National Masturbation Month

Emojibator & NSFW present

31 Days of Self Love

in honor of National Masturbation Month

 

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May has cum, which means International Masturbation Month is here.

After a speech at the United Nations World AIDS Day, an audience member asked U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders about masturbation’s potential for discouraging early sexual activity. She answered, “I think it is something that is part of human sexuality and a part of something that perhaps should be taught.” Days later she was fired for her comment.

Launched in 1995 in honour of Elders’ work, National Masturbation Month provides a unique opportunity to get people talking about a self love and encourage conversations about sexual wellness.

To celebrate, Emojibator and the New Society for Wellness (NSFW) have partnered to bring you 31 Days of Self Love featuring exclusive stories and advice on practicing mindful masturbation.

 

Be sure to cum daily for updates. 

 
 

you do you: continuing celebrating self-pleasure after masturbation month

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MAY

31

 

Alexandra Fine, Dame Products

Go screw yourself.

No, really.

Instead of investing in that exorbitantly-priced gym membership this summer, why don’t you instead try setting aside 30 minutes each week for a quality round of much-needed masturbation? Aside from the amazing looks you’ll incite on your colleagues’ faces when they ask you how you intend to get in shape this summer, the health benefits of some weekly self-love speak for themselves.

In all seriousness, it’s no secret that masturbation is a bit taboo. What’s lesser-known, however, is the fact that it wasn’t always this way.

Before the early 18th century, it wasn’t actually such a stigma to touch yourself. Unfortunately, over time, masturbation was rebranded into a scary disease and began to bear the brunt of the blame for all kinds of unrelated physical and social ills.¹ Over the course of the next three centuries, this irrational anxiety would only continue to grow.

I’m here to insist that we put all of this behind us.

It’s eye-opening to realize that the act of masturbation actually has many physiological and psychological benefits. Aside from the obvious upsides of masturbation that we know and love, here are some of my favorite positive side effects of a routine, healthy dose of self-love:

1. Masturbation helps you know your self and body better.

Masturbation can be a way to discover, accept, and understand your mind and body in an otherwise unparalleled way.  It can provide an unmatched opportunity to touch base with yourself. In this fast-paced world, we often forget to set aside time to breathe, let alone listen to our bodies. Much like when practicing meditation, it allows us to get in tune with our personal rhythms and identify sensitive points of tension, pain, and desire.

Believe it or not, regular masturbation has actually been proven to correlate positively with self-confidence.

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2. Masturbation is good for your body:

Masturbation has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. So, it’s up to you: your comfortable, plush bed or …. the gym.  Speaking of beds, masturbation is also a natural way to fight insomnia - it releases key hormones while relieving tension.

3. Masturbation is good for your mind:

Masturbation can decrease your stress level and improve your mood (which should be no surprise). Everyone masturbates a little bit differently. Most of it depends upon how you experimented and conditioned yourself early on in the game. And yet, while the positions themselves may differ, the mindset during masturbation is almost always the same — Present.

4. Masturbation can improve your sex life:

The better you know yourself, the better your partner can know you. In fact, masturbating in front of your partner is not only a fantastic way to spice up your sex life, but it can also teach your partner what makes you feel pleasure, which is —  let’s face it — not always the easiest notion to convey.

Moral of the story: masturbate. It help you to center yourself while simultaneously enhancing your sexual intimacy. You’ll soon find that better sleep, reduced stress, and radiant self-confidence go hand in hand with a little one-on-one time with the most important person in your life: you.

Turns out, some taboos might be good for you. So go ahead. Don’t let the conclusion of National Masturbation Month serve as an excuse to end the act itself.

References

  1. Laqueur, Thomas W. 2003. Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation. Zone Books.

For further reading

Brown, Kirk Warren, and Richard M. Ryan. 2003. “The Benefits of Being Present: Mindfulness and Its Role in Psychological Well-Being.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84(4):822–48. Retrieved July 9, 2014 (http://doi.apa.org/getdoi.cfm?doi=10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822).

Haavio-mannila, Elina, D. Ph, Osmo Kontula, and D. Ph. 1997. “Correlates of Increased Sexual Satisfaction.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 26(4):399–419.

Hurlbert, David Farley, and Carol Apt. 1994. “Female Sexual Desire, Response, and Behavior.” Behavior Modification 18(4):488–504.


 

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How to masturbate: for men

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MAY

30

 

1. Set the mood

Masturbation doesn’t have to be a quickie in the bathroom! You can plan your alone time just like you would anything else and set yourself up for some quality “me time.”

You can make masturbation more pleasurable by:

  • turning down the lights
  • playing your favorite erotic video
  • slowly teasing yourself
  • staying relaxed and present

2. Switch positions

There’s no reason to stick to the same routine while masturbating. Instead, add some excitement by switching up positions.

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If you’re always standing, try leaning against a counter or the wall, with your hips pushed forward. If you’re always lying down, try sitting up, either on your bed or in a chair. You can even enjoy a solo session while on all fours.

Different positions mean different sensations — and that may mean more satisfaction.

3. Take your time

Masturbation doesn’t have to be “go, go, go” — unless, of course, that’s what you’re into. Feel free to slow down and explore what makes you feel good. You can experiment with speed, strokes, positions, hands, toys, and more during a solo session.

Taking your time to discover what turns you on could lead to a better orgasm.

4. Switch hands

Changing hands, just like switching positions, can cause different sensations that could lead to intense ejaculation. You may be able to widen your pleasure zone by using your nondominant hand to masturbate.

Or, if you’re feeling frisky, you could attempt “The Stranger” — you know, that technique where you sit on your hand until it falls asleep and then use it to simulate the feeling of another person giving you a hand job? Everyone’s tried it at least once.

Looking for something more adventurous? Try holding your penis against your stomach and stroking the underside of your shaft quickly with your nondominant hand.

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5. Move your hips

Sure, it’s easy to forget to move your hips while masturbating. After all, it’s not like you’re playing with a partner. But did you know that gyrating and thrusting can help increase the intensity and lead to more pleasure? Yup!

Next time you’re engaging in solo play, move your hips in a circular or back-and-forth motion — or in whatever way feels best to you. Increase the speed as you get closer to climaxing.

Remember, masturbation doesn’t have to be the same every time!

6. Try different strokes

Moving your hand in an up-and-down motion is a tried-and-true masturbation technique — and for many people with a penis, it almost always leads to an orgasm. But why keep solo play boring? Experiment with different movements for a more profound and powerful experience.

You can use long, twisting strokes from base to tip. You can palm and pull your penis head while masturbating with a full-hand grip. You could also add a little bit of rubbing to the classic three-finger grip.

Just play around with different stroking styles to find the one that feels more pleasurable for you.

7. Don’t just focus on the penis

There’s more to your genitals than just your penis, so show the rest some love! If you like it when your partner plays with your testicles, shaft, and perineum — aka your taint — then why deprive yourself during a solo session?

Your testicles, for example, have almost as many nerve endings as your penis. If you want to intensify your pleasure, consider pulling down on your balls right before you climax.

You can also massage or play with your taint to create some intense sensations. And through it all, don’t forget to stroke your whole shaft to really build up to that “Big O.”

8. Explore other erogenous zones

Want to have a sensational full-body climax? Then explore your erogenous zones! Playing with your erogenous zones — that is, your ears, nipples, neck, mouth, and lips — can shoot sparks of pleasure throughout your body.

You can rub, pinch, pull, squeeze, or tug at these parts of your body to intensify your orgasm during a particularly randy solo session! Don’t forget to play around with different touches to discover what makes you feel good.

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9. Don’t forget the prostate!

Your prostate — otherwise known as the “male G-spot” — is your golden ticket to an intense, full-body experience. So, if you haven’t cashed it in, now is the time.

You can start off slow by using one finger to gently rub the outside and inside of your anal opening, then insert your finger gradually to massage your prostate. Increase the speed and motion as the pleasure begins to build until you’re ready to finish.

If using your finger isn’t your cup of tea, there are toys you can play around with. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

10. Try edging

Want to prolong your play date? Incorporate the start-and-stop method into your next solo session. Orgasm control, also known as “edging,” draws out the pleasure so that you can have a longer, more explosive experience.

Try it out by stroking your penis right up until the edge of ejaculation, then stop completely. Slowly begin to masturbate again, increasing speed until you’re ready to finish, then pull back again. Repeat this process as much as you’d like.

11. Add in a toy or two

There are a number of toys available for people with penises that can add loads of fun to a solo session.

The most common options include:

  • the automatic stroker
  • Fleshlights
  • pocket strokers
  • prostate stimulators
  • anal beads

Consider adding a toy — or two! — during solo play if you want to ramp up your orgasm.

 

 

 

 

Multiple Orgasms: A How-to guide

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MAY

29

By Rosie Raza

Ah, the multiple orgasm. Woman’s mysterious ability to have multiple orgasms is made only more fascinating by the difficulty to achieve them. The gift that keeps on giving for women from the sex-gods. Or perhaps their existence is a stroke of evolutionary luck. Whatever their origin, they’re one of nature’s most powerful and personal experiences, and if you have a vagina, it is definitely something you should try.

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A multiple orgasm is a second (or third, or fourth, or fifth, etc.) orgasm before the relaxation stage of an orgasm’s cycle. In other words, a woman is still aroused from the previous orgasm. Subsequent orgasms usually happen anywhere from 15 seconds to 1 minute after the last.

But how does one achieve these waves of climactic joy? Can everyone with a vagina do it?

