UNDERSTANDING FEMALE SEXUALITY - Anthony's Library and Resources

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Thursday, 12 March 2015

UNDERSTANDING FEMALE SEXUALITY


Research into female sexuality suggests that up to 40% of women suffer from some form of female sexual dysfunction. We’ll talk more about that later but be careful about giving such statistics too much attention. You are an intricate interplay of body, mind, emotion and spirit. Oftentimes a slight adjustment is all that’s required for a balance to return.

Periodically throughout the day, touch yourself sensually by stroking your fingertips gently across your arms, neck, hair and ear lobe. Tease yourself by brushing against your breasts and inner thighs. Allow yourself to feel sensual and to enjoy those intimate, personal moments.

Desire Always Comes First
What prompted you to give your attention to your sexuality? Was it something you felt missing? Or was it the urgings (or pressure) from your partner? We all know that men and women are hard wired in different ways. Most women can’t believe how quickly a man’s desire for sex can be put into physical motion and many men get frustrated on how long a woman can take before she’s ready for sex.  Instead of finger pointing, working to balance these extremes is a far better solution. 

Most articles and advice columns focus on the mechanics of physical sex. Seldom is there attention paid to the most important aspect – sexual desire. Pharmacies and department stores are introducing a sexual health category with a growing range of products designed to enhance the physical enjoyment of sex. However, an increasing number of women (and men) suffer from a loss of sexual desire and it is desire that kindles sexual and intimate behaviour. Without the flame of desire, it is difficult to enjoy the pleasures of physical sex in a long-term relationship.  It is the desire to express your sexuality into your relationship that builds the comfort, the reassurance and satisfaction inherent in a healthy sex life.  When desire for intimacy is there, the mechanics of physical sex are much easier to deal with.

Studies have indicated that women are more likely to fantasize about sex, masturbate, initiate sex with their mates, and wear provocative clothing around ovulation than at any other time of the month. Women obviously can, and do, have sex outside their window of reproductive opportunity, but it makes good reproductive sense for them to have some extra oomph while they are fertile.

What’s the Deal with Low Libido?
Whether your libido is considered high or low is often dependent on your partner’s libido. If you and your partner both have what would be considered a low libido, then low libido would not be an issue.  It’s when one partner has a libido that is higher or lower than their partner’s that relationship problems can occur.  Very few couples have identically matched sex drives all of the time.

Recognizing the discrepancy in the levels of sexual desire is the first step to resolving the differences.  When there’s a relatively minor discrepancy in the sexual desire you and your partner share, there’s little cause for concern.  But when the desire discrepancy is more obvious, this can have a negative impact on the relationship.  If you’re the one with the lower libido, you may feel that their partner is only interested in sex.  Feeling guilty for having a lower libido can lead to strategies to avoid sex, such as going to bed earlier (or later) than your partner, pretending to be asleep, using the “I’ve got a headache” line or starting an argument just before bedtime. Oftentimes sex becomes an activity just to keep the partner happy rather than out of desire and passion.

Your partner, who has a higher sex drive than you, will increase their attempts to engage in sex. This, of course, just makes the situation worse because you’ll feel pressured, and therefore even less inclined to have sex.  Your partner may feel angry or frustrated and even distressed that you no longer seem interested in him. It’s a downward spiral. If this sounds like your situation, it’s time to address the issue.

Pointing fingers at who is to blame for a loss of intimacy in a relationship gives immediate feedback on who’s really at fault. The quality of your communication with your partner will give you insight into the quality of your relationship. You can fake it in the bedroom but you can’t fake it in your heart. If something is missing – or gone amiss – then bring it into the open. It needs to open in your heart first – that’s not a step you can avoid.

You Really Are #1
Many women rate their level of sexual desire in terms of what they think it should be; not what it factually is.  The media’s obsession with sex would have us believe that mind blowing orgasms are a regular menu item in most couple’s bedrooms.  Nothing is further from the truth!  The human body is wired to be most sexually responsive during our teens and twenties when reproduction is of prime importance and we have few responsibilities. Sexual activity during that cycle is geared to insure the survival of the human race.  As we get older, the memories of those heady days rears its head and reminds us of what once was.  But life moves on, which usually means taking care of the fruits of that unbridled time – children. The focus and priorities change from ‘my partner and I’ to ‘my children, my partner and I’. Note that the ‘I’ always comes last.  To ignite your sexuality, you’ll want to change your priorities and start putting yourself first. Start with subtle change – your family or partner may not even notice – and take moments to feel your sensual self. You are creating a space for intimacy. This is the key to a healthy sex life.

