Even in 2021, sex stigmas abound. To move toward throwing these unfounded myths in the bin, let's get past the awkwardness and address them honestly—head on.
Speaking of awkwardness ... Nisha McKenzie, PA-C, CSC, NCMP, IF, Women's Health Collective, says vulnerability is one of the most distinct ways to draw closer in a relationship.
"Tell your partner you'd love to talk about options that you may like to incorporate into your sex lives, and you'd also love to hear if they have some ideas," McKenzie said. "Odds are, they've been holding onto some wish list items as well and just didn't know how to bring it up!"
Getting rid of sex stigmas often mean getting a little uncomfortable in your conversations with your partner. Acknowledge that you're coming from a place of curiosity!
"Laying the groundwork before trying something new is vital to its success," McKenzie stressed. When asked what sex stigmas she'd like to see thrown completely out the window, she had an easy answer:
"All the stigmas. Throw them all out!"
To start, get rid of anything you think you know about sex that makes you feel shame or embarrassment.
For starters, the stigma around time and how long it takes to climax, let's getting rid of that," McKenzie said, noting anything involving the words "should" or "normal" need to be scrapped.
"Thoughts revolving around the need for orgasm? Yep—tossed. Along with that, the need to provide your partner with an orgasm? Tossed," McKenzie emphasized. "The pressure to provide orgasm is counterproductively a strong anti-aphrodisiac."
Are you seeing a pattern here yet?
"Remember that the best and most reliable sexual relationship you will ever have is with yourself. Knowing your body and being able to translate that for your partner is your best bet for increased satisfaction in a sexual relationship," McKenzie said. "Pleasure is most likely achieved when a sexual interaction is not goal oriented. We can utilize goals in almost every other facet of life—but leave them out of the bedroom."
Another stigma we should wholeheartedly leave behind is women becoming "addicted to vibrators."
"Seriously, when is the last time you felt the pounding heart of your vibrator and stared into its eyes? When is the last time you had the euphoric dopamine rush or oxytocin flood that you get from the trust and bonding, warmth and comfort, closeness and safety of sex with your vibrator?" McKenzie asked. "Vibrators are not here to replace humans—they are simply aids."
Sexually transmitted infections are also laden with stigma.
"Why is it that a bacteria in your genitals is perceived so differently than a bacteria in your throat? (Think strep throat). Sex—that's why," McKenzie said. "The word itself is a stigma. Possibly because sex is inherently interlaced with power, but that's material for another writing entirely."
McKenzie suggests connecting with an AASECT certified sex therapist if you'd like someone to talk you through some options for ways to communicate your sexual needs and wants.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.