The topic of female sexuality has progressively become more accepted in modern society, but there are many regions throughout the world where it remains heavily stigmatized. The sexual revolution of the Western world has primarily focused on female reproductive health and rights, but the topics of female sexual desire and pleasure have also steadily gained acknowledgement. Within the past decade, the feminist movement has gained strength in numbers and media exposure, leading to a surge in female sexual empowerment and increased opportunities for women to explore their sexual identity. Needless to say, there is still a great deal of work to be done in the female sexual empowerment movement. This is to be expected, as humans have primarily focused on the sexual urges and desires of men since the dawn of mankind. Mankind. The status of female sexuality and sexual health can be largely attributed to the uneven power dynamics between men and women.1 The female sexual revolution is a laborious process with challenging, long-term goals. However, there are numerous measures that you can take to increase your personal and sexual satisfaction. By living a happy and sexually fulfilling lifestyle, you can in turn educate your peers about the importance of awareness, knowledge and resources available in your community. This guide serves as a tool to help navigate females through the intricate and overlooked topics regarding their sexuality. Individuals like yourself can take part in the female sexual revolution by becoming educated and comfortable with your body, portraying your confidence and insight to the people that surround you and living a happy and healthy physical, mental and sexual lifestyle.
Step 1: Education
Education is the first step to improving the sexual health and rights of females because without an accurate understanding of their needs and desires, there cannot be progress. Educating yourself on the various methods and health practices that promote mental and physical health will not only help you to feel happier and more confident on a daily basis, but this positivity will also carry over into your sexual lifestyle. Female sexual health is often only discussed when it relates to sexual disease, dysfunction and child-rearing basis. Although these are highly important topics, this approach fails to consider a female’s romantic needs, sexual pleasure and mental health. Ask your doctor about what resources are available for women in your community and engage in discussion with your peers. Asking questions about your sexual health and seeking help for any problems you may experience will allow you to gain knowledge, confidence, and an understanding of your body. This can also open the door for conversations with your doctor, family, friends and partners in the future.
Once you have educated yourself on how to improve your physical, mental, and sexual health, the next step is to make this process more personal to you. If you feel unfamiliar or uncomfortable with your anatomy, take a few minutes out of each day to explore your body. Become familiar with every part of your body and how it feels to touch different areas. Be curious! Don’t hesitate to use a small hand mirror to look at yourself. Or just close your eyes and explore the various erogenous zones of your body with your hands. This can help you to relax and become familiar with what areas are most sensitive and enjoyable to touch.
For women who experience negative body image, the education and self-exploration steps may be difficult. The media portrays the female (and male) body in extremely unrealistic ways, which can create impossible standards to live up to. If it is difficult for you to find pride in the way that you look, try to find self-confidence through what you do and who you are. Whether you are great at your job, a fantastic mother, a reliable friend, or an attentive partner, recognize the aspects of your life where you succeed and give yourself some credit! It does not matter how much you weigh, how flat your stomach is or what size clothes you wear. The more you like yourself, the more others will want to be around you and enjoy your company. The more comfortable you feel in your own skin, the more you can relax and enjoy sex, whether it’s during masturbation or with your partner. You do not have to fit society’s standards to be and feel physically beautiful. Feeling good, beautiful and confident inside and outside is important. Everyone is beautiful. Make an effort to find the parts of your body that you love.
Step 2: Adopt a Healthy and Happy Lifestyle
An active lifestyle can contribute to a healthy weight, a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, and improved mental health and mood. It can also lead to more pleasurable sexual experiences.2 Exercise increases blood flow to the sex organs, in addition to boosting mood through the release of exercise-induced chemicals called endorphins, also known as the “feel-good chemicals.”3 Additionally, testosterone levels are heightened during the hour following exercise, which can lead to an increased sex drive.3 Daily exercise is incredibly important, but establishing a realistic and sustainable routine is even more crucial. Setting goals for yourself and working alongside your partner can be excellent motivators for sustaining your healthy diet and lifestyle. A healthy and balanced lifestyle can lead to increased fitness and confidence, in addition to helping you feel more sexy, playful and open to trying new things inside and outside of the bedroom with your partner.