If your idea of sexual pleasure is just something that happens in the bedroom after everything is taken care of, it’s time to allow those sexual currents that swirl all around you come into play. You don’t have to look very hard – flowers, birds and animals are in a constant mode of sexual play. Humans are too!  If sex is the last thing on your mind, it will also be the last thing you give attention to. Start moving sexual desire up your ladder of priorities.

Sex is an Emotion
A women’s sexual desire starts on the inside as an emotion. Isn’t that where the focus should be? Drugs companies are busy looking for the ‘pink Viagra’ and the windfall profits they assume will follow. But drugs designed to work on physical response will do little to activate the emotions behind the female sex drive. We all know that!  How often has your partner been hot and heavy for sex and tried to turn you on when you just weren’t in the mood. You may have gone through motions – even felt physically turned on – but if your heart is not in it, the end result will be unsatisfying. You can’t manufacture sexual desire.  But you can re-ignite the passion and feelings that were once part of your sexual expression.  For many women, the desire is still present but the priorities have changed. Sex is left for the last thing at night. And that’s usually when we’re too tired to think about much else than sleeping.

Contrary to popular belief, Viagra has nothing to do with male sexual desire. It is a chemical that restricts the blood from flowing back out of an erect penis. The pharmaceutical companies focus on the mechanics of sexual function. However, most women are driven by the emotion of sexual desire. “I’m not in the mood” is a line most men don’t like to hear. If you’re not in the mood, getting your body to respond sexual is not an easy taskas most men know!

Lingerie isn’t just Victoria’s Secret. Wearing sexy lingerie starts your juices flowing and sets a mood for intimacy. Feeling soft and smooth says you’re ready for a sexy time! Treat yourself and buy a silky camisole. You don’t need to look like a lingerie model to dress like one. Men are visual creatures and the idea that you’ve put on something that is explicitly for sex will be enough.

What You Focus On, Grows
We’ve all heard the expression, what you put your attention on, grows. This is certainly true when it comes to our sexuality. Just think about where most teens have their attention. The majority of advertising and media aimed at this age is designed to keep sex top of their mind. Is it any wonder that parents want to lock up their daughters? What you focus on grows. When sexual interest begins to wane—for whatever reason—we tend to zero in on what is missing. It comes out in simple statements like, “Remember when we could make love all night long?” or “How come you don’t touch me the way you used to?” The questions may reveal the reality but they emphasize what’s missing and what’s no longer in focus.  Little issues have a subtle way of drawing your attention and growing so they become the issue of the day. Unless it’s addressed early, small problems grow, and the larger the problem, the more difficult it becomes to address the solution.  In spite of all sexual messages sent to us daily, we are still reluctant to talk sex in a meaningful, deeper way. Talking sex is more than talking about what turns you on (or what turns you off). That’s just the mechanics of sex.  More importantly is talking about the emotions that are tied into sexuality.

Lasting change comes from making small changes daily. Start today and make a conscious decision to become aware of your sexual feelings. As you begin to rediscover these feelings and let them come into your conscious mind, you’ll be surprised at the feelings you have hidden away. Sexual cues are all around us in pictures, music, foods, touches and smells. By taking a moment to enjoy them as they pass through, you’ll be encouraging their presence in your life.

Take charge of your passion. Many women are content to allow their partners to control the sexual activities. A mutually satisfying relationship requires that you take charge of expressing your wants and needs as much as he does. By initiating the action you’re building your confidence and expressing your desire.

Start Loving Your Body
How do you feel about your body? Are you overweight? Do you have stretch marks? Are your breasts feeling the scourge of time? Have you noticed that the smooth skin of years ago is giving way — or already has —to the ‘leopard look’?  Are you going to address your body image and either take steps to change it in a way that you can accept, or will you gracefully accept it as it is, warts and all? This is a big issue with most women (and incidentally, men are not immune to the same concerns about their self-image. Women just tend to put more of their focus on it). 

