When I moved to NYC in December 2019, I had every intention of embodying the sexual boldness and unruly confidence of some of the greats like Samantha Jones or Ilana Wexler. But when the pandemic hit, I (like so many others) felt my confidence and sexuality slip into hiding.
After a while, I decided that I wanted to try focusing more on my self-care, specifically related to my sexual health. And what I kept discovering was that my sexuality was so closely connected to my overall wellbeing. When we look at it through a holistic lens, we realize that our sexuality plays a large role in many different areas of our lives, and many different areas of our lives play a large role in our sexuality. It’s a beautiful part of who we are, and it deserves the same level of love and attention that we give to our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
I’ve put together a list of some of the things I tried within the past 6 months or so in order to focus more on my sexual self-care. I think it’s important to note that this is what helped me in my personal experience, and that it isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommendation. My hope is that someone reading this article may become more aware of their own sexual self-care needs, and that even just one or two things on my list may inspire them to find what fits their path best. And the beautiful part about sexual self-care is that there’s no pressure, no rights or wrongs, no expectation. It’s just you and your body, creating practices that will help you cultivate more love for yourself.
Feeling Comfortable and Secure
I’m going to start right off the bat with the least sexy item on my list. When I first started getting curious about my own sexual self-care last year, I realized it had been a little while since I had gone to the gynecologist. For me, a big part of my daily practice of self-care is cultivating a sense of comfort and safety in my surroundings. I decided that I wanted to try applying this to my sexual self-care, too. And the best way I knew how to do this was to have the peace of mind that everything was okay down there.
If you’re like me and don’t have health insurance, Planned Parenthood can be a great option. Every exam I’ve had there has been a smooth process. The last time I went in, I walked out of there with an annual exam for only $50.
Another way that I found some security and comfort in my sexual self-care is with an incredible holistic sexual wellness app called Rosy. They have educational videos, blogs, forums, and access to telehealth booking services in case you want to speak with sex therapists or physicians. They cover topics from orgasm equality, anatomy, sex and anxiety, low libido, and birth control. Having this community at my fingertips was an enormous help with feeling comfortable in my sexuality, especially when I was dealing with things like anxiety, depression, and low libido.
Some other ideas for incorporating comfort and security into your sexual self-care could be getting curious about which types of birth control work best for your body, talking with your sexual partners about what makes you feel comfortable and safe (especially during a pandemic), or switching to organic condoms or lube if they feel better on your body and make you feel more secure.
Let’s face it: 2020 was a doozy. And there is absolutely no shame in how we each chose to cope through this time, whether it be Tik Tok, ice cream, or rewatching all eight seasons of Game of Thrones. We were just doing our best to get through it all. For me, it was struggling to find boundaries with working at home, while using food and wine to cope. After a while, I had stopped doing things that made me feel present and connected to myself.
One small shift that worked was getting back to journaling in the mornings while sipping on my coffee. It gave me time to reflect on where I was mentally and emotionally, as well as helped me get still enough to feel more grounded in my body. It may sound silly at first, but small things like this really help me stay aware of myself as a whole, and that includes my sexuality. Just taking a few minutes every day to check in with myself can do wonders for how I feel about myself.
Even if we are sharing our sexual experiences with another person, our sexuality will always be personal to us. It is a reflection of our emotions, our desires, our lived experiences, and even our fears. That’s why being aware and feeling connected to ourselves can be an important component of sexual self-care. When we are more in tune with our inner and outer world, we are able to understand ourselves and our sexuality on a deeper level.
Some other ideas for becoming more aware and present could be meditation, practicing intuitive eating, yoga or dancing, and talking with a therapist or life coach!
Feeling Curious and Sensual
You may be thinking: Wow, Samantha, when are we actually going to discuss sex? This is a piece on sexual self-care, afterall. Do not fret, my sexual self-care enthusiasts! We have now arrived at a section a bit more enthralling than the previous ones.
Finding ways to feel curious and sensual in my own body was a crucial part of my journey to self-care and more love for myself. These were the moments that really challenged me to approach my sexuality with playfulness and without expectation, something that has sometimes been difficult for me in the past.
What you do to feel sensual and encourage your personal curiosities is entirely up to you because again, there is no pressure here! When thinking about what you may want to implement into your sexual self-care routine, try thinking about moments in the past (doesn’t have to be related to sex) when you’ve felt the sexiest, the most comfortable, or the most curious.
For example, was there an outfit you wore one day that helped you slay whatever came your way? Maybe take that energy and find a new lingerie set to rock. Do you enjoy feeling cozy in your room with warm lighting and good music? Next time you enjoy a nice little solo session, you could light some candles and set the mood with a playlist you make for yourself. And is there something you’ve been curious about trying for a while, but haven’t taken the plunge? Maybe you could try a new (or your first) sex toy, or explore ethical porn sites like Lust Cinema, Bellasa, or JoyBear.
And remember, the most important part about exploring your sensuality and curiosities is to take away any pressure and expectation. Whether you try all of these ideas or none of them at all, you’re still getting to know yourself more by just asking what you want!
Other Ideas for Sexual Self-Care
Another idea for sexual self-care that people might enjoy is a nice, no-pressure “grooming” session. It’s important to care for ourselves down there in whatever way WE chose, whether that means full forest, smooth pavement, or somewhere in between. Whatever you choose, the important part is that the simple question of asking your body what feels best is a connective experience in itself.
If you’re an avid reader, you could try reading books about sexuality, pleasure, the human body, or something along these lines. Some more popular bestsellers right now are Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski, The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor, Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel, and Pleasure Activism by Adrienne Maree Brown.
Because our sexuality is so personalized and unique, our sexual self-care can be, too! If none of the ideas I listed above resonated with you, that’s perfectly okay. As you begin to ask yourself what you want and need in order to care for yourself, you’ll find things that work great for you and your personal journey!