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8 Ways to Overcome Anxiety About a Gynecologist Visit

June 20, 2014

1 Comment

photo via flickr

Nervous about going to the gynecologist? That’s a bummer.

Okay, that’s all the sympathy you’re going to get from us, because you’ve got to get over it. Your health is at stake, especially once you’re sexually active — and there’s nothing more important.

We all have to do things we don’t like: take our vitamins, shovel snow when it’s blocking the front door, pay our taxes, leave the womb. But we do it; we just get it over with as quickly and with as little fanfare as possible — and it ultimately makes our lives easier and better. When you were a kid, you certainly didn’t want to get your shots, but you had to, your parents made you, you didn’t have a choice — and at the time, you probably thought you were going to die. But you didn’t. And because you got the shots, you’ve avoided getting terrible diseases which could have killed you. See, better!*

Yes, there are much more enjoyable things to do than go to the gynecologist, but it’s hardly a visit to Gitmo. You lie back, bend your knees, spread your legs, breathe deeply, and try to relax while your gyno takes a look down there (more deets from Dr. Kate here). It usually takes less than two minutes, though our nerves can make it feel like fifteen. It’s not painful, just a bit uncomfortable and awkward.

Here are 8 things we’d recommend to make the whole thing less daunting, i.e. more comfortable and less awkward:

1. Get a mirror and start probing yourself. It’s sounds hippy-dippy, but the better you know your own body, the more empowered you’ll be. Doctors are often scary because they hold all this knowledge that you don’t. Even the playing field a bit by getting down there and taking a look around. Feel inside with your fingers. You can even order your own speculum from a female-friendly place like GoodVibrations so you can see what your gyno can see. (Just be sure to read up on proper procedure.) Plus it’ll get you familiar with the feeling.

2. Love your vagina. We know talk of speculums and beaver shots may sound gross, but there’s nothing gross about your body. Try to have happy, positive thoughts about your bod, especially your genitals — learn to love them, and then you’ll want to take care of them by going to the doctor regularly.

3. Go to a doctor that comes highly recommended. Ask around and find out who among your friends and family has a great gyno — then, assuming she’s in your health care company’s network, go to her. And we do mean her — having a person who can empathize with your body parts, and not inadvertently make you feel even more self-conscious while your pants are off really makes a difference, at least in our book. But just because a gynecologist is a woman, doesn’t automatically mean she’ll have a great bedside manner (which is why you need the personal recommendation), but the odds are probably better with a lady doc.

4. Have a close friend or family member be your wingwoman: Explain that you’re nervous and ask for help. Make the appointment for a time they can come along with you. Have them pick you up and go with you to the appointment. If you’re really scared, then them come into the exam room with you (just get clearance from the doc’s office beforehand). Have them hold your hand, make eye contact with you and distract you with small talk during the exam. Don’t worry about being perceived as a wimp — if it makes you feel better and keeps you up on the exam table, that’s all that matters. If you’re there, you’re not a wimp.

5. Tell your gyno that you’re nervous. Sounds basic, we know, but if she knows you’re nervous (we’re guessing the wingwoman will be a hint!) she can make a special effort to talk you through what she’s doing as she’s doing it. (The best gynos do this as a matter of course, which is just one more reason to get a recommendation.

6. Learn how to relax, physically and mentally. Take some yoga classes, do your kegels, get in the habit of breathing deeply and abdominally — because the more tense you are, the more uncomfortable it’s going to be.

7. Schedule your appointment in the afternoon so you can go to lunch and have a glass of wine first. Then, make sure you have something fun to do with your friend afterwards, so you have something to look forward to. But make a pact with yourself that you can’t do the fun thing unless you go to the doc first.

8. Check yourself: If you think there’s a chance your anxiety stems from some past trauma you haven’t dealt with emotionally, seek professional therapy. (This is not to say, of course, that your anxiety necessarily has a root cause — it’s perfectly natural to be nervous about a gyno visit with no past trauma at all.)

Be sure to check out Dr. Kate’s take on gynecologist fears here (after all,  she’s a nice woman who looks at vaginas all day long!)

 *Let’s save debates about vaccinations for another website.


Your Call: Revenge on My Ex Didn’t Work, I Feel Worse Than Ever

June 17, 2014


image via Wiki Media

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section.

