lives. But for as prevalent as pain during sex is, there is surprisingly few conversations being had about it. Perhaps that’s why sexual pain can feel so isolating — society as a whole is still unwilling to have those kinds of open, honest conversations about sex.

But we talk about pleasure every day, and we’re happy to have this discussion, too. If you’re experiencing painful sex, we want you to know that you’re not alone. And you deserve to experience pleasure without pain! Pleasure and connection are basic human needs.

And sex shouldn’t hurt (unless you want it to, of course)!

Tackling Endometriosis, Pelvic, & Vaginal Pain

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, which is what inspired us to have this conversation about sex and pain. For those who don’t already know, endometriosis is a condition where endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus, and is one of the most common causes of pain during sex. It is estimated that up to 10% of people with vaginas suffer from endometriosis, and it is most frequently defined by pain during vaginal penetration, painful menstruation, and frequent pelvic or abdominal pain. Although an estimated 176 million people worldwide suffer from Endometriosis, diagnosis is rare, and treatment can sometimes take a long time to obtain.

It’s also important to note that while Endometriosis is surprisingly common, there are a plethora of other medical reasons that may cause painful sex. From nerve pain to vulvodynia to hormonal imbalances, sexual pain can be particularly hard to self-diagnose. For many vagina-owners who are experiencing intense or frequent sexual pain, professional medical advice may be necessary. Speak to your gynecologist about your symptoms, or consult a specialist, such as the Pelvic Wellness Center in Eugene.

It is also extremely common to find that sex has become painful after life changes, such as undergoing surgery, childbirth, or menopause. Especially after surgery, childbirth, or other large physical changes, make sure to consult your doctor or your gynocologist before participating in penetrative sex. If ever in doubt or pain, consider asking your doctor or gynecologist for advice.

And if you find that your doctor is doubting you or minimizing your symptoms, it may be time to start searching for a new doctor — one who takes your health seriously.

That being said, it’s important to understand that the pelvic floor and the vaginal canal are muscles, just like any other in our bodies. And like all of our other muscles, these muscles can become sore with overuse, stiff with underuse, or simply change naturally over time as we age. But the good news is that there are actions we can take to strengthen, loosen, and improve the strength and elasticity of those muscles over time.

Pelvic Floor Diagram

The pelvic floor is a hammock-shaped muscle that hangs between the base of our spine and the front of our pelvis. For context, this is the muscle that we tense or clench when we want to stop ourselves from urinating. This is also the muscle that clenches when we experience an orgasm. If you focus, you should be able to tighten and release this muscle, and feel it tense and then loosen with conscious effort. Focus on activating only the pelvic floor only; try not to clench the muscles in your abdomen, thighs, or buttocks. Remember to breathe, and make sure that you fully unclench the pelvic floor before tightening again. This is called a Kegel exercise! Think of it like a little workout for your orgasm muscle!

Experiencing pain during sex can sometimes mean that your pelvic floor is out of shape. If you’re looking for a way to help mitigate sexual pain (or if you just want stronger orgasms), you might consider trying a regime of kegel exercises! Try gently and slowly exercising your pelvic floor for a few minutes a day by consciously clenching and unclenching, and slowly increase your time from there as you feel comfortable. Just make sure not to rush yourself and fully relax your body between every clench — like any other muscle, overusing the pelvic floor can cause tension and stiffness. Like any new workout, it’s best to take it slow and listen to your body. If you find that doing kegel exercises cause you pain or make you feel more stiff, you might consider visiting a gynecologist or pelvic floor specialist for professional advice.

There are also several different tools that you can use to help make the most out of your workout. You may have heard of Kegel Balls before, which are essentially small weights for your vagina. The tension of holding a weighted item causes your vagina to clench, which can be helpful for those who need help identifying their pelvic floor, or who are seeking a more intense workout. Some kegel balls, like the Ami set by Je Joue and the Nova set by Svakom, come in sets. With these sets, you begin with the largest and lightest ball, because it is the easiest to hold in place. As your pelvic floor becomes stronger, your kegels will move down in size but up in weight. Other kegel balls, like Bloom by We-Vibe and the Elvie, are incredibly high-tech, and come with apps that help you track your progress and even turn your pelvic workout into a fun game! No matter what your level of kegel experience, there’s a toy for you.

  • Ami Progressive Pelvic Weights By Je Joue

    Easy to use and completely comfortable, you can try wearing Ami around the house at first, then venturing out….

  • Bloom Smart Vibrating Kegel Balls

    Toning and strengthening your PC muscles may help you climax more easily and with greater intensity. As your muscles get stronger, increase the intensity of your workout by using heavier weighted balls.

    Bloom is made with soft, body-safe silicone, so it’s comfortable to wear. It comes with three progressive weights (10 g, 30 g and 45 g) that are easy to interchange.

    With the free We-Connect™ app you can add pleasure by switching between preset vibes and customizing your own vibes. Your workout will never be boring with over 10 different powerful rumbly vibrations.

    $120.00 Add to cart
  • Elvie Intelligent Kegel Exerciser

    Elvie is the most personal trainer – motivating and correcting as users exercise, and tracking progress over time.

    In addition to being an award-winning exercise tracker for the pelvic floor, Elvie is one of our most requested kegel exercisers!

    $199.99 Add to cart
  • Nova Kegel Exercise Ball Set

    For daily exercise or postpartum recovery, Nova are the perfect choice for you.

    Inside of every Nova ball, there’s a built-in moving metal ball. As you walk, run or swim, the metal ball will collide with the inner surface, The sensation may be subtle, but the continual stimulation will help strengthen your pelvic muscle with your every move.

    Nova is made of silicone which is 100% waterproof. These balls were designed according to the kegel exercise theory especially to help rebuild pelvic strength after giving birth.

That being said, it’s important to understand that the pelvic floor and the vaginal canal are muscles, just like any other in our bodies. And like all of our other muscles, these muscles can become sore with overuse, stiff with underuse, or simply change naturally over time as we age. But the good news is that there are actions we can take to strengthen, loosen, and improve the strength and elasticity of those muscles over time.

The pelvic floor is a hammock-shaped muscle that hangs between the base of our spine and the front of our pelvis. For context, this is the muscle that we tense or clench when we want to stop ourselves from urinating. This is also the muscle that clenches when we experience an orgasm. If you focus, you should be able to tighten and release this muscle, and feel it tense and then loosen with conscious effort. Focus on activating only the pelvic floor only; try not to clench the muscles in your abdomen, thighs, or buttocks. Remember to breathe, and make sure that you fully unclench the pelvic floor before tightening again. This is called a Kegel exercise! Think of it like a little workout for your orgasm muscle!

Experiencing pain during sex can sometimes mean that your pelvic floor is out of shape. If you’re looking for a way to help mitigate sexual pain (or if you just want stronger orgasms), you might consider trying a regime of kegel exercises! Try gently and slowly exercising your pelvic floor for a few minutes a day by consciously clenching and unclenching, and slowly increase your time from there as you feel comfortable. Just make sure not to rush yourself and fully relax your body between every clench — like any other muscle, overusing the pelvic floor can cause tension and stiffness. Like any new workout, it’s best to take it slow and listen to your body. If you find that doing kegel exercises cause you pain or make you feel more stiff, you might consider visiting a gynecologist or pelvic floor specialist for professional advice.

For some people, especially people with nerve damage or lack of sensation, it can be difficult to manually identify and exercise the pelvic floor. One way that some pelvic therapists suggest for these people to still exercise their kegels is through electrotherapy. The Sizzling Simon is a penetrative toy that is equipped with e-stim capabilities, which also comes with a pelvic floor therapy mode.

Subtle electric shocks can manually cause the pelvic floor to clench, which allows those with limited sensation or muscle control engage in kegel therapy.

In addition, Sizzling Simon comes equipped with good old fashioned vibration, so it can be used as a vibrating toy or as a wellness device! Because pleasure is one of the best ways to fend off pain.

