Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lube Contest

Hey everyone I know more of you must want free lube! Send me an email with your story by 11:59PM CST 5/31/08 in order to enter. That's only a couple days away! Details here. Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

First Vibrator

This wasn't a question in my email, but it is a question I get every day that I work at Early to Bed and often via instant messengers while on the computer. The question is "What would make a good first vibrator?"

Sex toys are super hot right now. Everyone is buying them and more mainstream companies (like Durex) are starting to sell them. There are so many sex toys on the market that it can seem really overwhelming to a first time buyer. This is especially true when you don't know what companies make good quality toys and which make shoddy toys with great advertisements that make you think they're better than they are.

Well here are a couple tips.

1. Don't spend a lot of money on your first vibrator. This is a starter vibe that can help you learn what it is you like exactly. If you spend $80 on your first vibe and you find out you don't like it your experience of sex toys is going to be a frustrating one. I really recommend spending $30 or less. You can spend more once you get to know your body.

2. Find a vibrator that either has at least 3 speeds or has an adjustable wheel to control the speeds. This way you can find a vibration that you enjoy. Maybe you like light tickly vibrations or maybe you need a deep powerful vibe. Unless you've experimented with your electric toothbrush or a back massager there's no real way to know. Some suggestions of cheap vibes with lots of vibration control include: a silver bullet which I reviewed in a previous blog; a silk touch egg which not only has different speeds, but also different pulsations; or a slimline

3. As the last toy on that lists suggests, you may also want to get a toy that offers internal stimulation. Some women really enjoy internal vibrations, while others find it a strange feeling. The nice thing about these though is that you can turn the vibrator off and just use the toy as a dildo. This way you have two toys in one; it vibrates your clit and you can also use it for penetration. A great option would be a blueberry buzz which you can even take in the tub with you or if you're interested in g-spot stimulation you can try an orchid g.

4. Buy a vibe that you think looks like fun. If you're intimidated by it you won't want to use it and you'll be setting yourself up for disappointment. Vibrators are wonderful things that I believe every woman should own (as well as many men), but you need to take it at your own pace.

5. Shop at feminist sex toy shops that care about you and your health and feel free to ask lots of questions. That is what the staff is for. For more information on these types of stores consult my blog on sex toy shops

6. Finally, some shops even carry a kit specifically for first timers. Early to Bed has this first timer's kit which includes a silver bullet, small insertable vibe, a fun animal sleeve to go over the vibes, a small bottle of lube, and even batteries so you're all set right when you open it up.

Remember to have fun! Sex toys are one of my favoritest things in the whole entire world and hopefully you'll enjoy them just as much as I do.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lube Experiment (Now with video!)

So I was reading a sex education book that is a bit out of date and has some inaccurate information in it, but otherwise is a reasonably good resource. Anyways the point is that it said that silicone lube is highly flammable. Oddly enough in all of the reading I've done I'd never heard this before. Or actually a more likely story is that it just hasn't stuck. Well it will stick now because today we did lube science.

That's right, we lit lubes on fire. I have a much larger supply of water-based lubricants since I use a lot of sex toys and I don't want them to melt. So we tried 3 different water based lubricants: one with no glycerine and no parabens, one with glycerine but no parabens, and one with no glycerine but with parabens. None of these were flammable. In fact they all extinguished the fire so if you're ever in a fire and there is nothing to put it out with, but you have water-based lube handy it may just save your life ... but I wouldn't count on it.

You will want to be absolutely sure that that lube you're putting out your fire with is water-based though because as the book I was reading said, silicone lube is indeed highly flammable. I only had one brand of silicone lubricant to test unfortunately (the other one is going to be given to the winner of the lube contest that you should all be entering). The lube was Doc Johnson's iLube and when a lit match was held to a small puddle of the stuff the lube burst into flames. I was amazed at this and was not happy just knowing about one lube so I called a friend and had him set flame to his Eros silicone lube and he said that it also burst into flames. So I'd say that our results are pretty conclusive. Silicone lube is very flammable.

But why do you care, right? You're using it for sex, not as a lining in your baby's crib. You should care because silicone lube does not come off easily. This is a great property for a lube, but not such a great property if you're dealing with fire. This can especially be a concern if you play with candle wax during sex, are the romantic room full of candles type, or you like to cook a snack between sex romps to get more energy. I am imagining hands and genitals bursting into flames at very inopportune moments (really every moment is inopportune when it comes to bursting into flames though). So the point of this blog is to say that if you're using silicone lubricants BE CAREFUL!!! Wash your hands with soap and water before you handle fire and do not wipe your silicone lube covered hands on towels that may be close to flames.

