Closing the orgasm gap
with Dr. Laurie mintz
Are you aware of the orgasm gap? If you’re looking to find more pleasure and fulfilment in your sex life, then listen in for some enlightening facts to change your sex life for the better today. In this episode, you'll learn why, statistically, only about 39% of women orgasm during heterosexual encounters and what we can do to change this cultural problem.
My guest this week is Dr. Laurie Mintz who is a feminist author, therapist, professor, and speaker whose life work has been dedicated to helping people live more authentic, meaningful, joyful, and sexually-satisfying lives through the art and science of psychology.
She’s a tenured professor at The University of Florida, and she has amazing research under her belt. She’s also written two popular books which I highly recommend - Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters and How to Get It (such a great book), and also A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex: Reclaim Your Desire and Reignite Your Relationship.
“The mindfulness piece is so big. I once told a client that her biggest sex organ was between her ears, and she looked down at herself and said, “I guess I’ve been looking in the wrong place all these years,” but the truth is that the brain is essential in so many ways, and that the way you think about sex, the shame that you carry, the negative feelings - you have to get rid of those.
Again, being able to be present in your body, which is so hard. I mean, I can say it like, “Oh, be present in your body,” but it takes so much time and practice, and the one thing that I love to share with people to underscore that is that the latest brain research shows that the mind state right before an orgasm is almost identical to the brain state of deep mindfulness, meditation. S
o that tells us that turning off that thinking, judging of oneself, constantly self-monitoring part of oneself is not optional. It is a requirement for orgasm.” - Dr. Laurie Mintz
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complete transcript below.
In this episode you'll discover
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Dr. Laurie’s Website: https://www.drlauriemintz.com/
Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters and How to Get It: https://www.drlauriemintz.com/becoming-cliterate
A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex: Reclaim Your Desire and Reignite Your Relationship:
32:26 in the transcript: Dr. Laurie’s Best Practices Sex Communication Script
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EPISODE 234: with Dr. Laurie Mintz
[Fun, Empowering Music]
Amanda Testa: Hello, and welcome to the Find Your Feminine Fire podcast. I am your host, Amanda Testa. I am a sex, love, and relationship coach, and in this podcast, my guests and I talk sex, love, and relationships, and everything that lights you up from the inside out. Welcome!
Are you aware of the orgasm gap? If you’re looking to find more pleasure and fulfilment in your sex life, then listen in for some enlightening facts to change your sex life for the better today. On the podcast this week, you're gonna learn why, statistically, only about 39% of women orgasm during heterosexual encounters and what we can do to change this cultural problem.
I’m Amanda Testa. Welcome to the Find Your Feminine Fire podcast. I am so thrilled today to introduce you to Dr. Laurie Mintz. She is a feminist author, therapist, professor, and speaker whose life work has really been dedicated and committed to helping people live more authentic, meaningful, joyful, and sexually-satisfying lives through the art and science of psychology.
So she’s a tenured professor at The University of Florida. She has amazing research under her belt as well as has written two popular books which I highly recommend - Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters and How to Get It (such a great book), and also A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex: Reclaim Your Desire and Reignite Your Relationship.
So I’m so, so thrilled to be talking with you today, Dr. Laurie. Thank you for being here!
Dr. Laurie Mintz: I’m so thrilled to be here. Thank you for having me.
Amanda Testa: Yes, you know, over the years, I know you've done so much research in really helping female-identifying people to have better sex lives. And so, people out there who have listened to the podcast might be familiar a little bit around orgasm inequality and all the things that that goes into, but I’d love to know a little bit more about your passion for this and what that means for those listening who might not be familiar with what that term is.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: So, yeah, I would love to share that. So the orgasm gap, as you said, is the really strong and consistent finding in the scientific literature that, when cisgender women get it on with cisgender men, the women are having substantially fewer orgasms than the men are.
