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Picture it: You’ve been having a lot of sex recently (yay you!), and are loving it. After a week or so of fun with your sex partner, you feel a little discomfort when you pee. Could it be? No, it couldn’t be … but wait, it is! It’s a UTI! You realize you forgot to pee after sex every time, and all the sex recently has caused a urinary tract infection. You’ve had many UTIs before, so you recognize the telltale symptoms and know you need meds ASAP, but don’t want to wait to schedule an appointment with your doctor. You know what it is, you just need some meds to feel better. Enter Wisp telehealth.

What is Wisp telehealth?

Wisp is a website where you can meet with a doctor, get a prescription, and get treated for your sexual wellness needs from the comfort of your own home. Wisp has several doctors partnering with the site, and you would have a telehealth consultation with one of them via webcam to describe your symptoms and receive treatment. 

What treatments can I receive?

Wisp offers birth control, emergency contraception, cold sore treatment, herpes treatment, treatment for bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, UTIs, and medication to delay your period. Although it is a little unclear from their website, it seems you purchase unlimited consultations with “Wispcare,” which is a subscription for $10 a month, or pay a one-time fee of $39 for a single consultation. After choosing the best option for your needs, you then consult with the doctor and get prescribed a treatment. It says that they accept HSA (Health Spending Account) and FSA (Flexible Savings Account) for payment, but it’s unclear without making an order if they accept insurance. 

I looked at the treatments for UTIs, and Wisp telehealth has several options for recurring meds like probiotics to be shipped to you each month, or one-time treatments like antibiotics. You can order your medication to your home, or pick it up later that day at a pharmacy. Although this seems like a great option for getting medication if you already know your symptoms well, I am still a little skeptical. 

What is the cost for Wisp treatments?

When looking to check out for antibiotics for a UTI, there were three or four prompts offering me other medications or products to buy, unrelated to what I needed meds for. It also is $65 for an antibiotic for a UTI, which is pricey. If you were to go to your doctor on insurance, the cost of the medication could be mostly covered with insurance. Again, perhaps they accept insurance, but it’s unclear without making an actual purchase, and there’s no information on their website about payment options other than accepting HSA and FSA. 

This could be a great option if you just want treatment for a condition you’ve had before (like a recurring UTI) without going to the doctor. They also offer a Symptoms Quiz if you are unsure what exactly is bothering you down there. Wisp could be a cheaper option if you don’t have insurance and pay out-of-pocket, as doctor’s visits without insurance can get expensive. I think it could work in a pinch, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it if you have the time and insurance coverage to go to your doctor IRL. 

Although not described in detail, this article on arousal non-concordance mentions sexual assault.

Are you sitting down? Because I’m about to drop some knowledge on you that will change your life! I’m here to tell you about something called arousal non-concordance. Arousal non-concordance is basically when your sexual arousal physically (in your genitals) doesn’t match up with your subjective arousal (how turned on you feel). You probably have never heard this term before, but I can almost guarantee you’ve experienced these differing levels of arousal before because it’s incredibly common. 

The origins of arousal non-concordance

I first learned about arousal non-concordance while reading Emily Nagoski’s book, Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life. Nagoski has written extensively on this topic and even gave a Ted Talk about it last year. Her Ted Talk is fantastic and I recommend watching it right after you finish reading this. 

Your genitals can respond to something that is sexually relevant without it being sexually appealing. If you witness something that is sexual, your body can process it as sexually relevant, regardless of if you enjoy it or not. Your brain is what helps you decide if you like and want that thing. Nagoski gives the example of reading a news article about a sexual assault and noticing her genitals feeling aroused at the same time she felt horrified by what she was reading. This doesn’t mean she is turned on by reading about assault; she had this physical response because her body is responding to something that is sexually relevant, but her mind knows that she obviously does not find this appealing. 

Another example she gives is that victims of sexual assault can sometimes orgasm during a rape or assault. In some court cases, unfortunately, people have interpreted this as consent. Because of the research backing up arousal non-concordance, we know that the survivor’s body processed this as something that was sexually relevant, which would be why they had an orgasm, but that does not at all mean they wanted or liked what was happening. 

