Q: What do I do if my boyfriend can’t stay hard when we want to have sex?
A: There are many reasons why men (even young men) can suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED; an inability to maintain an erection).
The most common reason is anxiety. If a man gets anxious, this constricts the blood-vessels in penis, causing him to lose his erection. The difficult thing about this is that a man with ED may develop anxiety about his disorder. So, the next time he wants to have sex, he may worry that he won't be able to perform and then this anxiety can cause him to lose his erection. It can be a difficult cycle to break. If this is the case, there are certain things he can try. First, it can be good to talk about it and for you to express that it's not a big deal if he doesn't have an erection during sex. There are plenty of things you both can enjoy during sex (such as oral sex or using sex toys) that doesn't require him to have an erection. This can help to take the pressure off of him. He can also try relaxation techniques, such as deep-breathing, to try to calm down if he finds himself getting nervous. If he's still suffering from anxiety when having sex, then perhaps he can see a counselor to discuss further options.
There are also some medications that can cause ED, such as anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications. These types of medications can dampen someone's sexual drive in general. If medication is the cause of his ED, then he should talk with his doctor to check out different options or methods of combating these side-effects. ED can also be caused by excessive alcohol or drug use or by smoking. If he's doing any of these things, it would be best if he stopped for a while to see if that solves the problem.
Lastly, there could be a more serious reason why he's have issues with ED. ED can be caused by problems with men's cardiovascular system, such as having hypertension, heart-disease, obesity or diabetes. Although, these causes of ED are rare among younger men. But, if this is a persistent problem and he's also experiencing ED when he's masturbating alone, then it's something he should probably see a doctor about, just to make sure it's nothing more serious.
Q: What would be the best way to go about somebody “ghosting” you? Would no response work? Talking to them? In this new day in age how do we handle this appropriately ?
A: I'm assuming that what you mean by someone "ghosting" you is if someone simply doesn't talk to you (not replying to your texts or social media messages). If someone "ghosts" you, it's likely that they don't wish to continue having a relationship with you and that they're too self-conscious to say why (or simply don't care to explain themselves). In this case, the best thing is to forget about them and move on. If they don't want to participate in the relationship, then you shouldn't either.
You don't need to take it as an insult or a sign that you did anything wrong. Sometimes people end relationships because they just aren't "clicking" with that person (through no fault of either person). But, other times people "ghost" others because of extenuating circumstances going on in their life. Whatever the case, it's time for you to move on. If you see this person around, it's good to be polite, but you probably don't need to do much more than say "Hello" and move on.
Q: Is a women's cum/vaginal fluids more nutritional than men's cum/semen?
A: This is a difficult question to answer, because neither fluids are all that "nutritious." For the most part, male and female ejaculate are primarily made of water and have few nutrients to speak of.
An article by Jezebel provides an excellent breakdown of the nutritional value of male ejaculate. Based on a chemical analysis of semen conducted in 2005, male ejaculate is about 96 - 97% water, with the rest comprised primarily of glucose (sugar), electrolytes (salt) and a scattering of minerals (primarily zinc and copper). While having these in your diet could be considered "nutrients," they are in such small amounts that they don't provide any real benefits to a person consuming it. A typical ejaculate is likely to only contain about 0.5 - 4 calories.
Most research I was able to find on vaginal discharge concerned the bacteria present in this fluid. However, according to Charles Beckmann's textbook, "Obstetrics and Gynecology," vaginal fluid is also primarily made of water, proteins and minerals (no glucose, though). One major difference, though, is that vaginal fluids contain larger samples of bacteria (primarily lactobacilli) and human cells. Another reference ("The G-spot" by sex researchers, Beverly Whipple, Alice Ladas, and John Perry) states that the fluid in the Skene's gland (which is the primary source of female ejaculate during orgasm) contains other components, such as glucose/fructose and prostatic acid, which helps de-acidify the vagina during sex. However, once again, the quantity of these nutrients is still so minute that it doesn't provide any real benefits if eaten.
Q: How are fetishes formed?
