Not ecstatic about your current sex life? Don’t have hours every day attempting to decipher all of the sanskrit in the Kama Sutra? Unable to bankroll a shopping spree (or a single purchase for that matter) at Jimmyjane? Here’s a sex help guide for you, fellow regular human who wants to be better in bed.
The inaugural installment of our series The ‘Normal’ Couples’ Guide to Sex
Violet, Los Angeles, California
Goal: A more active and more joyful sex life with her partner, despite pelvic pain and low libido.
The Sex Situation: “I’m a cis woman in my 30s in a relationship with a cis man in his 30s. We’ve been been dating for two and a half years,” Violet tells us. “We’re deeply in love and talk about getting married and raising a family. We cuddle and touch each other all the time, but we almost never have sex. Instead, we both handle our own business on our own, in a private and masturbate-y way. He handles things more often than I do.”
The Obstacle: “Sex hurts. A lot. Always has. It took three tries to lose my virginity because my then-boyfriend’s penis just wouldn’t go in. Also, it turns out college freshmen don’t always know about lube, so… awkward.
“Nor do I have much of a libido. I’ll use a vibrator occasionally but I’ve never felt overwhelming lust, even has a hormonal teenager. I suspect that’s tied into the pain: It’s hard to get excited about something that hurts like hell. When many of your sexual attempts have ended in tears and blood, it’s hard to get stoked about trying again.”
What She’s Tried: “I’ve been working with an amazing nurse practitioner on the physical aspects of this problem. I’ve done pelvic floor physical therapy, which entails a physical therapist stretching out my obturator muscles by putting her hands in my vagina. I use vaginal dilators at home and do non-internal stretches to get my butt, quads and abs less clenched. Finally, I foam-roll my butt every chance I get.”
The Goal: “We both want happy, loving, flirty, orgasmic sex. I want to walk into the apartment, start kissing him and walk backwards into the bedroom while we take off each other’s clothes and giggle because we can’t keep our hands to ourselves. Then I want to get in a ridiculous tangle of bedsheets.”
Stop Focusing on What Hurts: “For starters, don’t do anything that hurts,” says [link NSFW!] Nina Hartley, a longtime sex educator, author and feminist as well as legendary porn star. “It doesn’t matter what the culture, the media [or] your mom have to say about what a couple’s sex life should be. Things are never as they ‘should’ be. They simply are, and that’s where we must start. Pain isn’t ‘wrong.’ It’s a sign from your body telling you to keep looking and digging, until you find its root cause.
“So for the foreseeable future,” Hartley continues, “I recommend you take vaginal intercourse off the table. It’s too fraught now, and it’s not necessary for a sexy good time. Your vagina and his penis aren’t going anywhere, so it’s always a possibility. Just stop making it a priority or a measure of how ‘well’ you’re ‘doing sex.’”…