Good Vibrations Guide to Sex -- Cathy Winks -- 02/13/03

Last Editorial Review: 10/23/2003

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Looking to spice up your love life? Worried about satisfying your partner, or yourself? Whatever your intimate issues, check out our frank and healthy discussion with Cathy Winks, co-author of The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever Written.

The opinions expressed herein are the guest's alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Hello Cathy. Welcome to WebMD Live. With Valentine's Day rapidly approaching, do you think sex toys make a good gift?

Winks: I think sex toys can be considered the gift that keeps on giving and a great gift for men and women who are particularly intimate with each other. The main thing to consider when purchasing a sex toy for a loved one is to be sure that the toy will be well received. It's best not to spring a vibrator or a dildo on a partner without having had some conversation beforehand to find out whether or not it would be welcomed. You want to present the toy as something to enhance your already pleasurable sex life, so your partner doesn't worry that you're indicating dissatisfaction.

Member: Hi Cathy! My husband and I have been together for 16 years. We love each other very much and have always enjoyed a fulfilling sex life. My husband doesn't get turned on by oils, lotions, negligees, etc. He is pretty much a natural sort of guy. What can I do to give a little variety to our sex life?

Winks: It sounds like your husband would not be interested in erotic massage. Have you explored whether erotica turns him on? Perhaps he'd like it if you read the sexy bits from a book aloud to him, or maybe the two of you would enjoy renting some adult videos. A lot of people can enjoy the experience of the stimulation from sharing sexually explicit materials.

Moderator: We had a man on the other day who was being deployed and wanted advice on getting a vibrator for his wife to use while he's away. What do you suggest?

Winks: First off, I'd like to congratulate the thoughtful husband for not being threatened by the thought of his wife's masturbation while he's away. And then I'd suggest that his best bet would be to get his wife a gift certificate to a woman-friendly sex business, such as Good Vibrations or Toys in Babeland. His wife might need to experiment to find out what style of vibrator she personally enjoys. There's no one sure-fire magic bullet that every woman will like. She may enjoy the powerful stimulation of an electric massager style vibrator, or she may prefer a milder, more compact, battery operated vibrator. Either way, if she has fun with the vibrator she picks for herself, she'll enjoy sharing it with husband when he comes home -- hopefully that will be soon.

Moderator: For those who may not live near a woman-friendly sex shop, are there safe sites to visit on the web to make those kinds of purchases?

Winks: Yes, I'm so glad you asked that. All the women-friendly sex stores in the country also run web sites where they sell their products and I would say that any of these businesses completely protect the confidentiality of their customers and are very reliable sources. The nice thing about the web is it allows so much more product information and tips on selecting toys to be posted. So web sites are quite an improvement over print catalogues.

Member: I have a problem and do not know what to do. My partner and I were having sex and used latex penis ring. The ring fell off and got lost inside me. This was on Saturday. I am having no pains or anything like that. What should/can we do to get it out. Or do you have any advice?

Winks: The vagina is not a tunnel that leads into the body. It is closed off about four or five inches in by the cervix. If that latex ring is inside your vagina, you should be able to simply reach in and fetch it out. I suggest relaxing yourself as much as possible, perhaps using some water-based lubricant to lubricate your fingers, and exploring until you find the ring and can pull it out. There's certainly no harm that could come to you but you wouldn't want to have it left in your body for more than a couple of days, just like you wouldn't leave a tampon inside your vagina for days and days.

A penis ring is a ring that is wrapped around the testicles and the base of the penis to restrict blood flow out of an erection. Many men can find this to be a pleasure enhancer and many women can enjoy how it makes the erection firmer. I'm not quite sure how this woman's husband's ring fell off, but maybe it was after lovemaking.

Member: What can you do about low sex drive in a woman? I am 42 and have 0% sex drive; I have to make myself!!

Winks: This is actually a common issue for many women. My advice would always be to work on cultivating your own sexual desires, separate from interactions with a partner. For instance, I'd strongly advocate for masturbating, experimenting with sex toys to experience a variety of genital stimulation, and perhaps reading or watching erotic materials. It's also a good idea to engage in sensual stimulation without necessarily pursuing direct stimulation. For instance:

  • Getting a massage
  • Going for hot tub
  • Taking baths at home with oils and lotions that you enjoy

It's also helpful to be getting enough physical exercise to feel in touch with your body. But in general it can be helpful just to know that it's perfectly normal not to be feeling raging levels of desire all the time. Many of us feel fluctuating levels of desire over the course of our lifetime. Situational stressors and hormonal changes can both play a role. It's important to be able to take the long view and understand that your experience of desire is not going to be same at every point in your life.

