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.

Authours of Oh Joy Sex Toy in town for Vancouver Comic Arts Festival.

Passed along by someone in the comments section (thanks!):

I'm a huge fan of the webcomic Oh Joy Sex Toy, so I thought I'd get the word out that the wonderful Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan of Oh Joy Sex Toy will be at the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival this weekend. In addition to showing many wonderful comic artists, there will also be some interesting panels such as Queering Up Comics: LGBTQA and Beyond and This is Probably a Mistake: "the delicate and nuanced art of telling stories through crude humour". VanCAF runs from May 21-22 at the Vancouver Roundhouse and admission is completely free!

For more information about VanCAF, click here: link.

For those unfamiliar with Erika Moen and her partner Matthew Nolan's work, check it out here: link.

A sample of their work:

Oh Joy Sex Toy Sex Positive | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

How long does the average guy last in bed?

premature ejaculation orgasm time too fast | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

Many, many men worry that they aren't able to last long enough when having sex. Their concern is two-fold:

First, and foremost, men are often afraid that they aren't sufficiently satisfying their partners. The assumption is that lasting longer is always better. The fear is that partners will leave or be critical.

Second, sexual skills are central to many men's sense of masculinity. If a guy sees himself as bad in bed, he may feel like less of a man. And because stamina is considered to be important, the inability to go and go and go can be experienced as a failure at being a man.

Now, if a guy is struggling with premature ejaculation (which has been clinically defined several different ways, the most common being ejaculation in less than a minute), that's a much different experience than a guy who is worried because he typically lasts around 5 minutes.

So, how long do guys last, on average? Turns out to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5-6 minutes.

Dr. Justin Lehmiller reviewed the research for his piece in Playboy:

This is How Long the Average Guy Lasts in Bed
By Justin Lehmiller
When it comes to sex, some guys worry that they don’t last long enough–and I’m not even talking about guys with premature ejaculation here. Guys who already have a lot of sexual stamina to begin with often worry that they aren’t measuring up.
It’s easy to see how men might come to this conclusion. After all, the most popular men’s magazines are constantly publishing articles with tips on how to last longer in bed, and many advertise “sexual enhancement” products designed to improve sex by delaying the male orgasm.
Then there’s porn, which gives the impression that guys should be able to keep going and going and going—and then coming and coming and coming. But that’s a topic for another article.
So what’s typical when it comes to sexual stamina, anyway? How long does it take for the average guy to ejaculate?
Let’s take a look at the research.

Read the rest here: link.

Man protests same-sex marriage by suing to marry his computer.

chris sevier same sex marriage bigot | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

From news of the strange.

Mark “Chris” Sevier, lawyer and EDM musician, is really opposed to same-sex marriage. So much so that he's insisting that he be allowed to marry his porn-filled laptop in protest. Sevier claims that if two people of the same sex are able to get married, then a person should be able to marry whoever or whatever they want.

Of course, his claim is intended to be absurd to support his view that marriage between a man and woman is constitutionally protected and same-sex marriage is not. He's filed a two lawsuits, one in Utah and the other in Florida, after being denied marriage licences to wed his laptop. Both cases have been dismissed. These are the not the first times that he's protested same-sex marriage with frivolous lawsuits.

More about him and his absurdity from the DailyBeast:

Meet the Anti-LGBT Bigot “Marrying” His Computer
Meet Mark Sevier, a Christian music producer with a lengthy arrest record and a history of bogus lawsuits.
by Samantha Allen
It’s a love story as old as time itself. Man meets laptop. Man fills laptop with pornography. Man sues state for the right to marry his masturbatory aid.
In 2014, former Tennessee lawyer and Christian electronic dance music producer Mark “Chris” Sevier filed a motion in Florida arguing that if same-sex couples “have the right to marry their object of sexual desire… then I should have the right to marry my preferred sexual object,” in this case his “porn-filled Apple computer.”
The motion was dismissed, of course, but Sevier is back again with a new Texas lawsuit demanding that he be granted a 14th Amendment right to wed his laptop.
As the Houston Chronicle reports, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has already asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, arguing that “the right to marry one’s computer is not an interest, objectively, deeply rooted in the nation’s history and tradition.”
At the very least, Sevier appears to be monogamous. The laptop named in this new suit is the same 2011 MacBook that he asked to marry in 2014.
But Sevier, who has said that “the Constitution is being hijacked” by same-sex marriage, does not seem to actually be in love with his computer. The EDM artist has a long history of bogus legal actions designed to undermine marriage equality.

Read the rest here: link.

Sex education, Norwegian style.

Looking to brush up on your sex education?

In most of North America and elsewhere, sex education is notoriously inadequate (and arguably, straight up ineffective - I'm looking at you, abstinence-only).

In the last few decades, Canada has made a concerted effort to improve access to good, comprehensive sex ed. But, sex education is at the purview of the provinces, who set curriculum. There is some flexibility in how that curriculum is applied, and even in places where sex ed is the best, it's still largely an afterthought.

The nordic countries tend to be the most sex-positive and socially liberal, so it's no surprise that their sex education is much better.

While these clips aren't part of the school curriculum in Norway, they do demonstrate a much different approach to thinking about sex ed than we see here in North America. And they're awesome.

Below is the first in the series. If you click through to YouTube, you can find the rest of the series. There are English subtitles. The clips are NSFW!

You can learn more about the series here: link.

Interviews with three female porn producers.

joanna angel female porn producers stars | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

The porn industry is still largely run by men. But over the last ten years, many women have taken on the roles of producers and directors. And it's been a good thing; porn has arguably changed for the better because of it. Additionally, there's now much more content that appeals to women.

In this piece, three female producers share some of their insights about the industry. From the Guardian:

'I have to remind people I can still be dirty': the female porn directors calling the shots
Bree Mills, Tasha Reign and Joanna Angel represent a growing number of women directing the action and with five women out of 15 nominees for best director at the recent adult video awards, could the Oscars take notes?
by Gabriella Paiella
The 33rd annual Adult Video News awards, colloquially known as “the Oscars of porn”, were held in Las Vegas last weekend. It was a decidedly less stuffy affair than its mainstream counterpart: the red carpet was smaller, the ceremony blessedly shorter, and there was no Mani Cam in sight.
The AVN Awards celebrate talent in the adult entertainment industry – an industry which, despite growing more popular and accepted each year, still faces substantial criticism for its perceived mistreatment of women.
And yet, out of this year’s nominees for best director of a feature, five out of 15 were women. Compare that to the entirely male roster of nominees for best director at this year’s Oscars – and every year since since 2010, when Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win that award in the Academy’s 87-year history.
So what is it like to work – and succeed – in the industry? I spoke to three female directors at different stages of their careers to find out.
Read the interviews here: link.