Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Is Your Bra Killing You? - A.

The short answer: no, and wearing bras more can help your health. The long answer is below.

In 1955, a book was published by researchers Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer. Dressed to Kill was an (inaccurate) write-up that attempted to link breast cancer and wearing a bra. They proposed that wearing a bra, especially ones that fitted properly and not loosely or had underwire, especially for more than eight hours a day, drastically increased the likelihood of cancer.

I'm going to pause and let you look at the Wikipedia article linked in the title in the paragraph above. Go ahead. I'll still be here.

This book was completely false. Who says so?

The American Cancer Institute.
The American Cancer Society.
Scientific American.
Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN who writes for USA Today.
ACS Media.
The collective National Institutes of Health.

These aren't all of the critics. These are just the ones I found in the last five minutes because I'm lazy.

Dressed to Kill was the first instance of this theory that proliferated beyond old wives' tales. Ever since then, you can find this theory cropping back up on natural health blogs and books, in conversation, even from some doctors.

The issue is that not only was this a self-published book about a theory, the theory was repeatedly found to be completely false. The support for it was one study which was completely misinterpreted. If you go and look at the study cited in it, you will see the only conclusion they found evidence for was that women with larger breasts were at a higher risk for cancer because they had more breast tissue. There were no conclusions that were able to be drawn about bras. Length of bra wear was even more proven false. Constant support was found to give the best breast tissue health and allow it, the ligaments, the milk glands, and the supportive blood and lymph systems to thrive.

Here is a rough drawing of the lymph system of the breast. There are no nodes inside the breast itself, contrary to what Singer and Grismaijer claim. The only lymph system located on the underside of the breast is made of small capillaries that do not extend down onto the stomach, and the connections from the breast lymph system to the abdominal lymph system are located inside the ribcage, not along the skin under the breast.

However, there is plenty of evidence to support that more support could better support your breast health. (see what I did there?)

For instance, both breasts and testicles have a higher risk for cancer if they have endured some kind of physical trauma in the past five years. Some of these examples of trauma are common, everyday occurrences like excessive bouncing. There is also evidence that

How do you protect your body best? Well, for your balls, some nice supportive underwear will help, and a cup will protect during activities that are more risky. For breasts? Well...

Wear a bra.

Yep. Dressed to Kill literally recommends you do the opposite of what can help protect your breasts, lift them more, and avoid other breast issues. Not only that, but some of the recommendations that have spun off of this publication's theories are hurting you.

Cupless bras, bras without any padding, bras without underwire, bras that are made of only a thin piece of fabric? Only for sleeping, preferably not at all. The lack of support these give increases your risk for many health and cosmetic issues.

The best bra to protect your breasts is a padded bra that has good coverage. So those of you who swear by the push-up bra: Good on you! You are wearing the safest bra possible. Plenty of light padding on the front helps cushion any impact, and the plush padding along the bottom helps protect your sensitive breast tissue from everyday bouncing. It should be noted that theories that push-up bras can cause breast sag are also unsubstantiated. In fact, the best way to prevent sagging and the issues that can come with it (stretch marks, lower milk production, ect.) is to give constant proper support. Even padded bras with underwire that are not push-up are still good, although more padding is best. And don't think that a little bra that barely covers your nipples will do as much good as a full-coverage. Some sexiness is still allowed, but if you aren't trying to show much cleavage consider a much more enveloping bra for yourself.

Some other bra tips:

Wearing a bra for more than two days in a row stretches it and reduces it's elasticity and support. Repeating this will wear the bra out permanently, rendering it much less useful and irreparable. Throw out any bras that this happens to, so you will not be tempted to wear it and will be forced to wash and wear your good ones.

Wash in hot water, rinse in cold water. Hand-wash with some detergent that is delicate-friendly. I like to wash my wife's bras in the tub, so I can do up to five or six at a time.

I hope these help you, and help clear up the mis-information I've been hearing for years now.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Changing my views on Sex, Religion, and Marriage - A

This post will include my own religious opinions and views. I am not going to apologize or try to skirt around this fact. I just ask that the reader remembers that it's okay for us to not believe the same things, and we can still be friends. 

