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Best of the Sex Doc
While we hope to keep this thing going for another 25 years, we thought we’d share your favorite Sex Doc answers from over the last year while the Ms. Herbenick is on spring break. We’ve fielded every question from broken penises to genital skin care, period sex and ocean sex, and everything you could possibly imagine (No, you couldn’t. I guarantee you couldn’t.) in between. Remember, you can always send us an email at email@example.com
When I have bad sex, how do I know who’s at fault? Me or the girl?
Not to go all linguistic philosopher on you, but what’s your definition of “bad”? There is such a multitude of meanings of “bad” in the bedroom: awkward, stiff, boring, uncoordinated, rushed, lazy, overzealous, trying-too-hard, collegiate and non-orgasmic (which are usually one in the same). But more often than not, bad sex is the result of two mismatched partners both trying to get what they want without paying attention to what their partner wants or is responding to. Bad sex often starts with one or more partners betting really, really hard on one special “move” (worse, still, if the move has a name) that you concentrate so hard on completing that you forget to pay any attention to your partner or whether they even like it. Bad sex begins in the pages of dating books authored by men with one-word monikers, or women who really just want to get on The Today Show and turn their blog into a movie. The threat of bad sex shouts at you from the neon covers of Cosmo in the checkout line at Marsh. Don’t pay attention to any of that shit. Get in the bedroom, get naked and get vocal about what you like and don’t like.
: Bad, or unpleasurable or awkward, sex is sometimes one person’s fault and more often a shared issue, as in “it takes two to tango”. Let’s say one person wants intimate, eyes-open, lights on sex and yet they have sex in the dark and don’t look at each other or share feelings. If Person A doesn’t describe the kind of sex he or she prefers, and Person B doesn’t ask or share either, then it’s a shared problem. On the other hand, if Person A shares what he or she wants and Person B disregards it, then B isn’t being a very cooperative partner. Ultimately, it matters less whose fault it is and more than both partners turn towards each other and try to create an intimacy that works.
The Beard Versus the Brazilian
I get regular Brazilians, and I just started seeing a guy who does the whole “fashionable stubble” thing, and it gives me almost like beard burn on my vagina when he goes down for a long time. What can I do to lessen the irritation?
Dump him and date a guy with a real beard.
If you’re having sex with the guy, the least you could do is try talking openly with him about it. He might be willing to let the beard grow in or to shave it off and, either way, be soft and welcoming to your vulva.
SWEET JESUS IN A STRAIGHTJACKET
My guy and I were doing the nasty last week (I was on top of him, but facing his feet), when all of a sudden pleasure turned to pain. In the midst of the thrusting, I think what happened is his penis bent backward. He howled in pain and I got off of him. The poor thing then turned a shade of purple and was very sore for a few days. My guy is one of those "everything's fine" guys who hates the doc, and his penis is starting to feel better. But holy hell! What happened & how do I avoid this again? - Anonymous, from Tumblr
Upon reading the question a few days ago, I screamed through every cell in my body until the scream culminated in an agonized moan that, as it escaped my lungs, folded my body in twain upon the ground. I have refused to deal with this until I absolutely had to, but the day of reckoning has come. Girlfriend, you broke his dick. You broke it. You broke his penis. YOU BROKE HIS PENIS! This is the equivalent of him tearing your vagina during vigorous sex, except with the added agony of an injury to a part of him that, as a dude, is symbolic of his masculinity. Start the litany of apologies now and you might be halfway done by the time you get triaged in the ER. The good doctor can tell you how you did it and how to avoid it, but here are my suggestions for making it up to him: a cruise to Egypt (possibly alone as a penis vision quest), an on-call masseuse for the duration of his healing time, thank you note duty for a decade, and/or daily blowies once he's healed for equal the duration of his recovery time (which he's allowed to lie about). You done to' him up from the flo' up, in terms of male "genital identity," so give him a nice chunk of time to heal physically and emotionally - especially given your description of his aloofness regarding his physical well-being. My limited (because of the cellular screaming) research yielded a wide spectrum of possible consequences of a bent dick, so you have to make sure he's cleared by a doctor. It also made me aware of a place on the internet simply called The Bent Penis Website (the-bent-penis-website.com), so it wasn't a total loss.
Your partner absolutely should see a doctor - and if he has any bruising or swelling still, I would suggest he get in to see a doctor ASAP even if that means going to the emergency room. Although penis breaks are rare, many occur each year and often they are emergency situations. They tend to happen when a man's penis is going in and out of his partner's body, and then misses and hits his partner's body. Partner on top is a common position for penile mishaps as is standing sex. One study found that penile breaks were more common in affairs, and in sex in unconventional places (e.g., offices, elevators) so be careful out there. Because penis breaks are serious, and we wouldn't want your partner to heal poorly and possibly develop scar tissue which could lead to painful or shorter erections, he really should get to a urologist as soon as possible.
Know Your Boner
I have a weak erection and quick ejaculation. What can I do?