Before you start your journey to the promised land, you should know that only about 15% of women report the ability to have multiple orgasms. But don’t let that get you down, I actually consider this great news. Now that you know the likelihood of having multiple orgasms is low, the pressure is off. Just like a regular orgasm, putting pressure on yourself to achieve it may thwart your ability to get there.

The first time I had a multiple orgasm, I wasn’t trying to do it at all. I realized I was still turned on after my first orgasm, so I grabbed my vibrator because it felt good, and voila! Number two was in the books moments later. I’m telling you this because the importance of doing this to feel good –instead of trying to achieve a result– can’t be overstated. Say it with me: Pleasure not Pressure.

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Step 1: After your first orgasm, recover for a few moments, then go right back at it with the techniques you like. Having multiple orgasms can be intense. In fact, the sensitivity of the clitoris is usually what keeps women from being able to have multiple orgasms. What feels good on round two might be different than what feels good on round one, so experiment. No judging.

Tip: If direct clitoral stimulation is too intense after your first orgasm, use your vibrator/hands to find a spot that gets to the clit indirectly, or use your g-spot instead. Or do both!

Step 2: Keep going or keep exploring. If you found that spot that feels so good you can’t leave, keep going: your next orgasm is likely right around the corner. Remember, it may only take 15 seconds. If you haven’t found that spot, search some more.

Step 3: Did you reach your next orgasm? Rejoice! Or why not go for the next one? The record for female orgasms is 134 in 60 minutes. Additional orgasms may not be as strong as the first (sometimes they feel like an “aftershock”), though they definitely can be.

Alternative Step 3: Did you not reach your next orgasm? Rejoice! Try again another time, or don’t.

Remember, there’s no meaning attached to your ability to multiply orgasm. Ditch any notions of worth you may have associated with the ability to be multi-orgasmic and use this time to have fun and pleasure yourself, without trying to reach any end goal. Either way, you can’t lose. Happy masturbating!

 
 

Master tip

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MAY

28

 

" If you are going the fingers route, an enhanced lube is a great new product for keeping things interesting. Jolt Gel uses peppermint oil and other organic ingredients to increase blood flow to the clitoris, which leads to a tingling sensation that I can only describe as magical. Sometimes we hear the argument "well, I don't need lube" but you also don't need sprinkles on your ice cream. Some things you add in because they just make everything better. "

--Polly Rodriguez of Unbound 

 

Sex Magic: How to Cast Spells with Your Orgasms

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MAY

27

 

When people ask Kristen Korvette how she landed her first book deal, she normally responds with a predictable platitude: She achieved her dream through a combination of hard work and luck. In private, however, she attributes her success to masturbating under the full moon.

Korvette, the editrix of Slutist and a professor of the New School's class "The Legacy of the Witch," is a practitioner of sex magic, using sexual energy (often orgasm) for manifestation."It happened to be a full moon on the evening I submitted my proposal, so I engaged in my usual practice"— which consists of "listening to my favorite erotically-charged music (which is always glam metal: Motley Crue mostly), lighting a candle that has been carved to symbolize my goal, and unsheathing my crystal dildo to consummate the spell"—"and exactly one month later, on the full moon, I received word that I was in," she says.

Given the preponderance of love spells and evil-yet-seductive witches in pop culture, it's understandable that sex magic is so often misunderstood. But according to those who practice the erotic craft, it's just another form of magical manifestation. "You have an intention, and you're using orgasms or sex as a tool to achieve that particular intention," explains Cat Cabral, a Wiccan priestess who managed the East Village occult shop Enchantments for more than a decade. Bri Luna, owner of The Hood Witch, agrees with this characterization. "We're not talking about how to be sexy or have an enhanced libido. We're getting down to manifesting, talking about harnessing sexual energy to make very real results," she says. "Sexual energy is just energy. It's neutral."

Neutral, maybe, but extremely powerful nonetheless. "With sex magick, all you need is to reach orgasm and you can change your world," writes Damon Brand in Adventures in Sex Magick.

Some techniques involve repeating mantras during orgasm, focusing on sigils (a magical symbol) to help focus your energy, and invoking certain deities. Hathor, Isis, and Aphrodite are common goddess to invoke, but you can use whatever deity appeals most to you since sex magic is so personalized and intuitional. "I think everybody needs to find deities or mythology or archetypes that relate to them. So for some people that's staying within their own heritage or culture," says Cabral. "Personally, I love working with Venus or Aphrodite." Intuition, she adds, is "the most important thing."

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Indeed, most witches will say that sex magic is one of the most intuitive practices. "I came to sex magic pretty intuitively," recalls Korvett. "As a young girl, my mother taught me the power of manifestation, but in a G-rated way, of course. Somehow I made the connection between that and all the self-pleasure I was engaging in, and realized it could be used in a more powerful and productive way."

For many practitioners, the fact that sex magic can be practiced alone is one of its main draws. "Although I've experimented with partnered sex magic, I find the solo spells have worked better for me thus far," says Korvette. In a world that's traditionally punished women for freely enjoying both sex and magic, combining the two can feel revolutionary—and taking matters into one's own hands only heightens that sense.

"Witchcraft in and of itself if very empowering for women... you know that all of your power is just innately within yourself," says Luna. "One of the most powerful aspects any women can have is owning her sexuality, and not being afraid of that power, and not being afraid to use that power."

 

Why the Best Female Masturbation Scenes on TV Are the Boring Ones

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MAY

26

 

If you want to understand Broad City's protagonists, you can look at their masturbation routines. Ilana luxuriates in an extensive preparation ritual—including candles, oysters, and lipstick—while Abbi schedules "me time" on her calendar and sticks Post-It reminders on her vibrator. It's an accurate snapshot of each character: Ilana is ostentatious, fiercely loyal, and sexually open-minded where Abbi is neurotic, practical, and prioritizes her needs without apology. What we learn about both is that they are women who masturbate. Not to arouse a partner. Not because they're curious about their bodies. And not because they're having a moment of sexual enlightenment that conveniently coincides with major plot points in the show. They just do it because they feel like it.

It's been almost two decades since Charlotte got too attached to her Rampant Rabbit on Sex and the City, but women getting themselves off has remained taboo, even as we nonchalantly watch orgies on Game of Thrones. Meanwhile, people accept it as a fact of life that men can't stop masturbating—an idea usually played for American Pie-style laughs in shows like The Inbetweeners and Peep Show. Even Friends had a gag about Monica mistakenly thinking Chandler was into shark porn.

When it comes to women's pleasure, the perception persists that masturbation is deviant (like Sally Draper being carted off to the psychotherapist in Mad Men), but today's popular TV shows created by women are challenging these tropes.

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Despite all of Insecure's provocative sex scenes in season two—blowjobs, polyamorous relationships, and a threesome that goes from raunchy to racist—arguably the most progressive is in episode three, when Issa reaches for her vibrator. In keeping with her character, her batteries die almost immediately, and she runs around her apartment searching for spares, exclaiming "Fuck!" every time she comes up empty-handed.

As with the women of Broad City, masturbation is just part of Issa's day. She owns a sex toy. She uses it in her bed, under the covers, wearing comfy clothes, with her hair wrapped. It's a sex scene that isn't especially, or at all, sexy. Instead of careful camera angles that give viewers an eyeful, the scene is about Issa's relationship with herself.

The opposite of Game of Thrones sexpositionBroad City and Insecure have swapped background boobs for genuine character development. A woman taking control of her own pleasure is no longer a statement or a breakthrough. These female characters are already well-aware of their sexuality, their bodies, and their needs.

But in real life, masturbation is still shrouded in shame for many. Leila Frodsham, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine and women's health expert for the website The Femedic, told Broadly that most of her patients don't want to discuss the topic.

"In my experience, women very rarely admit to masturbating. Men have no hesitation in discussing it, but women will squirm and deny it. They look horrified when I suggest that this would be the best way of learning how to experience pleasure," she explained. "As a gynecologist for more than 20 years, I hear daily when examining women: 'Poor you, you have a horrible job, having to look at this all day'. There are very few positive words for female genitalia compared with men. It's no surprise that women feel revolted by a part of their bodies."

Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez expressed similar feelings in an interview with Bustearlier this year. "In all honesty, I used to feel guilty for masturbating," she said. "Oh my god, this extreme guilt! And that lasted way too long. Or maybe I masturbated too much! It's OK to look back in retrospect and be like, it wasn't good that I felt bad about touching myself."

As with other taboo topics, seeing women's masturbation in pop culture has the power to normalize the act—if it's realistically depicted. But many times, female masturbation is still portrayed as a sight to titillate men, if not figuratively (like with Riley Keough in The Girlfriend Experience) then literally (like with Lizzy Caplan in Masters of Sex).

Sybil Lockhart, PhD, a researcher for OMGYes, a website that educates readers about female pleasure, is finding that women often think their masturbation should arouse their partners. "Some women describe masturbating in a performative way for a partner, lying back and arching their back as they have seen others do in porn, but in many cases, the performance in no way matches that woman's authentic personal style of masturbating, which they often figure men will find entirely unattractive," she said. 

 

"Women masturbating doesn't have to be—and often is not—sexy in the way a man might want it to be. We're finding that one of the most ubiquitous masturbation styles is simply rubbing on or squeezing an object," she continued. "One needn't be naked to do this, and often it is done face down, so it's not necessarily something your typical porn fan might go after."

