Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anal Toys

Hey Garnet,

I was just wondering if you could write something on anal sex toys, particularly vibrators - no questions in particular, I'm just looking for an overview sort of thing. Thanks.

Well since there is no question in particular I will only be able to give a very basic overview of anal toys. If anyone is looking for something more specific you are welcome to email me questions about what you are looking for and what you have enjoyed or not enjoyed thus far.

When it comes to sex toys I have to stress the importance of quality. You really can justify spending a little more on your sex toys if you know you are going to be getting quality. Crappy sex toys break, don't work well, don't clean well, and often don't do what they really should. Some can even poison your body. Researching the companies that make and sell the toys can make a huge difference.

That being said, the things one should look for in an anal toy are pretty consistent across the board. It MUST have a flared base! This is not something you can overlook. If it does not have a flared base, it may end up getting stuck in your bum and that is a really embarrassing trip to the hospital.

Along those lines, only stick things in your butt that are made to go in your butt. This means, only sex toys for the butt should go there. Do not stick bottles, screwdrivers, flashlights, animals, small vibrators, dildos without flared bases, or anything else not intended to go up there in your butt.

Only buy anal toys that are of a good quality material. I highly recommend phthalate free silicone toys because they are hypoallergenic, non-porous (meaning bacteria can't hide in it), non-toxic, easy to clean (you can boil them, wash them with soap and water, bleach them, and they are dishwasher safe), and they last a long time. I highly recommend Tantus Silicone for all your silicone toy needs. You can find Tantus toys in many sex toy shops.

Also, do not buy anal beads that have the string in between each of the beads. That string is not easy to clean and can harbor bacteria.

If you do buy an anal toy that is not made of high quality silicone or you plan on using the toy in more than one orifice or on more than one person, use condoms and clean it often.

If you are buying a butt plug, it has to taper at the top otherwise it will be difficult to get it in unless you are very experienced. Tapered or not though, use a LOT of lube. Avoid silicone based lubes if you are using a silicone toy as they do not always react well together and avoid oil based lubes if you are using latex condoms over your toys.

When specifically looking for an anal toy that vibrates, I recommend toys that have a space for a cordless vibrating bullet. This makes toys easier to clean since you can pop out the bullet and emerse the plug or dildo in water without the worry of ruining the vibe.

If you are a beginner to anal play, always start small. You can move up later if you want, but it is more important that you don't damage the tissue in your anus by forcing a large toy in there when your anus is not ready for it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Genderblind Flies

Here is our first submission by a PhD candidate studying genetics. She has chosen to remain anonymous for professional reasons. Anyone who wants to submit an article to me is more than welcome to do this. Enjoy!

Mate selection is a complex process in humans, as well as in Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly. In order to successfully reproduce, it is vital that one sex be able to identify a receptive member of the other. For flies, courtship rituals allow males to make this determination. This courtship involves physical contact that enables the courting male to assess his intended for repellant pheromone signals (those carried by other males and females that have already been mated), as well as a species-specific song created by wing vibrations, and additional pheromone sampling by oral-genital contact. In other words: a few rounds of fly foreplay. If the fly receiving these advances is successfully seduced, copulation may be attempted.

The Featherstone lab recently published a paper describing an increase in homosexual behavior by male flies. These flies had mutations in a gene they named genderblind. These mutant flies aren’t strictly homosexual. Whereas wild-type flies would always chose to mate with a female fly instead of a male fly when given equal choice between the two, the genderblind flies chose the male fly with the same frequency and intensity as the female fly. These results do not show that the flies preferred to mate with males flies – rather, it shows that the flies were unable to differentiate between male and female flies.

The genderblind mutation led to lower amounts of the genderblind protein being present in regions of the brain that are involved in pheromone sensing and response. They found that the amount of genderblind present inversely correlated with male-male mating attempts.

