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Can using a vibrator be bad for you? Advice from a sex therapist.

Can using a vibrator be bad for you? Advice from a sex therapist.

“I have been using my vibrator for a long time during sex and masturbation and I am worried that I have become dependent on it, or that later, without it, I won’t know how to reach orgasm. I’ve tried it without and it makes me despair because it’s harder for me to get “there”. Is this because the vibrator has made me insensitive or am I hooked on it?”

 

As a practicing sex therapist, this is an example of one of the most frequent fears among people who use vibrators, or those who don’t but have heard this rumour, that I hear. Even though the use of vibrators has become much more socially acceptable, their use is still clouded by myths and paranoias.

But what worries people the most is if there is a limit to how much you can use them, or that if you use them too much, it will end up being harmful. Do you remember that chapter in Sex in the City where Charlotte becomes absolutely addicted to her Bunny vibrator and doesn’t want to leave the house? Well, that’s fiction. Even though the scene is very funny, this doesn’t happen in real life.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a vibrator to masturbate or introducing it as another element in your sexual encounters. What can happen sometimes is that we become “passive” or “comfortable”. When using a vibrator it can be very easy to reach orgasm (believe me…): all you have to do is rest the toy in the right place with the right vibrations and you can come. Plus, we have thousands of variants of vibration: intense, soft, strong, sucking, intermittent … Almost a morse code in itself …

None of this is a problem (if we can call it that, because hello, since when is enjoying something and feeling pleasure a problem?), but what can be a difficulty is when a person stays stuck in this habit. But what if the same happens with sexual positions or any other facet of a person’s sexual life: if I always put myself in the same position because I know that this way I will reach orgasm, should I then stop myself from doing so in case it’s somehow harmful? No, the answer is not prohibiting yourself.

It’s about getting to know yourself, discovering yourself, opening new avenues and exploring self-pleasure in many ways. And of course yes, using a vibrator whenever you want. If you only reach orgasm with the toy, the issue isn’t really the toy: rather, it might be that you are searching for an immediate orgasm in the same way you experience with a toy. You need to try moving away from always repeating the same techniques, for increased pleasure and innovation.

And now to address this “anaesthesia” worry, or rather, the fear that a toy will make you less sensitive. Again, it’s nothing to worry about. You may experience a little insensitivity immediately after using a toy, but this is only momentary. You just have to let the area rest and everything returns to normal. Don’t believe me? It’s even been studied. The results of an investigation carried out in the University of Indiana speak for themselves: 70% of the women did not present any negative effect on their health or their sex life due to the fact of using vibrators, and the remaining 30% declared having some infections or minor pain caused by not having good hygiene with the toy (a very important issue always, that deserves not to be forgotten). In no case did the use of vibrators prove to cause loss of sensitivity. So even if you have two, four or six orgasms in a row with your vibrator, the only thing that will change is your pleasure and so … Why not?

There is a stigma about vibrators, maybe caused by fear or ignorance, by some people who see these objects as somehow unsafe. This probably has more to do with self-esteem than a toy – because a toy is not a competitor, it is an ally. Toys can introduce new kinds of pleasure that are more difficult to experience without. In fact, toys greatly help with all manner of sexual dysfunctions, and so as a sex therapist, I often recommend that singles and couples try to use them. For one thing, it can bring much more pleasure into your lives, and so, because the sex gets more enjoyable, you want to have more of it – and so their use can inadvertently increase your sex drive.

So, to conclude: sex toys (made with quality control in their materials) are totally harmless and will not steal sensitivity from you or cause you problems. The only thing they are going to do is give you orgasms and the freedom to play and innovate.

Mia Sabat, sex therapist

Yes? Yes. Yeeees!

Yes? Yes. Yeeees!

Mark your calendar and forget about your plan to go to the gym tonight! It’s International Female Orgasm Day, y’all! Ohhhh yes!

 

Did you wake up all excited and tingly this morning? No? You should have! August 8 is the official World Day of Female Orgasm!

Why today? Why did you not know about this before? Is it just about pleasure or also about politics?

We’ll answer all your questions so you have time to think of ways to celebrate this glorious day with as much pleasure as possible.

An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away!

So let’s take a look at how it all started. In 2006, the Councilor of Esperantina (Brazil), José Arimateia Dantas Lacerda, promoted a law to defend sexual pleasure in women, study it and address it as a matter of public health.

Dantas realized that especially women were not satisfied with their sexuality and had a hard time to climax, struggling to get their pleasure. A survey was issued to investigate the matter further and concluded that the situation should change because it was “a matter of public health”, due to all the health benefits orgasms produce. The initiative went viral and in the end, August 8 has been adopted worldwide as International Female Orgasm Day. Or as we call it: Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Sunday.

