As women, in all our emotionally charged glory, feeling good about ourselves, feeling pretty, and sexy, has EVERYTHING to do with our sexuality, and –> our libido.
There are so many things that can increase or decrease our libido. And as plus size women, most of us have been through countless and sadly similar experiences of bullying, self-hatred, shame, public embarrassment, rejection – and while some of us have overcome and even soared over these, their effects can still linger and interfere with our libido at different times in our lives.
I’ve partnered with Stefani Ndhlovu, BSC, MA, a Sexual Health and Wellness Therapist (and plus size woman) to talk about this, and how we can take small but important steps to revive our mojo, naturally.
1. REDUCE STRESS.
It’s a huge libido killer. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s all about perspective. Sometimes when my stress is at its highest, I take mental inventory of the things that are good; that are going well, that I have to be grateful for because despite the stressful things happening in my life, there is still plenty of good. And comfort. Stefani encourages us to do the same:
In a quiet spot, close your eyes and visualize 3 things that you’re grateful for and that genuinely make you happy.
You just have to consciously see them. I’ll go first: I am healthy. I love Canada. I have fabulous hair. I’ve made mistakes and I am a better person because of them. I love my job. I love warm summer nights. I LOVE flannel anything, strawberries and puppies. I am a glorious woman and my complexities are my fabric. I enjoy friendships. I am grateful for my girlfriends. I can dream.
2. PAMPER YOURSELF.
We’ve heard it before, but it has significant impacts. Certain changes in your body, due to weight or age or stress, can make you feel less attractive. And with women, libido is all about self-esteem. It is our nature to give and nurture others, but we forget about ourselves often putting our families and loved ones before us.
But as they say on a plane, in case of emergency, you must put your mask on before you help those in your care. Bottom line, you need to take care of yourself first.
Spend that $40 on a pedicure, get those $100 highlights, use that expensive cream you got as a gift, buy a new dress that makes you feel pretty – even if it’s NOT on sale, get a facial – yes, book one right now, wear your sexiest bra and panty, or better yet don’t wear any panties at all! Not only are you so worth it, YOU NEED IT. These actions will lift the funk. You feminine, sensual seductress you.
Part of pampering yourself also includes, in my opinion, being kind to yourself. If you are feeling unattractive, try to see yourself through your partner’s eyes. In most cases, from what I see from the couples than come shopping at my boutique, the women are harder on themselves than their partners are. Your partner is with you because you are attractive to them. Accept that. And putting yourself down certainly doesn’t do any good in the sex appeal department, in anyone’s eyes. Focus on the parts of yourself that you find beautiful – the world will see them, and so will you.
As Stefani says,
“It’s amazing what a little vitamin D can do for the soul”.
And my Mom always said, “you don’t know what’s important until you’re in touch with nature”. Being outside puts things in perspective. Go for a walk by yourself. Get to the waterfront, with a girlfriend. Bring a blanket and sit with her. The water is therapeutic. Take an evening stroll with your partner. Warm summer nights are infectiously romantic. Stop in a shaded area and make out. Yes, it’s ok to initiate. If your backyard is private, create an inviting environment there. You don’t need a reservation or a dollar. Just get outside.
4. WEAR LINGERIE.
It sounds cliché, but regardless of how your partner feels about lingerie, whether they’re into it or not, this is about YOU. Wearing a slinky babydoll that you feel sexy in, or perhaps you prefer a totally racy fishnet chemise, either way, it’s going to drive a few points on the libido scale. Early in my relationship, my husband said he didn’t really feel that lingerie made a difference. So for a long time I gave up wearing any; I gave up on something I had previously enjoyed, and this negatively impacted my sex drive. It made me feel sexless, asexual. I eventually realized that whether he expressed his interest or not, I felt sexy in lingerie and that was a turn-on for both of us. So now I just do it and I’ve reconnected with my sensual self. Here are some links to where you can purchase plus size lingerie:
www.fetishfantasy.com (for more Fetish look)
Pardon the unprofessional selfie, but I had to capture myself because it’s what inspired this post. This sheer night gown is from La Vie en Rose and their XL fit me (size 16). Just getting it on, having had a fresh pedi and new highlights earlier that day, smelling like my favorite peachy fresh skin cream with a hint of Pink Friday perfume, taking the time to put ON a necklace just for the occasion, and taking pictures totally made me feel sexy and in the mood. Even taking some close ups to send to my husband during the week by text was exciting. I shall unabashedly report that the evening was SO MUCH FUN which brings me to point #5.
