All posts by Em & Lo

The 10 Most Romantic “Monster” Movies

It’s Halloween time, when every network piles on the scary movies. We’re not ones for blood and gore, but give us a good love story, and we’ll happily take a fright or two. Not that these ten flicks are all that frightening, or blood-curdling, or horrifying — they’re mostly pretty tame compared to the usual October fare. (The scariest thing about this list is the prevalence of bad 80s hairdos and synth pop throughout.) No, these 10 films probably won’t turn your blood cold; instead, they’ll warm your heart.

By the way, as a matter of principal, we left off the Twilight trilogy completely — not only did we use romance as a criteria, we used quality, too. Warning: spoilers ahead!

1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula


A lot of people like to claim that Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 rendition of the 19th century novel is the truest to the book, despite the fact the entire love story between Dracula and Mina — the central element of the movie — was nowhere in Stoker’s manuscript! (And there certainly wasn’t any half-man half-beast date rape in the novel, either.) But that doesn’t make the flick any less romantic: A guy who forsakes God, becomes a vampire, and waits 400 plus years just to be with you again? That’s not scary, that’s sweet. (What’s scary are Keanu Reeves’ and Winona Ryder’s horrendous British accents.)

 

2. The Corpse Bride

Tim Burton’s 2005 stop-motion animated fantasy details the Victorian era love triangle between a shy woman (Emily Watson), her awkward fiance whom she’s just met (Johnny Depp), and the ghost who wants to marry him herself (Helena Bonham Carter). Having been killed on her wedding day, ghost Emily is eternally always a bridesmaid, never a bride — but when she finally gets the chance to tie the knot, she realizes that when you love someone you have to set them free. Awwwwwww! Honorable mention goes to Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas for the love story between Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, and animated rag doll Sally — their duet in the final scene is one of the sweetest love songs ever:

 

3. Let the Right One In


What’s a vampire trapped in a 12 year old’s body supposed to do when her long-time life-partner dies to protect her? Find a new life-partner! There’s something so compelling about the innocence of a first crush, especially when you know the relationship will ultimately end (in this case, in blood, pain and death). Love — and the crazy (i.e. totally fucked up) things people both young and old will do for it — is a major theme here that’s hauntingly realized. Go for the Swedish version over the American one.
 

4. Ghost

The Dirty Dancing of ghost stories, this 1990 film is most famous for the threeway scene between Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopie Goldberg. Just kidding, it’s most famous for increasing cultural interest in pottery classes and making super short hair on girls cool for the first time since Rosemary’s Baby. Despite the cheesy demon shadows and heavenly silhouettes, there really are some nice moments exploring the depths of love and loss.

 

5. Near Dark

Before Kathryn Bigelow won a Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker, she made this 1987 Western/biker movie, which Time Magazine called “the all-time teenage vampire love story.” It’s a blood-soaked star-crossed lovers story, you see, except with a happy ending: Mae, a vampire, and her victim Caleb, must escape the violent clutches of her disapproving, bloodsucking family in order to walk off into the sunrise together.

 

6. Warm Bodies

This is another Romeo and Juliet remake (the main characters are “Julie” and “R”) complete with balcony scene and a Hollywood happy ending. It’s about the transformative power of romantic love — so transformative in fact that it can turn zombies human again. If only it could make your partner’s irksome bad habits disappear, too. (Btw, is it wrong to think main dead guy Nicholas Hoult is hotter with his zombie makeup on?)

 

7. Only Lovers Left Alive

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, this 2013 vampire film captures the banality of long-term relationships (Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston’s marriage is centuries old), without giving up on the romance of true love. Or the potential for continued eroticism. This pasty yet sexy, depressed yet funny couple make marriage so cool. The kickass soundtrack doesn’t hurt, either.

 

8. Bride of Frankenstein

Poor Monster. So alone in world, so alienated. He just want love. Just want understanding. A friend, a mate, a bride. But when Dr. Frankenstein creates one for his monster, complete with awesome hair and wicked goth makeup, she’s just not ready to settle down. “She hate me. Like others.” Heartbroken, Boris Karloff and his neck bolts decide that if he can’t have her, no one else will — indeed, no one else should. “We belong dead.”

 

9. King Kong

Not one, but three versions of this story (1933, 1976, 2005) have accomplished the miraculous feat of making bestiality seem kinda sweet. After all, King Kong is a star-crossed — there’s that word again — love story about a giant gorilla with the hots for a normal-sized human. Like Frankenstein’s monster, he’s a misunderstood softie who just wants a little companionship, someone to bathe in waterfalls and climb up phallic symbols with. Is that so much to ask? Since none of the three versions ever attempted a happy ending, with Kong and his gal picking out china patterns together, we guess it is too much to ask.

 

10. A Chinese Ghost Story


Isn’t it always the way: you find someone you really click with and it turns out they’re a ghost beholden to an evil hermaphroditic tree spirit and betrothed to a demon warlord? But hey, if it’s true love, you may just have a fighting chance.

This post has been updated.

 

What movies did we miss? Maybe you’ll find them here:
Top 10 Sexiest Scary Movies

 

What Does It Mean When You and Your Partner Have the Same Violent Dream?

Other people’s dreams are never interesting…except when they’re about sex & relationships. If you’ve got a good one, our dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg just might tell you what it means! Click here to submit yours (18 and older only for dream interpretations, please). This week, a reader asks Lauri about a having the same violent dream as her spouse:

My husband and I had the same dream two nights ago. He said he didn’t remember the details but just remembered that he was shot in the back. In my dream it was like a group of terrorists killed a bunch of people wherever I was, and when they found me they shot me in my back. They thought I was dead so they left, but then I got up to get help. It was just really weird that we both had a dream about being shot in the back on the same night! Please try to help. Thanks.

Lauri: What you and your husband experienced is called shared dreaming and I have covered it many times in this column:

It usually happens to two people who are very close: husband and wife, best friends, mother and daughter. The reason why is because the two individuals are dealing with the same issue and their subconscious responds to it similarly by giving them comparable dreams. So let’s see if we can figure out what issue it is you and your hubby are both dealing with.

Getting shot in the back could mean you both feel someone is talking behind your back. Bullets in dreams are often symbolic of emotionally wounding words. That could be what the terrorists in your dream are, a group of people around you, such as in laws or co-workers or friends, who are causing you and your husband grief. Or they could represent feelings of being ganged up on by life in general. Have you been suffering problem after problem? The back can also symbolize that which is now behind us.