 

In other words, Natalie Portman writhing around in Black Swan while she fantasies about girl-on-girl action might look sexy on screen, but it's probably not how most women would actually go about getting off. Phoebe Waller-Bridge's titular character in the show Fleabag—who watches an Obama speech on her laptop and eats snacks while she reached under the duvet to knock one out—may be more realistic. No matter that her boyfriend is sleeping next to her or that she has crumbs on her T-shirt. The act is ordinary, humdrum, and not for anyone but herself.

When we see female characters on television make time to acknowledge and tend to their sexual desires without guilt or embarrassment, the message is that female masturbation is like getting a good night's sleep or drinking enough water. There's no right or wrong way to do it. And how sexy it is for everyone else is irrelevant.

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embrace the embarrassing

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MAY

25

 

When you break down masturbation to its basic elements—privacy, a little bit of inspiration, some elbow grease, and hopefully a modest cleanup routine—there's obviously nothing to be embarrassed about. But for young people who haven't quite figured this out, each attempt has the potential to cause deep shame and/or personal injury.

As something of a public service, VICE asked several self-identified self-pleasurers to share their most embarrassing masturbation stories. Because whether or not you consider yourself skilled in the area of dialing the rotary phone, shakin' the bacon, or whatever euphemism you prefer, you probably didn't start out as a masturbatory pro.

 

Dom, 25

When I was 10 or 11, my older brother was having a sleepover with a bunch of his buddies. And I guess around that age people start talking about sexy things, sex jokes and stuff, and so I was hovering at the corners of the room, trying to hang out, when I overheard them talking about masturbating. One of them made a joke and was like, "oh are you gonna masturbate later tonight?" and he made the hand gesture that you make for masturbation, which is that closed fist you shake in front of your crotch. And I didn't know how to masturbate, so I saw that gesture and was like, oh my god, that's how you do it.

That night I went to bed—and I didn't have a boner because I was 10 years old and, you know, we don't get many boners at that age—and I got into bed, made a fist and started hitting my flaccid penis with my closed hand. I was like, oh my god that really hurts! So I gave up masturbating for about two years. I thought, well that's not for me.

 

Margaret, 24

It was a rainy Sunday and I was making chili. I like my chili nice and hot— muy picante as they say—and so I chopped up all the veggies and things, including many jalapeño peppers, and threw them in a pot. I washed my hands well—at least I thought I did—and sat down to watch a little Project Runway while my chili was boiling away.

During a lull in the show, I thought, well I'm a bit bored and sleepy here in my sweatpants, so why don't I just rub one out? A couple minutes in, I was gearing up, about to roll into O town, and I started to notice that my vagina was burning a bit. I was like, hmm, I wonder what that's all about? And so I ignored it for a while, but then it started to hurt A LOT, like it was lit on fire. I was suddenly very afraid. But then I realized there was likely some jalapeño juice on my fingers, and so naturally I took to google for a remedy. I typed in something like "jalapeño juice on skin burning how stop?"

I didn't want to put in "jalapeño juice in vagina" because it would corrupt my search history. But anyway, Wikihow said to pour cold milk on the "affected area," and so I filled a huge measuring cup with skim milk, sat myself on the toilet, leaned back and doused myself. It was an odd experience, but it did ease my suffering. And so after that I showered and had a nice bowl of chili. Which was delicious.

 

Theo, 25

So the idea of jerking off into a sock was really popular when I was growing up. Geometrically, the idea made sense, but I guess I'd never considered what I would do with the sock afterward. I was probably about 14, in my bedroom doing my thing, and I decided to try the sock method out. It made the initial clean up a revelation since there was really nothing to be done. But then I had this sock. I couldn't put it in the laundry because my mom did my laundry and she would find it and know that I was a young man doing young man things. Same went for the garbage, because I guess at the time I imagined my mom to be some kind of suspicious raccoon that combed through all the detritus in the house.

Our house backed onto a forest so I decided the sock best belonged there. I walked to the edge of the yard and hurled it into the woods. But you see, it was winter and all of the trees were bare. The sock wrapped itself around the branch of a particularly tall birch. I'm talking like 30 feet up. It stayed up there, bright white, and waved like a shameful flag for months until summer storms came and blew it off. My mom totally noticed, too. She kept asking everyone in the house, who knows what's going on with that sock? My strategy was deny, deny, deny.

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Master tip

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MAY

24

 

"My tip for masturbation is to try and masturbate differently than you normally do. It can be really easy to form masturbation habits, especially since we don't often make space for our sexuality identities. Maybe find time to explore sexuality instead of getting off quickly. Self discovery is dope!"

--Alexandra Fine of Dame Products

 

goddess night: a bathtime ritual of self love

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MAY

23

 

By Melissa Vitale

It’s no secret that when you take some extra time to focus on your own needs and comfort, you operate better as a whole. When we perform self-care, the attention we give ourselves helps us address the concerns and problems punctuating the long days of the week.

One of the staples of my own self-care routine is a bath time-experience so luxurious and nourishing to my mind, body and mental state that it deserves the term “Goddess Night.”

Like the early 2000’s Venus commercials, I truly believe that every woman has the potential to be a goddess. As my dear friend, lifestyle and professional Domme Goddess Aviva says, a Goddess is “a woman in touch with her divinity, who expects the best in life, and then betters herself to get it.”

 

It’s easy to feel like a Goddess when everything is going your way in life. But crushed under the stress and anxiety caused by work, financial struggles or a recent relationship severance, it can be difficult to find sexual confidence and personal empowerment. Especially when our bodies are suffering from aches, tension, and other physical tolls, vivacity and divinity seem impossible to achieve. Often times, the difference between feeling radiant and confident or sluggish and self-conscious is a stringent routine of pampering deserving of a deity.

For many goddesses, a night of rigorous self-care and self-love can be the difference between stressing over the small details and confidently conquering the day. A goddess truly cares for herself and spends time showing herself that. What better way than a luxy bubble bath complete with total mind, body and soul spoiling?

Below is the perfect recipe for A Mystical Bubble Bath that will reveal your inner goddess through pampering, intentional self-pleasure, energy cleansing and relaxation:

 

PH-Balanced Bubble Bath

I’ve come across many who have dubbed “bubble baths” adolescent, but in reality it can be luxurious, exfoliating, soothing and hydrating for skin as well as flooding the senses with transporting smells. The one difference about bubble-bathing as an adult woman, is that if you use a harsh soap on, or in this case, in the water around your vagina, you’re at risk of messing with the PH, which can lead to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. I’ve found that “By women, for women” companies are typically the best for anything that is going near a vagina, and Pure Romance is no exception.

Their entire line is female forward, but while I’ve seen competitors’ products, Pure Romance is the only brand  that I have seen who have a PH-balanced bubble baths and for any yeast-infection prone, bath-obsessed woman, it’s a necessity.

https://www.pureromance.com/shop/bath-beauty/bath-shower/skinny-dip-exotic-jewell

 

Crystals to Cleanse Sexual Energy

I had my first sip of the “Crystal Koolaid” the first time I came with a rose-quartz dildo and now I feel an obligation to my body to rid the negative energy from it regularly. Between inconsistent lovers, the stress of work, and the fuckboys that run rampant in NYC, I notice that tension and stress can build up and prevent me from achieving the best release. Incorporating crystals into my masturbation has helped reduce that. I’m no scientist, so it may be just a placebo effect, but either way I feel lighter, more loving and happier after each time I use crystals inside me.

For the bathtub, I recommend a yoni egg as a bubble bath is a great time to get in touch with your sexual energy and become more in tune with your body.

http://www.chakrubs.com/amethyst-egg/

 

Vibrator

Self-love is essential for getting in touch with your inner Athena. Like many women, I need vibrations to reach orgasm. The Emojibator is small enough to fit in the pocket of my bathrobe and is waterproof so I don’t need to worry about it shorting mid-soak.

https://emojibator.com/products/emojibator

 

Bath Soak

I’m a total grandma for using this brand, but you can buy it in bulk at CVS, and for someone with a soaking tub, it’s not easy to keep stocked on the good stuff from Manhattan boutiques. I love Dr. Teals because it truly helps your muscles and the salts make your bathroom smell of de-stressing aroma. I’m also a huge believer in the benefits of Himalayan salts and will put Himalayan anything in my tub.

Dr. Teals Via Target

 

Sexy Vibes

There are few things that make you feel as sexy as luscious beats while being caressed by hot, soapy water flooded with bubbles. The right soundtrack can be the difference between awkwardly sloshing about in your tub to feeling like a queen in a captivating soak. The music allows you to take your mind off your other stresses and instead focus on the pampering you desperately deserve.

The best source of sexy beats: NSFW’s Soundcloud.

https://soundcloud.com/wearensfw

 

Crystal Smoking Accessories

Honestly, there’s nothing better than smoking in the bathtub, and I have lost count of how many perfectly good spliffs I have dropped in the tub with me. Because I typically keep a handful of crystals by my bathtub, this fits perfectly in with the crystal-theme of bathtime without ruining a full joint if my bubbly fingers turn slippery.

https://cosmicartillery.com/products/rose-quartz-crystal-pipe-1

 

Sage to Cleanse Toxic Energy

One of the first times I met Sophie Saint Thomas, she told me a story that involved a bubble bath, post-breakup cleansing rituals and sage that inspired me to go to Catland and pick up a bundle of white sage the next day. Ever since, I burn sage before each and every bubble bath. Maybe it’s the Italian in me, but I clean my tub before taking a bath (and I recommend you too), the sage is the final way to cleanse the bathroom and set  the mood of clean energy, rid of the stress of a normal day.

http://www.catlandbooks.com/shop/white-sage-bundles

 

Candles

One of the best things I’ve ever done for my bubble baths was incorporate crystal healing and aroma through a variety of products, including the placebo effect from burning the crystal line of candles from DW Home (jury’s still out if there’s a healing component or not). When I am de-stressing and pampering myself, I like to overwhelm my senses with relaxing and captivating scents that transport me far from my everyday stresses. With candles by the bathtub, I can dim the lights to set a more smoldering and tranquil atmosphere.

https://www.dwhome.com/products/sparkling-amethyst

 

Alright, get to bubble-bathing my budding goddesses; even sinners need to cum clean.