  • Sizzling Simon E-Stim Vibrator

    Pleasure can become truly electrifying with a toy like Sizzling Simon by Mystim!

    This unique toy combines the rumbling of vibration with the intense tingling of e-stim; both sensations offer different patterns and intensities to explore.

    • 8 vibration programs with 5 intensity levels
    • 5 e-stim programs with 10 intensity levels
    • Training program for the pelvic floor improves orgasmic ability
    • Medical grade silicone for a pleasant feeling and high skin friendliness
    • Especially quiet in spite of two powerful motors
    • Waterproof and also suitable for lusty hours in the shower and bathtub
    $170.00 Add to cart

If you are experiencing pain, but only during penetrative sex, this might be a clue that your pelvic floor has become too tense. In that case, doing kegels will likely only serve to increase pelvic tension. The good news is that there are lots of ways to potentially make penetration more comfortable.

If your goal is to be able to have penetration without pain, it can be very important to loosen the pelvic floor. One of the best ways to do this is with dilator sets. Dilator sets are a series of penetrative toys in gradually increasing sizes designed to help you slowly work up to penetration with larger objects. Most dilator kits start at a piece that is about the size of a finger, then gradually increase to a more average phallic size. The idea behind these kits is to begin getting the vagina used to penetration with the smaller pieces, then gradually moving up in size.

Another popular choice for dilation are the slim glass dildos by Crave. Because of their slender shape and incredibly smooth texture, many find these pieces to be more comfortable than standard dilator sets. You can use these glass dildos as internal massagers by gently rotating and moving them against the walls of the vagina to stimulate blood flow and encourage elasticity. Because glass holds temperature, you can also cool these glass toys down in a glass of cold water before use, making them like a soothing ice pack for your vaginal canal!

  • Deluxe Silicone Dilator 5 pc. Set

    Deluxe Silicone Dilator 5 pc. Set The comfortable tapered tips of these super-soft silicone dilators are designed for ease of insertion and ultimate comfort. The five graduated sizes allow a natural and effective transition and progression while the large bases add control and leverage. Use with a water-based lubricant. 100% Medical-grade Silicone Yellow: 2.83” x […]

    $95.00 Add to cart
  • Glass Dildos by Crave

    These elegant glass pieces can be used as both dildo and dilator! Simple, frictionless, and subtly shaped, these toys are everything you need and nothing you don’t.

    Engage in temperature play with these sturdy toys! Warm or cool them in water either soothing or sizzling sensations. The flawless glass makes these toys perfect for internal massage, dilation practice, or just plain pleasure!

    As if that wasn’t enough, these toys can also serve as gentle dilators that can help massage the internal walls of the vagina and deposit your favorite body-safe lubricant. And if you’re feeling sore after sex, you can cool this toy down with chilled water before inserting it. It’s like a soothing ice pack for your vaginal tissues. All this is what makes this a very popular pleasure tool for people experiencing menopause symptoms!

    $59.00 Select options
  • Silicone 4 Piece Dilator Kit

    This Silicone Dilator Set is carefully crafted for your comfort.

    Each vaginal dilator in this affordable 4-piece kit features a straight shape and rounded tip to avoid cervical irritation. Featuring’ heart-shaped bases for a cute, playful touch!

    With 4 differently sized dilators, starting at only 0.5 inches width, the Wellness Set lets you start small and move upward in size whenever you feel ready.

    $60.00 Add to cart
  • Silicone Dilator Kit 5pc

    This 5pc Dilator set is curved for comfort, and offers a variety of lengths and diameters to choose from.

    $70.00 Add to cart

If you are going to try dilating, make sure that you find a good body-safe lubricant to go with them! We recommend Aloe Cadabra's original, unscented formula for dilating, kegels, and treating post-menopausal tightness or dryness. Aloe Cadabra is a doctor-recommended, water-based lubricant that is over 95% organic aloe vera with no artificial flavors added, no harsh chemicals. Aloe Cadabra is also 100% edible and safe to use anywhere on the body. Best of all, because aloe has the magical ability to actually rebuild our body’s damaged or destroyed mucosal tissues, Aloe Cadabra actually helps your body to become better at creating its own moisture, in addition to moisturizing and replenishing the tissues upon application. So you can use Aloe Cadabra as a lubricant, or as a daily intimate moisturizer!

  • Aloe Cadabra Natural Organic Lubricant

    Aloe Cadabra is an all natural, body-safe personal lubricant made with more than 95% organic Aloe Vera!

    FDA cleared, Aloe Cadabra is edible and body safe. And since Aloe Cadabra rebuilds our body’s mucosal tissues, it helps us create more moisture naturally without chemicals.

    Aloe Cadabra is our best selling, staff-pick for water based lubricant!

    $13.00 Add to cart
  • OhNut Wearable Buffer

    75% of women will have painful sex in their lifetime. Whether you have Endometriosis, are Postpartum, Post-operation, (the list goes on) or just find penetration can get too deep easily, we are here to help you on the path to feel empowered!

    Worn externally at the base of a penetrating partner (e.g. on their shaft or on a toy), Ohnut compresses down to act as a soft buffer during sex.

    Each set comes with 4 linking rings that allow you to make simple adjustments, so you and your partner can not only discover comfort but also what depths feel really good—for both of you.

    $66.00 Add to cart

Finally, if you want to experience penetration from your partner while still maintaining control of the depth of penetration,  there is a new product on the market designed just for that. Meet OhNut, a soft, squishy buffer designed to be worn at the base of a penis to prevent penetration from going too deep. OhNut comes in two widths, so you can decide what size is right for you. Best of all, OhNut comes with four different stackable rings. That way, you can customize your penetration depth to the point where it is most comfortable for you. You can also use OhNut to help keep a condom safely in place. And the wearer also gets a luxuriously soft, slightly squeezy sensation out of the deal, too! Or, you can put it on your favorite toy to protect your cervix while you're playing solo. So if you like penetration, but need to be careful with the depth, consider giving OhNut a try!

It’s also important to remember that no matter what, you can still experience pleasure and intimacy without penetrative sex. While to some people, penetration is considered “the main event” of sex, the idea that penetration is the most valid form of sex is simply untrue. Anything that brings pleasure can be considered sex! So if penetration is too painful to be enjoyable, it may be best to simply take a break from that particular activity. You can consider it an opportunity to expand your idea of what sex means! Explore with clitoral play, mutual masturbation, oral sex, grinding, kink, or tantra. Launch an expedition to discover what brings you pleasure, and you’re likely to come back with lots of valuable personal pleasure knowledge.

Getting Sexy When You Have Chronic Pain

For some people, pain and pain management is a constant part of their life. Those who live with disabilities or chronic pain conditions will always experience a baseline of pain. But all bodies can take actions to manage pain levels and maximize pleasure in relation to their sex life!

Firstly, it’s important to remember that sex can look different for everyone. There is no “one-size-fits-all” model for sex, and anything that brings you pleasure is a valid way to fuck. Expand your definition of sex to include kissing, touching, and exploring sensation. Experiment to find out what activities, positions, and stimulation your body likes. Figure out how you feel most comfortable, relaxed, and able to tap into your sexual self. It can be difficult to feel sexual when you’re dealing with pain, but it’s important to remember that you deserve to experience pleasure, too.

You will know best how to manage your own pain. For some people, CBD can help to relax the body and relieve sore or tense muscles. Consider beginning your play sessions with a sensual massage. This will help you come back into your body and attune to the pleasurable sensations it can experience. And if you are interested, add a massage oil with CBD in it to help relieve soreness or inflammation. We recommend Hemp-Infused Massage Oil by CocoNu, which is a luxurious and moisturizing coconut oil base with CBD added for extra relaxation.

It can be helpful to minimize your necessary movement during sex. Set up your space before you start getting dirty! We suggest placing all your needed mobility aids, lube, toys, tools, water, and clean towels within arm’s reach. Creating a space where everything you need is readily available to you will not only help you to get into the mood, but also make the things you might need more easily accessible to you.

