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#82 Let's Talk About Sex and Pleasure

Today, I’m talking about a topic near and dear to my heart. Sex and pleasure have an important role in my life. If you aren't happy with the role they play in yours, I want you to know that can change.

The things we're taught about sex in school are so limited, and most of us have been socialized to think that desire and pleasure are the same for women as it is for men. That is NOT true. 

In this episode, you’ll get everything from an anatomy lesson to advice on how to prioritize your pleasure - by yourself and with your partner. 

I hope the information I share brings you closer to Your Favorite You, who has an active and desirable intimate life.

Since you’re ready to become your favorite version of you, book a consult to learn more about working with me as your coach.

"The clitoris has one and only function in our lives, and that is to bring us pleasure. Men do not have any one body part whose only purpose is to bring them pleasure. We are special, women! I want you all to know it."

What you'll learn in this episode:

  • Pleasure is so much more than we've been socialized to believe

  • Why learning what you like is important to your sexual pleasure

  • How to expand your definition of sex and intimacy

  • Helpful resources for cultivating desire and taking control of your pleasure

"We have not been socialized to even WANT pleasure, much less prioritize it. Your life reveals your priorities. It is possible to prioritize pleasure. You only have one life. You deserve for it to be as pleasurable as you would like."

Mentioned in this episode:

Be sure to sign up for a consult to see if coaching with me is the right fit for you. Join me on a powerful journey to become your favorite you.

Listen to the full episode:

Read the full episode transcript

Hey, this is Melissa Parsons, and you are listening to the Your Favorite You Podcast. I'm a certified life coach with an advanced certification in deep dive coaching. The purpose of this podcast is to help brilliant women like you with beautiful brains create the life you've been dreaming of with intentions. My goal is to help you find your favorite version of you by teaching you how to treat yourself as your own best friend.

If this sounds incredible to you and you want practical tips on changing up how you treat yourself, then you're in the right place. Just so you know, I'm a huge fan of using all of the words available to me in the English language, so please proceed with caution if young ears are around.

Well, hello - and welcome back to Your Favorite You

I am still Melissa Parsons, your host, and today I am going to be talking about a topic near and dear to my heart…I love talking about it, I love reading about it, I love participating in it - alone and with my partner!

Yes, you guessed it, we are going to be discussing sex and pleasure. So many of my clients are like me and received their education about sex and pleasure at school, and the message was something like don’t have sex until you are married. If you do have sex before you are married, you are a slut or a whore or some equally other dirty thing… As women, we are additionally taught that we need to cover our shameful bodies so as not to intentionally, or unintentionally, arouse the other sex. I, for sure did not learn about my clitoris or my vulva from the nuns and the teachers at my grade school. Like many of my peers, I vaguely remember a diagram of my internal organs when learning about menstruation in grade school. As a recovering Catholic, I learned that once I was married, it was expected that I would have babies and not use any form of birth control other than Natural Family Planning, which I did learn about as the only acceptable method of birth control in 12th grade from Sister Joanne. I’m proud to say I was sent to the principal’s office after sharing how well natural family planning worked for my maternal grandparents, 7 children later! Sister Joanne did not appreciate my sarcasm… Sister Barbara, the principal, also had a hard time figuring out how to argue with me about this one… so I think I did not receive any punishment, other than having to leave Sister Joanne’s classroom while she was droning on about Natural Family Planning, so it was kind of a reward… 

And, actually, I was one of the lucky ones… my mom was and remains pretty progressive where these topics are concerned… My maternal grandpa Len, may he rest in peace, was less than pleased that I was talking about my vagina in kindergarten, but my mom tried to teach me the proper names for things even back in 1978, which was hella progressive for the time… In actuality, I think I was referring to my vulva, but at least I wasn’t calling my vulva my pocketbook or my taco… But I digress!

OK - so we are going to go on the premise that unless you have been reading books by sex experts and spending the last 30 years really getting to know your body, we likely have some ground to cover here. 

I want to add the caveat that I am going to be speaking about cis-gendered women in this podcast and humans born with female external genitalia for my anatomy lesson. I am aware that the gender binary is way out of date and way out of touch with what is actually going on in the world today, but for the purposes of this podcast, I am going to be comparing women with men. I have tons of resources I will be sharing in the podcast show notes, so rest-assured, anything I mention will be linked for you in the show notes.