I am a Christian. I have identified this way since my early teens, out of my own choice. I was exposed to church very early in life, but it took a while for me to find God on my own, away from all the pomp and circumstance of a church. It was through music, in the middle of nowhere, and it changed my entire life.

But I didn't want to be a Christian who just parroted everything I heard in church or from Fox News or from other people. I wanted to take in whatever wisdom people had for me, but didn't want to just adopt other people's views without reason. So I turned to a friend of mine, the man who was playing the music that made me curious about finding God. I asked him how I could find out what being a Christian meant. He dug into his bag and pulled out a book.

"This is the only words of God, Jesus, or their original Disciples and Followers we have. This is everything about Christianity we have left. Forget everything you were told about being a Christian until you have actively read this book, thinking about the words and stories as you read them, taking notes. Then we will help you answer any questions you have."

It was a modified Young's Literal Translation of The Bible. The forward explained that the original YLT version of The Bible sought to accurately represent each original Hebrew word individually with English. This meant that the sentences were broken and jumbled, but gave accurate meanings of the original intent. Where other translations would just say "Love" for all the Hebrew words for love, the YLT version would specify whether it was brotherly love, erotic love, or Godly love. 

The modified book I had been given also organized the whole Bible into Chronological order, and summarized some of the simpler historical records, such as genealogies and geography. This made the Bible easier to read, since everything took place on a constant timeline, and made some of the non-essential historical events and family records short. It was meant to be read over six months, with a few chapters a day. But I was working at a summer camp at the time, and had some time to kill.

So I read that book twice through, referencing a normal New King James version of The Bible for help and filling two spiral notebooks with my horrible handwriting. I tried my best to read it as a story, absorbing details, filling in, remembering, referencing, studying. Over three months I was able to find out what the original instructions were for Christians. It stripped away years of confusing sermons and other people's opinions about what it meant and laid it out bare. 

I found out so much. I was relieved when being a Christian was presented as a daily choice, not a magical moment that you accept God into your life and feel him enter your soul. I was overjoyed to learn that just because I didn't speak in tongues, it didn't mean I wasn't a Christian or had no spiritual gifts. I was intrigued by God's love of music, and fascinated by His simple explanations that He was not a vending machine, and that bettering one's self would take effort on their part, and not him magically granting you more patience or courage. I was able to form my own opinions and beliefs based solely off of these words and notes, while listening to other people's wisdom and experiences for practical advice and deeper understanding to incorporate, but only after keeping the original text in mind. I am not trying to claim that my views are perfect, but I actively tried (and am still trying) to keep the original biblical text as the ultimate guide to my Christian walk, above other people or my own thoughts. 

One of the areas that I really sought information for was marriage. I hadn't considered it up until that point, but as soon as I started to try and understand everything from this basic point of view, forgetting what I had been told was true and trying to find out the real truth, I had to consider that maybe God's original intent wasn't for marriage to be a ceremony endorsed by the state of wherever, with a dress made by David's Bridal and a rented tuxedo and cake and pomp and circumstance and birdseed and overpriced photographers and catering. I wanted to know how people were married before this, and even before the Jewish traditions of marriage outlined in The Bible. The parties they threw and the ceremonies they observed were even more elaborate than the ones we use today. How did people marry before then? Surely God would want people to marry, procreate, and all that jazz well before civilization had developed enough for traditions to emerge! So I went digging.

And I found something that I've been leaning on for several years now, and something that I am now reconsidering as true. So what follows is what I believed, and afterwards I'll explain a little bit about why I'm not as sure, and have a new theory given to me by someone I look up to spiritually.

I believed that sex was equal to marriage. I believed that to be married, you just had to have sex. This would marry you to that person, forever. It seemed to fit very well! It explained how people were married before all our ceremonies, in a simple little way. I even used this with my wife, who I consider myself fairly married to. We talk about our legal marriage and our spiritual marriage as two separate things, since we didn't wait until our wedding to have sex. It also fit in very well with the cute saying of "making love". 