  • Hemp Infused Body Oil by Coconu

    Coconu Hemp infused Body oil combines all the goodness of coconut oil with the known benefits of CBD to soothe your body before, during, and after play.

    This silky, lightweight oil is the perfect multi-talker. Use it with massage to help nourish your skin, soothe pain and discomfort, increase sensation, and ease tension, so you can relax and enjoy being in your body.

    Whether you use it for sports massage, intimate massage, foreplay, of going all the way, Coconu Hemp infused Body oil is Better For(e) play.

    $35.00 Add to cart

It’s also critically important to be able to communicate your sexual needs with those who you are being sexual with, as well with the medical and caregiving professionals in your life. Get comfortable talking honestly with doctors and caregivers about how to best tend to your sexual health, and try to find medical and caregiving professionals who you can feel comfortable to talk honestly with and supported by. And of course, if you experience pain during sex and need to, you should speak up about it to your partner so they can help mitigate it! But more on that later.

The good news is that there are are plenty of toys, tools, tips, and tricks that exist specifically to help make your sex life as pain-free as it can possibly be!

One of the most helpful things we can recommend to minimize sexual pain is positioning aids. Liberator has an entire line of luxurious positioning aids, from dense pillows to offer additional support wherever you need it most, to toy mounts that allow you to have a hands-free experience with your favorite vibrator. With Liberator to rely on, you’re really only limited by your imagination!

There are also a variety of positioning aids that can help offer better control of your limbs during sex, minimizing spasms and preventing you from being bent into uncomfortable angles. Using the Positioning Strap by Sportsheets around your abdomen can make movement easier. You can also hold onto the loops to help increase your control and focus, while putting the loops around your legs can minimize body tension and help you stay in the position that you’re comfortable in. Another favorite by Sportsheets is the Door Jam Sex Sling, which has control straps for both the hands and feet and can be used to hold your body upright.

If you want to be the penetrating partner, but have limited mobility around your hips, there are also several different types of harnesses that can allow you to top comfortably. La Palma makes a dildo harness that you wear on your hand, perfect for those with dexterity issues. A thigh harness can be helpful to make some positions more accessible and maximize bodily mobility for some. We love the one by Sportsheets! You can also wrap a thigh harness around a pillow, creating a new, mountable way to play.

It can also be convenient to have a toy that you don’t have to hold or manually move. Kimi by VeDo is a dream toy for those with arthritis or grip problems! It comes with a small wrist-strap, and two small vibrating pads that sit on your fingertips. So you have vibration literally at your fingertips without having to hold onto anything! We-Vibe makes an entire line of toys for all bodies and body parts that can be controlled by a phone app — ideal if it is easier for you to simply put the toy in place and then control it conveniently from your phone.

  • Chorus C-Shaped Dual Vibrator

    Meet the most intuitive couples vibrator ever — with an adjustable fit, touch-responsive controls and hands-free vibrations that take sex to a whole new level. Worn during sex, Chorus adjusts to fit your body for just-right stimulation on both the clitoris and the G-spot.

    Chorus can be customized to fit your unique body so you can feel the vibrations right where you want them. The shape is easy to adjust, then stays in position once you’ve found the perfect fit.

    $200.00 Select options
  • Jive Wearable Vibe

    Jive by We-Vibe™ is a wearable hands-free G-Spot vibrator that’s comfortable to wear and whisper-quiet.

    Enjoy its powerful rumbly vibrations in the bedroom or wear Jive out and about to make everyday activities more exciting!

    The gentle shape is comfortable in any position: standing, sitting or laying down. Jive also pairs with the We-Connect app to allow you to play close together or from miles apart.

    $120.00 Add to cart
  • Pivot by We-Vibe

    The two of you, more than 10+ vibration modes, equals endless possibilities.

    $110.00 Add to cart
  • Vector Adjustable Prostate Vibrator

    Vector is a plug that can be customized to fit your body! With an adjustable head and flexible base, Vector targets both the prostate and perineum in comfort.

    Vector was designed in collaboration with leading prostate experts to be the ultimate prostate massager — every aspect was designed for the human body and your total comfort, safety and pleasure. Change intensity and vibration modes in the moment with the easy-to-use wireless remote or the We-Connect app. Play and share control of Vector from anywhere.

    $140.00 Add to cart
  • Le Wand Original Rechargeable Massager

    Deemed by Cosmopolitan Magazine as the “Most Powerful Sex Toy”, Le Wand Original Rechargeable Vibrating Massager is guaranteed to deliver intense and sensual pleasure.

    The luxurious body massager has 10 distinctive, rumbly vibration speeds and 20 vibration patterns. Le Wand’s sleek design provides focused vibration in the head of the wand. Powerful pleasure is granted in the convenient and versatile form of a rechargeable body.

    Le Wand features a body-safe silicone head, a flexible neck and a lengthy handle with easy-to-use controls that allows for smooth maneuvering. With its long-lasting charge capacity, this wand gives you 3 hours of continuous play time after 3 hours of charging.

    $180.00 Select options

Finally, remember that some of the earliest sex toys were actually back massagers that some very intelligent people reimagined to be used for sexual pleasure. In fact, one of the most popular vibrators of all time, the Magic Wand, was originally marketed as a massager for sore muscles. And while these kinds of massagers turned out to be amazing at delivering orgasms, remember that there’s no reason you can’t use them to help relieve your pain, too! If you have chronic body pain, consider treating yourself to a massager with a strong, rumbly motor that can serve multiple purposes — pain relief and pleasure. A long handle can be a convenient feature as well, to make sure that you can reach all your sensitive spots. For best vibrator-turned-body-massager, we recommend Doxy Die Cast or Le Wand Original. Those two large, powerful wand-style vibes are ideal for muscle-soothing and tension relief.

For sufferers of chronic pain, sex without pain may be an impossible pipe dream. But no matter what, there will always be ways to manage your pain and maximize your pleasure.

What To Do if You Experience Pain During Sex

In spite of our best efforts, it’s very likely that most of us will experience pain during sex at some point in our lives. So it’s very important that we know what to do when it happens!

First, communicate! It’s very important to find partners that are willing to listen to you, but it is equally important to be able to find your voice and speak up if something is wrong! Remember that your partner/s may be incredibly sensitive and attentive, but even they cannot possibly know how it feels to be in your body. So if something hurts, learn to speak up about it! Only then can you work together to find out how to mitigate the pain.

Some of the most common ways to help mitigate sexual pain are simple adjustments. If the pain is onset suddenly during sex, you can try a new position, a slower speed, or a different angle. Use trial and error to discover what works for you and what doesn’t. And if something just isn’t working, take a break and move onto something else! You can always come back and try that particular act again later.

If the pain appears to be topical, it’s possible that your skin is being irritated by something that’s present. You may be having a reaction to your lubricant or the barriers you’re using. Make sure that the lubricant and barriers that you choose to use are body-safe, free of allergens, and comfortable on your skin. Sometimes, shaving or waxing can irritate the skin as well. Our skin is sensitive, so make sure you treat it gently!

Sometimes, stopping sexual pain can be as simple as adding lubricant! When we have penetrative sex, the friction can cause us to chafe. Adding lube can create a cushion between our skin and the penetrating object, minimizing friction and protecting our sensitive skin from damage. Make sure to be aware of the ingredients in your lubricant! Our bodies are very individual and sensitive, and much of the lubricant on the market today includes ingredients that can actually dehydrate your cells and cause micro-tears. Choose something that is body-safe and soothing, and experiment until you find one that works for you.

If you are having trouble getting enough lubricant where it needs to be, there is a handy little device called a lube shooter that can make all the difference. Similar to a syringe, simply insert the tip into your favorite bottle of lubricant and pull the pump back to draw lube into the shooter. Then, you can easily insert the tip of the shooter either vaginally or anally and push down on the plunger to make sure that all the lubricant ends up inside, right where you need it.

  • Lube Launchers

    Get lubricant where you need it most, instead of smeared all over your skin or your sheets. No more mess!