It is clear that you both have suffered some sort of emotional wound and your dreams are trying to show you that 1) this hasn’t killed you, and  2) the best course of action is to put this behind you and move on from it.

Visit Lauri’s
WhatYourDreamMeans.com

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Comment of the Week: It’s the Anti-Abortion LEGISLATION, Stupid

Last week, it was revealed that Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy, member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, had urged his mistress to get an abortion in the midst of  promoting anti-abortion legislation and views on Facebook and in political e-newsletters. Many people rightfully were appalled by the hypocrisy of this Republican representative, whose voting record has gotten a big thumbs up from anti-choice groups like the Family Research Council.

What seemed to get less attention was the fact that Murphy helped pass a 20-week abortion ban in the House last week as well. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based on junk science about fetal pain — its claims aren’t supported by the research. This is just another systematic attempt to slowly and gradually restrict women’s right to safe reproductive services and bodily autonomy.

Reader Julia realized that this — the policy, not the pig —  was the bigger story:

Here’s the thing that no one seems to understand. This is bad legislation regardless of anyone’s opinion of abortion.

In cases of rape:

  • Does someone have to be convicted of the rape? In that case, abortion is rather irrelevent.
  • If not convicted, does one particular person have to be accused?
  • If so, is the accusation enough, or is some sort of “proof” required?
  • Considering that proof is required, how is that proof judged?
  • And… can any of this be done without risking the victim’s safety and in time for an abortion?

In cases of incest:

  • Does someone have to be convicted of incest? In that case, abortion is rather irrelevent.
  • If not, is the accusation enough, or is some sort of “proof” required?
  • What would be considered proof? Do you need to get DNA from the zygote and the accused rapist and have it analyzed for paternity?
  • If so, can any of this be done without risking the victim’s safety and in time for an abortion?

In cases of health risk:

  • How risky does it have to be?
  • Who gets to determine the level of risk?
  • How many doctors need to agree on the level of risk?
  • Does mental health count as a risk?

Not to mention the mental gymnastics needed to justify why it is okay to “murder a baby” if you did not choose to have sex, but it is not okay if you did choose:

  • So rape means I get to murder a child?
  • Can I choose any child that I want?
  • If not, are you saying that an already born child is, in fact, more of a person than a “preborn” one?*

It is just terrible legislation.

* However, I do think most people could count “mother’s health” as “self-defense”, so that is not so mind boggling.

We would just add, in regards to the mental gymnastics point, it’s an anti-choice tactic to keep chip-chip-chipping away at women’s reproductive rights, gradually and methodically and ceaselessly, so they’re willing to give some concessions along the way if it means getting one step closer to criminalizing ALL abortions, no exceptions.

Stay vigilant. Keep fighting!

Why You Shouldn’t Be Offended by the P-Word Anymore

3 Easy(ish) Steps to Sharing a Fantasy with a Partner

Sharing a fantasy with a partner can be a cheap and easy way to foster intimacy, build trust, and kink things up. But it takes a lot of courage to do. What if you think yours is too mundane to put into words (remember Meg Ryan’s faceless stranger fantasy in When Harry Met Sally?). Or what if you’re afraid your partner will be jealous of or even deeply disturbed by what you share? Or, worst case scenario: What if they just laugh? Try these tricks to make things a little smoother:

1. Set the Stage for Safe Sharing

Ask your partner to tell you one of their biggest/darkest/strangest masturbation fantasies, explaining that it’d be such a turn-on to get in their head. Promise them you won’t judge or giggle (and keep that promise). If they’re reluctant, set a brave example by offering up one of your own (you can insist that they honor the no-giggling rule, too).

2. Just Start Talking

The next time you’re having regular old comfort sex, start talking about something you’d like to try now, something you’d like to try eventually, or something you’d never ever want to try but are simply turned on by in your mind. Then suggest that your partner do the same (no pressure though!). Or just recount a dirty story you recently read. The fact that you’re having sex at the time will mean any awkward pauses can be filled with moans. And when you’re both distracted by physical pleasure, there’s less pressure for your fantasy to make narrative sense. Just a sentence or two here and there will get the point across.

3. Know When to Hold Them

Finally, there’s no rule that says you have to share every single dirty thought that crosses your mind. Maybe that fantasy you enjoy during your self-love sessions is hot precisely because nobody knows about it. Or if your partner’s the jealous type, then they don’t need to know that you occasionally imagine their best friend naked.

Don’t have a good one to share?
How to Cultivate a Sexual Fantasy

 

MORE LIKE THIS ON EMandLO.com:

How Fantasizing Can Improve Your Sex Life

Just How Different Are Men’s and Women’s Fantasy Lives?

What Men Think About When They Masturbate

Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day!

Some day Columbus Day will be replaced by Indigenous Peoples’ Day, just as some day trans rights will be considered civil rights by everyone. In honor of future enlightenment, let’s look back in awe of the Native Americans who got it right way ahead of their time. The following excerpt is from “Indian Country Today“:

Of all of the foreign life ways Indians held, one of the first the Europeans targeted for elimination was the Two Spirit tradition among Native American cultures. At the point of contact, all Native American societies acknowledged three to five gender roles: Female, male, Two Spirit female, Two Spirit male and transgendered. LGBT Native Americans wanting to be identified within their respective tribes and not grouped with other races officially adopted the term “Two Spirit” from the Ojibwe language in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1989. Each tribe has their own specific term, but there was a need for a universal term that the general population could understand. The Navajo refer to Two Spirits as Nádleehí (one who is transformed), among the Lakota is Winkté(indicative of a male who has a compulsion to behave as a female), Niizh Manidoowag (two spirit) in Ojibwe, Hemaneh (half man, half woman) in Cheyenne, to name a few. As the purpose of “Two Spirit” is to be used as a universal term in the English language, it is not always translatable with the same meaning in Native languages. For example, in the Iroquois Cherokee language, there is no way to translate the term, but the Cherokee do have gender variance terms for “women who feel like men” and vice versa.

A Trans Vet Speaks Out:
I Fought for Your Freedom to Hate Me

Em & Lo’s Glossary of Male Sexual Anatomy

Just because male sexual structures are a bit more, shall we say, obvious, does not mean you can forgo the anatomy lesson. There are important parallels between male and female sexual machinery that will help you understand how to best to use what you’ve got on your own and with your partner, especially if your partner is rocking opposite sex bits. For instance, did you know male sexual anatomy includes a clitoris too?!

