There's no need to spend the next nine months fumbling around in the dark, looking for answers to all your pregnancy-related sex questions. Here are the answers to those questions that you've been waiting for someone else in prenatal class to ask.
1. Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy? In most cases, yes. You'll only be advised to extinguish the flames of passion if there's a medical problem that would make intercourse or orgasm a risky venture, such as vaginal bleeding or leaking amniotic fluid, or if you're threatening to go into premature labor.
2. What about oral sex? Oral sex is considered safe during pregnancy provided that your partner doesn't blow air into your vagina. That could result in a potentially fatal air embolism.
3. Speaking of oral sex, my partner says I taste different. What's that about? The hormonal changes of pregnancy can give your vaginal secretions a stronger taste and odour that can turn some people off.
4. Does an orgasm feel different when you're pregnant? It depends. For some women, it's business as usual; for others, it's a whole new world. While some women say that orgasms are more intense during pregnancy, others describe them as far less satisfying. And some women who've never had an orgasm in their lives report having them for the first time ever during pregnancy. So pretty much anything goes...
5. Is it normal to feel crampy after sex? Yes, that's your body's response to the oxytocin that is released while you're having an orgasm.
6. I can't believe how lubricated I become when I'm sexually aroused. Does this go along with being pregnant? Yes, you can blame -- or thank -- your body's increased estrogen levels for the extra lubrication.
7. Do I need to pack my sex toys away during pregnancy? According to Anne Semans and Cathy Winks, authors of The Mother's Guide to Sex (Three Rivers Press, 2001, $22), there's no need to pack your sex toys away just because you're having a baby. Just keep them clean and well-lubricated, and be sure to adjust the angle and depth of insertion to avoid bruising your cervix.
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8. My sex drive seems to come and go. Is this normal? While fatigue, nausea, hemorrhoids, and the other aches-and-pains of pregnancy may knock the wind out of your libido at various points in your pregnancy, things ain't over in the bedroom until the fat lady sings. (Or gets hit with the first pushing contraction.)
9. My partner has been avoiding sex since the pregnancy test came back positive three weeks ago. He's totally freaking me out! Is this a typical guy reaction? Your partner's reaction is not at all unusual, believe it or not. Whether it's concern about hurting the baby or an irrational feeling that the baby could somehow be "watching" you that's motivating this bedroom boycott, try to be patient with his feelings. After all, he must be pretty concerned if he's voluntarily going without sex!
10. Is there sex after baby? Eventually, yes. In the immediate shortrun? Well, maybe. An often-cited study on postpartum sex found that only one in five couples managed to find the time and energy for sexual intercourse during the month following childbirth. And if you think that dodging that episiotomy site or cesarean incision is the trickiest part of getting your sex life back on track, I've got news for you: the biggest obstacle between you and a night of passion is a tiny eight-pound bundle of joy. Oh, baby!
The pregnant Kama Sutra: The big 3 Wondering what positions work best while you've got a baby on board? Here's a sneak peak at what's going on inside the bedrooms of the nation.
1. Woman on top ("female superior"): Allows you to control the depth and angle of penetration and keeps you from lying flat on your back (a position that may cause you to faint after your fifth month).
2. Side-by-side ("spoons"): Gets your tummy out front and out of the way, and allows for lots of foreplay and cuddling.
3. Rear entry ("doggy style"): Gets your tummy out of the way, but allows for greater ease of movement than with the side-by-side position.
Ann Douglas is the author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, The Mother of All Baby Books, and numerous other books about pregnancy and parenting. You can contact Ann via her website at www.having-a-baby.com.
With the growing trend of love blending with technology, there are a variety of online dating sites with mobile apps that are helping connect more people. Whether you're looking for a casual encounter or something more serious, there’s a dating app to suit almost every need. Here are seven top dating apps for you to consider.