You used one study which found that 39% of women (versus 91% of men) said they always (or usually always) orgasm during an encounter. That’s a huge gap. Now, that particular study didn't ask the context of the sex. Was it relationship sex? Was it hookup sex? Other research has found that the gap is biggest in hookup sex, it gets smaller in friends with benefits, but it never closes altogether. Even in relationship sex women are having substantially fewer orgasms, and one thing I want to say is a lot of people say, “Oh, it’s 'cause women’s’ bodies are difficult or elusive,” but other research makes it abundantly clear that that’s not the case. Women have more orgasms when having sex with other women, and they are pretty consistently orgasmic when alone. So that tells us the problem is not out bodies, it’s the way we do heterosexual sex.
My passion for this topic comes from my students. I teach the Psychology of Human Sexuality at The University of Florida to hundreds of students a year, and their stories around the orgasm gap really are painful. Many of them felt broken, like something was wrong with them. So I started teaching to them to close the orgasm gap and really focus on the clitoris. That’s the best way to close it, right? I would get notes from my students like, “Thanks to your class, I’m orgasmic.” “Thanks to your class, my girlfriend’s orgasmic,” and that really inspired me to get out beyond my classroom and make this a passion issue to close the gap culturally and in individual bedrooms.
Amanda Testa: I love it. This is so important. I’m curious, too, how you feel like it expands outside of just intimacy, outside of just in relationship. How does the orgasm gap affect everything, really?
Dr. Laurie Mintz: You know, it both reflects everything and it perpetuates everything. So, basically, this is not an isolated problem. It is really part of a bigger oppressive patriarchal system, and a lot of times we’re aware of some of the sexism and the oppression of women, but this is one area that it’s so deeply ingrained in the fabric of our culture that sometimes we don't even notice it. Like, for example, in Becoming Cliterite, I have a chapter on linguistic analysis that really -- we use the words sex and intercourse as if they're one in the same, and that’s very heteronormative and it also values male pleasure ‘cause that’s the act that men orgasm in most often, not women. We use foreplay as not important, just a lead up to the main event, even though that’s where women mostly orgasm. We call our entire genitals a vagina. We name our genitals for the part that’s most sexually useful for men versus ourselves.
So the orgasm gap is due to a much deeper cultural problem of the over-valuing of male sexual pleasure and the devaluing and fear of women’s sexuality, but closing it also has really powerful effects. Honestly, when I started this, I really did know it was reflective of a broader cultural problem, but what really took me by surprise is all the notes I’ve gotten from women readers saying, “Once I became empowered in the bedroom, it had amazing ripple effects outside of the bedroom. If I could be strong and empowered enough to speak up about my needs in the bedroom, it empowered me in the boardroom as well,” if you will, “or with my friends, with my children, everywhere.” So I think it has big-time ripple effects.
Amanda Testa: I think that is so interesting and huge because I see that, too, just so many times when I talk with clients or couples and women that are constantly saying, “You know, well, we can talk about everything, but one of the things we don't talk about is sex,” right? It’s such an intimate, vulnerable place, and that is where a lot of our conditioned behaviors can show up, right? We want to be pleasing or quiet or make sure the other person -- you know, typically, a lot of times female-identifying beings are very care-oriented and they want to make sure that everyone else is okay first.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Absolutely.
Amanda Testa: Taking that initiative to put your needs first can be such a challenging thing at times.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: That’s so important. It really is going against the grain of I’m gonna take care of other people outside the bedroom and in the bedroom, like, oh, if it’s good for him, it’s good for me mentality. Letting go of that and saying, “You know, my needs are just equally as important as everybody else's in and out of the bedroom,” is very essential for female-bodied people.
Amanda Testa: So key. So I’d love to know what are some of the ways that we can go about closing the orgasm gap?
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Would you like me to talk about culturally or in individual bedrooms? They’re a little different.
Amanda Testa: Well, how about we go into a little of both ‘cause I think it all is important.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: And it’s all connected, right?
