sexual health

  • I Tried An At-Home Hormone Test Kit – But How Much Can It Tell Me About My Fertility?

    “Are you sure you want to do this?” my friend asked, genuinely concerned. “What if it’s bad news?” My at-home hormone testing kit had just arrived courtesy of a Dutch company named Grip which tests the hormones which provide indicators of a woman’s fertility remotely for £139. Grip tests the same hormones as any private fertility clinic: Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) which is produced by cells from the small follicles in a woman’s ovaries and is used as a marker of egg quantity. Luteinisizing Hor

  • This Is Our First Look At The New Sex And The City Series

    The new Sex and the City series, And Just Like That…, is officially in production. Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie Bradshaw) posted a photo on Instagram showing her with fellow original cast members Cynthia Nixon (Miranda Hobbes) and Kristin Davis (Charlotte York Goldenblatt), Appropriately enough, the trio have the familiar New York City skyline behind them. “Read through our first episodes,” SJP wrote in the caption. “Alongside all the fellas and our newest cast members. Like an ice cream sundae.

  • As Ofsted warns of sex abuse in schools: How can we raise boys to respect girls?

    In light of the shocking recent Ofsted report, how can we raise boys to respect girls and understand what harassment looks like?

  • How Does It Feel To Have A Partner Who Does Sex Work?

    Chris Buck, a photographer and director based in New York and California, has always been drawn to the tension between strength and vulnerability. In his latest series — the book, Gentlemen’s Club — Buck explores that dichotomy within the world of strip clubs. Over six years, he interviewed 40 people — strippers and their partners. Buck’s earliest questions were basic, revolving around some variation of: Are you sure you’re cool with your partner stripping? As he spoke to more couples, though, h

  • Half of coupled-up people say current partner is 'worst sex they've ever had'

    One in five also admitted they'd had more than ten bad sexual encounters in their life...

  • How to overcome intimacy anxiety - and have better sex

    New research found 63% of single people feel nervous at the thought of intimacy and sex after a year of lockdowns.

  • Coronavirus may cause impotence by persisting in the penis, small study suggests

    Two men required surgery for their newfound erectile dysfunction after becoming infected.

  • Midlife women are happiest with their sex lives, study finds

    Increased self confidence and a higher libido are ‘key’ to increasing pleasure post-pandemic.

  • What to do if you're always too tired for sex

    How to reignite your sexual energy

  • Sex guru pensioner, 73, spent lockdown helping couples improve their love lives

    Stell Ralfini runs sex workshops for singles and couples hoping to put the spark back into their love lives.

  • Rebel Wilson Candidly Shares That She Is 'Struggling' with Her Fertility

    'I got some bad news today and didn’t have anyone to share it with...'

  • Queen awards sex toy company for 'Outstanding Continuous Growth'

