How Adult Retailers, Medical Community Can Come Together for Sexual Health

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Picture this: a potential customer walks into your store, approaches your booth at a convention, or calls your order hotline. They’re intimidated, a little embarrassed, maybe even apologetic — you can see it in the slump of their shoulders, hear it in the way they lower their voice and stumble over their words.

“I’ve never been to a place like this before. I don’t even know where to start. I’m hoping you can help.”

(Sure you can. That’s why you exist, right? And although you can tell they’re convinced that their issue is uniquely humiliating, you know from experience it’s actually very common.)

Now imagine these next words. “Every time I try to have sex, my leg goes into painful spasms. I don’t know exactly why it happens, but I thought maybe you could recommend a sex toy to help me relax and forget about the pain.”

Most likely, you’d urge them to see a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment immediately. As a retailer, you’re more than happy to help them maximize their pleasure after the pain is gone; but sex toys don’t cure injured leg muscles.

Believe it or not, a very similar scenario plays out in my business on a daily basis. As a physical therapist specializing in women’s sexual health issues, I’ve treated hundreds of patients; and our first in-office conversation, or the messages that fill my voicemail inbox, often begin exactly that way. The only difference is that their pain is in their pelvic floor muscles; but because that condition is shrouded in misunderstanding and social stigma, they’ve spent a long time looking for ways to minimize or normalize their pain instead of treating it.

Just how common is this? Scientific studies indicate that 43 percent of women — almost half — will experience painful sex on an ongoing basis at some point in life. Among other things, that means your customers and my patients are the same people. And although I’m not in the retail and marketing side of the sex industry, you and I share a common goal — to help people understand that sex is normal, but pain (unless you’ve requested it from your partner) is not.

In almost two decades of successful practice in my field, I’ve learned tackling a problem that affects nearly half of all women (not to mention, their partners) means I can’t just treat women’s bodies. In addition to helping my patients, education and advocacy have helped me grow my business. I believe they can do the same for you.

Don’t worry — there’s no pop quiz at the end of this article. Knowing the difference between vaginismus and vulvodynia (two common diagnoses) is my job; and non-professional medical advice typically does my patients more harm than good. Instead, take some time to educate yourself and your team about the people affected by it from a marketing perspective.

Who are these women? They’re college students, new moms, and menopausal women from all walks of life — your mother, your sister, your co-worker. They suffer from muscle pain that can make penetration, and sometimes other forms of sexual expression, excruciating or impossible. And whether it’s chronic or sudden, and regardless of how it began (and there are many medical causes, from injury to hormone changes), it is keeping them from a pleasurable and fulfilling sex life.

Remember the leg spasm example? Think about how the emergence of the “weekend warrior” as a marketing demographic revolutionized the sporting goods industry. I can treat the pain; but if you understand how it affects their sexual lifestyle, you can tailor and promote products that help them associate sex with pleasure.

Of course, most of these women aren’t talking openly about it; and even the bravest among them tend to avoid your retail locations (although you can bet they’ve checked out your website). They do talk to each other online, though; a quick internet search of terms like “painful sex,” “pelvic pain” and “pelvic PT” will deliver an instant focus group.

But you’re missing another crucial demographic if you haven’t considered marketing directly to women’s health physical therapists. It’s a fairly new specialty; but we’re growing exponentially, our network is massive, and we’ve built a trusted social media platform with impressive reach. When my colleagues and I find a quality product we know will help our patients, the news travels fast. And — best kept secret — we’re already using some of them in treatment.

Pain-free intercourse is the goal of most of my patients from day one; but pelvic floor physical therapy can’t be rushed and requires home therapy between sessions. From my perspective, any aid that helps them discover other forms of sexual expression during that process, or reconnects them to their bodies and partners in pleasurable ways, is well worth the investment.

Additionally, successful home therapy requires the right equipment; and it’s rarely covered by insurance. Especially during the final transition to intercourse with a partner, I suggest certain toys based on their realistic look and feel, as well as their more reasonable price points. Opportunities exist at every level of your market. I purchase lubricant by the gallon for my practice; and many of my patients joke that they do the same. You know your products better than anyone; can you think of ways to connect them to this need? If so, I want to hear about it.

Speaking of communication — advocacy is another important area in which we can partner. In addition to the well-documented physical pain my patients deal with, the emotional toll it takes on them and their partners is a second major barrier to diagnosis, treatment and recovery. And overwhelmingly, they tend to suffer in silence.

Why? Let’s revisit that leg spasm example one more time. Although the set-up may have sounded familiar, you’ve probably never had a customer embarrassed to talk to you about muscle pain in their leg (or back, or neck), let alone ask you to help them forget about it or pretend it’s normal. They know the pain isn’t all in their mind because they can point to where they feel it; so they don’t wonder whether the right mindset can cure it.

But traditional medicine has really dropped the ball on women’s sexual health in general, and on pelvic floor injury in particular. Combine the social taboos and conflicting messages surrounding sex and women’s bodies with decades of misinformation and misdiagnosis, dangerous myths, and ineffective treatment. Add personal frustration and disappointment; and pile on well-meaning but unhelpful advice (and sometimes pressure) from intimate partners, trusted family members and friends, and even doctors to “just relax,” “have a glass of wine” or “push through the pain.” It’s easy to understand why so many of my patients doubt their instincts, hide their painful secret, and avoid treatment — and sex — for months or years.

No matter where they are in the body, muscles are muscles. I treat injured legs and pelvic floors using the same principles; and with proper physical therapy, pain disappears and function returns. But, while every patient requires an individualized treatment plan, early diagnosis and treatment generally speeds recovery time and lowers the risk of complications like injury to surrounding muscles. This is especially true for pelvic patients; and it also prevents further damage to their self-esteem, relationships and harmful thinking patterns about pleasure. The most therapeutic thing I can do for my patients — your customers — as a group is to break the silence about painful sex.