A: There are many different reasons why people can have fetishes and it depends on what kind of fetish we’re talking about. For most fetishes that are healthy (do not cause harm to oneself or others), people usually report developing them around the beginning of puberty (12 – 14 years old). This suggests that fetishes are often caused by different events that are happening around this time, likely due to increased hormones (testosterone, estrogen) and psychological conditioning. Often our first sexual experiences can be very emotionally charged (exciting, shameful, confusing), so anything that we happen to be experiencing during that sexual experience can become psychologically connected to feeling of sexual arousal. This is because when areas of the brain “fire together,” they “wire together.”
For example, let’s say that a 12-year-old boy is learning how to masturbate and one of his parents accidently walks in on him. This can cause a lot of shame, which can then become psychologically connected with feelings of sexual excitement. This conditioning can cause a person to become sexual aroused whenever they experience shame in the future. As an adult, this man may sexually enjoy being called names, ordered around, or anything else that gives him a sense of shame and powerlessness (i.e., a masochist). Another example could be a 10-year-old girl who begins rubbing her clitoris with one of her toys. Realizing it feels good, she begins to rub herself harder and then accidently cuts or bruises her vagina. The pain can get connected with the sense of sexual arousal and this can later develop into a pain fetish. In the future, this woman may enjoy being spanked or whipped. These are just a couple of examples and are far from the only ways people can develop fetishes. But, these are common examples of how fetishes can be born out of psychological conditioning, especially during early puberty.
When it comes to paraphilias (fetishes that are harmful to oneself or others), such as public flashing, rape fantasies or pedophilia, there is less research on how these develop, but it’s likely through the same general process. However, these types of fetishes often develop alongside experiences of physical or sexual abuse, so they can become connected with inflicting pain and fear in others. Obviously, these are much more problematic fetishes and should be managed with the care of licensed counselors.
Q: Can I have sex on my period? Is it harder to get pregnant when on my period?
A: There is no reason why a woman cannot have sex while menstruating. In fact, having sex and orgasming has been shown to help alleviate menstrual cramping. However, being on your period doesn't guarantee that you cannot get pregnant. While a woman's chance of getting pregnant while menstruating is lower than during her most fertile time of the month (i.e., ovulation), women can sometimes start their period while there is still a viable egg in the uterus. If that egg gets fertilized, then the woman's body will immediately stop menstruating and attempt to build back up the uterine lining in order for the egg to implant. So, even while menstruating, a woman should use birth control when having sex.
Q: When a women squirts, is it purely vaginal fluids or vaginal fluids and urine?
A: Squirting (or female ejaculation) is when fluid is released from the Skene's gland during orgasm. This gland only contains vaginal fluid. So, for a majority of women, if they're squirting, only vaginal fluid is released. For most women, it's nearly impossible to urinate while sexually aroused, because blood flow increases to the diaphragm below the bladder, inflating the urinary sphincter and blocking the urinary tract. This makes it difficult/impossible to urinate, which we likely evolved to make sure that urine doesn't come into contact with sperm when we have sex (since urine kills sperm cells).
The exception to this rule is if a woman is suffering from a disorder that causes urine to leak out during sex. This is often due to a pelvic floor disorder that is most common among women who are age 65 or older and have given birth to multiple children. These women tend to suffer from general incontinence (inability to control urine flow), so it's usually part of a larger problem for these individuals. But, if a woman doesn't suffer from general incontinence, it's most likely that she releases only vaginal fluid when she squirts.
Q: How often should one check for STDs? Does UCM offer a service for checking?
A: How often one should get checked for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) depends on a person's lifestyle. If a person is regularly engaging in risky sex (e.g., sex with multiple partners, sex with relative strangers, sex without the use of condoms), then you would want to get checked regularly; about once a month. However, if someone is using protection and is having sex in serially monogamous relationships (relationships with one person at a time), then you can space out checks to be less frequent; perhaps twice a year. Although, it doesn't hurt to get checked more often than you need to, so if you ever feel like you just want to "make sure," go ahead and get checked.
Thankfully, the UC Merced health center does offer STI testing, which is free to students. This service is confidential and cannot be viewed by anyone but you. A typical screening will involve giving a small amount of blood so that the doctors can check for herpes, HIV, and a few other STIs. If you feel that you need a fuller check-up, they can also take a penis/vagina sample and test that for gonorrhea and chlamydia (although, this usually isn't necessary unless you are showing symptoms of these STIs). You can also visit Planned Parenthood (there is one in Merced) and they can also provide you with free and confidential STI screenings. There are now even at-home STI screening kits that you can submit through the mail. These can be purchased at most drug stores (CVS, Rite Aid), but they cost anywhere from $30 to $150, depending on what kind of test you get. One popular STI test kit that tests for 10 different infections costs over $350. Given these costs, you would likely be better off using the free resources at your disposal.
