Want to Have Better Sex? These Books Can Help
Painful sex is a common complaint of women with endo.1 And I’m no exception. While sex is now on the table, it can still be uncomfortable. So, I’ve learned to focus on my sexual health. In some ways, that’s a good thing. Many women default to male pleasure, but I have to increase the parts of sex that do feel good so I can decrease the parts that don’t.
After exploring the biology of arousal, I’ve learned foreplay isn’t just fun, it’s important.2 And if I go into sex apprehensively, that can decrease blood flow to the parts that need it. Women who have frequent anxiety or pain around sex can also experience involuntary pelvic floor spasms or vaginismus — when the vagina contracts, making penetration painful or impossible.3
A couple of books have been instrumental in my sexual journey. These aren’t specific to those with endometriosis, but they offer tips that can make sex more fun anyway. Here are some of my key takeaways.
“Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction” by Debby Herbenick (2009)
Herbenick starts off by celebrating sex for pleasure, something women haven’t historically been encouraged to do. Then, after a brief anatomy lesson, she offers a detailed description of sexual arousal — complete with pictures. Here is where I learned about “tenting”.4 When a woman gets sexually excited, muscular tension pulls the uterus up, expanding the vaginal canal in length and width, making more room for fingers, a sex toy, or a penis.
If you’ve ever had sex and it feels like your partner is hitting something in then back, you probably haven’t spent enough time on foreplay. Concentrating on arousal also increases lubrication, which makes penetration more pleasurable. (But if you have trouble self-lubricating, just buy some extra lube.)
Speaking of arousal, not everyone gets in the mood spontaneously, Herbenick points out. Many people — mostly women — experience responsive desire. That just means that your body wants sex after your partner brings it up. As long as you still enjoy sex once it gets started, there’s no need to feel like something is wrong just because you don’t initiate it out of the blue.
“Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters — And How To Get It” by Laurie Mintz (2017)
Most people with a vagina can’t orgasm through sex alone.5 And penetration can be particularly problematic for those with endometriosis. To help find your orgasm, Mintz explains everything you need to know about the clitoris, which is mostly hidden inside the body. In addition to the pea-sized glans you can see, there are internal legs and bulbs that wrap around the vaginal opening.
You can think of this bundle of nerves like the female version of the penis. (Or the penis is the male version of the clitoris.) It deserves a lot of attention. And for those not all that familiar with the clitoris, “Becoming Cliterate” comes equipped with visuals and instructions to help you or your partner figure out exactly where to explore.
Whatever you do, focus on yourself
While there are ways you can make sex more pleasurable, you should never do it when you don’t want to. If you’re having a particularly painful flare, just take penetration off the table completely. The more you feel comfortable with sex, the better it will become.
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