Sexing it app: The erotic video games that explore sexuality

My fingers move in slow circles, gently at first. Chunky pink and red pixels flush under my touch. The music builds.

I’ve never done this on a bus before. As I stroke the screen of my phone I’m hyper aware of the people to my left and the woman behind me.

I get a rhythm going, learning what makes the ambient sounds swell and soar – and avoiding the rushed, rough strokes that bring everything to a halt. The beat kicks in, the colours pulse. I’m masturbating my phone.

La Petite Mort is a game made by Andrea Hasselager and Patrick Jarnfelt, the pair behind two-person Danish studio Lovable Hat Cult. Last month Apple banned the game from its app store. “We were told the game contained excessively objectionable and crude content,” says Jarnfelt. “But what’s crude? It’s just abstract pixels. Just the idea of touching a sexual organ was a problem.”

 Jarnfelt and Hasselager are at the centre of a growing community of developers who are making games that explore issues around sex and sexuality. They help run the annual Lyst conference, where developers meet to discuss and show off games such as Breakup – a Vr experience in which you endlessly repeat the last few moments of a relationship – and Pocket Jockey – in which players make other players’ phones vibrate.

The third Lyst event took place in Hamar, Norway, last weekend. “The community is growing, we’re getting more and more participants,” says Hasselager. “Love, romance and sex are some of the most natural human emotions but they are portrayed so badly in games,” she says.

Pixelated porn

La Petite Mort is not the pair’s first game about sex. In 2008 the pair were co-creators of Dark Room Sex Game, i

n which two players swing Wii remotes back and forth in an escalating rhythm to reach a musical climax. “You had to look each in the eye and communicate through body language,” says Jarnfelt.

The idea for La Petite Mort came to Jarnfelt when he was playing around with cellular automata– abstract models that can simulate complex systems, such as living things, just by following a simple set of rules. Jarnfelt got his automata to respond to touch – and immediately saw the erotic potential.

To make the game’s graphics Jarnfelt and Hasselager filmed the genitals of actual women, then pixelated the footage to such a degree that it is almost unrecognisable. “We’ve had people play through the game without realising what they were touching,” says Hasselager.

People play the game quite differently. When Jarnfelt tested it with a group of male friends, they all looked over the player’s shoulder. They were checking out each other’s technique, he says. “It became almost competitive.”

Others prefer to go off and sit by themselves. “The images are in your head,” says Hasselager. “But this is why it can become embarrassing to watch somebody else.”

Risky business

New York-based developer Robert Yang has also explored intimacy – and the awkwardness that often goes with it – in dozens of games. Yang makes games about gay men that are often tongue in cheek and funny, but they address serious issues.

Where mainstream games include sex at all, it is often presented as part of the game’s story as a reward or a goal for the player. But Yang presents intimacy as a process in itself, one that is inherently risky. “What if you tell someone you love them, and they reject you? Or what if you want to have sex, but you’re terrible at it?”

“When we think of sex as a process laden with tension, rather than a conclusion, it suddenly opens up a lot of emotional language in games,” he says.

Screenshot from a game called "Hurt Me Plenty" - a man in his underwear is kneeling down, facing away from the camera
Games can help teach us about consideration and consent

Hurt Me Plenty/Robert Yang

Yang explores important themes that few others do, says writer and game designer Cara Ellison, “but he’s paid a huge price for it.”

Like Jarnfelt and Hasselager, Yang has had his games banned from certain online distribution services. He cannot sell his work through Steam, the largest online games store and he is not allowed to use the payment processing service PayPal.

Such companies have a relatively conservative policy about what they deem pornographic.There is a line that defines what forms of sexual content companies permit developers to include in games, but it’s blurry, he says. “And they can shift the line without warning. Even asking for donations puts me in danger of getting banned from PayPal.”

Grown-up games

We have a problem with prudishness when it comes to games, says Ellison. Sexual content is more common in films and on TV than ever and books like Fifty Shades of Grey are mainstream bestsellers, yet attitudes about sexual content in games have not caught up.

