About Josh Spurlock

Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC is Director of MyCounselor.Online.

MyCounselor.Online provides Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Professional Counseling services. TRC is a multi-specialty professional counseling practice with 8 therapists in Springfield and Branson, Missouri offices. Josh specializes in Marriage Counseling, Sex Therapy, and Eating Disorder Treatment.

Marriage: Priority #1

Make Marriage Your Priority - Quality Time

Love is a Verb

Happily ever after isn’t easy to make happen, no matter what Hollywood says. It’s work building a lasting relationship. But most anything worthwhile is. You may have “fell” in love when dating, however, when the new wears off you’re going to have to work to make love happen.

Make Your Marriage Priority #1

Do your actions, schedule, and budget show your spouse is #1 in your life after God? Nothing else is more influential on your quality of life and the health of your kids than the relationship between you and your spouse.

Marriage Priority Test

Answer True or False for the following statements: Almost always…

  • I spend more time engaging my spouse than I do watching TV or on my phone.
  • I interrupt whatever I am doing if my spouse wants my attention?
  • I recognize in a significant way my spouse’s birthday, our anniversary, and other special days.
  • My spouse and I go on vacations alone together at least once per year.
  • I have at least one personal and meaningful discussion with my spouse per week for at least 25 minutes.
  • When my spouse phones I make time to talk.
  • I speak to my spouse about non-logistical matters at least twice per day.
  • When my spouse walks into the house, I interrupt whatever I am doing to greet my spouse.
  • If I’m with my spouse and some one else phones I don’t take the call.
  • When something significant happens in my life I share it with my spouse first.
  • When we go to social functions I spend at least half the time talking with my spouse.
  • When I walk into the house the first thing I do is greet my spouse.
  • I spend more time interacting with my spouse than any one else in my life.
  • When I need someone to talk to I talk to my spouse.
  • My spouse and I go out alone together at least once per week.
  • I have photographs of my spouse in my office, wallet, or phone.
  • I do unnecessary thoughtful things for my spouse regularly.

* Adapted from Mort Fertel’s “Put Love First Marriage Assessment”

Love isn’t Selfish with Time

Putting your spouse and marriage first requires time and focus. There is no substitute. Soulmates aren’t perfect for each other, they love each other with all their imperfections. Take an interest in the things that interest your spouse. You don’t have to be interested in the same things, you just have to be interested in your spouse.

Be the one they look forward to hang together. Find a hobby that you can both enjoy and engage together. Trade “Me” time for “We” time. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever have activities in your life that don’t include your spouse, but these should be limited and far less than together activities.

Be a good parent – put your spouse first.

Having quality time with your kids is important. Even more important is having quality time with your spouse. Kids need the security and relational learning that comes from a mom and dad that are passionately in love with each other.

You can’t give to them what you don’t have. If you don’t give them the gift of knowing what a healthy marital relationship looks like, how will they know how to have that for themselves as an adult? They’re not going to get in high school or college, that’s for sure.

There is No Substitute for Quality Time

Your relationship is like a tomato plant. All the conditions for growing plump, delicious tomatoes can be perfect: great sun, fence to keep the animals out, soil with just the right mix of nutrients, spray to keep the bugs away – but if you don’t water it, it won’t grow.

You can’t dump 100 gallons on your tomato plant once a year and expect it to not need water the rest of the time (think vacation). The ground can only soak up so much at a time and the rest rolls off. There’s also no such thing as “super wet water” that only requires minimal application because it’s so super quality (we don’t spend very much time together, but we make sure it’s “quality” when we do).

No, your tomato plant is going to need regular, daily watering if it’s going to bear fruit. Without it the flowers will die, the leaves will wither, and before long there will only be scorched earth.

So it is with your relationship and quality time, there’s no substitute.

Minimum Quality Time for a Healthy Relationship

As a rule of thumb, I recommend the following quality time schedule for all couples as a minimum for keeping their relationship healthy:

15-20 min a Day

At some point in the day, every day, make some time to give your spouse your undivided attention and meaningful conversation. This could be morning coffee together, pillow talk before bed, or any number of other forms. It’s best to have a bit of a ritual though to make it a habit. Having it be a habit will increase the likelihood of it happening consistently. Try to keep it up even when apart by Facetime or phone call.

1 hour Sync Meeting a week

This is the business meeting for your family, where you and your spouse get on page about schedules and upcoming decisions, so you don’t have to use your date time for this.

2-4+ hours a week

Date night is what most couples call this, though it could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night dancing. When our kids were young going to the grocery store without children felt like a date! The important thing is that it’s a time of relaxed “hanging out” without kids. Have fun together and enjoy some adult conversation without interruptions every 2 seconds.

An Overnight Once a Quarter (24hours+)

An overnight or weekend getaway where you spend a full day or two with your honey enjoying life as lovers and friends is so very important to staying in love. Whether it’s a romantic getaway to somewhere tropical, or a staycation at a local hotel – having a relaxed time to enjoy each other’s presence without children is key.

We don’t have time to do that!

 

Activity

Time Frequency Yearly Total Hours
Conversation 15mn Daily 92
Sync 1hr Week 52
Date 2hr Week 104
Get-Away 1 day Quarterly 96
344 hours

There are 8,760 hours in a year. At 344 hours, it takes less than 4% of your time to give the most important relationship in your life the priority it needs to be healthy.

Put the Important Things First

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

Start Your Journey

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Love The One You’re With

Love The One You're With

Love The One You’re With

Most people mistakenly think the key to marital happiness is a matter of finding the “right person” by luck or providence. If this your mindset there’s a good chance you’re divorced or you will be. The real secret isn’t finding the “right one”, it’s learning to love the one you’re with.

Pop, Fizz, Flat

Lot’s of energy, time, and money are put into trying to find, attract, and lock down that special someone. The feeling of being in love is phenomenal and makes the sun shine brighter on the darkest or brightest day. Then, after the initial hormonal high of love wears off, the pop and fizz goes flat.

The truth is lasting love actually has very little to do with finding the right person or what we’re feeling after the new shine wears off. Instead it’s about knowing how to “make love” in your heart toward your spouse. Yet the majority put very little effort into learning how to love, even though they deeply long for love.

Am I with the right person?

If you’re asking if you’re with the right person, you’re asking the wrong question. If you buy an iPhone and you can’t figure out how to use it, trading it out for a different brand of smartphone isn’t going to fix the problem. You have to learn how to use it.

Learn to Make Love

You have to learn how to make love. There are universal principles that control our experience of love. If you learn and apply these laws, you can produce predictable results in your marriage. You can make a connection that will make the difference.

3 Marriage Options

The way I see it, you have 3 options.

Lower Your Expectations

This is the option that most couples, who don’t divorce, take. Once the sizzle fades, they accept that marriage isn’t going to be what they hoped for. They surrender to not being passionately in love and find a pattern of life that get’s them by, surviving but not thriving.

Divorce

We are creative creatures, when we put our mind to finding a way to justify our choices we can generally come up with something. So finding a reason to give up and stop trying won’t be too difficult. But, it also wont be too satisfying. Unlike with the airlines, our baggage is guaranteed to show up at our new destination. Once the pop and fizz goes flat there, you’ll be back in the same boat. Just with more pain, regret, and less money. Let me save you a bunch of all of the above – this isn’t a good option. Even when it’s necessary, it’s a terrible option.