5. DO THE DEED.
“Make whoopee…that’s right, have sex” says Stefani. Yes, even if your libido seems like its in a dark closet collecting dust, sometimes just doing the act itself, even if you don’t feel like it, “…can increase your endorphins, and what do endorphins do? They make us happy – and actually cause a release of oxytocins, the so called “love hormone” which goes straight to your brain, and that’s the most important sexual organ on the female body.”
Can we repeat that? The brain is the most important sexual organ on the female body.
Stefani goes on to state that “taking care of your mind is one of the best things you can do for your sexual health and wellness…trust me ladies, your vagina will thank you.”
6. AWAKEN YOUR SEXUAL IMAGINATION.
Fantasize. If you’re driving along, on your way to the grocery store, and something, whatever it is, makes you feel excited or, dare I say, horny for a moment, relish it. Do not push the thought out, do not question it. “Don’t let the taboos of society cloud your sexual potential”, says Stefani. Instead, “let it linger, acknowledge it and make a point to think about it again later, when the time is right, whether that’s a quiet moment alone at home, in the shower, with a B.O.B (Battery Operated Boyfriend) or with someone that will help release your sexual energy”.
7. SWAP BUBBLY FOR RED WINE – excerpt from Health.com
Romantic dinner? Order a glass of Pinot Noir or other red wine: Women who drank a glass of red daily reported higher levels of sexual desire and vaginal lubrication, compared with those who sipped any kind of alcohol only occasionally or those who didn’t drink at all, according to a study in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Researchers suspect that red wine’s high levels of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, may help blood vessels widen, which can increase blood flow to key arousal areas. Stick to one glass, advises lead author Nicola Mondaini, MD; any more may extinguish your libido.
8. PLAY WITH YOUR SENSES.
According to Stefani, taste is a great way to get the “juices” going.
Eat some of this: berries, strawberries, blackberries or raspberries – yum, broccoli, cloves, figs, watermelon, eggs, ginseng, saffron, lettuce and ginger. Read why here.
And contrary to popular belief, oysters can play a negative role in libido levels, as can processed baked goods and dairy.
Stefani suggest taking sandwich making to a whole new level because peanuts are a natural aphrodisiac for men, and for women, it’s asparagus. Eating pineapples or drinking natural pineapple juice a few hours before oral engagements is not only great for your skin and energy levels (and super tasty like fruit of the Gods!!) but it will also temporarily change the taste of your secretions. YUM! But Piña Colada doesn’t count 🙂
9. EMPOWER YOURSELF.
Knowing how and why your body works will not only empower you; but give you power over the mighty O, Stefani says. And here’s why: The sexual response cycle is a sequence of physical and emotional changes that occur as a person becomes sexually aroused during sexually stimulating activities including intercourse and masturbation. Knowing how your body responds during each phase of the cycle can enhance your relationship with sex. Detailed descriptions of each cycle are provided below.
10. PLAY WITH TOYS.
Our bodies are a wonderland, so it’s ok to play. Stefani tells us how to choose sex toys and what to look for.
“Purchasing a sex toy is like purchasing a car – you need to spend some time researching what kind of quality is being offered by all the different brands, makes and models. Price, look, design, features; benefits and feel all come into play. Think about what you are looking for in a sex toy. Since most stores have thousands to choose from, you could be standing in front of a wall full of dildos, vibrators and dongs for days*. Below you will find tips to help you choose a sex toy that’s right for you.
