I first learned about doulas and midwives when I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born. This documentary follows expecting parents and gives information on hospital births and home births, comparing and contrasting the two. If you’ve never heard of either of these roles, it can be easy to conflate the two. Although doulas and midwives can work together to facilitate an at-home or hospital birth, they play slightly different roles in the birthing process.

What is a midwife? 

Midwives are certified medical professionals who receive training that enables them to perform gynecological exams, prenatal care, family planning consultations, and delivering a baby. Essentially, anything that a gynecologist would do, a midwife can be certified and trained to do as well. Some midwives are even certified nurses as well. The main difference between a midwife and a traditional labor and delivery doctor is that midwives strive to facilitate “natural” or unmedicated births as much as possible, as long as conditions are safe. Because of this, midwives often are used for at-home births, although they could also deliver in a less traditional hospital setting as well. 

When hiring a midwife, it’s common for many expecting parents to also consult with their doctor and have a backup birthing plan for the hospital if there are complications with the home birth. It’s also important to note, between the midwife’s training and your doctor’s training, if there are any complications prior to birth that indicate an at-home, unmedicated birth would be dangerous, the midwife will assist you and your doctor at a hospital. 

What is a doula? 

Midwives assist with all of the medical support during pregnancy and labor, while doulas facilitate all of the emotional support during pregnancy, labor, and sometimes after labor as well. Doulas are trained in nonmedical techniques to assist during pregnancy and labor such as massage, meditation, alternate labor positions, and breathing techniques to assist during birth. Doulas can also advocate for you during birth, communicating your birth plan and desires to your doctor or midwife to ensure you get the birthing experience you want. 

For example, if you are experiencing a great deal of pain during labor, and your doctor dismisses the severity of the issue, your doula is there to advocate for you to ensure you get the care you need. Doulas can also help during the postpartum period as well, assisting with learning to breastfeed and helping you manage any hormonal changes, anxieties, or depression you might feel. 

Working with both doulas and midwives

Some people work with both a midwife and a doula, while others use a doula with their doctor, or just a midwife. Whatever option provides the most support and comfort during pregnancy and childbirth is the way to go. The training for midwives and doulas is quite different, as midwives have medical training, and doulas are trained for emotional and physical support. 

Hiring a doula or midwife to assist in your pregnancy, labor, and postpartum experience may relieve stress and provide immense support for you and your partner or family during the process.

Ever heard of mycoplasma genitalium? I had never heard of it either! That is, until a few weeks ago when I was scrolling through Instagram and a sex education account I follow posted about it. Mycoplasma genitalium, also known as MG, is a sexually transmitted infection that can be spread through oral, vaginal, or anal sex, as well as rubbing up on someone that is infected. It is spread through sex fluids, so it is not just spread through penetration alone. 

What are the symptoms of mycoplasma genitalium?

Similar to many other sexually transmitted infections, MG can oftentimes be present with no symptoms at all. In mild cases, it can clear up on its own. It is also not included in the standard STD screening provided at sexual health clinics or doctor’s offices. It is often only tested for if you present symptoms or specifically ask to be tested for it. If you have a penis, symptoms include watery discharge from the penis and burning, stinging, or pain while you pee. If you have a vagina, symptoms include abnormal discharge from your vagina, pain during sex, bleeding after sex or between periods, and pain in your pelvic floor or lower abdominals. There is not a test specifically for MG that is approved by the FDA, but it can be tested through a urine sample or via a swab test, swabbing the vagina, cervix, or urethra.

If left untreated, MG can cause urethritis, which is an irritated, swollen, and itchy urethra. It can also cause pelvic inflammatory disease in people with vaginas. It can lead to an inflamed cervix as well. Because it is a bacterial infection, it is treated with antibiotics, however, it is often tricky to treat in one round. Traditionally, antibiotics treat bacterial infections by damaging the walls of a cell, but pesky ‘ole MG doesn’t have cell walls, so it often takes a few rounds of different antibiotics to completely get rid of it. 

How can we prevent mycoplasma genitalium?

Safer sex practices such as condoms, gloves, and dental dams can decrease the chance of spreading MG, but since it can also be spread through sex fluids being rubbed on someone else during sexual activity, it’s possible it can still be spread even if someone is practicing safer sex. Since MG is not tested for unless specifically asked about, it’s important to stay in tune with your body and changing symptoms. A doctor would likely test for the standard STDs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, HPV, and HIV first, and if those came back negative and symptoms persisted, an MG test would likely be the next step. You can also specifically ask your doctor for an MG test if you suspect you might have it.