Dear Em & Lo,

I (a man) was found by my married H.S. sweetheart. We hooked up, an old flame was reignited, and within a week we were planning our life together. Three months later, it turned sour for me as it seemed like she was stringing me along and never really planned on leaving her comfortable life with her husband.

I felt more disappointed than heartbroken and I sent her husband pics of us together and told him everything that had happened in those three months. Now it seems like she is happy and still with her husband and I am the one fucked over… even though I ended it with her.

I’m just pissed. I have never messed around with a married woman before and won’t be doing it again. Lots more to the story, but you get the jist of it. I am thinking about revenge, but don’t really want to because I feel that I already got my revenge. What should I do?

– Bitter Much

Do you have advice to share with Bitter Much on how he can move past his anger and disappointment? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


10 Steps to Crossing the Finishing Line in Bed Tonight

June 6, 2014


One of the most common questions we receive from women is, “How can I orgasm in bed with my partner?” We hear some version of this question at least once a week. The really demanding women want to know how to orgasm simultaneously during penetration, every time. If this is you, then sorry, you’re out of luck. If we knew the answer to that question, we’d be richer than Oprah.

But here are ten things we do know that will help increase your chances of orgasmic success in bed tonight…

1. Are you assuming that “sex” means penile penetration? If so, that’s your first mistake. Maybe you’ve tried many intercourse positions, but it’s not necessarily an intercourse position that will ultimately do it for you — maybe it’s oral sex, or handwork, or some combination of the two. There’s no shame in getting your orgasm via non-intercourse means — the majority of women don’t. Nor is there any shame in you having your orgasm and then him having his. Remember, sex — especially for women — doesn’t necessarily happen in a straight line, i.e.  your orgasm won’t necessarily be located conveniently at his finish line, or vice versa. Plus, it’s much easier for gals to keep going after a Big O than the lads. And you may find that certain intercourse positions feel even better (perhaps even orgasmic) after you’ve had one orgasm.

2. Again, intercourse alone is orgasmic for very few women, given how far the clitoris is from the vaginal opening — and how key clitoral stimulation is for most women’s orgasms. So don’t forget to supplement all those positions with a little extra clitoral stimulation — your hand, his hand, a small vibrator, a helpful neighbor’s hand…

3. Three words: Coital Alignment Technique. Learn it, live it, love it. In fact, any position where your bodies are mashed up against each other is good — because close contact means more friction down there, and more friction down there means more clitoral stimulation.

4. Try a vibrating love ring, like this one from GoodVibes. Because vibrating clitoral stimulation could be just the thing your intercourse life has been missing. You know all those times a dude looks at a sex toy and thinks, “Hey, my penis doesn’t vibrate like that?” Well, now it can!

Read the rest of this entry »

Your Call: I’m Too Anxious to Enter the Dating World

June 2, 2014


photo via flickr

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section.

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE* Advice Service!


Hi Em & Lo,

I’m a 20-something young lady who never dated throughout high school or university. I am a professional with a steady income, and occasionally go on dates. However, I can never let things get beyond a few dates because of my intense anxiety. I can’t ever seem to let the date get beyond going out for supper because I tense up when sitting with a guy on a couch.

I have a few guy friends and have no issues hanging out with them, but when it comes to the thought of dating or getting ready for a date, my stomach twists into knots and I freak out. I have never really been kissed because the couple of times it happened I didn’t let things get too far and kicked them out.

Part of my fear comes from the unknown – because I’ve never been in the situation, I don’t fully know what to expect. Also, even though logically I know that a guy is unlikely to go further than I want to, I’m afraid that he’ll push me beyond my boundaries. Which admittedly aren’t very far out there.

Have you got any advice to get over this? I really want to be comfortable enough with a guy that I can sit on a couch and watch a movie with him, and enjoy the intimacy that being in a relationship brings!

– Nervous Nelly

Do you have advice to share with Nervous Nelly on how she can conquer her anxiety and enter the dating world? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.



Dear Em & Lo: I’m 21 and Tired Of Being Single

May 21, 2014


Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
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Dear Em & Lo,

I am 21 years old. I am currently single and not dating anyone. I have only been in love once in my life, but unfortunately the relationship did not work out. It’s frustrating being the single one in my group of friends. I am constantly wondering how they find relationships so easily, and I have the hardest time finding a guy I can connect with. I can go months without meeting anyone, then when I do finally meet a guy either he turns out being a jerk or I just don’t feel a connection.