 

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Taking control of my orgasm

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MAY

22

 

By Janice Payne, Director of Marketing at Emojibator


I want to start off by saying that the following contents of this article are not an exclusive how-to on achieving an orgasm. This is my personal experience on how I have most easily achieved orgasms during sexual intercourse, without fail, every freakin’ time. It’s nothing new or groundbreaking and many women are already using this method...and that’s because it works! So ladies, if you’re having trouble getting yours in bed, try this out. 

How I take control of my orgasm: 

While my partner is on his back, I sit on top of him with one leg on either side of his torso while slightly leaning back. As I’m riding him, I’m making sure to GRIND my hips, rather than bounce up and down. Your grinding technique will be unique to you, test out different directions and motions, and see how you best reach your g-spot. Trust me, you’ll know when you’ve reached it. 

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I like to use a ‘freestyle’ technique, where I’m mixing a combination of grinding back and forth, side to side, in circular motions, and in figure-eight motions. I’ll also ask my partner to push upwards with his hips so that he’s deeper inside me. When I’m feeling extra spicy, I’ll whip out my Chili Pepper Emojibator to stimulate my clit while grinding on my partner. 

It’s no surprise that it’s easiest for us women to orgasm when we take the reigns. So ladies, if you want to take control of your orgasms, take control of your position. Be the orgasm you wish to see in your world! Your man will love it, there’s nothing sexier than a woman owning a bedroom. 
 

 

WHY SHOULD i MASTURBATE?

 
 

MAY

21

 

By Thais Duthie, Author of Fugace Piacere. Writer of lesbian erotic, sex blogger and lover of cosmetics.

 

I’ve masturbated for as long as I can remember. I would love to tell you about my first time--how afraid I was to do something I shouldn’t be doing--but I can barely remember masturbation as a teenager now. I remember I used to do it with regularity, though. At first, I did it because it made me feel good. So good. Extremely good. In that moment I was not aware of the benefits of an orgasm, so I just masturbated for pleasure. Then, I discovered how a few minutes of self-pleasure could change my day and my mood. Now I could not live without it.

Forget any myth or negative belief--the first thing you need to know about masturbation is that it is nothing but good. It does not matter if you are a man or a woman, we all do it, and if your friends disagree they are lying, I can tell you that. Masturbation is natural. It is fantastic. Get over the shame!

Once we know that masturbation has no risks, let’s forge ahead: It is deeply pleasant. If you are angry it will help you feel better, if you are turned on it will feel like relief, if you cannot fall asleep it will make you bunk down until sunshine. How could all that be possible? It has a very plausible explanation. Neurotransmitters. 

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After an orgasm, our body releases serotonin and endorphins, and this is where the magic happens. Serotonin regulates our mood and our body temperature, and helps to produce melatonin (the hormone that puts us to sleep). When we orgasm our dose of serotonin is increased and for this reason we feel pleasure and at peace. 

Endorphins also help there – in fact, they are also known as the happiness hormones. Endorphins act as a natural opiate that provide well-being and reduce pain, and many scholars have even suggested that endorphins are 20 times more powerful than painkillers! For this reason, masturbation can be considered an organic remedy for headache, stress or period cramps. It has helped me with all of those, so give it a try!

However, if you have a partner, he or she can take care of supplying an orgasm, but there is still something left up to you: self-exploration. You are the owner of your body and you should also be the expert of your pleasure. Pleasuring yourself is key. You will discover what arouses you, where that little spot that makes you shiver is, what you like most, and what you do not like at all. If you share these learnings with your mates, the quality of your sex life will improve considerably, I swear. 

Masturbation can make your day, change your life and boost your pleasure. Give yourself the chance to listen to your body. Dance with it. Forget about everything. Focus on how a single caress can make your fuzz bristle and let go. Feel that bliss, and time after time, you will beautifully connect with your true self… 

 

MY first ORGASM

 
 

MAY

20

 

By Crystal Fairy, Pleasure Specialist
 
I didn’t try masturbating for the first time until I had already been having partnered sex for a couple of years and I have several guesses as to why this is. 

First, I didn’t understand that I was entitled to feel good on my own, the way so many boys are conditioned to feel (and rightly so, as we all should be). Second, I didn’t want to end up feeling stupid for not knowing how. And third, I was too afraid to ask anyone for directions because I wasn’t sure what they’d think of me. In self-conscious secret, each time I tried to flick the proverbial bean, I would inch my fingers down my torso oh-so-slowly. As soon as I reached the elastic of my underwear, I’d freeze, paralyzed by the idea that I was doing something unnatural and wrong. It was ultimately thanks to a very kind sales girl at Spencer’s Gifts that I was finally able to cross that ‘panty line.’
 
She found me hovering near the endless wall of multicolored dildos and vibrators, having wandered off from my girl gang who were entangled in a heated debate over which pot-themed posters would look best in our freshman dorms. The sales girl watched me for a moment before sweetly asking if I needed any help. I politely demurred, “Oh no, no, I’m just looking.” She smiled at my response and began to tell me about the different pieces of equipment that hung before us. Some were plain, some were realistic, some were quiet, some were noisy, some were intended for couples, and some even had beads that lined the shaft – intended to massage my vaginal walls, of course. As I listened to her casually describe this impressive array of devices and their numerous capabilities, I began to think, “maybe there’s something to this self-pleasure thing, and maybe it’s not so bad.” Fifteen minutes later, I walked out of the store with a harmless looking battery-powered red bullet vibrator, complete with a soft and flexible silicone tip – “a steal at 10 bucks,” she told me.
 
That night I laid in my bed and stared at my new purchase for a very long time, psyching myself up for the adventure ahead. I was a woman determined – there was no soft music, no candles, and absolutely no fantasizing… I don’t think I had anything good to fantasize about at that point (shout out to my first boyfriend). After a quick Google search to confirm where my clit was – yes, my own clit – I twisted the rhinestone encrusted base of my toy to the left, just like the Spencer’s girl showed me. On full blast and not knowing my own limits, I jammed the soft silicone tip into the target area.
 

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Years of depraved Google searches later, I can astutely compare the experience to ‘forced orgasm’ porn. I reached climax in about 45 seconds, mouth open, eyes rolling back into my head, limbs twitching, unsure of what had happened. Was that it? Was I supposed to keep going? If I did, would I hurt myself? Should there have been more liquid? Less? I decided to set aside the questions for the time being and give it another go, to gather more empirical evidence.
 
If I’m being honest with myself, it’s probably taken from that first time up until the last year or two to really find my rhythm during masturbation. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that it’s as much about the journey as the destination. Rather than going in guns blazing and full speed ahead, I’ve taught myself to slow down and enjoy the process. With an assortment of new and improved toys acquired throughout the years, I’ve explored a variety of techniques; starting with a lower setting and working my way up, focusing on other areas besides my clit, teasing myself. This self-exploration has also translated into my sex life in such a positive way. Learning what makes me tick has given me not only the know-how but the courage to speak up and point my partners in the right direction. I’ve come a long way from the girl who was too scared to put her fingers in her own vagina and I love knowing now that I have the ability to make myself feel amazing. My road to the perfect orgasm wasn’t always pretty and it most certainly wasn’t always smooth, but I got there with a lot of practice and a little help from my friends.

 

Reclaiming your Body through pleasure

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MAY

19

 

By Karley Cohen, @karleyface 

 

My Body, My Choice… but what if at one point it wasn’t my choice? What if there is guilt surrounding the orgasm? How do you process and recover? 

Finding yourself and feeling pleasure without guilt or pain can be an enormous hardship as you find peace when dealing with sexual trauma; it is different for everyone who experiences that. I went from having a “normal” sex life with some curiosities to dabbling in sex work, trying anything once… twice… three times just to be sure. 

As I was healing myself from my sexual traumas, I reclaimed my body by having as much casual sex with as many people as possible, by making money with my body and by trying anything and everything – on my terms. It was all about me for once. If anyone violated the fact that all of this was happening on my terms, I had no problem telling them to “GET THE F**CK  OUT.” 

I explored with people of all genders and sexualities, experiencing different types of pleasure, using different types of toys, hands and genitals.  I wanted to feel good. I wanted to like being touched, and not afraid someone was going to hurt me. Having detached, unemotional sex was the best thing I could have done for my soul, and my pussy. 

After pretty much exploring everything I wanted to try, I realized the recovery from my trauma came in re-learning about myself, re-loving myself and re-experiencing myself. I allowed my mind to let go of the hurt I experienced and allowed myself to feel pleasure.

Something as cute as a little eggplant emoji can’t hurt me – it’s a cartoon that came to life and my fears are all in my head. Reclaiming my body through pleasure was the ultimate orgasm I could have done for myself when recovering from my sexual trauma(s) and that will always be a part of my sexual experience.
 

