As women, we face a lot of confusion and shame around sex. While some of us may not have experienced direct trauma, we live in a society that fosters a disconnection between our bodies and our intimate selves. This repression can create a detachment between us and our vaginas.
This manifests as numbing, shame, and a lack of clarity around our needs. Or an inability as to how to communicate these needs. It’s far too common for women to “dissasociate” during sex, and let’s face it- not enough of us are having regular orgasms. Orgasms are medicine, people.
They have the ability to create mind-bending, earth-shattering, esoteric experiences. Unfortunately, many women are missing out on the healing capacity of sex (with yourself or someone else), because they check out of their bodies during the act.
While this is a systemic issue crossing cultures and borders, healing must still happen on an individual level. So how do we drop back into our bodies? How do we start having orgasms that bring us to tears? How do we connect with our bodies in such a profound way that a single encounter could heal a lifetime of suppression?
It starts with self-care.
In the world of self-care, our options are endless. In our arsenal of tools, we rotate acupuncture, Yoga, facials, bodywork, massage, and so much more.
When we think of massage, we typically assume our backs, necks, maybe our feet. This focus on certain body parts comes at the expense of neglecting other ones. Thanks to social taboos and conventional ideas, we forget that we are holistic, aka whole, beings with a lot more to us than a back and a few limbs.
There are a growing number of trends in the world of wellness-centered around healing whatever we have stored in our vaginas- physically, emotionally, and energetically. We’re seeing yoni eggs, vaginal steaming, crystal wands, and now- sexological bodywork. What? That’s right.
In fact, sexological bodywork is no new trend. It was developed by Dr. Josef Kramer in the 1980’s as a reaction to the AIDS epidemic, as a tool for homosexual men to connect with their sex lives amidst growing panic and loss. It utilizes methods of Taoism and tantric bodywork, with a later expansion as a tool in women’s sexual liberation movements.
Sexological bodywork is just what it sounds like. Bodywork, a broad term for various methods of therapeutic healing, is used by practitioners to give clients a space to heal from injuries, chronic pain, anxiety, and any other number of ailments. People who get bodywork treatments develop a deeper connection with their physical form.
Sexological bodywork creates that connection between people and their reproductive organs and sexual selves.
While for many, the idea of a stranger touching their genitals raises a major red flag, the intention of practitioners is to provide healing in an area that is so often neglected. During a session, especially the first few, a practitioner may not even touch a client physically, or they may begin with a gentle touch over their clothes.
Sexological bodyworkers use a number of techniques to create a somatic experience- including breathwork, sensual massage, masturbation coaching, and the breaking down of scar tissue. It’s important to note that as it’s said in many forms of therapeutic touch- therapists meet their clients where they’re at. That means only going to a place in the session where a client will be able to integrate their experiences in a constructive manner, so as not to shock them.
The tissue in our vaginas is similar to that of the inside of our mouths. It is soft, sensitive, and malleable. Just as with the rest of our bodies, this tissue is incredibly intelligent. It holds stories, memories, and emotions.
Sometimes this holding on can create excessive tension that leads to a feeling of being frozen, or inability to enjoy one’s sexuality. Developing a relationship with these tissues outside of sex and birth gives people the opportunity to feel more alive, and like a more integrated human overall. Sexological bodywork can help to integrate these experiences so that you feel like your vagina is yours again.
So who might benefit from sexological bodywork? The answer is everyone.
If you have genitals, there is always an opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level, no matter what your story is. Specifically, the people who often seek out this kind of treatment are women in the prenatal time as a way to connect with their birth canal, release and prepare for the journey of birth.
It is also incredibly beneficial postpartum, especially if there have been any pelvic floor injuries, such as prolapse, or tearing. It can help people who have experienced sexual trauma, whether directly, or as a result of living in a society where it is rampant. Some people seek sexological bodywork to help them resolve shame they may hold, and get rid of energy that isn’t theirs. Others may just want to connect with themselves on a deeper level, to find greater pleasure in their sex lives, or connect deeper with their partners.
Although people seek out sexological bodywork for a variety of reasons, the results are ubiquitous. This profound modality gives people the opportunity to feel more embodied. To connect with themselves in a way that we don’t often get an opportunity to. It gives them a way to integrate sex into their daily lives, so that they can feel better overall.
And don’t forget- more orgasms. Now that’s a self-care tool we all need.
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.