Love The One You’re With

Just because you’ve tried everything you know doesn’t mean you’ve tried everything and it’s hopeless. The laws of love are universal and are learnable. Invest the time and effort to apply them and you will reap the relational benefits from doing so. They can be found in the Bible, in books, videos, and the wise words of those who have mastered them in their own marriage. You just have to be humble enough to seek them out and embrace them.

Worth It

Few, if any, investments in life have the kind of quality of life return that learning how to love does. It’s worth everything you put in to gain the happiness it produces.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

Start Your Journey

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Busyness – Sex Killer | Better Sex For Women

Too Busy For Sex | Better Sex For Women

Are you too busy for sex?

Work, kids, church, groceries, dinner, laundry, Bible study, small group, friends, family, Facebook….sleep. Who has time or energy for sex? Even on vacation, we’re running from one activity to the next. Finding time or mental focus for romance is harder than it sounds.

Previously we discussed how fatigue kills your sex drive and what to do about it. Is it possible though to be simply too busy for sex? Of course it is!

There are only 24 hours in the Day

There are only so many hours in a day. Never enough to get done all the things there are to get done. There are, however, enough to accomplish all the things that are important to God that you get done. Where do you think your marriage fits on God’s priority list?

True or False

A strong relationship with your husband is more important than:

Catching up on what your girlfriend made for dinner on Facebook?

Folding the towels?

The latest episode of The Voice?

Clean bathrooms?

Saying “yes” to volunteering at that church event so you won’t disappoint anyone?

The kids getting to do all the activities they want?

Good vs Best

For some people time wasters like TV, Netflix, and social media consume a huge chunk of their time that could be better spent elsewhere. For most of us, though it’s not the “time wasters” that keep us from God’s best for us, it’s all the “good” things. There are far more “good things” than there is time: Kids activities, volunteer opportunities, friends/family with needs, Bible studies, etc. All these things are “good” – but they can still cause your life to be out of balance such that the most important things get neglected. You can have too much of a good thing.

There’s enough time in your week to allow for each priority God has for you its “fair share” of your time. If you’re giving too much to any one area it is robbing from another. Every “YES” is a “NO” to something else.

Is sex really all that important?

YES! By God’s design, sex is one of the primary ways a man emotionally bonds with his wife. It’s normal, because of the way your hormone cycle effects sex drive, for you to only feel like initiating sex a couple days a month. Your husband likely needs more than that to feel close and connected with you. It’s a huge part of his identity. Imagine if he only spoke to you a couple days a month. How close would you feel to him?

Check out this article for more details: Why Sex Is So Important to Men

Do It for the Kids.

More than activities or even a home cooked meal, your kids need their mom and dad to have a solid relationship. Where else will they learn what a healthy marriage looks like? How else will they know how to relate to their spouse someday?

There is No Substitute for Quality Time

Your relationship is like a tomato plant. All the conditions for growing plump, delicious tomatoes can be perfect: great sun, fence to keep the animals out, soil with just the right mix of nutrients, spray to keep the bugs away – but if you don’t water it, it won’t grow.

You can’t dump 100 gallons on your tomato plant once a year and expect it to not need water the rest of the time (think vacation). The ground can only soak up so much at a time and the rest rolls off. There’s also no such thing as “super wet water” that only requires minimal application because it’s so super quality (we don’t spend very much time together, but we make sure it’s “quality” when we do). No, you’re tomato plant is going to need regular, daily watering if it’s going to bear fruit. Without water the flowers will die, the leaves will wither, and before long there will only be scorched earth.

So it is with your relationship and quality time, there’s no substitute.

Minimum Quality Time for a Healthy Relationship

As a rule of thumb, I recommend the following quality time schedule for all couples as a minimum for keeping their relationship healthy:

15-20 min a Day

At some point in the day, every day, make some time to give your spouse your undivided attention and meaningful conversation. This could be morning coffee together, pillow talk before bed, or any number of other forms. It’s best to have a bit of a ritual though to make it a habit. Having it be a habit will increase the likelihood of it happening consistently. Try to keep it up even when apart by Facetime or phone call.

2-4+ hours a week

Date night is what most couples call this, though it could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night dancing. When our kids were young going to the grocery store without children felt like a date! The important thing is that it’s a time of relaxed “hanging out” without kids. Have fun together and enjoy some adult conversation without interruptions every 2 seconds.

An Overnight once a Quarter

An overnight or weekend getaway where you spend a full day or two with your honey enjoying life as lovers and friends is so very important to staying in love. Whether it’s a romantic getaway to somewhere tropical, or a staycation at a local hotel – having a relaxed time to enjoy each other’s presence without children is key.

Sex 1-2x a Week

Every couple is different and this isn’t intended to be a hard and fast rule, but most couples find an average of 1-2 times a week for sex is a good minimum for staying connected. This could be in the morning before work, afternoon lunch quickie, in the evening after we get the kids in bed, or on the weekend.

For more tips on staying emotionally connected with your spouse, check out the article: Emotional Connection | Better Sex For Women.

Put it on the Calendar!

Planning ahead and scheduling time together highly increases the chances that it will actually happen. If you don’t put it on the calendar, there’s a really good chance it won’t happen consistently enough.

Some object to the idea of scheduling a time to connect sexually, feeling it removes the spontaneity or fearing they won’t be able to perform. The truth is that blocking out the time allows for great variety and creativity as you plan ahead, looking forward to the time. Your body is designed to respond to sexual stimuli, so you don’t need to worry about whether or not it will become aroused. It also lends itself to some fun, playful flirting throughout the day.

Plus, just because you’ve planned a time to connect, doesn’t mean you can’t connect spontaneously at other times as well. Planning just ensures that at least we’ll connect at this frequency.

Quality time and sexually connection are important to the health of your marriage – make it a priority.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

Start Your Journey

Learn about how our counseling services work and how to get started.

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Why Enjoying Sex Matters for Married Women

Why Enjoying Sex Matters for Married Women

Why does enjoying sex matter?

If you’re a high desire woman, the answer to the question “Why should enjoying sex matter for married women?” is simple – “Because I want to enjoy lots of mind blowing sex!” If you’re on the lower end of the libido spectrum, however, that answer doesn’t resonate with you.

So why should a low libido married woman care about ENJOYING sex?

 3 thoughts for you to consider on the subject:

1st God Designed You to Enjoy Sex

First of all, it’s an undeniable medical fact that God designed your body to enjoy sex, even more than your husband. Your clitoris has more nerve endings than any other part of human anatomy, male or female, and it only serves 1 purpose – Your sexual enjoyment. You can have a variety of orgasmic experiences, you can have multiple consecutive orgasms, you have multiple neuron-pathways for sexual pleasure – none of these are true for husband.

The take away is: God wants you to really enjoy sex. If you’re not, you’re missing out on something that God has for you.

2nd God Designed Your Husband to Want You To Want Sex with Him

Believe it or not, your husband isn’t just interested in having sex with your body. He actually wants to have sex with you as a person, his bride. While sexual arousal for men is largely physical, sexual fulfillment is more about feeling accepted, wanted, and affirmed in our masculinity. [Read more here: Why Sex Is So Important To Men]

All illicit sex appeals to this need in men. The women of pornography, prostitution, strip clubs, are communicating “I want you”, “Your masculinity turns me on”, “I accept you and think you’re great”. Every mans heart longs to feel these things – from his wife.

