I've spoken before about the language we as a society use when talking about penises and how it paints a picture regarding our perception of penises and the people who have them.
From words like "pole," "hammer" and "pipe" to descriptions such as "meat rod," "pork sword" and "love gun," the way we refer to penises perpetuates the idea that male genitalia - and the men attached to them - are dominant, aggressive and even violent.
Perhaps without realizing it we have created a narrative around penises that they are like hard, cold, inanimate objects, weapon-like tools used for seemingly destructive purposes.
But imagine if we started talking about penises the way they're referred to in East Asian literature. The "jade stalk" and "coral stem" are common terms for penis in Taoist philosophy from Early and Medieval China. These descriptions conjure up different inferences about the penis and it's capacities.
Consider even the above depiction of a penis as the pistil/stamen of a flower. What does this depiction infer about penises? What connotations about penises might this image convey?
I enjoy sharing artwork like this because it goes against the grain with regards to mainstream and stereotypical ideas about male bodies, men and masculinity.
I have a theory. My theory is that the way you poop impacts your sex life. Hear me out.
The way many of us poop is incorrect. If you've ever seen the hit viral video ''This unicorn changed the way I poop'' by Squatty Potty, with Dookie, the magical unicorn who poops ice cream, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, here's the gist. When people use defecation postural modification devices to squat, studies show, they poop more quickly, they strain less and they empty their bowels more completely compared to when they sit on the toilet (Modi et al., 2019).
So if you're pooping incorrectly and incompletely evacuating your bowels, some of that poop remains stored in your rectum. It is my belief that this lingering poop can cause irritation and even inflammation, particularly of the lower gastrointestinal tract.
It is this irritation and inflammation that may impact sexual function. Firstly, the closeness of the lower gastrointestinal tract to the pelvis can mean that pelvic floor muscles can be impacted by intestinal inflammation. This is certainly true for people with inflammatory bowel disease (Bondurri et al., 2015). Typically, this impact is aggravation and tension of the muscles. And we know that a tight pelvic diaphragm can lead to a slew of sexual function issues.
Secondly, the enteric nervous system is located along the gastrointestinal tract and controls functions such as regulation of local blood flow as well as interaction with the immune and endocrine systems (Furness, 2012). Again, it is my belief that irritation and inflammation possibly caused by incomplete evacuation can impact the enteric nervous system, thus negatively influencing blood flow to the pelvic area and the function of the endocrine system, both of which are important in sexual health and function.
Like I said this is just my theory, but pooping better can improve your sex life by bettering your sexual function. There is evidence that sexual abuse is a contributing factor of chronic constipation (Forootan et al., 2018), so I don't think its too farfetched to think that pooping and sex are linked.
It is natural for erection firmness to wax and wane throughout a sexual experience.
Many of us expect a penis to be hard the whole time we're being sexual, but this is sometimes unrealistic, especially during longer sexual encounters. If a penis does go soft, it doesn't necessarily mean there is an emotional or physical block, it could simply be a natural fluctuation in firmness.
So, there is an acceptance piece to this which challenges the story that a man needs to be hard from start to finish of a sexual experience. One way to work on this acceptance is recognizing that a soft penis can still feel pleasure, it still has nerve endings even though it's soft. If you or your partner do lose some firmness, try exploring some soft penis pleasure.
Typically, it is the thought of not being enough, or of being embarrassed, or of being less of a man, that stops a guy from continuing to be sexual when he goes soft. There isn't anything wrong with his body but because for him "erection = arousal" he gets in his head and thinks that if his erection is gone it means he isn't aroused, which is a bad thing and makes him feel anxious/ashamed. This anxiety/shame does indeed dampen his arousal, making it more difficult to get firm again.
So spending some time getting back in his body when he does go soft can be really helpful. Helping him recognise that he can still feel pleasure in these moments of softness is one way of getting him out of his head. This pleasure that he can then start noticing becomes a positive feedback loop and helps him feel more aroused and in turn his erection firmness will probably come back.
Yes, testosterone is connected to libido but it's not solely responsible for it. For example, dopamine, cortisol and estradiol all impact libido. Also, women can have very high sex drives but produce hardly any testosterone.
What this means is that men who blame their low desire on low testosterone may actually also have a mental block. Because our society has this story that men are supposed to want sex all the time and be able to get an erection at the drop of a hat, if a guy has a lower desire for sex or has some difficulty getting/maintaining an erection, he can feel very embarrassed, emasculated, ashamed and anxious that something is wrong with him.
Because anxiety and shame can actually hinder desire, arousal and pleasure, these mental blockages can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. One way to work through this is by getting him out of his head and into his body.
This could be helping him focus on pleasure, not on performance. A lot of men think they need to instantaneously get a rock hard erection, penetrate their partner for 3 hours straight, and then ejaculate. It is a very linear and very narrow way of thinking about sex. If sex doesn't look like this or if he can't perform sex like this for whatever reason, he may feel like there is no point.
So, broadening your definition of sex and brainstorming or exploring other ways of being sexual together is important. That way, you can still be sexual with each other in a way that maybe doesn't invovled an erection, or penetration, and instead just focusses on what feels pleasurable.
I use the analogy of an Erotic Menu. Imagine that being horny is like being hungry. And when you're hungry, you and your partner choose from a menu to eat from. It's the same when you're horny, you and your partner choose from your Erotic Menu what to "eat" in order to satisfy your needs.
Unfortunately, many couples only have one item on their Erotic Menu: penetration. And that might not be what one partner wants or it may be something they're not capable of at that moment. So it's important to add other things to your Erotic Menu that you can choose from in order to satisfy your "hunger."
I get asked about blue balls a lot. Men ask me about it when I discuss semen retention with them. Women ask me about it when their partner uses it as an excuse to pressure them for sex.
Firstly, blue balls is not dangerous or harmful and is most definitely not an excuse to pressure anyone into having sex. Please do not use it as an excuse nor acquiesce to someone using it as an excuse.
The term “blue balls” is a widely used colloquialism to describe the dull, aching sensation in the testicles after high, sustained sexual arousal unrelieved due to lack of orgasm and ejaculation (Chalett & Nerenberg, 2000).
According to slang lexicographer Jonathon Green, the term blue balls dates back to 1916 and originally meant “intense sexual frustration." The word "blue" likely alludes to the meaning "sad," characterizing a man's frustration. However, its been suggested that the presence of deoxygenated blood, which is bluish in color, around the testicles explains the "blue" in blue balls.
There is a dearth of medical literature acknowledging the existence of blue balls. Some studies with rabbits found that sustained sexual arousal increased sperm production (Amann, 2009) and increased the transport of semen along the epydidimis (Ambriz et al, 2002).
While the pathophysiology is unclear in human males, it has been hypothesized that the acceleration of semen transport and the accumulation in the excurrent ducts causes pelvic venous dilatation and increased distension of the epididymis, thus urologists refer to blue balls as epididymal hypertension (Segura-Sampedro, 2016).
Its been anecdotally reported that a similar thing happens when blood flow to the female genitals increases with sexual arousal. This is sometimes called "blue vulva" and may cause feelings of aching or heaviness around the clitoris and vulva.
In either case, this feeling will pass when blood flow returns to normal, either after orgasm or when the arousal subsides. If you're really uncomfortable, it can help to learn how to move energy from your sex center using breathing and movement or try simply having a cold shower or dunking your testicles in an ice bath.
This blog aims to discuss all things masculinity, sexuality, male bodies and men's experience of pleasure.