What You DON’T Need on Valentine’s Day

Maybe you’re one of those people looking for the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day. Something to boost your sex life. Or inject some “romance” into things. Or say “I love you” in a meaningful way.

On the other hand, maybe you’re on your own so far in 2017, and you feel like you deserve a treat. Something to make you feel sexy. Or to give you a head start for when you do connect with someone later this year.

Everyone’s been getting popups and spam about this for weeks, now—“you can’t live without this!” “This stuff will make you irresistible!” “Invented by a mad genius with a formula too good to be true!”

So I won’t tell you what you should get for Valentine’s Day. Instead, let me tell you what you don’t need. These products play on the desires—and anxieties—that we all have.

* You don’t need a book with “new positions.”

News flash—there are no new positions.

When people are bored, annoyed, or unsatisfied with sex, it isn’t because they don’t use the magic positions that guarantee amazing pleasure. The problem may be physical pain; feeling disconnected from a partner; too much alcohol; a couple’s lack of agreement about what to do in bed; self-consciousness about one’s body; guilt, shame, or anxiety; or the simple refusal to relax and communicate about preferences.

People who don’t “experiment” in bed don’t need suggestions—they need to understand and overcome their own reticence and unnecessary limits (like, “only gay guys like their nipples pulled” or “that part of my body is dirty so I won’t let you lick me there”).

Instead of getting a book on new positions,
–tell your partner you’d like to try something new, or
–ask your partner if s/he would like to try anything new, or
–think seriously about why you don’t want to do either of these—and do something about that.

* You don’t need vitamins and supplements to enhance your “sexual energy.”

If you’re concerned about your lack of interest in sex, see a physician. If a simple blood test reveals your hormones are fine, some exotic stuff from the health food store or the internet will almost certainly be of no use.

There are medical reasons for low desire: the onset of menopause, a deficient thyroid, medication side effects, sleep apnea, chronic illness, the overall aging process, and occasionally—very occasionally—low testosterone. None of these will be cured by a jungle herb or mega-doses of vitamin xyz.

Low “sexual energy” is most often a function of stress, anger, emotional isolation, poor body image, relationship problems, or an expectation that sex will be painful or unsatisfying. You can start addressing each of these with communication and by being honest with yourself.

* You don’t need surgery on your vulva or penis.

Unless you were born with an unfortunate deformity (and maybe even if you were), there’s nothing wrong with the shape, color, or size of your genitalia. Consider the amazing range of human noses that we know are normal. And surely you know that someone’s ability to enjoy their sense of smell has nothing to do with the way their nose looks.

The same is true of your penis or vulva. Very, very few people actually look at their partner’s genitalia during sex. Many, many factors predict sexual satisfaction ahead of our partner’s penis or vulva.

Oh, and by the way—any medical procedure designed to make your genitalia more attractive or effective is either dangerous, useless, or both.

* You don’t need a book or class to learn how to gush when you climax.

It seems there’s always some new sexual goal that we’re supposed to aim toward—simultaneous orgasm, orgasm from intercourse alone, deep throat, and now gushing during climax. Also known as “female ejaculation,” a small number of women do it, and apparently enjoy it. Most women don’t do it, and until just a few years ago didn’t give it a second thought. Now you can read or go to a class if you want to learn this skill.

Of course, many women have been afraid to wet the bed during sex, which has made both relaxation and orgasm more difficult. Indeed, many women refuse cunnilingus because they’re afraid that they’ll leak a little urine if their pleasure is too intense. Let your guy (or woman) reassure you about this, and then enjoy the treat if it’s available.

Meanwhile, don’t drive yourself (or your partner) crazy trying to unlock the magic of gushing like a porn star during sex. Actresses are professionals, and they have the advantage of editing and even of gadgets hidden on the set. And the knowledge that no will bust them if their climactic geyser is really urine—as long as it looks good on camera.

* You don’t need withdrawal to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

The number of safe, effective contraceptive products available to the average person has never been higher. These modern miracles mean that for the first time in human history, people can enjoy sex without worrying about pregnancy—if they’re willing to make a little effort to find and use the right product.

The IUD is safe, only needs occasional attention, and doesn’t interfere with sex. There are many hormonal products in addition to pills, such as implants (which are completely reversible). The diaphragm has all the health (and financial) benefits of a low-tech device, as long as people are willing to either plan ahead or stop for 2 or 3 minutes before intercourse. And condoms work. When used right, they really work. And with the right attitude (and some lube both inside and outside it), people can have great sex with one.

Withdrawal, on the other hand, is nerve-wracking and unreliable. Other than a leg cramp, a knock on the bedroom door, or being called the wrong name, it’s hard to imagine a more disruptive moment during sex. And did we mention how unreliable withdrawal is? That’s why people who use it are so often called parents.

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