If you are ever curious or seeking the most honest of sexual purges, indulgences, and conversations, seek no further than the Internet. Some of the best incognito discoveries regarding sex and humankind can be uncovered while browsing anonymous public forums such as Craigslist's Casual Encounters or Reddit's r/sex.
The range of the confessions unearthed span from sweet to bizarre, educated to misinformed, such as the other day when I stumbled upon a post from a young woman (presumably) asking about lubricants and some assholes (presumably) suggested baby oil.
It occurred to me later that the baby oil suggestion may not have been shared maliciously, but the result of the persons being unaware that oil-based lubricants, such as baby oil, have a chemical reaction with latex condoms that will likely cause them to dissolve, thus making the condom an ineffective use of contraception and STD protection.
Stumbling upon this misinformed thread got me thinking about other factors that play into our sexual interactions with our partners which the public at large may not know or have considered as of yet. With that in mind, here are 10 considerations for the sexually active.
10. Not all lubricants are created equal
You may already know not to use an oil-based lubricant versus a water-based lubricant (like K-Y Jelly and Astroglide), but here is some other lube-related info you may like to know about, especially if you're into anal sex. A 2010 study by a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles found that participants who used K-Y Jelly and Astroglide during anal sex while wearing a condom were three times more likely to have rectal STDs. Both brands were found to be highly toxic to rectal and cervical tissue as the lubricants dissolve the rectum's protective layer of cells exposing the person to a higher chance to contract a disease. The study found PRé (now Pre-Seed) and Wet Platinum to be the safest lubricant brands.
9. Semen: the sly trickster agent of happiness and togetherness
A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2002 found a correlation between semen and depression levels in women. Of the sexually active college females sampled, those who didn't use condoms with their male partners had fewer symptoms of depression and had twice as much as sex as subjects who used condoms. It is theorized that there are several mood-enhancing hormones found in a man's semen. (Good news for those in long-term, monogamous relationships.) Another survey of college women found a correlation between a woman's exposure to semen when not using a condom to that of a chemical dependency, suggestion that a man's sperm acts as a monogamy agent. (Yet another reason to use condoms in a friends-with-benefit situation.)
8. The pill affects how men and women pair and interact
Nightmare firsthand experiences aside, there are several recent studies about birth control pills that illustrate the many ways they can (negatively) affect a woman and (therefore also) a man's relationships. Ladies, I'm not saying stop taking your pill, I'm saying if you choose this form of birth control, it may benefit you to research some general side effects, along with that of the pill prescribed for you specifically. An excellent research starting point is a 2012 article for sex and culture site Nerve.com by author Rachel Friedman (of The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost), titled, "How Does The Pill Affect Our Relationships? Six recent studies remind us that the questions surrounding the pill aren't solely political." Included in the roundup: The pill changes what women look for in men, and may reduce frequency of sex and arousal. Friedman is currently writing a book about birth control.
7. Don't go slapping people's faces without permission
He was the sweetest gentleman, a self-identified feminist, we were friends months before we started dating. We had some understanding of our sexual preferences from casual conversations with each other or mutual friends, but our deck of cards had yet been laid on the table. The night came when we finally had sex and, suddenly, while deep into the rhythm of things — WHACK! — he slapped me right across the face. At least, he meant to. He hit my ear instead. "What the fuck are you doing?" I yelled, cupping my injured ear. I'm not saying I disapprove of this fetish or any other hardcore ones, so much as I'm suggesting you discuss such desires with your partner ahead of time before your fetish ends up getting you arrested for assault. And, of course, be considerate of your partner. Foot licking, fingers up rectums, anal sex, and facials are just some of the sex acts that a respectful and considerate partner would talk about before acting out.
6. The safest and most pleasurable condoms
In 2009, Consumer Reports tested 22 condom models for strength, reliability, leakage, and package integrity. Of those tested, seven condoms received perfect scores: Durex Performax; Lifestyles Ultra Sensitive Lubricated; Lifestyles Warming Pleasure; Trojan Her Pleasure Ecstasy; Trojan Magnum Lubricated; Trojan Ultra Ribbed Ecstasy; and Trojan Ultra Thin. Interestingly enough, Women's Health magazine recently tested 25 condom varieties while in search of the most pleasurable condoms for both women and men. Of the final five that made the cut, two of them — Durex Performax and Lifestyles Warming Pleasure — also happened to have landed on Consumer Reports' perfectly scored list. Condoms that are both safe and pleasurable? Get on it.