I recently chatted with Parish Blair (@sexyspirittv) about oral sex. She helped me reflect on my own perceptions and offered a great reframe.
I was introduced to oral sex in my mid-teens, before intercourse. There was a sense of being welcomed into the club. My mates and I would tease those who hadn't experienced it. There was also a perception about the teenage girls who "gave head." They were considered more promiscuous, particularly if they also "put out" and had intercourse.
When I started having intercourse, this mentality shifted. My mates and I started teasing those who hadn't had "real" sex yet. When I shared with my mates about receiving oral sex, I remember them saying, "Yeah, but did you fuck her?" It was as if oral sex didn't count.
In my twenties, this became more true for me. I downplayed my desire for oral sex and pushed myself to have penetrative sex because that's what counts. I also still held an idea about the women who "gave head." I played into the narrative that "good girls don't do that." Regarding relationships, I wanted to date a "good girl," not a promiscuous woman.
Of course, this was all a warped perception of sex, masculinity and women. It made me feel ashamed about desiring oral sex and it made me project shame onto the women who gave oral sex. This tainted both my own experiences and no doubt the experiences of the women I was intimate with.
I notice a resistance many men have to fully surrendering and receiving oral sex because they think they need to be doing something, they need to be the active participant, that's the role of the man. This can add to the shame. Paradoxically, if a woman refuses to give oral sex, he may also feel shame, thinking something is wrong with him or his penis.
Parish explained that oral sex can be healing for both people. When done with gratitude and appreciation, it can dissolve shame and totally shift the way oral sex is perceived. She has a fascinating workshop called "How to Give a BJ With a Heart Full of Gratitude" which she was gracious enough to share with the women in my online course. I definitely recommend checking out her work at @sexyspirittv
The first erection.
It is common for newborn babies to get an erection. Even before the moment of birth, ultrasound scans have shown fetuses with fully formed erections (Sherer et al., 1990). According to one study, fetal erections occur mostly during REM sleep (Koyanagi et al., 1991). And, they can happen a number of times each hour (Shirozu et al., 1995).
The phenomenon of fetal erection has actually been recognized for about four decades (Hitchcock et al., 1980; Welder, 1981). Advancements in technology made it possible to demonstrate its occurrence even before the 16th week of gestation (Chamberlain, 1996).
Its thought that fetal penile erections are evidence of appropriate genital development and adequate hormonal and neurogenic supply. Therefore the occurrence of erection may be a positive sign of fetal well being (Jacokovitis, 2004).
The final erection.
Not only can you get erections in the womb, but you can also get an erection when you die. These death erections, also called angel lust or terminal erections, most commonly occur in men who have died from hanging, whether by execution or suicide (Byard, 1994).
As early as the mid-nineteenth century, observations were made of a more or less complete state of erection of the penis, with discharge of urine, mucus or prostatic fluid present in one of three cases of hanging (Guy, 1861). Erections sometimes occur after spinal cord injuries, with pessure on the cerebellum supposedly accounting for this (Gould & Pyle, 1900).
According to Kaplan and Horwith (1983), there is ample experimental and clinical evidence to support the idea that erections occur during hanging due to the central inhibition of erection being released.
The human body is fascinating and erections are a so much more than simple indicators of arousal.
Men just roll over and go to sleep after sex, right? Well, one reason why men may be reluctant to cuddle after sex is a phenomenon known as postcoital dysphoria (PCD). This isn't exclusive to men, as PCD has also been reported among women.
PCD is also called postcoital tristesse or post-nut syndrome. It is defined as a counterintuitive phenomenon characterized by inexplicable feelings of tearfulness, sadness, or irritability following otherwise satisfactory consensual sexual activity.
In a 2019 study, 41% percent of the men reported experiencing PCD in their lifetime and 20% reported experiencing PCD in the previous four weeks. Between 3% and 4% of the men reported experiencing PCD on a regular basis.
A 2020 study found that men specifically experienced feelings of unhappiness and low energy after sexual activity (especially following an ejaculation) whereas the most common experiences for women are mood swings and sadness.
Its not clearly understood, but PCD could be due to the diverging pattern of compounds released during and immediately after an ejaculation. For example, a hormone called prolactin is released from the anterior pituitary gland immediately after ejaculation. Prolactin is known to suppress sexual behaviour.
During sexual activity, as a man builds toward ejaculation, a neurotransmitter called dopamine stimulates the experience. Among other things, dopamine inhibits prolactin. Therefore, there is an inverse relationship between the two. That is, when dopamine is high, prolactin is low, and vice versa.
So, ejaculation floods the brain with dopamine, creating a transitory spike. But, what goes up must come down. His reserve stores of dopamine have essentially been used up. That is why, after an ejaculation, there are substantial increases in plasma prolactin. This increase in prolactin is partly responsible for the refractory period, that period of time after an ejaculation when he can't continue to be sexual.
I speak a lot about the intricacies leading up to and during sex, but what are you doing after sex has finished?
Contrary to what porn would have you believe, sex doesn't finish at the "money shot." And, unlike what you may see in movies, you shouldn't just roll over, have a cigarette and go to sleep after sex. Instead, if the sex is good, try enjoying that lingering feeling of pleasure, or sexual afterglow, because it may be more important for your relationship than orgasms.
Spouses who experienced stronger afterglow reported higher levels of marital satisfaction compared to spouses who have not (Meltzer et al., 2017). Specifically, after-sex affectionate activities, such as kissing, cuddling, and hugging, are crucial to sexual afterglow, playing a more important role in sexual and relationship satisfaction than foreplay or the duration of intercourse (Muise, et al., 2014).
The value of these behaviors is particularly high after sex, since they confirm that the relationship bond is deeper than a brief, superficial physical act. After-sex affectionate activities also prolong the duration of sexuality, thereby enabling it to have a greater impact on the relationship.
In fact, in a study of newlywed couples, sexual afterglow remained for about 48 hours after sex, and those with a stronger afterglow had higher overall marital satisfaction, implying that it is the afterglow, rather than the number of orgasms, which best correlates to the length and quality of the relationship (Danovich, 2017).
The pleasant sexual afterglow can involve the wish to have more sex. As Whipple and Brash-McGreer posit in their Circular Model of female sexual response, pleasure and satisfaction during one sexual experience can feed into the initiation of the next sexual experience. If pleasure and satisfaction were not met, it would decrease the desire for subsequent sexual interactions. Therefore, those who enjoy sex are more likely to enjoy it more, thereby enhancing their current romantic relationship.
So, take time to enjoy yourself and your partner after sex. Revel in the those pleasurable post-sex feelings and get affectionate with each other.
This blog aims to discuss all things masculinity, sexuality, male bodies and men's experience of pleasure.