 

MY RIGHT TO ORGASM

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MAY

18

 

By Anaïs Cooper-Hackman

It’s no secret that the story of female pleasure has more often than not been told through the lenses of male gratification and clinical necessity. Some of my earliest experiences with sex were reading article after article, out of magazines named after distinctly feminine cocktails­­, about giving the perfect blowjob. Going back even further there was, of course, “the talk,” which left out any mention of sex as something that could be even remotely fun, let alone the holy grail of sex, orgasms.
 
So it wasn’t until I accidentally stumbled upon my own ability to have one (a story for another day), that I became acutely aware of the intricacies of female pleasure.
 
My relationship with orgasms­­––both my own and those of my partners––has changed alongside my relationship with myself. Insecurity about my body and unfamiliarity with the way my sexuality worked left me with orgasm-less sex more often than I like to admit.
 
In my first meaningful relationship, I faked almost every. single. orgasm over the course of our 1.5 year relationship. As an inexperienced 17 year old, I was more concerned with protecting my partner’s ego than cultivating a deeper understanding of what I needed to have a truly satisfying sexual experience. The women I watched in porn climaxed basically on command, it made me ashamed at how hard I had to fumble around in the dark to even get close.
 
It wasn’t until I accepted that any man who puts in the work to get me naked probably doesn’t give a fuck about the shape of my labia that I began to revel in my sexuality. Sex is so much better when you get out of your head. Sex is so much better when you feel sexy.
 

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When I opened up and became comfortable communicating with my partner, it opened the door to truly great sex and evolved my understanding of what is often referred to as the right to orgasm.
 
One of the few rules that govern good sex is that all involved parties are entitled to at least one orgasm. Now does that mean you have to orgasm every time for it to be great? Not at all! To me, the right to orgasm alludes to the sacred space you create with your partner. That space, as I learned early on, is essential to positive sexual experiences and growth.
 
Orgasms are fab, but to be perfectly honest I can achieve that on my own (with the help of my favorite toy from Emojibator). What we really miss out on––by denying the right to orgasm to ourselves or our partners––is the chance to connect with another human being in a holistic way. Opening up this sacred space creates those rare moments where we feel and act completely authentic, and it’s in those moments where we truly find true orgasmic bliss.

 

Master Tip:

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MAY

17

 

"Bring awareness to your masturbation sometimes. Recognize it for something more than about getting off - turn on and tune in, whatever that means for you. Alter your perception so that you consciously receive the pleasure you are providing yourself. Play with the energy you are creating and get creative with that energy. Bring your orgasmic vibration into your heart."

--Vanessa Cuccia of Chakrubs

 

Masturbating "keeps your sexual pilot light on"

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MAY

16

 

It may still be the punchline of many a joke, but self-pleasure has come a long way since American Pie's apple pie incident. While the stigma around self-love is slowly shrinking, we have to ask: Is it possible it's affecting our ability to get it on IRL?

Masturbation actually helps keep your sexual pilot light on, says Megan Fleming, Ph.D., a sex and relationship therapist. If you get in the habit of bringing yourself to orgasm and experiencing that onslaught of dopamine, oxytocin, and stress relief, you won't start with a cold engine when you want to get revved up with a partner. Getting excited to get it on may not be a problem for some, but if you tend to have a low libido, solo sessions can help you know exactly what turns you on, Fleming says.

And while no one's going to touch you exactly like you do, having a super-great time with yourself won't necessarily diminish a bout with someone else, says Megan Stubbs, a sexologist and sex educator. Instead look at masturabation like an opportunity to communicate with your partner—touch yourself in front of them, walk them through what you're doing, and they'll pick up tips.

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Whether or not you want to make masturbation a teachable moment, there's no reason to worry about self-love ruining your libido for partner play. After all, there's no hard-and-fast rule for how much libido you should have, says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., LMFT, a licensed therapist and sexuality counselor. And the refractory period (the time it takes a man to get aroused again after orgasm) can range from a few minutes to a few days, depending on a guy's overall health, diet, exercise, and stress level.

For women, a less-amped libido often results from lower testosterone levels, not too much self-love, Fleming says. Plus, women don't have the built-in recovery period between orgasms like men. Still, if you're worried that pleasing yourself is going to make you less excited for later, try arousing yourself without finishing the job to "store the sexual energy" and set yourself up for success with your partner, Kerner suggests.

If you and your partner aren't on the same page sexually, Fleming says masturbation can help level the playing field. The person who wants sex more often can go it alone and fantasize about what they want to experience later, a technique Fleming calls "pattern interrupt"—a break from the typical, scripted sex couples can fall into.

 

How to talk to your daughter about masturbation

 
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MAY

15

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Suzannah Weiss

Discussions of sex between parents and children are often limited to the awkward “birds and bees” talk, if they happen at all. But if parents want their daughters to expect equality in their sexual relationships, they need to be the ones to teach them this — because as it stands, they’re not learning it elsewhere. In mainstream porn, 78 percent of men but only 18.3 percent of women are shown reaching orgasm, according to an analysis of Pornhub’s 50 all-time most popular videos. And students likely aren’t getting information to counter porn in school. Only 24 U.S. states even require sex ed, and 26 require that abstinence be stressed. So, the task of teaching kids healthier ideas about sexuality often falls on parents.

One conversation in particular that can make a big difference is around women and masturbation. Most women discover masturbation by age 18, yet many feel as if they’re abnormal for doing so. By helping their daughters feel comfortable with masturbation, parents can not only reduce women’s sexual shame but also teach them to value their pleasure.

“Masturbation is one of the most reliable ways to be able to experience pleasure with other people,” says Zhana Vrangalova, PhD, adjunct professor of human sexuality at NYU. Emojibator Co-founder and CMO Kristin Fretz agrees. “[Parents] are not telling their daughters about masturbation, and they’re just really ignoring a part of our growing body,” she says. “It’s dangerous not having that conversation because then that young girl has to rely on her external community.”

How do you approach that conversation, then? Here are some tips for discussing masturbation with your daughter.

1. Don’t Shame Her For Masturbating

One of the most impactful things you can do to instill sexual self-confidence in your daughter requires no action on your part. Simply allow her to explore her body and express an interest in sex, which she will probably do without any encouragement. “Research shows that the vast majority of kids will touch their genitals very early on,” says Vrangalova. “As soon as they can manipulate their hands, they put them on their genitals.” Many parents’ knee-jerk reaction is to tell their kids to stop this or move their hands away, but by doing so, they plant the seeds of sexual shame in their children. Discouraging female masturbation also “perpetuates the patriarchal notion that sex is something women do for men and not for themselves,” Vrangalova adds. If your child touches themselves in public, you can tell them to save it for their bedrooms or bathrooms, but don’t talk about it in a fearful or punishing tone.

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2. Tell Her It’s OK and Normal

What should you say, then? If you know your daughter masturbates, simply telling her that it’s perfectly normal can go a long way to combat other messages she might receive about it, says Vrangalova. “Say, ‘it’s fine to do these kinds of things. It can help you figure out what you like and don't like. There’s nothing shameful about it.’”

3. Explain the Benefits

It’s completely your daughter’s choice whether she masturbates or not, so instead of telling her to do it, explain what the benefits are. “Come at it from a purely educational standpoint and not a judgmental one,” Fretz advises. “For instance, just share the fact that orgasms can reduce period cramps and help you sleep better. There's just scientific benefits to doing it, and if [parents] can talk about it in an informational way of ‘I just want to give you this knowledge, do with it what you will,’ it doesnt have to be a forceful conversation of ‘you have to do it this many times a week.’”

4. Talk About It Whenever It Comes Up

Instead of having one big “birds and bees talk,” Vrangalova suggests talking to your daughter about masturbation whenever you see her doing it, it comes up on TV or in a movie, or she has a question about it. “It’s a long, slow process,” she says. “It has to be an ongoing conversation, not just about masturbation, but about anything sexual. If you position yourself as someone who is not shying away from those kinds of questions, kids will come to their parents with questions.” Vrangalova doesn’t believe any age is too early to begin talking to your daughter about masturbation, but Fretz recommends making sure you’ve at least done so by the time she’s 18.

“This might be uncomfortable, just like the birds and bees talk,” says Fretz. “But part of a woman's life is to have control over your body and to know what it needs and to know what you desire sexually. We should be supporting young women to just feel confident in their own bodies and feel confident to make decisions about their bodies.”

 

 
 

 

indulge in a solo pleasure playdate

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MAY

14

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For many of us play has been an essential part of our lives, from childhood when we had our imaginary friends and made up whole backstories for our toys to adolescence when we played simon says, freeze tag, dressup, to young adulthood when we played 7 minutes in heaven, truth or dare, beer pong, or never have I ever. Ask yourself,  when was the last time you played? As adults, we often get into a routine that doesn’t leave time for playing whether it’s spontaneous or planned. We’re not playing with our friends, lovers, or ourselves.

What are some of your favorite ways to play from childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood?

Solo Pleasure Play Dates

Too often we center our sexual experiences around a partner. It is important to be a lover to yourself, explore yourself, spend quality time with yourself, and to play with yourself. Creating Pleasure Play Dates for yourself is a great way to add intimacy, sensuality, and fun into your solo sex life. Solo Pleasure Play Dates is about tapping into your playful and erotic side. Remember there is no right or wrong way to play, but here are some ideas to get your juices flowing.

