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A Male Perspective on Circumcision

April 21, 2015


Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: What do you think about circumcision?

Gay Engaged Guy (Joel Derfner, author of Swish): I know one person who was circumcised as an adult, so he’s the only guy I can think of who knows what it’s like both ways — sort of the Tiresias of circumcision — but he’s also a famous actor and I have a huge, huge crush on him, so if I tried to ask him about it I would probably die of embarrassment.¬† From a purely objective standpoint I suppose I’d say it’s a barbaric practice, but as a Jew I can’t imagine being uncircumcised. A gay Jewish friend of mine was the sperm donor for a Jewish lesbian couple, and when the issue of circumcision came up (in the event that they had a boy) it almost ruined the whole thing — my friend wanted his son to look like him, which I think is perfectly understandable, and the couple wanted not to mutilate their child, which I also think is perfectly understandable.¬† They had a girl, so the point was moot, but I myself intend to avoid the whole issue by remaining blissfully childless forever.

Straight Single Guy (L.A. Chris): My friend recently asked whether he should circumcise his boy, and we found we were both passionately for it. But his wife was strongly against it (and she’s Jewish, go figure). We all did some research and found out that it’s generally healthier to be circumcised, so they decided to do it. But it’s a strange internal debate, because if you consider yourself anything close to a naturalist, then it’s almost hard to convince yourself of such a permanent and personal alteration of our time-honored design. Read the rest of this entry »

Knowing When to Talk to Your Partner… Or Your Therapist

April 20, 2015

1 Comment

The following letter from a reader is really long. Like, really long. (And this is the abridged version!) But we’re publishing it here because we think it raises a really interesting, important question about relationships: How can you tell when you’re talking too much? And how can you tell when you need a therapist as well as just a partner to talk to?

For people who were blessed with a functional, happy childhood and/or stable mental health, the question probably doesn’t come up too often. But for people who are in therapy, or think they might need therapy, or who have come a long way in their life thanks to therapy, it’s an important question.

It’s easy to use a partner as a therapist. They’re free, for one thing! And they love you (one would hope), they have your back, and, unlike your therapist (again, one would hope), they can spoon you, too. But is there a line you shouldn’t cross when it comes to talking through problems? And how do you know where that line is? Is it a matter of content? Or is it simply a matter of how much time your partner spends listening vs talking?

Share your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below. Also, we highly recommend reading this letter we received, which does a great job of illuminating the way that this issue can rear its ugly head in relationships.

Dear Em & Lo,

A year ago, my first long term relationship of five years ended very badly. In retrospect, the relationship had a number of red flags early on. Both my partner and I had emotional issues due to abusive parenting. However, I now believe that my openness to explore these issues and receive therapy whilst in the relationship lead me to become the scapegoat for his problems, on top of trying to deal with my own. 

Towards the end it got very bad. I was trying hard to receive more help with my emotions, with a growing sense that “everything was my fault,” an idea that was supported by my ex-partner, who would diagnose me with mental health conditions that the doctor did not agree with. My ex once showed me a letter he’d written to his dad in which he declared himself to be a “full-time carer to a partner with clinical depression.” This was a couple of years after I had got back to living life following acute OCD and depression (due to two abortions I’d had, encouraged by my ex). My doctor had just clarified that he did not feel I was suffering with clinical depression. My ex-partner was definitely not a full-time carer for me.

Since our breakup I have found such reserves of strength in myself that I didn’t know existed. I have developed some amazing friendships, the kind that were belittled by my ex, and I have just completed my second course of CBT. The therapy was aimed at food-related psychological problems, however, we ended up talking a lot about boundaries, assertiveness and my unwritten rules developed as a child in an abusive environment. I can see that many of these issues had become huge problems in my last relationship, as I had little understanding of boundaries, and experienced a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty throughout the relationship. I have been working to instil the belief that my feelings are important too, as survivors of abuse can typically learn to overlook their own feelings in order to navigate the feelings of their abusers, in order to check for signs of danger, or other people’s mood changes. This has been all been helpful, and I feel stronger, more positive and able to care for myself in a way that is new and exciting for me. The therapy ended last week, and my therapist has discharged me with a recommendation to my doctor that I would be suitable for further therapy, as we couldn’t go too deep in our sessions. She has praised me for working hard and making progress by using the sessions well, which is heart warming, as she has correctly identified how much of an important journey it is for me to work towards self-love and self-support.