How it helps us understand relationships

Arousal non-concordance can help us understand our own sexual relationships better as well. You may have experienced times when you are intimate with a partner and you are ready to have sex, but your genitals might not seem ready. Similarly, you might have experienced when your genitals seem ready, but you are not ready yet. It is important that your partner listens to your words and not your body. Even though your genitals might be hard or wet or whatever else, you decide if and when you are ready to engage with someone sexually. You should never second guess yourself or have your partner convince you you’re ready because of what your genitals are saying. Your genitals respond if something is sexually relevant, but you respond if you like or want that sexually relevant thing!

The overlap between genital and subjective arousal

Based on the research behind arousal non-concordance, there is a 50% overlap between genital arousal and subjective arousal for someone with a penis. For someone with a clitoris and vagina, there is only a 10% overlap between genital arousal and subjective arousal. That means that for someone with a penis, about 50% of the time their genitals and mind will be equally aroused, but for someone with a clitoris, this perfect overlap only occurs 10% of the time!!! That’s why it is so important to have your partner trust your words and not your genital’s response in a sexual situation. That’s also why your genitals can respond sexually to something that is not appealing to you.

Now that you know about arousal non-concordance, what can you do with this enlightening information? As Nagoski suggests in her book and Ted Talk, tell someone about it. Spread this exciting news and know that you are not sexually twisted or broken. Tell your partner to trust your words and not your genitals. Finally, if you’re someone who experiences only the 10% overlap, pay attention to your subjective arousal (how mentally turned on you are) and buy some lube to help with the rest. 

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.

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!

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!

Seventy-five percent of people with vaginas experience at least one yeast infection in their lifetime, while nearly 30% of people will experience bacterial vaginosis. Yeast infections and bacterial infections are extremely common, and in fact, you’ve probably experienced one before. Although they are so common, they are not commonly talked about due to stigma or discomfort, so you might not even know the difference between the two. Luckily, I have no discomfort in talking about anything related to sexual health or vaginas, so I can tell you all about these two infections experienced by nearly everyone with a vagina!

Yeast and bacterial infections are both types of vaginitis. Vaginitis is when the vulva (the outer folds of the vagina), and/or vagina (the actual canal inside the body), are inflamed and irritated. This is caused by a number of different things such as wearing a wet swimsuit for too long, using scented laundry detergent, or having sex. 

What are yeast infections?

A yeast infection, also known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, occurs when the natural yeast in your vagina grows out of control. Vaginas have yeast in them, and this yeast usually exists without any problems. Your vaginal yeast can grow out of control if the natural balance of your vagina gets thrown off. This can happen due to changes in hormones during a menstrual cycle or pregnancy, from taking antibiotics, a weak immune system, or through a “natural reaction to another person’s genital chemistry.” Yeast infections aren’t contagious, and they aren’t STDs, however, you could disrupt your body’s natural yeast by coming in contact with someone whose genital yeast you don’t jive with. For example, you could get a yeast infection after having sex with a new partner because their genital yeast irritates you. Crazy, right? Additionally, if you notice certain products like bath bombs or laundry detergent irritate your vulva, get rid of them, as these can cause the infection as well.

What are the symptoms of yeast infections?

The most common symptoms of yeast infections are redness, itchiness, and discomfort of the vulva and vagina. You might experience some thick, white, “cottage cheese” like discharge, although not everyone with a yeast infection has a change in discharge. Although the discharge might look different, a change in the smell of discharge with a yeast infection isn’t noticeable. You might also notice a white coating in the folds of your vulva or vagina. If you have a lot of irritation or if you scratch at your itchy crotch, it might also sting a little bit when you pee. Although these symptoms might seem alarming, yeast infections are easily treatable.

Yeast infections are treated with anti-fungal medicine in the form of a cream or pill. You can get over-the-counter yeast infection medicine like Monistat, or your doctor can prescribe you some. Usually, this cream can be put on the vulva and is inserted into the vagina as well. Although yeast infections aren’t STDs or contagious, you should wait to have sex or put anything in your vagina until you are done with your treatment to avoid further irritation. 

What is bacterial vaginosis?