Tease yourself

Practice edging while masturbating by bringing yourself close to climax and then stopping. Take deep breaths until your breathing returns to normal. Then begin again - do this as many times as you can. Delaying your orgasm can be a great way to tease yourself, build up the intensity, and have a more powerful climax.

Bath Time

Bath time was a fun time as we splashed around in water with a tub full of floatable toys! As we get older we trade in baths for showers because of time and other reasons. Get back to taking baths as a way to play with and dedicate time to yourself. Pick your favorite playlist, play with lighting with candles, surround yourself with the scents you enjoy, and spend time taking a warm bubble bath. All Emojibator vibes are waterproof so bring back the toys to bath time!

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Reading/ Writing Erotica

Write a short story, poetry, a recount of your own sexual experience, or even your own sex manual. You can explore your fantasies, fetishes, or other sexual identities.

Play dressup

Centering pleasure in your life goes beyond sexual experiences with other people. You can intentionally insert pleasure by paying attention to what makes you feel good, the scents you enjoy, the way you spend your time, etc. So take it a step further and explore creative ways to incorporate play and pleasure into your solo sexy time!

Article written by Afrosexology

Afrosexology, LLC, was birthed from the desire to experience a more sex-positive Black community. Owners, Dalychia and Rafaella, are two Black, women, pleasure advocates, sex educators, social workers, activists, and creators, who are passionate about empowering people to live their most pleasurable lives. They have been interviewed and featured in Huff Post, Vibe, and Playboy magazines to share expertise and share the passion behind this movement.

 
 

Masturbation Coaches are now a thing

 
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MAY

13

 

Carrie Weisman

If you’ve ever spent a few minutes, um, giving yourself a hand in the bathroom, then your masturbation game is shot. At least it is according to a new wave of experts. Today, “masturbation coaches” are a thing, and they’ve taken issue with how most men typically approach the act.

To start, if you’re thinking “masturbation coach” sounds like an odd job title, you’re not alone. Members of the field typically belong to a wider network of sex educators, more formally known as “sexological bodyworkers.” Joseph Kramer, Ph.D., founded the industry back in 2003. Though Kramer, who is known for having popularized the art of male genital massage, planted the professional seed years earlier. In 1984, Kramer founded the Body Electric School in Oakland, California where thousands of individuals turned up for training. When educating individuals about their own orgasmic potential, Kramer and his students believe a hands-on approach is most effective.

To date, California is the only state that legally recognizes the profession, though there are a number of regional associations located throughout Europe, Canada, and Australia. According to the Association of Certified Sexological Bodyworkers, the most common conditions that bring people into the office, so to speak, are premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and an inability to achieve orgasm.

Bruce P. Grether used to work alongside Kramer, assisting him in teaching workshops. Today, he has his own male masturbation coaching business called Erotic Engineering. His services — which are available via Skype — costs around $100 per hour. According to Grether, most guys masturbate with an eye towards ejaculation. And while positioning orgasm as a goal isn’t a necessarily a bad way to frame masturbation, it tends to rob men of another important element of sexuality.

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In 2001, Grether coined the phrase mindful masturbation, which speaks to the idea of being fully present during masturbation, or “self-pleasure,” as he would phrase it. Grether, like many others in the field, prefers the term to the more clinical sounding M-word.

“Human sexuality becomes most rewarding when it connects directly with self-love. The cliché is that women associate emotion with eroticism more than men, but this is something men can learn,” he tells Fatherly.

Kai Helmich is another one of Kramer’s protégées. He’s been helping men improve their masturbatory skills for the past three years. Often, it comes down to helping correct the bad habits they picked up years ago.

“The typically pattern we learn as children is that we go to the toilet, and we have two minutes before mom finds out what we’re doing,” he explains. “You go as quick as you can. No sound – no nothing. It’s completely unnatural.” According to Helmich, that’s pattern few men grow out of.

 

Psychologists say you should masturbate at work

 
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MAY

12

 

Harriet Marsden

Mark Sergeant, psychology lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, told Metro that a 'masturbation break' would be "very effective" at work and a great way to relieve tension and stress.

This was echoed by psychologist and life coach Dr Cliff Arnall: 

Certainly taking a masturbation break for boredom or an escape would increase work focus.

He suggested that a masturbation policy might result in "more focus, less aggression, higher productivity and more smiling".

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Yes, (ladies and) gentlemen, masturbation breaks at work are now officially endorsed by science. 

However, Dr Arnall does point out the potential, ahem, shortcomings in this plan, suggesting that failure to achieve orgasm quickly could result in increased frustration and excessive break lengths. 

He also suggests that one should not fantasise about colleagues as this might result in "cognitive impairment" - or just inappropriate workplace conduct?

The root of this sudden interest in office stimulation appears to be a Time Out New York survey, which reported at the end of 2015 that 39 per cent of male readers admitted to masturbating in the office.

 

 

Why are so many sex toys shaped like animals?

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MAY

11

 

Claire Lampen

Butterflies and other animals are far from rare in the sex tech industry: feather boa-ed rubber ducks; pink, ball-balancing dolphins; clit-tapping turtles; horse penis dildos abound. That abundance raises some questions, like who assumed we want to fuck dolphins? Who decided female sexuality should either be childish, or bestial? And if the sheer variety of vibrators currently available to women suggests empowerment, what does it say that so many come in the shape of gooey purple butterflies?

Two sexologists I spoke with speculated that imitation animal penises are fetish items likely not intended for the mainstream women's market, but zoomorphic vibrators represented another beast entirely. Their history "says a lot about how sex toys are still seen as 'threatening' and how far we have to go to normalize masturbation for women," sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt said on a phone call.

Inarguably the most famous of the animal vibrator kingdom, the Rabbit hails from Japan, where obscenity laws effectively bar the distribution of products that might sexually arouse consumers. Thus, Japanese manufacturers have taken to camouflaging sex toys as children's toys, often with an animal theme.

In the early 1980s, an American buyer looked to Japan for a new vibrator that could improve on the various "uncooked hotdog" colored options dominating the U.S. market, Shay Martin, vice president of Rabbit manufacturer Vibratex, explained. In Japan, the buyer encountered a groundbreaking design concept: dual-action stimulation, cloaked in bunny's clothing. Vibratex brought the Rabbit to the US from Japan in 1983, and became the first U.S. company to market a woman's pleasure wand that incorporated clitoral stimulation with vaginal penetration.

No one decided women wanted to fuck dolphins—that would have required thinking about what women wanted in the first place

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Of all Vibratex's variations on that theme—the Turtle with its piston-like neck; the Kangaroo with fluttering paws and tongue—none grabbed attention quite like the pearlescent pink phallus that infamously kept Sex and the City's Charlotte tangled in her sheets for days. That may have helped make the Rabbit a household name, Martin said, but the product stuck thanks to its innocuous packaging—devoid of porn stars—a symbol of women's pleasure and approachability.

"It was just geared more toward making women feel comfortable," Martin explained. "It just made them feel good, and also, you know, a rabbit, that's cute and adorable and it didn't look like a big phallic shape, it wasn't huge, it didn't scream VIBRATOR, I think that did make women feel more comfortable in approaching the product."

30 years later, "rabbit" means "dual-action vibrator" the same way "Chapstick" means "lip balm." We can chalk up that ubiquity to a bunch of manufacturers drinking from the same well: shortly after Vibratex brought the Rabbit stateside, knock-offs came hopping down Chinese assembly lines.

According to Alicia Sinclair, Founder & CEO of b-Vibe & Le Wand, that's typically how it goes in the small world of sex tech: the main players look to a handful of Chinese manufacturers to develop their wares. If one company rakes in huge sales on an item, then the concept will catch on like the common cold, begetting knockoffs with shoddy craftsmanship and subpar materials, and flooded the market with a design that isn't ergonomically suited to many women's bodies, Sinclair said.

"I think it almost was like, 'Oh yeah, just put a butterfly on there,'" Sinclair continued. "I think there were men designing products; I think they didn't put a lot of thought into the complex sexuality of women, or even really know what women wanted, and to be really honest, I don't think they particularly cared."

No one decided women wanted to fuck dolphins—that would have required thinking about what women wanted in the first place. Many toy makers seem to have stopped at, Women like pink fuzzy shit, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Properly Clean Your Male Sex Toys

 
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MAY

10

 

Wendy Lu

Matie Fricker, 39, has a strict company policy: When customers return their sex toys, always wear gloves.

Fricker told Men’s Health that while most of her customers come into the store wanting to know how to take care of their toys, a few seem to lack any concern for sex toy hygiene. One of her customers was a long-haul truck driver who didn’t want to bother with cleaning his sex toy all the time. He wanted to know the "magic number of times he could ejaculate into a sex toy without it becoming dangerous for him to put his penis into the toy again,” she recalls.

Shockingly, this truck driver is not alone. Only 57% of men clean their sex toys after they use them, according to a 2017 survey by adult superstore Adam & Eve. More than a third of men never clean their sex toys at all. That's a big problem, because experts say that failing to wash sex toys, especially porous toys like the Fleshlight or other strokers, can have some alarming consequences.

For men, using the same sex toys without washing the semen off afterwards can lead to skin and yeast infections. Men with uncircumcised penises may be more likely to get yeast infections because bacteria can get trapped under the foreskin. Over time, that bacteria grows and can travel into a man’s urethra, the part of the penis that carries semen.

