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When it Comes to Self-Lovin’ What’s Better: Lube or Lotion?

Hi Yana,

I recently saw a guy friend masturbating with lotion instead of lube and was wondering if lube would be a better alternative for him. If so, could you explain why?

— A Little Help for My  Masturbating Friends

One of my favorite conversations to strike up with my penis-equipped friends is: What ever did you do with your penis during your sexual exploration period? If I had had a penis during my teenaged sexual development ages, I’m sure I would’ve done so many ridiculous things with it in the name of sexual pleasure exploration. As it turns out, most of my penis-having friends did just that. I mean, an outy sexual organ that’s socially bolstered to boot? It just screams WHAT ELSE CAN I MASTURBATE WITH?

I’m not the only one who wonders about this. (And speaking of wondering, what exactly were you doing, Little Help, when you apparently just happened to see “a guy friend masturbating with lotion?” Also, kudos to you for having the where-with-all in that moment to hone in on the fact that he was using lotion?)

Anyway, my personal death-by-curiosity aside, here’s what a dude sex columnist for the LA Weekly advised in his creative penile masturbation piece: “Select a jar and fill it with stewed tomatoes, Spaghetti O’s, mac-n-cheese, cottage cheese, oatmeal or peanut butter. Cover the top with plastic wrap and a rubber band, cut a hole and you’re ready to go.”

My assumption is that if you can get down with Chef Boyardee, a little Aveeno is the least of your problems, but let’s make sure.

People have been slicking down their self-lovin’ with whatever they can get their dominant hand on forever. According to Scarleteen.com, the Vaseline brand of lotion was released in the 1870s as a “healing ointment.” Five years later, Vaseline noticed a significant spike in profits when people found out that this “healing” was of the Marvin Gaye persuasion.

In the early 1900s, Johnson & Johnson released the premier K-Y jelly product. It was intended for medical uses only and — fun fact! — the reason why K-Y dries up so damn fast is because it was intended to lube patients up for quick medical procedures. It took 80 long years for Johnson & Johnson to finally cave into their accidental consumer base and make sexual lubricants. K-Y is now (regrettably so) one of the biggest lube brands. (For more information about why I’m anti-KY, check out past column, “Life Beyond KY: The wide wet world of Lube.”)

Just because lotion isn’t lube, doesn’t mean it’s unsafe for your friend to jerk off with it. When it comes to penises, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Here, the goose is the skin on the inside of your arm and the gander is your peen. Meaning, the penis is made of external skin, just like our inner arm skin. So, what’s fine on one is usually fine on the other. The exception to this rule is that pesky urethra which is easily irritated — yikes! UTIs!

Good household item choices for your friend include: saliva, Vaseline, Crisco, butter, body lotion, olive oil, baby oil, and, apparently according to LA Weekly, a variety of canned and instant pantry items, which I am just not fully prepared to personally endorse…continue reading…

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How to Have a Discussion about Self Lovin’

Hi Yana,

I’m a 19-year-old male college student. I just started to masturbate, but I don’t know how other people will react if I get into a relationship with them and tell them about this. I would like to know how to be fully comfortable with pleasuring myself as well as see how to bring up masturbation in a relationship. Thank you!

— Seeking Masturbation without Hesitation

I’m reading your question in two different ways: the first is “How do I tell my partners that I just started masturbating at the later-than-average age of 19?” and the second interpretation is “How do I tell my partners that I’m into masturbating, generally?” So, I’m going to answer both.

First: Nothing is more varied than a person’s sexual timeline. The “typical” sexual timeline is dictated by a lot of assumptions — the biggest one being that you have or want to have penis-in-vagina penetrative sex. Others include how and where you were brought up, the kind of sex education you had access to, your moral or religious upbringing, and the health and ability of your physical body. All of these factors and more contribute to the freedom we feel to sexually explore ourselves and others.

This isn’t to say that the most free of us masturbate the earliest, but it is to say that not all sexual timelines suit all people. Part of keeping it consensual is also a self-practice: masturbating when it just doesn’t feel good mentally, physically, or both is not an enthusiastically-yes experience.

