Sex With Emily - How to Bounce Back from a Sex Slump w/ Dr. Emily Nagoski

Episode Date: February 2, 2024

I’m bringing you all into a LIVE conversation I had with renowned sex educator and researcher, Dr. Emily Nagoski, during a recent event in New York! After releasing her bestselling book on sex, Come... As You Are, in 2015, Emily’s own sex life took a hit. Today, we discuss how she brought her sex life back from the dead, the Pleasure Thieves, and why it’s okay to stop sex once it’s already started. In this episode, you’ll learn: How to identify your sexual brakes and accelerators About the connection between wearing socks and having more orgasms How stress impacts your sex drive desire See the full show notes at Show Notes: The Sexiest Valentine’s Date Ideas (For Every Stage of Your Relationship) Magic Wand Micro Come Together, Dr. Emily Nagoski: Amazon | GoodReads | Bookshop More Dr. Emily Nagoski: Instagram | Website SHOP WITH EMILY! (free shipping on orders over $69) The only sex book you’ll ever need: Smart Sex: How to Boost Your Sex IQ and Own Your Pleasure Want more? Sex With Emily: Home Let’s get social: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | TikTok  Let’s text: Sign Up Here Want me to slide into your inbox? Sign Up Here for sex tips on the regular.

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Starting point is 00:00:33 because you're listening to the show. Send your cover letter and resume to jobs at We'd love to have you join our growing team, and we have a good time over here. Thank you. I didn't think you could stop Saks. I thought that like blue balls was like this dangerous thing. I was gonna be the girlfriend where they had to call 911 and then it would be on my record forever. Like she calls me blue balls and I had to go to the hospital like no. So I never thought you could
Starting point is 00:01:07 stop it. But even now it's like that's the beauty about sex when you get all this education. I like it's it's not a linear thing. You get to stop and start. You're listening to Sex with Emily. I'm Dr. Emily and I'm here to help you prioritize your pleasure and liberate the conversation around sex. Today I'm bringing you all into a live conversation I had with Dr. Emily Nagoski, a renowned sex educator and researcher during a recent event in New York. After releasing her best-selling book on sex, Come As You Are, in 2015, Emily's own sex life took a hit. Well, today we discuss how she brought her sex life back from the dead, the pleasure thieves,
Starting point is 00:01:46 and why it's okay to stop sex once it's already started. But we covered a lot in today's episode, and it was so fun doing it in front of a live audience. So more of those to come. Please rate and review Sex with Emily wherever you listen to the show. Plus, big announcement, my new Valentine's Day guide is out now.
Starting point is 00:02:04 And this year, I'm sharing the sexiest Valentine's Day ideas for every stage of your relationship. So check this, whether you're just getting to know someone new and you're like, what do I do on Valentine's Day? Or maybe you're in a long-term or long-distance relationship or you have multiple partners or maybe you're just keeping it casual. This guide is going to help you have the sexiest Valentine's Day yet. So you got to check it out at and I'll also link it in my show notes. So if you've ever been scratching your head around Valentine's Day, what to do?
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Starting point is 00:04:13 into the mainstream. Today I'm sharing a fascinating conversation I had with Dr. Emily Nogoski at the Swell Sex Symposium. It was live in New York City. So real quick, the Swell is a super fast growing global community and learning platform that's helping people navigate the second half of their lives. And they have workshops and conversations.
Starting point is 00:04:40 And this is actually the third one I've attended. And I was so honored to be a co-host alongside Dr. Kelly Kasperson, she's a urologist, she was fantastic, Alyssa Volkman is the founder of it, but like all of these leaders in sexual health were there. It was like the OG people, but then it was also new up and coming and it was just a live audience and it was a fantastic day. I met so many listeners too so thank you
Starting point is 00:05:05 everyone for coming to the event. There was a bunch of panels, there was also streaming that might be available soon. So thanks everyone for coming. It was great to meet you. What you're about to hear was really just a live fireside chat with Emily and I and this panel was particularly about the pleasure thieves which is a term that I coined in my book Smart Sex. If you read Smart Sex or you recall me talking about it, the pleasure thieves are the things that's keeping us from having pleasure in our life.
