Good in Bed Glossary

A
a-spot

A term popularized in the media that refers to the anterior fornix of the vagina, located in the innermost part of the canal above the cervix. Some have suggested this area may be sensitive or an area of erotic pleasure when stimulated; however, this has yet to be scientifically tested.

AASECT

(short for American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists) A nonprofit professional membership organization that certifies sexuality educators, sex counselors and sex therapists through rigorous education and training requirements.
* AASECT - www.aasect.org

abortion

A procedure typically performed by a doctor or healthcare professional to end pregnancy that removes an embryo or fetus from the uterus. Some abortions are performed surgically (see surgical abortion) and others with medication (see medical abortion), like RU-486. An abortion may result in spotting for several weeks afterwards. If performed without complications, an abortion does not affect future fertility. In some cultures, the termination of pregnancy may be attempted through the use of herbs or other substances that are thought to be effective for abortion.

ABS

(short for the American Board of Sexology) A nonprofit professional organization that certifies sex therapists, sex counselors, sex educators and sex researchers that fulfill stringent requirements. Certified professionals are known as Board Certified Diplomates of ABS.
* ABS - www.americanboardofsexology.com

abstinence

A decision to refrain from sexual activity, the definition of which depends on the person. For some, abstinence means no sexual activity of any kind, whether intercourse, oral sex, petting, or, even, kissing. Others use the term to indicate that they plan to abstain from vaginal intercourse, or certain other sexual behaviors, prior to marriage. Abstinence from all forms of sexual activity is the only 100% effective method for protecting against STIs. (see asexual)

ACOG

(short for American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) A nonprofit professional membership organization of health care providers related to obstetrics and gynecology that advocates for women to receive quality health care and patient education, maintains high standards for medical professionals related to clinical practice and continuing education and increases awareness related to topics that affect women’s health care.
* ACOG - www.acog.org

acquired immune deficiency syndrome

See AIDS

acrobatic prone

An intercourse position in which one partner lays on top of the other, backside to abdomen, so that both partners are face up. The partner on the bottom thrusts up into the other partner's body. This position allows for manual stimulation of the partner on top.

acupressure

A traditional Chinese medicine technique that uses massage to activate various pressure points on the body with the intention of healing a variety of physical and emotional ailments.

acupuncture

A traditional Chinese medicine technique that uses hair-thin needles to activate various pressure points on the body with the intention of healing a variety of physical and emotional ailments.

addiction

A compulsive need for a substance, behavior or activity that causes distress when it is not engaged in, and has increasingly harmful consequences on a person's life. An addiction can be physiological, such as drugs or alcohol, or psychological, such as compulsive multiple love relationships, compulsive use of erotica or impulsive/compulsive sexual behavior. Addictions are marked by a lack of emotional intimacy in relationships and can cause significant distress to the person suffering from the addiction, as well as those who live or work with them.

adolescence

The period of time from puberty to the late teens when young people acquire knowledge, form attitudes and develop skills in more depth, building a foundation to become emotionally and sexually healthy adults. The environment, parents, family, community and peer group all play a significant role during this important stage of development.

adrenal glands

Two small glands located on top of the kidneys. The adrenal glands release a variety of important hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol, and all of the sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Stress is processed by the adrenal glands, which also regulate metabolism, energy levels, and a variety of emotional and physical health indicators.

afterglow

A state of emotional and physical contentment after an orgasm that is likely caused by higher levels of serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. Afterglow happens during the resolution phase of the sexual response cycle.

AIDS

(short for acquired immune deficiency syndrome) An STI caused in the last stage of HIV infection. HIV is acquired through contact with an infected person's semen, vaginal fluids or blood, during activities such as: unprotected vaginal intercourse, anal sex or oral sex; sharing hypodermic needles; and during childbirth or breastfeeding, though antiretroviral drugs significantly reduce this risk. A person may be a carrier of HIV with few or no symptoms, since it can take many years for a person with HIV to develop AIDS.

alprostadil

A prescription treatment for men who suffer from erectile dysfunction. Alprostadil works by relaxing the blood vessels in the penis, to improve blood flow and create an erection. Alprostadil is sold under the brand names: Caverject Impulse®, Edex®, and Muse®.

