TIME Sex

‘Women’s Viagra’ to Seek FDA Approval, Again

A pill for female sexual desire goes back to the FDA for a third time

An FDA advisory committee is meeting on Thursday to discuss whether flibanserin — a drug sometimes nicknamed ‘women’s viagra’ — should be approved to treat low libido in women.

If approved, the drug would be marketed as treatment for hypoactive sexual desire disorder, which is said to cause a low sex drive in women. Some supporters argue the drug has a role in gender equality and that women do not have the same resources as men to deal with various degrees of sexual dysfunction.

The drug, owned by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, has been rejected by the agency two times already. The argument being that its benefit is not notable enough to outweigh its side effects which can include dizziness and nausea.

Other pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and Procter & Gamble have made attempts at drugs to treat lack of libido among women. So far they have not been successful.

The FDA’s Thursday meeting on flibanserin is open to the public.

TIME Research

U.S. Teen Trends In Sex, Bullying, Booze and More

Teenager Smoking Cigarette Boys
Getty Images

Good news: Today's teens experience notably low rates of bullying, drinking, pregnancy and unprotected sex

The latest statistics on teenagers paint a rosy portrait of American teens. They’re drinking, smoking and bullying less than they used to, and fewer are getting pregnant.

“Adolescence is an inherently risky time,” says Dr. Stephanie Zaza, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) division of adolescent and school health. “They are stretching their wings. We can’t eliminate all risk, but we are seeing overall good trends in all areas.”

Here’s a snapshot on teen behavior, based on recent reports:

Bullying

Recent data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics showed bullying at school was on the decline. Bullying among kids ages 12 to 18 dropped to 22% in 2013. The rate is lower than the 28-32% that was reported in all other survey years since 2005. Even cyberbullying—the use of electronic services to harass someone—has dropped. Only 6.9% of students reported being cyberbullied in 2013 compared to 9% in 2011.

Zaza adds that bullying has often targeted LGBTQ youth, and with increasing acceptance and major policy changes regarding same-sex marriage in the news, social norms regarding sexuality may be changing too, and that may contribute to less fighting.

Smoking

Teens are smoking less, too. In the last CDC National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which analyzes health risk behaviors among high school students, revealed that the high school smoking rate had dropped to 15.7%, the lowest recorded level since the survey started in 1991. It meant that the CDC had met its goal of lowering the adolescent smoking rate to under 16% by 2020, several years early.

Zaza says what’s responsible is a combination of widespread public health initiatives and changing social norms. “When you look at excise taxes, smoking bans, quit lines, campaigns and innovations in therapies, you see this amazing trend in adult and youth tobacco use,” says Zaza. “With all of those changes came a really big change in the social norms around smoking.”

Still, data from the CDC suggests that while high schools are smoking fewer cigarettes, e-cigarette use tripled among middle and high schoolers in just one year.

Drinking

The number of students who drink alcohol also dropped. Though it was still high at 35%, teens reported less physical fighting in school, and most students who were sexually active used condoms.

Sex and Babies

National teen pregnancy rates are also at a record low, with recent data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showing a continuous drop over the last 20 years, with a 10% decline just between 2012 and 2013. It’s unclear what is driving the decrease, but it appears teenagers are less sexually active than they have been in the past, and teens that are sexually active report using some form of birth control.

“There’s no doubt birth control and sex education are the most important factors in reducing unintended teen pregnancy,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood said in an email. “Teens are increasingly using IUDs and implants, which are the most reliable methods of birth control.”

America’s teen pregnancy rate is at a record low, but it’s still higher than many developing countries.

Texting While Driving etc.

Zaza says she’s worried about the number of teens who text and drive—41%—as well as the nearly 18% of teens who report using prescription drugs without a prescription.

“I worry about these numbers,” says Zaza, adding that there’s still room for improvement.

TIME Sex

Why Millennials Might Be Having Less Sex Than Their Parents

Today's young people just aren't as interested in notches on the bedpost

A new study suggesting millennials will have fewer sex partners than Boomers got everyone talking about indifferent twentysomethings and their sexed-up parents, but the truth may be even more shocking: a separate study found almost half of twentysomethings have not had sex at all in the last year.