In the Good Vibrations Guide to Sex, we have a new chapter entitled Sex Over a Lifetime in which we talk about these common changes and offer suggestions for coping with them.

Member: My husband is very concerned about his penis size; he thinks he's too small. He wants to know if there are any drugs or other things he can do to increase his size (I don't have a problem with it, but he does).

Winks: This is such a common concern for many men. It sounds like you have a very good attitude and that your job is to convince your husband how much pleasure that you do get from the intercourse that you have. Perhaps it would help him to know that most women report that actual penis size is very unimportant to them and that penetration has less to do with sexual satisfaction for women than the clitoral stimulation that is more likely to result in orgasm. He may also be overly influenced by sexually explicit films or photos in which the male performers are usually men with unusually large penises who aren't accurate representatives of the general male population, just as most women don't have breasts the size of porn stars.

Member: What can a woman do for a MAN with a low sex drive?

Winks: The same issues that arise for women are relevant to men. A lot of it comes down to how good the man is feeling in his body and in his life. We have to look at what sex represents for different people. For some it is a way of releasing stress; others have more performance anxiety; others see sex as a way of expressing love. It's important to talk about what sex means to the two of you. It may be that the husband feels like any sexual encounter has to involve intercourse and orgasm for both partners, when the woman might be happy if they simply masturbated together, or held each other, or had oral sex but not intercourse. Sometimes broadening definitions of what physical intimacy between a couple is going to involve can reduce a lot of performance anxiety.

Our culture tends to hold up an impossibly high standard of sexual interactions so unfortunately many of us decide to skip the whole thing, which is unfortunate because we miss out on a lot of simply pleasures along the way.

Member: I think my partner is afraid our kids will hear us making love. Whenever we go on a weekend alone or the kids are at a sleepover, we have wonderful sex. But otherwise, it's not so great, or not at all. Any advice?

Winks: That is another very common concern of parents and I would say it depends on the age of your children, but at any age they're old enough to know that mom and dad deserve their private time together. If you have young kids, there's no reason they couldn't be watching cartoons on Saturday morning while you enjoy yourselves in the bedroom. And older kids can busy themselves with friends and computer games and reading.

It sounds like your wife simply has trouble relaxing into her role as a sexual being when her children are around. Maybe it would reassure her to know that a lot of therapists and sex experts think it's very important for children to know that their parents have a private life together. Part of good modeling for your children is letting them know that parents are intimate with each other and that that's an important part of an adult relationship. That said, it's perfectly reasonable for your wife to be more vocal and uninhibited in her lovemaking when you're on vacation or there are no children in the house. Maybe you could work on finding ways to eroticize the more secretive and quiet sex that you have when your kids are around.

Member: Is there anything that is the woman's equivalent to Viagra?

Winks: There are a lot of pharmaceutical products coming onto the market that are designed to affect women's physiological responses. Most of these focus on enhancing blood flow to the genital region or increasing vaginal lubrication. While some of these products maybe useful sexual enhancers, most women I know are well aware that sexual desire and arousal involves a lot more than vaginal lubrication. In our culture, we love the idea that you could pop a pill and get an instant response. It takes a lot more time and energy to cultivate sexual self-awareness and to just get to know and appreciate your own unique sexual responses. So I'd encourage women to put more energy into exploring their own bodies and their own responses rather than rushing to the doctor for a prescription.

A lot of the men who responded to our survey for the Good Vibrations Guide to Sex reported that while they might enjoy Viagra, as they got older many of them had also learned to appreciate a more full-body approach to sexual encounters and that the natural slowing down and reduced ease of obtaining erections that came with age had actually enhanced their experience of sex and sensuality.

Member: My wife is pregnant. If she has an orgasm, will she go into labor? She is not due for two more months. I want to please her but don't want to hurt the baby.