Part of your question seems to wonder how to get to an enthusiastic-yes solo-sex experience. The first step is to give yourself permission to head that way: this could mean undoing some negative messages from your sexual upbringing — reading some sex-positive books like The Multi-Orgasmic Man or The New Male Sexuality is a good start — or finding masturbatory materials that feel positive to you like ethical porn (see past columns on “Feminist Porn” and “Grass-Fed Porn”) or pleasure-positive erotica. Cleis Press publishes a great collection.

If it’s greater physical comfort you seek, try a nice, thick jacking-off lube like Boy Butter — not compatible for penetrative sex or latex — or Gun Oil, which is silicone-based. Or you could try a fun masturbation sleeve such as Tenga Eggs, which are cheap and disposable, or a Fleshlight, the notorious self-lovin’ toy for a heftier price tag.

Second: People love telling other people how to have their orgasms. And, very specifically, with whom to have them. And even more specifically, still, to have them in good company…continue reading…

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Like a Virgin

Dear Yana,

I’m a 19-year-old girl who has never had sex. I want to sleep with my boyfriend, 23. He’s had sex before, but doesn’t know I’m a virgin. I don’t really want him to know I’m a virgin, but I know I’ll probably have to tell him. The only reason I haven’t told him is because everyone kind of assumes I’m not a virgin since everyone says I’m pretty. We’ve done other things, but never gone all the way. I’m excited about having sex for the first time, but I’m worried about it being painful. Do you have any advice for how to make it more pleasurable? Are there any lubes or positions that would work best?

— Looking to Lose It

Before you unlock the chastity belt, let’s untie some of these knots you’ve got your virginity all twisted in!

Virginity holds a lot of differing, complex cultural values that, historically, have little to do with enjoying sex. The “value” associated with women’s virginity has been created mostly by people and systems not run by women — men, religion, family, and pop media — to control the bodies of (typically) young women. To some people, Virginity with a capital “V” is a real Big and Very Specific Deal.

But here’s another way to consider your virginity: It’s just some made up bullshit. This isn’t to say that First Times can’t be special and celebrated! But the common conception of what it is to lose your Virginity-Proper needs to be expanded.

Now, for many people, “losing your virginity” is defined as the first experience of vaginal penetration with a penis. If I only slept with women for my entire life, would that make me a forever-virgin? I don’t think so.

I scoff, but this restrictive P-in-V concept of virginity is real and its loopholes are made from people twisting themselves to fit into its tiny, identity-erasing boxes. For example, teens who take virginity pledges as part of conservative abstinence-only education programs are more likely to have anal sex in order to avoid having “real” sex before marriage, according to Sloan Caldwell, 2015, Let’s Talk About Sex: The Failure of Abstinence-Only Policies in America’s Public Schools). Anal is a sexual experience that requires way more skill and comprehensive sex education than an abstinence-only program will ever provide.

This misguided conceptualization of virginity can also look like someone’s physical “prettiness” being equated with their “virginity,” a word that holds synonyms like “chastity,” “honor,” “purity,” and “innocence.”

Well, LtoL, you can still be honorable and pretty and not be a P-in-V virgin…continue reading…

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Are Tasty Lubes Giving Me Tonsillitis?

Hi Yana,

I have been using flavored lube for mostly oral, but recently this has been causing tonsillitis for me. I forgot to read the fine print, “Use within 3 months,” so now I must chuck out a full bottle (I hate wastage!).

What brands of flavored lube would you recommend using to avoid wastage? What are the best brands to use? Also I live in Australia, so would it be okay to order it online if it’s not available in the shops?

— Lickety Sick

Hi LS,

Tonsillitis? From expired lube? I gotta say I’ve never heard that one before and my research isn’t coming up with any definitive answers. As tonsillitis is caused by bacterial infection I would say to get thee to a doctor to get that checked out. Bacteria and oral sex do not mix well and you certainly don’t want to be tossing something back and forth with your partner/s or be chronically contracting something that’s bad for your health.

Oral thrush — which can cause pain similar to tonsillitis like a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and white pustules on the inner cheeks and back of the throat — can occur via performing oral sex on someone with a yeast infection, for example. (And yeast infections can find home in both the vagina as well as in the cozy folds of an uncircumcised penis, btw!)

