Q: Can you give advice to someone who is still a virgin and is trying to please her partner without penetration
A: There are many ways to please someone sexually without having penetrative sex. The most common are manual and oral sexual techniques (handjobs and blowjobs). Someone can also use sex toys. For example, if a woman wants to give her boyfriend the “feeling” of having penetrative sex, she can place a pocket-vagina (more commonly known as a “pocket pussy”) between her legs. That way, the man can penetrate it and have the exact same sensation as if he is having vaginal sex with her. At the same time, he can use his fingers to stimulate her clitoris, so that she can have a good time too! If you’d like some tips on how to have some really hot, non-penetrative sex, check out the following links.
Q: Why do some individuals have fetishes? Or even paraphilia?
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 conditioning. Often our first sexual experiences can be very emotionally charged—exciting, shameful, confusing, etc. So, anything that we happen to be experiencing during that sexual experience can be cognitively connected to feeling of sexually arousal. This is because when areas of the brain “fire together,” they tend to “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 get tied with feelings of sexual excitement. This can make feeling ashamed become sexually arousing in itself. Because of this, 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. Another example could be a 10-year-old girl who begins rubbing herself on the vagina 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 develop a pain fetish. In the future, this woman may enjoy being spanked or whipped.
This are just a couple of examples and are far from the only ways people can develop fetishes, but it just goes to show that early sexual experiences can be really formative in the development of our sexual likes and dislikes (i.e., fetishes).
When it comes to paraphilias (fetishes that are harmful to oneself or others), such as public flashing, rape fantasies or pedophilia, there’s less research on how these develop, but it’s likely through the same general process. However, people who develop these types of fetishes often have a background of physical or sexual abuse, so they can become sexually excited by inflicting pain or fear in others.
Q: Do vibrators have an effect on the clitoris and its sensitivity?
A: Research does show that using a vibrator regularly helps women achieve orgasms faster and more reliably, even when they’re not using a vibrator later on. This is because it helps to strengthen the neural connection between clitoral/vaginal stimulation and orgasm. It also helps to condition a person to associate vaginal stimulation with pleasure. Vibrators are often “proscribed” by sex therapists for women who have difficulty orgasming or enjoying sex.
For more information, check out the following sources:
Q: The first time I had sex it was so painful I had to stop. And then it literally took a year for it to stop hurting because for some reason during sex my stomach would hurt really badly. And I know they say the more aroused you are the less it does that but I feel as though I was. That pain in my stomach went away after a year of sex, but for example my friend just lost her virginity and she has never felt pain or discomfort. She said it hurt for the first 5 seconds but that was it. In fact no one I've talked to has ever had the pain in their stomach like you have to go to the bathroom. What causes that?
A: Pain during sex can be caused by many different factors, but one of the most common (especially for younger women) is vaginismus. This is a condition in which the muscles around the vagina tighten so much that vaginal penetration is difficult and extremely painful. This is most often caused by anxiety. The muscles contractions are completely involuntary, so it’s not as if a women can just consciously try to “relax” the muscles. It usually takes a long time, and sometimes some counseling or “dilator” tools, for a woman with vaginismus to train her body to become relaxed during sex.
Unfortunately, the pain caused by vaginismus usually reinforces the disorder, because pain during sex can cause increased anxiety about having sex. This can make this disorder long-lasting and difficult to recover from without some type of professional treatment. However, with the right counselor or gynecologist, the prognosis for treating vaginismus is very good, with most women only requiring a few months of treatment to recover from the disorder.
If you’d like to learn more, check out the following sources:
Q: I am really attracted to my boyfriend, however I have always had sexual desires about women. I masturbate to lesbian porn and I am sexually attracted to them. However, I can never imagine myself in an actual relationship with a woman. What does this mean?
A: I think what that means is that, basically, you are attracted to both your boyfriend and other women. There's nothing abnormal or even all that uncommon about having sexual feelings toward different people at the same time, even if they are different genders. Basically, that's the experience of many bisexual people.
Sometimes people can reliably have sexual attractions toward one gender and romantic attractions toward the other. In one study of bisexual men, for example, it was found that about 25% of the sample reported being only sexually attracted to one gender, while being romantically attracted to the other gender (I haven’t yet found a similar study pertaining to women). Many of these individuals end up forming romantic attachments to those they have romantic feelings for and then develop a sexual attraction toward their partner over time. Others report having an open relationship, in which they can have a romantic relationship with one partner, but sometimes have sex with other people (with their partner’s consent). There’s no one right way to have a relationship, as long as it’s consensual among all parties.
I think something else you should consider, though, is why you can’t imagine yourself in a relationship with a women. Is it that you don’t find yourself romantically attracted to women or that you just don’t know what it would be like. This is something you could perhaps talk about with a counselor or discuss with some close friends. Perhaps you could get to know some lesbian couples to see first-hand how lesbian relationships “work.” You’ll likely find that lesbian relationships are just like heterosexual relationships, with the same levels of passion, intimacy and long-term commitment.
