Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Our Dumb [Lack of] Sex Education

High school
grad 1961


If you're over 60, 70 and beyond, how did sex misinformation and the lack of a decent sex education form your attitude about sex?  What did you have to learn or unlearn to become the person you are today?

I'll start. I was born in 1943. This was my sex education:

  • When I was in junior high, my school's gender-segregated sex education program was comprised of a filmstrip showing drawings of the reproductive system (no clitoris to be found) and a lecture about menstruation -- why it happens, what to expect. I recall nothing about why people might choose to have sex!

  • When I was a young teenager, my sex education was a pamphlet handed to me by my father, an obstetrician/gynecologist, explaining how the sperm fertilized the egg -- but nothing about how the sperm got to the egg, and nothing about arousal or pleasure.

  • When I was an older teenager, my father told me, "The best birth control is a dime -- held firmly between the knees." He did not want me to end up like some of my classmates who came to his office for a pregnancy test and later were shipped off to have the baby somewhere and give it up for adoption. These were the days before legal abortion.

  • The summer before I started college, my grandmother told me, "Don't ever let a boy have his way with you! If you do, he'll never marry you. After all, why buy the cow when you can get the milk free?" I was already having sex with my high school boyfriend.

  • During my freshman year in college, my father found out that I was having sex with my high school boyfriend. My parents declared that I was never to see him alone again, only supervised by my parents or his. So I learned how to lie to my parents.  

  • Home for the summer after my freshman year in college, I feared I was pregnant. Rather than risk going to a local doctor who would know my family and inform my father, my former boyfriend and I drove 50 miles so that I could use a fake name and not be recognized. I never told my parents about this.    

How did my lack of sex education inform my later attitudes and behavior? Fortunately, I was a rebel. You wouldn't have guessed that looking at me. I behaved in school, dressed like a "good girl," studied hard and got good grades, and mostly kept my divergent views to myself. But sexually, I rebelled. Thanks to my [lack of] sex education in high school, I thought I had discovered sexual passion -- surely no one else knew about this! I loved getting excited, even though I wouldn't have my first orgasm until sophomore year in college. That was one more casualty of my [lack of] sex education -- we didn't know anything about the clitoris and its role in female orgasm. Heck (I laugh to find myself falling into the language of the times!), we didn't know anything about female orgasm, except that some women were "frigid" and it was their own fault and they should fix it.

But enough about me. How about you? What are the things you were taught -- or not taught -- that make you shake your head in disbelief now? If you're over 60, please comment. Use whatever invented first name you want, but please include your real age. If you're under 50, please stay and read the comments -- this is the life we led. This is how we learned (or didn't learn) about sex. These are the barriers we had to overcome.

Speaking of barriers, who remembers the childhood game Red Rover? "Red Rover, Red Rover, we dare Joanie to come over!" -- is that how it went? The person who was summoned would race to the line of locked hands and try to break through. As tiny as I was (6th grade nickname: Mighty Mouse), I always succeeded because I barreled through any obstacle with little fear of consequence. I guess in my small way, I'm still doing that!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pulse II Duo and Solo: Reviews from our contest winners


August 26, 2016: So here's how this contest happened. I have been a fan of the Pulse penis vibrator since late 2013, when I first learned how it enhances sex for penises, with or without an erection. Since that time, I've raved about it, along with my other favorites, at my presentations. During one of these, a man raised his hand and asked, “Do you need another Pulse tester?”

The audience and I laughed, but then I started thinking: At our age, especially, we have such divergent sexual needs and challenges. What if I did enlist the help of some carefully selected assistants to review the new Pulse II Solo and Duo? I asked Hot Octopuss, creator of the Pulse, whether they'd sponsor a contest. We were on!

The deal was that potential Pulse reviewers would enter my contest, describing why they wanted, needed, and deserved a free Pulse II. They would promise me an honest review if they won. I chose three winners out of many fine entries. Now that they've had time to test and retest their prizes (thanks, guys!), here are their reviews. Enjoy!



Boone


When erectile dysfunction struck me a few years ago I was in denial. I blamed stress, tiredness, just about anything I could think of. I finally had to admit to myself as well as to my partner of 10 years that what was happening was erectile dysfunction.

She took the threat to my heart health seriously and encouraged me go to the doctor. As difficult as it I found talking to someone about such a deeply personal issue. I am glad I went. The doctor informed me I had a high level of bad cholesterol and high blood pressure that needed to be controlled through medication. The good doctor also offered pharmaceutical options for my ED. I decided to pass on that, based on the adverse side effects.

My partner also went searching online for other alternatives to help my ED and found Joan Price’s book, Naked at Our Age. After reading the book and some of Joan’s blog, she decided to introduce sex toys into the bedroom. She also began encouraging me to view sex as not always having to lead to penetration.

