Five Quick Pick Me Ups

This week has been tough for me! In between writing and testing and looking for a place to move to, I’ve been doing my best to keep the stress under wraps! I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to keep it up so far, and here’s what I’ve been using most often to get through the days!

  1. Mindful Meditation: Meditation sounds kind of new age and spiritualist, but it has real health benefits. Namely, it reduces stress! When I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, I tap on my Calm app and squeeze in a quick session. Focusing on my breath helps me return to the present moment and get things done when I need to get them done.
  2. Browsing cute animal photos: This is kinda cheesy, but often I’ll look at adorable bird pictures to cheer myself up. Looking at something that makes me happy reminds me that there’s more to my life than my worries and day-to-day issues.  I especially love the r/bears subreddit which has loads of cute photos of bears and the r/superbowl subreddit which features superb owls!
  3. Listening to a podcast or audio book: Getting engrossed in something like PseudoPod (my favorite horror podcast) or listening to The Sword of Shannara really helps me calm down. It’s a kind of escapism I can really appreciate on my commute and can give me the mental space I need to recharge and take on the rest of my day. Other podcasts I love are: The Adventure Zone, Tanis, The Black Tapes and Alice Isn’t Dead! I’m always in the market for more horror podcasts and I’m looking into the No Sleep Podcast as well!
  4. Going outside and mentally cataloguing what I see: A lot of times, we end up zoning out and living in anticipation of the future and not appreciating the present moment. I find a good way for me to get out of this is to try and get outside. There, I make myself really consider what I’m looking at. ‘There’s blooming daffodils’ I’ll think, and then I’ll list other things. How many trees are in view. What the weather is like. How many birds I can hear. Getting immersed in my surroundings brings me back to the now, where I can actually do things rather than the future, where I can’t do anything yet!
  5. Snacking on something yummy: Sometimes a good way to get in the zone is to engage your senses, as evidenced by my above methods. So if you engage your eyes and ears, why not also engage your taste buds? I like to snack on pretzels with peanut butter pockets, peanut butter banana bites and uh…well anything having to do with bananas or peanut butter! Anything I can eat helps me regain energy and helps me refocus on the present moment rather than ruminating over the past or angsting about the future.

Most of these techniques are all about bringing myself back to the present moment. Instead of worrying about things that may be or ruminating over past failures, choosing to focus on the present makes me less stressed and more productive. Being a naturally anxious person, I’ve experienced some measure of stress reduction as I’ve employed being mindful in my daily life. What do you do to reduce stress?

Rocket Girl’s Tips for Surviving Anxiety

There’s no easy way to talk about the details of anxiety. It can be nasty and embarrassing to talk about. For some of us, anxiety makes us bite our nails, makes us too anxious to move or shower, and can even prompt GI distress in the worst kind of way. For me, my anxiety makes it so that my appetite turns off…completely. Given a stressful enough event, my appetite can be turned off for a few days at time even. With my body producing cortisol and with no food or rest from anxiety, the effects of stress can wreak unadulterated havoc on my body. Fortunately, I’m slowly learning to deal with the effects of stress and I’m passing on my tips to you.

  1. When you can’t eat, something is better than nothing: Listen, if you feel anxiety like this, full meals might not be in the cards for a while. Especially balanced and healthy ones. You might not have the energy to cook a full meal. However, nutrition is important and at this point, eat anything your body wants/will accept. At this point, you’re just looking for calories. Candy, fast food, anything is on the table so long as you can get something down so you can get your strength back.
  2. Stay hydrated: In the grips of an anxiety spell, try very hard to stay hydrated even while your eating is out of whack. Water and herbal teas are best because they won’t dehydrate you, but anything will suffice so long as your having plenty of it. Not having fluids WILL make you feel worse, and as an added feature, peeing will feel REALLY uncomfortable because it’s more concentrated.
  3. Practice whatever hygiene you can: Sometimes you just don’t want to go through the whole rigamarole of cleaning yourself. That’s fine! If you can put on some deodorant or splash your face then do it. If you can keep in the habit of brushing and flossing then you’re already on the right track. Your hair can be greasy. Your make up can be smeared or flaking off. But try to muster the strength to do little things like brush and floss to care for your health. I find that swishing mouthwash in my mouth helps when I can’t be bothered to uncap my toothpaste.
  4. Slowly reintroduce food: If you go for a few days having eaten very little, don’t try and rush back into full meals. Breaking your calorie intake in a bunch of small meals will make it easier on your stomach. Pick some things you enjoy eating and have them in small amounts throughout the day to get your body used to eating again.
  5. Exercise: I know, I know. It seems kind of ridiculous to suggest exercise again like it’s some kind of cure-all. But it has a lot of good effects and I really recommend even quick walks. It’ll help your body feel better by producing endorphins and I find that it regulates my appetite.
  6. Get a screen dimmer app: Anxiety can make it hard to sleep. What can aggravate this even more is the blue light from screens. One way to help with this is getting something like F.lux that dims your screen as the sun goes down. It saves your eyes and has helped me go to bed earlier because the orange light is a) ugly b) doesn’t strain my eyes and c) doesn’t trick my body into wakefulness.
  7. Journal: Writing can help you process your feelings. By confronting your feelings on the page, you can sort of kick start the recovery process. I’m not saying that it’ll always help, but a private space where you can scream and be dramatic without getting any of the neighbors upset is incredibly therapeutic for me.