Retailers in the sex industry have always been fearless about shattering taboos and empowering women to take charge of their sexual health and pleasure. Now that you know how widespread this taboo is within your customer base, how can you use the power of your own platform to change the status quo? Sensitivity to language in product packaging and descriptions, advertising on social media sites dedicated to the discussion (or featuring it on your own sites), promotional partnerships with medical professionals, and corporate sponsorship of non-profit groups and events like Pelvic Pain Awareness Month are all things to consider through the lens of social responsibility and good business.

Painful sex isn’t “normal”; but it is common, and it is treatable. Like you, I envision a future where every adult is empowered and supported in their journey toward sexual health and pleasure, without shame or fear. For me, that’s a world in which they can approach both of us confidently to discuss their needs and desires, knowing what each of us can do to help them find and enjoy the sex life we know they deserve.


How Adult Retailers, Medical Community Can Come Together for Sexual Health by Dr. Heather Jeffcoat, DPT originally appeared in XBIZ

Adopting New Online Strategies for Brick-And-Mortar Retail

Online shopping

It’s easy to lose focus, hope, and ambition during these trying times of uncertainty. Let’s face it; we’re all facing uncharted territories. It’s now crucial to adapt, adopt new strategies, and then evolve in order to not only survive but also hopefully thrive in the near future. It won’t be easy and we’ll have to learn new things, take on more challenges, and work together to pull through this.

I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for all brick-and-mortars, from the mom-and-pop shops, smaller chains, up to the massive nationwide retail chains because I have been successfully working with them for well over 10 years now and I don’t want that to change.

Daily, I’m learning through various FB groups, posts, calls and messages about the many, forever changing struggles, obstacles and headaches facing stores and businesses. Respectfully I’d like to shine some light on various opportunities, ideas and sales channels you may want to establish and exploit. I find it’s always great to get an outside perspective and hopefully my input helps motivate, educate or inspire a positive change for everyone that owns, manages or works in our wonderful industry.

Without an online presence it’s difficult now more than ever for businesses to stay afloat with looming lockdowns. There are various reasons people may not have an online presence. Some were very busy and therefore content with their foot traffic, others may have been intimidated by ecommerce, lack of knowledge, and processes it takes to implement strong warehousing to back the online campaign. Plus it was never easy to find talented web designers because after all only 1 percent of the global population knows how to code. Hence creating a successful online presence was a costly setup and even costlier to maintain. But that’s old news! There are so many easy and essential tools, platforms, sites and strategies you can incorporate immediately. It won’t cost you money, but rather, time and patience. We seem to have a great deal of one and not the other, so when you embark on adopting some of these strategies, keep in mind patience is a virtue.

Stores have a great deal of sitting inventory that can be put online quickly, easily and on various successful sales platforms. The last thing anyone wants is stocking outdated products while their competitors offer new releases. Shops also have some talented salespeople possibly forced to sit at home and could use some/any income — commission them. Most of them are young or knowledgeable enough with their smartphones to put the following list to proper use:

  1. It’s time to establish a website.

It’s easy through new template-based sites such as GoDaddy and Shopify. You simply upload/drag photos and type your desired content. I suggest playing a part in everything when it comes to your business — this is no different. Refer to other successful websites and see what you can learn or what can help you to better to stand out. It’s easy, fun, necessary and will show you a little research and hard work goes a long way.

  1. Open or put your personal eBay accounts to work.

Have trusted sales staff also open an eBay account and follow suit. Listings can easily be copied between accounts. It’s best to use aged accounts to avoid many posting limitations. Research products before you list and gauge your competition. Don’t overly undervalue products — it hurts the industry as a whole. Always include free shipping, a free gift (cheap lube sachets, etc.), and a little contact card reminding them to: leave you positive feedback or reach out if there’s an issue, a discount for their next purchase, your website, social media and contact information.

  1. Avoid listing enhancements on sites like eBay and Amazon.

They only allow grandfathered accounts to comfortably sell these product types. You risk shutting your eBay or Amazon shop down if you accrue enough warnings. People are definitely looking for their favorite enhancement brands so I suggest listing your enhancement products on the more lax sales sites such as Bonanza, LetGo, OfferUp, etc. All these sites offer shipping options and local pickup. Avoid selling any adult toys/products aside from herbals, lubricants and lingerie because anything they deem phallic or vulgar/sexual will be deleted.

  1. Craigslist will always be a force to reckon with.

This is a great place to list items, closeouts, old store fixtures, etc. Create “quarantine grab bags” and kits to help them save money and make one-stop shops. Go to the Freebies section and list “Free Condoms/Lube” as the title and advertise your business, mission and make the offer valid with curbside pickup of their order of $25 or more. People are always coasting through the “freebies page” and “for sale” page! You can advertise links to your shop, online listings, etc., to draw them to your products. Don’t overlook or undervalue the power of this particular platform.

  1. Facebook Marketplace is poppin’!

And even though they prohibit selling phallic/sexual products, it’s still a great place for herbals, lotions, potions and lingerie. It’s also really important to join your local FB “buy and sell” pages. You can advertise and connect with your local community. You have to be tasteful and mindful — after all, it is FB; and everyone is on FB, therefore leaving a good impression is very important.

  1. Offer Curbside Service.

Safety and sanitation are a major concern and many stores have cleverly incorporated curbside pickup showing awareness for safety and caution toward their customers and communities. It’s time to evolve your stock beyond the curbside. By that I mean stocking essentials, protective products, various masks and vital immune boosting supplements buyers can’t find at the larger retail chain stores deemed “essential.” If you start stocking hard-to-find protective items at no-gouge pricing, there’s a great chance you will draw traffic to your stores/sites. Giving away a free pair of gloves or protective mask with pickup and purchase is a great way to evolve your curbside service and inventory.