    Lovehoney is recognised for hard work

  • 3 Asexual Women Tell Us About Dating When You Have No Interest In Sex

    Sex and physical intimacy dominate much of the mainstream conversation about modern relationships, but what if the act of making love moves you no more than filling in tax returns?For someone who identifies as asexual, this lack of desire may well be a hurdle they have to navigate if they wish to seek a romantic partner.Asexuality is a multifaceted orientation that describes a person who does not experience sexual attraction.There is a spectrum of ways people can identify as asexual, from bi-romantic – a romantic attraction to both men and women – to grey-asexual, meaning someone who may experience some sexual attraction but at a lower intensity or on very rare occasions.It is by no means a new phenomenon, but it has experienced a surge in interest recently thanks to greater awareness around sexual orientations and fluidity.The most commonly cited figure for the prevalence of asexuality among the global population is 1%. This came from a 2004 paper by Canadian psychologist Anthony Bogaert, in which he asked a large sample of people who they were sexually attracted to.Furthermore, community sites such as the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), which shares information about asexuality and offers a space for people who identify as asexual to arrange meet-ups, is reporting higher numbers of registered users than ever before. Since 2010, it has grown from having 22,460 members to over 100,000 in 2018.Here, three women who identify as asexual tell us exactly what it is like to date and have relationships without wanting to have sex – and the perks and pitfalls that present themselves during the process.Eilidh, 24I’ve always been a family-oriented person and my friends mean the absolute world to me. I’m passionate about advocating for human rights and I play the saxophone. But finding a long-term partner, someone to share my interests with, is something I’ve dreamed about for ages. That can be tricky when you identify as an asexual, as I do.I define my asexuality as bi-romantic, which means I’m romantically attracted to men and women, but I don’t want to have sex with them. I don’t think about it, I’m not bothered by it – that urge just doesn’t come to me.Sex drives seem to be incredibly important to a lot of relationships, but when I fall for someone, I want to spend a lot of time getting to know them. Kissing and holding hands is the most physically intimate I really get.Personality is very important to me. My ideal partner is someone who can make me laugh. The traits I go for tend to be different depending on whether I’m dating men or women. In men, I like nerdy, intelligent guys who are passionate about something. I’m attracted to more beautiful women, strangely.Explaining asexuality on dating apps can be interesting! The sort of comments I get range from, "That doesn’t make any sense!" to "Is there something wrong with you?" I take it on the chin most of the time. People don’t seem to understand it’s not a choice I’ve made.Other people have been curious about my (lack of?) sexuality and ask me questions, which is a great way to talk about it.I tend to tell people I’m dating that I’m asexual straightaway, so there can be no confusion over what that means.Before I came out, there were a couple of times when guys were very overfamiliar with me on dates, touched me and stroked my arms, despite having known me for just hours, in ways that felt inappropriate and extremely uncomfortable. Once, I even had a panic attack over it. Above everything, it is important to me that I feel respected whoever I’m dating.Leila*, 21I’m going to cut to the chase – I definitely want to get married. It’s more trying to figure out how to get to that point, as I’ve actually no idea how people do it.Before I came out as asexual, I noticed that the way my friends would talk about relationships was totally different to how I would think about them. We used to watch rom coms and TV shows where the characters would act like having sex was the most important thing in life.Actors were always having one-night stands, and I thought they were completely fake scenes, that the media and Hollywood had just totally made them up. Why would anyone want to do that? I thought. Then my friends started having one-night stands and I was blown away. I had no idea they were real!I started identifying as asexual when I was 17. Then, I wasn’t sexually attracted to people at all and I didn’t want to have sex. Now, I’m not completely opposed to the idea of sex, but in reality it wouldn’t be something I would seek out.I don’t tend to use dating apps, because I feel like I need to know someone better to be romantically attracted to them. But being asexual can make this confusing, too. It’s hard to know what a normal friendship is and what isn’t.Sometimes, I convince myself I have a crush on certain friends. Then I think it could ruin our friendship to take it much further and I get obsessed with that and give up trying.Technically, I like men and women, but when I do have crushes they are mostly on girls. I have one friend who I was crushing on a lot. She was very understanding and we supported each other a lot through our studies. And she had really great curly brown hair. She was small too, which I really liked because I’m quite tall.Sadly, I moved away, so nothing long-term came out of it.*Name has been changedChristina, 24 I am attracted to both men and women romantically, but I would describe myself as totally sex-neutral. I’m not repulsed by the idea of having sex, it’s just that I’m not in the slightest bit bothered about it. It doesn’t shame me, embarrass me, or move me at all. I’m totally indifferent to its very existence.For me to experience romantic attraction, I have to know someone quite well, which makes dating in the modern sense a little bit obsolete for me.Physical attributes don’t play an important role in my selection process. Most people can look at a celebrity and say, "She’s hot" or "He’s hot". Objectively, I can agree that they are physically attractive, but I won’t feel that draw towards them that perhaps someone who isn’t asexual would.For me, the most attractive features in a person would be being thoughtful, caring and trustworthy. They’d have to not be too clingy, though. I’d need there to be a certain level of independence on both sides for it to work.I’ve actually never had a full relationship, but there was one person I developed deep feelings for. It was a male friend I was at school with and we shared a lot together. We had the same interests and hobbies, like our love of drama and music. He was super nice and considerate, but ultimately, I don’t think we were compatible. I’m really practical and organised, while he’s one of those people who leaves things up in the air.I’m as bothered about finding "the one" as I am about sex. However, I’ve dreamed about adopting children since I was little. For me, kids have always been part of my future plan, but a potential husband or wife is negotiable.If I do meet someone I could be with long-term that would be amazing. But right now, I’m focusing on my true love – acting and screen writing. If I had to play someone in a movie who was sexually attracted to another person or had to have sex? I’d be very open with the director about my asexuality, but ultimately, as I’m not bothered by it and don’t feel uncomfortable, it could make playing a role like that even easier for me.My passion really lies in sci-fi and fantasy films however, so you’re more likely to see me in the next Star Wars than a rom com anyway.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Lockdown Has Forced Celibacy On Me, I Needed ItThe Sexual Orientation Terms You Need To KnowWhat It's Like Dating As A Demisexual

  • Relate and Rankin pair up in new campaign celebrating the joy of later life sex and intimacy

    The new campaign by Relate, featuring images by photographer Rankin, aims to change the perception of intimacy in later life.

