A Candid Conversation with Sexologist Laura Miano

Laura from POSMO

We talk about the three Ps - periods, pain and pleasure - with Laura Miano, sex therapist and co-founder of Posmo. Laura opens up about her role in helping people navigate sexual concerns, the nuances of desire throughout the menstrual cycle, and practical tips for enhancing intimacy.

 

Name: Laura Miano

Day job: Sex Therapist and Co-Founder of Sex Toy Concept Store, Posmo

Location: Melbourne

 

Tell us about your role as a sex therapist.

I work with a lot of women, vulva-owners and fems in my role as a sex therapist. Primarily, I help them overcome common sexual concerns such as low sexual desire, sexual pain, orgasm struggles, and general sexual anxiety. I often help them to identify factors that are unique to their pleasure blueprint; we may discuss sexual communication skills, and we often explore and reshape sexual beliefs that are unhelpful to them.

 

What are some good habits or sexual goals for a relationship?

Prioritise time to connect with your partner, practice open communication, and foster a culture of comfort around vulnerability. Working on these outside of sex makes it easier to tap into during sex.

We lead busy lives, and when our partner also becomes the person we run a house with, raise kids with, and pay bills with, it can really suck the pleasure and intimacy out of a relationship. Setting time to connect with each other’s mind and body is super important. This may be date nights, baths together, bedtime cuddles, opening up about hopes, dreams, and fears, and appreciating you don’t have to go ‘all the way’ whenever you express intimacy with each other.

 

How does the menstrual cycle affect sexual desires?

Women and other people who get periods can experience shifts in their desire for sex based on which stage they are in their menstrual cycle. Commonly, it aligns with the increase and decrease of levels of estrogen and progesterone, which shift at each phase of the cycle.

It is important to note that many other factors can impact desire, such as medications, general mental health, relationship satisfaction, and more. Therefore, the menstrual cycle should only be used as a rough guide.

While the research is still developing and not exactly conclusive, it has so far found the following over each phase of the cycle:

  • The menstruation phase is varied when it comes to desire; however, more pleasurable orgasms have been reported. In this stage, people may experience more genital sensitivity and more intense orgasms due to increased blood flow to the genitals. The novelty of period sex could also be a turn-on too! If you don’t desire sex, though, listen to your body and rest.
  • The Follicular phase is associated with increased desire. This is a great time to explore your usual solo and partnered sexual activities.
  • The ovulatory phase is associated with higher arousal, lubrication, and desire over the menstrual cycle. This might be the best time to explore something new sexually, and you might also find you’re flirtier during this phase, so capitalise on it and schedule a date night!
  • The Luteal phase is associated with PMS and lower desire. This is usually the time to rest and recuperate - sleep, eat, and drink water. Listen to your body and have sex only if you are really feeling it.


What are some techniques to help navigate sexual discomfort?

It depends on what is causing the pain and how it is presenting. As a rule, though, sex should not be painful - it is about pleasure, after all! If sexual pain is occurring, move away from the activity and try another sexual activity that doesn't cause pain. This might be a massage, slow kissing, or gentle body caressing. Focus on these activities, communicate to your sexual partner how these bring up more pleasure, and see where your body takes you from there.

Laura from POSMO

What’s a great relaxation technique to help?

Often, I recommend deep breathing exercises, where they breathe in for 6, hold for 3, and breathe out for 9. This helps calm the nervous system down. I also encourage them to tune into their emotional needs at the moment and pursue what they need to calm down. This might be a nurturing hug from their sexual partner, voicing their feelings to them, or asking them to slow down.

It is important to note, though, that these techniques are for when sexual discomfort is within a manageable window, such as a 3/10 level of pain. If the pain is over that threshold, I would suggest taking a break and utilising the above techniques before returning to the sexual activity only if it has dropped to a 3/10 or lower level.

 

What are some tips for dealing with sexual boredom?

Talk with your partner about how you’re feeling, and discuss why you might be falling into a pattern with sex. Prioritize play, fun, and vulnerability in your broader relationship - the better you are at doing this outside of sex, the easier it is to tap into during sex. Reflect on whether there are unresolved conflicts in your relationship that may be acting as a barrier to deeper connection during sex. Be introspective during sex - if you feel a small urge to try something else, notice what’s holding you back. Is it fear of changing the status quo, or is it fear of communicating your feelings, or are you afraid your partner might shoot it down? You could communicate what you discover with your partner, and individually, you could also work towards shifting the internal narrative you have about these barriers. Sex therapy may also be a great option if you struggle to address some of these factors on your own.

 

What do you wish people knew about sex?

It’s okay to guide a sexual experience towards what you want. You aren’t being difficult; you aren’t being too dominant. And your partner will love sex more if you love it more, too :)

 

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​​For more about Sexologist Laura Miano, head to Posmo or follow her on Instagram