Recently I decided to open myself up to dating again, and over the past two months I have been building a new romantic relationship. Early on we were very open about our emotions and history, which feels really good to me, and he has observed my need to be open and talk about how I feel in great detail. We do have a lovely time but he has explained that he feels like he is in therapy with me, and that he can’t feel as many moments of effortless joy and relaxation that he would like in a relationship. It is early on in this relationship and I feel I have been displaying an excess of hyper-vigilance because the foundations are not set. I do have anxiety about not looking after myself, ending up in an abusive dynamic and not reading signals properly, which I am beginning to regard as hyper-vigilance. This can come through in behaviours such as being hot-headed and reactionary, even though I am aiming to be calm and assertive. Talking really helps, as when I can understand little things that my partner is experiencing that affect his mood, I can relax to know that it is not my fault.¬†

It is becoming clear to me that I would like to be with a partner who is comfortable with the level of work that I have done and will continue to actively do with myself. In my mind, this is beginning to translate as someone who has a good understanding, or experience of, self-awareness, or therapy, and is someone that is working towards their most positive self, with whatever issues they might harbour. I would like to be with someone who shares and understands my need to communicate, yet I would also like to pursue strategies for myself in how to deal with my hyper-vigilance, and to manage healthy boundary awareness, in order to minimise over-communication, emotional exhaustion and burn-out, which I feel I may be guilty of.

For the time being, I am not afraid of being alone in order to do more work on myself, however, I am also aware, since this recent relationship, that some of the work I would like to do on myself might only come up in a close intimate relationship. Right now I plan to keep loving myself, being kind, journaling thoughts and feelings, taking care of my body and continuing to apply the boundary and assertion ideas recently taught to me.

Is my dream of finding a partner who can accept me as I am unrealistic?¬†How do I navigate the issues that I experience, and my history, with a partner?¬†Should I seek more therapy now, or wait until I “need” it?¬†Which kind of therapy might be best for the issues I have raised?

– Saffy

What do you think: How can you tell when you’re talking¬†too¬†much in a relationship? And how can you tell when you need a therapist as well as just a partner to talk to?¬†Have¬†you been on either side of this situation yourself? Share¬†your thoughts in the comments¬†section¬†below.¬†


Comment of the Week: Who Causes Wet Dreams? Could It Be….Satan?!

April 15, 2015


In response to a letter from a woman who orgasms in her sleep, we got a very interesting and creative analysis of what is actually going on from Amandah. It’s not sexual tension or the subconscious playing around with one of our strongest primal urges. Nope! Amandah schools us in the facts. (Ed. note: grammatical and spelling mistakes have been corrected for readability, natch):

Mhhh, I’ve read your comments guys and I know all about wet dreams or multiple orgasms. The truth is you all have what [we] call a ‚Äúspiritual husband‚ÄĚ — it’s a very wicked sexual ‚Äúdemon‚ÄĚ or…Satan. It is an attack and you need to be delivered from that thing because it can destroy your life… I know what I’m talking about. Most of you will not agree with me, but I know it’s the truth. If you’re under that demon attack, most of the time you hate your husband for no reason and sometimes you will loose affection towards your husband; you will only enjoy that sex of the night. And the truth is, it is so good, but it is hell. I was once a victim of a night sex slave, then I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior and I was delivered from all that sinful nature and I have a new life in Christ Jesus. Though that thing still comes to me in the night, the difference is now I have an ability of God to rebuke and cast that demon out of my life in Jesus’ name. I pray that God may deliver your families and open your spiritual eyes. When you sleep you’re supposed to sleep [without] having sex in your sleep — it is not normal. No doctor or anyone can help you without Jesus.


Why Marriage Vows Should Include Sex

April 15, 2015


photo via flickr

Traditional marriage vows cover better… and worse; sickness… and health; riches…. and poverty; forsaking all others… but not its opposite. What is the opposite of forsaking all others, anyway? Well, if forsaking all others is about the absence of sex (with other people), then its opposite, in our opinion, is the presence of sex (with your spouse).

