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also extremely self-conscious about the smell of my vagina. I don't think it's
that bad but when I ask my guy friends what they think (from their experiences
with girls) they tell me that it smells like fish. I can't help but feel bad
when I hear stuff like this. I also have lots of pubic hair. It's so bad that it
grows all the way up into my bum. I don't know if this is common or not but it
makes me feel gross to look at it or think about it. This is another reason that
I stay away from oral sex; I don't want my partner to be disgusted with my
Why aren't I comfortable with my naked self? And how can I get comfortable? I know I am an attractive person. I am satisfied with my body shape and size. I just can't be comfortable when I'm naked. Thank you so much for your time. Sincerely, Amy
what you write, it sounds like you are engaging in what sex educators and
therapists call "spectatoring." This is when a person monitors
and critiques him or herself during sexual activity. It's almost like
you've stepped out of your body--and out of the moment--and are floating above
watching yourself. In addition to watching, it's sounds like you've got
your Siskel and Ebert hat on, evaluating and critiquing what you see going on.
And by the way, many people find themselves doing this, too!
are several ways this can interfere with sexual response. First, orgasm involves
two body responses that seem to contradict one another--relaxation and tension
build-up at the same time. Leading
up to orgasm, blood flows into the genitals and muscle tension builds. At
the same time, to allow these processes to build and ultimately result in orgasm
(a release of the tension) a person really has to relax, let go, and surrender
control. If a person is spectatoring--watching and critiquing everything
going on—this doesn't really lend itself to being in the moment.
many people enter into sex play very goal oriented; that is, the main reason
they are "doing it" is to get off, or "achieve" the
"goal" of orgasm. In becoming so focused on the goal, sometimes
people lose site of the process and therefore have trouble
as for some of your specific body image concerns, all women's vaginas have
natural odors that can change depending on the time in their menstrual cycles.
Anything out of the ordinary--ie., particularly stronger than usual for you and
accompanied by an unusual or heavy discharge--may indicate an infection.
But it sounds like what you (and many women) have is just natural. It's
not a good idea to use douches or harsh chemicals to try to change the smell of
your vagina because this can disrupt the natural and healthy chemical balance in
your vagina and can actually lead to infection. You may want to talk to
your partner about this if you are really concerned rather than going off of
what your male friends have told you (in what sounds like a rather insensitive
manner). As for pubic hair, it is quite normal for women to have hair
around their anuses and on their inner thighs, as well as around their labia and
on the mons pubis. Some people shave or wax varying degrees of their pubic
hair and some people leave it just the way it is. What you choose to do is
up to you and what you find attractive, comfortable, affordable, etc. In
the end, remember, EVERY person--man or woman--has body parts and processes that
produce smells, fluids, hair, etc. and most people have concerns about them at
some point in their lives. It's part of being human.
what does all this mean in terms of you? Well, there are several things
you can try when you are with a partner. First, you may want to get a copy
of Lonnie Barbach's book, For Yourself (you can order it over Amazon.com).
It's a book for women that describes various techniques you can use to get to
know yourself better sexually and to help you experience pleasure and orgasm.
It sounds like you have done some of this exploration on your own through
masturbation, which is great. This is a wonderful way to start.
The book can help you transfer some of these skills to times when you are
with a partner. You say that you are good at communicating about what you
want, which is also great. Overall, one of the biggest things I'd say will
help you out is to try to stop spectatoring during sexual activity. This
can be hard to do, especially if you've become accustomed to it! But try
to just focus on the sensations your body is experiencing. Every time you
feel your mind start to take over, force yourself to just focus on your body's
sensations. Sometimes things like using a blindfold can help you stay in
the moment and absorb all the feelings. You and your partner may want to
engage in some sex play that isn't focused on "achieving" orgasm;
rather, focus on all body feelings through nongenital massage, for example, as
an end in and of themselves. For Yourself will go into these techniques
in more detail. I hope this has been helpful. Thanks again for
sharing and best of luck!
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|September 6, 2006|