Please note: Having certain anatomical parts does not determine one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. And there are certainly exceptions to the biological sex binary, as with intersex people. The below applies to the two typical categories of sexual anatomy — male and female — while trying not to make assumptions about a) who might be interacting with such anatomy or b) how the owner of such anatomy might identify.

 

penis, a.k.a. the male clitoris: The MVP of male sexual function. This very visible shaft is often considered the corresponding puzzle piece to the vagina. Understandable, but that often leads (straight, cisgender) men and women to discount the importance of her clitoris (especially when it doesn’t seem to actively provide stimulation to his member). But we would all do well to consider that the penis actually incorporates many of the same or similar sexual components that are key to female sexual functioning, including the clitoris.
          In the male case, those components may be a little more efficiently organized and consolidated, at least when when you consider penetration: during intercourse, all the parts of the penis/male-clitoris are stimulated simultaneously, which is one reason why penetration tends to be a sure-fire method of orgasm for those with dicks; however, traditional intercourse stimulates only the sides of only some of the female clitoral structures, making orgasm through mere penetration tricky (or even impossible) for their owners. 

corpus cavernosum: Within the penis runs this narrow wishbone-shaped erectile tissue much like the female clitoral wishbone, except the male “handle” end is long, about 4 inches (running the length of the shaft, parallel to the urethra), and the two clitoral “Y” legs are short (splitting at the base near the pubic bone). Upon arousal, it fills with blood and becomes bigger, straighter and more sensitive, i.e. erect, just like the female clitoris.

urethra: The tube that runs from the bladder, through the prostate gland and along the length of the penile shaft (where it’s surrounded by spongy erectile tissue), to the urethral opening at the penile tip, through which urine and ejaculate are expelled.

urethral sponge, a.k.a. corpus spongiosum: Like the female urethral sponge, this erectile tissue surrounds the length of the male urethra, responds to stimulation, and fills with blood upon arousal (though it remains much more pliable than the corpus cavernosum so the urethra doesn’t get pinched closed, which would cut off ejaculation). Some consider this the single equivalent of the two clitoral bulbs in female sexual anatomy, as it ends in one bulbous structure within the body just past the base (what’s considered the “root” of the penis). At the other, outermost end, the corpus spongiosum forms the acorn-shaped head or glans, molded over the exterior end of the corpus cavernosum.

penile tip, a.k.a. U-spot: The sensitive, innervated skin around the urethral opening.

penile head or glans: At the outermost end of the penile shaft, the corpus spongiosum forms the acorn-shaped head or glans which is molded over the rounded, exterior end of the corpus cavernosum. Many consider this the equivalent of the female clitoral glans, especially when you consider how both the female and male hoods or foreskins protect these two “heads”. But by stimulating the male glans, you’re also stimulating the exterior end of the corpus cavernosum, which can also be considered an equivalent to the female clitoral head, though in his case it’s not external.

foreskin, a.k.a. male clitoral hood: The retractable sheath of skin attached to the shaft of the penis via the frenulum that serves as a sort of oversized turtle neck: it’s pulled over most if not all of the penile glans when not erect (protecting the naturally moist mucous membrane of the glans), and pulled back during arousal (aiding in both its pleasure and the pleasure of any vaginas that might have invited inside). If the foreskin is removed via circumcision, the membrane of the glans will become tougher and permanently dry, and will probably benefit from the addition of purpose-made lubricant during manual sex, since the foreskin is no longer there to act as a natural moveable stimulation sheath.

frenulum: A highly sensitive band of tissue on the underside of the penis, just under the penile glans, that keeps the foreskin in place. Whether the frenulum is left intact, partially removed or fully removed during circumcision, the area tends to remain a particular pleasure point (albeit to varying degrees).

prostate gland: The smooth, walnut-sized organ located behind the public bone, below the bladder and above the perineum, through which the urethra runs. The prostate produces an alkaline fluid that constitutes up to a third of the contents of ejaculate which helps transport and protect sperm during and after ejaculation. The muscles of the prostate also help expel the ejaculate from the body. When you gently stimulate it via the front wall of the rectum, you’ll feel it get bigger and firmer closer to orgasm. There are even butt plugs, like the Aneros, made specifically for promotion of this gland’s pleasure and good health. 

P-spot (for prostate), a.k.a. the male G-spot: The area of the prostate gland that can be felt and stimulated through the top, belly-side wall of the rectum by inserting a finger, fingers, penis or anal sex toy a few inches inside and pressing toward the navel or the back of the pubic bone. (More indirect stimulation of the gland can be achieved by pressing up on the perineum.) Some men find this stimulation incredibly pleasurable, some find that it intensifies orgasm, and some find it downright uncomfortable. However, we suspect some of this discomfort is psychological in nature, as many hetero, cis men (mistakenly) feel that penetration is either too girly, too gay, or too unhygienic. Or else they’re just not doing it right – to do it right, click here.

testicles & scrotum (a.k.a. the male labia): Analogous to the egg- and estrogen-producing ovaries in female sexual anatomy, the testicles are the two reproductive organs which produce sperm and male hormones (like testosterone). The “balls” are housed in the scrotum or scrotal sack, the male equivalent of outer labia (both develop from the same early embryonic tissue), which hang down outside the body (behind the flaccid penis) and may similarly enjoy gentle stroking. Gently pulling the testicles away from the body during arousal may help delay ejaculation.

perineum: The perineum is the short bridge of tissue between the back of the testicles and the anus. Also known universally as the “taint” (it ain’t the balls and it ain’t the asshole). Massage and pressure of the perineum can indirectly stimulate the prostate gland.

anus & rectum: The rectum is the S-shaped tube that serves as the passage way for poo between the intestine and the final exit, the anus. This nerve-rich orifice – which consists of two, fairly snug, ring-like sphincter muscles – is surrounded on all sides by one layer of the pelvic floor muscles, which also surround the other sexual structures. And the prostate gland can be stimulated a few inches inside the anus via the front rectal wall. Thus, it makes sense that the anal area can be an integral part of male genital pleasure and even orgasm. (For more important info on proper stimulation and penetration, click here.)

pelvic floor muscles: A series of muscles stretching from the pubic bone to the tailbone and running between, around and beneath the various sexual structures which, if strong and healthy, provide A) support to these structures and other internal organs, B) urinary and fecal continence, and C) sexual pleasure: they contract in response to sexual stimulation, causing sexual tension, which may eventually get released during the involuntary contractions of orgasm. (To ensure yours are strong and healthy, see this info on Kegel exercises.)