After a series of experiments, they concluded that the genderblind phenotype (the increase in homosexual behavior) was caused by an altered response to chemosensory stimuli. In particular, the mutant flies seemed unable to detect the normally inhibitory pheromones that male flies carry. They further showed that a drug which mimicked the effects of the genderblind mutation caused wild-type flies to exhibit a similar increase in male-male mating attempts. Restoring wild-type levels of genderblind in mutant flies returned their sexual behavior to that of wild-type. Both of these effects could be seen hours after the treatments, showing that it was the current brain chemistry that was causing the behavior, not a result of their developmental process.

It turned out that the increase in homosexual courtship was ultimately due to a reduction in the brain’s levels of extracellular glutamate. The normal excess of glutamate in the brain acts to desensitize the glutamate receptors, which in then reduces the glutamergic synapse strength. However, in genderblind flies, their reduction in extracellular glutamate led to an overall increase of the synapse strength of the glutamate receptors. This led to flies that overreacted to the chemical signaling in their brains.

Perhaps as a result to their overreaction to chemical stimuli, the flies attempted heterosexual as well as homosexual courtship at a higher frequency than wild-type flies. The genderblind flies also showed an increase in ectopic courtship – attempted copulation with nonsexual body parts, like heads. It may be that genderblind mutants are less sexually inhibited in general, not only in terms of homosexual behavior.

For flies as well as all forms of life, the reproductive drive is among the strongest impulses in nature. It could be that there are entire systems of suppression that have evolved to attempt to narrow the list of possible sexual partners to those which are most likely to produce offspring.

When I first heard about the paper the Featherstone lab had published, I was worried. I had feared that their results could lead to homosexuality being once again thought of as a disease or a lifestyle choice. After all, didn’t the paper show that drug treatment could curb it and return the flies to heterosexual behaviors? And clearly, the effects of the genderblind mutations were defects – they represented a behavior that is only found when something is wrong with the animal. I was waiting to begin hearing the religious right or similar groups start holding this research up as proof that no one is hardwired in their sexual orientation, that homosexuality is unnatural. That instead of being recognized as just another form of variety among the human species, it would be thought of as a treatable condition. With visions of an uncomfortable (if not worse) future, I felt more than just a little fear when I began to read the article.

Thankfully, after reading it, I felt relieved. The experiments they used were very straight-forward, and the results were stated as they were observed. They made no claims that their findings would apply to humans. One of the major reasons that flies are chosen as experimental models is their relative simplicity. Humans have significantly more complex genetics. We also have the undeniable influence of a very well-developed culture. Because of this, I do not believe that any sexual orientation issues will be able to be reduced to a single gene, or even a handful of genes. Our genes represent a starting point for what makes each one of us unique. They can give us predispositions and their own set of influences, but even those do not necessarily dictate the path of our lives.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Female Ejaculation or Squirting

I've received a couple emails asking me to talk about female ejaculation or "squirting." One email was from a girl who just experienced it for her first time and was curious to know more.

There is a debate amongst some doctors and other such people as to whether or not female ejaculation is even real. I say that any person or doctor who doesn't think it is real has just never experienced it. It is a very real phenomenon. Any female who has ejaculated or anyone who has had a female partner who has done so knows that it is very real, very fun, and also very messy.

So what is female ejaculate? Where does it come from? Why does it happen? How does it happen? What can you do to make it happen? Does it make for better orgasms?

Female ejaculate is a watery, musky, salty fluid that is expelled from a woman's urethra during sex. This fluid is different from vaginal lubrication and is most noticeable by its lack of slipperyness. It may happen during orgasm, but not necessarily. The amount that comes out can be anywhere from a few teaspoons to a pint or more.

Some people are freaked out by the fact that this fluid is expelled from the urethra and wonder how you can know that this fluid is not urine. Why is it that when a woman ejaculates from her urethra people question it, but when it happens from a man's urethra no one thinks twice? The fluid that comes out doesn't really resemble urine. It's more liquidy than a man's ejaculate sure, but it doesn't smell or look like pee. And more importantly, a woman can often have a full bladder even after she ejaculates. Female ejaculate has been tested and there are trace amounts of urea in it because it goes through the urethra, but it is not pee.