11. BLAME IT ON THE HEALTH BENEFITS.
Stefani reports that people who are dissatisfied with their sex lives often complain about not being able to find time for sexual expression. Whatever the cause (fatigue, children, work, etc.), it is possible to find time to engage in sexual activity, whether it’s with a partner or alone. Aside from reproduction, sex is ultimately about intimacy and pleasure.
Sexual expression has MANY positive physical, intellectual, emotional, psychological, and social benefits.
Here are some findings on the health benefits of sex.
Physical Wellness and Physical Appearance
An active sex life may yield benefits such as a more youthful appearance. In addition, sexual activity burns calories and fat, and it has been suggested that people with active sex lives tend to exercise more frequently and have better dietary habits than those who are less sexually active. Likewise, physical fitness can improve sexual health.
The intimacy hormone, oxytocin, is released during orgasm. Studies show that oxytocin promotes better sleep. And better sleep has been linked to stronger immunity and longer lifespan.
Disease Prevention and Management
Your chances of having heart problems decrease if you stay sexually active. This is due to higher levels of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that is produced during arousal and orgasm. Research has shown that sexual activity and orgasms bolster our immune system. Sexual activity and orgasm during menstruation has a potentially protective effect against endometriosis. Women who continue to be sexually active after they reach menopause, with a partner or through masturbation, are less likely to have significant vaginal atrophy and are more likely to report sufficient vaginal lubrication.
Emotional Benefits, Well-Being and Relationship Improvement
Sexual experience and satisfaction are closely correlated with overall quality of life. They increase your sense of well-being and personal satisfaction. Sexual activity is negatively correlated with the risk and incidence of psychiatric illness, depression and suicide.
Sexual activity and orgasm reduce stress.
Sexual satisfaction is also associated with the stability of relationships. Consistent mutual sexual pleasure increases bonding within a relationship. It has also been demonstrated that coupled partners have increased relationship satisfaction when they fulfill one another’s sexual desires. A study of young married women found that those who reported masturbating also reported greater marital satisfaction.
12. CREATE A CLEAN AND INVITING ENVIRONMENT.
While those hot, spontaneous moments like you see in the movies, are well, pretty hot, there’s something to be said for preparation. Sex and cleanliness go hand in hand. When you feel fresh, and your environment in clean, you are less inhibited, and perhaps even more adventurous. While there’s nothing wrong with a hot and spontaneous moment, taking the time to create a fresh and romantic space definitely doesn’t hurt. Scented candles, a plush new area rug, music. There’s a reason love songs have stood the test of time you know.
So that’s a wrap ladies – what are you waiting for? Do you have tips to share that have worked for you? Comment below. Let’s elevate each other and keep ourselves in a positive space.
Vibrator: looks like a penis and vibrates
Dildo: looks like a penis, sometimes vibrates sometimes doesn’t
Dong: doesn’t vibrate, looks like a shaft but not phallic looking
The Sexual Response Cycle
There are four phases of the sexual response cycle: excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution. Both men and women experience these phases, but the intensity of the response and the time spent in each phase varies from person to person. For example, it is unlikely that both partners will orgasm at the same time. Understanding these phases may help partners better understand one another’s bodies and responses, and enhance the sexual experience.
Phase 1: Excitement
The excitement phase can last from a few minutes to several hours. During this phase…
- Muscle tension builds.
- Heart rate and breathing accelerate.
- Skin may flush.
- Nipples become erect.
- Blood flow to the genitals increases. A woman’s clitoris and labia minora (inner lips) swell, and a man’s penis becomes erect.
- Vaginal lubrication begins.
- A woman’s breasts become fuller and her vaginal walls begin to swell.
- A man’s testicles swell, his scrotum tightens, and his penis secretes lubricating liquid.
Phase 2: Plateau
The plateau phase extends to the brink of orgasm. During the plateau phase…
- Body changes that began in the excitement phase intensify.
- A woman’s vagina continues to swell, and the vaginal walls turn a dark purple.
