Bisexual Awareness Week: September 19-26.

bisexual sexual orientation | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy Vancouver | Squarespace Blogging

It's bisexual awareness week!

This is particularly important given the discrimination that people who are bisexual face.

Research has shown that both heterosexual and homosexual people tend to judge those who identify as bisexual quite negatively. This is based on some myths and faulty assumptions about what it is to be bisexual. They're described in this clip from GLAAD:

For more information, check out the GLAAD bisexual awareness week here: link.

The truth about marriage.

marriage | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy Vancouver | Squarespace Blogging

Alain De Botton wants you to get real about your relationships.

Many people grow up believing that marriage is in some way magical - the bringing together of two people who are perfect for each other. A marriage characterized by ever-present happiness and love, little conflict, and shared desires, likes, goals, and values.

Research in the states has shown that almost 75% of people believe in the idea of a soul mate, or one true love. Unfortunately for them, research has also shown that the more a person believes in the idea of one true love, the less likely that person is to be successful and happy in their relationships. They tend to bail when things get difficult.

It comes down to expectations, and commitment to relationships when they don't meet unrealistically high expectations.

People with realistic expectations, and a willingness to struggle through difficult times while still committed to the relationship, tend to do best. A key component of this is self-awareness, more specifically recognizing our own idiosyncrasies and why we might be difficult to be with.

This piece in the New York Times lays it all out, raw:

Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person
By Alain de Botton
IT’S one of the things we are most afraid might happen to us. We go to great lengths to avoid it. And yet we do it all the same: We marry the wrong person.
Partly, it’s because we have a bewildering array of problems that emerge when we try to get close to others. We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?”
Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when we are working; perhaps we’re tricky about intimacy after sex or clam up in response to humiliation. Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Read the rest here: link.

Meet the clitoris.

Most people have no idea what the clitoris really looks like. Not out of intentional ignorance, but simply because we are never taught.

The part of the clitoris that's visible from the outside of the body is relatively small compared to the structures inside.

The part that you can see is mostly what's called the glans of the clitoris, which is homologous to the glans of the penis. This means that they both come from the same original embryonic tissue (see previous post from last week).

The glans tends to be the most sensitive part of the clitoris, although research (and lots of anecdotal evidence) shows that stimulation of the interior part of the clitoris through pressure from penetration of the vagina and even the rectum can also provide intense pleasure. This type of stimulation can result in what's known as g-spot orgasms.

On average, clitorises are about 25mm long, 5mm wide, and protrude between 3mm-10mm from the body. Keep in mind, though, that these are averages - there are clitorises that are smaller and larger, and that's completely ok.

Given that the clitoris is the only part of the body in either males or females that's sole purpose is to provide pleasure, it's surprising that most people have no idea what it really looks like. In France, that's about to change.

From The Guardian:

clitoris sex sexuality women | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy Vancouver | Squarespace Blogging
This is a 3D model of a clitoris – and the start of a sexual revolution
by Minna Salami
It looks like a tulip emoji, but this anatomically accurate clitoris will aid education and debunk myths that have repressed women’s sexuality for centuries.
This month, pupils across France will be able to use the first full-size anatomical model of a clitoris in their sex education classes. Considering all the technological, medical and scientific achievements humans have made, this seems to have taken a long time. The distribution of this model has been possible due to 3D printing technology; but even three-dimensional MRI scans, which previously produced the most accurate representations of the clitoris, only became available in 2009.
But it was worth the wait. The truth is, you might struggle to gain pleasure from a tool you don’t even know you have. In 2016, women finally know without speculation what the whole of their sexual organ looks like; and for many it won’t be quite what they imagined.
You may be wondering, what’s the big deal? Is the clitoris not the “small, sensitive, erectile part of the female genitals at the anterior end of the vulva”, as Oxford Dictionaries defines it? And isn’t the real issue simply whether it brings a woman sexual gratification?
Well, decide for yourself. The popular opinion seems to be that the 3D printed clitoris resembles a wishbone. To my eyes, it also (fittingly) resembles a fleur-de-lys, or, to use a more contemporary example, a tulip emoji.
But the important thing is that it debunks myths that have repressed female sexuality for centuries.

