By: Laura Petix, MS OTR/LEPISODE 119


Dr. Tracy Dalgleish helps empower women and couples to improve their communication and build strong and healthy connections with themselves and each other through therapy, wellness seminars, and her work outside of the therapy room. She contributes to popular media sites, including Motherly, Huffington Post, and Bustle.

Dr. Tracy’s podcast, “I’m Not Your Shrink,” dives deeper into clinical knowledge and research in a relatable and informal way, and her book I Didn’t Sign Up For This: Stories of Unlocking Old Patterns and Finding Joy in Your Relationship is a fantastic resource, which I highly recommend. Dr. Tracy is a mom of two young children and owner of Ottawa’s mental health clinic, Integrated Wellness, she knows what it means to balance the full load.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

Episode Links

Your Body, Your Rules: Masturbation, Orgasms & Intimacy with Dr. Tracy Dalgleish
Speaker 1 0:00 We know that for you to have an orgasm on your own, you have more control. And it is faster. That's for both men and women. And in research. This is really interesting. Orgasms measured on like a vase like a dilator. It measures that the orgasm is stronger in intensity around...

Speaker 1 0:00 We know that for you to have an orgasm on your own, you have more control. And it is faster. That’s for both men and women. And in research. This is really interesting. Orgasms measured on like a vase like a dilator. It measures that the orgasm is stronger in intensity around the dilator when women are by themselves, or when men are by themselves, okay, so physiologically, the orgasm is more intense. But on a self report, they rate it as more intense with a partner. Laura Petix 0:39 Welcome to the sensory wise solutions podcast for parents, where parents can get real actionable strategies to support kids with sensory processing disorder. I’m Laura, OT and mom to Lilyana a sensory sensitive kid who inherited my anxiety and my love for all things Disney. Consider me your new ot mom. bestie. I know my stuff. But I also know what it’s really like in the trenches of parenting a child with sensory processing disorder. Speaker 2 1:08 Okay, Mom enough about me. Let’s try the podcast. Laura Petix 1:17 Alright, podcast, fam. Buckle up. We are going strong with our theme of adult 18 and over content. Last week, we talked about using cannabis as a regulation tool for parents. And this week, we are talking about intimacy after baby and the importance of self pleasure, aka masturbation. What? Yes, I said it out loud. Many of you might be gasping Ah, I can’t believe she said that word. It is time to de shame and normalize and celebrate self exploration, self pleasure, masturbation and all things in between, especially for us burnt out moms who just want a little me time before bed. You can listen to my story that I share in the episode about some guilt that I had around that, that Dr. Tracy helps me release. So listen to this episode. Without kids around, feel free to invite your partner to listen with you. So a little bit about Dr. Tracy, Dr. Tracy Dalglish helps empower women and couples to improve their communication and build strong and healthy connections with themselves and their partner through Therapy Wellness seminars and her work outside of the therapy room. She contributes to popular media sites, including motherly, Huffington Post and bustle. In addition to hosting the podcast, I’m not your shrink, where she dives deeper into clinical knowledge and research in a relatable and informal way. Her book, I didn’t sign up for this stories of unlocking old patterns and finding joy in your relationship is a fantastic resource, which I highly recommend. Dr. Tracy is a mom of two young children and owner of Ottawa mental health clinic integrated wellness, and she knows what it means to balance the full load. Let’s dive in. Hello, Dr. Tracey, it’s so good to have you back on the podcast. I always love our conversations. Speaker 1 3:24 Thank you so much, Laura, for having me back in your community. And hi, I just love women get this chance to sit together and chat all things, parenthood and raising our kids and also looking after ourselves. Laura Petix 3:37 Absolutely, you are the very first person I thought of when I decided that I wanted to talk about this topic of intimacy and marriage after baby and specifically as well. Maternal are moms who choose or want to masturbate and explore their bodies after baby in an effort to relax, unwind and enjoy themselves all of the things and you know, it’s so taboo to even say these words, but it’s like, it’s 2024. Let’s just be proud of it. Let’s own it. Let’s explore our bodies. And Speaker 1 4:15 that I think, right there is a really good place to start where people can ask themselves as they’re listening. How did people around me growing up? Talk about bodies? How did they label different body