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27
Apr


A few years ago, I was hooked on ginseng and royal jelly.

I bought those small cylinders you see on convenience store counters. Then I spent 45 minutes during a stopover in Seoul perusing the duty-free selection, trying to determine which would be my Love Potion No. 9.

You know what? My choice worked like a charm. Ginseng and royal jelly was a miracle “herbal Viagra” for me. When I downed a vial of it, I was going to be Superman, and I knew it.

And that’s why it worked.

We’re all aware of the placebo effect — of how a candy pill that’s called a drug will improve our condition just because we think it will.

But we’re still genuinely surprised when it works for us, because we think we’re too smart for that.

I’m a prime example. I’ve got a degree in psychology. I have given my friends placebo pills for their colds.

So did I feel like a fool when I realized that the sweet cylinder of ginseng was just a placebo; that although ginseng has been given as a general energy tonic in China for thousands of years, no Western study has ever documented any sexual benefits – though some have tried?

Nope. I bought more, precisely because I dounderstand the placebo effect.

If you genuinely have a sexual dysfunction — including stress-related loss of interest — there are herbs that might work for you, and we list them on the following page.

However, if your problem is confidence, and you just want to be sure you’ll perform, take whatever you think sounds most powerful. And you will be.

Take it from me. I’ve got a new placebo now, and I know it’s a crutch. But even though the cape doesn’t actually help Superman fly — it reduces his wind resistance, in fact — you don’t see him going out without it. Given the choice, neither do I.

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female gspot orgasm
20
Apr


Our emotions affect our sexual functioning. It sounds obvious when you say it, but many people behave as if they don’t realize this.

Sexual response is a reflex. We perceive a physical or mental stimulus (say, a caress or a fantasy). This message travels to the brain, which sends a message down the spinal cord to various parts of the body, instructing them to respond with tingling, extra blood flow, etc.

Emotions are electrical and chemical events in the body. They either facilitate or disrupt the sex-related messages going up and down the spinal column. Thus, if your partner says, “your skin tastes good,” your emotions facilitate a sexual response. But if your partner calls you the wrong name, your emotions disrupt the sexual response. This is how common feelings such as anger, anxiety, sadness and frustration interfere with reflexes such as erection, lubrication and orgasm.

Many people tolerate negative emotions during sex in silence. Most men and women have experienced sex that made them feel uncomfortable. This could be due to anxiety about performance, fear or anger about being coerced, or sadness about having their needs ignored.

Bodies in these situations rarely respond in an ideal way. Unfortunately, people frequently blame themselves, rather than the situation, for their inadequate response. This is often the beginning of believing that they have a dysfunction. That leads to more anxiety during subsequent lovemaking, undermining sexual functioning even more.

Unlike computers, our bodies respond to irrational factors like expectations, memories and emotions. This means that being aware of our emotions is essential for satisfying sex. Your feelings may embarrass, surprise or confuse you, but they’re real, and their impact on sexual function is also real.

Penises and vulvas usually tell the truth: a frightened penis often shrivels; an angry vulva often tightens shut, and sad mouths rarely relax and enjoy kissing.

Admitting to yourself how you really feel may be uncomfortable, and discussing it with a partner may be even more uncomfortable. But there’s no substitute for connecting with yourself–or your partner–emotionally. It’s a key step toward healthy sexual functioning.

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13
Apr


America Online likes to bill itself as family-safe, with its parental filters protecting kids from the wild, oversexed Internet. But if it weren’t for cybersex, we wonder if AOL would have grown big enough to swallow Time Warner.

AOL’s chat rooms are one of its most popular features, as well as one of the Internet’s premier spots for picking up a cyberdate for some casual sex online. And you don’t have to be an AOL member — you can access its romance channels through its Web site.

But why would you want to? I put that question to a friend of mine, happily married for more than a decade, who’s never even kissed anyone other than his wife. But he has had mad passionate cybersex with women he never met.

“It’s kind of like a mutual fantasy,” said KingBee, his screen name. “It just feels sobaad. But at the same time, there’s no actual contact.”

And that’s the point. Cybersex isn’t a good substitute for the real thing. It’s a lot more work for less payoff.

But it can be an exciting yet safe way for people in committed relationships to enjoy the natural human urge to fool around without risking the emotional and physical upheaval of having an affair in meatspace (the real world).

And yes, copulating with someone other than your spouse is a natural urge, according to evolutionary psychologist Dr. Helen Fisher. The theory that men are attracted to other women in order to transmit their genes as often as possible (like coral spawning into the open sea) has already been widely reported.