We got to thinking about the presence of sex in marriage after reading these quotes on YourTango, from couples who have been married for twenty-five-plus years, on how often they currently have sex. The answer: Some of them, multiple times a week, others, not in many, many years.

Of course, sex is as much a symptom as it is a cause. Bad marriages usually lead to bad or no sex. Only if you’re lucky will you still be having makeup sex after you fight… twenty-five years into your marriage. And decades of resentment isn’t exactly conducive to post-date-night sex. Also, simply having sex a few times a week is no guarantee that you’ll still be happy after twenty-five years of marriage. (Especially if only one of you really wants it.) And who’s to say that a virtually sexless marriage doesn’t work for some happy couples?

Whatever the case, it’s a lot harder to resent each other when you’re having sex that’s satisfying to both partners as often or as little as you’d both like. There’s a world of difference between sex a few times every week or month after twenty-five years… and no sex at all. There’s a world of difference between sex that satisfies one partner but rarely the other. Wouldn’t you like to know what your spouse hopes for? Wouldn’t you like to know what your partner would think if those hopes were dashed? And wouldn’t you like your partner to know your own hopes?

There are no guarantees, of course. Penises malfunction, menopause strikes, bodies change,¬†libidos wane, childbirth fucks everything up, etc. So we’re not suggesting that marriage vows contain any sort of binding commitment to, say, sex every week for the rest of your married life. Besides, we think Aunt Mabel would probably have a heart attack right then and there if she heard this: “In sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for reciprocal oral sex and extended sensual massage, for sixty-nines and twenty minutes of foreplay…”

What you should vow, instead, is to do everything in your power to make sure your partner is happy in the bedroom, whatever “in the bedroom” means to them. Note: This kind of vow only works if both of you vow the same thing. That means compromising. But you both have to compromise. Think of it this way: If one of you wants sex every night and the other one wants it, well, never, then having sex every night obviously isn’t a compromise. But in the same vein, if one of you wants sex every night and the other one wants it, well, never, then never having sex isn’t a compromise either, is it?

Unlike traditional marriage vows, a sex vow isn’t one-size-fits-all. Maybe your own personal compromise involves porn… or maybe it involves an open marriage. Maybe you’re willing to discuss a don’t-ask-don’t-tell arrangement, or happy ending massages in Vegas. Are you open to kink? Roleplaying? Talking through fantasies together? Maybe just the possibility of getting a new sex toy to try together every year on your anniversary. Whatever it is, we think it’s probably a good idea to discuss what you’re each open to before you get into a rut. And once you’ve had the conversation, then all you need to promise is to try to be a good custodian of your partner’s desires…whatever that turns out to mean…within reason, of course (e.g. if you got married with the expectation of a straight monogamous relationship, but five years down the line your partner wants to experiment with bisexual orgies, then you are not automatically obligated to sign them up for the nearest swingers convention).

But if you’re dedicated to being open-minded and communicative in your future marriage, then you might consider coming up with a code word for this sex commitment, inserting it into your vows somewhere, and actually saying it out loud as part of your wedding ceremony. That way Aunt Mabel still makes it to the reception.


How to Go Down on a Man, According to Men

April 14, 2015


photo via flickr

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: “What’s the difference between an average blowjob and an excellent blowjob?”

Straight Single Guy (Chris): I have had a handful of extraordinary blowjobs in my lifetime. Generally I say something to any talented giver, pointing out how noteworthy her skills are. One lovely woman asked me to explain why I thought it was so good. I thought about it for a minute and I think my answer to her is the same answer to this question:

  • Enthusiasm. You’ve got to enjoy what you do.
  • Vigor. You’ve got to do it like you want to finish the job.
  • Lubrication. You can’t be afraid of a little saliva.

Gay Married Guy (Jon Ross): The thing that really separates the ho-hum BJ from the eyes-rolling-into-the-back-of-my-head one is undoubtedly passion and enthusiasm. Of course, there are many technical aspects that come into play, but even the most experienced, tongue-twisting mouth would be boring if there was no desire behind it. So, if you want to give a guy an excellent blowjob, get into it. There is nothing sexier for me than when the person blowing me is performing enthusiastically and getting turned on while doing so. I understand blowjobs are not everyone’s¬† cup of tea. So it’s time to play-act a little. Find out what your man likes and go for it full tilt booty. Hopefully you’ll get something equally excellent in return. Oh, and just in case somehow someone missed the memo,¬† the cardinal rule of blowjobs is NO TEETH.