  1. Take advantage of your email/contact list.

Send them deals that Amazon and Walmart can’t offer! Update them with your new essentials, masks, deals and kits. Email blasts work if you get the right person to design them. If you don’t have an email list, it’s time to start compiling one, it’s never too late to start. It’s always easy offering a promo/prize to attain client info. Most people are hesitant to give out their name and contact at their local sex shops until they’re incentivized.

  1. Use your social media presence if you have it.

If you don’t have it, build it. Everyone is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and now Tik Tok, to waste time. This is where your foot traffic has wandered off to. They’re not far. They’re not hiding. They need content — your content.

  1. Yelp and Google are overlooked powerhouses.

I’ve walked into countless shops as a mystery buyer and have never been asked to post a review of my experience. Many purchase decisions and selections are based on Yelp and Google influence. Five-star reviews and photos are most powerful on these search engines.

Google is lax so anyone, anywhere, can leave your business a five-star review and feedback. Yelp is a bit tricky because they operate by insanely strict algorithms. Don’t have staff or friends and family in various cities and states posting reviews. These reviews get flagged and deleted along with other organic reviews. The key is taking advantage while the customer is there to assure it’s been completed properly and most importantly geographically synced with their smartphone to prove the validity of the review. “Check-In” offers are always great because they’re an incentivizer. Buyers often are unaware of check-in offers, so your best approach is at checkout. Tell every customer about your check-in offer (most don’t know) upon check-out. Then tell them: “It’s near impossible for us to advertise as an adult shop. Your review and check-in are essential to our business. If you could help us by posting a picture with check-in, I’d be happy to double the check-in offer.” Have shoppers leave five stars and most importantly, post a photo. Why? Because Yelp can’t delete reviews with photos.

  1. This applies to everything: Take original and quality photos.

Take more than just one photo. Get creative and create backgrounds/settings to make your photos unique to you. List detailed descriptions and specs. Start creating short and relevant video content — people love to learn. Remember to respect verbiage and descriptors when it comes to gender. You’d be surprised how much business you’re losing when you only refer to something as simply “his” or “hers.”

I hope this information helps and encourages you to keep fighting and pushing against the crashing waves. Sharks sink to their demise to the ocean floor when they stop swimming. This too shall pass, so just keep swimming.


Adopting New Online Strategies for Brick-And-Mortar Retail by Hamed Bosset-Allen originally appeared in XBIZ

A Look at the Parallels Between Intimate Care and Skincare

Self care lube

Lubricant seems to be one of the categories that evokes the most passion from retail associates. Everyone has a favorite brand, formula, flavor, bottle, consistency, sales rep or packaging style. It is a long list, but that list is the reason we see so much diversity on retail shelves and in online stores. There also seems to be a clear division over certain ingredients such as glycerin or parabens, and FDA approval. I personally like to think of myself as Switzerland, and considering this is an opinion piece, I hope that makes me a fair assessor, but more importantly, makes you stop and think of how you look at selling lubricants moving forward.

It took a few years to figure out what the most relatable way to talk to consumers about lubricant was, but once I did the conversation became so much easier. To me lube is like hair care or skincare products that are fun to shop for and a shopping concept almost anyone can relate to right away. I also love using these categories as an example, because instead of singling out a favorite formula, you usually purchase multiple products or a range of skincare items. Can you imagine the revenue in your store if you doubled your lube sales because you were selling items customized as a skincare experience and not a solution? Why not sell a water-based, silicone-based, a CBD option and toy cleaner to every customer? Ingredients are not your enemy — just tools to help you become more effective in helping a customer find the right product for them.

When you get your hair done and they upsell product the conversation is about how that product enhances your current lifestyle or lifestyle goals. For example, if you just got your hair colored, you will most likely purchase product to protect that investment. Maybe you loved the way your hair felt so much when you were done at the salon and just want to replicate the products your stylist used, so you can recreate that experience at home. Whatever the end process looks like, we have all fallen victim to a salon or cosmetic store upsell and came out with way more product than we needed. Lube shopping should be the same way!

Our bodies and the skin we are in do not feel the same way every day. The weather changes, we travel, we change products, our hormones change, we have stress, we under-hydrate, we survive during a pandemic, whatever the variables and changes around us are, our bodies adapt and react. We purchase our skincare products based on these conditions; lube is not that different. Your store and lubricant section are no less than a salon, cosmetic store, or the aisles of Target or Bath & Body Works. By taking a similar sales approach to mass market in personal grooming categories, you are approaching the end consumer in a way that assimilates your product to established household favorites. Help your customers build a lube assortment that accommodates their life as it fluctuates. Don’t fall in the habit of helping customers choose what not to buy based on personal preferences.

When a friend approaches me about lube, I usually do a simple redirect of the conversation to what other types of body products they are already using. It helps reduce any tension if there was apprehension around asking, and it also gives me a good idea of what type of shopper this person is and what type of product they use. Both are important for two reasons — I am not going to treat a seasoned product user the same way I would treat someone buying their first bottle of lube and I can also get an idea of some of their other skin-care preferences. To help remove the stigma around using lube, you need to normalize shopping for it.

Instead of spending your time on chemistry, spend it on the upsell. Give options based on real-life scenarios, not a one-time shopping experience. Illustrate to the customer why this product can make a seamless transition into their everyday wellness routine. Customers’ preferences on what feels or works best will likely shift daily, give them products to be fluid with their mood needs and changes.

Why not have some arousal gel or flavored lube on hand for fun occasions like date night? Have a CBD base for all the healing and wellness properties it has when your body needs a boost. Summertime and travel tend to make skin dryer, have a bottle of aloe lube in the fridge as an option for some cool playtime. If you travel a lot, put together a fun “Love on the Go” lube kit. Ask yourself does your lube station look like a pharmacy or does it look like a more modern shopping experience?

As someone who started in lubes and continues to sell lube, I feel like we get entrapped in this self-imposed idea that our job is to find the right formula for everyone. We get so caught up learning to be experts that we lose a bit of the humanity needed to separate ourselves from our competitors. We can be the best of both worlds to our shoppers, and that gives us an advantage mass market will never have.