Now, onto bacterial vaginosis! Similar to yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis or BV, is caused by an imbalance in your vagina. BV is caused when the healthy bacteria in your vagina get out of balance and grow too much. Anything that throws off the natural pH of your vagina can incite this imbalance and lead to BV. A lot of things can throw off your vaginal pH, including scented pads or tampons, scented toilet paper, having new or multiple sexual partners, or douching. Truthfully, a lot of the things that can cause a yeast infection can also cause BV.

How is it different from a yeast infection?

Eighty-four percent of people with BV don’t experience symptoms or their symptoms are so mild they don’t even notice. If you do experience symptoms, however, they include irritation similar to the yeast infection, and a fishy-smelling discharge that can be thin, milky white, or grayish in color. The fishy smell is often strongest after sex or while you pee. As with a yeast infection, BV isn’t an STD and is easily treatable, although having BV can increase your risk of getting an STD.

BV is treated with antibiotics. Similar to yeast infection treatment, these antibiotics are either in gel or cream form that you put in the vagina or in a pill form. Again, wait to have sex or put things in your vagina until you finish your antibiotics and your symptoms clear up. If you have frequent bouts of BV, taking probiotics can help balance out your body’s natural bacteria.

Although uncomfortable and annoying, both of these forms of vaginitis are fairly common, and you’ll probably experience one or both at least once in your life (if you have a vagina of course). Because these infections are so common, there’s no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed if you experience either. The yeast and bacteria in your vagina can be thrown off by many little things, so it is important to pay attention to your body, your vulva, and your vagina. It’s easy to discount a little itchiness or discomfort as “normal,” but it could be your body telling you that you have a yeast or bacterial infection. Pay attention to your symptoms and see a doctor if you think you have an infection. After a few days of taking medicine, you should feel better!

People feel weird talking about sex. There’s a lot of worry about whether or not we are “normal” when it comes to sex: Do I want it enough? Do I want it too much? Am I having sex the “right” way? If you’ve been here around long enough, you know I’m all for talking openly about sex and spontaneous or responsive desire without shame. Discussing sex creates a more sex-positive culture, which leads to better sex lives for people because we are informed and confident. Because people feel so self-conscious talking about sex, there are a lot of misconceptions about how you “should” be when it comes to sex, and if you don’t fit into this box of how you “should” be, you might feel ashamed.

What is spontaneous desire?

We grow up being taught that we should experience spontaneous arousal. Spontaneous desire is when you feel aroused and interested in having sex spontaneously or out of the blue. Perhaps you are watching tv and all of a sudden you’re horny, or you wake up in the morning and feel super aroused. Most people probably feel a good amount of spontaneous arousal when they are first being intimate with a new partner, but how spontaneously you experience desire will change throughout your life. 

What about responsive desire?

Responsive desire is when you feel desire and arousal in response to pleasure. Perhaps you are watching tv and your partner snuggles up next to you and starts kissing your neck or massaging your shoulders. You think “wow that feels nice,” and you start to feel desire in response to what they are doing. 

Is responsive desire better than spontaneous?

Neither form of desire is better or more normal than the other. Culturally we are told that men typically experience spontaneous desire and that women don’t experience desire at all, which is untrue. All types of people can experience either type of desire at different points in their life and throughout different relationships. 

One of my favorite sex educators, Emily Nagoski, has written extensively on responsive and spontaneous desire, and writes about it in her book “Come As You Are.” Nagoski points out that despite the cultural idea that spontaneous desire is correct and any other type of desire means you have a low sex drive that needs fixing, there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims. She has done research interviewing men and women about their sexual desire, and both men and women experience both spontaneous and responsive desire, and both types of desire are healthy.

In an article for the New York Times and another for Medium, Nagoski writes about a drug called Flibanserin, created in 2015, which is also known as the “female Viagra.” The drug is intended to create a spontaneous desire for those who take it. As she mentions in her articles, the drug was created to treat low desire in women, as if lack of spontaneous desire is a disease — which it isn’t. The clinical trials of the drug were fairly unsuccessful and had several side effects.

How to communicate your pleasure needs

As Nagoski reminds us, focusing on spontaneous desire distracts from what is really important when it comes to sex: pleasure. We get too caught up in how much we do or don’t want sex when really the focus should be on the quality of sex being had. 

