This 31 Days of Sensuality challenge is all about ways to feel sexy without having sex. The caveat is that you can still have sex, just not with another person! This year, I cut sex out of my diet to concentrate on connecting to my most sensual self so my partner and I can have the most delicious and explosive sex in the future. With this being said, I’m having way more solo sex play than I’ve ever had, and I love it! Literally taking my time to bring myself to orgasm is the most delicious space to be in! In the past, my masturbation practice consisted of the basics- my fingers. This summer I found myself buying more toys and vibrators to take my sexual exploration to another level. I reached out to Dr. Pia Holec (known on Instagram as @sexdrpia) to get her tips and tricks to solo sex magic. I also asked her to debunk certain myths around masturbation and pleasure.
Why is masturbation important?
Masturbation is extremely important to increase sexual pleasure. I always say, “our orgasm is our responsibility.” Solo sex helps us to explore our body without the pressure of having another person present. By exploring our body, fully and in a non-judgmental fashion, we get to learn what we like and what we don’t like. It allows us to be in full control. What we learn we can then translate to partnered sex. We cannot simply rely on our partner to know what our body needs.
Tell me about your background. How did you become a sex educator?
I am a psychotherapist and sex therapist at Resilience Psychological Services. Here I specialize in working with minority populations in the areas of sex therapy, relationship issues, family of origin concerns, and trauma. I decided to specialize in sex therapy to help reduce the stigma in minority communities regarding sex, pleasure, orientation, and sexual trauma. Historically we are avoiding these conversations in our community, or experience so much shame and guilt. My mission is to dismantle sexual myths and encourage and empower minorities to discuss sex openly. I believe that my work is most effective when she is able to help her patients give a voice to the issues that they are so deeply struggling to work through. I am passionate about sharing education regarding mental health and sexuality. As such, in 2018, I started the @sexdrpia Instagram page where I do weekly videos entitled, “Just the Tip Tuesdays. ” In these videos, I deliver quick, digestible, fun facts and often taboo information to my audience.
How often should you replace your toy and get a new one?
I say, in 2019 we should all do away with battery-operated toys! If you find yourself tied to using one with a battery, replace your battery after each use. For chargeable toys, each one’s “lifespan” is different – there isn’t a hard and fast rule on when to replace a toy. The material of a toy increases the lifespan – platinum silicone, glass, gold, stainless steel and ABS plastic last the longest. To extend the lifespan, and the amount of pleasure it provides, I recommend having more than one toy to use. This will also reduce the risk of you only being able to achieve orgasm under “the right” conditions. Additionally, make sure to clean your toys after each use to prevent the build-up of bacteria. I say to replace a toy if you notice the following things: it is no longer powerful, it begins to produce an odor, it feels different, or the material is decomposing.
How does masturbation help with depression or other ailments?
Masturbation can lead to orgasm, I say “can” because I don’t want people to feel pressured to think every time they orgasm or have sex that they are “supposed” to achieve orgasm. With that said, orgasm releases the hormone oxytocin-known as the “feel good” hormone. This triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine which helps to decrease symptoms of both anxiety depression. Additionally, orgasm allows our cortisol levels to decrease (this is the hormone that produces stress), so sex is literally a stress reliever! The hormone prolactin is released after orgasm so this helps to relax you and provides better sleep quality. Masturbation can be a natural pain reliever due to the release of oxytocin-therefore it has been shown to improve pain associated with menstrual cramps and migraines!
Is it possible for every woman to squirt? And how are you able to differentiate the pee sensation from actually squirting?
Research still varies on whether all women can squirt. Some say that only 10-50% of women experience female ejaculation. However, I, along with many other sex therapists, sex educators, and sexuality researchers, believe that all women are capable of squiring under the right circumstances. What often inhibits a woman’s ability to squirt is her fear that she’s actually urinating. Yes, female ejaculate does contain TRACES of urine, but it’s mostly periurethral fluid which comes from the Skene’s glands. The hard part is that it CAN feel like you have to pee, and so this is what causes women to tense up and clench their pelvic muscles instead of relaxing, releasing, and allowing it to happen. What do I say? Girl, lay a towel down and worry less about what the fluid is and focus more on allowing yourself to experience total pleasure! To reduce the risk of having full-out urinating, make sure to empty your bladder before playing.
Is it ok to masturbate even if you are in a relationship?
I think this is absolutely OK, and healthy! However, this is a conversation partners need to have to help work through any assumptions one might have. Some people can consider masturbation as cheating or have thoughts like “well if you’re having consistent sex with me, why do you need to masturbate.” Keeping a transparent conversation and setting boundaries is vital in this regard.
How can women strengthen their vaginal walls and pelvic floor?
Kegels, Kegels, KEGELS! I can’t stress this enough! Not only will kegel exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor, but they will also help you to achieve stronger orgasms! Here is the routine I guide my patients to the practice, which I adapted from the book “Completely Overcome Vaginismus.” Even if a woman is not experiencing vaginismus (painful or impossible penetration due to involuntary contraction of the PC muscles), these exercises are beneficial. First, start with doing 25 of each of the below types of kegel exercises. Each week add 25 more until you reach 300 per day. This allows you to gain optimal PC strength. Once accomplished, you can reduce to 30 per day (10 of each type)
- The blink: Tighten PC muscles hard and then relax them as fast as you can. Repeat
- The clamp: Flex your PC muscles hard for four seconds, relax for four seconds. Repeat.
- The Slo-Mo: Using PC muscles, slowly squeeze lips shut and pull pelvic floor until it feels tight. Slowly release and let pelvic floor down and out
Why is masturbation and sex in general so taboo?
There are many reasons. First, often that which is unfamiliar tends to make us uncomfortable. How many people are given information about masturbation either in school or from their caretakers? The numbers are scarce. There’s also a lot of stigma attached to masturbation in many religions and cultural practices. It can be hard to reconcile these and make a decision to go against one’s values or beliefs from their upbringing. I also find that many women have adopted the message from society that sex is “more for men.”
What do you want black women to know about their sexual health?
Embrace your sexuality, silence your fears, and reduce the shame of speaking openly and honestly with your OB/GYN about any concerns you have. My hope is to empower black women to explore their bodies and listen to their own desires despite what society or others closest to them tell them they “should or shouldn’t do.” Let’s stop should-ing on ourselves.
Tell me about Therapy for Black Girls.
Therapy for Black Girls (TFBG) was created by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a phenomenal psychologist based in Atlanta, Georgia. She created a platform/directory where prospective Black patients can search for a therapist in their area. The site allows you to see a picture of a provider, their credentials, insurance they accept, and it provides a link to their website if they have one. As if this wasn’t amazing enough, she also created a podcast where every week she, along with another expert, discuss issues that are relevant to black women. You can check out my episode, session 101, where Dr. Joy and I discuss sexual confidence. TFBG is an AMAZING adjunct to therapy. In my humble opinion, Dr. Joy truly changed the game for black women when it comes to therapy and personal growth. She’s certainly one of my SHEroes.
Get more sex, love and reltionship advice from Dr. Pia by connecting with her on social media. You can find her on the following social platforms: