Monday, November 26, 2007

Sexual Addiction 101

Sexual addiction is rapidly becoming recognized as a major social problem with similarities well known to alcohol and drug addiction or compulsive gambling. The sexually addicted individual becomes addicted to the neuro-chemical changes that take place in the body during sexual behavior, much as a drug addict becomes hooked on the effects of "shooting" heroin. This is not to say that the expression of one as a sexual being, an intensely pleasurable, life-enhancing experience for the majority of the population, is an inherently addictive reality. Contrary to enjoying sex as a self-affirming source of physical pleasure, the sex addict has learned to rely on sex for comfort from pain, for nurturing or relief from stress; this is comparable to the alcoholic's purposeful use of alcohol.

The beginnings of sexual addiction are usually rooted in adolescence or childhood. For starters, the child often grows up in a chaotic, hostile or neglectful home. Or, the family may have been very normal otherwise, but the child grows up emotionally starved for love because affection is rarely expressed. The child may turn repeatedly to masturbation to escape the parents' violent arguments, for instance, or to make up for an unconscious lack of attention or affection. Masturbation can be a normal and natural part of childhood, but for the lonely, abused or rejected child can become a regular sedative, much like marijuana, to hide the inner pain. Gradually, sex becomes a replacement for other things, a convenient act to turn to in times of any kind of need, from escaping boredom to feeling anxious, to being able to go to sleep at night.

Or, the child may be introduced to sex in inappropriate ways. Instead of the normal sexual experimentation that often takes place out of curiosity between similar aged children during growing up, some children are subjected to pedophilia. Or the person introducing the child to sexual experiences may be another child who is five or more years older (i.e., an older cousin, babysitter, etc.), where the sexual experience doesn't feel mutual. In these experiences there often is a combination of natural curiosity, newfound pleasurable feelings and the feelings of fear or shame. The fear and shame may be increased by threats made by the older person to gain the child's cooperation and to prevent the child from telling anyone about it.

A pattern may be established of seeking out similar experiences throughout the person's life where there is a combination of sexual pleasure and fear or shame. When the child grows up he may be turned on by sex in high-risk situations that unconsciously generate fear or in secretive circumstances that feed on shame.

Some Characteristics of Sex Addiction
The sexual behaviour is shameful. The addict feels shame about what he or she is doing, or more accurately, about what he or she has done, usually immediately after engaging in sex acts that violate some of the person's standards. Or the shame may be denied by calling it normal for "a real man," or by focusing on others: "She wanted it.” Thus a married man may feel remorse after having sex with his best friend's wife, rationalize that his friend wasn't sexually satisfying her, and avoid going to bed with his own wife afterward, all in a vain attempt to deny there is a problem or that he has done anything wrong.

The sexual behaviour is secret. The sex addict more and more comes to live a double life – perhaps well known, respected and admired in his visible life but secretly engaging regularly in sexual acts that would be shocking to those who know and love him. So a sexually addicted minister could be revered on Sunday morning for preaching on the sinfulness of adultery and fornication and then engage in those behaviours himself at a modeling studio or adult bookstore on Monday afternoon, having told the church staff or his family a lie about his whereabouts. Or a gay man might tell his relationship partner that he is going to visit a friend but goes to a park to cruise for anonymous sex instead.

The sexual behaviour is abusive. It violates someone else's choice or exceeds their understanding. There is the man who manipulates or coerces his date into being sexual with him; the woman in a partially unbuttoned blouse who bends down toward an unsuspecting male co-worker and "accidentally" exposes her whole breast; or the man who seeks out crowded shopping malls so he can meander among the throng to "cop a feel." Or adult men and women who manipulate the trust of children and abuse their power over them by tricking them into performing sexual acts with them. The sex may also be abusive to the sex addict, such as masturbating to the point of physical injury or cutting or pinching one’s self for sexual arousal.

The Differing Forms of Sexual Addiction
Sexual addiction can take many different forms. The addict may be addicted primarily to one behaviour, such as sex with a prostitute, but generally uses a variety of sexual behaviours. For example, consider the salesman who might watch the dancers at a topless bar over a business lunch, have sex with a prostitute from an escort service in his hotel room one night while on a business trip, return home and have sex with his wife while fantasizing about the sexual massage he got last month. The list of the forms of sexual addiction would be exhaustive and increases with addicts' need to find new ways of finding sexual thrills.

Another feature of sexual addiction is that it is progressive. That is, the habitual behaviours progressively become more frequent, varied and extreme, with more frequent and extreme consequences. At times when the addiction seems under control, the addict is merely engaging in one of the common traits of the disease process in which he switches from sexual release to the control of it. The control phase inevitably breaks down over time, whether it is in an hour, a week, a month, or a year, and the addict is back in the behaviour again despite his promise to himself or others never to do it again. When the ecstasy of the release is spent, the addict will often feel remorse at his failure and with great resolve will switch back to another period of abstaining from the behaviour until his resolve weakens once again. Without help, this is the way the sexually addicted person lives his or her life.

