Women, Let's Put the Sex Back in Self-Care

by Kristen McElveen, ND

Photo credit: Death to Stock

Photo credit: Death to Stock

We’ve been talking about self-care for a while now, putting on your proverbial oxygen mask first, before helping others, etc., but one thing we’re still not talking about as much as we should be is how sex fits in.

Sure, women hear “if you don’t use it, you lose it,” and that sex is a “good workout,” and that in order to have a libido, “you need to have more sex.” But women still are not making sex a priority in their self-care routines. Why is that?

With stress and anxiety through the roof for many since November, 2016, as well as this revolution of the #MeToo movement, we’re talking about “pussy power” and “pussyhats” and feminism and women’s rights more, but are we acting on it?

When was the last time you honored your womanhood?

And I mean this inclusively. When I say “women,” I mean all who identify as women. Even if someone doesn’t have the physical parts I’m discussing in this article, they may have them energetically, so this still applies. Technically speaking, the penis and vulva are very similar, biologically, they’re just arranged differently.

When I was in medical school, one of my jobs was as a sex toy party consultant, which I loved because I was able to use my medical knowledge and provide a sex-positive, pleasure-positive, supportive space for my clients to discuss their fears and concerns. It really gave me a sense of what women weren’t feeling comfortable discussing with their doctors or even their closest friends, which in turn, helped me be a better doctor.

Women over 30 tend to struggle with the same complaints and are often just told that it’s part of getting older (growl – NO IT’S NOT):

  • Hormone Imbalance
  • Memory Loss
  • Stress, Anxiety & Depression
  • Physical Pain
  • Sleep Dysfunction
  • Low Libido

Of course eating well and exercising can help to improve all of these things. But you know what else can? Sex. Or more specifically, orgasms. And while many studies do show more of a benefit from the hormones and endorphins when there is a partner present, studies also show that there still is a benefit when you are alone.

I personally believe, whether you have a partner or not, time spent honoring your physical body is essential for both physical and mental health. It helps you get to know your body (and therefore recognize any changes you may need to discuss with your doctor). It helps you to recognize your cycle, like when your vaginal discharge changes during ovulation, which can significantly help you with fertility as well as prepare you for the roller-coaster ride of peri-menopause and menopause (yes, women still cycle even after they’ve stopped bleeding). But most importantly, it can also energetically bring us closer to ourselves and improve self-acceptance and self-love, thereby strengthening our connection to the Divine – God, Universe, Goddess, Gaia, yourself – whomever that may be for you.

Because that’s why we are all here. To just be. And to be grateful and not take for granted this incredible life and this incredible body that we were given to experience.

Especially now, in this age of getting our power back and in the age of healing from (generations of) sexual trauma and oppression, I feel it’s imperative to start worshipping our bodies in a daily routine again.

It doesn’t even have to be about sex, but about honoring your body and helping it to function better, as you would with any preventative health routine such as hygiene, eating right and exercising.

Seriously, have you ever tried it?

Have you ever tried to commit to masturbating or having sex with your partner daily for 3 weeks to see what happens?

Trust me, if we weren’t meant to give ourselves pleasure, we would’ve been a T-rex.

The clitoris’ only function is to provide pleasure. It has double the amount of nerve endings as men have in their penis. That’s right. Double.

Do you know that the clitoris is so much more than the “button” at the top of your vulva? It has extensions into the labia and even around the vaginal canal, which is why we are able to stimulate physical pleasure from all of those areas.

Taking pleasure in your own body doesn’t have to have anything to do with sex. For many, it’s simply a way to sleep better or relieve stress or pain, but yes, it can increase our hormones and help us desire more sex if that is one of your goals.

Related reading: 6 things women can do for their libido naturally

It can feel intimidating for women who aren’t familiar with their physical bodies, whether due to trauma or shame or simple lack of interest. But now that we are talking about it more, there are so many more resources coming out to help to support women who are interested in exploring their physical selves.

I LOVE the pleasure-positivity of OMG Yes. For many, self-pleasure isn’t something they want to talk to their girlfriends about, so communities like this make it easy to have a safe and supportive forum to come to and educate yourself about your own pleasure.

And as with ANY health advice, especially if this is something that you are feeling nervous about, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your doctor or therapist.

Though…if they say “it’s just part of aging,” get another doctor. That really bugs me when doctors, usually male doctors, say that, and it’s a testament to just how little we know about women’s health since so much research is done on men.

So what are you waiting for?

Start scheduling “you time,” daily, or if you don’t want to schedule it per se, set it as an intention daily so that you can do it when the mood and/or timing strikes.

Don’t put pressure on yourself – this is meant to do the exact opposite. Start slowly if you need to. Even if you just lie down with your eyes closed and meditate while cupping your vulva with your hand, the intention is there.

Take the time. At least 20 minutes each day to focus on your vulva.

Fantasize, meditate, say empowering affirmations or just explore.

Don’t make orgasm necessarily the goal as this isn’t meant to pressure. This is simply an exercise to bring awareness and energy and love to your lady bits. Some women may take longer to have an orgasm, especially if they’ve never had one, haven’t had many, or are stressed out and that’s ok.

Try it at different times of the day. Some women get energized and like to start their day off with an orgasm or arousal. Others love how orgasms can help them get to sleep faster and prefer to do it before bed. Some even do it both times!

If you commit to yourself to doing this daily for 3 weeks (the time it takes to make something routine), then you’ll be able to see what your body…and mind…prefers. There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you are not harming yourself or anyone else and as long as your partners, should you choose to include them, are consenting adults.

Though, I highly recommend masturbation if getting to know yourself is the main goal, even if you have a ready and willing partner. Masturbating even when you have a partner can actually bring you closer to each other because it can make you more comfortable in and confident with your body and it can increase your libido.

Plus, masturbation is the safest sex!

Try to keep toy use to a minimum during the first 3 weeks, to help focus on you and your body. After the 3 weeks, you can feel free to explore different vibrators or toys to see what you respond to. I love the women-centric products by Lelo.

Below are some other great resources for you to explore in your new endeavor.

Now go honor your feminine power!