“Duty sex” doesn’t communicate these things. Just being willing to let your husband use your passive body to “get off” because “it’s been a while” is not even close to fulfilling to a man.

He wants to share something with you that is mutually enjoyable and that you both look forward to. Look at this way, have you ever been trying to have a conversation with your husband and you can clearly tell from his body language and lack of engagement he’d rather be having a root canal than talking to you right now? Or at least he’s thinking “There’s got to be something on TV more interesting than listening to you.” How does that make you feel?

3rd If You Don’t Enjoy Sex, Desire Will Die Altogether

Duty sex is a desire killer. If you engage sex but don’t enjoy it, eventually, your sex drive will all together disappear. Frustration and resentment with your husbands sex drive will grow, and the conflict will drive a wedge between the two of you in your marriage.

I see this often as one factor in empty-nest divorces and in affair situations.

Learn How to Enjoy Sex

The only solution I know of is to learn how to enjoy the wonderful gift of sexual pleasure God has wired into your body. There are lots of reasons you might not be now. I’ve written here about the top 10 reasons I see in my practice, Why Married Women Don’t Want Sex. Fortunately there’s an incredibly high success rate for those who want to learn how to enjoy sex (9 out to 10). God want’s you to enjoy sex, your husband wants you to enjoy sex, and you’ll be happy about it once you do as well.

Joyce Penner, one of my mentors in sex therapy, has written a great book for you: Enjoy! If you need more help, give us a call, 85-55-WE-HELP – One of the sex therapists on our team will be happy to help you figure out what’s getting in the way and design a treatment plan that will help you get there. We see clients nationwide Online and In-Person at our offices.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

Start Your Journey

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Sexy=Dirty? | Better Sex For Women

Low Sexual Desire | Better Sex For Women.jpg

Does being sexy feel dirty to you?

Growing up we can sometimes receive the message that sexual desire is lust and only promiscuous girls want sex. This belief that sex is slutty/dirty and that you are bad for having sexual feelings, especially as a single person, leads us to feel bad about the sexual part of ourselves. Pleasing God and being horny are seen to be incompatible.

This is especially true for those who grew up in a very religious home. Sometimes the message that “sex is holy” is interpreted to mean that sexy feelings or the desire to engage sexually any way other than “missionary style” is a sinful corruption of God’s design for sex.

What follows is feeling bad about yourself any time you experience sexual feelings. So you learn to shut down your sexual feelings. This tends to get in the way of desire for sex.

God Made You Horny

Who designed your body? Who’s idea was it to wire your neurology and hormones to give you sexual feelings, desires, thoughts?

Truth: God made you horny. From a physiological standpoint, it is an undeniable fact that God wants women to enjoy sex even more than men. Take for example, that a woman’s clitoris has more nerve endings than any other part of human anatomy male or female. Further, it serves zero functional purposes other than a woman’s sexual pleasure. In contrast, a man’s penis is a multi-functional tool. It aids him in urination and reproduction in addition to being an instrument of pleasure.

It doesn’t stop there. Women possess at least three separate neuropathways associated with sexual pleasure, to a man’s one. Women are capable of enjoying a variety of orgasmic experiences whereas men really only have one. Male orgasm may vary in intensity, but it is basically the same feeling and geographic location. Even more, women have the physiological capacity for an unlimited number of consecutive orgasms. There is probably a world record out there somewhere, but I wouldn’t recommend googling it. Men, on the other hand, get just one followed by a waiting period ranging from minutes to hours.

Conclusion: God wants women to enjoy sexual pleasure!

Distortions of Sex Displease God

Distortions of sex displease God. This includes the distortion that comes from well-meaning church people who make sex and sexual feelings out to be something evil or bad. It’s the ditch on the other side of the road from the secular hedonism that says there are no boundaries for sex, do whatever you please, with whomever you please, whenever you please.

In a world full of secular distortions of sexuality, where perverts and sexual predators lurk, it’s no wonder we the church are afraid of sex.

We are afraid of…

. . . the controversy.

. . . being thought of as a sexual predator.

. . . being misunderstood or misportrayed.

. . . offending people.

. . . being controlled by our sexual passions.

. . . being like the perverted culture.

. . . exposing our own shame around our sexual experiences, past, struggles, failures.

The power and potential for destruction inherent in sex terrify us.

We are bombarded with unspoken messages that say “sex is dangerous to your soul and body.”

“If you think about sex or feel sexual desire – You are Sinning!”

“Sexual sin is the worst kind of sin. Be ashamed of your sexual struggles. Hide your weaknesses.”

“If you love Jesus enough, you will NEVER be horny, especially if you’re single.”

“Any expression of gender affirmation or insinuation that “I think your attractive” is flirting. Flirting is sinning. YOU MUST PRETEND YOU FIND NO ONE ATTRACTIVE.”

“Asexual = Godly”

All of these messages, and many more, either spoken or implied through silence, result in beliefs about sex that do not come from God or the Bible. They don’t represent God’s revealed thoughts, as expressed in the Bible, about sex.

The Bible Celebrates Sex

Would it surprise you to know there’s an entire book of the Bible dedicated to the romantic sexual pursuit of a man after a woman and her desire for him (Song of Solomon). The flirtatious, romantic desires that draw a woman and man towards each other with longings for each other, leading to marriage, is God’s design.

The physical realities of our sexual desire are a metaphor for the longing that God has for His people. God desires to be one with us, indwelling us by His Spirit as we share an intimate love affair together. He describes Himself as a husband and we His special creation, as a bride, Whom He is passionate about and longs to be intimate with.

Consider, that according to Christianity, unlike any other religion, when we approach God giving our self to Him, the Bible says the Spirit of God literally indwells our body. The vulnerable, intimate act of intercourse between a husband and wife is a physical revelation of that spiritual truth. Further, God’s drive to be with us is constant and unrelenting…kind of like some husbands.

God’s loving pursuit of us and our enthusiastic response to Him shows us what a healthy sexual relationship in marriage is supposed to look like. Likewise, God appreciates and enjoys when we too initiate times of intimate connection with Him.

How To Embrace Positive Feelings About Sex

Before you can embrace positive feelings about sex, you first have to identify your negative ones. Often we’ve been so submerged in negative messages about sexuality that we aren’t even consciously aware of the misbeliefs that we hold about it.

Trace It Back

Take a sheet of paper and create a timeline of all the things you learned about sex and whom those thoughts came from.

How was nudity handled around your house?

How were your genitals talked about?

What reactions did your parents/adults have when you touched yourself as a child?

Did your parents discuss sex openly?

How did you learn about the “birds & the bees”?

What did you learn from siblings, family members, friends, the locker room at school?

What were the messages you got from the church/youth group?

When do you first remember having sexual feelings or thoughts? What was your response to them? How did you feel about them?

Did these experiences help you have positive feelings about sexuality or negative?

Write a Sexual Fantasy

Take a sheet of paper and create a sexual story about you and your husband. Make it as romantic and arousing as you can imagine.

What feelings are provoked just by reading the above two sentences? Positive or negative? Do you find yourself not wanting to do the exercise?

By this point, you probably accept, in your head at least, that God views sexual passion between you and your husband as positive. So what is getting in the way of you letting yourself imagine, think about, and look forward to sexual experiences together?

At first, you probably won’t be able to identify it. Keep trying to do the exercise and keep thinking about the feelings it stirs and bring them into conscious awareness by writing them down.

