The science behind that sunrise salute.

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Morning wood, pitching a tent, sunrise salute — there are a lot of names for it, but what exactly causes a morning erection?

For people with penises, nocturnal penile tumescence — as it’s officially called — is something that tends to, well, pop up regularly. And while it could be easy to dismiss it as the lingering response to a sexual dream, the fact is that such erections can occur as early as in the womb, so it’s not always related to arousal.

So why do they occur? Research shows that it usually happens during the REM stage of sleep, when sympathetic stimulation (better known as fight and flight) shifts to parasympathetic stimulation (aka rest and digest), creating a nerve response that causes an erection. So one reason why people wake up with an erection is likely because that’s when they are coming out of REM sleep. Interestingly, since we experience many sleep cycles in one night, some people will have up to five erections in the same stretch of slumber. …


When and why we coupled up.

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The impulse to couple up is one that runs deep in western culture. While marriage has become more accessible to all only in the past decade, the institution itself is an old (and largely economic one). But no matter how traditional the rite of matrimony may seem now, global human history has favored a different form of intimacy, which is now being seen in a new context: polyamory.

Non-monogamy dates all the way back to B.C.E. times, but it’s been reincarnated in different ways over the centuries. And while stereotypes (or purposeful misnomers) may cast this kind of partnership in a definitely unequal, sexist light, it hasn’t always existed as an inherently unequal power balance — especially not today. …


The social lubricant isn’t necessarily helpful in bed.

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Anyone who’s been single while finding themselves in a warmly lit bar, surrounded by good-looking people, with a drink in hand and a stellar playlist filling the space knows that alcohol can play a pretty powerful role in attracting a partner. Whether you’re trying out the timeless human mating call, “Can I buy you a drink?” or enjoying a glass of wine at home with your longterm partner, liquor is a social lubricant that helps many of us bring things to the bedroom.

A drink can help loosen you up and give you the confidence to be a bit more, whether you’re flirting with a hot stranger at the bar or getting romantic with your significant other — but once you get to the bedroom, things might turn out a different way. …


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It’s no secret that we’re kind of obsessed with sexual wellness. But there’s a lot more to the conversation than just contraception, consent and protection from STIs. One key element of sexual wellness often gets overlooked: pleasure.

Doctor and sexual advocate Tlaleng Mofokeng explained in a recent Quartz article, we need to reframe that perception and recognize that all participants in sex are equally entitled to experience — and seek — pleasure.

Mofokeng stresses the importance of owning your right to pleasure, speaking up about what feels good while also considering your sexual health. Put simply, it empowers individuals to express what they do and don’t want — which is particularly important when it comes to matters of consent and contraception. While Mofokeng’s focus is on women, the lesson is the same for us all: Regardless of gender identity or sexual preference, everyone has a right to pleasure (and its benefits). …


The case for protection at every age.

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In spite of the leaps and bounds we’ve made in terms of reducing the stigmas around sex, some demographics have inevitably gotten left behind. There are still overwhelming taboos surrounding sex for people over the age of 40 — which means we’re not talking enough about common issues like erectile dysfunction and menopause. And now, a new study shows there’s even more harm in cutting out older adults from conversations on sexual wellness: It increases the likelihood of STI spread.

In a survey of 800 adults across England, Belgium, and the Netherlands, SHIFT researchers from the SHIFT sexual health initiative found that those over the age of 45 are at great risk of sexually transmitted infection, CNN reported in November. This tracks with the CDC’s recent research showing that STIs — particularly gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis are at record highs among the United States’s elderly population. …


What it means that our dating experiences will be virtual.

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Ten years ago, there was no such thing as swiping right. So there’s a good chance that dating will be a whole lot different in two decades’ time.

BBC Ideas predicts that a lot of our dating experiences 25 years from now will be virtual. So instead of schlepping outside in sub-zero temperatures to go on that awkward Tinder date, we’ll be able to don a VR headset and meet our date in some exotic location — all in the comfort of our pajamas.

There’s also a good chance that many of us will be in committed relationships with people who we’ve never met — or who don’t even exist. Sound crazy? It’s not as far away as you think. Last year, a Japanese man married a hologram of his favorite anime character and it’s already possible to design your own virtual world with customized sexual environments and partners. The Future of Sex report predicts that, by 2045, one in ten young adults will have had sex with a humanoid robot. (Depressingly, research has also shown that people are more likely to be emotionally honest with a machine rather than another person.) …


An upgrade to your daily routine promotes relaxation and well-being.

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Salt: the ocean’s waters are filled with it, and naturally so are our bodies. From antiseptic, detoxifying, cleansing, and a wealth of natural healing properties, salt has a wide array of benefits. The mineral works in foods to dry things out and preserve, but it can also help to hold moisture in the body. With hair products, salt aids in building texture. In body scrubs, it helps to exfoliate the skin, hydrate, and purify. …


From winter solstice to Valentine’s Day.

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Allow me to release you from your romantic comedy-bred disillusionment: Thanksgiving is not — and I cannot stress this enough — a sexy holiday.

In fact, if you’ve done Thanksgiving properly, you should feel as if sex, itself, is broaching dangerous territory (given the quantity of sweet potatoes mashed up inside of you). And that’s before we address the political discourse, the sub par wine selection, and the harsh assessments directed, freely, towards either your partner or your lack thereof.

On the contrary, though, there is, in fact, a lingering cultural belief, maintained by the public at large, in the inherent allure of any and all cold weather holidays. Be it the work of novels and movies, magazine features, or targeted Instagram advertisements, the winter holidays all seem to masquerade as intrinsically romantic — it’s frigid outside, but inside, things are cozy. There are fires and copious drinking! Weird covers of old school Christmas tracks performed by top 40 artists and extended time with family! …


Why the holidays can feel like high school all over again.

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Returning home for the holidays is often a welcome form of regression: Beyond relishing the glorious fact that your parents want to feed you (and if you’re lucky, do your laundry) you also enjoy the supreme pleasure of re-inhabiting your childhood bedroom. And likely there are few spaces more outrightly nostalgic in your life than the small celeb-enshrined enclave in which you spent years a) doing science homework b) mourning your break-up with Kyle from homeroom and c) a sea of sexual firsts. …


What really goes down when you can’t get it up.

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No matter how confident, mature, and carefree you may be, there are plenty of opportunities for embarrassment for sex. And for those with penises in particular, one prospect in particular stands out as especially shame-inducing: Not being able to get it up. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem, though — and one, like all natural bodily occurrences — shouldn’t merit any pangs of self-reproach.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, one in ten men will suffer from erectile dysfunction in his life — ED being defined as the inability to become erect more than 50-percent of the time (the inability to get erect about 20-percent of the time is not unusual, and not typically a sign that something is amiss). Yet in spite of how common this struggle is, there are still so many stigmas and stereotypes surrounding it: The image of an older gentleman reaching for a Viagra in a TV show or movie has never been more than a punchline or insult. …

About

maude

A direct-to-consumer, modern sexual wellness brand, maude is on a mission to destigmatize sex through quality, simplicity, and inclusivity.

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