25 Oct

Red Flags in Sex

There’s something exciting about a new person, whether that be a FRWB or a new relationship. It’s tempting to romanticize this new person. But those rose-colored glasses can make it harder to see red flags. 

All new relationships are bound to experience their fair share of road bumps. Sometimes the difference between a regular rough patch and a red flag is hard to differentiate. And sometimes relationship red flags stand out. But red flags aren’t exclusive to new relationships. In some cases, the issue doesn’t arise until months or years later. 

No matter when you notice the red flag, it’s important to address it when it arises. Whether that means working together to compromise or deciding that maybe it's best to see other people, that’s up to you. 

Our readers have sent us in their own stories of their relationship red flags which will hopefully help you learn to see and address the red flags in your life or that might come up later. 

Violating Consent:

While some red flags are harder to see, violating consent is hard not to notice and should be taken as a sign to reevaluate your relationship. 

As always, we recommend establishing boundaries with your partner, even if you’re just hooking up. In every scenario, every person has their own rules of engagement that deserve to be respected. If your partner isn’t going to respect your boundaries, what else might they disrespect?

Violating consent can include lying and manipulation. Using a bait-and-switch tactic to get you in bed is not acceptable. When you agree to have sex, you agree on certain terms. And when those terms are ignored, you’ve entered a scenario that one party didn’t agree to.  

One reader wrote,

“In the middle of consensual vaginal sex, dude turned the experience into surprise anal sex. We did not talk about it prior, I did not ask for it, and I did not like it. And that's the story of the last time he got my goodies. Bye Felicia ???? .” 

Consent to one act doesn’t necessarily mean consent to another act. Both partners need to sign off on the specifics of sex. Everyone’s got to be on the same page about what kind of sex you’re going to have. 

Another reader shared this story:

“In the middle of a blow job, I asked if he had a condom (he'd said prior to this that he did). He told me he did not, ‘but we could still do it.’ I got dressed and left. Safety first. [Because] if he'll lie about that, what else did he lie about?” 

We’d agree that this reader did the right thing. Lying, especially lying to manipulate you, should never be ignored.



Ignoring Their Partner’s Pleasure:

Sex is a collaboration. Almost the entire point of partnered sex is sharing the experience with your partner. We’re all for self-pleasure, but if you’re having sex with another person it’s best if you cater to their pleasure as well. 

Several of our readers said their red flags were a partner’s inattentiveness to their pleasure. One wrote that their partner said,

“You don’t need lube or foreplay. Let’s just get to it."

 Another reported that their partner told them,

“‘I don't want to give you foreplay every time we have sex’ after never giving me foreplay during sex.”

Human sexuality isn’t a switch that can be flipped on and off. Most people need to build up to the act if they’re going to enjoy it. This is especially true for vulva owners, as they’re not guaranteed to produce enough personal lubrication. 

It’s a mistake to view sex as just the act of penetration. Think of sex as the whole thing: initiating the encounter, foreplay, the actual act, and anything that happens after. There is an array of pleasure to be experienced. Indulge your partner. Let yourself indulge. Learn to enjoy the ride instead of rushing to the finish line. Your partner will have more fun, and we’re willing to bet you’ll have a better time too. 

Lube is the unsung hero of good sex. It’s the easiest way to ensure you and your partner both achieve orgasm. This is true for everyone: single, in a relationship, married, and every single person who has sex. It’s not a kink. Lube is a facilitator. Women and anyone with a vulva produce natural lubrication, but they might not always produce enough to make things easy. 

Heterosexual couples, especially ones in long-standing relationships, tend to be among the most resistant to lube. This is a combination of a lot of things: people are too embarrassed to ask, partners taking it as an insult, or people think it’s not for them—that lube belongs to really daring sexual activities. This is not the case. Lube is for everyone. It minimizes pain and maximizes pleasure. With lube, your activities can last longer and be more fulfilling. 

If a little slickness is good, a lot is even better. Just try lube. We promise you’ll like it, even if you don’t want to admit it. 

Constructive criticism is good. We had readers tell us that their partner’s unwillingness to take constructive criticism and collaborate turned out to be a red flag. Fortunately, this is the kind of red flag that can be overcome. Good relationships and good sex all require effective communication, and for people to utilize the information they’ve been given.

Listen to your partner—they’re trying to tell you something. 


 


Shaming Their Partner:

If your partner is shaming you in any way, shape, or form they might not be the right person for you. A good partner will build you up and encourage you to live your best life. They will want you to do what’s right for you and be open to learning ways they can help improve your relationship. 

Body-shaming in any form, whether that be about your body hair or your weight, is a big red flag. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. 

Body shaming is essentially bullying, and it’s not too far from metastasizing into verbal abuse. No one deserves to experience that. You deserve someone who can appreciate you as you are and won’t try to emotionally manipulate you. 

A partner being a bully is typically not something you can talk through, but you can possibly talk through your partner’s apprehension about sex toys. 


Psst: Editor's note: If your partner is bullying you, abusing you, or manipulating you in any way, please contact the

National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE or texting "START" to 88788.

For more information on identifying abuse: visit www.thehotline.org.


Like we mentioned earlier, some people reported their partner getting squeamish about introducing lube or toys to your activities. Some partners might take offense at the suggestion to use lube or a sex toy during your activities, as they’re worried you might find them to be inadequate partners. But this is simply not the case. For people with a vulva, it’s difficult to experience an orgasm without external—especially clitoral—stimulation. 

A vibrator is an assistant, not a replacement. Make this clear to your partner and let them know what you need to feel satisfied. 

Good communication might be just the thing you need to clear things up. It’s not an excuse, but your partner’s hurt feelings might manifest as snide comments and being passive-aggressive toward you. Setting things straight and hearing them could pave the way to work things out (after they apologize, of course). At the very least, if you want to make things work it’s worth it to have a talk about what you need, what’s working well, and what’s not working at all. 

If you’ve tried talking and they’re still taking issue with your needs, then this might be a red flag you can’t unravel. 

Aside from our readers telling us their partners have shamed them for wanting to introduce sex toys into their shared activities, some have also said they were shamed by their partner for wanting to masturbate. 

Just because you’re in a relationship does not mean you or your partner won’t want alone time anymore. We all need a little “me time” and self-love every now and again. Establishing an identity separate from your partner is only going to make your relationship better. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you need some space, and shaming your partner for wanting room to breathe is not acceptable. 


18 Oct

Get Comfortable with Your Sexuality

Sexuality.

Odds are, that word inspires a lot of emotions. Sexuality holds a prominent place in our society, but it also occupies a weird place in the cultural consciousness. Sexuality is both celebrated and demonized. Depending on where you live and who you grow up around, it can be difficult to find a place to express and interact with your sexuality in a non-judgemental way. The way you grew up probably affects the way you first encountered and began exploring that part of yourself. 

Female and LGBTQ+ sexual identities usually bear the most scrutiny. This can make it difficult for women and LGBTQ+ people to learn to embrace their bodies and learn to enjoy themselves sexually. All genders can struggle with identity and sexuality, so it is important that well all learn about ourselves and what we like to best support our wellbeing.

Fortunately, you can heal and change your relationship with your sexuality. It’s never too late to embrace every part of yourself: mind, body, desires, sexuality. 