Straight Married Guy (James Glazebrook): No teeth, and a lot of practice. Problem is, women don’t know how it feels to have your dick sucked, and how it should or shouldn’t be done — and we guys aren’t about to tell them how.¬† We’re far too grateful to be on the receiving end to interrupt with helpful hints.¬† We just lay back, relax, and hope it doesn’t grate too much.


Our “guys” are a rotating group of contributors. This week’s Straight Married Guy is James Glazebrook of Manflet, our Straight Single Guy is Chris DiClerico, and our Gay Married Guy is Jon Ross. To ask the guys your own question, click here.

Your Call: Should I Have a Fling with My Long-Distance Boss?

April 13, 2015


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,

I recently got out of a 3 1/2 year relationship. For the last year, our sex-life was basically non-existant, so now that I am “free” I am horny as hell.

A couple of weeks ago I got back from a business trip where I met a fascinating guy. He works in another branch of the company and lives 400 miles away, but technically he is my boss/ superior at work. Lots of flirting occurred and was followed up by a heavy make out session on our last evening. However, nothing more happened because I was still in the middle of my breakup.

Since I got back, we have been emailing or texting almost daily, and now he has invited me to come visit him for a few days in summer. He has made it quite clear that he is not the relationship type, needs his space and generally doesn’t do long distance, but that is fine by me. Right now, I am not interested in a relationship and am actually enjoying being “just me” for a while. I just love the way he makes me feel…

Most of me really wants to go and just have an amazing sexy weekend together, but I can’t help thinking that I am playing with fire here. In the fall we will be going abroad on another business trip together for six weeks to work on a project that is very important for my career. Am I being incredibly stupid, putting my career at risk with this fling? What if the chemistry we felt fizzles once we spend some days one on one? Is there a way I can avoid future awkwardness with a pre-emptive conversation? What do I say? “Promise me whatever happens this weekend won’t affect our professional relationship” sounds pretty lame and I doubt it will change anything…. On the other hand, backing out now seems pretty awkward as well, and I’m not sure how to do it elegantly….¬†

I don’t feel I can talk to my friends about this because my breakup is so new and everybody loved the ex… Please help me solve this mess!

– Boss or Bail?

What should BoB do? Leave advice for her in the comments section below.



What to Do When You Like a Guy… Until You See His Penis

April 10, 2015


photo via flickr

Yes, yes, we know. This advice question will make a lot of people — especially men — mad. We almost didn’t publish it for this reason! But we felt it our duty to set this woman straight. Feel free to weigh in below, in the comments section, but let’s keep it classy, people! And if you have your own question to ask us, submit it here.

Dear Em & Lo,
About six months ago I broke up with my boyfriend of 18 months and have recently met someone new. The other day the new boy and I were engaging in some hands-on action which led me to discover that he nowhere near measures up to my ex. The new boy was around 4-6″. My problem is that I’m really worried about having sex with him because my ex was over 8″. I feel really disappointed and I know that 8″ is a high bar that’s been set. Am I bad person or should I go looking for something more? Why can’t good-looking men come with the measurements of their penis tattooed onto their wrist or something? The problems and surprises that would solve..

Dear Sizeist,

We almost didn’t print your letter because of the emotional damage it might inflict on insecure men everywhere. It’s the secret fear that everyone — male and female — experiences at some point in their hook-up life: Am I being compared to their ex(es)? And if so, am I failing to measure up?

But on behalf of all the average-sized men out there, i.e. the vast majority of men, we think you should give Mr. 4-6″ a chance. It’s not like you’ve dated a string of 8″ men and have discovered that only a super-sized schlong can satisfy you. (In fact, you need to understand that, statistically speaking, 8 inches is freakishly long). No, you just had one great experience with one 8″ penis. And this is by no means a guarantee that sex with a 4-6″ penis will feel only 50-75% as great.

