Tips for Igniting Your Pleasure Center
There’s a way to feel sexually alive. It all starts in your brain—the pleasure center.
But first, pause. Because according to Dr. Shannon Chavez, you’re going to need about 20 minutes (at least). That’s how long it generally takes women to warm up and get stimulated before sex, she says.
Chavez is a sex therapist based in Los Angeles and works with hundreds of people on revamping and improving their sex lives. She helps people get out of their heads and into their pleasure centers.
She spoke with Do The Good Stuff at The Sex Talk You Never Had, part of the Feel Good Series in collaboration with Savoir Collab in Los Angeles last month.
How to ignite your pleasure center
There can often be barriers to orgasm, Chavez says. There are a few factors to why it’s important to investigate what’s going on with you, and how you can ignite that pleasure center in your brain.
1. Addressing unrealistic expectations vs. reality.
Sex is not movie sex, Chavez says. It’s also not porn sex. So, acknowledging this is really important for setting the realistic scene in your brain and the real expectations you should have with a partner. It might be a little different than you see in film, but that’s totally OK.
2. No one is going to give you an orgasm. You are responsible for your own orgasm.
Communication—getting real about what you like and what your partner likes—are the way to advance your conversation around pleasure and get the real sex you really want to have. You have to own the conversation around what you like, otherwise it might be confusing to your partner.
3. Conditioning and learning - it’s a process.
There is a brain and genital connection that might take work and awareness to tap into. Whatever it takes to feel embodied, relaxed or present should be the goal when you’re having intercourse with a partner. It takes time, practice and learning.
And remember: An orgasm is a reflex. It can be big like fireworks or it can be small and slight. By breathing through an orgasm and training your body on how you want to experience arousal you can change your orgasm.
4. There’s no shame in orgasm.
You might have grown up hearing some negative messages around sex. That shame could be tied to various parts of your background or how you grew up, including your cultural, religious, family associations or other reasons. People might have also not encouraged you to talk about it.
“Masturbation is a form of meditation,” Chavez says. “If we’re going to close the pleasure gap we have to start masturbating.”
5. Let go of ego and pressure.
“Stop worrying about the outcome. The focus should be on experience of pleasure,” Chavez says.
Chavez has other recommendations to spice up your routine and shake up your patterns. Using a vibrator will increase your chances of orgasm, Chavez says.
There’s also a way to use a mind-body connection simply by checking in with yourself.
“Engaging the senses—breathing is a key to arousal— using slow sound, not necessarily dirty talk, but mmms and ahh’s,” she says. “Being creative, thinking about what gives you energy, adding newness or role play can also help.”
Sex outside the bedroom can also help re-ignite some of the pleasure you might be missing out on.
And ask yourself, honestly, how is sex happening for you? Where is it happening for you?
Chavez has other tips:
Improve your mindfulness. Slow down, unplug at least two hours before bed.
Make your space inviting. Clear out the clutter, change your sheets and pillows, update the look and feel of the space. “Only two things should be going on in the bedroom: sleep and sex,” Chavez says.
Talk body. What things do you love about each other and your bodies? Talk about what you feel shame about - communicate your real needs and what does bother you. Talk to your partner openly about your body image, where you might have struggled in the past and support each other going forward. “We’re one whole body, we’re not the parts,” Chavez says.
Try mutual masturbation - Have your partner see how you masturbate. Watching you will give your partner ideas for next time and further connect you, she says. It’s a real demonstration.
Keep in mind: 16 months into a relationship can often become what Chavez refers to as “companion love.” If that happens in your partnership, which it often does happen to every couple, she says, it’s time to get curious. “Bring curiosity back to the relationship,” Chavez says.
Try a 7-day sex challenge and try something new or different every day. After, ask yourselves, did we like that? Should we do that again?
Read erotic novels, discuss them together. Chavez even has a couple that likes writing erotic stories together.
“Lust and passion might change after 16 months, however passion is an emotional state we can bring to pleasure,” Chavez says. Talking and staying curious help nurture that in a partnership.
Get intimate in different ways to reach orgasms, Chavez says.
“Our bodies are capable of multiple types of orgasms,” Chavez explains, including orgasms on your head or different parts of your body.
“Orgasms make you vulnerable, you can be open and experience pleasure,” Chavez says.
She encourages anyone experiencing barriers to orgasm to simply start by checking in with your body, try masturbating and learning more about what makes you feel good.
“When you’re alone, no one is watching and your body is yours,” Chavez says, emphasizing that is often a good place to start.