Raising Awareness of Ontario’s Growing Gender Wage Gap Through Equal Pay Day 2016
April 19th, 2016 marks a day we’d rather not celebrate; it’s Equal Pay Day in Ontario.
Equal Pay Day is the day of the year when women in Ontario have worked enough to earn what men earned by the end of 2015. In other words, at a 31.5% gender pay gap, women have to work for 15.5 months to equal what men make in 12 (that’s an additional 3.5 months). The gender pay gap is even greater for women who are racialized, Indigenous, immigrants or temporary migrants, disabled, or LGBTQ.
Equal Pay Day in Canada
Across Canada, six provinces–Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Quebec–have enacted specific pay equity legislation while Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and British Columbia have developed policy frameworks for negotiating pay equity. All provinces and Territories across Canada have human rights legislation which prohibits discrimination in employment. Federally, Canada’s first pay equity legislation was enacted in the federal jurisdiction in 1977 under section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). In 2004, a federal Task Force released a report with key recommendations including a new stand-alone equal pay legislation, but no such law has been developed.
Meanwhile, in Ontario…
In Ontario, the gender wage gap in 2011 (the most recent year of available data) was 31.5% and up from 28% in 2010. That means women made 68.5 cents to every dollar a man made in 2011, down from 72 cents in 2010. For that same period, men’s average annual earnings in Ontario rose by $200, while women’s average annual earnings decreased by $1,400. The wage gap is highest for women ages 35-44 (38.5%), while women who are racialized, first generation immigrants, or aboriginal fair worse than their male counterparts (24%, 27%, and 40% fewer earnings respectively). Taken over a lifetime, this means that women must work an extra 14 years and retire at 79 to retire with the same income as would a man at the standard retirement age of 65!
Wearing Red, and Other Awareness-raising Activities
In April 2014, the Ontario government agreed to hold Equal Pay Day on an annual basis to draw attention to the gender wage gap crisis in Ontario. Since 2013, Equal Pay Day has come exceedingly later, from April 9th, to the 16th in 2014, and now the 19th this year. There are many Equal Pay Day activities happening across Ontario and online. Supporters are encouraged to wear red to demonstrate that discriminatory pay gaps keep women “in the red,” and to share the hashtag #EPD2016 on social media.
In Ottawa, supporters will be gathering at the corner of Albert and Metcalfe Streets at 4:30pm - 5:30pm to hand out stickers and buttons. Further details about Equal Pay Day and the gender wage gap in Ontario can be found at http://equalpaycoalition.org/
The first time you decide to do a BDSM scene can be nerve wracking.
You’ve (hopefully!) done all the preliminary things, negotiated what you want to do, chosen your safe words or chosen not to use them. You and your partner are likely anticipating play, much like waiting for christmas when you were young. You both likely have some expectations about how things will play out, which may or may not be realistic.
Often people whose only experiences with kink have been adult material (books, video, the internet, etc), will have ideas that aren’t terribly feasible. Remember, you and (maybe) your partner are going into this without previous experience, you’re probably going to make some mistakes. Lets talk about some of the most common ones that people experience in their first few scenes.
Often there are complaints from one or both partners about going too far or not far enough. This can result from mismatched expectations and ideas, which is where more thorough negotiation is needed. It can also result from simple inexperience - partners who haven’t done something before may hold back for fear of making mistakes or push too hard due to overconfidence.
In both cases, clear and honest communication is the answer. If we check in with our partners during play, making sure that they are enjoying things, we will have a better chance of scene success.
Many people use the ‘traffic light’ system to communicate during play.
It’s fairly simple and ties into the use of traffic signals for safe words. The Top will ask the bottom “What’s your colour?” and the bottom will reply with “green” to mean good, “yellow” to mean they are getting close to a limit, or “red” to express the need to communicate further, stop the particular activity or stop play entirely.
Another way for a Top to get a feel for where a bottom is at is using the 1-10 scale.
Again, the top can ask “what number are you at?” and the bottom can reply with a number between one and ten. Generally for play that involves pain, it is good to keep the bottom around a seven. Going above that point is reserved for more intense masochists or scenes where you’ve negotiated a pushing of limits. Ending the scene before the bottom gets to a seven can result in the bottom not feeling satisfied with play.
Of course those are just general guidelines, everyone is different and play should be tailored for your individual partner.
When playing with a new partner, I would much rather have a scene be not intense enough, rather than too intense. I can always go harder or more intensely the next time we play, but I can’t take it back if I’ve pushed too far, if a bottom didn’t feel comfortable telling me when they were at their limit or other similar issues. I explain this to all my new partners, and most appreciate my caution - those who don’t aren’t a good fit for me.
Playing Above Your Skill Level
This isn’t a mistake reserved only for Tops, bottoms can overestimate their abilities as well.
As Tops, if we play above our skill level, we can have many problems. We could, as a worst case scenario, do something that causes injury to our bottoms. We could harm them in ways that they did not consent to and that we didn’t intend. Much of BDSM is potentially dangerous, and it is our responsibility to ensure the safety of our bottoms.
We can also lose the trust of our bottoms - especially if we cause injury, but also if they feel that we put them at risk because of our lack of skill. Finally, in playing above our skill level, we can have an awkward and unfulfilling scene.
Bottoms playing above their skill level risk getting hurt. The hurt could be physical in nature, if the bottom exaggerates their skill or experience in an area such as rope bondage, which can be physically taxing. Unskilled bottoms who exaggerate experience can risk nerve damage, since they don’t know when to tell the rigger about issues and may think that the issues they are experiencing are normal.
They can also be harmed emotionally, if a top doesn’t know about hidden triggers or other problems. Finally, they risk losing the trust of their Top, who has to rely on them to be honest about desires and limits.
Often, in our excitement over a scene we will not prepare properly. We have a super hot scenario running through our minds, but lack the skill to prepare for it or just get too wrapped up in the fantasy to do the mundane parts.
Before starting, it’s always wise to gather all your supplies, practice anything you need to and be sure you have things there ‘just in case’. This can include a way to cut rope for bondage, a first aid kit and even condoms, in case you’re both in the mood after or sex is a negotiated part of the scene.
Too Focused on the Details
Being too focused on the details can result in a scene that can feel scripted and mechanical. If you’ve fantasized about a scene for so long that you and your partner have to learn lines before you start, you may want to re-think things. While it’s best to go into a scene having a good idea of what you want to do, be sure to leave some room for creative thinking. Sounding like the Dominatrix from a bad porno is definitely not sexy!
Finally, the one thing that can often get in the way of a good scene are nerves! If this is something you’ve been fantasizing about forever, you may feel nervous when the time comes to actually live it. Try to relax - just don’t get into the ‘liquid courage’, you need to be sober and thinking for this kind of play.
Doing something for the first time is nerve wracking, but we’ve all been there.
Keep things simple, you can always get more elaborate later on.
You may feel more comfortable doing your first scene in the privacy of your own home, or you may want to play at a dungeon, where there are others you can ask questions of. It’s your choice, do what makes sense to you.
Now that you know some of the common pitfalls, you can hopefully avoid them. It’s really important to have a good, honest idea of your skills, be prepared (for the scene and for emergencies) and do your best to relax. After all, this is supposed to be fun!
What My Introduction Into the Swinging Lifestyle Has Taught Me About Myself and About Love.
The definition of “Swinging” courtesy of Dictionary.com:
a person or thing that swings.
Slang. a lively, active, and modern person whose activities are fashionable or trendy.
a person who indulges in promiscuous sex.
a person who engages in the exchanging of spouses for sexual activities.
Swinging seems to be the buzz these days, or maybe it’s just because I am newly aware of the lifestyle. It’s like when you buy a new car, suddenly you are hyper aware of all of the cars out there that look JUST like yours.
Unfortunately, as you can see from the definition above, there are some definite misconceptions about “swinging”, the least of which is that it means a person indulges in promiscuous sex. My opinion and definition of swinging is mine alone, and anyone can free free to disagree with me, but I’d like to tell it how I see it, and I don’t see it at all the way that the dictionary does.