  • New York Wants To Decriminalise Sex Work — But This Is Just The First Step

    On Wednesday, in what advocates are saying is a significant step in the ongoing attempt to decriminalise sex work nationwide, the Manhattan district attorney’s office announced that it would no longer prosecute prostitution or unlicensed massage. Cyrus R. Vance. Jr., the district attorney, asked a judge to dismiss 914 open cases, as well as 5,080 cases charging people with loitering for the purpose of prostitution — many dating back to the 1970s and ’80s when “New York waged a war against prostitution in an effort to clean up its image as a center of iniquity and vice,” as reported by The New York Times. The request highlights a significant shift in how New York City law enforcement is approaching sex work. Last month, Chirlane McCray and her husband, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, demanded the end of state penalties for sex work “The communities hit hardest by the continued criminalisation of sex work and human trafficking are overwhelmingly LGBTQ, they are people of color, and they are undocumented immigrants,” McCray said. “Sex work is a means of survival for many in these marginalised groups.” But other advocates say that the request is lip service and that more must be done to fully decriminalise sex work and make sex and body work safer. While the district attorney will no longer prosecute prostitution cases, law enforcement can and will still “prosecute other crimes related to prostitution, including patronising sex workers, promoting prostitution and sex trafficking, and said that its policy would not stop it from bringing other charges that stem from prostitution-related arrests,” as reported by The Times. “This is a good first step as DA Vance is looking to dismiss 5,944 cases involving sex work,” Udi Ofer, the Deputy National Political Director of the ACLU and Director of the ACLU’s Justice Division, tweeted. “Now on to full decriminalisation. The police should not be arresting people in the first place. Sex work is work and must be decriminalised.” Currently, prostitution is illegal in all 50 states, except 10 counties in Nevada. Nine states have harsher penalties for those seeking sex work services, while two — Delaware and Minnesota — actually have harsher penalties for those who offer sex work. Until all states follow suit, and more is done in even the most progressive cities to decriminalise sex work, those who engage in consensual body work still face high rates of police abuse, harassment, and unsafe work conditions. By continuing to prosecute those who patronise sex workers, as well as those who promote sex work, those in positions of power lift up and perpetuate the narrative that those engaged in sex work do not choose it but are rather coerced or trafficked. That is hardly the case. A look into often regurgitated child sex trafficking statistics shows the numbers and information to be incredibly skewed or entirely false. It’s often reported that there are 100,000 to 300,000 children “locked in sex slavery in the US.” But in truth, that number comes from a 2001 study which actually refers to youths up to age 21 at risk of sexual exploitation — not trafficking. While trafficking is considered in that figure, it’s the least prevalent form of exploitation, according to The Washington Post. The person who conducted the study also said in 2011 that the number of minors trafficked was closer to “a few hundred.” Also, the majority of sex workers do not have pimps, nor do they “work the streets” as is often depicted in media. And if a sex worker does work with a pimp, that pimp often works as the sex worker’s employee — not the other way around. To truly make it safer for body workers to engage in consensual sex and massage work, advocates say complete decriminalisation is the only true path forward. Not only would decriminalising sex work make it that much harder for people to engage in sex trafficking — one 2008 study found that after New Zealand legalised sex work in 2003, there were “no incidents of trafficking” — it also protects sex workers from police officer harassment and abuse. A reported 30% of sex workers say they have been violently threatened by police officers, according to a report from the Sex Workers Project. A reported 27% actually experienced violence at the hands of law enforcement. “If our goal is to make it safer for all people in general, victims of trafficking an adult consensual sex workers, then prosecuting people who are seeking sex workers still makes it less safe,” Jill McCracken, co-direct of SWOP Behind Bars, told Rolling Stone. “It pushes sex work into the shadows, it discourages people from coming forward. It basically says this is an illegal act that should be criminalised and maintains all the stigma.” Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Students Are Turning To Sex Work To Pay RentThe New York Post Doxxed A Paramedic On OnlyFans<em>Godless </em>Makes An Excellent Point About Sex Work

  • Is sex really better in your 50s? Amanda Holden says yes!

    As the TV and radio personality says she enjoys a ‘primal’ sex life at 50, we speak to experts about whether sex gets better with age.