parts? And then what did they do if they saw me touching my body as a child because let’s normalize also to that. We have these pleasurable parts of our bodies and we want to feel pleasure because it’s soothing and relaxing. And so how normal that is to see a child touching themself, right and there’s nothing shameful about that. And for many people, they have grown up with a lot of shame attached to that, Laura Petix 4:58 especially around Different cultures, right? I am Filipino Catholic. So a lot of those cultures tend to, not only is it taboo, it’s like you can’t even say the word like, like, just don’t talk about it, ignore it. We’re like all of that which, to a child or even in a teenager, it’s like, the more you read button or blacklist, like don’t think about this, don’t do this, the more it makes you curious, and then you don’t have the education around it. Speaker 1 5:30 Yes, the more you don’t feel comfortable, even asking questions, and I do always want to start these types of conversations by acknowledging the impact of one’s beliefs, whether we’re looking at religion or cultural upbringing, I think that is so important. And at the same time, while we can hold space and respect some of that, we also then want to remove that shame that might have been put there and to really normalize bodies. And pleasure. Laura Petix 5:58 Yes, that’s really important. Thank you for mentioning that. One of my questions, talking about this, like wanting to normalize this, and specifically relating to moms, females, I typically don’t like to gender stereotype However, with this conversation, I feel like it’s more normal and expected and okay to talk about boys and men and and males masturbating. And it’s like, oh, that’s what they do. But God forbid, as a mom, of the female touch herself, because there’s no purpose for that. What are you doing? Where did that conversation like? What’s the history of that? Speaker 1 6:40 Oh, my goodness, that is just a long standing history around women not having their own pleasure. I think in some ways, this might be a biblical history as well, I’m not an expert in that area, but in the sense of sex is for reproduction. It’s for babies, and so that it’s for building families and communities. And so then if we’re looking at pleasure, then that is sinful, and it’s wrong. And there’s something so important for us to label which is that a male’s sex organ is external. And that external factor of it means that there’s even this feedback loop where, you know, if he is feeling aroused, he looks down. And then he sees that he has an erection, which further feeds the the feeling in the brain that says I’m aroused and excited, let’s do something about this. But for girls, for women, we don’t have that feedback loop. Our genitalia is much smaller. It’s hidden, you don’t see it. Even though we know that they start in the same place when, like the I’m getting my words mixed up for biology, but it all starts in the same area. Yes, Laura Petix 7:54 I know what you’re referring to. But I completely lost that term as well. That in grad school, also, Speaker 1 7:59 yes. Right. So So I mean, that’s so interesting. Right? So pleasure is pleasure is pleasure. And so I think, you know, there’s this long history where women should not feel pleasure, and it’s been passed down through generations. And again, then because a women’s genitalia is much smaller than and it’s hidden, then it’s less understood. And again, I mean, I even see this continued today, that little girls the responses, oh, Eric, don’t touch yourself there. No, you can’t do that. And that like is this very shameful response instead of one that sounds like, yeah, it feels good. When you pat yourself there on your vulva. That makes sense. And that’s something that only you get to do. And you can do it in privacy. Would you like to go to the bathroom or to your bedroom? Whereas then, the message to boys is like, Oh, he’s got his hands on his pants again, he’s holding on his penis again. And yeah, all of those things. So right away, we start to learn these messages. Yeah. And that largely contributes to how we feel about ourselves, how we feel insects, and also how we feel with pleasure for ourselves. Oh, Laura Petix 9:14 that is so helpful to hear that script. And it’s so refreshing to think about, you know, as a parent, I’m always second guessing like, well, what am I gonna How am I going to explain this? How am I gonna explain that, but most of the time, 99.9% of the time, the answer just always goes back to just be truthful, be honest, use the real words. Yes. And not shamed them for it. Rather than coming up with some elaborate story, some elaborate lie or some elaborate symbolic name for a thing like Speaker 1 9:41 and also to that that comes from sorry, that comes from even our own comfort. So you know the word we use the word vulva in our home very easily. That is the correct term to use. Vagina is