“You’re injecting 98.6 degrees of semen into the toy. That’s just the stuff that life grows out of,” Fricker says. “And when semen leaves the the body, it ejects at 28 miles per hour. There’s a lot of biological matter that is ‘hot in the pocket,’ so it’s just a recipe for bacteria to grow.”

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Some sex toys are easier to clean than others. Non-porous toys such as glass butt plugs and stainless steel dildos don't absorb any fluids, so they're easy to rinse off with soap and water. On the other hand, porous sex toys like masturbation sleeves and cock rings are softer and more elastic, so they have microscopic pores that can absorb pretty much anything, including bacteria.

“Sex toys can actually degrade over time if they are not cleaned properly and become less effective and not so pleasurable,” says Andy Durham, 35, co-founder of Toys 4 Naughty Boys, a supplier of men’s sex toys and equipment based in Devizes, the United Kingdom. To make matters worse, you might not notice it right away — and the idea of using a dirty sex toy and inserting that same bacteria back into your body over and over again is, well, not exactly sexy.

So how often should you actually wash your sex toys? Fricker and Durham recommend cleaning your sex toys after every use. Durham adds that sex toys with hard-to-reach crevices or toys you “insert where the sun doesn’t shine” — AKA your butt, which is laden with fecal matter and other bacteria — may require additional cleaning time. Durham suggests washing toys with a mild soap and water or an antibacterial sex toy cleaner (no harsh ingredients, although all-natural toy cleaners are ideal).

Fricker’s teaching philosophy for clients? Never put your penis any place that you wouldn’t want to touch with your mouth, and treat your sex toy as you would any other expensive item.

“If you're going to buy a really nice computer or video game, you're going to buy everything you need to take care of it, too," she says.

 

Where to find ethical, fair-trade porn

 
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MAY

9

 

While the stigma around masturbation is slowly shrinking, we have to ask: Is it possible it's affecting our ability to get it on in real life?

According to Megan Fleming, Ph.D., a sex and relationship therapist, a little self love may be the best way to keep your sex engine running.  If you get in the habit of bringing yourself to orgasm and experiencing the rush of dopamine, oxytocin, and stress relieving chemicals which hit your brand, you won't have a cold start when you want to get that motor revved up with a partner. Getting excited about sex may not be a problem for most, but if you tend to have a low libido, solo sessions can help you know exactly what turns you on.

And while no one's going to touch you as good as you touch yourself, having some private time with yourself won't necessarily diminish the joys of a little fun with someone else. Treat masturbation like an opportunity to communicate with your partner—play with yourself while they watch and walk them through what you're doing. It's not only sexy. I'll also give them some tips on pleasing you.

Whether or not you want to make masturbation a teachable moment, there's no reason to worry about a little self-love ruining your libido for partner play. After all, there's no hard-and-fast rule for how much libido you should have, according to Ian Kerner, Ph.D., LMFT, a licensed therapist and sexuality counselor.

For women, a low libido is often the result of lower testosterone levels. Masturbation doesn't impact this. Plus, women don't have that built-in recovery period between orgasms like men, which means multiple orgasms, many achieved with a little self stimulation.  

Still, if you're worried that pleasing yourself is going to make you less excited for later, try "edging" which is getting yourself excited without finishing the job. It's a great way to "store your sexual energy" and set yourself up for success with your partner. 

One last thing to consider is that if you and your partner aren't on the same page sexually, masturbation can help level the playing field. The person who wants sex more often can go it alone and fantasize about what they want to experience later, a technique Fleming calls "pattern interrupt"—a break from the typical, scripted sex couples can fall into.

So there you have it. Masturbation gives libido a helping hand, keeps you excited for sex and ensures you're in tune with your body. Unless you're experiencing stress, depression or a bit of a hormone imbalance there's no way to lose interest in your desire for sex —so feel free to keep going at it with the person who knows best.

 

10 Tips for your next sex shop visit

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MAY

08

 

It's been a week of Masturbation Month and we're far from spent.

For those looking for some pleasure tools to help get you off we have a little guide to proper toy store etiquette if you find yourself heading to a sex shop to get you through the next 20 days. 

 

1. Learn about your (and your partner's) body before you come in. 

I've seen my fair share of "deer in the headlights" customers. Usually it comes in the form of "husband picking out a sex toy for his wife." When shopping for others, whether it's a partner or a bachelorette, get a feel for their sexual preferences and maybe even fantasies. Don't assume.

For example, most women need clitoral stimulation in order to achieve orgasm, so many of us recommend a “clitoral/external stimulator” over the standard dildo or vibrator (internal stimulation). A good place to start is to educate yourself about the male and female erogenous zones.

But also, just ask your partner. When you get to the store, a salesperson can provide product suggestions.

 

2. Learn from the educated. 

Don’t go to a shop where the employees are simply looking for a paycheck. Sex toys have actual science and complicated technology behind them (material, power, cleanliness, etc.), not to mention history. You want to learn these things from experts.

For instance, some kinds of sex toys are safest when using a condom because of how much bacteria they can trap and how difficult they are to clean. A good salesperson will share this kind of information with you, not fear a decrease in sales. Make sure your toy is tested before you leave the store, to make sure you don't have a "dud." Steer clear of the shops that don't do this. All sales are final and you would hate paying for a NSFW paperweight.

Keep in mind that sex toys are currently not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration like proper medical equipment is, so companies can pretty much use whatever they want and put buzz terms like "phalate-free" or "body-safe material" on the packaging and consumers are none the wiser. Learn about the difference in materials and you can save yourself from itching, burning or even a hospital visit later on.

 

3. Sex toys are expensive (and yes, we know they're cheaper online).

Adult stores are usually locally owned. We are fully aware you can find many of our products, especially high-end ones, online for cheaper. But try to #GoLocal.

I like to compare sex toys and adult products to food; if you spend a little more on the higher quality, you’ll be a lot happier with the outcome, especially longterm. Jelly vibrators are the fast food burgers of the sex toy world; they are very porous and trap a lot of bacteria and should be used sparingly or not at all. Silicone is the safest soft material but still requires cleaning.

However, there are plenty of other toys under $100 that are better than luxury brands — enough factors and exceptions play in that it's important to seek professional advice.

 

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4. Do ask lots of questions.

There is no such thing as a stupid question. We’ve heard it all. Just be appropriate and respectful.

Don't ask, "You stick it up WHERE?!" Try instead, "How is this toy used?" Ultimately we are retail workers who are trained and want to answer any question you have.

 

5. Do not ask what's "the best".

"Different strokes for different folks" is quite literal here. There is no such thing as the "best" toy because what works for some people won’t for others. Pretty much everything regarding sexual pleasure is trial and error; find out what feels good for you and work with that.

 

6. Do not ask what my favorite is.

Really think about what you’re asking when you walk in and ask a worker this. This is still a retail shop; just because I’m selling pleasure products doesn’t mean A) I’ve tried all, some or any of them; and B) that’s none of your damn business. We will volunteer the information ourselves if we feel comfortable enough to tell you.

Most times people mean it in a “has this been tried and been proven to work?” kind of way, but the occasional creep asks these kinds of questions with the intent to use the mental image later...or in our parking lot. (Yes, that happened and is why I won't answer these questions anymore.)

We’re selling sex products, not sex.

 

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7. Do not come in just to giggle.

We already have to deal with middle schoolers prank calling us. Don’t come in just to ask, “Has anyone ever bought the three-foot dildo?!” What if another customer came in while you were giggling, heard you mocking a product, and therefore got too embarrassed to buy anything and left? Many people are nervous to be there to begin with, so do not be Michael from The Office.

 

8. But, know it's okay to giggle a little.

That being said, laughing is a natural reaction, so we understand. And some of our products are funny (my favorite is the blow-up punching bag with a place to put a picture of your ex). There’s a difference between laughing because you’re surrounded by sex and just flat out making fun of the products. Don’t laugh at my dildos, please!

 

9. No, it's not just creeps that shop here.

I had a woman ask me how many times I had to call the cops on people having sex in the parking lot and was upset that I “ruined her image of a sex shop” when I told her zero. I had another woman ask if our bathrooms had “men underneath to look up." Really?! For every “creep,” we got 20 “normal” people, and those truly are relative terms.

We expect uncomfortable partners or friends who get dragged along, but when they comment about how “disgusting” sex or the shop itself is, it's incredibly frustrating. Please do not bring your personal issues with something as natural and fun as sex here. Be open.

 

10. Do not be ashamed to be here.

Sex culture is changing pretty rapidly. Women are becoming more open to talking about and, more importantly, enjoying sex. It is perfectly okay for women to enjoy sex, either alone or with another person. Further, sex toys are not just a “chick thing;” there are plenty of toys for men.

Sex is fun.

Don’t let social norms prevent you from being open to or trying new things.

 

MIND THE GAP

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MAY

7

At Emojibator, we're all about closing the Climax Gap.

Research has showed that women have 30 percent fewer orgasms than men and we feel that's something we need to address. While men have been openly speaking about masturbation for years, the subject doesn't come up as often during girl time.

“After 19 years of ignorance, my college girlfriends jokingly gifted me a candy-cane vibrator and forever changed my confidence as a woman,” says Emojibator co-founder and CMO Kris Jandler. “Emojibator’s laughter-inducing brand is uniquely positioned to disrupt our orgasm-shaming culture and educate women on their self-pleasure powers.”

So this Masturbation Month, be sure to focus on your self, exploring your orgasm and maximizing your climax. Check out a few tools to help do your part to close the climax gap.