Before the Pulse Duo I hadn’t tried a vibrating sex toy targeted specifically at men. I was a bit skeptical of this odd shaped silicone contraption. I had only used silicone c-rings and experimented with applying my partner’s electric vibrating wand to my soft penis. I found these pleasurable and helpful in my struggle with ED.

The Pulse II Duo was more than I could have hoped for. I love that I can easily enjoy sexual pleasure while not being fully erect. The design of the toy is key, open on one side and you can lay your flaccid penis within it. The Duo is equipped with a variety of speeds and oscillating patterns. The vibrating or oscillating circular part (the pulse plate) feels wonderful as you move it up and down the shaft. It feels exceptionally good on the sensitive glans head and its ridge. You or your partner can control the level of friction just by squeezing tightly or releasing. Using lube or going without also can change friction and sensation.

I found that most times I was quickly able to get fully erect from the pleasurable sensations I enjoyed from the Pulse II, and it always helped me achieve a powerful orgasm. The Pulse is a quality product that could be a Godsend to any man, but especially those who are struggling with ED. 

The Pulse II Duo is marketed as a couple’s toy and comes with a remote control for the vibrating underside. This extra vibration area stimulates the partner of the person wearing the Duo. The remote controls the strength of the vibrations. This is a nice and thoughtful touch.

My partner and I tried using the Pulse II Duo in the missionary position. Unfortunately, although she found the Duo’s vibrations enjoyable, they were just not powerful enough to bring her to orgasm. 

Neither one of us let this small disappointment take away from the high I was feeling from my new found confidence. We experimented with simultaneous masturbation. I use the Pulse Duo and she uses her wand. It’s a new aspect of our sexuality to watch the other self-pleasuring, and we both find it highly erotic.

I have a new confidence in the bedroom now. My partner and I have always enjoyed the sexual aspect of our relationship and I was so afraid of losing her to a man who could satisfy her. I now realize these fears were unfounded and just my insecurities at work. I am beginning to fully embrace the reality that sex does not have to equal penetration. There are so many other sensual pleasures to indulge in. I just wish it hadn’t taken me 52 years to figure this out.


Jeff


The Pulse II was designed for men like me. I have had low testosterone and taken hormone supplements since my mid-thirties. Now, at 55, I also have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. As a result, my erections are weaker and easily lost without the right kind of ongoing stimulation. Male stroker toys never worked well for me -- a sleeve of squishy artificial flesh didn’t keep me hard.
My first impression of the Pulse’s design was its alien yet elegant aesthetic. If I didn’t know it was a sex toy, I might expect to see it as a prop on Star Trek. It features black curved contours, expandable wings that wrap around the penis (whether soft or hard), and ridges that stimulate its underside. Most important is the pulse plate, roughly the diameter of a quarter, positioned to provide direct stimulation to the sensitive spot at the frenulum of the penis. The pulse plate generates an oscillating vibration to the frenulum in a way that both generates an erection and provokes a climax.
Two sets of controls operate the Pulse. On the left is a power button that also changes the pulse pattern. Holding that button for over a second toggles the power on or off. Shorter taps on that button change the stimulation from a simple steady vibration to one of five additional pulsing patterns. On the right side are + and – buttons that increase and decrease the vibration speed and intensity through nine levels. Unique to the Duo model is an additional vibrator on the underside of the unit, positioned to stimulate a partner. A small remote control disc activates that vibrator through three speed settings.
Use of the Pulse seems intuitively obvious. Just place your penis, whether erect or flaccid, in the Pulse, turn it on, and away you go. In practice, however, it does have its challenges. The Pulse is neither fish nor fowl. It is not a stroking sleeve that simulates the feel of human skin. Nor is it a vibrator that can be easily positioned to directly stimulate exactly where you want it to. It requires a bit of experimentation to find the right positioning, speed, and movement to provide satisfying stimulation.
The buttons require a frustrating amount of pressure to operate. Most settings for both pulse patterns and vibration speeds weren’t very arousing – more like a mild tickling sensation. In my first use, I was a bit disappointed until, like Goldilocks, I finally found that “just right” speed. The Pulse then rocketed me to a climax in just a couple of minutes, before my erection had even completely hardened.
The Pulse can be used with lube, but I prefer the more intense direct stimulation I get without. I tried the different pulse patterns, but for me none were as arousing as the default constant vibration. Some speed settings were too slow and mild, and others were too fast and numbing, but a few in between were “just right.”
The Pulse can also be a hands-free device, producing a climax with no manual stroking or additional stimulation needed. However, I found those orgasms less powerful and not very satisfying. I get a truly intense orgasm from slowing down just before crossing the finish line, and letting the energy and anticipation build for several seconds. Then, when I can’t hold back any more, the release is an explosive climax. When using the Pulse in a hands-off manner, though, there is no slowing to build anticipation and energy. Instead, it propels you constantly, inexorably, straight to the goal and across the line without any change in speed or intensity.
I prefer taking some hands-on control. Just a slight stroking motion, or a change in vibration speed at the right time (in spite of the hard-to-press buttons), can provide enough variation to generate a truly powerful climax.
As a toy for couples, my partner Christine found the Pulse less innovative. Its hard, smooth surface felt cold to her at first, and she was disappointed at the lack of options in the underside vibrator. It only cycles through three basic speeds, with no oscillation or pulsing patterns. We experimented with a few different positions. Most enjoyable was a pseudo-missionary position, with me kneeling between her legs and positioning the Pulse on top of her clitoris. I could take control of the speed of the underside vibrator with the remote control disc, while enjoying the separate oscillations of the pulse plate against my penis. With some foreplay for her before applying the Pulse, we were able to enjoy a near simultaneous orgasm.
In conclusion, the Pulse is not quite the ultimate male toy. But it is a very effective and stimulating solution for men who can’t always maintain a solid erection. At the right setting, it can quickly bring you from flaccid to climax in just a few minutes. With experimentation and practice, it can also be a gratifying, versatile toy for both solo and couple play.