There were passages in The Bible that seemed to support this, notably a passage that talks about Jesus meeting a woman at a well who has lived with several men and says that she "has many husbands". There were a few others that could be stretched to fit this definition of sex that I found after thinking about it and deciding that that was my explanation. I posed this to people as my own opinion, and other people seemed to support it and agree. I was comfortable with this idea, and felt that it worked well. 

I had problems with this theory, though. What about people who are paralyzed below the waist? What about people who are sick and unable to have sex, or have some kind of physical or mental handicap that prevents them from being sexually active? Did I really believe they weren't married? It didn't feel right, but neither did my excuses of "Oh, God knows their situation and will make an exception." I also had no answers for rape victims. Did I believe that there was an attack that caused marriage between the victim and assailant, and that God would allow that? What about the godly men and women in the bible who practiced polygamy or polyamory? Why didn't they get the memo, even though they were older and had been Christians for longer? Some of them even communed with God on a personal basis. What was going on there?

Fast forward to two weeks ago. I was working a small event for couples. This group was an offshoot of a larger church, and on this particular day our senior pastor had decided to drop in for a bit and speak briefly. He was fond of this group and was all smiles walking in, happy to be there. This was an amazing speaker, and someone I admire spiritually. He is eloquent, and his wisdom is incredible. I've taken many things he's said to heart, and I am better for it. So when he got onstage and began speaking, I paid attention.

He began by introducing himself and telling a joke, talking a bit about his own marriage and their adventures. The whole audience chuckled politely at his humor.

He cleared his throat and began. "I want to take you all back to basics a little bit. I want to talk about what marriage is."

I perked up even further. Back to basics, ignoring social stigmas, from an amazing teacher? Yes please!

"I spent far too long imagining that marriage was all about the ceremony, the party, the wedding, and it kept me from reaching my full potential as a husband."

Mhmmmm, pastor. You are speaking my language. I started to get a little bit cocky, waiting for him to affirm what I believed.

"I didn't appreciate my wife, or our partnership. Our beliefs about marriage as an idea caused friction between us. We felt entitled, as if one day spent in a dress and tux in front of a preacher suddenly made our relationship deeper."

Oh yes. Come on. I'm waiting for it! Tell them about the sex thing!

"Some more radical Christians have taken to believing that in order to be married, you must follow Jewish customs for the wedding. Some others believe that all you have to do is to have sex, treating it as a sacred act that bonds you in spirit. Even others think that just cohabitation is enough to be married. But this is not the full story."


I'll admit I got some tunnel vision. I honestly panicked a little bit. I had been wrestling with doubts for the past few months about my beliefs on marriage, and someone I admire saying that those beliefs was like a nail in the coffin. My ideas had flaws, undeniable flaws. 

"Marriage is meant to be a reflection of the church and Christ: a daily commitment and ever-present decision and lifestyle. You must wake up and live your life for your spouse. You must decide every day that you will be a reflection of God's love, as much as you can in this imperfect life, to your spouse. And they are to do the same back to you."


That made sense. I had replaced one physical action, the ceremony and wedding and everything that came with it, with sex. But sex is just another physical action. Sure, our sexuality and desire and intimacy that stems from it is deep, beautiful, and diverse, but conventional sex between a heterosexual couple (which is mainly what The Bible addresses) mainly involves a simple physical action of sliding a penis into a vagina. 

No physical action can equate a spiritual and emotional decision to be together with your partner, a daily renewal of your desire. I chose to follow God daily, to always hold out my hand to Him, to sing songs to Him. Why would I believe that this same relationship of constant re-commitment and mindful partnership wouldn't be the basis of marriage? Why would I think that one physical action, albeit one with strong emotional bonding effects, could be held higher than a soul-bond, one that you constantly decide to follow and not break off? Why would I believe that our relationship was deeper because I put my penis inside of my lover's vagina and slid around a bit? What would make us deeper, bring us closer, was to try and emulate our relationship with God

It hasn't been easy to reconsider these beliefs. But I believe in the wisdom I heard, and I already had questions and situations about my old beliefs that made me uneasy about them. I look forward to exploring this more, but for now, I am content with sex being sex and marriage being a reflection of my ongoing commitment to being a Christian. 