Starting point is 00:05:30 We get into it, we took audience questions, and if you don't know Dr. Elmi Degoschi, she's a sex educator and a researcher. She has several viral TED talks. She's trained in the Gottman Seven Principles as an educator. You might know her from her bestselling books, Come As You Are and Burn Out, and Come As You Are, which came out in 2015,
Starting point is 00:05:49 was a major success. It really helped influence how women understand their sex lives as part of their holistic well-being, and how things like stress and mood and trust and body image are all central to women's sexuality. She helped to popularize those conversations and really made it accessible for women. However, after releasing that best-selling book on sex, her own sex life fell apart. Well that inspired her to write her latest book, Come Together. The science and
Starting point is 00:06:21 art of creating lasting sexual connections, which just came out on Tuesday this week, so you should all get a copy of her book. And Emily uses her own story of sexual disconnection with her partner and reconnection to address the number one topic people ask her about and they ask me about, and that is desire. Emily talks all about different factors that brought her sex life back in her new book. Some of the themes are creating a shared sex positive garden. In other words, how to deal with the negative mindsets
Starting point is 00:06:56 from past experiences we might bring into a relationship so you can both plant a garden of positive sexual experiences and education. She uses humor to embrace the fun of sexual experiences and her whole mission is pleasure is the measure. It's not about how often you have sex or how many orgasms you have. And so in this live talk, I also shared the similar thing that happened to me after releasing smart sex. So to be honest, I was really grateful
Starting point is 00:07:25 for her public admission that you can be a sex expert for decades, you can write the books on sex, but still have challenges in your sex life. The same thing happened to me, and I can get into this more in future episodes, but I think for me it was burnout. It wasn't necessarily that I was talking about sex all these years, God, more sex.
Starting point is 00:07:48 Reminds me of my friend in college who worked at Mrs. Fields Cookies, and she spent all summer making cookies, and she couldn't have cookies for a really long time. Well, that wasn't the same with me. I still like sex, but what happened to me was I was just burned out. My nervous system was shot, I had a lot of responsibilities,
Starting point is 00:08:04 and I just really didn't want sex. And so what I've had to do to rebuild it since then is really pay attention to my five pillars of sexual intelligence that I talk about in my book. Funny enough, I used my own book to help me get back on track. I literally went through my five pillars of sex IQ and I thought, what are the areas where I need to work the most so I can understand how I can be more present sexually. I realized that I wasn't really embodied. I hadn't been in my body. My practices of meditation and breath work had gone out the windows so I started reinstating those. Another one of the pillars is collaboration and so I really had to get honest
Starting point is 00:08:40 with my partner using the collaboration pillar. Yeah babe, I know you are committed to a sex expert and thought that sex would never be an issue in our relationship, but I need to talk to you about what's going on in my body and how we can get it back and really work together on still creating intimacy and connection, but just kind of putting a hold on the actual sex. I was actually in a place where I didn't even want orgasms,
Starting point is 00:09:03 even though I knew they were good for me. I was in a place where I just needed time and space to sort of heal my body. I went through a slump and I brought myself back. So just want you to know that no matter where you're at our sex lives all go through peaks and valleys and it doesn't mean that it's your fixed state. It doesn't mean it's where you have to live
Starting point is 00:09:22 but there are ways to work through it. Main themes of the interview real quick, how learning to be more embodied will help us tackle the pleasure thieves, the impact of stress on sex and how to manage it. We talk about the breaks and accelerators, which she popularized in Common as You Are, which is basically the dual control model of sexual response.
Starting point is 00:09:40 So it really consists of understanding, what's your accelerators? What are the things that gets you turned on that responds to sexually relevant information and activates sexual desire? And then what are the breaks? What are the things that arise in your environment as threats and that are going to inhibit your sexual response or basically prevent you from feeling turned on?
Starting point is 00:09:58 We talk about momentum, why it's okay to stop sex in the middle of it because we are in control of our own pleasure. And we also talk about how to reduce shame so you can move towards a healthier relationship to your body and sex. Without further ado, my talk with Dr. Emily Nicoski. Let's get into it. All right.
Starting point is 00:10:19 Hi everyone. How are we all doing? Quite a day of sex, huh? Well Emily today we're talking about the pleasure thieves the things that keep us from having pleasure stress trauma shame breaches of trust You know we also earlier talked about medications and there's certain things about that but what I wanted to say to Emily is We we do have a lot in common
Starting point is 00:10:45 We have our names of course, but besides the Emily's that talk about sex What I recently learned and she had an amazing profile yesterday the New York Times Which I just thought well this is where if you haven't seen that yet Please go check that out. So we have the name Emily, but also we both Wrote books about sex and our sex lives took a hit. I haven't even talked about that publicly. I was like, well, it happened to Emily. It happened. My book came out last year. And so there were a lot of reasons for that. And you touched on some, but when it comes to the pleasure thieves, what part of
Starting point is 00:11:20 that resonates with you when you were going through that, you know, slump? Any of those pleasures that you've shamed, traumas, maybe all of them? Sure, like many, many people on earth. I'm a trauma survivor, which means that my breaks in my brain are extra sensitive. They're very responsive to things like stress and that shuts things down.
Starting point is 00:11:43 Writing a book is a little bit stressful. Many of you may know it's stressful. And then there's a whole sort of meta stress that because we're, you know, like these experts were supposed to know how to do this, I was literally writing a book about it. So on top of the stress, having the impact that it had, I had the self judgment about the stress impacting me.
