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Happy International Women's Day




Women's Sexual Pleasure

 The campaign theme for International Women's Day 2024 is Inspire Inclusion.As a Clinical Sexologist I want to take the theme, discuss my clinical work, working with women presenting with low desire (for information, the majority are in heterosexual relationships) and discuss inclusion of sexual pleasure. Very often when a woman presents to clinic with low desire she has suffered for many years. My role is to carry out an assessment to cover the biomedical and psychosocial parts that may have attributed to the presenting issue and establishing the severity and impact. In truth, society often plays down the importance of sex in a relationship and many couples access couples counselling for what they perceive as communication issues, though very often through exploration it is the lack of closeness and connection which sex can bring, I see and hear about the tension, resentment, conflict, resulting in relationship breakdowns and/or betrayal. 


Let me provide example’s, it is not uncommon to hear numerous social scripts expressed in the therapy room, this includes ‘I am told it is normal my sex drive as gone’, ‘I know it is just one of those things’, ‘I guess it’s because we have been married so long’, ‘we are no longer attracted to each other’, ‘I just have sex on Sunday, I lay back knowing after a few minutes its done’, ‘sex is painful, my partner tells me to just relax, or have a drink’, ‘I’m not bothered about sex (then by session 3, admitting they wish they could find their sexual self once again)’. 


Now, let’s look at guilt, obligation and fear. Firstly, guilt, this could be because their physical body has changed, it may have changed from pregnancy, ageing, medical conditions, life pressures – meaning they put themselves down the priority list and time is not their friend, hobbies, interests, wellbeing activities have diminished. Body confidence and self-esteem play a significant part in affecting desire. When we see across social media the high standards set for what a woman should look like, it causes despair, depression, guilt. It is easier to hide and pretend not to want sex and before long they, you, she, her becomes a little lost and so does the sex drive, desire has expired. Let me add the negative side effect of anti-depressants, a common medication used by so many. Recent trials have indicated common anti-depressants (SSRIs) can have a 50% risk of developing sexual problems, whilst the woman continues to blame herself, who tells her to consider the medication?  Please find a recent article on the role of SSRI’s which maybe of interest.



In my opinion it is because sexual pleasure for women is not held with enough importance. My prescription, if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, experience enjoyable sexual pleasure every day for one to two weeks and report your findings.   


Back to the changing body, let’s talk specifics - the vulva and vagina also change, women become self-conscious over odour, their ability to lubricate reduces, loss of texture of the vulva, it becomes dry, the skin may wrinkle – what is happening! The vagina is less elastic, shorter and narrower – For so many women AVOID, AVOID, AVOID sex opposed to seeking support so one can still maintain an enjoyable intimate relationship.  Whilst many women contend with the physical changes there is a sense of obligation, I am married it is my duty, a man needs sex, what will happen if I do not? Then finally fear, if I do not have sex my partner may cheat, he may leave, some women find their partners moods unbearable if they do not agree to sex. Many women continue to be sexual and verbally say yes when their bodies have been screaming no for a very long time.  


In all of the above there is little mention of the woman’s pleasure. In truth the work I do, the women I support have little belief they should or could enjoy sexual pleasure, it has never been taught. I strongly believe we deserve to enjoy pleasure and to be pleasured. Much of my work involves unpicking beliefs and societal conditioning. Making referrals to ensure the taboo does get talked about, which may include further tests, assessments, medication and lifestyle changes. I support women to understand their sexual self, learning what they do like and more importantly teaching how to express and communicate their desires. 


 In the therapy room this can attribute to a large piece of the Psychosexual work, learning what are your ‘yes’s’, where is your window of tolerance? I will move a client from pain and anger with certain sexual activities to feeling comfortable, to being able to enjoy pleasure, be aroused, even orgasm.  Nothing is more rewarding then when clients tells me, ‘I have realised it is not that my desire has gone but my tolerance of bad sex has’, please note this is not a dig at the men reading this, many women simply do not know what they like, or struggle to communicate, it can be easier to say nothing then learn ones sexual self, which takes exploration and discovery. When a client reaches out to tell me they orgasmed during sex, oh the joy it brings! I love helping women want sex again! 


Your sexual self is still there, on International Women’s Day, lets include your whole self and embrace all parts of who we are, let your sexual self play, enjoy pleasure and passion.  For further details please visit my website, www.theyonitherapist.com. You can book in for a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your concerns and explore the therapy options available.  Much love always,


Michelle


Michelle Jermy MSc, PGDip, BSc, PGCE

Clinical Sexologist/ Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist

COSRT Registered 

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