It’s important for you to know that swinging can mean different things for different people. Some couples see it as an avenue to strange sex. Others might see it as an avenue to act out their fantasies in the safe company of their partners.
I’m a 30 something professional woman with a very healthy sexual appetite, and until recently I had very little outlet for my libido.
In the throes of the divorce of a 2nd marriage gone horribly wrong (for a multitude of reasons, but one big one was a complete lack of sexual compatibility) I had one of those moments where you fall head over heels in love with someone you never expected to meet, let alone fall in love with and dream about a future with… Tim.
Life happens. What are you going to do, flip the birdie to the Universe and say, “Sorry, not what I had in mind for my life”? Not this girl. The Universe and I are buds, it always gives me exactly what I need at exactly the right moment, whether I realize it or not.
So in the process of committing to and getting to know each other, and getting more and more personal about ourselves Tim and I established that we both enjoy sex more than maybe the majority of our friends, and that we were both proponents of a life theory similar to “free love”. The world would be such a happier, more peaceful place if people could just love each other, free from judgement, jealousy or self imposed dogmatic “truths” about the way life is supposed to be.
If you want to be monogamous, fine, no judgement here, but I’m guessing that if you chose to click on the topic of this post and you’re still reading, there is a part of you that’s interested in the lifestyle. Don’t be shy, it’s human nature to be curious.
It took me some time to understand some things: (To be clear, I’m still learning and adjusting, and there are still “I wonder what he/she is thinking” moments)
How does a couple keep things “fair and balanced”
Are there rules?
How will my partner feel after I’ve been with someone else?
How will I feel after my partner has been with someone else?
Will I be able to watch? Do I want them to watch me?
My Experience with Swinging
Now sit tight, I’m going to break down my experience for you, including the epiphany I had when my first “date” was over, but first I want to dive into the emotions around swinging a little bit. These are the emotions and thoughts that my partner and I have, they are certainly not gospel. (I wonder if there IS a gospel on swinging?)
My situation is special, in that my partner and I have a long distance relationship. With long distance love affairs, things can be really stressful and emotionally taxing at times. My swinging became a way for me to fulfill some emotional need as well as physical. Sometimes you just need to be held, am I right?
Tim’s view is that he wants me to have everything and anything that I need to make me happy. He knows he can’t be here now to fulfill my emotional and physical needs, so he encourages me to seek them elsewhere. We always discuss the potential “friends with benefits” that I am considering, but 10 times out of 10 he will tell me “If this feels good to you, go for it and enjoy yourself”
We spent hours over the course of our budding relationship talking about what we were ok with and what we were not. Some things were easy, like no sleeping over: that’s too intimate (I know, sounds crazy right?). Most couples who swing have rules, some refer to them as preferences.
- Never have intercourse without a condom
- No swallowing of bodily fluids
- No separate rooms during a party
- No lone dates (meaning they always play together)
Some of those rules or preferences (or maybe all of them!?) will change, develop and evolve over the period of a couples swinging “career”. The most important factor in a relationship like this, is communication.
Not every couple can take a trip down the swinging trail…it’s not for the faint of heart, it’s not for the couple without a rock solid foundation or at the very least, an epic strength of love and commitment to each other.
Couples will swing together, or for all intents and purposes, you can change the verb from swinging to cheating, which isn’t fair to anyone involved.
My first experience and my light bulb moment.
For the purposes of anonymity I’m going to refer to my first connection as Jack. I met Jack on a website called Swing Lifestyle . It’s much like any matchmaking website, you create a profile, upload pictures, search for people, window shop, or connect via their platform email, or instant messenger. (With video capability too)
I signed up at SLS upon the encouragement of my partner who had already been a member for some time. He was not new to the lifestyle. I found a couple of people (or couples) I found interesting, and decided to message them.
Jack messaged me back and we had a nice chat, volleying back and forth a few times. Then I had a little bit of doubt, and lack of clarity about what our rules were, so I put everything on hold for a while. After more conversations and more reassurances, I decided to reach out to Jack again after a few months had passed.
We decided to meet for lunch near my office and we hit it off right away. There was a physical attraction, and an ease of conversation. After a few more emails and phone calls, we set a date to “play”.
You’ll have to use your imagination about the details of our playdate, but the important thing that happened, was on my way home when I got this message from my partner:
“Thank you for trusting me enough to do this for yourself”
Wow. Bells and whistles went off in my head. Like a 2×4 between the eyes, I finally understood with complete and total clarity what this swinging thing was all about.
I had been really worried in the back of my mind, that he was testing me, testing our relationship, and as soon as I left that date, he would be letting me know that I had failed, I couldn’t be trusted, and he was through with me. (Hangups much? I know, I’m a work in progress)
For my partner and I, swinging is about being able to fulfill physical (and on some level, emotional) needs with other trusted people, without worrying or wondering about how your partner looks at you or feels about you.
Is it about fulfilling sexual fantasies with your partner? Yes.
Is it a free for all to fuck as many people as you’d like? It shouldn’t be.
Is it the same experience for everyone? No way Jose.
Since my first experience I have gone on to become really good friends with Jack, and another couple that he introduced me to. In the emotional difficulty that has surrounded my long distance relationship as of late, they have been of great comfort to me as friends, who sometimes play together. They have also gotten to know Tim from a distance which is of some comfort to both of us.
I’m still learning about swinging, I read the forums on SLS and talk to people who have been in the lifestyle for a long time.
I don’t claim to be an expert.
There are things I’m not yet comfortable doing such as attending the big parties where you can wander into private or semi privates rooms and play with strangers. Eeeek…..not there yet. That’s like the deeeep end of the pool, and I’ve still got my sexy toes in the shallow end.
Swinging for me is about freedom. Freedom to be who I am, do what feels good, and be surrounded by people doing the same.
Photo By: Brian Rouble of Shuttered Moments
Aka ‘Can I Really Lose Inches Using A Corset?’
After tons of research (click here to check out part 1 of this series) I made my decision on which corset to buy. I chose a size 22 (5.5 inches smaller than my natural waist) black satin underbust corset with 24 flat and spiral steel bones. Although there were cheaper options, all my research had lead me to realize that if I was serious about waist training then it would be difficult to find a corset that was going to be effective for under $100 USD. So, I invested.
Here is what happened over the next two weeks (including before & after photos and a special Free Your V discount code from Alter Ego Clothing for those of you who are in the market for your own corset!):
When I first tried on the corset I immediately saw a difference in my figure. I had a 27.5 inch waist at the time, and I saw my figure reduced instantly before my eyes. Although the difference appeared to be drastic while looking in the mirror, it was actually only a 1.5 inch difference when I measured my waist in the corset.
I had to fight the urge to do up the corset as tight as I possibly could, but during my research on corset training I had learned that it was important not to tighten my corset past 2 inches of reduction during the first 2 weeks of corset training. The first 3 weeks of wearing your corset is referred to as seasoning and it protects your new corset from being damaged. I found this fantastic graphic detailing the corset seasoning process in Waist Training 101 group on Facebook.
The easiest way to explain the seasoning process is to equate your new corset to a new pair of stilettos. When you first put them on, they look fabulous and you feel sexy! However, if you were to wear them for the next 12 hours straight, on your feet, with no breaks, chances are you would end up very uncomfortable, with big blisters on your heels, and no interest in putting your stilettos on again the next day. The same idea applies to a new corset.
I thought that the first would not be difficult, but I will admit, that I was happy to take the corset off that evening. Although it was not uncomfortable to wear in general, I spent that evening at a hockey game, alternating between sitting and standing up to cheer, while stuffing myself with popcorn. The restriction of the corset made the overeating process less appealing, which was likely a good thing. Who needs an extra large bag of popcorn to themselves anyways?
I wore my corset for 2-3 hours each day, while working. I managed to hide it under my clothing, without anyone noticing (as far as I know). What they did notice is how ‘fit’ I was. I got a ton of compliments on my figure (from men and women) and felt particularly confident.
When I took my corset off each day there were slight indentations in my skin, but nothing more than a tight part of pants would cause on my thighs.