Starting point is 00:12:06 Like, shouldn't you be able to do this of anybody on earth? Shouldn't you be able to do this? And that shame, that self-recrimination was one of the worst things. And that means that one of the things that got pleasure back in my body was, thank thank God I'm married to a cartoonist. He is so funny. And by collaborating with him on this,
Starting point is 00:12:32 he taught me how not to take myself so fricking, fracking seriously, and just allow it to be fun. Fun, that's part of it. And have sex be about pleasure. So you know, writing a book is a whole thing, like you pour your life into it, right? You get the book done, and that's a of it. And have sex be about pleasure. So writing a book is a whole thing. Like you pour your life into it, right? You get the book done, and that's a great feat, right? It's done, you hand it in, but that's just the beginning.
Starting point is 00:12:51 And then you go on the press tour, you're just starting that right now. It's a lot, and it is stressful. Getting in as much sex now before the book tour seriously starts? Exactly. Because now you know what's going to happen. But there is a lot of like shame in that too
Starting point is 00:13:06 and that we are the experts. I'm like, I wish I had a book I could read about like how to get my sex drive back after writing a book about sex. Have I got one for you? It's available for sale in the lobby. Exactly. But this is why, and I just wanna normalize also,
Starting point is 00:13:19 you never quite have it completely figured out. I think that people assume that you're an expert so you must have that nailed, you got that down, so now we can go learn to play golf. Now we can maybe take a painting or something. No, it's a skill set, it's a practice, just like everything else in our life that we have to spend time doing.
Starting point is 00:13:38 And so what would you say are some of your top tips around how would we know if stress is the culprit that's killing our sex drive? Does anybody here experience some stress that impacts their well-being at all? So there's a reason why my second book is called Burnout. I co-authored it with my sister. I was traveling around talking about the science
Starting point is 00:13:58 of women's sexual well-being, and I was really proud of the sex science in that. And everywhere I went, people would come up to me afterwards and be like, yeah, thanks for all that sex science, that's great, but do you know the chapter that changed everything for me? Was that one chapter about stress and feelings and relationships?
Starting point is 00:14:15 And I was like, oh, really? So I told this to my sister, I have an identical twin sister who is a choral conductor, who was hospitalized twice during her doctoral degree. She remains the only woman ever to have finished that doctoral program. The problem is always the patriarchy. And so I told her, like,
Starting point is 00:14:34 people are really liking the stress part and she was like, yeah, no duh. Cause remember when you taught me that stuff and you know, save my life, she said. Twice, she said. And I said, twice, she said, and they said, oh, we should write a book about that. So most people know when stress is affecting their bodies, most people can feel what's happening.
Starting point is 00:14:52 Some people are like my sister, she has alexithymia, she has no awareness, like she, there are probably people in here who will recognize this. She does not notice when she needs to pee. She has some sort of sensation happening in her foot and she's very cranky, but it takes her an hour and a half to realize she has a pebble in her shoe. She has a sensation in her abdomen.
Starting point is 00:15:16 Is she hungry? Is it cramps? Does she have a digestive distress? She does not know until some other life factor explains to her what was happening in her abdomen. of distress, she does not know until some other life factor explains to her what was happening in her abdomen. So for some people, and if that's you, there is a whole appendix in the burnout workbook,
Starting point is 00:15:32 specifically for learning how to be aware of what's happening in your body. Know that for 80 plus percent of people, stress is probably going to hit the brakes. It will reduce sexual interest. It will definitely reduce sexual pleasure for pretty much everyone. It's very, very common.
Starting point is 00:15:50 I could talk about stress forever. What do you do to deal with your stress? Well, first thing is like recognizing the stress. One thing that I always say is that when you are in a stress state, I think so people don't realize also that if you're stressed in your day to day life, like you walk around, you know when you're anxious
Starting point is 00:16:05 and you're stressed, probably you guys know, you can identify that. But sometimes we don't correlate that, or we don't extrapolate that and think, oh, this could also show up in the bedroom. So it's another way we beat ourselves up. We're like, yeah, of course I'm a stressed person, but why can't I walk into the bedroom
Starting point is 00:16:20 and then be suddenly turned on? And that's because if you have that spike in cortisol, it does not mesh well, it does not allow you to ignite your pleasure. And so whenever I talk to people like, oh, it's like light bulb goes off, so then we have to deal with the stress. And some things that I do is,
Starting point is 00:16:36 because I have a lot of anxiety and stress in my life, often I'm just like, it's my friend, I gotta make friends with it, that's it's gonna be here and I gotta learn. But especially where I think it also comes up in the bedroom, anyone here ever like you're having sex and you find that your mind is sort of going elsewhere? No, never.
Starting point is 00:16:53 Anyone ever disassociate during sex? And so some practices that help us, for me with anxiety in my day to day life, also help me in the bedroom. So a few things is like breath work has been a game changer for me because it helps calm your nervous system. A lot of us are shallow breathers,
Starting point is 00:17:10 probably not the first to tell you that, but how it also helps is even if I'm in the process of having sex, of doing the sex things, sometimes I recognize that I start having sex and I'm like, wait, how do I even, I don't really want to be having sex right now or am I already naked and I want to slow it down. This is my part.
