Welcome to the spiced up Valentine’s special SASS EDIT! As it’s the month of love we decided to dial up the sexiness and enlist the help of nonbinary Sex and Relationship Therapist and Sex Educator Bima Loxley. We asked our wonderful EARSASS community to share (anonymously) their burning questions on all things sex, relationships and therapy and I then put them to Bima- you’re welcome! We may have added a few of our own from SASS HQ too because we couldn’t miss out! Remember love comes in many different forms, self-love being the most important and also sometimes the hardest to prioritise. Let’s all try and make some time for our relationship with ourselves (and yes that includes me!!) Time to delve into those questions- I think they’re going to get you thinking outside of the box…
What led you to take a specific interest in sex therapy?
Sex has always been a topic of interest for me for half my life now. From giving friends sex advice to trying to be as shame free as possible with my own sex life. So when I realised I could have a career in it and follow my passion therapy made the most sense at the time and it still does!
Do you think there has been a change in the types of sex therapy people are looking for?
What I know from the Masters and Johnson 1950’s era was sex therapy was very cis-het (heterosexual only) penis in vagina (PiV) and dysfunction focused. Whereas now, at least in my practice, it’s less about pathology and more about queering things up, beyond PiV. A lot of people come to sex therapy to help with their shame, trauma or low libido- all of which are normal and common and all of which deserve help.
What topics do you think there needs to be more awareness of?
GSRD (gender, sexuality and relationship diversity) topics! This includes asexuality, trans sex, non-monogamy, kink- you name it! Every therapist needs better training in this to offer a more inclusive space. I also feel better training on neurodiversity, disability and any other physical or mental health matter that goes beyond our society’s ‘norm’ is needed. Take note that I feel the word ‘norm’ is BS! It’s important to know that therapy itself is now very westernised, feeding off colonialization. So at the core of our practices we need to decolonize therapy and be more aware of our history and the harm caused, especially to POC. So this awareness will aid us when helping marginalised folk- to be more culturally sensitive and competent, acknowledging the roots of therapy and the people who were the original healers. Black history month is all year round, the same goes for pride and disability awareness, etc.
Do you think that porn can influence perceptions of what sex should be like?
For sure. But I always say porn isn’t the problem. It’s how we consume it- does it disconnect us from our bodies? It’s the lack of porn literacy we have, it’s how people disrespect the sex workers in it. Ethical porn would be a great place to redirect your interests. That said, mainstream porn has people believe that PiV is the norm, that people with vulva’s don’t need clitoral stimulation; that they orgasm with penetration alone! This kind of porn normalises harm, in a non kinky, non consensual way (I say kinky as any true kinkster is a consent god). This type of porn makes us worry about what size genitals we have, worry how skinny or muscly we have to be, worry how long we have to last and most importantly it ignores all education about safer sex! Condoms and dental dams matter.
What’s your number one sexual self care tip?
Listen to your body, know its limits, know its pleasures. Only you can learn you first and this takes time, care, practice, energy and presence.
Is there anything we should be doing more of in long term relationships to help keep sex exciting?
Curiosity and communication. Talk about the sex you’re having and don’t assume you know everything! Humans are in flux, we are always changing so keep up- with yourself and with your partner(s). Sex isn’t always exciting and that’s ok. Not every meal we eat needs to be three courses with a fancy drink and table service, sometimes we want a quick drive-through! Accept that sex won’t always be great, accept that it takes work to maintain and accept that excitement is not always possible or wanted.
Do you have any advice for people experiencing menopausal symptoms– namely vaginal dryness and lack of sex drive?
Lube, lube and lube! Great vulva safe lubes though, such as Jo Divine’s Luxe, Clitterally Lube or Yes Organics. Speak to your GP too about ointments and HRT for this. Talk to your lover. Take things slow, lube up and seek arousal first. Maybe penetration is no longer wanted- that’s ok! Switch things up, there’s plenty more on the menu. Sex drive? I prefer libido as ‘drive’ implies we’ll die without sex. We won’t. Sex therapists can help you understand your libido, but essentially you want to look at what’s turning you off (trauma, pain, boredom, hormones, to do lists) and what you need to turn you on (touch, toys, fantasy).
Does everyone seeking therapy come as a couple or is there more of a need for individual therapy?
I get this question a lot and I wonder why? Most of my clients are individuals. I love couples or multiple work though but with anyone I see we usually have to do the groundwork of looking at what’s surrounding their lives and healing there before we focus on sex. Don’t get me wrong, sex can be the main focus but rarely is it an issue on its own.
Do you have any advice for anyone suffering with vaginismus and painful intercourse?
If you can seek a sex therapist or a pelvic physio. For self help consult The Vaginismus Network. Vaginismus is your body’s way of telling you ‘no’, Usually at one point in life it may have served you like a protective mechanism (abuse or shame) but the body doesn’t learn when we’re safe again, so it keeps trying to shut us off. Literally. So we cannot push our body into doing something it doesn’t want. We need to work at its pace, not push it. This means going slow, using lube, dilating, focusing on pleasure, possibly healing past trauma or messaging. If dilating and you feel pain STOP. Don’t feed the pain cycle. Breathe, slow down and try again once you feel safe. But pushing past the pain will just send your body into alarm again.
How do we know if we could benefit from or should be having sex therapy?
Sometimes we don’t. But you can have a (usually free) consultation with a therapist you like the sound of first or a trial session to ask questions. It’s ok that we cannot help ourselves with sex and relationships, we’re not taught it so it makes sense. Also, an outsider perspective is always a plus. If you’re feeling ashamed or in pain or stuck and it relates to sex, your gender, your sexuality etc- asking for help is a beautiful thing.
If you think your business is a good fit for THE SASS EDIT then let us know! And make sure you drop me a comment if there are any topics or issues you’d like me to do a deep dive on for you.