Throughout my years of working with women, there is a conversation that I have over and over. The specific details vary, but the bottom line is that an enormous number of women have lost their desire for physical intimacy. We are too tired, too busy, too angry at our partners—at the end of the day, the last thing we want is to let someone into our bodies. For many women, sex has become another thing on the To Do List—an obligation, a favor. What is most surprising and disheartening about this pervasive attitude is the idea that sex is not important for women. Culturally, we give our brothers permission to want sex, to claim its importance, but we don’t do the same for our sisters.
There are many things that shape our sexuality without us even realizing it—the way our parents expressed affection with each other when we were young, and the way nudity was treated in the household. What about our relationships with our fathers and brothers? Did you hear comments about being so pretty your father would need a gun when boys started to want to date you? What does that say about sexual desire in general and how does it affect us to be told we are vulnerable and need one man to protect us from another one? Much has been written about how the media shapes our feelings about ourselves—the advertising industry portrays women in a very specific way. What if we fall outside the range of what we hear is HOT? From booty-licious to thigh-gap, we have many criteria of desirability by which to judge ourselves.
From the time we are young girls, we receive a constant stream of mixed messages about our sexuality. With all noise interfering, it’s nearly impossible to cultivate a healthy relationship with a very tender part of ourselves. We are given little context for our identities as sexual creatures. And yet, it is exactly this expression that spawns life and sustains humanity—lest we forget, the survival of the species depends on women wanting to have sex.
There is scientific evidence of the physiological benefits of sex for women. Engaging in sex regularly has the following effects:
- Increases DHEA—Hormone that boosts immune system. Produces healthier skin, and decreases depression.
- Increases Oxytocin—Hormone that causes the release of endorphins, a natural opiate that relieves pain.
- Reduces Cortisol—Sex reduces stress, and thereby reduces cortisol levels which means more balanced blood sugar, blood pressure, and lower acidity in the abdomen.
- Increases Immunoglobulin A—Antibody which boosts immunity. Women who have sex twice a week have 30% higher level of immunoglobulin A.
- Some studies even show evidence that the increased blood flow and muscular contractions that occurs with regular penetration and orgasm promotes the structural health of a woman’s pelvic floor.
Though the facts are compelling, ironically the very nature of looking to science to prove we should be having sex is an obvious symptom of the reason why we are not having it. We are so caught up in a world that worships the masculine, that we have neglected the feminine. The most powerful evidence that sex is important for women is arrived at intuitively.
As women, we play many roles: partners, wives, daughters, bosses, employees, mothers. We deliver, nurture, manage, and please. We are accomplished jugglers, master manifestors; we make things happen. The bi-product of navigating our hyper-connected, multi-tasking lives with poise and grace is the suppression of raw emotion. To perform these many roles effectively, we contain, conform, and control our feelings, our words, our behavior. As a matter of survival we adapt to a culture that values our rational minds. In the process we become alienated from our innate, intuitive nature, often feeling unseen, unappreciated, and misunderstood. When we lose our sense of self in this way, we suffer in our relationships. We get angry; and we shut down. Our confidence takes a hit, along with our self-esteem, self-care, and our precious sex lives—the very thing that should be our source of power.
We can measure hormones and proteins in our bodies in connection with sexual activity, but what is even more powerful is the energetic, psychological, and spiritual benefits of sex as a form of creative self-expression.
There is a fire that burns inside each one of us. It is the flame of passion, of desire. It glows, it roars, it’s wild in nature. It is our birthright. This fire is our feminine essence. It is the stuff that is uniquely ours, that gives us eyes in the back of our heads, that makes our hearts twinge when a loved one thousands of miles away is hurting, it’s our spidey sense, the way we can heal with a hug, our ability to feel when a decision is the right one.
When we step away from our contained, controlled lives, and soften into the expansive formlessness of sexual arousal, we create a space for the feminine to rise; we stoke the fire. Passion is a necessary nutrient, desire, an essential ingredient. To pretend otherwise is to deny ourselves—and the world—a vital part of who we are, and how we can serve. Whether we are in the kitchen, the boardroom, the yoga studio, or the bedroom, our practiced access to our feminine fire is a source of vitality for ourselves, and in turn for our families, communities, and organizations.
So if you feel like the only reason to have sex is out of obligation to your partner, consider this: It’s not about getting someone else off, it’s about turning ourselves on, so that we can light up the world.
PS: It might be helpful to know, self-pleasuring counts!