1. OkCupid (free for both iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site also has a location-based mobile app that allows you to take your experience on the go. Users can sign in via Facebook or directly through the app to find local singles. The app allows you to watch the activity stream for potential matches, "favourite" a profile and rate your potential matches through the Quick Match feature. With over five million registered users since 2010, you never know whom you might find.
2. Match (available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices) Match.com, a pioneer dating website that launched in 1995, has users based in 24 countries around the world. People can sign up through Match.com and then download the app on their mobile devices. The app allows members to view profiles, upload up to 24 images, add users to their "Favourites" and rate their "Daily Matches." Subscriptions range anywhere from a month to a year. Pick one that suits you best.
3. eHarmony (available for iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site launched in 2000. Its claim to fame? Over one million people who used eHarmony went on to find lifelong partnerships. Users can sign up via the app, complete a relationship questionnaire, upload photos from their mobile phones or from Facebook, and receive daily matches—all free of charge. Paid subscribers get access to email and can also see who has viewed their profiles. It's the perfect app for those of all ages who are looking for long-term commitments. 4. Badoo (free for both iPhone and Android devices) With a community of more than 208 million users, Badoo is perfect for those looking to socialize and meet new people. The free basic service allows users to chat with and message other members, and upload photos and videos. Members can sign in with a Badoo or Facebook account via the mobile app or website to connect with locals who share common interests. The app also features a fun game called Encounters, which allows users to view potential matches and then tap "yes" or "no" to indicate whether or not they would like to meet. If you're not looking to date, Badoo is also a great app for social networking and friendship.
5. Plenty of Fish (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Plenty of Fish (POF) allows users to find potential dates and perhaps even their soul mates for free! It does have paid services as well, but users don't really need to upgrade; most of the best features such as Meet Me, which allows members to flirt with locals in their areas, are free of charge. This app allows users to search for singles using filters such as education, height, religious affiliations and body type. Another cool feature is Date Night, which tells other singles in your area that you're available for a date.
6. Zoosk (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Zoosk is one of the top mobile dating apps for iPhone users and is one of the Top 10 grossing social networking apps in the iTunes store. This app is available for free and also has a paid subscription option that allows you to access more features. If you’d rather not pay, you can still browse millions of singles, create a profile, upload photos, see who has viewed your profile, and scan and show interest in another member by using the Carousel feature.
7. Tinder (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Tinder has quickly become the go-to dating app for young adults. And the best part? The app is completely free and works on the premise of anonymity. Users, who need a Facebook account to create a profile, can upload up to six profile photos and scroll through recommended matches from your area. If you don't like what you see, you can anonymously "like" or "pass" on the person. But it isn't just for the younger demographic: Tinder reports that 31 percent of its users are aged between 25 and 34, making it a great app for anyone looking to casually date or form potentially long-term relationships.
Chocked full of vitamins and nutrients, adding kale - both raw and cooked - to your snacks and meals can provide you with great health benefits! Find out which ones:
Although kale seems like just another trend that people are going crazy over, and looks like any other leafy green in the stores, you shouldn't pass it up! Kale contains multiple vitamins and all the good stuff to keep your body happy and healthy when incorporated into a well-balanced diet.
1. It's good for your bones.
One of the vitamins in kale is vitamin K. Deficiencies of this vitamin, or even just low intakes of it can be linked to a higher risk for bone fracture. According to Medical News Today, when you get enough vitamin K in your diet, it acts as a modifier of bone proteins and helps your bones absorb calcium. You get the most out of this vitamin if you pass on cooking up your kale and consuming it raw, like in a salad or smoothie!
2. It promotes heart health.
Kale contains fibre, potassium and vitamins C and B6 which all are good for your heart health. If you increase the potassium in your diet, while keeping up healthy eating and reducing sodium intake, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases according to Mark Houston, M.D., M.S. The intake of potassium is also super important for lowering blood pressure (almost just as important as reducing sodium consumption)!
