The pleasure narrative

When sex is good, it is GOOD. Sexual activity brings about pleasure but also holds various health benefits which we can all utilise during stressful times, such as pandemics. Sex has been shown to promote better sleeping habits, reduce stress and get all those feel-good hormones pumping through the bloodstream. Moreover, sex is a healthy bodily function and a healthy sex life (this includes self-pleasure) is part of a healthy body and mind. So grab your partner, your hand or a toy and take this time to really connect.

I believe that we have the need to partake in sexual activity to feel connected, not only to another person/our partner(s), but also to our own bodies. And by partaking in sexual activity, we aim to achieve intimacy. Now going from wanting to connect and reaching intimacy is driven by the desire to give AND receive pleasure. Therefore, pleasure is a motivational force to reach that ultimate goal…… intimacy. Aha! You thought I would say orgasm, didn’t you? While orgasms are win-win in partaking in sexual activity, intimacy can be pleasurable with or without an orgasm. Intimacy is therefore the aim of the game and we will take a ride through the Pleasure narrative to reach our destination. FUN! 

We all have the potential to be sexual beings. And I believe (dare I say it) that we have the RIGHT to experience pleasure from sexual activity. And the way to do so, lies in the fundamental truth of understanding and loving ourselves in order to give and receive pleasure. And to really know yourself, and your sexual potential is to understand what gives YOU pleasure. And “to know yourself, is to touch yourself” as Prof Elna McIntosh, an accredited sexologist, would say. Below are some tips to increase pleasure and intimacy.

Knowing your preferences

Once you know what gets your motor running it is up to YOU to decide how you will experience sexual pleasure. I mean your job is never done, but this keeps us on our tippy toes as desire and sexual preferences change over time. Human beings are not stagnant, so neither are our sexual likes and dislikes. Therefore, it is important to check in with your partner often as well as to make the space for self-discovery. Read something in Fifty Shades of Grey that piqued your interest? Explore that! 

Communication is key in any relationship. It gives you the opportunity to evaluate what has changed and what has stayed the same. Everyone is different- even the proverbial “old boring married couples”. It is important to realise that your sexual interests might not match your partner’s. BUT, you will never know until you discuss it. You might be surprised to realise that some sexual avenues are of mutual interest, or it could grant opportunities to explore something of novelty together. Open up about that rich fantasy life you’ve written in your head. If you have a partner, they might enjoy it as much as you do! 


Successful, long-term relationships are based on effective communication when both parties feel heard and valued. Feeling safe and trusting towards our partner is the foundation of a comfortable and relaxed healthy sex. It is also an area in our relationship where we need to feel safe as sexual intimacy brings about vulnerability. Safety, comfort, and trust allow us to freely discuss our sexual needs and limitations with a partner. If you have ever felt the need to be a BOSS, now is the perfect time. When it comes to sexual activity with a partner/s be direct and speak about your desires:

“I like it when you touch…” “I really enjoy…” “Would you like me to…” “I want more of…”

Open, frank communication with a partner is fundamental to giving and receiving sexual pleasure. Mutual trust in each other’s desire to please while respecting personal boundaries can lead to heightened enjoyment. It is also important to discuss boundaries, especially when you are willing to try something new. Nipple clamps should preferably be worn during foreplay…ouch! Or so I have heard… (blush)

Take this time – It’s about you!

Everyone doesn’t have a partner and not everyone wants a partner. Some people are between partners. The reality is: You don’t need a partner to enjoy great sex. I repeat: It’s okay–and healthy–to masturbate. Regularly. Sexual activity and orgasms not only relieve stress, but it also boosts the immune system and burns calories! Now you can indulge in that doughnut, and in whichever solitary sexual behaviours that bring you the most pleasure. Masturbation is also a great tool for self-discovery. So when the time comes, you are fluent in your body’s pressure points, tempo, and sensations that bring you the most pleasure. We are responsible for the pleasure we experience during sexual intimacy, no one else. So have fun exploring your own kinks and desires.

I wish you this time to really connect in a safe and open-minded space. There are no rules, no “right ways” to achieve sexual pleasure, as long as there’s no danger to you or anyone else. A satisfying sex life begins and ends with an acknowledgement and understanding of our own sexual needs and responsibilities. 

Stay safe, healthy, and frisky.


Lounette Els is a registered ASCHP Specialist wellness counsellor with a Masters in Social and Psychological Research (Wits) and has a special interest in sexual wellness. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Sexualities and Reproduction at Rhodes University. She further holds training from the Integrative Sex Therapy Institute (ISTI) and is a member of the Southern African Sexual Health Association (SASHA).

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