    With this three-pack of lubricant shooters, you’ll be able to ensure that your favorite lubricant reaches its intended destination. Simply insert the end into your preferred lubricant and pull the plunger back to draw lube inside, then ready, aim, launch!

    $10.00 Add to cart

It’s important to remember that pain is our bodies’ way of sending us a message, and sometimes, pain is indicative of a more serious problem. Especially if your pain levels change drastically and rapidly, it is possible that there could be something wrong that requires medical treatment. If you are experiencing a burning pain when urinating, or skin irritation that comes with itching or painful sores, it is wise to be tested for a possible yeast infection or sexually-transmitted infection. When in doubt, it may be best to seek the help and advice of a medical professional that you trust.

Pleasure is as complex and unique to each individual as it is necessary; experiences that make us feel good are essential to living a complete and fulfilled life.

Unfortunately, pain can sometimes encroach on what makes us feel good. Pain is a necessary component to life as a human, and it is important that we listen to pain as the teacher and warning sign that it is. But there is no need to wallow in our pain, or to forego our pleasure because we are experiencing pain. So while we want to  make space for pain and pleasure to coexist, we also want to educate and encourage our dear readers to take all possible steps to experience a sex life with as little unwanted pain as possible. Because sex shouldn’t hurt. And you deserve a sex life that is satisfying, affirming, and filled with pleasure.

Blog, Education

Enjoying Sex as We Age

Enjoying Sex as We Age

How to be a Sage

Written by Jane Steckbeck

“It takes most people decades to reach their full sexual potential. Although our culture equates ripe sexuality with youth, true sexual maturity is often accompanied by soft bellies, gray hair and wrinkles…[t]he best lovers are sages—mature people who are able to act in alignment with their authentic self and to be in ongoing, conscious connection with others.

-- Sheri Winston, “Women’s Anatomy of Arousal: Secret Maps to Buried Pleasure.”

While our cultural training may disagree, my experience with clients in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and yes, even 80’s, and with workshop participants (having attended over 40 workshops on Love, Intimacy and Sexuality), and with people who attend my public talks and classes, a lot of people over 50 are having passionate, connective and rich sex lives.

I can assure you that having a fulfilling sex life after 50 is entirely possible—if that is something you want. This post will cover a few practices that are common amongst sages and will offer “empowerment reframes” for anyone who wants to experience passion, pleasure and intimacy after 50.

1. A sage recognizes that great sexual intimacy is NOT dependent on intercourse. Sages understand that shared pleasure can include oral sex, hand stimulation, long cuddle sessions, erotic massage, sensation play…and much more! While important for procreation, intercourse is absolutely NOT necessary for sharing pleasure or experiencing orgasm. Finding ways to share intimate touch without the goal (or pressure) of intercourse and “performance” can provide couples countless ways to connect sexually.

Empowerment Reframe: I am a beautiful, sensual and sexual person no matter my age. I can experience pleasure in many ways and am eager to explore new ways of sharing pleasure with my partner.

2. A sage appreciates that his/her aging body may have wrinkles, sags or extra weight, but he/she is comfortable with such changes. A sage understands that we are sexual beings from birth to death and good sexual connectivity does not depend on our weight, skin tone, or other external factors. A negative body image certainly tanks libido whereas self-confidence and a steadfast belief in our worthiness as a sexual partner can keep us engaged and savoring the vitality we experience though sexual connectivity.

Empowerment Reframe: I am worthy of pleasure, sensual and sexual touch regardless of how my body looks.

 

3. A sage knows that it is worthwhile to cultivate libido by engaging with erotic stimuli and/or agreeing to show up for sex even if not initially “in the mood.” Low libido can be a serious impediment to enjoying sexual connectivity—and yet, what is a primary goal of sex? For many, it is connection and sharing intimacy. A sage recognizes that if he or she wants intimate connection, then seeking erotic stimuli and showing up for sex is vital. Remember, more people than not experience responsive desire as opposed to spontaneous desire—which means that we have to expose ourselves to erotic stimuli to become aroused—then desire follows. Follow this link to my recent blog post about responsive desire and this link for ideas for how to awaken libido at any age.

Empowerment Reframe: I can mindfully awaken my desire by seeking out erotic stimuli (erotica, ethical porn, podcasts, romance books, etc.). I understand that the more I have sex, the more I will want to have sex!

 

4. A sage understands that self-pleasure is an important component of retaining vital sexuality as we age. We are first and foremost our own sexual partners and not having a sexual partner does not need to derail your sex life! Masturbation is a primary form of sexual expression and can help us retain deep connectivity with our sexual energy and ourselves. For people over 50, masturbation is even more important for a multitude of reasons: it helps us retain healthy blood flow to genitals, keeps us interested in sex and can keep us informed about how our sexual response is changing. Mother Culture has given masturbation a terrible rap—I encourage everyone to re-think this one.

Empowerment reframe: Whether partnered or not, I have a robust self-pleasure practice and enjoy my solo sexuality a great deal. If I do find a partner, I’m ready to play. If not, I’m happy with my sex life!

 

5. A sage problem-solves around issues that are age related, like painful intercourse. For many post-menopausal women, this is an absolute reality—it certainly was for me until I found a solution—and fortunately, there are solutions. Any woman experiencing pain with intercourse should consider the following:

1) Visit your GYN to ensure that your pain is due to menopausal changes and nothing more;
2) Consider pelvic floor physical therapy or massage; in Eugene, we’re fortunate to have the Pelvic Wellness Center and Sage Red Healing to help;
3) If you want to work with vaginal health on your own, try the Vaginal Renewal Program through “A Woman’s Touch: Sexuality Resource Center.”
4) With your health care provider’s guidance, consider using a topical estrogen product. Personally, I found tremendous relief from painful intercourse with Bezwecken Cubes, which provide a low-dose of bio-identical estriol.
5) Look into the OhNut, a fabulous new product that allows women to control the depth of intercourse. Check out this review for a first-hand description of how it can work!

Empowerment reframe: I can have intercourse without pain. It may take some effort to get there, but if I want this, I can make it happen. I will not have intercourse if it hurts!

  • OhNut Wearable Buffer

    75% of women will have painful sex in their lifetime. Whether you have Endometriosis, are Postpartum, Post-operation, (the list goes on) or just find penetration can get too deep easily, we are here to help you on the path to feel empowered!

    Worn externally at the base of a penetrating partner (e.g. on their shaft or on a toy), Ohnut compresses down to act as a soft buffer during sex.

    Each set comes with 4 linking rings that allow you to make simple adjustments, so you and your partner can not only discover comfort but also what depths feel really good—for both of you.

    $66.00 Add to cart
  • Silicone 4 Piece Dilator Kit

    This Silicone Dilator Set is carefully crafted for your comfort.

    Each vaginal dilator in this affordable 4-piece kit features a straight shape and rounded tip to avoid cervical irritation. Featuring’ heart-shaped bases for a cute, playful touch!

    With 4 differently sized dilators, starting at only 0.5 inches width, the Wellness Set lets you start small and move upward in size whenever you feel ready.

    $60.00 Add to cart
  • Unscented Vulva Balm

    This soothing and hydrating balm is made with nourishing butters and oils, and without any essential oils for those who desire their personal care to be unscented. Please note that this balm smells primarily of cocoa butter.

    Formulated for women experiencing dryness due to menopause or other hormonal shifts, this balm may also be used for personal scenting, after shaving, or as a personal lubricant.

    $20.00 Add to cart
  • When Sex Hurts: A Woman’s Guide to Banishing Sexual Pain

    Did you know that 20 million women suffer from painful intercourse? 

    Did you know that as many as 40% of those women will not seek medical care?

    Now, three experts in the field of sexual pain and women’s sexual health address the myths, realities and stereotypes of sexual pain in this easy to read book.