I’ve been watching a lot of food documentaries lately, and one of the things I gathered from these documentaries is that boners are kind of nature’s ultimate health barometer. I would go to the doctor and get a full blood panel (I checked this with my MD sister, and she agrees) and make sure you’re not having a larger issue. The other thing I gained from these documentaries? Giving up processed foods and eating more whole foods, vegetables, and getting some exercise is like nature’s ultimate Viagra. In the short term? Experiment with cock rings and see how it goes.
Check in with your healthcare provider on the weak erection front. You’ll want to make sure it’s not an early warning sign of cardiovascular health problems and/or diabetes, which erectile problems can sometimes be. If all checks out just fine, you might look into The Sexual Male: Problems and Solutions and/or a sex therapy appointment with Dr. Angela Marshall or another AASECT-certified sex therapist (aasect.org) or a sex therapist affiliated with SSTAR (sstarnet.org). (Also, see above regarding ejaculation.)
Prophylaxis Via Celibacy
Are there more and less reliable forms of birth control? My boyfriend doesn't like condoms (whose does?).
Yes, there are plenty of other forms of birth control that are just as effective. The downside is, aside from a vasectomy, all the other forms of BC fall squarely on the shoulders of female responsibility, which is some bullshit. That said, birth control doesn't cover on the STI front, so if that's on your list of concerns, you'll still want some kind of barrier. I think the most effective version of this is the Scroguard, a device that will both keep you clean and healthy, and also is so visually repellent that it may end all your sexual contact with everyone, everywhere.
Yes! But again, there are so many different kinds of condoms and I would encourage you and your boyfriend to find one that works for you. You can also pair it with another form of birth control, like withdrawal or the pill or patch or ring, to double up your protection against pregnancy. You might also try using a female condom (easier to find on the internet than in person) which can help sex to feel more pleasurable for you both and still provide you with a huge reduction in STI risk that can only come with male or female condoms.
I’m learning about reflexology and heard from classmates there are places you can press on the foot to make a man get an erection or make people horny. Is that true?
I’ve actually met a woman who claimed to be so adept at reflexology, she could make any man instantaneously ejaculate. If this were possible, all the massage locations featured just after this article in print would prominently advertise their reflexology skills, and the woman I heard this claim from would be rolling a Bugatti to work and summering the Hamptons, and she ain’t. Of course, none of this isn’t to say that reflexology might have some incredible benefits in the bedroom by way of simply relaxing yourself (and it just feels really friggin’ good) but as far as being the key to instant orgasm, I invite you to join me in a call of “bullshit!”
It’s not so simple. If it were, sex would be much more reflexive and less magical ( I happen to be a fan of the magic). Various reflexology websites note supposedly erotic areas of the feet. Some say it’s the fleshy area of the big toe. Others say it’s the ankle and still others point to different spots. I am not an expert in reflexology so someone who has true expertise in it may have more to say on the topic (and may also be able to clear up the widely different information available on reflexology websites). All that said, there is some interesting science here which is that a nerve that provides sensory information about the feet enters the spinal cord at around the same level as a nerve that provides sensory information about the vagina. In rare cases, that information seems to be “confused” by the body and some people have orgasms just from walking or touching their feet. For the vast majority of human beings, however, that’s not the case. Foot stimulation is like anything else for most people - some people would enjoy the relaxation and sensuality of a foot massage and others would find it neutral, a little gross, or just not their thing. Should you pursue reflexology as a hobby or a career, you might ask people if they have any areas of their feet they would prefer you avoid. And, if you’re touching a partner’s feet, then the door is open for you to not only talk about areas to avoid but also areas of the feet, or ways of touching the feet, that they might find arousing or exciting.
Some bullshit right here
How crazy am I? I have a good friend who's a woman. We are roommates and live together. We are not romantically involved in the least, and yet, every woman I've ever been romantic with has had a problem with said friend. She never does anything to compromise relationships. I chalk it up to a woman's need to emotionally dominate a relationship. In your professional opinion, is it realistic to hold out to find the woman to understand this modern situation, or should I make a permanent decision?
Have you considered that the problem might be that you think all women are kind of the same and have not entertained the idea that your individual friend-mate sucks? Or that you pick women who will be insecure about this friendship to save yourself the vulnerability and risk of actually becoming emotionally attached to someone? Do you, in the back of your mind, have that When Harry Met Sally bullshit notion that really, you’ll eventually end up together after realizing [DRAMATIC ORCHESTRAL FLOURISH] that the reason your past relationships didn’t work is because OMFG YOU’RE MEANT TO BE?! Have you bought yourself the grandest bullshit McMansion of them all, the myth that all women naturally compete for male attention? Also, what does “not compromising” mean? Does that mean she’s respectful of your relationship boundaries or does that mean she tries to “bond” with your new romances by talking about how awkward it is when your roommate’s girlfriend comes over when she’s walking around in underwear, no bra and a tank top? (Ohmuhgawd, so awkward, right?!) Or are you taking the natural intimidation that comes with your boyfriend having an already-intimate relationship with a woman he lives with as overblown evidence of “all women’s” catty insecurity? Because, although there are many shades of triflin’ bullshit in play here, it all boils down to one of two scenarios: either you’re picking women who are preternaturally insecure, or you’re dating normal, mature, women who are picking up the scent, however faint, of a homewrecker. Figure out which it is and act accordingly.
Sarah nailed this one.
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