This is Part 2 of our exclusive Expert Series Q&A with sexual and feminine health expert, Kiana Reeves. Be sure to check out Part 1: CBD for PMS, Periods, & Menopause if you haven't already.
In the second installment of our two-part Q&A with Kiana Reeves, Chief Brand Educator at Foria Wellness, Tierney Brannigan of CBD Oil Review asks Kiana about using CBD in the bedroom. Whether you’re a master of missionary or a commander of kink, we think you’ll learn a surprising new thing or two about sex and CBD.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your experience as a sexological bodyworker?
Yeah. I guess the most interesting thing to me about my work is that I work within the pelvis. I work with my clients hands-on using one of my primary tools, which is vulva mapping. It's really helping my clients either connect, reconnect, or have a felt experience of their genitals and their sexual anatomy in a way that's nonmedical, and also nonsexual.
It's not about being with another person and achieving an orgasm. It's really about learning your body and in that way. It's a hands-on approach to sex education that most everybody didn't get.
What are some of the more common issues you see?
A lot of my clients have different sorts of pain issues. That's one of the primary reasons people come to me, is to help with vaginismus or vulvodynia or scar tissue after giving birth. They are trying to find solutions. They're trying to figure out why their body is responding in a certain way and also what they can do to support that.
I think that CBD can contribute to this conversation, but at the end of the day, CBD is not a magic pill. It's not just going to fix everything, even though it has immense potential.
It is something that can support the healing process. Foria’s Awaken arousal oil is something I use a lot with my clients, especially if they've had painful sex either from any of the conditions I mentioned, or interstitial cystitis, where they have sexual trauma that's really inhibiting their ability to connect in ways that they want to with themselves or their partner.
Addressing Painful Sex
Does your work include working with women who have experienced some form of PTSD that’s affected their sexual experience?
Yes. As a practitioner, I would say I'm trauma-informed, so I know how to identify when somebody is having a PTSD experience.
It definitely does come into my practice because how could it not? One and three women in the U.S. experience some form of sexual assault. Even if some of those don't register in our system as traumatic, they're still experiences that are really unpleasant, and shape how we respond to our environment. I think for me, that's one of my personal areas of passion and understanding more, is the somatic psychology around trauma and how it lives in the body.
I'm not trained like a psychotherapist to work with trauma directly, but a lot of the times, and I'll say this with a caveat, trauma is one word for a whole host of experiences and expressions of those experiences carried within the body.
We can relate to a breakup as traumatic, just as much as we can relate to a car accident as being highly traumatic, or something that happened when we were much younger, where there is a childhood experience of severe trauma. We have to unpack the word trauma in itself because there's so much fascinating research coming up around how it impacts our nervous system, and our neurological health, and how it actually changes the shape of our brain.
One and three women in the U.S. experience some form of sexual assault. Even if some of those don't register in our system as traumatic, they're still experiences that are really unpleasant, and shape how we respond to our environment.
I think there are different experiences of what trauma is, but I would say that everybody that I work with has some form of emotional experience that they could use help digesting and integrating, whether we want to identify that as trauma or not. I think active PTSD that is really, really inhibiting somebody's wellbeing and ability to live their lives, requires a team of support.
Have you seen CBD help with any of that trauma that you're speaking about?
I would say that we see this especially through our customer feedback, a lot of the times we get emails about these pelvic pain conditions. One in particular, vaginismus is the involuntary contraction, and inflammation, and tension in the vaginal canal, which sometimes make inserting a tampon impossible.
It's not just like a one-size-fits-all solution. For the people it is working for, often, their stories are accompanied by “I had this experience when I was younger, and it was boundary crossing” whether it was a sexual assault or a rape, or something that just really didn't sit well with them. There's a full spectrum of experience, but often, our customers are relating their vaginismus back to this emotional experience, and what became then psychosomatic expressions of an emotional experience.
I think in that sense, Awaken has been able to provide hope to people. That was one of the most moving emails I think I've read was a person that had tried literally everything from dilators, to numbing creams, to anything that was on the market, and bought Awaken on a whim. Just like a last ditch effort, and seeing such tremendous benefit from it that she said, “I laid on my bed and wept because I finally felt hopeful.”
It's not going to heal vaginismus, but to give an experience to somebody where they can say, “Wow, I can experience intimacy again and not feel broken and not feel something is wrong with me,” in that moment, is so exciting and incredibly moving.
Again, the CBD as it relates to the nervous system and as it relates to that finding internal balance, can impact everything. I am hopeful about the role it plays in the psychology of trauma.
How does Awaken help people with these painful conditions have more enjoyable sex?
Awaken doesn't fix pain. You don't put it on, and then it heals it, and it's gone forever. I think this is really important because we're not just physical beings. Our bodies are the containers for our emotional experience.
A lot of times, being able to re-pattern the nervous system and to have emotionally positive experience is where painful sex doesn't happen, where you actually find pleasure, and you're making these blueprints or these new experiences where sex is pleasurable. That alone can be tremendously healing.
