COULD MINDFULNESS BE THE KEY TO A BETTER SEX LIFE?
Dr. Lori Brotto, a sexuality expert (and my dear mentor) from BC says “YES!”.
SEX THERAPY: A BRIEF HISTORY
Sex therapy dates back to the ground-breaking work of Alfred Kinsey in the 1940’s and Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson in the 1950’s.
From this point onwards, sex therapy became more and more legitimate (and popular!). The key to sex therapy’s success was that people started to realize sex isn’t just a “fun” thing people do… it’s linked to a better life overall!
Sex isn’t just a thing that people to “for fun” or to have babies. People with happier, healthier sex lives are happier, healthier, and have better relationships, overall
WHAT DOES THE SCIENCE SAY?
Unfortunately, very few proven sex therapy treatments have come out since the time of sex research’s founders.
When I say “proven sex therapy treatments”, I mean “evidence-based treatments”, or therapy techniques that have undergone vigorous scientific research to show that it actually does what we think it does.
All of this started to change in the past decade or do, thanks to researchers like Dr. Lori Brotto.
Dr. Brotto has done incredible work bringing proven treatments to the sex therapy world.
The big gift that Dr. Brotto gave to sex therapy was bringing mindfulness into the game, especially as a way to help women have better sex.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS, ANYWAYS?
Mindfulness refers to two things:
- PRESENT MOMENT AWARENESS: That is, being aware of what is going on in your experience at this very moment. Whether it is physical sensations, mental sensations (aka thoughts), sound sensations, etc.
- WITHOUT JUDGEMENT: This means being able to directly observe your experience without getting sucked into the black hole of emotions (sadness, anger, frustration, happiness) or judgements (“This is good!” “This is bad!!”)
In other words, mindfulness teaches us to be present with whatever our experience is in this moment, and to do so with a sense of curiosity (as opposed to judgement).
MINDFULNESS AND SEX THERAPY
When you think about it, mindfulness makes perfect sense as a way to have a better sex life!
Consider this example: You are trying to be sexually intimate with a partner… but instead of savouring every little bit of what’s going on, your mind keeps wandering…
You find yourself wrapped up in thoughts (“Oh man, look at that pile of clothing on the floor, I really need to do laundry!”, “I have so much work I need to do…do I really have time for this hanky-panky right now?”, “Is my partner staring at the flab on my stomach?”, “Is my partner even enjoying this??”).
You also find yourself wrapped up in judgements (feeling embarrassed by your few extra pounds, stressed at the thought of your To Do list, frustrated with yourself that you can’t stay focused on your partner, maybe even bored with the lack of novelty in your sex life)
… with all of that going on, it’s going to be difficult to really enjoy the pleasures of intimacy.
MINDFULNESS FOR BETTER SEX
By practicing mindfulness, we build up the skills of keeping our mind present, being able to let go of distracting or upsetting thoughts, and really savouring all of the good bits of sexual intimacy… this makes room for sexual pleasure.
Years of research (especially out of Dr. Brotto’s lab) shows that MINDFULNESS WORKS TO MAKE SEX BETTER!
women with low sexual desire rekindle that last spark.
women with genital pain find enjoyment in intimacy once again.
women re-write their sexual stories after gynaecological cancer wreaks havoc on their sexual lives.
…and new research shows that mindfulness is also promising for men with sexual difficulties (this is a major interest of mine, and the focus of much of my research!)
HOW DO I LEARN MORE?
If you would like to learn more about how mindfulness might be the answer to helping you have a better sex life, I highly recommend reading Dr. Brotto’s new book, Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire.
And, of course, if you are ready to explore mindfulness and sex therapy in more detail, contact me today for a free 15 minute consultation to see if sex therapy at the Tri Health Clinic is right for you.
DR. JENN BOSSIO, C. Psych is a psychologist and sex therapist servicing Kingston, Ontario and the surrounding areas including Bellville, Nappanee, Brockville, and everywhere in between. She works with individuals and couples to help make their sex lives better over all. She uses mindfulness in her work to treat sexual health problems, and as a tool to improve overall mental wellness.