Amanda Testa: It is, really, so much.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: So, culturally, it’s conversations like these.
Amanda Testa: Yes.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: It’s changing our language, no more: “sex is intercourse; foreplay just a leadup,” naming our vulvas, sex education. I mean, I’m sad to say I don't think we’ll get there in our country in my lifetime, but I hope we do eventually. They are there in other countries educating about pleasure, consent, the clitoris. Poor literacy - showing people this is make believe (yes, it’s not reality). Using the word clitoris loud and proud, calling out false images on TV, in movies, with your friends.
There are so, so many ways, but a lot of it is bringing female pleasure and the clitoris into the limelight, and why the clitoris? Because, as you said earlier, very few women orgasm from penetration alone.
The old stats used to say 75% don't. Now, later stats, those questions were like, “Can you orgasm from intercourse?” There’s such a pressure to do that, and people will say yes if it happened once. And so, later studies asked women, “Can you orgasm from just a thrusting penis?” Only 15% say yes, and in research I’ve conducted when I ask, “What’s your most reliable route to orgasm,” only 4% say penetration alone, and we know that when women pleasuring themselves less than 2% do so exclusively with penetration, the rest need clitoral stimulation alone or combined. So that’s why getting the clitoris in the limelight is very important.
Then, in terms of individual bedrooms, my book is a combination of feminist analysis to close it culturally and prescriptive self-help, and I’ll just tell you what the four self-help chapters are, and then if you want, dive into any of those deeper.
The first is get to know your own anatomy. You can't use it well or teach others to if you don't know it so really educating yourself and taking a look, that’s the first step.
The second step is working with the sex organ between your mind. We are subject to so many sex-negative thoughts that they become part of us, and making those conscious and changing them. Like, “Sex is for me,” instead of, “If it’s good for him, it’s good for me.”
Then, learning mindfulness because so many of us during sex and in life, right, our body’s doing something and our mind’s doing something else. We could be receiving oral sex and thinking, “Do I look okay? Do I smell okay? Oops, I forgot to return that email,” and all of those things are super normal and super common, and nobody’s in their body all the time, but learning to notice when your mind leaves your body and bring it back.
Then, masturbation. Self-pleasure is essential. Touch yourself, use a vibrator, use your hands, figure out what you like ‘cause everybody’s vulva needs something a little different. Don't stop there. Then, there are chapters on transferring that to partner sex. How? First, with good sexual communication in and out of the bedroom and, second, by changing the way we do scripts. No more foreplay just to get her ready for intercourse: intercourse, male orgasm, sex over. Change the scripts to turn-taking scripts. She cums first or she cums second or if you both want to orgasm during intercourse, use a position where you can get the clitoris stimulated. Use your hand or use a vibrator.
So that’s kind of an overview of both cultural and individual change.
Amanda Testa: I think, too, oftentimes when we work on the individual level, it does spread out (like you just mentioned earlier) around being able to know what you need and speak that in the bedroom. It expands everywhere, and I think, too, the more -- I’ve been doing this work for a while, too, and it gets me so fired up. It gets me so fired up, and I love it so much because I feel like there’s such potential and there’s such possibility and it does sometimes feel like will things change in my lifetime? Probably not, but I also have a ten-year-old, and I want them to know what’s possible and how, hopefully, they can have a different experience. I do feel like, in some ways, things are changing or maybe I just surround myself with things so it looks a little different, but I know in the big picture, oftentimes, we just don't even have that understanding of our own anatomy because of the lack of sex education. The lack even of -- you know, for professionals to have adequate education of our anatomy. Oftentimes the anatomy books don't even fully break down the anatomy of the vulva-bodied genitals. So I think that is something to note.