Challenge Distortions with Truth

For each of the negative feelings, thoughts, or beliefs that you identify in these exercises create a counter statement that affirms the positive nature of God’s thoughts about sex. Write down the truth statements.

Examples:

Distortion: I feel dirty.
Truth: Sex and sexual feelings are a beautiful gift from God.

Distortion: I feel ashamed or guilty?
Truth: God designed me to have sexual feelings and desires, He wants me to enjoy them and pursue them with my husband.

Distortion: I shouldn’t want these things?
Truth: Any mutually respectful and pleasurable sexual act between husband and wife, that doesn’t bring in a third party, is permissible to experiment and play with. God loves variety and creativity.

Experiment

Experiment with intentionally being flirtatious and sexually forward with your husband. Make a point to be receptive / respond positively to your husband’s advances. Notice the feelings you have as you think about and try doing so. Use the truth statements you have formulated to combat negative and anxiety producing thoughts/feelings. Talk about them out loud with your husband. Pray together, thanking the Lord for the sexual part of yourself and relationship. Ask for God’s help in experiencing as GOOD what He has created to be good for you.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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Feel Sexy | Better Sex for Women

Sexual Confidence Feel Sexy | Better Sex for Women

Feeling Sexy | Sexual Confidence

Feeling attractive/sexy is an important driver for a women’s sexual desire. If you don’t feel sexy, you’re probably going to have difficulty desiring to engage sexually. This is different than men, who are more driven by how attractive they find their spouse then how attractive they think they themselves are.

If you feel uncomfortable with your body or believe it is unattractive this is going to get in the way of you wanting to be naked with your husband. This can also take the form of you lacking confidence in engaging sexually. If you are afraid your attempts at being sexy will come off as awkward and embarrassing, you are more likely to avoid sexual encounters.

Sexual Confidence

You’re going to have to work at it. Almost no one is born with an innate sense of confidence, we all have to work hard to earn it. It’s worth it though, the more confident you are the more you will enjoy sex.

True sexual confidence is about being relaxed, knowledgeable about yourself, willing to learn about your spouse, ready to ask for what you need, happy to take charge, and undeterred by failure or rejection. Being sexually confident makes you a great lover, able to both give and receive with an equal abundance of pleasure.

This has nothing to do with looks. Don’t be manipulated by the media. If you don’t love your body, change your mind. Men are almost always more focused on sensation and the feelings of acceptance that sex gives than on your size, shape, or degree of firmness. If when you are unclothed he has an erection, then he not only accepts your shape but craves your body. You’re not doing him or yourself any favors by obsessing over insecurities.

Don’t assume that just because you’re uncomfortable with yourself that your husband is as well. You can go back to obsessing over all your imperfections after you’re done having amazing rowdy sex with the man you married, who either doesn’t notice your imperfections or doesn’t care.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

You have to see yourself as sexy before you can expect that to translate to your husband. You need to feel good about your body. This begins with your internal dialogue. If every time you pass a mirror you have something derogatory to say about your looks, how are you ever going to feel good about yourself? Knowing your desirable sends a vibe that is incredibly enticing regardless of how closely your body fits a media standard.

Feel Good Naked

  • Smile in the mirror, and say something kind to yourself. Especially when getting out of the shower naked.
  • Exercise. It’s not so much about reaching a goal as it is feeling better about yourself. Regular exercise is proven to help you feel better about your body. It increases flexibility, athletic bedroom performance, feel good endorphins, and yes body shape.
  • Sing LOUD in the shower, get over yourself and have fun naked, soapy, and steamy.
  • Compliment EVERYONE you see or interact with, either in your head or out loud. Noticing the praise worthy in other helps you notice it in yourself.
  • Give yourself the same pep-talk you would a girlfriend or daughter struggling with body image woes.
  • Turn up the music and dance like nobodies watching – nothings better for working through self-consciousness. Try dancing around on the bed in your underwear to take it to the next level.
  • Try a naked day, or hour. Close the curtains, lock the door, turn up the heat, and while the kids are at school or down for a nap, wander about the house naked. The point is to work through the inhibitions you have around your body so you can feel more comfortable naked.

Buy Some Sexy Clothes

You know your clothes affect the way you feel. When you look cute, you feel cute. When you look sexy, you’ll feel sexy. I’m not talking about being immodest, no one has to know you have on a new sexy underwear set – but you will. Combine that with an outfit that you feel complements your figure and you are well on your way.

Take a Mirror and Look at Your Vagina

Ok, actually it’s your vulva, your vagina is inside your body. You can’t confidently share your body with your husband if you aren’t first comfortable with it yourself. A hand mirror works best.

Learn What Feels Good to You

Many women, especially if you grew up in church as a young girl, were raised to believe sex is dirty and you shouldn’t touch yourself. This is nowhere in the Bible. In Bible college I studied Biblical languages, 3 years of Greek and 2 years of Hebrew. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover many times – You will not find “Thou shall not touch yourself, or I will be very upset” anywhere in the Bible. God made your body pleasurable to touch and nowhere says not to, you do the math.

Being familiar with your body, what feels good and acts as an accelerator for desire, is key to enjoying yourself sexually with your husband. Consider giving yourself permission to discover how God has wired your body for sexual pleasure. A good place to start is with a vibrator. You can order one from Amazon, like this NU Sensuelle Point, and have it delivered right to your door. Women who know their bodies, what turns them on, enjoy sex more.

Be Good in Bed

Learn what feels good to him. Feeling confident that you know how to bring sexual pleasure to your husband builds sexual confidence. Being good at sex is really about your ability to respond to your husband’s body language and verbal communication.

If you want to increase your confidence in your abilities, ask him what he enjoys. It’s really that easy. It’s incredibly attractive for you to pay more attention to your husband in bed than what you look like. Educating yourself sexually will help you feel more confident.

Becoming a sexual woman can be exciting and terrifying.

You have to decide you want to have better sex. No one can decide this for you and it won’t get better if you don’t. Doing it for your husband won’t work. Great sex is a kind of play, make up your mind up to be good at it.

Sources
• The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition

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Fear of Pregnancy | Better Sex for Women

Fear of Pregnancy | Better Sex for Women

Fear of pregnancy getting in the way of your sex life?

For many women, conflicting feelings about pregnancy get in the way of them enjoying a passionate sex life with their husbands. It’s true – abstinence from intercourse is the only 100% birth control method for women with their reproductive organs still intact, but it sure can be hard on a marriage (see Why Sex is So Important to Men).

Fear Will Ruin Your Sex Life

If the idea of getting pregnant creates anxiety or fear for you, it’s only a matter of time before that sabotages your sex life. Anxiety gets in the way of physical arousal such that sex becomes enjoyable, even unpleasant. Most of us tend to avoid things we find unpleasant. At the very least we don’t actively seek them out. Whether or not you consciously identify your fears as playing a role in your avoidance of sex, they likely do.

Common Reasons Why Married Women Fear Pregnancy

We have enough!

Maybe you feel satisfied with the number of children in your family. Maybe you feel overwhelmed trying to parent the children you already have.

Grow by Adoption

Perhaps you feel adoption is the way God would have you grow your family further.

Health Concerns

Sometimes pregnancy can pose a health threat for mom or baby. Fear of loss of life for either or lifelong birth-defects can definitely add angst to the thought of pregnancy. If there’s been a loss of a child, the pain of that grief alone can be a motivator for avoiding the possibility of going through it again.