 

Relaxed Natalie Dormer GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

The pleasure gap

13 years have passed since the proclamation of Female Orgasm Day, but the pleasure gap is still existing till today. So why did we all not learn more during the last couple of years? One reason is of course that we don’t only need one day during the year to remind ourselves of the greatness of the female orgasm and all its’ health benefits; it’s a matter of constant practice and also a matter of truly understanding your own body, your wants and needs and how to fill you daily life with small and arousing pleasures that are already waiting for you in your mind and body!

Additionally, we, as a society, need to do some serious myth busting surrounding the subject of female orgasm and anatomy, so women (and men) can have a whole new (and way more satisfying!) understanding of female sexuality.

We started Emjoy with exactly those goals in mind. We want to help you get a better understanding about your body, help you love yourself more, feel better in your skin and learn pleasure techniques that arouse both your body and mind in ways you haven’t imagined before. Oh and did we mention that by doing so you’ll live healthier and happier for sure?

Say it loud, say it proud: It’s all about the clit!

The idea of ​​penis-vagina sex remains widespread as the “normal” form of our idea of “having sex”. This should be one of the first things we have to erase from our minds, once and for all! Repeat after us (and tons of studies on the matter):

The big majority of women need stimulation of the clitoris to orgasm. Penetrative sex is not enough! 

That said, penetrative sex can also lead some women to orgasm, but that is also happening because part of the clitoris is touching the walls of the vagina which can be stimulated by penetration. We have more on this in one of our female anatomy sessions, if you’re interested!

The most important fact remains: We can’t talk about female orgasm without talking about the clitoris! So: Let’s get cliterate!

Get cliterate and stop faking it!

So what’s the current reality of female orgasms? Studies suggest that half or almost half of us fake orgasms frequently. We pretend to have fun, when actually we aren’t and we pretend to climax even though we don’t. We’ve probably all done it. Either it’s because we feel guilty or think it’s what our partners want to hear or, or…. It does not matter, really, does it? Let’s stop the nonsense. Let’s not fake orgasms anymore! Why should we?

So, yes. It’s alarming to realize that only one partner is constantly and truly enjoying sex, while the other partner is faking it. But there’s hope! Did you know that when women masturbate, between 75-80% have no problems to climax and that women in  homosexual relationships almost always reach orgasm? So don’t despair!

There are many factors that can influence whether or not to reach orgasm in a sexual encounter. But in all of them we can take an active role to improve how we feel so that we can all live our sexuality more freely and happily.

 

Reinventing “good sex”

As you can see, studies urge us to move forward and reach a more satisfying status quo for both sides of the bed. The best thing we can do is to learn more about the female orgasm and know ourselves better. This is not only important for women to fully understand their own body, it’s also essential that men (or partners in general) learn more about female orgasms if we all want to have truly satisfying sexual relationships.

Our sexual power is often not fully activated, even though it is so powerful!

We would like to invite you to become aware of your body in new ways. Knowing yourself – all off you: your mind, your body, your desires, what you like and also what you don’t like is the master key to a whole new relationship with yourself and your sexuality.

Your body is a wonderland!

 

  1. The brain: Yes! It’s the most powerful sexual organ. Because it’s the place where orgasms occur, because it is where we can change our ideas and beliefs, because it is where sensory and emotional stimuli arouse our desire. The brain is our primary tool for sexual satisfaction.
  2. The clitoris, of course! The jewel in your crown and the only organ of the human being created exclusively for pleasure. Understanding the clitoris and knowing how to stimulate it is the key to orgasms. Love your clit! It’s your treasure spot.
  3. Love yourself! All parts and sides of you. Respect yourself. Know yourself. The most satisfying sexual relationship of your life should be the one with yourself. You are your most important lover and you know best how to make your body and mind happy. Learn what you want and like and how to give yourself the pleasure you deserve!

Fall in love with yourself and your body!

Orgasmic inequality is a reality. But so is the power of female orgasms and all the health benefits that come with it! If you don’t feel like you are living your sexuality to its full potential, don’t worry! It’s a journey. But one that’s fun in every way!

Don’t forget that your sexual pleasure is essential! Let’s all try to become more sex- and body-positive and understand and believe that our sexual pleasure is important.

We deserve it! We already have the necessary tools to activate all the powers that lie within our bodies and minds.So cancel all  your plans for tonight and add this to your To-Do List:

Celebrate Female Orgasm Day and Emjoy!

