Lost That Lovin' Feeling

Meghan Lane is an HIV counselor at the Berkeley Free Clinic and a student coordinator of the Health and Sex Peer Education Program. Respond to her or send her questions at [email protected]

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Q: I've been masturbating about once a month for a year with a vibrator, but lately I've noticed that it takes longer for me to reach orgasm than it used to. Do you know what might be causing this?

A: Vibrators are wonderful, aren't they? Vibrators provide the strong, steady genital or anal stimulation that many people require to have orgasms, and that many others enjoy regardless of how they can get off. Vibrators do present their own challenges, as you have noticed, but are still a great way to stimulate the genital area.

The staff of Good Vibrations notes that most battery-operated vibrators are sold as novelties, so they may have a life span of one week to several years. It's possible that your vibrator is not working as well as it once did, and it's time to trade in your trusted pal for a newer model. Or maybe you just need to change the batteries. Your concern might be more complicated than changing your vibrator, though.

One possibility is that you're undergoing something called habituation. The word has a few meanings, but I use it here to mean decreased sexual arousal that accompanies an activity that has become repetitive. Having sex, for example, with the same person, in the same place, at the same time of day every Tuesday can become quite boring. So it may be with you and your vibrator. If you use the vibrator in exactly the same manner every time, it can take longer to become aroused and reach orgasm than it might if you varied the position of your body and the areas you choose to stimulate.

Another thing to think about is how you usually achieve orgasm. Do you masturbate with your vibe once a month and have orgasms during sexual intercourse once a week? Do you masturbate mostly with your hands and use the vibrator only occasionally? It could be that your body is used to a certain kind of sexual stimulation and takes longer to respond to the vibrator because it feels different.

The bottom line is that you should enjoy yourself. Look into getting a different vibrator if you want to reach orgasm more quickly, but if you have the time, why not lie back and have fun?

Q: My boyfriend and I enjoy having sex in the missionary, doggy-style, and girl-on-top positions, but we'd love to try something new. Can you recommend some other positions for vaginal intercourse? Thanks a lot!

A: Experimenting with sexual positions is a quick and easy way to add variety to your sex play. The nice thing is that you don't have to be a yogi trained in the arts of the Kama Sutra to do it. Some new positions can be variations on old favorites, with a leg shifted here and the pelvis angled just so. The positions I'll talk about here can be used for vaginal and anal sex, and some of them are good for genital-genital rubbing, too. For the sake of simplicity, I'll stick to two-partner sex, but you can use these for three- or moresomes with a little imagination.

Let's start with the missionary. The standard form involves the receptive partner on his/her back, legs spread. The penetrating partner lies on top of the first person, with his or her (strap-ons can work wonders!) legs closed and between the legs of the person on the bottom. Still with me? The charm of this position is that you and your partner can look at and kiss each other while you're having sex, fostering greater intimacy. The missionary can also be used for clothes-on genital stimulation, otherwise known as "dry humping."

A simple variation on the missionary calls for the person underneath to hook their legs over the shoulders of the one on top. This allows for deeper penetration and better prostate or G-spot stimulation during anal or vaginal sex, respectively. Stretching before trying this one is not a bad idea. Alternatively, elevating the pelvis of the person on the bottom with one or two pillows can change the angle of penetration for a new sensation.

Doggy-style, or having sex while the partner being penetrated is on hands and knees, can be adapted in several ways. Retain the rear-entry component of this position, but stand up or prop yourselves against a wall to change the angle of insertion. You can also both lie down so that you are both facing the floor, bed or other supporting surface. Be careful, though, because this is an easy way to crush the partner who's on the bottom.

Receiver-(or enveloper, depending on your point of view) on-top is one of the best possible positions in my opinion because it allows the person who is being penetrated to control the depth and speed of thrusting. Usually the person on top faces the partner underneath, straddling their partner, who is lying on his/her back. If you're the person on top, lean forward to increase intimacy with your partner, or lean back so that you can masturbate during sex. If the person on top is a woman, she can also turn around so that she faces her partner's feet, and bend forward so her partner can manually stimulate her anus.

"Spoons" and "scissors" are two more positions for sexual intercourse. Spooning generally means that both partners lie on their sides, and one partner cups the other's body with his or her own. I personally enjoy this position for non-sexual intimate contact, but spoons is a good position for slow, mellow lovemaking. Penetration is somewhat shallow, so this position may not be favorable for all body types and combinations of people.

In the scissors position, each partner is between the legs of the other. This is easiest when each person's head is near the feet of the other person. With some flexibility and luck, however, you can get your heads closer together.

If you're at all interested in trying new sexual positions, take a look in the "New Good Vibrations Guide to Sex," the "Kama Sutra" or look on the Internet. I won't give references to specific Web sites here for obvious reasons, but feel free to e-mail me for Web references. Keep in mind that the positions I've talked about here represent only a smattering of the variety of positions possible for the creative, sexual person. There need not be any limitation except physical ability, psychological appeal and partner consent.


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