The Internet has become the newest, most rapidly growing form of sexual acting out for many sex addicts. A lot of sex addicts have added computer sex to their repertoire, as it fills a need for "more, easier and better." For the cyber-sex addict, increasing amounts of time are spent "surfing," downloading, masturbating, reading information posted on sexual bulletin boards, exchanging sexual information live with others in sexual chat rooms or via computer cameras, or directing their own live sex shows on interactive sites. The Internet just happens to provide many of the things sex addict's seek, all in one place: isolation, secrecy, fantasy material, endless variety, around-the-clock availability, instant accessibility, a rapid means of returning, and low or no cost.

Since one of the characteristics of sexual addiction is that it is progressive, sex addicts on the Internet often experience a rapid progression of their addiction. The new sexual thrills lead to spending huge amounts of time, moving more quickly into more extreme behaviours, taking greater risks, and getting caught more frequently. The sped-up progression of the sex addict's problem via the internet can turn into a blessing, since it can move the addict into the consequences more quickly that can cause him or her to get help.

Here are some of the more usual forms of sexual addiction.
While at some time in their lives some people who are not sex addicts may engage in one or more of the behaviours listed below, it only becomes sexual addiction when there is an irresistible need to repeat the behaviours and habits are developed around them.


  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Compulsive sex with prostitutes
  • Anonymous sex with multiple partners, where sex is the only object and no relationship (not even as an acquaintance) is established with the person.
  • Multiple affairs outside a committed relationship, or serial relationships
  • Frequent patronizing of topless bars, modeling studios, sexually oriented tanning salons, adult bookstores or sexual massage establishments.
  • Habitual exhibitionism
  • Habitual voyeurism
  • Inappropriate sexual touching
  • Sexual abuse of children
  • Rape


Sex and Love Addiction
A distinction has been made between sex addiction and what is referred to as sex and love addiction. The latter has to do with an addictive pattern of establishing love relationships with specific people, where the person and the relationship, as well as sex with the person, are all part of the appeal to the addict. While these same elements are normal in a healthy relationship, sex and love addicts can never find fulfillment and permanence in any of the relationships they begin. They keep seeking satisfaction in another relationship but find it empty, demanding or anxiety producing instead.

Sex and love addicts may have several relationships with different people going on at the same time or they may pass serially from one to the next, leaving each when the initial "high" wears off. Or they may have a major relationship, such as a marriage, complete with home, children and other signs of permanence, but keep returning periodically to secret relationships with new people.

Sex addiction, by contrast, usually is a preoccupation with sexual arousal and sexual release which often has little to do with who the person is and requires no relationship. On the contrary, to the sex addict, what counts is the charge he or she gets from the image, whether it's a stranger spotted in a car or on a street corner, or stimulating body parts, an erotic picture, or the addict's own fantasy.

Treatment
A man or woman suffering from sexual addiction has the option of seeking professional help by consulting a psychotherapist or committing himself or herself to a specialized treatment centre.

Seeking counselling sessions with a psychotherapist has the advantage of being more discrete and will have less impact on your economic capabilities. However, for a person who is committing serious offences because of his or her sexual addiction it is advisable that they commit themselves to a specialized centre since this will remove himself or herself from the environment where they can indulge in such harmful behaviour.

If you believe you, your partner, or someone you know may be suffering from sexual addiction, please consult a professional health care provider as soon as possible.

Vaginal Dryness: Treatment

Some women have difficulty producing a satisfactory amount of natural lubrication for engaging in vaginal intercourse. This condition is the female equivalent of male impotence. Women who suffer from excessive dryness will find trying to engage in vaginal intercourse close to impossible without treatment or the use of a sexual lubricant. As with male impotence, female dryness is the result of a physical or psychological condition, or a mixture of both. Please remember that being excessively dry only requires treatment if it is chronic and while you have the mental desire, you definitely do not have the physical capability.

Physical Factor

This is when the female body is actually improperly functioning or is being harmed by some form of chemical it is ingesting. Possible reasons for this are:

1. Damaged spinal cord or nerves
2. Side-effect of medication or narcotics
3. Low hormone levels
4. Malfunctioning glands


Psychological Factor

Any mental duress you are under can severally curtail your want and in many cases your ability to sexually perform. It is imperative a woman understands that her desire to sexually perform is critical in becoming well lubricated. If you don’t really feel like having intercourse, but you feel you should because your partner has asked, then you are only ensuring yourself an unfulfilled sexual experience. Women who suffer from a psychological impediment are usually more inclined to not want to have sexual intercourse altogether than just being unable to naturally lubricate themselves. Some reasons for a psychological inhibition are:

1. Traumatic sexual experience that is mentally unresolved (e.g., rape or incest)
2. Excessive stress
3. Relationship woes
4. Anxiety about sexual performance
5. Depression
6. Psychiatric conditions


Treatment

If you are suffering from a physical or psychological inability to naturally lubricate yourself then it is imperative that you seek professional assistance. A doctor will be able to determine accurately what is wrong and what options are available to you. In the interim though, an excellent temporary solution is using sexual lubricants. Many couples use sexual lubricants because they find it greatly increases the stimulation they gain from intercourse. Although not a cure for your physical or psychological problem it is a good temporary fix until you are properly diagnosed and treated.