Relationship Quality

If our marital relationship is a mess, why would we want to bring another human being into that chaos? Uncertainty about our marriage can contribute to hesitancy over pregnancy.

Birth Control?

When considering sex avoidance or lack of enjoyment due to fear of pregnancy, there’s an obvious conversation about birth control that needs to happen. Usually, it already has and the issue is more about a struggle to make a decision then it is a lack of knowledge about the options. Still, this article would be incomplete without at least some discussion of the options and issues surrounding them.

Hormone-Based Birth Control

Pills, inserts under the skin or in uterus – whatever the method of delivery these options work great for some while creating real problems for others. If the effects on your body and risk of problems are minimal, then you still have to consider the controversy of whether hormone based contraceptives prevent conception or just implantation. ¬For most of the women I work with in my practice, if this were a good option for them they wouldn’t be in my office. So there is a good chance if you’re reading this article, for some reason they are not a good option for you.

Timing Methods

Whether it’s timing a “pull out” or ovulation this method is really only good if you like spoiling the most enjoyable moments of intercourse and rolling the dice as to whether or not you get pregnant. All such methods are notoriously ineffective – no matter what a someone who knows someone tells you. For every couple that successfully navigates a life-time avoiding pregnancy by way of this method, the other 99% get pregnant at some point.

Condoms

Fairly effective when used correctly – also tend to take something away from the experience for both husband and wife. They definitely don’t heighten the sexual experience and most men prefer not to use them.

Diaphragms

Requiring a little planning ahead, about as effective as condoms (but inserted into the vagina instead of over the penis), not a bad option if you don’t mind the prep. To properly use, with about 94% efficacy, they must be combined with the use of spermicide, which is of course super sexy.

Hysterectomy

May be necessary at some point in life, but generally cutting organs out of your body if not medically necessary isn’t our favorite option. It’s also permanent- which you may not be ready for. If you do go this route, do your best to retain your ovaries – you still need their hormones.

Tubal

Tying the tubes can be effective and reversible, but is rather invasive and can lead to other complications.

Vasectomy

Probably the absolute best option is the vasectomy. Minimally invasive, minimally painful, quick recovery (depending on how big a baby you are, you could be back to work as early as the next day). Reversal is possible if you so desire, though is not guaranteed.

What about the lowering testosterone? There is minimal research linking the two and most of it is from 20 years ago when doctor erroneously believed there was a link between testosterone replacement therapies and prostate cancer. Some research even shows a small increase in testosterone after the procedure. The truth is you almost certainly will not be able to tell any difference after the surgery than before – except you won’t be getting pregnant and won’t need condoms.

Between the options of hormonal methods, female surgeries, and the vasectomy – the vasectomy definitely is the safest and most effective. You are far more likely to die in a car accident than have any serious side effects. Most insurances cover the outpatient surgery, or you can pay out of pocket usually for less than $2k.

Can’t agree about birth control?

The simple answer would, of course, be “Get on the same page.”, but what if we’re just not there yet? I believe God wants for couples to move forward in life in unity and that He makes this possible through options that are a WIN for both husband and wife. I’ve seen this to be true in my own marriage and in that of my clients.

That means NO bull-dozing, steamrolling, manipulating, or forcing your way for either of you. That does not please our King. The Holy Spirit is more than capable of bringing conviction to your spouse’s heart and leading them to His Truth without your help. If you think you can do a better job you are sorely mistaken. If your spouse won’t listen to the Holy Spirit, it would be idolatry for them to listen to you instead.

Humbly make it a matter of prayer for both of you. Trust the Lord to help you both to get on the same page with Him. Ultimately as believers, that’s what we want more than anything else – not to get our way or for our spouse to agree with us, but for both of us to agree with our King.

Use your communication and conflict resolution skills to understand where each other is coming from and what you really want that possible solutions are the means to. Brainstorm together as a team. Need some help in this department? Check out the book Crucial Conversations or connect with a marriage counselor to help you work through it.

Trusting God

“Trusting God” with your fertility is good Christian advice. We should trust God with every area of our life and health. Most of us still wash our hands though, because trusting God with our health doesn’t mean we shouldn’t play a role in it with our choices. Trusting God also means trusting that He is able to speak and make His will for our life clear.

As with many things in life, we should make choices based on the best information and wisdom we have access to, in conjunction with our desires for life. Doing so means being prayerful about decisions, trusting that if we are headed in a direction contrary to God’s desire for our life He can and will make that clear to us. We can trust God to grant wisdom to us, so long as we’re listening (willing to be obedient when He makes Himself clear).

Choosing to use birth control of one form or another does not mean that you are not trusting God, unless God has made it clear to you that He has other plans and you are just ignoring him.

Save Your Sex Life

So, what if you aren’t able to quickly come to a WIN-WIN agreement with your spouse on the subject? Should you just avoid sex until you do? At worst that’s very manipulative, at best it’s a BAD idea. God designed sex to be an important part of the intimate connection between husband and wife. Neglecting it will create vulnerabilities to the attacks of the enemy in your marriage, as well as lead to disconnection and resentment.

Non-Intercourse Sex

As mentioned at the beginning, abstinence from intercourse is the only 100% method of birth control. Abstinence from intercourse doesn’t mean abstaining from sex. There’s so much more to great sex than just intercourse.

Not so sure? Maybe your sex life needs an overhaul. Sometimes going through a period of time in a marriage where you aren’t having intercourse really helps a couple cultivate a rich and vibrant sex life where before it was a minimally fulfilling one-act show. Deeply satisfying, orgasmic sex is completely possible without intercourse. If you’re not sure how, schedule an appointment with a Christian sex therapist to help you.

I highly recommend that as you work through what to do with your fertility, in a win-win God-honoring way, you also continue to share regularly in affectionate sexual connection. This will help keep sex a positive thing in your marriage even as you navigate this conflict.

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Overcoming Trauma | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Trauma | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Sexual Trauma

If you have had negative emotional experiences associated with sexuality, this can significantly impact your sexual desire.

Examples of sexual trauma that might impact your sexual desire include:

  • Feeling pressured by a boyfriend to have sex when you weren’t comfortable doing so.
  • Being sexual in ways that left you feeling guilty or ashamed at an earlier time in your life.
  • Having been touched or made to act in sexual ways as a kid that made you feel uncomfortable by friends, siblings, babysitters, a parent, or another adult.
  • Sexual experiences that have been painful physically or emotionally.
  • Being forced to engage sexually when you didn’t want to by any one, including your spouse.
  • Exposures to pornographic materials as a kid.
  • Even if the event was a long time ago and not violent – it can still have a BIG impact.

Frequently women I work with are surprised to discover that emotional associations created from these experiences are still affecting their sex life today.

Sexual Aversions

Aversions are actually a protective feature God has built into us, although operating in over-drive. It’s like when you eat a food and get food poisoning. Something about the unpleasantness of vomiting that food up through your nose leaves a lasting impression on you. Even if it was the flu and had nothing to do with the food, the experience will likely make you queasy around that food in the future. The smell of it alone can make you nauseous.

We call this a food “aversion”. It happens because our brain associates the negative emotional experience of being sick with the food. It then tries to help us stay safe by discouraging us from eating it again. There was a particular brand of pizza I used to eat a lot of that fell victim to this for the better part of a decade.

When this same sort of pairing happens with a negative emotional experience and something involving our bodies or sexuality, it can form a sexual aversion. This is where our brain tries to keep us safe by warning us to avoid anything that even remotely reminds us of sex.