If you want to read the same version of the YLT Bible, it is available online. Just click here and you will find resources to help you.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

In which I put a finger up my butt and remember how to ride a bike - A.

For the past few months, I have been re-discovering sexuality.

So far the journey has been rewarding, albeit slower than I wanted to. I pictured myself as a Conquistador, armed with a giant dildo-sword and brandishing a copy of The Guide to Getting it On as my shield. I would ride into the jungle, hacking away the vines of apathy, stress, and lethargy and discover hidden troves of orgasms gilded in gold, until at long last I would have uncovered a great Temple of Intimacy, where naked girls and attractive men waited on my partner and I for the rest of our days, and we would eat grapes off the vine and laugh as great orgys commenced under a blood-red sunset.

But the process is not nearly as glamorous. I have started to fantasize again, and have gained a great deal of clarity about my own desire and wishes. I have felt arousal quite a lot more, and had stronger erections and sex drive.

My progress with my partner has not been nearly as quick, but I have identified a few of my own shortcomings in our sex life and I'm building up the nerve to remedy them. After so many months of very little sexual communication, I'm finding myself incredibly nervous and anxious about initiating anything lately. I have managed to follow through, but have been met with unenthusiastic reactions to some of the smaller things I have attempted. This has made me gun-shy about trying the bigger things, like initiating in public and starting sexting conversations during the day. I'm not going to stop or let that discourage me, though. It's something that I and my partner have fallen out of the habit of. I can't expect anything to blossom and for me to not feel nervous! Those are just vines to cut, rivers to ford, walls to slowly climb until I reach the top with bloody fingers and behold the glorious shine of all the riches of the Kingdom of Indulgence!

I got carried away there. Let me get back on track...

My latest re-kindling was between me and my butt.

I am a bio-sexed male who identifies as bisexual. This means I have a prostate and am very open to playing with it directly! Up the butt, please!

I used to do prostate massage almost every time I showered, after I would trim my pubic and anal hair. This made showers pretty awesome for me, since I would come out smooth, lubed up, and a little turned on. There are, of course, days where time is of the essence, but I try to make those the exception.

I really enjoyed this prostate play. It was easy, I was relaxed from the hot water, I could clean off any excess lube that would just be staining my underwear, and I would be all set for better orgasms that day. This was made all the more worth it by my nightly play with S over webcam, where she and I would have long mutual masturbation sessions and teasing play.

But during our darker sexual times, where our intimacy ground to a virtual halt of happening sporadically every few weeks on average, there wasn't much drive to pursue this kind of play. It slowed to once a week, then once a month.

Finally, during a stressful week, S found my lube in the shower from the previous day's play and confronted me, thinking that I had jacked off in the shower rather than be with her. She did catch me doing exactly that in one of my more shameful moments so I had no real defence. That particular time had been just a simple massage, and nothing more though. I didn't try to deflect the accusation, and mad at the situation of being forced to re-live my own guilt over past actions due to innocent, coincidental circumstances, I took the lube and shut it away.

I stopped anal play entirely. n that fit of stress and depression. I willingly deprived myself of a simple physical pleasure. I am not proud of this. I am not trying to be dramatic or victimize myself. I made poor decisions about my own sex life, and I want to try and steer anyone else away from them. Please, no matter how stressful or dark it may seem, keep your sexual life an active priority. You do not want to be where I am with my partner, trying to rebuild after months of time lost.

But this story does get better, I promise. Let me take you back in time, to yesterday...

I pulled open the shower curtain and started the hot water. I had worked out, eaten a light breakfast, brewed some terrible coffee, and fed our pets. I had an hour before work, and was going to enjoy getting ready in a leisurely manner. I even queued up a podcast for listening after my shower while I brushed my teeth and cleaned up a little.

The steam started to build up, and our kitten left to our bedroom to cool off, mewing her disdain at me. I waved her off, knowing that I wouldn't have to deal with tiny kitten knives. I was just about to hop in when I felt like I received some strange mental message, something that had been nagging at me for weeks but I couldn't quite place.

