We asked these sex questions so you don't have to
Experts sound in on classic sex queries
Talking about sex isn't always the most comfortable activity. Yet there are many times when we have to do it, whether we're having "the talk" with our children or are discussing how to spice things up with our partners, so it's always helpful to stay informed. Keeping abreast of the latest sex studies to see what scientists are finding out about our bedroom behaviour can be a good place to start, but there may still be some unanswered queries lingering in your brain — questions that may feel embarrassing or silly to ask, but nevertheless deserve actual expert answers.
To keep you in the loop, and keep you from blushing, we've decided to step in and get expert answers to some of those questions for you, so you can reap this sexual knowledge in complete anonymity.
Should I always pee after sex?
"Definitely!" says sexologist and professor Robin Milhausen, explaining that it's especially important for those of us with vulvas. "It's a very simple act, but it can achieve a lot. Doing so can be very helpful in preventing bladder or urinary tract infections as it flushes out much of the bacteria that entered the vagina during sex, before it makes its way up the urethra." Online sex educator and researcher Eva Bloom notes that, while everyone can be at risk for such infections, "people with vulvas are more likely to get UTIs, because they have a shorter urethra," meaning bacteria has a shorter distance to travel. Urinary tract infections are among the top five reasons Canadians end up in the ER, so it's always good practice to "drain the pipes" post-sex.
I'm turned on mentally, but not physically. What's wrong?
The mood is right and your mind is definitely aroused, but your body is just not responding as it should. While it's certainly not ideal, this occurrence might not actually be anything to worry about. "This actually really common and totally normal" says Bloom. "You might be experiencing sexual non-concordance, where your feelings of arousal aren't matching up with your body's response. The reverse can happen, too. Just remember that your feelings of being turned on are valid and take priority — regardless of what your body is doing." There are many factors that could be throwing your mind-body connection off course. Milhausen suggests we check in with ourselves and examine them: "We might just, physically, not be feeling 100 per cent — [remember that] problems with lubrication, erection or orgasm can also be related to medication side effects."
"If you can rule out physical causes, try to remove psychological distractions," she continues, adding that we might find, upon reflection, that we have something else on our minds or are struggling with our comfort level. "Are you in a space you feel comfortable being sexual in? Are you free from interruptions? Do you feel comfortable with your partner? Sexy? If not, are these things you can work on or change?" If you find you can't work through the issue in the moment, it's best not to force it. "If all else fails, stop and do something altogether different," says Milhausen. "The more pressure we place on ourselves, and the harder we try to respond, the more difficult it is to do so." It can be helpful to remember that, while a chronic issue can be a sign of something more serious, it's usually nothing to fret about if all the stars don't align once in a while.
Is getting "blue balls" a real thing?
"Blue balls" is the colourful slang term for when those of us with penises engage in sexual activity but don't ejaculate and yes, it is real. The phenomenon occurs when arousal causes increased blood flow to the penis and testicles but a lack of orgasm causes the blood to remain there for an extended period of time, potentially causing discomfort and lending a blueish tint to the testicles.
And vulvas can be affected by the condition too. "The vulva also has erectile tissue similar to the penis. The clitoris — both the part you can see externally, the little nub, and the internal bulbs that wrap around the vagina — swells with blood when aroused," Bloom explains. "At the same time, the veins around your genitals constrict, preventing deoxygenated blood from leaving. This can build up and create a blue tinge, which can happen with vulvas." May we propose the term "violet vulva"? While the situation can no doubt be frustrating, it doesn't pose serious risk.
Can what I eat and drink really alter how I taste and smell?
You might have heard that eating pineapple or mango can "sweeten" the fruits you bear, and we all know what asparagus does to our urine. Some foods have been thought to affect the natural pH and smell of our secretions. Bloom says "There's only anecdotal evidence for this, but some people find that eating sweet fruits and vegetables can create a sweeter flavour, while things like smoking and [consuming] caffeine can create a bitter one." Certainly, what you ingest can affect your overall health, and there are certain foods you can eat that are thought to boost other facets of your sex life (like libido and blood flow).
What's the point of pubic hair?
"Pubic hair is a wonderful feature of evolution!" "exclaims Milhausen. Like the hair elsewhere on our bodies, it may not seem essential, but it serves a variety of purposes, she explains. "For one, it serves as a cushion to protect you from injury, like falling on a bike or from vigorous pressure during sex." It can be integral to sexual attraction as well, as Milhausen goes on to explain. "It traps odours — this is a good thing! — and potentially pheromones, which make you attractive to partners." While pubic hair has been less than trendy in recent times, it's good to be aware that its removal comes with a bit of risk, as well. "When you shave or wax, you open yourself up, literally, to little cuts which can be receptacles for bacteria, making you vulnerable to infection," says Milhausen.
If you never seem to have enough lube, what can you do?
It may be better down where it's wetter, but that's not always the easiest thing to pull off. "There are lots of things than can impact vaginal lubrication," says Bloom. "Hormones, age, medications like antidepressants or birth control — even stress." Menopause and perimenopause can have a sizable impact on natural lubrication, due to their effect on estrogen and progesterone production, though remedies like prescription hormones and artificial lubricant can help. For whatever reason, if you find yourself in a situation where even your go-to lube isn't doing the trick, "you might want to explore with different brands or types of lube," advises Bloom. "For example, silicone lube tends to be more long-lasting than other kinds." And, as always, she says, "make sure that you are taking time to get aroused and checking in about what feels good."
Do you have any info to help with these issues? Do you have sex questions of your own? Ask them below and try cover them in a future article.