How to sext (and not cringe)

How to sext (and not cringe)

Sexting is a skill. A finely crafted skill that requires practice and sometimes very careful consideration. Getting someone wetter than an otter’s pocket with a single text is equivalent to a 3.8 in the diving olympics (skilled af, in other words). But have no fear! Your sexting fairy godmothers are here and we’re going to guide you towards a midnight thumb tap that leads to a toe-curling finish. Do we love you or what?

If you prefer listening rather than reading, we have an audio guided session on the app all about sexting.

Get consent first

Before continuing, this is a given for all of the following advice. You must first ask for consent. “Do you fancy talking a little dirty?” is a nice, clean opener – and if they say “no”, don’t send them a dick pic/nude/”but I’m hooornyyyyy”. Just respect it and move on. Unsolicited dirty texts can be really unpleasant, especially if they pop up whilst you’re flicking through holiday snaps on your phone with your boss at that exact moment.

Don’t try and be Shakespeare

None of this “your sunflower seed”* nonsense. It’s a vulva, a pussy, a clit, your lips. Of course, if you’re uncomfortable with saying these words, try and find a repertoire that you and your fleet fingered friend can stick with. Boat ones can work: “there’s a stiff breeze”, “I’ll pull into the dock”, something about “seaman”…. on second thought, maybe not.

*real experience from the Emjoy team

But keep it classy

“You’re a filthy animal” really can go one of two ways – instant blocking or a response in the vein of “yes I am, do you like it?”. The vital thing here is that you need to discern what the vibe is between the two of you. Don’t start off with the hard, crass stuff. Know your audience. Ask questions. “Are you naughty or nice?”, “Do you like it soft, dirty or hard?” or a good old-fashioned “I’m hard/horny/wet/erotically charged” always lends itself to a response that helps you gauge the situation. 

Just because you sext it, doesn’t mean you really want to do it

You shouldn’t feel worried that because in your sexting fantasy they’ve turned up at your office and banged you in front of the whole team that that means they’ll think they have to do it in real life. And in the same vein, don’t assume that because they like something while sexting that they’ll like it in real life. Just because they’re using words in a sext, doesn’t mean they will necessarily like them in bed, for example “slut” or “pussy”. Sexting can be one of two things – a kind of talking-each-other-through what you’re actually doing (“my hand is here, thinking about you is making me feel this way” etc. etc.) or it can be a fantasy that you’re running through together (“You’re licking my mermaid tail and I’m watching the octopus devour it’s own mother” y’know, whatever). Either way, remember that what happens in the sext, stays in the sext, unless explicitly stated otherwise. 

Use it as foreplay

Sexting is an excellent way to add a spark to an otherwise floundering sexual relationship. Rather than waiting for them to spontaneously grab you in the midst of a Netflix marathon or resigning yourself to the same routine, sexting can add a build up until the moment you can ravish each other IRL. Think of it as one long session of foreplay until you get to touch each other. 

For the love of God, puns are not sexy. 

“Did you get my junk mail?” Yes and that is exactly where it is going, in the trash, with a pun like that. Try harder.

Never send a nude without consent

This doesn’t just go for dick pics, drowning in them as we may be. When you’ve consented, nudes are hot, they’re fun, they can be nearly as good as the real thing. When it’s not been requested, it actually feels quite violating. Just don’t do it, ‘kay?

Safeguard your sexts

There are multiple apps nowadays that allow you to send texts that are automatically deleted or encrypted. You can use Telegram or Snapchat, plus apps that store your nudey pics in a separate folder. Also remember to turn off push notifications to avoid awkward sexts popping in unseemly situations, like when you’re showing Grandma your baby pics. We have a whole blog about safely sending nudes.

 

How to safely send nudes

How to safely send nudes

Nudes. It seems like only a few years ago that we were experiencing near-constant leaks of celebrity nudes. How were the people whose privacy was so carefully guarded being hacked by journalists to out their saucy late night snaps? We’re here to give you some advice on how to keep your nudes safe before, during and after sending them.  

Don’t use Facebook Messenger

Unless you don’t mind these photos being permanently stored – even after you “delete” them. Instead use timed message services like snapchat private messaging or messaging services like Telegram, Wire or Signal. WhatsApp is technically encrypted but we would be less inclined to trust it. With Telegram and Wire you are notified if someone takes a screenshot of your conversation or image, which is the same as with snapchat – and the only way to save your nudes through these platforms would be through screenshots as the image isn’t sent as a download like on Whatsapp.

Take it one step further…

And use a new email address, created on Proton Mail, to set up a messaging account with one of these messenger services. This way if any of your nudes do escape they can’t be traced back to your name.