Many people still think games are for kids, says Jarnfelt. “It’s an antiquated view, but it has stuck in people’s minds and the rules have formed around it.”

Ellison feels similarly. She also thinks many people are still uneasy about games because of their interactive element. “People are slightly suspicious of that still, they think it’s much more influential to play a sex scene than merely watch one.”

But that’s ridiculous, she says. There is more to interactivity than pressing buttons to move hips, she says. In Yang’s game Hurt Me Plenty, for example, a player is locked out if they violate their partner’s trust. “It’s perfect for understanding exactly how important consideration of another body is,” says Ellison.

“There are lots of games coming out pushing the boundaries,” says Jarnfelt. “They’re not getting widely released but they’re getting made and that’s the first step.”

Games are obsessed with violence because players find it entertaining. But we also like sex, says Yang. “I suspect that sex is the only other cultural force in the universe that is sufficiently weird, scary, funny and sad to dethrone violence as the default interactive experience.”

Hasslager has a similar view. “It would not be obvious for me to make a game about war because I’ve never been in a war,” she says.

 

By Douglas Heaven

5 Ways To Improve Orgasm After Having Your Baby

It’s no secret that having a baby does a number on your sex life. Your body parts are all slightly askew, and it sometimes takes a while to get to know how to make things happen again. If you’re a new mom, exhaustion plus issues with body image can make you apprehensive about jumping back into the sack. And, if you have tried it, and things weren’t as hot and heavy as they had been just a few short months ago, you may be looking for ways to improve orgasm after having your baby.

Dr. Renee Horowitz, a practicing OB-GYN and the Director of Center for Sexual Wellness in Farmington Hills, MI, told Fox News that studies have shown an almost universal decrease in sexual desire among women after they have a baby that generally lasts six to eight weeks. Desire is directly related to reaching orgasm.

Regardless of whether they delivered vaginally or by C-section, most couples also have a decrease in the frequency of their love making for about a year after the baby is born. Horowitz suggests that the reason is hormonal, often having to do with the rising prolactin levels during breastfeeding, and the accompanying decrease in dopamine levels.

If you’re a new mom hoping to improve your sex life and have better orgasms after baby, the good news is that there are a few things that can help.

1. Practice Your Kegels

The pubococcygeal muscle is a sling of striated muscles that holds the genitals in place and is the muscle that begins the orgasm in women, according to Columbia University. This is also the muscle that helps you stop peeing midstream and keeps you from leaking. When you have a baby, this muscle gets stretched out and loses elasticity. Dr. Arnold Kegel’s exercises, consisting of squeezing and relaxing this muscle can help a new mom strengthen the muscle and improve her orgasms.

2. Use Lube

Some new moms experience issues with vaginal dryness that can make intercourse uncomfortable and orgasm difficult to reach. Lisa Pastore, an epidemiologist at the University of Virginia’s obstetrics and gynecology department tells Psychology Today that women should use lube if they need it and never feel guilty about it.

3. Have More Foreplay

Sometimes, the best orgasms come after a lot of foreplay. Foreplay can counteract inadequate lubrication, according to Sex Info by University of California, Santa Barbara and can make you more aroused psychologically and physiologically.

4. Drop Off Baby With Grandma

According to Everyday Family, your brain depends on the amygdala, the part that controls your fear, anxiety, thoughts, and feelings, in order to have a pleasurable sexual experience. In order to focusing during sex and to achieve an orgasm, your amygdala must shut off.

This is hard to do when you are tired and worried about the baby waking in the middle of your lovemaking. Letting Grandma or Auntie babysit for a few hours one day can alleviate some of that stress. It will also allow you and your partner some private time to get to know your post-baby body and your new likes and dislikes and maybe even make the quickies during baby’s nap time more satisfying.

5. Be Open To Alternative Options

Sexologist Dr. Logan Levkoff told Everyday Family that many women are unable to achieve an orgasm through penetration alone. If you are open to other forms of clitoral stimulation such as oral sex and the use of toys, you can improve the probability of better orgasms after baby.

 

By Yvette Manes

Sounds of erotica: This orgasm library tells you what female pleasure really sounds like!