I’ve been in the grips of a bad spell lately, and I’ve just managed to dig myself out thanks to the love and support of my friends and family. With love and patience, I’ve been able to get the gumption to post again and I’m extremely grateful for that. And also? Happy New Year! LOOKING FORWARD TO MORE OF ME?! CAUSE I AM.

Red Flags Among Roses: Signs of a Toxic Relationship

Before I met my current partner, I had been in a relationship with a boy in high school and stayed with until college. It was, like many romances were, full of highs and lows. There were elements of laughter. At times, I genuinely felt affection and love for the man I called my boyfriend. The reader, at this point in the introduction can hear a ‘but’ just right around the corner. They know that I am about to reveal that my relationship was not all roses. The reader, as they astutely determined from the predictable intro, is correct.

I wish I had known what was going on much earlier. I wish I had listened to myself when I knew something was wrong. I wish I’d gotten out sooner. To this day, my ex-partner still terrifies and enrages me. He left me with trauma that carried over into my current relationship. ‘I love you,’ spilled from my current partner’s lips one night as we basked in the afterglow. An accidental confession that should’ve been heartwarming instead made me ready to run. I turned my face away, trying to quiet the dread that worked its way through my veins. It is an awful thing that; that the very words ‘I love you’ had been tainted, colored nastily by the trauma of a relationship from before. While I now have a wonderful relationship, it took me a while to take back the phrase ‘I love you.’

I’m by no means an expert on what constitutes a toxic or abusive relationship. Abusers use a manifold of tactics to keep their victims in a relationship. But I can tell you what I noticed in my relationship and hopefully give you something to look for.

Lampshading bad behavior

My ex-partner was not interested in my daily life. When I talked about the things I cared about, my classes or anything at all, he seemed only dully interested at best. And so most of our conversations were dominated by his interests and feelings. He would go on long rants about the things that he cared about and the things that bothered him, and I would do my level best to be a good partner by asking questions and staying active in the conversation. Being at least marginally self aware, he would later notice that we only talked about things he cared about and fall into a guilty spiral, saying he was a bad person for never talking about topics that interested me, a behavior I now know is called ‘lampshading’. This put me on my back foot, and I was falling all over myself to justify why he was actually a good person despite the fact that he didn’t seem to care about my life in any meaningful capacity. He often pointed to his less than supportive behavior and constantly bemoaned the fact that he added nothing good to the relationship. While this demonstrated some self awareness, I know now that it was a tactic to get me to convince myself that it was a good relationship. In this way, he kept me trapped in the nightmare by forcing me to convince myself that I should stay. I was often forced into doing the emotional labor of pretending we were a good couple and coming up with reasons for us staying together.

Hostage holding behaviors

I want to preface this section by saying that I don’t believe mentally ill people are inherently abusive. But that the mere fact of mental illness does not preclude a person’s ability to abuse and manipulate others. The man who I used to call my partner was deeply mentally ill, and that in itself is not a knock against him. However, when he frankly told me that I was all that was keeping him alive and then he tried to break up with me, I couldn’t let it happen. Because previously he had told me he’d kill himself if I weren’t with him, I was now trapped. If I left, I felt like I would be responsible for his death. In a very nasty way, he used my protective nature against me. Claiming that I shouldn’t care what happened to him and breakup whenever I wanted always felt like a hammer blow against my heart because I felt like I wouldn’t live with myself if I did something that would kill him.

Pedestalizing

That man, my ex-partner, also kept me in the relationship by constantly putting me on a pedestal. I was the best, he told me. You’re the only thing that makes me enjoy life, he told me. I love you, he told me. Fed a double dose of validating compliments and his personal narrative of self loathing and suicidal tendencies, he set up a perfect carrot and stick system that kept me in the relationship for a long time. The drug-like compliments kept me complacent and the suicidal ideation made me feel like I had a purpose as well as frightened me with the possibility of being responsible for his suicide if I left. But as we continued in our relationship, I started feeling…claustrophobic. In my mind, if I didn’t keep being perfect, I would be responsible for him when he took his own life after he became disillusioned with me. So in order to keep being this perfect angel of light as he saw me, I stopped arguing with him. Any discomfort, fear or anxiety I felt was put on the backburner in order to preserve the illusion of a wonderful relationship. But I didn’t want to be an angel. I so deeply longed to feel like just an equal.