A Look at the Parallels Between Intimate Care and Skincare by Danielle Seerley originally appeared in XBIZ

Love Your Labia – Why Your Private Parts Are Perfect Just the Way They Are

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Femmes today are surrounded with messages of empowerment and encouragement from all sides, and when someone tries to stop us from spreading the gospel of self-power, there’s an army waiting on Twitter to come to our defense. It’s about time that gender equality became the #1 social media trend!

But for every body-positive Instagrammer, there’s a negative beauty fad lurking in plain sight, just waiting to tear down our self-confidence. One of those nasty trends is labiaplasty – plastic surgery for a super important part of your vulva – the labia.

Getting to Know the Female Anatomy

JIC you’re not aware, the vulva comprises the entirety of your external sex organs: the clitoris, clitoral hood, urethral opening, and labia.

In humans, there are two pairs of labia: the labia majora (or the outer labia) which are larger and fattier, while the labia minora are folds of skin between the outer labia.

The two types of labia – probably better known as the “vagina lips” when you’re talking to your girls – help protect the sensitive vaginal opening and clitoral area while also providing an awesome amount of pleasure potential during sex.

What is Labiaplasty?

Generally, a labiaplasty usually involves altering the inner labia, which are those “curtain” like flaps of skin that lead directly into your vagina.

Some labia are tiny, barely-there labia that are almost completely hidden by the outer labia, while others have longer, inner labia that extend down far enough to be seen outside the outer labia. Many inner labia are even different sizes, with one side hanging lower than the other.

In short, labia are a bit like boobs. It’s extremely rare that both sides are ever perfectly even, and there are so many variations and varieties that it’s impossible to describe them all. Rest assured, regardless of the length, your labia are perfect- exactly the way they are.

Unfortunately, your precious labia are also the target of the plastic surgery industry, which is trying to convince us that if our inner labia aren’t pink, tiny, and even, it’s time to go under the knife — yikes!

Here’s what we think about that- We think your beautiful, unique, and pleasure-giving inner lips are perfect just as they are — like the rest of your gorgeous body parts and we’ve gathered some fantastic reasons why you should always give plastic surgeons the snub in lieu of learning the language of labia love.

  1. Pink or Brown, Big or Small — They’re Natural, so Love Them All

To quote feminist hero Lady Gaga – “Baby, you were born this way!” Whatever your vulva and labia look like right this very moment, at whatever age and stage of life you may be, is exactly how they’re supposed to look.

Grab a mirror and perform a sensual inspection of your vulva. Notice the different colors and textures that change as you move from your outer labia up to your clitoral hood and then down to your inner labia and perineum.

Get acquainted with all your folds, and realize that you’re looking at a functional body part that was created to serve one of the most important events in the universe: to provide pleasure and create life. That’s sheer and utter POWER!

 

  1. Don’t Take Porn Star Bodies at Face Value

Looking to mainstream porn stars for sexual beauty inspo is like expecting to find a reachable workout goal by attending a high-fashion runway show. What you see in media, advertising, and even porn isn’t real — it’s a visual fantasy.

Porn stars often bleach their genitals, turning normally brown or dark red b-holes and vulvas a lighter shade. They also tend to remove body hair, and some even shell out thousands for labiaplasty, breast enhancements, and cosmetic fillers for larger lips and defined cheekbones.

While we respect every woman’s decision to transform herself into an image of beauty that appeals to her tastes, be sure to do some serious thinking before you consult a surgeon. Many women remove facial fillers and breast implants years down the line, but you can never grow your labia back.

 

  1. Labiaplasty is Permanent

Beauty trends that empower women to have fun playing with their look without any underhanded body-shaming are tons of fun.

Want to micro-blade your brows for some dramatic eyes? Go for it! Love multi-colored mermaid hair? Sounds like a gorgeous trip to the salon to us! Digging today’s pin-up-pretty make-up with vibrant red lips and huge fake lashes? Babe, we know you’re gonna kill it!

The difference between a trip to a make-up artist or a hair salon and an appointment with a labiaplasty surgeon is this: a dye job or pro make-up are meant to enhance what you already have in the name of fun. When you’re done playing grown-up dress up, make-up washes off and hair dye washes out.

Labiaplasty permanently changes a part of your body that’s uniquely you and sacred. You were given a beautiful vulva at birth, and once you alter that part of yourself, there’s no going back.

  1. Your Labia Contributes to Sexual Pleasure

If you’re still struggling to love the labia you see in the mirror, pay extra attention to those inner lips the next time you have sex or pleasure yourself.

Your labia is full of sensitive nerve endings that can mean the difference between a run-of-the-mill orgasm (which is, no doubt, still pretty great) and a mind-melting climax that encompasses your entire pleasure zone. In fact, some women need labia stimulation to come!

Using a bit of lube and your fingers, stroke your labia and notice how they become engorged and arouse as you stimulation them. Tease yourself by taking a few minutes to touch only your labia — fingers off your clit for now! Then do the same with your favorite vibrator, using it to tenderly touch your inner lips, moving from the base of your vulva to where your lips meet the clitoral hood. As you near orgasm, keep your labia in the game and those explosive feelings of pleasure will radiate throughout your entire vulva.

Once you realize the orgasmic potential of these extra-special sensual parts, you’ll never dream of changing them again. After all, who wants to cut their pleasure short?


Love Your Labia – Why Your Private Parts Are Perfect Just the Way They Are originally appeared on Rumble & Buzz

What is BDSM really about? Your Guide to Debunking the Scary Stories Behind This Fun Way to Play

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Does the (in)famous acronym BDSM stir thoughts of spike-tipped whips, heavy-duty chains, and a stony medieval dungeon lit by torches that illuminate an array of ancient torture devices? If so, you’re not alone.

