*First published in the Gratefull Company’s June 2021 Digital Newsletter
Where did you learn about sexuality and sexual health? Was it from your parents, friends, school, or the internet? Maybe a bit from all of the above?
When was the last time you had a frank and open discussion about sexuality? If you’re like most people, it’s difficult to recall. Sexuality is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. That is, we often hear sexual innuendos and joke about sex with friends, but we rarely have open and frank discussions about sexuality and sexual health.
Where does this lack of discussion leave us? Many of us feel embarrassed talking about sex and ashamed to ask questions about sexuality. Many people feel that they are expected to “just know” everything about sex and are to afraid to ask questions. This can reduce the likelihood of experiencing pleasure in sexual encounters and also reduce confidence in sexual communication with a partner.
As researchers have studied sexuality over the years, they have found that sexual response is more complicated than you might think. It would be pretty difficult to “just know” everything there is to know about sex. There are many factors that play a role in our sexual experiences, which can include physical health, relationship dynamics, emotional factors, sexual health education, sexual history, stress, mental health, body image, knowledge of sexual techniques, and the list goes on.
So what can we do to become more sexually savvy? For starters, let go of the belief that everyone knows more about sex than you do (this is very probably not the case!). Let go of the belief that you should “just know” everything about sex, and instead start to think about sex like any other skill. For example, if you wanted to learn how to play the piano or how to cook a particular dish – you wouldn’t just assume you could do it without any intentional learning.
In the case of sexuality, knowledge is power. Investing in learning about sexual health and pleasure is one way to enhance your sexual life and sexual confidence. For example, perusing quality information about sexual desire, techniques for enhancing pleasure, how to communicate about sex with a partner, how to challenge beliefs about sexuality that might be getting in your way, and how to stay in the moment during sex are just a few ways you can move forward in your journey toward increased sexual empowerment.
Here are a few excellent books to get you started:
- Come As You Are by Dr. Emily Nagoski
- The Guide to Getting it On by Dr. Paul Joannides
- Tell Me What You Want by Dr. Justin Lehmiller
- Better Sex Through Mindfulness by Dr. Lori Brotto