Sex Enriching Foods: There are many foods that can increase libido by increasing blood circulation to the sexual organs:
- Garlic, chili peppers, and ginger contain allicin, which dilates blood vessels and thins the blood.3
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish also help to thin the blood and increase elasticity of the blood vessels, allowing for easier blood flow.3
- Dark chocolate contains antioxidants in addition to phenylethylamine, which has a stimulating effect by releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine and serotonin in the brain.3 Dopamine is associated with feelings of pleasure and love, while serotonin helps regulate mood and memory.4
Stress has a profound effect on the functioning of the human body. When the body is under high levels of stress, this leads to a release of the hormone cortisol, which is known to suppress the sexual response cycle and cause low libido.3 Maintaining low levels of stress is important for cardiovascular, mental, and sexual health. Finding a balance between work, family, hobbies, your partner and your personal time can be difficult, but it is a key element for a healthy lifestyle.
Step 3: Communication
Maintaining strong, open communication is crucial in sustaining a gratifying personal relationship and sexual experience with your partner. Making assumptions about what your partner is thinking or feeling based on their body language alone is not a reliable way of communicating. Discussing any concerns or problems that you may have before engaging in sex is the best way to avoid unwanted situations and discomfort so your experience is not filled with worry or apprehension. Keeping the dialogue open throughout sex can also ensure that you have your partner’s consent and that you are both enjoying the experience. Sexy talk is a form of communication in which individuals discuss intimate scenarios together and this can be a great way to maintain communication during sex. Engaging in sexy talk before, during, or after sexual intercourse can heighten the excitement and connection between you and your partner by keeping you both in the moment, and allowing you to introduce specific sexual positions or scenarios that you would like to try. Sexy talk can also help reaffirm that you are both enjoying yourselves and make you both feel confident and empowered.
If you feel uncomfortable discussing your sexual desires with your partner or find that it is difficult to bring up the subject in a conversation, try writing a letter or email to your partner. Writing down your thoughts, desires, or concerns is a great way to express yourself because you can take time to formulate your ideas and ensure that you address the subject in its entirety.
If you have suffered trauma in your past, this can put a strain on a relationship if you have refrained from sharing it with your partner, your partner has problems coping with it, or if your partner does not know how to provide you with all the support that you need. Although it may be a difficult subject to discuss, confiding in your partner can bring you closer together and provide you with an additional personal resource to help you navigate through the healing process. If your partner feels uncomfortable or unable to advise you on the trauma on their own, group or couple’s counseling is an excellent option to help move the dialogue forward in a useful way. Seeking help for any personal or relationship problems can allow you to let go of previous trauma, establish stronger relationships with individuals that you can confide in the future, and allow you to move forward with your life and pursue the things that make you the most happy.
Step 4: Address Any Sexual Difficulties
It can be difficult to talk about sexual difficulties with your partner or your doctor, but sexual dysfunction is common (43 percent of women and 31 percent of men report some degree of difficulty during their lifetime).5 These problems can occur at any stage of a male of female’s life and it is not something that you need to be ashamed of. There are many resources on SexInfo to help navigate you through this process and educate you on the possible causes and treatments.
Insufficient lubrication can be caused by a number of factors including inadequate amounts of foreplay, poor body image or self-confidence issues, improper diet or exercise, menopause, anxiety and stress, lack of partner communication, or prescription medications.6 In addition, some female bodies just do not produce enough lubrication for a pleasurable sexual experience, even if they do not possess any underlying medical issues and they are sufficiently aroused.