Before we get to the not-so dirty details, let’s back up: the recent study of over 33,000 people published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior measured the collective number of sex partners of entire age groups — and it included a complex statistical analysis that projected how many partners millennials would have by the time they hit middle age.

“If the millennials do something very different as they get older, say they decide they’re going to have a lot of sexual partners in their 40s, then yes this number could end up looking different in 10 years,” says Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me and one of the original authors of the study. “But that would be unusual.” The study found that millennials were likely to have had an average of about 8 partners, while Boomers were more likely to have had 10 or 11.

But if millennials are going to keep sowing their wild oats into middle age, another recent study suggests they’ll need to up their game: less than 7% of 20-somethings have sex 2-5 times per week, according to data from online dating service Match, and 49% of people in their 20s have not had sex at all in the past year.

Even more shocking? The study says one in three 20-somethings have never had sex at all. “You’d think they’d be focused on sleeping around, but really what they’re focused on is getting ahead,” explains Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and Chief Scientific Advisor for Match. “In their 20s I think they’re working very hard. There’s something to be said for the fact that they may be taking relationships and commitment more seriously.”

That seriousness is reflected in the way millennials calculate risky behavior, which is a big part of sexual activity. “This is a generation that has grown up with an awareness of HIV/AIDS,” explains Jeffrey Arnett a research professor at Clark University and author of Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood. “When the boomers were in their heyday, that didn’t exist and it seemed like free love was a good idea.” He also notes that millennials are much more likely to use condoms than boomers ever were.

Arnett says millennials may see their elders’ licentious behavior as a cautionary tale. “It’s not only that they have fewer sexual partners than the baby boomers did, but they also drink less, they smoke less, the crime rate is half now than it was 20 years ago, teenage pregnancy has plummeted—it’s part of this broader pattern of less risky behavior,” he explains.

“It could be that the children saw the consequences of not following the rules—high divorce rates, drug addiction, and a lot of teenage pregnancy and so on, and there are many of them who have grown up to be more conservative in terms of some of their own social behavior.”

Paradoxically, it also could be that increasingly lax attitudes about premarital sex make it well, a little less sexy. In the ’60s and ’70s, having premarital sex felt like breaking a taboo for someone you loved, Arnett explains: “it was a daring thing to do.” Today? It’s just something Mom and Dad used to do.

TIME Sex/Relationships

Why Menopause Isn’t the Sex Killer You Thought It Was

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Oppenheim Bernhard—Getty Images

A woman's sex drive isn’t as affected by menopause as we once thought

Hormones are generally at the center of any discussion about sex. At puberty, the surge in estrogen and testosterone is responsible for the emergence of a sex drive, launching the most fertile period in our lives, while at the other end, a decline in hormones means a waning libido.

But we shouldn’t be so quick to blame that change in hormones, at least in women, say researchers led by Dr. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College, London.

In a report published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Spector and his colleagues studied four years’ worth of answers that women provided about their sexual health both before and after menopause. It’s the first study to analyze how various domains in sexuality, including desire, arousal, orgasm, satisfaction and pain, interact with each other and change over time.

They expected that sexual drive and problems with sexual function would increase with time and be higher among women after menopause. But the rate of sexual dysfunction over the four-year study period was about the same—22% to 23%—for both pre- and post-menopausal women. That suggests that menopause, which marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years and is biologically triggered by a decline in estrogen levels, isn’t as important a contributor to sexual issues as once thought.

“We were surprised by the results a little bit,” says Spector. “They suggest that menopause has been exaggerated as an excuse for everything.”

What’s more, the proportion of women reporting improvements in sexual function during the study also remained about the same in pre- and post-menopausal women, hinting that declines in things like desire or arousal can be reversed to a certain extent. “Women do see improvements in sexual functioning after menopause,” Spector says. “What that says is that you are not necessarily stuck” if you experience sexual dysfunction.

The best predictor of how your sex life will change, in fact, is where you start. Women reporting issues with desire, arousal or orgasm at the start of the study, for instance, were more likely to continue to have those issues at the end of the study. But, as the results show, where you start doesn’t have to dictate where you end up when it comes to sexual function. “By modifying your life and attitudes about sexual desire,” Spector says, “you can change things sometimes surprisingly for the better, although you are getting older.”