Treatments for mycoplasma genitalium

As with all STDs, if you find out you have it, you need to inform your sexual partners so they can also get tested, even if you use barrier methods for safer sex. Having an STD is not a big deal, and can be treated. In this case, MG is treated with antibiotics, just like infections in other parts of the body would be treated. Practice safer sex with condoms and barrier methods every time, stay in tune with changes you notice in your body, and get tested regularly to stay on top of your sexual health. If you do not have one monogamous partner, it is recommended to get tested after each new sexual partner, or once every six to 12 months. You can even get tested at home, so stay safe and have fun!

The Sexual Response Cycle was developed by sex researchers Masters and Johnson in 1966 after observing patients during various sexual activities. Although this model was developed so long ago, it is still widely taught as the way our bodies respond to sexual activity. In general, this model can help us understand what’s happening in our bodies when we experience sexual arousal and desire, but human sexuality is nuanced and varies widely, so this model isn’t perfect. I do think it does a great job of helping us understand generally what’s happening in our bodies when we experience sexual arousal. It is important to note that people of all genders experience the cycle, but in different ways and at different times. You and your partner likely won’t experience the exact same phases at the exact same time, and that’s okay. 

Excitement Phase

The first phase of the cycle is excitement. The excitement phase can last anywhere from several minutes to several hours and includes experiencing muscle tension, a faster heart rate and faster breathing, blood starting to flow to the genitals. This cycle can start even before you physically see or touch your partner, which I think is so cool! 

For example, if you’re dating someone and every time you’ve seen one another so far you’ve had sex, simply seeing their name pop up on your phone on the day of a date together can start this cycle because your brain associates them with sex. How wild is that!? As I mentioned, this phase can last anywhere from a few minutes to hours, and of course, can vary in levels of intensity. Sometimes your mind can feel desire, but perhaps your body doesn’t yet, or vice versa. 

Plateau Phase

The second phase is plateau. During the plateau phase, all of the experiences from the excitement phase continue but slowly increase with intensity. Perhaps the feelings you initially feel thinking about seeing your partner later increase when you actually see them or when they kiss you hello. This phase could also occur when you and your partner(s) actually start being physically intimate with one another. 

All of the things in the excitement phase are continuing, and the genitals get more filled with blood. Your breathing and heart rate increase even more, as well as your muscle tension. Some people also experience muscle spasms during this phase in other parts of their body besides their genitals. Even though this phase is called “plateau,” the arousal and sensations in the body are still increasing here little by little. 

Orgasm Phase

The third phase is orgasm. A very important note to make here is that not everyone experiences orgasm every time or even most of the time they have sex with a partner. Orgasm shouldn’t be the only goal of sexual interaction, pleasure should be! Although this is included in the response cycle, I want to acknowledge that this is not accurate for a lot of people. 

During orgasm, people can reach the climax of their sexual experience. This climax can include orgasm or involuntary contraction of the muscles and genitals. Blood pressure heart rate and breathing are all at a high, and a great release of sexual tension can occur. The vagina and uterus involuntarily contract here, and the penis can ejaculate. Some people also experience a flush of color on their face or body in this phase. 

Resolution Phase

The final phase of the cycle is resolution. During resolution, the body slowly returns back to its natural resting state. The heart rate slows, the muscles relax, and the increased blood flow to the genitals returns to its resting state. During this phase, people may feel relaxed, more connected to their partner, or even snuggly and tired. This phase is a great opportunity for partners to discuss aftercare, or ways to feel safe and comfortable after sex. People with vaginas should always pee right after sex during this period. 

What if I experience the sexual response cycle differently?

Generally speaking, this is the cycle our bodies go through during a sexual encounter with someone else or ourselves. As I mentioned, this model isn’t totally accurate to how people experience sexual arousal, but generally speaking, it can give us an idea. This model presents the sexual response in a very straightforward, linear way, and that is not always accurate. For example, orgasm might not be part of everyone’s sexual response, and that is normal. 

