This probably isn’t news to you at this point, but both your body and your vulva change throughout every stage of your reproductive health, including menopause. With that, there may be some additional changes in your sex life after menopause.
If you’ve already reached menopause (meaning you haven’t had your period in over a year), then you probably already understand where we’re going with this. While yes, it sucks to know that physically, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms such as vaginal dryness during sex after menopause, also know that it doesn’t mean the end of intimacy, at all.
There’s an unspoken “golden” rule amongst the sexually active, particularly vulva owners, to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) — always get up and pee after sex, no matter how tired and satiated you are. After all that grinding and thrusting, bacteria (be it your own or your partner’s) near the anus and vaginal openings can wiggle its way up through the urethra and wreak havoc on the urinary tract. Urinating can help flush it out, keeping your bits n’ pieces happy and healthy.
Even if you’re new to the wild and wonderful world of butt stuff, you’ve probably already heard that anal sex requires lube, lube, and more lube — and for good reason, too. As sex and pleasure educator Luna Matatas explains, “The anus isn’t self-lubricating in the way that a vagina is, and the tissue can be delicate and easily injured if there’s too much friction.” Without anal lube, backdoor penetration of any kind — whether it be with a toy, a finger, or a penis — can be painful and even cause some mild bleeding afterward due to any tears in the sensitive anal canal tissue. Pretty sure that’s not anyone’s idea of a good time.
Looking for a quick and easy way to upgrade your sex adventures? Allow us to introduce you to the juicy world of lube. Designed to keep things slick and moving easily, no matter whether it’s being inserted inside you like a prostate massager or rubbed on top of you like a masturbator, lube greases the wheels in all the right ways.
Picture this: Lube is like butter and your body is the toast. Without it, you could still have a nice nibble, but it will likely be a bit dry. Add a generous slick of full-fat butter, and your breakfast will transform into a much tastier snack. Hungry for more? Keep scrolling for our pick of the best lubes to shop now.
Every guy should own sex lubes. A proper lubricant isn’t just for a nice handy (which, by the way, are totally underrated). If you’re heading for the backdoor, it’s the only way you’ll get in — anal sex and lube go hand in hand. But you’ll want a bottle of lube in your nightstand even if you never leave missionary island: Lube makes vanilla P-in-V sex even more fantastic — not least because your partner will appreciate your thoughtfulness and consideration.
A quick breakdown of the best lubes available: there are water-based, oil-based and silicone-based, and sometimes hybrids of two or more. Water-based lubricants can be used for vaginal and anal play (read our roundup of the best lube for anal here), but they aren’t just great for sex, either.
Throw on your bathing suits, folks, because we’re going down the slip-n-slide to find the best anal lube for you. Going into anal sex without a lubricant is like going through your day without coffee: painful and almost always unsuccessful. On a more serious note, “using lube for anal play is crucial,” Jenn Mason, founder, and owner of WinkWink, a Washington-based, women-owned sex shop, tells SELF. We spoke with experts to understand what to look for when shopping for anal lubes and why it’s beneficial for anal sex.
The anus has thin walls, doesn’t self-lubricate, and is surrounded by sphincter muscles that naturally tighten closed when touched. So for anal sex, experts suggest that you apply lots (and lots) of lube, get relaxed before penetration, start gradually with gentle stimulation (and work your way up), and communicate with your partner.
If Lizzo is right and we really are our own soulmates, it’s time to seriously re-evaluate the way we’re getting ourselves off. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, there’s really no better time to make a date night with yourself and do some, ahem, field research.
“Your sexual pleasure is a journey, not a destination,” says Toronto-based sexual health and consent educator Samantha Bitty. “What got you off in 2010 might not get you off in 2020.” Translation: try new things.
There is nothing wrong with looking for a bit of inspiration when it comes to sex. Traditionally, men have turned to porn to get inspired; however there are other solutions. For instance, literary erotica allows readers to find inspiration by inserting themselves into the stories. There are so many options when it comes to literary erotica, stories that run the gamut from cowboys to vampires to everything in between. No matter what revs your engine, you can always find it on the written page. For something really classic, check out Anne Rice’s “Sleeping Beauty Trilogy” or Anais Nin’s “Delta of Venus” or “Little Birds.” For something new that offers a little bit of everything, try an anthology series like “Best Women’s Erotica of the Year” or “The Big Book of Orgasms.”
