Dear SHIC,
My boyfriend and I have been having sex for a couple of months now, and we have noticed that we have some very different preferences. I like a much lighter touch when he’s jacking me off, but he prefers that I grip him pretty hard. Unfortunately, we have also noticed that while I can get off from getting a blowjob or topping during anal sex, he is rarely able to. I’ve heard that gripping hard can keep men from getting off as easily, but I’m not sure if this is just a prevalent myth or actually true? Is it possible that he has some sort of STI that might be keeping him from getting off instead? What can we do?
Sincerely,
Gripping Hard or Hardly Gripping?

Dear “Gripping”,
Well, the good news for you is that this almost certainly is not an STI! Unless he is experiencing other standard STI symptoms (itching, burning, redness, rash, etc.) he probably is simply suffering from a very common problem. Your sources are indeed correct— gripping very hard during masturbation can decrease penile sensitivity and consequentially make it difficult to get off if you are engaging in an activity (with or without a partner) that holds onto the penis less tightly than you are used to.

There are several different ways that you might try remedying this solution. First, do not masturbate without some sort of lotion or cream, especially if you are uncircumcised. Not only does it decrease sensation, it can also lead to very unpleasant penile chafing that puts your penis completely out of commission for quite a while! We sell packets of lube at the Sexual Health Information Center, but you can also invest in various masturbation oils and creams, available online, or at sex shops (check out the Lion’s Den a few miles West on I-80 for a good selection!).

Also, you and your partner should be conscientious about gripping less tightly, and gradually he will get used to getting off without what is affectionately known in some sexual health circles as “The Iron Vise Grip of Masturbatory Death.” After a little while, you and your boyfriend should be enjoying sex where he gets off easily, and everybody is experiencing maximum penile sensation.

It sounds like you and your boyfriend have been communicating well about this, but it is also important to be frank with partners about what is comfortable for you! With a little switching up of your routines and honest communication about how you are both feeling in terms of sexual pleasure, you should be out of the grip of your sexual hardships soon enough!

Dear SHIC,
I’ve been having a bit of an awkward problem lately. My boyfriend and I have been having sex very frequently lately, and I’ve noticed that my vagina is becoming looser. I’m worried that this is something that can’t be fixed. Is this normal, and is there anything I can do??
—A Little Too Loose in Loose

Dear Loose,
Vaginas come in a variety of sizes—everyone’s is different and it is hard to generalize about size. However, there have been a few studies done about this topic. One study found that an un-stimulated vagina (vaginas generally expand when stimulated or aroused) had an average length of about 2¾- 3¼ inches, and about a ¾ inch width at the back of the vagina. When stimulated, the average lengths increased to 4-6 inches, and the width at the back of the vagina increased to 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches—about a 40 percent increase.

You’re probably not worried about vaginal length, though. You’re probably more worried about the width of your vagina. See, the way it works is that there is a ring of muscles surrounding the lower third of the vagina. If these muscles get damaged, or become thin or weak, you can start feeling dissatisfied with your vaginal tone. This ring of muscles contracts during an orgasm and may affect the intensity you experience. These muscles also naturally get weaker as you get older (giving birth vaginally can also weaken the muscles).

Well, the good thing is that if you’re unhappy about the strength of your vaginal muscles, there are ways to improve it! First, physical exercise has been linked to better developed muscles. Although there hasn’t been much research done on the effects of Kegel excercises, they have been linked to increased muscle tone. But it is more likely that you are simply more aroused when your vagina feels less tight. And there is definitely no chance that having more sex will lead to a “looser” vagina, since the vagina is muscle, and it doesn’t make sense to suggest that the more you use a muscle, the less firm it would become.

Love always-
SHIC

The Sexual Health Information Center is a student-run resource center located on the second floor of the JRC (Multicultural Suites, Suite S). SHIC offers confidential one-on-one peer education sessions and also sells condoms (more than 20 kinds!), dental dams, lube, pregnancy tests and more for affordable prices. Come visit during our hours of operation:

Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday: 6-8 p.m.
Tuesday, Friday: 4-6 p.m.
Sunday: 12-3 p.m.
You can also reach us by email: [SHIC]
Or by phone: x3327