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For many of us across the world, we’ve experienced some kind of lockdown in the past year. As we stayed at home more often, we interpreted this break of normality in different ways. A lot of us baked banana bread. But not Jacqueline.
‘I haven’t read much during lockdown, or baked banana bread etd etc but I have learned a great deal about my body and what my body likes. I’ve learned that my body is capable of experiencing enormous pleasure. I’m in my forties and finally understanding what my body likes and how far it can go; I have my own super-power!’ Jacqueline
Which got us thinking... what have we learned about our bodies during lockdown? So, we asked our trusty Instagram community! Ten self-love lessons stood out to us...
Libido is different for all of us, and there’s many factors that have influence over it. No matter our sexual desire, it’s worth remembering that neither our emotional want for sex nor our sexual arousal (the body’s physiological reactions) are stimulated through just the physical act of sex. Exploring ourselves sexually goes way beyond that, and debunking around libido and sex drive is a great place to start.
This. Big time. In the same way that our sexual health is a state of physical and mental wellbeing; our mental health can contribute to our sexual wellbeing. It works both ways, and sometimes we just might not be in the mood. Self-pleasure is not all about stimulation and getting physical, our relationship to sexuality can be nurtured in other ways that can be just as creative and mindful, too. We can take care of our sexual wellbeing in non-sexual ways!
When we stop seeing sexual pleasure as performative, where it’s all about the destination and not the journey, we start to remove the pressure of chasing after orgasms. Sexuality becomes about getting to know ourselves and enjoying our body on our own terms. We shake off the scripts we were given and start writing our own. By doing so, we more fully express our sexual self and reaching orgasm becomes more possible. Confidence trumps climax any day, an orgasm is just a really good added bonus.
We set out to create a collection of vibrators that is gentle, unintimidating, and perfect for first-timers. So, imagine our delight when we receive messages like this... Finding a vibrator that you feel comfortable with, has soft and gentle vibration settings, and is shaped to play with internal pleasure is a great step towards exploring penetration. The real key? Taking the time to practice and understand what pleasure feels like for you.
At least 1 in 10 of us vulva owners are affected by polycystic ovary syndrome, so that’s a whole lot of potential pleasure we might be missing out on. PCOS can have a huge impact on our day-to-day lives and health, but it doesn’t mean we can’t own our bodies. In fact, we say knowledge is power; the more we know about our bodies, the more we are able to enjoy them! Reclaiming our sexuality when living with a chronic illness is possible!
Okay, so first things first – YAS! We are so excited for you and all that pleasure you have just unlocked. Many of us don’t know enough about our own pleasure anatomy because we are not taught it in sex education. The part of the clitoris we can see and feel in our vulva (on the outside) is called the clitoral glans and only a quarter of the entire thing. The rest is internal and can be stimulated through the vaginal wall. We could talk about clits all day, but instead why not get a bit hands on, and try to map the rest of the vulva!
A trauma is often a separation of a part of us, a loss of feeling. We often try to condemn our trauma; we carry guilt from it and don’t want to accept it as part of us. Many of us vulva owners can relate to experiences that bring up feelings of shame around our sexuality, but sexual shame is not a natural state, shame is a learnt behaviour. Female embodiment coach Lisa Welsh talks about there being five stages of sexual healing from trauma; from identifying the root issue on a superficial level, to reconnecting your body to your sexuality.
The body needs its stress response to deal with everyday life, but if it is prolonged or extreme, the response can have a negative effect on many aspects of health. For example, hormone balance, which in turn messes up the messaging that contributes to sex drive. We all know the importance of trying to control the body's stress response ie reducing causes, but we can also modify our diets and take certain supplements to get the additional nutrients we need to combat stress. These can help give our libido a direct boost!
Forget the taboos, everybody needs some me-time and our self-pleasure sessions are not a reflection of our partner or the sex we have with them. Masturbation is an empowering way to express our sensuality and discover our own bodies; in fact, studies show that women who masturbate have higher self-esteem and less anxiety around partner sex. Making time and space for masturbation within a relationship can help strengthen the connection, communication and sex between a couple. It’s a win-win situation!
Quickies are good, but there’s a time and a place for them. During lockdowns, a lot of us have more time to play with pleasure and ourselves. We can indulge in longer sessions and want to feel more connected to our own bodies. Slow sex isn’t just for partners, we can experience mindful, sensual sensations all by ourselves too. Deep breaths can help us feel more relaxed and focused to really enjoy the moment.
There we have it, turns out we all did quite a lot of learning in lockdown. Thank you to everyone who shared their lessons! For more self-love thoughts, become part of our community and sign up to the Self Love Club newsletter.
Our community has shared with us their best tips to use their vulva vibrators and experience with new sensations. Curious? Have a peek!
Over lockdown, Smile Makers had the pleasure to run an online workshop with sexual healing coach Lisa Walsh.
The lockdown has ignited our sensual imagination. Mia finds herself sharing an executive apartment with a co-worker.