Sex On SSRIs

“Are you gonna cum?” my partner asks, pausing the throes of passion to show concern. Already tired and sweaty from attempting to do the nasty, I say to him, “Just a little longer. I’m right on the edge!”


This continues for what feels like forever before I resign and let my partner cum. I roll off of him, feeling a bit despondent. Sure, the act of sex itself was still a lot of fun, but the connection that flows between a couple when both parties orgasm was one of my favorite parts.

During my time on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, commonly used to treat depression), every time my partner and I had sex, I would be trying to reach climax practically the entire time. I was wet, I was in the mood, and I’d always feel like I was on the brink of something — but no matter how close I thought I was, I could never get there.

I had to accept the fact that this would be my reality while on Paxil.

Paxil seemed to be a worthwhile antidepressant, but the sexual side effect started to drag me down over time. I spent forever reading drug reviews on forums to determine if this was a side effect that would pass with time. The results varied. Ultimately, I knew that my sex life was extremely important to my partner and me. So, I switched to a different medication.

Later, I had mood stabilizers added to my medication regimen. As far as I could tell, they didn’t seem to affect me sexually. I could still get in the mood and cum. Nice, I thought, things are finally back to normal. Not long after that, my partner called to check on me one evening when I was on my way home. During the conversation, he asked me a question. “Do you think the mood stabilizers have affected your sex drive? It seems like you haven’t been in the mood as often.” Dammit! That lowered libido snuck the hell up on me!

Unfortunately, these aren’t uncommon occurrences. According to the CDC, as of 2014, about one in every eight Americans over the age of 12 reported recent antidepressant use. While females more commonly take antidepressants than males, the sexual dysfunction for each sex is just as devastating. Women tend to experience blocked or delayed orgasms, a delay in or lack of natural lubrication, or decreased libido. In men, sexual side effects present themselves through erectile dysfunction (difficulty obtaining an erection), decreased libido, and delayed or blocked orgasms.

The reasons antidepressants tend to cause sexual dysfunction haven’t quite been figured out yet, but doctors have compiled a list of antidepressants that tend to be the worst culprits, including Paxil, Lexapro, and Prozac. We should keep in mind that our bodies are all different, so these medicines may not specifically give you sexual dysfunction.

For those who aren’t sexually active, don’t plan to be sexually active, or aren’t interested in sexual activities, these side effects won’t be a hindrance in life. However, for those who enjoy sexual activities or are in a sexually active relationship, an entire portion of their lives can become negatively impacted. Evidently, these medications can inspire sexual stress within both partners.  

In spite of that distress, I’ve seen articles about women resigning to it. They feel that they have to choose between their mental health and their sex lives. It breaks my heart, but I understand it because I was once in a similar position. They go through the process of trying to find the right medication, and — trust me — it can be a long, exasperating process. When they find one that makes them feel like they can function well again, they don’t want to let it go. At that point, they’re so exhausted from the struggles with their mental health that they’re willing to try anything.

However, there are also people who are struggling with their mental health who refuse to begin or continue taking antidepressants that may help them because of the rampant reports of sexual dysfunction. Antidepressants could potentially be an important aspect of their recovery process, but they choose to abstain.

In my opinion, a medication that doesn’t enhance all of the parts in your life that are most important to you is still not worth taking. A huge part of the recovery and coping process with mental illness is doing what you can personally to live healthily — not trade one demon for another. There shouldn’t be a point in your individual process where you find yourself saying, “I experience this shit now, but at least I’m not depressed.” It’s worth fighting for a sex life that satisfies you. 

If you take SSRIs and  are experiencing negative sexual symptoms, talk to your doctor. I know it can feel embarrassing, but it’s there job to make sure you’re as healthy as possible — and for most of us, that includes a fulfilling sex life. Also, keep an open dialogue with your sexual partner(s). Try not to let anyone make you feel guilty for struggling. You can also try different new things on your own or in the bedroom that may work past sexual dysfunction as you get your medications straightened out. It may just be a matter of switching positions or intensity at times.
Be patient and forgiving with yourself.