Dismissal of your own mental health

My ex was and is mentally ill. He was, at the very least, deeply depressed and likely his depression was co-morbid with other, nastier disorders. He hinted as much when he talked to me about going to a mental hospital. This, you might think, would make him uniquely sympathetic of my own depressive tendencies and would give him insight with regards how to comfort me when I went non-verbal or had suicidal ideations. But no. When I confessed that I wanted to die, he yelled at me and told me I would never be forgiven for feeling like that. So I shut up for a long time. When I hit another low point in our relationship and said I was considering suicide once again, he told me that it was likely I wasn’t serious in my desire. Otherwise, he said, you would go out into the woods and cut your own throat. It’s not exaggerating to say that at that point I stopped wanting to die and started wanting to get out and started planning to make my escape from the nightmare my relationship had become.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of toxic behaviors, these were the most obvious signs that there was something wrong with my relationship. If you notice any parallels between what I’ve described here and with a relationship you’re in, I urge you to confide in someone who cares about you. You might be tempted to rationalize away your partner’s behavior, so frankly confessing it to a third party will make it easier to identify this kind of toxicity.

Listen, you are not a bad person or an idiot if you find yourself in a relationship where you are abused. People are clever and they are tricking you. Your only problem is that no one told you what abuse looked like or how to get out of a toxic relationship. My hope is that people reading this get an idea that abuse can happen without ever coming to blows. I want everyone out there to stay safe. And if they end up with someone as toxic as all this? That they know that their feelings are valid and that getting out is the right choice.

12 Tips For Winter Masturbation

Winter has finally come for us in America! Temperatures are dropping while our layers of clothing are increasing and we’re passing on our icy lemonades in favor of hot chocolates. The sweaty, exhibitionist days of summer are gone; now we must contend with the long, cold winter nights.

But just because it’s cold doesn’t mean we stop jerking off! FAR FROM IT. Although the cold seems daunting, here are some tips cultivated by yours truly so you can jack off without getting bothered by Jack Frost.

STAY WARM PHOTO
The Nocturnal bullet and the Maestro posed next to my piping hot tea and a scented candle.
  1. Pre-heat your sex toys: If you’re using body safe and waterproof toys, stick those suckers in a bowl of warm water. Some people might be in for a chilly thrill, but for those of us who shy away from frostier sensations, this’ll nix the ambient winter cold. I tell myself I’ve been boiling my dildos so much because I’m hygienic, but it’s also because stuffing myself with a warm dildo is infinitely better than a room temperature one. HOWEVER. If your toy is made from steel, test the warmth on the inside of your thigh before sticking it in your orifice. TRUST ME ON THIS.
  2. Have a good blanket handy: This one is pretty obvious. Jacking off in a blanket nest is something we all do from time to time, but it’s especially essential in the winter. Bonus points if you can score a heated blanket.
  3. Invest in some good socks: Whatever this looks like to you works. Maybe some sexy knit stockings or just comfortable fluffy socks. Cold feet kill my arousal, so having something on makes it easier for me to jerk off!
  4. Masturbate during/after your shower: In addition to pre-heating your sex toys, you can also pre-heat you! Have a hot bath or shower before getting right into it so you can hold on to that heat. Or alternatively, get yourself off in the shower or bath so you don’t have to leave the heavenly warm water at all.
  5. Hydrate with your favorite hot beverage: PAMPER YOURSELF. Have hot cocoa and leisurely masturbate to your favorite porn. Maybe spike it with some schnapps if that’s your thing! Roll out the red carpet for yourself and indulge in some gastronomic and carnal pleasure.
  6. Get physical: Think of it this way, jacking off after exercise during the winter is going to GUARANTEE that you’re warm. That exercise can really be anything, from going for a run to doing some isometric exercise in your living room. Your body heats up and your blood and endorphins are pumping so you’ll feel nice n’ warm! And then after? You reward yourself with an orgasm! BIG WINS ALL AROUND.
  7. Take your time with warming up: Listen, the cold kills my arousal. When I shake off my coat and clothes, most often I’m not going to want to jump to intensive stimulation right away like I would in the hot summer months. Instead, I read some erotica and slowly ease into masturbation like I would a deep stretch. And if I’m using Frank’s Monster, I’LL REALLY BE FEELING THAT STRETCH!
  8. Eat something beforehand: It doesn’t necessarily have to be warm, but the idea is the same as #5. Digestion can make you feel warmer as well as blood is redirected your GI system, and so you’ll feel it in your trunk. Because this is (relatively) close to the genital area, you should feel pretty warm! Also you won’t be hungry when you’re jacking off. Win-win!
  9. Use a strong external stimulator: If you can’t be pried from your pajama pants or long underwear, consider getting something like a wand vibrator to buzz one out! This works best for people with vulvas, but I imagine that it’s certainly possible for people with penises!
  10. Light some candles: Scented candles can cozy your atmosphere right up. In addition to just being nice smelling, the ambience can make you feel comfier!
  11. Don’t skimp on the lube: Yes the lube will probably be kinda chilly, but lube is one of those things that you’ll likely need if you’re doing anything with penetration. Though, I imagine that if you closed the cap on a container of Sliquid and then partially submerged it in warm water you might be able to warm it up. If anyone tries this, let me know how it goes!
  12. Use a plug: For people into anal and who are lazy, a butt plug works great! Pre-heat that sucker and slide one in for your masturbation session. Also, for people with vulvas, there are vaginal plugs out there! Pop one in, drape a blanket over yourself and having something like The Nocturnal buzz one out of your clit for a session with as little movement as possible.