Don’t have your face in the picture

Of course, if you have tattoos or other things that could easily identify you, it’s less helpful not to include your face. But if you are really worried or you have a tendency to send nudes on the regs, it might be worth considering.

Turn off Location services when you take the photos

Seems a little paranoid, but when you take a photo and your location services are on, the photos are encrypted with your location information – and so it can be traced back to your IP address (which is like the fingerprint of your phone).

Turn off automatic uploads

If you have an iPhone and use the cloud, whenever you take a picture your phone will automatically upload it to your cloud. This means that if any of your accounts linked to your cloud get hacked, someone has access to all of your photos – including your nudes. Choose to only upload selected photos to iCloud or better yet, don’t use iCloud at all and instead invest in an external hard-drive, on which you can store everything without fear of it being hacked as they are not connected to the internet.

Use a password manager

LastPass or OnePassword help you to manage complex passwords for everything you use – rather than having the same password for all of your accounts. This makes it much harder to hack you – you would be surprised just how many people have the same password for their facebook as they do for their bank.

Use private browsing online

Incognito mode is only more private because it doesn’t visually save your history when you browse – but this doesn’t mean that Google or other search engines don’t store information about what you search. Try using Tor instead for encrypted, private use.

Use an app to store your nudes 

Apps like Photo Vault let you store your nudes in the app and removes them automatically from your photos feed on your phone, so you can scroll in front of others without fear of a saucy picture popping up unexpectedly. 

If a nude of you is shared without your permission or ends up online, you have rights

Visit Cyber Civil Rights Initiative for more information on how to address this if it happens.

Advice for when you and your partner have mismatched libidos

Advice for when you and your partner have mismatched libidos

Getting freaky in the sheets is different for everyone. But one thing is for sure – we are all constantly bombarded with the idea that we aren’t doing it enough. But what if that pressure is coming from inside the relationship? What if getting in sync just isn’t happening?

It’s pretty normal to have mismatched libidos when you have a long-term partner or partners – and, despite what you may hear, it’s not as simple as “women aren’t as horny as men”. That concept is actually quite damaging and dangerous – it pressures men to be hypersexual and shames women for the same thing. Sometimes, we can be perfectly happy with the amount of sex we’re having, but we feel an outside pressure that we should be doing it more, because that’s what “healthy” or “happy” couples do.

There’s a big difference between how much sex you actually want, how much sex you’re having, and how much sex you’d like to be having. It might be that you don’t get aroused very often, but that you want to be having more sex. There are lots of reasons why having frequent sex is good for you and for your relationship – it releases endorphins and chemicals that build a bond between you and your partner; it is a natural stress reliever, pain killer, mood enhancer and anxiety buster; it helps you sleep better; it can be good exercise; and it’s fun. But we need to encourage the idea that the amount of sex that you should be having is the amount of sex you want to be having. We’re not here to tell you how many times a week or month or year is “best” for you or “normal” because everyone is different. Plus, there are plenty of things that affect your libido that you have no control over: medication, menopause, pregnancy, alcohol, stress, age and hormones all have effects on your sex drive. 

If there is an issue of mismatched libidos in your relationship, there are lots of things to look at. First of all – are you both enjoying sex to the fullest extent possible? When you do have sex, do you have an orgasm? Does it last as long as you want it to? The better the sex is that you have, the more you’re going to want to do it more. So maybe, if one person in the relationship is wanting more sex than the other, it might be because they’re enjoying it more, or their needs are being met more frequently. 

Have you tried experimenting? Or do you always have sex in the same way? Adding experimentation, games and exploration into your sex life could open up avenues to worlds of pleasure you never knew you could experience. It might also transpire that the kind of things that you enjoy doing might not be “full” sex, i.e. you might really enjoy sexting, or mutual masturbation, or a little light BDSM or some foot play. We are obsessed with a heteronormative idea that sex, no matter which genders are involved, has to involve some kind of penetration to “be” sex, but that’s nonsense. Sex is whatever you want it to be.

Are you having sex or sexual relationships at the same time of day? Maybe after work is just never going to be a good time for you because you’re tired or you have other things you’d rather be doing. Or maybe you schedule date nights or holidays and then the pressure that you should be having sex kills the vibe of actually wanting to have sex. 

Does your partner constantly ask for it and you find yourself saying no? Or are you always asking for it, and then being rejected, and feeling miserable about being turned down? Try and understand how this situation makes you feel. Unwanted? Pressured? Guilty? Maybe you can try doing sensual things together that aren’t a lead up to sex. Find a way to be intimate with each other, without the pressure of having to have sex. Take a bath or shower together, and explicitly state that it isn’t a way to get in each others pants but rather to find intimacy and closeness. Chances are you both know that there is a mismatch in your libidos – and approaching the subject can feel difficult. Communication really is key here though.