But depending on what sort of kinky folks you speak to, this sort of outrageous fantasy could be right on the money, or so far from the truth that your kink-friendly conversation partner bursts into laughter.

What is BDSM?

BDSM, which stands for Bondage, Domination/Submission, Sadism, and Masochism, is a broad-reaching category of bedroom play that can range from the mild to wild, all depending on what each couple finds a sexy, hot turn-on.

People who regularly practice BDSM in any form (or many forms!) are known as “lifestylers”, especially when they heavily interact and socialize with other BDSM lovers, often forming a community of like-minded individuals who discuss kinky play and sometimes get down with other partners or couples.

The BDSM label can apply to many types of sexual play that fall outside of the vanilla genre. Vanilla generally refers to sexual intercourse in the most simplistic manner — sans even the most beginners’ sort of kink toys, like furry handcuffs or a silky blindfold. Yes, this means that if you’ve ever blindfolded your partner with a soft tie or used your lacy panties to bind their hands above their head, you’ve engaged in a light version of BDSM.

Some couples actually enjoy the full Hollywood-style dungeon, complete with a wooden St. Andrew’s Cross to tie up their partner spread-eagle while they excitedly await an endorphin-releasing whipping. That’s because BDSM hinges on negotiation and consent, and the sexual variations can vary wildly from couple to couple.

BDSM and Consent

When couples’ practice active consent, it means they never attempt a sexual act without asking first, and they listen closely to their partner during sex just in case something that usually feels good happens to feel bad.

In BDSM, part of practicing consent involves negotiating the terms of the sexual encounter before any clothes come off and candles are lit.

These negotiated rules can be as firm as, “I don’t like being spanked, so please don’t ever spank me on any part of my body,” or someone can decide to give certain activities a try with the option to stop the scene if they become uncomfortable, either physically or mentally, like “Sometimes I like being penetrated with large sex toys, but I’ve never tried vaginal fisting before. Please go slow, use lots of lube, and I’ll tell you to stop if I don’t like it.”

Because exhilarating, consensual BDSM can take many forms, let’s look at some common aspects of this often misunderstood sexual niche that debunks all those scary and untrue stories you’ve probably heard over the years. Once you get past the rumors, you open up your partnership to a whole lot of kinky fun!

What is Bondage?

A tied-up tart is probably what immediately springs to mind when you think of BDSM. The B stands for Bondage, and it plays an undeniably huge role in most lifestylers’ playbooks.

Bondage can range from a loosely-wrapped tie around the wrists to those gorgeously intricate Shibari rope designs that you might have seen on the internet.

If you’re new to bondage, start simple with silk ties, easy-release handcuffs, or super-soft rope. If you’re both dying for more and want to make art with your rope work, get in touch with a professional rigger — a person who has had years of experience in safely tying and binding with a working knowledge of how anatomy plays into the whole thing.

If done incorrectly, super tight or otherwise body-bending bondage can cause serious injury and long-term nerve damage. We recommend staying away from the rougher stuff until you really know what you’re doing and have been supervised by a pro.

What is Domination & Submission?

The big D in BDSM stands for Domination, one of the core aspects of kinky play.

As you might have guessed, someone who identifies as a sexual dominant – referred to as a Dom with a capital D in vernacular – likes to be the person in charge in the bedroom.

The S stands for Submission, and unsurprisingly still, these folks like to be on the receiving end of domination. Some submissives – also called “subs” for short – simply like a partner that enjoys being on top or tying their hands to the bedposts.

Others need something more extreme to get off, like engaging in breath play or being bent over and spanked. Dominants can be just as expansive in their play preferences, and their favorite sex acts can range from using a sex toy on their partner while they writhe in ecstatic orgasm, or tightly cuffing their wrists and ankles and screwing them silly.

No matter how dominant and submissive partners choose to play, consent and proper communication underline everything that goes on from the moment both people decide that their play session, commonly called a “scene”, begins. The key is to only engage in  BDSM play with a partner you can trust and feel comfortable communication exactly how you feel.

Switching During BDSM

Not everyone feels drawn to only one category of BDSM identity. Many lifestylers switch back and forth between dominant and submissive roles, hence the basic term “switch”.

For monogamous kink couples, partners will swap bedroom roles depending on the day of the week, how they’re feeling at the moment, or sometimes all within a single round of sex. For polyamorous couples or those within open relationships, switches might enjoy acting out different BDSM roles with different partners based on their individual sexual chemistry and preferences.

What is Sadism & Masochism?

Now here’s where you might assume things get scary, but again, remember that nothing bad can happen when you play with a partner who listens to your needs and care about your well-being.

sadist – usually the dominant partner – feels sexually turned on by watching their partner squirm and wriggle from the metallic bite of a Whartenberg wheel or the crack of a paddle.

masochist – played by the submissive – gets off by having those sorts of intense acts done to them.

Just like any other part of BDSM, the level of discomfort or pain inflicted is pre-determined by both the Dom and sub before the actual play begins. Lighter forms of masochism and sadism can involve tickling, using a vibrator to tease your partner while they’re tied up, or lightly scratching them with your nails. More extreme forms can involve intense tickling until your partner begs you to stop, turn the vibrator up to its highest setting and ‘forcing’ your partner to orgasm until exhaustion, or scratching your partners back until you draw blood.

Because BDSM play can involve more than just the usual sexual bodily fluids exchanged between genitals – like blood, urine, or anal mucous – it’s imperative that everyone involved gets regular STD tests and discloses their test results with every single partner. The only folks who can get away with a one-off visit to the doctor are fully monogamous couples who remain committed and honest to their partners.

Impact Play

A popular part of BDSM is impact play, which is a fancy term for spanking and slapping.

Impact play can be dialed down or turned up depending on what feels good. There’s a reason that spanking feel good, besides making you feel like a naughty school kid. When you smack or spank any part of your body, whether lightly or with force, blood rises to the skin’s surface, which then intensifies any sort of touch applied afterwards.

