XX Sexual Wellness

Sexual wellness can sometimes be an uncomfortable or even taboo subject depending on where you’re from, your upbringing, your beliefs, and more. This doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s a critically important subject for discussion and one we should be having more regularly and openly. The simple fact is: you’re not alone if you’re experiencing struggles or have unanswered questions. Hopefully, we can help with some of those, from both a male and female perspective! 

Is it normal to have a low sex drive or low libido? 

Yes, for both males and females. Wherever your sex drive lands, whether that is on the low end of the spectrum or the high, you are normal. According to sexual wellness expert Emily Nagoski, the best way to think about desire is that it's the result of context interacting with what we find pleasurable. In other words, depending on the contextual factors at any given time, we may or may not find something pleasurable enough to want more of it. This includes sex. 

Is it normal to experience dryness or a lack of bodily arousal during sex?

Absolutely. It actually has a term: arousal non-concordance, and it affects both males and females. In Emily Nagoski’s book, Come As You Are, she talks about the difference between gender arousal (a highly recommended read for anyone). In research, we’ve learned that the body can be aroused with no sexual stimuli and, conversely, also not be aroused during sexual impulses, hence non-concordance (Grimbos). For females, there’s about a 10% overlap between how we respond to a situation and what stimuli we feel aroused by, whereas men have a 50% overlap between genital response and subjective sexual arousal. The best thing you can do if you experience non-concordance during intercourse is lubing up! Don’t be afraid to have these conversations with your partner. 

Is it normal to not orgasm from penetration/from intercourse?

Yes. Statistically, only 18.4% of women can orgasm from penetration alone (Herbenick). Most women require clitoral stimulation in order to reach orgasm. According to research, heterosexual men were most likely to orgasm 95% of the time, followed by gay men at 89%, bisexual men at 88%, lesbian women at 86%, bisexual women at 66%, and heterosexual women at 65% (Frederick). This is actually what is known as the “orgasm gap.” There are great apps (OMGYes is one), books, and online resources available out there which teach females and males how to better experience sexual pleasure. 

Is it normal to have pain during sex? 

No. Typically pain from sex is a sign of some other issue going on. It can be related to an injury, something pathological, arousal is not adequate, pelvic floor spasms, other reproductive concerns, physiological processes, tensing of the muscles, and more. If you are experiencing pain during sex, it’s best to do your research and talk to a healthcare or sexual wellness professional. 

Are vaginal discharge and odor normal? 

Maybe. The vagina is a self-cleaning organ and there are moments during a normal female cycle when discharge is experienced in different forms. Also, one of the ways the body prevents infection is through discharge, which contains a lot of bacteria. Even a healthy discharge could have a slight odor, and it can be affected by what you eat and other conditions. If you have a strong odor or a lot of discharge when you normally don’t it can be a sign of something wrong. In this instance, it is best to reach out to your healthcare professional.  

If you’re looking for some help in the more natural vein, below are some herbs that are beneficial to female sexual wellness:


A research study demonstrated that women who took 300 mg twice daily for 8 weeks saw significant improvements in achieving orgasm, satisfaction, lubrication, and sexual arousal (Dongre). 

Suma root

Suma root contains two saponins, sitosterol and stigmasterol, which help balance hormone levels, including estradiol and progesterone, which are involved in female fertility and reproductive and sexual function in women (Carulo). In one research study, mice were fed powdered suma root for one month and demonstrated significant increases in estradiol and progesterone when compared to the control group (Oshima). 

Tribulus Terrestris

This herb is often associated with male sexual function. However, it is also beneficial for females. In one study, female patients were randomly given a placebo or Tribulus Terrestris extract at 7.5 mg daily for four weeks. After four weeks, results demonstrated a significant improvement in desire, arousal, lubrication, and satisfaction (Ghobadi). 

Maca root

While this herb clinically hasn’t demonstrated any impact in regards to affecting hormones, it has been shown to be beneficial for post-menopausal women who struggle with psychological symptoms that impact sexual function. Females were given 3.5 grams of powdered Maca or a placebo daily for six weeks. Results demonstrated a reduction in anxiety, and depression, and it lowers measures of sexual dysfunction (Rice and Galbraith). 

One key factor is important to keep in mind when one is looking for ways to improve sexual wellness, and that is mental health. The vital role that mental wellness plays in supporting sexual wellness for males and females have been underrepresented in media and literature for too long. There is not always a clear connection between mental health and sexual wellness that we can all readily understand as individuals, but as a culture we can recognize that the connection between the two is important to recognize. If you are experiencing any problems related to your personal sexual wellness, it is strongly encouraged to begin practicing mindful self-awareness and meditation to gain a deeper understanding of where the underlying issues may be coming from. We would highly recommend you do this before seeking the help of supplements and medication.

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