Ok - onto female external gential anatomy - If you have not already, I really encourage you to use a mirror to see all of your beautiful anatomy. What you can see, or what you will see, when you look at yourself is variable. No two vulva are alike! In some women, the labia majora - also called the outer labia (labia means lip or liplike structure) completely cover the labia minora - or the inner labia… meaning they’re closer to your vaginal and urethral openings… In other women, the labia minora are more prominent and visible, and they almost can cover the labia majora. At the top of your labia, so if you’re looking at a mirror at 12 o-clock, you are looking at a mirror while laying down, you can see your clitoral head, which may be completely enclosed by your clitoral hood, which is a layer of mucosa that covers your clitoral head. In some women, the hood completely covers the clitoral head, and in other women, the clitoral head is exposed. Below your clitoris, in the midline is your urethral opening - this is where your urine comes out of your body from your bladder, and below that is your vaginal opening. These three structures, the clitoris, urethral opening and vaginal opening are all within your labia, or your vulva. Below your labia is an area of skin called the perineal body, the slang for this part of your body is your taint, and posterior to that is your anus. 

Your clitoris is not just what you can see. You can only see the head of your clitoris externally. But there are internal structures to your clitoris that extend down your labia on both sides and above your clitoral hood on your mons pubis… which is the area right above your pubic bone, where your public hair is or used to be.

As I said, no two women look exactly alike - some are more hairy than others, some are more pigmented than others. There are as many different variations as there are women. This is not the case of you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all… That was another fallacy I was taught now that I think about it, about female anatomy and male anatomy. No.

OK - back to my favorite topic - the clitoris. The clitoris has one and only function in our lives, and that is to bring us pleasure. Men do not have any one body part whose only purpose is to bring them pleasure. The analogous body part in men is the penis, and it has several functions. It brings urine out of a male body, it brings ejaculate out of their body, and for pleasure. We are special, women! I want you all to know it. 

Another thing that I want to teach you is that it is completely normal for women (and men) to masturbate on a regular basis. If you don’t love the term masturbation, you can call it self-pleasure, or you can borrow my friend, Dr. Kelly Casperson, she uses a brilliant term: self-cultivation. Your body is yours. It does not belong to anyone else but you. And I want to empower you to enjoy it as often as you like. If you are having sex with your partner, it is very hard to communicate with your partner what feels good to you if you have not done the self-exploration to find out for yourself - you have to learn what you don’t like, what you do like, what you do love, and what you gotta have! To borrow from Cold Stone Creamery’s ice cream sizes - like it, love it, gotta have it. Because I am dedicated to my craft, while I was learning more about this topic to bring this podcast to all of you, I paid a one time fee of $75 to to learn more about self-cultivation. I thought that I knew everything there was to know, and once again, I was wrong. So, check out to learn more yourself! Take control of your pleasure, my friends! 

OK - onto orgasm. Were you aware of the statistic that 70% of women do not achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration alone? I know for sure that Sr. Joanne did not share this fact with us! The vast majority of women can only climax if the clitoris is stimulated. And, it can take at least 20 minutes of arousing a woman to orgasm with a partner. Interestingly, it takes women only a few minutes to have an orgasm when she is self-cultivating. And that’s just because we know our bodies if we’ve been practicing. Most of us have been taught that sex happens when the penis enters the vagina, and most of us do not experience the maximum amount of pleasure through orgasm from penis in vagina sex. How fucked up is that? Pleasurable sex for women includes fingers, mouths, tongues, vulva, skin, nipples, sex toys, the list goes on. Penises only feel good in vaginas after significant time has been spent getting a woman adequately aroused. I would also like to add that once a woman has one orgasm, with appropriate stimulation, she can have more orgasms relatively quickly because our refractory periods are very short compared to our male counterparts. 

If pleasure is not enough reason to get you on board with orgasm, which I think is crazy, but if it’s not, studies have shown that men who have at least 2 orgasms per week die at half the rate of men who orgasm once a month… It will come as no surprise that we are still waiting on the data for women, but I am happy to report that the studies are underway! Who doesn’t want to boost your well being, your cardiac health, and your lifespan? I suppose I wouldn’t want to live that long if I wasn’t having orgasms, but I do want to live longer.

OK - and, I want to stress that although I love orgasm, it does not have to be the be all end all goal. In Dr. Casperson’s book, she suggests that we expand our definition of sex and intimacy… she gives the following list, with the caveat that it is not exhaustive… and please feel free to add your own definitions… So here are Dr. Casperson’s ideas for expanding our definition of sex and intimacy:

So, a kissing session, (I added good old fashioned making out like you did when you were 14)… cuddling, with clothes on or not… holding hands… being emotionally intimate in a way that you aren’t with anyone else. Oral sex - (I added giving or receiving - and/or giving and receiving). Skin to skin contact and touching each other without penetration. One partner self-cultivating while the other partner watches, or self-cultivating together. Toys! Experiment with vibrators and dildos - handhelds, ones that provide clitoral suction, and strap-ons - We accept technology in every other area of our lives, why should sex be the exception? I agree Dr. Casperson. Naked or non-naked massage.