Above all, do what you feel will benefit you most in the long run, no matter the opinions of others. That’s what I’m learning to do.


 

For more information on how SSRIs can impact your sex life, click here.

 

First photo by Brianna Saenz, and the following two by Isabelle Abbott

 

How To Know If You’re Ready For A Threesome

 

It all started with a lesbian sex dream.

Everyone had already told my superstitious ass a million times before that a dream didn’t have to mean anything. However, with my more conservative upbringing and subsequent on-and-off bi curiosity, this dream held more weight and it scared me. No matter how often I tried to convince myself that the dream didn’t mean anything, a whirlwind of “what ifs” followed suit and spiked my anxiety.

Sexuality had already been a somewhat off-limits topic in my upbringing. It wasn’t strictly discouraged, but it was tip-toed around, which made it too awkward for me to ask questions or gain reassurance (thank goodness for the internet!). Sexual orientation, however, was an actively shunned topic. I remember my older cousin coming up behind me when I was younger while I was watching one of my favorite YouTubers who happened to be a black, gay man. My cousin recoiled at his mannerisms and asked me why I would be watching someone like that.

There was another instance at my late grandma’s house. My family and I watching a sports show on TV and one of the athletes celebrated a major win by kissing his boyfriend, which was met with gasps from the room. “Why do they need to do all that on TV?” I learned early on that parts of my family were wary of queerness.

Additionally, my family and friends saw me as the “innocent child.” They assumed I wouldn’t have the slightest interest in sex and would always be too shy to approach a crush. It was easy for me to do or say things that were “out of character” for me, as not much was expected of me to begin with. When I’d act “out of character,” I was met with gasps, stunned faces and questions of what had gotten into me. I then learned that acting out of sync with others’ expectations, even if it was more authentic to me, was too shocking and shameful.

I was stepping outside of both boundaries with this dream, and I had no idea what I was going to do about it.

The day following the dream, I was with my boyfriend at his parents’ house. I had been trying to act as normal as possible since the scissor-fest happened in my head, but I felt as stiff as a board. Behind my forced laughs and smiles, I kept feeling twinges of shame as the dream continued to infiltrate my present. The anxiety continued to build until I felt I couldn’t cope on my own anymore. I had to tell my boyfriend what was going on. During some downtime, when it wouldn’t seem suspicious for him and me to be alone, I had my boyfriend follow me to one of the bedrooms. When I had him alone, I confessed that I was worried that I could be bisexual because of the dream.

Not surprisingly, he didn’t outright understand why I would be worried about that possibility. He reassured me that a dream didn’t have to equate to anything in my waking life, and that, even if it did, there would be no problem with potentially being bisexual. He gently reminded me that I had my own life to live, that my extended family didn’t need to know every detail about it, and that it wouldn’t matter if they did. My boyfriend gave me the space that I needed to talk about my concerns and calmed them all in one swoop. However, there was one issue that hadn’t been addressed: the fact that I had no sexual experiences with a woman to confirm or deny that I was bisexual. I was already about neck-deep in bi-curiosity, so I figured that I needed to brainstorm a way to finally resolve this.

That’s when the idea hit me: a threesome with another woman!

I pitched the idea to my boyfriend almost as soon as it hit me. In that moment, it seemed like the experience could be a fun, edgy and freeing thing for a young person to do, and that’s about as far as it went. I didn’t initially feel any shame or apprehensiveness in asking about a threesome with my boyfriend since he’s open-minded, anyway. His first reaction was a bit of shock — his innocent, awkward girlfriend was asking for a threesome?! — but it smoothly transitioned into a boner at the thought of it.

Still, my boyfriend was apprehensive. He kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to delve into that territory. He knew I hadn’t come close to experiencing anything like that before; however, he’d already experienced a few threesomes in his time. This difference in experience made me have a temporary mental hiccup. I thought to myself, if we had a threesome, everyone else but me would feel more comfortable doing it! What an unfair advantage! Plus, I felt I had a bit of competition. His ex had allowed him that sexual freedom, and there was a part of me that wanted to be the best. I pushed those thoughts aside, however, and assumed that with time, I would become more comfortable with the idea of being involved with two people.

