It’s a friday night, you’re getting cozy with your partner and zoning out while surfing the latest feeds on your smartphone. They lean in for a kiss, then a grope; you can sense the next step. Your anxiety skyrockets: heart beating fast and breath becoming more rapid. Repetitive thoughts start spiraling: What do they want from me? Why is work stress popping up now? Will I perform well in bed? What if I can’t keep an erection or climax?
We have so many strategies that allow us to zone out easily during relaxed moments, but when sex or physical affection is presented, our bodies must suddenly engage in the present moment. This presence often brings a flood of thoughts and feelings from the day, or those sparked by sex in general. For someone struggling with anxiety or depression, this flood of negativity prevents us from connecting with our partner and enjoying sex and pleasure in the ways we might like.
Fear not! We have some thoughts and tools to support you in shifting this pattern.
Continue reading Ask the Sexuality Expert: The Not So Sexy Parts of Anxiety and Depression
If the thought of sharing the nitty gritty details of your sex life with a stranger is enough to kill your libido, well, I don’t blame you. Trust me, I remember how insanely awkward I felt the first time I bought up something sex related to my therapist!
While opening up about such an intimate topic to anyone can be awkward, coming clean about the issues you’re dealing with to a therapist can be super-beneficial to your sex life. After mustering up the courage to bring up the awkward sex talk with your therapist, you can reap big-time benefits. Here are 5 ways therapy can help improve your sex life, as told by 5 people who have experienced it first hand.
Continue reading 5 Ways Therapy Can Improve Your Sex Life
My boyfriend and I lay in bed, his fingers twirling my chest hair as we talked about our plans for hysterectomies. I told him I saw the procedure as a safeguard against a worst case scenario. Hearing this, he looked so anguished, I nearly felt guilty.
“It makes me sad that you worry about that happening again” he said.
A few years ago, I told my 12-step sponsor about surviving sexual assault. He said we can’t resolve some experiences, we can only share our stories to help others realize they’re not alone. In other words, we can say, “me, too.”
Since getting sober in 2013, I’ve heard stories from several sexual assault survivors and I’ve told my own. Men don’t often discuss sexual assault or mental health, and while it’s not easy to share my story, I believe it’s crucial.
Continue reading MJ’s Story: Working Through Trauma of a Male Sexual Assault
I was staying at my parents house for a summer internship before my senior year of college. It was an especially hot summer in LA, and I remember when I woke up that morning I couldn’t tell if what I was experiencing was a fever or if I had just forgotten what a real SoCal summer felt like. I remember sitting down on the toilet, looking between my legs and seeing blood. I remember thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
After one visit to my family doctor and then another to a specialist, I learned the man I had slept with the night before had left me with not one, but two treasures to remember him by: internal hemorrhoids with abrasions (the blood) and herpes (the fever). When I called to tell him, he didn’t answer. When I went to find him on the gay hook-up app where I had met him, his profile had disappeared. When I Googled his name and the hospital where he purported to work as a physician, I found nothing.
That’s the man who raped me. I don’t remember the name he gave me and I’m almost certain it was a lie, so let’s call him John R. Smith. The “R” stands for rapist.
Continue reading Jack’s Story: My Identity In the Wake of Male Sexual Violence
Glitter and jewels coat faces, arms, and cleavage. Outfits are perfectly paired to maximize Instagram appeal and reach. Alcohol and substances fuel the connections of strangers while rotating DJs ensure ample beats.
Despite the lineup of artists, the real show at Coachella Music Festival is the private party scene. I had the opportunity to participate in one such event, the Safe Space Party at Laguna Seca. As a licensed Talkspace sex therapist, I had the privilege of speaking and participating in this event to support the promotion of a new app, SAFE, designed to support stigma free sharing of STI test results with sexual partners. Other companies and organizations joined the event as sponsors and speakers, including Amber Rose; Julia Cheek, founder of EverlyWell, the Crave vibrator team; and Vera Papisova from Teen Vogue.
Continue reading Why Sexual Health was an Important Topic at This Year’s Coachella Festival
According to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, one in six U.S. men have experienced sexual violence, and 17% of those men develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In my years practicing therapy, I’ve found male survivors face unique challenges to recovery, yet hesitate to get the help they need.
The question is why.
For one, we don’t hear much about male sexual assault survivors, although one study found sexual assault history was common among both women and men, reported by 25% of women and 16% of men surveyed. The research participants also faced similar long-term problems, regardless of gender.
Continue reading Male Survivors of Sexual Assault Face Unique Challenges to Recovery
With the #MeToo movement dominating the headlines over the past few months, many of us have had to ask tough questions about our own experiences of gender, power, and relationships. While women have taken the forefront of the movement, it’s also been a moment of reckoning for men.
The movement has not only provided an opportunity to confront more obvious acts of violence, but also how gender roles influence the way we treat one another in our own lives and relationships. This means confronting the role of toxic masculinity in our lives and relationships.
Continue reading How Men Can Confront Toxic Masculinity (+ Why It’s Important for Mental Health)
If we were to ask pop culture what the ideal relationship looked like, most of us would expect an image of fireworks in the sky with that one and only person who completes us. Romantic comedies may be uplifting, and love songs beautiful, but much of what we learn about relationships early on sets us up for unrealistic expectations.
The result? We never feel like our relationships are good enough, and may doubt if we’re deserving of love.
Holidays like Valentine’s Day can exacerbate these worries. Social media often makes it seem like everyone else is coupled and in an ecstatic state of love. If we’re partnered, we may wonder if our relationship is as good as everyone else’s seems to be. And if we’re single, we may feel even more inadequate.
Continue reading 7 Truths About Love to Remember This Valentine’s Day
Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, that person’s miserable! They need to get laid!”?
Well, that comment may be offensive and unnecessary, but it isn’t completely wrong. Sex may not be a cure-all (though I wish it were) — but it can have a measurably positive impact on your mood, as well as your physical health!
Continue reading 6 Ways Sex Is Good for Your Health
We know that women face a number of challenges to achieving equality. In the boardroom, we face the wage gap. And in the bedroom: The orgasm gap.
Researchers (and everyday people!) have found that a gap exists between the frequency with which men and women experience orgasm, especially during heterosexual sex. Specifically, women consistently have fewer orgasms than their male partners.
Continue reading The Psychology of the Orgasm Gap