Sexual Trauma

If sexual traumas can result in sexual aversions it begs the question, what exactly is sexual trauma? Essentially sexual trauma is any negative emotional experience involving some aspect of our sexuality. Sexual traumas exist along a continuum from minor to significant, based on the impact on the person.

The significance of a trauma is measured based on the impact on the person, not necessarily the nature of the event itself. Although, when we think about traumatic experiences there are some that tend to result in a higher degree of traumatic significance than others as a norm. That being said, everyone is different. What one-person experiences as insignificant, another might experience as hugely impactful.

It’s important not to judge what you “should” or “shouldn’t” be feeling in response to something. Instead be curious and observe what you are feeling. Believing you shouldn’t be feeling something doesn’t change the fact that you are, it just decreases the likelihood that you will care for the wound in way that will heal it.

Examples of Sexual Trauma

There is a broad range of experiences that can shape our feelings about sex and our sexuality. Many of them you might have never thought of:

The more obvious ones…

There are, of course, the events that you probably think of when you hear sexual trauma:

Stranger Rape

This is what you see in the movies, where the woman is jogging in the park and is grabbed by a masked man, pulled into the bushes, and raped under threat of bodily harm. While this certainly does occur and is extremely traumatic, it’s actually one of the least occurring kinds of sexual trauma.

Small Child Molestation

Another scenario that probably comes to mind is the woman who as a little girl is sexually touched or forced to perform sexual acts. This too is extremely traumatic and leaves emotional scars that have a great impact on one’s sexual relationship.

These are real scenarios and if they are part of your story, you probably have some awareness that they are impacting your feelings about sex and negatively impacting your sexual relationship. They are treatable and we can help you reclaim the sexual parts of your body and life.

But what if neither stranger rape nor molestation as a small child is part of your story? Is it possible to have experienced sexual trauma that impacts your feelings about sex?

Less obvious forms of sexual trauma…

There are a great many experiences a woman can have that impede her sex life. Here are some examples that we routinely come across in sex therapy:

Humiliation

Feeling humiliated around some aspect of your body or sexuality can be very traumatic, leaving you feeling insecure about your body and sexuality. These feelings of insecurity can lead you to avoid all things that trigger these feelings, like sex.

  • Peer bullying – a teenage girl gets made fun of in the locker room for being “flat chested” or fat, or an ugly rumor spread about her being a “slut” or that an ex-boyfriend said she was terrible at sex.
  • Lewd comments/innuendo – an early blooming middle school girl has inappropriate comments made to her by boys at school or older adult men, perhaps a father, brother, cousin, uncle, family friend “prick tease”, “jailbait”, “asking for it” or other derogatory comments.
  • Stared at, undressed with eyes – maybe it was an authority figure, teacher, coach, pastor, a relative who stared at you in a way that made you feel uncomfortable, like they were undressing you with their eyes.
  • Text / Social Media – Maybe somebody posted a picture of you or spread it by text that you didn’t feel comfortable with or the comments made about it.
  • Boyfriend or Spouse Comment – maybe a boyfriend or husband told you that you were “no good in bed”, were a “terrible lover”, “not sexually arousing”.
  • Lack of Dating Interest – maybe no one asks you out on a date or to a dance at school, maybe the message was you’re not pretty, nobody wants to be with you, you’re not attractive.
  • Body Development / First Period – Maybe you felt really self-conscious about developing breasts and curves, or started menstruation without good preparation from a parent, maybe you bled through your clothes at school. Or maybe your breasts are different sizes or your labia/vulva seem odd shaped or sized to you.

Trust Violation

Sex is an extremely vulnerable act, physically and emotionally. If trust has been violated in a significant way, this can create a wound that makes sex difficult.

  • Date Rape/ Sexual Pressure – So you know the guy, maybe you’re even friends and really like him. He wants to have sex, you’re not ready for it. He insists or gets upset with you if you don’t want to. If you want to stay friends, if you want him to like you – you feel like you have to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing. Maybe you agree or maybe you just don’t kick and scream no. It still isn’t what you want and you get the feeling when it comes to sex, it doesn’t matter what you want. You might even feel this in your marriage.
  • Peeping Tom – maybe somebody violated you by watching or looking at you sexually uninvited. Stranger or family member, it doesn’t matter. You feel violated.
  • Predator – someone in authority, a female or male coach or a teacher, watched you, touched you, or just interacted with you in ways that felt uncomfortable to you. Maybe it was a child-care provider or babysitter.

Experimental Play

Sometimes, as kids and adolescence, we do things that are exploratory in nature that later in life we don’t know what to do with. These are consensual things that we might even initiate. We can have fears about what they mean about us. Sometimes we’ve never told anyone about these for fear of what they will think.

  •  Playing Doctor – As prepubescent (before puberty) kids we are curious about our bodies and the bodies of others. We play games that involve looking at (I’ll show you mine if you show me yours) each other’s bodies or touching each other out of curiosity. Sometimes we reenact things we saw on TV. Sometimes this is with kids our own age, sometimes younger or older. Sometimes it’s with kids of the same-sex sometimes it’s opposite sex.
  • Sexual Body Part Stimulation – Even as kids our sexual nerve endings are developed and if stimulated will feel good (different than after puberty, but still good). This is true if they are stimulated by same-sex playmates or opposite, or even from being rubbed on an object, or up against a pet. Sometimes as a kid something happens that feels good, and we do it again. If it’s something taboo or odd from an adult perspective, we can have anxious feelings about it looking back as an adult.
  • Body Violations – When our body is touched or violated sexually in some way, it creates negative emotions that can lead to aversions.
  • Molestation – This often times is paired with trust violations. It can happen in the context of a trusted relationship: a father who touches his daughter sexually. The relationship may be groomed over many years, whereas a young girl she doesn’t question her daddy’s love for her, so when he “teaches” her something “special” to be “just between them” she doesn’t think anything about it. It might even continue for years, and she might feel guilty because her body responds sexually to the stimulation, so she questions, “maybe I want it to happen”. Sometimes the attention and even sensations in the body feel good, so maybe you engage a babysitter or older neighbor kid to repeat something that has happened.
  • Groping – maybe kids at school took the liberty to grab your breast or butt, or drunk guys at a party, leaving your body feeling violated.

Immature Choices

Sometimes during rebellious/immature periods in our life, we can engage in sexual choices that we are extremely embarrassed about and ashamed of at later periods in our life. These choices leave us associating all things sexual with a perversion of our sexual choices during this season. Now sexual situations with our spouse trigger memories of choices we regret.

  • Multiple Sex Partners – Perhaps there were lots of drunken one night stands, waking up with someone you didn’t know. Maybe there were multiple partners at the same time. Maybe there were blowjobs and hand-jobs, and risks of STD’s. Same-sex or opposite sex.
  • Party Girl – Could be a sorority situation or just an immature need for the attention and acceptance.
  • For money – stripping, sexual favors for gifts or dinner, or for money.

Physical Pain

If sex is unpleasantly painful for any reason the brain can associate that pain with all things sexual, creating aversions from all things sex-related. See the article Overcoming Pain | Better Sex for Women for more details.

This list is far from exhaustive, but I hope it gives you some insight into the variety of different situations that can create emotional or physical trauma that can get in the way of a healthy sexual relationship. Add fear or physical pain to any of the above situations and it amplifies the traumatic nature of them.