Sexuality is innate, but it’s also a learned practice. If you want to nurture this part of yourself, you have to make a decision to make your sexuality a part of your life. If that’s something you’re interested in working toward, keep reading to learn new ways to embrace and nurture this part of yourself. 

Don’t Pressure Yourself

Everyone’s timeline is different. If you haven’t totally unpacked your sexuality yet or you’re still not at a place where you’re comfortable with your sexuality, that’s fine. That’s normal. 

You don’t have to have everything figured out now. And bullying yourself is only going to make matters worse. Be gentle with yourself and take some time to figure out who you are and what you want. 

Sexuality is complicated. Trauma, body image, and the environment you grew up in or currently live in might have all had a negative effect on your ability to perceive your own sexuality as something positive. It will take time to unlearn your negative views of sexuality. But it can be done. 

Getting comfortable with your sexuality can also mean giving yourself permission to leave it ambiguous. In today’s world, we’ve had more terms than ever before to describe different sexualities. There’s a lot of pressure to put a label on how you feel. With all the different points on the spectrum, it might feel overwhelming to find just the right thing to align yourself with. But that’s the beauty of the spectrum of sexuality—you don’t have to choose just one thing. Sexuality is fluid and deeply personal. If you can’t find the right word that makes you feel at home, don’t force something that doesn’t feel natural. 

Sometimes, it takes time to find the right words that describe how you feel. And sometimes, there is not a perfect word. You don’t have to prove your sexuality to anyone, and you should never feel pressured to disclose your sexuality on anyone’s terms but your own. 

Get Comfortable With Yourself

Your mind and body are some of the only things that are uniquely your own. They’re just as much tools for your own enjoyment as your mind and body are meant to be purely functional. 

Pleasure is an art—a skill you can learn and perfect. And the best part is that you can have a good time with or without a partner. If you want to begin to familiarize yourself with your body and what you like, you can start any time you like. But as a starting place, we’d like to suggest checking yourself out in a mirror. It’s not fair if everyone else gets to see your body, especially considering that it’s yours. Get to know yourself visually, and get comfortable with yourself visually, and then start working toward familiarizing yourself physically. 

Although certainly not required, a vibrator or lube, or both, are great tools to help you experience your sexuality in a whole new way. We’ve got an entire post here on buying your first vibrator if that’s something you’re interested in. There’s something out there for everybody no matter your experience or comfort level.  

But you don’t have to limit yourself to just your body. Try indulging in your fantasies via erotica or porn. Adult entertainment is a great way to get in touch with your own sexuality and figure out what it is you actually enjoy. 

Understand that porn and erotica are meant to be an inspiration and not manuals. You are allowed to enjoy reading about or watching something you’d never want to try in real life. There is no shame in fantasy. Let yourself enjoy things. 

Read Up 

There are a ton of books on the market (and at Lion’s Den) written just for people who want to improve their relationship with their sexuality. If you need a book about connecting with your pleasure or a book about overcoming your shyness, there’s something out there for you. 

Books like UnFuck Your Intimacy and Carnal Knowledge are all about assessing your relationship with yourself and your sexuality. They’re easy to read and full of valuable intel that feels more like having a conversation with a very knowledgeable friend rather than just reading a book. 

Considering Seeing Someone

Therapists can be a huge help in unpacking any negative feelings we harbor about ourselves, especially trauma or poor body image. However, there are therapists who specialize specifically in sexual health and wellness. 

The Mayo Clinic defines sex therapy as “a specialized type of psychotherapy. . . address[ing] concerns about sexual function, sexual feelings and intimacy, either in individual therapy or couples or family therapy.” 

Anyone who wants to improve their relationship with their sexuality can benefit from sex therapy. While a doctor can best address physical sexual dysfunctions, a sex therapist will be best equipped to help treat mental sexual dysfunctions. If you have trouble getting into a headspace where you can enjoy sex or your body, a sex therapist will be able to address and assess the cause of your particular dilemma and help you overcome it. 

You can interrogate your feelings on your own, but it might help to have some assistance from someone who has an in-depth knowledge of sexual health and wellness. Just bear in mind that for it to be effective, you have to be open and honest with your sex therapist and be willing to get out of your comfort zone.


13 Oct

Contraception

Condoms, IUDs, progesterone, vasectomy, spermicide. . . When it comes to birth control you’ve got options. But with all of the options available, choosing the right preventative measure for you can feel overwhelming. 

Not all birth control is created alike. Some have different functions, come with different side effects, and affect the body in different ways. Your lifestyle, your needs, and your gender identity all factor into which option is best for you. 

Almost all birth control is intended to be used by people with a uterus. But even if you can’t get pregnant, you could still possibly get someone else pregnant. If that’s not something you’re trying to achieve and your partner isn’t interested in having children at this time, you’ll want to be aware of things you can do to avoid causing pregnancy as well. 

Your healthcare provider will be the best source of information on which birth control options are available and which is right for you, but if you’d like to investigate on your own beforehand, keep reading to learn more about what’s on the market. 

What is Birth Control?

Birth control, also called contraception, is any method, medicine, or device used to prevent pregnancy. Some forms of birth control work better than others at preventing pregnancy, but these days most birth control is fairly effective. 

If you are sexually active and don’t want to have a baby, birth control is for you. Birth control does include methods like the pull-out method (removing the penis prior to ejaculation), or you might choose to have anal or oral sex to try and avoid pregnancy. However, these methods are lower in effectiveness than medicinal or mechanical contraception methods.

A disclaimer about birth control: although birth control is effective at preventing pregnancy, most forms of birth control do not protect against STIs. 

Non-Hormonal Birth Control

Non-hormonal birth control is a contraception option that acts as a barrier against sperm. You can get these in the form of diaphragms, vaginal sponges, condoms, or spermicide creams and gels. Most of these methods work by simply blocking sperm from reaching the egg, but spermicide works by chemically killing the stopping the sperm from reaching the egg. All you have to do is apply to the vagina prior to sex. 

Condoms can be applied to a penis as well as inserted in the vagina. Internal condoms work much the same way as sponges and diaphragms, both of which are inserted and fit against the cervix to prevent pregnancy. 

Non-hormonal birth controls can be purchased without a prescription and will not affect the body’s fertility cycle. However, they do have to be applied/inserted every time you’re about to engage in sexual activity. 

Birth Control for Vulva Owners

Most people associate birth control with the “the Pill,” oral contraception. The birth control pill remains one of the most popular birth control options in America and is a form of hormonal birth control. 

Hormonal birth control works by changing the body’s natural chemistry to prevent ovulation. Essentially, it turns off your fertility cycle. This means that hormonal contraception can safely put a freeze on your period. If that’s something you’re interested in, something like the pill or the shot might be the most conducive to your lifestyle. 

Not all hormonal birth control will stop your period, but many of the options will. If that’s a concern, speak with your healthcare provider. 

Hormonal contraception has the added benefit of being fairly low maintenance. Implant options like IUD or Nexplanon are effective for years once inserted, up to seven and three years respectively. They work by releasing hormones into the body over time that prevent pregnancy. These devices can be inserted with minimal discomfort in an outpatient procedure. 

Schedule-based hormonal options are very effective but can be stopped easily at any time. These options include the progesterone shot, the birth control patch, and the birth control ring. Their longevity will depend on the method you chose, but their effectiveness typically lasts around a month. 

All of the above-mentioned forms of birth control are not permanent and will eventually filter out of your system, allowing you to become pregnant if that’s something you’d like to pursue eventually. 

