Q: Why is it that when you orgasm, you feel better (i. e., when you're sick)? How exactly does masturbation boosts the immune system? Is it just through masturbation, or orgasming in general?
A: Both masturbation and orgasm can help boost your immune system and make you feel better when you're sick. For one, the act of masturbating temporarily elevates \ levels of feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters, such as dopamine (causes feelings of elation and generally improved mood) and noradrenaline (causes feelings of relaxation and reduces inflammation throughout the body). After orgasming, the brain is then flooded with serotonin, which helps the body to relax and rejuvenate (sometimes driving the urge to sleep). Regularly orgasming has also been shown to boost white T-cell counts, which help the body fight off diseases. You can find a great video outlining these benefits here.
Of course, there are many other benefits of regular masturbation, such as generally improving mood, relieving stress and becoming more comfortable with one's body. You can find an article discussing other benefits of masturbation here.
Q: I'm a female who is into gay male porn. I love watching attractive men having sex. But when I told my friend my viewing habits she thought it was really weird. Why is it ok for straight men to watch lesbian sex, but its not ok for straight women to watch gay sex?
A: It's perfectly normal for a straight woman to enjoy watching gay men having sex. After all, if you're attracted to men, then why wouldn't you be aroused watching two men having sex?
This is actually very common in non-Western cultures. For example, in Japan, gay-male love stories (known as "yaoi") are very common among popular books, comic books (manga) and movies. The target audience for these stories are straight women. It's also becoming more common for straight women in the U.S. to enjoy these types of stories as well (check out this Cosmo article on the topic). So, it looks like you're just ahead of the cultural curve. :)
Q: Daddy issues? Do you know of any scientific literature that has successfully correlated the stigma of queer men's daddy issue to father abandonment in response to their queer identity and, thus, seeking out a dominant male figure?
A: The idea that being a gay men is related with having an absent father is a very old one. It can be traced all the way back to views of homosexuality by Sigmund Freud, in the early 1900s. The belief was that if a boy didn't grow up with a loving, supportive, male role-model, he would never learn what it's like to "be a man" and would, instead, become effeminate (i.e., gay). This theory hasn't been well supported by modern research. It turns out that gay men have, on average, just as good of relationships with their fathers as straight men, as long as their fathers aren't prejudiced toward gay people in general. Of course, even in our modern world, many men are prejudiced toward homosexuals, so this can naturally cause a rift between some gay men and their fathers.
Whenever someone is "abandoned" by a parent, whether physically or emotionally, it can be very painful and can results in a wide variety of compensatory behaviors. This behaviors can be positive, such as turning toward others for support and acceptance, or they can be negative, such as turning to alcohol/drugs or entering into abusive relationships. This can happen to anyone, regardless of their sexuality. If someone is dealing negatively with parental abandonment, they should turn to counseling for help. Thankfully, all UC Merced students can receive free counseling services at counseling.ucmerced.edu.
Q: Can someone get addicted to having sex?
A: Yes, sex addiction is a real thing that some people suffer from. The technical diagnosis is Hypersexual Disorder. It is defined as someone having recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, urges or behavior that significantly disrupt their life for at least 6 months or longer. People with this disorder tend to spend most of their day, most days, obsessively thinking about sex and are almost never sexually satisfied. Such people also usually suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD or some other mental illnesses. Often, a person's sexual addiction is just a way of coping with other mental illness issues.
Sex and/or masturbation can become addictive, because having sex releases a large amount of dopamine into the brain. For some, who are prone to addiction or are otherwise suffering from a mental illness, this can drive a person to become obsessively preoccupied with getting this "high" over and over again. This can also drive a person to become more extreme in their sexual behavior over time (e.g., having risky sex, having sex with strangers, sexual assaulting others). If someone is suffering from sex addiction, they should seek counseling. Thankfully, all UC Merced students have 24-hour access to counseling services, which can be found at counseling.ucmerced.edu.
Q: If you have HIV, can you only have sex with other people with HIV? Does having sex with people with HIV while you yourself having HIV worsen your HIV?
A: Just for a bit of background information, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that gradually weakens the immune system over time, making people more vulnerable to other illnesses. HIV eventually turns into AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) when a person's white-blood cell count drops to dangerously low levels. Thankfully, modern medicine has greatly reduced people's risk for both of these diseases. People can now take a daily pill (PrEP) that greatly reduces their risk of contracting HIV, and there are a host of medications that prevent HIV from turning into AIDS.
Because of these advances in modern medicine, it's actually quite safe for people with HIV or AIDS to have sex with people who are HIV-negative. It's always recommended that if you are having sex with someone who could be HIV-positive, that you should use condoms. Just using condoms greatly reduces a person's risk of contracting the virus during sex. If you know that you are having sex with someone who is HIV-positive, then it's also advisable to take the daily pill, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which further reduces the risk of transmission. By doing both of these things, it's very unlikely that the virus will be passed along.