TIME Sex

Exclusive: Millennials More Tolerant of Premarital Sex, But Have Fewer Partners

Your parents probably had more sex than you're having

Sorry, Millennials, but despite your hookup apps, your parents were probably having more sex than you’re having. Millennials are much more tolerant of premarital sex than earlier generations, but they tend to have slightly fewer partners than their parents did, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Over the last eight years, acceptance of premarital sex has moved from a minority position to a majority position, with 58% of respondents in 2012 saying they thought there was nothing wrong with sex before marriage (compared to 44% in 2004,) according to a new study of over 33,000 people published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Over the 35 years before that, acceptance has gradually increased: 28% thought premarital sex was okay in 1972, then 38% in 1978, then 41% in 1982. As acceptance for premarital sex has increased, so has tolerance for homosexuality—in 1973, 11% of people believed gay sex was “not wrong,” but by 2012 that number had quadrupled to 44%.

Yet despite increasingly laissez-faire attitudes to sex and marriage, millennials are sleeping with fewer partners than their parents did. Boomers and early Gen X’ers born in the 1950s and 60s had the most sex of all—an average of 11 sexual partners as adults—followed by those born in the 1940s or 1970s, who averaged at about 10 partners. Millennials, born in the 1980s and 1990s, only have an average of eight sexual partners. Still, they’re doing better than their grandparents in the “Greatest Generation,” who slept with an average of about two partners each.

“Although millennials are more tolerant of these behaviors, they’re not taking that is license to sleep around,” said report author Jean Twenge, who also wrote Generation Me, about millennials. She noted that the decrease in the number of partners could be related to growing awareness about HIV and other STDs (since millennials are much more safety-conscious than earlier generations) and probably doesn’t have much to do with the morality of premarital sex. “Millennials have never known a world where premarital sex was a taboo,” she said.

Twenge said this change seems to be over generations, not over time. In other words, it’s not that the entire population that changes its attitudes all at once, but instead that a younger, more accepting generation replaces an older one. So while the culture as a whole may have become more accepting of premarital sex, people who grew up when it was still a taboo may not have necessarily changed their minds.

Still, despite the growing acceptance of sex before marriage, the data suggests that there might still be a different kind of awkwardness in the cross-generational sex talks. “What you might see when millennials are discussing these issues with their boomer parents is that millennials are more permissive of sexuality,” Twenge said, “but boomers might have to shut their mouths about how many partners they’ve had.”.

Read next: 5 Things You Need To Know About Kissing

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TIME Aging

Why Nursing Homes Need to Have Sex Policies

The question of consent is complicated by Alzheimer's and dementia

No one wants to talk about sex in nursing homes.

The need for sex doesn’t disappear as we age, yet many facilities for the elderly have no policy on sex at all and only acknowledge that it happens when there’s a problem, like concern that an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient is being abused. Whether it’s out of ageism or just discomfort with the idea of senior sexuality, nursing homes are not eager to raise the issue, leaving a massive gray area where the line of consent is blurry.

“We’ll ask them about their religion, the music they like, what kind of food they want to eat. We don’t dream of asking them about their preferences around sexuality and intimacy,” said Dr. Cheryl Phillips, a senior advocate at LeadingAge, an association of nonprofit senior services.

The risks of ignoring residents’ sex lives are real. The issue most recently came to light in Iowa, when Henry Rayhons, 78, a longtime state lawmaker, was charged with sexually abusing his elderly wife, an Alzheimer’s patient, while she was living in a nursing home. Rayhons was acquitted this week, after testifying that he and his wife had shared a loving, consensual relationship. The case, which involved family tension between Rayhons and his step-daughters, was complicated by questions of whether someone with dementia can give consent, and whether Alzheimer’s patients have the right to have sex or the right to be protected from it.

Mr. Rayhons could not be reached for comment, and the administrator for the nursing home where his wife resided in Iowa, Concord Care Center, declined to comment.

When Phillips was a practicing geriatric physician, she dealt with sex often. In one particularly thorny case, two residents of a nursing home who both had dementia had begun kissing and holding hands, even though they were both still married to spouses who lived elsewhere. The nursing home lovebirds, though, each believed the other was their spouse. After consulting with the families, the nursing home decided to allow the budding relationship to go forward, since it was bringing the two so much happiness.

