Monday, 20 March 2017

How Often Should You Be Masturbating, Really?

Back in 2011, women around the world began buzzing about an erotic story from an amateur author that had them all hot and bothered. Six years, three books, and two movies later, the Fifty Shades phenomenon is still on fire. And while the erotic franchise has stirred up its fair share of controversy, the success of the series makes me giddy for one good reason: It's got women super stoked on sex.
We all know February's the month of romance, but whether you're partnered up or flying solo, the most important relationship you have is with yourself. And you deserve love, pleasure, and all the feel-good, toe-curling, mind-blowing benefits of a rockin' sex life, no matter what your status is. And while nourishing foods and relaxing activities are important ways to treat yourself well, true self-love includes sexual satisfaction too and sometimes that means masturbation.
If the word alone makes you cringe, it's time to check your attitude toward self-stimulation and educate yourself on the positive possibilities the practice holds for your overall well-being.

10 wonderful things orgasms do you for you

I see so many women let their sexuality fall by the wayside when they're not in a relationship. But ignoring this crucial piece of your being does a huge disservice to your mind and body and can actually be detrimental to your health. Don't believe me? As I go into detail in my book WomanCode, here's why you should channel your "inner sex goddess," and prioritize your orgasm:
  • Improved circulation. Orgasm boosts blood flow, which helps circulate vital nutrients and regulate your menstrual cycle. Studies show women who have intercourse at least once a week are more likely to menstruate normally than women who don't do the deed often or at all.
  • Regulated reproductive system: By energizing your hypothalamus gland, orgasm helps regulate everything from your appetite to your emotions, and the subsequent boost to your pituitary regulates reproductive hormones necessary for regular ovulation and adequate cervical fluid production.
  • Natural detoxification: Orgasms provide an overall lymphatic massage to your body, which improves your digestion and mood and flushes out toxins.
  • Healthy estrogen production: This keeps your vaginal tissues supple and helps protect your bones and heart.
  • Deep relaxation support: Virtually nothing makes you feel more at peace than the amped-up endorphins and cortisol flush you get from an orgasm.
  • Brain boost: Orgasm spikes your body's DHEA levels, which help keep your brain, skin, tissues, and immune system healthy.
  • Fountain of youth: Research has shown that sex three times a week in a stress-free relationship can make you look a decade younger.
  • Cold buster: Regular orgasms increase the amount of infection-fighting cells in your body by up to 20 percent.
  • Migraine cure: Orgasms kick your pain threshold up a notch, making it much easier to cope with life's aches and pains.
  • Sensitivity enhancement: Thanks to increased oxytocin, orgasm makes you more passionate, intuitive, and social.

What's the benefit of masturbation, specifically?

OK, so orgasms are essential! But you shouldn't have to rely on a partner to deliver the goods. And—this may blow your mind—you shouldn't rely on electronics either.
Some of you vibrator devotees may be shocked, but it's true: Battery-operated toys shorten one of the most important phases of your orgasm—the plateau phase, cheating you of some monumental benefits. Here's why: Your orgasm isn't just a one-dimensional shebang; it's made up of several important phases including arousal, plateau, climax, and resolution. The longer the plateau, the more nitric oxide and oxytocin you build up in your body, and as you already know, this is where the real hormone balancing payoff is. While your vibrator may send you straight to climax fast, it bypasses the beautiful benefits of a full orgasmic experience. Why cheat yourself of all that good stuff?
If the thought of abandoning your power tools leaves you anxious, trust me: You can get the big O on your own, and when you learn how to pleasure yourself manually, you'll be on your way to reaping all the big-time benefits.
As with every health issue, you have to start the healing with food: Regaining a good balance of progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone is crucial to achieving peak arousal. Healthy fats like nuts, avocados, and seeds, plus a good vitamin C supplement that contains bioflavonoids and ashwagandha will get you on your way.
Next, get hands on. There are five Cs to consider when you're just getting familiar with your body: center, circle, clitoris, climax, and calm. Set the mood and get centered with some relaxing music or mood lighting. Then spend 15 minutes circling the areas you'd normally go to for direct stimulation (nipples, areolae, and clitoris); instead, focus on your inner thighs, hips, abdomen, and upper chest. Then take the time to build your orgasmic sensation by stimulating your inner labia and areas around your clitoris with your hands, and when you're ready to climax, use your hands to get you there. When it's all said and done, take the time to feel the cortisol-flush-calm after you climax; this is called the resolution phase. Put one hand on your heart and the other on your belly, breathe, and relax.

