Women should masturbate “as often as they can”, according to an Irish sexologist.
Sexual health educator Emily Power Smith said: "It's a really healthy thing. It releases great endorphins and chemicals into our bodies that help us to feel happier, to feel more creative, to feel braver. It lifts depression and helps with headaches and period cramps."
She spoke to Irish Times journalist Sorcha Pollak in the latest episode of The Women's Podcast, which was named Best New Irish Podcast by iTunes.
Smith said masturbation is an important way for women to learn about their own bodies and what they enjoy. She encouraged women to “relax into self love”.
“Carve out a little bit of time and prioritise this because it affects your health, your mental wellbeing and your relationships, both with yourself and with others,” she said. “It’s a really important thing, yet it comes last on our list when we’re knackered and we’ve fallen into bed.”
Smith joined physiotherapist Maeve Whelan, who specialises in women’s health at Milltown Physiotherapy in Dublin, for a conversation about painful sex, the importance of pelvic floor muscles and what all women can do to improve their sex lives.
According to Whelan, there are a number of physiological and emotional reasons women might experience pain during sex.
Smith said: “I don’t know of many women who have an issue with pain that they can do nothing about.”
Also in the sex episode, a discussion about how Irish cultural, educational and social history has shaped women’s sex lives.
Joining that discussion were Dr Mel Duffy, head of the only master's degree programme in sexuality studies in the country at Dublin City University; Shawna Scott, owner of Sex Siopa, Ireland's health and design-focused online sex shop; and Hot Press sex columnist Anne Sexton.
According to Sexton, some of the “cultural and economic reasons for prudery and repression” include the country’s Victorian roots, the famine’s strain on the population and the Catholic Church.
The panel also talked about the lack of quality sex education for young people.
“On the one hand, there’s an incredibly massive, overwhelming porn culture which all young people have some experience of. And on the other hand, you have this culture of horrific stories of abuse. There are very few positive messages about sex, and that’s really worrying,” Sexton said.
Also in the podcast, sexual intimacy therapist and Irish Times advice columnist Trish Murphy discussed common sex problems she encounters in her practice and what people can do about them.
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