Super Size Me: Big Toys Under $40

I must confess, I am becoming a size queen. While I can still love and adore smaller toys, big toys make my eyes light with avarice. But inevitably, my enthusiasm is squashed once I see the price tag. A dejected whine escapes my throat as I consider the cost against my vaginal delight, and eventually I turn away from the toy, removing it from my cart with a sigh. And so I have been on a quest, looking for HUGE DILDOS for a modest price. And I tell you, I have succeeded! I personally own two of these and can vouch for their quality!

  1. The Blush Novelties Elvira: I won this toy from a giveaway and I ADORE this girthy little sweetheart. 2 inches thick at the thickest, and with a stubby 5.5 inches in length, this toy is amazing. At $24, this toy is a baby size queen’s best friend. Bonus, it also has a suction cup!
  2. The Blush Novelties Ruse Jammy: I bought this myself when I saw how GOD DAMN CHEAP it was! At $33, you get a massive toy for very little! I’m talking 2 inches thick with 7.5 inches insertable. This is a CHUNKY toy. For those of us who lusted after Vixen Creations Randy but couldn’t cough up the cash for it, this is for you. It’s got a damned good suction cup (trust me, I’ve tried it) and it has incredibly realistic detail if you’re into that kind of thing. If you really wanna follow in my footsteps, also pick up the Blush Exposed Nocturnal! It’s on sale at Peepshow now and it’s damned good.
  3. The Dorcel SO Phospho Glow: This toy looks like a silicone version of the NJoy Eleven. However, it’s $33, glows in the dark and is honestly a dream come true. With two ends, a thin end at 1.3″ and a thick end at 1.9″, this toy is versatile AND filling!
  4. The Blush Novelties Sumo: Another Blush toy?? Yes! This company is really coming through for size queens with small budgets. This toy is a soft, dual density silicone with a thick, semi realistic look to it. It’s a chunky 2 inches thick and 6.8 inches insertable. It comes in Indigo and Violet, has a suction cup, and the best part? With the Black Friday 2018 deals, you can get this sucker for $15!

Armed with this new knowledge, go forth and get you some girthy silicone to squeeze around! Your holes and your wallet will love you.

How to manage your anxiety and have better sex

I know I might not look it, but I am an anxious person. I worry constantly about my status as a non-employed person being supported and about several other existential worries. And yes, for a long while I worried about sex. But over the years, I’ve slowly learned ways to manage the nagging fears and worries in the sexual arena, and it’s made all the difference. This is intended to be a comprehensive guide to conquering all of your insecurities, but are some tips to get you started. And so without further ado: how to manage your anxiety and have better sex.

  1. Get on a reliable birth control method. If you’ve got a vagina and ovaries, there’s a lot of fantastic options out there. Personally, I would advocate for the IUD if your insurance covers it and you can tolerate slightly more painful menstrual cramps that the procedure feels like. But if that’s not your style, other options include the pill, the ring, the implant, and the Depo-shot. If you’ve got a penis, sadly there are far fewer options for controlling your fertility. The best I can offer you is condoms unless you’d like to get a vasectomy.
  2. Get an STI test. Most health clinics will offer one and most insurance covers it. This is basic sexual health and I understand that it may be incredibly nerve wracking to go into a clinic, but you shouldn’t encounter anything other than routine tests. They may take blood, do a vaginal swab, and may take a urine sample. It’s a little inconvenient, but having test results to look at will alleviate a lot of gnawing fears. And being tested in advance makes it easy to ask your partner or partners to get tested as well since you’ve gone ahead.
  3. Have pregnancy tests on hand/emergency contraception on hand. If there’s a possibility you or your partners could get pregnant, having a test handily available will make it much easier for the pair of you to learn your results and then make decisions from there. Emergency contraception (the pill kind) is also extremely valuable, as having it handily available will kneecap a lot of pregnancy anxiety. It’s no substitute for regular birth control, but if your regular methods should fail, then this is vital. Plan B has a four year shelf life, so you don’t have to use it right away for it to be effective. It can be ordered online now, so make sure you’ve got something on hand before you have sex to prevent these sorts of fears.
  4. Negotiate in advance what you want to do. This can be as simple as you like. But honestly telling your partner what you’re into and what acts are on or off the table is a good way to start.