Want to go deeper? Plunge into our
Anatomy Archive

Em & Lo’s Glossary of Female Sexual Anatomy

There’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to female sexual anatomy: the waters of that pleasure system run way deep. These parts are not inferior, miniature versions of the male sexual anatomy, but rather equitable, albeit more internal, sexual structures that enjoy stimulation just as much. They simply need the right kind of stimulation. Understanding those structures is the first step in learning how to provide it.

Please note: Having certain anatomical parts does not determine one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. And there are certainly exceptions to the biological sex binary, as with intersex people. The below applies to the two typical categories of sexual anatomy — male and female — while trying not to make assumptions about a) who might be interacting with such anatomy or b) how the owner of such anatomy might identify. We are also only focusing on the bits traditionally associated with sexual stimulation and pleasure (the clitoris, labia, etc) and not reproduction (ovaries, fallopian tubes, etc).

clitoris, a.k.a. the female penis: Contrary to popular belief, the clitoris is more than just that little nubbin you see or feel protruding near the top of the labia – that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No, the clitoris is actually a complex organ of nerve-rich erectile tissue (just like the penis) extending throughout the genital area. We’re talking four inches long (one inch shy of the average penis, but proportional to her body size) in the shape of a wishbone. During arousal, this tissue becomes engorged and erect, just like the penis – it’s just more difficult to notice in female anatomy because most of the erection occurs internally. Another difference in erections: a clitoris’s has a much better chance of lasting long after orgasm, hence an ability to achieve subsequent orgasms more easily than a penis.

clitoral head, tip, or glans: The little “handle” of the wishbone which protrudes externally at the junction where the top of the labia connect – what most people usually think of when they think “clitoris”. Some clitoral heads extend out like an erect nipple, while shyer ones hide under the hood. (The more aroused its owner becomes, the more retracted the clitoral head may become as the ligament supporting it tightens with sexual tension.) One of the best ways to arouse the entire clitoris is to provide stimulation to this head/tip, not only because it’s external, but because it has more nerve endings than any other part of the body, male or female. 

clitoral hood: The female equivalent of foreskin: the clitoral shaft runs under it and the clitoral head sticks out of it. The hood is created by the junction of the outer edges of the inner lips meeting above the clitoral head.

clitoral shaft: You can often feel the short (i.e. less than an inch long) shaft of the clitoris underneath the hood as it burrows into the genitalia, first in the direction of the pubic mound, before it turns sharply back downward and splits into two long wishbone legs.

clitoral legs: The two slim prongs of the clitoral wishbone which run underneath the labia and flank either side of the urethra, the urethral sponge, and the vagina. Like the clitoral head and shaft, the legs are made of erectile tissue which stiffens during arousal.

clitoral bulbs: In addition to the wishbone, there are two eggplant-shaped bulbs that run along the inside of the clitoral legs, beneath the inner labia and around the sides of the urethra, the urethral sponge, and the vagina. This erectile tissue also becomes engorged during arousal, puffing up even more than the legs, and causing the inner labia to balloon. For more, see “10 Things You Should Know About the Clitoris.”

outer labia or lips, a.k.a. the female scrotum: Developed from the same embryonic tissue that becomes the scrotal sack in male anatomy, the outer labia are the two hairy pads of fatty tissue that pocket the inner labia, clitoral head, and the urethral and vaginal openings. While sensitive to touch, the outer labia – unlike the parts of the clitoris and the inner labia – don’t have a very rich concentration of nerves, nor do they change in shape or color much during arousal.

inner labia or lips: The two, moist, hairless, inner folds of tissue which usually connect at the top around the clitoral head (forming the clitoral hood and the frenulum), run along either side of the urethral and vaginal openings, and connect at the bottom just under the vagina (forming the fork). Despite what porn and labiaplasty docs might have you believe, there is great – not to mention totally normal – variation in their appearance from person to person: light or dark, trim or long, smooth or wrinkled, turned inward or flared outward… And during arousal, these lips will often change in appearance, swelling and darkening from increased blood flow to the area. Due to their sensitivity and role in arousal, the inner labia are often considered an extension of the external part of the clitoris.

frenulum, a.k.a. bridle: The junction of the inner edges of the two inner lips, usually just below the clitoral head, which, like the frenulum of male anatomy, is sensitive to stimulation. It may also be considered a part of the external clitoris.

urethra: The short thin tube running from the bladder to the small opening between the clitoral head and the vaginal opening through which urine and, in some women, female ejaculate is eliminated.

urethral sponge, a.k.a. the female prostate: The spongy erectile tissue surrounding the length of the urethra that consists of glands, known as paraurethral glands, which produce an alkaline fluid similar to that produced by the male prostate (i.e. it’s not urine). This fluid may be expelled into and then out of the urethra and out of the paraurethral ducts in a process known as female ejaculation; this may occur in spurts, in a rush of fluid, or in such insignificant amounts as to be undetectable. The embryonic tissue that develops into the prostate gland in male fetuses is the same tissue that develops into the urethral sponge in female fetuses.

G-spot: The area of the urethral sponge (or female prostate) that can be felt and stimulated through the top wall of the vagina by inserting a finger, fingers, penis or sex toy a few inches inside and pressing up toward the navel or the back of the pubic bone. The texture of this area in the vagina is often rougher and more ridged than the other, smoother vaginal walls. Some find receiving this stimulation incredibly pleasurable, some find it necessary for orgasm, some find it enables female ejaculation, and some find it downright uncomfortable, a sort of painful pressure reminiscent of a urinary tract infection. Read more about the G-Spot.