How to Heal Your Sex Life from Sexual Trauma

There are two phases of healing your sex life from sexual trauma. The first is the trauma work, where you work through the negative emotional and psychological impact of the traumatic experiences. The second is sex therapy to build positive associations with your body and sex, so you can enjoy sharing a healthy sex life with your spouse.

Professional Help

It’s likely that you’ll need to work with a sex therapist with experience treating sexual trauma. Treating sexual trauma can be complicated and you want to work with someone that has traveled this road with others. While many counselors have experience with trauma treatment, not many have experience in sex therapy. In counseling, trauma treatment and sex therapy are separate disciplines. Having experience in one doesn’t necessarily mean having experience in the other.

Working with a clinician that has experience in both is ideal. This isn’t always possible though, as they can be difficult to find. You may find yourself working through the trauma phase of the work with a local counselor and then either pursuing self-help or online sex therapy counseling to address sexual difficulties.

Sexual Healing Self-Help

Sexual aversions can be tricky to treat. You should be patient with yourself. The best self-help resource I know of for working through sexual trauma to heal your sex life is Wendy Maltz’s Sexual Healing Journey. Wendy does a great job talking through different kinds of sexual trauma and how it impacts a person emotionally and sexually.

Below are two YouTube video’s produced by Wendy where clients share their experiences working through Wendy’s program. The first one is of couples sharing their experiences along the journey. The second demonstrates the touching exercises that are a part of the relearning touch exercises in the book. I would recommend ordering the book and watching the videos while you wait for it to arrive.

Partners in Healing

Re-Learning Touch

You Can Do This!

I applaud your courage just reading this article. Spending any time thinking about these things brings up uncomfortable emotions. Know that many women have experienced the unfortunate things you have been through. They have, as you can, found healing. If our team can be a help to you on that journey, it would be our honor to do so.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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Overcoming Pain | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Pain | Better Sex for Women

Really Painful Sex is NO Fun

Does anybody desire physical pain? If you do, you should probably see a counselor about that, it’s not healthy. If sex hurts, I mean really hurts not just a little rough in a playful way, you’re not ever going to desire it. Nor should you. In fact, if you “play through the pain” you can do serious long-term damage to your sexual relationship by pairing pain with all things sexual and romantic in your brain. That pairing can even bleed into an association with your spouse in general, which can lead to resentment and loss of respect for your spouse.

Types of Sexual Pain / Where does it hurt?

Sexual pain can range from mild to excruciating; burning, stinging, sharpness, or extreme tenderness. Depending on its cause, the pain may be located in the outer genitals (vulva), within the vagina, or deep in the pelvis. Dyspareunia, painful intercourse, can start suddenly or develop gradually. Pain may occur every time with sex, or only occasionally. For some women, simply thinking about intercourse can start a cycle of tightness, pain, and avoidance of sex.

When troubleshooting dyspareunia very specific information about where pain is felt must be gathered. Treating sexual pain is often a multi-disciplinary strategy involving a sex therapist, physician, and possibly a pelvic floor physical therapist. Having good terminology to describe your experience will help with accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Pain from the Outer Genitals (Vulva)

If the pain originates from the surface of the delicate skin around the opening to the vagina it could be a dermatological condition. These conditions are highly treatable, but treatment varies depending on the diagnosis.

Anatomy of the Vulva

To aid in identifying where your pain comes from, it will help to have some terminology for understanding your girl parts.

The vulva consists of several layers that cover and protect your sex organs. The plush outer lips of the vulva — the labia majora — are covered with pubic hair and contain fat that helps cushion the area. Inside the labia majora are the thinner, more pigmented and delicate flaps of skin called the labia minora. The labia minora join at the top to enclose the clitoris.

pain during sex

The labia majora, labia minora, and clitoris become engorged with blood during arousal. The area between the labia minora, the vestibule, contains the openings to the urethra (from which you urinate) and the vagina, as well as the Bartholin’s glands, which are located on either side of the vaginal opening and produce lubricant for the vestibule.

The skin between the vaginal opening and the anus, the perineum, is not part of the vulva but often involved in vulvar skin problems. This is where the incision called an episiotomy is sometimes made during childbirth.

Vulvar Skin Conditions and their Treatment

Several vulvar skin conditions are found else where on the body but may be difficult to recognize when they appear on the vulva.

Eczema

This inflammation of the vulva skin causes a cycle of itching and scratching that leads to thickened and intensely itchy skin. If eczema affects the vestibule, it may cause stinging and burning. Often, it begins with exposure to an irritant or allergen.

Many things can cause an allergic reaction or irritate your vulva. Here are some of the leading suspects:

Irritants (on exposure, can cause immediate stinging or burning)
• Soap, bubble baths and salts, detergent, shampoo, conditioner
• Adult or baby wipes
• Panty liners and their adhesives
• Nylon underwear, chemically treated clothing
• Vaginal secretions, sweat, and urine
• Douches, yogurt
• Spermicides, lubricants
• Perfume, talcum powder, deodorants
• Alcohol and astringents

Allergens (symptoms may not appear until several days after exposure)
• Benzocaine
• Neomycin
• Chlorhexidine (in K-Y Jelly)
• Imidazole antifungal
• Propylene glycol (a preservative used in many products)
• Fragrances
• Tea tree oil
• Latex (in condoms and diaphragms)

Vulvodynia

Another culprit to sexual pain is vulvodynia, unexplained and persistent pain in the vulvar area. Vestibulodynia is a type of vulvodynia characterized by chronic pain affecting the vestibule. Any kind of touch or pressure—not only from sex, but even from a tampon, cotton swab, tight jeans, or toilet tissue—can trigger discomfort.

Pain From Within the Vagina

Vaginismus

Vaginismus is vaginal tightness causing discomfort, burning, pain, penetration problems, or complete inability to have intercourse. The vaginal tightness results from the involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor, especially the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle group, although you may not be aware that this is the cause of her penetration or pain difficulties.

Vaginismus is a common cause of ongoing sexual pain and is also the primary female cause of sexless (unconsummated) marriages. Sexual pain can affect women in all stages of life; even women who have had years of comfortable sex.

While temporarily experiencing discomfort during sexual intercourse is not unusual, ongoing problems should be diagnosed and treated.Vaginismus can be triggered in both younger and older women, in those with no sexual experience and those with years of experience.

Not all women experience vaginismus the same way, and the extensiveness of vaginismus varies:

• Some women are unable to insert anything at all.
• Some women are able to insert a tampon and complete a gynecological exam, yet are unable to insert a penis.
• Others are able to partially insert a penis, although the process is very painful.
• Some are able to fully insert a penis, but tightness and discomfort interrupt the normal progression from arousal through to orgasm and bring pain instead.
• Some women are able to tolerate years of uncomfortable intercourse with gradually increasing pain and discomfort that eventually interrupts the sexual experience.
• Women may also experience years of intermittent difficulty with entry or movement and have to constantly be on their guard to control and relax their pelvic area when it suddenly ‘acts up’.

Vaginal Atrophy

The deterioration of vaginal tissue caused by estrogen loss associated with menopause is a major source of painful intercourse for women at midlife. When ovarian production of estrogen declines at menopause, vaginal tissue may become thinner, less lubricated, and less elastic. Eventually these changes can result in vaginal dryness, burning, itching, and pain. Reduced sexual activity as well as medications such as antihistamines can also contribute to vaginal dryness.

