Dear Dr. Jenni, I’m curious how you define a sexually healthy couple. My husband and I have sex once a week. We do a variety of positions and have adequate foreplay. I feel leagues ahead of some of my girlfriends who claim they rarely have sex, or rarely want it. If I get honest with myself, sex can sometimes be a little stagnant, but for the most part, I enjoy it. Does sexual health mean we all must secretly resort to acceptable, average sex?
—Looking For A Little More
Dear LFALM, Way to be honest! Most couples resort to acceptable, average sex because the alternative means that they must talk about how to make it better. And for many, that conversation can be petrifying.
But determining what qualifies as sexually healthy is an outstanding start. We have measures of health for fitness, like ideal weight ranges and body fat percentages. We have measures of health for illness, like ideal cholesterol and blood sugar levels. We even have measures of health for our psyche, like perception of happiness and ability to assuage anxiety. But when it comes to sex, health may not seem as straightforward.
Ask yourself this: If a miracle happened overnight and your sex life suddenly became a 10-plus (on a scale of 1-10), what would sex look like? Would you have more interest in having sex? Would you be seduced in a different manner? Who would initiate, and how? Would you have your partner touch and caress you differently? Would you have more powerful orgasms, in other body parts, over and over? Would there be fewer ghosts in the bedroom? Would there be more communication in the bedroom? More affection? More spiritual intimacy? More emotional bonding?
When you and your partner can ask, and answer, these questions, you are on your way! Bolstering your sexual health as an individual means feeling good about yourself as a sexual being. Strengthening sexual health as a couple requires you both to communicate your needs, wants and desires, as well as boundaries, fears and vulnerabilities.
Questions Send questions for Jenni Skyler to drjenni@ theintimacyinstitute.org.]
Dear Dr. Jenni, I’m going to a huge New Year’s party where rumor has it that people get kind of crazy, and even naked. I’m super-nervous about this. I was thinking that to prepare I might get waxed or do the vagazzling thing to my nether region. Do you have other suggestions of what I can do to prepare “her” before the big party?
—Nervous About Being Naked
Dear NABN, It’s very normal to feel nervous.
Women are often brainwashed into believing that the vulva smells like Tina the Tuna, or that your lopsided labias need vaginal reconstruction. When it comes to female sexuality, we are encouraged to keep ourselves as adolescent as possible. Douche inside, shave outside, and don’t take too long to come. The stigma is strong, and the market peddles a plethora of products to maintain this mindset. Whether it be hygiene, menstruation or hair removal, the message behind these products is that a vibrant vulva requires extensive maintenance. Without the upkeep, the vulva is unruly and undesirable. Like the coyote ugly left at the bar, it has no chance of getting action without being properly primed prior to going out.
However, I suggest taking a different route for this party. Before considering your vulva, what do you first need to do to prepare you for the party? Perhaps create a little mental list of your boundaries — before you get intoxicated. Make a commitment to yourself to respect them so you don’t regret anything the day after. Then take a look in the mirror and see if you can embrace your vulva from the inside out. Ask her what she needs to feel sexy. Most importantly, make sure that whatever action you take — be it trimming, shaving, waxing, vagazzling or unwaxed ’80s au natural bush — you are doing it for you!
Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.