I have never been one to casually talk about sex.
Maybe because I am the product of a fairly conservative family, or maybe because I’m often shy and easily embarrassed, I tend to stay away from topics of reproductive health and women’s sexuality. It’s not that I don’t find the information valuable—it’s just that I don’t think it’s anything that needs to be spoken about out loud, in front of other people (I’m blushing already).
Or at least, that’s what I thought, until I attended an event called “Sex, Chocolate and Your Pelvic Floor” in Andersonville. The event, put on by the Women’s Health Foundation in coordination with the Lesbian Community Care Project, aimed to get women talking about their sexual health.
And talk they did. For the first half hour of the program, I listened uncomfortably as Holly Herman, a Boston physical therapist, talked about pelvic health. She said women often don’t realize their pain during sex comes from a problem with the pelvic floor, which can stem from aching joints and sore bones. Herman noted many women report hip pain during sex.
“And the fact that they have hip pain makes their pelvic floor tight,” Herman said, “So they can’t get into certain positions in order to have either penetration into the vagina without any pain, or they can’t assume certain positions. So that’s really easily taken care of. They find out that 52 percent of people who have pelvic floor pain have hip pain. So they never think to get it taken care of.”
As I listened to Herman, I was surprised to realize this information was all new to me. Shouldn’t I have heard these facts from a doctor at some point in my life? A book? A women’s magazine? But as Herman and many other women during the course of the evening told me, “nobody talks about women’s sexual health.”
I learned more about my body in one night from Herman than I had since I learned what sex was. Had I been too embarrassed by an open dialogue about sexual health to attend the event, I wouldn’t know that stronger pelvic floor muscles lead to better and more frequent orgasms, and that stronger pelvic floor muscles mean better sexual health in general.
Maybe talking about sex isn’t so bad after all.
- blog by Kirsten Tellam, graduate student reporter, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University