U-spot: The external area surrounding the urethral opening. Like the area right around the penis’s urethral opening, this nerve-rich spot is sensitive to touch and may be an undiscovered erogenous zone, because you are indirectly stimulating one end of the urethral sponge (similarly, with G-spot probing, you are stimulating one side of the urethral sponge). Stimulation of the U-spot is often a happy accident of nearby clitoral head and vaginal orifice stimulation (p TK). Upon arousal, it may protrude a bit and take on the appearance of an acorn top (like the external tip of a penis).

paraurethral glands & ducts: Prostatic-fluid-producing glands (usually about 30) embedded in the urethral sponge. Upon arousal, they fill with this fluid, which may, during G- or U-spot stimulation or orgasm, drain (i.e. gush, spurt, dribble) out into and then from the urethra as well as out of the two external openings embedded in the U-spot known as the paraurethral ducts (they’re almost impossible to detect). This process is known as female ejaculation; depending on the the size and number of glands you’ve got (every person is different), and whether you enjoy G- and U-spot stimulation, you may spurt across the room or not even notice any extra fluid emanating from this area.

vagina, a.k.a. vaginal canal or birth canal: The canal that runs from the cervix (the door of the uterus or womb) to the orifice between the urethra and the anus. Penises, fingers, and sex toys may be permitted in here; it’s also where menstrual blood and perhaps babies (at least during vaginal delivery) come out.
         The clitoral legs, clitoral bulbs, the urethral sponge, the perineal sponge, and the pelvic floor muscles all surround the lower half of the vagina – during arousal, they become engorged and erect, and then (and only then) should they be stimulated by vaginal penetration. The resulting tightening of the outer third of the vagina causes it to become sensitive to friction and pressure. (It could be argued that these other structures are what are really being stimulated during penetration, not the vagina). This is why girth and shallow penetration is often more effective for female anatomical pleasure than length and deep pelvic thrusting, and why penetration feels best once full arousal or perhaps even an orgasm has been achieved.
             While the vagina is self-lubricating (the pressure of increased blood to the genitals during arousal expresses a clear fluid that’s filtered from the blood through the mucous-membrane walls of the vagina), don’t rely on this lubrication as the quintessential sign of arousal, as many factors can inhibit the natural flow of this wetness, even when the owner of this equipment is turned on.
The vagina’s fornices (fornix = singular) are the deepest recesses of the vagina created by the extension of the cervix into the vaginal canal. The A-spot (the anterior fornix) and the cul-de-sac (the posterior fornix) — two other “vaginal hot spots” — may be easier to reach and stimulate once full arousal is achieved, as the uterus lifts and the back of the vagina balloons out. There’s also the PS-spot directly opposite the G-spot (see “perineum” below). However, keep in mind that other as-of-yet unnamed hot spots may exist for your partner anywhere within the vaginal canal (for example, the sides of the canal), and it’s a matter of exploring and experimenting with what feels right and nice.
The vagina is often mis-conceptualized as the equivalent of the penis, and while there certainly is an undeniable yin-yang factor necessary for reproductive purposes, as far as sexuality and pleasure goes, the female equivalent of the penis is the clitoris.



A-spot, a.k.a A-zone, anterior fornix, AFE zone (anterior fornix erotic or erogenous zone), or T-zone (for trigone of the urinary bladder): There are way too many names and way too many erroneous write-ups on the web about this particular vaginal zone. Put simply, it’s the nerve-rich area deep inside the front (i.e anterior or belly-side) wall of the vagina, next to the cervix (i.e. past the G-spot, beside or even beyond the tip of the cervix). Think of it as stimulating one side of the bladder via the front wall of the vagina (just as you stimulate the urethral sponge via the front wall of the vagina when G-spotting).
It’s not always easy to stimulate the A-spot with typical intercourse and it’s hard to reach with your own fingers, so squatting or pulling your knees up while having a partner reach for it with their finger(s) or using a G-spotter (a vibrator or dildo with a curved tip) with a long shaft may be better at determining your sensitivity there. Some people, like the Malaysian doc who “discovered” this zone in the early ’90s, report that stimulating this area, especially with repetitive stroking that eventually incorporates the G-spot as well, can help increase vaginal lubrication and orgasmic potential. 

cul-de-sac, a.k.a. posterior fornix: The nerve-rich area deep on the back (i.e posterior or bum-side) wall of the vagina, beside and just past the cervix (named by Dr. Barbara Keesling in Super Sexual Orgasm). It may be difficult to reach, not only because of its depth, but because the cervix may block access to it, especially if the woman is not sufficiently aroused. During arousal, the uterus tends to lift up and the back of the vagina tents out, opening this area up for stimulation (pressure is often preferable to thrusting). However, if full arousal hasn’t been achieved or the uterus rides low, any pelvic thrusts from intercourse may just result in a less-than-pleasant cervix pounding, never reaching the cul-de-sac.

fork, a.k.a. fourchette: The junction where the bottoms of the two inner labia meet, just beneath the vaginal opening.

perineum & the perineal sponge (a.k.a. PS-spot): The perineum is the short bridge of tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus. Just beneath it is a tightly packed tangle of blood vessels alternately known as the perineal sponge, perineal body, or PS-spot. Like other erectile tissue, this mass fills with blood upon arousal and can be sensitive to massage and pressure via the perineum, the lower back wall of the vagina (opposite the G-spot), or the anus. For more, see “Everything You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Know About the PS-Spot.””

anus & rectum: The rectum is the S-shaped tube that serves as the passage way for poo between the intestine and the final exit, the anus. This nerve-rich orifice – which consists of two, fairly snug, ring-like sphincter muscles – is surrounded on all sides by one layer of the pelvic floor muscles, which also surround the vagina and urethra. Nearby is the sensitive perineal sponge, as well. Thus, it makes sense that the anal area would respond to stimulation and can be an integral part of genital pleasure and even orgasm. (For more important info on proper stimulation and penetration, see  “A Beginner’s Guide to Anal Play.”)

pelvic floor muscles: A series of muscles stretching from the pubic bone to the tailbone and running between, around, and beneath the various sexual structures which, if strong and healthy, provide A) support to these structures and other internal organs, B) urinary and fecal continence, and C) sexual pleasure: they contract in response to sexual stimulation, causing sexual tension, which may eventually get released during the involuntary contractions of orgasm. (To ensure yours are strong and healthy, see info on Kegel exercises for female anatomy.)

vulva: The external, visible parts of the female genitalia.  What most people mean when they use the term “vagina” (they’re wrong — see “Vulva vs. Vagina — There’s a Difference People“).

Want to go deeper? Plunge into our
Anatomy Archive

Find Out What Your Naughty Dreams Mean in Our Dream Interpretation Archive!

Have you had a sex-related dream recently that’s still on your mind? We’ve surely interpreted a similar one! Check out our archive to find out what yours means.

Do It Tonight: Blindfold Your Partner (Or Yourself)

The blindfolds that comes free with transatlantic flights are sometimes printed with the phrase “forty winks” — and we think we know what kind of winks they’re talking about. Who hasn’t stuffed a complimentary blindfold into their carry-on and thought, “Ooh, I should use that sometime”? But, really, you should.