actually the inside canal, so it’s not the exterior. And so Valva is the proper word. And what happens is when we don’t label our different body parts properly. How do we then talk about it? And then how do we then as an adult, however, many years later, do we then say, touch me here? Not so much there. So we need to know the difference. And many girls don’t know there’s three holes there. There’s not just one, there’s there’s three altogether. Right? Yeah. And that kind of information is needed. Absolutely. Laura Petix 10:27 And I think that’s why masturbation and self pleasure and self exploration is so important, especially if you’ve got those messages growing up, because now you’re playing catch up and trying to learn about your body, what feels good, what doesn’t feel good. And it’s got to start there on your own before you expect someone else to do it the right way, if you can’t even explain how to do it. So I want to transition a bit. So you are a couples therapist. So you probably talk to a lot of couples, after baby who are wanting to be more intimate. Or maybe there’s one partner who wants more intimacy, and the other doesn’t. I would love to know, How common is that of a topic? Is that like one of your top common topics to talk about with parents? Absolutely, Speaker 1 11:14 yes, it’s so common. And, of course, let’s even put this into context. After having a baby, you are no longer this independent person with all this free time and this abundance of sleep and rest and not having any responsibilities. Instead, you’re caring for this dependent little being you are sleep deprived, you have new hormones, or hormones in general surging through you. You are maybe dealing with the after effects of a birth, whether it’s a traumatic birth, or whether you’re struggling with mental health, anxiety, or depression. Maybe there’s even some identity changes that are happening. And that’s a big transition for parents, and then also struggling with communication. A lot of people do end up in my office, usually around two years, and later talking about wanting more sex. And I have often use the description as sex is the bandaid and then a saying that there’s an injury here. So can we work on sex, but when I take the band aid off, we’ve got a wound in there that we’re trying to fix, which is more about emotional connection, and communication and security in the partnership. Laura Petix 12:27 I love thinking of it like that, because that makes sense. It’s the it’s their main goal, but you need to teach them in order to get that you can’t just like, start there. Otherwise they wouldn’t be in your office, if it was that easy to just do it. Right. It also Speaker 1 12:42 speaks to this, like more acceptable reason to come to couples therapy, you know, well, oh, we’re struggling in communication. No, it’s fine. Like, we’ll just keep muddling through this. And then when sex falls off the table, because of course, if you’re not emotionally connected, if you are feeling resentful towards each other, if there’s a lot of anger and frustration and shutting down, then you’re less likely to be having sex. And so when sex falls off the table, that’s often the flag particularly for men and hetero relationships, to then say, okay, we need to go and do something about this. Laura Petix 13:14 Yeah, and I imagine a huge factor to that is one person, being the default parent, and also maybe the the keeper of the home the frontal lobe of the entire family. And it’s like, that is the last thing I want to do. When you also have kids, you can only pretty much do it at the end of the night. Or maybe in the morning, it’s hard to schedule it in the middle of the day, especially if kids are home. And those are like the early morning or late night for me is like not really a great option I not at my best and I certainly don’t want someone touching me At those times, right? We’re layering now on sensory preferences, my husband is very touchy feely, I am like I need very structured time for touch and then outside of the times don’t even come in and Speaker 1 14:03 your what you’re talking about right here is something that we need to understand around our desire system, and that is around breaks and accelerators. As a resource for people I absolutely recommend every person should read Emelina go SKUs COMM As you are if you want instead go to her couples book. But I think because we’re speaking a lot to women, this is a really important one. She outlines so many key pieces in here. But let me tell you about this on the brakes and the accelerators and that basically is what’s exciting me that’s the accelerator, and then the brakes is what’s the decelerate or what’s telling me to stop. So we’ve already touched on a shaming guilt around touching ourselves that could be a break that could be an internal belief that we hold that is that constant, subconscious or unconscious belief that saying don’t do that. That’s not