Opening the space for women to explore what it means to be sexual and to experience their unique arousal mechanism through a wide range of sensory experiences would be a helpful adjunct to current treatment modalities. Our olfactory system lives inside of our arousal mechanism. Identifying the scents that arouse your imagination and using them in the context of sensuous touch are a great way to jumpstart the discovery of your erotic self. These practices, which originated in ancient societies, are worth revisiting as they provide important information to your limbic brain, which processes memory, emotion, sexuality, as well as scent.
I often explain to customers that scent is our primary gateway to our sexuality. A literal storehouse of fantasy is often locked up inside and having the courage to attend to what lives in us, moving beyond our fears of being abnormal (which everyone has) is where our erotic relationships to ourselves and others begins. Even the best lubricant in the world cannot adequately do its job if you are not ready to be penetrated or if your only association with the act is a fear of pain.
Sexual pleasure and pain have an odd relationship to each other and one that is hard to articulate both because it is mysterious and lives in each of us uniquely. A few rules of thumb may help though. First, orgasmic readiness is the space of exploration where our fear mechanism turns off. We are being lead by something deeper and, in some ways, more base in us. This place where we are at least as much mammal as we are human is largely out of our mental control and is also a pain release mechanism. Stated another way, some of the most exquisite sexual pleasure available to us rides the line of pain, which is, in some ways, what makes sexual pleasure so compelling. Orgasm is in fact the transformative energy release that simultaneously liberates both pain and pleasure.
Without the experience of pleasure and the aspiration for the occasional visits of orgasmic transformation, sexual penetration would be experienced only as a form of trauma. Tragically, this is why most women don’t want to fight for their sex lives, because even before the vaginal atrophy began, their access to their erotic selves was limited and pleasure was not the sexual companion it deserved to be.
Yet the capacity to lean into your erotic self and experience transformative healing orgasms actually expands with age. The sexiest part of our body, our arousal mechanism in our limbic brain, does not atrophy. It is always looking for and maybe even longing for the opportunity to be experienced.