Although I had been a healthy eater before starting to wear my corset, but wearing something tight while eating made me more aware of how much I was eating. There was no question that I was eating less during the meals when I was corseted, than the ones when I wasn’t. I also tended to choose items that were lighter; I was more likely to go with additional veggies on my plate then rice.
I will be honest, my lower back started to hurt near the end of the max seasoning time each day. I was concerned at first, as the pain would go away almost as soon as I took off the corset. The pain was only happening when I was sitting down. By the end of the first week I realized that was happening… I had better posture while wearing the corset and that was making my back muscles fight against the new position. As the days went on this discomfort began to fade.
The more I wore my corset the more comfortable I found it to be. The constant compliments from friends, colleagues, and strangers helped me to forge onward on the days where I wanted to take it off early. Although the lower back pain was almost gone by this point, I did began to notice other small annoyances, the worst of which was the increased gas and burping that I would get after meals when I wore my corset.
However, I also began to notice some really exciting changes. I lost an inch off my waist in the first 2 weeks. Although I did exercise (but NOT while wearing the corset- that’s just dangerous!), I did not exercise any more often than I did before wearing my corset. I did eat less during the meals when I was wearing a corset, but those meals were only once or twice a day, so I don’t think that the reduced diet alone can be to blame for the inch loss. Overall, I think that the combination of diet, exercise, and corset wearing had equal benefits.
Corset training clearly works, but it is certainly not easy. It takes self control to not over tighten or wear your corset for too long during the seasoning process. You need to be disciplined in order to wear the corset on a daily basis. Corset users also have to be willing to deal with a degree of discomfort (but this does reduce over time). And, like all forms of weight reduction, you need to be patient for the effects to occur. .
I am quite happy with the results that I achieved in 2 weeks and am looking forward to what will happen to my waist as I continue to train!
Hey lady! Where is that special Free Your V discount code from Alter Ego Clothing that you promised us?!?
Here it is: all you have to do it put in the code freeyourv when you go through the check out process on Alter Ego’s website. Be sure to check out their signature product, the Waist Trainer Steel Boned Corset.
Alter Ego Clothing Discount Code Corset Waist Training
I will be documenting my waist training journey for Free Your V. Click here to check out the other articles on corset waist training!
This guest poster is not a doctor, nor is she advocating that anyone try corseting before weighing the decision with a medical professional. While some medical professionals say that wearing a corset has no risks, others say that the risks are the same as wearing other constrictive devices, such as Spanx or skinny jeans; skin irritation and restriction to the area. Free Your V decided to post this series after reading Dr. Ann Beaumont‘s take on modern corset use:
“The corset controversy spans centuries, as it had defenders in both camps. Opponents cited that dislodged organs caused various health issues, and proponents who claimed that even the most extreme forms of lacing were without consequence for health. As evidence was never gathered in a scientific manner, it is difficult, but not impossible, to find a relationship between the two.”
aka Why Women Suddenly Develop Oscar-Worthy Acting Chops in the Bedroom
We read statistics all the time about how often women fake their orgasms (some research suggests up to 80% of women have faked it) - it is such a common joke in pop culture that it’s almost not even funny anymore.
But, the real question isn’t “how often”, but WHY do women fake orgasm?!
Why do we fake something that should be real and raw? What benefit do we perceive as greater than our own sexual satisfaction?
One groundbreaking study of 481 heterosexual college females has suggested that there are 4 main reasons driving women to fake their orgasm:
Altruistic Deceit: faking it to avoid hurting their partner’s feelings
Fear and Insecurity: faking it to avoid negative emotions associated with sex (or insecurity about their own sexual prowess)
Elevated Arousal: the “fake it til you make it” idea - faking it to heighten their arousal to lead to real orgasm
Sexual Adjournment: faking it to end sex
The very obvious flaw in this study is that all the participants were heterosexual.It isn’t clear if the results would directly apply to women who didn’t identify as heterosexual. In fact, the research in the area of non-heterosexual female sexuality is lacking. (Although, anecdotal evidence suggests that lesbians indeed fake orgasm…)
That being said, the most interesting reason to come out of this study is #3 - the idea that by faking our own arousal, we might actually become aroused.
It is certainly the most positive reason - in a very indirect way, it is a form of taking responsibility for your orgasm. Your partner might even respond to your fakery by amping up the intensity, provoking a real orgasm,
However, consistently faking your orgasm for reasons 1, 2, and 4 means there is little room for improvement in your sex life with your partner. (But you probably already knew that, didn’t you?)
So, how do you go from faking it to making it?
Yup, sorry. There is no easy way to go about this.
You have to stop faking it.
If you’re concentrated on your performance, you’re not tuned into your own body enough to experience the sensations that might push you over the edge.
Many women’s arousal stems just as much from their brain as their body (which is why reading erotica can be such a turn on) - so focus your brainpower on yourself.
Is sex better than Midol?
Many women have cramps during their period that make them feel anything but sexy. We investigate the question: does orgasm relieve menstrual cramps?
But in order to answer that questions, we have the understand what causes cramps in the first place.
What Causes Menstrual Cramps?
Most of us know that our periods are the result of the uterine lining being shed. The lining is created in preparation for a fertalized egg to attach- if none appears, then the lining must be shed.
As the cells in the uterine lining start to break down, compounds called prostaglandins are released. These molecular compounds stimulate the uterine muscles to contract. As the muscles contract, they restrict the flow of blood to the lining - without the blood flow and the precious oxygen it carries, the cells starve and begin to die.
However, particularly vigorous contractions can lead to the uterus pressing against the nearby blood vessels that deliver blood to the uterus itself – the pain is caused when those muscles briefly lose their supply of oxygen. (It’s similar to when you get cramps in your side during a run - your muscles aren’t getting the oxygen they need.) Severe menstrual cramps are actually called primary dysmonorrhea.
Additional compounds promote inflammation of the uterus, which can also lead to constriction of blood flow to the uterus, and more pain.
As the uterus contracts, the lining is pushed through the cervix and out through the vagina. If a woman’s cervix is particularly small, the passing of larger clots may also cause pain.
So How Could Orgasm Relieve Menstrual Cramps?
As you might already know from our “30 Day Orgasm” challenge, orgasms have a lot of benefits:
Orgasms are natural pain-relievers: oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin levels surge during climax. This both significantly increases your pain tolerance, and acts as a pain-killer.
Those pain-killing endorphins don’t just disappear after orgasm - they stay in your system, dulling your pain response long after the fact.
Some sources also claim that the smooth muscle contraction of the uterus that occurs during orgasm expedites the shedding process - which means more prostaglandins are shed as well. Less prostaglandins means less contracting, which means less pain.
In fact one study found
that [women] with less dysmenorrhea had higher coital frequency and nearly twice the frequency of orgasm as that of [women] suffering severe pain
So there is clearly evidence to suggest that orgasm (not necessarily penetration) could potentially relieve the symptoms of menstrual cramps - unless the cramps are caused by something like endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease. If you have persistent and debilitating cramps, see your healthcare provider.
Can women orgasm in their sleep?
Most people are aware that men have nocturnal emissions (aka wet dreams) – the evidence in the morning is pretty clear. But do women have wet dreams?
Although we may not be left with sticky sheets, we can most definitely experience orgasm during sleep - so yes, women have wet dreams!
In a landmark study in 1953, Alfred Kinsey found that by age 45, 37% of women in the sample had experienced a dream resulting in orgasm. (We like those odds…) And it wasn’t just a one-off (ha!) experience: women who experienced these “sleep-gasms” did so three or four times per year. Interestingly, a more recent 1985 study found the same percentage of the women involved – 37% - had experienced nocturnal emissions.
What is a Sleep-gasm?
It is an orgasm.
Orgasms that occur during sleep are essentially the same as orgasms that occur during wakefulness.
Typically, orgasms occur during “deep” sleep stages and REM sleep. That makes sense: during deep sleep, blood flow is directed towards the muscles – increased blood flow to the genital region mimics what occurs when you get turned on.
And in fact, the increase in vaginal blood flow that occurs during some REM events is identical to the increase in vaginal blood flow that occurs during erotic stimulation when awake.
