Sex with Emily: A Q&A with Dr. Emily Morse

Emily Morse is a Doctor of Human Sexuality and the host of the #1 Sexuality podcast on iTunes, Sex With Emily – and she's on a mission to liberate the conversation about sex and pleasure.

Over the last 15 years, Morse’s work has made her the best-selling author of Hot Sex: Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight!, a pioneering MasterClass Instructor on Sex and Communication, and a live SiriusXM radio host and executive producer.

Morse has helped millions of people around the world navigate their sex lives. Her candid conversations challenge cultural taboos, misinformation and awkward sex talks to create a future where people can deeply connect and embrace pleasure-filled lives.

Today, Sex With Emily is the longest-running sex and relationship podcast, and an endeavor that Morse has grown into a thriving media company. Learn more at SexwithEmily.com or by following @SexwithEmily on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

One of your mantras is “communication is a lubrication.” Can you explain what this means?

Absolutely. What I mean by that is this: we have the power to unlock our arousal, if we know how to articulate what it is we want. Most of us weren’t taught how to talk about sex, but fortunately that’s starting to change. 

When you speak your desires out loud, you’re able to find your people (the ones who want to give you that pleasure). And just as important, when you gift another person with active listening - you’re engaged, you’re leaning in, you’re absorbing what they’re saying - you create the conditions for chemistry.

 It really is just that simple: training your nervous system and your vocabulary to speak the language of sex, in ways that are inviting, open, and clear. 

Now then, communication is also a lubrication when it comes to dirty talk...but that’s a different skill set. 

Do you have any practical tips for a couple having a difficult sex talk, whether that’s sharing a fantasy or providing feedback?

Two words: “growth mindset.” 

I think it’s helpful to reframe any difficult sex talk NOT as a critique, but as a process of learning. If you simply say, “hey there, I’m learning something interesting about myself, and it turns out I’m curious about ____” (for example a fantasy or a technique you’d like them to try), you’ve already approached them in a friendly, disarming way. 

You could take it one step further by saying, “I’ve got a growth mindset about sex and I hope you have one too, so I’d love to explore this with you.” 

Can you talk a little about faking orgasms—why do you think people do this and how can they stop?

Performative receiving! Yes, it’s a thing, for vulva owners especially.

I think many women do this because we have unrealistic expectations and information when it comes to the female orgasm: namely, that it happens by penetration. But that’s actually pretty rare, because less than 20% of vulva owners orgasm from penetration alone. 

Penetration stimulates the muscles on a penis needed for orgasm; for a vulva, clitoris stimulation is really the key. Especially how it’s been modeled, by porn and movies.   Many women fake it because they think it’s taking too long, they want to get it over with or they don’t want their partner to feel bad (but they end up robbing themselves of pleasure).

You can stop by having an honest conversation with your partner(s), and letting them know what actually helps you orgasm (oral, a toy, etc.). But that’s not to say you can’t still aim for orgasm via penetration: I did a squirting episode with Deborah Sundahl where she talks all about this, and how you can actually train your body for those more internal, female prostate orgasms.

What are some ways a person might feel more pleasure during sex?

So many ways! Of course, I’m always recommending Foria’s Sex Oil, since topical CBD is where it’s at for pleasure. Here are some other ideas.

  • Bring in a toy! For a vulva, a penis, or both. The sex toy industry is exploding these days, and there are couples’ vibrators, remote / app-controlled vibrators, vibrators to stimulate the perineum...tons of possibilities. 
  • Create a pre-sex ritual. If you’re a sensual person who likes building up the anticipation in your body, rub in some foria awaken arousal oil, work in a bubble bath, a massage, sexy music - and I’m not just talking about partnered sex. All these things are beautiful for solo sex, too.
  • Get to know your sexual energy. I did an interview with John Wineland that lots of folks have commented on, where we talked about sexual polarity. It’s pretty fascinating! By simply developing this level of self-knowledge, and what type of energy you like to give - and the type of energy you like to receive - you can transform your sexual encounters.

Let’s talk about performance anxiety. What might a person consider if they experience anxiety during sex? For example, do they get into their head about their penis size or what their partner is thinking?

I’m so glad you’re asking about this, because it’s so common! Here’s my comprehensive answer on that, but for starters, I’d suggest talking openly with your partner about whatever it is you’re nervous about. Even if it’s a new partner.

People feel like they have to play it cool and act ultra-confident in bed...but, you don’t. True confidence is vulnerability. If you can admit what you’re nervous about, maybe laugh about it, and receive their reassurances...you free up a ton of head space. (For pleasure.) It’s an intimate step to admit our anxieties - so if this person has earned your trust, I say go for it. 

What does it mean to be present during sex?

Eye contact, responsiveness, listening for pleasure (yours and theirs), relishing in their body, feeling at home in your body, an overall sense of erotic collaboration and a hint of magic.

What are some ways a person might be able to feel more present during sex?

Breathing. Connecting to your breath. Sex is inherently vulnerable, and some of us carry past trauma and inhibitions that affect our capacity for presence. But breathing is free, and when you take deep breaths, you massage your vagus nerve: the nerve responsible for a calm energetic state, for switching off your fight or flight response. If you can utilize that, you’re going to feel much more at ease, and that alone gives you a lot more spaciousness to connect with the present moment. 

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