“The lesson we took out of that is that it is good to talk with families and be open about values and preferences,” Phillips said. However, she added, “There’s a flip side. Elders deserve privacy. If I’m in a nursing home and I’m attracted to a man, do you have to get my son’s permission for me to be intimate? Where are the boundaries with intimacy? That is where we as a country are really struggling. We don’t have good answers.”

When it comes to managing the sex lives of nursing home residents, the problems are not going away. By 2030, nearly 20% of the U.S. population will be 65 or older, according to Pew Research Center. And according to the World Health Organization, there are 47.5 million people with dementia, a number that will nearly double by 2030.

Today’s aging Americans also grew up with fewer sexual limits than earlier generations and may be unwilling to live in nursing homes that don’t accommodate their sex lives, experts say. “Let’s be real. Baby boomers brought the sexual revolution to America in the ’60s—what are they going to bring to nursing homes?” Roberta Flowers, co-director of the elder law center at Stetson University College of Law, told TIME.

But elder advocates, physicians and nursing home experts say that there is no national standard of best practices for how nursing homes should accommodate residents who are sexually active. The policies that do exist are archaic, regressive and even ageist, and do not acknowledge that nursing home residents could happily have consensual sex with each other.

One exception is the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx, which is cited by many as the leader in progressive policies on sex. The Hebrew Home has a Sexual Expression Policy, which “recognizes and supports the older adult’s right to engage in sexual activity.”

Daniel Reingold, the CEO of Riverspring Health, which operates the Hebrew Home, said they developed the policy in 1995 after realizing that residents were having sex and the home had no plan for dealing with it. The problem became clear to him one day when he was walking down the home’s hallway and a nurse came up to him and asked him what she should do about two residents having sex in one of the rooms. “Tiptoe out and close the door!” he replied.

Reingold says many of his colleagues in the nursing home community are reluctant to adopt policies because of liability, and also just plain nervousness around sex. The issue is also complicated by adult children who are uncomfortable with their parents’ sexual lives, particularly if there is adultery. “It reflects ageism at its worst. People don’t want to acknowledge that old people have sex,” he said. “Intimacy and sexuality is a civil right no different than the right to vote.”

The question of whether the elderly should be having sex is most troubling when it comes to dementia. But experts and elderly advocates say people with dementia are capable of consenting to sex, that they are able to express that consent, and that sex and touch can be good for them, which makes it difficult to know when it is appropriate to set limits. Hebrew Home’s policy is explicit that patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s can give consent to sex, either verbally or non-verbally.

“A 12-year-old can’t consent to sex with an adult today or tomorrow. You can’t have the same black-or-white rule for someone suffering from dementia,” said Flowers, the expert on elderly law. “Someone with dementia is not incapacitated all the time for all things. If they are not incapacitated at the moment of the sex act, they have a right to have sex.”

She added, “It’s a difficult issue and it’s not going away.”

Nursing homes must establish policies, and must be comfortable talking about sex with residents and their families, advocates said. “People want to have sex. That doesn’t change merely because you have gray hair,” Flowers said. “We have got to be willing to talk about it.”

TIME Infectious Disease

HPV Vaccine May Work For People Who Already Had the Virus

TIME.com stock photos Health Syringe Needle
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

A new study underlines the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine, showing the vaccine is protective against the virus on multiple sites on the body, even for women who have been infected in the past.

In a randomized controlled trial—considered the gold standard of scientific research—scientists wanted to know if the HPV vaccine protected against cervical, anal and oral HPV. Daniel C. Beachler, a postdoctoral fellow in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and his colleagues followed 4,186 women between the ages of 18 to 25 who were either vaccinated with a HPV16/18 vaccine or a control vaccine (a hepatitis A vaccine). Cervical samples from the women were collected at their annual visits and oral and anal samples were collected at a four-year follow-up visit.

“We were interested in the question of whether the vaccination may protect non-infected sites against HPV infection or re-infection in women who were previously exposed to HPV prior to vaccination,” says Beachler. The study was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting.