So, how much should I be masturbating to get the benefits?

Given all the juicy payoffs of a self-pleasure practice, my general rule of thumb is, "the more, the better!" The hormones produced during orgasm (oxytocin and nitric oxide) are different from sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone), and they're power players when it comes to maintaining hormonal balance, healing adrenal fatigue, and maintaining regular ovulation.
But if this whole self-pleasure thing is new to you, a few guidelines can help. First, I recommend setting a minimum for yourself of two 15- to 20-minute self-pleasure sessions a week and build from there. Then, consider cycle syncing your self-pleasure to capitalize on your body's natural endocrine ebbs and flows.
The best path to orgasm changes depending on which phase of your cycle you're in and what's happening with your hormones. Tracking your cycle will help you know the info that can lead you to better Os. A few take-away tips: Always, always, always use lube during your dry phases (menstrual and follicular). If your hormones are healthy, you shouldn't need extra lubrication during ovulation and luteal phases. These are also the times to really rely on your hand to get you to climax; if you just can't quit the vibrator, only introduce it during your follicular and menstrual phases, but always use it on the lightest setting over your panties. This will protect your delicate clitoral nerve endings from overstimulation, ensuring you maximize that amazing orgasmic plateau every time.
Happy self-loving!
This article is by Alisa Vitti culled from Mindbodygreen.

Is Cheating Ever OK? A Sex Therapist Explains

In my book, I define infidelity as the breaking of trust that occurs when you keep intimate, meaningful secrets from your primary romantic partner.
I use this definition for three very important reasons:
  1. It encompasses both online and real-world sexual activity. Thus, it is effective in the digital era.
  2. It encompasses sexual activities other than actual penis-in-vagina intercourse.
  3. It focuses on the loss of relationship trust rather than on specific sexual and/or romantic acts.
Based on both research and clinical experience, I can tell you that the third item on that list—the loss of relationship trust—is by far the most important facet of infidelity. Put simply, for a cheated-on partner it's not any specific sexual or romantic act that causes the most pain; instead, it's the lying, the secrets, and the newfound inability to believe anything the cheater says or does.
So is there ever a good reason to engage in infidelity? In my opinion, there is not.
This does not, however, mean that every relationship must be monogamous. In fact, many couples that I know, both personally and professionally, have perfectly happy relationships that are, in one way or another, nonmonogamous. That said, having a relationship that is not monogamous in the traditional "till death do us part" sense is not something one partner should ever force onto or keep secret from his or her significant other.
Instead, open relationships should be approached with integrity, with both partners having an equal say and mutually agreeing, without coercion of any kind, that certain activities are (or are not) acceptable within the bounds of their relationship.
There are many reasons for a couple to have some form of an open relationship, including but by no means limited to the following:
  • Both partners are tech-savvy and enjoy using things like digital pornography, webcam sex, sexting, and hookup apps, and neither wants to give these things up just because they're in a committed romantic relationship.
  • One partner has a much greater sex drive than the other, and they can mutually agree that satisfying this drive, within certain limits, is acceptable.
  • One partner consistently refuses to have sex or is reviled by the experience of sex and doesn't mind if the other partner seeks sex elsewhere.
  • A couple is separated for long periods of time thanks to career, family, or other commitments, and both still want to have an active in-person (rather than purely digital) sex life.
Any and all of the above are perfectly good reasons for having a nonmonogamous relationship. However, there is no excuse for doing this in secret. If two people truly love each other, and they are psychologically capable of having an honest, open-minded discussion about their sexual desires, that is the approach they should take.
Consider the case of Sam and Mary. In 2005, Mary was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident. Afterward, she was unable to perform sexually. Plus, she lost all interest in sex. For Sam, this was a problem. Because they loved each other very much and had no interest in ending their marriage, they were able to mutually agree on certain sexual boundaries. For instance, Sam could watch and masturbate to porn, and if he truly felt the need for physical sexual contact he could hire an escort. He did not need to tell Mary about his use of porn or escorts, but he did need to be honest afterward if she asked him where he'd been or what he'd been doing. Twelve years later, they are still happily married.
My point here is that monogamy and traditional visions of marriage and fidelity are not absolutes in today's world. Many couples happily engage in all sorts of sextracurricular activity with the knowledge and consent of their primary partner. Sometimes these relationships are open from the start; other times life creates circumstances where sex outside a previously monogamous relationship makes sense.
As long as secrets aren't kept and lies aren't being told, such behavior does not qualify as cheating. As such, as stated above, it is my belief that there is never a good reason to betray a partner by engaging in infidelity.
This article is written by Robert Weiss culled from Mindbodygreen.

