stress, stress ball, red

How To Turn A Stress Ball Into A Relaxation Rod

Do you know what adrenaline does to an erection?

Barefaced game card about erections and adrenaline

Whether you have a penis, clitoris, or any other variation of genital parts, adrenaline prevents erections. 

Stress and pleasure don’t go together, because it’s our built in defense system.

You may be thinking “yeah yeah…I know”. 

But, do you know that pleasure and sexual response also don’t always go together? 

Your body can experience a sexual response when you don’t want it to.

It also may not respond when you wish it would. 

This is a fact that’s commonly misunderstood, and it can cause of a lot of negative experiences. 

The scientific term for a body that says yes and a mind that says no (or visa versa) is arousal non-concordance.

First off, if you don’t know what arousal non-concordance is, you’re not alone. Check out this amazing Ted Talk by Emily Nagoski.

In the meantime, let me sum it up for you. Our bodies are smart. They have built in protective measures that help prevent harm. 

If you’re being chased by a bear, the adrenaline surging through your body prevents an erection from getting in the way of your escape. Makes sense, right?

But, there are also times when the response doesn’t make any sense. For example, getting an erection while watching Sponge Bob, or losing an erection because you’re super attracted to someone.

When it comes to sex, this can be annoying, embarrassing, or downright dangerous when it’s misunderstood.

There are three interconnected systems in our brains that rule the relationship between sexual response and emotional experience: liking, wanting, and learning.

Liking is the response that determines if something feels good or bad. 

Wanting motivates us to move toward or away from a stimulus.

Learning is what your body does in response to a stimulus.

Our bodies will respond to sexual stimuli without always wanting or liking what’s going on. 

In fact, our genital responses only line up with our emotional experiences 10-50% of the time. 

This is an important fact for kids to learn about before they become sexually active.

It’s commonly assumed that an erect penis means you’re turned on, or an un-lubricated vulva means you’re not. 

It’s not true…a physical response is not a sexual response.

This is why it’s so important that we listen to people’s words, and trust what they’re saying. Knowing this fact about our bodies is a big help when it comes to navigating consent.

condoms turned into relaxation rods for artsy fartsy sex ed

The Barefaced card I chose for this week’s project made me think of stress balls.

Not terrified testicles, but those squishy things that advertise your bank or mechanic. You know…the freebies you squeeze to relieve stress. 

The Relaxation Rod was born out of my desire to avoid the name “stress ball”.

I like to speak in positives…focus on the solution. A stress ball is not a ball of stress, it’s a ball that helps release stress.

My daughter hates that I chose this name. But, torturing her is half the fun!

This week’s artsy fartsy sex ed project is full of lessons.

We covered the role stress plays in our sexual responses, I talked about what arousal non-concordance is, and we had an intro lesson on how to use condoms.

That’s a lot to cover, so I kept the project simple.

artsy fartsy sex ed relaxation rod being squished

First, we started out with a lesson on how to properly use a condom.

I passed out non-lubricated condoms, and went over all the steps. Things like how to put it on, take it off, turn it into a dental dam, the importance of lube, and how to dispose of them.

Most of the kids had never seen a condom in real life. I’m glad we were doing this because, at 13 years old, they need to know this stuff. 

The goal is to practice…way before they actually need to use one. 

A condom’s only effective if you use it right. Having intercourse for the first time is not the time to start learning.

artsy fartsy sex ed: writing with a relaxation rod

Next, everyone filled their condoms full of flour. 

While this was happening, I briefly went over the role adrenaline plays in erections, and introduced the concept of arousal non-concordance. 

This was a quick introduction. No need to drill them on facts or test them at the end. It’s merely a scattering of the seeds of wisdom. Keeping the mood light and fun was more important.

Once they were full, the condoms were tied off at the end. A second condom was placed over it and tied off again for reinforcement. 

Then, I stopped talking and let the fun begin. 

The kids mushed those condoms, bapped them around, and tried them on as if they were their own. They ran them under water, pretended to write with them, and marveled at the smooth texture. 

When I drove everyone home an hour later, they were still playing with them in the car. I heard my nephew’s exploded before the end of the day. 

Sorry, sis.

cat rubbing on relaxation rod

I introduced a lot of new info into this week’s artsy fartsy sex ed, but I did it in small doses. 

A little goes a long way when talking about this stuff. 

That’s exactly why it’s so important to start early. There’s a lot to cover, and repetition makes the information stick. 

By mixing play with learning, you open the door to more serious conversations down the road. You’re also inviting trust and connection into your relationship. 

Don’t worry if you feel like you’re fumbling. Most of us weren’t taught these things, and the information is always changing. 

It’s okay to learn with your kid. 

If anything, admitting that you don’t know it all helps your teen do the same. It opens everyone’s mind up to learning.

Keep laughing at each other’s awkwardness, and go have some fun together!


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