However, if you are looking for a permanent birth control solution, talk with your healthcare provider about tubal ligation. This procedure, also called “getting your tubes tied,” causes permanent sterility by cauterizing the fallopian tubes. This procedure is permanent and difficult to reverse, and should not reverse naturally. 

Sterilization is the most serious of the birth control options and can be more difficult to gain access to. Speak with your doctor about tubal ligation if you think it would be the best option for you. They’ll be your best resource for information about this procedure and how to schedule one if it's in line with your wishes.  

Birth Control for Penis Owners

At this time, there aren’t many birth control options for people with a male reproductive system. Your best bet is going to be condoms (which also prevent STIs!) or vasectomy. 

Even if your partner is using one of the above mentions of birth control, it’s still a good idea to use condoms. No birth control method is 100% effective 100% of the time. Condoms offer extra protection, both from pregnancy and STIs.

If you’re interested in a long-term option for preventing potential pregnancy, vasectomy might be something worth looking into. According to the Mayo Clinic, vasectomy is “a form of male birth control that cuts the supply of sperm to your semen.” It’s usually an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia, done by cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm. 

Not only is it an incredibly effective method for preventing pregnancy that only has to be done once, but vasectomies can also be reversed in almost all cases. 

You’ve got plenty of birth control options and we hope this has helped you narrow down what might work best for you.


06 Oct

Breast Cancer Awareness

It’s that time of year again. In addition to black cats and jack-o-lanterns, pink ribbons will begin making their rounds. October is breast cancer awareness month, but breast cancer is something to be aware of at all times. 

As one of the most common cancers globally, it’s likely that you or someone you know will have breast cancer during their lifetime. It is also the second-leading cause of death in women, resulting in a fatality rate of 2.6% 

It’s certainly not a death sentence, but it is something to keep in mind as you age and keep track of your health. As always, we recommend seeking advice from your health care provider, but we’re here to give you as much useful information as we can. 

Who Gets Breast Cancer?

It’s not just women. 

Men, women, intersex people, or people of any gender can develop breast cancer. However, it is a disease that primarily affects women. According to nationalbreastcancer.org, “it is estimated one in eight women, or approximately 12%, will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.” One of the greatest risk factors is being born with a female body. 

There are plenty of factors that play into who will develop breast cancer. Drinking excess alcohol, smoking, poor diet and nutrition, or being obese can put you at increased risk of breast cancer. These factors can be changed through eating a nutritious diet and getting regular exercise. 

Some factors, like biological or genetic influences, can’t be changed. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you’ve got a higher chance of developing breast cancer. Hereditary factors and age are out of personal control. 

Breast size also, unfortunately, factors into who might get breast cancer. Dense breasts are at greater risk of breast cancer. The National Institute of Health has observed the following:

The risk of nodal metastasis is higher in women with bigger breasts. It is not clear if this increase is due to the size of the breast (largely related to obesity) or is the result of larger tumour size at presentation (due to delayed diagnosis). It is hypothesised that women with large breasts are more likely to have node positive disease mainly attributable to their breast size.

This is not to suggest that those with large breasts will develop breast cancer, or that women with smaller breasts are free of concern. The NIH also writes that larger breasts seem to develop larger tumors rather than simply develop cancer more often. This is just information to be aware of. 

Presence of mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene will also put you at an increased risk of cancer. The BRCA gene (short for BReast CAncer), is a tumor-suppressing gene able to repair broken DNA. If the BRCA gene is mutated it loses the ability to repair DNA and prevent cancer. This mutation can dramatically increase your risk of cancer. It’s estimated that 55 – 65% of women with the BRCA1 mutation will develop breast cancer before 70 and approximately 45% of women with a BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by 70.

Men in whom the mutated BRCA gene is present are more likely to develop breast cancer. Their risk factor jumps from likelihood of less than 1% to approximately 1% with the BRCA1 gene mutation and 6% with the BRCA2 gene mutation. 

However, this mutation is somewhat rare. If you have a family history of mutated BRCA genes, it might be in your best interest to get tested. If you do not know your family history and don’t have anyone you can ask, you can consult your doctor about whether or not you should be tested. This mutation is fairly uncommon so not every woman will need to be tested for it. 

Preventive Methods:

This is your sign to schedule a checkup with your gynecologist. If you’re over 40, a mammogram is likely already a part of your health screening. And if you’re under 40, your health care provider can still (and should) check your breasts for any anomalies. 

Covid-19 has dramatically altered many people’s schedules. Cancer.org reports that the pandemic led to a substantial dip in breast cancer screenings. Being proactive about your health is great, but it shouldn’t be at the risk of another aspect of your health. Your health care provider should be taking the utmost care to keep up with current safety guidelines. 

For those who haven’t had one, a mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast tissue. Decades of research indicates that regular mammograms are the best way of detecting breast cancer early on. And the earlier it’s detected, it’s likely that the treatment will need to be much less aggressive. 

Breast cancer screenings are standard procedure for women’s health, so a mammogram is not likely to be offered to those who don’t see a gynecologist or health care provider specifically offering women’s health. 

If you are at risk for breast cancer or suspect that something is wrong, speak to your doctor. You should still be annually visiting your primary health care provider, so use your appointment to voice your concerns. 

Always disclose your background to your doctor. Nonbinary people, Trans men, and AFAB people all deserve quality healthcare and to be assessed for health risks that might affect them, and it might require an extra conversation with your health care provider to get you the care you need. Most research and discussion on breast cancer centers cisgender women, but breast cancer can affect anyone, so it’s important to stay vigilant.  

What You Can Do At Home:

A quality assessment from an expert is the most reliable way to get a prognosis, but it’s not your only option. Odds are, no one knows your breasts better than you do. You know how they normally look and feel, and you’ll probably be the first to notice if they start to feel or look different. And if you’re not already familiar with them, take some time to get to know your boobs and check them out. Taking a few moments to give yourself a go-over (your daily shower is a great time to do this), could make all the difference. 

The National Institute of Health reports that “despite increased use of screening mammography, a large percentage of breast cancers are detected by the patients themselves.” 

The NIH also notes that abnormalities found by the patient should be carefully evaluated, so if you see something, say something. Your health care provider is undoubtedly an educated person, but they’re not perfect and they might miss something. Also, if you notice something unusual and your annual check-up is still quite a while out, there’s nothing stopping you from changing your appointment to assess your concern early. Assessing your concern early could be the thing that saves your life. 

Most women don’t have their first mammogram until the age of 40. However, breast cancer can appear in people of any age. Cancer.org writes “breast cancer can strike at any age: 5% of breast cancer cases occur in women under 40 years of age.” 

5% might not sound like a lot, but to give you an idea of how significant it is, only 2% of the world’s population are natural redheads. So while it isn’t common for people under 40 to develop breast cancer, it certainly isn’t impossible. 

Know thyself. 

It could save your boobs, and your life.


29 Sep

Long Distance Relationships

We’ve all heard the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” And while that might be true, that certainly doesn’t make things any easier. 

Maybe you and your partner go to different schools in different towns, or maybe you’re not able to be with your partner because of the ongoing pandemic. Whatever the reason you and your partner are in different cities, states, or any distance, it can be hard but it’s definitely not impossible to keep the romance going. 

