John and I were recently reflecting on sexuality and fertility. One of John’s friends is an acupuncturist, and she told him that increasing numbers of women were coming to her with fertility issues. One way she treats them is to increase their receptivity and their heart connection. She imagined that couples trying to conceive thought of intercourse as a means to an end, a necessity, rather than the theatre of glorious pleasure. She thought if I could work with these clients, they could re-learn to receive, to feel, to experience, and not be so caught up in the goal of conception. And that would help them conceive.
Another friend is a student midwife. She wants to write a dissertation about sexual arousal while giving birth, but finds that the literature is silent on it.
A third friend is a physiotherapist working in the NHS. Her speciality is working with women who have problems with their pelvic floor. She can touch the women, obviously, but is absolutely forbidden to talk about pleasure.
This division and ‘scientific’ approach is all very weird, because pleasure, anatomy, conception and birth are all intimately connected.
Because pleasure is the proof of our bodies – of ourselves – working properly. Pain, or numbness, is what happens when there’s something wrong. It’s simple.
The erectile tissue in the vagina that becomes engorged during sexual pleasure has a function. It protects the vagina during intercourse. It seems pretty obvious that the same erectile tissue is there to protect the vagina when the baby’s coming out, with the same pleasure response. And it doesn’t seem a big leap to suggest that pleasure, far from being a side effect is, thankfully, central.