Starting point is 00:17:29 I'll be like, babe, can we just, we'll slow it down and we'll breathe together. And I'm like, okay, let's take some breaths. And whenever I remember to ground and breathe and even in the bedroom, take a few deep breaths, I immediately resets and it allows me to be present in the moment.
Starting point is 00:17:44 And I want to say that that was a learning point for me. Like I used to think years ago, again this might be another patriarch, I didn't think you could stop sex. Exactly. I thought that like blue balls was like this dangerous thing. I was gonna be the girlfriend where they had to call 911 and then it would be on my record forever.
Starting point is 00:18:04 Like she calls me blue balls and I had to go to the hospital. Like no, so I never thought you could stop it. But even now, it's like that's the beauty about sex when you get all this education. Now you're like it's not a linear thing. You get to stop and start. So that's one thing that really works for me is the breath work and then just noticing my senses
Starting point is 00:18:22 when I'm having sex and I'm disassociating or I'm thinking about a million other things. A immediate way to anchor it for me is that I'll think about my five senses and I'll think like even if I'm going up, I'll go okay. What am I feeling? Okay, my hands and my partner's chest and I'll be seeing that.
Starting point is 00:18:38 What am I smelling? I'm smelling that. I always like the same candle. I smell the vanilla scent. What am I hearing? Maybe it's my breath. And then I'll go back to worrying, perhaps, because it's a practice.
Starting point is 00:18:49 And then I'll go back to it. So that just helps ground me, and then I can start to feel more pleasure. Can we talk about how important it is to learn that it's OK to stop things in the process? Yes. It's not even necessary that you're feeling desire. It's that you have momentum.
Starting point is 00:19:04 Like, you've got things things started and you're like, well we can't slow things down or turn things in a different direction, we have to go with the momentum or else it will ruin everything. One of the stories that I tell in the book is from way back in my 20s when I was first learning about prioritizing pleasure over desire,
Starting point is 00:19:20 because desire is not a metric of sexual well-being anywhere near the way pleasure is. The people who sustain a strong sexual connection over the long term do not describe their amazing, freaking, optimal, magnificent sex by talking about desire. They talk about pleasure, intimacy, vulnerability, and authenticity. Stick around after the break because Emily and I are talking more about why it's okay to pause sex in the middle of it. The connection between sex and orgasms and we also answer the audience questions. But real quick, everyone in the live audience received a Magic Wand mini because I love Magic Wands. I was the
Starting point is 00:19:59 co-host of this amazing event at the Swell and they were like, well what toy would you want everyone to have? And literally my dream is if you're going to get a toy, get a magic wand. You know, they've been around for a long time, over 50 years now. And now they've got all these great toys out. They have the Mini which I'm obsessed with. It has the same power of the original magic wand that maybe you remember it used to plug into the wall. But now they have all these other versions that I just want everyone to have. But the mini has really been my go-to since it came out about a year over a year ago. But then they just launched a micro, which is micro.
Starting point is 00:20:33 It's so little, but also powerful. You can basically fit it in your pocket in the palm of your hand. And Magic Wand is truly magic if you've ever had a challenge around orgasms or you've ever been looking for a fun toy to play with a partner, no matter what their body parts, or maybe you wanna give your partner a massage anytime. The Magic One does that. It really is the original massager.
Starting point is 00:20:54 You can get free shipping on all orders over $69 and that's at slash magic one. All right, everyone, we'll be right back. So I had this really embarrassingly bad relationship when I was in grad school. He was a very nice person but he was still in love with his ex and if he was in a sexual relationship with me, he would act like he's my boyfriend, but he would not be my boyfriend. He was in love with his ex.
Starting point is 00:21:30 Doesn't matter the point is we decided to stop having sex because we were destroying our friendship. But one day, we get back to his apartment after we were having dinner with friends and he starts doing things and it was super hot. And I said, so we decided we were not gonna do this. I stopped. I interrupted. I said so we decided we were not gonna do this I stopped I interrupt I was we decided we were not gonna do this here's all the reasons we decided we were not gonna do this and he said but what if
Starting point is 00:21:52 what if this is just this once and I was like can you not do the thing you always do after this once and he said yes and I believed him and he got up to go lock his apartment door and in the time it took for him to lock his apartment door, my like hot and heavy, ooh! Blurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr But I already knew, pleasure is what matters, and we were agreeing that we were gonna do this and there were not gonna be the consequences that we had had previously. So I was like, you know what?