A female’s body experiences a multitude of changes throughout the lifecycle. Vaginal dryness is typical during menopause due to changes in estrogen levels. This reduction in vaginal lubrication can lead to painful intercourse and a decreased libido. Fortunately, there are multiple over the counter remedies available for women experiencing vaginal dryness. Vitamins B, A and beta carotene are high in essential fatty acids and may be taken as supplements to increase vaginal lubrication.7 Vitamins E and A suppositories can also be inserted in the vagina to provide relief for vaginal dryness.7 Drinking plenty of water, decreasing alcohol and caffeine intake, and refraining from douching or harsh chemical soaps that interfere with the vaginal pH levels can all lead to an increase in vaginal lubrication.6Personal lubricants (also known as “lube”) can also be utilized during sexual intercourse to help reduce friction and irritation, thereby increasing sexual pleasure.
Estrogen is an important hormone that is responsible for keeping a female’s vaginal tissues healthy. This hormone helps to maintain the vagina’s normal lubrication, acidity levels, and elasticity.7 When estrogen levels decline, the lining of the vagina becomes thinner and less elastic, leading to a decreased production of vaginal lubrication. Estrogen levels drop during and after menopause, during pregnancy, and during periods of breastfeeding.7 Estrogen can also decrease in females who smoke cigarettes, who have had their ovaries removed, who have been previously treated for cancer, or who have certain immune disorders. Estrogen cream can help relieve vaginal dryness, but they are also notorious for causing a variety of other unpleasant symptoms.7 Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing vaginal dryness and discuss the best options pertaining to your medical history.
Low sexual desire can have large variety of causes including age, menopause, negative sexual experiences, depression, anxiety and stress, habituation to one’s partner, or relationship problems to name a few.7 Researchers are avidly searching for the “female Viagra,” but many drugs are still in the testing phase and include adverse side effects. If you are experiencing a lack of sexual desire, talk to your doctor about what might be causing this and whether there are any supplements or prescriptions that could benefit you:
- ArginMax is a multivitamin with added ginseng, gingko and L-arginine, that has been clinically studied and shown to positively affect sexual satisfaction, orgasm ease and sexual desire in study subjects.8 The package suggests that it should be taken daily for four to eight weeks before results are noticed. As with any over-the-counter dietary supplement, it is important to check with a primary-care doctor to be sure that none of the ingredients are unsafe for an individual’s health and medication profile.
- Intrinsia is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a testosterone therapy for women with low sexual desire.9 This drug has not been approved by the FDA yet because the effects of testosterone on women are not fully understood, but the hormone has been linked to issues such as liver damage and the development of male secondary sex characteristics (more body hair, deep voice, etc.).10
- Addyi is a non-hormonal prescription pill used to treat Hypoactive (low) Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) in women who have not gone through menopause and have not had problems with low sexual desire in the past.10 Addyi can cause severely low blood pressure, fainting, and sleepiness, so be sure to discuss the various side effects and risks associated with each alternative with your doctor.
Supplements and prescription drugs should be used as a last resort, if lifestyle changes are not leading to any noticeable changes in your sex life. Sexual desire is dependent not only on socio-cultural, psychological, and interpersonal influences, but also on each person’s biology. Because so many factors are involved, it can be difficult to pinpoint the source of the problem. Prescription drugs can also lead to adverse side effects that could possibly interfere with your sexual lifestyle more than it benefits it.
Step 5: Novelty
Partaking in a fun, new and exciting activity can lead to an increase in the brain chemical dopamine, which helps fuel sex drive.3 Adding some novelty to your sex life can increase pleasure and add excitement to the scenario:
- Reflect and share your desires – Give yourself some time to reflect on your sexual desires and turn-ons. What is most exciting to you? What are you open to trying? Allow yourself to think about what you, and only you desire. Once you have an idea of what you might be interested in, share this with your partner in whatever way feels most comfortable to you. Whether this is writing them a note, or beginning a discussion together as a form of foreplay, share some of your new revelations with your partner and ask them about their fantasies. Do not feel obligated to engage in the entirety of the fantasy if you become uncomfortable at any point. Maintain an open dialogue with your partner, particularly during the experimental phases.
