5 Nifty Things You Can Do With a Speculum

I have an impulse-shopping problem when I go to sex shops. When I was dating a dude, I used to spot Tenga Eggs at the checkout counter and throw a couple into my purchase without even thinking about it. Now that I’m single, I tend to impulse-buy things for myself, instead. Like, most recently, a steel speculum.

I went to Come As You Are to pick up a book I needed, and they had an affordable speculum in the display case by the checkout, and, well, I can’t be expected to resist something like that, can I?

I’ve been playing around with my speculum and I have suggestions for what to do with yours, if you have one – or what you’d be able to do if you bought one. (C’mon, I know you’re thinking about it.)

1. Look at the inside of your vagina. (Or a partner’s vagina.)

As you might have inferred from, y’know, my entire blog, I’m a pretty sexually exploratory person. I know my body better than most people know theirs. But prior to owning a speculum, I had never seen the inside of my own vagina.

It’s not exactly an accessible area. It stays closed unless you’re actively holding it open, which is hard to do. You can get a marginal glimpse of the inner walls if you’ve got a clear glass dildo, a mirror, a good lighting setup, and endless patience for experimenting with different angles. But that’s not ideal, obviously.

I was stunned by how beautiful and strange-looking my vagina actually is. It’s like an underground cave made of cotton candy. Gorgeous and creepy and fantastic.

2. Take vagina selfies.

I take selfies that feature pretty much every other part of my body. Why not my vagina, too?

If you’ve got a speculum, an adjustable lamp, and a camera or cameraphone, you can take vagina selfies too. I used my iPhone and one of those clip-on reading lights. It takes some experimentation – I found it difficult to hold my phone in such a way that it wouldn’t block the light – but when you get it right, the photos are worth the trouble.

These aren’t the sexy kind of selfie that I’d send to a flirty beau. The inside of a vagina is actually more alien-looking than it is appealing, if you ask me. But it sure is interesting to pore over those photos. Sometimes I pull mine up on my phone and just stare and stare, transfixed. That’s inside me?!

3. Medical play.

Doctor-patient scenarios get me a little hot and bothered. I’ve never had a partner who was into that kind of roleplay but it’s something I look forward to trying in the future.

I don’t really know what this kind of play would entail, exactly, but with an imaginative and open-minded partner, I’m sure even a cold, clinical-looking speculum could become sexy to me.

4. Gradually dilate your vagina.

For people with vaginismus or other vaginal tightness issues, I’d imagine a speculum could be a helpful tool. It opens wider in a way that’s very slow and gradual, so you can adjust it to a setting that’s comfortable for you and maybe push your boundaries a little more each time, until you can accommodate whatever width you’re trying to get to.

I’d recommend checking in with your gyno before you try this, and combining the speculum with clit stimulation so it’ll hopefully feel good rather than weird.

5. Monitor your G-spot.

If you insert your speculum sideways, it’ll open up horizontally rather than vertically, giving you access to the top wall of your vagina where your G-spot is. This makes it a lot easier to touch your G-spot as well as to look at it.

Like a lot of sexual anatomy, the G-spot swells when stimulated. If you use your speculum to check out your spot before a play session and then again afterward, you may be amazed by how much it’s changed in size and texture. Bodies are so cool!

Do you have a speculum? What do you use it for?

Talismans for Sex Appeal, Confidence & Foxiness

I’m fascinated by the idea of talismans: pieces of jewelry or other items you wear on your person often (maybe every day) that hold some significance to you, that give you some kind of power or magic or important reminder.

A friend of mine wears a rose quartz point necklace daily because she feels its love energy is good for her. Another friend has a tattoo of a favorite literary quote in her bestie’s handwriting, as a reminder of books and pals she adores. My mom wears rings stacked on her fingers because a fabulous, beloved late aunt once told her rings would make her feel empowered.

As for me – I have a golden snitch necklace that reminds me to be brave, a ring made of blue topaz (the “writer’s crystal”) that I swear boosts my scribe powers, and a rose quartz female symbol necklace to invoke lady-love and femme solidarity.

