One inarguable truth about this year to date is that it’s sparked quite a bit of societal shake-up, and one effect of that shake-up is probably a shift one way or the other for your libido. Maybe uncertainty and anxiety have tanked your sex drive, or perhaps the constant din of panic has made you hornier than ever, leading you to masturbate for self care for the first time ever. Whichever way you lean, sexologist Shamyra Howard, LCSW wants to help ensure that you, and your relationship with pleasure, remain healthy, even during times of crisis. That’s why she recommends conducting a personal sex check-in or “mini sex-up.”
In a recent Instagram post, Howard went through the questions to ask yourself when you do a sex-up. And while conducting one during times of crisis or high stress is especially helpful, she actually recommends the practice becomes a regular part of your sexual-wellness routine.
“Taking time to question your own sexual values, attitudes, and feelings can ensure you’re having sexual experiences that are pleasurable.” —sexologist Shamyra Howard, LCSW
“A sex-up is basically a personal sexual checkup where one can assess how they are feeling about their sexuality or sexual relationship, at any given time,” Howard says. “Sex-ups can be beneficial to any person, no matter if you’re in a sexual relationship or not. Taking time to question your own sexual values, attitudes, and feelings can ensure you’re having sexual experiences that are pleasurable.”
Essentially, Howard’s sex check-in urges you to acknowledge and understand your sexual comfort level at this time—or, really, any time—and then prioritize your own needs accordingly. Doing so now is especially important because compounding crises can transform one’s business-as-usual relationship with sex into more of a boon or a burden—a form of stress relief or yet another stressor. So, if you’re trying to navigate how you’re feeling about sex right now (or during any difficult timeframe moving forward), Howard recommends asking yourself the following eight questions for your sex check-in:
- How am I feeling about sex?
- Am I okay with those feelings?
- If partnered, have I discussed those feelings with my partner?
- What adjustments have I made to make sure I’m comfortable and safe?
- Do I like the sex I’m having? Is it pleasurable?
- What other forms of pleasure can I engage in?
- If partnered, am I comfortable with my own partners interests?
- Can my partner and I say no to each other comfortably? Is no respected?
If you’re navigating quarantine with a live-in partner, spend time together answering these questions and talking about your respective answers to feel less alone in your experience, create a valuable support system, and strike open communication lines. While Howard also created Use Your Mouth Sex and Relationship Conversation Starter Cards ($20) to help dialogue about sex be a day-to-day presence, these specific sex check-in questions can prove helpful for understanding where someone is at particularly stressful moments in time.
“For people in relationships, this is as opportunity to discuss your feelings and thoughts regarding the sex you’re having, and to bring up ideas for sexual exploration,” says Howard. “People often have a hard time discussing sex, which is why so many people aren’t having the sex they desire. A sex-up is a great way to increase the conversation about sex and to improve the quality of sex you’re having.”
But if you’re single and, thus, skip answering the questions related to having a partner, a self sex-up could still be in order and certainly prove helpful. Consider it an opportunity to get in touch with yourself (pun intended—couldn’t resist) and consider how you might better access your pleasure.
“Sex-ups for people who aren’t partnered, and those who engage in solo sex, can help to explore and identify sexual values, attitudes and beliefs while providing space for sexual exploration,” Howard says. “Outside of much-needed sexual discussions, one of the main benefits of a sex-up is that it encourages the exploration of pleasure outside of sex.”
So the next time you find a free moment—which, to be sure, certainly isn’t always easy—choose to be present with your sexuality. You might be surprised by how much TLC that part of you needs…and how attending to your needs can help you feel so, so good and strong in the long run.
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