amenorrhea

The absence of menstrual periods. Primary amennorrhea occurs when a girl has not started her period by age 16 and can be the result of chromosomal abnormalities, hormonal disorders, and other diseases and illnesses. Secondary amenorrhea is far more common and occurs when a woman stops getting her period for 3 or more months. Common causes include: pregnancy, breastfeeding, stress, and certain medications and birth control methods, especially progesterone-only methods, such as Depo-Provera®, the mini-pill. Amenorrhea also can be the result of PCOS, thyroid or pituitary disorders, premature menopause, and excessive exercise, eating disorders, or weight loss. A woman with amenorrhea may still ovulate.

American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists

See AASECT

American Board of Sexology

See ABS

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

See ACOG

anal beads

A sex toy that features series of small, round beads on a cord, with a handle at one end. Anal beads are designed to be inserted into the anus and slowly removed during foreplay or at the moment of orgasm. Anal beads may be used by men or women during a wide range of sex play, including foreplay,intercourse, oral sex, masturbation, including by women who enjoy or are curious about double penetration and by men who enjoy or are curious about anal stimulation. Beads are generally made of smooth acrylic, plastic, silicone or rubber. Anal beads that are situated on a string are typically meant for one-time use, unless they are used with a condom, as bacteria may harbor inside porous materials such as string.

anal cancer

Cancer caused by an uncontrolled growth of cells in the anus. Infection with certain strains of HPV may increase a person's risk of developing anal cancer.

anal plug

(a.k.a., butt plug) A sex toy with a tapered diamond shape, designed to be inserted into the anus during sexual activity. An anal plug can be smooth or rippled in shape. Anal plugs may be used by men or women during a wide range of sex play, including during foreplay, intercourse, oral sex or masturbation, including by women who enjoy or are curious about double penetration and by men who enjoy or are curious about anal stimulation. Plugs are generally made of acrylic, plastic, silicone or rubber and typically have a wide base so as to minimize the risk of being accidentally sucked inside the rectum.

anal sex

A form of intercourse in which the penis, a sex toy (such as anal beads or an anal plug) or another object is inserted into a man or woman's anus. Anal sex is practiced by women and men of all sexual orientations and for a variety of reasons: pleasure from contractions of the sphincter muscles in the anus; stimulation of the nerve endings at the anal opening; increased friction for the penis if the anus is tighter than the vagina; curiosity; prostate stimulation (for male receivers of anal sex); perineal sponge stimulation (for female receivers of anal sex); and novelty. A version of anal sex includes use of a strap-on, which allows both women and men to experience anal penetration. Some individuals use the term to refer to a wide range of anal pleasuring including finger and mouth stimulation of the anus, and other non-penetrative forms of anal play. (see analingus, rimming)

anal stimulation

A variety of practices that stimulate the anus or anal opening during sexual activity. Anal stimulation may include: anal sex, rimming, p-spot stimulation, double penetration, fingering and the use of sex toys, such as anal vibrators, anal plugs, anal beads and strap-ons. Anal stimulation may be practiced by women and men of all sexual orientations during a wide range of sex play, including foreplay, intercourse, oral sex, masturbation or as a sexual activity in its own right.

anal vibrator

A sex toy designed to be inserted into the anus during sexual activity. An anal vibrator can be smooth or textured and resembles an anal plug with vibration. Anal vibrators may be used by men or women during a wide range of sex play, including foreplay,intercourse, oral sex, masturbation , including by women who enjoy or are curious about double penetration and by men who enjoy or are curious about anal stimulation. Plugs are generally made of acrylic, plastic, silicone or rubber. Sex toys that are intended for insertion into the anus typically have a wide base to minimize the risk of being accidentally sucked inside the rectum.

analingus

A variety of sexual practices that may include using one's lips or tongue to stimulate a partner's anus or anal opening. (see rimming)

Androderm®

A testosterone skin patch that may be prescribed to men diagnosed as having low testosterone or andropause. Other testosterone-replacement options include: AndroGel®, Striant®, Testim® and Testoderm®.

