A note from Kiana
In the months after the birth of my son Teave I realized how much we need better holistic pelvic and sexual health education. While breastfeeding I dove into research on postpartum healing practices from around the world, eventually founding a company for female sexual health, and studying for the last six years all things related to birth and female sexual wellness. These are a few of my favorite tools to incorporate as regular self care to connect with your body while supporting your own sexual health and well-being.
5 Rituals for Pelvic Health
Why the pelvis matters:
In the last few years pelvic health has *thankfully* been gaining attention for the core role it plays in our sense of well-being. The health of your pelvic floor can effect everything from the quality of your orgasms, access to pleasure and sensation, libido, to common experiences like incontinence, prolapse, painful sex, and scar tissue. Pelvic health practitioners come in many forms including pelvic floor physical therapists, certified sexological bodyworkers, holistic pelvic care practitioners, and certified STREAM (Scar Tissue Remediation, Education, and Management) practitioners to name a few. Other modalities that can be of huge benefit to pelvic health include mayan abdominal massage, fascial release techniques, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and somatic experiencing.
Beyond the physical functions of the pelvis, your relationship with your genitals and sexual organs can play a huge role in your ability to authentically express your own sexuality. Feeling comfortable and knowledgeable about your own body, empowered in communicating your sexual desires and boundaries, and being familiar with the emotional landscape of the pelvis can come from having regular embodied practices that support this deeper connection. Some of the benefits of setting aside time for these practices can include a sense of sexual sovereignty, increased ability to communicate with a partner about what you like or don’t like, familiarity with your own anatomy, and un-shaming your relationship with your genitals.
Your pelvis supports and protects your sexual and reproductive organs, helps coordinate balance and stability, and is considered in many traditions the seat of your sexual and creative energy. Many things can impact the dynamic equilibrium of the pelvis including: scar tissue, digestive issues, surgeries, improper exercise, hormones, gut inflammation, birth injury, sexual and other forms of trauma, hormone and biochemical imbalances, and tension in the muscles. The more you can attend to these areas of health, the more resilient and alive you will feel.
Here are 5 of my favorite tools for daily pelvic health
1. Get hands on -
Vulva mapping is one of my favorite introductions to enhancing your connection with your pelvis. Most people’s experience of having their genitals touched is either within the context of a sexual experience or a medical one, like going to the gynecologist. This form of genital cartography is a peer to peer experience done with a trained and experienced practitioner who can work externally and internally to help you get familiar with your own internal landscapes. By now it is fairly common knowledge that the body holds memory and emotion in your tissues. Not only are our memories and experiences held in our minds, but they quite literally exist within the matrix of our fascia, muscles, and nervous system. The pelvis can be an emotionally charged area, and with the presence of a skilled practitioner many of the holding patterns of the muscles, scar tissue, and/or unprocessed emotions or memories can start to integrate and release. Vulva mapping includes using tools like sensation tracking, breath work, vocalization, movement, working with up regulation and down regulation of the nervous system, and embodied consent. These tools can support the body in telling its story, help repair boundaries, and allow for a deeper feeling of trust and connection with your genitals. A word for those who have experienced sexual or other trauma, it is important when choosing a practitioner that they are trauma informed or trained in specific trauma-focused modalities.
2. Masturbate more -
It sounds easy, but cultivating a self pleasuring practice can actually take a lot of intention. Most of us masturbate by habit. Meaning we have our go to fantasies, toys, hand motions, and try to reach orgasm as quick as possible. We forget to breath, we clench our jaws, feet, legs and wait… wait… wait until we reach orgasm and that is that. The kind of masturbating I am proposing is one of curiosity and self exploration that is not focused on orgasm at all. It is an invitation to explore different variations of pressure, types of touch, breathing, tracking your sensations, and full body touch. Genitals don’t have to be the only body part included either, including your belly, breasts, thighs, low back - whatever feels sensual for you can significantly enhance your experience. The point of a self pleasure practice is to expand your capacity for pleasure and self knowledge. Going deep with self pleasure can illuminate hidden shame we may carry around our own sexuality, so being gentle and witnessing what arises with compassion and allowing it to flow through can be very healing. Get creative, make loud sounds, experiment with how fast - slow - or deep you breath, you can dance to music that turns you on, watch yourself in a mirror, you could try standing up, or even being outside in the sun. Whatever it is that gets you out of your routine will be the thing that helps wake you up to the truth of your innate sensuality.
Artist: Francis Cannon
3. Try Vaginal Steaming -
Vaginal steaming is a practice that has global roots, it has been documented as a healing practice on almost every continent. Traditionally, people commonly steamed during the postpartum time to bring heat and blood flow to the healing tissues. Recently steaming has had a resurgence of popularity, due to its many pelvic health benefits. Blood flow is a major factor in the health of tissues and organs, increasing circulation to your pelvis through localized heat can help move cellular waste and bring fresh oxygen to the tissues, stimulating healthy cellular regeneration. Steaming is becoming widely used for combating common infections, healing support after giving birth, regulating menses, and helping decrease camps. It also can be useful as a soothing self-care practice that connects your awareness to sensation in your genitals and pelvis. Steaming is a simple practice where you sit over a pot of steaming water with herbs infused into it. The herbs are chosen for their specific properties and can include: Mugwort, Chamomile, Lavender, Raspberry leaf, or Peppermint. It is very beneficial to formulate your blend to your unique needs, and to work with someone trained in steaming the first few times until you get the hang of it.
4. Cultivate a Jade Egg Practice -
Jade eggs have experienced a lot of hype and a lot of misinformation over the past few years. They are still one of my favorite tools to help someone connect deeply to sensation, proprioception, and awareness of their internal pelvic space. Jade eggs are an ancient tool for cultivating sexual energy in the taoist tradition. Nephrite Jade is the traditional stone used because Jade is known to nourish the yin and female energies, as well as connect you with the energies of the earth. As it turns out Nephrite Jade is also a dense and non- crystalline structure, meaning it can be boiled to be sanitized and has less room on its surface for microbial growth. Finding a quality stone is incredibly important, because your vagina is lined with mucous membranes that are easily irritated and very porous. Look for stones that have not been dyed or chemically treated. Cultivating a Jade Egg practice is very personal and based on your needs, exploring breath work, sensual movement, and different exercises while noticing what you feel can bring to life a whole new level of sensation and awareness internally. Many people who use the jade egg properly notice increased awareness, sensation, and sometimes even increased access to orgasm.
5. Know what your YES! feels like -
Consent is the foundation of all healthy partnered sexual experiences, and embodied consent is one of the most valuable things we can learn to listen for in our bodies. Embodied consent is the alignment of your mind, emotions, body all saying yes in unison. In partnered settings we can tend to go into pleasing mode and learn to override our own signals of what feels right for us in that moment. Learning to tune in to your mind, emotions, and body can help redefine our relationship with boundaries, enhance our ability to communicate about what we do and don’t want, and with practice and fine tuning it can become a tool that deeply enhances our ability to trust and stay connected to ourselves sexually. This tool doesn’t have to be practiced in purely sexual settings, learning how to tune in and not override certain needs will allow your nervous system more space for regulation and trust that you are safe.
*The information presented in this article comes directly from a birth and postpartum doula, Sexological Bodyworker, STREAM practitioner, co-founder of The Tulip, and the Director of Education for Foria. To learn more about her work and additional information on the subject, head here: www.lamamamoon.com and www.thetulip.co