If you’ve really noticed a drop in your libido, or your partner has, there are lots of things you can do to raise it again. We have a whole section on our app that is designed specifically for this – with habit builders, practical exercises, theory and science, all in audio files that you can listen to on your commute or at home. Boosting your libido is not as simple as taking a pill, even though some may like to sell this as a miracle cure. Studies show that actually, these pills are only slightly more effective than a placebo.

But finally, if you are happy with the amount of sex you are having, you should never have sex because you feel like you should. This can lead to resentment, and if you’re forcing yourself to have sex, most likely it isn’t going to be that fun or pleasureable.

Beautiful, erotic cinema that’s not for the male gaze

Beautiful, erotic cinema that’s not for the male gaze

There are few subjects that elicit such strong reactions as those related to pornography. The stigmatisation of sex workers and sex work in general permeates through our society, a society that consumes more porn than anything else. And it’s not just men. Some statistics say that up to a third of women watch porn regularly – and those are just the women willing to admit it. Porn, as pervasive as it is in our culture, is ironically one of the last taboos. We watch it – but we don’t ever want to talk about it. 

There is a growing movement in adult cinema – that of ethical, female-produced, arthouse and feminist filmmaking. Films made with passion, intimacy, creativity and care. Films that represent female sexuality in the way we as women experience it, and not just as a male fantasy. Films that don’t centre on stereotypes, on racism, homophobia, or heteronormative ideas of beauty. Not all porn is made equal – just like any industry, there’s good stuff and bad stuff. 

But why should you care? Well, visual stimulation is important for your sex drive. If you’ve found yourself feeling less horny than normal, or you struggle to get aroused, watching adult cinema that features real pleasure, desire and consent can be a delicious and very enjoyable solution. We’ve rounded up five projects that provide unusual work – representative, intersectional, feminist and queer – so that everyone can find something they like.

For more information from trusted sources on sex work, feminist porn and why we should pay for our porn, you can check out the links at the end of the article.

(Parker Marx & Lupa Vaux in Idolotry – image courtesy of Four Chambers Vimeo)

A Four Chambered Heart

Vex Ashley makes (in my opinion) the best adult cinema in the world. Creative, imaginative, arousing for both your body and your mind, A Four Chambered Heart (or Four Chambers) features all films that are written, produced, directed, edited and distributed by Vex herself. You can sign up to her patreon to get access, and watch the more vanilla trailers for the films on her Vimeo (which are breathtaking in their own right).

 

 

(Stoya in Hysterical Literature)

Hysterical Literature

This series isn’t so new, but it never gets old. 20 women are asked to read aloud from their favourite book as, unseen under the table, their partner brings them to orgasm. All you can see are their expressions, but watching them attempt to concentrate and keep reading whilst the pleasure builds is unforgettable. 

Watch here

 

 

(Anne DeWinter and Bishop Black in Second Date by Artichoke Films)

Blue Artichoke Films

Blue Artichoke films dedicate themselves to portraying sex and sexuality in a real, emotional way. The best part about their films is how real everything feels, from the shy giggles, to struggling with more complex positions, it always feels like an experience that is close to something you’ve had in real life – which makes it all the more arousing. Award-winning, unmissable erotic cinema.

(Image courtesy of Aorta Films, from the film “W/hole”)

Aorta Films

Queer, intersectional, inclusive, sex-positive and all-round brilliant, Aorta Films is a site where you can find people with all kinds of genders, sexualities, bodies, desires and experiences. Beautifully shot, you can see how much these performers really like each other – so much so that it feels almost voyeurisitc! 

 

(Kali Sudhra & Jean Jumel in Spit It Up by Adriana Eskenazi. Image courtesy of Erika Lust Films)

XConfessions

Turning your sexual confessions into a reality for over a decade, Erika Lust, the Swedish indie adult filmmaker, has been making waves across the world with her XConfessions series. Making award-winning short films with high production values and beautiful performers and settings, XConfessions is by far the most popular indie adult cinema platform in the world. Lust also produces films by Guest Directors all over the globe, all of which are available on the site, including work from Bruce LaBruce, Poppy Sanchez and Sadie Lune.

 

So, do any catch your eye? Can you recommend some other feminist, empowering, ethical adult cinema? Leave us a comment below! And most importantly, emjoy… 

Extra reading for sex nerds:

Who Gets to be Sexy? – The New York Times

Why paying for porn makes you a better feminist – Cosmopolitan

Can there be good porn? – Stoya for the The New York Times

The future of female-led porn – Dazed

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