In the time I have been a sexuality educator and women's health advocate I have been asked some interesting questions. Actually even before that while I was studying at uni, as soon as people found out what I was studying I came across curly questions and surprising statements from people. In this blog, I thought I would share 7 of the general questions I get asked frequently and a short answer for each.
Q: “Is it ok to masturbate in a relationship?”
A: The simple answer is YES it is ok to masturbate in a relationship. Masturbation is normal and natural, it is a healthy way to explore your own body and to learn what feels good for you. You can masturbate when you are single, or when you are in a relationship. Self-exploration is not an indication of anything going wrong in a relationship. People masturbate for all kinds of reasons – horny, to fall asleep, relieve stress even to help with cramps. If you don’t masturbate that is OK too but if you are curious you can read articles in the Bliss Journal to learn more.”
- Q: “Is it ok to like a,b,c when it comes to sex now?”
A: For the most part the answer to this will be yes. We have built up a lot of stigma and fear around sex and sexuality in our society, and therefore few of us realise that sexuality and our interests around it may change through the lifespan due to a whole host of factors. A lot of the education that I do is around helping women feel validated to unlearn the shame they’ve been taught around desire and understand that just because something isn’t working the way it was when they were 20/or how they perceive as normal doesn’t mean they are any less desirable or broken. That no matter what life as brought to them if sexuality is a priority in their life they have a right to speak up about it and to be heard. Pleasure is healthy and normal, and you deserve it.
- Q: “Can my vibrator hurt my relationship?”
A: Vibrators and other sex toys are all about enhancing your sexual experiences, they are not about replacing anything or anyone – they are not competition. Whether it’s high-speed vibrations for clitoral stimulation, a spine-tingling session with temperature play, or prostate play and the list goes on – they can add new sensations. If you find a toy that works for you (I get it is not always easy to orgasm) it can be tempting to stick with only exactly what works. Remember like anything in life if you do something over and over again, you form a habit and that can make it harder when you can’t do it exactly the way that works. What is the solution – mix things up when you are solo as well as when you are partnered.
- Q: “What do your partner or family think about the fact that you’re a sex educator and adult store owner?”
A: My partner loves me and wants me to be happy doing what I do, so he is very happy with my choice of career. The rest of my family is the same, they love me and think my work is impacting the world and they all know why I do what I do and believe in me.
- Q: “Am I/is this normal?”
A: Incredibly common question in my world of women’s health advocacy and sexual wellness. Everyone asks me some version of this. Examples are below all which are usually quickly followed by , ‘Is that normal?’
- I have ___
- I’ve always wanted to try ____.
- Sometimes I feel like ____.
- Everyone else really seems to be into ____, but I’m not.
- It hurts when I _________.
- I am concerned about __________ but don’t know how to talk to my doctor/nurse/HCP.
My answer? Probably. Chances are, most people have thought/felt/experienced/done the similar. Many people find it had to talk about their sex life, pain with sex is common for women at some point through their life and there is help available. Even if you are statistically an outlier, that doesn’t mean it is wrong or invalid. You are valid, you are enough and you are worth it.
- “I have an X condition…how do I become sexually confident again?”
“Before answering the question, I always validate this person’s experience. Disclosing a medical condition to anyone, even a women’s health advocate can be daunting. My answer typically goes something like, ‘Regaining your confidence and unlearning stigma around illness and sexuality depends on the identities you hold and your attitudes towards them. It’s something that requires patience and vulnerability with yourself.’ That response can elicit frustration from some because they want a magic wand answer and a quick pathway to healing. There are certainly overlapping themes in stories but the reality is we all come from different walks of life, which uniquely affect our experience of sexuality and about the illness. Moving forward from these often requires further education, vulnerability and a deeper awareness of self.
- A: “I’m always in my head during sex with my partner. How do I get out of my head?”
Q: Such a common question from women of all ages and backgrounds. Usually, I recommend starting by breathing, which helps to downregulate the nervous system. Then I encourage my clients to notice what’s happening in their body. It sounds simple, but for many of us, it is a challenge. The truth is once you regularly start to use this type of awareness, you learn how to listen to your body both in sex (and in other parts of life). When you do you can ask questions like, ‘How do I want to be touched at this moment?’ This is a crucial step in being able to communicate your desire with yourself and your partner without it turning into overthinking and taking you out of the moment.
My job is ever boring and I thoroughly enjoy working with all the people I get to work with, however it is not for the faint-hearted or thin-skinned. You really have to be comfortable in what you do, in yourself and have a little of a zero fucks given attitude to work in this area.
I look forward to working with you.