When I started my career as a Naturopathic Doctor treating women’s health concerns, like hormone imbalance, energy levels, chronic illness and fertility, I noticed a common theme – the significant lack of pleasure that the women I was working with were experiencing. Almost every single woman who came through my doors were reporting a lack of desire, a lack of joy in their day-to-day life, burdened with stress, drowning in overwhelm, and with zero desire for intimacy. Women were expressing their devastation at the state of their relationships, their fears of their 10, 15, 20-year marriages failing, their honesty that they just really didn’t care if they ever had sex again because it seemed like such an impossible task and not worth the effort.
This pattern of women giving so much of themselves to everyone and everywhere else in their lives that there was nothing left for themselves, or their relationships, was so pervasive that I couldn’t ignore it. That’s when I started to do my own research and realized that 1 in 2 women will suffer from sexual dysfunction during their lifetime. That is 50% of us that will struggle with pain during sex, difficulty getting or staying aroused, difficulty reaching orgasm, or just an overwhelming and pervasive lack of desire. Half of us will struggle, and most of those women will struggle in silence because they have been taught to think it’s normal when women don’t want sex and they don’t feel like they have trusted professional to confide in that will be able to provide them with answers and solutions.
Repairing your relationship with your sexuality, finding your desires, and exploring them in the bedroom is not as easy as picking up a new set of lingerie or putting on a sexy playlist like magazines might suggest. It is about reframing your relationship to pleasure and making active changes in your day to day life both in and out of the bedroom.
So, where do you start when you want to step into your sexuality and take back your control in the bedroom?
Reframing your outdated sex and pleasure beliefs.
When was the last time you participated in some sex-ed? If you haven’t updated your sexual health knowledge since high school, it’s important to re-learn and update the information you have about sex and pleasure. What we know and understand about sexuality and pleasure, the biology, psychology, physiology of sex is constantly changing, and we are learning more and more about how our bodies work and respond to sex and pleasure all the time.
Here are a few signs it’s time to update your sex ed:
- Your sexual education was focused on guilt, shame, and fear associated with being sexually active
- Pleasure and consent were not taught as an important part of healthy, good sexual experiences
- You still believe outdated sex facts to be true (for example, you can tell how many partners a woman has had by how “loose” she is, you can determine whether someone is a virgin based on their hymen, STIs only happen to people who have risky sex). Spoiler alert – these are all outdated, and we have the science, knowledge and understanding to prove them all wrong.
- You were taught there are different kinds of female orgasms, and some are “better” than others
Looking for a place to get shame-free, science-backed, up to date sexual health information? Listen to my podcast, The Pleasure Principles, to learn more.
Understanding your body and your relationship to pleasure.
Sex isn’t a drive. Read that one again.
For many of the women I work with, undoing this harmful conditioning that sex is some sort of drive that kicks in when we haven’t had enough (like hunger or thirst) leads them to taking control of their own sex and pleasure…and to having better sex. When you sit around and wait for desire to hit you like a bolt of lightning, you are going to be waiting a long time, because less than 30% of women experience desire mainly this way. The other 70% of women require desire to happen in response to an environment or stimulus that makes the desire for sex more likely.
Sex is more like a reward system. When you have sex that is good for you, your brain and body are going to want more and more. Think of the beginning of a relationship when things are new and exciting, and you can’t keep your
hands off of each other. You are getting the reward of novelty and new experiences, so you want more. But the reverse is also true. When you have sex that isn’t good for you, you are less likely to want it again. When you are more focused on the to-do list that is piling up, or worried about the kids hearing you, or in pain, your brain and body are less likely to want that kind of sex again. Your reward system has been shut down. If you are stuck in this pattern, you may find yourself thinking things like “I don’t care if I ever have sex again” and you need to find some ways to hit the reset button on your sexual rewards by having sex that is good for you.
Ways you can explore finding the kind of sex that is rewarding for you:
- Delegate. If you are too worried about the to-do list to enjoy the sex, share some of the responsibilities with your partner so you can be present in the moment when you are intimate.
- Novelty. Try something new. Our brains respond well to newness and excitement. This can be as simple as a new room in your house, a new position, or getting a hotel room for the night.
- Get rid of the brakes. Is your kids overhearing you in the bedroom a major stressor for enjoying sex? Ship them off to the grandparents or a friends house for the afternoon.
Stop chasing spontaneous sex and simultaneous orgasms.
Scheduled sex is just as sexy as spontaneous sex. And you don’t have to finish at the same time as they do in the movies to have meaningful, fulfilling, mind blowing sex. We put so much pressure on ourselves to have the perfect sex with the perfect lead up and be swept off our feet. But that’s just not realistic.
Stop thinking about sex as something that just happens in the moment and start thinking about is as something you must cultivate and learn about as you explore your desires and your relationship to your sexuality.
Sex is not just about sex.
Take a look at the context of your relationship, your life, your stress levels. Sex isn’t just about what you do in the bedroom, it’s about the environment, how you feel, communication, relationship satisfaction, feeling safe and secure, guilt and shame, and everything in between.
You can explore intimacy in many ways, the options are endless, and getting in
touch with your desires in and out of the bedroom are going to open the doors of possibility and help you cultivate the kind of sex that is good for you.
Disrupt the stigma.
And finally, learning about sex, reading about it, discussing it with your girlfriends, your partners, teaching the next generation about the importance of pleasure – these are the ways we cultivate our most fulfilled versions of ourselves and improve our relationship with intimacy. It’s about normalizing the experiences that we have been taught to keep to ourselves because we’re told there is something wrong with us or the only ones who feel this way. Disrupting the old way creates sisterhood and teaches our world about the importance of pleasure and the joy of intimacy, not the shame of it.
Because we all deserve better sex.
Dr. Jordin Wiggins - Dr. Wiggins helps entrepreneurs and professionals have as much success in their intimate relationships as they do in their careers. She is a Naturopathic Doctor, sexologist, and founder of the Pleasure Collective. Dr. Jordin is the author of The Pink Canary – the hidden secret to optimal women’s wellness – an exploration into a life led with Pleasure, for those women who have it together in the boardroom, but not the bedroom. She is a regular contributor to articles and TV, including Cityline, Cosmopolitan and the Washington Post.
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