Pleasure as Self-Care
with Dr. Damaris Suazo, PhD
Self-care, as I see it, is a way of breaking patterns, breaking intergenerational trauma, and breaking patriarchy. It's so important especially for us women to start thinking about pleasure, to stop hustling and to start just having more fun and ease.
I had the privilege of having my amazing cousin and friend Dr. Damaris Suazo, PhD to discuss about the importance of finding pleasure as part of women’s well being and self-care. Dr. Damaris has always been interested in topics like pleasure and boyfriends and girls growing up, and at the same time she has this love for science. She finished her PhD in chemistry and wanted to become a doctor to be able to teach students in a way that they would feel comfortable and empowered, instead of feeling intimidated or embarrassed.
Her life changed when she went through postpartum depression when she had her firstborn. She was a graduate student at that time and needed some extra money so she decided to start in a direct sell company that empowers women and talks about sexuality. She was a customer for years before she decided to become part of the company. What started as a hobby became a passion to educate women to become more knowledgeable of their bodies and the importance of finding pleasure as part of women’s well being and self-care. She has been a consultant for seven years and a chemistry professor for five at one of the top universities in Puerto Rico.
Pleasure as part of our well-being
Pleasure is something that we don’t discuss enough about. When you talk to women about self-pleasure, many feel very uncomfortable about the topic. For men, they don’t see any reason not to give pleasure to their bodies, but for women it is completely different.
As emphasized by Dr. Damaris, pleasure gives tons of positive things in your body. You are releasing tons of chemicals that are good for you. Whenever she talks about pleasure to women, she starts with the scientific facts for them to be a little more open to the idea of enjoying the body that they have. All those chemicals that are released when you have pleasure makes you happier, and when you're happy, you're just a better person. This is especially important now that we are in a pandemic where cortisol levels, and all the other chemicals that are released when you're anxious and stress, are very high.
There's a lot of taboos and people don't really talk about pleasure especially in the Latinx culture where there’s a lot of shame around this topic. The message is to hold yourself and as soon as you married, then you have to become slut-ish or kind of explore all this things that for the longest you’re asked to hold back.
Growing up, Dr. Damaris shared how she had always struggled with her sexuality. As a teenager, she did feel the urge to give herself pleasure but then she would feel bad because religion says you're not supposed to have worldly thoughts or desire. Nowadays, women are waiting more get married or be with a partner for the long run, some don't want to be with many people just to enjoy their body. Something that Dr. Damaris recommends and talk a lot to women, especially to the young ones around 20-25 years old, is to have a toy or a sexual instrument they can enjoy, while they wait for the person they actually want to share their body with.
Why self-pleasure is important
Sometimes, people expect their partners to be responsible for their pleasure. Yes, your partner should be there connecting with you and both should receive pleasure, but as Dr. Damaris emphasized, it’s not okay to make your partner responsible for your pleasure or your satisfaction.
Knowing yourself, knowing what you like, and knowing how you like it will allow you to express yourself in a better way. This way, you can guide your partner and together you can enjoy whatever it is that you want to achieve when you're intimate. You can not show someone or tell someone where to go unless you have been there. It’s also very interesting that once people have a partner, they think they don't have to give themselves pleasure anymore. Self-pleasure is out of the table because since they're with someone, they don't have to enjoy by themselves.
Dr. Damaris always encourage women to keep knowing themselves because when we start growing and developing and the years passes by, our body changes, our mentality changes, which means that our way of enjoying ourself and how we achieve that satisfactions changes as well. This is a very important fact because a lot of times people expect that whatever we experienced in our teens will still be the same when we get older. Not only the chemical part, but also the physical part changes.
When you get older, things start to get different down there and your vaginas will not be as tight anymore. Masturbating and giving yourself pleasure allows you to tighten your vaginal muscle because when you have orgasms, you are straining those muscles. Some women who doesn’t have partners would not even bother to take care of their vagina but Dr. Damaris emphasized the importance of keeping the vagina strong. The same way you have to exercise to keep your body strong, you have to exercise your vagina as well.
Here are some conditions women experience from not having a strong vagina.
- A lot of women in their mid 40’s or 50’s are already wearing adult diapers.
- Some women are having prolapse after giving birth.
- The vaginal canal starts closing because they’re not having any penetration.
It is also important to not only stimulate externally but internally as well because the vaginal canal will start to close if there’s no penetration. It is a canal because that was made for something to go in or out, and if you're not doing that any more, time passes by and then for some reason, you will start having these issues.
Some ways to help you explore yourself and experience pleasure
- Stimulation. Dr. Damaris always reminds women on the importance of having not just external but also internal stimulation. If women don't want to masturbate or it’s against their beliefs, Dr. Damaris would highlight the scientific benefits of keeping the vaginal muscle strong. This is also with the use of a toy or sexual instrument inside of your vagina, turning it on for a couple of minutes and just thinking of it as a therapy.
- Use of a sexual instrument. The safest way for you to satisfy your body’s needs is to use sexual instruments until you feel comfortable sharing your body with another person. Using a toy or a sexual instrument does not only gives you self-pleasure but also tightens the vaginal muscle and strengthen the vaginal canal which may start to close if it’s not getting any penetration. One of the things you can use is Yoni eggs. As you put it in and start to exercise your vaginal muscles as you contract and release, you're also stimulating the vaginal canal which you can enjoy and gives you pleasure.
- Feel and enjoy your skin. Dr. Damaris shares a simple exercise to give yourself the opportunity to enjoy your skin when taking a bath. Using your shower head, start from your head down until you go to your feet, stopping in every part of your body and just feeling how the warm water touches your skin. You might discover that there are probably some parts of your body that feels nicer than the others. It would be nice to also use a shower gel to stimulates your brain that makes you feel so beautiful and so sexy.
- Wear a lingerie. Lingerie is not necessarily for your partner, it's for you. It makes you see and feel what a beautiful and sexy woman you are, then allows you to start connecting with yourself.
- Enjoy the little experiences. Even if it’s not via sexual experiences, you can also experience pleasure from the little things that give you joy and comfort. This could be as simple as savoring your coffee, enjoying a bath, getting your hair done or doing your nails, whatever it may be makes you feel good.
I hope this got you to start thinking about the things you can do to bring some pleasure, and just have fun and ease in every day.