To test this fun little theory, give yourself a light (or hard, if you prefer) smack on your arm or leg a couple times, allow the blood to flow into the area, and then use something tactile, like a feather or a hairbrush, to drag over the engorged area. It feels pretty amazing and sensitive, doesn’t it? If you’re not a huge fan of typical spanking fantasies, you can still use this aspect of BDSM play to add another dimension to your sexual sensations.

Research, Learn & Listen

You might not find these terms so specific to BDSM alone, but they’re the most important parts of keeping all partners safe while you’re exploring this exciting new addition to your sex life.

Even with the best of intentions, BDSM can turn right back into a scary Hollywood scenario if you become overconfident in your skills. Before you and partner engage in any BDSM play, scour the internet for real-life advice on how to safely dip your feet into the pool of kink.

You might also want to see out a local “munch”, a casual lunch meet-up where BDSM lifestylers of various skill sets can ask questions and learn from their peers’ experiences. And most of all, never get so involved in a scene that you forget to check in with your partner. Always make sure that they’re feeling aroused, comfortable, and safe!


What is BDSM really about? Your Guide to Debunking the Scary Stories Behind This Fun Way to Play originally appeared on Rumble & Buzz

How to Feel Good Naked

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Listen, we’ve all been there. You’re standing naked in front of a mirror and you think to yourself, “Ugh, WTF!” It’s a really shitty feeling…I know. But let me tell you this – if you think feeling good naked is about how your body physically looks, you are dead WRONG. Feeling sexy when you’re naked is all about how you feel about yourself on the inside, not what your body looks like.

Nike has a motto that says, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.” Damn, I love that. Think about it like this…If you have a body, it already IS sexy.  That’s all there is to it! And it’s all up to you and how you think of yourself. You have a body, it’s beautiful, and you should be able to feel sexy, strong and attractive when you strip everything off and stand there naked in front of that mirror. It’s all about mindset and it really doesn’t matter if you are a supermodel, either, because they can feel just as insecure.

So just in case you’re having one of those “ugh” kinda days, keep the following tips in mind about how to feel SEXY AS HELL when you’re naked, whether you’re standing in front of a mirror by yourself or stripping down for a hookup sesh with a partner.

Your opinion is the only one that matters.

Body shaming is so common today, and it’s such bullshit! Screw a “societal expectation” that a hot body should be skinny, tall and perfectly hairless in the “right” places to be considered beautiful. What does that even mean?? Who decides what a “societal expectation” is, anyway? Focus on YOUR expectations, and what YOU think is beautiful and sexy. In relationships, everyone likes different things, and if you live your life trying to impress all of your partners, you will never be truly satisfied because everyone has their own perception of what is sexy. Set your own expectations for yourself – for your health, for happiness, for your pleasure. Let yourself be the only one who controls your happiness and satisfaction. And that confidence, my friends?  Now THAT is sexy.

Confidence is key.

Let me tell you a little something about confidence; it is a powerful quality to have. When it comes to being naked and having sex, confidence is way more attractive to me than what my partner’s body looks like. Sexual confidence, however, is something that can be hard for people to achieve, especially if you haven’t had many partners.  Masturbating and using sex toys can be a fabulous way to determine what you like and don’t like, what it takes for you to orgasm, and ultimately increase your sexual confidence in the bedroom — or shower, or kitchen counter — whatever floats your boat!

Take care of your body.

Taking care of your body is about way more than just the number on your scale. Self-care is SO important for overall happiness and how you feel. So, spoil yourself! I spoil myself rotten when it comes to self-care (I love a good long massage). Believe me, self-care goes a long way when it comes to your attitude and confidence. Get enough rest, drink a lot of water, get a manicure, go on a walk, take care of your skin – you deserve it! When you feel good and taken care of by you, it’s easier to be happy with your overall physique.

Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t have. 

Some girls have little boobs. Others have big butts and some have long legs. Some guys have smaller cocks. Others have tons of body hair and some have a flat butt. Remember, those physical aspects aren’t what makes you, YOU!  So, flaunt what you have, big or small, tall or short, and make yourself feel damn good about that. Own what you have and work it! Hell, twerk it even!

Communication is important.

If you still feel insecure with your body, try this. Open up and talk about your physical insecurities and fears with your partner. You may be surprised!

Feeling insecure is very normal, but most of the time insecurities are more about speculation. They stem from what you THINK someone wants your body to look like, not how they actually think or feel. If you let your partner know what you’re insecure about, they will probably reassure you that you’re perfect just the way you are. Speculation leads to anxiety, and communication is one of the best ways to make everything better and let you feel comfortable in your own body.

So, next time you get naked, take a deep breath, relax and tell yourself, “Damn, I look FINE!”


How to Feel Good Naked Miranda Buzzlove originally appeared on CalExotics.com

Great Sex Using All Five Senses

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I was thinking about this amazing platter of sushi I had the other day. It was seriously unreal. When the waiter brought it to our table, my friends and I gasped when we saw it. It was so beautiful. And when I put that first roll in my mouth, OMG, it was the best damn thing I’ve ever tasted. My friend said, “This is like an orgasm in my mouth,” and I honestly couldn’t have agreed more. Seeing that sushi with my eyes and tasting that sushi on my tongue brought me so much pleasure, it got me thinking about sexual pleasure and how it can be so much more comprehensive than just the physical aspect.

Incorporating all five senses – touching, smelling, hearing, tasting and seeing – can do wonders for your sex life, so I thought I’d drop some tips for y’all:

Touching

Since sex is such a physical act, of course touch is a big part of your sexual experience. But it’s always good to try new things and explore the entire body (both yours and your partner’s) so you can figure out what you like and what arouses you. Aside from the obvious parts of the body that have enhanced sensitivity, there are other erogenous zones that when touched, kissed or licked, can give you intense pleasure you never knew you could have. For me, it’s all about the ears. Seriously, the first time someone sucked on my ear while having sex, I was surprised by how amazing it felt. Now, it’s part of my normal sex routine because of how much it turns me on. Also, using a vibrator is another sensation that can rock your world.