Perhaps there are some encounters where you experience the excitement and then resolution, never experience a plateau or a climax. That is normal. It is also normal to not experience these phases at the same time, in the same way, or at the same level of intensity as your partner or partners. For example, it is not likely that everyone involved in a sexual encounter will experience orgasm at the same time. One partner might naturally spend more time in the excitement or plateau phase before reaching a climax. One partner might feel more energized during the resolution, while the other might feel sleepy. All experiences are normal!

My favorite thing I’ve learned in studying the sexual response cycle is learning more about the excitement phase. I love knowing that this phase can start by even just seeing your partner without physically touching yet. That is so cool! 

Are there other models of sexual response?

Since this cycle was first established in 1966, other researchers have written and observed more accurate ways to describe the sexual response that accounts for all of the variations in sexual experience and desire people have. These different models can be found with a little extra reading, but the Masters and Johnson model still remains the most widely taught, despite its shortcomings. Other models developed in the years after Masters and Johnson account for acknowledging desire, pleasure, and satisfaction as part of the sexual response and someone’s interest in seeking out sexual activity with a certain partner again. 

Next time you experience the sexual response cycle, it might be interesting to tune into your body and see how you’re really feeling. Notice if the excitement phase starts by simply knowing you’ll see your partner later that day, for example. Think about what makes you feel totally cared for a safe during the resolution phase. Once you reflect, share that information with your partner for a more connected sexual experience.

Cannabis products are becoming more and more popular as more states make medical and recreational marijuana legal. Even in the states where that hasn’t happened yet, CBD products, such as CBD lube, are widely available. Like even at the grocery store. 

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, comes from the marijuana plant, but it comes from the part of the plant that does not produce psychoactive effects… so it won’t get you high. The marijuana plant contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD. When heat is applied to THC and put into the body it does create a high. CBD is the part of the plant that does not. CBD is extracted from the marijuana plant as a power or oil and can be taken a few different ways. There are creams and ointments for pain relief with CBD in them, as well as pills or capsules, vaporizers you can smoke, and the oil you can ingest directly or mix into a drink and consume that way. The most recent and spiciest CBD product I’ve encountered is CBD lubricant. 

How does CBD lube work?

Since CBD lube is a fairly new thing, not many official studies have been done, and most of the info we know about this lube is anecdotal. CBD oil, in general, can be used to treat inflammation, pain, and relax muscles. Using these properties in lube can help create greater arousal. CBD lube is also reported to decrease inflammation, relax muscles, and increase blood flow, all things that help prepare the body for sexual arousal, and could increase someone’s receptivity to touch. 

What are the different types of lube?

If you’re wanting to try out CBD lube, make sure you are getting lubricant and not just using regular CBD oil. The ingredients are different, and lube is generally made with ingredients that are less likely to irritate your genitals. Oil-based lubricants, which most CBD lubricants are, cannot be used with latex condoms, and there are very few condoms made of other materials that are oil-based lube friendly, so even if you get non-latex condoms, read the label! Skyn condoms, for example, are latex-free, but cannot be used with oil-based lube. Oil-based lubricants will break down latex condoms, which can cause them to break. There are some water-based CBD lubes, which would be compatible with all types of condoms and toys. Water-based lubricants are safe to use with all types of condoms.

If you do get your hands on some oil-based CBD lube, however, you can still have some fun. You could use this lubricant for some erotic massages or hand play. Just be sure to seek out water-based lube if you are using condoms or toys. 

Is CBD lube safe?

It’s also generally recommended to check with your doctor before using CBD products of any kind, as they could possibly interfere with certain medications. Also, be mindful of ingredients in the lube that could possibly irritate your vagina (or your partner’s). Alcohol can cause dryness after extended use, and sugars can cause irritation. Who knew?!

A popular brand of CBD sexual wellness products I came across is called Foria. They have capsules you can take, different oils, and lubes to try. Kush Queen (amazing name) is a popular water-based lube, so it can be used with condoms, and it is also great for sensitive skin because it has gentle ingredients.

I recently used CBD lube for some fun hand play, and it was definitely a different experience than using regular lube. I felt a slight cooling sensation when I was using it, and my partner felt the same thing. I felt a constant medium or strong level of sensations, but there wasn’t much ebb and flow to the intensity. I kept almost reaching climax, then it would dissipate and I’d go back to feeling the same extended pleasurable sensations. It definitely felt good the whole time, but it wasn’t exactly the experience I expected, so I’d definitely use CBD lube again. Next time, I’d seek out a water-based one, however, to experience a wider variety of sensations. If you’re interested or already are a fan of CBD products, I’d recommend trying it out. 

