Play Gentle with Aram Giragos

Play Gentle #7

From The Myth of Sexual Dysfunction to Amateur Filming Etiquette to Fisting, therapist Aram Giragos has all your questions covered!

Welcome back, everyone, and HAPPY SUMMER! Since last time, we’ve gone through so much! The Oscars, the Spring Equinox, Stormy Daniels… and all the build-up to summer 2018 that we can handle.  Well, at least so far, it’s only June. I’m sure there’s much more build-up to come, and I am super excited about it.

For today’s installment, I’ve decided to ask for some outside help from professionals whom I know and trust.  See below.

Q: About five years ago, after a decade of competitive pole vaulting, I developed a chronic pain disorder…For several years, having an orgasm was so brutally painful that I just stopped having sex, masturbating, etc. in order to avoid the pain associated with it. After many surgeries, procedures, diet changes, and therapy sessions (both mental and physical), I am able to have a relatively pain free orgasm about once a week. Obviously, living with an otherwise invisible disability makes life interesting and sex/dating are no exception. I have left relationships/hookups because people were uncomfortable with my condition or unwilling to take my needs into account and of course, others have walked away from these situations with me for the same reasons. I know that communication and an understanding of sex-positivity as the freedom to create (without judgement) the sex life that works best for me are integral tools for me, but my question (finally after the longest lead-up) is: how do I cultivate a positive and healthy sexual life when (at least for the foreseeable future) sex causes some form of physical pain?

Thank you for writing in, reader. These are the areas of sexuality and sexual connection we don’t get to hear about often, and I appreciate being a part of this discourse.  Upon reading your email, my thoughts went first to one of the most interesting voices in the realm of sexology and sex therapy, Dr. Chris Donaghue.

“Sexual dysfunctions do not exist,” he writes in his groundbreaking book, Sex Outside The Lines. “They are only a result of unrealistic expectations…There is no ‘right’ way for sexuality to function or operate. Diversity is part of humanity and life…Most medical therapies for sexual ‘issues’ are anti-sex and anti-relational, and they shame healthy cycles of sexual functioning, arousal, desire, and orgasm.”

In this chapter, titled “The Myth of Sexual Dysfunctions,” he speaks more on the unreasonable value placed on an erect penis, and how the medical field has turned it into a business that ignores the complexities of human sexuality. One of my favorite passages: “Individuals should see difficulties in functioning not as problems but as challenges to expand their understanding of how to be equal, including experimenting with behaviors and instruments they have never tried.”

The reason I bring up Dr. Donaghue’s work is because the same way the erect penis has been over-valued in western culture, the same could be said about an orgasm. There are many ways to be engaged in fulfilling union with your sexual partners that don’t’ necessarily have to end in orgasm, as standard pornography has taught us. Further, if your partners express that without an orgasm from you, their experience is not complete, then this just proves that there is an incompatibility between you. 

Here’s another link to an interview with Dr. Donaghue where he shares a little more about his beliefs on sexual compatibility between partners:

Q: What’s the T on fisting–what happens down the line health wise? I’m curious but don’t want to ruin my ass.

A: Yay, a fisting question! Here’s what I know about fisting: It’s hot to watch in porn, and INTENSE to experience firsthand – I’ve only fisted a buddy a couple times, and each time I learned something new. Talk about control, patience, and practice (as discussed in the last installment about bottoming)!

To better answer your question, I turned to Damon Holzum, who is a Los Angeles based LCSW, sex educator, and general advocate for healthy kinky sex. Here’s what he had to say…

“The funny thing about these awesome kinks, the ones that don’t get a lot of light shed on them outside a select group of fetishists, is that we don’t really have any long term, empirical evidence of the health risks (or benefits) of things like fisting. However, anecdotally and with over two decades of personal experience and countless encounters amongst thousand of experts and aficionados, I can personally say that you’ll be fine!

“You won’t need adult diapers due to fisting when you turn 37 or 87. The T on fisting is that it’s a multifaceted and enjoyable experience for those that want to partake. It requires appropriate training, experience, and patience. The long term effects aren’t exactly studied or quantified, however there are numerous individuals who have been on the receiving end of a good hole punch for years and they are continent and function just fine. The rectum is a muscle and will stretch and retract as needed. It may loosen but proper exercises and slow stretching will minimize chances of fissure, tearing, or trauma. The sigmoid colon is the bend that joins the rectum to the lower intestine and can sometimes be referred to as the “second ring” and the pleasure/pain pinch of a really big dick hitting it.

“All of these components can accommodate penetration by dick, toys, hands and various approved objects (we’ve all seen the pictures and videos) with no long term negative impacts. The key caveat is proper preparation, lube, patience, and awareness. Being a smart, sex-positive, and adventurous soul is immensely fulfilling when done safely and properly.

“Fisting isn’t for everyone; some bodies simply aren’t built for it, others take to it like a hand to Crisco. If you want to explore, find a fisting community and practice with toys on yourself. See how your body reacts to various sizes, depths, and widths of toys and hands. There is no pressure and don’t think you need to take it to the elbow the first week. Never rush it, use copious amounts of lube, large amounts of patience, and enjoy!”

To learn more about Damon, check out his website at

Q: A guy I’ve been hooking up with ​wants to film us together. What are the best rules for doing this without it being spread around town?

I thought I’d throw this one in for fun, considering that my naked ass is all over the internet, doing all kinds of damn things. 

Let me ask you a question. What will be the goal and the benefit of filming your sex? The way you’ve constructed your question makes me wonder… what do you want? Are you intrigued by the idea of watching yourself enjoy sex with this fella? Because if so, you should do it. You’ll get to see a side of your own sexuality you haven’t been able to see before.

The interesting thing here is that your question has nothing to do with what this will do for you emotionally, or whether your confused about your own curiosity to see yourself on film. This is about whether it’s going to be seen by any eyes other than your own, or your partner’s.

So in that case, here is your answer. You either trust him or you don’t. You can insist on it only being on your phone or camera, and he gets to watch with you right next to him.  OR, you can share it, and make an agreement that no one else gets to see it besides the two of you.

…and keep in mind that, if you like it and it tickles a part of your pickle you didn’t know you liked getting tickled, this boundary is always up for renegotiation in the future.  Happy filming.

Get Play Gentle delivered to your inbox each week; click here to join our mailing list! Please send your sex and relationship questions for publication to WhereGentlemenGo (at) (Questions may be edited.)

Read previous editions of PLAY GENTLE here.


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