Starting point is 00:22:32 You're gonna have to drag me into the bedroom by my ankle. Go. And he did. And we had really fun sex, and he did not do the usual things the next day. It worked. And I think about like what if that conversation had been this is really hot but do you have a condom? This is really hot but I'm not feeling
Starting point is 00:22:51 connected in the moment. Let's pause and breathe together. This is really hot but I'm having this like memory of that time. You said that critical thing about my body and it's just shutting things down and I need to to take time to connect with you in the present moment and remember that we heal that stuff. The ability to stop and be like, a different direction is also a direction where pleasure can be, and the pleasure is more important
Starting point is 00:23:18 than the momentum of getting through it. Does that make sense? Yeah, that does make sense. How amazing that you do that. It's amazing. It's amazing to be able to, because I think that goes back to like this notion of when you start and the end, like we're so glad when it gets going on, we kind of think we have it, the energy is going, we shouldn't stop it, because if we stop it, we were never going to get it back. The other thing that I have learned is that it's also okay to say, like, even if you're in a new
Starting point is 00:23:44 relationship or someone maybe you don't always communicate with, that it's also okay to say, like even if you're in a new relationship or someone maybe you don't always communicate with, that it's okay to say like not now, or like let's slow it down. Can we go back to the kissing? Can we go back to making out like if it moves too fast and it's not what we want? So like we are responsible.
Starting point is 00:23:58 Just remember that for our own pleasure, we're responsible for our own orgasms and sex. And again, I just wasn't socialized that way. I I had to learn that I really didn't think that my pleasure mattered so that ability to be like follow the pleasure like you don't have to follow that arousal I mean that's important but where is it feeling good and the second it your mind's telling you your body doesn't feel good like it's okay and it doesn't have to be like a hard stop, it could be like a slow down, and not right now. It's like some of the obstacles to pleasure.
Starting point is 00:24:29 Some of them you just go around, but some of them you have to pause and like hack out of your way. And the thing is, once you hack it out of your way, it's out of your way. Simple stuff, so grit on the sheets is a common one. People talk about, they're just distracted by the sensation of grit on the sheets is a common one. People talk about, they're just distracted by the sensation
Starting point is 00:24:45 of grit on the sheets, cold feet. Like, things are going great, but you're just so distracted by the fact that your feet are bricks of ice. There's actual research. Put on some socks. Pause. If you want to, it's a true story that a friend of mine heard this,
Starting point is 00:25:03 and her partner really loved the thigh high look. She got wool thigh highs and was just warm as heck and her feet never distracted her ever again. But it takes being able to pause and be like, well, let me go put some socks on. Exactly. I mean, isn't there some research too that with your feet are warmer?
Starting point is 00:25:24 I mean, if you heard you wear socks, you might have more orgasms. Yeah, this came from the research, because it's difficult to have an orgasm in like a brain scanning machine. It is not the sexiest environment in the world. You have to stay very, very still while this noisy, cold machine is scanning your brain.
Starting point is 00:25:42 You have to hold very still. Only even among the people who volunteered to participate in this research, only about half really get to orgasm. But there's a dust reachers who found he could double the rate that people got orgasm up to about 75% if he let them wear socks in the room. Yeah, so yeah, where are the socks?
Starting point is 00:25:59 Where are the socks that feel sexy and feel good to you? I mean, that's the thing. Also, it's like thinking about the things that are keeping us. Googling bullfie high right now. Yeah, exactly. Amazon, add to cart, add to cart. So thinking about the things that keep us
Starting point is 00:26:12 are the pleasure thieves. We think about the things that get in the way of sex. So what about the role of shame? Like shame is a heady, heady stew. And sometimes it's not even easy to recognize that that's what it is a lot of times There's like shame about our bodies right the way we look we don't want to get naked We don't want we want the lights off There's also the shame around just our upbringing like maybe we grew up in a place where we were told it wasn't okay to be sexual
Starting point is 00:26:40 And I just wanted to normalize that but then also say just because you might no longer be living under your parents roof and You're way beyond that age at those messages that were like implanted in your brain are still there talking to you But they might no longer say yeah, they're like no you shouldn't be doing this Yeah, and so what about shame? Have you is there anything like that comes up for you? I mean insert the collective works of Brené Brown. Yes Who strangely? Never talks about sex. She doesn't not yet like that comes up for you? I mean, insert the collective works of Brene Brown. Yes. Who, strangely, never talks about sex. She doesn't, not yet.
