by Emma Thake
As a clinical psychologist, with expertise in health and illness, I am frequently asked to shed light on the concept of body image. I often begin by pointing out that body image is a multidimensional concept that consists of self-perceptions, cognitions, emotions, and behaviors related to one’s physical characteristics. By and large, the research contains multiple definitions of body image, which include the degree to which a person is satisfied with his or her overall physical appearance, positive or negative feelings about one’s body, satisfaction with body weight, as well as feelings of sexual attractiveness. Indeed, the concept of body image is complex. Read
When you are in the heat of intimacy, but have to stop because it hurts, you may be experiencing vulvar pain. Women describe vulvar pain as burning, feeling raw, sharp, or painful to the touch. It can be severe enough to prevent women from wearing jeans, riding a bicycle, using a tampon, or having sex. One in every four women experience vulvar pain, which can affect nearly every facet of everyday life. Activities that were once comfortable become difficult, leading to a cycle of stress that can make the pain even worse. Vulvar pain can be a stubborn, chronic condition spanning years Read
We’ve been talking about sex quite a bit lately at the YinOva Center, with our director Jill Blakeway’s recent release of her second book Sex Again. In her comprehensive look at libido, Jill writes about how to rebuild the connection with our sexuality and desire from within ourselves and our relationship.
Since this week brings the big day for celebrating love and sex, I think it is an opportune time to share some recommendations for some specific libido boosting foods.
In Chinese medicine we always look to the internal organs when something is lacking. Sexual drive is connected to the energy of our kidneys, and the balance of yin and yang energies. Though generally lack of yang is focused on for sexual vitality, it is both the yin and yang that must be in equilibrium for one to have the motivation to pursue sex (yang) plus the ability to receive it (yin). However, this equilibrium is not meant to be rigid. As Jill writes, “ You’re aiming for a dynamic balance, not a fixed point and not a precisely even split. For most people, the sweet spot is where either yin or yang is predominant – but only slightly.”
To help nourish both the yin and yang aspect, here are a few suggestions for aphrodisiac foods and spices, whether for this Valentine’s Day or any day really!
Oysters – As the most highly prized of aphrodisiacs, these succulent yin nourishing creatures (they do come from the sea after all) are also high in vitamin B12 and protein.
Walnuts – Likely due to their kidney yang enhancing ability, an old Chinese folk remedy for impotence was to eat 20 walnuts a day for a month.
Chives – Their warm and pungent flavor is tonifying to the kidneys and specifically to sexual function. They also improve qi circulation, which is a huge benefit to your nether regions.
Apples – The legendary symbols of temptation, apples are cooling and moistening thus contribute to kidney yin.
Chestnuts – This deliciously meaty nut is both nourishing to the energy of the kidneys and helps stimulate the liver out of stagnation (because we all have stuck energy in there).
Lamb – Typically raised with far fewer antibiotics and allowed to graze on grass, this is an excellent choice for red meat lovers, especially for its kidney warming qualities.
Cucumber – This suggestive yin nourishing vegetable boasts the ability to cleanse the blood and purify skin.
Shrimp – Tasty, decorative and easy to prepare, shrimp has a warming and yang enhancing nature (inquire about allergies before offering this crustacean to any new lover).
Eggs – As a blood and yin tonic, eggs are also ascending in nature and have been used in the prevention of miscarriage.
Lentil – This little legume increases the vitality of the kidneys and is stimulating to the adrenal system.
Ginger – Dried ginger is said to direct the properties of foods and herbs to the lower region and sexual organs, making it an excellent spice accompaniment to your amorous meal.
String bean – This sweet flavored yin nourishing vegetable has known uses in the treatment of involuntary seminal emission.
Some delicious and sinful recipes utilizing the above ingredients can be found on Epicurious.com. One in particular caught my eye and may find its way to my table and my love’s lips soon…
The Taoist sexology texts contain a variety of instructions for using deep and shallow thrusts in alternating patterns, but I think one version is plenty to give you the general idea—and all the benefits. You can find this exercise, called Nine and Nine in Chapter 13 of Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido where it will be explained in more detail.
To begin, the man will insert only the head of his penis into the woman’s vagina—nine times. Then the entire penis once. That completes one set of ten strokes. Next decrease the number of shallow strokes by one, and increase the number of deep strokes by one, and continue doing so for a total of nine sets. The full pattern looks like this:
nine shallow and one deep
eight shallow and two deep
seven shallow and three deep
six shallow and four deep
five shallow and five deep
four shallow and six deep
three shallow and seven deep
two shallow and eight deep
one shallow and nine deep
The pacing is up to the two of you, but in general slower is better. A lot of couples prefer slower entries and quicker departures.
Beginning with more shallow and moving on to deeper thrusts maximizes pleasure, especially for the woman. This alternates a feeling of being tantalized with a feeling of being satisfied, which is a highly pleasing combination for most women—and a good path to orgasm, even for women who haven’t been able to orgasm during intercourse previously. Doing the Nine and Nine can speed up the path to orgasm for women, and/or heighten the orgasm experienced.
While the varying of strokes creates a sense of anticipation that intensifies the experience for most women, for men it tends to spread out the intensity, helping extend intercourse by delaying his orgasm. That’s because the stimulation varies between targeting the head of the penis and the shaft. Stimulation of the entire penis increases desire to ejaclate; stimulation of the head of the penis alone decreases desire to ejaculate.
That said, one time through this whole exercise totals ninety strokes, and no matter how you spread out the area of stimulation, this can be a lot for many men. If you finish a set of nine without having an orgasm, feel free to do the whole thing over again. But if it’s tricky getting all the way through, just do shorter sets, at least to begin with. Do sets of five, or four, say. Whatever works for you.