The image we have of ourselves is the main player in our sexual function. When you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, whoever you’re with will have to deal with your lack of personal appreciation of your body. Just ask yourself the question “If I don’t love my body, how can I expect my partner to love it?”  If the lights have to be off before you can get in the mood, then you have some baggage that needs to be brought ‘into the light’.  All the attention we give to our flaws, either expressed or kept inside, impact your willingness to let your body do the talking. 

Unfortunately, many women are very vocal about what they deem is wrong with their bodies and bring their attention—and their partners— to all those apparent flaws. Quite often our partners see us in a different way and they are not fussing with the flaws we see. A lack of a healthy attitude toward the body that you have—not the one you wish for— is a real barrier to enjoying sex.

Remember what we discussed yesterday… What you focus on grows? Think about that in context of how you see yourself. If you keep zeroing in on all your flaws, it will be your flaws that show up when it’s time to get naked and put your flesh into his hands. So flip your thinking and start paying attention to those parts of your body that you love and let that be a starting point for loving yourself flaws and all.

Know your hot buttons - Instead of focusing on how your partner can pleasure you, make sure you know the hot buttons that make you moan. Masturbation is a great way to boost your sexual confidence while giving you pleasure. If you know what turns you on, he’ll clue in fast and your sexual pleasure will intensify. (And if he does need direction, you can gently nudge his hand or mouth exactly where you want it to go.)

Look Great
We all know that men and women are different!  But the difference doesn’t have to be a competition about who is better, it a matter of enjoying and complementing the hard-wired natures of the two sexes.  Most men will take a quick shower, shave and slap on some cologne and be ready to tackle the day. For women, bathing, dressing and makeup is a ritual that anchors us to our sense of who we are and how we want to express ourselves. Men may fuss over our fussing, but it’s our fussing that expresses our feelings.

Feeling sexy is an expression of how we feel about ourselves.  We could slide into a Ralph Lauren designer dress and dab on some Chanel #5, but if we feel insecure, unsettled or lack self-respect, then the clothes—in spite of the labels—are a veil over our inner feelings.  My partner will often say, “You look great!” but if I don’t feel that special feeling, his words will do little to change my disposition. I don’t want to be convinced I look great. I want to feel it. Advertising tries to convince us that it’s all about ‘the look’. But we’ve all felt deceived when that new dress didn’t deliver the feelings it advertised. Feeling sexy always starts as a feeling from within.  Finding that spark and giving it your attention will ignite the passion you deserve.

Female Biggest Sex Organ: The Brain
I was speaking with a woman recently who was bemoaning her loss of libido and the impact it was having on her relationship. “I can’t go on like this,” she said. “It’s been over a month since we last had sex.”  I’ve had women tell me it’s been six months or more since they last had a satisfying sexual experience with their partner. An unfortunate consequence of our instant fix culture is the idea that we can solve any problem with a pill or potion. When it comes to our sexual health, drugs such as Viagra and Cialis, while a benefit to men, have also put a lot of pressure on women to perform. Of course the drug companies are salivating at the possibility of creating another winner with a pink version. 

Drugs that deal with erectile dysfunction have little to do with sexual desire. They work on the mechanics of sex – getting an erection and keeping the penis hard. In a similar vein, pills or lotions that increase blood flow or lubrication in the vagina do little to stimulate sexual desire. They may make intercourse more enjoyable and certainly useful if you have vaginal dryness, but don’t confuse the advertising hype with the reality. Our biggest and most important sex organ is the brain. That’s where the sex starts. Cultivating feelings, fantasies and erotic sensations in your head will go a long way to giving them expression in your bed.

Do you sometimes wish you could escape your life, escape yourself?  Why not do it? Role playing is liberating, exciting and funfor both of you. Fantasies should be encouragedand what better way than to act it out? It doesn’t have to be an extreme ‘props fully loaded’ production. Just a simple escape to something you find enjoyable. If this is an area you find uncomfortable, why not give yourself a new ‘toy’ and start now.

