The key to a healthy sex life? Good communication.
That was the message Tuesday at a panel discussion, “Taking Care of Down There,” held at the Halifax Central Library.
“One in five women might experience pain during sex,” Kate Rancourt told the session, creating problems for women and their partners.
Rancourt, a PhD student in psychology at Dalhousie University, researches women’s and couples’ sexual health and she’s particularity interested in couple’s behaviour: how does the couple 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 best ingredient to maintain 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 if women experience pain during sex, it can interfere with the relationship with their partner.
“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 any type of a sexual problem are more anxious and distressed by their partner’s touch (kissing, holding hands, tickling), and they were also more likely to say that they 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 or that are problems,” 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, an award-winning sex shop and book store in Halifax, suggests that communication is great for couples, but so is mixing things up.
“If you are having issues, like pain during sex, try adding something fun into the mix – like bringing 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,” says Pringle.
Rancourt says talking about sex is still difficult for lots of people, but that it is one of the most important thing to talk about.
“Generally most people are afraid to talk about those kind of things because they are worried about how their partners are going to respond,” says Rancourt.
“So 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.’ And you can blame it all on me because chances are good that better communication results in better and less painful sex.”