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We all want the key to an amazing, fulfilling and satisfying sex life, whatever that looks like, right? We all wish we could study the formula, jump through the right hoops and crack the perfect code... But we've learnt pretty quickly that few things in life work like that and, even though we can't provide you with the perfect code, we are here to help. 


First, have a read of Part One in this Sex Therapist's Guide To Masturbation, Pleasure and Intimacy series, where Sexual & Relationship Psychotherapist, Kate Moyle, the host of The Sexual Wellness Sessions Podcast, answers some of our questions about masturbation, pleasure and intimacy.  


As Kate mentions in Part One, communication really is the key ingredient to any good sex life. Of course, this is sometimes a lot easier said than done, which is why we are so grateful that some of you opened up and submitted your questions to Kate via our Instagram page. So today, we're following up with Part Two in the series, where Kate answers your most intimate questions and explores a range of sexual health topics.



Q

I've struggled with a low libido since entering lockdown earlier this year. Are changes in libido normal? What can I do to restore it?

A

The way that we now understand desire is that particularly for women it's responsive, so rather than being a fixed amount or set level of sex drive, that it changes with what else we have going on in our lives. Libido or desire for sex and sexual experiences fluctuates and changes depending on so much - stress, our menstrual cycle, life circumstances, relationships, health, mental health, confidence, and the list goes on (basically anything), but it's also important that we understand how we understand sex.


Sex isn't a fixed concept, and the why of sex is as important if not more important, than the what. One of my favourite pieces of research entitled Why Humans Have Sex by Buss & Meston (2007) describes how they found 237 expressed reasons for why people reported that they had sex. So for example, some people who may find sex is a form of stress relief, may find that they have more sex when they are in periods of high stress, such as lockdown was for many people. For other's the preoccupation and worry that may have come with it would have felt like an additional challenge to tune out of that headspace, to be able to get turned on. That's just one example, but in order to get yourself back to a place of feeling more sexual, then you have to identify what helps you, and create more chances for responsive desire to occur.


For example feeling relaxed, so having a long hot bath or shower, feeling sensual so giving your partner a massage, or spending time focusing on your own body. Use sensual cues such as lighting, scent, sound to help you change the context. The Love Sleep range from This Works is created to help you set the scene if you are looking for inspiration, or something new to help you change up your bedroom feel. In lockdown many people reported really struggling as there was no change of scene or context. Everyone was working, playing, parenting, sleeping and coupling all in the same space which made it very hard to switch headspace.


You may also interested to listen to this episode of The Sexual Wellness Sessions with Dr Karen Gurney, who's amazing book Mind The Gap is also about how we understand desire.



Q

I've never been able to reach orgasm. When I try, it gets too intense and I get a feeling like I'm peeing. Is this normal? What can I do to reach orgasm?

A

Many women struggle to achieve orgasm, particularly in partnered sex, and often this is due to:


a) lack of education about our bodies and the fact that the clitoris is not best directly stimulated through intercourse

b) lack of confidence, and the ability to let go when in that situation. 


In regards to your worry about peeing when you orgasm, some sex positions can put pressure on the bladder which can increase the urge to pee; but before and during orgasm there is a lot of intense sensation, muscular contraction and relaxation all going on in your pelvic area at once. This may mean that you are experiencing a sense of loosing control which could be associated with peeing, but the one thing that will get in the way or inhibit you reaching orgasm is worrying or holding back because of the fear of peeing. Some women do have an emission of a clear fluid from the urethra during or after pleasure and orgasm, and commonly this is known as squirting, but this is different to peeing. 


If the fear of peeing is holding you back, then you may also be starting to associate that feeling with sex which will be making you worry and that's not helpful for the right sexual headspace to get you to orgasm. Try and always empty your bladder before masturbation or partnered sex which will offer you some reassurance. Also experiment with solo play and masturbation, put a towel down on your bed, or try it in the shower so that you don't need to worry if it does happen; but give yourself permission to try without fear or judgment, and treat it as an opportunity to get to know your body. Knowing yourself, your body and how it works will help you to grow in sexual self confidence.