“Vamos, vamos. Ohhhh siii…” the woman moans, as the first visual emerges:

“70% of Spanish people believe that this is the sound of a female orgasm.”

The text gives way to an adult film star in the act. It is her voice we hear — or so it seems before dubbing actress Balbina del Rosario appears, intoning the words and moans in a recording studio as the film plays in the background.
This is the digital advertisement for Orgasm Sound Library, an initiative by Barcelona-based Bijoux Indiscrets calling on women to donate that most intimate of possessions: their orgasms.

“We needed to catch people’s attention over female pleasure, and thought of inviting them to discover what it really sounds like without conforming to porn or Hollywood film theatrics,” says Marta Aguiar, CEO and co-founder of the erotic products brand. “There are over 250 uploads now, and it doesn’t stop.”

Named after Denis Diderot’s 18th century erotic novel Les Bijoux Indiscrets (The Indiscreet Jewels), the 10-year-old company — of, by and for women — undertook the Fiction versus Reality in Sex study in 2015. Their findings: 60 per cent of women moan simply to excite partners during sex, 30 per cent believe orgasms should be mechanical (versus 42 per cent of men), and 43.2 per cent fake it to end unsatisfactory intercourse.

Fiction versus Reality in Sex took shape after Bijoux Indiscrets launched Twenty One, the diamond-shaped vibrator. “At the end of 2014, we realised there was still a lot of confusion around female pleasure. That was the seed of the study,” says Aguiar.

Orgasm Sound Library may be a supplementary project, but it’s also the show-stealer. More than 100 women made themselves heard in the first week of its launch last month, their orgasms being listened to 110,000 times in five days. #OrgasmosReales (#RealOrgasms) trended on Spain Twitter and across the Atlantic, Conan O’Brien featured it on his TBS talk show Conan.

But this female orgasm repository is more than an audio library. A median between research, awareness and performance art, the Orgasm Sound Library website (orgasmsoundlibrary.com) is also home to beautiful data art that unfolds as you play an audio file. Each spiral, cloud or line — in its varied hues — is unique to an orgasm, blipping and growing with the slightest modulation in pitch and frequency. One can filter through the library by most views, most popular, most shared, orgasm duration, or even use specific search terms. Regardless of what you listen to, no two graphics are identical, ringing the gong on an important point: each orgasm is distinctive.

“Since we wanted to visually show the uniqueness of each orgasm, we worked extensively on a data art algorithm to create a unique image per sound. The results are beautiful,” shares Aguiar. “Moans and sound in general, when real, are great communication tools during sex, and communication is key. But when sounds are performed instead of felt, they make less sense.”

The library’s personal treatment also extends to the anonymous uploads. Women can tag and name their orgasms any way they wish, resulting in a cornucopia of appellation delights: The Weekender’, ‘Stairway to Heaven’, ‘Midnight Train’, ‘The Five Point Exploding Heart Technique’, ‘My Finger, My Love So True’ and more across 20 pages. One also observed that the most common tags include #alone, #toy and #clitoris.

Orgasm Sound Library isn’t the first online audio-visual homage to real orgasms. Thirteen-year-old Beautiful Agony is a project where uploaders share videos of themselves climaxing, with a sole focus on their expressions (“Beautiful Agony began as a multimedia experiment, to test a hypothesis that eroticism in human imagery rests not in naked flesh and sexual illustration, but engagement with the face,” says the website). But with its focus on the plurality of the female orgasm and data art as a metaphor for said diversity, Orgasm Sound Library rubbishes the notion that ear-splitting moans equal great orgasms. Your orgasm can sound like anything from a creaky door and expletive-ridden gibberish to a faint sigh or guttural grunt and still be sexy.

Although Marta Aguiar and co-founder Elsa Viegas are yet to analyse geographical data on Orgasm Sound Library, Aguiar admits she’s curious to see if there are notable audial variances by country.

“Women who enjoy their own pleasure are still slut-shamed and that is the biggest brake to real pleasure. It’s not possible to have fun when you are scared of what people may think or say about you,” she concludes, underlining the macro aim of this project.