Tom

I am 64 and my wife is 63. We have been together for over 40 years and enjoy our sex life. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 and had my prostate removed with robotic laparoscopy. I have recovered well, however, I do need Levitra for intercourse. I find that even with an erection, it sometimes takes me a very long time to orgasm. This can be difficult for my wife trying to stimulate me.  Sometimes it takes so long that my erection is no longer firm, and I need an even greater level of stimulation.

The Pulse seemed like something we could use together to stimulate me to orgasm. Could it produce an erection and orgasm even without Levitra? We typically needed to plan our intimate times at least an hour in advance for Levitra to take full effect. If the Pulse worked without a pill, I hoped we could be more spontaneous – and it wouldn’t tire my wife!

I received the Pulse II Solo and easily understood the controls. The USB charger worked well and had a full charge in just a couple of hours.  

The first time using the Pulse, I took Levitra and allowed it to work. Then my wife and I tried using it to stimulate my erection. The vibration felt very good but was numbing after a few minutes. We then tried the pulsation patterns. These were better because the patterns of pulse and pause allowed for less numbing. The vibrations felt good, but did not lead to orgasm. However, we did continue and had intercourse after we played around with the Pulse II, so the stimulation was helpful.

One issue was that I needed to move the Pulse II around to keep the vibrations focused on the right area. I was hoping that it would provide vibrations and my wife could just hold it in a good position and it would work its magic, but it needed more repositioning. The other issue is that this unit is loud. I think that put us off a bit. We have vibrators, but they are much quieter.

The next time, I tried the Pulse II alone, without taking Levitra. It gave me a good erection. After a bit of trying different pulse patterns and moving it to keep it in the right spot, I had a satisfying orgasm. I find it easier to work holding it myself because I can more easily move it to control the response. I found that the pulsing patterns were very helpful with keeping it from numbing me the way continuous vibration did.

Based on the way the Pulse gave me an erection without Levitra, I feel confident that we’ll be able to use it for partner sex as a means of stimulating me to erection without medication. And it is definitely good for solo sex. We will continue to explore its capabilities!


* * *


Many thanks to  Hot Octopuss for the prizes! Please support them by checking out their website and ordering your Pulse II from them directly if you decide you want this guybrator on your team. Thank you, Boone, Jeff, and Tom, for your detailed and thoughtful reviews. I know you'll help others.  Pulse on!

12/18/16 update: Read about the new Pulse III on my 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for Seniors!



Notable 2016 Sex Books

Sex: there's so much to learn! These well-written, 2016 non-fiction books present new information, helpful tips, and provocative points of view that you'll find illuminating. These books make great holiday gifts -- buy them in time to read them first!



Inviting Desire: A guide for women who want to enhance their sex life by Walker J. Thornton, is a self-help book of tips, tools, questions, and exercises that help you understand and own your sexuality after the shifts you’ve experienced after menopause. It’s written as a 30-day process to invite desire and sexuality back into your life, and help you examine new ways to think about sexual desire, prepare for sex, understand your own arousal pattern, and accept yourself as a sexual being. Thornton's tone is soft-spoken and intimate, sharing the practices that she has learned along her own journey. "This is about you, your body, and your desire," writes Thornton.