Smelling

You know the excitement you get when you pass a bakery on the street and smell the fresh, gooey cookies they just took out of the oven?  Take that sensation and bring it into the bedroom! You can light a candle or incense, anything that will perk up your sense of smell and relax you.  I’m all about lavender, but there are so many different scents out there to try!

Hearing

Do you ever hear a song come on Spotify and you’re just like damnnn, this is putting me in the MOOD! Seriously though, sometimes at work that one song comes on in my headphones and I wish I could teleport to my bedroom! Music is that powerful. A good song can help set the mood for sex – during foreplay and during the main event. Queue up that sexy time playlist and ride it out, literally! Also, if talking dirty or flirty during sex turns you on, talk that TALK! Just remember to relax and let it flow.

Tasting

Going back to the cookies (of course)!  Bringing food into the mix is a great way to activate your taste buds and really boost your sexual experience. Whether you tease your partner by wrapping your lips and tongue around a big, juicy strawberry, or drizzling some honey on your nipples, make sure to use your tongue as much as you can. You know that Sex and the City scene where Samantha puts sushi all over her body? Yeah, it’s sexy as hell when you do it in real life!

Seeing

Visuals are huge when you’re trying to turn up the heat in the bedroom. You can even throw in a little strip tease to widen up your partner’s eyes and ramp up the excitement. Put on and then take off (wink wink) your special lingerie and put on a little show. Seeing my partner’s reaction to my sexiness and confidence always gives me that extra boost! Dialing up the visuals is great but taking away your sense of sight can also be sexy as hell. Removing one sense can help enhance all the other senses, so you can experiment with blindfolds to really focus on the other senses.


Great Sex Using All Five Senses by Miranda Buzzlove was originally published on CalExotic.com

Thumpers & Thrusters: A Look at the Rise of Mini Sex Machines

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Powered sex toys are often associated with just vibration, but shoppers also have the option of products that mimic the sensation of intercourse. Rhythmic thrusting once could only happen manually, which, for some people took some of the fun out of self-pleasure — so much reaching and bending, and hands get sore super-fast.

Fortunately, penetration lovers now have the option of thumpers and thrusters! Not only are there toys on the market that auto-penetrate, many newer models go above and beyond. Some swell, suck, twist, vibrate, or operate via remote control, and many of these toys are like mini sex machines at a fraction of the price.

What is a thumper?

Classic thumpers operate via kinetic action. They offer a fast, shallow thrusting that feels similar to being vigorously fingered. Inside these kinds of toys is usually a weighted ball that moves back and forth, making it shake at incredible speeds. This intense wiggling motion provides deep, powerful sensations and offers an alternative to vibration that many people prefer.

Thumpers usually come in various thicknesses and lengths, and many have curved ends for G-spot or P-spot stimulation, so be sure to offer a variety of options, just as you would with traditional vibrators or dildos.

Remote control operation is especially ideal for thumping devices because it doesn’t require interrupting the movement to toggle through speeds and functions. Keep an eye out for thumpers that come with remotes – your customers will thank you!

Beyond traditional thrusting

Thrusting is another newer function that we’re seeing more of on the market. Rather than wiggling, thumping, or vibrating, these products mimic the sensation of intercourse, and many also boast features that human body parts simply can’t do — such as expanding as it penetrates and being equipped with ridges along the shaft.

Some toys also have a squirming motion and offer a less-intense sensation that’s akin to an internal massage rather than a thumping or thrusting experience. These products twist and turn inside the user, which really is something that needs to be felt in order to truly understand and is a great option for shoppers who are looking for something a little softer and less traditional. Similarly with thumpers, it’s important to look for products that can be used with remote controls, because no one wants to stop the fun in order to experiment with function and speed.

Vaginal thrusters

Imagine taking the best features of all the top vaginal toys and combining them into one incredible device. Many manufacturers are creating multi-use products for simultaneous pleasure and finding ways to give shoppers even more bang for their buck.

Some items boast rabbit-style clitoral and internal vibration with the add-on of internal thrusting, which ups the ante for users who like to stimulate multiple erogenous zones at the same time. Many of these rabbit-style thrusters also have suction function included in the external portion, giving users access to the air-pulsation that remains one of the most talked-about and asked-for sex toy functions this year.

Just a few years ago, if you wanted a self-propelled thruster, stand-alone sex machines were all shoppers had to choose from. This new crop of thumping and thrusting toys provides that big-ticket experience at affordable prices — and portable shapes — and there’s a wide variety of insertables that allow users to lie back and enjoy the ride. Penetrating toys like these are also stand-out items in retail spaces with features that some shoppers might not have even heard of, so have fun with displays and make sure store staff know how to talk about these exciting devices. There’s so much more to offer than vibration alone and it’s an exciting time for the sex toy industry!


Thumpers & Thrusters: A Look at the Rise of Mini Sex Machines by Rebecca Weinberg originally appeared in XBIZ

Practical Tips For Initiating Sex With Your Partner

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Sexual encounters don’t just happen- someone needs to get things started. But how? How do you make a move? How do you let your partner know you’re interested in sex?

  1. JUST SAY IT!

People don’t initially love this advice, because many of us have roadblock around direct sexual communication (“what if my advances are rebuffed? Then I’ll feel foolish”, “what if I come off as too forward? Then they’ll think I’m aggressive”, “OK, but what do I actually say?”), and these roadblocks can hold us back.

But truth be told, a simple “hey, I feel like having sex right now, do you want to?” is the most effective  way to get what you want.

Research has suggested that couples do a phenomenally poor job of reading each other’s sexual initiation cues. Your naked dance after the shower and your “bedroom eyes” wink as you suck on a straw suggestively are not cutting it. The messages are extremely likely to be misread, or not picked up on at all. And then no sex happens, and everyone is sad. Just saying it sends a more clear, concise, and unmistakable message.