Come as you are, ladies. And make yourselves heard.

 

By Roshni Nair

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Couples who are fair about housework have more sex

There is a view among some social scientists that couples who share more housework have less sex. The idea is that sharing chores so challenges gender norms that couples can no longer turn each other on. Sex suffers.
Fortunately, new research offers a different narrative.
According to a new paper to be published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, couples who share more housework have more sex.
“Nationally, internationally there’s a decline in sexual frequency,” said Sharon Sassler, a professor at Cornell University and a co-author of the paper. “The only ones [couples] that are having more sex are in egalitarian marriages. The sexual scripts have changed.”

The authors, led by Daniel Carlson at the University of Utah, compared data from a 2006 marital satisfaction survey with older data from 1992-1994, which found that couples with more traditional set-ups—with women doing the bulk of the housework—have more sex.
The new survey showed things are changing: couples who reported sharing housework equally had sex 6.8 times per month, on average, or about once more per month than those where the woman does more “routine housework,” defined as: preparing and cooking meals, washing dishes, cleaning around the house, shopping for groceries, and doing laundry.
This is fantastic news for those of us who aspire to partnerships in which we share things like raising kids and cleaning toilets (hello 2016!). Having sex once more per month may seem measly, but something is better than nothing and it’s certainly an improvement on the view that sharing housework harms your sex life.
Of course, it’s not all sun and roses. Women still do a disturbingly high percentage of the work in the house. According to the 2006 survey, about 63% reported that the female partner did the majority of the routine housework, compared to over 80% of respondents from the older one:
Even in households where the female partner earns more than the male, is more educated, or works more hours per week, men do less routine housework than their partners.
Annoying. And backed up by Pew research survey here.

Of course there are things other than housework which affect a couples sex life, like kids and the quality of the relationship.
But housework plays a big role (ask any married couple) and the authors tried to figure out how significant that role was, and how it is changing. A lot, it tuns out: egalitarian couples had the lowest sexual frequency and satisfaction in the early 1990s. Today, they have the most sex, though not much higher than conventional couples. They are the only group whose frequency is growing.
Sassler says the popular storyline, captured in a 2014 New York Times magazine cover story, is that contemporary couples are stressed out and miserable. “It’s weird and exaggerated,” she said, adding:
There’s been a lagged response to women’s transition into the workforce. Initially it was stressful. It affected relationships. We’ve had a few decades to educate each other about the stresses we went through, and we are coming out okay.
There is a basic logic at work here. Couples who have more egalitarian relationships are happier, and happier couples tend to have more sex. Fairness matters, be it housework, child care, and just about everything else.
The study had some not-so-great findings too. Couples in which the man does the bulk of the housework have significantly less sex than those in conventional or more egalitarian pairings (the study did not look at same-sex couples). And while sexual satisfaction varied little between conventional and egalitarian couples; counter-conventional couples, those in which he does the bulk of the housework, were more dissatisfied with their sex lives compared to those in other arrangements.
Clearly something weird is going on that men cannot wash a lot of dishes without everyone’s libidos taking a hit (Sassler says the sample was small, and that some men might not be home by choice, but because they are unemployed).
One thing that has not changed: Men in both surveys were more likely than women to say that routine housework was shared equally; women said it was more likely that they were doing the majority of the work. Some things never change.

 

By Jenny Anderson

5 Things Straight Girls Should Know Before Experimenting With Their Sexuality

It’s one of those days when you and your friends have gathered to catch up after all the adulting you’ve done over the past couple of weeks.

All of you are sipping, or modestly chugging, that glass of wine. These days are perfect for basking in each other’s gossip, talking about unnecessary shit and perhaps discussing the recklessness that has happened the past few days.

“Oh-my-god guys, I met this amazing guy on Tinder” one of my friends states excitedly as she inhales the remainder of her wine. “Please do tell and show me pictures!” I shrieked with intrigue consuming me. She continues telling us about her experience so far with this new guy and automatically we are all excited for the fresh meat in our friend’s life. “I swear, I’m going to start dating women if this one doesn’t work out,” my friend laughs innocently as she shares this with us. “I mean, Guisell seems to have so much fun, right?”