    $13.95 Add to cart

6. A sage recognizes that our bodies may take longer to experience arousal and orgasm…and that taking time is perfectly acceptable. I hear women raise the concern that they take “too long” to experience orgasm, so they can’t possibly expect a partner to “work that hard.” Oh, my. Actually, you can ask for this and you’re worthy. There is such a cultural belief, mostly held by women, that if it takes “too long,” it’s not ok. (God forbid a woman’s pleasure requires some genuine effort on behalf of her partner…) Here’s how it can be made easier: use erotica to stimulate arousal and sex toys to stimulate the vulva. Sex toys (vibrators) help bring blood flow to the genitals and can facilitate orgasm. When used with a partner, the vibrator can do the heavy lifting—and guys, a vibrator will never replace you. Most women want loving connectivity with their partners. Use of a vibrator together can foster connectivity while delivering results without anyone working too hard. For a great resource on understanding female arousal, check out Sheri Winston’s “Women’s Anatomy of Arousal.”

Empowerment reframe: My partner and I can learn to use erotica and sex aids (toys) to help stimulate my arousal response and achieve orgasm. I’m worth the effort and my pleasure and orgasms are as important as my partner’s.

 

  • Naked at Our Age

    Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex

    $18.00 Add to cart
  • Sex After Grief by Joan Price

    Sex after Grief is the first book to address sex and grief together and treat sex as a normal, positive, life-affirming part of emerging from such a difficult time.

    Joan Price, the top expert on senior sex, draws on her own experiences as a widow since 2008, when she lost the love of her life to cancer. She shares her raw grief journey, sexual reawakening (and the many stumbles along the way), and attempts to dip back into dating, along with excellent advice on handling each step.

    $17.00 Add to cart
  • The Menopause book

    The Menopause Book is the must-have book for anyone nearing or experiencing menopause. Using up-to-date research, this book is essential for anyone wanting to take charge of their health.

    $19.95 Add to cart
  • The New Love and Sex After 60

    You may be getting older but love and sex are still a vital part of your life. Here is the book that speaks to your concerns about sex beyond the middle years.

    Two leading experts have completely updated and revised the classic guide on the subject to address the needs of our changing world in the new millennium. Because a vibrant and satisfying sex life has no age ceiling!

    $17.00 Add to cart

In my experience, people over 50 who want to have passionate sex lives can indeed have them. It takes bucking our cultural training, flexible thinking, the willingness to problem-solve, a positive self-image and the belief that we’re worthy of sexual connectivity and pleasure. Be a sage and enjoy sexual intimacy at any age!

This piece was originally published on Jane Steckbeck's website. Read it in its original context here.
Blog, Education, How To

Your Guide to Anal Adventures

Anal August: Every Body's Got a Booty

What comes to mind when you think about anal sex? For many people, the idea of anal play conjures some unpleasant reactions. Some have had negative experiences with previous attempts, and some have negative connotations about what butt stuff is like, or the kinds of people who might want it. But the truth is that anal is an option for everybody who wants to participate in it -- every body’s got a booty, after all!

No matter what you may believe, safe, pleasurable, and fun anal play is within reach. Your anal session probably won’t look like it does in porn, but trust us, that’s a good thing. Anal scenes in pornography often skip over the extremely important setup and foreplay that safe and pleasurable anal sex requires, and skip over most of the safety and hygiene practices that are required. Simply put, porn exists to turn us on, not to teach us.

But don’t worry; that’s what we’re here for! Here, we will walk you through the process -- from before you begin, to after you’re finished. We encourage anyone who is looking to get into anal to keep an open mind! You may have preconceived notions or personal fears about anal sex, and it’s important to work through those feelings if you want to have a good anal experience. Everyone’s anal adventure is different, because every body is different! So keep an open mind, listen to your body, and pay special attention to what feels good. Remember, the purpose of all play is pleasure!

So with that in mind, let’s get into it:

Anatomy

Let’s begin by talking about butts themselves! If we want to please that part of our bodies, it’s important to know the anatomy we’re working with. On the outside, there are lots of ultra-sensitive nerve endings that can be stimulated in a myriad of ways. The perineum -- or the area between the anus and genitals -- is a haven for nerve endings. Often, this area enjoys being stimulated with pressure or gentle massage.

The opening of our anus itself is also packed with sensitive nerve endings. Many people think that anal play must include penetration of some kind, but that is absolutely not true! Rimming -- the act of stimulating the anus externally using mouth, fingers, or a vibrating toy -- is a sensation that many enjoy. If you’re considering trying anal stimulation but feeling a little hesitant or uncertain, rimming and other kinds of external play is a great way to start exploring!

The inside of the anus is defined by two rings of muscle. The external ring we can consciously control, and it is this muscle that we use when we bear down or clench our anal muscles. However, the internal ring is more complex. We cannot consciously control our inner anal ring; it tightens or relaxes subconsciously, and is often affected by our mood. For example, if we are feeling nervous or afraid, that muscle will tighten. Trying to force entry through this ring when it’s too tight can cause extreme pain, which is why many people have negative experiences with trying anal penetration. Instead of moving too quickly or rushing to penetration, we must slowly coax our bodies into relaxing. This can mean waiting until we are relaxed, working to change our mindset and giving our bodies time to follow, giving our bodies other kinds of pleasure to relax it manually, or even having an orgasm before trying anal penetration!

Within the body is the rectum, which is the area that will be occupied with toys or body parts when we experience penetration. The rectum contains within it a huge amount of nerves, making it extremely sensitive. Sensations of friction and fullness often create pleasure internally. For some bodies, the rectum is also the place to access the prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that most penis-owners have, and is located a few inches inside the anus on the inside wall of the rectum. Many prostate-owners find that stimulating the prostate, either with fingers, penises, or toys, gives them extreme pleasure that can lead to orgasm. For bodies without prostates, anal penetration can stimulate the g-spot -- or even the clitoris -- from a different angle, leading to different pleasurable sensations.

No matter your anatomy, the anus is full of sensitive nerves. Anal play is all about learning how best to stimulate them!

Supplies

Humans have evolved to use tools, and there are a few items that we suggest to help you as you engage in your anal exploration.

First -- and most importantly -- lube! Because the rectum doesn’t produce its own lubrication (unlike the vagina), it’s critically important that any anal activity is supplemented with ample amounts of lube. There are many different kinds of lubricant out there, and what you use is largely dependent on personal preference, and the materials of toys you would like to use. For rimming, many people enjoy a flavored water-based lube. Many use coconut oil for external play and digital anal penetration, because it is long-lasting, slippery, and protects the sensitive skin cells of the anus and rectum. For penetration with toys, a hybrid lubricant or a very thick water-based lubricant may be preferred, depending on the material of the toy. For penetration with a penis, silicone lubricant will last the longest and provide the smoothest glide. Experiment with several different kinds of lubricant to see what your body responds to best! Just be careful to check the ingredients to ensure they are non-toxic, body-safe, and compatible with whatever toys you want to use.

While it can be difficult to get lubricant inside the body, lube shooters make that process easier. Similar to a syringe, the shooter utilizes a plunger to draw lube inside, and features a small spout that allows you to deposit the lube internally with ease. Don’t be stingy with lubricant, either -- make sure you’re applying plenty, and re-applying often.

Many people like to use toys for anal stimulation. The most important thing when looking for toys to stimulate your booty is to make sure that it has a flared base. Unlike the vagina, the rectum does not have a set end point, meaning that toys without a flared base run the risk of being pulled into the body and getting stuck. In the worst cases, it can require a hospital visit to remove stuck items. 

Toys that are designed with this flared base for anal stimulation are often called 'butt plugs.' Plugs come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. From plugs that are smaller than the average index finger, to much larger inner-band training plugs, there is a plug for every body and every experience level. Straight plugs will help you get used to the sensation of “fullness” commonly associated with anal penetration, while curved plugs are often designed to put pressure against the prostate. Explore and experiment to find what size and shape is right for you! You can also use anal beads, which are toys that gradually increase in size along their length. Beads help to slowly help your body stretch to accept penetration. When removed slowly, beads teach your body to relax and slowly open. In addition, there are many different anal training toy sets, typically consisting of multiple toys in gradually increasing sizes. These sets are particularly helpful if you hope to work your way from the beginner level into larger toys, or penetration with a dildo or a penis. 