And so, I always find it so fascinating. I have a 3D model of the clitoris, and when I show it to people, often their minds are like, “What?!” I’m sure you probably notice that, too. Maybe even just talking a little bit more about the anatomy or your thoughts on that and how we can help educate about that.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Yeah, well, we know in sex ed we don't cover anatomy. We put the boys in one room and they talk about wet dreams, and then they put the girls in others and talk about menstruation. That’s not the same. The girls learn about their uterus, basically. They don't learn -- and maybe their vagina’s mentioned, but that’s it. The vulva is what the real name is for the external anatomy, and it includes the outer lips, right, which is -- I’m gonna use a penis comparison, here, just ‘cause people know more about penises if that’s okay?
Amanda Testa: Sure.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: So the outer lips are sort of like the same thing that covers the balls - the sack. They just enclose what’s in to protect them. Then, there’s the inner lips. While they're called the inner lips, many stick out beyond the outer lips. That’s completely normal. One is bigger than the other, often. Those are made of the same embryonic tissue as the shaft of the penis. They’re hairless, they're full of touch-sensitive nerve endings and erectile tissue. You follow them up, it forms the clitoral hood which is made of the same embryonic tissue as the foreskin. Obviously, that’s what’s often removed in circumcision. You pull the head up and there’s the glands of the clitoris, and there are more nerve endings packed in a small space than anywhere on a human body, so intense that most can’t touch it directly, that’s painful.
They have to do it more indirectly through the hood or even through underwear or different types of touch. Above the clitoris is called the mons pubis, and that, you can describe it as a mound of fatty tissue, but what’s essential is it has the internal clitoris running through there so you can actually -- that’s why a lot of times if women push the palm of their hand there while they're stimulating the rest of themselves, it’ll feel really nice. I’m gonna come back to the internal clitoris in a moment. There’s also the vaginal opening, the anal opening. The anal opening isn't officially on the vulva, but I’m gonna mention it. Both openings have a lot of nerve endings surrounding them, and the inner third of the vaginal canal (which is the inside part) has touch-sensitive nerve endings. The upper part has pressure-sensitive nerve endings. So the bottom line is that for the vast majority of us, all of the pleasure-sensitive nerve endings we need to orgasm are on the outside, not the inside.
But the internal clitoris which was only discovered for the first time in about 1997, although it was written about in the sixties by a group of feminist women and that’s often over-looked, but it was not in the scientific journals ‘til later. Helen O’Connell is responsible for that - a wonderful urologist. Bottom line is the clitoris is massive. It is a massive internal organ. It has legs. It has bulbs. The bulbs surround the vaginal canal, and it’s chock full of erectile tissue.
Amanda Testa: Yeah, I always think that’s such a beautiful thing to note is that vulva-bodied people have as much erectile tissue as penis-bodied people, it’s just in different spots.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Exactly. One of my favorite urologists says that the -- I love the way she says this, Rachel Rubin. It flips everything around. She says that the penis is just a big external clitoris.
Amanda Testa: Yeah. [Laughs] I love that, and I think it’s so important to talk about this because so often we don't know what we don't know, and so, even as well-educated people we still don't know what we don't know. I know when I first started learning more about this, I was in my thirties, and I was blown away at what I didn't know about my own body, and I have a college education. So it’s just we don't know these things.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: We’re never taught!
Dr. Laurie Mintz: They don't teach it. I mean, I teach it in my class, but it’s not a required class, and it’s brand new information to most of my students.
Amanda Testa: Mm-hmm. And so, I think sharing this information far and wide for all people so that we can work to understand our anatomy so we can better work with it --
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Absolutely.
Amanda Testa: -- and better learn how to pleasure it.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Exactly. Exactly.