Of course, by this point, I pour half the bottle of wine into my glass to try to block out such a comment. However, my signature Latina glare shoots out into them and I reply, “No babes, it isn’t necessarily a better route.”

See, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard a straight girl say she will “go gay” if it doesn’t work out within her straight world. I actually hear it quite often. Now, I would like to give a heads up to my straight ladies before they dive into the wonderful world of the lezzies, so they know what they’re getting into.

Myth 1: Women always understand.

Err. False. My beautiful lady friends, women aren’t always as understanding. In fact, I’ve dealt with some top-of-the-line insensitive characters in my time. Just as in any regular relationship, effort and constant communication is also stressed in our world. Without such behaviors, we too will go into the emotional roller coaster everyone dislikes.

Myth 2: A woman knows what another woman likes.

As much as I love that we lezzies are put in such a pedestal that may be far from the truth. Okay, it is understood that good sex derives from many factors but I believe that one that is really important is actual shared sexual chemistry between both partners. It’s unrealistic to think that because I am a lesbian, I will have great sex with another woman. If only you all knew about the unpleasant sexual moments I’ve had with other women, you’d realize how far-fetched that thought is.

Look, just because we both have graduated into lady love-making, does not guarantee an experience that will be satisfied for both or any of the parties involved. So, my straight babies, the possibility that it won’t be mind-blowing sex exists.

Myth 3: Lesbianism is a hobby.

Lesbianism, or sexuality for that matter, is not something that you decide one day to take up. Consider thinking about the other woman, who presumably is  a lesbian who might fall for you. That lovely lez is willing to be your experiment, but at what price? Do not treat your fifth heartbreak of the month as an excuse to dismantle another person’s heart. You didn’t like your heart being juggled with, so why should our community take a hit for your questionable coping mechanism?

Are you ready to go down there?

Like, are you really? You can’t possibly believe that you “going gay” will mean it’s only a receiving situation. So yes, I know some women who prefer to please their ladies, but it isn’t necessarily that way all the time.

Are you ready to kiss the forbidden lips that haven’t been available to you up until this moment? Are you truly sure you want to participate in the giving and receiving of magical orgasms simultaneously? Darling, doesn’t that sound appetizing? If it doesn’t, is “going gay” after this boy possibly breaks your heart still an option?

Explore your sexuality because you actually want to.

I am all for the exploration of sexuality. In fact, most times I don’t believe we should limit ourselves to just one label just for the sake of easier categorization within our world.

Sure, I mainly identify as a lesbian but I am aware that sexuality, at the end of the day, is fluid. If you are feeling curious, please go try it. Do not feel ashamed of your urges or your desire to trample some unknown terrain. You never know, steering away from what you know might just be where your happiness lies. Just make sure to try to not hurt anyone along way intentionally. Also, please and I cannot stress this enough: BE SAFE!

My lovely people, we are living in a world where so much is readily available, including exploration of sexuality. Let’s just try to not use people for your cause and be honest with your intentions. So, tell me, should I be picking you up anytime soon?

Gender and sexuality in Asia today

The rapid economic change in Asia challenges the traditional division of labour between women working in the private, family domain and men in commerce and politics. Greater participation by women in politics, while uneven in different countries across the region, has reshaped agendas for social change. The dynamism that we observe in contemporary Asia, among other things, has a deep gender dimension.

 

But it’s not only the roles of men and women that are being redefined. The seemingly immutable images of masculinity and femininity are also in flux, accelerated by the commercialisation of popular culture and the new technologies that have made its spread unstoppable. Although the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is still struggling to gain wider acceptance in most countries, it too has made strides in challenging the hegemonic status of heterosexuality.