Still not convinced the written word can do as much for your sex drive as the moving picture?
1. Erotica trumps porn because the brain is queen.
“The brain is the most complex organ in the human body, so it makes sense that erotica engages the mind differently than watching traditional pornography. A lot of porn is a hard-carnal sell, skewed more toward overt sexuality and racing to the almighty ‘money shot,’ rather than teasing nuanced sensuality,” explains Pfeuffer. Filling your head with positive inspiration is key.
2. Erotica trumps porn because porn can be all about the boys.
Pfeuffer explains, “Given that 2017 data from PornHub revealed its audience is 75 percent men and 25 percent women, it’s probably safe to assume that most porn is written with the male gaze in mind. There are filmmakers who defy these stereotypes: Erika Lust, Bree Mills, and Lucie Blush are all badass feminists, who produce porn with thoughtful plots and storylines.” If you want to play in the porn playground, be as picky as you please about what you watch.
3. Erotica trumps porn because most women don’t look like that.
“Erotica appeals to a different aesthetic, one where the imagination can run wild without a concrete visual or cadence. Most women don’t look like porn stars, so it’s hard for us to relate, and a lot of women end up making unrealistic comparisons,” says Pfeuffer. It can be hard to feel sexy when comparing yourself to appearance and behaviors that simply don’t exist in your world. To feel even sexier, try adding a clit simulating gel to your sex play.
4. Erotica trumps porn because some porn can be unrealistic.
Porn sex is not real sex. Period. “Real sex doesn’t always look like what we see on the screen. Not all women squirt, like anal without lube, or cum without foreplay,” explains Pfeuffer. “Porn would have you believe otherwise. I’m guessing for most of us, our mental imagery of what pleasure looks like is very different than what men imagine. Erotica allows us to mold that mental imagery.”
5. Erotica trumps porn because erotica is perfect solo or in pairs.
“Readers can read out loud to a lover or get lost in a story on their own,” Bussel says, which makes erotica as fun to share as it is to use alone. Make erotica part of your foreplay and you can be sure that your play will be better than ever. While you’re at it, why not add something to spice things up like a little massage oil…
6. Erotica trumps porn because you can make erotica your own.
Erotica gives readers the chance to fill in the blanks. “Reading erotica lets people use their imagination, inserting themselves into a story and getting lost in the plot and the sexual acts in different ways than watching porn. Even with detailed descriptions, there’s still room to make the story your own in your mind and to embellish the visual in your mind, and perhaps be a more active participant than when viewing video porn, although I don’t think the two are at odds,” Bussel says.
7. Erotica trumps porn because it offers something new.
Erotica can be very inspiring. As Bussel explains, “For many, reading erotica can give them new ideas of things they might want to try or simply let their sexual fantasies have free reign in their mind, which isn’t always easy in a world that polices sexuality, especially women’s sexuality.”And in the name of trying new things, if you don’t use lubricant as part of your regular play, why not give it a whirl? And, if you do, why not try a new kind to up your lube ante?
8. Erotica trumps porn because erotica has staying power.
Porn imagery bombards the brain. But, “Written erotica can also stay in the reader’s mind long after they’ve finished it; I still recall some of the first erotica I read over 20 years ago,” Bussel says. Staying power means you can play the scenes over and over in your head whenever you choose. No technology required. Another way to up your staying power is to try incorporating a performance product into the bedroom, such as a delay spray, to make the fun last longer.
Porn definitely has its place. It’s been around a long time and it’s certainly not going anywhere, however, it does have its limits. For instance, porn must be watched on some type of electronic device. The amazing thing about erotica is that you don’t need anything but the words and your imagination to immerse yourself in pleasure. As mentioned before, nearly all of it is filmed from the male perspective, and 99% of it is painfully fake in its depiction on intimacy. With erotica, there is a story for every taste, in every genre, from mild to wild. So, why not give it a try? A whole new literary world of sexy awaits you!
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