Ultimately, my boyfriend and I were excited! We were planning to be sexually adventurous together, and it gave us something else to look forward to. We were to keep it low-key for a while, not going out of our way to pursue anyone, but started exploring our options.

Looking through our phones for threesome apps, I felt the kind of rush of adrenaline that a teenager would feel when sneaking out of the house at night. It was like being a kid in a candy store! There was 3Fun, 3rder, Feeld, FetLife (I never thought I’d find myself there!), and many more — all revolving around the threesome community. While anonymously scrolling through online forums for more information on how to find a “unicorn” (a term used to refer to a single woman who’s down to fuck a couple), I found out that even common dating apps, like OkCupid and Tinder, could be used to find a willing participant, as long as what you’re looking for is indicated in your bio.

Swiping through potential participants on the apps, I was amazed to discover that couples looking for a unicorn wasn’t out of the ordinary at all. Quite the contrary, a lot of the profiles I swiped through were either couples “looking for someone to play with” or singles who “weren’t looking to be someone’s unicorn, for the love of God.” For the people who fell in between, I tried to do my best to choose women who I felt my boyfriend and I would find attractive.

Part of me felt that swiping through “the most attractive potentials” was a bit de-moralizing, but I had to accept that it was a part of the gig. Keep swiping until someone’s interested. Except there was another roadblock that I ran into: I was looking for women for my boyfriend, but wasn’t explicitly sexually interested in anyone myself.

Things were running slow on the dating apps, anyway (the least active being Tinder; the most active being FetLife), so I didn’t need to immediately worry about my sexual interest in women yet. However, while things were running slowly, I had more time to think about the situation at hand. If I was mainly looking for women for my boyfriend, wouldn’t the threesome be catering to him and not all of us? How could I be involved if I wasn’t sure I was sexually attracted to women? Most importantly, how would I feel at the sight of my boyfriend getting it on with another woman right in front of me?

My stomach dropped at the last question. I hadn’t considered that; envisioning my boyfriend with another woman, even if I was present, made my skin crawl. I still considered myself a sexual novice at the time, and sex was something very intimate to me, whereas, for my more experienced boyfriend, it was just a fun thing to do. There was room for miscommunication regarding what the threesome would really mean for us.

No.

I couldn’t allow myself to doubt this decision. I told myself, “Maybe I’m just nervous. With time, I’ll feel more confident about this. I just need to give it more time!” Whenever my boyfriend and I would talk about it, I could see how eager he was about the idea. I couldn’t let him down. We were both neck-deep in my bi-curiosity now. Now that someone else was involved, I realized that I may have jumped the gun a bit on my decision.

So, I kept looking. I kept looking for the reassurance that I was doing the right thing for both of us, and that a threesome would strengthen our relationship. “This’ll be fun, right? This was a good decision, right?” I asked anyone who would listen. The responses ranged from “Go for it!” to “You probably need to slow down on this.” Those responses didn’t help narrow down the pros and cons or ease my discomfort. So, I asked my boyfriend for all the reassurance I could, “There’s not a chance you’ll fall for the girl we invite for a threesome, right?”

He’d tell me time and time again that it was highly unlikely, as he knew how to separate love from sex. His reassurances only held me for a few hours, and then I was worried again. Nonetheless, I was still wary of my own doubt. Maybe it could still be a fun choice if I give myself more time to get acquainted with the idea? Plus, how would I have an edge over my boyfriend’s ex if I didn’t go through with this? I wouldn’t be the fun girlfriend if I didn’t do this. I was probably still just nervous.

I was now comparing myself to the beautiful girls I was swiping through. I would cry at the thought of my boyfriend falling for them through sexual bonding. I would express concern to my boyfriend on a more regular basis now. “Do you want to opt out?” he would ask me. No, no, it was probably something I could work through with time.

When I was alone one day, I reflected on the decision to have a threesome. I realized that it had turned into something it wasn’t supposed to. A threesome is something that should be an enjoyable experience for all parties involved and should cater to the wants and needs of everyone equally. However, now it was just something my boyfriend wanted. I still had a tiny ounce of curiosity in me that kept me pressing forward, but I more so felt pressured because I knew my boyfriend would benefit from the experience. I wanted so badly to be a “one in a million girlfriend” who was open to those sorts of experiences. I wanted to be set myself apart from the other girls my boyfriend had been with.

