Pill popping and the elusive orgasm

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I'm a 38-year-old bisexual married man. I have always been involved in sexual encounters with both sexes, and am pretty comfortable with this situation. However, two years ago I started using poppers on a regular basis when I have sex with men in saunas or casual encounters. This has created a certain kind of dependence.

While I love the sensation and the vibe it gives, I've started to worry about the consequences of hard popper usage and the need to smell some when I'm with my unaware wife. I actually feel fewer effects and need to smell more and more to feel the same sensation. I've tried to find information on the Web, but popper usage seems neglected. I don't expect you to tell me that it's very difficult to get a lethal dose in one sniff and that I shouldn't worry about it. I expect you to inform me about the mid-to long-term consequences.

The Popped

If you want help understanding the long-term side effects of poppers, I suggest you contact an organization like the AIDS Committee of Toronto (actoronto.org), the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (catie.ca) or the TRIP Project (tripproject.ca). See if they can offer you unbiased information, because I'm kind of with comedian Steve Wrigley, who says, "Maybe they call it leather cleaner because it's for cleaning leather."

I'm also not so keen on assisting you in continuing to huff upholstery solvents both during trysts and during sex with your unwitting wife. As Lyba Spring from Toronto Public Health put it when I shared your letter, "Bi guy seems more interested in continuing in his substance dependence than in the possibility of reprogramming his sensual/sexual functioning to enjoy it without enhancement."

"In the meantime," Lyba says, "although he's not asking about this, I feel obliged to put in my two cents. He says: ‘I started using poppers on a regular basis when I have sex with men in saunas or casual encounters. That created a certain kind of dependence.' And, ‘I've started to worry about the consequences of hard poppers usage and the need to smell some when I'm with my unaware wife.'

"I can't help wondering if his wife is unaware that he is having multiple encounters in saunas, or aware of the former but not aware of his substance use."

I can't help but wonder the same thing. Either way, you need to wise up to certain facts, Popped.

"The more partners you have," Lyba says, "the more you're exposed to HSV and HPV, even when using con-doms consistently and well [which, in his situation, would surprise me -- but pleasantly]. If he's not using condoms for oral sex, that puts him at high risk for syphilis, which in turn substantially increases his risk for HIV. Any untreated infection, like herpes (of which most people are unaware and which is easily contracted through unprotected oral sex) also increases your risk of contracting HIV.

"So I hate to be a popper pooper, but I hope he's aware of the risk to himself -- and his wife."

We shall overcome

Dear Sasha,

I have been with my boyfriend for three years, and I just don't feel horny with him. I sleep with him, yes, and it's not all that bad, but I just don't get turned on. Which is not the case with other guys. I see some guys at school, and it's, like, OMG, I wanna screw them. I want them to screw me. What do I do? Is there another answer besides a) make an effort in your relationship for your sex life b) break up c) try to negotiate an open relationship (cuz he's not into that at all, like, no way. We already had a few talks about that).

Is there any other way?

As well, I've never in my life come with a guy inside me. I'm 23 years old and it's starting to get frustrating. I've come by hand, by mouth/lips/tongue, by vibrator (that's an easy one) and even by rubbing my clit on his dick. But never with someone inside -- not with my boyfriend or with anyone else before.

What do I do?

Kinda Frustrating

It bears repeating to women who think they're not normal because they don't have orgasms during intercourse that orgasms during intercourse are fairly rare. I'm not a huge fan of sexual statistics, because they advance the idea that anonymous sex surveys are integral to how we interpret and express our own personal pleasure, but those that have been done put the number at around 30 per cent.

You access your orgasm via the tip of your clitoris, so making sure that it's being given plenty of attention during sex should be a priority, not a concern. Exploring the other parts of it and looking at diagrams of clitoral anatomy (there are some good ones in Rebecca Chalker's book The Clitoral Truth (Seven Stories) may provide you with some interesting new access points, but remember to do this with patience and an open mind. We are not invading Poland here -- we're just trying to have some fun.

Now let's have a look at the not so small matter of your relationship. If I'm reading your letter correctly, you fuck your boyfriend despite the fact that you don't feel attracted to him. You mention nothing about a special connection, other than the fact that you've been together three years. You do know that the passage of time doesn't oblige you to remain in a relationship that's stale or unsatisfying, right? You're not collecting air miles for staying with someone.

Still, all the possibilities you have named are actually options you could explore: trying new things to reignite sexual interest, a breakup or an open relationship. But all those possibilities take work, sometimes unpleasant work, and it seems that's the thing you're not willing to face. Part of getting involved with someone is negotiating changing needs, and if nobody's willing to do that, well, it seems your only alternative is to get married. (Kidding, sort of).

Generally, you need to start looking at the viable options that are right in front of you rather than focusing only on the impossibilities.

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