– Dr. Muskann Khosla
If you Google, ‘How to have good sex’ it will return 4,090,000,000 results and ‘Key to good sex’ will return 6,150,000,000 results!!
Mind boggling! This just shows that a lot of us want the answer to this question. But what is the answer?
Before we answer this million dollar question; let’s go over some hard (pun intended!) FACTS:
- 70% women fake orgasms
- Only 18% women orgasm during penetrative peno-vaginal sex
- As many as 75% of women will experience pain during sex at some point (and most just suffer in silence)
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has estimated that at any point of time 1 in 5 people in United States have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- Almost 30% of college-age women can’t identify their clitoris on an anatomy test Now, let’s re-visit our question what is the key to good bed-rocking, safe and healthy sex? The answer is- Communication!
I know it sounds weird because we have been bombarded by a gazillion blogs, videos, books etc about the 10 things you can do to jazz up your sex life which include things ranging from self care products, therapies, self pleasure products, adverts for couples counselling, books on sexual positions etc etc. To be honest all these things do help but the underlying foundation still is- Communication. I mean how
exactly do you intend to try a new position or a fantasy if you don’t talk to your partner about it and express it.
Makes a little sense?
There is a large amount of scientific evidence to demonstrate that sexual communication is critical to the development and maintenance of healthy sexual function. It further strengthens the intimacy and bonding between partners and promotes overall well being.
So, what is sexual communication exactly?
Is it like dirty sex talk where we tell our partner what we want, talk about our wildest fantasies? Well, that’s one part of it but sexual communication in essence is more than that and focuses on a more holistic spectrum encompassing aspects of:
- sexual pleasure
- sexual health
- sexual justice and
- sexual well-being.
Confused? Each of these 4 aspects are quintessential to achieve what World Health Organisation (WHO) describes as good sexual health- positive sexuality and positive and safe sexual experiences.
Let’s see what each aspect means and how we can communicate about it to our partners, and in some cases with other people including friends, family and healthcare providers.
It is well-known through research that sexual pleasure positively contributes to physical, social and emotional well-being including greater happiness, lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression- more so for women. However, when it comes to sex we just expect it to be perfect without speaking a word. Almost like we expect our partners to telepathically know what to do to us and when!
What do we need to talk about?
- Sexual positions you’d like to try to increase vaginal stimulation during penetrative sex – Integrating the use o vibrators, dildos and other sex toys for greater stimulation – Adding or increasing the frequency of noncoital sexual behaviours like giving/receiving oral sex or manual stimulation etc
- Enacting fantasies BUT do discus you and your partner’s comfort zone around bondage, domination, submission/sadism, and masochism (BDSM) or “kink” vaginal penetration behaviors (e.g. fisting or stretching) before going the 50 Shades of Grey route
While sexual pleasure is often considered to be a physical domain it has a strong mental and psyhological aspect. One can only feel true pleasure when the person feels safe and knows that these moments are private (unless otherwise explicitly consented to). It is important to discuss and clearly put out what your comfort zone is around things like filming the act, involving another person etc. Consent, safety and privacy are important aspects of good sex.
This being said we understand that it is not always easy to talk about these things, because it is maybe a little -AWKWARD. We suggest trying our sticker set, our initiative to create an accessible sexual pleasure and safety language to break the ice over DM or text in a non-hostile and fun way and then taking it forward with the flow.
Sexual Health: It is imperative to have a talk about:
- contraception (which one and who would bring/use it)
- conversation around sexually transmitted infections and maybe getting tested together – talking about painful sex (more in case of women but men might experience it as well) – talking about low levels of desire/libido- female sexual interest/arousal disorder (FSIAD) and male hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). Popular media and pornographic narrative portryas men as having high or unwavering levels of sexual desire, which may make it difficult for them to report low sexual desire especially during other stressors of life.
- Talking about medical conditions like erectile dysfunction (ED), endometriosis, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) etc. A study reported that out of all men contacting an ED helpline less than 60% of men had spoken to their partner about their sexual concern.
– Sexual justice: A little understood clinical entity is postcoital dysphoria (PCD), a condition where acute feelings of upset or stress come on not during but after sex. This is particularly common among survivors of childhood sexual abuse, as well as physical or emotional abuse or adult sexual assault. People with postcoital dysphoria often experience anxiety, depression, emptiness or despondency following sexual activity. Two independent studies have revealed that while around 50% women reported experiencing PCD at some point in their lives, and about 2% said they experienced it regularly; around 40% men also reported having experienced PCD at some point in their lifetime and about 4% reported experiencing it regularly.
While strategies like seeking professional help from a psychologist, mindfulness meditation, relaxation and breathwork etc may help- being able to express and process your feelings with a supportive partner that you trust can be tremendously helpful in working through PCD. This means talking before sex in a realxed and comfortable environment about how you’re feeling and whether you’re ready, as well as
being able to communicate during sex about what is going on mentally and physically. This type of communication is difficult for many people, but necessary in order to improve sexual experiences. It allows you to set clear boundaries for yourself, helping you to regain control and establish a safe space both mentally and physically.
Trauma-informed, sex-positive practices with a supportive and understanding partner is important for overall wellbeing.
– Sexual well-being: While other aspects of sexual communication emphasise on communicating with a partner, the overarching realm of holistic sexual well-being might require communicating freely with friends, family, society and healthcare providers.
- Communicating about avoiding unwanted vulnerabilities during sexual activity and harboring the feeling of safety with the partner
- Being able to communicate freely about sexual values and attitudes along with sexual preferences and identity with friends or family in a supportive and non-hostile environment – Communicating about adverse past-experiences and mistakes made in past sex life either with a trained professional or a supportive friend, partner or support group to be able to let go of the pain, hurt and sexual guilt
- Being able to communicate freely with experts in a safe, private and judgement-free zone to understand more about pleasure, contraception and sexual health
Sexual communication is positively associated with all domains of sexual function- desire, arousal, erection, lubrication, orgasm, less pain, intimacy, and overall sexual and emotional well-being. However, we do understand that there might be some hesitancy and awkwardness to get it started and for that we are here for you- try our accessible sexual pleasure and safety language stickers to get the ball rolling and bed-rocking.