What Dr. Fisher points out in her booksAnatomy of Love and The Sex Contract is that women are also motivated to fool around for evolutionary reasons: to attract additional resources and protection for their children, and because having different fathers for her children, and thus different genetic backgrounds, increases the chances of one or more surviving.

So if we accept that to cheat is a natural urge, and cybersex is a reasonable way to indulge it without getting divorced, the trick is to find a compatible partner. To do that, you’ve got to troll the 21st century equivalent of spring break frat-boy bars: chat rooms.

Which brings us back to AOL, or to Yahoo, KingBee’s preferred venue. Before you can start chatting, you’re prompted to create a profile of yourself, a step many people skip. Don’t.

“The profile is very important,” KingBee said. “I think people look at profiles to decide who they want to talk to. Don’t be afraid to list some accomplishments. If you’ve won any Congressional Medals of Honor, let them know.”

Just as in most singles bars, women are in the minority and thus in demand. Of course, since you can create any identity you want in cyberspace, men sometimes pretend to be women. In which case you can discover just why it is that some women think men are pigs.

“A lot of men are really too forward,” KingBee said. “Too blatant and graphic. Start with some double entendres and see if the person on the receiving end picks up on them.”

But be prepared to really work at it. I spent many hours attempting to engage in cybersex for “journalistic purposes,” but wasn’t able to get it going. I found myself striking up conversations with women, discovering they were 17-year-old single moms (or at least posing as such), and ended up spending our chat encouraging them to stay in school. This actually happened three times in one night.

“You really have to sift through a lot of B.S.,” KingBee said. “I do political and social chat on Yahoo. Every once in a while you’ll get into an actual conversation, and sometimes that leads somewhere. But a lot of people in chat rooms just don’t have anything to say.”

If you do make a connection, take my advice and keep your relationship purely online. Unlike the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” cybersex is all fantasy, and translates poorly into the real world.

If you don’t believe me, check out a book by my friend, online advice columnist Spike Gillespie. In All the Wrong Men and One Perfect Boy, she details a marriage with a man she met online.

As a member of the digital vanguard, she was sure she didn’t need the trappings of traditional courtship. She thought their lengthy conversations ensured that she knew him better than most men she’d actually slept with.

Soon after her wedding, she had an angry divorce and an ineffective restraining order. But at least she got a book out of it.

So pursue your online fantasies with the “Olympic skating hopefuls” and “aspiring actresses” and “professional models” you’ll meet in the chat rooms. It’s a healthy outlet for an extremely disruptive urge. But don’t give out your phone number or address. With cybersex, you’re looking for variety, not reality.

 

 

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6
Apr


The artificially-enhanced sexual prowess of middle-aged men may be matched soon with the news that Viagra is one step closer to making its debut in the female market.

According to Pfizer, the company that manufactures Viagra, the results of tests on 500 women in 19 countries in North America and Europe are expected to be made available in the fall. The drug may be approved in the United States for female use in 12 months’ time.

In men, Viagra or sildenafil, acts on an enzyme that’s prevalent in the penis to boost blood flow. Researchers believe that it also boosts blood flow to the female erectile tissue of the vagina and clitoris, increasing lubrication and sensitivity to sexual stimulation.

But the jury is still out on how effective the drug dubbed the little blue pill will be for women. In a pilot study of 17 postmenopausal women by Dr. Jennifer Berman, a urologist at the Women’s Sexual Health Clinic at Boston, Viagra was found to improve overall sexual dysfunction. The participants were instructed to masturbate to an erotic video. Tests found a significant increase in both genital blood flow and vaginal lubrication, the symptoms of sexual arousal.

Other research has shown less positive results. A study published in the March issue of the journal Urology found that among 33 postmenopausal women treated with Viagra for a period of 12 weeks, only 20 to 30 percent reported improvements in orgasm quality, vaginal lubrication and clitoral sensitivity. The success rate is comparable to that of placebo. Such findings indicate that Viagra for women will not be the bombshell it was for men.

Tips:

  • Viagra in women works by boosting blood flow to the genitals and increasing vaginal lubrication.
  • Research on women has shown mixed results. One study found Viagra was no more effective than placebo. A second study found it improved overall sexual functioning.

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30
Mar


There’s no consensus on how successful Viagra will be in perking up women’s sex lives. Although studies show it can increase vaginal lubrication and genital blood flow, some doctors point out these are not the typical complaints of sexually dissatisfied women.

