July 9, 2019
By Dr. Rose Schlaff, DPT, WHC, IF – Guest Contributor
Talking about sex is hard. It can be embarrassing, awkward and there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation out there. As a Women’s Sexual Health Coach and Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, I have the opportunity to talk to women about their sexual health concerns every day. Although women are often embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about sex at first, as soon as the discussion begins I usually see overwhelming relief and many of the women I work with even ask, “why didn’t anyone tell me this sooner?!?”
Let’s set the record straight right here and right now on a few of the most common sex myths and misinformation I hear from the women I work with.
Sexual Myth 1: It’s Normal For Sex To Be Uncomfortable, or Even Painful
“It’s normal for sex to be uncomfortable or even painful, right?” No!! Although nearly 75% of women experience pain during sex at some point during their lives, it is not normal. If you are having pain during sex you are not alone, you are not broken and there is hope. I have helped hundreds of women eliminate pain and reclaim their sex lives healing is possible!
This is such a pervasive myth, I’ve talked to so many women who have experienced pain during sex for years and have either hidden it because they felt like they were the only ones having issues or have actually reached out and talked to their doctors and their doctors have told them to “just relax and have a glass of wine.” To any woman reading this that ever had a medical professional tell you to ‘just relax and have a glass of wine’ please let me personally apologize, your pain is real and there are many reasons for pain during sex including:
- Pelvic floor muscle tightness
- Hormonal Imbalance (often related to birth control pills, pregnancy/ postpartum and peri-menopause)
- Not Enough Foreplay (did you know the vaginal canal expands 200% when you are aroused?!)
- Vulvodynia (pain and burning of the labia)
- Vaginismus (involuntary pelvic floor muscle contraction)
- Interstitial Cystitis
If you’re struggling with pain during sex, you may benefit from sexual health coaching or pelvic floor physical therapy. For free resources and to learn more, go to https://www.bewellwithrose.com/
Sexual Myth 2: Most Women Can Reach Orgasm From Penetrative Sex
A study published in 2017 found that only 18.4% of women reported that intercourse alone was sufficient for orgasm, that’s less than ¼ of women! The same study found that 36.6% of reported clitoral stimulation was necessary for orgasm during intercourse, and an additional 36% indicated that, while clitoral stimulation was not needed, their orgasms felt better if their clitoris is stimulated during intercourse.
Sexual Myth 3: Good Sex Should Happen Spontaneously, Without Having to Plan
Many women I work with feel like there’s something wrong with them because they don’t experience a desire or craving to have sex just out of the blue like like they used to at the beginning of their relationship, like, “hey, I feel like having sex right now!”
This type of desire is called “spontaneous desire.” It’s what most people think of when they think of desire but another way many women experience desire is through “responsive desire.” Responsive desire is that thing where you don’t really feel like having sex but you agree and once you start you actually get into it and enjoy it. Think of this like “putting on your gym shoes.” You might not want to or feel like going to the gym at first but you know you will feel good once your there and as soon as you put on your gym shoes and get there you’re so happy you came.
Women often have more responsive desire than spontaneous desire, especially when they are in long-term relationships. There is nothing wrong with having mostly responsive desire and understanding this mechanism can give you the power to have an amazing fulfilling sex life.
How do you use your knowledge of responsive desire to your advantage?
Plan date nights, actively do things to put yourself in the mood prior to your date night, spend lots of time on foreplay and enjoy the ride!
Sexual Myth 4: Everything “down there” is called your “vagina”
“Vagina” is one of the most commonly misused words, the vagina is simply the inside part, the internal canal that leads up to your cervix. Everything thing else on the outside is called your “vulva.” The vulva includes your mons pubis, clitoris, labia majora, and labia minora.
Image By: Fyrstinnen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Can you name all the numbered structures above? The answers will be at the end of the article!
Sexual Myth 5: The clitoris is tiny and hard to find
When most people think about the clitoris they think about the little hooded nub above the urethra and vaginal opening, also called the clitoris glans but the part of the clitoris that you can see is actually just the tip of the iceberg.
The whole clitoris is actually huge! Approximately ¾ of the clitoris is hidden inside your body and the entire clitoral structure can be up to 16 mm long!
Additionally, the internal portion of the clitoris also gets engorged and erect, just like a penis when you are aroused.
Image: By Original: AmphisVectorised and touched up by MarnanelOptimized and added multiple languages support by Xeror. – This file was derived from: Clitoris anatomy labeled-en.jpg:, Public Domain
So there you have it! Five of the most common sex myths I hear from women every day. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on instagram at @bewellwithrose!
Dr. Rose is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Women’s Sexual Health Coach who is passionate about helping women who struggle with pain during sex gain a deep understanding of their bodies, reclaim their lives, and return to having sex with ease and joy. To learn more, go to https://www.bewellwithrose.com/learn-more , check out Rose on instagram @bewellwithrose or get in touch with Rose at email@example.com.
1 – Clitoral Hood, 2. Clitoris, 3. Labia majora, 4. Urinary opening, 5. Labia minora, 6. Anus, 7. Vaginal opening, 8. Perineum
- “When Sex Is Painful – ACOG.” https://m.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/When-Sex-Is-Painful. Accessed 6 Jul. 2019.
- Verkauf BS, Von thron J, O’brien WF. Clitoral size in normal women. Obstet Gynecol. 1992;80(1):41-4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1603495
- O’connell HE, Sanjeevan KV, Hutson JM. Anatomy of the clitoris. J Urol. 2005;174(4 Pt 1):1189-95. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022534701685720