If both sex partners are HIV-positive, then there is no risk to either of them if they have sex with each other. If they both already have the disease, then there is no way they could "re-catch" it or make it worse. Once you have HIV, you have it. At that point, it's a matter of managing the disease with proper medications and a healthy lifestyle. If someone manages their HIV in this way, it's likely that they will live a healthy, full life, even with this disease.
For more information on this topic, click here.
Q: I have recently read about women having orgasms based off nipple stimulation. Are titty orgasms a real thing?
A: I see this topic pop up on websites from time to time. It is true that some people can attain orgasm from nipple stimulation alone, but this is fairly rare. It's also true that some people can attain an orgasm from massaging the prostate or feet, or from working out, or from simply touching one's eyebrows. All of these are rare cases, but it shows that people can orgasm from just about anything if they are sexually excited enough. The orgasm reflex is still not completely understood by scientists, but orgasms seems to have a lot more to do with the brain than the genitals. So, for some, genital stimulation isn't necessary when it comes to having an orgasm.
However, having an orgasm from genital stimulation or non-genital stimulation results in the exact same feeling. Triggering the orgasm reflex will feel the same, no matter what triggers it. So, there is nothing you're "missing out" on by not experiencing a "nipple orgasm" or an "eyebrow orgasm." They're all just orgasms. So, no matter how you're having your orgasms, enjoy them! They're just as good as anyone else's.
Q: Can green tea extract have a negative affect my birth control pills?
A: A simple green tea extract would not cause birth control pills to stop working. However, certain tea products, such as Bootea "Teatox" can hinder the effects of birth control because they have a laxative effect. These products are usually used for dieting, but just cause a person to have diarrhea so that they lose water-weight. If someone is taking such products for a few days or more, it can lessen the absorption of other substances in their body, such as birth control and most other types of medication. These types of "diet" teas are not recommended by doctors, as they simply cause people to lose water weight, causing dehydration, and tend to hinder the absorption of medications and vitamins.
Other things that can cause birth control to stop working are...
If taking these other types of medications, birth control should still be taken regularly, but you should also use a secondary form of contraception (condoms) while taking this other medication. The same thing goes when using more long-acting birth control devices, such as an IUD or birth control implant.
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: Is "squirting" really a thing? Many men that I have been with ask me if I squirt and I never really know what to say. I have never squirted myself but men often tell me that they have made women squirt before. I've heard some people insist that women squirting is actually just pee, and I've also heard some insist that it isn't. Do women even really squirt or is that a myth all together? If it isn't pee, and it really is a female version of ejaculation, then why doesn't it happen all the time and to every woman? Does every woman have the capability to squirt and what does it depend on?
A: Yes, "squirting" really does happen, but it's not very common. Our Human Sexuality textbook states that only about 0.5% of women "squirt" (although, I'm not sure where they got this statistic). "Squirting" is when women release vaginal fluid (not urine) out of the Skene's gland during orgasm. For most women, this fluid squirts into the vagina and urethra and is meant to clean these areas, so that no traces of urine remain in the vagin that can harm sperm. For a small minority of women, their Skene's gland points outward (rather than inward toward the vagina), so this fluid "squirts" out during orgasm. In a sense, every woman "squirts" when they orgasm, but most squirt inside of their vagina where you won't notice it (or have to clean it up afterward).
For some, "squirting" is a real turn-on, as it's a visible signal that a woman is orgasming. There are even some women who train themselves to become squirters. This involves exercising the Kegel muscles (pelvic floor muscles) regularly. By strengthening these muscles, a woman can tense them to point her Skene's gland outward while orgasming. To further facilitate this, a woman can open up her labia (vaginal lips) and point the top of her vagina up and outward during orgasm, to further expose the Skene's gland. This can allow virtually any woman to "squirt" if she wishes.
Q: I recently had oral sex, and I was wondering if saliva has any spermicidal properties?
A: Spermicides are substances that kills sperm and are commonly used on condoms, diaphragms and other contraceptives to try to reduce the chance of a couple getting pregnant. It is true that saliva can kill sperm, since saliva does contain small amounts of stomach acid (which help to pre-digest food). However, saliva is 99.5% water, so it's relatively safe for sperm. In other words, saliva will only kill a small amount of sperm, leaving most of the 150 million sperm that is released in an average ejaculation unharmed. There is some research that the sticky quality of semen can impede the movement of sperm, but this was found to be a pretty weak effect; again, only affecting a minority of sperm. So, saliva doesn't kill or impede sperm enough to act as a spermicide or other form of contraceptive.
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.