Update: We redid part of the experiment using only Maximus and iLube and made a video. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hormonal Birth Control

What do you know about the long term effects of hormones? (ie birth control pills, the ring) I've been on the pill for 10 years (switching to different ones throughout) and am on my 2nd month of the ring now. I feel like I don't know what my body wants/needs anymore, because its been without normalcy for so long now--how do I know? I know a doctor wouldn't test me hormonally normally at my age (27) but I feel like it might be a huge contributor to my long time (at least 10 years) migraines. How do I know if I need the hormones anymore?? Is there even a test?

Thanks Garnet

Let me preface this with saying I am not a doctor. Your best bet is to talk to someone who is. That being said however, I do have to say that there is a very good chance that your migraines are caused by the pill. There are a lot of side effects to hormonal birth control that a lot of us don't think about since its a pill that is taken every day. Afterall how are you supposed to know the difference if you're never off of it?

Now, I don't know what you mean exactly by asking if you need the hormones anymore. If you're talking specifically about birth control then there are non-hormonal methods on the market. The IUD is even as reliable as the pill if not more so since you don't have to remember to take it. But I would only recommend an IUD if you're in a longterm monogamous relationship as there can be severe complications if you contract an STI.

If you're talking about needing hormones for other things like regulating your cycle or relieving severe menstrual cramps then the only way to know is by going off hormones to see if your cycle is still really haywire or if your cramps are as bad as they used to be.

If you're talking about needing hormones to prevent anything like ovarian cysts or endometriosis then you should consult a doctor. They may decide to take you off the hormones for a period of time and watch you carefully to see if you do in fact need them. But only a doctor will have the tools to do so.

While hormonal birth control can have many benefits there can also be health risks especially as you get older. At 27 you don't have to worry too much, but once you start nearing 35 the risks go up. So that's something you should keep in mind as you start this process.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Update and Reminder

A quick update about me and then a reminder.

Last week I graduated college so I now have a BA in psychology and gender and women's studies. Go me! Also, about a month ago my girlfriend asked me to marry her and last week we set a date: March 21, 2009. And to quickly answer all the questions we both get often: No, it is not legal in our state and no, we are not traveling to a place where it is legal. There is no point in doing that since our state wouldn't recognize it anyways and we're not going to wait until the government catches up with our relationship to get married. We're ready now.

And now for the reminder. Don't forget that the lube contest is still going on! Please send me submissions so that there is actual competition between stories and its more fun. If I only have a couple submissions it becomes lame. There is a really good chance that you could be the winner of a bunch of lube! For details go here. Remember, contest ends midnight CST on 5/31/08. That's less than 2 weeks away! So get to writing!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Female Viagra

Dear Garnet,

I was wondering what your opinion is of the so-called "pink Viagra." Do you think that female sexual dysfunction and related disorders are best treated pharmaceutically?

Curious in Indianapolis

Oh yay, rant time!

I think that in general our society is too quick to take pills in order to "fix" whatever they perceive to be wrong with them. Everyone is always searching for the little magic bullet that will somehow make them happy, thin, beautiful, ageless, healthy, and a tiger in the sack. It's just not going to happen. While medication has definitely done wonders for us, there are some issues that may be better solved with trying to figure out what the problem is and how to fix it without the help of pills. And sometimes it may be healthier to just take things on head on. For example, I'm amazed at how quickly antidepressants are prescribed for people mourning the death of a loved one. Mourning is necessary and taking pills to stop that process is not healthy in my opinion.

Anyways, back to the topic, Viagra and "pink Viagra." Viagra has done good for older men who physically are unable to get erections. But I feel that Viagra has also done a lot of harm as well in relationships. The book, The Viagra Myth by Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, talks a lot about this. Viagra is seen as this wonder drug that is somehow going to fix a relationship that isn't going so well. As if a hard dick is the solution to all intimacy issues. Sex stops being about connecting and starts centering only on the erection. The erection can even be a source of frustration when the man wants sex and his partner does not. Foreplay becomes less important. I'm not saying that this is the case for all men on Viagra and their partners, but it happens often. In fact, according to Dr. Morgentaler, 50% of men prescribed Viagra don't get refills. Viagra use can sometimes result in the end of a relationship. This can especially be true when it comes to men who don't even need Viagra in order to get an erection. What needs to happen is for these couples to talk about their problems with each other. Communication is very important. And if that isn't working then relationship counseling may be the next step.

Now pink viagra is a little different. Women have been being diagnosed with sexual dysfunctions for a really long time, but I don't believe that a lot of these dysfunctions are real. Our society is so phallic centered that many women who can't orgasm from vaginal intercourse alone often think of themselves as dysfunctional. Freud called them frigid. Women often need more stimulation, specifically clitoral stimulation. Not only that, but they need time to warm up. While quickies can be fun, many women really need to be wooed before intercourse can start. This wooing can even include chores taken on by her partner so that she has less to worry about and is more relaxed. I fear that if a Viagra-type pill for women comes out the average woman who needs to be wooed in order to be in the mood for sex will be considered even more dysfunctional even though in reality she is actually quite normal.