That also means that nocturnal emissions may not be the direct result of a sexual dream – it could just be the body reaching a physically aroused state during REM sleep, and using orgasm as a natural release of that arousal. That being said, typically sleep orgasms occur during sexual dreams.
The vagina may lubricate, which may be the only evidence that an orgasm occurred during sleep. Some women report that the orgasm wakes them from sleep.
Why Am I Having Orgasms in My Sleep?
Some evidence suggests that
“Positive attitudes toward and knowledge of nocturnal orgasms, sexual liberalism, and waking sexually excited from sleep (without experiencing orgasm) were the most important predictors of nocturnal orgasm experience”
So having sexy dreams that result in orgasm doesn’t mean you’re unhappy with your sex life, or that you’re not getting enough sex.
It could just be the result of your sexually liberal brain in REM sleep!
Either way, it’s a very common phenomenon. (And not to worry if you DON’T have sleep-gasms – they aren’t the rainbow unicorn of sex.)
I get regular PAP tests. They’ve never been a big deal for me - my doctor even put warm socks on the metal contraptions that hold you feet, so I was never uncomfortable. The speculum they use to keep your vagina open never caused me any discomfort, and I never felt the little brush they use to collect the cells. So when I had a routine PAP test at my doctor’s office about a year ago, I thought nothing of it.
A few weeks later, my doctor called and explained that I had abnormal PAP test results .
Abnormal? What does that mean?
For some people, it is simply a false result, and nothing to worry about.
For me, it turns out I have a strain of HPV (Human papillomavirus), one of the most common STI’s in the world.
It is estimated that 75% of people will have at least 1 HPV infection in their lifetime - many will never know they have it, and it will clear up on its own.
What is HPV?
HPV, as it’s name suggests, is a virus. There are over 100 strains of HPV, most of which are totally harmless and your body gets rid of by itself: 70% of infections go away within 1-2 years. There are some strains, however, that can lead to “low risk” health problems (like genital warts), or “high risk” health problems (like cervical cancer). It can be transmitted by intercourse, “skin to skin” genital contact, and oral sex.
Unless the strain of HPV causes warts, there are no real detectable symptoms. The only way to detect HPV is through a PAP smear.
The strain (or strains - it is common to have multiple strains of the virus at once) that I had were causing changes in my cervical cells that were detected on my PAP smear. My smear showed that I had some atypical cells, but more info was needed to determine what exactly was going on with these cells.
So, what next?
I was scheduled to go to the “Dysplasia” clinic at my local hospital. Dysplasia just means abnormal growth in the cells on the surface layer of the cervix. At the clinic, I would undergo another PAP smear, a biopsy, and a Colposcopy.
Colposcopy and Biopsy
At the clinic, I stripped from the waist down and donned one of those classy backless gowns. The set-up was the same as it would be for a routine PAP - I lay on the examination table with my feet in metal stirrups and my pelvis tilted upwards - with one noticeable exception: there was a giant monitor beside the bed.
Turns out, a colposcope is a binocular microscope that magnifies the cervix under a beam of light. A 3% vinegar solution is applied to the cervix to dehydrate the cells: this makes the abnormal cells appear white under the colposcope. I didn’t feel anything other than slight pressure during this part of the procedure. Seeing my magnified cervix on the monitor was definitely cool, if a bit surreal.
The doctor then applied an iodine solution - abnormal cervical cells stain brown from the iodine, and normal cells do not. Under the colposcope, the change is much easier to see.
With the vinegar and the iodine, the doctor identified the areas where there were abnormal cells: this is where he would take a sample of cells for the biopsy. At this point, I won’t lie… I stopped looking at the monitor. He inserted a special type of forecep that I learned afterwards is called a teneculum. He then instructed me to cough on the count of three.
One, two, three… OWE.
I coughed, which bears down on the cervix, allowing the foreceps to take a “pinch” of cells. This is called a “punch” biopsy. This happened twice. The sensation was more startling than actually painful, although it did cause me to cramp. I would say it is similar to someone punching the underside of your arm - it hurt for a split second, but the pain dissipates quickly. (Another type of biopsy, called a “cone” biopsy, takes a much bigger chunk of cells, and requires local or general anesthesia.)
The doctor then applied a blackish paste to my cervix, which stopped most of the bleeding. About five minutes after the speculum was taken out, I was on my feet and out the door. They booked my next appointment for about 8 months later.
After the Procedure
I had serious cramping for the rest of the day. My body was not pleased with being violated, and was trying to expel the blackish paste that is applied to stop the bleeding. The doctor told me to wear a pad, and I’m REALLY glad I did. (You shouldn’t wear a tampon, since your bits have been agitated and you don’t want to agitate anything further).
At first I noticed a faint brownish yellow stain on the pad - that was the iodine. After a few hours I noticed grainy black discharge that looked like coffee grounds - that was the paste. I also had mild spotting. Basically, I had a blackish-brownish-yellowish, grainy, goopy, slightly bloody discharge for about a day and a half. Delicious…
My next appointment was moved up 2 months because my biopsy results were not totally clear. There were definitely abnormal cells, but it wasn’t clear exactly what kind of abnormal cells they were. So, back I went to the Dysplasia clinic.
This time, the doctor wanted to sample cells higher up my cervix. Cervical cells change from tall, column-like cells to flat cells as you move down the cervix towards the vagina. The doctor wanted to sample cells higher up in the “transformation zone”, to see if there were anything abnormal going on.
This procedure is called an endocervical cutterage. The John Hopkins Center describes it as:
A surgical procedure in which a narrow instrument called a curette is used to scrape the lining of the endocervical canal, an area that cannot be seen from the outside of the cervix.
It basically felt like a normal PAP, except it caused me to cramp a lot more. Some black paste was applied, so I got to deal with the grainy black goopy discharge for another day and a half.
Now I wait. I have another appointment in 6 months, so I’ll keep everyone posted!
We at FYV are not doctors. If you want more information about HPV, or the procedures described above, please contact your health care provider.
* CAUTION: This post may serve as a trigger for some individuals..
This is the second post in FYV’s “The 4 W’s of Rape Fantasy” Series. This article seeks to address the “what” aspect: what exactly are rape fantasies? Do women who have them really want to be raped?
- Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.(According to the FBI)
- A sexual act that takes place without proper consent.
That doesn’t sound like fodder for fantasies.
Yet one study in the Journal of Sex Research that evaluated 355 female undergraduates found that
62% of women have had a rape fantasy…For women who have had rape fantasies, the median frequency of these fantasies was about 4 times per year, with 14% of participants reporting that they had rape fantasies at least once a week
Another study from the same journal that evaluated current research on rape fantasies found that
for 9% to 17% of women these are a frequent or favorite fantasy experience.
But what actually is a “rape fantasy”?
First of all, the term “rape fantasy” is not entirely accurate.
Rape in real life is an awful, traumatic, sometimes life threatening experience.
What many women fantasize about is “safe” rape - an oxymoron, to be sure. It essentially means that the dominating partner is driven beyond control by lust or need for the “victim”. There is no element of actual danger, so the traumatic elements are replaced by purely sensual ones.
- Thus the fantasy is not about actually being coerced, of actual forced submission, but the illusion of forced submission.
The fantasy offers validation - the dominating partner is so consumed by the desirability of the “victim” that they are willing to forgo traditional, socially-acceptable forms of sexual interaction simply to satisfy this intense and overwhelming sexual urge.
Fantasy allows us to explore the outer reaches of our sexuality.
In these fantasies, women can experience their sexuality in a raw and primal way, without the very real physical and psychological dangers associated with actual rape. In this way, “rape fantasies” are actually about willing surrender, as opposed to coerced surrender.
In fact, as Leon Seltzer, Ph.D explains in his article ‘Don’t Call Rape Fantasies”, women in rape fantasies retain their power: their own desirability has provoked a response that they then allow to come to fruition.