You can go high-end with a gorgeous silk number from LELO, or more low-key with a soft and comfortable one in basic black for only $12 from GoodVibes. Seriously, everyone should have one of those handy in their nightstand. Even if you’re feeling particularly broke or need something in a pinch, you can always go DIY with a cotton scarf or tee knotted to the side of the head for comfort. (It just won’t look quite so sexy.)

Blindfolds help you get in the mood if you’re trying something new and are feeling shy. Maybe you want to spank your boyfriend but don’t want him to see you until you’ve perfected your swing. Maybe you’re role-playing and find it easier to get into character if you can’t see that your “doctor” is wearing her stethoscope back to front. The list goes on…

And a blindfold is a great way to heighten sensation. It adds an element of surprise (especially pleasant when receiving oral) and makes everything feel more. You know how your radio always sounds louder after you’ve turned off your bedside light? Yeah, it’s like that, except it’s not KROC; it’s sex! And it feels like it’s turned up to 11.

This post has been updated.

For more tips on kinking up your sex life, check out our book:

150 SHADES OF PLAY

Dear Em & Lo, Can I Get Trichomoniasis From Masturbation?

Dear Em & Lo, If I masturbate 3 times a day 7 days a week and haven’t had a real sex partner in over a year, can I get trichomoniasis? — Red Handed

Dear RH,

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis, most commonly passed from genitals to genitals. It doesn’t normally infect the hands. So it’s not like you could have picked it up from a handrail and then passed it onto your genitals during masturbation. Nor does it usually infect the mouth. So it’s not like you could have picked it up by kissing an infected person, then later licking your hand, and passing it onto your genitals during masturbation. The majority of those infected don’t show symptoms; with those who do, symptoms usually develop within 5 to 28 days after infection. BUT for some people, it can take much longer for symptoms to appear. And if left untreated, trichomoniasis can stick around for years. 

So, if you’ve been tested and diagnosed by a doctor, then you likely got the infection last year from a sexual partner, and it’s just taken awhile for the symptoms to show up.

You cannot get a sexually transmitted infection from masturbation, unless you’re sharing sex toys with an infected partner. You might get a little sore or irritated from the following:

  • not giving your genitals enough downtown between sessions
  • being too rough with yourself
  • not using lube (can you say “rug burn”?)
  • using lube you’re allergic to
  • not cleaning your hands and toys properly beforehand
  • using novelty toys made with suspect materials or rough seams

But none of these practices will give you an STD.

If, on the other hand, you’re self-diagnosing — i.e. your own symptoms seem to match up with a Web MD search of trichomoniasis — then the first thing you should do is go see a gynecologist/urologist/doctor to be examined and tested for STIs and other genital infection (e.g. a yeast infection).

If it turns out you’re infection-free, then it’s probably time to give your genitals a little more tender loving care during your self-loving sessions. Quantity shouldn’t matter too much if you’re good about quality. Use an organic lube, play with only high-quality sex toys made with food-grade materials, clean them and your hands properly before and after, and try not to rough-up your naughty bits, even if that’s how they really like it.

With tender love,

Em & Lo

When it comes to STD transmission…
How Risky Is Oral Sex?

 

 

The 10 Most NORMAL Sex Scenes from “American Horror Story”

American Horror Story (the seventh season of which is currently in  full swing on FX) trades in sex and blood, blood and sex — often at the same time. Whether it’s a vampire orgy with throat slitting or a BDSM porno with un-consensual dismemberment, AHS likes to mix “little deaths” with big death. And don’t even get us started on all the rape.

So it’s a breath of fresh air when they include the rare tender sex scene with a focus on passion rather than pain. Even if you’re a fan of the show (and it’s over-the-top gore, ya sicko), let these atypical AHS sex scenes from all the previous seasons remind you that the best sex is always consensual and pleasurable. (You can view all 10 scenes — abridged — in the compilation video at the bottom of this post.)
 
 

ASYLUM

 

1. Haunted Honeymoon Sex

Adam Levine and his new bride aren’t your typically honeymooners. Instead of sipping tropical drinks on a Caribbean beach, they get their kicks visiting old, supposedly haunted, often abandoned sites of horror and depravity — and doing it on site. The most disturbing thing about this sex is Levine’s lack of foreplay and use of spit as lube. Serves him right he gets his arm ripped off by a monster minutes later.

 
 

2. 1960s Newlywed Lovin’

It’s 1964, when interracial marriages were not looked upon too kindly. So newlyweds Kit and Alma are keeping it a secret. Young, in love, and practically playing house, they let the roast burn in the kitchen while they make sweet love in the bedroom. Too bad Alma gets abducted by aliens immediately afterwards.

 
 

3. Desperate Sex Between Inmates

Kit, who’s been wrongfully committed to Briarcliff Manor for three murders (including his wife’s), and Grace, who’s doing time there for killing her sexually abusive father, find temporary solace in each other’s arms…on the counter of institute’s kitchen. But health code violations are the least of people’s problems at Briarcliff.
(You can view the scene in the compilation video below.)
 
 

COVEN

 

4. Fertility Sex Ritual

One of the coven’s witches, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), and her husband Hank (Josh Hamilton) can’t seem to conceive, so they perform a fertility sex ritual. It’s one of the most normal, loving, and typically erotic sex scenes in the entire series (even though Hank turns out to be a cheating, murderous witch hunter).

 
 

5. Frankenstein-esque Threesome

Teen witch (and bitch) Madison (Emma Roberts) accidentally kills her fellow witch Zoe’s crush, Kyle (Evan Peters). To make it up to Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), Madison helps bring him back to life with a spell, but not before the two take the best “boy parts” from other mangled bodies at the morgue to create the perfect boyfriend. A love triangle ensues and is eventually — and rather sweetly — consummated together. But with threesomes, someone always gets left behind — so later, a very jealous Madison refuses to save Zoe’s life, which means a heartbroken Kyle has to strangle Madison. Love hurts.

 
 

FREAKSHOW

 

6. Manual Stimulation

Jimmy Darling has a side business. When he’s not juggling with his cleft hands in the circus as “Lobster Boy,” he attends Tupperware-style parties of 50’s Floridian housewives to pleasure them one by one in the back bedroom with his unique digits. Hey, at least everyone’s happy, which is a rarity in the world of AHS. (Though the clip below is in Spanish, you don’t need to speak it to figure out what’s going on…or should we say going in?)
(You can view the scene in the compilation video below.)
 