Starting point is 00:27:10 Not yet. So collective works of Brene Brown on shame understand that shame hits the brakes and understand that you did not choose all of the emotions and thoughts connected to the shame that are happening in your brain. This is the garden metaphor. In the day you're born, you're given a little plot of rich and fertile soil, and your family
Starting point is 00:27:31 and your culture of origin begin to plant ideas about bodies and sex and love and safety and connection. And they cultivate it for you. And by the time you get to adulthood, there you have this garden. Some of us get really lucky and have really beautiful gardens that we just cultivate and harvest. And some of us get stuck with some really toxic shit in our gardens and we have to go row by row
Starting point is 00:27:56 and make choices about what we want to keep and what we want to throw on the compost heap to rot. First, recognizing that you get to choose whether or not to continue believing the things that you were taught about sexuality is number one. If your sexuality is with yourself, you get to explore and cultivate the garden that you choose for yourself. If you're in a long term, at the beginning of a relationship, you go visit each other's gardens, and that can be really fun, but at a certain point in a long term, at the beginning of a relationship. You go visit each other's gardens,
Starting point is 00:28:25 and that can be really fun, but at a certain point in a long term relationship, you begin to cultivate a co-created garden. You bring over your favorite things from your garden, and they bring over their favorite things from their garden, and you hope that they don't strangle each other. And there will be seasons when the garden is fallow,
Starting point is 00:28:42 when you just don't have time to care for it the way you usually do. But like any garden, you can always come back to it and revitalize it, and it gets to be the stuff you choose. One of the biggest mistakes, one of the biggest pleasure thieves is when you bring things into the shared garden, because it's the thing you are totally sure is supposed to be in the garden,
Starting point is 00:29:05 even though it is not contributing to your pleasure, but you're sure that it's what you're supposed to be doing. It's supposed to be orgasms from vaginal penetration when only about a quarter to a third of people with vaginas are reliably orgasmic from that, right? You bring that into the garden and you bring with it all of the shame that you have about the fact that you struggle to orgasm like most people with vaginas do from what the research calls unassisted vaginal intercourse. That shame, you get to choose
Starting point is 00:29:38 whether to keep it or pull it and throw it on the compost heap to rot. And then first, exactly in first recognizing, like is it shame that is keeping me from my pleasure? Like thinking about what it is, and I was reflecting on this today, like my career actually started on shame because I really thought that I was, something was wrong with me because I assumed at the time that every other person with a vagina,
Starting point is 00:30:01 a vulva was having orgasms through penetration because that's only what you see in media. And nobody was talking about it. Because of the patriarchy. Patriarchy, exactly. I mean, that's why we all the only kind of sex we see is penetration. I think we all talk about this so much. It's like, that is not where the magic's going to happen
Starting point is 00:30:19 for the majority of people with a Volvo. If it is where the magic happens for you, we love it for you. I always tell my friends, I feel like I does, I work as in five minutes and I'm multiples, I'm like, I love you. Congratulations. Sometimes I go, fuck you, okay, you're lucky. I'm like, bitch. But no, but the majority of women, we just, we don't.
Starting point is 00:30:36 And to normalize that and to say, there are things that are gonna get us pleasure if you're talking about orgasms, but orgasms are not the measure, pleasure is the measure. Fingers, mouth, toy. And not orgasms are pleasurable. Well, we could talk about that too. Should we talk about the role of trauma? We touched on it a bit. Big T trauma, little T trauma. I'd like to say we all have had traumatic things happen in our lives. Trauma and neglect and abuse. Oh my, yeah, I'm the same. I've had the trauma that had kept me from, I think a lot of it helped me from even masturbating
Starting point is 00:31:10 when I was younger, I never thought about it. I thought that like, how did other, like I would talk to people and like, you've never had an orgasm? Like I used to like hump my pillow and ride my bike. Oh, you used to hump my pillow? I was like, I hump my pillow and like I ride my bike. I rode bikes, like I didn't orgasm spontaneously like you did at six years old or whenever people did. And
Starting point is 00:31:30 it's because my body was in a state of trauma from earlier things that happened from neglect and things in my childhood. So I had to learn different ways. More things to have in common. Oh my God, Emily. There's so many things. So what do you do with the trauma? Like you're recognizing that. Like what are some definitely therapy? Was a game changer for me personally doing EMDR therapy? Anyone ever do EMDR reprocessing that you can actually rewire the neuroplasticity
Starting point is 00:31:55 in your brain so you could, it changes it so you don't have the same charge around certain things. Breathing, movement. Pelvic floor, physical therapy, somatic experiencing, body-based psychotherapies. Those are the future of therapy, particularly around trauma, particularly around sexual trauma, not just talk therapy. I have been with a talk therapist
Starting point is 00:32:16 for longer than I've been married. I'm a fan of that too, and also there is a place for body-based somatic therapies. There's a great book called Our Polyvagal World that just came out. Steve Porges and his son wrote it together. His son is a journalist. Some of you may know that Stephen Porges is a genius, and he is not a good writer, but his son is a journalist.
Starting point is 00:32:39 So this is the most readable book about polyvagal theory, and it contextualizes polyvagal theory into lots of different areas in the world, and helps you understand the way your body has responded to the world with a stress response or shutdown because the world is very scary and uncertain for a lot of us, for a lot of our lives. And we can retune our brains and our environment in order to retune our brains and our environment in order to
Starting point is 00:33:05 retune how our entire nervous system responds to the world. And then that is that is the work and that is I love that this book came out and there's so much more information showing now that things that we've attributed to mental illness or to you know ADD or distraction is really because our nervous system is dysregulated. So there are some polyvagal theory. There's a lot of different ways we can learn to calm ourselves. Your body literally physiologically, psychologically, neurologically does not have access to pleasure when you're in fight, flight, freeze, tend to befriend, fawn. Yeah, it can't. And so learning to dismantle all of that
Starting point is 00:33:45 and to get more in touch with it, like it's pleasure. So if you haven't been there, you haven't had a pleasure, you feel like these things are blocking you, like it's still possible, it's a process, it takes some of the work, and there is a lot of, yeah, important information out there. We have a few minutes, if anyone has questions,
Starting point is 00:33:59 I'd love to open up to everybody. Yay, hello. Over there, and where? First hand I saw was the person right by the camera. Same. Hi. Thank you so much. You're both so lovely. I'm actually here because my client has a sex podcast. It's called Taboo Truth. I'm asking if you have any advice on this community you fill online. I think this conversation for women online has been, the Patriarchy definitely has its way of shadow banning or blocking these conversations. How do you keep it organic online
Starting point is 00:34:30 and make sure that your audience is learning as much as they can? I have no idea. Just being real, I'm 47. I'll be 47 in April, my husband's 47 now, so I have taken on his age. I'm an old. Yeah, I mean, how do you keep her, I just, you know. I think you both do a really lovely job communicating or you know
Starting point is 00:34:48 educating online but how do you continue to do that even when there's a pushback? I mean there is a pushback. My Instagram, my Facebook, it's shut down all the time right like all the time like you got to be like s ampersand x because you don't say sex. I think it's at some days it's getting better some months some months it's not but I just really like you, some months, some months it's not, but I just really like, you know, sometimes you find ways to work around it. I mean, you guys, it still really is a challenge.