3. It helps move you along.
Digestion health is a big benefit of kale. It is full of fibre and water content that both prevent constipation and keep you on track in terms of digestion. The B vitamins in kale also are essential for the release of energy from food, which also helps you keep good digestive health.
Note: Those who's kidneys are not fully functional and have a hard time removing extra potassium from the blood should enjoy high-potassium foods like kale in moderation. Always consult your doctor if you have concerns about adding foods to your diet.
Check out these recipes that feature the leafy green as it's main ingredient:
For the baseball buff
If your partner already has a Blue Jays hat and jersey surprise him with this handsome—and darn right cute—blue jay pin. This tiny treasure will allow him to sport some pride on the lapel of his jacket or event suit.
For the Clean Freak
If the smell of synthetic pine won’t cut it for your man (you got a keeper) gift him with a car smell that's more refined, and customizable. Infuse his vehicle with his favourite essential oil blend to feel soothed, uplifted and refreshed while you're on the road.
For the gym rat
Do you lift bro? Well if your man does then headphones, sans strap, will make all the difference while he’s pumping iron. These wireless Jaybird in-ear bluetooth sport headphones are sweatproof, which means no slipping our of your ears, and offer a long battery life, eight hours, before it needs a charge.
For the coffee addict
Does your main squeeze appreciate a strong cup of coffee every morning? Buy him this french press with a cute little message, he’ll be sure to think of you fondly before he starts his day.
Brewed with love french press, $39.50, indigo.com.
For the fitness fanatic
This stylish little band automatically tracks steps, distance, calories and sleep. If your man is a triathlete this fitness tracker is swim proof and it also uses a replaceable battery (that lasts up to six months), so you'll have no hassle with daily charging after a training session.
For the fragrance aficionado
If your man has more than five fragrances, that he actually alternates between, that means he’s a fragrance guy. Try gifting him with the newest scent from Clean; Black Leather. The juice is a spicy blend of smoky musk, bergamot and black peppercorn.
For the bearded hipster
A freshly laundered man is something any woman can get behind, so consider this gift a win win. Give him this trio of male grooming essentials: facial cleanser, beard conditioning shave lube and beard oil.
For the music man
If your paramour is into his beats and always on the move gift him with this retro looking amp shaped portable speaker, the smallest from the music minded brand. It’s got a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will allow him to blast his tunes for a solid 25 hours before needing a charge.
Read on for expert advice on maximizing your enjoyment, staying safe and feeling empowered at every age.
NOT FEELING IT? Many women mistake a low sex drive for a clinical case of sexual dysfunction— but chances are, the cause is more than medical.
You aren't exactly sure what's up, but even though you love your partner, you just haven't felt like sex lately. You duck his touch, opting to watch Netflix instead. Maybe it's been months, and you're starting to wonder: Is there something wrong?
You can carry on with binge-watching The Crown, because, for most women, there's nothing medically amiss between the sheets. And, if it's any comfort, you're not the only one who's concerned about the possibility of sexual dysfunction. Teesha Morgan, a Vancouver sex therapist, says it's the question patients ask most. But, "almost 100 percent of the time, what they're experiencing is normal," she says. "There are so many things that can affect sexual desire: if you have little kids; if you're on antidepressants; if you take the birth control pill; if you're perimenopausal, postmenopausal or going through menopause...."
Dr. Natalie Rosen, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in Halifax, says true sexual dysfunction persists for at least six months and is "associated with significant distress for the individual or couple, as judged by a clinician." So, while it may seem as though all of your friends are in the same sexless boat, just 12 to 20 percent of women and 11 percent of men have sexual dysfunction.
But if it's not a medical problem, what's behind your lack of drive? As Morgan says, there are tons of reasons. However, one major cause might be a truism we were hoping to write off: In women, sex drive tends to dip over time. According to a study published in Psychological Medicine last year, which looked at sexual function (desire, satisfaction, ability to achieve orgasm) in more than 2,000 women, those in long-term relationships tended to see a drop in desire. But that doesn't mean you should buy into the clichés about women hating sex; instead, take the opportunity to be more realistic about your expectations—it's OK to have less sex! And take heart: The study also found that the long-partnered women had an easier time achieving orgasm.