Amanda Testa: Another thing you mentioned that I want to go back to, also, is the mindset piece because there is so much that can come up around everything that has come on top of you since you came into the world around sex and how it affects your ability to be present, to enjoy your experience, to let yourself surrender to the experience versus feeling too busy or, oftentimes, I know a lot of people that want to be in control, they don’t like that feeling of losing control or letting go or leaning into the pleasure and letting it take over. So I’m curious what you might say about that.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Yeah. The mindfulness piece is so big. I once told a client that her biggest sex organ was between her ears, and she looked down at herself and said, “I guess I’ve been looking in the wrong place all these years,” but the truth is that the brain is essential in so many ways, and that the way you think about sex, the shame that you carry, the negative feelings - you have to get rid of those. Again, being able to be present in your body, which is so hard. I mean, I can say it like, “Oh, be present in your body,” but it takes so much time and practice, and the one thing that I love to share with people to underscore that is that the latest brain research shows that the mind state right before an orgasm is almost identical to the brain state of deep mindfulness, meditation.
So that tells us that turning off that thinking, judging of oneself, constantly self-monitoring part of oneself is not optional. It is a requirement for orgasm.
Amanda Testa: I’m curious, too, when you share this with people, what are some of the tips that you advise to kind of allowing them to be more present?
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Well, you know, a lot of times we’ll talk about do you meditate, but a lot of times I’m dealing with really busy people, and if I say, “Have a meditation practice?” They're like, “Nuh-uh, not happening,” or they can't quiet their mind enough for meditation. So I do encourage people to even try six to ten minutes a day. I’ll share my own unique meditation practice.
Every morning I get my coffee (which I love, right?) and I sit down in front of my candles that I light, and I put in my earbuds, and I put in meditation music, and I drink my first cup of coffee that way.
It literally takes six minutes, but I try to fully focus. The candles, the vision, the smell of the candles, the feeling of the warmth on my hands, the music, and really try to focus on those senses just for six minutes, and I’ll tell you, in those six minutes, my mind can wander anywhere from one to one hundred times, and that’s not a failure. That’s the practice is noticing and going, “Oops, there she goes again,” and bringing it back, but for people who don't even want to do a meditation practice, there is another way. You can learn this in daily life. Like, the next time you brush your teeth, how many times are we just mindlessly brushing our teeth or washing our hands or washing the dishes or even going to the bathroom? Anything that involves physical sensations, practice it during those times.
Practice really honing in on the physical sensations, noticing when your mind wanders, and then bringing it back when you notice it.
Amanda Testa: I love that so much, and I find that so -- I mean, it’s easy to do and easy not to do, right?
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Right.
Amanda Testa: I am always teaching just take a minute and drop into your senses or whatever you're experiencing, no matter what it is ‘cause, like you say, oftentimes people put a lot of pressure on themselves of what a mindfulness practice needs to look like. “Oh, I have to get up an hour earlier, and I have to do all this and that.” I’m like, “No, you don't. You can just live your life,” and depending on my days, it’s always different. Like today, I didn't feel like getting up, and then when I did, I just sat there and petted the dog for ten minutes. I was so tired, and that was it, right? We were just cuddling, and I was petting the dog and just feeling. His fur is so soft. He just got a bath, you know, and letting that be it! I was like this is a good one.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: That’s mindfulness. You were immersed in the sensations of petting your lovely dog who just had a bath, and you could really focus. That’s mindfulness in daily life. That’s such a beautiful example.
Amanda Testa: And how exactly does that translate to better sex? I’d like if you would share a little more about that in more detail.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Yes, okay, so you cannot have an orgasm when you're thinking, “Do I look okay? Do I smell okay? Oh, m gosh, I forgot to do that email.” Having an orgasm, having pleasure requires an ability to focus on your sensations and get out of your head. So once you start getting good at it in your daily life, then you can practice, then you can apply it to the bedroom. I always have my clients try a couple weeks in their daily life and figure out what works. For some, it’s just focusing on a sensation. For others, it’s the breath. Then, once you learn to be in your body and to notice when your mind wanders and bring it back, then you can do that in bed, and that is a building block, an essential foundation for pleasure and orgasm, to focus on your body.