Here are some talismans that could bring a little sex magic and foxy focus into your life…

As I mentioned, rose quartz is said to be the best crystal for increasing love and compassion – both toward other people and toward yourself. By that token, I think a rose quartz massage wand would make a fantastic dildo! (I wondered if vaginal fluids might dissolve quartz, but my crystal-addicted friend tells me no. You could always put a condom on it just to be safe, though.)

If your head gets cold in the winter and you hate the patriarchy, A Darling Knits has got you covered. This “feminist” beanie would be a terrific daily reminder of your values, while scaring off gross misogynist dudebros for you!

Tonya’s Collars sells some beautiful stuff. Whether you’re shopping for a meaningful gift for your sub, seeking a collar your dominant can ceremonially put on you, or you just want to advertise your kinky heart, something like this heart collar would be lovely.

Along those same lines: lately I am loving how leather handcuffs look as an everyday accessory. These blue ones are real stunners, and with a little confidence, you could play them off as simply high fashion and not, you know, bedroom tools. (And then you could come home and have your partner lock ‘em together and get frisky as fuck.)

If you love being a lady, or you just love and respect ladies, this female symbol necklace could be a gorgeous way to broadcast that fact to the world.

Red jasper, according to folks who believe in the power of crystals, “stimulates your sex drive and prolongs sexual pleasure.” Plus it’s just a badass-looking stone. I love the bold look of this ring.

Okay, how brilliant is this period-tracking bracelet?! You can have it custom-made to the length of your usual cycle, and you move the moon bead around the bracelet to track your body’s phases throughout the month. So much more glamorous than a period tracker app!

Make sure you only wear these when it’s appropriate (and consensual), but… these cufflinks are awesomely saucy.

Show off your enthusiasm for oral sex with this “eat me” necklace. If a conservative type asks you what it means, you can always tell them it’s just an Alice in Wonderland reference!

If you’re all about that 1950s sex kitten aesthetic, stick this Bettie Page compact mirror in your purse and pull it out any time you need to touch up your lipstick. Bettie’ll watch over you like the patron saint of glamour!

Okay, brace yourself. You can order a realistic vulva ring. And if you send the seller photos of your actual vulva (or the vulva of someone you love), they will custom-make your ring to look like the pussy in the pictures. Ahhh!!! There are not enough exclamation points in the world to express how amazing this is!!!

But let’s not leave penises out of the equation… This phallic pendant is surprisingly elegant for what it is. It makes me think maybe I need to start wearing a penis around my neck…

Do you have any meaningful jewelry or other little tokens you wear on a regular basis? What do they mean to you?

5 Things I’m More in Touch With, Now That I’m Single Again

God, I can’t believe that prior to my break-up this past weekend, it had been over three years since the last time I was single. I mean, wow, man. In high school I sort of conceptualized myself as a “forever alone” type, so it’s truly astonishing to me that I was in a relationship for that long – that someone actually liked me enough to want to be with me and stay with me.

But what’s even more astonishing is that I wanted to be single again, which is what prompted the break-up – and that I’m enjoying the hell out of it already. Yeah, I miss my ex occasionally, like when I see a movie he would’ve liked or when something hilarious happens to me that I wish I could tell him about – but the benefits outweigh the costs and I am loving the single life.

Here are 5 unexpected things I’ve been getting back in touch with, since my break-up…

1. My natural cycle.

Well, not quite yet, but soon. Yes, an exciting announcement: I’ve gone off hormonal birth control!

While I dig how it’s kept my periods regular and my skin relatively calm, I’ve never been thrilled about pumping myself full of hormones, especially given that I’ve got a family history of breast cancer, a fact that doesn’t bode well when mixed with estrogen. And of course, birth control comes with a host of possible side effects, which, for me, included increased cramps, premenstrual irritability, depression, and sometimes suicidal ideation.

I’m looking forward to seeing what my ovaries and uterus will do when left to their own devices. A couple years before going on HBC, I was diagnosed with a benign ovarian cyst that really messed with my cycles, but it had shrunk considerably at the time that I started on the pill, so it’s possible it’s gone completely now – in which case, I might actually have regular periods! Hooray!