For a start, men with big swinging dicks can get lazy in the sack, assuming that size is the only thing that matters. They may also assume that intercourse is the only thing that matters — and we all know how few women climax from intercourse alone; remember, orgasm achieved through non-penile means still counts as sex! Not to mention, you may suddenly discover new penetration positions that you really enjoy — positions that perhaps were not so comfortable with a larger specimen. Oh, and don’t forget that, when it comes to size, most women agree that girth is a lot more important than length, since the majority of sensation is felt in the outer third of the vagina, thanks to the extensions of the clitoris, the g-spot, and the pelvic floor muscles around the lower part of the vaginal canal (and also since a lot of women don’t enjoy having their cervix rammed).

On a final note: Maybe he was nervous and not fully inflated, as it were. Basically, you have no idea what sex is going to be like with this man. So if you dig him (and we surely hope the handwork you exchanged means that you do), why not find out whether the motion of his ocean can get the job done?

Of course, we can’t discount the fact that you may simply be less attracted to him (or not attracted to him at all) now that you’ve scoped out his unit — you like what you like.¬† This doesn’t make you a bad person, though you are severely limiting your dating options — at least until your tattoo idea catches on. We suppose you could post a personal ad specifying that only 8″-penis-owners need reply, but something tells us that’s not exactly the way to find the next Boyfriend of the Year. Here’s a better idea: Why not just spend some quality time with an average-sized penis and see if the experience converts you?

Here for the little people,

Em & Lo


I’m Straight, But in My Dreams, I’m a Sexually Frustrated Lesbian

April 9, 2015


photo via flickr

Other people’s dreams are never interesting…except when they’re about sex. Each week, our dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg tells one lucky reader what their dirty dream means. Got a dream you want Lauri to analyze? Click here to submit it (18 and older only, please). This week, a reader asks Lauri:

Hello, I have had a wave of dreams that I do not understand at all. In my dream I am a masculine lesbian and regardless of what faceless woman I’m trying to sleep with I always fail. Sometimes we have just got married and keep getting interrupted on our honeymoon. Most recently I dreamt that I was all over this woman and as soon as I think I’m getting somewhere my husband comes in the room and steals her away. I never get to achieve orgasam or even get wet. Why all the sexually frustrating lesbian dreams?

Lauri:¬†The dissatisfaction and inability to complete orgasm in these dreams is connected to something in your real life that brings about the same feelings of dissatisfaction and incompletion. Let’s start with the obvious… everything okay in the bedroom? If not, then your dreams are an extension of this and may suggest you wish your husband understood what the female body wants and needs during sex… hence the lesbian action in your dream.

However, if everything is A-okay in the bedroom then these dreams are connected to some other area of your life that is causing you to feel frustrated lately. You have a couple clues in these dreams that will help us narrow it down. In some of the dreams you have just gotten married. That tells us that these dreams are connected to some sort of commitment you have made in real life. Again, it could be your real life marriage, but I want you to look at other commitments such as a diet or exercise regimen, a project or something at works, etc. Does something keep interrupting a waking life commitment just as your honeymoon keeps getting interrupted in the dream?

Also, your husband keeps stealing your wife away. This may mean that your husband is somehow taking away your ability to commit to this project or diet or whatever it is… or at least you feel he is to blame. Does he keep bringing home chips and cookies? Or does he complain about the time you’re spending on some project? Anything like that?

Bottom line is, once you are able to pinpoint this waking life issue that you can’t seem to stick to or complete, you need to find a way to COMMIT to correcting it. These dreams will continue to nag you to death until you do. I really hope I was able to help you figure it out.

Response from Dreamer: Lauri, thank you so much for getting back to me.  I am shocked at how spot on you are about a few certain things. Between bedroom issues and duty and work issues you are exactly right.  Thank you again.  Very kind of you to do this.


Visit Lauri’s site,¬†WhatYourDreamMeans.com, for even more dream interpretations! If you want to be able to figure out your own dreams each morning, check out her latest book,¬†Dream On It: Unlock Your Dreams Change Your Life, which will give you the tools you need to become a dream expert.¬†You can see all of Lauri’s books here.¬†And hey, if you want¬†your very own pin-up painting¬†of you or your luvva (either vintage or modern), Lauri can do that, too!¬†



5 Good Reasons Not to Fake Your Orgasm

April 9, 2015


by Amanda Chatel for YourTango

You’re really not as good at it as you may think you are.

