Understanding Female Sexuality
Friday, November 20, 2009

By: Lynn A. Vice, Psy.D.

Our sexuality is something that we, as women, have a right to enjoy! Our sexuality is an important part of who we are. Sexual feelings and responses are a central expression of our emotional, physical and spiritual selves.

To quote Our Bodies, Ourselves, “Sexuality is so much more than intercourse. Our sexuality belongs first and foremost to us. It is pleasure we want to give and get. Sexual feelings involve out whole bodies.”

Unfortunately, many women feel uncomfortable with sexuality. This adversely affects how they feel about themselves and their sexual relationships. Men are often more comfortable with sex than women. A major reason for this is that we have grown up in a culture which, despite the “sexual revolution” of the 70’s, still does not teach women enough about healthy sexuality. We base our sex education on the media, movies, or the internet which tell us we have to be a size 2 to be sexy, be instantly turned on by whatever the man does, and be wildly orgasmic from intercourse! All of these are myths!

The reality is that men and women come into the world with the same physical capacity to enjoy sex. However, what changes this are the myths and misconceptions, inaccurate information, negative messages, negative experiences, trauma, or some other aspect of faulty learning. In other words, we learn negative attitudes or ideas toward sex. The good news in this is that anything we learn, we can unlearn! Masters and Johnson have described sex therapy as “sex education for adults”, in other words, it is the sex education we should have had earlier in life.

My goal with women in sex therapy is to give women accurate information about their sexuality and sexual response, to examine what they learned and did not learn about sex while growing up, explore what their sexual relationship have been like, teach the what healthy sex is, and help them feel positive about sex in their lives.

Some common sexual myths that affect women:

Myth 1: I have to look like the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine in order to be sexy.
Our bodies are capable of giving us sexual pleasure regardless of their size or shape. Thin does not equal beautiful! In fact, in more western cultures “fleshiness” is equated with beauty. Enjoy your body!

Myth 2: I should orgasm with intercourse.
The majority of women do not orgasm with intercourse. For most women clitoral stimulation is needed for orgasm and the penis going in and out of the vagina does not stimulate the clitoris enough. Manual genital stimulation, i.e. hands or fingers, oral stimulation, i.e. tongue or mouth, or a vibrator are the ways most women experience orgasm.
Remember: Sex is not just intercourse! Your vagina is not your sex organ; your clitoris is!

Myth 3: I should be turned on as fast as my husband or boyfriend is.
Women take 5 times as long to be turned on as men (the average man gets turned on in 3 minutes and the average woman takes 15 minutes!). Bill Masters, of Masters and Johnson, used to say, “men are like microwaves and women are like slow cookers!” We always take longer to be turned on than men.

Myth 4: I should like my breasts or clitoris touched right away.
Women need to be turned on first, before the breasts or clitoris are touched. This is a very common mistake couples make, i.e. the woman’s partner goes directly to the breasts or genital area and considers this “foreplay”. If the breast or genital areas are touched too soon, it can actually be irritating, annoying, or even painful for the woman. Women need to be sensually touched all over the rest of the body first, and then have the breasts or genital area pleasured.

Myth 5: I should always be interested in sex.
Many things can reduce our interest in sex as women, such as self-esteem issues, stress, fatigue, emotional distance, anger, mistrust or other relationship problems, depression, lack of time for ourselves, and much more. Ineffective sexual technique such as insufficient “foreplay” can be a factor as well. In general, women need to feel emotionally close in order to be interested in sex.

Remember, you have a right to enjoy your sexuality!

Author : Lynn A. Vice Psy.D
Dr. Lynn A. Vice practices in Milwaukee, WI. You can learn more about Dr. Vice here on the Find-a-Therapist.com Directory.