Ask Debby Herbenick | sex toys, toxic relationships
Debby Herbenick answers your most penetrating sex questions. This week: A very specific sex-toy request.
Q I would like something like anal beads, but for the vagina, and 6.5–7.5 inches in circumference (about the size of a billiard ball). Preferably vibrating, with a flexible wire or cord connecting the balls. Is this produced (I can’t find balls that big) or customizable?
A I haven’t seen a toy with those exact specs, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t one. There are certainly slightly smaller balls, such as 5.5-inch circumference crystal egg vaginal balls ($25.99 at edenfantasys.com). You can also look into customizing sex toys through tsx-toys.com or madetopleasure.com. Another option—and I hate to say this because it goes against my usual plea to not put produce in one’s vagina—is that you can jury-rig one. Keep in mind that some people have had icky outcomes, so tread carefully. You might take something like a very un-ripe lemon of the size that you desire. Then cut a hole in one end to make it big enough to insert a silver-bullet vibrator. Then—and this is critical—cover the lemon up with a new condom so that the lemon juice does not get inside the vagina. This may not work out, it’s just something I’ve heard a few others have done. Another option is to use two large remote-controlled vibrating eggs, often available at local adult bookstores.
Q My wife bought a rabbit and every time she uses it, she gets a bladder infection. Any idea why?
A Many rabbit vibrators are made with cheap (some would say toxic) materials such as jelly/PVCs. These toys can be very difficult to keep clean. It may be a highly porous toy that traps bacteria in it, causing infections. Another possibility is that her vibrator use is different from the way she otherwise has sex. For example, does she use lube with the vibrator but not otherwise? Does she have so many orgasms, or go for so long, that her vaginal fluids have a chance to get up to her urethra? Try covering the vibrator with a clean condom every time—though she should still clean it before and after each use. Peeing after vibe use may also help, as might getting into the habit of drinking lots of water. Next time she’s in the market for a vibrator, opt for a glass vibrator or one made of medical-grade silicone, as they are far easier to keep clean.
Q I was wondering if this is common: My erect penis measures just over eight inches. The other night, I smoked marijuana before having intercourse with my girlfriend. This was the first time I had done this. It seemed my penis was larger than usual. Sure enough, we busted out a ruler and I was closer to 8.5 inches. Is this possible? Or were we just tripping?
A It’s totally possible. But not necessarily due only to the marijuana. If you were feeling very relaxed (and I would venture that you were), then it could have helped your body to relax, thus slightly enhancing the size of your penis. Arousal/excitement and relaxation have both been known to relate to larger, firmer erections. If you want to have some fun, try measuring yourself at different times—during masturbation without porn, during masturbation to porn, midway into oral sex, just before you’re about to ejaculate, etc. You’ll likely get a range of results.
Q I have a small penis! Therefore, I have low self-esteem and no confidence! I was totally humiliated when a friend of my ex-girlfriend told me that my “very small pecker” was a “big” factor in her decision to dump me! I’m thinking of suicide, what do you think? I’m sending along a picture of my penis.
A You should never send unsolicited photos of your genitals to anyone. If someone wants them, let them ask. Or offer—if they say yes and the situation is legal, feel free to send. If they ignore you or say no, then don’t send. It’s that simple. Second, if you are considering suicide over your penis concerns, that’s a bad idea. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 to talk with someone. This is no reason to kill yourself. Things like emotional intimacy and sex technique trump penis size nearly every single time. Stick with us—but stop sending unsolicited penis shots.
Q I am fairly new to being gay or bisexual. I met a guy here about a year ago. It started out great, though I knew he had some issues, including drugs. He used steroids, and I used them with him over the summer. We drank heavily and it came between us, ultimately. That was not the only issue though. He has a background of sex partying, meth use and prostitution. Granted, here is this smart, charming, beautiful and talented kid. You would never expect this. He moved in with me and we ended up physically brawling one night. We didn’t talk for a month and I didn’t know where he was. We got back together, it was magical, then we fell apart again. I miss him all the time. We were so close. We were IN LOVE. I’ve no way to call him. He has either no phone or a new phone, which is common, as he never pays his bill. I wonder if he misses me. I have thought of going to ring his buzzer just to say hi. Should I? I have dated others since, but the connection is not the same.
A The likelihood that your guy has become stable and ready for a calm, reasonable relationship with you is low, and I’m guessing that’s part of why you haven’t tried to reconnect even though he lives close by. You also recognize that he probably has your number and could call you if he wanted to. He could also drop by your place. But he hasn’t. Granted, maybe he’s as love struck as you are, and maybe he misses you and just needs you to ring his doorbell and ask if you two can talk. And maybe if you do, it will either restart something you miss or you can have the closure you need to move on. But if you worry that you are vulnerable to getting sucked back into something that’s unhealthy for you (e.g., using steroids with him, drinking a lot, getting in physical fights, hello red flags!), then try to get the support of your friends to continue steering clear of him. Although we more often talk openly about women getting stuck in unhealthy relationship patterns and choosing emotionally or physically abusive partners, men can get stuck, too. Local LGBT health-care organization Howard Brown offers a Violence Recovery Project—contact its program coordinator at 773-388-8882 or email@example.com.
Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a research scientist at Indiana University, sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction. Send letters to Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., c/o Time Out Chicago, 247 South State Street, 17th floor, Chicago, IL 60604, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.