It’s important to know what type of desire you experience so you can communicate that with a partner. If one partner experiences spontaneous desire and the other is responsive, the spontaneous desire partner might feel like their partner isn’t as interested in sex since they might not initiate as much. In reality, their partner is interested in sex, they just don’t feel desire until they experience some pleasure first. Communication is a great tool for a healthy sex life regardless because you can tell your partner what you want and they can communicate their needs as well. 

It’s also important to remember that neither form of desire is more correct. Responsive desire doesn’t mean you have a low sex drive or that your sex drive needs fixing. Pay attention to your body and what does or doesn’t make you feel aroused, then communicate that with your partner or partners for a more pleasurable experience for everyone involved.

If you know me and have spent more than an hour of your life around me, you know I love talking about sex. If we’re good friends that share parts of our lives with each other, I probably have asked you “How’s your sex life?” or “What’s your relationship with sex and your sexuality right now?” as casually as I’ve asked you how your job is going. That’s because practicing sex positivity is super important to me!

I don’t necessarily mean I love talking about sex in a graphic, “give me every detail of your sex life and I’ll give you mine,” kind of way, but also, if you feel inclined to share, I’ll probably listen. I am incredibly passionate about sex education and normalizing talking about sex so we can take away the cultural shame and stigma surrounding it. I am sex-positive, baby!

What is sex positivity?

Since people’s relationship to sex is so diverse and personal, it’s hard to pin down one, all-encompassing definition for sex-positivity. In general, though, sex positivity is having a positive, open attitude around sex. People who are sex-positive view consensual sex as a healthy part of life that can be openly discussed without shame or awkwardness. It’s also important to point out that you don’t have to have sex to be sex-positive. You can have a positive, open attitude around sex without it being a part of your life.

Stigmas around sex

We live in a sex-negative culture, meaning we receive all sorts of negative messaging surrounding sex that creates shame and stigma. How often have you heard a woman or even teenage girl referred to as a slut for being sexually active? Sex negativity! The idea that “normal” sex only exists within heterosexual marriage and all other sex is taboo or wrong? Sex negativity! Masturbation is dirty and sad? Sex negativity!!! Despite being bombarded with oversexualized women in magazines and on television, and despite seeing graphic sex scenes in movies, we still have a bunch of shame around sex as a culture. Sex positivity is all about breaking up that shame and learning that sex is a natural part of life that can be discussed openly without judgment.

When was the term created?

The term sex-positive has actually been around since the 1920s when Austrian psychoanalyst William Reich coined the term. If this word and idea have been around since the 1920s, then why is there still so much shame around sexuality in our culture?! One large contributing factor is not having comprehensive sexual education in all schools. Some schools teach abstinence-only sexual education or even require a parent’s signature to allow children to receive sex ed, so some kids are either told don’t have sex until they’re married, while some children don’t get any information at all. 

Sex positivity in education

Comprehensive sex education teaches things like consent, as well as LGBTQ+ sex, information about STDs, sexual desire, and the biology behind sex. Having sex education be open and inclusive in the information it is giving will create healthier attitudes towards sex in children and teenagers when they are first learning about it. Studies have also shown that students who receive comprehensive sex education have their first sexual experience at a later age, have fewer instances of STDs, and have a lower rate of teen pregnancy. 

Now that you know what it means to be sex-positive, what are some ways you can practice this? For me, being sex-positive means knowing that sex and sexuality is an essential part of life. Sexuality should be celebrated. I feel free to explore my body and my sexuality without judgment or limitations. I accept other people’s sexual preferences and want to learn more about how people feel good, even if they are not my own preferences. I do not tolerate slut-shaming or the concept of “losing your virginity,” because these ideas perpetuate restrictions and shame put on people, especially young women when it comes to sexual expression. I also know that not everyone wants to have sex, and that is also part of being sex-positive! 

A really important part of sex positivity to me is wanting to learn more about sex and sexual expression. I also strive to never “yuck” somebody’s “yum,” meaning just because someone is into something you wouldn’t find pleasurable, don’t shame them for it! It’s good for them, but not for you, and that’s okay. 

If you’re interested in becoming more sex-positive, but don’t know where to start, look online. There are so many amazing sex educators online who help normalize talking about sexuality. Three of my favorite educators are Esther Perel, Shan Boodram, and Hannah Witton. Start with some education, and eventually, you’ll feel open to discussing sexuality as well. Let’s leave sex-negativity BEHIND in 2021. Sex positivity only going forward!