I recently saw a commercial that stopped me in my tracks! This doesn’t happen often, or ever, really. I heard the woman on my television say, “Flex Disc even empties itself out while you pee.” Excuse me?! Sure, I’ve heard of menstrual discs before. Even contemplated trying them. But a menstrual disc that empties itself out while I go to the bathroom? That was a novel concept to me! I had to learn more. And then of course share that knowledge with you all. [Photo Credit: Amazon/Hello Giggles]

What is the flex disc?

Flex Disc is a single-use menstrual disc meant to be worn for up to 12 hours. Flex Disc is made from a body-safe material, although the website doesn’t specify what that is. This disc is inserted into the vaginal canal and sits at the base of the cervix in the vaginal fornix. The disc collects your period blood here and leaves your vaginal canal open. 

The website mentions several times and even encourages Flex users to enjoy mess-free period sex while the disk is inserted. I love that! Since the disc sits at the opening of the cervix, the vaginal canal is wide open for business. Flex Disc users have also reported they’ve experienced less cramping since switching to the disc, and the disc produces 60% less waste than other disposable menstrual products. 

How does the flex disc work?

To insert, you pinch the disc between your fingers so it is as long and thin as possible. You insert the disc into the vagina, and when you can no longer keep pinching, release the pinch and push it into place using either a thumb or pointer finger. They also suggest doing some Kegels or squats once it’s in place to make sure the disc is situated. 

You can keep the disc in for up to 12 hours, and at the end of the day, or whenever you’re ready to change it, you insert a pointer finger to take it out. With clean hands, grab onto the edge of the disc, and pull it out of the vagina, keeping it as flat as possible to avoid spilling blood. You empty the blood into the toilet, then throw the disc away. Don’t reuse the disc once you take it out! If you have a particularly heavy period, Flex suggests emptying the disc out throughout the day, then inserting a new one. And here comes the good part! The disc can empty itself while you use the bathroom. 

How does it empty itself?

Essentially, the natural muscle tension of our body helps hold the disc in place as we’re living our life throughout the day. When you sit on the toilet, the muscles relax a bit. If you “bear down” slightly, the disc can somewhat pop out of place, emptying a bit of blood while you empty your bladder. With clean hands, use your thumb or pointer finger to situate the disc back into place just as you did when you first inserted it, then carry on with your day. 

This company stands out

The fact can the disc can naturally empty itself BLEW MY MIND! Our bodies are so cool. If disposable period products aren’t your jam, Flex does have a menstrual cup available as well. I’ve seen other menstrual discs on the market, but the period and sex-positivity that Flex has really stood out to me. They mention period sex several times on their website and use inclusive language to make it clear that this product is for anyone who has a vagina and menstruates. Check them out at flexfits.com

This year seemed to have been the year of the period underwear. Brands all over the market, across all different price points, created period underwear within the last few years, proving this is a product here to stay! Period underwear is underwear made out of material that will absorb your period blood, ranging from 1-3 tampons worth, depending on the cut and brand of the underpants. Recently I saw that period swimwear is now on the market as well. 

This surprised me and raised a lot of questions. How on earth could these still be absorbent when they’re submerged in water? What if my swimsuit gets knocked out of place slightly while I’m swimming or frolicking in the ocean? Lucky for you, dear reader, I investigated a bit and have some answers.

How does period swimwear work?

In doing my research, I found that Ruby Love and Knix were the two most popular brands making period-proof swimwear at the moment. Both brands, and period swimwear in general, use the same technology to absorb blood that period underwear does. Ruby Love had an informative video and diagram on their website showing the layers of fabric they use to absorb blood, but no specific info on how much blood their swimwear could absorb. Knix, also known for making bras and underwear outside of the menstrual care game, is a little more specific. Their website says their period swimwear holds up to three teaspoons, or two tampons worth of blood. 

At first I thought this didn’t sound like a lot of absorbency, but then I remembered we’re just talking swimwear here. If you were to go to the pool or the beach, you probably wouldn’t use more than two tampons anyway, depending on how long you’re there and how heavy your flow is, of course. 

What if I need additional protection?