A 2018 survey found that 60% of long-distance relationships last. With a little extra help and some creative thinking, there’s no reason that your long distance relationship can’t be as physically and emotionally fulfilling as relationships that aren’t so geographically challenged. 

We’ve compiled some tips and tricks (and some cool product recommendations!) to help you navigate your LDR. 

Establish Some Ground Rules:

Even if you can’t be in the same place, you can be on the same page. 

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in long distance relationships is that both partners are not clear about what constitutes cheating. One person might prefer that their partner avoid physical and mental intimacy with others. Some don’t mind if they’re partner has a sexual relationship outside of their own as long as their partner doesn’t start prioritizing the other person. Not everyone has the same idea of what cheating or intimacy is, so make sure you’re both clear about what is and is not acceptable in your relationships. 

It’s also important to talk through how committed you are to a relationship. If you want to stay together and work through things, it’s good to have that verbal contract between the two of you. If you’re just casual (or that’s how one partner sees things), be upfront about it and save yourself some potential heartache. 

With all of that out of the way, trust your partner with the rules you’ve established. In the digital age, it can be tempting to cyber-stalk your partner and try to keep tabs on them, but that might do more damage to your relationship than whatever your partner is up to. 

If you spend all your time worrying about whether or not they're cheating, that means something is wrong. If your partner repeatedly violates the terms of your relationship and this bothers you, it might be time to reevaluate if they’re the right partner for you. 

But if you’re chronically concerned that your partner is cheating on you, and they’ve never cheated before and you don’t have any concrete reason to believe they’re cheating now, it might be time to reflect on what exactly is making you so worried. Some level of concern is healthy and normal, but if it begins to fester and cause you to resent or mistrust your partner, that’s a problem that could lead to bigger complications in your relationship down the road. 

A relationship should not ever be about controlling another person, no matter if that person lives in the same neighborhood or hundreds of miles away. Your partner has the right to deny any request you make of them. However, it's important to be sensitive to your partner’s needs. If they clearly express that something you’re doing is bothering them, you need to assess if it’s more worth it to keep doing what you’re doing or to make your partner unhappy. 

These are all things to go over before you begin your relationship. 

Make Time for the Ones You Love:

Something you learn as an adult is that no one really has time—they make time. Find ways to keep your partner on your calendar and prioritize your relationship. 

In all relationships, communication is king. This is even more true if your partner is long-distance. We are fortunate enough to live in the age of tech. Between Zoom, Whatsapp, Skype, FaceTime, and a plethora of other communication apps, you’ve got plenty of options that will make it easy to frequently talk and text with your partner. 

Women's Health advises partner’s to talk, but not talk all the time. If you lived together, you’d have plenty of quiet moments. That’s normal. You don’t need to overcompensate for distance by talking constantly, so try to keep big conversations contained to when they’re something really worth talking about. Also, pro tip: write down the highlights of your last phone call/Zoom/Skype. Then later, check in and ask about that thing at the office, how far they are in that new book series they just started, or anything else that’s important to them. 

Time is valuable, so respect theirs and yours.

If this is feasible, consider visiting your partner, hosting them, or meeting somewhere in the middle periodically. Being able to physically be with each other periodically will help stave off feelings of loneliness or feeling like your partner is internet-only and not part of your real life. A real life date or vacation together hits refresh on your relationship. 

Set aside some time to sync up your calendars and figure out when you can meet. Depending on your relationship, you might only have the opportunity to meet up once, or you can make it a regular thing. 

Get Creative:

Talking and texting is great, but there’s a reason love letters are still en vogue. Texts and phone calls don’t really exist outside of your phone. They’re ephemeral, and incredibly easy to send. But a letter, slightly more laborious, is something they can hold in their hand and keep. Try sitting down and writing them a love letter (bonus points if it’s handwritten). 

It’s a little more work, but it's so worth the extra effort to give your partner this intimate, physical gift. 

Games are another great way to keep the romance going when your partner is away. There are plenty of games online that allow people to play from different phones or computers. Find one you both like and have some fun! 


Editor's Psst: We also carry fun erotic games that you can alter the rules to make it work long distance. If you are interested in deeping your relationship, rather than focusing on the sexy, we also recommend some great games by relationship expert Esther Perel: Where Should We Begin and from the Emmy Winning Documentary The Skin Deep: {The And}.


It also helps to have things that feel uniquely yours. Try something like reading a book or watching a show together. Pick something, and map out when you’ll read/watch/listen so that way you’re enjoying it together, even if you’re apart. This also gives your relationship a little structure because it's a consistent part of your schedule. 

And if you want ways to keep things spicy while you’re separated, there’s options for that too. Depending on your comfort level, you could try phone or video chats when you’re ready to get intimate. They can watch or listen to whatever you’re doing, and you can watch and listen to them. Try guiding your partner over the phone for a more personal touch. You can read more on mutual masturbation here. We encourage you to give it a shot even if your partner lives in the same house as you. 

There are also plenty of products meant for you and your partner to try. The brand Svakom offers plenty of app controlled products. You can use these solo, or your partner can sign in on the app and control it from afar. It’s like they’re there without actually being there. Some of our favorite app controlled products are the Vick Neo App Controlled P-Spot Stimulator and the Emma Neo App Controlled Wand. As long as your partner has internet connectivity, they can play with you from anywhere. 


If you’re long distance because of college, or if you just want something for yourself, Lion’s Den offers an in-person 30% discount to students every TUESDAY who present a valid student ID. Grab something fun for you and your partner to enjoy.

27 Sep

Let’s Get Tested

Testing for STDs/STIs might conjure an image of uncomfortable conversations in your high school health class or something you read in a pamphlet at your doctor’s office. However, we’d like to assure you that getting an STI is normal and manageable, preventing them is a great way to care for yourself and your partners, and that getting tested should be considered part of routine sexual health. It’s just one more way to keep things fun and sexy. 

There’s some confusion on the difference between an STD and STI. For the most part, the terms used interchangeably despite the fact that most sexually transmitted diseases are, in fact, actually infections. An infection can later become a disease, but if you catch it quickly and treat it, odds are it won’t leave any dramatic lingering side effects. 

Either way, it’s important to regularly test for both if you are sexually active. 

The Importance of Getting Tested

It’s extra important to get tested if you have unprotected sex. And by sex, we mean any kind of sexual contact: anal, vaginal, oral, or otherwise. If you have been exposed to the bodily fluids of another person, there’s a possibility you’ve contracted an STI. 

It’s very common for STIs to manifest without any symptoms. Therefore, the only way to know if you have one is to get tested. 

For every new partner and after every encounter, you should get tested. And you should expect your partner to have a clean bill of health before hooking up, or at least disclose if they have an active infection. But sometimes things get carried away or you’re caught up in the heat of the moment without having the time to verify your partner’s sexual history or disclose your own. 

Being on birth control is also not good enough to prevent the spread of STIs. Hormonal birth control, such as the pill, IUDs, and the Nexplanon implant do not offer any protection against STIs. They only offer protection against pregnancy, so be aware of this. 

Like we said earlier, an infection is the first step in a developing disease. Planned Parenthood writes that STIs/STDs “can cause serious damage over time, even if you feel totally fine right now. STDs can also spread to other people you have sex with, whether or not you have any symptoms.” So if you have an STI, it’s best to find out and treat it as soon as possible before it can exacerbate. 