I myself learned an itchy, unfortunate lesson about the joys of lube and lover-licking many years ago as a college freshman. For months on end I was coming down with yeast infections — itching, burning yeasties that would not quit. Finally I went to my campus’ health services and pleaded with the nurse to help me put an end to this vicious cycle. She asked me two questions: Is your boyfriend uncircumcised? Are you using KY Jelly? Answers: yes and yes.

Anyone who has attended my workshops or reads my column knows I hate glycerin-containing lubes (KY and Astroglide being the biggest offenders) with a fiery, yeasty passion. And that, well, memorable time during my freshman year in college is exactly why. The nurse enlightened me to the fact that my boyfriend could harbor a yeast infection and that the glycerin in the lube we were using (ahem, KY!) was off-setting the pH balance of my precious pussy, tripping up yeast infections which I was then passing to my boyfriend and he back to me again…continue reading…

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I Love Anal, But(t) It Hurts


My boyfriend and I have recently started exploring anal play. We’re starting small with just his finger. We use plenty of lube and it goes in pretty easily and isn’t painful at all, but almost every time we’ve done anal play, I’ve bled the next day and been very sore. When I use soap down there it’s very painful! I can’t seem to figure it out. Any suggestions?

You’re off to a great start with your anal explorations with your small penetrative objects, slow pace, and lots of lube (no one’s anus naturally self-lubricates so slather on the slick stuff! My favorite is Sliquid Sassy). So what’s with the next-day butt rut?

First, I hope you’re not drinking, drugging, or using things like poppers or anesthetic creams like Anal-Eaze to numb your bum during sex. Substance use lessens your ability to feel pain (and, ahem pleasure) and to consent to sex. Further, products like Anal-Eaze cash in on our cultural impatience and lack of pleasure-based sex education to sell us on the ideas that anal sex is “supposed to hurt” (it isn’t), that you should do it now and deal with the pain later, and that the purpose of anal sex is to pleasure the penetrating partner so just numb out the receptive partner because “whatever their pleasure doesn’t matter.”

Anesthetic products do exactly the opposite of promoting pleasure — they cut out sensation entirely, leaving us with an anal hangover the next day like this pain and bleeding you mention. This is sex, not the dentist. You should want to feel it and if you don’t want to feel it then you shouldn’t be doing it.

If you’re being a smart-ass-lover and you’re taking it slow, using small penetratives, lubing it up, and not using numbing products, then I’m left wondering if you’ve got a case of Hemmy-Hiney. Hemorrhoids, or “hemmies” as I like to infantilize them, are essentially cute little ass-vein balloons. Technically, they’re protrusions that occur when the veins lining the rectum and anus become swollen and distended either from too much pressure or irritation. When hemorrhoids start screwing up your sweet, sweet anal-lovin, you’ve got a case of the Hemmy-Hiney. Irritating, yes, but not a reason to pull the (butt)plug just yet…continue reading…

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Lube Love: Your Guide to Getting Wet // Curve Magazine

If you’ve ever choked down a dry, butterless piece of toast, you probably understand the unpleasantness of lube-leIMG_9659ss sex. If you’re like millions of other vagina-owners who’ve spent years wading through the deep waters of sexual shame that say you’re either self-soaking or you’re a useless, dried-up sandbox (ahem, Ms. Rousey), then you’ve probably also choked down that dry, butterless piece of toast with a fake smile plastered on your face all “Mmm, yes, this is delicious — this doesn’t feel like dry-shaving my legs at all….”.

Whether you’re gushing at first glance or squeezing every last drop out of a bedside bottle, wetter is better when it comes to sex. Lubricants reduce tissue-tearing friction, enhance sexual pleasure, and are essential when it comes to sexing with tushies or toys. Here’s how to shop for the best body-butter to slather on your toasty bits:…continue reading…

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Vaginally High and Dry

At my last vaginal exam, the doctor could barely get her fingers inside and absolutely couldn’t insert the speculum. She said that I had vaginal atrophy. I’m in my late 50s and my doctor suggested hormone replacement therapy. I am interested in bio-identical hormones, but have been utterly unsuccessful in finding doctors who prescribe this and it doesn’t seem to be covered by insurance. What’s your suggestion for vaginal atrophy?

