Dear Dr. Eve,
I am a 28-year-old cisgender heterosexual woman. I am very comfortable
in my own sexuality and I love having sex.
However, I do not find sex with partners satisfying. In fact, it has got to
the point where I now avoid dating as I’ve had such bad sexual
experiences. By bad I mean I get no pleasure. Men do not think about
me. After ejaculation, they fall asleep or just want to chat. Even when I
tell them what pleasures me, they do not do it.
It has affected me so badly as I feel invisible in bed, not seen, not taken
seriously. It has begun to affect my self-confidence. I feel like a body,
just used for a man’s pleasure. And I feel ashamed of myself afterward
as I am a feminist woman with a voice – and yet I allow this kind of bad
sex to happen to me.
Please help me.

Dear Anonymous,
You are not alone. Perhaps this will add comfort to you. This is too
a common experience of women, specifically women.

It is joyful to me, and my global colleagues, that Pleasure has stepped
into the center of sexuality discourse. In fact, at the most recent WAS
(World Association of Sexual Health ) Congress, we approved the
Declaration of Sexual Pleasure. It is a Declaration stating that it is
everyone’s right to have sexual pleasure and that sexual pleasure leads to
sexual health.

So I’m going to frame my response to you, using evidence, that supports
the Declaration of Sexual Pleasure.

What you are striving for is pleasurable, satisfying, and safe sexual
experiences. And this is your sexual right!
Omission of pleasure, as you describe, and omission of sex-positivity
goes against growing evidence that shows that people with more positive
views of sexuality are more likely to practice safer sex, use contraception
consistently, have higher sexual self-esteem, and be more assertive.
Take a moment and consider why you have sex …
People have sex (i.e. sexual activity, including sexual intercourse) for
many individuals, economic and societal reasons, including bonding
relationships, love, and affection, societal expectations, economic need,
reducing stress and a social contract such as marriage and reproduction
(Browning et al., 2000; Rye & Meaney, 2007). Amongst all these
reasons, sexual pleasure is one of the primary motivating drivers
for sexual behaviour (World Association for Sexual Health, 2008)
So you get that your desire to be sexual is inhibited by your lack of sexual
You may be wondering what constitutes “Sexual pleasure “.
Sexual pleasure developed by the Global Advisory Board on Sexual Health
and Wellbeing that emphasizes ‘self-determination, consent, safety,
privacy, confidence, and the ability to communicate and negotiate sexually
relations’ as ‘key enabling factors for pleasure to contribute to sexual
health and well-being

I invite you to complete your own PLEASUREMETER:
THE PLEASUREMETER designed by Global Advisory Board for Sexual
Health and Wellbeing (GAB) :

  1. Physical and psychological satisfaction/enjoyment–this refers to the
    level of satisfaction/enjoyment in relationships, and factors that
    affect this.
  2. (2)  Self-determination – refers to the level of agency when
    engaging in sexual relationships or activities.
  3. (3)  Consent–refers to the ability to arrive at consensual
    agreements about what you Want or don’t want, and how freely
    consent is given.
  4. (4)  Safety–refers to aspects of a sexual relationship or encounter
    that make you feel safe or unsafe, methods of protection against
    STIs, including HIV, and contraception, substance use or other
    aspects that affect sexual safety.
  5. (5)  Privacy – refers to factors that affect privacy, control over the
    level of privacy.
  6. (6)  Confidence – refers to the ability to express yourself in a sexual
    encounter, thoughts around body image.
  7. (7)  Communication/negotiation–refers to the ability to talk about
    what you want, articulate what you find pleasurable, propose new
    I hope these pieces of evidence gives you the self-confidence to voice
    your sexual right to pleasure. From the get go. Just as negotiate around
    condoms/lube, contraception, introduce your sexual pleasures. State how
    you want to become orgasmic as orgasm closes the terrible, unacceptable
    pleasure gap that exists between men and women. Be safe !