These are the beginner tips. Once you’ve got these settled, here are a few more specific ones to make your sex life that much better:

  1. Light the room. Having a softly lit room can do wonders for the ambience and will cast you in your best light. If you overhead light leaves something to be desired, consider some fairy lights or a standing lamp to cast your room in a warm glow.
  2. Wear your good luck accessories. Not everyone has access to perfectly tailored lingerie or fetishwear. But a pair of bondage rope earrings? Rocking that accessory is not only cute but gives your partner a sorta subtle clue about what you’re into. If that seems too daring, pick anything that makes you feel sensual and beautiful.
  3. Fish for a compliment or two. Listen, we all want to feel attractive and appreciated. While you shouldn’t pester your potential partner with questions about your own attractiveness, asking for a little feedback is normal and will boost your self esteem.
  4. Journal about your worst fear. Once you’ve got your fear on the page, you can properly address it. Maybe you’ll see it’s something irrational, like your partner being a murderous serial killer. Or maybe it’s more rational, like you’re worried about a particular scar. Either way, now that you’ve got it on paper, you can address it and formulate a way to communicate it to your partner.
  5. Take a deep breath and think about your best feature. If you’re plagued by anxiety with how your body looks, consider that this person likely wouldn’t have accepted your invitation to sleep with you if they didn’t find you attractive. And also? Mostly, people have what you expect under their clothes. There will be genitals, shaved or hairy or some stage in between. There will be cellulite, scars, freckles and birthmarks. They have all these things, just like you. And they probably don’t care about yours.
  6. Exercise. Now I don’t mean in the lose weight sense. I mean in the ‘get your blood flowing and your endorphins going sense’. Exercise often makes people feel more positive and upbeat. Whatever this looks like for you is excellent. Maybe you go up and down some stairs or walk around the block a few times. Maybe you bust out a couple squats. Whatever it is, a little light exercise will help you feel more confident.
  7. Know that you’re valuable and worthy even if the encounter isn’t magical. This one is hard. If something goes wrong, it’s very easy to get very down on yourself. Please don’t. Not being able to make someone come or having a a lackluster experience in bed is normal and not something you need to beat yourself about. If you listened to your partner, respected their boundaries, and had consensual sex then you did your best. Encounters can go wrong for all kinds of reasons, and some may not have anything to do with you.

As I said, this isn’t a comprehensive guide. But as someone who used to agonize over sex and what could happen, following these kinds of guidelines has helped me to have much more pleasurable encounters that don’t have anxiety buzzing in the back of my head. So go forth and have fun!

How Doxycycline Saved My Sex Life

Earlier this year I wrote a post about UTIs and how to avoid them. In it, I repeated much of the standard stuff about wiping front to back and drinking plenty of water. I should have also mentioned wearing cotton underwear and not putting yogurt on your vagina if you’re prone to such infections, but I digress. What I want to talk about in this post is my experience I had with chronic UTIs. And I mean chronic in the sense that almost every time after PiV I would pee straight after intercourse and still get a UTI. Had it not been for my NP, I might’ve just thought I was condemned to a life of filling this or that prescription for different courses of Macrobid or Bactrim. But my NP wanted to get to the bottom of my burning problems, so she had me tested for something I’ve never heard of: ureaplasma.

BEDSIDE BUDDIES 100918
These were my constant bedside buddies. They saw heavy use while I was thrown from UTI to UTI.

What is ureaplasma? According to my doctor, they’re part of a group of organisms called mycoplasmas, which are bacteria without cell walls. The ureaplasma in particular usually inhabit the vagina, cervix, and occasionally the urethra of the penis. This bacteria generally doesn’t cause problems, but on some rare incidences, the presence of ureaplasma in the urethra of a vulva can cause chronic UTIs. But how does this happen? The ureaplasma is not the bacteria of the infection, instead, it makes the colonization of infectious bacteria much easier. Ureaplasma is passed sexually, though it isn’t commonly listed as an STI because of its presence in healthy individuals who don’t experience any symptoms. This means that if one partner has an issue with the bacteria, both partners need to be treated to avoid passing the infection back and forth.