Then I realized that being nervous wasn’t what was holding me back — with any new experience, nervousness is normal, but it wouldn’t pose as serious a hindrance as I felt. What I was experiencing was uncertainty, and I hadn’t wanted to admit that to anyone, not even myself.

*  *  *

Threesomes can be amazing experiences for many couples/singles and play out without tarnishing relationships. They can be a healthy part of sexual exploration if everyone is consenting and conscious of STI protection. However, one of the main components that can either make or break the experience is adhering to boundaries. I had to realize that I was stretching my own boundaries to fit someone else’s, and if my boyfriend and I weren’t on the same page, having a threesome would ultimately hurt my relationship more than it would help it. Ultimately, I changed my mind.

I sat my boyfriend down again and told him that I would have to opt out of the decision to participate in a threesome. He respectfully accepted my decision, albeit with a little bit of disappointment. We were able to move on, and while it took me awhile, I ended up being proud that I spoke up before it was too late.

In sharing my experience of planning a threesome, I don’t want to scare anyone away from the idea. However, I wish to emphasize the importance of considering how a threesome would benefit you before bringing it up with a partner. This will guarantee that your sexual wants and needs aren’t being overridden by someone else’s. Take into consideration how you would feel seeing your partner being intimate with someone else. If it does anything else but turn you on, think longer about the decision. Make sure to always communicate any concerns or changes of heart with your partner.

Most importantly, know your boundaries and be comfortable with them. Never feel pressured to concede them for someone else.

All visuals by Aleisha Marinkovich.

Tips For Overcoming Body Dysmorphia In The Bedroom

 

 

Body dysmorphia is an incredibly difficult thing to deal with and can be especially detrimental for intimacy. For those who aren’t sure what body dysmorphia is, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental illness which causes people to constantly obsess over real or perceived flaws. Flaws can be found anywhere on the body, but the most common locations include hair, skin, nose, chest, and stomach. Body Dysmorphic Disorder — or body dysmorphia, affects all genders. 

 

Signs of body dysmorphia can include…

  • Being extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that to others can’t be seen or appears minor
  • Excessive grooming
  • Frequently seeking cosmetic procedures
  • Constant comparing one’s appearance to others
  • Wearing baggy clothing for the purpose of “camouflaging” perceived flaws
  • Avoiding going into public out of the fear of being mocked for these perceived physical flaws

Causes of the disorder are still being researched, but the most common beliefs as to what’s behind this disorder include differences in the brain, genetic makeup (especially from relatives who have obsessive-compulsive disorder), and environmental factors such as childhood abuse or neglect.

Becoming comfortable with your body, especially with body dysmorphia, is a very intimate process. This can make the prospect of sex especially intimidating. Sex creates an environment in which your body is seen in a new light. For those with dysmorphia, this may seem like an experience you’re not cut out for. However, sex can still be enjoyable and confidence-building for those with body dysmorphia. Everyone deserves an incredible sexual experience, and no one is any less deserving simply because of mental illness or personal issues.

For those with body dysmorphia, there are things you can try to take the reins on your sexual experience. Here are a few tips to get you started:

 

1. Be honest with your partner about what you’re experiencing.

There will be nothing your partner can say to cure your body dysmorphia, but there are small things you can do together to help you cope with it. For example, I experience body dysmorphia around my stomach. However, my boyfriend will sometimes play with it, lay on it, and make cutesy remarks about it that. Even if the effects were only short-term, it made me feel more at ease about my insecurities. Talking about my insecurity with my boyfriend offered him a guide on how to support me better. It was one of the best decisions I feel I’ve made.