Also, if you learn that you’ve been carrying an STI, contact your previous partners. They might not have contracted anything from you, but it’s best to make people aware of this information before they find out later down the road. It’s always best to be forthcoming about your health and how that can impact other people. 

What To Expect When Getting Tested

Unfortunately, STI testing isn’t part of a regular checkup, so you’re going to have to ask to be tested. This might feel awkward, but don’t be embarrassed. There’s nothing embarrassing about being proactive about your health. 

Getting tested is quick, painless, and possibly free spending on where you get it (we’ll talk more about that later). 

Many clinics offer online booking so you should be able to get on their calendar fairly quickly. 

Your healthcare provider is likely going to ask you about your sexual history and if you have noticed any symptoms of STIs. These can include:

  • Sores or bumps on and around your genitals, thighs, or butt cheeks

  • Abnormal discharge 

  • Burning sensation when urinating

  • Frequent urination

  • Pain, irritation and/or swelling in your genitals or anus

  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, swollen glands, and feeling tired

However, all of the above symptoms could be caused by something other than STIs, so the only way to truly know if you have an STI is to get tested. STIs all have different symptoms, so disclose everything you’re experiencing, or not experiencing, to your healthcare provider so they know what to test for. 

  • Urine test 

  • Cheek swab

  • Blood test

  • Physical exam

  • Testing your sores (take a fluid sample from blisters via swab)

  • Swab test of genitals or throat  

If you have reason to believe you have been exposed to HIV, lead with this information. You might need to be given PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). It is used in emergency situations and must be started within 72 hours of possible exposure to HIV. 

Fortunately, many clinics have rapid tests for HIV and are able to begin PEP within the 72 hour window. But some tests can take days or weeks to process. Ask your healthcare provider how long it will take to get results. Depending on the test, they might be able to tell your results immediately. Some hospitals might have a “no news is good news” policy, but don’t assume that that’s the case. Always follow up for your results. 

Unlike Covid-19 tests, you don’t have to quarantine while you wait for your results, but definitely hold off on sexual activity while you wait for them. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

Talking to Partners About Your Status

The best time to have this conversation is before you have sex. Although it's not the most romantic topic, ensuring you and your partner are healthy is what will keep the romance going. 

When you start seeing someone new and it looks like you both want to engage in sexual activity, suggest that you both get tested beforehand. We’re getting there, but conversations around sexual health aren’t totally normalized yet. But making it an upfront and integral part of engaging in relationships will not only keep you safe, but might help improve the overall conversation surrounding sexual health. 

And if someone suggests this to you, know that it isn’t a personal attack or accusation. 

Avoid letting it slip into the awkward gray area of conversation and treat it as something totally normal. Try saying something like “I wanted to let you know that I’ve been tested recently and I didn’t have anything. Have you been tested lately?” 

Be firm in your requirement of your partner getting tested. Make sure their results are accurate and up-to-date. Your health is worth safeguarding. 

Now if there is something you need to disclose to your partner, be upfront about it. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. Keep it simple. Try something like: “Hey, I had chlamydia a few months ago but my medication totally cleared it up, so we’re good to go. I wanted to tell you beforehand, and ask if you’ve been tested recently?” 

When you have this conversation, make sure that both of you are actively engaged in the conversation. Stay calm and treat the conversation as a neutral topic. Millions of people have STIs and have successfully treated or managed them. 

Not disclosing can also be a violation of consent, because you’re concealing information that might change whether your partner would agree to have sex. Always be upfront with others. 

When someone chooses to disclose, be respectful of the trust they’re placing in you. If STIs are a non-starter for you, let them down gently. They’ve shown initiative and respect by managing their sexual health and disclosing this information to you so there’s no reason to shame them about whatever they share—not that you should ever shame anyone. Bullying is never an acceptable response. 

Options for Testing

You can get tested at your doctor’s office, Planned Parenthood, your local health department, or your local health clinics. 

Because of the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans will cover testing. However, insurance isn’t your only route to free testing. Most city and county health departments offer free or low-cost STI testing. A quick online search should yield results as to where you can find free or affordable testing near you. 

Safer STD Testing is another great resource for accessing testing. Their free website offers a tool to locate your closest free clinics. 

Explore your local options. Planned Parenthood offers services covered by insurance and will work with the uninsured/underinsured to find something that fits your budget. Equitas Health is a leading non-profit healthcare system serving LGBTQ+ individuals in 13 cities in the Midwest. They offer free and confidential STI testing, as well as preventative strategies and treatments. Browse online to find something that best fits your needs. 

If you’re a college student, your university probably offers free or discounted testing at your campus clinic. Try contacting them online or over the phone to see what options are available to you. 

You have options, so take advantage of them. 

Bottom line: get tested.


20 Sep

VUSH: A Luxurious Sex Toy Brand 

The first time I watched the UP music video by Cardi B, I had to rewind and pause. Was that a vibrator? In a music video? 

It was! 

After a little investigating, I found out it was the Majesty II by VUSH, an Australian sexual wellness brand. I’ve always felt like the female orgasm wasn’t talked about (or experienced) often enough, and VUSH is on a mission to not only normalize female sexual wellness, but improve it. 

I loved the brand’s mission, but would its products match up to its big-picture goal? Having tested the Rose II, the Myth, and the Majesty II for myself, I can confidently say that VUSH not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. 

Overview:

My first impression can only be described with one word: luxury

Instead of being a secret to hide in bedside tables, Vush brands masturbating as not only a normal, but a fun part of your regular routine. The fact that they’re so aesthetically pleasing makes using them really feel like an indulgent self care experience. The Rose II, Myth, and Majesty II really made me feel like I was treating myself to something special, which made me feel special in return. 

They’re a great confidence boost, and a great boost in personal pleasure. 


Build Quality:

First, I’d like to talk about how pretty all of Vush’s products are. I’m a sucker for good packaging, and the millennial pink and gold foil packaging are legit. It’s so cute that I can’t make myself get rid of it.

Now onto the stars of the show: the actual products are gorgeous. As the owner of several vibrators, I confidently say that these are the most aesthetically pleasing ones I own. Usually, I put mine away once I’ve finished cleaning them up but these have stayed on my bedside table. They’re beautiful, and I like having them close at hand. 

All of Vush’s products are in the same trendy, cute but sophisticated color palette, which gives them just a little something extra. I also love the gold detail on them. They really put a lot of thought into making something pretty to look at as well as fun to use. 

Let me also rave about the material. All Vush products are fashioned out of medical-grade silicone. In the past, I’ve noticed some mild irritation from other vibrators, but the silky-smooth material never irritated me, even after prolonged periods of use. It’s also very hygienic, and easy to clean. If you take good care of them, your Vush products should last you for a long time. 

The actual product design is equally impressive. They’re both comfortable to hold for long or short periods of time and fit comfortably in or against the body. I can definitely tell that someone familiar with the female body took a lot of care designing these to be compatible to all body types. It’s #thickgirlapproved, which unfortunately I can’t say the same about a lot of other vibrators I’ve tried. 

Personally, I prefer external stimulation over internal stimulation, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Myth. Vush’s Myth is named after the supposedly mythical g-spot (hint, it’s not!). The ribbed head adds an extra pleasure feature, as if it needed it. The curved design coupled with the vibrating feature hugged my body in all the right ways.