At this point in my life, I really want a committed relationship. I have been told that I have to put myself out there more. I have also been told that it will happen when I least expect it. At this point I am tired of waiting, but I also do not think I should make finding a relationship a mission. So my main question is: Should I take a more active role in my love life? Or should I just let things happen?


Miss Connection

Dear Miss Connection,

One of our favorite lines in movie history is when Demi Moore, coked out and lonely and broke in St. Elmo’s Fire, says, “I never thought I’d be so tired at 22.” It was funny when we were 22, and it’s even funnier now. (Okay, so we’re not completely heartless: In the context of the movie, it’s pretty bleak, but as quotable lines go, it’s pretty funny.)

Not that we’re laughing at you, of course. But to hear a 21-year-old complain about how tired she is of being single, well… get used to it. Or, rather, find a way to be okay with it. Right now, getting comfortable with being single is a hundred times more important than finding someone to date.

You actually shouldn’t find the person you want to marry right now — what a bummer that would be, in fact! You’re way too young to think about marriage, kids, mortgage, divorce. (Yes, we said divorce: If you head toward marriage at 21, then you better be ready to head toward divorce, too.*) What you should be doing instead is enjoying being single, and all that entails — casual dating, ladies’ nights, not dating at all, booty calls (if that’s your thing), TV marathons, reading marathons, one-night stands (again, if that’s your thing), “finding yourself,” finding your G-spot, staying out late, sleeping in late, and all that jazz. If you find The One right now — and, for the record, we think the concept of The One is B.S. anyway — you’ll miss out on everything that’s fun about your twenties.

If you’re wondering why your friends find relationships so easily, we’re guessing it’s that they’re less picky. You’re doing it right: You’re steering clear of relationships with guys who are jerks, or with guys where there’s no connection. Congratulations, it takes some people until their forties to figure this out! Your friends aren’t lucky or blessed; rather, they’re still learning — or maybe they just hate to be alone (again: still learning).

You’re right, you shouldn’t make finding a relationship your mission. Right now, at 21, your mission is yourself. Your career, your finances, your body (including the many and varied routes to your own orgasm), your hopes and dreams for the future. Yes, those hopes and dreams can include a partner and children, but just not yet. Let those things happen. Continue to be picky. (Oh, and for the record: Some people only fall in love once or twice their entire lives, so to have experienced that once by 21 is pretty good!)

Stay picky, Ponyboy,

Em & Lo

* And yes, we realize there are exceptions to this rule. Two of our most happily married friends got married and had their first kid in college. But not everybody gets to be an exception to the rule, and it’s probably not you.


Your Call: Is It Normal Not to Want Sex?

May 19, 2014


photo via Flickr

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section.

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE* Advice Service!


Dear Em & Lo,

Almost one year ago I had sex for the first time. Since then I haven’t had the urge at all, is this normal? No matter how hot a guy is I just don’t care make conversation (it also doesn’t help that I’m an introvert who is terrible conversing with the opposite sex anyway). Do you have any advice?

– Meh.

What advice do you have for Meh? Leave it in the comments section below.



Does Enjoying Anal Play Mean You’re Gay?

May 16, 2014

1 Comment

Something we here an awful lot around these here parts is the concern many straight men have with receiving — and, heaven forbid, enjoying — a little backdoor attention. Just this week we got another comment on the topic:

My boyfriend has recently discovered he likes me lubing him up and fingering his anus, rimming him, and pleasuring him with sex toys. I think it’s amazing and I really enjoy doing it to him, and knowing that he has been so open about it is great. The only thing ruining it a little is that he feels it’s wrong because of so many people making comments about it being wrong and that enjoying it must mean you’re gay. That is utter rubbish, and completely ignorant of some people. I have found in the past that most of the men who think it’s wrong and gay are most commonly the ones that actually enjoy it and only deny it because everyone else does. It doesn’t make you less of a man for doing it, all it proves it that you’re close enough with your partner to be that open and comfortable to explore new things with them. I have reassured my boyfriend and we will be continuing to do this.