- A woman’s clitoris becomes highly sensitive and may even be painful to touch. The clitoris retracts under the clitoral hood to avoid direct stimulation from the penis.
- A man’s testicles withdraw into the scrotum.
- Breathing, heart rate and blood pressure continue to increase.
- Muscle spasms may begin in the feet, face and hands.
- Tension in the muscles increases.
Phase 3: Orgasm
This phase is the climax of the sexual response cycle. It generally lasts only a few seconds. During orgasm…
- Involuntary muscle contractions begin.
- Blood pressure, heart rate and breathing are at their highest rates, with a rapid intake of oxygen.
- Muscles in the feet spasm.
- There is a sudden, forceful release of sexual tension.
- A woman’s vaginal muscles and uterus contract rhythmically.
- A man’s muscles at the base of his penis contract rhythmically while he ejaculates semen.
- A rash, or “sex flush,” may appear over the entire body.
Phase 4: Resolution
During this phase, the body slowly returns to its normal level of functioning, and swollen or erect body parts return to their previous size and color. During this phase, you may feel a general sense of well-being, enhanced intimacy and, often, fatigue. Some women are capable of a rapid return to the orgasm phase with further sexual stimulation and may experience multiple orgasms. Men need recovery time after orgasm, called a refractory period, during which they cannot reach orgasm again. The duration of the refractory period varies among men and changes with age.
SEX TOY TIP #1: KNOW YOUR ORGASM!
Answering these questions to the best of your ability will help narrow the overwhelming selection.
How do you orgasm or what are you looking to stimulate? Clitoris? G-spot? Deep Penetration? Duel? U-spot? A-spot? Anus? There are toys that are designed for each of these erogenous zones.
What is your sensitivity level?
Is durability important to you?
What about portability?
Is noise a factor?
What about price?
Will vibration be too intense for you? Will a dong do?
How sensitive are your vaginal walls? Do you like the feel of a veined penis?
SEX TOY TIP #2: Who, What, When, Where…Oh My!
The WHO is not always as easy as you would think. Are you looking for a toy for casual play? Alone or with a partner? How does your partner feel about toys? Have you talked about it with them? Is it going to be used as a marital aid? Are you newly single again and need a toy to help with “SEX-peration anxieties?” Are you already an avid toy collector and looking to spice it up, challenge yourself and go to the next level?
The WHAT comes with a few more complex questions. What are you looking for from the toy? What kind of orgasm do you want to experience? What do you hope the toy will be able to provide you with? What are your lifestyle circumstances? Are you living at home with parents? Do you have children that are in the next room?
The WHEN is more of a lifestyle question. When are you going to be using your sex toy? Is it your birthday, anniversary? Just because it’s Tuesday? Do you want to experiment with new positions, ideas or fantasies? Where are you using your sex toy? Steamy, sex in the shower? Heating up your play in the hot tub? Bedroom, kitchen or the garden? Outside can be a fun way to spice up your love life, just know the laws surrounding public nudity in your area. In your backyard with a fence is okay, public park…play at own risk!
You’ve made the decision to buy a sex toy. Although some people are reluctant to patronize a sex shop, you will find one of the largest selections of toys at the Stag Shop, which is a more upscale “sex boutique” with highly knowledgeable and trained associates. They provide a non-judgmental and safe environment to shop and ask questions regarding one of the most sensitive and personal purchases you’ll ever make. Purchasing a sex toy is easiest if you can see it in person. You won’t get a proper sense of the toy’s size, smell, texture or vibration unless you can pick it up and turn it on.
SEX TOY TIP #3: What the PH-uck?
The material of the toy is a big one: just like reading that fine print on the bottom of the contract before you sign your life away to purchase that new car, you need to know what you are about to put into the most sensitive parts of your body. What is the toy made of? PVC? Silicone? Jelly? Latex? Glass? Wood? Acrylic? TPR? Elastomer? Aluminum? Steel? Rubber? A combination of “surprise materials?”