So, if you want to have sex like a champion, don't be afraid to try new things: Get it on anywhere but the bedroom or use a sex toy—and make your personal preferences clear. Dr. Laurie Betito, a clinical psychologist in Montreal, suggests that you "liken having sex to going to the gym." Put it in your calendar if you have to! Because, just as with exercise, the more you go, the easier it will be to keep your commitment.
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES How your smartphone could be messing with your sex life.
No one can be present in the moment if they're waiting to jump on that next ping, so, for God's sake, put down your phone. Experts recommend charging your devices as far from the bedroom as possible. If you really can't let go, at least turn down the volume. And consider trying "mindful intimacy." The wellness buzzword can easily be applied to sexual health; mindfulness is about focusing on the present, and mindful intimacy means being aware of what you are experiencing while you're with your partner. The idea is that couples who practise it can overcome the barriers they've built up and feel more connected to each other and their own individual sexuality. So sign up for a meditation class or use a mindfulness app like Headspace. (Ironic, we know—but apps really are easy and accessible ways to try mindfulness!)
LIBIDO BOOSTERS A look at how the newest sexual aids stack up.
Elvie: Remember those squeezing exercises you had to do after giving birth? Pelvic-floor muscles can make all the difference between a meh or mighty sex life, which is why Kegels are a must. But how do you know they're working? This pelvic-floor exerciser monitors your motion in real time thanks to a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app.
Aphrodisiac marijuana: California-based medical marijuana purveyor Paradigm Cannabis Group markets a strain of weed called Sexxpot that promises to boost mood and libido. Researchers haven't been able to definitively establish a link between weed and libido, but there's anecdotal evidence that some people do benefit from partaking before sex. Trial run?
"Viagara for her": Big Pharma has been trying for years tcome up with a love pill for women, with little success. The most recent, Addyi, hit shelves in the U.S. in 2015, with a resounding thunk. A prescription pill aimed at premenopausal women, it delivers an average of just one-half of an extra satisfying sexual event per month—at a cost of US$900!
BACK IN THE SADDLE When you've been ill, sex is often the last item on your to-do list—but that doesn't mean it can't move up a notch or two.
Let's be honest: Sex isn't top of mind after you've been sick. Even sneezing and coughing from a cold or flu can drag you down, so it's no wonder something more serious can affect your sex life. But a thriving connection after a medical condition is possible.
First, though, it's important to know it's OK if you're not exactly feeling frisky. "There's psychology related to illness and sexuality," says Dr. Christine Palmay, a family physician in Toronto. "Depression from an illness, sideeffects from medication and body-image concerns can all lead to a lack of interest in sex."
So don't feel pressured to immediately return to your pre-illness state of affairs. Maybe you've had a mastectomy—that can be a huge blow to your femininity. Or you've had a heart attack and are nervous that strenuous sexual activity will cause another one. You can still be intimate. Trade cuddling for intimate touching—get as naked as you both feel comfortable with, then engage in sex talk or remind each other of favourite moves. It will do more for your relationship than sitting side by side watching TV in parallel play.
And you don't have to worry about a subsequent heart attack after all. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2015 says sex doesn't trigger a heart attack or increase your risk of a repeat. In fact, researchers found it's actually considered "moderate physical activity…and is comparable to climbing two staircases or taking a brisk walk." So putting a little hanky-panky back into your repertoire can't hurt—and it might even help your recovery.
It's also worth noting that lots of women struggle after illness. "Energy levels post chemotherapy tend not to improve for several years. In some cases, women never return to their previous level of functioning," says Dr. Palmay. "So be gentle and patient with yourself." And when you do eventually feel ready, "experiment, be adventurous," she says. "Maybe sex will play a different role in your new life, and that's OK."