Before I get started, let’s note that I’m not a doctor. Furthermore, I’m doling out this advice from my 29-year-old ivory, self-moistening tower, where my vagina and I are sitting pretty, pretending that menopause will never happen to us, so I can only imagine your frustrations.

As I’ve already confessed to self-denial, the truth is time will eventually leave us all vaginally high-and-dry. Vaginal Atrophy (VA) causes chronic vaginal dryness, pain, and bleeding during intercourse, as well as vaginal itching and soreness during and after menopause due to declining levels of estrogen. VA affects 50-80 percent of post-menopausal folks…continue reading…

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Hell-Bent on Bending Over

My boyfriend and I think anal sex is super hot and are determined to be pros at it! We’ve played with fingers and anal toys and managed to have a pretty successful penile-anal penetration experience once, but it hurt so much that now I’m afraid to do it again.

I’m not against anal sex or anything mentally, but I think my body might be against it physically? Where do we go from here? Is there a way to make this work or are we doomed to a life of plain ol’ vaginal sex?

Anal sex with your boyfriend’s penis, like Rome, wasn’t built in a day, but was rather built stone-by-lube-slathered-stone and with a lot of patience. You won’t be building an entire, tourist-packed city of pleasurable anal sex in one night.

It sounds like you’ve done some good — ahem — “leg” work here what with feeling mentally engaged and turned on by anal sex, which is an often-overlooked but super-important initial step. That giant sex organ called the brain is too-often neglected, especially with anal sex. When we feel afraid what does our butthole do? It tightens right up, making penetration difficult and painful. Being genuinely mentally into the sex you’re having is very important.

However, as you’ve learned, your body can’t always work as fast as your brain. Fantasizing about letting your boyfriend’s number one celebrity kick through your VIP backdoor entrance like some kind of anal sex rockstar doesn’t make it so. You say you’ve worked up to this shining, lubey moment by playing with fingers and toys (small buttplugs, I’m assuming) which is great.

But are you taking the time to warm up with these familiar friends-of-your-fanny directly before penile penetration? Or are you banking on that one time you used a buttplug last week to tide your tushy over? Just because you managed your biggest booty plug that one time doesn’t mean your butt is now open and available to you throwing whatever you please in there…continue reading…

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My GF Won’t Let Me Butter Her Toast

In your recent columns you’ve mentioned the need for sex partners to have a supply of artificial lubrication at the ready. With regard to female sex partners, artificial lubrication isn’t always needed. My first girlfriend was a gushing fountain of natural juiciness the moment we puckered up. My present girlfriend, well, we could do foreplay for a month of Sundays — not that I mind — and she would remain bone dry. So, it depends on the person.

My question is, how can I convince my girlfriend to use an artificial lubricant? She remains adamantly opposed whenever I bring up the subject.

It’s true: I constantly preach that “wetter is better.” I recommend lube for everything: vaginal sex, definitely anal sex, to use with toys (no silicone lube with silicone toys), partnered sex, solo sex — hell, even on a squeaky door hinge. Maybe someone doesn’t need lube if, (as you describe so, erm, vividly) she’s a “gushing fountain of natural juiciness.” But you also don’t need ketchup with fries, frosting with cupcakes, or chocolate syrup on your ice cream sundae. But why wouldn’t you want it?

Well, unlike frosting, women’s vaginas — and how they do or do not naturally self-lubricate — comes with a lot of baggage, and so the “need” for lube is viewed as a weakness. And because of this social self-buttering ideal, many women feel “holier than thou” for not slathering the ol’ Land-o-Lakes on their English muffins. Like they’ve achieved something grand by eating dry toast for breakfast every morning even though the jam is right there. Sound like your girlfriend?

She’s not alone. Lube-avoiders have endless excuses: I’m too young to be dry. It’ll make the condom slip off. It’s not natural. But I’m totally attracted to my partner…continue reading…