The Rose II is a force to be reckoned with. It’s design is super unique, with petal-themed texture motifs to add to its unique design. The Rose II is compact, but still easy to handle and navigate. Also, in my opinion it’s fairly quiet as far as vibrators go, which is a huge benefit. It is definitely a great travel option. It will fit easily in any bag and it’s noise makes it fairly discrete. One of the best parts of the Rose II is how flexible it is. This thing is deceptively bendy, making it easy to access your hard-to-reach places. It would be a great option for you if you spend a lot of time traveling, or for the traveler in your life. 

But of the three, I preferred the Majesty II, a classic wand-style vibrator. It’s curved for easy handling and maneuvering. It’s also great for all body types if you’ve struggled to find one that’s comfortable for you. It’s a great size, and provides a tingly, full-bodied sensation that spreads throughout the entire vulva. It’s got multiple speeds and settings. I’ve tried them all, but my favorite is the consistent and even buzz.

My only qualm with the build of the Vush products is that I wish that the speed settings had a + and – option. It is a little frustrating to overshoot the speed setting and have to go through the entire speed cycle before I can get where I’m really trying to go, but that’s manageable once you’ve mastered the speed settings. 

Performance:

I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the vibrators charged, and how long they hold a charge. It takes 2 hours to go from totally dead to fully charged. Also, as you use the battery, the strength and speed remain consistent until the vibrators are nearly dead. I use all of them quite a bit, and I can go nearly a week without having to recharge them. 

As I said earlier, the Myth was a surprise love for me. It works great for both clitoral and vaginal stimulation. And it works as a fun warm up if you just want to tease the genitals, or as the main event. 

Same goes for the Rose II. It’s tiny but mighty. I love it’s small size, which makes it easy to bring along if you’re looking for something that makes pleasure on the go easy. It works great for all kinds of stimulation. It works great as an aid if you’re using it for your partner, but it’s also really fun if you’re using it all for yourself. 

However, my absolute favorite from the line is the Majesty II. Like the other two, it has multiple speeds and patterns. It’s also a great size—not too big and not too small. The Majesty II fits perfectly against the body to provide great stimulation. 

Wand-style vibrators are my personal preference, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. 

The Rose II, Myth, and Majesty II all come with five speed settings, from a mild vibe to a powerful buzz. I like to start on the lowest setting on them and work my way up. They’ve all got a lot of oomph without feeling overpowering, which is something I’ve had trouble with in the past. They never feel overpowering or excessive. 

The different vibration patterns are also really nice. Typically, I’m not impressed by different patterns (they feel like Morse code to me), but there are some really impressive and fun options. If you enjoy edging or want to introduce it into your repertoire, any of the Vush products would be a great addition. 

My Experience: 

If I had to assign the Vush products a grade, I’d give them an A+. At this point, I’ve recommended Vush to all of my friends, and now I’d like to recommend them to y’all. Run, do not walk

Treat yourself to something that is both luxury and quality. These products can be used for a long time without any numbness or discomfort. They provide deep, satisfying pleasure. And they’re beautiful! 

You really can’t go wrong with these, no matter which you buy.

15 Sep

Sexuality for Any Size

The best part about sex is its infinite variety. We’ve said it before and we will say it again: there is no wrong way to have sex. Well, enthusiastic consent and lube are musts, but other than that, sex can be whatever you want it to be. It’s customizable and deeply personal. 

Coincidentally, that’s also the best thing about people. No two people are exactly alike. And while that’s an amazing thing that deserves to be celebrated, uniqueness can sometimes feel isolating. 

In a world where people are often inundated with photos of celebrities photo-shopped to perfection and normal features of the body are antagonized, it's easy to feel pressure to look a certain way or feel bad if you don’t fit into current beauty standards. 

Letting go of insecurities is incredibly hard, especially if you’ve struggled with poor body image for a long time. But you have the right to embrace and relish in your sexuality at any size. No one body type is more valid than others. 

Everyone’s body is built differently, is differently abled, has different needs. And this doesn’t make you less than, it just makes you different. And that’s not a bad thing.

Live in Your Own Skin

A little exposure therapy might be just the thing to lift your spirits and esteem. Allow yourself to sit in your skin, to really become familiar with all your curves and planes. A lot of people don’t spend much of their day naked beyond changing or bathing. Give yourself time to just be without feeling the need to cover yourself. 

Make it a point to familiarize yourself with your naked body. Luxuriate in your own skin. It’s yours to enjoy, too, so make a point to bask in it. Getting more comfortable with nudity will make you more comfortable with yourself and with being perceived while naked, which in turn will make intimacy easier. 

Also, make a point to not compare how you look to Instagram models or celebrities on TV, or even other people you know. Comparison is the thief of joy. This is easier said than done, but learn to accept that your own unique features are unique to you, and that is a special thing. 

Different kinds of beauty can exist in the same universe without conflict. 

But you don’t have to feel beautiful at all times. Accepting that you won’t always feel your most attractive is also a step in the right direction. Toxic positivity can be incredibly harmful to healing your body image. 

Something the body positivity movement gets wrong is trying to convince everyone to romanticize your perceived flaws. If this works for you, more power to you, but that isn’t accessible for everyone. You don’t have to feel that your insecurities are beautiful, but understand that they are normal. 

For many people, body neutrality is much more accessible and an easier (and sometimes more empowering) mentality to adopt. In essence, body neutrality is the idea that the human body simply exists and its beauty or flaws are just natural parts of the human body. It’s the idea that you can grant yourself permission to not look perfect, because no body actually is perfect. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t find beauty in the body, because you should, but not everything is perfect and it doesn't have to be. 

Odds are, your body is the least interesting thing about you and you’ve got so much to offer in addition to your outer beauty.

Enhance Your Sexual Energy

If you don’t conform to conventional beauty standards, especially if you’re someone who is fat, learning to feel pretty or beautiful can come easier than feeling sexy. It’s easy to get bogged down in other’s impressions of what sexiness is or should look like. 

While beauty can feel subjective, sexiness and sexuality can feel so complicated that it might feel easier to write yourself off rather than learn to embrace your own sexuality. 

But sexuality is like energy. It can’t ever be destroyed. It’s something that’s innate to each person, and you have to figure out what brings your inner sexuality out. 

Like we recommended earlier, connecting to your body is a fantastic starting place. Take it a step further by appreciating it, decorating it. Your body is beautiful and deserves to be adorned with things that make you feel your best. 

Lingerie is an excellent way to boost your confidence and bring sexiness into your everyday life. It’s great to have something that makes you feel confident in the bedroom, but feel free to bring it out of the bedroom—and out of the house. 

In and of itself, lingerie isn’t sexual. It’s sole function is to help you feel sexy and confident. And while you can dress for your partner, lingerie will make you feel even better if you choose pieces that make you feel your best. 

Wearing lingerie under your clothes is a great way to go on an adventure all by yourself. It’s a sexy secret you can take to work, the store, out running errands, or even just wear around the house. What makes it fun is that it’s something just for you. It can bring a whole new kind of energy to your body and how you feel about it. Don’t wait for a special occasion: every day is a great day to embrace your sexuality.

If you’d like to dip your toes into lingerie for the first time, or if you’re already a fan looking for a new set, all Curve lingerie is currently 20% during the month of September. Curve offers inclusive sizes that can accommodate a variety of body types. The brand offers many beautiful designs, so you’re certain to find something you’ll love that works for you. 

