Forget Cosmopolitan (for now anyway); we are bringing you all the sex tea! We had a chance to pick the brains of sexologist and erotologist, Saruh Rusike, a public and global health professional with relative expertise in sexual and reproductive health, non-communicable diseases and mental health. She also claims to know ‘a little bit about sex’ and lucky for us, she was gracious enough to share that little bit with us!
My name is Saruh Rusike. I am a public and global health professional with relative expertise in sexual and reproductive health, non-communicable diseases and mental health. I also know a little bit about sex.
Since I was little, I believed a happy, fulfilled life is determined by the quality of one’s relationships, which inspired me in the behavioral science field. Then during my undergrad years, I was exposed to the incredible and legendary Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and the way she gave sex education and therapy to the audience in such a fun and direct way nudged me to look up how to become a sex therapist, and I guess it just went from there. I started taking graduate online courses in human sexuality, sexual health and sex therapy and ultimately got a place for a Master’s program in Sexology.
We naturally associate good relationships with sexuality, assuming that happy relationships means people have more sex. This is true, but it’s not entirely the sex itself that is good for relationships. The well-being of a relationship is based on what we call an “emotional high” or “positive affect”, which can be achieved from hugging, kissing and touching between partners, and yes, sex. There are two techniques I encourage almost religiously: the daily six-second kiss and the 20-second hug. These techniques increase oxytocin (the love hormone) and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and because of this, the effect is increased happiness, deeper connections and improved relationships…the POSITIVE AFFECT. Every day is a good day for a six-second kiss. Every day is a good day for a twenty-second hug. You can…you should do either of the two.
I could come here and tell you 10 ways to make your partner moan or how to find the 30 erogenous zones on your partner, but there already are many articles specifically for that (Cosmopolitan is a great source). I will say the important and lasting advice: TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF OF SEX! When you are coupled up, there is usually a sense of feeling like you “ought” to be having sex, and that is never fun. Great lovers are not born, they are made. Yes, read the Cosmo articles for inspiration, but keeping the fire burning takes work. Establishing good communication and trust around sex, by making it a priority (even when it’s not easy), by not taking the tried and true way to the orgasm but taking the time to still be curious about your partner. Forget any message you’ve ever heard about great sex NEEDING to be spontaneous; throw it in the trash because its inaccurate and misleading and adds pressure. The most basic of things can increase desire amongst couples: keeping yourself and your space clean, investing in items that make you confident; from clothes to food to even exercise, taking the time to know what you like (yes, we encourage masturbation). If the sex you are having is not worth wanting, the fire will not magically keep burning.
It’s rare for a woman to orgasm from intercourse alone. There is this widespread misconception, perpetuated by mainstream porn, that everyone is supposed to orgasm from penetrative intercourse. FALSE! Most men are able to orgasm within 2-10 minutes from penetrative friction. For women, however, it takes on average 15-45 minutes of clitoral stimulation for one to actually reach orgasm. The expectation that women are supposed to come the way porn stars do is what then leads to feelings of sexual inadequacy and…dare I say it…faking orgasms. So (*ATTENTION ALL MEN), the trick is to take your time for the clitoral hood to peel back and fill with blood so it gets as sensitive as it needs to be. Play around with the erogenous zones all around the body, and do not be afraid to use your entire mouth to tease, kiss, and lick all over the body. At around the 10-minute mark, move down to the vulva region and play around there as well. Depending on what form of sex you want to engage in, it is important to find out what kind of stimulation your female partner likes: from direct stimulation, indirect stimulation, palming and other forms (see, communication and knowing what you like is important!). However, there are some women who can orgasm from penetrative intercourse alone, and that’s great too. People are built differently and not all vulvas are the same. So get to know your partner and don’t rush it.
I cannot emphasize how important communication and empathy is for sexual gratification. Not being able to communicate with your partner about sex is the equivalent of trying to make a meal together without communication- sure you might be able to get away with pulling together a simple straightforward mac and cheese, but you’d be hard-pressed to create a mouth-watering duck a l’orange with pairings and accoutrements. This level of communication takes on both verbal and non-verbal forms before, during and after sex. It’s being able to share all of oneself, taking verbal risks, pushing one’s own limits and in turn being receptive both verbally and non-verbally to your partner’s communication. Listen with your ears, eyes and your entire body. I think it’s also important to note that it would be unrealistic to have duck a l’orange with all the trimmings: some nights you might crave a simple mac and cheese and there is nothing wrong with that, so long as everyone is on the same page. Imagine how frustrating it would be to try to make a simple pasta dish with your partner if they’re trying to make a completely different meal.
Most people are not taught how to communicate about sex growing up, or even when we are grown. We do not learn the language to express our wants, desires and fantasies. Being comfortable talking about sex typically doesn’t happen overnight and takes much practice. Practice together, with humor and trial and error. Give pet names to your body parts if that’s what you like, be visual too. Use games. Use music and dance. There is no right way to communicate about it, so long as the lines of communication are open and a non-judgmental stance is present. The comfort in talking will increase with time and practice.
I actually like to call it sex-play, not foreplay because the assumption is that it’s a pre-sex activity meaning it’s not as important. Like in food, appetizers don’t take away your hunger, they enhance it. Erogenous zones are incredible places to enhance the sex itself, whichever form it is. Basically an erogenous zone is anywhere with a cluster of nerve endings, mostly where joints are connected. I am talking about the inner bicep and tricep area, collarbone, earlobes, back of the neck and shoulders, even hands. This goes alongside your traditional nipples, the pubic bone, the scalp and toes.
Oh, yes! I actually believe they do not get enough hype. Tantra and related practices focus on connection, intimacy and embodiment rather than specific sexual positions and sex that lasts hours. It’s more of “worshipping” your partner and goes beyond just sex, connecting mind and body. And yes, the myth is true; orgasms from Tantra-related activities are more intense.
If you’ve noticed, men talk about their sexual experiences amongst themselves with no shame. Women on the other hand rarely talk about it; some of my closest girlfriends give me the side eye when I mention the mere suggestion of having a lover. So males contact me mostly. However, those I have interacted with reach out because they think something is wrong. Almost every individual I have offered my services to comes from a place of sex negativity and perceptions of therapy only being for people who are screwed up. And since people rarely talk about sex and assume their issues are so messed up and unique that no one will understand-spoiler- if you’re experiencing it, I guarantee you someone else has too.
*Laughs. You have no idea how many times I am asked this question. Size does not matter. A woman’s vagina can accommodate all sizes. There is a trick I tell males: go home, stand in front of a full-length mirror, bring yourself to sexual satisfaction, stand there and admire your erection. You will never worry about penis size again. In the event that size does matter to him, I am not condoning enhancement products; but I am all for the help when it’s needed, but only by certified prescription.
Infidelity. Cheating. Affaire. One of the reasons infidelity hurts so much is the secrecy and feeling as though you no longer know your partner. It’s common to think that there is no coming back from infidelity. It is not an easy road, but reconciliation from an affair is possible and actually has a deepening impact on the relationship. However, this can only happen if both parties are fully on board because if not done properly, irreparable damage may occur. To directly answer your question, you cannot expect your sex life to get back on track if all the other elements are not back together: sex is the very last stop on your recovery journey. Do not be afraid to get help (there are counselors and therapists who specialize in this), and be open, honest and less concerned about hurt feelings.
By: Nyaradzo Ngoma