Take some time to sit and imagine what would really turn you on. Not sure where to start? Google ‘female sexual fantasies’ and then browse the results. You’ll have lots of starting points. The more feeling you allow into the fantasy, the more sensual your experience will be. Go ahead, surprise yourself (and no doubt delight your partner should you share your fantasy with him).

What’s Behind a Low Libido?
There are many reasons for a lack of sexual desire – it’s not always in your head. There is no benchmark for the right level of sexual desire. What’s adequate for one woman will leave another wanting. Sexual desire is influenced by a whole host of factors including your upbringing, religious beliefs, social factors, physical changes, such as childbirth and menopause, the side effects of prescription drugs and other medications, and your overall attitude to sexuality.  Loss of sexual desire can also be physiological such as an illness, hormonal imbalances (androgen, testosterone, progesterone, DHEA) or thyroid abnormalities. Your personality and history of sexual relationships will also influence your libido.

Since sexual intimacy is rooted in trust and respect, your previous experiences will greatly influence your ability – and desire – to open up and expose your inner feelings. Some of these influencing factors are easy to identify, such as your menstrual cycle, which plays a big role in your desire for sex. Hormonal changes throughout your life cycle, such as menopause and ageing are also easy to identify. Knowing how these issues influence your libido will go a long way to helping you understand and manage the feelings associated with these cycles.  If after some inner exploration you still can’t put your finger on why your desire has dwindled, then make an appointment with a physician, a sex therapist, or health practitioner who specializes in female sexual health.

Make sure you’re comfortable with your choice.  This is a very personal, intimate subject, not a five minute chat with your doctor while you’re having your blood pressure taken.  Our culture puts a lot of emphasis on the expression of sexual desire based on what is shown on TVwhere women are always ready for sex. This is the male model of sexual response: desire, arousal and orgasm. Women are not designed that way.  We are more pleasure-oriented rather than goal-oriented when it comes to sex.  Oftentimes holding hands, being held and soft, tender kisses is all we want… and it feels good. Those are the tender moments we relish.

Decide in the morning that you want to have an evening of intimacy and sex and set the stage throughout the day. To make it more exciting, don’t tell your partner of your intention. While anticipation will add to your sexual excitement, it can also put pressure on you to perform. If your partner doesn’t know your intention, then you can relax without feeling you have to meet his expectations.

A Personal Question
This is a tough question for some women to answer but coming up with a truthful answer will be a deciding factor on how committed you are to your relationship.  When a woman tells me that she’s not really interested in sex and just goes through the motions to keep her partner happy, a red flag goes up. I have to ask the question, “Are you really committed to make this relationship work?” The most important prerequisite for finding and keeping a loving relationship is wanting one.  So here’s the question: Right now would you say with 100% conviction that you whole-heartedly and without reservation want a passionate, loving relationship with your partner?

If you can’t say “Yes!”, then that tells you that you have not resolved a basic conflict that all human beings must resolve to succeed at love:  wanting and committing to a mutually satisfying relationship. If you’re hesitating to say ‘yes’, then you’ve probably noticed patterns in your relationship that leave you unsatisfied, insecure and wanting. That’s exactly what you should be feeling! 

So now the question is, “Are you willing to invest in making it a 100% commitment?” There’s not enough time or space to delve into this topic here, but if you’re not 100% committed to the relationship you’re in, you cannot go any further until you uncover the reason(s) for your hesitancy.  Sexual intimacy at its most satisfying level requires trust and letting go. If you can’t—or won’t—then the deeper currents of sexual fulfillment are not open to you.  You can pretend and fake it for your partner, but you can’t fool yourself.

As children, we lived in a world of fairy tales, fantasies and make believe. As we grow up, we usually snap out of the idea that a Prince Charming will come to our rescue and satisfy our every wish and desire. And let’s not forget that in these fairy tales, the Princess (you) is also cast in a fanciful way. In reality, the partner you’re with is the Prince you’ve chosen. He may not be the flawless character you imagined but then, are you?

We all enjoy praise and the reassurance that we are loved and valued. Get into the habit of complimenting your partner every day.  These can be nice, general things but for a deeper, more meaningful experience, choose a specific quality and characteristic about your partner that you admire and give it expression. You may be surprised at what comes back.

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