5 Powerful Shifts That'll Help You Manifest True Love

It's the one thing we're all seeking. From the youngest to the oldest among us, we're all looking to love and be loved—and often making the process a lot harder than it needs to be.
Unlike what you might read on the cover of the latest women's magazine, finding love doesn't necessarily require joining Tinder or changing up your wardrobe. It's about making powerful shifts in your mind and in your heart that will open you up to fully receive the love that you're seeking. And trust me, it's much easier than it sounds.
Here are my five favorite tips for opening yourself up to more love:

1. Forgive yourself.

Forgiveness is a spiritual practice, and an ongoing one. It is one of the most powerful and profound shifts we can make when working to attract anything—more love, more money, more success—into our lives. And so, forgiving yourself (for being single, for making mistakes in past relationships, for not finding love sooner) is the first powerful step in the process of opening yourself up to more love. Until this moment in your life, you have been doing the best that you knew how to do. Forgive yourself for not knowing more, for not understanding better—and feel yourself open up to greater possibility now that you do.

2. Know what you want.

This may seem like an obvious one, but it's important: Do you know the love you want to receive? One of the key aspects to manifesting anything in your life is to get clear on exactly what it is you want—and opening yourself up to more love is no different. It's not enough to just say, "I am open to it." What are you open to? What sort of love do you want to receive? What does it look like, sound like, feel like? Who are you when you receive that sort of love? Get clear on what you want, so the Universe knows exactly what to bring you.

3. Know why you want it.

Knowing your "why" is a common adage in business, with the point being that there should be a focused and strategic purpose behind the work that you're doing. I would argue that the same holds true when opening up to love, too. When you're clear about why you want what you want, you can ensure that it's coming from a healthy (and not fear-based place). You will also know very quickly once you've manifested the love you so desired—even if it came in a different form than you expected—because you'll recognize the purpose behind that desire.

4. Focus on positive feelings.

This may not come as a surprise to you—but focusing on the negative will only bring you more of the same. So instead of lamenting that you'll never find love or that so-and-so was a jerk who broke your heart or that "all men" or "all women" are XYZ, start focusing on the positive instead! More specifically, focus on the positive feelings that love brings into your life—and start living in those feelings now! If receiving love will make you feel happy, successful, or seen, then find ways to incorporate those feelings into your life on a regular basis. Once you start living those positive feelings, you'll start attracting more of them (and more love!) into your life.