Thornton covers many useful topics in her 30-day journey. You'll learn more about yourself as a sexual being as well as tools for making changes.  Although Thornton says, "it's for you, not you and a partner" and the exercises are done independently, the book is geared to women who have partners or partners-to-be. If you're solo, some of the practices won't apply, but you'll still learn new ways to think about your own body, your own desire, and your own pleasure.



 Future Sex: A New Kind of Free Love by Emily Witt. Single, in her thirties, and (sometimes) enjoying the hook-up culture, Emily Witt decides to observe and participate in other ways that people enjoy sex. She explores Orgasmic Meditation, the making of porn, sex parties, and Burning Man, for example. If you liked America Unzipped and Secret Sex Lives, you'll enjoy this one, too. Some of Witt's discoveries/conclusions:
  • "Some experiences you avoid not because you know you don't like them but because you don't want to like them...My aversion to pornography was not because the images didn't stimulate, but because i did not want to be turned on by sex that was not the kind of sex I wanted to have." 
  • "I think if someone were to draw a portrait of the people who were 'ruining Burning Man' it would have looked like us."
  • "I now understood the fabrication of my sexuality. I saw the seams of its construction and the arbitrary nature of its myths...Just as wanting to fall in love did not manifest love, proclaiming myself 'sexually free' would not liberate me from inhibition."


In Search of My Sexy Old Self: Re-discovering sex after sixty and beyond  by Cathy Thomas is a memoir + self-help guide on rediscovering sex with a partner after it has gone dormant. At 71 and 74, Cathy Thomas and her partner had been together 30 years, and for the last decade, sex had stopped for them. They rarely talked about it, and skittishly dropped the subject if it happened to come up. Then Thomas decided to go on a journey, researching whether people were really having sex at their age, and if so, what kind of sex, and why, and how. Her research led her to several authors (among them, me) and websites, and the new knowledge she gained culminated in a rebirth of sex and a new kind of communication and intimacy between Thomas and her partner. The end of each chapter includes "Discovery Tasks" to help you take this journey yourself.

I recommend this well-written and buoyant book especially for readers who want a gentler, more one-step-at-a-time pace in rediscovering their sex lives than I often promote. Whereas I may seem to push you into a "just do it" attitude whether talking to a partner or a doctor or self-pleasuring with sex toys, I know that many of you might appreciate a more gradual approach. This book may be just right for you.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Talking about Sex Without Intercourse


Let’s get one misconception out of the way. Sex without intercourse is still sex. Real sex. Satisfying sex. Hot sex. The idea that only intercourse constitutes “real sex” limits our creativity and our satisfaction.

Sex is any activity that arouses you and brings you sexual pleasure. 


So begins "A Senior's Guide to Sex Without Intercourse" which I wrote for Senior Planet. I spell out some reasons why you might want or need sex without penis-in-vagina (PIV), how you might want to explore sexual expression without vaginal penetration, activities to help you prepare for this change, and ways to communicate about it. I hope you'll read it and post your comments there. Let's make that Guide just the beginning of the discussion.

One of the topics I discuss is how to negotiate what you want sexually, whether you've been with your partner for decades or you're just starting to get intimate. I offer these opening statements if you're starting a new relationship and you want to become sexual in ways that do not involve PIV:

  • I’m very attracted to you. Intercourse is not possible for me, but I’d love to explore all the other ways we can enjoy each other. 
  • I’m excited about where this is leading. Can we explore how to make love to each other without the goal of intercourse? 
  • I have to tell you that we might not be able to have intercourse. But, if you’d enjoy it, I’d love to use my mouth and hand to satisfy you.
Have you negotiated sex without PIV with either a longtime or a new partner? What words did you use to open the conversation? I invite you to post your comments here. (I want everyone including readers in their seventies, eighties, nineties to feel comfortable with the language here, so express yourself candidly but in words that wouldn't get bleeped on network TV.)

As sex columnist Dan Savage explained in a recent podcast,

Straight people should take from gay people these four magic words: “What are you into?” That question, when two guys are going to have sex, is always asked. When it’s a man and a woman, all too often, consent is granted and then all communication ceases. What’s happening next is assumed: if it’s heterosexual sex, it’s penis in vagina.

We don’t have that default assumption in gay land. When two guys say yes to sex, it’s the beginning of a whole other conversation. Everything has to be discussed and negotiated. Asking “What are you into?” is so empowering, because at that moment, you can rule anything in and anything out. It’s a sexy negotiation. Straight people sometimes say to me, I wish I could have more sex. I say, "You could, if you had a broader definition of sex."

In the Resources section of "A Senior's Guide to Sex Without Intercourse", I recommend several books. To make them easy to find, here they are with direct links to their Amazon pages -- or your local independent bookstore can order them for you.