We couldn’t agree more! So let’s review one more time what enjoying anal play is (and is not) all about:

  • A well-adjusted person’s pleasant, consensual and safe sexual experience — whatever that may be — with another well-adjusted adult is is good thing. If we’re specifically talking about anal play, then engaging in it with someone you trust is well within the realm of healthy sexual experimentation, no matter your sexual orientation.
  • Nerve endings aren’t gay or straight, people are. Sex is all about context, which is why almost no women get turned on by tampon insertion. You engage in sexual activities with people you are attracted to — that’s a large part of what makes them enjoyable. If you’re not attracted to the person on a primal level, you’re not going to enjoy the sex. So if you’re not into guys, you’re not going to enjoy one of them intimately massaging your prostate. But if you’re into girls, then you very well may like having one travel down your hershey highway, because it’s chock-full of nerves that respond to stimulation (the right kind of stimulation, whatever that is for you).
  • Speaking of the right kind of stimulation, the prostrate and its surrounding nerves play an important role in male orgasm, so stimulating them through anal and rectal stimulation can actually increase sensation and thus pleasure, whether you are gay or straight.
  • If you think being penetrated is feminine, then you’re sexist. If you think enjoying anal play is gay, then you’re a homophobe.
  • Women who encourage their male partners to accept a little anal attention or who enjoy wearing strap-ons are  not sexual manipulators stripping men of all willpower and masculinity without a care for anything but their own sexual fantasies and satisfaction. It takes two to tango. If a guy doesn’t want his backdoor knocked on, there’s no way his girlfriend is somehow sneaking in a strap-on dildo. Even if his girlfriend is Angelina Jolie. (Okay, maybe he’d make an exception…)
  • Some suggest that bum-loving is a ride you can never get off. We will happily admit that some people may try a sexual activity, enjoy it thoroughly, and then want to include in their repertoire on a regular basis from then on. Everyone has their preferences. But the suggestion that once you go “back” you can never go back — no matter who you are — is ludicrous. Plenty of people are happy to try new things, enjoy them, but then can take them or leave them. Again, the average person could certainly go without, due to a breakup or an unwilling partner they really cared about.
  • Some people argue that a decidedly straight guy who enjoys anal play but suddenly finds himself without a female partner might rebel against every sexual instinct he’s experienced since childhood and suddenly “go gay.” Bullpucky! If some people were so desperate for a specific sex act after a break-up — let’s say, oral sex — then by this argument, there would be many more cases where otherwise well-adjusted people felt compelled to turn to their golden retrievers for their similar licking abilities. We’re not saying this hasn’t happened in the history of sex and pets, but that’s not a legitimate, reasonable or logical reason for people to avoid cunnilingus or fellatio altogether with partners they care about. And let us not forget: one can can simply choose from a plethora of butt-safe toys to replicate the sensation during masturbation when they’re in between partners.
  • Plenty of guys will try being on the receiving end of butt sex and not like it. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not gay!
  • All this is not to say that for some people sexual orientation is not fluid. Many people are bisexual, of course. And there’s nothing wrong with experimenting with partners you trust, whether they fall in line with your current sexual orientation or not. Would that make you gay? Only if you want it to. The range of sexual activity is so wide that we believe you should define yourself however you see fit, even if it’s not neatly black or white. It’s your sexual identity — own it. You’re free to play around with sexual roles. That’s usually where one can broaden their horizons, see how ridiculous some of the assumptions they have about sex or gender roles are, and have the most fun!



We’re Full of Advice, May We Give You Some?

May 14, 2014


The inbox for our Q&A advice column goes through phases: Some months, we barely have time to read all the advice questions that come into EMandLO.com — though we do read every single one, we promise! And other months, like this one, the flow is more of a trickle, and we find ourselves with all this advice burning a hole in our pocket and nowhere to spend it.

So, please, won’t you send us your questions? We promise we are unshockable — we have been ever since that woman asked for advice on getting her Labrador to give her consensual cunnilingus (or perhaps ever since that guy who worked in a morgue asked which STDs, if any, he could get from sleeping with a corpse). And right now, your odds of getting your dilemma answered — either by us, or by the EMandLO.com community at large, in our Your Call feature — are incredibly good. If you don’t send us your anonymous questions, we’ll be forced to start answering each other’s advice questions, and that could get messy fast.