Read the rest here: link.

And some more 3D images so that you can better see the structures:

clitoris women sex 3D | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy Vancouver | Squarespace Blogging
clitoris women sex | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy Vancouver | Squarespace Blogging

 

Dan Savage's Hump Tour coming to Vancouver Sept. 23-24.

If you're not already familiar with Dan Savage, he's the brains and columnist behind the hugely popular, globally syndicated Savage Love (link). He provides advice on the sorts of problems that you rarely see addressed elsewhere.

Several years ago, he started inviting people to submit homemade, alternative, arty porn to be vetted for his Hump Tour. Here is an example from a past year (NSFW):

From the festival description:

hump tour porn amateur art | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy Vancouver | Squarespace Blogging
About HUMP!
The HUMP! Film Festival has been bringing audiences a new kind of porn since 2005. The festival features short dirty movies—each less than five minutes—all created by people who aren’t porn stars but want to be one for a weekend. The filmmakers and stars show us what they think is hot and sexy, creative and kinky, their ultimate turn-ons and their craziest fantasies. Our carefully curated program is a cornucopia of body types, shapes, ages, colors, sexualities, genders, kinks, and fetishes—all united by a shared spirit of sex-positivity. HUMP! is a celebration of creative sexual expression. You will see films at HUMP! that shock you. You will see films at HUMP! that make you laugh. And you will see films at HUMP! that turn you on. You will also be touched by the sincerity and vulnerability with which these films are lovingly made. HUMP!’s main mission is to change the way America sees—and makes and shares—porn.

The tour will be here in Vancouver September 23rd-24th. You can buy tickets here: link.

And the trailer for this year's festival:

Homologous genital structures, explained.

In the early stages of development, male and female embryos are almost indistinguishable. Over the first few weeks of pregnancy, the gonads (what will eventually become the ovaries or testes) start to develop and differentiate (i.e., become different).

After about the seventh week, the male gonads begin to produce male sex hormone (a relation of testosterone), which causes the genital tissues in males to become masculinized. Female development continues without the presence of male sex hormone.

Because the female and male genitals come from the same original embryonic tissue, and differentiation is simply the result of the presence of male sex hormone, much of the male and female genital anatomy can be traced back to a shared origin. The parts of the anatomy that come from the shared original embryonic tissue are called homologous structures. For example, the glans of the penis is homologous to the glans of the clitoris (they come from the same original embryonic tissue).

This video does a great job of explaining the concept:

Is there such thing as 'normal' or 'typical' labia/vulva?

In short, no.

Genital shame/anxiety is a growing problem. This, in part, is due to the fact that most people don't get the opportunity to see a wide variety of genitals, and therefore presume that there is one specific way in which they should look.

Inner and outer labia, like most other body parts, vary widely. They range in size, symmetry, shape, colour, etc. There is no such thing as a universally ideal or typical labia.

Several user-content blogs have popped up, intended to showcase the massive diversity in appearance of the vulva. Presumably, the hope is that by publishing these sorts of images, that people who see them will feel less dissatisfaction/shame about their genitals. The following are two examples of these types of blogs. Click on the images below to visit the sites (NSFW). The questions, comments, and replies are all interesting to read, too.

Learn more about the second blog here..

 

Increased contraceptive use associated with less teen pregnancies.

There is now indisputable evidence showing that comprehensive sexual education reduces teen pregnancies (among other positive outcomes). 

A core part of most comprehensive sex ed programs is contraception. 

With better knowledge, and improved comfort and confidence speaking about sex and seeking sexual health services (i.e., contraception), kids are making more effective choices when it comes to sex.