It has long been one of those discussions that comes up both in and out of the bedroom: are you faking it or not? Faking an orgasm, that is. Sadly there are actually those out there who end up faking it quite a bit.

Whether it’s to please their partner, convince themselves they’re enjoying it, or they want to speed up the whole process, because sometimes you just don’t have the time, faking it happens pretty often. You may think that your fake orgasms are so great that they’re worthy of an Academy Award but, and I’m sorry to tell you, you’re really not as good at it as you may think you are.

But then again not everyone can pull off the Katz’s Deli scene with Meg Ryan’s famous faux orgasm in When¬†Harry Met Sally.

According to¬†research¬†by Erin Fallis, a Ph.D. student at the University of Waterloo in Canada, your partner is far more “in the know” than you realize when it comes to your sexual satisfaction. As Fallis explains, “We found that, on average, both men and women have fairly accurate and unbiased perceptions of their partners’ sexual satisfaction.”

So there. It doesn’t matter what you might be trying to convey with your moans or even your words, if your partner knows you well enough and can read your emotions, then you’re secret is out.

We asked both men and women what lessons, if any, they had learned from faking it.

Lesson 1: When You’re Caught Lying, It’s Awkward.
“It was a casual thing I had going on with a guy that I never orgasmed with,” says Edie, who claims she usually doesn’t fake it. “But then one night I felt really bad for him and proceeded to moan as if I was having the greatest orgasm of my life.

Afterward he asked me if I had come, and I said yes. He rolled over, looked at me and said, ‘You’re such a liar. Do you really think I could fall for that charade?’ I only saw him once more after that ‚Ķ where I didn’t orgasm and I didn’t fake it.”

Lesson 2: When You’re The One Being Lied To, It’s Even More Awkward.
As Aaron realized, it’s pretty “lame,” to use his word, to be on the other side of that lie.

“Sorry, but I just don’t like lying, especially when I can tell. I called out one girl on her lie, but she just kept denying it over and over until we got into a huge argument about it. It was really pathetic.¬†I know how the female vagina works! Being honest is far sexier.”

Lesson 3: Slightly Faking An Orgasm Can Actually Be Appreciated.
Although Chandra doesn’t believe in faking a full orgasm, as she calls it, she doesn’t mind throwing her partner a bone in the noise department. “Once I acted more into it to help my partner out. It worked. I can’t say he was exactly upset when I told him.

If anything, he thanked me, then helped me reach my climax. Faking it just keeps people from being honest and having a good¬†sex¬†life.”

Lesson 4 Faking It With A One-Stand Is OK.
While Caitlyn agrees that faking it with your partners is just setting up your sex life to be a bummer by reinforcing “the behavior that’s causing you not to get off,” when it comes to a one-night stand things change a bit.

“I’ve only ever faked it with someone I never intended to sleep with again. Why waste time on communication if it’s a hit and run situation? Besides, I’ve found that one-night stands don‚Äôt really care anyway.”

Lesson 5: People Are Actually More Concerned With Their Partner’s Pleasure Than Their Own, So Lying Gets Both Parties Nowhere.
Natalie, who’s been in a serious relationship for the past few years, just can’t wrap her brain around why someone would fake it. “I’ve learned that people care more about their partner’s pleasure than their own, so why lie?

Sorry, but if you fake it, you’re just an idiot.

I have never understood this about other women and it makes me really angry that such a concept even exists. I’ve just never even tempted to, and straight-up don’t understand the psychology of it. It seems to be a self-hating psychology, and I’m not comfortable with that.

Just tell him you didn’t‚ÄĒand that can be okay! Because you’re a woman and it’s harder! Duh.” She also continued, “I’m totally convinced that the faking people probably hate their partner. Why would you do that to someone you¬†love? In my experience, they want to know if you’re satisfied or not.”

More from YourTango:

10 Ways to Avoid the E.R. – A Sex Toy Safety Review

April 8, 2015


LELO’s Ina 2 and Ida (sponsored post)

Recently, the Washington Post reviewed data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and found that sex-toy-related injuries have been on the rise, dramatically spiking after the whole Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon. (WP has a great chart.) Despite easier access to higher quality toys and a lot more helpful info on how to choose and use toys effectively and safely these days (a la sites like yours truly), people obviously don’t do their homework and often take the cheap and lazy route. Go, Amerrca! Just goes to show, Fifty Shades IS NOT A SEX MANUAL.

