Sexual Pleasure - American Sexual Health Association

Sexual Pleasure

Male and female bodies of every species are designed with the built-in capability to attract a sexual partner. What sets human sexuality apart from animal and plant sexuality is our capacity–or even drive–to discover how to give and receive pleasure through sexual activity.

So if we’re built to attract a mate, have we refined our sexual practices beyond mindless coupling? We call it “making love” for a reason: we understand our partner’s desires and love fulfilling them. And if we enjoy sexual activities without a partner, we understand and love ourselves enough to give and receive sexual satisfaction to ourselves. Yes, it’s quite acceptable, healthy, in fact, to masturbate.

We’re All Different

Whether we’re attracted to the opposite sex, the same sex or both, the truth is: We learn how to experience sexual pleasure for pleasure’s sake by understanding our own sexual desires and responses.

Our enjoyment of specific sexual behaviors and practices varies from one individual to another. For example, pornography may be irresistible to some people and repugnant to others. The point is that no matter what stimulates our individual sexual desires or which sexual practices we use to satisfy them, we are all sexual beings. How we choose to behave as sexual beings is up to us.

Health Benefits

Remember, sex has been shown to promote better sleep habits, less stress, more happiness, etc. Sex is a healthy bodily function. Our bodies thrive on the chemicals released during orgasm, so a healthy sex life is indeed part of a healthy body.

How will you experience sexual pleasure?

Are you or were you ever under the impression that there’s a “right” way to enjoy sex? Sex quizzes in women’s magazines, romance novels, (and maybe your grandmother) would have you think so. If you’re wondering why your sex life isn’t playing out like a romance novel, or why you never even thought of your Gucci belt in that way, it’s good to remind yourself that your sexual-response triggers are unique to you, so how will you experience sexual pleasure?

Start with that rich fantasy life you’ve written in your head. If you have a partner, he/she might enjoy it as much as you do! Talk about it with your partner. Understand that sexual pleasure is a matter of mutual interest. Remember that consenting adults can be as sexually adventurous as they please. And don’t forget that your partner, particularly if your partner is male, is likely to have an entirely different set of favorite stimuli.

Communication is Key

Sexual pleasureSuccessful, long-term relationships are based on communication. Feeling safe from disease and trusting our partner is the foundation for comfortable, relaxed healthy sex. Safety, comfort and trust allow us to freely discuss our sexual needs and limitations with a partner. Be direct! Speak up!

“I like it when you touch…”
“I really enjoy…”
“Would you like me to…”

Open, frank communication with a partner is fundamental to giving and receiving maximum sexual pleasure. Mutual trust in each other’s desire to please while respecting personal boundaries can lead to heightened enjoyment.

It’s About You

Everyone doesn’t have a partner. Not everyone wants a partner. Some people are between partners. The reality is: You don’t need a partner to enjoy great sex.

It’s okay–even healthy–to masturbate regularly. Orgasm not only relieves stress; it also boosts the immune system and burns calories! Indulge in whichever solitary sexual behaviors bring the most pleasure. It’s up to you to choose how you reach orgasm (videos, sex toys, flowing water, pillows. etc.). There are no rules, no “right ways” to achieve sexual pleasure as long as there’s no danger to you or anyone else.

A satisfying sex life begins and ends with an acknowledgement and understanding of our own sexual needs and responsibilities. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own sexual pleasure. Then we can acknowledge the needs and responsibilities of our partners.

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