Sexual Lubricants

A vaginal lubricant is a water-based, condom-friendly liquid or jelly used to enhance or replace a woman's natural lubrication. Many couples regard lubricants as a must-have item and find that it extremely improves the quality of intercourse. Also, sexual lubricant is an essential ingredient to successful anal intercourse. Furthermore, the use of lubricant on the inside of a condom can make the sensations delivered to the penis much stronger.

Prior to the current, safer-sex era, many people used oil-based lubricants, namely Vaseline or mineral oil. Neither of these are healthy choices as a sexual aide. Petroleum-based oils (i.e., Vaseline) destroy latex upon contact, making them useless for use with condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges, and the protective coatings around some IUDs. Oils also coat the inside of the vagina and rectum, providing a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria. Consider oil-based lubricants for cosmetic use only and not as a sexual aide.

Ingredients

Most lubricants are made up of one or more of the following: glycerine, hydroxyethyl cellulose, or propylene glycol. Some add aloe vera or vitamin E acetate to better moisturize and promote dermal regeneration. All add a pH-balancing agent, and most contain a preservative, since the active ingredient is essentially a food additive and would spoil otherwise.

Brands

Many couples use K.Y. Jelly, since it is prevalently advertised, but you should be aware that K.Y. Jelly is intended for single-use medical situations (e.g., the insertion of a thermometer or catheter) and is deliberately formulated to break down quickly. This is not good for situations where the lubricant is expected to last a long time, such as during intercourse.

Brands that are designed specifically as sexual aides are: Aqualube, Astroglide, Elbow Grease, ForPlay, ID, Probe, Pride, Slip, and Wet. This is just a short list of the many brands available on the open market. Also, be aware that some of these brands also make oil-based lubricants for “masturbation purposes only.”

Lubricants come in just about every variety and flavour, from as viscous as syrup to only slightly thicker than water. One-ounce sampler bottles are typically available for a dollar or two and will let you find the right lubricant for you and your partner without spending a fortune.

Anal Sex Toys on Men

If your guy seems a little shy when it comes to new things in the bedroom, a great way to bring up the idea of sex toys is to casually bring up the issue in a non sexual environment. This way, it’s conversational and non threatening. It is easy to find articles in all types of magazines that discuss the use of sex toys between couples and may help him to see that this is not a unusual act, but a well accepted one that in no way threatens his masculinity, nor criticizes any of your past experiences together. Sex toys are now widely excepted and available; the world is starting to realize that sex toys offer a unique way to explore our body as well as our partners and can add a great twist to a regular sex routine.

Another tantalizing way to get him involved is to let him watch you use your toys. Many men love to watch women masturbate, especially when he knows he can join in. Touch yourself; bring out your favorite toy. Let him use your toy on you; tell him where you like it, what you like, what you want, how it makes you fell. Then, if he seems open to the idea, ask him if you can give him a turn. If he says yes, great, if not, don’t give up sometimes these things take a little while to get used to. Now it’s finally time to enter the world of boys’ toys.

The sometimes taboo area of male stimulation is the prostate. Your guy may or may not be into this. If he’s not sure, sometimes slow progress is a great way to go. Start by just doing a lot of ass play. Then the next time you two are together try some anus stimulation without any probing. After that he may be interested in a small amount of finger insertion. Just take things slow and he’ll soon let you know whether it is an area of pleasure or not.

Here we’ll look at a comfortable technique for giving him extra stimulation if he’s interested. From either in front or behind of him, stimulate his anus to help the muscles relax. Just as with anal sex (if you have ventured into that domain) it is important that the anus be relaxed and only gentle pressure be used to avoid both physical and psychological injury. Make sure you apply plenty of lube before very slowly and gently inserting your index finger up to the second knuckle. Curve your finger slightly towards his penis from inside. This should allow you to touch his prostate. For continued stimulation use a “come here” type motion against his prostate, tap it lightly, or slide your finger or a toy in and out of the rectum, achieving the same type of stimulation. For your own protection or comfort finger cots or disposable gloves can also be used, again with lots of lubrication. Be careful not to use a lubricant that may break down the materials of the glove or the finger cot.

If these tricks do the job to get him interested in sex toys, or if you would like to start with something a little more adventurous, take a look at the next five exciting categories of toys that can pleasure. The five different categories of toys to choose from include pumps, masturbation sleeves, erection rings, ticklers, and extenders. There are endless possibilities from these toys girls! Let’s find out how we can use these toys on our boys…