 Many people use plugs to prepare their bodies for penetration, while others wear plugs during other sex acts for additional stimulation. Some plugs vibrate for an extra kick of sensation. Plugs can be made of glass, stainless steel, aluminum, or body-safe silicone, and each material has different benefits and creates different sensations. When choosing an anal toy, personal preference is paramount, and the possibilities are endless!

  • Lube Launchers

    Get lubricant where you need it most, instead of smeared all over your skin or your sheets. No more mess!

    With this three-pack of lubricant shooters, you’ll be able to ensure that your favorite lubricant reaches its intended destination. Simply insert the end into your preferred lubricant and pull the plunger back to draw lube inside, then ready, aim, launch!

    $10.00 Add to cart
  • Lil’ Flirt Plug

    Introducing the Improved Tantus Little Flirt! Now with a comfortable between-the-cheeks base and velvety soft texture.

    The Little Flirt is barely a pinky width at the tip and only a finger width at the center, a petite 0.8″ wide by 3.35″ long, making it the perfect introduction to anal play. Adding the long neck helps the plug stay put and keeps the Little Flirt one of the best anal toys for beginners.

  • Coconut Oil-Based Organic Lubricant

    Coconu is a Coconut Oil-Based lubricant that will stimulate your senses for deeply satisfying sexual experiences while the organic ingredients provide real, natural health benefits.

    Its long-lasting formula is designed to protect and moisturize dry or sensitive vaginal and anal tissues. It’s USDA-certified organic formula is 100% edible, works great as a massage oil and doesn’t contain any alcohol, petroleum, parabens, gluten, fragrances or dyes.

    Available in a 3oz/89mL bottle.

    $25.00 Add to cart
  • Anal Training and Education Kit

    Explore the joys of anal play with the new b-Vibe Anal Training Kit & Education Set.

    Going from zero to penetration is a big no-no. That’s where our anal training kit comes in — Anal training means taking the time, care, and vital steps to prepare your body for anal sex. We believe that education is the key to enjoy anal play. So we are featuring this 7-piece set to equip you with everything you need to safely prepare for anal penetration.

    $150.00 Add to cart

Hygiene & Safety

One of the main reasons that some people are hesitant to try anal play is due to their conceptions of anal hygiene. It’s important to note that while anal sex does involve the part of the body where fecal matter comes from, and it’s possible to encounter some during anal play, it’s unlikely that you will encounter a lot. Because fecal matter is not actually stored in the rectum, and only moves into the rectum when we actively have to defecate, the area we are playing with should be mostly clean. Lifestyle, diet, and physical or digestive abilities will have an effect on the body, and it’s best to know your body well before engaging in anal play.

But if you are concerned about hygiene, there are a few steps that you can take to make sure your experience is as clean as possible:

You should always go to the bathroom and empty your bowels 30-60 minutes before engaging in anal play. Once your bowels are empty, you can wash the outside of your body with gentle soap and water. Hypoallergenic baby wipes are also very helpful for pre-play cleanup!

If you desire extra cleanliness, you may enjoy a gentle enema 1-2 hours before engaging in anal play. There are simple bulb-styles that are easy to use in the restroom, as well as in-shower options to work into your bathing routine. We suggest using warm water only; our booties don’t respond well to chemicals, perfumes, or strong soap.

Remember never to use the same object to stimulate the vagina or the mouth that was just in contact with the anus or rectum without washing up, first. This means no moving from anal penetration to vaginal or oral penetration with the same toy or body part, unless you wash it first. If you’ve been using your fingers to stimulate someone anally, make sure you wash your hands before moving on to other sensitive anatomy. Failure to keep our tools clean will spread bacteria and encourage infections in both ourselves and our partners. When in doubt, pause and wash up!

If the idea of running to the sink between every act isn’t appealing, barriers are a wonderful help! Barriers do more than make your sex safer, they also make it more hygenic. If you want to use a toy without stopping to clean it up afterward, you can simply place a condom over the toy. Then when you’re ready, remove it for instant cleanup! If you use your fingers to stimulate the anus or rectum, you can always wear gloves. That way, you can simply remove the gloves when you’re finished instead of stopping to wash your hands. Gloves can also introduce a different sensation, and the application of gloves can become a very erotic part of your scene-setting. If you’re worried about your bed, you may choose to lie a towel down beneath your hips to protect your space from any mess that might occur, and help to streamline cleanup.

Remember that all kinds of sex have the potential to get messy. Mess is a part of life! If you do get messy during sex -- whether while participating in anal or any other act -- just keep calm, and clean up! You may be able to get back into a sexy mood after a quick shower, and continue participating in other kinds of play. Or you may be turned off enough by the mess that you need to end the scene if it gets too messy, and that’s ok, too! You are the only person who gets to set your boundaries, and decide when to stop.

  • Anal Massage and Education Kit

    Combine the rumbling pleasure of vibrating massage with the thrilling fun of anal play in this Anal Massage and Education Kit. Perfect for those exploring the world of anal stimulation, solo or partnered, as well as including all the essentials needed for simple fun!

    $200.00 Add to cart
  • Fascinator Waterproof Throw by Liberator

    Save the sheets for sleeping!

    The Fascinator Waterproof Throw by Liberator is made of extraordinarily soft microfiber with an inner moisture barrier that ensures your bedding stays spotless.

    These supremely plush throws are specially designed to create a soft, delicate playscape for your wettest erotic adventures while the inner barrier keeps your bedding dry.

    Toss it on top of sheets, sofas, and any fancy home furnishings that you want to shield from your throes of passion. When you are satisfied, simply throw it in the wash.

    $150.00 Select options
  • Nexus Anal Douche

    The sleek Nexus Anal Douche offers one step insertion for simple yet effective intimate cleansing before and after anal play.

    A tactile, high quality rubber bulb and smooth plastic nozzle makes the product quick and easy to operate. The non-return valve ensures that no water flows back into the bulb during use.

    This one-step douche makes for effective intimate cleansing. The bulb offers 224ml capacity.

    $20.00 Add to cart
  • RFSU Tight Vegan Condoms 10 pack

    10-Pack – offers a snugger version for a wonderfully close fit.

    $14.00 Add to cart

Take It In Steps

One of the most important things to remember when engaging in anal play is to move in steps. Diving in too fast risks hurting the receiving partner. You never want to begin with penetration. Instead, start with external play! We highly recommend rimming as a method to warm your body up to the potential for anal penetration. Using fingers, lips, or tongue, or toys to stimulate the anus from the outside helps the body become aroused, increase blood flow and sensitivity to the area, and help turn the receiving partner on. The more relaxed and turned on the receiving partner is, the better your anal adventure will be! Only attempt penetration once your partner is relaxed, their body is warmed up, and ample lubricant has been applied.

Many people like to engage in ‘training’ before participating in anal sex, which means using small penetrative toys to help your body get used to being opened up. Training can last anywhere from a few hours, to a few days! Some find that wearing a butt plug for awhile before participating in anal play makes the experience easier, because their body is already engaged. Others may enjoy using fingers or small toys to prepare their body for penetration with a penis or a larger toy.

When you think you’re ready to engage in penetration with a larger toy, our best advice is to go slow and slippery! You can use a lubricant shooter to make sure that there is lube throughout the rectum, and apply a generous amount to the outside of the penetrative object, whether it be a toy or a body part. Remember to breathe, don’t tense up, and take it slow.

If you experience pain, stop and apply more lubricant! If you’re still experiencing pain when using plenty of lube, then it may be an indicator that your body isn’t ready. You may need to go back a step and work on training for a while longer. Every body is different, so listen to yours! It’s a common cultural myth that anal sex will hurt, but that’s not actually true! Sex -- no matter what kind you’re participating in -- should never hurt (unless you want it to).

