Is sex as important as healthy eating and exercise?


Why sex and pleasure is the third pillar of wellness…Meditation, yoga and a vibrator?

Sydney-based Somatic Sexologist and Sex and Intimacy Coach and founder of Vulva Dialogues Alice Child explains why sexual wellness is just as important as our physical and mental health, and how to start prioritsing your pleasure. 

Sydney is the home for fitness and wellness in Australia. We have more gyms, more health-food cafes, and spend more time and money on our physical health than ever before. And for good reason! When we move our bodies and make healthy choices, we know that we will feel the benefits in all aspects of our lives. Stronger bodies, better mental health, more confidence, stronger relationships with ourselves and even each other. We know that physical health and mental health are intricately linked, and overall ‘wellness’ means looking after them both. Well folks, I’m here to tell you that sex is the forgotten piece of the puzzle.

Curious to learn more? Alice & Par Femme founder, Monica are coming to Lean Bean Bondi on the 10th August to host an exclusive workshop on Sexual Wellness alongside Par Femme. Tickets available now! She also offers 1:1 sex coaching and education which can be booked here

The World Health Organisaiton defines sexual health as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease or dysfunction. They also define sexual pleasure as a fundamental human right. Yes, you heard that right. This means sexual health doesn’t just mean practicing safe sex and being free of STI’s, like many of us were taught at school. It means we have a right to safe, happy, pleasurable, consensual, fun, shame-free sex, pleasure and intimacy, as often as we need and want it.

So basically, orgasms are a human right (and not just because they feel great).

And this is because sex and masturbation is extremely beneficial to our health. Sexual pleasure activates a variety of neurotransmitters that impact not only our brains, but many other organs in our bodies.  Benefits of sex and masturbation include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better immune system
  • Feeling less pain
  • Reduced depression/anxiety/stress
  • Better sleep, improved self-esteem
  • Increased feelings of intimacy and connection to those around us. 

You can see then why our mental, physical and sexual health are all so interlinked. When we are having better sex (with others and ourselves), we become healthier, happier, and more connected. 

But despite this fundamental change in attitude from the global healthcare community, we as a nation are still not prioritising our sex lives. We see sex and pleasure as shameful, embarrassing, indulgent, less important, or something not to be discussed openly. And although the need for sex-positive education is finally being normalised in the mainstream media, such as the award-winning and incredible Netflix show Sex Education, the conversation around sex isn’t changing fast enough. 

In the recent Australian Study of Health and Relationships, only 42% of women in Australia claimed to masturbate at all. It was also shown that across the board, we are having less sex, with less partners, than ever before. Meanwhile, the rate of sexual vilolence and assult is steadily increasing, not decreasing. 

As a Somatic Sexologist and sex and intimacy coach, I am passionate about changing this. I help individuals, couples and groups normalize conversations about sex, and help them achieve a happier, healthier and more fulfilled sex-life, whatever than means for them. I create safe spaces for people to discuss vulnerable topics, and in doing this work I have noticed something: people don’t know how to prioritse their own pleasure.

Whether that’s knowing what they want, knowing how to ask for it, or knowing how to get it, people are craving the tools, knowledge and vocabulary to unlock a better sex life. 

So here are some top tips from a sexologist on how to prioritise your pleasure:

  1. Masturbate more, and with more variation! If we don’t explore our bodies, how will we discover what we like? If we don’t know what we like, how do we tell our lovers what feels amazing? If we don’t know and love our own bodies intimately, how can we expect our lovers to? Stay curious, change it up, and see what else you discover. Not only will masturbation teach you about your body, but it has numerous secondary benefits such as better sleep and reduced anxiety (which also enhance your ability to experience pleasure!)
  2. Carve out the time. Just like you have to set aside time for your daily barre practice, you have to do the same for your sexual wellness and pleasure. Whether that’s a long bath with just you and your favourite vibrator, or a scheduled date-night with your other half, if we don’t plan it, we don’t always do it. Although ‘scheduling sex’ might sound unsexy, it can actually lead to a lot of anticipation and build up, which is a huge aphrodisiac! In addition, try and schedule time every day for some kind of self pleasure – even if it’s just a hot, steamy shower or feeling the sun on your face. 
  3. Set the scene. Think of all the things that make you feel sexier, more present, and more connected to your pleasure, and bring them into your space.  Whether that’s candles, incense, fresh bedding, your fave knickers, a certain playlist, your lover’s fragrance, or even the taste of chocolate in your mouth – create a space and a mind-set that makes you feel safe, sexy, and connected to your pleasure. You can think of these as your sexy ‘accelerators’. Then do the opposite and identify what makes you feel distracted or disconnected during sex. Think of these as your ‘breaks’. Do what you can to reduce them in your space – for example you might turn off your phone. Then start to explore  – alone or with a lover! 
  4. Mindfulness. Do you find your mind wanders during sex, and it’s hard to stay present and in the moment? That’s very normal, but it blocks us from getting access to the pleasure we want and deserve. Sexual mindfulness can be a great tool for this, getting us out of thoughts that are in our head and into our bodies. During sex or self-pleasure, try placing your attention on the physical sensations you are experiencing – what are you noticing physically in your body? How does the touch feel? Try asking yourself what might make that touch/sensation feel even better – and try it/ask for it. 
  5. Educate yourself using sex-positive resources – Go out and learn as much as you can about sex, pleasure and bodies. Find the resources that work for you, whether that’s podcasts, books, online courses, workshops or seeing a sex coach. Surround yourself with expert-led, sex-positive, body-positive, up to date education, and challenge your own assumptions and beliefs that might be holding you back.  Remember, good lovers are made, not born. 
  6. Don’t settle for okay sex – It’s very normal for us to fall into habits when it comes to sex and pleasure.  We learn what feels good in our bodies and achieve a certain level of arousal, and then we repeat it again and again. Over time, the same things stop working as well or sex can feel boring and predictable. If that sounds familiar, it’s time to be really active about prioritizing your pleasure. Be curious and try new things, and bring your partner on your journey. Be really explicit and clear with your communication with each other – ask for what you want, be descriptive, and learn together. Know that you won’t always get it right – and that’s okay! But create a safe space for experimentation, learning and play in your sex-life. 

Alice & Parfemme founder Monica are coming to Lean Bean Bondi on the 10th August to host an exclusive workshop on Sexual Wellness. Tickets available now! Alice also offers 1:1 sex coaching and education which can be booked here

Par Femme