Monday, June 9, 2008

Lower libido & Birth Control Pill?

One of the possible side effects of my girlfriend's birth control pill is a decrease in sexual appetite. Both of us have noticed that she does indeed seem to no longer be interested in sexual activity. However, she is reluctant to call her doctor about this issue. What would the doctor suggest, do you think? Is there any other way around this problem?

So, we did some research and also spoke to a clinician here at Dick's House and here's the scoop:

Sex drive is dependent on androgens, the male hormones. Different brands of birth control pills contain varying amounts of androgens, so it's possible that the pill type she is taking could be the culprit. Some estimate that taking a hormonal birth control pill could lower the sex drive of 5-10% of women who take them.

We hear you when you say she wants to avoid speaking with her doctor about this, but really- it's the best choice. There are so many birth control formulas to choose from and if this one is having a negative impact, she should definitely make an appointment to discuss switching to a birth control pill with more androgens. If for some reason her doctor isn't someone she likes or feels comfortable speaking with, she should find a different provider. If she's been seen by a clinician at Dick's House and wants to see someone else instead, she just needs to say that she wants to "try meeting with a new provider" when making the appointment.

Alternately, physical activity (moderately intense exercise) and increased muscle mass (weight lifting) can sometimes increase the amount of male hormones and therefore sex drive. On that note, she may feel an increased sense of well-being and therefore an increased sex drive if she is exercising and feels good about her body. Sometimes mood difficulties may present as lack of interest in activities otherwise enjoyed, so she may also want to consider whether or not she might be slightly depressed.

One other aspect of the situation: A healthy college woman might feel that this issue is abnormal for someone of her age. We've found and read through a WebMD blog where LOTS of women in their early 20's share their frustrations of a low sex drive and your girlfriend may find some comfort in reading their posts. It may also give her the support she needs (aside from yours of course!) to call and make an appointment.

Most important: continue to spend special times together, and be intimate in other ways. Sometimes lack of sex drive is indicating a need in another aspect of the relationship.

Try not to pressure her too much or it may feel to her that it's only your satisfaction (frequency of sex) that matters ... be sure to listen to and support her desires as well! It's great that you're trying to be supportive and perhaps you can read this information together to enhance your already positive, open, honest communication.

Good luck to you both!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Want to try anal sex... advice?

So I'd like to try anal but I hear it hurts? Any advice on how to get on with it?

ahhh.. anal. Let's define the idea of "anal". As you can read on, "There are many ways to enjoy the anus erotically. Some people enjoy the sensation of a finger inserted into their anal opening and gently rotated. Others may find the insertion of a sex toy or penis very arousing and stimulating."

Whatever you choose to use to try anal sex, it is important to remember 3 main points.
  1. Use Lubrication. The anus is not self-lubricating, so it is essential to use a good lube product. Water- or Silicone-based commercial lubricants are best. We know that you can buy some that are "desensitizing", but we don't recommend them because they could keep you from feeling any real damage that was happening (if that were the case). For more on lubes for anal sex, check out this "Ask Alice!" page.
  2. Take it S-L-O-W. Do you enjoy a little anal stimulation externally? Take the time to explore on your own. Use your finger or an inexpensive sex toy, such as anal beads to determine if this is something you find pleasurable. There's no need to hurry to the finish line- the journey is just as fun.
  3. If you experience pain, then STOP. Take a deep breath and evaluate whether you want to end the experience or whether you need more lubrication, a smaller item, better partner communication or something else.
As always, be certain that your sexual experience is a safe one. Use only clean & sanitized toys and a protective barrier for skin contact, such as a finger cot or latex glove (for fingers) or a condom (for larger items such as a penis). Remove and replace the barrier (or wash and re-sanitize the toy) before using it in anywhere else in the body such as the vagina or mouth.

And, don't forget to make sure you are feeling 'turned on'. This is not something you should try until you are feeling at least a little aroused and 'in the mood'. Happy exploring!

Should I have sex for the first time?

I am a female virgin and am considering having sex for the first time with someone who is about to graduate. What are some of the things I should weigh in my head before deciding to make the "big leap"?