2. My natural vaginal aroma.

Uh, yeah, totally TMI. Sorry-not-sorry.

When I’m sexually active, I’m always worrying about vaginal smells, even though I consider myself body-positive and my partners have always told me not to concern myself with that stuff.

I mean, when I knew I was going to receive oral sex for the first time at age 16, I snuck away to the bathroom and gave myself a pre-cunnilingus scrubdown with DivaWash. And the girl told me I tasted slightly soapy so probably I shouldn’t have bothered.

Well, anyway. Now that no one’s face is down there regularly, I’m being less obsessive about keeping things pristine in that region. And it’s nice. I’m discovering that I actually don’t hate the way I smell. Maybe it’s the changes I’ve made to my diet and exercise routine lately, but the fragrance is actually kind of… sweet. Earthy. Natural. Lovely. Hmm…

3. Flirty energy.

Holy shit, this is blowing my mind.

I may have mentioned here before that my ex and I had an “arrangement” – a compromise between his desire for total monogamy and my complaint that the lack of flirtatious possibilities in my life was making me feel dead inside. (It’s possible that I’m a bit melodramatic.) We had negotiated that we were both allowed to flirt with and kiss other people, on a don’t-ask-don’t-tell basis. (That part wasn’t my idea. You might be able to tell from my blog that I always prefer to talk things out and be 100% honest, but the boyf just wasn’t into that.)

Well, despite this tiny negotiated degree of openness, I never felt quite right about flirting with other people while I was “taken.” I hated hiding it from my partner, and I felt like it was somehow dishonest to the people I was flirting with, too – like they’d believe it could go further than it actually could. Kissing was the hard limit; some folks tried to push past that boundary, thinking surely it would be okay, and I always had to stop them, even though it felt really unnatural to do so.

Obviously, all this guilt and concealment also meant that I couldn’t blog about my adventures, lest they be read by the boyfriend or by a relative or family friend who didn’t know about our monogamishness and wouldn’t have understood it if they did.

Now that all barriers to flirtation have been wrecking-ball’ed into oblivion, I can flirt as much as I damn well please. I haven’t really taken advantage of this fact yet – hell, it hasn’t even been a week yet – but just the option is making me feel giddy and enlivened. And if anything does happen, I can blog about it with wild abandon!

4. Being sexy in public.

By “in public,” I mostly mean “online,” because that’s the kind of person I am: an introvert and a geek. But I’m working on it.

Another thing my boyfriend didn’t like me to do was post naked or otherwise scandalous pictures of myself online. When you’re living in monogamy-land, this sort of makes sense, but every time I mentioned it to my poly friends, they’d be outraged on my behalf. “He doesn’t own your body!” they’d cry. “You can do what you want with your own tits and ass!”

I had really conflicted feelings about this, and I still do – but the fact remains that I do indeed hate the feeling of someone thinking they get to decide what I do and don’t do with my body. Sure, I understand why a monogamous partner wouldn’t want me to share my sexuality with another person… but I don’t consider my naked body to be an inherently sexual thing. Posting those pictures isn’t sexual for me; it’s an act of self-love, a confidence booster, a bold declaration of my womanhood and body-acceptance and unconventional beauty. It feels good, not illicit, and it feels like something I ought to be able to make my own decisions about.

Well, now that I’m single, I can. I’ve been posting as many (anonymous) naked pictures as I feel like posting. I’ve been enjoying the comments, guilt-free. Ohhhh yessss.

5. Being alone.

I don’t mean being single. I mean being physically alone. Being in a room that no one else is in. And not stressing that I “should be” spending time with someone. Just being.

The death knell of my relationship was when I realized that spending time with my partner had started to feel more like an obligation than a joy. It was another thing on my list that I had to do, like completing my sociology readings and emptying the dishwasher.

I have great love and fondness for my ex, but when someone is your Boyfriend-with-a-capital-B, it’s expected that you spend a lot of time with them. They expect it, and so do other people in your life. As an introvert, and someone with a lot of schoolwork and work-work on my plate, that got to feel like a lot of pressure. And the pressure to spend time with him sucked the joy right out of it.