If you over-share, we promise to be kind, unless tough love is called for, in which case, we promise to be fair.

Click here to submit your anonymous advice question to EMandLO.com


Dear Em & Lo: Are There Any Good Ones Left Out There?

May 7, 2014

1 Comment

photo via flickr
Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
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Dear Em & Lo,

I am a woman from Mumbai, India. I fell in love with Sam when she was in India and we spent 6 months together, bundled up in her apartment mostly. Once she left India she became extremely obsessed with our relationship, and I was more than ever in love with her too — we made future plans and even DOMA was right there in support of our relationship.

We decided to live together in the U.S., but as my days to leave India came closer I found out she had lied to me and spent a weekend at her ex-crush’s place for her 30th b’day. Sam had been in love with this classmate for 2 yrs and I helped her move on. Her crush (Jess) was also in India for two weeks during which Sam tried to get her attention as much as she could but instead was let down and came back to me. Sam cried in my arms and I helped her heal and move on. (Jess is now engaged to a wonderful guy.)

After I reached the U.S., I tried to make Sam understand that a relationship will not work on a foundation of lies. We had some steamy fights and she eventually knocked me down! Beat me up black and blue and choked me until I almost passed out. I left the U.S. the next day to save my life. I am in India and still not recovered from what happened to me in America. Kindly help me understand there are better people I will meet and that this too shall pass!

With great spirit (a lil broken in places),

– Ms. Doma

Dear Ms. Doma,

Yes, there are better people out there! And yes, this too shall pass.

The silver lining to dating someone who is emotionally and physically abusive is that they’ve set the bar pretty low. In contrast, everyone else you ever date will seem like Princess Charming. Of course, this silver lining is simultaneously a potential problem: After being treated so terribly by your ex, there is the risk that you’ll fall fast and hard for anyone who is remotely nice to you — even if they’re completely wrong for you, even if they’re just a spineless bowl of Jello.

So, how can you balance these two competing forces?

We published a reader’s comment a few weeks back about the four early warning signs of a toxic relationship (isolation, pressure, non-consensual physical contact, loss of sense of self) — we think reading the post is a good start in terms of separating the Good Ones from the crazy violent lying heartbreakers. But we’d like to add to this list. So here are our top four warning signs of a bad relationship, tailored for you and based on your letter:

1. Your Partner Has Major Ex Baggage

If you’re consoling your partner about their past relationships or crushes, then they’re not ready to be in a relationship with you. Friends help someone heal and move on from a breakup, this is not the job of the next partner. Sure, you can talk about exes with your current partner, and there are even times when a little sadness is appropriate (e.g. dating a widow or widower, or someone who shares kids with their ex). But you are not the shoulder to cry on!

2. Your Partner Is a Control Freak

There are many different ways to control a partner — for example, Sam controlled you by becoming “obsessed” with the relationship once you were long-distance. You got sucked deeper in, thinking it was more serious than she ever intended it to be. Any time you feel that you are a puppet whose strings are being tugged on, it’s time to look seriously at the relationship.

3. Your Partner Lies to You… About Anything

In our experience, someone is either a liar or they’re not. In other words, someone who lies about small, meaningless matters will lie about big, important matters, too. So be wary at the first sign of dishonesty, even if it’s about something you don’t particularly care about. (Unless, of course, it’s in response to the question: Do you like my new haircut?)

4. Your Partner Dominates You Physically (Non-Consensually)

You ran all the way back to India, so clearly you understand that beating someone up and choking them are indicators of a bad relationship (not to mention a crime!). But did you see any warning signs of this tendency early in the relationship? Did she grab you or woman-handle you or physically manipulate you in a way you were uncomfortable with?

Most of all: Hang in there! You will love again, and you will find someone who is worthy of you.


Em & Lo


Your Call: Do All Young Men Shave Their Chests Now?

May 5, 2014


photo via Flickr

We get a lot of questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to respond to a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your thoughts in the comments section. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE* Advice Service!


Dear Em & Lo,

Are all men in their 20s (and maybe 30s) expected to shave/wax/remove their chest hair these days? Same goes for pubes? What percentage of the population does both these things?

– Fur-ious

Leave your response to Fur-ious in the comments below.