The fantasies themselves may include things like:
- physical restraint
- not being able to see the dominating partner
- not knowing the dominant partner
- ripping clothing
- rapid penetration
- darkness or a “dangerous” location
… all things regularly found in the genre of romance novels. The key element is that the submission is not associated with real danger, only the illusion of danger.
WOMEN WHO HAVE RAPE FANTASIES DO NOT ACTUALLY DESIRE TO BE RAPED IN REAL LIFE.
They desire the illusion of coercion into powerful sexual interactions where they are dominated by another, without any real peril.
In the next article in this series, FYV discusses the scientific theories on why women have rape fantasies.
AKA ‘Vagina Farts’ & Why They Happen
You’re in the heat of the moment, legs in the air, writhing around in pleasure when the unthinkable happens: you fart. Except… it doesn’t come from your butt. It comes from your VAGINA.
What the hell was that?!
That, my friend, was a queef.
According to Dr. Jen Gunter, OB/GYN, there are only 2 reasons air would be expelled from the vagina:
1. The air that is normally in the vagina is pushed out (because of a cough, or because another object is inserted into the space and the air has to “make room”).
2. There is a “fistula”, or a connection between the bowels and the vagina that allows actual gas from the bowels to move into the vagina.
Reason #1 is absolutely nothing to worry about. In many women, air is normally in the vagina. The vaginal canal isn’t a smooth tube, it has wrinkles and folds, so there are lots of pockets for air to become trapped. And what goes in, must comes out!
Reason #2 is a serious condition. So if you notice you emit air from your vagina with an audible noise on a very frequent basis, you may want to go to your doctor to rule out a fistula. A fistula can be caused from sexual violence, inflammatory bowel disease, previous surgery, some types of bowel infection, or even childbirth.
Unless there is a fiscula, the air that is expelled is just that: air. It is not “gas” in the technical sense, since it hasn’t been expelled from bacteria, and it isn’t the result of a chemical reaction to break down waste (like the “gas” from fecal matter). It is just plain, non-smelly air.
In other words, there is NO reason to be embarrassed about queefing.
Nor are there any solid, scientifically-backed studies that suggest ways of preventing queefing. Doing Kegel exercises to improve your pelvic floor muscles likely won’t hurt you, but it also won’t stop you from queefing (despite what some people may claim).
So, queef away. Pay no attention to the harmless air being forced out of you, and continue to get your sexy on!
aka What Having a Fetish Actually Means
Don’t get me wrong, I love shoes. Probably more than the average person. I cannot pass a shoe store without, at the very least, stopping to peer through the window. Sandals, boots, wedges, pumps… I love them all. My shoe collection takes up an inordinate amount of space in my closet. I have purchased shoes that were half a size too small simply because they were so beautiful I had to own them. I love the way I look in a pair of beautiful shoes, and I love the way other women look in a pair of beautiful shoes.
But do I really have a “shoe fetish”?
- an inanimate object worshiped for its supposed magical powers or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit.
synonyms: juju, talisman, charm, amulet;
- a course of action to which one has an excessive and irrational commitment.
“he had a fetish for writing more opinions each year than any other justice”
- a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc.
“Victorian men developed fetishes focusing on feet, shoes, and boots”
I suppose you could argue that definition number 2 might apply here, although that’s a stretch.
The thing is, when most people use the word “fetish”, they are referring to definition number 3: a sexual fetish.
There are plenty of articles out there listing sexual fetishes, intended for people to laugh or sneer at - ooo, isn’t that so weird? Isn’t that so gross? The idea is that fetishizing something like feet is a deviant sexual perversion.
It wasn’t so long ago that homosexuality was considered a deviant sexual perversion.
Think about that.
For many people, certain objects (like clothing) or body parts simply act to increase arousal or pleasure. It isn’t needed, perse, in order to achieve arousal, it just helps light the fire. So most people exhibit a very mild form of fetishism.
For those with true fetishism, the fetishized object is required to obtain sexual gratification. The item or object or body part is often rubbed, smelled, licked, etc to achieve gratification, or the partner is asked to interact with the item or object.
True fetishes can be categorized in two ways (although a fetish could be both):
Form fetish: the shape of the object is important (high heels, feet, etc.)
Media fetish: the material of the object is important (silk, leather, etc.)
So unless you require interaction with a certain object, item, or body part to acheive sexual gratification, you don’t really have a fetish.
aka Why I Wanted To Make my Boobs Smaller
**disclaimer: This post contains real pictures of breasts, including scar tissue.
FYV spoke to a woman who wanted, and got, breast augmentation surgery. But what about the opposite?
“B” was 20 years old when she decided to get a breast reduction. She was not happy with her breast size, and just like our other guest poster, decided to do something about it. It’s been 30 years since her first reduction, and FYV had the chance to interview her about her experience.
Why did you decide to get a breast reduction?
I had my first reduction at age 20. I developed very early and was extremely self conscious. By 20 I was a 36D and nothing fit properly. I was also a runner and even the best sports bras at the time didn’t help.
How did you select the surgeon?
I was fortunate in that I had had a plastic surgeon do an abdominal scar revision for a surgery I had when I was 10. I really liked him and felt that he would be a good fit for me.
What was the whole process like?
The initial consultation involved the surgeon looking at and touching my breasts. We discussed why I wanted a reduction and what the expected results could look like. There was a photo album of patients before/during and after. He drew out on paper where the incisions would be. We discussed recovery times.
After the initial consultation his office submitted the paperwork to the provincial insurance system to see if I was eligible. I waited about 6 weeks before they came back and I was approved to have the procedure paid for by the provincial insurance system. My only cost was for the anesthesiologist and 30 years ago it was $300.
I visited the surgeon about one week prior to the surgery to go over again the procedure, expectations and what he thought would be the optimal size for my body type. We also discussed the possibility that I would not be able to breast feed should I ever have children and that there was also the possibility that I would lose nipple sensation either temporarily or permanently. My reduction was also combined with a mastopexy or breast lift. I am not a great healer so there was also the possibility that I would form keloids - raised, red scars.
The surgery took place in a hospital and was to be day surgery. When I woke up in the recovery room the surgeon explained that I had lost a lot of blood during the procedure and would be spending the night in the hospital as a precaution. I had a binding garment on that had to remain on for a few weeks - to keep the swelling down. There was a fair amount of pain for the first week but subsided after that. The incision was like an anchor - under the breast in the crease, straight line from the middle of the crease to the nipple and around the areola. The areola was actually removed and re-positioned when the breast was lifted.
What was recovery like? (Any lasting scars or pain?)
Recovery was pretty good. I did end up developing keloids but even with that I was thrilled with the results.
How did you feel about your body after the reduction?
It definitely improved my self confidence and made me less self conscious.
I did all of this without my parent’s knowledge - even though my father was a physician. I had tried to discuss the option with my mother (who is a double A) and she dismissed it as unnecessary and ‘silly’. They found out a few weeks after and it was never discussed.
Do you have any regrets?
Absolutely not. While I still have scars, I was able to breast feed and though I lost some sensitivity it was well worth it. I had a second reduction 9 years ago - different surgeon - and was equally happy with the results.
aka What the hell is “female ejaculate?!”
You may have seen it in porn, or you may have experienced it yourself: the expelling of copious amounts of liquid through the urethra during orgasm, generally after the stimulation of the front wall of the vagina (aka the “G spot”).
Otherwise known as “squirting”.
The female sexual experience seems to be much more convoluted than the male sexual experience - large parts of our experience is hidden from view, for starters. It is surprising, therefore, that there is controversy surrounding the phenomenon of “female ejaculation”: here is a very visible sign of the sexual experience, and we still aren’t sure what it is or how it is produced! Because there are so many theories out there, we thought we would break them down.
Theory 1: Squirting is Urine
The fluid that is squirted comes from the urethra, so it makes sense that it could be urine. Since urine comes from the bladder, one recent study conducted pelvic ultrasound scans on 7 women after they peed, and during sexual stimulation (both before and after squirting). They found that during sexual stimulation, the recently emptied bladder filled very rapidly, and was empty again after squirting occurred.
