Sexual health is an intrinsic part of our wellbeing. Yet some need help reaching a place of comfort with their sexuality–they may have had to endure abuse or pain connected with sex, or have been exposed to confusing information–or just NO information! We have resources to help.
In some cases, people have survived abuse that isn’t even physical--shame or fear about sex can be debilitating too. Sometimes healing from trauma is best done with a therapist—but anyone can add elements of self-care and healing to their lives whenever they’re ready. Accept yourself, boost your knowledge, take it one step at a time, and respect both your desires and your boundaries. We've collected information, books and products that can help you on this journey toward healing, comfort and empowerment.
—Dr. Carol Queen, Staff Sexologist
most common wellness topics
Sexual self-stimulation is extremely common and it is not a harmful activity! On the contrary, masturbation and solo sex can be the basis of a healthy and pleasurable sex life—and contributes to healthy sexuality whether or not you have sex with partners. It helps you understand your own preferred types of stimulation, is usually an easier way to achieve orgasm, supports blood circulation in the pelvic region, helps alleviate pain and stress, and more. Masturbation should only be a concern if it is done in a way that is unsafe, or so compulsively that it affects a person’s ability to participate in other life activities.
Learn how to reach orgasm from masturbation, and the amazing experiences you have alone can be re-created with a partner. Sex Yourself: The Women’s Guide to Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms.
Pelvic health has a number of components, but one important element is the health of the pelvic floor. We talk constantly about the PC muscles (which stands for Pubococcygeal, also known as the Kegels)— if this sling of muscles that are suspended between the pubic bone and tailbone are too tight, it can cause pain (especially pain with penetration), and if they are weak, it impacts pelvic health and the sensation of orgasm! We often recommend the use of Kegel balls, and in some cases dilators, to support PC health. But you can exercise these muscles even without a resistive device.
*Isolate the muscles—the ones used to stop a stream of urine.
*Tighten them, hold for a count of three, relax them. (The relaxation part is very important—and it might be easier to do if you combine this exercise with your breath, so you are breathing out as you relax the muscles.)
vaginitis or other pelvic floor dysfunction
When a person experiences pain and tightly spasmed muscles when attempting to insert anything into the vagina, it could be due to a condition known as vaginismus. Pelvic floor tone and flexibility is very important for sexual pleasure and health, and many people find products that help include Kegel exercisors and dilator sets.
pain and relaxation
It can be difficult to relax and enjoy erotic play, especially penetration, when pain is part of the experience. Whether it’s chronic pain in another part of the body that affects your stamina or position, or pain focused in the pelvis or genitals, we carry a range of products that might improve your experience. If you see a doctor for pain issues, let them know that you are finding it has an effect of your sex life too.
Suggested products for relaxation
When a person assigned female at birth stops having menstrual periods, that is menopause–it usually happens around age 50-52, though it can happen surgically at much younger ages than that. Leading up to it is a life stage called perimenopause, which can start several years earlier, and is the period when hormone levels change–and in turn can affect the body in varying ways. Common signs and effects include:
- *Hot flashes
- Sleep disturbance
- ”Brain fog”
- Emotional changes
- Decreased or altered libido and sexual response
- Vaginal/vulva changes, including increased tightness, dryness, more delicate skin, PH change.
If you do not already respect the power of hormones, menopause can make you a believer! And many menopausal people choose hormone replacement therapy, at least for a period of time. Find an informed doctor who can support you during menopause’s changes (especially when it comes to evaluating the safety/risk factors of HRT). Menopause is a natural process, not an illness, but it does (or can) affect the body in many varying ways. A holistic way of thinking about “the change” is to see how these varying symptoms are linked: if hot flashes disturb sleep, lack of rest can affect brain and emotions as well as libido. Sleep naked and throw the covers off when you need to! Our old friends lubricant and vibrators can be especially important during menopause.
Recommended read: Better Than I Ever Expected: straight talk about sex after sixty
additional important resource links
healing from shame and fear
Some people impacted by sexual shame were taught that sex was bad or dangerous. Others learned that their particular sexuality or interests and curiosity were the problem. But you can take your individual sexuality and pleasure back!
The Sex and Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone
What You Really, Really Want
healing from trauma
Experiencing sexual touch you did not consent to (either as an adult, or as a child or young person) can deeply affect your sexuality, but there is help, and a whole community of people rebuilding our relationship to consent.
Depression, disability, and many other experiences can impact the way we experience sexuality and relationships. Here are a few more useful books that offer tools, understanding, and compassion.
Sex After Grief
The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability
Commonly Asked Questions:
My doctor suggested I strengthen my kegel muscles, how do I do that? Your Kegels, also known as PC (pubococcygeal) muscles or pelvic floor muscles, make a sling between your pubic bone and tailbone. Having good pelvic tone is important for health, and we talk about these muscles all the time because they are closely associated with the sensations of orgasm! read more
Can I try my partner’s vibrator on my penis? You can--with their consent! The clitoris, penis, and anal opening are all richly endowed with nerves that sense vibration, and many people (of all genders) enjoy the sensation… read more
Why is prostate stimulation good for men and how often should it be done? Prostate stimulation can be an erotic experience, but in addition to that, it can massage the prostate, which may have benefits for health. It can clear out excess fluid and release pressure; it may help some cases of enlarged prostate (BPH) or mild prostatitis read more
Will CBD products alter my mental state if I use them? If you are not using a product that includes THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, you should not notice the kind of intoxicating mental effects ("getting high") that are typically associated with cannabis. CBD products must have less than 0.3% THC, and pure CBD will have none. Some users will prefer full-spectrum CBD products... read more
Are there any products to increase my drive, and are they safe? Many products are sold at adult stores (and elsewhere) that purport to increase sex drive. Sometimes known as aphrodisiacs, these products are not regulated, and in some cases it's not even clear what they contain. We are not assured that these are both safe and effective, and we don't carry them. There are also many kinds of food that... read more
Is it safe to use lubricants if I’m pregnant, or trying to get pregnant? Using a lubricant should be safe in a healthy pregnancy unless your doctor recommends otherwise. Water-based lubricants used during pregnancy should be free of flavorings and sensation-altering ingredients (like heating and cooling additives). It's recommended that you avoid petrochemical ingredients, parabens and oils, too. For those trying... read more