  • Amanda Holden has opened up about her sex life

    The presenter has given a candid insight into her 19-year relationship

  • Sex, Drugs & Twitter: The Trailer For The Infamous Zola Movie Is Finally Here

    Back in 2015, before Twitter morphed into the toxic hellscape of differing political opinions we know and love it for today, other stuff used to happen on the platform. One of those things was the intense tale that A’ziah “Zola” King unloaded on her timeline, regaling followers with the epic cross-country adventure of two strippers. Years later, we’ll finally have the pleasure of reliving that story in the upcoming A24 film, and from its official full-length trailer, it looks every bit as delightfully ridiculous as the Twitter thread that inspired it. Zola, we’ve been waiting for you. King, better known on social media as @_zolarmoon, created one of the most memorable moments in Twitter history that day, keeping followers from all over the world fully engrossed in the wild and twisty anecdote about her fallout with a former stripper acquaintance. The details of the story were so compelling — even if a bit hyperbolic at times — that they caught the eye of filmmakers Jeremy O. Harris and Janicza Bravo. Eventually, the project was greenlit by A24 for the big screen. Zola lays out the chaos of Wells’ 148-tweet Twitter thread in film form, with Taylour Paige (Hit the Floor, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) taking on the role (and the chaotic nature) of the eponymous protagonist. Throughout the movie, Paige’s Zola will be pulled into what she believes to be a gig with her kinda-sorta friend Stefani (Riley Keough). But she quickly discovers that her new cash grab is actually far more complicated than just raking in big money dancing in various Florida strip clubs — Stefani and her clueless boyfriend (played by Nicholas Braun) are actually tied up in a dangerous scheme with Stefani’s pimp, X (Colman Domingo). What follows is an adventure of epic proportions, which sees the young women and their companions step into the seedy underbelly of Florida’s night scene. As the danger grows over the course of the two-day excursion, even party girl Zola can’t seem keep up with the pandemonium. “This is messy!” an exasperated Zola tells Stefani in the trailer. “You are messy! Your brain is broke!” The movie first premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim, only building on the existing excitement about the project. Thankfully, Zola already looks like a hilarious accurate execution of King’s lawless original thread, glittery pasties and all. Zola is set to hit theaters this summer. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?A24 Shares First Look At Twitter-Inspired "Zola"This Wild Sundance Movie Is Based On A True StoryRiley Keough Shares Note To Her Late Brother

  • Why casual sex is declining among young adults, according to scientists

    People aged 18 to 23 are having less intercourse outside of a committed relationship.