Testing for the ureaplasma was a bit difficult for me. I’m more than used to providing samples for urinalysis, but one of the tests for ureaplasma is the ‘clean catch’ test. This test involves collecting the urine sample mid-stream so that you can get a good look at the sample without any interference from the vaginal flora. To further this aim, the doctor provided me with some antibacterial wipes so that there would be as little interference from my vaginal flora as possible. Well, this kind of test required me to have impeccable timing and sadly I did botch it. Luckily, after I washed my hands, the second test was a vaginal swab and I was able to do that no problem. After I turned in my samples, I was given a stop gap prescription of Macrobid in the event that it wasn’t ureaplasma.

About four days later, the doctor confirmed that I did indeed have ureaplasma and was told to discontinue use of the Macrobid. I was prescribed a two week course of doxycycline, which some people know from using it as an anti-malarial. This medication had to be taken twice a day and I was barred from sexual intercourse, which wasn’t an issue since my partner was away for the summer.The medication was rough on my body, and there was one instance of it making me so ill that I vomited and had to call in sick from work. But I persevered and completed the medication course. But because of the nature of the bacteria, my partner also needed to take a round of medication or else he’d risk re-infecting me when we had sex. I cannot tell you what a blessing my partner is. When I was anxious about asking him to go in for this testing, he reassured me that he was more than happy to do this since he had been worried about hurting me and was glad there was a solution.

After the summer, he was finally able to convince the doctor to give him a swab test and a prescription. The swab test indeed confirmed he had the ureaplasma and he was given the go ahead to start his medication. He took doxycycline twice a day, though the nausea that I had experienced was notably absent. During this time, we refrained from what we termed ‘a touching reunion’ for a full month, waiting for the medication. It felt like an eternity waiting for him to finish the medication. But once we had both completed the medication, the satisfaction of being able to be sexually intimate with my partner again sans the persistent fear of infection was absolutely worth it.

Now that we’re nearly a month out from the medication, I’ve been pain and infection free despite having several PiV encounters with my partner. I’m keeping up with my prevention techniques by making sure I’m adequately hydrated and I’ve ditched all my thongs, but I feel noticeably improved. I’m sharing this story in the hopes that it reaches the people who are in a similar chronic UTI situation. While this may not be the case for everyone who has chronic UTIs, it’s something I’ve not seen talked about very often as a possible cause behind chronic infection. I believe that this lack of conversation around it has people buying every cranberry pill, taking lots of unnecessary medication which is contributing to antibiotic resistance and generally feeling broken because of their constant infection.  If you’re suffering from chronic UTIs, I would urge you to ask your doctor to test you for this. Insist if you have to, because sometimes getting your best healthcare requires self-advocating. Doxycycline quite literally saved my sex life and it might save yours too.

 

Warming Up: Part Two on Foreplay

So now we come to the second part of my Warming Up series. I’ve already discussed what foreplay is, or what my personal definition of it is, this post is meant as sort of a rough guideline of possible foreplay activities. Most of this has been drawn from my own personal experience so  your mileage may vary. This isn’t meant as an instructional guide on foreplay, merely offering my methods to see if you find anything you might want as an addition to your warm up repertoire.

In warming up for vaginal penetration

In warming up for vaginal penetration, there are a couple of things I’ll do differently depending on whether I’m preparing for PiV sex or if I’m planning on penetrating myself with a dildo. With a partner, I enjoy giving and receiving oral to get ourselves physically and mentally ready. Personally speaking, giving my partner a blowjob before sex makes me feel incredibly sensual and sometimes gets me aroused enough for penetration all on its own. Being able to control the experience my partner receives isn’t something I get to feel when I get fucked, so I relish the control I have for the time being.

Because my partner values reciprocity, he’s often not the only one getting oral. In fact, even with the difference in our sizes, we’ve actually pulled off the 69 position to great success. Getting oral is a fantastic act in its own right, and for some people it may be the whole sexual encounter , but I often find it to be an amazing warm up for PiV with my wonderful partner. When receiving oral, I prefer to also be fingered at the same time. The internal stimulation and getting used to being penetrated makes it so I can enjoy feeling stretched by my partner without feeling claustrophobic from his dick. I know it seems strange that my vagina with size queen tendencies can feel claustrophobic from anything, but it remains the case. If I don’t warm up to penetration and I’m not turned on enough, it’ll hurt.

If I’m warming up for a solo session, I’ll often start off with a vibrator. I’ve got a few that have been featured so far, namely the much loved Turbo Glider and Mystic Wand. Warming up my clit turns me on and gets me ready for a dildo. Now, I should use a smaller dildo in preparation for my larger ones, but most times? I just go straight for it and endure a little discomfort as my body gets used to it. In this respect, I would ask my readers to please use smaller dildos to warm up first rather than just plunging in. Your orifices will thank you.