To be sure, urine samples were analyzed before sexual stimulation, and after squirting occurred. Urine contains urea, ceratinine, and uric acid: all of which were found in both the samples taken before sexual stimulation, and the squirted fluid. However, prostatic-specific antigen (PSA), a compound secreted by the Skene’s glands (which are often referred to as the “female prostate”), was also found in the squirted fluids of 5/7 of the women.
Why this theory is problematic:
- Many women and their partners report that the fluid that is squirted during orgasm does not smell, look, or taste like urine.
- Women say the sensation of squirting feels nothing like voiding their bladder
- The study used only 7 women - that is a very small sample size
Although the sample size is small, the evidence is extremely convincing. The bladder was empty, filled up again very rapidly, and then was empty again.
Where did all that fluid go, if not out through the urethra?
The fact that the squirted fluid doesn’t smell, look, or taste like urine could be due to the fact that it is extremely diluted - the bladder fills so quickly that there isn’t time for the waste to accumulate in the urine. The highly diluted urine is mixed with PSA from the Skene’s glands when it exits the urethra, which could also contribute to the differing taste and smell.
Theory 2: Squirting is not Urine
The Skenes glands. (Photo from here)
Some studies purport that the fluid squirted during sexual stimulation is produced in the Skene’s glands (the female prostate), and is not, in fact, urine.
According to this study, the glands have long ducts that lead to the urethra. This leads to the possibility that the fluid squirted during sexual stimulation could have been produced in these glands, and travel to the urethra to be ejaculated. In this case, the squirted fluid would be mostly prostate secretions like PSA.
Why this theory is problematic:
- The Skene’s glands are very small - it is unlikely they could produce and store the amount of fluid that is often squirted
As this OB/GYN states:
the Skene’s glands are tiny, about the size of a pea, and are just not physiologically capable of producing any more than a few milliliters of fluid at best
Although the wet spots many women experience are due to the secretions from the Skene’s glands, it seems unlikely that the copious amounts of liquid some women squirt could be produced from these tiny glands.
Theory 3: “Female Ejaculate” is Not Urine, but “Squirt” IS
This theory is mostly semantics. Some studies say that there needs to be a distinction made between the secretions that come from the Skene’s glands, and the large amounts of squirted fluid that comes from the urethra during sexual stimulation.
One study explains:
“…female ejaculation is the release of a very scanty, thick, and whitish fluid from the female prostate, while the squirting is the expulsion of a diluted fluid from the urinary bladder”
Secretions from Skene’s glands = female ejaculate (likely named since the Skene’s glands are often called the “female prostate”): milky, whitish, small quantity.
Squirted fluid = dilute urine: clear, larger quantity.
WHY DO WE CARE?
What do we even want to answer the question: “what is squirting”?
- Many women feel inadequate because they cannot squirt. Understanding what squirting really is might help them realize that it isn’t the magical unicorn of sexual experience.
- In our mind, more research is needed about the female sexual experience in general, so we see this research as a step in the right direction.
That being said, we don’t NEED to care.
If you squirt - is it pleasurable? Is it fun?
Then who cares what the chemical composition of the squirt is, or where it comes from?!
In fact, if it is diluted urine, does that make it any less a part of the sexual experience? (As in: “Oh, it’s just pee. That’s not sexy.”) No, of course not. It is no grosser or more weird than semen.
If it’s pleasurable and fun, keep squirtin! (If it bothers you, or you think it might be indicative of other physiological problems, see your doctor!) If you have never squirted, don’t worry, you’re not any less of a sexual creature.
Today is National Narcolepsy Awareness Day in Canada (also known as Suddenly Sleepy Saturday in the United States) and in honor of that fact we reached out to NAPS: Narcolepsy Awareness Programs and Services to request a guest post on how living with this rare sleep disorder can affect dating and sexual relationships.
Everyone deals with their own share of problems in the bedroom. Many women feel alone, because certain glossy magazines purport that achieving a stunning and satisfactory sex life is as simple as cooking bacon for your partner in lingerie. This is not the case, as many women well know. One woman has been dealing with the unique effects of her health condition on her sex life, and decided to share her story with us. Narcolepsy and sex - This goes well, well beyond being “too tired for sex“.
Narcolepsy Not So Sexy
I have Narcolepsy with Cataplexy. What this means for me, is that my body has no way of regulating sleep and wake cycles, so I am left with some pretty interesting symptoms. The 5 main symptoms of Narcolepsy with Cataplexy are:
–EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness): This symptom causes an unusual amount of fatigue throughout the day and can result in sleep episodes that feel like an irresistible urge to sleep.
-Cataplexy: Thought to be REM sleep behaviour that intrudes into wakefulness, this symptom causes a complete lack of muscle tone in everywhere but my diaphragm and eyes. It is the function that paralyzes the average person during sleep to protect them from acting out their dreams. It is triggered by strong emotions such as laughter, surprise, fear, etc. (I will come back to this, as it was the main culprit in my sex life for a long time)
-Hypnagogic Hallucinations: quite simply, dreaming while you’re still awake. This symptom can cause visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations upon waking or falling asleep.
-Sleep Paralysis: this symptom occurs upon waking, and feels like a heavy weight is sitting on your chest. This symptom can be accompanied by hypnagogic hallucinations.
-Disrupted nighttime sleep: pretty self-explanatory. People with Narcolepsy have sleep that intrudes into wakefulness and wakefulness often intrudes upon sleep. Our bodies have no natural internal clock.
So there I was, a young adult in what was supposed to be my physical prime. My early twenties were straight out of a comedy of errors. I would have several episodes of cataplexy every day, which not only resulted in a huge shift in priorities but concerns for my safety (and sexual safety) as well. When I finally felt comfortable enough to share that part of myself in a relationship, it was not without its challenges.
When I met members of the opposite sex, I felt I had to disclose certain parts of myself that I wouldn’t be able to explain in the heat of the moment. There were awkward questions, of course. I had just discovered that when I was close to having an orgasm, my entire body would collapse underneath of (or even more embarrassingly on top of) my partner. I was awake for these cataplexy episodes, unable to do anything except try to look away and will my muscles to be within my control again. There were people that I knew I was never going to have sex with based on the question “If you have an episode should I keep going?”.
Then came treatment. Finally I had a medication to help get my stubborn brain into submission. The only problem was that it was a drug called Xyrem. More commonly known as GHB – gamma-hydroxybuterate, or quite simply, the date rape drug. I thought I had problems with Cataplexy! Never was I more suggestible or in a sexier mood than the time I spent on that medication. It had it’s own awkward set of questions. “Can I accidentally rape you?” “How do I know if you actually want to have sex?”. If you’re curious, the answers are “No” and “Because I said so!” respectively. Using Xyrem also meant that I was likely to fall asleep before I had the full experience of the drug’s ability to put me in the mood. (Cue another set of facepalm- worthy questions and explanations.)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of this, it’s that sex can be complicated enough without having to worry about a sleep disorder as one of your bed partners. Since my time on Xyrem I have opted to use other, less expensive medications and I have found that my sex life has become significantly less embarrassing over the years.
I am now in a long-term relationship with a person who accepts me for who I am and celebrates the milestones I achieve, both in the Narcolepsy community and as an individual – separate from any disorder or diagnosis.
For those who don’t know, the practice of vaginal douching involves squirting a substance into the vaginal canal, usually with the use of an applicator. The substance can be anything from water, to an acetic (think: vinegar-like) substance, to a scented “medicinal” product. The idea is that the substance flushes into your vagina, and comes back out again. (It’s definitely not the same thing as washing your labia!)
Why do some women douche?
Most women report that they douche for “hygiene” reasons: to cleanse the vagina after their period, after sex, to get rid of symptoms like odour, itching, or discharge, or to prevent sexually transmitted disease.
It’s actually quite common.
The thing is, there is very little conclusive evidence to support these reasons - in fact, douching can cause some pretty serious side effects.
What douching does to your vagina
Of course the exact effects of douching depend on the type of substance used. However, generally speaking, douching can result in the following effects:
- Reduction in the density of normal vaginal bacteria
Douching with any antiseptic substance kills off the normal vaginal bacteria. Even douching with water reduces the native bacteria - it physically sweeps the bacteria away, and damages the pH balance required by the good bacteria to live (the pH of water is close to 7, the pH of your vagina should be less than 4.5!)