AndroGel®

A testosterone gel that may be prescribed to men diagnosed as having low testosterone or andropause. Other testosterone-replacement options include: Androderm®, Striant®, Testim® and Testoderm®.

androgen insensitivity syndrome

An inherited condition that causes a genetic male (with the usual XY chromosomes) to be born with what seems to be mostly female sexual anatomy. Typically, androgen insensitivity syndrome happens during fetal development when cells are not able to respond to the male sex hormones known as androgens. Individuals with this diagnosis do not have the same reproductive abilities as a genetic female. They do not have a menstrual cycle, the vaginal canal is shallow making intercourse difficult without medical intervention, and while their breasts develop, they are not able to lactate.

androgynous

A person who looks and acts equally masculine and feminine regardless of their sexual and reproductive anatomy, making it difficult to define them as male or female.

andropause

A condition in men that results from low testosterone levels, usually with advancing age. Symptoms may include: low libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue or lack of energy, and depression. Some but not all men experience andropause, since testosterone levels gradually decline as a natural result of aging. Andropause may be influenced by psychological or emotional factors and by lifestyle choices, such as drug or alcohol abuse, including the use of athletic performance drugs. Treatment options for andropause include a variety of prescription testosterone-replacement options: Androderm®, AndroGel®, Striant®, Testim® and Testoderm®. Some sexual health professionals have expressed concern that the natural declines of sex hormones for men and women that result in andropause and menopause, respectively, are sometimes "medicalized," resulting in the unnecessary prescription of medications.

anorgasmia

The inability to reach orgasm during sexual activity in spite of attempts to do so. Anorgasmia may be lifelong (primary) or may result after a period of previously having been able to orgasm and now being unable to orgasm (secondary anorgasmia). Many factors influence a person's ability to orgasm, including: the quality of foreplay and emotional intimacy; past sexuality education; masturbation; prior sexual abuse; performance anxiety; stress; and many medications and health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, as well as some anti-depressants and sedatives commonly used to prescribe such conditions. In addition, men may experience anorgasmia as a secondary effect of erectile dysfunction or prostate cancer. Women may experience anorgasmia as a result of the hormonal changes of menopause, hysterectomy or oophorectomy, as well as dyspareunia. (see delayed ejaculation and FOD)

anovulatory

A menstrual cycle without ovulation, meaning that an ovum is not matured and released from the ovary. A woman generally does not get her period after an anovulatory cycle (see amenorrhea). An anovulatory cycle may be the result of stress or hormonal fluctuations, and is normal for women in their childbearing years. Regular anovulatory cycles may be the result of PCOS or other health conditions, and are a leading cause of infertility. Anovulatory cycles begin to increase in frequency as a woman approaches menopause, a time known as perimenopause.

anti-depressants

A group of psychiatric medications prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of depression, anxiety or other conditions. A variety of anti-depressant medications exist, each with different side effects, depending on the formula and a person's individual chemistry. In addition to drowsiness, dizziness, nervousness, dry mouth, nausea, insomnia, and bladder or urinary changes, common sexual side effects of certain types of anti-depressants may include: low libido; vaginal dryness or lack of arousal; absent, less frequent or less intense orgasms; delayed ejaculation; painful ejaculation; and retrograde ejaculation. Medications with a lower risk of sexual side effects or that may be prescribed to increase sexual desire include: Wellbutrin®, Serzone® and Remeron®.

anti-histamines

A group of over-the-counter or prescription medications for the treatment of allergies. In addition to side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness or dry mouth, anti-histamines may contribute to vaginal dryness. Anti-histamines are sometimes prescribed to treat retrograde ejaculation and priapism.

anti-hypertensives

A group of medications prescribed to treat high blood pressure. A variety of anti-hypertensive medications exist, each with different side effects, depending on the formula and a person's individual chemistry. Some anti-hypertensives have a higher risk of sexual side effects, such as erectile dysfunction, priapism and vaginal dryness, because of reduced blood flow to the genitals and other changes related to blood flow. Medications with a lower risk of sexual side effects include ACE-inhibitors and calcium channel blockers.

anus

The opening of the rectum. The anus is an area sometimes enjoyed for sexual stimulation and is considered by some to be an erogenous zone, as it contains a dense network of highly sensitive nerve endings. Anal stimulation may feel pleasurable due to the stimulation of these nerve endings and also because of its proximity to the perineal sponge in women and the prostate gland, or p-spot, in men. In addition to anal sex, stimulation of the anus might include: fingering, anal beads, anal plugs or anal vibrators, strap-ons, analingus and rimming.