A recently published study provides even more supportive evidence. As reviewed by the Guttmacher Institute:

Declines in Teen Pregnancy Risk Entirely Driven by Improved Contraceptive Use
Levels of Teen Sexual Activity Essentially Unchanged Between 2007–2012
Improvements in contraceptive use have led to a drop in the risk of pregnancy among U.S. adolescents aged 15–19—and these changes also appear to be driving the recent declines in teen pregnancy rates, abortion rates and birthrates. A new analysis titled “Understanding the Decline in Adolescent Fertility in the United States, 2007–2012,” byDr. Laura Lindberg and colleagues, estimated that improved contraceptive use accounted for the entire 28% decline in teen pregnancy risk between 2007 and 2012. The authors found significant increases in teens’ use of any contraceptive method, use of multiple methods and use of highly effective methods, as well as a decline in contraceptive nonuse.
“There was no significant change in adolescent sexual activity during this time period,” says lead author Dr. Lindberg. “Rather, our new data suggest that recent declines in teens’ risk of pregnancy—and in their pregnancy rates—are driven by increased contraceptive use.”

contraception teen pregnancy sex | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

Read the rest here: link.

Fetishes: Why unusual things turn some people on.

fetish high heels paraphilia men autgynephilia | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

Dr. Debra Soh has interviewed several hundred people with unusual sexual interests as part of her research.

While it's still not clear what leads to various sexual preferences, interviews such as those conducted by Dr. Soh provide some clues.

In this piece, she discusses six fetishes and why they can be a turn-on for some people.

From Men's Health:

1 In 6 People Has a Sex Fetish. A Neuroscientist Explains Why
This sex researcher has interviewed hundreds of people with peculiar erotic tastes. Here’s what she’s learned
By Debra W. Soh
You might think that fantasizing about being swallowed by a large animal sounds weird. 
But a new study in the Journal of Sex Research finds that paraphilias—unusual sexual interests—are actually common: One in three people have experimented with one at some point in their lives.
Paraphilias range from kinks you’ve heard of before, like stiletto fetishes, to more rare interests, like the fantasy about being swallowed.
Why would someone be into that? Why are some people turned on by golden showers, or wearing diapers? The subject is so riveting that I’ve made a career out of studying it.
As a neuroscientist, I’m interested in what it is about the brain that makes people like the kinds of sex that they like. When guys come in to do my fMRI study, we spend a few minutes scanning their brain. Afterwards, I ask them lots of questions about their sex lives.
Needless to say, my work never gets boring. At last count, sex researchers estimated that about 549 different paraphilias exist.
So, for starters, here are six fascinating fetishes worth learning about.

Read the rest here: link.

Female sexual desire.

sexual desire kiss | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

As a follow-up to the last post on female orgasm, another fantastic article from the BBC, this one reviewing the most cutting-edge research on female desire.

The piece challenges some long-held assumptions and stereotypes, citing research that shows:

  • females may desire sex as much as males, but there seems to be more variability in their desire (especially over the menstrual cycle)
  • testosterone is almost entirely unrelated to sexual desire in females
  • sexual desire doesn't always mean a desire for penetrative sex with a partner
  • women are increasingly using porn, and there is now much more porn produced by women for women
  • low sexual desire doesn't typically reflect physiological changes; it's more often situational
  • females are as prone to sexual boredom in their relationships as males, and maybe even more so

From the BBC:

The Enduring Enigma of Female Sexual Desire
Why have scientists been slow to understand women’s sexuality, asks Rachel Nuwer.
What do women want? It’s a question that’s stymied the likes of Sigmund Freud to Mel Gibson. It has been at the centre of numerous books, articles and blog posts, and no doubt the cause of countless agonised ponderings by men and women alike. But despite decades spent trying to crack this riddle, researchers have yet to land on a unified definition of female desire, let alone come close to fully understanding how it works.
Still, we’ve come a long way from past notions on the subject, which ran the gamut of women being insatiable, sex-hungry nymphomaniacs to having no desire at all. Now, scientists are increasingly beginning to realise that female desire cannot be summarised in terms of a single experience: it varies both between women and within individuals, and it spans a highly diverse spectrum of manifestations. As Beverly Whipple, a professor at Rutgers University, says: “Every woman wants something different.”