Leg Avenue, another classic lingerie brand offers a range of different sizes and designs. Whether you’re looking for a bodysuit, stockings and garters, or a corset, you’ve got a ton of options.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you find yourself really wanting to try something but you’re not quite at that level yet, there’s nothing saying you can’t practice. Sex can be a physcally exhausting practice that can stretch the limits of the body. 

If you want to work on your performance, building up your strength and flexibility as you are able will make achieving and enjoying certain positions easier. 

And for those seeking instant gratification, try mixing up your positions. Missionary and doggy-style are great but certainly not your only options. Experiment with your ability level to see what’s comfortable for you and your partner. Maybe try switching who’s on top, or get really wild and try a position where you and your partner are both on your sides.

(Pssst: For position suggestions - check out Kinkly where Lion's Den was featured in their 30-day Sex Position Challenge!)

Get Creative

As always, you are more than welcome to bring tools into the bedroom to make things easier. Not all toys and tools are created equal, so finding the perfect thing for you can involve a little trial and error. To cut down on that, here are some products that might take the guesswork out of your love life. 

Vibrators:

Finding the perfect vibrator can be a challenge. If you’re in the market for a little self-love, the Majesty II by Vush was definitely made with all body types in mind. It’s ergonomic design makes it compatible with most any curves. 

Another top pick is this oldie-but-goodie: the Hitachi Magic Wand. The handle is long enough to accommodate even the most hard to reach places. Hitachi also offers mounts for hands-free options, great for couples or solo action. 

Accessories: 

Sex is all about the angles, so a little help getting propped up and positioned a certain way can make all the difference. Try using something like the Liberator Wedge to help you achieve different positions. The Liberator Wedge is a wedge-shaped pillow with enough slope and firmness to accommodate any body. 

Another great product could be this doggy-style strap by Sportsheets is incredibly versatile. If you have any kind of back or knee pain, some positions might feel too challenging. This strap helps ease tension in the back and makes thrusting easier. This accessory can make a range of positions more accessible for differently abled people. It also helps compress the body for tighter, more intense stimulation and makes thrusting easier, so a win on all fronts. 

Experiment with any of these tips, tricks, and products and see what feels the best. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it can take some time to feel at home in your sexuality. But there’s no rush. Self-love is very much a journey, not a destination. 




09 Sep

Physical and Mental Issues Affecting Sexual Health

Most people want to have a rich and fulfilling sex life. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Maybe you’ve tried talking with your partner or you’ve tried this cool new thing you saw online, and you want things to work. But it seems like it doesn't matter what you do, you’re just not into it. 

Either it’s physically or emotionally unfulfilling, and you start to wonder “Am I the problem?”

First, we’d like to assure you that it’s not your fault. You’re not sabotaging your own sex life. The culprit behind your mediocre, or maybe nonexistent, sex drive or functionality could be caused by an underlying physical or mental issue you’re not even aware of. 

According to the National Institute of Health, sexual dysfunctions are highly prevalent, affecting about 43% of women and 31% of men. It’s a common issue, but it’s not something we talk about. 

Sexual dysfunction can be brought on by any number of things. Causes range from something as complicated as sexual trauma to something simpler and more treatable, like embarrassment jitters. The human body, especially the human brain, is a deeply complicated machine. Some maintenance work is to be expected, be that therapy or physical treatment. 

Sexual dysfunction can feel isolating, but you’re not alone

Physical Issues Affecting Sexual Health

A single health issue can have a domino effect into all the other aspects of your physical health, including your sexual health. According to the Mayo Clinic, low or high blood pressure, arthritis, heart and vascular disease, or hormonal imbalances can all cause diminished libido (sexual desire). So if you’re combating a physical health concern, that could be overlapping into your sexual health. 

Some medications and hormone therapies can also zap your libido. If you’re currently undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, that’s likely to take a toll on your sexual desire. Similarly, if you’re in the process of transitioning and have elected to use hormones, you were likely advised that hormone replacement therapy will cause decreased libido and will reshape how you experience and respond to arousal. This is normal, especially in the first few months. 

It’s also normal to experience some complications that result exclusively from the body. 

Vaginismus is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “the involuntary tensing or contracting of muscles around the vagina.” This can cause pain and prevent whoever has it from experiencing sexual pleasure. It can be brought on spontaneously, or as the result of trauma to the vagina like tears from childbirth. However, the exact cause of vaginismus is not known. 

Society often discourages female sexuality and undervalues female pleasure, so physical causes of sexual dysfunction in women can be harder to diagnose. Mayo Clinic even disclosed that they don’t have exact numbers on women affected because many are too embarrassed to discuss this issue or seek treatment. When speaking with your physician about your experience, advocate for yourself. Your pleasure is worth it. 

A weak pelvic floor can cause a whole host of problems in men and woman, from pain during sex to incontinence. The pelvic floor tends to weaken as we age, but it can also be affected by obesity, prostate or ovarian cancers, or strain from chronic constipation. It’s an often forgotten but extremely important muscle group of the body. And like all muscle groups, it needs to be exercised and properly cared for. Some physical therapists specialize exclusively in the pelvic floor, and these experts will be best equipped to help you combat any issues you’re having down there. 

One of the most common health problems affecting men’s sexual health is erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection. It is very common among penis owners, affecting roughly 30 million men in the United States. And although it’s more prevalent among older people or those with chronic health concerns, younger people can also experience erectile dysfunction. It’s usually a symptom of a broader health issue, such as metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes. And like most other sexual dysfunctions can also be brought on or compounded by mental health concerns like anxiety or depression. 

Mental Issues Affecting Sexual Health

If you have any kind of mental illness, that could also be affecting your sex drive. It’s totally normal to have days where you’re not in the mood, or your energy is low, and all you want is to be left alone. Everyone has bad days or periods where you’re in a funk. Saying that, if it seems to be a chronic, persistent problem and you find yourself have more low energy, low esteem, low sex drive days, that could be an indicator you have depression. 

Depression causes a chemical imbalance in your brain that makes it hard for your neurotransmitters to pick up on sex-related chemicals. It also affects your overall mood and energy level, which impacts your sex drive and ability to derive pleasure. 

Sex can feel awkward or awaken personal insecurities like poor body image. If you find this to be the case, share your concerns with your partner or therapist. Just talking about it might be the morale boost you needed all along. Also, remember that sex is a skill and it has a learning curve. You don’t have to be perfect at the first attempt, or any attempt for that matter. Don’t let comparing yourself to what you read in books or see in porn rob you of your happiness. 

Solutions for Physical and Mental Issues

There are solutions if you’re suffering from any of the above. 

As always, we recommend you begin assessing the root of your problem with a trusted healthcare provider, be that your general practitioner or your therapist. These are the experts that will know the best course of action for you to take. Treatments for low sex drive could include medications, mechanical aids (think a penis pump or vibrator), or therapy. If your low libido is happening as a result of something else, continued treatment to resolve the root health cause will likely put you back on track sexually. 

If depression is the source of your sexual woes, your doctor or psychiatrist might prescribe antidepressants. Millions of people have had their life changed for the better with the aid of a prescription. However, some antidepressants can cause low libido. If you find this to be the case, talk to your doctor about potentially switching medications. Sometimes it takes a while to find your goldilocks combination of medicines. 

Outside of medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends trying the following actions at home: 

  • Keep heaving sex. 

