27 Mar Sex Advice: Fact or Fiction? Useful or Slick Marketing?
Who do you trust for up-to-date, reliable news about sex? I see lots of articles telling women what to do to make their bodies more appealing to the opposite sex. Foods to eat to increase libido, how to smell better, how to have multiple orgasms, and so on. Gwyneth Paltrow has been in the news before with her ‘vagina steaming’ advice and now she’s pushing moon dust to enhance women’s sex drive…Or so it would seem–because I can’t attest to the truth of this headline. And the Kardashian women are apparently sex experts as well.
Those of us who spend a lot of time on the internet are exposed to hundreds of stories a day designed to get us to click the headlines–to get our eyes on the page in order to make money. Some of the people pushing their products are just plain attention-seekers, some are scam artists, and most have no credentials for writing about the topic in question. And in between, quietly, are the real experts–the ones we should be trusting.
I worry about the readers with insecurities and concerns–these kinds of stories prey on their concerns. The result is rarely to make things better–the more anxious we are, the more likely we are to spend money “fixing” the issue. That’s how marketing and advertising works.
Let’s talk about all these sex ads. Will magic mood dust, as if it existed, make us want more sex? Will eating watermelon make his erections stronger? Oysters? Is your vagina too loose for sex? All of these topics regularly appear in the “news”.
Vaginal tightening or “rejuvenation” seems to be the newest fad. It ranges from getting a shot in the vaginal wall to laser treatments which apparently stimulate cell growth of vaginal tissues. Vaginas do change throughout our life, just like the skin on our arms, neck and face, or the color and texture of our hair–it’s part of the natural aging process. Hormonal changes of menopause affect our skin and tissues–making them less resilient and thinner. One answer, which many doctors would agree on, is increased sexual activity. When we go to the gym and lift weights our muscles get a workout. When we stimulate our vaginas blood flow increases (just as it does during exercise) and that helps nourish vaginal tissue. It’s basic stuff. And the basic answer is to get aroused more often and to have vaginal stimulation and penetration–toys, fingers, body parts.
The selling point of many of these ads is geared to pleasing the man in your life. He will appreciate a more supple, tighter vagina. He will want you to feel more desire. He will want you to smell better, have smaller labia, bigger boobs….you get my point. I’m not sure most men could even tell if a woman’s vagina was more or less supple at some age? Certainly if you’re experiencing discomfort, excessive dryness, or mild bleeding you might want to talk to a doctor but you don’t need to rush to get a laser treatment. There are other less invasive, costly alternatives that a medical professional should be advising you on.
If you are seeking advice or reading an article where someone is telling you what to do, how do you evaluate the safeness or relevance of what they are saying? What should you look for when reading these kinds of articles? Here are a few suggestions:
- Is the article based on research? If so, is there a link to the research?
- Is the writer speaking from personal opinion or sharing ideas that can be substantiated? For example, I often share ideas which start with “I think”…. and that means I’m sharing my own thoughts, and you should take that into consideration. A different sex educator might have a differing opinion.
- If the website is full of ads and popups you should question its validity. Serious writing is not typically accompanied by ads to reduce belly fat!
- Is the article sponsored by a company? For example, if you’re reading an article on the benefits of hormone replacement therapies that is sponsored by a pharmaceutical company or website selling those drugs there is a conflict of interest. It might be a good product but there is little incentive to share the downsides or mention cheaper, equally effective alternatives.
- is the article slanted to an anti-aging message or trying to make you feel ashamed or embarrassed? “You’ll feel and look better if…”
What you really want is an informed, impartial representation of the pros or cons of a product or specific advice. Opinion pieces are OK as long as you understand it’s just one person’s opinion. It’s so easy to be swayed particularly when we have some concerns about our looks, or our ability to perform. There’s an awful lot of hype out there–use your judgment, ask questions, and dig for the truth.