 

2. Talk to someone.

Speak with someone who isn’t  your partner, who can help you get to the root of your body dysmorphia and help you actively recover/cope with it. If possible, seek the assistance of a licensed therapist (especially if they specialize in the area of body dysmorphia disorders). Be completely honest about how you’re feeling about your body (even if it sometimes feels embarrassing) to get your money’s worth out of the therapy, and work with your therapist to set goals for achieving a better body image. If not a therapist, vent to a well-trusted friend who will help hold you accountable.

 


3. Get to know your body yourself.

You can stand in front of a mirror, nude, to get used to seeing yourself in that light. Try masturbating, with or without porn, to become more confident in what you like and to become accustomed to seeing your body as a sexual entity.

 


4. Follow people on social media that advocate for realistic body types. 

One of my personal favorites that helps me is @saggysara on Instagram, who shows how with the right posing and lighting, anyone on social media can look like a “typical model,” but also how she normally looks, unposed with a natural body that is beautiful.


5. Open yourself up to sex with your partner through smaller steps.

Start off gradually! You don’t have to go all in at once if you’re not fully comfortable. Begin with things such as: letting your partner finger you, perform oral, or engaging in mutual masturbation. As you get more comfortable, try to start shedding more clothes. Eventually, once you become more confident in sexual acts, that’ll matter more than how you feel that your body looks.

6. Do all that you can in your free time to nurture body acceptance.

Reframe your thoughts about your body and remind yourself that your body is allowed to be unique and beautiful at the same time. It’ll take a LOT of time to believe it, but it’ll definitely be worth all of the time it takes.

 

 

For more information on Body Dysmorphic Disorder, you can visit ADDA.org.

 

Photos by Daisy Rosato. To view more of their work, you can click here

 

 

PGAD 101

Cover photo Mycoze, whose work can be found here. 

 

One of the most exciting and liberating experiences in life is getting turned on or turning someone else on. After all, once the sexual energy in the room gets flowing between you and a consenting partner — you already know you’re in for a wild ride. However, sexual satisfaction is something that many people, more than you realize, cannot attain. Consequentially, the feeling of being turned on doesn’t ever quite go away, and can actually become painful. The cause in these cases could be Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder.

According to researchers Aswath, Pandit, Kashyap and Ramnath (2016), Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (or PGAD) is “a phenomenon, in which afflicted women [or, in more rare cases, men] experience spontaneous genital arousal, unresolved by orgasms and triggered by sexual or nonsexual stimuli, eliciting stress.” Some who experience this disorder can have spontaneous orgasms at random and potentially embarrassing moments throughout the day. But, the feeling of physical genital arousal will still remain and can cause extreme concern and discomfort.

Some of the most common symptoms of PGAD for women include swelling of the …

  • Clitoris
  • Vagina
  • Vaginal lips
  • Nipples
  • Other parts of the body

 

In men, PGAD systoms include…

  • Penile pain
  • Erections that last for hours
  • A throbbing, tingling, swelling or sometimes burning sensation in the genitals

 

According to the Pelvic Pain Foundation’s website, to be diagnosed with PGAD one must experience, “genital arousal [for] an extended time (hours to months); no other cause for genital arousal [can] be present; the genital arousal should be unrelated to feelings of sexual desire; the arousal sensation should feel intrusive and unwanted; and be associated with some distress; and the arousal sensation should persist, at least to some degree after orgasm.”

The causes of PGAD are generally unknown, but it’s been found that, in some women, it can either stem from neurological dysfunction or psychological stress.

Being turned on doesn’t sound fun in this case, does it? It isn’t.

It can negatively impact both social and personal aspects of people’s lives. Individuals with PGAD may develop a fear of going out in public because of how unpredictable their orgasms are, and relationships with significant others may deteriorate due to PGAD-induced sexual incompatibility.

What’s worse is that because of the nature of the disorder — it’s a fairly and not discussed — it’s not taken as seriously as it should be. In fact, the medical community believes there may be many people experiencing PGAD who are unaware that their symptoms are linked to a disorder.

That’s why it’s important to talk about it. In creating an open and safe space for sex and sexual disorders to be discussed, we open the doors for more people to come forward and begin to identify and address ailments like PGAD. More importantly, being open about disorders like these reminds everyone that, no matter the circumstances, you can find ways to own and feel empowered by your sexual nature.