The last crucial piece for warming up is: LUBE. I cannot stress enough how essential a good lube has been for my sex and masturbation life. Good Clean Love’s original formula was my go to until I noticed I started having some irritation, so I discontinued use. Thankfully, Good Clean Love has graciously offered to send me their BioNude formula, which I’m very grateful for. In the meantime, I ordered both the Butters and Sliquid from Peepshow, which preliminary testing is showing some very good results! Of course, I’ll fill you in more on a later post with regards to how these lubes feel.

In warming up for anal play

So a quick disclaimer: I’ve not had penetrative anal sex yet. Well, I’ve had an entire 8 inch dick in my ass, but after insertion (we didn’t use lube) it got pretty uncomfortable so he pulled out and we moved on to something else. So most of my experience with anal has been using toys or getting my ass fingered. Regardless, here’s how I warm up.

Usually I start with lots of lube and gentle digital penetration, because my butt is a delicate flower. The few times I’ve been impatient, I’ve wound up bleeding slightly and had to take a long break from anal play of any kind. So if I’m doing anything with my butt, I make some time to read some erotica, stimulate my clit, and slowly ease into anal. Making sure my clit is involved ensures that I’m turned on enough and still feeling pleasure while I’m easing into anal.

I’ve also done an enema in preparation for anal, though I later wasn’t able to actually follow through on that desire. I’ve done an enema using a bulb, and while I did feel cleaner, I felt oddly dehydrated and headachey afterward. This bad feeling nipped any chance of sex in the bud, so my partner and I ended up just snuggling while I recovered. So if you’re planning on doing an enema, I’d recommend: 1. Doing several rinses. 2. Making sure you’ve got access to a bathroom you can hog for about an hour. 3. Drinking plenty of water in the event you feel like me after. Also, while an enema once in a while is fine, too many too close together can really upset your gut flora! So be mindful and take care of your body.

Last words

You know your body best and know where your limits are. The things I’ve described above may work for you, and they may not. I encourage you to experiment with several activities and to take your time in getting your body ready. In a lot of ways, warming up for sex is like warming up for any other athletic event. Take your time to get your mind and body ready so that you can enjoy whatever encounter you decide to participate in!

The Fire Down Below: UTIs

Do you have a vulva? Are you sexually active? Then you’ve likely had a UTI or a Urinary Tract Infection. I am someone who falls into the category of people that have UTIs chronically. For the better part of my sexually active life, I’ve been dealing with one infection after another. I’d feel that tell-tale burning in my vagina and sigh. I’d schedule a doctor’s appointment for the following day and wait up all night, enduring the burning of my urethra as I waited for it to be time to head out to the doctor. This burning followed a number of sexual encounters, such that it made my partner concerned that sex was hurting me. Luckily, this wasn’t the case and we found out the underlying issue, which I’ll talk about in a later post. For now, I’m going to give you some tricks and tips on dealing with your first or your 101st UTI.

Prevention

The best treatment is prevention and I stand by that. If you can avoid having an infection that’s the most optimal case. I’ve seen a few tips posted all over so I’m going to share a few here for you.

  • Stay hydrated, pee when you need to: If you’re dehydrated and/or not going when you need to, you’re more susceptible to infection. Regularly staying hydrated will make harder for bacteria to hang out inside you!
  • D-Mannose: This is a powder that when taken orally makes it difficult for the bacteria to hang out in you as well. It sort of…coats your insides so that bacteria can’t hold onto the walls of your body.
  • Cranberry: This is what everyone claims works, but I’m honestly a little skeptical. If you do want to try cranberry, it’s unlikely to hurt you, but make sure you get something without sugar. If the juice is too tart for you to stomach (it was for me) then cranberry pills are a viable option.
  • Wipe front to back: This one is to prevent fecal matter from getting into your urethra and causing issue there.
  • Pee after sex, every time: This is to clear out whatever might’ve been pushed into your urethra from just about any form of sex, though it’s most common that people with vulvas get UTIs after penetrative sex.
  • Making sure both you and your partner have showered or freshened up: A) this is nice because they’ll smell nice and fresh and B) it’ll help prevent UTIs if you’re rinsed off before hand.

Following all of these is not a guarantee of preventing a UTI of course. You could be the most hydrated, cranberry-swilling, D-Mannose-swallowing babe out there and still come down with a UTI. However, these are the most common tips to avoid getting one.

Treatment

So what happens when you do get one? I do have some tips for those in the grip of an infection as well. These will make your infection suck less and will help you heal, as well as get a little pain relief.