  1. Write it

If you’re still working on your face-to-face sexual communication skills, initiate sex in writing.

Send them a text, or leave a little post-it note on the bathroom mirror or somewhere else where they and only they will find it that says “sex later?”

  1. Start with the basics

Practice by initiating physical affection and touch in other ways in your relationship. Reach out and hold their hand. Plant a surprise kiss. Offer a no-strings attached sensual back rub. For one, hand-holding, kissing, and back rubs are a ton of fun, can be super sexy, and are a wonderful way to connect. But as a bonus, they can help you get comfortable with being the one who initiates sexual activity.

  1. Focus on them

One way to make initiating sex with your partner easier is by making the sex you’re offering actually good sex. Take care in being a generous, competent lover. Focus on their wants and needs. Then next time, you can be more confident about initiating if you know that they know the sex you’re initiating will be enjoyable for them.

  1. Set reasonable expectations

Initiating sex when your partner is sick, or after they just had a baby, or for 17 straight days in a row, will probably not be met with warmth and welcomeness. Set yourself up for success by being reasonable.

  1. Be Humble

When you initiate sex, sooner or later, you will be rejected. In fact this may be one of the reasons you’re hesitant putting on the moves in the first place. No one likes feeling unwanted, especially by a sexual partner.

But go into this knowing it will happen, and that it isn’t an indictment of you, your sexual attractiveness, or how desirable your partner finds you. It simply means they don’t want to have sex right now, and that’s valid. Take a humble approach to the inevitable denial. Pouting and whining are not a part of a healthy sexual relationship.


Practical Tips For Initiating Sex With Your Partner by Dr. Jill McDevitt originally appeared on CalExotics.com

The Ultimate Guide to Temperature Play

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So, what exactly is temperature play? Sex expert Kasandra Brabaw gives the complete 101.

Imagine plucking an ice cube from a bowl beside your bed, rubbing your fingers around the cube to warm it up, and then dripping the ice-cold water on your partner’s nipples, down their stomach, and onto their genitals. This is the image most people probably conjure when they think of temperature play, the act of using heat or cold during sex.

But, as hot (and cool!) as playing with ice can be, there’s a lot more you can do with temperature, ranging from simple beginner tips to hardcore and slightly dangerous (which we don’t recommend unless you’re an expert!).

What is Temperature Play?

Why bother with heat and cold in the first place? Just like replacing the head of your wand massager with a silicone texture cover can make it feel like a whole new sex toy, temperature play can make your typical sex routine feel fresh. It’s all about the sensations.

So, pro-tip, try combining temperature play with sensory deprivation. Take our sexy ice cube scene from above, and add a satin blindfold. When you cut off the receiving partner’s vision, they’ll be able to pinpoint their focus on the feeling of the ice, making the sensation even more intense.

Sounds like your kind of fun? Here are 7 great ways to get started with temperature play:

  1. Heat or cool your sex toys

Your trusty sex toy is the perfect way to incorporate some hot and cold temperatures into both your partnered and solo sex. While toys made of materials that conduct heat and cold well will create more intense temperatures — like stainless steel or glass sex toys — but silicone sex toys work, too.

Pro tip: Place your toy against your wrist to check that it’s a comfortable temperature for you or your partner. You don’t want to stick a piping hot or Arctic chilly sex toy inside of your body!

 

  1. Grab some ice cubes

Ice is maybe the easiest option when it comes to temperature play. All it takes is grabbing a few cubes from your ice tray. You can drip melted ice water over your partner’s body. You can put the ice cube in your mouth and. then go down on your partner or run your icy tongue along their erogenous zones. Or you can rub the ice cube itself around your partner’s nipples, on their necks, over their lips, and on their genitals.

  1. Warm your mouth up

Temperature play and tongues are an ideal match. All it takes to make your mouth warmer than usual is a cup of hot tea or coffee. Drink your hot beverage right before going down on your partner and see how the new sensation makes them feel.

Be careful: If you’re using coffee or tea to warm your mouth before oral sex, you’ll need to drink it black. Sugar in the genital area can cause yeast infections, and trust me, no one wants that!

 

  1. Use a cooling or warming lube

There are lubes for just about everything, and that includes temperature play. Sensation lubes like the Wicked Toy Breeze (a cooling lube for sex toys) or the Wicked Toy Fever (a warming lube for sex toys) are handy essentials to keep by your bedside.

 

  1. Try a massage candle

Massage candles are specifically formulated to burn at lower temperatures than regular wax candles. Plus, they melt into a delicious-smelling oil that you can rub into your partner’s skin for a sensual massage.

Take note: While massage candles are cooler than a candle you’d find in a department store, that doesn’t mean they aren’t hot — they’re just much less likely to burn your skin. So grab your favorite scent and settle in a for a hot night, literally. You can even use your Le Wand to massage the oil into the skin!

 

  1. Use ice cream, whipped cream, or another tasty treat

Another great combo for temperature play? Food play. Simply open your fridge or freezer and grab any cool treat you want in your mouth or on your body and go to town.

But, again, if you’re choosing a sugary food like ice cream or whipped cream, then make sure to keep it away from your or your partner’s genitals to avoid a yeast infection.

  1. Drip hot wax

And finally, we get into the more intense temperature play. If you’re using a regular candle, and not a massage oil candle like the one above, wax play can be dangerous. If you’re not careful, you could burn your skin with too-hot wax. Be sure to test your boundaries and start slowly. Start with wax that burns at lower temperatures, like soy or paraffin candles, and drop the wax from higher distances (it’ll cool down as it falls through the air). Once you get more comfortable, you can try a wax with a higher melting point, like beeswax or palm. You can also drop the wax closer to the body, which will make the heat more intense.


The Ultimate Guide to Temperature Play By Kasandra Brabaw originally appeared on Rumble & Buzz