Lack of desire, rather than sexual dysfunction, is the most common grievance of women with lackluster sex lives. Viagra won’t do anything about making a ho-hum mate in frayed underwear seem red-hot irresistible.

Does this mean we should just say no to the little blue pill even before it makes its debut? Not if you speak to women who have participated in pilot trials of the drug and say they have experienced their first orgasm in years. But you should keep these points in mind first:

  • Viagra for women has the same potential adverse effects as it has for men. Minor side effects include stuffy nose, headaches and a blue tinge to the vision. But for women who are taking nitrates for heart conditions, the consequences may include severely lowered blood pressure, heart attack and even death.
  • Viagra may be very helpful to postmenopausal women who cannot take estrogen to increase vaginal lubrication. Similarly, it may help women whose vaginal dryness is related to such conditions as high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as certain antidepressants.
  • Viagra must be avoided by women who have not ruled out future pregnancies. Pregnant rats given Viagra were found to give birth to blind babies.

Tips:

  • Viagra may improve sexual functioning, but it cannot boost desire.
  • Women taking Viagra may experience the same side effects as men. These include headaches and blue tinge to vision. In women taking nitrates,
  • Viagra can cause heart conditions.
  • Viagra may be helpful to women whose vaginal dryness is related to diabetes, high blood pressure and certain antidepressants.
  • Viagra should be avoided by women who have not ruled out future pregnancies.

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23
Mar


Sex toys are here to stay.

According to two recent studies, millions of Americans use one or more sex toys. We’re talking vibrators, dildos and butt plugs, as well as blindfolds, handcuffs and nipple clamps. We’ll leave whips and leather underwear for another discussion.

Like all technology, sex toys are an extension of the body. They are hands, tongues and genitalia that are bigger and stronger, and never tire. They are tools that help us give pleasure to ourselves and to each other.

Sex toys can be equally great for partner sex and masturbation. Any sex that can be improved by something that probes, stimulates, squeezes or alters sensation can be enhanced by a sex toy.

Unfortunately, some would-be users are self-conscious about feeling they need assistance. Others are concerned that their partner will feel inadequate. But this is like feeling self-critical that you need a comfortable chair to enjoy a movie. Our shyness about using sex toys really expresses the shame we feel about admitting we’re sexual in a sex-negative culture.

It’s no illusion. Until recently, for example, most national magazines refused vibrator advertising — including Ms. magazine. And only last year, the state of Alabama criminalized the production or sale of “sexual devices marketed primarily for the stimulation of human genitals.”

Why the controversy about a 5-inch battery-powered piece of buzzing plastic? Sex toys are about sexual pleasure, not about reproduction or romantic love (although many romantic, loving people and couples use them).

A vibrator or nipple clamp in your hand is the smoking gun of pleasure — you simply can’t deny that getting off is exactly what you have in mind.

So sex toys are a vehicle for sexual empowerment — for learning about our eroticism, for pleasuring ourselves, for encouraging our partners to feel things more deeply. They are, literally, the way we take our sexuality into our own hands. No wonder so many authorities frown on sex toys and make us hide them under the covers. Using a sex toy is, after all, a political act.

And it feels damn good, too.

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16
Mar


If your name is Sarah, Emma or Kelly, doctors may be more likely to view you as a woman of “easy virtue” — if they’ve read the latest issue of the British Medical Journal.

The Journal found those were the top three names in an analysis of data from a British clinic that treats women for sexually transmitted diseases. The data included 1,462 patients aged 16 to 24 from a Southampton hospital.

According to lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth Foley — whose own name is not among those listed — the analysis contradicts the popular stereotype that promiscuous women in Britain are more likely to be called Sharon or Tracey. Both are associated with the “Essex girl,” a much snickered about stereotype of a low-class, loose young woman.

Instead, Sharon and Tracey were found about half as often as was expected given the popularity of these names, the researchers reported. Also included in the top 10 were Louise, Cla(i)re, Lisa, Rachel, Michelle and Nicola.

The article has received a lively response from British doctors. According to one cardiologist from a hospital in Birmingham, Foley’s work is a “fine and timely study.”

“Readers interested in recreational liaisons now know exactly who they should approach if they want to avoid nasty little rashes afterwards,” he wrote in a reader’s letter.

A list of the 10 most popular names for American girls born in 1998 cites Sarah in the No. 3 slot. Emma and Kelly are not listed.

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