The results showed that the efficacy for the vaccine in all three sites was 83% among the women with no evidence of prior HPV exposure and infection, 58% among women with prior HPV exposure, and a 25% among women with active cervical HPV16/18 infection (the percentage was considered nonsignificant). In total, the researchers report that the overall vaccine efficacy was 65% for all sites and 91% for protection in at least two sites.

Among the women in the trial, some had no evidence of HPV, some had an active HPV infection, and some of the women did not have an active infection but had antibodies for HPV, suggesting that they had been exposed to the virus previously. That’s not uncommon, considering the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly all sexually active men and women get HPV at some point in their lives.

The CDC says teen boys and girls who did not start or finish the HPV vaccine series when they were younger should get it, and young women can get the vaccine through age 26 and young men through age 21.

The CDC says that girls who are already sexually active can still benefit from the vaccine, but it may be less effective since it’s possible they have already been exposed to one or more HPV strains. Still, the CDC says that since young women are not necessarily infected with all types of HPV, they can still benefit from the vaccine. This new study underscores that guidance.

“[This study] is supportive that there could be some benefit at these older ages,” says Beachler. “Close to 90% of individuals are able to clear an HPV infection on their own. This is not a therapeutic vaccine but it could still help protect from acquisition of new infections.”

Dr. Miriam Lango, a head and neck cancer surgeon at Fox Chase Cancer Center, says that the new study is some of the “best kind of evidence we have,” in support of vaccinating against HPV in women of that age. “My understanding was always that you get the vaccination before you get the infection and that after you’ve been infected there’s no benefit to having the vaccination,” she says. “That’s really not what the data tells us.” Lango was not involved in the study.

Beachler noted that at the end of the study, the women in the control arm of the trial were able to get vaccinated against HPV.

TIME Food & Drink

People Who Love Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Have Way More Sex Than Those Who Don’t

Grilled cheese sandwich
David Bishop Inc.—Getty Images

Hey, don't knock this totally groundbreaking survey

Did you know Sunday is (un)officially National Grilled Cheese Day?

Well neither do most people, but in light of this tasty holiday, social-networking and dating site Skout did a survey of 4,600 users to find out what their taste in sandwiches said about them.

Turns out that grilled-cheese-sandwich lovers are having way more fun in the bedroom, with 32% having sex more than six times a month, compared with just 27% of people who don’t like the sandwich. Also, 73% of those who like the sandwich said they had sex at least once each month, compared with the 63% of those who say they don’t like the snack.

That might be because 84% of grilled-cheese-sandwich lovers are more adventurous and likely to travel, vs. 78% of nonlovers. Or it could be because the grilled cheesers are more charitable (81% vs. 66%).

If you’re skeptical, well, remember that Skout’s interest in grilled cheese is for a good cause. The site will donate to food banks in San Francisco and Marin County to help feed hungry kids every time users give a “grilled-cheese gift” to someone else on the site.

Read next: 7 Reasons to Have More Sex

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TIME Sex/Relationships

Teens Aren’t Using the Most Effective Birth Control

IUD birthcontrol
Photo Illustration by Mia Tramz for TIME; Corbis

A new CDC report reveals few teens use IUDs and implants

American teenagers are getting better at practicing safe sex, but a new federal report reveals very few teens are using the most effective forms of birth control.

In the new report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at 2005–2013 data from the Title X National Family Planning Program on teen contraceptive use and found that teen use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)—such as the intrauterine device (IUD) and the implant—are up but still very low. The numbers show that U.S. teen LARC use increased from under 1% in 2005 to 7% in 2013. Implants were used more than IUDs by women of all ages. The state with the highest use of LARC among its teens in 2013 was Colorado at 26%. All other states ranged from use of less than 1% to 20%.

Currently, teens are opting for methods like condoms and birth control pills, which while still good options, are less effective and more prone to incorrect or inconsistent use.

MORE: Why The Most Effective Form of Birth Control is the One No One Uses

The benefit of contraceptives like the IUD and implant are that they are low maintenance and highly effective. For example, the typical use failure rate of the IUD is 0.2% and for the implant it’s 0.05%. By comparison, the birth control pill and vaginal ring have a failure rate of 9% and condoms have a fail rate of 18%.

