As part of Metro's annual sex issue, we explore today's hottest sex trends both locally and nationally. For more of this year's theme -- kink -- check out our 2012 sex poll and an interview with a New York City dominatrix.
Most of us know that sex is generally a very good thing. There are even health benefits to a good orgasm (more on that later). But many feel squeamish when it comes to addressing what happens in the bedroom, explains Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, author and member of the advisory board for Intimina, a company that specializes in products designed to promote sexual health in women.
"We still give negative messages regarding sex," she says. "Sex is something that you do behind closed doors in the dark under the covers. ... Despite what you see on television -- that everyone's sexually free, that we don't have any issues -- in reality, [that] doesn't match with what happens in the average American home."
Dr. Hutcherson has made it her life's work to encourage women to get to know their bodies without the kind of baggage society has piled on them.
"I view it as something that's important as far as your emotional and physical health," she says. "There have been a number of studies looking at the health benefits of satisfying sexual activity, including improved sleep, decreasing stress/anxiety and decreasing depression. It boosts the immune system, I think probably because there is a marked increase in relaxation when people are sexually satisfied."
Being able to give oneself an orgasm not only creates more opportunities for healthful pleasure, it can also save a struggling relationship.
"It's about relationships, because most often [women who have difficulties with these issues are] in relationships, but they don't want to have sex because it's not pleasurable and they're not getting anything out of it. Sometimes they're blaming it on their partners," Dr. Hutcherson says. Introducing a little help in the form of an innocuous-looking toy could help to improve the situation.
"I recommend they come in with something that's not phallic, that's small ... so that [one's partner] doesn't feel like [he or she] is being replaced," Dr. Hutcherson says, but adds that solitary exploration is incredibly valuable to achieving orgasm. "The best way to learn how to bring that experience to yourself -- because women are responsible for their own sexual pleasure -- is by self-pleasure."
It’s good for you!
According to Planned Parenthood, an orgasm can act as a natural painkiller. While some women use them to fight menstrual cramps, research also suggests that orgasms help to prevent endometriosis, a disease of the uterine lining.