Q: Is it normal for non-lactating breasts to taste like milk? I'm not pregnant nor have I been before, but recently my boyfriend has refused to play with my breasts because he says they taste like milk. I'm concerned and don't know what to say or do.
A: There could be a few things going on. It may be that you are lactating very slightly, which can happen to women who aren't pregnant, but do have high levels of estrogen, progesterone or prolactin in their body. This can occur as a side-effect of taking some medications, such as birth control, anti-depressants or anti-psychotics. Some women also produce breast milk from prolonged nipple stimulation (a condition known as galactorrhea). There can also be a small chance that a woman produces breast milk because there is something more seriously wrong with her body, such as thyroid disorder. However, if you feel healthy otherwise, it's probably not something to worry about.
There is also the possibility that this could be in your boyfriend's head. If he's tasting what he thinks of as milk (such as what cow's milk tastes like), then this is unlikely to be breastmilk. Human breastmilk tastes quite different from cow's milk, because it has a much higher sugar content, making human breastmilk taste noticeably sweeter. One way to test this would be to taste your own nipples to see if you can detect anything. Simply rup your fingers across your nipples and then smell/taste your fingers. You can also take a shower right before you have sex and see if he still "tastes" milk right when he first puts his tongue on your nipples. If the discharge is so slight that you don't notice any actual liquid coming out of your breasts, but he can still supposedly taste it right away, then it's likely a placebo effect. Some men are a bit "freaked out" by the fact that breasts can produce milk and so may think they're tasting it when they're really not. However, if there is a milky discharge coming from your nipples and it isn't caused by a medication you're taking, you should probably go see a doctor about it, just to make sure it's nothing more serious.
Q: Hi, Mr. Avila I just wanted to ask a question regarding attraction, specifically on social media and how it ties in with relationships. Is it normal for a male in a long term relationship to be lurking and searching up the women he finds attractive on social media? Does it have to do with male biology to seek attractive women? Is it something normal? I know it is normal to find other women attractive, but it just seems a little odd to me that you can have a gf you love, but still want to peep other women on social media?
A: It is perfectly normal for someone with a girlfriend to still find others attractive. Just because a person is with someone they love doesn't mean that the parts of their brain that process attraction toward others suddenly turns off. This is true for women just as much as men. However, depending on the type of relationship you have with your girlfriend, this may mean that you need to express better control over these urges. If your girlfriend would be hurt if she found out that you were "lurking" other women on social media, then this is something you should probably stop doing. No healthy relationship can last when someone is keeping secrets or continually doing something that the other partner would find hurtful.
If you find that this behavior is difficult to stop, then you have to ask yourself why this is the case. Is this something you do that makes you feel good or excited in a way that you find difficult to give up? Does this activity give you a sense of power, along with sexual excitement? There can be many reasons why a behavior become addictive and difficult to quit, even if you know it's the wrong thing to be doing. If this is the case, then you may want to speak to a counselor to figure out exactly why you're doing this. Again, it's not wrong to still find yourself attracted to other people, but it's up to you to make sure that this doesn't hurt your girlfriend or make you do things that you know are harmful to your relationship.
Q: Why do men find women less attractive if they have pubic hair?
A: What a person finds attractive is extremely subjective and particular to that person. If you've known men who find pubic hair unattractive, they may actually be in the minority. According to a recent poll of over 5,000 by Askmen.com, about 40% of men said they do like it when women shave or wax their pubic hair, but the majority of men preferred women to have pubic hair.
Completely removing pubic hair seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon, really taking off in the 80 and 90s. This is likely due to a change in pornography, where most female porn actors began shaving their pubic hair off so that viewers could better see their genitals. However, the practice of completely removing one's pubic hair, whether by shaving or waxing, has a lot of drawbacks. For one, it can greatly increase uncomfortable friction during sex, causing rashes and burns. It can also lead to higher rates of genital infections, due to razor burn and ingrown hairs. So, while it may be fine to trim one's pubic hair, if that's something you and your partner are into, it's unwise to shave or wax it off completely.
Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.