Below are some of the most common (and not so common) toy injuries that required hospitalization in recent years and how they could have easily been avoided. You’ll be happy to know, no one died (which makes them kind of hysterical).

Metal penis rings (aka cock rings) are only for the very experienced or the very stupid. This is one of the most common toy-related cases in ERs, just behind FBRs (see below): the blood rushes in during arousal, but it can’t get out because the metal’s so unforgiving. If you get your dick and/or balls stuck in a metal ring, we see bolt cutters in your future — and do you really want bolt cutters so close to your junk? Best to opt for a love ring (our preferred gentler-kinder term) that can either be undone (with a velcro strap, buckle, snap or tie) OR stretched easily enough to get around excessive engorgement (such as a silicone ring).

Yikes! No decent sex toy will have sharp edges or rough seams. Those are cheap novelties “not intended for actual use.” Here’s where investing in your sex life comes into play. Pay a little more for a high quality toy made with body safe materials and designed ergonomically for your most sensitive bits — you’re worth it! For your money, you can’t go wrong with a LELO.

Oh dear. Please familiarize yourself with your “massager” before you get jiggy with it: know how to turn it off quickly, in the dark, by feel alone. And consider taking off any jewelry that might get in the way: rings, necklaces, big earrings. By the way, this incident happened to a 61-year-old man: good for him for experimenting with toys at his age, but a necklace? Remember: Keepin’ it classy could save your life.

Again, let’s avoid cheap plastic items when it comes to our treasured family jewels. Invest in 100%, waterpoof, non-porous silicone toys.

If a sex toy is reputable, it will come with instructions for use (as well as care and cleaning tips). Make sure you get one with those kind of instructions (again, LELO is a winner here) and then follow them. Don’t use in a way it wasn’t intended. For example, penis sleeves are meant to go around penises, not inside vaginas. If this was one of the rare sleeves that can be used as a penis extender with a partner, then there’s no way it should have gotten stuck (see #7).

Here’s where knowing your own body comes into play. If you’re a petite 100-pound professional ballerina, then a mammoth, unrealistically sized dildo called “The Pounder” is not for you. Another great sex toy to use in conjunction with vibes and dildos? Quality lube. It will help keep things going smoothly and prevent rug burn. (And it’s not cheating — there are many reasons why your desire may not match your own wetness — so give yourself a helping hand.) At the risk of sounding like a broken record, high quality toys made of body-safe material will help you avoid the pitfalls of cheap novelties: rough seams, toxic phthalates, allergic reactions, etc. Finally, you may like it rough, but avoid doing serious damage. There’s the line: don’t cross it.

Again, to get a little Greek on you: know thyself. Learn the basics of genital anatomy and examine yourself. The vagina is only a few inches long. Without a doctor going in, or a baby coming out, nothing’s really getting past the cervix into the uterus. A small vibrator, ben wa balls, or a piece of a cheap broken vibrator may nestle into the crevice between the cervix and the very back of the vagina; but by bearing down and reaching in, most women should be able to retrieve it themselves (just get over your silly heebie jeebies — it’s your own body, fer chrissakes!). If your fingers are stubby, hopefully your lover’s are longer. As long as you go with a modern, quality toy made for the vagina, nothing’s getting “lost.”

Just say no to penis pumps.¬†Instead, learn to work with what you’ve got and become an exceptional lover so size truly doesn’t matter (here’s a great place to start).

The overwhelming majority (like 83%, according to the Washington Post) of injuries happen when people — and not just guys, plenty of gals too! — put something up their butts that they shouldn’t. The official terminology is “foreign body removal” (FB Removal). That can’t feel good, for your ass or your pride. We’ve said it a thousand times, we’ll say it again: when it comes to your anus, only use made-for-play sex toys that are non-porous and have a flared base. Otherwise, your butt will act like a greedy Dyson and you’ll have to go to the E.R. and sites like ours will invariably make fun of you for it.

Um, just try to be less clumsy…?