 

HOTEL

 

7. Bubble Bath Sex

As the queen vampire at the Hotel Cortez, Elizabeth (Lady Gaga) has grown weary of her latest creation (Matt Bomer), who’d rather stay home and binge watch House of Cards than hunt. So when she gets a whiff of the rage emanating from a bad-boy model (Finn Wittrock), she can’t resist turning him. And within the blink of an eye, Liz and her new flavor of the decade are getting busy in a coffin-shaped bathtub. (We’re assuming vampires don’t have to worry about using protection with lovers they’ve just met, otherwise this scene would be truly scary).

 
 

8. Makeup Vampire Sex

Gaga gets back together with her old beau (Bomer) and the two have the most mainstream makeup sex imaginable — no crazy outfits, no third or fourth unsuspecting parties, no violent murder, no fountains of blood. It’s almost boring. Almost.
(You can view the scene in the compilation video below.)
 
 

MY ROANOKE NIGHTMARE

 

9. Christening the New House

Trying to escape the dangers of city living, Shelby (Sarah Paulson) and her husband Matt (Cuba Gooding Jr.) buy an old farmhouse in the wilds of North Carolina. Settling in one night, they have hot sex in their new bedroom in the dark. The only creepy thing about it are the pig squeals they hear outside in the woods, but the sex is otherwise really quite nice.

 
 

10. 18th Century Bathtub Sex

What do you do when you’re in a secret, gay, biracial relationship with one of your servants in the 1700s? You leave your wife and kids behind in Philadelphia and build a mansion in the woods of North Carolina where you won’t be judged, of course. The power dynamics of this relationship make the sex pretty problematic, but the producers at least try to make the aristocrat’s lover a willing participant in the nookie; indeed, there’s genuine tenderness here. Not so much when the aristocrat (Evan Peters) gets impaled by the ghosts haunting his property.

 
 

WATCH ALL 10 SCENES (ABRIDGED) HERE:


 

Want more creepy sex? Here are:
The Top 10 Sexiest Scary Movies


 

I’m a Polyamorous Bisexual. My Partner Is a Straight Monogamist. What Do We Do?

Dear Em & Lo,

I am in a very loving relationship where I love my partner very much. However I fear I may be polyarmorous and I feel I need an open relationship to be happy. Also I am bisexual and have yet to really experiment with others of my same gender. My partner is very cautious about the idea and isn’t very happy about it and feels he wouldn’t find anyone else he is interested in and would lose me. We both have expressed how we don’t want to break up, even though it might be the easier option. How can we make this work without going insane? Is this a time in our relationship that requires someone to sacrifice, or should we just do the fair thing and both get hurt by breaking up?

Poly-Bummed

Dear PB,

It’s too bad you “fear” the possibility of being polyamorous. You’d think discovering a significant part of your authentic identity — and wanting to embrace it — would be a source of inner peace and happiness. If this is truly who you are, why shouldn’t you be free to be yourself?

Of course, being in love with someone who is decidedly not polyamorously-inclined is a big part of the problem. He’s the Montague to your Capulet, the Julia to your Winston, the Augustus to your Hazel, the Ennis to your Jack, the Jack to your Rose. It’s the familiar story of a great love being ruined by one annoying obstacle: feuding families, Big Brother, cancer, homophobia, icebergs or, in your case, incompatible styles of lovin’. Maybe you can take some comfort in the fact that obstacles like these can make your relationship seem even more special, more worthwhile than it actually is. After all, we always want what we can’t have.

But your fear probably doesn’t just stem from a resistant partner. We imagine a society so invested in the romantic ideal of heterosexual twosomes is partly to blame as well.  When you say “polyamorous bisexuality,” it sounds like your options are endless! (Remember the old Woody Allen joke, “Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date Saturday night”?) But in reality, trying to express yourself sexually and/or romantically in a non-traditional, non-binary way can sometimes be pretty lonely, especially in a world that loves to marginalize minorities.

Of course, understanding the roots of your fear doesn’t make it any less painful.

So what do you do? Well, we definitely know what NOT to do. Don’t stick with him out of love but then, out of lust, sneak a little secret action (of any orientation) on the side. It’s dishonest, disrespectful, potentially physically harmful to your partner (think STDs), and likely emotionally devastating once he find outs. (And they always do. Just ask Joss Whedon’s ex.) We don’t judge consensual non-monogamists, but we do judge cheaters. Have as many partners as you’d like — spread the love, as it were!  But only so long as all parties involved are in the know and on board.

That leaves two options: compromising or breaking up. Both can feel soul-crushing.

First let’s take compromise: All relationships — at least the healthy ones — include some amount of compromise, because no two people are perfectly, immaculately compatible. But — and this may be our monogamy bias talking —  it seems like a bigger deal to ask your partner to sanction your extracurricular sexplorations than to ask you to limit them for the time being. After all, this relationship isn’t necessarily forever. From your letter, it sounds like you’re both fairly young and not considering a life-long commitment (at least not yet). People change, relationships come and go, opportunities for non-monogamous bisexuality surely exist in your future. Could you just enjoy the love you two share for now, giving monogamy a go, at least temporarily, until it becomes untenable for you?

But perhaps that’s why you’ve written us now: you’re already there. Maybe your longing for other expressions of love/lust with different people has become so great that you’ve begun resenting your partner for denying you those experiences? If that’s the case, then you already know what you need to do.

If you’ve asked your partner if he’d be willing to just try an open relationship and he’s responded with a definitive “I can’t,” then it’s time to break up. Maybe the threat (or the reality) of the end of your relationship will give him the courage to expand his horizons and experiment with a little non-monogamy with you. If so, proceed in baby steps with lots of ground rules (e.g. “First, let’s just give each other permission to kiss someone else, nothing more…”). Or maybe you’ll find dabbling with non-monogamous bisexuality isn’t worth losing him for. But either way, just as he shouldn’t ask you to permanently change who you are, you can’t expect him to suddenly become an enthusiastic polyamorist missing the jealousy gene.

Ultimately, you two may just want different things. Neither one of you is wrong. But in this case, two rights seem to be making a wrong.

