Sex Aids for the Terrified; A journey into the mysteries and myth of sex toys- Mary Clegg
How they can be used in a solo, relational, gay and disabled context
Who and How
We have now covered history and myths now the who and how.
Sex Aids cover everything from the classic vibrators and dildos through to things like penis (cock) rings and vacuum pumps. Sexual arousal for a man or a woman may bring into play all the senses, but visual and sensory touch predominate. If a vibrator is used for stimulation, then care is needed to ensure correct vibration frequency is chosen, that the device is used long enough to achieve the desired response and that experimentation is encouraged to find what body part will respond sexually to stimulation. Generally it is best to use a lubricant to avoid bruising delicate tissues in sensitive areas. Warkentin, Gray and Wassersug (2006), for example, produced an interesting paper on restoring the sex life of a testosterone suppressed prostate cancer patient using a dildo and a strap on!
I feel that it is important that within (age appropriate) sex education, there is information on the body’s physical response (arousal) and the receptivity to sexual play (desire) so that sexual desire and arousal are fully understood. Many people come to me with scant knowledge of this process. Men and women will be fully conversant with an erect penis signifying arousal and desire for sexual contact, but what of female arousal? Many women are not aware they are physically aroused despite feeling horny. We all should be able to understand how stimulation will affect the process and indeed where the stimulation should be on the body, for how long and in what manner to achieving satisfaction. Our sex education should never stop and hopefully a couple seeking a fulfilling and happy sex life way into their 70’s would remain curious to explore different experiences together in a consensual way. There is no room for coercion in 21st Century sex. It is everyone’s right to have the sex life of their choosing without pressure, pain and the absence of pleasure. Sadly I see all of these things in my clinical role.
In 1973 the then artist Betty Dodson exhibited a collection of slides entitled “Creating the Aesthetic for the Female Genitals” to a Sexuality Conference in New York City and followed this with workshops on female masturbation to an audience that “didn’t know what their own genitals looked like, much less an awareness of their beauty”. She went on to publish her book Liberating Masturbation which in time became Sex for One. Betty has been one of the more forthright authors to understand the female orgasm and her method for helping women achieve this has been more recently studied by Pia Struck and Soren Ventegodt (2008). Of the 500 patients studied 93% had an orgasm during the therapy witnessed by the therapist and of that sample 25% had primary anorgasmia. Most had not experienced orgasm for 12 years. Of the women who did not experience orgasm during the therapy, 35% did so afterwards but the authors did not have a follow up programme so it is not known how many or why anorgasmia (absence of orgasm) persisted in this sample.
One of the prominent features of this programme is the use of vibrators and “direct confrontation and integration of both the repressed shame, guilt and other negative feelings associated with the body, genitals and sexuality and the repressed sexual pleasure and desire”. Using a combination of direct stimulation, pelvic floor contraction and relaxation, breath work and pelvic rocking it is possible to increase blood flow to the genital region and make the vulval region more sensitive to touch and increase the likelihood of orgasm. The women are encouraged to include fantasy and to stimulate not only the vulval region but the breasts and nipples as well. The main focus is prolonged masturbation with variety and diversity building in intensity. Permission giving and support to allow the woman to confront emotional resistance to aspects of sexuality are essential components of this programme.
Fantasy and sexual discovery are very important parts of sex play and they can take many forms. Whether it is through the recreation of past events to enhance a sexual experience or using books, DVDs, or erotic material, is a matter of personal preference. For those who practice Bondage Domination Sado-Masochism (BDSM), which means the utilisation of restraint, power exchange and the giving and/or receiving of pain in the interests of sexual fulfilment, the fantasies created further enhance the sexual experience. Often this involves using props and role play but more importantly it is done in an atmosphere of mutual consent and how far to go with a “safe” word to signify NO. Role play including costume wearing can be a very good way of trying dominant and submissive roles.
Also useful, especially for people who have difficulty in concentrating on the here and now in a sexual situation, is sensory deprivation. A blindfold can be an excellent way to eliminate one sense and therefore enhance others. Headphones or ear plugs and a blind fold will further increase the person’s focus on touch – not to mention heightening anticipation. This was well played out in the book 50 Shades of Grey. I recommended reading it to my clients to get them to think outside the box and get creative!
Another alternative is hot and cold play. An ice cube running over bare flesh can be exhilarating – follow it with wax dripped form a candle and the experience can be highly stimulating!. There are special wax products available for just this use as ordinary candle wax may be too hot. A good tip is to let the wax fall from a distance allowing it to cool slightly in transit.
Pornographic DVDs and material may be suitable for enhancing fantasy and there are pornographic materials specially made for women. There are plenty of erotic books readily available in high street stores or online where ideas can be found. It may be a novel experience for a lover to read erotic paragraphs out loud to their partner or to listen to erotic sounds from audio CDs. There are two Guilds of Erotic Artists in the UK, catering for a wide variety of tastes which produce some fine examples of this art aimed at firing up the imagination.
Finally it is not always wise to disclose private fantasies to a partner. They may be extreme, perhaps produce a negative response or they may even be linked childhood trauma. It is claimed by Brett Karrs that we co-opt those traumas and sexualise them to give a sense of power over them.