Panel advises audience members to take better care of ‘down there’
By: Shelby Banks
The key to a healthy sex life? Good communication.
That was the message of the “Taking Care of Down There” panel discussion at the Halifax Central Public Library last week.
“One in five women might experience pain during sex,” Kate Rancourt said. This can create problems for women and their partners.
Rancourt is pursuing a PhD in psychology at Dalhousie University’s Couples and Sexual Health Research Laboratory.
The focus of her research is the behaviour of couples: How do partners communicate? What is the meaning of touch between two people?
With around 40 people in the crowd, mostly women, Rancourt talked about how communication is the most important ingredient to maintaining a healthy sexual relationship with your partner.
“What we know so far is that talking openly about sex is associated with many benefits like more pleasurable sex, better emotional health, and in some cases, less pain during sex,” says Rancourt.
Rancourt says that female pain during sex can interfere with women’s relationships outside the bedroom.
“Some women report that the pain makes it challenging for them to be affectionate with their partner because they fear that affection is going to lead to pain.”
Rancourt’s research has found that women who experience sexual problems are often distressed by their partner’s touch – such as kissing, holding hands or tickling – and are more likely to hold back or withdraw from such contact.
“Good sexual communication involves talking in an open, caring way with your partner about all the things that you sexually like and also the things that you dislike,” says Rancourt.
“Good sexual communication is more than saying, ‘Honey I love it when you kiss me there,’ but it is also saying, ‘That position is kind of painful for me, can we try a different one?’”
Panelist Shannon Pringle, who works at Venus Envy, a sex shop on Barrington Street, says communication is great – but so is mixing things up.
“If you are having issues, like pain during sex, try adding something fun into the mix,” Pringle says.
“Bring a sex toy into the bedroom and see if that works for you, but communicate with your partner first to make sure they are comfortable with it.”
Rancourt says talking about sex can be difficult for some people, but it is one of the most important subjects in a relationship.
“Most people are afraid to talk about those kind of things because they are worried about how their partners are going to respond,” she says.
“When you go home, I challenge you to embrace that fear, and say to your partner, ‘Honey, keep calm but I think we should talk about sex.’” Rancourt says. “Chances are good that better communication results in better and less painful sex.”
“And you can blame it all on me.”