Read the rest here: link.

Female orgasm.

female orgasm pleasure libido | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

For anyone interested in female orgasms, this is the most scientifically accurate and comprehensive piece that I've encountered in the main-stream media. It's very good.

The topics that it addresses, include:

  • vaginal versus clitoral orgasms
  • the low-down on the g-spot
  • regions of the brain that are responsible for orgasm
  • multiple orgasms
  • orgasm and penis/sex toy size

From the BBC:

The Mystery of the Female Orgasm
From the existence of the G-spot to the origin of multiple orgasms, female sexuality once mystified scientists. But as Linda Geddes discovers, radical experiments are finally revealing some answers.
by Linda Geddes
On my washing machine, there is a lock. To activate it, you must hold down the start button for a particular length of time at just the right intensity; too soft and nothing happens, too hard and the machine beeps angrily at you. Once you’ve mastered the technique, it’s easy; the lights switch on, things start moving and the cycle ultimately climaxes in a shuddering whirling crescendo of noise. Finally, an entangled heap of damp but refreshed clothes tumbles out at the other end. But for the uninitiated, it’s a perplexing mystery.
Consider now the female orgasm. JD Salinger once wrote that “a woman’s body is like a violin; it takes a terrific musician to play it right”. Pressed or caressed the right way, a woman can be transported to such ecstasy, that for a few seconds, the rest of the world ceases to exist.  But get it wrong and pain, frustration, or dull nothingness can ensue. It’s a stark contrast to a man’s experience; so long as they can get an erection, a few minutes of vigorous stimulation generally results in ejaculation.
Why are orgasms so intensely pleasurable? How come women can experience multiple orgasms? And does the fabled G-spot even exist? These are some of the most enduring mysteries of medicine. “We are able to go to the moon, but we do not understand enough about our own bodies,” says Emmanuele Jannini at the University of Rome Tor Vergata – one of those who has spent his career trying to unravel it. Recent years have seen a flurry of studies by these real-life Masters of Sex, and they are finally getting some answers.

Read the rest here: link.

The unique experience of living trans.

trans man dowling | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

It’s literally impossible for most of us to understand what it’s like to be the other sex.

It's easier to try on being the other gender, but most of us don't take the opportunity (nor would we even know how).

* Crash course in sex versus gender: sex is our physiological make-up, or our maleness/femaleness; gender is how much we identify with and/or take on the roles of man or woman. The two typically overlap, but not always.*

There are two interacting forces at play that are crucial when considering differences between living as a male/man, and living as female/woman.

Our sex hormones (testosterone for males and estrogens/progesterone for females) have a significant impact on our development, including our brains. They also affect the way we think and our emotions (among other mental processes). Sex hormones impact us on a physiological level.

Our gender roles, which are related to both our biological make-up and how we are socialized, affect the way in which we see ourselves and interact with the world, including our interactions with other people. They also dictate how people interact with us, based on social rules and norms.

People who have transitioned from one gender to the other, and who have been through sex hormone therapy, have unique insight into what it’s like to be both a male/man, and a female/woman, and the good and bad that can go along with each. This includes sexism.

A colleague of mine who transitioned described very similar experiences to those described in this piece. Give it a read – it’ll probably blow your socks off.

From Time

What Trans Men See That Women Don’t
By Charlotte Alter
“Cultural sexism in the world is very real when you’ve lived on both sides of the coin”
Three guys are sitting at a Harlem bartop eating fries, drinking whiskey and talking about love. One of them, Bryce Richardson, is about to propose to his girlfriend.
“I’m putting it together in my head, I’m like: ‘He’s gonna be one of my groomsmen, he’s gonna be one of my groomsmen,’” he points to his two friends and grins. The other men light up when they hear the news and start talking about rings, how much they cost, will it be princess cut or pear shaped? Pictures are Googled, phones are passed around. “That was one of my dreams, to get married, to be somebody’s husband, to be somebody’s father,” says one of the friends, Redd Barrett. “From when I was like 12, I used to think about that all the time.”
I ask the groom-to-be how he knew his girlfriend was the one. They met at work, he says, and by the time he came out to her, they were already in love. “I said ‘I’m trans, and you’re not gonna want me anyway,” he recalls, unable to keep the smile off his face. “And she said ‘I’m in love with you, I don’t care about that.’” His friend Tiq nods and says, “That’s your wife, right there.”
All three men are trans. But if they hadn’t said so, you wouldn’t have known.