So in other words, what I'm basically saying is that instead of resorting to pharmaceutical solutions, couples should figure out what is missing from their lives and their relationship. They should communicate with one another to figure out why maybe she doesn't have as high of a libido as she once did or why she has difficulty orgasming and how these things can be overcome. Communication and experimentation are going to work a lot better than any kind of pill. And if you're having a difficult time communicating with each other then it is probably best to see a relationship counselor so that you can get help with communication. A lot of people rather skip this because its hard, but a pill is not the easy way out of a tough spot.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sex Toys 101 Kit

This month's Babeland toy review is the Sex Toys 101 Kit. It contains 3 sex toys (the Nubby G, a Silver Bullet, and the Little Flirt) a book about sex toys, a lube sampler pack, and 4 AA batteries.

First, the toys. I had never actually tried a Nubby G before even though it is one of the more popular yet cheaper toys on the market. The toy is made out of jelly which is a cheap porous material. It is relatively low quality, but for the price you really can't complain. Babeland told me they were sending me their new Nubby G which was now phthalate-free, but the box says nothing about that so I can't say that it actually is. The toy is angled for g-spot stimulation, which it does pretty well. But overall I have to say that I was not very impressed with this toy. Even though I don't like internal vibrations they aren't a big deal because I know a lot of women enjoy that, but it had other flaws which I felt were unforgivable. First, the nubbies for which it is named are not the soft pliable nubs I thought they would be. They were hard and pointy and not at all comfortable. Secondly, the platform which the nubs were on are probably supposed to hit one's clit, but either both mine and my girlfriend's anatomy are completely different from all women or this toy is just not designed well because you have to work on angling the toy in what I believe is the wrong direction in order to get it to hit your clit. That's a BIG drawback. One upside though is that the vibe is relatively quiet and yet still pretty powerful. Overall this toy seems to get mixed reviews. It seems people either love it or they hate it. I gotta say I hate it though and I really doubt I'd recommend it to anyone.

The silver bullet, on the other hand, is pretty much a requirement for anyone who owns sex toys whether you're a collector or just starting to buy them. It is a very simple, cheap vibe that is really versatile. It can be used during masturbation or partner play and it is really unintimidating for those of you who find sex toys a little scary. Bullets are made of hard plastic so they are non-porous and you can use sleeves on them to add a little more fun and some of them will even fit in cockrings. You should NEVER use a bullet internally though. I've seen it done in some porns and it makes me really nervous.

The Little Flirt is a silicone butt plug made by Tantus. It is a perfect butt plug for beginners. It is very small and easy to keep inside. Tantus does a great job of designing sex toys that really work well with the body by using the best materials and really caring about its customers. And the best part about it is that it is super easy to clean. Silicone is non-porous and can be boiled, washed with soap and water, put on the top shelf of your dishwasher, bleached, you name it. If you're looking for a first time butt plug I highly recommend this one.

The book, Sex Toys 101: A Playfully Uninhibited Guide, is well written, informative, and has beautiful artistic pictures of sex toys. However, the downside of a book like this is that the sex toy industry is becoming more and more popular and moving faster than ever. That means that this book quickly becomes out of date. Even since its printing there are new sex toys out there that need to be covered that aren't in this book and there are other toys in the book that you'll have a really hard time finding. What would be nice is if they could have an online database of this kind of information that could be constantly updated.

The Lube Sampler Pack comes with 7 different lube pillows that you can try out. They may or may not be the ones on the site as they may substitute others if they run out. My pack was a bit different than on the site, but still included a great sampling of different lubes. If you're not sure what lube you'd like best, lube sampler packs are a great way of figuring this out. Its a lot cheaper than buying a big bottle of lube, deciding you don't like it, and then buying another big bottle of lube. (Speaking of lube, don't forget about the lube contest I'm having! Entries are accepted until 5/31.)

The kit also comes with 4 AA batteries which is always a nice touch. There's nothing worse than getting brand new sex toys and then realizing that you're out of batteries.

Friday, May 2, 2008

When Lube Goes Bad

Speaking of lube ... here's a lube question from one of our readers.

Glycerin free water based lubes without expiration date? How long would you keep them.. unopened and opened alike?

Water-based lubes are usually good for about 1-3 years, but you can tell if lube is bad. When lube goes bad it smells bad and/or the consistency changes. Before putting it on any sensitive parts open it up, smell it, pour some on your fingers and rub it between them. Does it feel, look, and smell like it should? If so then go ahead and play, but if not then toss it. If the lube is more than 3 years old then just toss it. Its not worth the risk. This is why it is good to only buy lube in the quantity that you'll need it. Don't buy super enormous tubs of lube if you aren't going to use it all up in a couple years. In order to make your lube last make sure to store it in a cool dry place and always cap it.

In other news, Ask Garnet is getting a second syndication! Starting Monday, every month one of my posts will be put up on the Geek Girls Online zine. GGO is a great porn site featuring sexy naked geeky girls. Go check them out!