I spent last weekend with hundreds of new mothers and their babies at the Mommycon Chicago conference. I was invited to talk about my new book, Sex that Works and was greeted by over 50 mothers and just about as many babies. The conference was geared towards the practice of attachment parenting, an ancient practice the world over where the baby is held in a carrier through most of the day. Seeing them I remembered and shared the stories of how my own sex life went almost completely dormant during the early years of parenting.
In truth, and one of the reasons I am so motivated to bring Sex That Works to young mothers is because this is one of the primary junctures in a woman’s life when she turns away from her sexuality and sometimes longer than she had planned for. Intimate relationships can weather weeks or months of no intimacy when a family is growing, but extending that to a year or more can jeopardize the foundation of the marriage. Besides all that, as I reminded the women I spoke to, you wouldn’t go two weeks without washing your hair, sexual intimacy is another kind of deep hygiene that the body needs.
And yet moving towards our sex without the promise of sharing in the pleasure is practically impossible as many of these mothers shared sentiments with me after the talk such as, “I just wish he would hurry up and get it over, it’s so uncomfortable…” and “Fine we can have sex but does he have to touch me??” In part this is a story of holding a baby 24/7 and the hormonal shifts that overtake the body after birth and during breastfeeding.
One of the exercises I offered during our talk was creating a desire and pleasure timeline—because when we aren’t feeling sexy it is hard to recall that we ever did. As we stirred up memories of sexual desire and pleasure before baby, I saw a light turn on. Most of these moms were just learning about their own pleasure response before their baby and some still hadn’t found a reliable way there, which explains how sex becomes a chore.
Like most everything in life, when we shift our attention to something and allow our curiosity to lead us, the intention itself discovers what we have been missing—sexual pleasure is no exception. Our bodies are built for sexual pleasure and when it is shared between people who love each other, it creates a powerful glue to weather almost anything else. Leaning towards sexual pleasure opens the way to orgasmic potential and that begins with understanding and exploring the body’s natural arousal mechanism. Recent studies have actually demonstrated that working with your physical arousal response can actually instigate sexual desire, rather than the reverse of waiting for desire to jumpstart arousal. This is heartening news because tapping into and enlarging our capacity for arousal is no different than developing any other physical response. Our trained attention and willingness to practice ensures development.
Here are 3 easy ways to begin:
- Open to Scent
Our arousal mechanism lives in the brain, specifically the limbic area of the brain, which is conveniently co-located with our olfactory center- i.e. our nose. This is a direct line to where your brain processes your sexuality, as well as your emotions and memory. Trust your sense of smell to excite you and try out different scents. This is how my business began, by discovering the power of scent in sex. Indulge and expand your arousal response with whatever scents turn you on. Notice how when you change the scent you change the love. Our olfactory system is our primary sense when it comes to attraction and arousal. Since the beginning of time, our sense of smell has been the leader when it comes to the art of mating. Use it to your advantage.
- Use more lubricant
Arousal messages are experienced in the body through a natural lubricating response. Yet, as many as a third of all women do not have a strong natural lubricating response especially after birth and while nursing. This lack of natural wetness easily translates into low libido and disinterest in sex. And nothing is more painful than dry un-lubricated sex! After years of birthing and nursing babies, I have all but lost my natural lubricating response, which was a prime motivator for me to create healthy products to begin with. I can’t say how relieved I was to discover that a small application of healthy lubricant could actually kick start my arousal cycle. Not only that, but adding a healthy lubricant also gives you more time to experiment which is a critical companion to discovering and experiencing orgasm.
- Move your body
Although our arousal response originates in the limbic brain, it is decidedly a visceral experience. Our bodies are built for motion and nowhere is this more useful than in sexual exploration. Although this may seem like stating the obvious, it is surprisingly not a small percentage of people who tense up and stop moving in their sexual activity. Realize too that there is so much more than hip thrusting to experiment with. Interacting with all of your limbs, rolling your neck and stretching into new positions can trigger arousal points that you didn’t know you had. Perhaps the biggest motivations for adding strengthening exercises to your life is because of the benefits it brings to your orgasmic potential. Being able to hold onto someone you love from the inside will make you feel both strong and sexy.
Arousal is your body’s natural mechanism for exploring and growing your capacity for pleasure. It is a gift that we are all born with; learn about yours and be amazed at how much happier and healthier you and your relationship become.