  • Go to a doctor: The most important thing is that you get medication as quick as you can. While UTIs aren’t terribly dangerous at first, they can get worse, spreading to your bladder and kidneys. I’m not saying you’re immediately going to your kidneys, but this is something you should only ever sit on for a few days at most. Schedule an appointment as soon as you can so you can get better faster.
  • Hydrate: Drink lots of water. Find the biggest water bottle you have. Fill it and drink all of it. Then do it again. This will help flush your system and make getting over your infection easier.
  • AZO is your friend: These are over the counter drugs that are painkillers and will make your life more manageable as you wait to see the doctor. I recommend that every person with a vulva and every person who is dating a person with a vulva have something like this in the house along with Monistat. UTIs can cause some serious pain, and if you absolutely have to do things before going to the doctor, this will make your life much easier while you do it. But absolutely this is no substitute for going to the doctor.
  • Ice: For a little relief, you can fill a Ziploc with ice, wrap a washcloth around it and sit on it. Make sure there’s a barrier between the ice and your vulva, otherwise it could cause more pain!
  • Avoid sugar and caffeine: Sugar will make your body more inviting to bacteria, which you don’t want. Caffeine is a bladder irritant, and may make your pain worse. As sucky as it is, you might have to go decaf for a week so that you can heal.
  • Don’t have sex: Listen, the medication you’re going to take is likely going to make you feel better in 24-36 hours. You are not better yet. Take all of your medication and then wait until seven days have past before going for penetration again. Otherwise, you can make your infection worse or end up having a ‘partially treated’ UTI that necessitates another round of medication. It sucks, don’t do it.

With these tips in mind, you should start feeling better. Take the advice of your doctor and make sure that you’re hydrated and you should be well on your way to getting over a UTI in about a week. Take care y’all!

What to watch out for: Toxic Toys

“You get what you pay for,” is an adage that I have heard since I was old enough to have memories. Most often I heard it when I attempted to get something cheap that broke when I should’ve gotten something more expensive that would’ve lasted as long as I needed it. If you’ve ever met me in person, then you know I often get wound up about people buying toxic sex toys just because they’re cheap. But since you probably haven’t met me, I’ll go ahead and tell you that nothing upsets me quite as much as any sex toy made of materials that are unsafe. Unsafe materials include (but aren’t limited to):

  • PVC
  • Jelly
  • “Skin Safe” rubber
  • Latex (fine for condoms, they’re one use)
  • Cyberskin/Fantaflesh/Other proprietary TPE/TPR blends
  • TPE and TPR.

What makes these unsafe or toxic toy materials? Well the first thing to note is that all these materials are porous, meaning that they’re all going to hold onto bacteria from use and can harbor viruses, mold and fungi. This happens due to the fact that after you use your toy, you can’t clean the microscopic pores of the toy where bacteria have made a home. No anti bacterial toy cleaner will help, as this will still only clean the surface of your toy and not penetrate the pores. Since you can’t clean it, bacteria, mold and other nasties will have free reign to grow in your toy while you store it. This means when you go to use your toy again, you risk giving yourself an illness or infection from the bacteria you reintroduce into your body. This can lead to chronic yeast infections, UTIs and potentially STIs if shared with someone who was positive for an STI.

In addition to this porous nature, these materials are also subject to a host of other problems: unstable material, potential for having pthalates in the material, and toxicity of the material. Unstable materials are bad for a variety of a reasons. These toys will “sweat” meaning they might leach oil or melt under certain conditions. Two toys in an unstable material will react with each other and might melt into each other. If they’re reacting to each other this way and degrading day by day simply by existing, what these toys are doing in the human body is a horrible thing to consider. In both the anus and the vagina, there are mucus membranes and susceptible ecosystems. Subjecting either to the toxic toys and you could very easily upset this delicate ecosystems. Further more, these unstable materials have the potential to have a nasty chemical reaction inside your body. With this in mind, these toys are best avoided.

What are some safe materials then? Well, there are plenty! They include:

  • Silicone
  • Glass (borosilicate or soda lime)
  • Wood (properly sealed)
  • Stone (properly sealed)
  • Ceramic (with the correct glaze)
  • ABS Plastic
  • Stainless Steel

All of these materials are non-porous and non-toxic. They can be sanitized by boiling (if not a vibrator) or being spritzed with a ten percent bleach solution and then rinsed thoroughly. These materials will not degrade over time, are not able to hold onto bacteria, are sterilizable, waterproof and overall the most hygienic and body-safe options for toy materials.

These body-safe toys range in price, and so almost anyone can find a toy at a price point they can afford. SheVibe possesses a range of stock where you can find inexpensive toy options by searching from low to high pricing. Also, both Funkit Toys and Uberrime have put out new lines of affordable body-safe dildos which look great for people looking for their first dildo.

If you’re curious about sex toy material and safety, I’ve provided a little extra reading here below:

Dangerous Lilly’s Platinum Silicone Myths

Dangerous Lilly’s Toxic Toy Guide

Epiphora – Your Genitals Deserve Better

Now armed with some basic knowledge of what to watch out for, you’ll have a much better time in purchasing and using sex toys. So go forth and buy toys!