Excellent question, although one curiosity: why is it important to note that your potential sexual partner is about to graduate? It sounds as though there could be some pressure as in "if not now, it may never happen"... but we could just be reading into it a little too much.

There are a number of questions to consider when deciding whether now is the "right time" to have your first experience with sexual intercourse. We've stolen from an excellent piece on the website and adapted it below. You can (and should) check out the original source page as well.

Why do I want to do this?

If there is any sense of pressure or if you're having troubles in your relationship and you think sex will fix it, stop right there. Sex between people should only happen when it is what both people very enthusiastically want, and not just because they think it'll make the other person happy (or get them to stop nagging).

On the other hand, if you've been with your partner long enough (whatever that means to you) to feel good about considering sex with them, and have a solid level of other sexual experience (including kissing, petting, masturbation); you feel you can trust yourself and your partner with limits; if you're looking to explore your sexual relationship responsibly and sensitively, and for some greater intimacy and sexual exploration with no notion that any certain result -- positive or negative -- is guaranteed, and you've got a firm grip on reality, read on.

What does being a "virgin" mean to you?

Are you someone who feels that one's virginity is a kind of gift to the one person who you will ever be fully sexually intimate with? Do you view being a 'virgin' as a having a positive or negative value? Is sexual intercourse something you simply want to have 'out of the way' so you will then feel experienced? For some reason, our culture places some value upon being a 'virgin'. You should be aware of the value that you place on virginity - and whether or not you actually do place any value on it. This may impact how you feel about yourself if you do choose to have sex.

Who do I want to do this for?

If it's for you, and your partner as well as you: fantastic. But if it is for someone else primarily, and not for yourself -- or JUST for yourself -- stop now. Other people, just like you, have hands and fingers. They know how to use them to get off, and you can rest assured they've been using them long before you came along. Sex with someone else shouldn't just be about self-gratification; that's what masturbation is for.

What do I expect from intercourse or genital sex?

Not to scare you or make you nervous, but "the first time" for many women in particular may not be all that fantastic. Some student show that only about 25% of women usually report enjoying first intercourse, and less than 8% report orgasm from first intercourse. Those bummers most likely had to do with being ill-prepared in general, simply not knowing the basics, both partners not being equally invested in one another, and overall, with unrealistic expectations. The cultural idea that the first sex is the best sex is almost always off-kilter: sex is one of those things that tends to improve for people over time; which gets better as you go, rather than starting off perfect and fantastic and either staying there or getting worse or boring.

It's smart to take stock of what your expectations are, and give them a reality check. Talk to a friend who has had intercourse or other genital sex who is really honest with you (or an older sibling or family member) about what you expect, and listen to their experiences. Intercourse or other genital sex isn't a miracle cure for anything, and it isn't always a fireworks show: it can be a wonderful, natural affirmation of intimacy, and an excellent physical and emotional experience as long as you're ready for it and take it at face value, without romanticizing it or imagining it to be something it is not. The sex you have with someone else tends to be a mirror of your relationship: if your relationship is lousy, the sex within it isn't likely to be better or to improve the relationship.

Am I really prepared to handle all aspects of intercourse and/or other genital sex?

There's a lot to juggle; probably more than you think. While it may not be glamorous to think of all the "preparations" to consider, it's vital for your health- and that of your partner. Be sure you know the following answers:

  • I can take full responsibility for my own emotions, expectations and actions, as can my partner
  • I understand that having sex could change my relationship for good or for the worse, and feel I can handle whatever may happen, good or bad alike.
  • I have several up-to-date, good quality latex condoms, dams and/or gloves -- whichever I need for the specific sexual activities I want to engage in -- and both I and my partner know how and when to use them, and are both willing to do so without argument.
  • I have had basic healthcare, whatever disease and infection testing I need and can obtain, and am in good health, and my partner has had regular doctor checkups, disease and infection testing, and is in good health.
  • If I am having opposite-sex intercourse, I have a secondary method of birth control for use with condoms if I feel the need for a backup method. If I am using condoms alone, I and my partner know how to use them properly and know my partner will do his part to always use them.
We wish you the best as you sort through this questions. You're on the right track- just be sure you are making the decision that is right for you, rather than feeling a sense of pressure. Good luck!