In the area of body politics, where state and religious groups still exert enormous influence, women have been resisting and even appropriating the debate to put forward their own agenda. The search for employment or new life opportunities has also driven thousands of women to migrate, legally or illegally, within Asia as brides, labourers, traders or sex workers, bringing about a cross-cultural exchange of gender role norms

In the midst of this change, there have been encouraging legal reforms that recognise the rights of women, exemplified in the abolition of various patriarchal laws such as South Korea’s family-head system,  the enactment of equal opportunity laws and the lifting of bans on women in the military. The recent amendment to Japan’s civil code, allowing women to remarry immediately after divorcing, marks another move from a major player in the region to ensure equal rights for women under the law. Yet old discriminatory norms and practices persist and are further complicated by regional political and economic developments.

The latest issue of East Asia Forum Quarterly, edited by Hyaeweol Choi and Tessa Morris-Suzuki, brings together prominent scholars of gender studies from various countries and disciplines to explore the diversity and complexity of issues of gender and sexuality in contemporary Asia. The essays touch on major developments that have caused shifts in gender relations. They illustrate the tensions between structural violence against women and women’s own agency in negotiating male-dominated social arrangements.

The main message is that gender politics do not merely reflect societal shifts. They drive the political, economic and cultural changes that are shaping the Asian region today.

Katharine Moon, in her lead essay on women and East Asian politics this week, reckons that there is no coherent pattern to boast or model to export. Economic development is not the silver bullet for women’s political empowerment.

‘East Asians are known for creating wealth nationally and personally but this does not necessarily produce women’s political empowerment or participation’, she observes. ‘One of the poorest countries in the world, Rwanda, sits atop the very wealthy Nordic states, the United States and newly rich Asia with the highest female representation in national politics worldwide’.

In East Asia, the Philippines has the highest representation of women in political institutions, she says. Nearly 30 per cent of the seats in Philippines’ lower house are held by women, with another 25 per cent held in the upper house. In local politics, women also fare well, with 17 out of 80 provinces having voted for female governors in 2013. Since 2010, women have also made up 40–45 per cent of the highest civil service positions.

Of all East Asian societies, the Philippines is also the most advanced in integrating women’s rights and development through legal codes and administrative practices. The Local Government Code of 1991 deepened democratisation by decentralising power and by requiring all local and provincial governments to include women, and other underrepresented groups, in governance.

By contrast, Japan, the wealthiest country in the region, falls far behind, with women holding only 11.5 per cent of nationally elected offices as of April 2016 and a mere 3 per cent of the senior-level positions in central government ministries and agencies as of early 2014, Moon reports. Yet in the last two national elections (2013 and 2014), women made up about 53 per cent of the voters.

It’s not that women aren’t choosing to pursue careers, sometimes at the expense of  family, in ever increasing numbers. The low fertility rate in Japan is primary evidence of that. But they are not choosing political careers and their position in the upper hierarchies of the workplace has not improved significantly despite the rhetoric onwomenomics.  While there is now a broad acceptance that Japan’s economy needs women in the workforce, institutional models and social norms still need to catch up.

There are enormous barriers to women’s making it to the top in Japan in any career, and especially in politics. Childcare remains a sticky issue  in a country in which social norms still dictate that women are the primary child carers. So does the ‘one -size-fits-all’ structure and entrenched culture of overtime and social networking in the Japanese workplace. Workplaces that accommodate the diverse needs of their female, and indeed their male, employers such as at Rakuten or Suntory, for example, are the refreshing rarity not yet the norm. This workplace culture is entrenched in the political world which is entered commonly only as a second career move. Academia and entertainment are perhaps the most likely apprenticeships to a political career given the weakness in institutional and cultural support for female participation in the workplace in other careers.

Quotas or targets for women in politics in Asia are rare, although South Korea, as Moon points out, does now have an electoral quota system which requires political parties to include at least 30 per cent of female candidates in their district nominations and 50 per cent of appointed proportional representatives. South Korea’s National Assembly election of April 2016 yielded 49 female members, or 17 per cent of available elected seats — a record high. In China, where the ideology has supported workplace and political participation, the record has become worse. Women form small minorities at all levels of the political system: 21 per cent of the Chinese Communist Party and 23 per cent of national civil service jobs.

