Thursday, April 26, 2012

I thought Numb Nuts was a Bad Thing

Why are we so obsessed with numbing our naughty bits? Last blog post I wrote about why it's not a great idea to numb your butt before butt sex and then today I get a call from a customer alerting me to yet another numbing product. This one is not for your butt, it's for your penis. But wait, this one is FDA approved and both Dr. Oz and Dr. Laura Berman are promoting it. First of all, let's get this part out of the way. Dr. Berman will promote pretty much anything anyone pays her to promote. I know it sounds like she really knows what shes talking about - she throws in impressive words like 'clinically tested' and 'FDA approved' and 'studies show' but when it comes down to it, those things don't mean a thing. She doesn't back them up with real information about what the products are and what the studies, if they exist, actually studied and actually proved. Berman was promoting Viagra for women and saying that research supported the use of it long before and long after several studies had proven that it had no beneficial effect. Why? Because Pfizer paid her to do it. So we can't trust Berman. I doubt that Dr. Oz is a whole lot better but I don't know the extent to which products promoted on his show are actually paid promotion so we'll give him a pass on that one. What I won't give him a pass on is trying to appear to be an expert on every aspect of health. Every time I've heard him talk about sexual health, he fails miserably. He just doesn't know a lot about sex. Most doctors specialize and this is clearly not his specialty. So having said that, what is this stuff? It's called Promoscent (I still can't figure out the name). It's a spray that is supposed to delay ejaculation. I didn't see the segment on Dr. Oz but I'm really left wondering because the customer who alerted me to this product was under the impression that it was actually for creating and sustaining erections. So here is the first problem. Did they leave their viewers confused as to what this stuff actually is? There is a big difference between a product that makes you get hard and a product that makes you last longer - in actual fact a lot of the products that are designed to make you last longer can keep you from getting hard, but we'll get to that later. Most of the time, when they try to discuss these types of sexual products on day time shows, their attempts to be appropriate and inoffensive make the discussion so vague that it's confusing as to what they're actually talking about. Premature ejaculation is not an easy thing to talk about without using 'offensive' words. So to be clear, Promoscent is a spray that is applied topically to the penis to prevent men from ejaculating more quickly than they would like. Apparently the doctors were touting this as a brand new idea and so revolutionary because it's FDA approved and it does not cause numbing. It took me quite some time reading through the whole promoscent website to finally find the place where the active ingredient is listed. It's lidocaine. This is a lidocaine spray. Lidocaine creams and sprays have been used for this purpose for quite some time and lidocaine itself is an FDA approved drug so what is the big deal here? The website states that it's revolutionary because it does not numb the user or the user's partner. How that works and what their definition of numbing is is beyond me because this is exactly what lidocaine does. It dulls nerve response - it is used as a topical anesthetic. It works for delaying ejaculation because it makes the penis less sensitive. If you don't feel as much, you don't get excited as quickly and you don't come as quickly. This has never made sense to me. I know how it works and why it works but I've never understood why you would want to do it. Yes, you will last longer but you won't really feel a whole heck of a lot. Is it really worth it? Unfortunately, for a lot of men, it also has the effect making it hard to keep an erection exactly because they can't feel very much. This isn't dangerous, but it's certainly not new and revolutionary. These types of products have been around for a long time . In spite of the fact that it's really not dangerous, I do have some issues with this stuff being promoted as a great way to deal with premature ejaculation and a great way to improve your sex life. First of all, penetration and ejaculation are only two small parts of an entire universe of sexual expression. Why put so much focus on them? It is possible to have all kinds of sex, even penetrative sex with a flaccid or semi flaccid penis. Second, who's to say what's premature and what's not? The use of that term makes men think there is some sort of optimal time to be able to keep it up before coming and they are clearly not reaching it. I think it leads to even more pressure and anxiety which certainly doesn't help matters. All of this focus on just one way to have sex really ignores all of the other myriad lovely ways that sex can happen. There are a lot of men who don't get erections and men who come very quickly and men who don't even have penises who have great sex lives. Third, these stupid sprays contribute to the idea that every problem we have, including our health and sexual problems should be quickly and easily fixed with a pill or a cream or a spray. 'Premature ejaculation' is very rarely caused just by a physical issue - the brain and the emotions play a much bigger part in it than the body. A spray does not fix that. I think the best solution to 'premature ejaculation' is taking a lot of time to get to know your own body and sexual response. We can teach ourselves to understand our own cues before orgasm and to back off of stimulation that is too much for us when we get to that point. Actually, that type of play and exploration can be deliciously pleasurable. But it's not quick and easy. And it doesn't cost anything so Drs Berman and Oz and the makers of Promoscent don't want you to do that.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sometimes It's Good to Be Sensitive