Dear A,

Why don't we play anymore?

Your Ass

Hmmm. I hadn't played with my butt in a long time. In fact, it felt like forever. I shrugged. Why not?

I pulled up a picture of S on my phone, one she had taken for me a few days before. It was her in a sheer bra, and I quickly felt myself get a little bit aroused. I grabbed some leftover silicone lube from an older bottle, and hopped into the shower. I went through my cleaning routine, and finally it is time.

I grab the lube.

I drop it because, well, lube.

I pick it up again.

I put a generous amount on my hand. Seriously generous, because it's been a while.

I had already shaved down there, so I knew my ass was smooth. I had been eating my kale. Everything was perfect.

I slipped a finger in and...

You know how people say you never forget how to ride a bike? How, after years of being without, you can hop back on one and balance perfectly, pedaling happily along?

Well your ass doesn't forget how to ride one either.

After about two seconds of tightness, it was glorious. Everything relaxed, the heavens sang, and I was able to give myself a wonderful little prostate massage. Not the most mind blowing one ever, not the longest one ever, but still wonderful. I got out of that shower beaming from ear to ear, happy as can be about my results.

I skipped today, but intend to do another massage tomorrow. I intend to make this regular, but don't want to overdo it right away. Wish me luck!


P.S. I get bonus points for writing this while I work audio for a meeting that has devolved into gay-bashing and talking about how homosexuals are mostly pedophiles.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Confession - A

I'm not happy that I'm writing this right now. In fact, it's really embarrassing, but I'm trying to make this blog honest.

This week held an utter lack of accomplishment on my part.

At my job, I barely broke even on maintaining, and did very little to improve anything.

At home, I'm behind on regular chores. I managed to fully clean one room and got rid of all the little hidden messes, and within two days it was back to a wreck.

I recoded about 20 minutes of music total this week. I had quite a lot more time, but I felt uninspired and lethargic the first few days, and messed up repeatedly trying to lay down tracks later.

But above all, as far as this blog is concerned, I did not accomplish anything sexually.

I made a decision last week to try and seduce my partner. When we were first together, sex came naturally, frequently, freely. We could seduce one another with minimal effort. Most of our time together was spent in intimacy.

But then things happened. Full-time work to support our growing bills. Stress and learning how to fight in a healthy way. Chores. My depression flaring up frequently. And we fell out of those intimate habits, at the same time as our new relationship energy was fading and being replaced by that much more stable energy of an established relationship.

Time passed, day after day, until I felt like I woke up suddenly. I was sitting in bed with my partner, my arm around her, and realized... Seduction has become rare. We would schedule sex, ask one another if we wanted to do it, and do it. This worked wonderfully, and made initiating easy... But maybe easy wasn't everything.

I realized that our initiation techniques were comfortably rooted in a very specific situation: us sitting in bed, in the evening, with nothing to do. This limited us. No shower fun, no seduction starting outside of the bedroom. I was having trouble being lost in sex, and I realized it was because sex was not immersive enough to lose myself in anymore.

So I moped for a little while, because depression skews how I handle issues. But I pulled myself out of it, and made myself a challenge. This is where this post becomes relevant.

I did very little to fulfill the challenge though. I have plenty of excuses I could use, things like work schedules mis-matching, lack of sleep, lack of interest in my efforts to bring up sex and sexuality from my partner, and busyness when we were home together. But those fall flat.

My goal was to seduce against the odds of our current lives, to pit my sexuality against the world. I wanted to be inside my partner, fucking her against the wall because we couldn't make it to the bedroom. I expected greatness in a short amount of time. I wanted to conquer her, as misogynistic as that is. I wanted to make myself more desirable than surfing Instagram, Facebook, or Reddit.

But this will take time. And more effort. This week has been rough to try and make this work, but that doesn't mean I couldn't have done better.

I'm working on pulling out of this depressive funk I've been in this week. I'll be writing up a normal post soon. I hope you will keep me in your thoughts, I really want to make this work.