Q: What is the psychology behind me allowing my significant other to have sex with other women? I have always been open minded about it, but people judge me when I tell them that it's okay for me.
A: Having an "open" or "polyamorous" relationship is a very new concept for many people (although, it’s actually been a common type of relationship throughout history). While there isn’t a lot of research on these types of relationships yet, what little there is shows that open relationships function much the same as closed relationships, with the couple being able to maintain long-term intimacy and commitment, as long as they can communicate with each other openly and honestly about sex and their relationship. Open relationships can be challenging, because they require a lot of communication about emotions, boundaries and how to stay close to one’s primary partner throughout the experience. But, they can be very satisfying relationships too. A lot of couples who are in open relationships say that the extra communication involved helped to deepen their romantic relationship with their partner.
One major challenge that is common among people in open relationships is the stigma and misunderstanding they receive from others. It can be hard to feel like no one else really understands or accepts your romantic relationship (welcome to the LGBTQ+ community!). In this case, it may be wise to limit who you discuss your relationship with, keeping it to trusted and understanding friends and family. Also, being in an open relationship can sometimes involve educating your loved ones about what an open relationship is and how it can be just as healthy and loving as a closed relationship.
If you’d like some more information on how to have a healthy open relationship, you can check out the sources below. Of course, there are lots of other helpful resources on the internet as well.
Q: How do people die from masturbating?
A: There is a widespread myth that masturbating is unhealthy and that masturbating too much can make a person sick. However, there is no scientific evidence to back this up. In fact, studies show that regular masturbation is a very healthy thing to do. It can lower stress, regulate blood pressure, and decrease one’s likelihood of getting certain types of cancer (e.g., prostate, cervical). It can also greatly alleviate menstrual cramping in women.
Check out this video on the health advantages of masturbation: https://youtu.be/GU3JqoUDkjA
Once in a while you’ll hear about someone who “died of masturbation.” There was one such story in 2012 that made its way across the internet about a 23-year-old medical student who supposedly died from donating to a sperm bank too many times. This story ended up being a hoax created by the family so that they could sue a sperm bank (they lost the lawsuit, by the way). These stories most often turn out to be a hoax or simply a misunderstanding of how someone actually died. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been one credible case of anyone ever dying from masturbating.
Q: After having sex for first time, why does one's body change so significantly? (example like smell, period length, etc)
A: While sex can create temporary changes in one’s body, such as increased blood flow and estrogen levels (for women) or testosterone levels (for men), there are no long-term changes that the body goes through after having sex for the first time. There is actually no observable way to tell if someone is a virgin or not. It used to be thought that a woman’s hymen would tear when she had sex for the first time, but we now know that many women lose their hymen well before they ever have sex (it begins to naturally deteriorate when beginning puberty) and that some women’s hymen doesn’t tear at all from having sex. In other words, having sex for the first time or any time doesn’t produce any lasting or noticeable changes in the body.
It’s likely that if you noticed any changes in yourself, this is probably due to “illusory correlation,” which is when people expect a relationship between two events (such as having sex and seeing resulting changes in their body) and so become hyper-focused on finding any evidence for this relationship. This is similar to a placebo effect. For example, if you took a pill that you thought would make you drowsy, it’s like you would start to notice yourself becoming drowsy, even if the pill didn’t actually contain any medication at all. If you took the same pill, but expected it to make you anxious, you would probably find yourself suddenly becoming more anxious. We often see or experience things simply because we expect to.
Q: When me and my boyfriend have sex, we sadly often just "pull out" but he has the idea that if I "rinse" out my vagina after sex, I will decrease my chances in getting pregnant. Is this true?
A: This is not true, because sperm quickly enters the cervix (the small opening in the back of the vagina that leads to the uterus) and so cannot be rinsed out. Using the pull-out method is extremely risky for both pregnancy and contracting sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). Using the pull-out method results in pregnancy for about 20% of couples who use it as their main method of birth control. And, of course, it doesn’t protect against any STIs. Even if your boyfriend doesn’t present any signs or symptoms of STIs, he may very well still have them. A recent study found that 1 in 4 men carry HPV (https://t.co/M4tZySQtZt) and the vast majority show no symptoms at all. If a woman catches this disease, it can create serious problems for her, such as cervical cancer or infertility.
Attaining birth control is as easy as visiting your local Planned Parenthood. The one in Merced is located at 3166 Collins Dr. You can also call them at (209) 723-7751 to schedule an appointment. Planned Parenthood offers free contraceptives, such as birth control, regardless of whether you’re insured or not. And, it’s completely confidential, so no one, including your family or boyfriend, will be notified. They offer traditional birth control (“the pill”), which is over 98% effective in preventing pregnancy if used every day. They also offer long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as a birth control implant, which is implanted in the upper arm or hip. These can last 3 – 5 years and are 99.7% effective in preventing pregnancy. I would strongly urge you to take advantage of one of these options, so that you do not become unintentionally pregnant.
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.