I remember once hearing of a particular culture that believed if a woman’s vagina was lubricated during foreplay or sex it was thought that she was promiscuous. This resulted in many women going to unhealthy lengths to ensure they had dry vaginas, such as using traditional medicines and even applying vaginal drying agents. Dry sex in this culture was pursued for a variety of reasons including increasing make sexual pleasure and ensuring fidelity.

When I learned of this, I felt both sad and angry. That the most evident measure of female arousal was tainted by a cultural misconception that removed sexual pleasure for women. You may read this in horror, but there are so many myths about sex along the above continuum, and your culture or society may be included.

So many cultures and religions have strict rules when it comes to sex and sexuality.

There are a vast amount of regulations around sex including: men may not touch any woman who is not his wife; sex before marriage is sinful; women who dress provocatively should expect sexual interference; homosexual relationships are morally questionable; and the list continues.

What I have noticed in my practice is that these culturally and socially derived norms create immense shame when it comes to sex and sexual activity. It also creates a lack of education regarding sexual response cycles, human anatomy and our natural penchant for sexual exploration. Knowing the ways in which your culture may have influenced your perceptions of sex and sexuality could be a starting point to removing some of the shame that surrounds sex.

Shame is an important feeling as it often tends to regulate our behaviour, ensuring we move through the world in an appropriate fashion. Shedding shame entirely may be more harmful than useful, but it can be important to make sure that the shame we might feel is applicable to the situation. Feeling shame simply because we feel arousal or sexual feelings might not always be appropriate.

Questioning the reasons why we feel shame is an important part of shedding the shame we feel around sex.

Having sexual thoughts about someone other than your partner is not always shameful. Having sexual thoughts about someone of the same sex when you identify as heterosexual is not always shameful. It is normal and natural to have sexual thoughts and feelings that are not always directed towards one’s partner.

Some people struggle with having any sexual feelings at all, which is also an important aspect to explore. Allowing yourself to feel the magnitude of arousing or sexual feelings that might arise could be an essential part of awakening your sexuality.

Remember, your sexuality is a gift that your body offers you.

Most cultures approach sex in an extreme and rigid manner, so don’t get caught up in your socially defined understanding of sex and allow yourself to explore your sexuality more fully. Don’t allow our cultural belief that good sex only happens with a good lover.

Become the lover you want to find; one who is in touch with their body, desires, fantasies and sexuality. Shedding the shame surrounding sex is easier said than done, but many of those who attend sex therapy discover that shame is the only barrier between them and a wonderful and fulfilling sex life.