How was your sex ed in high school?
For most of us: mmmmm...average.
You possibly learnt the medical side of things (good), but what about the science and art of pleasure? Or how to communicate what you like? Or how to even discover what you like?
Louise has spent her whole life fascinated by sex and in adulthood, studied it. She’s a pleasure physiology expert and sex educator for adults.
I asked the SexyLove Project community for Qs about the science of pleasure, and Louise answered them for us!
Check out the answers to these questions:
From a Tantric perspective, remember that all this stuff is an adventure. Play. Intimacy with yourself and others. Don’t worry too much about getting it right, or aiming to achieve a goal. Your whole body is an erogenous organ. You’re already a sex magician. Let yourself slow down.
Q. Where does a sex drive come from and why does it differ between people? What feeds it and how can it be fuelled?
This is a great question—one a lot of people wonder about. The answer is… well… it’s complicated. Desire and arousal are complicated mechanisms that vary from person to person. Why do they vary? Well, some of that is just natural variation between people, and some of that is about our different circumstances and experiences.
Sex drive comes from several different factors, including hormonal influences, a person’s natural disposition towards more or less frequent sexual expression, past experiences (negative and positive), the physical appeal and quality of connection with a partner, and how a person is feeling in that moment.
Essentially, you can think of sex drive as made up of two parts:
Things that generate sexual desire: maybe reading erotica, exploring fantasy and masturbation, exchanging a massage with a partner, talking and feeling close.
Removing things that get in the way of desire developing: these things are not about sex per se, but about removing barriers that hinder your ability to relax and allow yourself to feel desire. Things like making sure the room is a comfortable temperature, that you have had a chance to unwind from the day, and that chores have been done so you don’t need to worry about then. While they may not sound sexy, these things can really affect how interested you feel in sex.
(Read more about this in Emily Nagoski’s great book, Come As You Are)
If you’d like to work on increasing your sex drive, I’d recommend thinking about what fits into each of these two categories for you. By doing more things that fuel your sexual interest, and by consciously removing barriers to arousal you are giving yourself the best chance to increase your sex drive.
But, remember, we all have different sex drives and sexual interests. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘normal’ level of sex drive. Working to increase your sex drive is a great idea if it comes from a place of curiosity and genuine interest. But if it is because you, or your partner, believes that there’s something ‘wrong’ with your current level of sex drive, or that you ‘should’ be more sexual, then it is unlikely these techniques will work by themselves. Accepting our differences, and broadening the ways we conceptualise sexual satisfaction can be more powerful than focussing only on level of sex drive.
(Read more about this in Perfectly Normal by Sandra Pertot)
Q. How can females achieve multiple orgasms (and how can I help that happen)?
Multiple orgasms! How delicious. For some people having multiple orgasms comes quite naturally (pardon the pun). They experience one orgasm, and then fairly easily continue stimulation to generate one or two or many more orgasms. Some people, on the other hand, rarely or never experience orgasm, or when they do, they need to put in a lot of effort to even have one, let alone multiple! So we’re all snowflakes—all unique in our sexual response.
If you’re curious to try techniques to increase your likelihood of having multiple orgasms, then here are some ideas:
Many people find that g-spot stimulation can generate multiple orgasms. While the clitoris may be too sensitive to stimulate after orgasm, the deeper, but more diffuse feeling of g-spot stimulation, and internal penetration in general, can be more pleasurable to sustain, and more likely to lead to second or subsequent orgasms.
Try different techniques, try different toys, try toys designed specifically for g-spot stimulation, such as a firm curved vibrator or dildo.
Keep your sense of humour, whether you experience multiple orgasms tomorrow, next year, or whether you never do, focus on all the fun you’ll have along the way.
Q. When it comes to the physiology of the body, how does pleasure work? What are the mechanics, especially when it comes to genital pleasure?
It’s great to look at the science side of what makes pleasure happen. This is the wonderful world of pleasure physiology.
Firstly, your biggest sex organ is really the brain! Desire and whether you’re feeling sexual or thinking sexual thoughts is all about what goes on in the brain.
When it comes to genitals, it’s about understanding anatomy, stimulation techniques, blood flow to the genital tissues (otherwise known as arousal), and the progression of the sexual response cycle.
Anatomy: Did you know that the clitoris is actually 10cm long? Well, it is. The visible part is only a tiny bit of the full structure. The whole clitoris is wishbone shaped and wraps around the entrance to the vagina. Getting clued up on anatomy helps you know your, and your partner’s, bodies better, a key ingredient for great sex.
Techniques: In order to enjoy sexual stimulation, to become aroused and progress toward orgasm, you need to be receiving stimulation that works for you. This might be from a vibrator, a tongue, a penis, a toy, a hand, or rubbing against a pillow. The details matter! Finding the right pressure, speed and type of movement to suit you, or your partner, is essential.
Arousal: Arousal is all about increased blood flow to the genitals (otherwise known as vasocongestion for those science-y types out there). In a male this is an erection, in a female this is a swelling of the genitals as well as vaginal lubrication. This blood flow is important both as a sign of sexual enjoyment, and to help heighten sensation towards orgasm. Using techniques and taking time to ensure adequate arousal is another key to great sex.
Sexual response cycle: Sexual pleasure happens through a series of stages, often called the sexual response cycle. At different stages of the cycle you are likely to need different types of stimulation. Often people like a more soft touch at first as they start to become aroused, whereas they need a firmer, faster and more consistent type of stimulation to have an orgasm. Being attuned to your, and your partner’s, stage of sexual response is important to maximise pleasure.