Sex ed 101

By AMY LITTLEFIELD  |  January 24, 2012

ADAM & EVE is another adult-store chain with a shop in Seekonk, Massachusetts. The 5000-foot superstore carries lingerie, women's outfits, men's wear, and porn as well as the usual lubes, lotions, and toys for men and women. While I've never been to the store, the very friendly manager assured me over the phone that all her staff are knowledgeable about the products and that the store is woman- and couple-friendly.

Wherever you go, Andelloux says, keep in mind that not all sex toys are safe...and she's not talking about what happens when you lose the key to your handcuffs.

Sex toys made with jelly latex or blended materials should generally be avoided unless you plan to throw a condom over them, says Andelloux. Elastomer, which can look jelly-like and is sometimes used in the infamous "rabbit" vibrators, is safer but porous. A condom is required here, too.

You're in good shape with silicone, hard plastic, pyrex, and stainless steel. Andelloux's general rule is that if it smells like a shower curtain, it's probably going to leak nasty crap into your body. Most staff at reputable sex shops can talk to you about safe materials and whether you need to use a condom with a toy. If you get a blank stare when you ask about safety, it's a good sign you should take your business elsewhere.

Now, a word about modesty. Unless you're trying to scar your roommate for life, it's probably a good idea to keep privacy in mind and negotiate boundaries...or just get a really quiet vibrator, says Andelloux. Some students may need to be sneakier than others. Salve Regina University, for example, has a policy that explicitly bans sexual intimacy in the dormitories, citing Catholic beliefs about sex before marriage. So if you go to Salve and you're reading this article, you might want to slide it inside that biology textbook in case anyone is watching. It's unclear from the handbook whether that policy includes good, old-fashioned onanism — Bible-speak for masturbation — but it's probably best to be careful.

If you're on a tight budget — or afraid you'll get reprimanded for going to a sex shop — your local drug store now has an increasing number of things that buzz and tingle. When shopping for lubricants, remember to avoid anything that has glycerine if you or your partner is prone to yeast infections, and don't use silicone-based lube with silicone toys, says Andelloux. Drug stores now sell condoms in so many different colors, sizes, and styles that there is no excuse for not using one. They also sell the morning-after pill, which is another sex prop well worth remembering for emergencies. Plan B is available over-the-counter to those 17 and over and is most effective immediately after unprotected sex, so why not keep it on your nightstand next to the...pleasure reading?

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health is staffed Tuesday through Friday from 12 to 5 pm and on Saturday from 1 to 5 pm for those who want to check out the selection of books and documentaries. Andelloux and her staff offer sex-positive vibes without the pressure of selling anything. To speak with Andelloux about a particular issue, you should make an appointment (401.365.4819). Events on the near horizon include movie screenings, kinky craft nights, discussion groups, classes, and trivia nights.

Andelloux has one final piece of advice in the "make it fun" category: fun sex is consensual sex, which means all those involved enthusiastically agree to participate. How that enthusiasm is expressed is the fun part.

"Yes is a super sexy word," says Andelloux.

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