  • In Pictures: 6 Months With Sheffield’s Sex Workers

    Twenty-two-year-old Barnsley-born photographer Lily Miles became interested in the subject of sex work after watching a documentary on Channel 4 called A Very British Brothel. Taking viewers inside City Sauna in Sheffield, close to where Miles grew up, the documentary was raucous, all about hamming up the ‘sexual antics’ that take place there during working hours. What interested Miles, though, was creating an altogether quieter, more reflective engagement. “Watching that, I realised sex work is another subject that seems to be hidden in our culture and this made me curious and want to find out more. In particular, City Sauna fascinated me because it is run by women and, perhaps even more interestingly, it is run by a mother and daughter,” she explains. “There are a lot of family-run businesses but people maybe wouldn’t expect that would apply to brothels, and I wondered if this would help to add another facet to the understanding of sex work.” Armed with curiosity, she phoned up the sauna, spoke to the manager, Jenny, and arranged to drop by to explain more about the project she had in mind. A few weeks later, she went along for the first time and spent the next six months making regular visits to the parlour. Her new photo series, and forthcoming photobook, Pink to Make the Boys Wink, is the tender and compelling result. “There are over 70,000 people performing sexual services in the UK, with 88% of that figure being women,” Miles says. She goes on to explain that it is currently still a crime to solicit sex work here and so joints like City Sauna operate in a legal grey area. In other words, it’s advertised as a massage parlour with a fee upon entry, and a blind eye is turned to what employees and their clients do behind closed doors. This means there were a lot of ethical implications of carrying out work of this nature, of which Miles strove to remain mindful from the beginning. “The project taught me a lot about ethical integrity and how important it is in photography,” she says. “As photographers, we are often reliant on our subjects and there has to be reciprocal trust and respect.” In the time Miles spent at City Sauna, she really got to know the women, built a rapport with them and only photographed when it felt right for everyone. In Miles’ pictures, the women of City Sauna relax during their down time between clients, put their feet up on the sofa, paint their nails, hang out washing, laugh together and mess about on skateboards. They wear fishnets and fluffy dressing gowns, floral corsets and high heels dusted with glitter. The men who turn up intermittently and agree to be photographed are seen taking five to have a smoke, idly tapping cigarette packets on the counter, or sitting down in the shade out front, waiting, looking straight into Miles’ lens. The place itself has a softness to it, tempered with the shabbiness of a run-down, well-used interior. Gauzy pink curtains line the windows, roses bloom across the wallpaper behind the reception desk and holes in candy-pink leather stools reveal the foam stuffing inside. Miles explains that the building used to be a pub before it became a massage parlour. It appears rough around the edges, she says, but its chatty, feminine atmosphere makes it feel welcoming and alive with activity. One of the images shows a local newspaper, its headline reading “‘HATERS DROVE ME FROM MY HOME’ – SEX WORKER”. It’s dated Monday 18th March 2019. “That article is about ‘Lillie Lovesitt’,” Miles says, “one of the previous sex workers at the sauna. She kept this newspaper in her car; she had moved away due to the difficulty she had faced as she had been outed in her local area as being a sex worker, however she would occasionally come back and work on weekends at City Sauna.” Pictures like this serve as reminders of the stigma – real and damaging – that the women face in their daily lives, away from the relative safe space of the sauna. “I think that’s why the women liked working there because they’re all able to work under the same roof and can be protected by each other, and they have measures in place to protect themselves,” Miles says. There were some difficulties, she adds – like if a client would turn up and choose a woman who didn’t want to be picked – but it could be sorted more easily with a united front. Later, Lillie is photographed outside the sauna, standing defiant, black robe cinched at the waist. Sex work is often still the intersection at which feminism fractures. Many of us would say that sex work is work and that a woman’s choices should be respected no matter what; others say that a sex worker is collateral in a broken system – that they do this work only because their circumstances have left them without real option or choice. In a 2018 article entitled “Does Anyone Have the Right to Sex?” in the London Review of Books, author Amia Srinivasan wrote: “Third and fourth-wave feminists are right to say … that sex work is work … And they are right to say that what sex workers need are legal and material protections, safety and security, not rescue or rehabilitation. But to understand what sort of work sex work is – just what physical and psychical acts are being bought and sold, and why it is overwhelmingly women who do it, and overwhelmingly men who pay for it – surely we have to say something about the political formation of male desire … To say that sex work is ‘just work’ is to forget that all work – men’s work, women’s work – is never just work: it is also sexed.” Echoing this sentiment in remarkably personal and poignant terms, Fiona, one of the women Miles spent time with at City Sauna, opens up in an interview published alongside Miles’ pictures. “People say it’s an easy job, [and] it’s easy in the fact you’re lying down and somebody’s going ba bom bom bom and gets off ya, great and you can just put it to the back of your mind and think whatever,” but then, she adds, “it’s putting it to the back of your mind that’s the difficult part.” Fiona isn’t seen in the pictures – her family doesn’t know what she does to earn a living and her privacy has to be respected – but her words resonate through the series, punctuating the moments of laughter and silliness and intimacy among the women and between clients with something deeper and more searching. Miles adds that while this project shows only one example of sex work – “where the women involved are choosing to turn up every day,” she says, which is an important distinction – there were still instances in which the nuances of choice were picked apart in the conversations she had. “Some of the women I met at City Sauna told me they were just in it for the money and would prefer to do a different job if they could get the same pay,” she says. “In this context the people who work at City Sauna are selling ‘a service’ to clients.” She recalls a conversation she had with City Sauna’s owner, Kath, when she began hanging out there. When she asked Kath her opinion on sex work, Kath’s response was: “Every woman’s sat on a goldmine.” For Miles, the safety of women, however they choose to make money, is at the heart of the issue. “We live in a system of patriarchy and in all, it is a broken system, but the women I’ve met while working on this project are using this misogynist system to pay themselves and they feel empowered to do this,” Miles says. “My work at City Sauna has made me question whether it is right to criminalise sex workers who work together but allow people to work alone; it feels that the safety of the women has not been considered. The laws are not on the side of the sex worker, and in the case of a place like City Sauna, they cannot reach out to the police if they are in any form of difficulty, because it’s not technically legal. Therefore sex work needs to be decriminalised for sex workers to work safely together and support each other,” she says. “People need to view sex work in a way that keeps the sex worker safe and doesn’t work against them.” For her, this project was an important way of giving voice to these women, normalising their lived experiences and allowing a space for the conversation to unfold on their terms. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

  • Grieving for the family I never had: When fertility treatment fails

    'Walking away from IVF was the hardest decision I’ve ever made.'

  • No evidence coronavirus vaccines affect fertility, experts reassure

    Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has called the unsubstantiated theory 'nonsense'.

  • This is how many calories sex really burns

    A new study has revealed how many calories we burn during sex

  • Endometriosis and Fertility: What You Need to Know

    Actually helpful advice from a fertility expert