Amanda Testa: Ah, so important. I would love, too, if you would share a little bit -- ‘cause I know a lot of your research and work is also around low libido or finding the passion again in long-term relationships. I know a lot of the listeners fall into that camp. And so, I’d love to change gears a little bit and kind of dive in a little more to some of the challenges around the busy-ness of life that gets in the way of the sexual connection and what people can do to kind of get that desire back.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Yeah, so before we do that, what I want to do is divine desire ‘cause the definition of desire is key to this situation. So when we think about desire in our culture, we think about it as feeling horny which is actually the beginning of arousal. It is not just desire. When you're horny, your genitals are throbbing, you might be a little wet, tingly.
That’s what people say they’re meaning when they're horny, but that’s actually the beginning of arousal, and what happens -- and this is so important. It’s just so unknown, though, in the popular culture. The older you get (for most people) and (most important) the longer a relationship goes on, the less horniness you feel. That’s just natural, and then people go, “Oh, no, what’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with my relationship?” without realizing this is normative, and so what do you do about it? You use a different type of desire.
There’s a very important type of desire that is not in the popular press. If it was, if people knew about this, they wouldn't feel so abnormal. Some people call it responsive desire, some people call it receptive desire, but what is it? It’s the idea I am open to the idea of sex for reasons other than being horny.
In fact, someone did a study (I love this) and there were 237 reasons that people have sex. Being horny was only one of them and it wasn't even the top reason. It might be because you know it’ll be good when it gets going. It might be because you’ll feel closer with your partner after. You might get better sleep. Whatever.
So, a lot of times people do that, and then they call it duty sex, like, “Oh, this is duty sex ‘cause it started without horniness,” and I say, “No, no, no. If it was fun when it got going, congratulations! You're using a sex therapy technique. That’s not duty sex! It’s only duty sex if it’s not good when it gets going which is a different problem.” If people haven't been doing it, they’ve stopped having sex because they don't feel horny, I say don't wait to be horny to have sex. Reverse the equation, and have sex to get horny. In this model (and it’s based in science) horniness comes after touch, and it’s much more circular. So that’s the most important thing.
The other important thing for people struggling with this is scheduling sex. Now, that doesn't sound sexy, right, but I don't like to use the word “scheduled sex.” I like to use the word “tryst.” What’s a tryst? A planned meeting between lovers. Nothing happens in our adult life, really, without scheduling it. I mean, here we are on this podcast today, right? ‘Cause we both put it in our calendar, we got ready for it, we made space for it, we got in the headspace to talk to each other, and here we are having a nice conversation, and the same is true of sex. It doesn't just happen when you’ve got a job and kids and pets and aging parents and whatever else you’ve got going on in your life so you need to create the space for it. Decide your ideal frequency and schedule it and make time for it.
A lot of times people are like, “No, no, that’s so unromantic. Sex has to be spontaneous!”
I say, “I don't think it ever was. Think about when you were dating. You took a shower, you got dressed, you put on your nice underwear, you put on perfume, you flirted all night, and [Gasp] wow! The night ended in sex. That wasn't spontaneous; it was well-orchestrated. It was planned even then.” So letting go of that myth that it has to be spontaneous.
Amanda Testa: I think that’s such a good point because people do forget that, and it can be really easy -- you know, especially after these past few years of being homebound and being in sweats and stuck with the people in your house for extended periods, and you're like, okay, we need to shake things up a bit. Put a little effort in on both parts, right? Or however your relationship combinations come together, but it’s the effort sometimes that feels good, right? It’s even kind of like that ritual, and every time you do these repetitive things, it’s kind of signaling to different parts of your brain, like, oh, something special’s gonna happen here!
Whether it is just taking a shower or lighting a candle or whatever it might be, right?
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Absolutely. Exactly. You know, saving energy and time and making sure to schedule your tryst, if you can, not right before bed ‘cause so many times what happens is we’re exhausted, we get into bed, and it’s like, “Oh, I just want to sleep.” A lot of our circulating hormones responsible for good sex are lower at night. So making sure that you're engaging in an encounter when you're really physically able and ready to do so.
