Falling in love with the raw truth of your sexuality is a radical act, dismantling the insidious indoctrination that our bodies belong to anyone other than ourselves.
According to this Kinsey Institute study, roughly 31% of women actually reach an orgasm during partnered intercourse. Coupled with a porn industry that’s objectively built through the male lens and society’s projected shame around female masturbation, and we’ve got generations of women disconnected from their own sexual power.
From practicing intentional breathing when masturbating, to exploring partnered tantric exercises, there are so many ways that a woman can reclaim the full potential of her orgasm.
Isabel Nunez is a Holistic Sex and Pleasure Coach who has shared her gifts of divine feminine healing from the mountains of North Carolina to the jungles of Bali, Indonesia. Facilitating retreats and coaching countless groups of women online to fall in deeper love with themselves, her work is fueled by the disempowerment of an inescapable patriarchal system. With a mission statement of helping women create deeper intimacy, have hotter sex, and reach their orgasmic potential, we couldn’t think of a better human to explore the nuance of desire with.
From cultivating a self-pleasure routine, to falling in love with your period, to having greater and grander orgasms, we sat down with the expert to learn all about how we can step into the fullest expression of our sexuality.
O Positiv: As a sex & pleasure coach, what’s your mission statement? What do you want to change within women’s relationships with themselves?
Isabel Nunez: I desire to help people with vulvas have an extraordinary sex life and really reach their fullest orgasmic potential. Creating a more whole and integrated version of themselves as well, where they can feel super empowered in their sexuality and their expression, however being a woman feels true to them. I desire to help women come into deeper truth and wholeness, and live more orgasmic lives.
OP: How do you personally define pleasure?
IN: It’s the slowing down. To be able to feel all the sensations that exist within our body while experiencing the outside world. It’s dropping into a deep level of presence. You can feel pleasure in anything, you can even feel it in the pain. It’s about opening your body to receive all the sensations.
OP: What’s so magnetic about your work is that you’re not only preaching it, you’re also embodying it. What are the rituals or practices you’re devoted to that central pleasure?
IN: Number one is a very devotional self-pleasure practice. Whether I’m in a relationship or not, that’s for me. Carving out at least an hour out of my day a week just dedicated to pleasure. And it’s not about just reaching a state of orgasm, because we’re so conditioned to chase the orgasm and in that chase, we miss out on the pleasure that exists in us even getting to that place. Ultimately, it’s about making a promise to yourself to carve out the time and space to give yourself pleasure. Otherwise, I’m continuously dropping back into my body and allowing myself to tune in. The other day I was eating a tangerine and I sat down and took some deep breaths while I had it in my hand. As I opened it, I let the citrus burst through and I was fully in the experience of eating that tangerine. You can apply that to anything in life, that slowness and presence. Pleasure always exists, it’s about dropping in to acknowledge it and be with it.
OP: Are sex toys and vibrators part of your self-pleasure practice?
IN: I used to love using my vibrators but as I started taking a more holistic approach to sexuality, I found that in using my vibrator, I was so disconnected from my body and so orgasm-driven that not only was my clitoris overstimulated, but I was also missing out on so many sensations. I wasn’t in my body because I was just like “Okay, how can I have an orgasm quickly? Okay boom, off to bed.” I do love using tools like crystal wands or a yoni egg. And even just your fingers! As we focus on our pleasure through our fingers, we’re creating new neural pathways and in the creation, from the mind to all these different parts of our vulva and vaginal canal—you’re creating more connection so that you can experience more pleasure. Those tools have greatly enhanced my capacity to feel pleasure within my body, as well de-armoring and releasing a lot of the numbness we tend to hold as people with vulvas. Not to say that sex toys aren’t great, there are partnered experiences where incorporating a vibrator will take you out of this world. Having an anal experience and bringing a vibrator to your clitoris is explosive! It’s just all about intentionality.
OP: On a social construct level, what did you need to unlearn in order to lean more deeply into your pleasure?
IN: I grew up Catholic so there was so much religious conditioning. Masturbation was of the devil and you were promised to hell if you masturbated. The amount of shame that I carried around my sexuality was crazy. And when you think about the porn industry and how much we thought we were “learning” through porn, it became a conditioning of “I’m only here to serve and please the man I’m with.” It wasn’t about my own pleasure. I had to decondition everything from the church, my conservative mom, and society teaching me that pleasure is a sin and periods are dirty. Those were such huge hurdles that I had to overcome to really see my sexuality and pleasure as something that is deeply sacred and mine. I got to reclaim that and be a sexually expressed woman who is unapologetic about it.
OP: On a patriarchal level, I’ve found that there’s so much body image de-conditioning to take on as well.
