Therapy is often focused around addressing things that are broken or problematic. Coaching, to me, is helping people achieve more. To improve on what they have. My favourite question to ask people is “What could make this even better?”. How often do we ask ourselves that?
Not many people understand sex and sexuality despite us living in times of education and knowledge. We are all erotic snowflakes … there may be some similarities between us but there are also many individual nuances, wirings, preferences and turn-ons … that’s what makes things so interesting and pleasurable!
Why do some people find it hard to orgasm? Read on to find out.
By Aleks Trkulja
In 2007, Dr Vivienne Cass wrote an informative book enlightening women on the mystery of orgasms. Its conversational tone provides clarity on the understanding and influences on female orgasms. Dr Cass highlights important information on female orgasm:
- How underestimated the Clitoris is.
- The five types of orgasm problems women experience.
- The causes of orgasm problems.
- Self-awareness via quizzes and questionnaires following the causes, which allow the reader to explore how relative these might be.
- Thorough breakdown of sexual and non-sexual changes that can be applied to help create change with ones sexual satisfaction.
The book is primarily based on Dr. Cass’ 20 years of research experience on female orgasm and does not target a specific age groups or generations. She takes care not to categorise or pathologise women with non-existent, dissipating, or specifically triggered orgasms. Dr Cass recognises that every individual experiences arousal differently.
The literary style is not highly theoretical or intimidating. It speaks to the reader like a passionate, and well-educated friend. Dr. Cass brings to light some incredibly simple yet influential issues affecting female orgasm.
One concept that struck me most was the importance of arousal. A common misconception is that both men and women’s sexual arousal is similar. Tanya Koens recently wrote an insightful blog, Sex: What's the Rush? on the importance of female sexual arousal. She explains;
‘Think of female sexual arousal as like a pot of water on the stove that needs a flame underneath it to bring it up to the boil. Male sexual energy is that flame. They can arouse quickly and burn bright and it’s this energy that helps females get to their arousal.’
Although a quickie is enjoyed by some every once in a while, most women appreciate and need the time to work up to an orgasm. This dedicated time increases our sexual energy and connection to our partner.
Especially amongst younger sexually active people, the gap between orgasms is still large. Author of The Orgasm Gap, Lisa Wade observes that:
‘For one, we often bifurcate the sexual experience in line with gender norms: men are sexual (they experience desire) and women are sexy (they inspire desire). The focus on men’s internal wants and sensations also draws our attention to his satisfaction. Thus his orgasm, but not necessarily hers, becomes a critical part of what must happen for a sexual encounter to be successful and fulfilling.’
Dr Cass addresses these gender issues by acknowledging the bias between a man and women both confident in their sexuality, but women are shamed with words like ‘slut’, whereas men are praised. She suggests shame and guilt can affect female sexual arousal.
On the the opposite end of this, knowing exactly what makes one's body happy is the first step in reaching orgasm. It is a lost cause going into a sexual relationship with someone expecting them to understand exactly what to do without knowing yourself, and then communicating it. This book encourages a cognitive-behavioural approach in understanding yourself physically and mentally.
Each chapter encourages the female reader to acknowledge that their arousal is within their power and responsibility. One's expanding knowledge of their own body initiates an empowering process of understanding and increasing female sexual arousal.
Dr. Cass’ focus on arousal is followed by suggestions of external (or internal) triggers on a spectrum ranging from every day stress and anxiety, to sexual abuse or medical conditions (medication/vulvodynia). These causes are followed by questionnaires and quizzes that allow the reader to tailor their personal experience to these ideas.
Not only does Dr Cass’ book inform the everyday woman about her potentially expansive sexual arousal, but helps health professionals understand that sexual arousal is unique to the individual, and that their upbringing, religion, culture relationships and education all affect their sex lives.
I am sad to realise that most of us find it very difficult to communicate our sexual desires and wishes to our partner. There is so much fear of stigmatisation and sexual shame. People often come to see me and start off being very reluctant to talk about sexual problems such as desire discrepancy, loss of libido, performance anxiety and anorgasmia. It may be a little awkward when we first start talking about presenting issues but as we progress it becomes easier and safer to communicate and much useful information is revealed.
Sexual problems affect both people in the relationship, not just the person who may be experiencing difficulties. If a couple are unable to discuss problems in the bedroom, its unlikely they will be able to solve them. This can lead to what I call the Naked Awkward Moment. The moment when things don’t go to plan, everyone is naked and doesn’t know what to say or what to do. *Tumbleweeds* Lets face it, none of us enjoy a moment like that and it can lead to avoidance of sex and subsequently intimacy as people struggle to steer clear of finding themselves in a situation like that again.
Anxiety is the cause of many sexual issues and anxiety fears seem to be rooted in the “What if ….” question(s). When I am working with clients to address sexual anxieties and problems I often get them to work together and develop a Fall Back Plan … a plan or a number of different endings to the story in case things go wrong. For example: What if I lose my erection? Well we can:
- shake hands and say “see you here again tomorrow”
- take a shower together
- I could do something to make my partner's eyes roll back in their head
- we could lie and cuddle and see what happens
- we could stroke each other or use other methods to reach orgasm (or not)
Its up to the couple to devise the many different endings to the story. Once they have done this they can feel confident that if they get into bed and any anxious thinking arises, they will know the answer to the dreaded “What if” question. This not only helps them feel more confident but it also allows them to be more present in their interactions, rather than off in the future in a potential catastrophe.
People often put off talking about sexual issues with their partner for fear of upsetting them or making them feel awkward. Its important to remember that feeling awkward may only last for a minute or two and then a fruitful conversation can be had. Better to feel awkward momentarily than to avoid intimacy altogether?
Want to do something that not only feels good, but also is good for you? From boosting your immunity, to burning kilojoules, getting a better night sleep and reducing pain, a regular and pleasurable sex life with a partner or yourself can do all this and more, says counsellor and sex therapist Tanya Koens.