It can just help with the anxiety of it all because a lot of times, the cycle that happens, particularly with these pain conditions, is that somebody knows it's going to hurt, but they want to have sex. They force themselves to do it anyways for themselves or for their partner.
Then, afterwards it hurts really bad, and then it feeds back into that anticipation, that anxiety. Being able to cut through that with a product that can prevent the painful part from happening and allow there to be pleasure, enjoying connection without that anxiety sets a new stage. It sets a new direction.
And you still have to do the pelvic floor physical therapy. You should still work with somebody if you've experienced sexual trauma or any trauma and you feel like it's inhibiting your ability to connect. You still need to do those practices, but it's a really incredible tool to have in a toolkit.
How can people who experience painful sex address the anxiety, or emotional component of it?
We are a society that has a lot of different versions of trauma. It's almost not a big enough word, but you can look at the statistics of sexual assault and can look at all of these other things that people are exposed to and particularly, people who are women or identify as female. That sets up a whole other conversation for therapeutic use of CBD, as a way to balance the nervous system from going into “fight or flight or freeze,” and it’s an exciting potential for us.
That's something that we actually created our CBD pen for. We launched our flow pen a couple of months ago and it's just CBD. It doesn't have any THC in it.
It's specifically because we understand the importance of bringing cannabinoids into the system in as quick a way as possible. With vaping, obviously, it takes about three minutes to onboard those cannabinoids versus with a tincture or tonic that can take up to half an hour.
The vape pen is something that we put out as its intended use for anxiety, in particular, sexual anxiety. It’s anticipatory. You're in the moment, but you're getting cut off from really being able to be present, and that's why we made that pen. Really, it's an intimacy pen with that intention.
For sexual anxiety, for anxiety, for stress, for painful sex, those are the areas that I'm the most excited about as a sex educator, and then of course, the pleasure component of it.
Finding Sexual Pleasure with CBD
Tell us more about the pleasure component and why it’s important.
I think the pleasure component speaks to how important pleasure is in our day-to-day lives, Most people feel a little bit of chronic stress from the list of mental tasks that they have to do. We don't live in a society that's very focused on being present in the moment. Pleasure and sex are two doorways that bring us back into that.
They help us really live in the moment and in our bodies. Pleasure is actually a felt sensation of something your body is experiencing that feels good. Whether that's through a pleasurable experience like, eating food and being with your friends, or whether that's sexual pleasure. Those things are bringing you back into the present moment into a felt sense of being in your body, feeling safe and feeling good.
They're hugely restorative to our wellbeing. They're really important aspects and components of the conversation around “what is wellness?” in the first place. For me, I think the interesting place is bringing sexuality back into the conversation of wellness and bringing CBD with it, bringing the medicine of plants and cannabinoids back into the bedroom to support those experiences are really inspiring and exciting.
What's the one thing you wish people knew about CBD and sexual pleasure?
We don't live in a society that's very focused on being present in the moment. Pleasure and sex are two doorways that bring us back into that.
CBD is an amazing tool in the bedroom. It can fundamentally support the arousal process, and we’ve heard from so many people that it is also decreasing tension. I wish that people knew, in particular, people with vulvas, that they have as much erectile tissue as a person with a penis, and that arousal is one of the most important things when talking about the possibility of sexual pleasure. Arousal is the physical experience of blood coming into the genitals. We have different erectile tissue beds. We have them underneath our labia, which is called the vestibular bulbs. We have them in our clitoris. We have a perineal sponge.
We also have a spongy tissue wrapped around our urethra, which is what is called the g-spot or the area otherwise known as the female prostate. We're so focused on penetration and goal-oriented sex of getting to the goal of orgasm that most people don't realize that there are different trajectories to arousal. It doesn't always take a person with a penis and a person with a vulva the same amount of time to become fully aroused. Using an arousal oil with CBD in it can help your body by supporting its own arousal capability.
How do you know when someone’s reached full arousal?
You can often see it in a person with a penis with an erection, but a person with a vulva, you have to feel it. You have to feel for those beds under the labia, and around the clitoris, and internally for them to become fully engorged. When they're engorged is when you experience the most pleasurable sensation and the most lubrication. If you really spend that time both working with your hands or with your partner or however you want it with an extended focus on—I don't like the word foreplay, but it's the term that most of us know—we’ll call it foreplay.
Stimulating and focusing on arousal so you can really feel when that's happening, and then bringing in something like Awaken to support that entire arousal process. You have a noticeable and felt experience of what arousal feels like for a person with a vulva.
I think that is a really incredible roadmap for people to be able to expand on their own pleasure, and to increase their experience of what is possible for their bodies, including orgasm, but not limited to.
We can expand on our pleasure capacity almost infinitely, where we have the capacity for multiple orgasms and for deeply heightened pleasurable experiences sexually. A lot of us didn't get the sex education we needed to understand how to work with our bodies to really go there.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of our guest (the interviewee) and not necessarily of CBD Oil Review.