I really love Dan Savage but sometimes even he gets it wrong. I have often thought I might write to Savage to give my two cents on his advice, but a letter about anal desensitizing wipes that ran this week made me actually get off my butt and do it. You can read the letter here Here is what I wrote back: Dear Dan: I just had to write you about your response to ASS who gave anal desensitizing wipes out to students during a sex week event. You said that you didn't think anyone could be harmed by these wipes. I completely disagree. I own a sex-positive toy shop in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We carefully check the ingredients of all the products we sell and of all the products customers ask us about. I've looked into this product. These wipes are a bad idea for two reasons. First, your assertion that they couldn't contain a pharmaceutical-grade topical anaesthetic is not entirely correct. These wipes have benzocaine in them. Yes, it is a small amount but it is benzocaine, a drug used to numb pain. Making your butt numb, or even making it tingle, interferes with your ability to feel exactly what's going on and to know if something bad might be happening. You can do a surprising amount of damage to anal tissue before you realize it if your butt is numbed out. Second, these types of topical creams, sprays and wipes can be very irritating. Often they also contain menthol or peppermint oil. No matter how careful you are, there is likely to be some minor tearing or abrasion during anal sex. Menthol in those is a bitch! It will sting. And it will sting for a long time. It will also inflame and irritate the area preventing it from healing quickly. That inflamed and irritated area is then a great place for bacteria and viruses to find a way into the bloodstream. I do not know if this same thing happens with benzocaine, but I do know it happens with other products like this. Even when there is no menthol or peppermint oil in the product, other ingrdients in the products like oils, glycerin, propylene glycol, etc. can find their way into tears cause inflammation and infection due to the increased likelihood of you having caused damage to your anal tissue from being too numbed out to know. The best way to avoid pain and increase comfort during anal sex is exactly what you described in the previous letter. On another note, I was shocked that ASS gave these wipes to students without a clue as to what they are. It's totally unprofessional conduct to provide sex supplies to studnets before you have researched what's in them and whether they are safe. My staff and I are often asked to order in products for our customers and we will only do so once we know exactly what's in the product and can tell the customer whether it's safe and/or how to use it safely.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dr. Vajayjay

This video was produced by the New View. It explains the tactics that a certain portion of the medical profession is using to market unnecessary and potentially dangerous genital cosmetic surgeries.

I believe completely in the right of women to choose to have or not have these surgeries. But I also believe in informed choice. The marketing information on these procedures - labiaplasty and g-shot in particular - claim all kinds of medical and psychological benefits which have never been studied or proven. None of these procedures has ever been the subject of rigorous study to prove safety. Cutting the labia involves severing and damaging nerves which could potentially impair nerve function in that area and therefore impair sexual satisfaction. Only the fine print on the liability waivers for these procedures will tell you that.

The fact is, there's no such thing as a normal vulva. We all look different - and we should all look different. There is no medical reason to have these procedures. Again, it's a person's choice if they would like to have a cosmetic surgery, but I think it's important, as the video points out, to first compare yourself with a vast sampling of what vulvas look like, not just what you see in porn videos and 'men's' magazines. There is a certain type of image that is considrered beautiful in that medium and it is not representative of most women.

Watch the video - it's entertaining and it makes some excellent points about the bill of goods we've been sold about how are supposed to look and how we are supposed to feel about it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Creepy Sex Toys?

I just ran across a blog post about creepy sex toys. I'm always interested to see what new and potentially scary things people have found in the the world of toys so I checked it out. Turns out, what's creepy to one person is pretty damned exciting to another.

With all due respect to the author of the blog, labeling most of the 16 items shown as unsexy and creepy belies a lack of exposure to the vast universe of sexual expression. Half of the toys are fetish toys. Perhaps you're not excited by the idea of total sensory deprivation but some people certainly are. One of the items pictured is a chastity cock cage. We get a lot of requests for male chastity devices. It's not all that unusual form of play and it can be ridiculously hot for the person wearing the cage and, if there is one, for the person with the keys or the control over the cage.

There are real dolls and teddy bear vibrator holders and sleeves with vampire teeth on them. Yes, it's not everybody's cup of tea but lots of folks have fantasies and fetishes about these things. We can't necessarily explain what turns us on about this stuff and I don't think we even need to. If vampires float your boat, go for it! Who is it hurting?

So while, I was disappointed to find that nothing here really seemed outrageous to me, I was actually pleased by that too. It all seems pretty normal to me. We all like different stuff and that's why there's so much different stuff out there. The only things that I tend to think are unsexy and creepy and things that can hurt you - like that godawful pussy pumice stone I wrote about a few months back.

And this:

This is just wrong. If you have fantasies about being fellated by John Holmes, I have no problem with that at all, but you could do much better than this nasty Doc Johnson toy.