If you experience pain during anal play, pause. Consider taking a short break, giving yourself more warm-up time, adding more lubricant, or switching positions. Many people ask us about numbing agents or desensitizers, but we do not suggest using these kinds of products. If you’re feeling discomfort or pain, it’s usually best to listen to your body. Pain and discomfort is an acute form of neurofeedback to warn us of harm to our bodies, and removing your ability to feel discomfort creates the potential for injury. 

Aftercare

So you’ve had a successful anal experience. Well done! But remember that the scene doesn’t stop on a dime, and many people will need physical aftercare, emotional aftercare, or both!

Once you’re done, take some time to clean up. Baby wipes are incredible for a fast cleanup! Don’t feel the need to sit down in the bathroom and try to squeeze the lube out of your body right away; instead, give your muscles time to relax. Take a break. This can be a wonderful time for a soothing bath -- ideal for both mental relaxation and physical soothing.

Some slight discomfort is normal after anal penetration. It’s also normal to see a small amount of blood afterward. If you do notice a bit of blood, it’s a good indicator that you didn’t have enough lube throughout the entire interaction. Make sure you are reapplying often enough during penetration! You can soothe upset external skin of your anus with coconut oil, or unscented cocoa butter. If there is a lot of blood, or extreme pain at any point, you may need to see a doctor! If you do, be honest with them about the cause of your pain. We promise, your doctor has heard it all before, and they will know what to do.

Don’t forget to tend to your emotions, too! Emotional aftercare can be just as important as physical aftercare. Participating in anal sex can make the receiver feel extremely vulnerable. The receiving partner may need plenty of praise, attention, and affection. Talk to your partner about how they feel, and what they need! Perhaps they will want to watch their favorite television show, eat their favorite snack, or cuddle up in their favorite blanket. Be attentive to their needs, and make sure to clearly state your own!

It’s important that both partners check in with each other about their feelings, takeaways, likes, and dislikes of their experience once you’ve both cooled down both mentally and physically. Discussing with our partners what was good, what was great, and what could be done better, is how we improve our experiences.

Closing Tips

Congratulations! You’re almost ready to go safely out into the world of anal exploration! But before you do, let us offer a few final tips that can help set you up for a successful anal adventure:

  • Remember, anal sex shouldn’t hurt. If it does, stop, troubleshoot, and adjust. Pain shouldn’t be a part of anyone’s sexual experience (unless they want it to be).
  • Lube, lube, lube. We know we’ve talked about the importance of using plenty of lubricant a lot already in this guide, but we just have to say it one more time: USE PLENTY OF LUBE. When in doubt, add more. There’s virtually no such thing as using “too much” lube.
  • Get turned on first! If you’re already feeling sexy, then it’ll be a lot easier for your body relax enough to enjoy anal. Sometimes, anal sex is easiest (and the most pleasureable) after you’ve already had an orgasm. Experiment with what works for you and your body!
  • Make anal a side act. If you know you love clitoral stimulation, then try adding anal play in simultaneously with your favorite clitoral toy! Experiencing pleasure in one part of the body deepens our overall connection with our entire physical selves, and opens our bodies up to even more pleasure.
  • Breathe. Often, when we are trying something new or experiencing something unfamiliar, we tend to physically tense up and our breathing becomes shallow. It’s important to stay relaxed and present, and taking deep breaths is one of the best methods for connecting to your body. If you find yourself getting tense or anxious during anal play, focus on taking a few deep breaths to help you relax.
  • Practice makes perfect! If your first attempt at anal sex isn’t flawlessly executed, that’s ok! Experience is the best teacher, so as long as you remain interested in and excited by anal play, you should keep exploring it. Move at your own pace, and make your own rules based on your wants and needs.
  • Anal isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok, too! Every body responds to different things. While some people may want and enjoy anal play, others simply don’t. Your boundaries are yours to determine, and should always be respected by your partners -- no ifs, ands, or butts.

And with that, we set you free to begin -- or continue -- your anal adventure! Be safe, have fun, and check in with your partner/s frequently. And remember: every body’s got a booty.

Blog, Education

“What Protections are You Using?”

Two People Wearing Face Masks and Drinking a Milkshake

Communication and Coronavirus

How We Can Use Our Interpersonal Relationship Skills to Communicate About COVID-19 Safety

By Felix Hart

As we learn to live in the era of coronavirus, learning how to communicate about potential spread and contamination risk is vital. Recently, I have been struck with how similar these discussions can be with sexual health discussions around sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Questions like, “When was the last time you were tested?,” and “Who have you come in contact with since then and what do you know about their sexual history?” feel very similar to questions around COVID like “Who do you live with, and who have you come in close contact with recently?” and “What are the risk factors at their jobs and homes?”

There’s a big difference between having sex with someone and getting within 6 feet with them, but the conversations require the same kind of honesty about risk and precausions taken. The words seem similar when vetting a new sexual partner as they are when discussing boundaries with a person who you want to be in a “germ family” with. 

Unsure where to start? Here are some potential questions to address with people you are close to right now:

  • What have their previous exposure and risk factors been?
  • What steps are you both taking to stay safer and reduce risk?
  • How will you communicate when a new exposure happens, or if someone in your world gets sick? How will safety precautions change if someone does get sick?

To make these types of conversations easier, plan to set aside a time to talk specifically. These conversations can feel awkward, and people may initially be reluctant to have them. Acknowledging that there is stigma and shame around illness can help us understand why many of us are hesitant to share our STI status or make plans for if one of us gets sick. Try starting by discussing why you feel the need to have the conversation in the first place. This will ensure that everyone’s concerns are heard and can be properly honored.

Just as with STIs, there is a shame-and-blame mentality emerging in our culture around this virus. This mindset is important to recognize so that we can unlearn it and change the narrative.

It’s important to recognise that getting an STI is a normal part of being sexually active--in fact, the CDC reports that more than 1 in 6 adults have genital herpes!¹ Similarly, getting Covid-19 is possible even if the person has maintained physical distancing guidelines and worn a mask whenever they have left the house.  In neither situation should the person be stigmatized. Instead, we must offer resources to help those who need it to receive the care they need.

Everyone has a different risk profile when it comes to Covid-19. Some of us are immunocompromised or older, and getting sick could have dire consequences. Some of us are connected to someone who is at greater risk so we need to take more precautions. But whatever your risk profile is, communicating about it to those you live with and come into contact with is essential to keep those at a higher risk safe during this time. 

Good communication skills are always amongst the most important tools we have in our relationships with others, and this strange new time we are living in is proving that. We only hope that this opportunity to better hone these skills will last long after the end of this pandemic!

Felix Hart is an As You Like It employee who brings a systemic, interconnected viewpoint to relationships, communication, health, and education. They have a background in cellular biology and are currently a Couples and Family Therapist intern at the University of Oregon centering diverse sexualities, identities and relationship structures.

Blog, Education

Insider Advice: Navigating the Sex Toy Store

This article was originally published 2/13/20 by the Eugene Weekly.
Written by As You Like It Employee, Melissa Padgett

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and you may be tempted to buy your sweetheart something sexy — but what? Chocolates? Massage Oils? Lingerie? Sex toys? All are excellent choices. But while some are easy to shop for, some are more of a challenge — especially if you want to surprise your sweetheart. 

(more…)
Blog, Education

Pleasure for Every Body

Pleasure for Every Body: The need for discussion of disability in sex
By keisha janney

Having a satisfying and pleasurable sex life should be available to everybody and every body who wants to have one. 

Sadly, one marginalized group in particular exists whose sexual health and wellness is still rarely addressed: disabled people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in four, or nearly 61 million, adults in the United States live with a disability. That means you or someone you know is probably living with a disability.

Unfortunately, we get a lot of messages from the mainstream media that tell us that we should be having sex in particular ways, or in some cases, not having sex at all. In the media, we rarely see positive images of disabled people. It is even more rare to see disabled people having sex. More often, we are portrayed as sexless and undesirable. Yet, like most adults, disabled adults also desire a full range of sexual pleasure!