The bacteria that is normally present in your vagina helps maintain the pH of your reproductive tract nice and low: this low pH prevents certain other bacteria from colonizing because they can’t live in such a low pH environment.
The “native” bacteria also physically prevents pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria from entering, and stimulates mucous production - another important line of defense against pathogenic bacteria.
Without the native bacteria, there is plenty of room for other bacteria to colonize and grow: bacteria such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae or Chlamydia trachomatis - yeah, the stuff that causes gonorrhoeae and chlamydia - or bacterial vaginosis.
One study found that
…women who reported douching 12 months prior to their clinic visit were twice as likely to have cervical chlamydial infection and that, as the frequency of douching increased, the likelihood of chlamydial infection also increased.
Using douching products with “antiseptic” qualities causes even larger changes in the normal vaginal bacteria.
So clearly, the removal of the good bacteria leaves plenty of room for infection and disease causing bacteria to get in on the action.
- Forcing bacteria from the lower genital tract above the cervix into the uterus/fallopian tubes
Bacteria that is normally found in the lower bit of your vaginal canal can be physically forced up by the stream of liquid into places it isn’t supposed to be. This can lead to inflammatory scaring… and that inflammatory scaring can lead to ectopic pregnancy, early miscarriage, and even infertility.
Another effect of bacteria getting up where it isn’t supposed to be is pelvic inflammatory disease.
That shit is serious.
It was estimated that 20-30% of women with pelvic inflammatory disease would be hospitalized. It is also a very common cause of reduced fertility and even sterility.
One study reported that vaginal douching increases the overall risk of pelvic inflammatory disease by 73% and the risk of ectopic pregnancy by 76%. Those percentages are HUGE!
- Irritation of the mucous lining
Physically irritating the protective mucous lining can reduce how effective it is at keeping unwanted bacteria out.
Douching has been scientifically linked to:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Chlamydia, gonorrhea, bacterial vaginitis, cervical cancer
- Reduced fertility
- Ectopic pregnancy
Douching has NOT been scientifically linked to:
- Promoting a healthy vagina
We cannot in good conscience recommend that women douche. If you are worried about a funky smell, or about your vaginal canal being clean of blood or semen or whatever … go to your doctor. The vagina is SELF CLEANING! Don’t douche.
First of all, we will preface this with the reminder that we despise the use of the word “normal” at Free Your V.
That being said, many woman want to know what the “normal” frequency of masturbation is. We’ve been conditioned to accept that frequent male masturbation is “normal” (and even that men want sex more than women do), but we rarely discuss female masturbation frequencies: how often do most women masturbate? Once in a blue moon? Multiple times per day?
A 2009 study by the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour studied the sexual behaviour (including masturbation) of 5,865 Americans between the ages of 18 and 94. We made our own graph of some of the results of this massive survey.
It is clear from the graph that the frequency of masturbation varies by age.
Regardless of age, the most common frequency appears to be “not in the past year”.
So if you’re in the “>4 times per week” category, you’re probably picking your jaw up off the floor at the moment.
Does this study tell us what is “normal”? Sure. If by “normal” we mean the result with the highest frequency for this particular group of subjects…
But one of the major problems with a lot of studies about sex is that they rely on self-reporting. And a lot of people aren’t totally honest when they report things, or may not have an accurate memory of the events they are reporting.
Be honest: do you remember how many times you masturbated last week? Last year? And if you did remember the exact number, would you share it with a stranger?
We need to be very, very careful when we talk about what is “normal.” If you happen to have a very high sex drive, then perhaps masturbating more than 4 times per week is your normal. If you have a lower sex drive, are really tired, just changed birth control pills, etc. then maybe masturbating once a month is your normal. Frequent (or in-frequent) masturbation is not something to be ashamed of. Do it whenever the urge hits you, and don’t worry about it!
So long as excessive masturbation isn’t negatively effecting the rest of your life, have at it.
AKA why being too tired for sex is a legitimate thing.
It’s isn’t just a lame excuse to avoid sex because you are wearing a t-shirt that looks like it hasn’t been washed in 3 years, or because you had cheese for lunch and are now farting toxic gas, or because your partner is actually having sex with their boss…
Don’t read too far into it. 1 in 4 Americans say they are too sleep deprived for sex.
Think about it: do you want to go to that restaurant you’ve been trying to get a reservation at for about a year when you’ve just had the longest day of your life? No, of course not. You’d be too tired to enjoy it properly: the food just won’t taste as good when you can hardly keep your eyes open. Same principle applies to sex.
Being tired is a distraction.
There are many, many reasons someone might be too tired for sex.
Some of the obvious reasons:
- Mental exhaustion: prolonged stress can zap your physical energy like a leech. Dealing with anxiety at work, for example, means that by the time you get home, you find you hardly have enough energy to put your pajamas on. It also means your mental capacity for sex is much diminished – and yes, sex is mental, too.
- Too much exercise: If you outdid yourself at the gym the other day, you may literally just not have the strength for sex! That applies to highly physical jobs like construction too. Aching muscles and burning limbs are not conducive to sex.
Some of the not so obvious reasons:
So give yourself or your partner a break if one of you is “too tired” – no eye rolling, no big sighs, no dramatic rolling over and brooding. There are legitimate and understandable reasons for being too tired for sex!
aka Why We Need to Use the Word Vagina.
Vajayjay. Vadge. Hoo-ha. Cooter.
Sorry…I don’t speak the language of embarrassment. You are referring to female genitalia, correct? More specifically, you are speaking of the
There. Glad that’s over with.
Guess what? It isn’t a dirty word. Why can Grey’s Anatomy use the word penis 17 times in 1 episode, but when script writers wanted to use the word vagina, network exes did this:
What did they do instead? They used the word “vajayjay”. That’s right, the original script said “vagina” (because the character is a freaking MEDICAL DOCTOR), but it was changed to a word that doesn’t exist to avoid saying the word vagina.
I guess I can understand the confusion, since “vagina” technically means the canal that runs from the uterus to outside the body, so if you want to be clinically accurate when you describe the outwardly visible female genitalia, feel free to say
Whatever word you chose, just use an actual word. (For the record, despite Oprah Winfrey’s usage of it - vajayjay is not a real word.) For some reason, there is still a great amount of hesitation to use the word vagina (or vulva, for that matter). When we try and “cute-ify” the word, we are implying that there is something gross/dirty/shameful about what we are talking about that needs to be hidden behind a giggle-inducing gibberish word.
Even a tampon company was told they couldn’t use the word vagina. A tampon company. Let’s think on that one for a moment.
The vagina is LITERALLY where a tampon goes.
I know where I came from – I came from a vagina. Where did you come from? Wait, wait, I know this one:
That’s right, there is an actual word for it. This isn’t a new word. What words do we use instead?
Vajayjay: Right up there with “pee pee” for level of juvenile
Vadge: Adding the “D” is necessary for correct pronunciation. (“Adding the “D”… yeah. I’ll just leave that right there.)
Hoo-ha: It isn’t a donkey.
Snatch: This word was created by an inexperienced individual who mistakenly thought that the vagina had teeth and would “snatch” their penis/finger/dildo away. Let’s not mock their fear any further by continuing to use this word.
Pussy: aka Porn’s Favourite Word.
Why do we care what people call it?
For one thing, using the proper terms for female genitalia facilitates communication, which facilitates knowledge. In this study, 78% of women surveyed said that the “vagina taboo” contributes to women’s ignorance. We shouldn’t be ignorant about our own bodies. But it’s hard to get solid, real information when your search terms or opening dialogue includes the word vajayjay.
We’re all intelligent women here, so can we just agree to not beat around the bush (pun intended) and call our genitalia by a real word?
VAGINA.Or vulva. Or clitoris.Whatever floats your boat.
In part 1 of this series, we banished the bullshit that men want sex all the time.
In part 2 of this series, we busted the myth that women don’t want sex for sex. .