Amanda Testa: Yeah. I know you mentioned, too, the other camp where, say someone used to have a lot of excitement and used to enjoy sex (whether or not it was when it got started or after the responsive desire kicked in or whatever), but then now it’s where they're like, “Well, I don't feel anything,” or, “I don't have the pleasure I once had.” I think that’s a lot of frustration for a lot of women that I talk to as they age is sometimes feeling like, “I don't have that same sensation that I once had.” I’m curious if you could speak to that a little bit.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Yeah, well, first of all, that is a really important issue, and it’s not psychological. This is a biological issue, and people often don't know this and feel like something’s wrong with them. As we age, when we get to perimenopause, our estrogen decreases, and with decreased estrogen comes a lot of things - sleeplessness, hot flashes, moodiness, vaginal dryness. Then, penetrative activities can become painful, but what people don't know is there are solutions to this. See your gynecologist. See a sexual medicine physician. They can prescribe you all kinds of things - vaginal moisturizers. There are some over the counter, but they can also prescribe vaginally-inserted estrogen or Systemic Hormone Therapy which has gotten a bad rap, but recently, the American Menopause Association endorsed it for everyone except a very small percentage of the population. So see your physician.
Also, lube is your friend no matter your age. But as we get older, especially, even with vaginal moisturizers, or even young people, sometimes what we feel in our head is not reflected in our body and vice versa. Using a lube, putting it on your vulva, putting it a little bit inside your vagina, you’ve got to have that moisture to get going, and it’ll help create more moisture.
Also, as we get older, we often need much more intense or specific pinpointed stimulation, and figuring out what that is and getting it, alone and with a partner. Often, I’m a huge proponent of vibrators, and the research shows that women who use them have easier and more frequent orgasms, they have better sexual health, etcetera. I can get into all the details, but here’s something really interesting.
Our clitorises, and actually the head of the penis, have special cells that are found nowhere else in the body that are responsive to vibration. People have been using vibration for years, and that can help get over the lack of arousal. Mindfulness has been shown in studies to help with that.
So try all those things, and if none of that works or if none of any of this works, that’s a really good time to see a sex therapist who can help you with figuring out what’s going on and why, but start with your physician, start with a vibrator, start with lube, start with mindfulness.
Amanda Testa: And it can be such a fun exploration. There’s such a huge variety of sex toys available now. There are really great companies that are making all kinds of fun toys. So it can be just a fun exploration, and that can be another way to potentially add in some novelty. [Laughs]
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Absolutely. Absolutely, and that’s the other thing. Sometimes people aren’t too tired for sex or too stressed for sex, they're tired of the sex they're having. So adding in some novelty, trying new things -- I always encourage my clients don't ever do anything that sounds aversive ever, but do stretch your boundaries to try new things.
Amanda Testa: Yeah, I think, too, that’s something around the sexual communication piece which you spoke to earlier that even just maybe you could share a tip or two around bringing things up with your partner that you want to maybe expand your sexual repertoire or you don't want to go right up to them and be like, “Our sex is no good. I’m not enjoying it,” no. Like, what’s the right way to do it? [Laughs]
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Well, first of all, start outside the bedroom.
Amanda Testa: Yes.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: And use good general communication skills. What you just said is really bad, right? “You're bad. I don't like this.” Nobody’s gonna respond well to this.
Own it. Own it and use “I” statements (sentences that start with I). Don't ask questions that aren’t questions. We’re socialized to do that. You know, like, “Do you want to have sex?” That’s never a question. It either means I do, and I hope you do or I really don't, and I hope you don't. Use what I call meta communication - communicating about communicating. So you might say something like, “I want to talk to you about something, and I’m really nervous to do this ‘cause I’m afraid you're gonna feel defensive, but I’m not talking to you to criticize you. I’m talking to you because I really love our sex life and I want it to be the best it can be. And I was listening to this podcast, and I learned that when we schedule sex and use vibrators and really experiment and take the time to build arousal, most women have many more orgasms.