My Partner Watches Porn

My initial relationship with porn was both complex and straightforward. In a sexually repressed household, it was my dirty little secret. It was my sheepish form of rebellion against the image many people had of me as an innocent little girl. It was liberation and my chance to truly feel like an adult. Most importantly, it was fun as hell to explore.

Point blank, I knew what porn was to me. I knew that the sight of it turned me on, and that was the entire point. With an anxious mind that over-analyzed everything else, I found solace in being able to finally take something at face value. I’d been single my entire life (with some “sort of” flings in between), so my perception of porn was consuming. Though I hadn’t gotten past the outward shame to casually talk about my porn preferences, I’d become confident in what porn was to me, and how I could use it to my advantage. That is, until I turned 21.

At that age, I not only got into my first long-term relationship, but I also lost my virginity. Through being exposed to the wants and needs of another person, I had to learn to see porn through a few new lenses. It was intimidating as hell.

Not long into the relationship, I learned that my partner watched porn as well. I remember feeling incredibly hurt and betrayed. If my partner loves me and is satisfied with our sex life, why would he feel the need to still use this, I’d ask myself. I wanted to know what I wasn’t giving him that these beautiful, busty women with pretty vaginas in porn videos were (other than those exact things). Was this his way of experiencing what he ACTUALLY wanted?

I cried and felt almost cheated. My self-worth plummeted under the assumption that porn stars could replace the love my partner and I shared. I felt weighed down by doubts no matter how I twisted and turned the situation in my head. Eventually, I knew I couldn’t handle it alone anymore. So, I talked to my partner about it. Thankfully, my partner was open and glad to admit he watched porn and talk about why. Through listening to his explanations, I realized that he watched it for the same reasons I did. The only difference was that I was confident in why I watched it, and insecure in why he watched it. I wondered why that was.

After some time of self reflection, I realized that I had something mistaken. I was viewing love and attraction as one and the same. Honestly, I couldn’t blame myself, either. We live in a society where those completely separate feelings are oftentimes placed in the same package. Guys and girls alike can be willing to get down on their knees and confess their love to people they barely know solely because they find them attractive. But contrary to popular belief, this does not make people inherently “selfish” or “shallow.” To some degree, attractiveness is what we all look for, especially in romantic relationships. Each of us finds unique things attractive, from looks to interests. There’s always something we initially notice about a person which draws us in, or maybe sexually arouses us. It’s not always something we can help.

Attraction can only carry people so far, though. If there isn’t love, companionship, trust, vulnerability and honesty, a relationship stands the risk of either failing or remaining two-dimensional. Attraction only serves as an initial pique of interest, but love suggests a sustainability and true connection. I had to remember that my boyfriend felt both for me, and that was more important than what he got off to.

Learning this difference helped me talk to my partner about the decision to use porn in the bedroom. I was, of course, still a bit nervous about it. However, as he watched it while I went down on him one night, all that mattered was how turned on he got. Thankfully, I’m empathetic in sexual arousal, so sensing his lust only heightened the experience for me.

Porn has spiced up our already fulfilled sex life, and has given us more options in what we can use in foreplay. More importantly, it’s made us a lot more open about everything that turns us on and why. That open communication has lead not only to us being more in tune with each others’ bodies, but also to a strengthened bond and a deepened trust. I’ll be completely honest and add that I do sometimes still have moments where I feel inadequate in comparison to the porn stars we watch in the bedroom. Unless I fully wipe out my personal insecurities, I don’t know if that uncertainty will ever fully go away. However, I feel comfortable opening up to my partner when I do feel any discomfort, and this communication has continued to help immensely.

In being open-minded about porn, I’ve now been given the privilege to learn early on what most still struggle to come to grips with: attraction is what turns us on initially, but love’s what keeps us turned on for the long haul.

 

How Sex Changed My Body Image

I hadn’t known to take my body seriously.

To a degree, I saw my body as a foreign object for as long as I can remember. I knew that I needed it to carry me places, to relieve my hunger when I fed it, and to memorize information that I needed to know for school. I was taught to keep my body clean, and to protect it from being taken advantage of. In my sheltered mind, what I knew of my body and what I was taught to do with it was all that existed.