Let’s move on and talk about desire. I’m probably going to do a whole podcast just about desire, but suffice it to say that women have been made to feel bad for years because the research that has been done on desire was geared toward men. Most men experience what is called ‘spontaneous desire’ - so Jon sees my cute butt in my leggings, and immediately wants to pursue me for sexual interaction. He loved this example by the way. Since this type of desire is seen as the ‘default’ type of desire, women are made to feel bad or that something is wrong with us because we don’t go around thinking about sex all day long. So many of my clients say, I just don’t desire sex and they think that something is wrong. Until I ask, okay, if that’s true, what happens when you finally say yes to your partner’s advance… Most of the time, she says, once I get into it, I want to keep going, and after I orgasm, I usually think, that was amazing, why don’t I want to do that more often? 

The answer to the question of “Why don’t I want to do it more often?” has to do with so many factors - remember, many of us as women were socialized from a young age to believe that sex is bad and dirty and if you want it, you’re a whore. Also, many of us are WAY TOO BUSY. Our brains are filled with endless to-do lists, we have competing roles as moms, which has our brains nearly constantly thinking about or worrying about our children… If you have not read Dr. Emily Nagoski’s book, Come As You Are, I would highly recommend her book. In it, she says that the neuroscience shows that we all have accelerators - so the things that turn us on - and we all have brakes - things that turn us off. Of course, these are different for every human, and it is important for you to know what to do so that you can turn on your ons and turn off your offs in order to relax enough to enjoy having intimacy with yourself or with your partner. 

She points out, as does Dr. Casperson in her book, You Are Not Broken, that many of us women spend a lot of times up in our heads when we are trying to have sex… thinking am I doing this right, thinking what is taking me so long, thinking should my ass be jiggling that much, and thinking  what else do I need at the store… In order to enjoy pleasure, it is important to get out of your head, to stop spectating yourself while you are having sex, and get into your body!

Another thing I want to point out is that it is completely common for you to want more sex and intimacy than your partner does. It is very rare for a couple to desire that exactly matches in terms of wanting the same amount of sex and intimacy. Nothing has gone wrong when there is a mismatch. 

You will likely need to communicate with your partner if that happens - and if this is the first time you are broaching the subject, OF COURSE it is going to be awkward. You might need to ask for a more equal distribution of labor of the household chores so that you have space in your mind and on your calendar to prioritize intimacy. You might have to actually schedule sexy time. A lot of people think again that in order to be good, sex needs to be spontaneous. This is just not the case! And, again, it is predicated on the type of desire that most men experience - spontaneous desire… As women and men, scheduling sex and intimacy time can be so sexy… it’s like a planned vacation… sometimes the anticipating of the vacation can be just as exciting as the actual vacation itself… the same is true for sex. Plus, it puts your partner at ease if they have been asking for intimacy and getting rejected by you. If they know that sexy time is on the schedule, it takes some of the pressure off both him and you… and remember, when the time comes, you might not feel like it in the moment - in fact, you probably aren’t going to feel like it. I am certainly not suggesting that you need to have non-consensual sex - ever! That is completely unsexy… but you might remind yourself, I did say that I was planning this and you might have to recall that after you got started the last time, you actually had a lot of fun. Remembering that at any time, you can change your mind, and say, actually, this is a no for now. So can your partner. I am proud to say that at our house, there are times when we have planned to get naked and see what happens, and Jon comes home after a hard day and he says, would it be ok if tonight we just had snugs and hugs… of course that is ok with me. And, if I am really revved up, I can always self-cultivate, with or without him there, which he fully supports!