IMPORTANT: Is the product phthalate free? Phthalates are a family of industrial chemicals that are used as plastic softeners or solvents in many different consumer products. They can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled as fumes, ingested when they are in your mouth. Phthalates are not just found in sex toys, phthalates have also been found in many leading beauty care products, including hair spray, deodorant, nail polish and perfume that you may be using every day.
Phthalate chemicals are very hard on the environment. They cannot be fully recycled, they are not biodegradable and they have a harmful reaction known as “off gassing”. Basically the chemicals in the toy are released over time into the air, environment and of course into your body when you use the toy and can disrupt the human hormonal system. When our PH balance is off set that leaves us vulnerable to infections and UTI’s.
SEX TOY TIP #4: What’s that smell?
If it smells like burning rubber or has an intense “chemical” smell to it, usually this means there are high levels phthalates in the product. You can still buy and play with sex toys that are made with phthalates, but you will need to cover it up with a condom or toy cover.
SEX TOY TIP #5: Touch Me!
You should always be able to touch a toy and see how it works, or even if it works before you make your purchase, because in most cases you will not be able to return it. You should always ask to see the toy work before you pay for it and leave the store. If the toy has a slimy or really sticky oily residue on it, then it is most likely due to the leaching of the chemicals in the product.
Sex toys are not regulated by Health Canada or the FDA because they are considered novelties, and not meant for actual use. So when it comes to manufacturing sex toys there are little to no considerations given to the fact that they are going to be used in highly sensitive areas of the body. Since sex toys are not regulated, they can be made out of any material. That being said, while some toys are “bad”, there is always a safe, healthy alternative.
SEX TOY TIP #6: K.I.S.S: KEEP IT SAFE SEXPLORER!
It is so important to keep your sex toy safe and clean. Don’t drop your sex toy on the floor; this can damage the motor or the material – but if you do because you’re just having such a good rodeo time, then so be it (YAY!) but it may need to be discarded and replaced. If you have a toy that requires batteries…always remove the batteries from your toy when it is not in use. This will prevent the toy from being accidentally left on and wearing out the motor. It will also keep the batteries from leaking and corroding the motor. Try not to use rechargeable batteries with your sex toy. The power of rechargeable has been proven to be too powerful for the motors! Use new or fresh batteries with new toys. If you have a plug-in toy, remember to turn it off, as these will over heat if left on too long. When you are done with your toy, let it cool down before you store it. This will prevent any overheating before you put it away. Never immerse your sex toy in water, unless it is a water safe/proof sex toy. Always take time to clean nonporous sex toys with a mild soap and warm water or toy cleaner. Use a damp cloth to wipe your toy down. Make sure you ask the associate for cleaning instructions or read the cleaning directions found in the packaging of the toy. Not all sex toys clean the same as they all vary in material.
Sex Toy Shopping Checklist
PURPOSE: What part (or parts) of your body do you want to stimulate? Is it for solo play, partner sex or both?
INTENSITY: Electric vibrators offer stronger vibrations than battery operated ones.
DURABILITY: Electric vibrators and brand name battery vibrators last the longest.
PORTABILITY: Battery vibrators or rechargeable electric models travel well.
TEXTURE: If you will be inserting the sex toy, do you want hard plastic, pliable vinyl or rubber, or realistic cyber skin or silicone? Nonporous surfaces are easier to clean.
SHAPE: Smooth? Rippled? Curved? Resembling a penis?
COLOR: Flesh tones? Pastels? Metallic? Jewel tones? Glow in the dark?
NOISE: Coil-operated electric vibrators are the quietest. Hard plastic battery vibrators and some large wand vibrators are the loudest.
PRICE: You get what you pay for. Electric vibrators and duel battery vibrators are on the higher end. Basic battery vibrators are on the lower end.
To contact Stefani Ndhlovu, BSC, MA, a Sexual Health and Wellness Therapist
LinkedIn Stefani Ndhlovu
Phone: 519 749 5115
By appointment ONLY
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