Last night I was lying in bed reading a book, and I stopped and just thought to myself, “There is nowhere I’m supposed to be right now. There is nothing I’m supposed to be doing. There is no one who’s disappointed that I’ve decided to take tonight for myself.” And that realization was BLISSFUL. I sank down into the covers, took a long sip of tea, and buried my head back in my book. Mmm, heaven. Sheer heaven.

Look, I’m not saying the break-up didn’t make me sad. It did. And I’m not saying I’m never lonely, because sometimes I am. But by and large, I can see that this was the right decision for me. I’m thrilled with my life right now, even though I’m busy as hell with school and work and people keep asking me in hushed tones whether I’m “okay.”

I am more than okay. I’m reclaiming myself.

What was the best part of your last break-up? Got any advice for me on this journey of “finding myself” again?

Let’s Talk About Terminology: Vulva vs. Vagina

I am troubled by people who use words wrong. Especially when they do so in ways that actually impact the way people view the world. That’s why I’m launching this new feature, Let’s Talk About Terminology, to discuss sex-related terms: the right ones, the wrong ones, which is which, and why.

First up: female genitalia. Of course.

Let’s just ponder for a moment the way female genitals are viewed in our culture. They’re seen as a hole, both terrifying and enticing, through which one’s body emerged into the world and into which one wants to stick one’s dick. That’s an oversimplification, but I think it’s basically accurate.

The perception of female parts is focused around that hole – the vagina – and as a result, the entire vulva (a word which means the external female genitalia, including the clitoris, labia, mons pubis, and so on) is lumped into that name.

It may not seem like much, but it’s extremely denigrating to female sexuality. It defines our entire genital region in terms of the one part of it that is perceived as useful or desirable to our male-dominated culture.

You would never see someone use the word “balls” when they meant “penis,” or vice versa. It just doesn’t happen. Those are two specific and separate parts of that whole setup. And it ought to be the same with the female genitalia, but it isn’t.

The clitoris is an important, significant, distinct organ. The sensations it provides are different and separate from the sensations in one’s vagina. It deserves proper identification.

So I implore you: use these words correctly, and teach them to people who don’t know what they mean. Don’t let someone get away with saying they’re going to “shave their vagina” (oh, dear god, I hope not) or “lick your vagina” or whatever, unless that is what they actually, literally mean.

Vulva’s a much prettier word, anyway.

5 Sex Questions I’m Tired of Answering

I self-identify as a sex educator. That term is used in reference to powerhouses like Violet Blue and Dan Savage, so I’m not sure if there are actual technical qualifications that would prevent me from calling myself that… but barring those possible technicalities, yes, I would consider myself a sex educator.

I write for sex publications. I trawl sex forums on the daily. I give my friends (and sometimes my mom) sex advice when they ask for it. And of course, I write a blog about this shiz.

Most of the time, I love what I do. It fills me up with passion and enthusiasm like nothing else I’ve ever encountered.

But there are some questions which get tiresome, because they get asked all the fucking time in any space where people talk about sex. Here are a few.

“I can’t come from penetration!” or “My girlfriend can’t come from intercourse! What’s up with that?!”

Dude. Let’s set the record straight. The clitoris, not the vagina, is the centre of sexual pleasure for the majority of women. It’s the clitoris which is analogous to to the penis, and it’s the clitoris which must be stimulated in order for at least 70% of women to reach orgasm.

I don’t care what your porn flicks have taught you. Porn is great, but it is not a substitute for sex ed. Especially since it has succeeded in convincing millions of men that they’re only “good in bed” if their cock alone makes their woman writhe all over the place in orgasmic ecstasy.

There are plenty of women who can and do reach orgasm from penetration alone, but they are still technically the minority. When you have a new female sexual partner, it’s safe to assume that she wants or even needs clitoral stimulation to be a part of her sexual experience.

It’s not even that hard to do! Warm her up properly with a good amount of clit-focused foreplay. While you’re inside her, rub her clit, or have her do it. Or incorporate a vibrator. Or have an additional lover lick her pussy while you fuck her. Whatever it takes, man – just make it happen!

