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let's ask a sex therapist: the answers to our most burning questions about sex and intimacy

Wellness

Sex & Pleasure

6th June 2022

from knowing what a 'normal' sex life looks like to wondering if a cervical orgasm is truly possible or just a fantastical midwive's tale...there's a lot we wish we could ask a professional sex therapist. lucky for us (and you) we've been able to partner with the incredible charlene douglas - one of the UK’s leading Sex Therapists, Counsellors & Intimacy Relationship Coaches - to discuss all our most pressing questions about sex and intimacy. enjoy!

My partner and I rarely have sex anymore and our intimacy is lacking - what are some ways we can reignite our intimacy?

The first step would be to create some space to have an open discussion with your partner about your individual views of your sex life.

Speak about how you would want your sex life to be, and together agree on small steps that you could make towards having the type of sex life you desire.

For example if you have children and find it hard to be physically intimate because they are often in the house, could you arrange for a babysitter once a fortnight, every Friday evening?

How could you use this time to draw closer to your partner? Often starting with a non-sexual activity that allows you to be yourself around your partner works quite well. You could try to arrange a new activity that would interest you both. An activity where you need to work together, or even compete against each other…something that would make you both laugh perhaps – the key is to build on the emotional intimacy and the physical intimacy should follow.

I experience a lot of pain during penetrative sex - do you have advice?

Penetrative sex could be caused by a medical issue or a psychological issue.

It’s really important that if you are experiencing pain when having penetrative sex, that you book an appointment with your GP. Sexually transmitted infections, endometriosis, lesions and tears inside the vagina or on the penis, phimosis (a foreskin that is tight and doesn’t retract) are just some of the conditions that would require medical assistance.

Vaginismus is a common cause of painful sex for vulva-owners. This is where the vagina muscles contract when penetration is attempted making it difficult or impossible for penetration. I would advise seeking the guidance of a trained Psychosexual Therapist to help to establish the possible psychological reasons that the vagina is reacting in this way. They will then usually introduce dilators to you which will train the body to relax when penetration is attempted, and as a result you shouldn’t experience pain.

The key is to investigate the cause of the pain and to then access the right support to treat the issue.

Remember sex shouldn’t be painful.

I'd like to be more intimate with myself, but find it difficult to "get in the mood" when it comes to masturbating...any tips?

A great way to ‘get in the mood’ is to write down what has contributed to you feeling ‘sexual’ in the past, whether it be watching porn, reading a sexual text message, having a warm bath while sipping a glass of red wine etc.

Your body and mind need to be relaxed in order that you can connect with sexual pleasure. Have a think about what helps you to feel relaxed. A great way to do this, is to think about what sensually stimulates your 5 senses first, then once you feel relaxed gently glide your hands over your genitals. Try not to aim to sexually arouse yourself, just simply enjoy the sensations of your touch.

Sight – watching a movie?

Sound – Listening to meditation music on Spotify?

Touch – Massaging your body with a scented, warming massage oil?

Smell – A scented candle with your favourite scent – Ylang Ylang / Lavender perhaps?

Taste – Red wine? A bowl of juicy strawberries?

I have a few sexual kinks and fantasies I'd like to share with my partner, but I'm worried they'll find them too strange. How can I open up that conversation?  

Start with: “I follow Charlene Douglas on Instagram. She’s the Sex Therapist on Married at First Sight UK. She spoke about…. How would you feel about us trying that in the bedroom?”

Sex quiz cards are also a great way to have open conversations about sexual desires. You can buy my cards via my website or head online for a range of other options.

What's considered a "normal" sex life?! 

A normal sex life is whatever you want it to be. Some couples have sex once a day, others have sex once a fortnight, some choose to not have penetrative sex at all, but to enjoy other forms of sexual intimacy instead. It’s important to do what brings you and your partner joy. There are far too many people who are shocked when their relationship crumbles because they had been having ‘great’, frequent sex…so surely their relationship was strong, right? Wrong! Frequent sex doesn’t necessarily mean you have a strong relationship. Instead of conforming to society’s views of what your sex life should be like, take some time to think about what sex means to you and your partner. You may have moments when you’re at it like rabbits, and other moments when a simple cuddle and a kiss goodnight is enough.

How can I tell my partner what I need in bed without making them feel incompetent or insecure?

It’s often about timing and setting. If you would like to speak to your partner about a sensitive topic regarding your sexual needs start by making sure you are in the right environment. Having such a discussion when your partner is stressed and just arrived home from work may not elicit the kind of response you were hoping for.

Choose the right moment, perhaps when you’re on a date night or cuddled up in bed and start by discussing something positive about your sex life with your partner. You can then gently introduce what you need sexually and follow it up with some positive feedback.

An example of this would be – ‘I have to say that I always feel so comfortable talking to you about sex. I love how open you are. I was thinking that although I LOVE how you perform oral sex on me, I was wondering if you could do it a little bit longer next time. And, of course you need to definitely finish with that amazing thing you do with your tongue on my clit.’

Does the G-spot exist?

Sex researchers/scientists overwhelmingly say no. Some refer to the G-Spot as the internal parts of the clitoris. The supposed ‘G-Spot’ is situated 2-3 inches inside the front part of the vagina. When stimulated it can help a vulva-owner to orgasm quicker.

How can I have a cervical orgasm?

A cervical orgasm can occur when the opening of the uterus (cervix) is massaged during sexual play. This is not a pleasant experience for everyone, and some may even find the deep penetration painful, if the thrusting is too quick and aggressive. If the cervix is gently and slowly massaged by the tip of the penis or a dildo, after some time (usually around 30 mins) vulva-owners may experience a cervical orgasm. This type of orgasm is likely to feel different from any other orgasm.

I have a chronic illness and find it difficult to be intimate or sexual because of it - how can I overcome this mental block?

It’s important that you listen to your body and only do what it allows you to do to it. If your chronic illness means that you experience bouts of fatigue, then allow your body to rest. Sex should be fun and pleasurable, so if you’re feeling exhausted, you’ll not be able to enjoy sex.

There are so many fun and games to choose from when it comes to being intimate, so you don’t have to force your body to engage in a sexual activity that it is not comfortable with.

Learn what your body needs at any given moment and cater to it.  Remember the biggest sexual organ…is your brain – use your imagination and make your intimate moments add to your emotional wellbeing in a positive way.

I suffer from vaginal dryness - is there anything that can help boost this naturally (aside from using lube)?

It depends what is causing your vaginal dryness. If this is caused by low oestrogen due to the menopause then speaking to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy could see an improvement in your natural lubrication.

If vaginal dryness is not caused by a medical reason, then you might want to think about what you need to feel sexually stimulated. So often we go along with the sex on offer, but it’s not ‘turning us on’. The body doesn’t lie. If it feels safe, excited and aroused, the vagina will begin to lubricate. Give your vagina the time it needs to lubricate by exploring what your body needs to feel ‘turned on’. Take your time, and allow the sexual energy to slowly build. Too often sex is rushed, and the body isn’t fully ready.

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