Winks: If your wife is not at risk for pre-term labor, there is no reason that you two cannot continue to enjoy a sex life together. The uterine contractions or orgasm can be more pronounced during pregnancy, but unless there are other medical risk factors, most medical professionals I've spoken with feel that there's no risk to the fetus involved.

It's great that you two are continuing to enjoy an active sex life during this time. Some doctors actually recommend sexual activity immediately prior to labor as a way of getting it started. The uterine contractions of orgasm and the softening effect of semen on the cervix are a way to help labor get started. But this relatively early in the pregnancy, there shouldn't be any ill effect.

Moderator: For more information on sex during pregnancy, please read The Mother's Guide to Sex by Cathy Winks and Anne Semans.

Member: Ms. Winks, I am troubled with premature ejaculation; is there anything that can help this?

Winks: Yes. This is a common concern for a lot of men, especially younger men.

I would caution you to stay away from many of the products that are sold, such as numbing creams. The best way to slow down ejaculation is not to numb genital sensation, but to get better awareness of your own sexual responses. The most common therapeutic technique is what's called the stop-start technique where men are encouraged to masturbate almost to the point of orgasm and then to reduce stimulation and bring themselves back down from the edge. If you learn to play with your level or arousal, you can gain confidence at your ability to control ejaculation more. Some men also find it helpful to use their pelvic muscles to contract and relax to postpone ejaculation. Basically, time and practice are a great way to get control over your own responses. And time, also, is helpful in that the older you get, the more naturally your sexual response time will slow down.

Member: I am a girl and single. I need to know if a girl plays with herself (sexually) will it be a problem or not?

Winks: Oh, it will most definitely not be a problem. If anything, it will allow you to gain valuable info about your own sexual preferences and responses that you will be able to share with a partner down the road.

Member: Is it OK for your partner to suck on your clitoris to generate blood flow or is this dangerous?

Winks: It is most definitely not dangerous for your partner to suck on your clitoris. This is a very popular and time-honored way to give a woman sexual pleasure. Obviously, you should both use common sense, and not apply any strong stimulation for a longer period of time than it is comfortable. Many women and men find that oral sex is a particularly intimate and satisfying form of sexual contact.

Member: How do I get my partner to try oral sex with me? I want it but he only wants to get it, not give it.

Winks: It sounds like you two need to have a talk. If he enjoys oral sex on the receiving end, he should be able to empathize with how much you would enjoy it. Try and find out what his reservations are. One common factor that inhibits people from experimenting with oral sex is the fear that their own or their partner's genitals will smell or taste bad. You can address this by bathing or showering together before sex, or you can experiment with flavored lubricants.

Your partner may just be nervous that he won't know what to do. You can help out by giving him tips and encouragement about the types of stimulation you would like. It would probably help if you reward him with extravagant praise and also the promise of reciprocating in the ways he enjoys best.

Member: My fiance and I are both in our early 20s. I have a healthy sex drive, but his is low. When we do have sex, it is great and he is very attentive. But he doesn't last long during intercourse. I think this is why his sex drive is low, but I tell him I think the sex is great. What can I do to increase his desire, and help make intercourse last longer?

Winks: We discussed some of the ways to increase desire, previously, but in terms of making intercourse last longer, you should be aware that missionary position intercourse is one in which many men reach orgasm quickly. You can take a couple approaches to problem solving. You could engage in other forms of sexual stimulation prior to intercourse to allow him to stop and start his level of arousal before he reaches orgasm. You could also experiment with different intercourse positions. Many men find that having the woman on top during intercourse slows down their own orgasmic response.

Moderator: Cathy, we are almost out of time. Before we wrap up for today, do you have any final comments for us?

Winks: Yes. A lot of the questions that have been asked today reflect how hard it is to be confident in our own sexual responses and preferences. I like to think that access to good info can provide us with encouragement to explore our own unique responses and I think that the best Valentine's present we could all give ourselves would be to appreciate and respect our own unique sexuality.

Moderator: We are out of time. I'm sorry we couldn't get to all of your great questions. Our thanks to Cathy Winks, and thank you members for joining us today. For more information, please read The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex by Cathy Winks and Anne Semans. Check out the information at the Healthy Sexuality Center on WebMD, and talk with others on our message boards: Sex Matters with Louanne Cole Weston and Sexuality: Friends Talking.

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