  • Don’t compare yourself to others. 

  • Get buy-in from your partner. 

  • Redefine intimacy.

Sex looks different for everyone. As long as it’s consensual and you aren’t doing anything that might cause profound and lasting damage to the body, there really isn’t a wrong way to have sex. There also isn’t an exact amount of sex you’re supposed to be having. How often you have sex and what your sex life looks like depends solely on you and your partner’s preferences. 

Open communication is always of paramount importance, especially if you’re dealing with some type of sexual dysfunction. No matter what the root cause is, let your partner know what’s going on. They might not be able to solve the problem, but they can support you. And understanding where their partner is sexually will help them be a better partner to you.

06 Sep

Ovarian Cancer and Prostate Cancer Awareness

At Lion’s Den, we’re here to empower you to live your best sex life. Part of living that best sex life is taking care of your body. Sex is just as much about feelings and emotions as it is about physicality, it’s vital to keep your body in working order to enjoy any part of your sexuality. And diseases affecting your reproductive system will also influence your sexual health. 

Ovarian and prostate cancer affects the body to perform or enjoy sexual acts, as well as adding psychological stress that could lower your libido.  

Your body is the vehicle through which you experience the world. Taking care of it will make it last longer and keep it in working condition for all the life you’ve still got to experience. 

In honor of ovarian cancer and prostate cancer awareness month, we’re breaking down what these diseases are, how you can detect them, and what can be done to treat them if you’re diagnosed. 

What is ovarian and prostate cancer?

The ovaries are two small organs located on either side of the uterus that stores the eggs and produces estrogen and progesterone. The Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Ohio explains ovarian cancer as “a disease in which malignant or cancerous cells are found in the ovaries.” 

The prostate, aside from being an erogenous zone, produces seminal fluid which is vital in carrying sperm. Cancer of the prostate is when malignant cells begin growing in the prostate.

Symptoms and Causes of Ovarian Cancer

Some of the risk factors associated with ovarian cancer are things that cannot be changed, such as family history or your age. One’s age is a prominent factor in ovarian cancer. Cancer.org reports that ovarian cancer is rare in people under 40, and that ovarian cancer most commonly occurs after menopause. 

Other influences are weight, never having had children, previously cancer diagnoses, fertility, and smoking. These risk factors are not guarantees that you will develop ovarian cancer. Having an overall healthy lifestyle might lower your chance of developing ovarian cancer, but it is not a guarantee. Likewise, previous health concerns or risky behaviors will not not definitively cause ovarian cancer. 

Knowing the early signs of ovarian cancer can lead to an earlier diagnosis, which in turn will allow you to seek treatment earlier and begin seeking treatment while the cancer is still in the early stages. 

Kim Britt, president of the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Ohio, calls ovarian cancer a silent killer. “There is no true method for detecting ovarian cancer,” said Britt. “Your annual pap smear only detects cervical cancer. When it comes to the symptoms of ovarian cancer, most physicians will see the symptoms of ovarian cancer as normal. You have to know the symptoms.”

According to the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Ohio, the most common early symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Bloating

  • Fatigue

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain

  • Menstrual pain and pain during intimacy

  • Back pain

  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly

  • Urinary symptoms such as urgency (always feeling the need to go) or frequency (having to go often)

  • Abdominal swelling with weight loss

The symptoms of ovarian cancer unfortunately overlap with many other illnesses, and it can be difficult to diagnose. While experiencing some of these symptoms is normal, monitor the severity of them. 

Britt advises, “It’s not just having a stomach cramp or pain. If you’re waking up in the middle of the night with a problem, if you’re waking up in pain, you need to see your doctor and ask hard questions.” 

Approximately 20,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually, but over 200,000 women will be misdiagnosed or their symptoms will be ignored. If you are experiencing any of the above, take it as a sign to visit your gynecologist and express to them your concerns. 

“Now more than ever, I am hearing more stories of more doctors who are now more aware of things going on in women’s health because women will hide and dismiss their own symptoms” said Britt. “We have to stand our ground and be our own advocates. If one doctor won’t listen to you, go and find another one. If you’re not happy with your doctor you are free to find another one.”

Many tend to forget or play down the importance of their reproductive health because people are often made to feel awkward talking about it, but it’s important to talk about reproductive health because it could save your life. Your health starts with a conversation and women should feel empowered to talk about their bodies.

Your health is important, and having an open dialogue with your primary healthcare provider as well as your gynecologist will be imperative in finding the early signs of any underlying illness and addressing them. 

Treating Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer related deaths in people with a female reproductive system aged 34-75. The Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Ohio reports that those who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the earliest stages have a “5-year survival rate over 90%.” However, because ovarian cancer’s vague symptoms and lack of early detection tests, “only 19% of all cases are found at this early stage. If caught in stage III or higher, the survival rate can be as low as 30.6%.” 

The stage at which the cancer is caught will affect the treatment plan your doctor will design for you. But based on the current medical precedents, most people with ovarian cancer can expect some kind of surgery to treat their cancer. Depending on how advanced the ovarian cancer is, you might require other forms of treatment.

Ovarian cancer might be able to be treated locally, meaning it only affects the area of the tumor (the area it is local to). This could mean surgery or radiation therapy. 

If the ovarian cancer is going to be treated via drug, this is considered systemic treatment. This is because the drugs can reach anywhere in the body, and are administered either by mouth or directly into the bloodstream. This could mean anything from hormone therapy to chemotherapy. These treatments might come before, after, or in lieu of surgery. 

Symptoms and Causes of Prostate Cancer 

Much like ovarian cancer, prostate cancer primarily affects older people. Typically men 50 and over are the most at risk. Family history and overall health also influence the likelihood you could develop prostate cancer. People who smoke, are overweight, have other chronic illnesses, have been exposed to chemicals, or have had a vasectomy all have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. 

Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in American men, but most people who have prostate cancer will not die from it. 

The Prostate Cancer Foundation reports that the 5-year survival rate in the United States for men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer is greater than 99%.

Recognizing symptoms early can lead to quicker treatment, which can lead to a higher chance of recovery. Cancer.org lists some symptoms of prostate cancer as:  

  • Problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night

  • Blood in the urine or semen

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Pain in the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones

  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord

Fortunately, prostate cancer is usually found early with testing for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in the blood or a digital rectal exam (DRE). Both of these procedures are part of a routine physical for older men. 

Treating Prostate Cancer

An annual checkup with your primary healthcare provider is the easiest and most reliable way to find prostate cancer early on. As it is both common and fairly easy to detect early on, regularly visiting with your doctor and communicating with them about your health and medical history will help ensure that your prostate cancer is caught early

If your PSA test or DRE yields abnormal results, the next step will be a biopsy of the prostate, which will offer a more definitive diagnosis. Once the biopsy is complete, your doctor will evaluate the best course of treatment. Different treatments for prostate cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy, but this is a non-exhaustive list of treatment options. Treatment will depend on the stage and severity of your unique case. 

No matter the type of body you have, it's important to know the illnesses you might be at risk to and be proactive about monitoring your health and seeking help if you feel that something is wrong. 

Your health is your wealth. See its value and invest in it frequently.


The month of September, donate the change from your purchase at Lion's Den and help change the lives of patients and survivors of Ovarian Cancer. Join us as we inspire advocacy for and empower those affected by ovarian cancer.

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