As I got older, my body started its natural changes. It began to curve and jiggle in ways I hadn’t observed before. I was told about training bras that I didn’t want to wear. I was asked why my legs were so hairy before I even knew that it was the norm for girls to shave them. I was congratulated for being fertile when my period first reared its god-awful head when all I could do was feel like vomiting from the pain.

One night, I carried all these observations with me to the mirror and looked at myself completely nude. I cringed at what I saw. I was shaped like a defective rectangle; had nothing too ladylike about the outline of my body. My boobs looked, to me, like down-sloping bananas from the side, instead of the full, perky ones I’d seen in movies. My ass was supposedly where it should’ve been, but not fully visible, and it held stretch marks in place of the invisible growth. My stomach ebbed and flowed, instead of remaining completely flat like I figured it should have. I wouldn’t even look at my “down there” area. I didn’t entirely know what to identify my body as, though, from what I’d seen in all forms of media at the time, it didn’t look the way it was supposed to. From that point on, things were different… I saw my body as something that was happening to me. I knew that it needed more attention, but I wanted to be as separate from it as I could. I felt ashamed of it. 

I knew about sex, of course. Like most kids, I was definitely curious about it. The way directors made sex look in movies and TV shows was enticing, and I knew that rubbing something “down there” felt good. However, I was the golden child, an innocent angel. I was me, and I was too pure to see or do anything that pertained to sex. Even asking about it made people think I was growing too fast. It ruined people’s perceptions of me, and it ruined my perception of myself. Naturally, it all left me confused, but still wanting to know more. It was like a forbidden fruit.

All I knew was that, in the right circumstances, a body could provide pleasure and a unique emotional closeness with another through sex. I found this idea one of the most interesting and beautiful things, and I sheepishly searched about it on Google in my free time. But even once I’d gotten my period and was “fertile,” sex still wasn’t something I could connect to myself. It was always something for the more experienced, for people who’d already owned their bodies and knew how to use them. As someone who had a separated and awkward relationship with their body, sex seemed like a distant reality.

So when I first experienced it at twenty-one, it was obviously a tricky process. I didn’t want my partner to see the body I hadn’t fully owned yet. It felt incomplete, like it would never be good enough. I showered him with apologies about my body, and was initially afraid to go too far. This caused frustration on both sides. This was a sexually experienced man, who couldn’t even get a chance to cum because his lover was too afraid, and I was an all-around inexperienced woman, who wanted so badly to see firsthand what sex was like, but felt it was out of her league.

Thankfully, my partner was patient and straightforward with me while we explored sex together. When he and I finally orgasmed together for the first time, something else changed for me. I felt more natural in that moment than I had in any other. I got to do something with my body that not only made me feel good, but also made someone else feel good. My rectangular shape and my sad banana boobs didn’t matter in the enormity of a climax. Instead of seeing my body as something that had happened to me, I discovered how to use it to serve me and how strongly I would cum. It was the most freedom I’d felt in a long time; probably ever.

I began to see my body differently once I experienced sex. Slowly, but surely, it became less foreign to me. I became more confident from seeing it as a sexual temple that I held the reigns to. I could go out in public without a bra. I could look in the mirror without grimacing (as much, at least). Hell, I could sleep entirely nude if I wanted! Those things felt like such breakthroughs for me as a person who’d hidden her body away in embarrassment for so long. At the same time, those things felt so natural, like my newfound confidence revealed to me that I’d been capable of this the all along. 

I still don’t feel comfortable in my body all the time, but I’m more willing to explore it now. I no longer apologize as much for how it looks in front of my partner, and knowing how to work it during sex has become second nature to me. I’ve found more importance in being in tune with my body and what helps it to thrive, realizing I control whether or not it does. Today, I can look at my “down there” area, and know that it’s mostly comprised of my vagina, and not feel uncomfortable about what functions it serves. Now, I can talk to people more freely about sex, as I see that sex shouldn’t be something scary. Most importantly, I’ve learned to take my body seriously. I can say that it’s mine now.