Q

How can I have enjoyable sex with my partner when penetration is sometimes painful?

A

My top three ingredients for a good sex life are curiosity, communication and lubricant - and these are really important here. As a rule intercourse shouldn't be painful, and if it is there are some reasons that can explain why it can be for some people - not enough lubrication, pelvic floor muscle tension, sexual pain conditions such as vulvodynia, post-natal recovery, recent surgery/medical intervention, or conditions like endometriosis (this list is not exhaustive). Historically the focus has always been around penetrative sex, and it really doesn't need to be, particularly as we know that the most common way for women to experience pleasure and reach orgasm is through direct clitoral stimulation. Don't be afraid to break away from your sexual routine and try something different, and make sure to communicate with your partner about when sex is painful, as if you keep doing it when it hurts you, then it will reinforce the idea that sex isn't something to be enjoyed.


Focus on non-penetrative sex, touch, massage, try sex toys like incorporating a vibrator, there are also toys for men like the Tenga Egg which can create the sensation of penetrative sex, which can be fun to try if intercourse is off the menu. The best way to get creative with sex is to play with the senses, and remember that you don't require intercourse to have fun. If you are continuing to have the pain during and after sex, then also don't be afraid to go and see your GP, or to ask for a gynaecology referral to get checked out.



Q

My partner and I always seem so busy! How can we create more time for intimacy and sex?

A

The reality is that there will always be things to do, and you have to intentionally make the time and the effort. Modern life is really busy, and we have blurred the boundaries between work and home with technology as we can constantly be reached and don't ever really switch off. Covid-19 pushed this even further by us all living and working at home so experiencing no context change in our lives. The difficult thing is that we have all been fed messages that relationships and sex lives should just happen, and that we don't have to work hard to nurture them, and this just isn't the case. 


Schedule the time for you to spend quality and interruption-free time together. Use that time for touch, kissing, talking and connecting - but do it intentionally. It's not enough to book in time for yourselves and then to both sit on the sofa scrolling through instagram. Put your tech away, and focus on each other. My friend and colleague Dr Karen Gurney talks about improving sexual currency, and this is exactly what this is about. Don't schedule the time for sex, as that can load on pressure and expectation; but just use it to create space and time for connecting, which it's then likely that desire will then happen in. There will always be something on your to do list, so you have to put your relationship and sex life maintenance on there too.



Q

I've never masturbated before and I don't know where to start. How can I relax into it and what sex toy should I start with?

A

There are some great guides and resources for masturbation techniques such as OMGYes and Climax Both platforms have video guides and how-tos on female masturbation which will also help educate and familiarise you with your body. A great book is also Sex Ed : A Guide for Adults by Ruby Rare The important thing is that you educate yourself about what parts are where, so that you can feel confident in identifying what's going on in your body.


The next part is exploration - discovering what you like and how you like it. I recommend a good lubricant like Yes Organics which can be great for especially clitoral stimulation, and a basic first vibrator like the Mia or the Liv from Lelo there are also toys from Lelo that are designed specifically for clitoral stimulation like the Sila or the Ora. It's about what experience you are looking for. When using a sex toy for the first time just try the gentlest setting and try it on other parts of your body before you try it on your vulva or vagina so you have an idea of what it might feel like. 




Kate's Recommendations

YES Organic Water-Based Intimate Sex Lubricant Vaginal Moisturiser For Women - Ellen Terrie

Organic Water-Based Intimate Lubricant

YES ORGANICS

Ora 3 Oral Sex Simulator

Ora 3 Oral Sex Simulator

LELO

Kate Moyle


Kate is an Accredited Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist in Central London. She specialises in working with those that are struggling with difficulties with their sex lives and sexuality, including many in their twenties and thirties who are impacted by the stresses of modern life. Kate often works with people to recognise their personal understanding of their sexuality and sexual health; with the view that issues have roots in psychology, emotion, the physical body, and a person’s history and culture. Ultimately her aim is to help people get to a place of sexual health, happiness and wellbeing.

You can find out more about Kate on her website and on Instagram, or you can listen to her podcast The Sexual Wellness Sessions