Now we banish the third myth:
“Men want more sex than women do”
This is probably the longest held belief. Going back to that evolutionary theory, it makes sense: males who are constantly horny are more likely to spread their seed and therefore produce offspring with the same trait of being extra horny. Except that, once again, HUMANS are more complicated than that.
Earth shattering new research is being done about female desire, and it’s coming (!) out that women may actually have more voracious appetites for sex than men have. The problem is we just don’t know it. One study tested physical arousal and perceived arousal at the same time – an instrument called a vaginal plethysmograph measured blood flow in the vagina, and the women typed a number on a keypad to indicate how aroused they felt when viewing various scenes (hetero sex, lesbian sex, gay male sex, and monkey – literally – sex.)
This is what the study by Dr. Meredith Chivers of Queen's University in Canada discovered...
“And with the women, especially the straight women, mind and genitals seemed scarcely to belong to the same person. The readings from the plethysmograph and the keypad weren’t in much accord. During shots of lesbian coupling, heterosexual women reported less excitement than their vaginas indicated; watching gay men, they reported a great deal less; and viewing heterosexual intercourse, they reported much more”
Vaginal photoplethysmograph Image courtesy of the Sexuality & Gender Laboratory, Queen’s University.
The picture on the left shows the instrument that Dr. Chivers used: the vaginal plethysmograph. From the lab’s website: “The vaginal and clitoral gauges are used to measure women’s physical sexual responses. The vaginal gauge is a small, plastic, tampon-shaped probe about 6 cm long and 1.2 cm wide. […] instruments are used to measure changes in blood flow within the walls of the genital region. Each instrument has a light source and a light detector; the light source is used to illuminate the region that the light source in contact with, and the amount of blood that is circulating within the walls of that region determines how much light is back-scattered and detected by the light detector.”
So the women tended to physically desire sex just as often, if not more often, than men – they just didn’t recognize it. If you’re a woman who DOES recognize your sexual appetite, you may feel like a freak. You aren’t. Women actually have really strong sex drives.
So what did we learn?
- Men don’t necessarily want sex all the time
- Women can want sex for the sole purpose of sex
- Women can have much more voracious sexual appetites than men, and just not recognize it
If you want sex on a more frequent basis than your partner, you’re actually more normal than you think. Don’t NOT initiate sex because it’s “weird” to want it all the time. If you want it, initiate it. There is absolutely no shame in that.
“I want sex more than my boyfriend does.”… to that we say: AMEN.
Missed out? See part 1 and 2 here.
“Oh baby, you make me so wet”.
If we relied on mainstream porn to educate ourselves, we would wrongly assume that all women’s vaginas get immediately and conveniently drenched upon any kind of arousal. In fact, according to many porn videos, even LOOKING at a shirtless picture of *insert attractive male celebrity here, according to your tastes* causes the dams to burst. So, if a woman is feeling wet, she is aroused. Ergo, if she isn’t feeling wet, you might as well just roll over. WRONG. Natural lubrication is a complicated and not fully understood process that doesn’t always correspond with degree of arousal.
So what makes a woman wet?
The short answer is: a lot of things.
But you’re not here for the short answer – so here it goes:
When a woman gets all hot and bothered, various factors (such as hormones like estrogen, and certain polypeptides) contribute to an increase in blood flow to the vulva, resulting in engorgement- yeah, your vulva gets bloated. The plasma that holds all these blood cells in suspension starts to seep through the cells of the vaginal wall, creating moisture. Small glands located slightly below the vaginal opening are also stimulated to produce mucous.
The combination of plasma seepage and mucous from the Bartholin’s glands results in the slick “wetness” associated with female arousal. Isn’t that DELICIOUS.
What affects the level of “wetness”?
Sometimes you feel as horny as a rabbit, but when you or your partner go to relieve your need, it feels like the Sahara down there. Other times, it feels like someone dumped a bottle of KY on you without your knowledge.
Your body is a lube machine
Don’t forget that you produce lubrication all the time, and the levels of that regular lubrication depend on where you are in your cycle. So if you’re ovulating, you might produce more mucous –when you get aroused during ovulation, you might think Niagara Falls has taken up residence in your panties. That could just be the combination of normal lubrication and “arousal” lubrication.
The pill can be a pill
Although evidence isn’t clear, there has been research regarding the effect of hormonal birth control on vaginal lubrication. Generally speaking, more estrogen means less lubrication. So if your pill has a higher estrogen dose, you may tend to be dry even when you’re aroused.
Go home vagina, you’re drunk…
Alcohol dehydrates you. Yes, that includes your vagina.
A woman can be so turned on that she orgasms without actually feeling wet, and I think we can all assume that if a woman has an orgasm, she was aroused.
So let’s get this straight once and for all: wetness ≠ arousal.
In part 1 of this series, we banished the bullshit that men want sex all the time. Now we banish the second myth:
“Women don’t want sex for sex”
Yes, sex can bring with it emotional intimacy. And sure, women value emotional intimacy. If you’re in a relationship you probably value that (otherwise, why are you in one?!)
But one of the factors that has contributed to women thinking that there is something wrong if they want frequent sex, is the mistaken idea that women don’t just want sex for sex: they want it for the “connection” it brings with their provider partner.
This idea comes straight from evolutionary theory:
Men have lots of sperm, but women have finite eggs. Sperm is cheaper, in terms of resources needed to produce, than eggs. So males have a greater chance of producing an offspring if they spread their seed everywhere, and they can do so at little cost. Females can’t benefit from this “spreading”, since their eggs are limited, so they benefit from having only 1 sexual partner.
This creates a situation where males compete over females, and females can be “choosy” about who they mate with– yes, this is actual science, not just a scene from the bar. Thus, males are fundamentally promiscuous, and females are fundamentally not: they want to select the mate that can best provide for them.
Mating fruit flies are from here - things are just easier when you’re a fly…
That may work fine in fruit flies, but human females are INFINITELY more complicated.
If we look at “casual sex”, things get clearer. Turns out, if the societal stigma of women pursuing casual sex (slut shaming) is removed, women want it just as often as men do.
So, we actually may want it a lot more often than we admit. And what is the purpose of casual sex – well, it sure isn’t emotional connection or seeking a provider! So we’d say yeah, women can (and do!) want sex just for sex.
Embrace it, and don’t feel ashamed to want more sex.
Catch up - see the first “fact” we put through the bullshit detector.
Check out the third myth we bust.
We come across a very common concern: “I want sex more than my boyfriend does. Does he not want me anymore?Am I no longer attractive to him?…
WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!”
First of all, the female sex drive is very complicated. Just try googling the topic –you’ll be met with a hailstorm of confusion. Society has certain entrenched views that seem to pop up as “facts” on an alarmingly regular basis.
- Men want sex all the time – they think about it all the time, and can be ready to go in a moment’s notice
- Women tend to value sex for the other things it brings (emotional intimacy, for example), not for the sex itself
- Men want sex more than women do
We’ll deal with these so-called “facts” and show you that you are NOT a freak for wanting more sex than your boyfriend (or husband… or just general male partner) does.
1. “Men want sex ALL THE TIME”
No, not necessarily. Men may be too tired to initiate sex, or too stressed. There are very legitimate, fully scientific reasons that a man may not feel like sex (of any kind). If a man turns down your offer of sex, it is not because he suddenly finds you unattractive or because he already came all over his female co-workers titties in the elevator at work… it might just be because he damn well doesn’t FEEL like it.
He may just not have the energy to INITIATE sex. Society seems to think that because men want sex all the time (they don’t), they should be the initiators (they don’t have to be).
So if you want sex and your male partner doesn’t, so be it. Don’t read into it.
Go get your vibrator and get the job done, or initiate it yourself.
Wanting sex more than your boyfriend does is perfectly normal - but if it’s really effecting your relationship, go ahead and talk about it. That’s normal too.
Side note: we may think that men think about sex more often, but if we consider that they also think of their physical needs more often in general (food, sleep, etc.), relatively speaking, it isn’t such a big difference.
Check out the second “fact” we put through the bullshit detector.