Both websites also suggest that you can use the period swimwear as a little backup protection, wearing them with a menstrual cup or tampon, or you could wear it solo, relying only on the swimwear to manage your period alone. Of course, every person’s body and menstrual flow is different, so I’d advise wearing this swimwear on your lightest days at first, or using a tampon or menstrual cup with it as you’re getting used to the product. Although, if you’re already a fan of period underwear, and already know what days of your period you can confidently wear them and have no leaks, then you might as well give it a go. If you already have used Knix’s period underwear, for example, their swimwear would likely work exactly the same way.

Would you try period swimwear?

I love that we are making more and more strides in period management as each year passes, giving people a lot of options for their period care. I think I’d try the period swimwear perhaps on a light day on my period. I do have faith that this swimwear could absorb my period while I and my body are dry, but I don’t quite understand how it could keep that period blood locked in when I jump in the deep end. All of the information out there suggests period swimwear, no matter the brand, can do just that, so I’ll have to try it out myself.  Find more info on Ruby Love and Knix on their websites. 

It’s the holiday season, baby!!! Typically the winter holidays mean lots of stress, lots of shopping, and lots of family time. Three things that don’t scream sexy sex time, right? Although this time of year is full of things that could cramp your sexual style, such as staying in your childhood bedroom a wall away from your parents while home for the holidays, I’ve got some holiday season sex tips for you!

Reduce the stress this holiday season

A large reason it is hard to get some sexiness going through the holidays is the stress! If your partner is the one hosting, cooking, buying all the presents, wrapping all the presents, and inviting everyone to your home, they do not have the time or energy to think about having sex with you! Share in some of those responsibilities! Finish up the shopping and wrap everything for them. Ask them what they need help with. Not only is this super thoughtful and lovely, but it frees up their schedule a bit.

Get out of the ordinary 

If you’re going home for the holidays and are staying with family members and don’t feel like you can fully get your freak on, consider staying in a hotel. If you don’t have the means to do this or you just don’t want to, this presents an opportunity to get creative. Try and have completely silent sex. Fun! Have sex in the car after running errands together. Schedule a sexy interaction during a small window of time when everyone else will be out of the house. Discreetly sext each other throughout the day in front of everyone. No one will know!! The disruption from the ordinary is fun, and the feeling of getting away with something sexy that no one knows about is fun too!

Make holiday season sex playful

Get playful! Dress up as a sexy Santa, Mrs. Claus, or another holiday-themed thing. An elf, perhaps? Do naked holiday cookie frosting. Spread the frosting on each other’s bodies. Lick it off! Gift each other certificates promising fun sexy stuff like a massage or romantic date. Even if you feel silly, tapping into your sense of play makes sex fun! 

Flirt it up and stay safe

If you’re single and ready to mingle this holiday season, flirt it up!! Flirt with everyone and expect nothing in return. Freely flirting helps you tap into your own sexy side, just for you. It’s fun to share that with others. Plus if you’re practicing freely flirting, then you’ll get really good at it and can use some of my holiday tips anyway. Just make sure you are safe. Ask your partner about their STD status, (preferably not in the heat of a sexy moment), use condoms or dental dams, and make sure you have consent!

Find time for intimacy, even if it’s not sex

If all else fails, embrace the coziness of the holidays and enjoy some wine in front of the fire together. Set the mood. The great thing about sex and intimacy is that there are no rules. Talk with your partner or partners about what excites them and what they like. Embrace the extra time off work outside of responsibilities to really take your time with each other and enjoy each other’s energy. 

Now that you’ve got all these hot holiday season sex tips, go forward and have some fun!

I love talking about birth control. If you’ve ever talked to me for an extended period of time, or heck, read any of these blogs on here, you know I love talking about birth control options. The pill, the patch, the shot, the ring, condoms, IUDs – the list goes on and on! It’s one of my favorite topics. Despite my passion for the pill (and other contraceptive methods), I found myself clueless recently when I realized I didn’t know what to do if I miss a birth control pill myself!

I’ve been on the combination hormonal pill (estrogen and progestin) for nearly a decade. During that time, I’ve never missed a pill. (Thank you for the applause!) Life got extra stressful recently and I was extra distracted because I opened up my pill pack one Friday afternoon to see Thursday’s pill staring me in the face. Since I had literally never missed a dose, I had no idea what to do. I immediately called my gynecologist and got some answers.