Disabled people might benefit from additional tools to help them explore their full pleasure potential. There are a range of items that can be used to reduce barriers and to help create pleasure. The following are a few ideas for people with physical disabilities to experience pleasure.

For many bodies, using a firm foam wedge can be used to position yourself or your partner(s). A wedge can provide more support than a typical pillow and can be used in a variety of positions. Slip a wedge underneath your hips while you are on your stomach for penetration or stimulation from behind. Position the wedge under your hips while on your back to relieve pressure on your back or hips and still get a great angle for oral or penetrative sex.

For solo play, there are a variety of options for people with penises or vaginas. For clitoral stimulation, vibrating wands carry a lot of power and a longer handle that can be easier to hold than a traditional bullet sized vibrator. Some wands even minimize vibration in the handle to minimize irritation to a nerve injury or carpal tunnel. 

There are also several styles of insertable toys that can be put in place and operated with a remote or via Bluetooth. For stimulating a penis, vibrating sleeves can be used with an erect or flaccid penis to create pleasurable sensation. Additionally, there are a wide variety of anal plugs that vibrate, rotate and stimulate any backside!

Sometimes barriers to pleasure might require the support of a professional. If you and/or your partner(s) are experiencing sexual difficulties related to disabilities, consider reaching out for assistance. Eugene has several intimacy coaches, couples therapists and physical therapists who specialize in working with bodies of all abilities. These are professionals who have specific experience to help you find the pleasure you desire.

Pleasureable sex is not out of reach for any body!

Keisha Janney, MS, CFT, is a part of The Eugene Intimate Health Center and an individual and relational therapist in private practice. In addition to her work, Janney enjoys crafting, volunteering and spending time with her dog. For more info: eugeneintimatehealthcenter.org.

This article was originally published in the Eugene Weekly.

Blog, Education, Uncategorized

2-Minute Lube Crash Course

Lube is one of the essentials for a healthy and pleasurable sex life! And the lube you choose can unbelievably enhance your play, or ruin the moment entirely.

There are four main kinds of lubricants on the market today: water-based, silicone-based, hybrid, and coconut oil. Each kind of base has its own benefits and drawbacks, and potentially the most important factor when choosing a lube is preference. That’s why we encourage you to find a shop with testers available (like As You Like It!) so that you can feel, smell, and taste your options before buying. Some lubricants are warming or tingling, while some are flavored and edible! There is a vast range of lubricant options available, so no matter what you’re looking for in a lubricant, one exists that is perfect for you.

But how do you remember all rules for using lube? And how do you know what kind of lube to use for what kind of play? Great question! We made you handy chart to use as a cheat sheet.

These rules are not always hard and fast. Always ask a doctor or a sex educator you trust if you are unsure. For example, although silicone is a body-safe material, there is some debate on whether or not it is balanced with vaginal PH. However, for people who experience painful vaginal intercourse, a silicone lubricant may be your doctor’s recommended lubrication for vaginal sex. All bodies are different, and everyone’s body responds differently. We encourage you to explore your own chemistry!

In your exploration, remember that not all lubricants are created equal. Because lubricants belong to a relatively unregulated industry, you must be cautious and do your research when deciding what brand of lube to purchase. Not all lubricants on the market are body safe. Please be sure you are reading the ingredients of any lubricant that you are considering purchasing, and to know what to look out for, or make sure to purchase from a store that you trust to carry body-safe products, like As You Like It!

Bear in mind that even lubricants with the same base can have extremely different properties, including cushion, drag, texture, and scent. And no two lubricants are exactly alike, so if you haven’t found one that you love yet, keep looking! Your perfect lube match is out there — you just have to find it!

Education, How To

Tips For Setting the Mood

Tips For Setting the Mood:

In my youth, my former partner and I made a habit of playing loud music almost every time we decided to have sex. This is because each of had lots of roommates and thin walls. It probably clued them off what we were doing because our classic choice was the album ‘Kid A’ by Radiohead. I might be dating myself, but this was a time before internet radio and mp3 players were really a thing so if it was a particularly good night for us, they’d have to listen to the entire record twice.

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Blog, Education, Product Reviews, Uncategorized

The Often-Overlooked Wand

The Often-Overlooked Wand

Back in the day, your option for a good vibrator was limited. To one side was a cheap, pointed plastic tube you’d pop a couple of D sized batteries into (which ALWAYS rattled loudly after a bit). It just screamed THIS IS A VIBRATOR Y’ALL. The plastic tube was the ultimate first vibrator for many of us. It went through batteries like I go through a bag of potato chips and was purely utilitarian. My fondest memories of my first vibrator mostly involved hiding it from parents and roommates.

Somewhere in the middle we had the “awkward animals” section of sex toys. They were soft, made of questionable material (jelly, anyone?), and inevitably were molded to look like something saccharinely cute. If you wanted a soft vibrator, this is what you got. These vibrators were noted for being oddly creepy and impossible to clean. If you were caught with one, you would inevitably have to first talk about how you weren’t sexually attracted to teddy bears in hats, but it was one step up from dolphin and cat, so you went with it.

In the corner was the wand. Huge, with a never-long-enough cord, and somewhat reminiscent of a large microphone they sat in their innocuous cardboard boxes in an unsexy display. If you fired one up, you found that it sounded like first gear of a Harley-Davidson. But it had something nothing else had. Those wands had the power. Some of us smiled as we felt the mind-numbing tingle at the tips of our fingers, knowing full well what this want could do. Too bad the wands had a maximum of two speeds (high, and higher), weird vinyl heads, could wake the dead, and a fit of passion could summarily unplug it.

We’ve come a long way, baby. If you wandered around the store today you’d find pulsators designed with NASA technology, a rechargeable battery the size of a thumb that will knock your socks off, and nary a teddy bear or suspicious jelly rubber device in sight. Smooth, sexy silicone and hand-held vibrators for whatever strikes your fancy. Yet, we still have a shelf devoted to the wand.

A new customer was browsing today, marveling at the new products. They got to the wand shelf and exclaimed, “Oh, old school!”. And suddenly I wanted to come to the defense of the wand, the true workhorse of vibrators. Here’s why the might wand is not only relevant, but essential to many people.

1) They have ‘oomph’: If you need strong sensation to have an orgasm, there’s nothing like a wand. Nothing. Most have a delightfully low rumble with no hints of obnoxious buzz. Pure delightful power.

2) The redesigns have fixed most of the worst issues: Come touch the fairly quiet, silky silicone, rechargeable wands we have in and tell me that’s what you were imagining. Then fire it up and remember the feeling…

3) Yeah, wands have something to grab onto that isn’t vibrating that much. If you’ve ever had “buzzy fingers” I don’t need to explain further.

4) It’s long: This is an upside. For solo use or with partners, for a variety of reasons sometimes it’s hard or impossible to keep a vibrator on that special place without a shoulder cramp or losing grip. For some people with mobility issues a wand is a great answer, especially now you can get some very light ones.

5) It doesn’t scream SEX TOY: Got snoops? Travelling? You can still make a case this is for your poor achy back muscles. After all, that’s still what the pictures on the box show. Or you could say “Yes, that is a sex toy. And you just touched it.”

6) And last but not least, are they still bulky?: Yep. Nature of the beast. Some are much slimmer but there you have it.

So, stop in, and remember the good things about the maligned wand-style vibrator and forget the bad.

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Education, Product Reviews

Buy It Once Products That Last A Lifetime

Buy It Once Products That Last A Lifetime:

Introducing our As You Like It: Buy It Once Certification. These are toys that, with ordinary care and use, will last a lifetime. Toys that can safely last for your lifetime are beneficial to your sexuality, will save money over time, and promote a more eco-conscious way of shopping. No motorized toys will make the list, because after a certain period of use even the best made motorized toy can break. So, enjoy this (non-exhaustive) list of toys and companies we believe will serve you well as long as you want to use them.

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