Pain Deep in the Pelvis

The pelvic floor is a melon-size web of muscles, ligaments, and sensitive nerves at the bottom of the pelvic region, where it supports the uterus, bladder, colon, and rectum; stabilizes the pelvis, trunk, and hip joints; and plays a role in everything from orgasm to continence.

There’s a lot that can happen to the intricate components of the pelvic organs, nerves, ligaments and muscles.

• endometriosis,
• pelvic inflammatory disease,
• bladder prolapse,
• infections of the urinary tract, vagina, or reproductive organs;
• injury to the pelvic area from childbirth;
• damage to the pudendal nerve, which supplies the vaginal area;
• musculoskeletal complaints, such as arthritis or tight hip or pelvic muscles

Any of these, and more not listed, can create pain deep in the pelvis that may make sex uncomfortable or even extremely painful.

Treating Sexual Pain

Treating dyspareunia often requires a multifaceted approach that includes medications, other therapies, and self-care. Frequently prescribed strategies for managing dyspareunia include the following:

Counseling

Emotional and psychological issues, from anxiety to poor communication in a relationship, can contribute to painful sex, and painful sex can put stress on a relationship. Talking with a professional counselor or sex therapist can help.

Vaginal estrogen

Local low-dose estrogen helps most women with vaginal atrophy; it’s also recommended in some cases of vestibulodynia and vulvar skin problems. It comes in a cream (applied to the vulva or in the vagina), a small tablet inserted in the vagina, and a flexible vaginal ring worn continuously and replaced every three months.

Surgery

Women with stubborn and severe vestibulodynia may want to consider an outpatient procedure called vulvar vestibulectomy, which removes some vestibular tissue. This surgery is usually offered only after other medical approaches have failed.

Lubricants

Nonhormonal vaginal lubricants and moisturizers may help reduce friction and pain during intercourse. (Lubricants are applied just before sex; moisturizers are applied more regularly, for longer-term relief.) There are many brands with different ingredients, and finding the products that work for you can take time. Vegetable oil is an inexpensive option; however, like other oil-based lubricants, it can weaken latex and shouldn’t be used with condoms.

Sexual Techniques

Extend foreplay to increase moisture in the vaginal tissues before intercourse. Try switching positions. Experiment with different ways of being intimate. And communicate with your spouse; speak up about what does and doesn’t feel good.

“Use it or lose it.”

Frequent sexual activity can help stretch and strengthen muscles and increase blood flow and lubrication. But if intercourse hurts, practice different ways of being sexually intimate that don’t involve penetration.

Gentle Vulvar Care

Whether you have a vulvar skin problem or are just prone to irritation, gentle care of your vulva is a must. Wear loose clothing. Choose cotton underwear (and go without when at home). To wash the area, use your fingers instead of a washcloth and an unscented, non-alkaline cleanser such as Cetaphil or Basis. Avoid perfumed, multi-ingredient products such as bubble bath, douches, and some panty liners.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Pelvic floor physical therapy is relatively new, and there aren’t much hard data on it yet, but experts consider it safe and effective. Many women with vulvar pain have tight or weakened vaginal and pelvic floor muscles. These muscles can weaken as a result of aging, childbirth, excess weight, hormonal changes, and certain physical strains. They can also tighten in response to genital pain. Physical therapy can help reduce tightness and improve muscle function.

Sexual Pain is Treatable

The bottom line is: Sexual pain is treatable, don’t let it ruin your sex life. 

Sources

  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/managing_common_vulvar_skin_conditions
  • The V Book, by Elizabeth G. Stewart, M.D., and Paula Spencer (Bantam Books, 2002)
  • https://www.vaginismus.com/

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Emotional Connection | Better Sex for Women

Emotional Connection | Better Sex for Women

Sex is an emotional experience.

God designed sexual desire to lead a women into an emotionally intimate relationship and to enjoy sexual expression in the context of an emotionally safe and connected relationship- i.e. Marriage. If a women’s marriage doesn’t feel safe or if she doesn’t feel emotionally connected to her husband, she’s probably not going to feel a desire to be sexually vulnerable with him.

Being disconnected doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bad relationship. Couples who love each other very much and our safe with each other can get emotionally disconnected just from the busyness of life getting in the way. If we’ve been too busy to nurture the relationship, then we’re probably emotionally disconnected.

If we do have serious communication difficulties or breaches of trust in the relationship, it’s unlikely that we will ever have a healthy, passionate, sexual relationship until this is addressed.

5 Tips for Staying Emotionally Connected

1) Be Friends

If you and your husband aren’t friends – you’re probably not going to be very good as lovers. You need to cultivate a relationship with each other outside of roles as parents or roommates who share domestic responsibilities.

Hangout

Friends hangout. As married people we like to call this “dating” your spouse. You keep them like you caught them. If you stop putting yourself together and going out as a couple, the flame will dwindle.

Share Experiences

Doing things…together…is important. Even if it’s just binging on Netflix next to each other on the couch, have shared experiences in your week. If you live completely separate lives you’re not going to be very connected with each other.

Take Trips

To a sunny beach in an exotic location or to the grocery store without children – whatever the budget allows. Building memories together is an important part of deepening a relationship. Having adventures together, even tragic sagas, accumulate shared experiences that weave our stories together.

2) Make-Out in the Kitchen

The kitchen, elevator, park bench, a deserted hallway at church – wherever [wont get you arrested]. Non-genital physical affection is important to the emotional connection in your relationship. If the only time you two touch is when one of you is initiating sex, you’re not going to be very emotionally connected and the sex is going to be more scarce as well.

Make time to snuggle, cuddle, hold hands, sit with an arm around your spouse, back scratchy, and lean up against the counter with your arms around each other. The more it grosses out your kids the better.

3) Learn to Fight

A lot of couples are no good at fighting. Not for lack of practice, but the form is terrible. The best at communication turn conflict into greater closeness, instead of allowing it to drive a wedge between them (yes this is possible). If you tear each other down when you fight, leaving the other feeling hurt, uncared about, and unsafe in the relationship this will get in the way of a healthy sex life.

Sure, make up sex can be fun because of the intense hormones flowing through our veins when we fight. However, if we don’t know how to navigate conflict in way that feels like a win for us both, resentment will eventually choke out our affection for each other.

4) Talk before Sex

Most women need lots of verbal intercourse before the other kind. No I’m not talking about oral sex – I’m talking about communication [if you’re still confused check Webster’s Dictionary]. The former may be helpful as well, but that’s another article.

Sharing about each other’s day and feeling like we care about what’s happening in each others life helps women feel emotionally connected to their husbands. Don’t come home late from work and commence to groping your wife – it probably won’t go over very well. Try having a conversation (not a fight about points of conflict) with her before you lead into flirting. I know it sounds crazy men, but you might even try texting or calling your wife during the day.

5) Resolve Conflict

If you have a habit of sweeping things under the rug, the awkward pile that forms over time can really get in the way of your sex life. Unresolved conflict leads to resentment, which chokes the life out of passion.

If there have been betrayals of trust, hurts, wrongs that have never been addressed, or ongoing disputes that are not worked through- make cleaning these messes up a priority. If you don’t know how, get professional help. You’re not the only couple to ever face these sorts of challenges. There are books and counselors who can help you work through these things so they don’t keep you from a passionate relationship you love.

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The post Emotional Connection | Better Sex for Women appeared first on MyCounselor.Online.

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