IN: Absolutely, I went the majority of my life feeling ugly and not confident in my body. When you think about an orgasm, you have to be present in order to experience it. When you’re constantly living in your head about “How do I look? How is the other person perceiving me? Oh my god, my belly. My stretch marks. My cellulite,” you’re constantly judging your body to the point where you’re going to have a hard time experiencing pleasure because you’re living in the cortical part of your brain. One of the biggest things that helped me was learning how to love my body and accept it as it changes. Maybe one season, all is well. I’m doing all the things, eating healthy and working out. But what about the moments when I was having a really hard time and was going through heartbreak? I didn’t feel like doing much and my body reflects that. Can I love my body during those moments? Can I still see it as sacred? Pleasure has been so healing for me because I get to touch and feel into every part of me and see it as worthy and deserving unconditionally. The more that you can affirm for yourself, feel yourself, look at yourself and remind yourself just how beautiful and precious your body is, the less you’re going to be judging yourself when going into a pleasurable experience or are about to have sex. That has to come from you. No matter how many times your partner or whomever you have sex with affirms your beauty, if you don’t believe it, it means nothing. You have to take the time and devote yourself to feeling confident, and remembering who you are. It’s not a new belief, it’s a remembrance. And it’s okay if you’ve forgotten because we all do, but come back to your truth of unconditional worth. See yourself with awe.
OP: It can be so exhausting when you feel like you’re there, and then you somehow succumb to the insecurities again!
IN: Yes! But you have to give yourself grace. As your hormones fluctuate, it’s hard to suddenly be more bloated, but you have to ask yourself “Can I honor my body for what it’s going through?” Take the time to come back.
OP: What’s your favorite phase of your cycle?
IN: Oh, obviously ovulation. That’s when you’re like “Okay, is something in the air?” Once you start getting in tune with your cycle, you’ll notice the second you go into your ovulation phase. You’re like “Wait, am I a model?”
OP: Yes! And I totally relate to what you said earlier about reframing your relationship with your period. As someone who has dealt with PCOS and amenorrhoea, not getting my period consistently made me really value it when it does come. How can women relate to their cycle in a new, authentic way?
IN: I, like everybody else, dreaded getting my period. I felt dirty, I never wanted to have sex on my period, I thought it was gross. I had a sense of disgust around bleeding. I remember a few years ago I began doing this ritual of using my menstrual blood when having a really healthy cycle on my face as a way to connect with my period. That’s also around the time I started getting into womb healing. Through that practice, I began to have such a deep reverence for my cycle. Really understanding what’s happening in my body, not just with my hormones but energetically. The shedding that’s occurring, using that as a guide to release the pain I might be experiencing during that month or tuning into what’s ready to be birthed through me, or even what’s getting ready to die. I use it as a time to release all that I’ve been carrying so I can make space to plant new seeds. I feel so much more empowered in my body and as a woman since I’ve begun honoring this cycle that we go through. I love getting my period, I’m excited about it every month. I carve out some time just to be by myself and really go inward. It’s another reclamation because we’ve been conditioned to think that we should be disgusted by it and that it’s dirty, so many stories that aren’t ours.
OP: You mentioned hormones, are there practices that you do to keep them balanced?
IN: If you’re following your menstrual cycle from the follicular phase through the ovulatory and luteal, there are different nutrients and things that your body needs in order to best support it. I try to eat according to that so that I can best support my body. Even doing something like seed cycling during my cycle is helpful. Most importantly, watching the types of workouts that I choose to engage in during different points of my cycle. I’m not going to the gym and lifting super heavy weights when I’m bleeding. My energy isn’t there and my hormones aren’t as high as they’d be during my follicular phase. I try to cycle-sync my workouts and my food, like eating more foods that are rich in iron when I’m menstruating because I’m losing so much blood. Really paying attention to what my body needs as my hormones fluctuate.
OP: What is one immediate action that we can take right now to move into a more orgasmic lifestyle?
IN: Having a self-pleasure practice that is solely dedicated to you and connecting to your body. Even if that just means that for the next hour, you’re going to put on a sexy playlist and just start touching your body, connect and feel. Ask yourself, “How do I experience pleasure? What really feels good in my body?” Check in emotionally, maybe as you’re caressing your breasts you feel a heaviness. Be with that, pay attention. Connect to yourself and find little pockets of pleasure that already exist and open them up. Throughout it all, have grace and patience with yourself. As you start exploring your body, you may find numbness. Our bodies can contract to protect ourselves from feeling trauma or deep emotions that we’ve suppressed. For a long time, I was numb in my pussy. I didn’t feel many sensations and I didn’t know I wasn’t feeling them until I started touching and exploring my vulva. Approach your body with slowness, grace, and love. The more you stay committed to being with your body, tenderly and lovingly, the more you’ll shift. You can’t approach something you want to change with hate, you can only change something when you’re able to love it as it is.