Read the rest here: link.

Is religiosity related to porn use? It turns out, yes.

xxx porn reilgion | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

Is religiosity related to porn use? It turns out, yes.

Religiosity and social conservatism are typically associated with more traditional values, especially when it comes to sex. Rules about who, when, where, and how can be quite rigid. There's a long history of law being influenced by these rules (e.g., laws against homosexuality).

But, this fixation on rules and being "good" can backfire. The more one thinks about the things that they're not supposed to be doing, the more one tends to think about those things (if you've never heard of the white bear experiment, Google it). Fixation becomes preoccupation. And sex is already something people think about a lot.

In the linked study, the researchers looked at the relationships between proportion of people who identified as "very religious" and people who defined themselves as conservative, and frequency of Google searches for porn. They did this on a state-by-state basis.

What they found was that more religious and conservative states searched much more frequently for porn than states that are less religious and conservative.

Not at all coincidentally, a previous study showed that the most religious and conservative states have the highest subscription rates to porn sites.

The abstract:

religion and porn

 

To see the study, click here: link.

Woman recounts her rape and meets her rapist.

An extremely brave and compassionate personal accounting of rape and its impacts.

For those who have never experienced sexual assault, or never witnessed the effects of it on someone close to you, Ms. Aguirre's story will help you understand what it's like. It's a tough read, but valuable.

Photograph: Brian Howell for the Guardian

Photograph: Brian Howell for the Guardian

From the Guardian:

‘I’m Carmen. Nice to meet you again’: why I faced my rapist in prison
Thirty-three years after she was raped, Carmen Aguirre travelled to meet the man who attacked her
It is the last day of summer, and I am walking under a blue prairie sky through the grounds of a medium-security prison in Alberta, Canada. It has been 33 years since I was raped, and I am on my way to meet my attacker. Laura, who was also raped by him, has travelled with me. We spent last night at the Best Western, where wrought-iron signs dared us to “Walk on the Wild Side”.
Everyone has asked us why we want to meet him. I tell them what Laura, one of the wisest, most articulate people I’ve known, says. “Because I’d like to meet the man I’ve been in a relationship with for my entire life.”
For myself, I want to even out the power imbalance between us, to sit across the table on my terms and look into his eyes. The meeting has been arranged by Brad and Abbey, restorative justice facilitators with experience not only in Canada but in Rwanda and South Africa. Abbey has had several talks with the man, John Horace Oughton, once only known as the “paper bag rapist” on account of him covering his victims’ heads with a paper bag or with a piece of their own clothing during the attacks. She warns us about the Nirvana Outcome, which rarely happens and consists of the offender offering a heartfelt apology to his victims. Laura and I tell her that we are expecting no such thing.

Read the rest here: link.

Obama cuts funding to abstinence-only sex ed programs.

Great news for the US.

If one hopes that their child will be abstinent until marriage, the research unequivocally shows that comprehensive sex education is more effective than abstinence-only in delaying first intercourse.

And for those kids who do decide to have sex, comprehensive sex ed, if done right, provides them the knowledge and skills that they need to make the best possible choices.

As the cliche goes, knowledge is power.

From Deadstate:

obama sex ed | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace
Obama cuts all funding for Christian-based ‘Abstinence Only’ sex-ed programs
By Andrew Wertz
President Obama’s 2017 budget proposal has removed a $10 million annual grant that goes towards funding “abstinence-only” sexual education classes in public schools. By eliminating the grant, Obama would end the financial incentive for states to continue teaching the debunked sex-ed program.

Read the rest here: link.