How does hormonal birth control work?

In order for the hormonal birth control pill to be most effective, you have to take it at the same time every day. The pill works in two ways: it thickens your cervical mucus so if sperm were to get into the womb, no implantation would occur. It also shuts down ovulation. This is the big one with the pill. If you’re not ovulating, no eggs are being released to be fertilized. If you miss a dose, this can throw off the delicate balance of hormones needed for ovulation to be shut down. This is why some people get pregnant immediately after coming off the pill. Of course, everyone’s body is different, but even one missed dose, depending on the timing, can cause problems. 

I called my gynecologist and asked to speak with a nurse. I told her I had forgotten to take yesterday’s pill, so I was 24 hours late on that dose. She said since I had only missed one pill this month, I could just take it with today’s pill, taking two pills at once. Since I only missed one pill in my monthly cycle, and I took it as soon as I remembered, I would still be protected contraceptive-wise. She did say that it’s possible I might have some breakthrough bleeding, or the length of my menstrual cycle at the end of my pill pack could be slightly different than normal, but I did not need to use any backup methods of birth control because I had only missed one pill. 

Protection if you miss a birth control pill

If I had missed more than one pill that month, I would not be protected contraceptive-wise and would need to use another form of birth control, such as condoms. If you miss more than one pill in a cycle, it throws off the process of stopping ovulation. If you miss more than one pill in a cycle, take your missed pill as soon as you remember, even if you have to take two pills in one day. Use condoms in addition to your pill until you have taken active pills for seven days in a row. You need active pills for seven days to reset your cycle. It’s also recommended to take emergency contraception such as the Plan B pill if you’ve had unprotected sex within the last five days if missing that second pill. If you have fewer than seven active pills left in your pack, take what’s left and skip the placebo pills to start your next pack early. 

In addition to not being protected against unwanted pregnancy during this time, you might also notice spotting. Your next menstrual cycle might be slightly longer or shorter than usual as well.

If you’re on a progestin-only pill, the protocol is slightly different. If you take your progestin-only pill anywhere between three and 12 hours late, then you’re late on your dose. Take the pill as soon as you remember, even if that means taking two pills in one day. It’s also recommended to use emergency contraception if you’ve had unprotected sex within the last five days of missing a pill. Use condoms in addition to taking your pill until you’ve taken your pill on time for two days in a row. Then your cycle is back on track. 

Backup methods when you miss a birth control pill

If you ever miss a pill and you’re unsure, call your gynecologist and ask to speak to a nurse. If you don’t have a gynecologist, call Planned Parenthood, and they can tell you what to do as well. Although this was my first missed pill in nearly a decade, people miss doses of their birth control all the time. Like I said earlier, the pill works best if you take it at the same time every day, but stuff happens and sometimes you forget. Take your missed pill as soon as you remember, and use a backup method of birth control if you missed more than one pill during your cycle. 

Trying a different birth control option

If you find that you’re missing pills frequently, consider a different form of birth control. Talk to your doctor to discuss what options are best for you. Birth control such as the ring or an IUD might be a good option since you don’t have to “take it” every day. If you love the pill, but find you keep missing doses, you can also have some strategies to help you remember to take it on time. You could set an alarm on your phone that goes off every day to remind you. You could also take it at a time of day when you know you’ll be doing the same thing, for example, if you eat lunch every day at the same time, take it with your lunch. Even if you’re not sexually active, taking the pill on time every day helps keep your hormones regulated and feeling good. When in doubt, call your gynecologist and ask for help.

A key component to great sex is communication. Thinking about what you want to do, will do, and won’t do, is a great way to set sexual boundaries for yourself and carry that through with sexual encounters with a partner. Talking about sex can sometimes be a little scary. We are socialized to never talk about sex, to keep our sexual desires a secret, and talking about sex out loud is taboo. I’m here to help you normalize talking about your desires, baby! If you can’t talk about what you want with a partner, then how do you expect to get what you want in bed?

What is a Want, Will, Won’t List?

A great tool for bringing up what you desire with a partner is a Want, Will, Won’t List. This is essentially a list of intimate and sexual activities that you can categorize as something you want to do or have done to you, something you will do or have done to you if your partner is into it, and something you won’t do or have done to you. You can make up the list on your own if you want, or you can find one online. 