“Is my penis too small?”

For some women, yes. For all women, no.

Size queens exist – I have met a couple of them (one of whom, I might add, was a gay man) – but they are definitely not the majority.

From all the hundreds of conversations I’ve had about sex with people from all around the world, I’ve come to believe that this “bigger = better” mindset is largely a myth. Most women do not actually want to be impaled by a nine-incher. Some might think that’s what they want, but their sense of size is skewed or they just don’t know what it feels like to have something that big inside of them. Some women know exactly how big a nine-inch cock is and they know that they prefer it, but again, those women are in the minority.

From my thoroughly informal and anecdotal research, it seems like most women prefer a cock in the six-to-seven-inches range. Some, like me, are smaller, and so five to six inches is better. Some gals are even tinier than me and might feel most comfortable with something around four inches.

And then, of course, there are women who fetishize micropenises. Or those who have vaginismus and can barely fit a finger inside them, let alone an average-sized dick.

Point being… Whatever size your member is, there is a significant portion of the female population (or male, if you prefer) who would cite that size as their ideal. So if someone mocks your cock, take it with a grain of salt; she’s not saying “Your dick is the wrong size,” she’s saying, “Your dick is the wrong size for me.” Plus, she’s mean and should go fuck herself.

“Do girls like _____?” or “How do men feel about _____?”

I don’t care what it is. Fisting. Deep-throating. Being shit on during sex. Having their hair pulled. Whatever it is, the answer to a question phrased this way is always “it depends on the person.”

I realize that it can be very satisfying to simplify things in your head like this – “a woman on the internet says she likes giving blowjobs, so all women must like to give them, even if they won’t admit it!” – but that’s just not the way people work. We’re all different and we all like different things in bed.

What does this mean, in practical terms? It means that the techniques which worked on your ex probably won’t work on your new lover. It means that the “guides” you read on the internet might have zero effect whatsoever on your partner’s satisfaction, even if you follow them to a tee. It means that you have to do that tricky thing you’ve been trying to avoid by asking a question like this: talk to your partner.

That’s the answer to pretty much any sex question, actually. Ask your partner. Because they are the only one who knows the actual answer to your question. You’re not wondering whether women or men like a certain thing; you’re wondering whether the specific person you have in mind is a fan of that thing. And the only way to find out is to ask them.

“Will using a sex toy make me unable to enjoy real sex anymore?”

Vibrators cause desensitization for some people, but it’s only ever temporary. If it lasts more than a few weeks at the most, it’s likely that something else is going on and you should ask your doctor about it.

But for most of us, no, vibrations will not fuck with our natural ability to feel sex as it’s meant to be felt. If you find you’re feeling less sensitive after using your vibe, just lay off it for a few days or a week, and your sensitivity will come back. This is why I typically avoid using my vibrator for at least 24 hours before I’ll be seeing my boyfriend – I want to be able to feel the minute details of everything he does to me.

As for dildos… The vagina’s shape does not go through permanent changes in size due to objects that are put inside of it, except in some extreme cases (like pushing out a baby). I can’t think of a single dildo that would make a woman “looser.”

Sometimes those muscles start to loosen up on their own, because of inactivity. If that happens, it can be reversed by starting a regimen of Kegel exercises. These are great because they tighten you up while also improving your orgasms.

There is a mental aspect to using huge dildos, which is that a woman may start to prefer larger objects if she has a good time with them. However, I urge you to remember that a sex toy is not a replacement for a human partner. If someone would honestly choose an inanimate object over a person, odds are good that they were not ready for a relationship to begin with. So don’t sweat it.

“My vagina is burning!” or “There’s a red bump on my penis!”

…or pretty much any other genital-related health problem you can think of.

Please, please, don’t post this on the internet. Get up and go to the doctor. Now.

We may be interested in chatting about sex, but that does not make us qualified medical professionals. I know it sucks to have to ask your doctor about an awkward issue like genital pustules or what have you, but you gotta do it.

What sex questions are you tired of?