What you need to know:
There are thousands of nerve endings across the body designed to receive the sensation of pleasure (and around 4000 just in the penis, and 8000 in the clitoris- the female penis equivalent - women are quite frankly sitting on Ferraris!).
When these nerve endings receive touch that feels pleasurable (the type of touch is different for every person) the nervous system moves into a relaxed parasympathetic state. Blood flows to the area of the body where the sensation was received, resulting in more pleasure. A pleasure feedback loop ensues. This can be very healing. The body in this low stress state, awash with the connection-happy hormone oxytocin, also releases antibodies to fight disease. In fact studies show those who experience sexual pleasure regularly (alone or partnered) take fewer sick days from work!
Science therefore gives you full permission to prioritise giving your nerve endings pleasure.
However, history and culture sometimes give us a different message. A lot has been said about what pleasure in the body means depending on where you grew up in, and the beliefs you inherited by friends and family. If this section is already feeling a bit uncomfortable and perhaps ‘wrong’ because we are talking about pleasure, you’re not alone and it’s ok, we react accordingly our belief systems. If your belief is that masturbation, or receiving pleasure outright, is not the done thing, then of course it’s normal that this section will feel challenging. I suggest as with all the lessons here, approach this with curiosity, in full confidence that it is your choice on what to try. Take what ideas feel appropriate for you.
Here is what I want you to know about that uncomfortable feeling. It is a universal one, and most people experience some form of it in connection to sexuality and pleasure. Perhaps you feel it in the pit of the stomach, or as tension in the forehead. We call it Shame. Shame around sexuality and pleasure fascinates me. It’s a subject I go into more depth on in my webinars and blogs and it’s the bedrock of my PhD. If you would like to learn more now, perhaps begin here: Brenee Brown is a shame researcher with a fantastic TED talk introducing us to the concept.
Five things I wish everyone knew about pleasure…
You do not need an erection to experience orgasm and sexual pleasure. I’ve had clients nearly fall off their chairs when I tell them that they can orgasm without erection or ejaculation (and in my perfect world, the healthcare system is designed to tell people this crucial information).
Orgasm is a completely separate part of the nervous system to erections, so you can be flaccid and still experience all the bells and whistles through pleasurable touch.
We are creatures of habit, and habits love reward. Pumping with masturbation before or after is recommended as part of the rehab routine.
But remember, it’s masturbation not MUSTerbation. Exploring sensation should not be a chore. You do not need to masturbate when you pump, it is still a good exercise just by manually moving blood in and out. Adding self-stimulation and pleasure is simply an idea to enjoy the rehab process more.
What to do next?
Here are three ideas for enhancing pleasure.
This section is especially important if you are experiencing less pleasure in your body since treatment, this is often the case and a chronically under-researched aspect of prostate cancer.
Add a lubricant that feels good to you. This is the simplest ‘pleasure hack’ in a way. Same motions and routine but it’s like adding your favourite spices, salts and flavours to food. This is an especially easy way for women experiencing vaginal dryness (which every woman will at some point in their lives simply due to ageing, hormone changes or potentially medical treatments). Read the Lubricant Guide for more information.
Add vibration. Vibrators usually bring up images of single women with pink twirly phallic shaped objects. But vibrators come in all shapes and sizes and in fact, many vibrators are designed for male as well as female pleasure. A vibrator is simply a tool for adding extra exciting pleasure signals to the nerve endings encouraging even more blood flow. If you have not used a vibrator before then I recommend this one, it’s called the We-vibe Match. The shape is multi-functional, and if you have a female partner, they can enjoy it too!
Add all body massage before sexual activity, alone or with a partner. This encourages blood to flow into the nerve endings in the skin, they are now primed for sensation.