YES MEANS YES Consent isn't just a concept that affects carefree young people. "It's still a consideration in relationships, whether of a casual, short- or longterm nature," says Mary-Jean Malyszka, a registered provisional psychologist and clinical sex therapist in Calgary. But it can be sticky to address. Here are some tips for striking up the conversation.
With your partner: Consent is an ongoing conversation. "If you would like to change the type or degree of sexual activity, check in by asking, 'Is this OK?' or 'How would you feel about…?' " says Malyszka. Or remind your partner to check in with you. And, if you're planning to try something new, consider choosing a code word or action that means "stop immediately," she advises.
With your teens: Explain what consent is, keeping it simple but clear: You are allowed to stop at any point if it doesn't feel right, even if the other person really wants to continue. "You don't need to go into a big explanation. It's all about what you want and don't want for your body, and your partner has to respect that," Malyszka says.
With your parents: This can be an awkward conversation, but, considering the possibility of cognitive decline, an important one. Explain the importance of informed affirmative consent, which means each partner understands exactly what is going to happen and is enthusiastic about trying it.
SAFETY FIRST Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise among older adults. Here's what you need to know.
Remember having "the talk" with your kids about sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? It's time to revisit that conversation— with yourself.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says the national rate of STI infection has been rising steadily since the late '90s, including among older adults. According to the Sexual Health at Midlife Study, a joint project by Trojan and the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN), the rates of chlamydia, for instance, among Canadians aged 40 to 59 increased by 153 percent between 2003 and 2012.
Dr. Betito has noticed an increasing need to educate even elderly adults. "Seniors' residences are like college dorms. There's often one man for several women, and they don't use condoms because there's no risk of pregnancy," she says. Dr. Palmay has also seen more STIs in her perimenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal patients. "My senior patients go to Myrtle Beach, have fun in the sun and come back with syphilis, and they're nonchalant about it," she says.
Postmenopausal women are actually more vulnerable to STIs—the lining of the vagina becomes drier with age, which makes it "more likely to tear and become irritated during sex," says Dr. Palmay. "These tears could lead to more susceptibility to STIs."
Blame lack of condom use for the increased health risk—of the 77 percent of respondents in the Trojan/SIECCAN study who had intercourse in their last sexual encounter, only about 28 percent of women said their partner used a condom (see What's Behind the Rise, below, for more info).
"Youth today are taught 'no glove, no love,' but older women didn't grow up with that concept," says Dr. Betito, adding that people who are widowed or recently divorced "don't know how to negotiate condom use with a new partner." She advises women to take charge by carrying condoms and telling their partners they expect safe sex.
WHAT'S BEHIND THE RISE? Experts say the increasing incidence of STIs among the 40- to 59-year-old cohort can be traced back to three things.
Hookup-specific apps such as Tinder and Bumble: People looking for casual hookups use these apps to find potential sex partners with the swipe of a screen—no sexual history required.
Birth control use over condom use: For the 40-year-olds, birth control may help prevent pregnancy, but the pill doesn't ward off STIs. Condoms are close to 100 percent effective (though you can still contract HPV and herpes through oral sex).
Screening confusion: Not all STIs are diagnosed through blood or urine tests, and not all STIs are part of standard screening. For example, herpes and HPV require their own tests.
RUBBER CHECK If you thought we'd reached the apex of what a condom could be, think again. This is what rubbers could look like in the near future.
The number-one protector against STIs, HIV and, yes, babies, the latex condom has held steady for years. But once you've got thinner condoms, flavoured condoms and condoms bearing Sailor Moon designs, where do you go? To science, that's where. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is backing projects searching for a biodegradable condom that works just as well as the traditional sort, and a model that can also act as a drug-delivery system forSTI prevention. And, if those two aren't enough, behold the Rapidom. It's an applicator that will help a guy get the rubber out of the package and onto his penis in one swift move. Handy (and more likely to prevent user error)!