In 2012, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), considered an authority on reproductive health, concluded that IUDs and implants are safe and appropriate for adolescents and teens. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agreed and said it recommends LARC for adolescents.

“Long-acting reversible contraception is safe for teens, easy to use, and very effective,” said CDC principal deputy director Ileana Arias in a statement. “We need to remove barriers and increase awareness, access, and availability of long-acting reversible contraception such as IUDs and implants.”

CDC

According to the new CDC report, there are a variety of reasons why a young person may not opt for the IUD or implant. Many teens don’t know very much about them and they often think they are too young to use them. As TIME reported in June, some physicians may remember the IUDs of past, which caused severe problems for women and were discontinued. Modern-day IUDs are safe and appropriate but there are still misperceptions about the device that persist within the medical community. Many providers are also not properly trained on insertion or removal of the IUD and implant. However, a recent report showed that among female health care providers 42% use LARC, which is much higher than both the general population of teens and adult women.

Overall, the CDC report shows that American teens are waiting to have sex, and when they are sexually active, nearly 90% report using birth control. The teen pregnancy rate in the United States appears to be steadily dropping, though in 2013 over 273,000 babies were born to girls between ages 15 and 19. The CDC says encouraging young women to consider LARC is an important strategy for further reducing teen pregnancy.

TIME relationships

Here’s What One Woman Learned From Taking a Year Off From Her Marriage

Lessons from a year spent sowing wild oats

Robin Rinaldi did what many women dream of but few actually do: she took a year off from her marriage and made an agreement with her husband that they could both sleep with other people for a set period.

Rinaldi’s book, The Wild Oats Project, is a summary of what she learned during the year she spent in an open marriage. The idea came to her when her husband got a vasectomy after a long battle over whether they would have children — she wanted them, he didn’t. Faced with a future without a family, Rinaldi made a decision: “I refuse to go to my grave with no children and only four lovers,” she wrote, “If I can’t have one, I must have the other.”

That’s when she embarked on the Wild Oats Project. Rinaldi and her husband had three rules: no serious relationships, no sex with mutual friends and no sex without condoms. Both broke multiple rules over the course of the year, and it eventually took a toll on their relationship, but Rinaldi says the project wasn’t as much a choice as “a calling.”

“It was unlike me to act that way,” she says. “I had always been a very cautious and somewhat anxious person, I had always played by the rules. It was something instinctual, and something very female driving me to do this. It wasn’t really planned and strategized as much as felt.”

Still, Rinaldi found that, while many of her friends were supportive, some people thought her project was threatening, even terrifying: “The tale of a woman giving up security, even in an above-board way and allowing her husband to do the same thing, giving up all that security in pursuit of passion and adventure, is a scary idea for a lot of people,” she says. “I certainly didn’t write it to intentionally push anyone’s buttons.”

And ultimately, for Rinaldi and her husband, this was their last chance at saving their marriage. “We knew how risky it was, and we might not make it through, but it was really the only choice we had,” she says. “So we both agreed, two consenting adults, to try this first.” Ultimately, she and her husband went their separate ways, but Rinaldi says the project taught her much more than a simple divorce would have.

The biggest thing Rinaldi says she learned from the Wild Oats Project is that she was putting too much pressure on her husband. “Expecting your spouse to provide passion and security and purpose, it’s a lot,” she says. “I was asking too much of that one person… So now, as a result, I don’t look to someone else to kind of unfairly provide all of those things. That’s the biggest thing I learned from it, and I couldn’t have learned it unless I actually went through it.”

She also learned a lot about sex, and about her own body. Rinaldi spent much of the project in new-age sexual workshops and orgasmic meditation classes, so she came away a greater awareness of her sexuality. “The sex was the classroom, but the sex was not the lesson,” she says. “Your body has wisdom, that is very powerful and can kind of show you your path, and you don’t always have to think it through or necessarily act based on other people’s rules.”

Still, Rinaldi wouldn’t necessarily recommend that other women take exactly the same path she did. Instead, she’d advise younger women to “sow your wild oats before you settle down — that’s a no-brainer.”

Read next: Who Needs Marriage? A Changing Institution

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