Starting point is 00:35:11 Like, this is, you probably only see half the content that you'd like to, maybe a third of it, and I'm gonna say something here that my publisher, so my book came out last year, SmartSex, which you can get out there along these other fabulous books, my publisher in December of last year, God, I hope she's not here,
Starting point is 00:35:28 we were coming to title the book, this is like whenever the title had to come out, she was well, yeah, we, obviously we can't put the word sex in the title. Yeah, yeah. And because then she's like, well, what about, and then they can't come up with things that come together, come as you,
Starting point is 00:35:40 I'm like Emily took that, we got, like that's been done, come together, oh that was genius, where are we going? But you understand the last 20 years I've spent trying to destigmatize the word sex to take the taboo, we can't do it, we can't do it, because the Amazons are gonna bury the algorithms. This was last year, this was the end of 2022.
Starting point is 00:35:58 So I was able to push back, they went to their board, whatever, and it's smart sex, but what I'm saying is it's tricky, and you gotta learn to find ways to work around it, and you will find your audience. You could put an age limit on your Instagram, 18 and over, and on Facebook and other TikTok, other platforms allow you to do that. Which is bullshit, but I get it.
Starting point is 00:36:15 Exactly. YouTube, you can do that, you can make it private, but that's what I know. Anything, yeah. I think of it in terms of like 100 years ago, what were the barriers to people communicating this information. It was illegal to share information about birth control, for example.
Starting point is 00:36:30 And they found ways to do it, and so can we. Working, even though the systems through which we work are mired in patriarchy. And I have met people at Metta, Facebook, Instagram, Google. They care. They're trying, and systems move incredibly slowly. So it's happening, but 2022 you can't put Sex in the title of a book, Jim and E. Cricket.
Starting point is 00:36:56 I have a question kind of on another side of things, but as a mother, my son is nine, and sex education in school was shit for me, so I'm just wondering if you have any resources for when do we start teaching our kids? How do we just protect them from having shame or? Yeah, I mean, I'm very passionate about that. I mean, we need to start at the age
Starting point is 00:37:23 that it's commensurate with the information that you can give them. We always see the example of the Netherlands, where they do talk about sex, that they name the parts. We don't say hooha or wee wee or pee pee. We say vagina, vulva, and we normalize it. We talk about pleasure and consent.
Starting point is 00:37:39 And I think as parents right now, I wish that there's better places to go for sex education around this, but I think there's a few great books, you could probably name some of those, but I think for parents, it's just like finding media that might show things that are appropriate to their age and be like, oh, do you see how that couple's behaving
Starting point is 00:37:57 and sex things and just talking to them in a way and saying, I didn't have this when I grew up and I'm learning along with you and here's what I know and also remember the whole like birds and the bees conversation, it was like a one time thing. It's an ongoing conversation that you have just like about everything else. So we're working on finding great,
Starting point is 00:38:15 what would you recommend there? The collected works of Corey Silverberg. Oh yeah. Sex is a funny word, you know, sex. There's a book called Wait What? by Isabella Rotman and Heather Korna. That's for sort of middle grade age, slightly older than your son.
Starting point is 00:38:30 So there's increasingly good books. There's also Peggy Ornstein's book, Girls and Sex and Boys and Sex for parents to have an understanding of the messages children are getting these days. The most important thing that a parent can do is unlearn your shit. Because remember when I talked about your family
Starting point is 00:38:49 of origin and your culture of origin planting that stuff in your garden? You're doing that to your kids. And make curated choices about what you put in there. I will very quickly tell the story of when I was about 11 years old, I was driving home from the library with my mother. I must have seen a word in a book, so I asked my mom, hey mom, what's a vagina?
Starting point is 00:39:10 And I do not remember the words my mother said, but I remember the flush of embarrassment and confusion. And when I got home, I looked up vagina in a medical encyclopedia, and that told me what a vagina was. What my mother felt when I asked her that, told me how I'm supposed to feel about it. And she, like, I was not raised in a, just like a regular bog standard American sex-negative home, not in a particularly sex-negative home.