Female ejaculate comes from the spongy tissue that surrounds the urethra. It is created by small glands nearby and stored in the spongy tissue until it is expelled either by ejaculating or the next time the woman goes to the bathroom. Some women may have noticed that their urine smells different right after they have sex. That's often because of the stored up ejaculate that their body is now getting rid of during urination.

Unfortunately, female ejaculation is not something that has been studied well so we don't really know whether all women have the ability to ejaculate or not, but it seems that most women do not do so without any kind of training. And because it is so rare, many women are actually pretty embarrassed when it does happen. But there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Many people actually find it incredibly sexy. Just make sure to bring extra towels to bed when you're having sex.

So what if you've ejaculated a couple times and you want to learn how to do it more often or you've never ejaculated and you're curious to see if you can? There are things one can try alone or with a partner to try to ejaculate. The most important objective is to be very turned on and to warm up for awhile first. The longer the play before orgasm and the more turned on you are, the more likely you are to store up female ejaculate in that spongy area around your urethra. Once you are good and turned on it is usually easiest to ejaculate through g-spot stimulation. This can be done a couple of different ways. If you have a partner helping you out, they can slide two of their fingers inside of your vagina and make a come-hither motion on your g-spot. (Hint: the g-spot feels a little rough to the touch compared to the rest of the smooth vaginal walls and is usually located behind her pubic mound, but not always. Don't just assume its location. It may be necessary to search for it with your fingers.) You can also use g-spot toys alone or with a partner. A toy that is a little firmer may work a little better than one that is soft and flexible. I always preferred The Archer. Any ejaculators out there who can recommend a good toy?

One thing to keep in mind is that you may feel like you have to pee, but that is normal. Most of the time when you are having sex your body won't let you pee easily. Just relax and learn to enjoy the feeling. It helps if you play with a partner you are comfortable with. That way if you do pee its not a big deal.

Somehow it got into lots of people's heads that a woman who ejaculates is cumming harder than a woman who does not. It is not true. Ejaculation doesn't have much to do with how hard a woman cums. There will be some orgasms that are explosive that are completely dry and sometimes a woman will ejaculate without ever cumming. So please don't think that female ejaculation will in anyway enhance your orgasms. It may make your sexplay a little more fun and exciting if it turns you and your partner on, but ejaculation itself isn't the meter for which to measure a woman's orgasm by. Try asking her how good it was and how you can make it better.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Call for Submissions

I want to start by apologizing for the lack of updates lately. Between bronchitis and finals I've been busy and exhausted. I promise I will have a new blog up this weekend. Teaser: It will be about female ejaculation or squirting as it is sometimes called.

I have really been enjoying your questions. Some of you have even sent in some questions about things I did not know about. I love learning new things! This gives me an opportunity to do research and to consult friends who may have more information than I do (like med students and people involved in the bdsm community). Please keep sending me questions!

I've decided to start something new here at my blog. I'd like more involvement from my readers. So I'd like to ask that if anyone is interested in writing something on the topic of sex, sexuality, or gender to please email me an idea or something that you've written already. It of course can't be published elsewhere. I don't want any copyright infringement going on. But I know that a lot of you are very talented, some are even professional writers, and I know that you have interesting things to say. Maybe you have something to say that you can't normally write about in your current profession or maybe you just have a viewpoint that you want to share with the world. I'd really like to hear from you! I, of course, will get the final say on what goes up on my blog, but I want to allow a lot of wiggle room for different ideas. An example that will be showing up here in the not too distant future will be about a scientific paper about the sexuality of flies and how this research may effect the way people view homosexuality in humans.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Toy Reviews

Since I am still sick and need to focus what little energy I have on doing homework instead of writing blogs, I thought I'd link to a couple sex toy reviews I've done for Early to Bed. I should be up and running again soon hopefully, but until then enjoy the reviews.

The Orbit

The Surprise Massager