I cannot emphasize enough the importance and the difference reading, listening to, and watching erotica in cultivating your desire can make. There are so many resources available for us today. There are amazing romance novels with everything you can possibly imagine, plus a lot of stuff I imagine you have not yet imagined. I am part of a Facebook group called Cliterature where you can ask for recommendations for every genre imaginable. If you are not already part of this group, you can friend me on Facebook, and I will add you. My friend Jen Prokop from high school has an awesome podcast called Fated Mates where she and romance author Sarah Maclean discuss all things romance novels… There is an amazing audio-erotica app called Quinn, where you pay a small subscription and get to listen to audio erotica… I love Quinn. Another app that I don’t use, but that I hear great things about is called meetrosy - it was developed by a gynecologist. If you are interested in watching erotica, there is a site called, which is ethically made free pornography for women, made by women… Utilizing these resources will help you increase your desire for pleasure if you feel like it is low AND it will increase your desire if you feel like your desire is high! I highly recommend getting curious and trying these things before you say that they are not for you. 

Bellesa is also an amazing company that sells and discretely packages and ships sex toys. Another company that I can highly recommend is we vibe. If you do not have a clitoral stimulator, please do yourself a favor, and pause this podcast and go purchase a we vibe tango. This is something that you use directly on your vulva and your clitoris to increase your pleasure when you are self cultivating. You can also introduce your partner to these toys and explain that you are not using them in place of having sex with him or her or them, but you are using the toys to increase your desire for sex and to increase your ability to orgasm with sex. If he or she or they initially are skeptical or insulted, remember that especially if your partner is a man, he has been socialized to think that Penis in Vagina sex is the way… and it is for him… most guys, when you say using this is going to make me desire sex with you even more than I already do get on board really quickly. Again, I recommend you use these toys by yourself first so that you can figure out what you like so that you can teach your partner what feels good for you. 

Along with doing these things to increase your desire and increase your arousal, I cannot go through this whole podcast without mentioning the power of lubrication. Penetrative sex is so much better with lube! Unless you have an allergy, silicone lube is best - lasts the longest because it does not get absorbed by the body like water based lube does. Dr. Casperson says in her book that sex experts do NOT recommend KY jelly or astroglide, which are the lubes you can typically buy at the drug store or the grocery store. Dr. Casperson recommends using the silicone lubes ‘gun oil’ and ‘uber lube’... An important exception is if you are using a silicone sex toy… in that case, one should use a water based lube so as not to break down the silicone of the sex toy. 

OK - finally, we’re to the coachy parts! 

Your thoughts about sex are so important, and are completely changeable if you are not loving your sex life. We have not been socialized to even WANT pleasure, much less prioritize it. Your life reveals your priorities. It is possible to prioritize pleasure. You only have one life. You deserve for it to be as pleasurable as you would like. It makes complete sense if you have not yet put pleasure on your priority list. And I will go out on a limb and offer that part of being Your Favorite You includes prioritizing your pleasure! Orgasms are not like pie… you can have as many as you want as many times a week as you want. You do not need to save your orgasms up. I promise that your life will improve my leaps and bounds if you allow and prioritize your own pleasure!  

OK - it might be obvious that I have a lot to say on this! It’s one of my favorite topics. I would be remiss if I did not shout out my friend Gina, who introduced me to a clitoral stimulator in med school and coached me that I could introduce it to Jon with the idea that it would only make our sex life and desire for each other increase! She was right way back in 1996. I would also like to say you’re welcome to all of my friends that I passed this info on to WAY before I was a coach… many of them have received pages from me in the mail, and I would like to think that so many of my friends are satisfied because I was willing to be open and transparent about this at least 15 years ago.

OK - enough for now. If there is anything that you want to know more about, please reach out to me. If I don’t know the answer, I will find it for us, and/or I will bring one of my sex expert friends and colleagues onto the podcast to answer all of your burning questions. 

Hope that listening to this podcast brings you closer to Your Favorite You, who has an active and desirable intimate life - with yourself first, and then with those you love! 

See ya next week! Don’t forget to share this episode with your friends!

Hey, everybody, don't go quite yet. I want to let you know all the ways that you can work with me.

If you've been listening to this podcast and maybe especially you have listened to episodes where I interview my clients, and you are thinking like the older woman in the diner in the classic Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal film, When Harry Met Sally... In the film, Sally is proving a point to Harry by faking an orgasm while in public at a diner. Sally finishes, so to speak, and then takes a bite of her food. The older woman in the next booth says, "I'll have what she's having." If you've been thinking, "I'll have what she's having," this is your sign from the universe to schedule a consult with me.

I have a few spots available for one-on-one coaching with me. This is a space where I am laser focused on you and your brain for six months at a time. I will also be doing consults with women who want to join my next group coaching cohort, which will likely start in the spring of 2024. The way to contact me is to go to my website,, go to the Work with Me page and click “book now” to schedule your consult. I will look forward to hearing from you. Let's make 2024 your favorite year ever as you become Your Favorite You.



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