Starting point is 00:39:38 But because she had not put in effort and thought into untangling the knots from her own childhood, which were put there from her parents who didn't untangle their knots around sexuality, they got passed down to me and I was fortunate to start training at the age of 18 to untangle the knots that have been planted for me and then I didn't have kids. So the most important thing is to unlearn your own stuff. That's the, I'm learning as you are. Oh, great, what is it? Get the PTA to hire a sex educator. PTA, okay, great.
Starting point is 00:40:13 So I kind of have the opposite problem where I've talked a lot about sex. I have your smart sex on a my coffee table. And various your children. Talk about it all the time. I have college age kids and they're not having sex. They're not in relationships and we hear all these statistics about how younger people are just not having sex because they're so, you know, more, everything is online and there's
Starting point is 00:40:37 just this asocial aspect around, you know, sexuality and all of it being online. So I'm just curious, should I be pushing sex on my kids and like, have it, go, go, go, why are you doing it? I heard this from a lot of people. No, I mean, there is like a sex drought. There's like a, I mean, I think getting curious with them, but well, what is it about sex? What is it about connection?
Starting point is 00:41:01 What is it about relationships that might be keeping them from it, but I don't think you push them towards it. But I think that, I mean, I think just getting curious and having conversations with them often about their relate, like how are their relational skills? Do they have groups of friends? Are they going out? Are they spending time away from their screens?
Starting point is 00:41:19 What kind of media are they consuming? And maybe just a little bit later now, a little bit of a boomer that was like COVID and how old your kids are, but a lot of kids in those few years that were in high school and then they were in college or those, they really missed those years of socialization.
Starting point is 00:41:32 Like that's how we all got comfortable, right? A lot of us. And so I think maybe we have to be a little bit more patient, but also curious, putting more information in front of them. Yeah? I know we're over time, but I would say that questions
Starting point is 00:41:46 that are great to ask for yourself, questions to ask for your partner, questions to ask with anyone with whom you're curious to explore more about the role of sexuality and your and their lives, what is it that you want when you want sex? It's not orgasm, you can have an orgasm by yourself, probably if you can't, there are whole books and seminars
Starting point is 00:42:03 just about how to have an orgasm, probably not sex If you can't, there are whole books and seminars just about how to have an orgasm. Probably not sex. There's something that you want when you want sex with another person. What is it that you want? And just as importantly, what is it that you don't want when you don't want sex? It is normal not to want sex. Having that conversation cuts through a lot of the cultural bullshit and gets you directly to like what the motivation is what's going on inside your body and your mind Which takes away all sense of shame and blame it normalizes whatever you want
Starting point is 00:42:34 Like let's just recognize what you want is there a way for you to get it outside of a sexual situation Are all your needs getting met whether or not you are having sex? So what is it that you want when you're having sex? What is it that you don't want when you don't want sex? And if they're not having sex also at all, like, do they have friendships? Do they have the relationship skills? Do they have community around them?
Starting point is 00:42:56 Are they isolating? So, you know, it's more of a complex. Nobody will lie or even get sick if they don't have sex. People do get sick and die of loneliness. Yeah, and without touch and all that. We can always touch ourselves. Should we do one? I mean, we're over.
Starting point is 00:43:11 Do you want us to leave? You can kick us out. We have to. One more? Okay. You had talked earlier about the third thing, which is about the patriarchy. And I was wondering if you could talk about that
Starting point is 00:43:20 because there's a million reasons why I think I'm not having sex and that's why I'm here. But what gets in my way is I'm more, and I'm sure many women feel this, they may be more successful than their husband and that gets in the way of like, for me being in the patriarchy. Chapter 11. Okay. So the book is as inclusive as I could make it, but the one chapter, chapter 11, I assume the reader is in a heterosexual type relationship.
Starting point is 00:43:45 And I'm really worried about the straights. Y'all are struggling more than everybody else. The research is very clear that people who are in non-heterosexual relationships have more satisfying sex and more pleasurable sex. So there's a whole chapter just about those dynamics between people who are cisgender men and cisgender women. Yeah. And we will get out of your way. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you.
Starting point is 00:44:16 Thanks for listening everyone. As a reminder Dr. Emily Nicoski's book is out now so get it wherever you get your books. Also a link is in the show notes. That's it for today's episode. See you on Tuesday. Thanks for listening to Sex with Emily. Be sure to like, subscribe, and give us a review wherever you listen to the podcast and share this with a friend or partner. You can find me on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at Sex with Emily. Oh, I've been told I give really good email.
Starting point is 00:44:49 So sign up at and while you're there, check out my free guides and articles for more ways to prioritize your pleasure. If you'd like to ask me about your sex life, dating, or relationships, call my hotline 559 Talk Sex. That's 559-825-5739. Or go to slash AskEmily. Was it good for you? Email me, feedback at

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