5. Let go.

And now, let it go. It seems counterintuitive, I know, but trying to cling to and control an outcome leaves no room in the realm of what's possible for you. You have shifted your mindset, you have gotten clear on what you want—and you have let the Universe know about it! Now, your only job is to stay open to what's possible, to stay curious about the signs, and to proactively pursue the right opportunities, knowing that the love you're destined to receive is on its way to you.
This article is written by Dr Danielle Dowling culled from Mindbodygreen.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

8 Love Lessons I'd Never Have Learned Without Getting Dumped (A Lot)

Breaking up sucks. It's painful. It's a heart-wrenching ordeal. It feels like the end of the world. The dreams of a shared future dissolve You forget which day of the week it is, whether you've eaten or not, and thoughts of going to work in the morning seem laughable. How do you recover from this?
Looking back on heartbreaks, I find myself wondering, "is there a way to turn this pain into something beautiful?" I think it's human nature to search for meaning in heartache. But that doesn't make it any less worthwhile. In fact, it's the only thing that allows us to heal from these wounds and move on. So, here are the most powerful lessons I've learned from heartbreak:

1. Don't start a relationship as an escape from loneliness. It will only result in deeper loneliness.

Finding connection is one of our primal human emotional needs. We crave the sense that we know someone else intimately, and that they intimately know us. For a long time, I didn't know the difference between loneliness and solitude. But now I've recognized that solitude is something we choose whereas loneliness is something we don't. I would start relationships in order to escape loneliness, but now I've learned to cherish my solitude.

2. If you don't trust someone completely, love is impossible.

Having major trust issues has made it difficult for me to open up in new relationships. I've always expected betrayal and kept my heart closed. But I know now that if we don't take the risk of trusting someone else, we'll never feel the true joy of intimate, full-hearted love.

3. Your relationship with yourself is the only one that lasts forever. Don't sacrifice that for a relationship with someone else.

There were moments when it was tricky to distinguish who I was outside of a relationship; I would lose my sense of self. The person you're with loves the person you are. You can't sacrifice that in an attempt to please them or fabricate intimacy. You have to be true to yourself before anyone else.

4. Unless something is obviously relevant to your present, keep the ex files in the past.

At the beginning of a relationship, it seems like a good idea to share about everything. But unless something from a past relationship is relevant to the relationship you're in now, there's no need to drag the ghosts of the past into this brand-new chapter.

5. The easiest way to ruin your life is to never take a risk.

My parents met each other sky-diving. They were fearless and passionate and bonkers. Taking risks? Yes, please. If they'd been too afraid to try it, they'd never have met over the breaking dawn in Finland. They followed their own passions to the edge of the earth and it opened up a whole new life for them.
Opening your heart is a huge risk. It makes you feel alive. It might end in tragedy, but, really, wouldn't it still be worth it?

6 Take everything one day at a time.

"Let's go to Patagonia, let's build a cottage in the mountains, let's have four kids." It's fun to imagine the future, but how many of the things we imagine actually pan out the way we planned?
Try not to plan for the decades to come. Don't make expectations for a future that you can't count on. Enjoy every moment. Let your relationship unfold before you, one day at a time, one step at a time.

7. Jealousy doesn't start with your partner. It starts with you.

More often than not, the root cause of jealousy is not disregard perpetrated by your partner. It is insecurity that lives inside you and rears its head whenever you're not being assured that you come first. It's important to be with someone that makes you feel special, but if you find yourself constantly jealous, you may want to explore what's feeding those feelings of insecurity you can't escape.

8. If you have to change to make someone want you, or change them to make them someone you want, it's never going to work.

It's hard enough to change ourselves, right? Whether we want to lose 10 pounds or learn a new language or stop cursing so much, these deeply ingrained habits take serious effort and commitment to change. You have to really want it. So, how well do you think it works to try to convince someone else that they need to change something about themselves that they were perfectly fine with before you came along? It doesn't work, and it breeds resentment. If you focus on becoming your best self, you'll attract someone who's doing the same thing. When you don't want to change them and they don't want to change you, that's how you know it might actually work.
Every setback, disappointment, and heartbreak we face can offer us lessons that help us move forward in a healthier way. Learning these lessons is key to uncovering true happiness. Look for the lesson in every loss, and you'll find yourself being grateful, even in grief.

This article is written by Lesya Li culled from Mindbodygreen.