I know my pleasure’s important to you, and it’s important to me too just like yours is. So I’d really like to try those things. What are your reactions?” That’s the real question at the end. That’s the only real question. So that’s kind of a script you can use. Start with meta communication, be loving, non-critical, and own it. “I” statements.
Amanda Testa: I think that is such a beautiful script. I was just gonna say, too, for all of those listening, I always put the transcript in the show notes page. So make sure, if you want a word-for-word script, you can go back to the transcript and get it ‘cause I think that’s such a great way. Sometimes we’re just like, “Give me the script!” Obviously, you can digest it in your own words, but I love that meta communication concept and just making sure it’s a what is the reaction not like -- that’s not a question.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Exactly, and you can use meta communication in the middle of a conversation too. Like, “I feel like things are going downhill and we’re getting tense with each other. I don't want that to happen. I want us to talk and be on the same page.”
It’s communicating about communication. At the end, too: “How do you feel that talk went? I’d like us to talk more about sex. How did that go for you?”
Amanda Testa: Yeah, and, like you mentioned earlier too, when it feels like you're stuck or there’s maybe not the willingness that you’re hoping for or whatever it might be, you can always seek professional help because sometimes we do need that.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Amanda Testa: Yeah, and I’d love to know, too -- I know we’ve covered so much good information, and I feel like there’s so much more, but I’m wondering if there are any other important concepts or anything else that you feel is really important to share that you’d like to talk about.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: That is such a good question. I think we’ve actually covered very much everything that I would really want people to know except that I just want to give listeners: your pleasure is important, and there are techniques out there to enhance it, and you're fine the way you are.
There’s so much concern about am I normal - “Are my inner lips normal?” “Is the way I masturbate normal?” You are fine. Stop using the word normal and just figure out what works for you. That would be my only message that we haven't covered.
Amanda Testa: I love that. Right, there is so much that’s common but not normal, and then there is no normal sometimes, right, when it comes to everyone’s body is different. Everyone’s innervated a little differently. Everyone’s body looks different. Everyone's genitals look different. That’s the beauty of it, right?
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Absolutely.
Amanda Testa: The diversity of the way we are.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Exactly. Yes, exactly.
Amanda Testa: [Laughs]
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Yes.
Amanda Testa: Ah, well, I have so, so enjoyed talking with you, Dr. Laurie. I’d love to know, as well, if you could share with everyone listening what are the best ways to stay connected with you and all of that good stuff.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Sure, and I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Thank you for having me on.
Amanda Testa: Yeah.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: You can find me on my website, www.drlauriemintz.com. So that’s D-R-L-A-U-R-I-E-M-I-N-T-Z, and, there, you’ll find links to my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, all of that, but on all of those social medias, I have the same handle. It’s all @drlauriemintz so you can find me there as well.
Amanda Testa: She’s always got such amazing info that’s shared there and such great tips. I also encourage you to check out her books as well. Becoming Cliterate, I so recommend.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Thank you! Thank you so much, I appreciate that, and those are available anywhere books are sold.
Amanda Testa: I think that’s the beauty of books, right? We can do so much to educate ourselves if we’re just open.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: Absolutely, yes.
Amanda Testa: Just having the openness and curiosity is just such a beautiful way to approach these subjects, I think.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: I could not agree more.
Amanda Testa: [Laughs] Well, thank you so much again for being here.
Dr. Laurie Mintz: It has been my pleasure. Thank you for having me on.
Amanda Testa: Yes, and thank you so much, too, to everyone listening. I’ll make sure to add all of Dr. Laurie’s contact information in the show notes as well as the transcript. So thank you again for being here, and thank you all for listening!
[Fun, Empowering Music]
Thank you so much for listening to the Find Your Feminine Fire podcast. This is your host, Amanda Testa, and if you have felt a calling while listening to this podcast to take this work to a deeper level, this is your golden invitation.
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[Fun, Empowering Music]