How to write your Want, Will, Won’t List

The Want, Will, Won’t List can be filled out by hand, or there are some that you and your partner fill out online, then it only shows you the acts that overlap between you and your partner. That way you’ll only see the things that both of you want or will do. Having a list like this can be fun to help you and your partner think of sexy things to do together that you’ve maybe never considered. It’s also fun to fill out just for yourself as a tool to reflect on what you desire. You might also find that in filling out the list, some things don’t sound appealing at all, or some things are meant to stay just as fantasies. That’s great too. Every bit of information you discover about your desire will lead to a better sex life. 

Discussing your Want, Will, Won’t List

Once you and your partner or partners fill out the list, it’s time to discuss! I recommend discussing your desires separate from sexy time. You could talk about your list sometime when you’re just hanging out, or at the beginning of a date before you start hooking up. In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to clearly state what you are or aren’t into. Talking about what you want to do sexually with each other can also be a bit of foreplay, which is always fun.  

If you find yourself feeling nervous in discussing the results of the list, having one that generates the overlap between you and your partner can make it a little easier. That way, you’ll both only be talking about sexy scenarios that you’re both interested in. Getting better at communicating about sex outside of the bedroom will help make communicating about sex in the bedroom easier too. 

So what are some examples? 

Want: 

  • I want to give and receive oral sex
  • I want to cuddle after sex
  • I want to make out for a long time before getting naked

Will: 

  • I will use sex toys on my partner
  • I will watch a sexy video with my partner
  • I will explore anal play with my partner

Won’t: 

  • I won’t have vaginal or anal sex without a condom
  • I won’t have anything put inside of me without being asked first – fingers, toys, body parts, etc
  • I won’t have penetrative sex without foreplay

Usually, the lists you find online are much more extensive, but your list can include anything you can think of in a sexy situation. If you Google “Want, Will, Won’t List,” you’ll find plenty you can download and fill out. Have fun!

Content warning: This article discusses stealthing, a form of sexual assault in which a condom is removed during a sex act without consent. 

Stealthing is the nonconsensual removal of a condom during a sex act. This is sexual assault. Despite being sexual assault, this topic is rarely discussed, even though it happens too often. Thirty-two percent of women who sleep with men, and 19% of men that have sex with men have reported this happening to them. California just became the first state to outlaw this specific act, which I think is great progress in the right direction. 

Is stealthing assault?

Many people don’t discuss stealthing because I think many people don’t realize it is assault. If you consent to having sex with someone under the condition that they use a condom, then in the middle of sex, they remove the condom without you knowing, you are not continuing to consent to what’s happening. That is assault. This is a problem because it is sex without consent, even though it began consensually, but it can also put someone at risk for an STI or an unwanted pregnancy when the sex they agreed to with a condom would not expose that risk at all. Consent is essential for all sex acts. It’s essential in many of our interpersonal interactions in fact. Consent says that everyone involved in whatever is happening says “yes” to all that is happening. If someone removes a condom without the other person’s knowledge, it is impossible for them to consent to that.

How are stealthing cases handled?

California just outlawed stealthing earlier this year, and I hope this brings much-needed attention and discussion to this topic. Many sexual assault cases do not end in favor of the survivor, and the way investigating sexual assault cases in this country is handled is not great. This is a step in the right direction though, allowing survivors of stealthing in California to sue the perpetrators. 

I first heard about stealthing several years ago through an article I saw online, but I had never heard of it discussed amongst people I knew or in any discussions of consent. It was also a topic of discussion on the most recent season of “I May Destroy You,” where the main character is raped after being drugged, then several weeks later is assaulted again when her partner removes the condom during sex when she turns around to switch positions. She asks him about it afterward and he says he “assumed” she could feel that he took it off, blaming her for being upset. 

How can I talk about consent?

Hopefully, other states will follow in California’s footsteps and outlaw stealthing as well, furthering this conversation of assault and consent. Sexual consent is ongoing throughout a sex act. If someone agrees to sex with a condom, then that condom needs to stay on the whole time, unless there is consent for it to be removed. This act being outlawed can also act as an opportunity for people to further discuss consent. As I mentioned, consent is ongoing, and it can be changed at any time. It is a discussion. Sex without consent is an assault. Hopefully, this being outlawed can help acts of stealthing to decline, and other states will follow California’s example.