 

JUST THE TIPS

TAKE TIME FOR SELF LOVE

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MAY

6

As masturbation month continues, it's important to remember to make time for doing the deed. Don't masturbate like it's something you have to accomplish or else. Kate McCombs, 31, who works as a sex and relationships educator, makes a very important point: Make sure you have enough time to not feel rushed and have enough privacy to not be interrupted.

If you only have five minutes or you've set aside a day like you need to get this figured out, odds are you'e going to be way too stressed to allow the kind of no-pressure chill vibe you should ideally have when you're masturbating, at least in the beginning. So shut your phone on, put on some music that turns you on, and take your time.

 
 

GET HOT.

GET OFF.

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MAY

5

Whatever the association, there is no denying that eating these spicy members of the nightshade family gets your heart pumping. You can even break a sweat! An considering it's Cinco de Mayo, it might be time to add a little caliente to your love life. 

Heat aside, though, is there actually a correlation between spicy foods and sex drive? 

You’re in luck!  Yes, chili peppers can be added to the list of aphrodisiac foods; that is, foods that boost sex drive. If you can stand the sizzle on your tongue, you can reap the rewards.

 

How does spicy food increase sex drive?

Chili peppers contain a chemical compound called capsaicin. This is what generates the heat in peppers, and the hotter the pepper, the higher the concentration of capsaicin.

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Whether fresh, dried, or powdered, these little pods provide a wonderful depth of flavor to your dishes, and, as an added bonus, the capsaicin also increases libido.

That feeling when you slurp up a spicy bowl of soup, or polish off a red hot plate of chicken wings, and start sweating is the key.  That’s because capsaicin, the active compound in chili peppers, has a metabolic effect.

The heat jumpstarts the cardiovascular system. So your heart beats faster and your blood vessels begin to open, allowing more blood to flow through. And depending on the level of heat, you start sweating – even without exercising!  

This special thermogenic effect has also led to many studies about the relationship between capsaicin and weight loss. The bottom line is that when your cardiovascular system is kicked into high gear, your brain signals your body to release endorphins – just like during exercise and sex. From this process, scientists were able to deduce the correlation between spicy foods and sex drive.  

Put differently, capsaicin amazingly mirrors how libido is revved up in both men and women – by stimulating your cardiovascular system and releasing endorphins simultaneously.  And that’s the reason why chili peppers are considered to be a libido-boosting food.

 

Spicy foods improve female libido

Thermogenic effect and endorphin activation occur in both sexes. Let’s look at the female consequences more closely. Endorphins levels which regulate pain and pleasure may be influenced by spices contained in chili peppers. Endorphins are also naturally produced with foreplay and sexual activity.

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And this is particularly important for a healthy sex drive because it triggers your body to want more.

Additionally, spicy foods improve female libido because consuming capsaicin can bring about a slight burning sensation in your nether regions. This is comparable to how your genitals feel when you are aroused, and this tingling makes your brain crave sex.

 

Spicy foods boost men’s sex drive

There is a tailored physical response for men as well. When a man is erect, his circulatory system is working at full force. This is a result of vasodilation (blood vessels widening) allowing more oxygenated blood to course through veins and arteries.

Spicy foods increase men’s sex drive because they cause the cardiovascular system to respond and kick-start the dilation of blood vessels throughout the body. Studies have shown that men have a particularly strong response to eating spicy food. In fact, consuming capsaicin boosts testosterone levels and increases sex drive. Needless to say, chili peppers are a wonder aphrodisiac food!

Whether you are male or female, an active sex life is important. But given the hectic pace of modern life, sex often takes a back seat. This is the exact opposite of what should happen since sex, among other health benefits, is a great stress reliever.

It’s nice to know there are still natural ways to improve your libido, and the capsaicin in chili peppers does just that!

If you’re not a heat lover, you needn’t worry. Some studies have found that capsiate, the active chemical in sweet peppers, is quite similar to capsaicin’s effect on the body.

Although it does not have as strong a cardiovascular response, it may still increase your sex drive slightly.

For those that love the tingling sensation in the back of your throat, your taste buds and libido will thank you. Spicy lovers know that there is no replacing that depth of flavor a chili pepper offers, and the increase in sex drive is an amazing bonus.

 

 

 

GET OFF IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY

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MAY

4

May the fourth be with you. 

Geeky Sex Toys, known for their fan favorite masturbation tools has a collection called "Star Toys," a collection of Star Wars–themed sex toys sure to awaken a lot more than just the force.

The line includes a wide array of vibrators, dildos, butt plugs, and BDSM accessories that come in a range of designs sure to take anybody, from the purest of Jedi's to the most evil of Sith Lords, to a galaxy far, far away.  The lightsaber-esque flogger is probably our favorite.

Check out the collection below and if you choose to get one remember the words of Yoda: "Do. Or do not. There is no try."

 
 
 

Does Masturbation Affect Sexual Stamina?

 
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MAY

3

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Masturbation has long been an elusive topic, due in large part to the fact that it has, until recently, remained a social “taboo” and has not been discussed openly. That being said, masturbation is an integral element of the maturation process for both men and women. Studies have shown that the majority of men have, at some point in their lives, experimented with masturbation. 

Masturbation can affect sexual stamina in a variety of ways. One of the most interesting points of discussion related to masturbation and sexual stamina concerns the juxtaposition of self-pleasure and pleasure received by another individual. As those engaging in masturbation typically have more time to explore their body’s pleasure centers, they may derive more physical satisfaction from masturbation than they do from physical intimacy with another partner.

Because of this, some studies have shown that masturbation can be an effective tool for increasing sexual stamina. For men, self-exploration may allow men to experience their “peak” pleasure, transforming sexual activity into a lesser source of sexual stimulation, and, consequently, allowing them to engage in sexual activity for longer periods of time. Keep on reading and discover interesting information on the connection between masturbation and sexual stamina.

Myths And Facts About Masturbation

One of the most common myths surrounds masturbation is the potential for adverse health effects as a result of excessive self-pleasuring. Doctors have yet to link repetitive masturbation with any long-term, lasting health problems. That being said, medical professionals also recommend that men refrain from masturbating for a short period if they experience pain in their genital regions following the climax.

Perfect Masturbation Techniques

Although most men develop their unique preferences for masturbatory practices, there are accepted strategies for receiving optimized levels of pleasure from these exercises. As the underside of the penis head is generally considered to be the most sensitive area of the male genitals, men interested in obtaining the maximum possible pleasure from masturbation should focus on this particular region of the penis.

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The Benefits of Masturbation

During orgasm, the body releases increased quantities of oxytocin, a hormone that has been shown to reduce stress levels in both men and women. For those who masturbate on a regular basis, this particular act may provide much-needed stress relief.

Additionally, studies have shown that men who achieve orgasm on a regular may be at a decreased* risk for heart attacks. Again, the point must be made that, regardless of how they are achieve, orgasms can provide a number of positive health benefits.

Can Masturbation Improve Sexual Stamina?

If men are receiving increased levels of sexual pleasure during masturbation, they may be less prone to premature ejaculation during sexual intercourse, as this stimulation is less “effective” relative to their masturbatory habits.

 
 
 

Snapple Caps Of masturbation

 
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MAY

2

It's day 2 of Masturbation Month, which means you're probably already feeling much better (especially if you got started on that 31-day challenge). We've put together a few masturbation fun facts for keeping yourself brainy on masturbating pleasures. The kind of trivia you need if you're ever on Jeopardy and "Self Love for $200" hits the board.

 
 

the 31 Day Masturbation Challenge

 
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MAY

1

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Ready for a challenge?

Frustrated by a lack of specifics in the vast majority of articles about masturbation, writer Hayley Macmillen decided to come up with her own way to change stigmas by getting into the specifics of proper self love. She teamed up with acclaimed sex therapist Vanessa Marin to bring women a first-of-its-kind 30-Day Masturbation Challenge. We added one more day cause who doesn't need some extra me time. 

"There are lots of reasons to masturbate — getting to know your body, learning how to orgasm, developing better confidence, decreasing stress, supporting healthier societal attitudes about female pleasure," says Marin, "but the best reason is simply because it feels good! Your body is capable of experiencing so much pleasure; why wouldn't you want to make that pleasure a part of daily life?" 

The 31-Day Masturbation Challenge

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Before we tell you what's happening on Day 31, here's what to know:

1. Different strokes to move the world. 

Feel free to mix up strokes in any given session. Set a timer so that you can immerse yourself in what you're feeling. Didn't hit the recommended number of minutes per day? Don't worry about it. Just plan a longer sessions the next day. It's important to take your time.
 

2. It's not about the orgasm.

This is about getting to know your body and your turn-ons in a pressure-free, process-oriented environment. And, if you do orgasm before the end of your session, it's up to you whether to continue...but why not spend some more time on yourself?


3. Toys are okay, but don't neglect touch. 

Go ahead and incorporate your favorite toys into your playtime (may we suggest this one from Emojibator) but spend part of each session trying out the manual moves tech-free. 
 

4. Lube it up!

Just a little lube can go a long way and many women don't realize it's benefits outside of partnered sex. Just keep it water-based if you're playing with toys. 
 

5. Porn is a wonderful thing.

Not into porn? Well maybe you just have not yet found porn you like yet. Be sure to check out female-focused sites like Make Love, Not Porn and this list of great porn sites for women
 

Okay, ready for your day 31 challenge? Go multi-orgasmic. Relive two of your favorite days back-to-back for a final climax to the challenge.