Are You Prioritizing Your Own Pleasure?

By Dr. Uchenna Ossai

One of the most common quotes about the path to success is, “fake it till you make it.” While it’s not bad advice when you are thinking about general life principles, it is the actual definition of nonsense when it comes to sexual pleasure.

For women, the concept of sexual pleasure is radical, and for some it’s quite confusing. As women move through adolescence and early adulthood, the primary sexual messages we receive are:

  • Pregnancy prevention
  • Divine virginity
  • Avoiding slut status

Awesome! (Insert sarcasm.)

The sexual lives of women are often under the microscope of the world — from the government to religion to even ourselves. It’s not surprising that for women, pleasure is often viewed as secondary perk instead of a core component of satisfying sexytimes.

The fact is, sexual functioning is in indicator of one’s overall health and therefore an unsatisfying sex life should be taken off the table. So how do we change our sexual script? How do we design our pleasure?

Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Recognize That Your Sexual Pleasure Is Your Responsibility

Yes. I said it. Your sexual pleasure is your responsibility — not your partner’s. The myth that your partner should know every pleasure nook and cranny on your body without any direction or input from you needs to be put to bed immediately, if not sooner (pun intended).

In the words of my homie Joe Biden, “It’s total malarkey.” In order to optimize your sexual pleasure, you must communicate (either verbally or nonverbally) to your partner what you and your body need.

2. Ride the Wave

Listen, comrades: things change. Life happens — work, love, partners, kids, fertility, loss, joy —  you name it. Your sexual self can take a beating depending on the season of life in which you currently are; don’t lose hope or think that it will always be this way. If your body or mind needs a minute, please take a seat — just don’t stay seated.

Stay connected with yourself and your partner while you’re taking a breather. Focus on sexual activities that are more on the intimacy spectrum if you crave reparative touch. If you need more overt sexual play, engage in activities that foster more spontaneous desire and arousal. When you keep yourself out of the sexual game for too long, it is so much harder to get back into it.

3. Do Your Research

In other words, treat masturbation as the most important research experiment you will ever conduct (scientist or not).

Sixty years of research have spoken: masturbation is the single best way to learn about your sexual pleasure, hands down. Here is the trick to masturbation: you can do whatever strikes your fancy and curiosity. The key here: be curious.

If you find a new spot that you absolutely love, explore your new pleasure area with a different speed, texture, pressure, or include your partner in the fun. What felt good to you two years ago or even two months ago, may not feel the same way. This change does not mean you are broken; it means you are ready to move on to new pleasure possibilities.

Think about it: are you going to do the same workout for the rest of your life? Is that going to give you the results you are looking for? No, it’s not. Trust me on this one.

4. Retrain Your Brain (and Your Partner’s While You’re at It)

Sex education is a lifelong process — it should never stop. Not even if you are in a committed, lifelong relationship with your soulmate. Many of us can get complacent in the safety of our relationships, whether or not we are experiencing pure bliss, dissonance, or somewhere inbetween. Sex ed isn’t just for the “youngins.” The world is your sexy oyster when it comes to grownfolk learning.

People of all genders deal with “sexpectations” deeply rooted in society, and cultural expectations that can often leave us deflated and sexually unfulfilled.

Flood your mind and relationships with sex-positive and culturally relevant information that informs and empowers your sexuality. With platforms such as and Youtube’s Sexplanations by Dr. Lindsey Doe, you can learn in the privacy and comfort of your own home. In this case, more knowledge means more pleasure.

Look, I’m not saying that every time you have sex your toes should curl so hard that you end up with a Charley Horse in your foot; but pleasure should always be somewhere on the table.

The stress of managing all of the aspects of your life (family, friends, work, partners, etc.) will always be there. So whatever it looks like, get into the practice of making your sexual pleasure a priority.

Do you struggle with body image? Have you ever…

  • Felt anxious about clothes shopping or wearing certain clothes?
  • Dreaded going to an event (like a reunion or a wedding) — or even skipped the event altogether — because you felt too self-conscious about how you looked?
  • Found yourself not wanting to be in pictures or videos, or hiding behind other people in the picture to shield your body?
  • Scrolled through social media and felt worse and worse as you went?

If these sound familiar to you, you are not alone.

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About the author:  Dr. Uchenna Ossai

Dr. Uchenna “UC” Ossai is a sex-positive pelvic health physical therapist, sex educator, and an AASECT-certified sexuality counselor. UC has a weekly live-stream called “The Pelvic Health Hour” through O.School, and is also the founder of YouSeeLogic, a judgement-free platform dedicated to the sex education and empowerment of ”grown folk.” UC spends her days in the dual roles of pelvic health rehab manager and assistant professor, and her evenings educating the masses on everything that has to do with “sexytime” — check out her Instagram segment, “Bourbon Talez.” When it comes to sexual intelligence and great sex education, UC embraces always being unapologetically real and authentically kind.

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