Em & Lo

Want to give non-monog a try?
The 8 Do’s and Don’ts of Open Relationships

10 Easy Ways to “Work” on Love

This Labor Day, let us be reminded that love takes work. Here are 10 simple things you can — and should — do regularly to keep a long-term relationship or marriage happy and satisfying:

1. Do something new together.

Sign up for a continuing education class. Try a new sport. Go see a concert or a play if you don’t usually. You might have the same partner, but your dates can be brand new!
Related: 8 Ways to Spice Up Date Night 

2. Talk and really listen.

You may think you’ve heard all of each other’s stories. But there are always a few hidden gems. Plus, people change over time. Hear who they are becoming.

3. Touch each other.

And we don’t mean sexually (though you’ve got to keep doing that too — see #4). Hug, hold hands, peck each other on the cheek, nose cuddle.

4. Get new sex toys.

It’s an easy way to shake up a sexual routine that’s gotten a bit predictable.
Related: A Guide to Couple’s Toys

5. Support your partner’s dreams.

When your loved one expresses interest in something new, or in rekindling an old passion, by all means encourage them! Be wowed by them — it will ignite new energies in them, which can only positively affect your relationship.

6. Keep a gratitude journal.

Every night before bed, right down five things you were grateful for that day — and be sure your partner appears regularly in your lists! For example, you might be grateful for the hot coffee they brought you, or for their beautiful blue eyes, or for what a great parent they were that day.
Related: 10 Ways to Sexify Your Gratitude Journal

7. Fight fair.

Use “I feel” language rather than “you do this” insults. Bite your tongue before you say anything mean. Try to see their side of things. Compromise. Accept apologies. 
Related: 5 Keys to Heartbreak-Free Fighting

8. Be thoughtful.

Speaking of hot coffee, bring your partner one. Surprise them with flowers. Give them a neck rub when they’re stuck at their desk. Book an unexpected night away, even if it’s in a local motel just five miles away.

9. Make eye contact and hold it.

Eye contact is necessary for connection and intimacy. Look at your partner when they speak to you. And when you’re in bed, whether just lying there or getting busy, stare into each other’s eyes and don’t look away. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but you just might break past it and achieve a transcendent feeling of unity.

10. Write love notes, letters, lists.

We do these things when we’re first falling in love, but once we’ve been together for a decade or more, the inspiration to emote just doesn’t come as spontaneously. Force yourself to do it. Put a post-it in their work bag on a random day with an expression of endearment, write down all the things you love about them for their birthday, find a poem that captures how you feel about them and put it under their pillow. Heck, send a sexy text!
Related: How to Write a Love List

Want even more ideas?
10 Easy Ways to Be More Romantic

Top 10 Tips for Taking Naughty Pics

Thinking of playing a little very candid camera with your other half? So long as you know your partner well enough to trust that the saucy pics won’t end up on some godawful site like GuessHerMuff, then you have our blessing. Here are a few things to bear (heh) in mind when taking naughty pics:

1. Less is more.

There’s no need to get totally naked and go for the full-on spread-eagle or “money” shots. Sometimes showing less is more. In fact, if you have any body parts you’re self conscious about, then by all means use an item of clothing, a blanket, a pillow, dramatic chiaroscuro lighting, or your partner to hide them.

2. Not the face!

Ladies, are you absolutely 100% sure that your partner isn’t the Guess Her Muff type? Even if you break their heart by sleeping with their roommate? Even if you have a melt-down worthy of Bachelor in Paradise? If there’s even a shadow of doubt, then insist on only using your camera. And remember that the photograph doesn’t necessarily have to include your face — maybe you’d relax more if you knew that no one who accidentally stumbled across these photos would know it was you. Either that or just don’t break their heart.

3. A tripod is your friend.

Use it to photograph yourself when you’re alone so you can practice poses and moves. When you take a pic you like, make it a surprise present for your partner (assuming, again, that you trust them implicitly): hide it in their suitcase before a business trip or email it to them as a promise of things to come. When you’re together, use a tripod so you can both be in the shot. That said, it’s also fun to pass the camera back and forth, so you can experience both sides of the exhibitionism/voyeurism coin.

4. This isn’t “America’s Next Top Model.”

Don’t feel like you have to strike a pose for every shot. Just like when you’re on vacation, the best pictures are the action shots (when you’re in the middle of doing something, moving, or laughing) rather than those boring, stiff, head-on shots in front of landmarks.

5. Aim from on high when taking naughty pics.

If you’re behind the camera, don’t shoot your subject from below, or from any unflattering angles for that matter. Respect the laws of gravity: taking a picture of your partner when you’re on top and they’re on the bottom usually looks better than taking a picture of your partner when you’re on the bottom. Basically, consider your subject and try to make them look as good as possible – and not just what you think looks good, but what you think they’ll think looks good.

6. Okay, maybe this is “America’s Next Top Model,” kinda.

If you’re in front of the camera, don’t slouch (it creates rolls), do flex your muscles (it masks flab), and do work your good side (you know you have one). If you’re standing for the camera, pose at an angle (rather than straight on), have good posture (it makes you look thinner), and do something with your arms (other than keeping them at your sides).

7. Cheat.

Ladies: arching your back, pointing your toes, and lifting your arms over your head are all feminine slimming tricks.

8. Use low light.

Avoid harsh, overhead, or florescent lighting — it tends to highlight imperfections. Experiment with daylight from a window, low-wattage lightbulbs in lamps, and candlelight. You should also avoid using a flash that lights up the whole room. Go with ambient light instead: that’ll mean you’ll have to hold the camera very still to keep the picture from turning out blurry, but the improved aesthetics of the picture will be well worth it.

9. Embrace the blur.

Speaking of blurriness, sometimes that’s not a bad thing. For example, you could both hold still save for your pumping hand around his unit and then take the pic — chances are that focal area will come out blurry and end up looking a little more arty (i.e. less porny). Blurriness can also nicely capture the motion and drama of, say, intercourse or just basic frottage.

10. Go for instant gratification. 

Not that you would these days, but don’t use film that needs to be developed by a professional, duh. Go with instant-gratification gadgets like smartphones, digital cameras and instant mini cams (they’ve got a great retro factor, a built-in suspense mechanism, and an aversion to sharp detail, which is good news for imperfections and modesty). Then review the pictures together. Avoid the temptation of improving via Instagram filters, lest you end up accidentally sharing on social media. (If you must tinker, try Photoshop instead). Delete or trash anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, whether it’s for reasons of vanity or caution. But don’t be too hard on yourself or too overprotective — in twenty years you’ll wish you had that body back again and might appreciate it captured for posterity.

This post has been updated.

Looking for something a little more kinetic?
Top Tips for Making Naughty Videos