Four years after her first sexual health book came out, Dr. Lori Brotto is giving her readers a little bit of homework for the bedroom.
Brotto, executive director of the Women's Health Research Institute and the Canada research chair in women's sexual health at UBC, has just published Better Sex Through Mindfulness Workbook: A Guide to Cultivating Desire — a step-by-step guide to mindfulness, and in turn, better sex.
In 2018, she published Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire, after which she says she was swamped with inquiries from people looking to learn more without having to attend her in-person classes.
Thus, the workbook was born.
"We had been teaching people mindful sex in our eight-week program for many, many years," Brotto said.
"I took the same exercises …and just rewrote it in a workbook form so that people could practice this in the privacy of their own homes."
Mindfulness, Brotto says, means paying attention, moment to moment, intentionally, in a non-judgmental way.
"It sounds really simple, but in practice, it's actually not easy. Our minds are pulled everywhere, and we're distracted by beeping sounds and other thoughts and worries."
By bringing mindfulness into the bedroom, "we're engaging all of the attention mechanisms in the brain that it turns out are really important for healthy sexual response to happen," Brotto said.
Mindfulness can also help regulate stress and anxiety, both of which can be detrimental to sexual desire and arousal, she added and can reduce genital pain during sex, something up to 75 per cent of women deal with, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The workbook is designed primarily for women. According to a study published in the scientific journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, women, and in particular those who have sex with men, have a 65 per cent chance of orgasm during sex.
By comparison, men who have sex with women claim to orgasm 95 per cent of the time, followed by gay men at 89 per cent, bisexual men at 88 per cent, lesbian women at 86 per cent and bisexual women at 66 per cent.
Brotto, who was featured in the Netflix docuseries The Principles of Pleasure, said to begin making mindfulness a habit she encourages people to spend a few minutes each day by taking a pause, closing their eyes and tuning into the sensations of their body in that moment.
"If we do that every single day, we carve out a few minutes of just retraining the mind how to be present, then we can start to build that skill into other parts of our life, like sex."