As Moon concludes, ‘East Asia, with China at the centre, may be on the rise, [but] it still lags behind in terms of women’s rights and political representation’. And yet the forces for change are ever more powerful, in Japan, South Korea and perhaps soon in China, not because these countries have grown great and rich but because they have grown old and can no longer afford to throw away the untapped productive capacities of the female half of their working population to work through the demographic challenges they face.

The Kind Of Orgasm Nobody Should Ever Have

Did you know that there is a link between depression and your orgasm? It was shocking for me to read that, according to the National Mental Health Association, there are 12 million women  in America that experience clinical depression each year. Not only that — but one in eight women can expect to develop clinical depression during their lifetime.

According to Dr. Michael L. Krychman, Medical Director of Sexual Medicine Hoag Hospital and Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivor-ship Medicine, women are more likely to experience atypical depression — they eat more, sleep more and gain weight. Women are about twice as likely as compared to men to suffer from depression. Many factors are implicated in the origin of depression including biological, psychological and social factors. Medical problems can contribute to depression, so it’s always critical to get a comprehensive history and medical examination. Some cultural or psycho social problems that may lead to depression include poor self-image/self-esteem relationship dissatisfaction.

Luckily, there are a variety of treatment modalities that can safely and effectively treat depression. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors have become the first choice of antidepressant medications. Many experience life-changing results and return to normal once they have consistently taken these medications. According to the “USA Today” report on Americans taking antidepressants, the amount of Americans using antidepressants doubled in the past — to close to 50 million people.

Not surprisingly, we see that depressed mood and sexual concerns and difficulties — including changes in sexual desire and lowered arousal — are often intertwined. SSRIs can cause many types of sexual concerns, such as the inability to have an orgasm. Lowered sexual interest is common for both men and women. The sexual side effects of SSRIs have been underestimated and at least some health care professionals are reluctant to discuss sexual side effects with their patients.

In my clinical experience it remains critical for these women to maintain their SSRI medications. Depression is devastating. Sexual side effects are often troublesome, but can be addressed in a variety of ways. For instance, I recommend that if they take their medication in the morning, they enjoy morning sex play before their dose. The amount of SSRI in their system may be at its lowest level at this time, and may allow enough escape, so that they can enjoy orgasm. Another excellent solution to heighten your sexual response and improve sexual satisfaction is with Zestra®, a patented blend of botanical oils and extracts that has been clinically proven to be safe and effective. Zestra can be applied topically to help with latency to orgasm and has been reported by many women on SSRI also report improved sexual orgasmic response.

Okay great. We can use topical creams like Zestra or Sex Butter — why not? But there is more.

As a Sex and Relationship Coach, I also think that it’s helpful for women and their partners to separate the idea and concept of “climax” from the idea or concept of orgasm. We live in a very male dominated society — where almost every experience including female sexuality and orgasm are based on a male model. The male model for orgasm is all around ejaculation and climax — the entire experience can happen in three minutes! Women can have an entirely different experience of sexual pleasure — and their experience can be separated into “arousal,” “orgasm,” and “climax.” Women can have tremendous pleasure floating back into the pleasure of arousal and orgasm without a climax. It’s just that we think we are not having an “orgasm” if we don’t experience a “climax.” And that simply isn’t true.

It’s time to change this model for every woman — and for women on anti-depressants, introducing the concept of “The Arousal Principal”, “Slow Sex” or “Organic Orgasm” can be very helpful. Women also have an inner pharmacy and can be taught how to use it doing some very simple meditations that flood the body with endorphins and that can possibly support women in reducing or getting off of anti-depressants in some cases.

I also think that understanding the Orgasm Gap between men and women (which really should be renamed the “Climax Gap”) would help women better understand their sexual responses and reduce anxiety about experiencing feminine erotic pleasure. Men and women are different. Women who are experiencing depression can feel like their erotic response is also depressed. But using tools and information like understanding our arousal, experimenting with arousal gels, lubricants, sex toys such as vibrators, and re-educating ourselves about the female experience of orgasm and climax all can change the game and welcome back pleasure for everyone.

No one should have a depressed orgasm!

By Pamela Madsen