- Try a new sex position – Do not be afraid to be adventurous! As long as you keep communicating and ensure that you and your partner are comfortable, sex positions can be a great way to add novelty to a relationship. See Sexpert Approved Sex Positions, Sexual Positions for Overweight Individuals and Sexual Positions for Pregnant Couples.
- Buy a new sex toy or prop – A sex toy can add a lot of excitement to a sexual scenario by adding additional stimulation and novelty to a familiar sex position. You can use the sex toy on each other, through manual stimulation of yourself in front of your partner, or during your private masturbation time. A prop such as a blindfold can heighten the sense of touch by eliminating visual distractions. Picking a new toy or prop out together can ensure that you and your partner get something you both will enjoy.
- Boost your confidence and add some spice – Treat yourself to some sexy lingerie or a new outfit for your next encounter. Feeling beautiful correlates to feeling confident and confidence allows for an enjoyable sexual experience.
- Your novelty does not have to be sexual – You and your partner do not have to directly make changes to your sex life to influence it. Trying something new like a couples yoga class, dance lessons, or an adventurous hike all lead to increases in excitement (dopamine), while simultaneously allowing you and your partner to spend quality time together and nurture your relationship.
Adding some novelty to your sex life can help rejuvenate a connection between you and your partner. Check out the Spice Up Your Sex Life section on our website to learn more about Sexpert approved techniques.
Step 6: Masturbation
Masturbation can help you learn more about your body and determine what pleasures you the most. Masturbation is all about you. This practice can allow you to experiment with touch and determine what speed, pressure, intensity, or technique makes you feel the best. Many women enjoy incorporating a vibrator or dildo into their masturbation technique, because it can target the sensitive clitoris or g-spot. Check out the female masturbation article to learn more about different methods.
Step 7: Intentions
When life becomes stressful, it can be difficult to find time for sex and intimacy, or even just a moment for oneself. Taking a moment to set an intention for the day or set an intention before engaging in intercourse with your partner can help to bring you back into the moment and gain more pleasure from the experience. Whether your intention is to not think about work, to spend the evening with your partner without distractions, to be more mindful of your relationship with your partner, or to tell yourself that you are beautiful and you are doing the very best you can do, try to let go of unnecessary worries and live in the moment. A few moments of relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, or self-reflection each day can help you find some peace and clarity even on the busiest of days. Setting an intention before sex and resolving any conflicts with your partner beforehand can allow you to focus more on the experience and heighten the pleasurable sensations even further.
Female sexuality is incredibly complex and there is a lot that scientists still do not understand. Being confident in yourself and your sexuality as a female is an excellent way to not only live a happy and fulfilling life, but also to open up the conversation about the female population’s specific needs and rights as a whole.
- Bass, T. M. "Exploring Female Sexuality: Embracing the Whole Narrative." North Carolina Medical Journal 77.6 (2016): 430-32. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
- "Physical Activity and Health." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 04 June 2015. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
- Kotz, Deborah. "5 Natural Ways to Boost Sex Drive." U.S. News and World Report: Health. N.p., 6 Nov. 2008. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
- "Depression: Dopamine vs. Serotonin: Which Is More Important?" Mental Health Daily. N.p., 11 Jan. 2017. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
- "Sexual Dysfunction & Sexual Disorders." Cleveland Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
- LeVay, Simon, Janice I. Baldwin, and John D. Baldwin. Discovering Human Sexuality. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2009. Print.
- "5 Ways To Naturally Increase Vaginal Lubrication." Lady Care Health. N.p., 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
- "ArginMax For Women." Sexual Enhancement For Women | ArginMax For Women. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
- Streicher, Lauren. "Viagra for Women: Long Time Coming - Midlife, Menopause and Beyond." Midlife Menopause and Beyond. N.p., 22 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
- "The Effects of Women Taking Testosterone." LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 22 June 2015. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
- "Addyi (flibanserin, 100mg Tablets)." Addyi (flibanserin, 100mg Tablets). N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
Last Updated: 11 February 2017.