Our bodies are truly amazing! They help us breathe, walk, protect us, and literally bring new life into this world! They also help us experience pleasure, which is an added bonus! A lot of people don’t often think about the transition from giving birth back into having intercourse or penetrative sex, and let me tell you, it’s important to be informed! I recently was listening to a podcast where the author of the book Like a Mother, Angela Garbes, was talking about her first time having sex after giving birth.

In a hilarious and alarming turn of events, she squirted breast milk out of her nipples as she orgasmed! Apparently, the same hormones are released during breastfeeding and orgasm, and her body got confused. Is this normal? Will this happen to me? What even is “normal”?!

First thing’s first: when it comes to sex and sexuality, there is no “normal.” Every person’s body and level of desire are different. Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

How long to wait to have sex after giving birth

Although there’s no set time you must wait to have penetrative sex after giving birth, it’s recommended to wait between four to six weeks, regardless of delivery method. If you had a vaginal delivery, your body needs to recover! Your vaginal tissue is thinner than before, your vagina is tired, and you may even need to recover from some tearing. If you had a C-section, that is major surgery! You were cut open, your organs were moved aside, and a human was lifted out of you! Your body also needs time to heal and recover. Although this is the recommended time to wait, pay attention to your body. If you need more time to heal, take more time. Make sure to communicate with your partner about how you and your body are feeling so they can be kept in the loop as well.

What is my body doing after birth?

Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy and childbirth, so it’s important to pay attention to how you are feeling. After giving birth, estrogen levels drop severely. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for natural lubrication in your vagina, so once these levels drop, your vagina will be dryer than usual until the hormones balance back out. Additionally, if you are breastfeeding, that can also increase vaginal dryness. When you are ready to have intercourse again, use lube baby!!! Also, take it slow and enjoy some foreplay with your partner to allow your body to relax and get its natural lubrication going as well. Technically your chances of getting pregnant while breastfeeding are extremely low, but this isn’t a foolproof method of birth control. Use another method like condoms or an IUD. You can even use the progestin-only pill, but avoid any birth control with estrogen in it. This can lead to blood clots if used immediately after pregnancy.

Additionally, after giving birth, your vaginal tissue is thinner. This is also due to your hormone levels drastically dropping. This can lead to pain during sex. The tissue won’t stay this way forever, but just know that sex initially might feel different or more uncomfortable because of this. You might experience dryness as I mentioned above, you might have more pain or even bleeding, fatigue, or low libido. Your pelvic floor muscles also need to be strengthened after you give birth, and tired pelvic floor muscles can cause less intense orgasms. Those are easily strengthened with Kegel exercises though.  

Just be patient!

The biggest thing to remember when getting back in the sex-game post-baby is to be patient with yourself! Your body has just undergone a HUGE change and experienced something a little traumatic- either major surgery or pushing a human out of your vagina. The dynamic between you and your partner has also likely shifted a bit because you are now parents. You are tired. You have a baby to think about and care for 24/7. You also might feel like everyone needs your body and you have no energy to share your body with your partner at the end of the day. That’s okay. Communicate how you’re feeling! Talking about these feelings will also help build intimacy between you and your partner, which will lead to great sex when you’re ready.

You can also do other fun sexy things besides penetrative sex if you are not ready for that just yet. Passionate kissing, kissing anywhere buy the mouth, oral sex, finger and hand stuff, sensual massages, use toys on each other, take a bubble bath together, mutual masturbation. The list goes on and on!

Be patient, communicate your needs, and pay attention to how your body is feeling. You got this, mama.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. People of all ages are unfortunately subject to dating violence, but February is the time of year dedicated specifically to education and awareness around teen dating violence. Dating violence is using a pattern of aggressive or manipulative behaviors to control someone in the partnership. Dating violence could be physical, but it could also be emotional, psychological, or financial. Statistically, one in 10 teenagers will experience some sort of dating violence from a partner between the ages of 12 and 19. Since teenage years are when many people start with their first romantic and sexual relationships, it’s super important to teach consent from an early age. Although people of all ages experience dating violence, and it, unfortunately, happens all year round, you can use February as an opportunity to attend events or speak with a teen in your life about dating violence.

