“Just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean that the explanation doesn’t exist.” -Madeleine L’engle
My favorite thing to do is teach and last weekend I was lucky to have the chance to give a presentation to 50 physicians about working with their patients’ sexual dysfunction issues. I thought it would be easy since I spend so much of my days thinking, researching and talking about ways to become more sexually healthy, but in fact I was surprised how much I still had to learn as I was obliged to organize my rambling knowledge into a cohesive 90 minute talk. It is daunting to cover the vast swaths of dysfunction that make up the landscape of so many people’s experience with their sexuality. Pain with sex is almost more common than not in a lifetime and the silence that overwhelms the symptoms makes healing through education all the more difficult.
One of the most enlightening aspects of educating ourselves about our sexuality is that just as in other areas of cognition, what we don’t know about or have language to describe disappears from view. It turns out that this is precisely the case when it comes to the largely unknown anatomical structures of the internal clitoral organ system. Contrary to popular belief, the clitoris is not just a small button that sits on the top of the vagina — the external glans, containing over 8000 nerve endings and connected to 15,000 more throughout the pelvis is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. In fact the clitoral organ structure closely resembles the male sexual structures with long legs that reach deep into the vagina.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that research was done that elevated the clitoris from an external place to an internal organ system and not until 2011 that we had an accurate sonographic image. So even today, most women have yet to discover this complex and profound organ system they are carrying around. One of the researchers Dr. Pierre Foldes duly noted the truth that these internal organ systems only exist for women who know they are there and are working at cultivating their sensitivity … Thus the long standing arguments about the veracity of the g-spot.
This lack of self knowledge about our sexual selves and the complexity of our sexual functioning is not limited to the clitoral anatomy. There are almost as many men who struggle to control their ejaculations and ability to have an erection as there are women who suffer with a range of constriction and dryness issues that make sex painfully disappointing. It is the utter silence and discomfort about breaking our silence that keeps us locked away from the healing sexual capacity that lives in each of us.
Here is the takeaway: we cannot begin to evolve in places that remain hidden. The solution to almost all sexual dysfunction begins with open dialogue, not suppression.
Replacing the archaic cloak of shame that has too long been associated with this aspect of humanity can only heal us. Anna Freud famously said, “Sex is something you do, sexuality is something you are.” Waking up sexually starts with breaking the societal barriers that are silencing your questions and desires. At least with the people you trust most deeply, dare yourself to wake up to the sexuality you are.