At this point, it’s pretty obvious that “self-care” has become one of the hottest buzzwords on the internet. (Particularly during a time when we’re all hunkering down and don’t have much else to do besides facemasks and Netflix binges). That said, in the myriad activities that fall under the self-care umbrella, sexual self-care practices are too often thrown to the wayside.
Furthermore, what even *is* sexual self-care? No, it’s not v-steaming (jury is still out on that one), nor is it given your penis a face mask. (Is that even a thing?) Sexual self-care is understanding your sexual needs and desires and making an effort to understand and check in on your sexual preferences. It also includes doing things to proactively nurture and sustain your sexual health. Below are some of our top tips for maximizing and prioritizing sexual self-care.
Establish a routine.
Whether you’re trying to sustain a meditation practice or a workout regime, routines have been proven to help folks stay on track with their goals. And so it makes sense to incorporate a ritual (even a small one) in order to prioritize your sexual self-care. This could look like setting aside 15 minutes every day for a sensual shower or masturbation session. Maybe you take a look in the mirror and practice positive affirmations to help you navigate through insecurities.
In any case, making time each and every day to practice sexual self-care can leave you feeling empowered and pleasured.
Notice and work through sexual shame.
If you have shame surrounding sex, you are NOT alone. Many of us were shamed for something we did as a child or came from a fear-based sex education program. Shame can also occur at any moment in our life—like if a partner told you that you were “loose” or laughed at your penis.
Part of sexual self-care involves working through shame and rekindling a sense of confidence. Finding confidence looks different for everyone, but we suggest making a list of the things that make you feel GOOD and PROUD in your body. If your shame stems from a specific or repeated issue, therapy can also be a wonderful option.
There’s also no shame in looking for help from products or tools. A lot of our penis-owning audience report on feeling inadequate because they climax early, or can’t stay hard. (If this is you, you’re not alone.) Products like Promescent delay spray can be a wonderful asset in helping you last longer in bed and have a better, more pleasurable experience with your partner, ultimately fostering connection and confidence. If you’re a vulva-owner and having trouble reaching orgasm, you might consider adding a small vibrator to the bedroom. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using a toy during partnered sex, and you might actually find that it brings you and your partner closer together!
Do your kegels.
Consider the kegel like a yoga class for your genitals—seriously. When you practice kegels, your pelvic floor muscles become stronger and you become more mindful about your sexual pleasure. This is important because over time, or due to circumstances like pregnancy, childbirth, or weight gain, the pelvic floor can weaken, leading to discomfort or even urinary incontinence.
Enter the kegel. Kegels are great in that they help improve blood circulation to the pelvic floor, increase arousal, and strengthen your orgasms. (We like that.) And contrary to popular belief, kegels are not just for women and vulva-owners! Men can do them too. For all genders, start by making sure your bladder is empty, then sit or lie down. Tighten the pelvic floor muscles, then hold tight and county for 3 to 5 seconds. Relax the muscles and count for another 3 to 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times, three times a day!
If you REALLY want to amp up your kegel game, we highly recommend calling in some reinforcements, specifically Yarlap. It’s an award-winning kegel exercise device that basically does the workout for you and ensures you’re doing it correctly. And when you’re committed to your kegels, you’re committed to your sexual health.
Think proactively about your health.
We’d be remiss not to include the health portion of sexual health here. Whether we’re talking about testing for or avoiding STIs, proper hygiene, or general safer sex practices, an ounce of prevention always beats a pound of cure. This starts with being prepared and proactive.
Communicate your health-conscious decisions with your partners (always without shame or blame) and make sure you’re both on the same page. Don’t ever be afraid to ask someone about STIs or utilize condoms, but avoid using words like clean or dirty as they contribute to certain stigmas associated with STIs.
If you’re a vulva-owner, you’re also susceptible to things like yeast infections, BV, and UTIs. In addition to peeing after sex and wearing clean underwear, you might consider adding a supplement like Uqora to your post-sex routine. It’s a drink mix that was developed by a chronic UTI sufferer as a proactive and healthy way to flush the urinary tract after sex, exercise, or anytime you need extra support.
Trust us, when you’re confident you’re doing what you can to stay healthy, you’ll be able to enjoy sex without stress, which is definitely a form of self-care.
Get regular check-ups and talk to the professionals.
While we’re on the topic of protecting yourself sexually, be sure to get your parts checked out! Regular check-ups with medical professionals are a crucial aspect of maintaining sexual health and therefore a great way to practice proper sexual self-care. If you don’t vibe with your doctor, or you don’t feel like you’re getting the info you need, find a new one. Your time is valuable and should not be wasted on doctors who won’t give you the love and attention you deserve.
When our penis-owning or male-identifying friends are experiencing sexual deficiencies, a trip to the doctor may be what’s needed—but not wanted. Thankfully there are male-focused telemedicine services like New England Low-T Center that specialize in testosterone optimization and vitamin therapies, all of which are handled virtually. Whether it’s fatigue, low libido, or sexual performance concerns, they can help you sort it out without stepping foot in an exam room.
One of the best ways to practice sexual self-care? More masturbation. And if you’re thinking, but I already have a great masturbation routine, consider mixing it up! Trying a new method means learning about your body and your desires, which is a great way of caring for your sexuality.
There are SO many great toys we could recommend, but if you don’t own a Magic Wand, get on that. It’s a toy that belongs atop everyone’s nightstand, and is great for both solo and partnered play. This is the Cadillac of vibrators. The cream of the crop. Your clitoris (or your lover’s) won’t know what hit ‘em.
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do to practice sexual self-care is make time for you and your sexual self. Recognize that sex is an important part of our lives and that you deserve to feel seen, understood, and educated when it comes to your sexuality. Now go get some “you” time.
Amanda Kohr is the Content Coordinator at Sex With Emily. Find her via Instagram at @cozycarvan.