What is consent?

Consent is agreeing to participate in any activity, sexual or otherwise. Consent is a simple idea in theory – communicating if you do or do not want to participate in something. Oftentimes we get nervous talking about consent, especially in sexual situations. There used to be this idea that consent should be taught with a “No means no!” approach, but in some cases of dating violence, a victim might not literally say “no,” but they still do not consent to what is happening. If you don’t want something to be happening but you don’t say no because you’re scared, in shock, or overwhelmed, that doesn’t mean you consent. Rather than a “no means no,” approach, many sex educators are strong proponents of the “enthusiastic yes!” I’m also a fan of this approach to consent. An enthusiastic yes basically means there is no question about whether or not everyone wants to participate in what’s happening. The consent is incredibly clear and enthusiastic.

Healthy vs. abusive relationships

Consent is all about communication. Consent should be ongoing and can be revoked at any time. Just because you kissed someone once does not mean that you have to kiss them again if you don’t want to. Flirting does not imply consent. Wearing a sexy outfit does not imply consent. If you’ve been with a partner for years and had sex with them many, many times, you’re still allowed to not consent to sex with them if you’re not feeling it. If your partner reacts negatively or makes you feel bad for revoking consent, that is a major red flag. If your partner coerces you into any sexual activity, that is also not consent! If you say no and they keep begging you or try to convince you that you should participate, that is not consent! The National Domestic Violence Hotline has amazing resources for teens and adults, including lists of what a healthy vs. abusive relationship looks like, as well as resources for teens to connect with if they need help. 

Consent can be as simple as allowing someone to hug you, or consenting to being in a relationship in the first place. It obviously comes into play in an extremely important way with sex. You are allowed to say no and revoke consent at any time, and that does not make you a bad person. Young girls are cultured to be agreeable and kind, and oftentimes they can feel like they’re being mean or rude if they turn someone down. Prioritize yourself and your comfort level. 

How to talk about consent

There’s this idea that giving consent isn’t sexy because it “ruins the moment.” Do you know what ruins the moment more? Being forced to do something you don’t want to do. And if your partner is a decent human being with empathy, they should be jazzed to know that everyone involved is 100% excited about what’s happening. Consent is sexy! Simply ask your partner, “Is this okay?” as you slowly start doing something else. Ask them what they like. Have them tell you what they want you to do. Make it flirty and fun and sexy! Make a “Want, Will, Won’t List” – a list of things you want to do, things you will try, and things you absolutely won’t do. Talk about it together. Most importantly, make sure you pay attention to your partner’s answer and respond accordingly. 

Consent doesn’t have to be verbal, but when you are physical with someone for the first few times, it probably would be most comforting to be verbal since you don’t know each other’s body language well yet. After you’ve been in a relationship with someone perhaps you’ll understand their cues better and you can consent with nonverbal reactions. You could also have some fun and make up some sort of code word or code signal to nonverbally consent with your partner. Make consent part of the sexual activity you’re doing. Open communication is key to consenting. 

I once had a friend who told me if you and your partner can’t talk about having sex, then you aren’t ready to have sex with them. I love this advice, however, with dating violence, not everyone is given that choice. That’s why it’s important to teach consent from a young age so teenagers and adults feel comfortable and confident setting their boundaries. 

Talking with your teen about consent and relationships

Additionally, talk with your teenagers about healthy relationships. Literally, every romantic comedy ever exhibits unhealthy relationship patterns and spins them as romantic. Relentlessly asking a girl out when she repeatedly says no thank you? Unhealthy. Showing up in a woman’s yard playing loud music to get her attention when she told you no thanks? Unhealthy. Showing up at a woman’s house or work or school because you want to run into her? Unhealthy. In fact, that is stalking. Calling and texting incessantly because they want to know where you are? Unhealthy. So much television and movies, and even music, romanticize these incredibly unhealthy behaviors so they become so normal that if they happen to us we think it’s okay. 

If you or your teenager want to learn more about unhealthy relationship patterns, The National Domestic Abuse Hotline and RAINN are both excellent resources for education and also for survivors.