anxiety

A state of apprehension, uncertainty or fear about a threatening event or situation, which may impair physical and psychological functioning. Anxiety can interfere with daily functioning and sexual function, regardless of what the anxiety is caused or triggered by. Symptoms of anxiety may include: constant worrying, fear for no apparent reason; constant checking and rechecking actions; heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness and shortness of breath. Anxiety during or about sexual activity is referred to as performance anxiety or spectatoring, which may cause problems with sexual desire, arousal, orgasm and emotional intimacy. Commonly prescribed medications for anxiety include anti-depressants and sedatives, which may cause additional side effects (sexual or otherwise). In addition to medication, anxiety is treated in individual therapy and sex therapy, depending on the nature of the problem.

aphrodisiac

A food, drink, herb, medication or other form of stimulation though to cause sexual desire or arousal. Aphrodisiacs are generally thought to stimulate the senses.

areola

Any small circular area of color; commonly used to described the circle of darker skin that surrounds the nipple. The areola may be an erogenous zone.

arousal

A state of physical and/or psychological excitement about sexual activity. During sexual arousal, women and men commonly experience increased blood flow to the genitals, as well as increased breathing and heart rates. Women may experience an increase in vaginal lubrication and men may experience an erection. The absence of these, however, does not signal the absence of arousal, since a person may feel sexually aroused even if they are not noticeably lubricated (for women) or erect (for men).

artificial insemination

A type of infertility treatment, in which sperm are injected directly into a woman's reproductive tract. Artificial insemination increases the chances that one or more sperm will reach the fallopian tube and fertilize an ovum. Artificial insemination is performed just prior to ovulation. (see also in vitro fertilization)

asexual

A lack of interest in or desire for sexual activity with other people. Some individuals do not consider asexual people to be celibate or to practice abstinence, as they do not deny themselves sexual activity because of their values or religious beliefs. Rather, asexual-identified individuals typically lack sexual attraction to people of either sex. Many asexual people desire a relationship with emotional intimacy, despite the absence of sexual activity. Some asexual people masturbate. In contrast to asexuality, a person with low libido, HSDD or sexual aversion disorder has lost sexual attraction to a partner or in general, or feels averse to sexual activity.

attachment

The bond that develops between a baby and his or her caregivers during the first few years of life. Many therapists and psychologists believe that early attachment influences later adult love relationships. Attachment styles commonly described by psychologists include secure or insecure.

attachment phase

One of three phases that occur in romantic relationships, as suggested by anthropologist and neuroscientist Helen Fisher. The attachment phase comes after the lust phase and infatuation phase, about two or three years into a relationship, and has been associated with certain chemical states in the brain, in particular high levels of the a hormone thought to be related to bonding, oxytocin.

attraction

The process of inspiring or experiencing interest in another person, which may be emotional, sexual or intellectual. Who we are sexually attracted to may be related to our love maps and MHC. Attraction to someone new triggers the release of dopamine, a chemical linked to pleasure and excitement, while long-term relationships have been associated with a decline in dopamine over time. Couples in long-term relationships may feel like their relationship lacks excitement, although this appears to be a common chemical pattern in relationships. (see lust phase, infatuation phase and attachment phase)

autoerotism

Self-stimulation, self-pleasuring or the self-satisfaction of sexual arousal, which may occur through masturbation.

AVEN- Asexuality Visibility and Education Network - http://www.asexuality.org/home/

The thinning, drying or hardening of vaginal tissues. Atrophic vaginitis may occur as a result of declining estrogen levels around the time of menopause or as a result of certain medical conditions. Common symptoms of atrophic vaginitis include: vaginal dryness; vaginal tearing; pain during vaginal intercourse; genital burning; frequent yeast infections or bacterial infections; and incontinence. Prescription treatment options may include: HRT; estrogen cream; or vaginal rings and tablets, like Estring®, Femring® or Vagifem®. In addition, it may be particularly important for women with atrophic vaginitis to spend more time in foreplay.