good. Don’t explore that. Other breaks like complete turn offs could be something like Like an unshowered body, or it could be a messy room, it could be you and your partner or just had a fight earlier on, or there’s all of these factors. And so a lot of people then will say, well, we just need to like, you know, just start and just starting is, is one idea. Yes. But we need to then see, what are some of those things that make us go? What are the accelerators, which could be things like, how is my mental load? Do I have the basket of laundry on the bed? And so when you’re asking me then to enter into this vulnerable space, and having sex, and I look to the side, and I’m thinking about all of the laundry, I have to put away? How’s our emotional connection? are we sitting on the couch having 10 minutes of connecting heart to heart, emotional connection is so needed before we’re going to be vulnerable with another person, then that’s what sex is, it’s a vulnerable act. And then also have their physical connection. And then you’re adding in this other layer right here, which is are we touched out as my nervous system, like just pinging right now that I can’t even imagine being touched by another person? Yes, there’s Laura Petix 16:10 so much that goes into it. And I’m going to be very vulnerable and talk about something and talk about it from my perspective and see if this is common for you. And if what you would say if someone if one of your clients were mentioning this, so there’s a I definitely don’t have the same libido that my husband does, I would probably say I have an average or maybe more than the the typical mom, I guess. But there are some times when higher than your partner are no less less than his verses lower than his. But I do I frequently get in the mood, and but there’s some nights when I’m laying there, and he’s not in bed, and I’m like, I could either do it myself and be done in like three minutes and go to bed and even Unknown Speaker 16:51 like a minute and a half to two minutes. Laura Petix 16:55 So I’m like, I could be done very, very quickly, and just be done and be relaxed and go to sleep. Because that’s honestly what I need it most of my my brain is thinking I’m like, and I know that will automatically relax me. And then I’m like, oh, gosh, we haven’t done it in two days. And I know he’s been really wanting to Should I save it for him? Should I call him up here? And a lot of the time I feel like, if I spend time, pleasuring myself, and it’s taking away from my partner is like I have this like, it’s like how to me? Yeah, it’s like a quota. I’m like, Oh, if I waste this orgasm on myself, I’m not gonna be able to do that with him tomorrow. But like, I really don’t want like the whole thing right now. I just want the end result. I just want the orgasm. I don’t want sex. Like how, how common is that? Speaker 1 17:42 I love that you were talking about this. And I think it’s so important for us to open this dialog. And to not have shame around that. And to just say, yeah, there are times where being solo is exactly what I need. And that does take a lot of energy to be with somebody else. And that really is what orgasms are about orgasms are a release. And it is an increase in some really great hormones. Oxytocin, which is the cuddle hormone, that Bond’s to people, but it’s also something that soothes you and calms you, then you have dopamine and serotonin that’s released. And that’s, you know, those are pleasure buttons for us as well. So that feels good. So all of those things are going to set you up to have a good sleep and sort of release. And sometimes we say, I don’t want to do this with someone else right now. That’s not what I need. And I think what is more important than there is not, it’s almost I hear that dichotomy. Do I do this now for myself? Or does it take away from that? What if there’s a both and, and that is the, if I want to do it here for myself, I can and then asking myself, well, what was that connection with the other person give me is that what I need right now, and sometimes it’s not, but that’s what that’s what sex is, is not. If you want to release, you can have a release. And that’s why when people you know, if men specifically come to me and their wife is postpartum and he says, I don’t feel connected to her. We’re not having sex. Well, what is it about the sex? Is it connection? Because there are other ways to connect? Is it a release, you can go and have that release yourself? So I think that’s so yeah, so let’s even normalize that for listeners as well. So we know that for you to have an orgasm on your own, you have more control, and it is faster. That’s for both men and women. And in research. This is really interesting. Orgasms measured on like a vein like a dilator. It measures that the orgasm is stronger in intensity around the dilator when women are by themselves, or when men are by themselves, okay, so physiologically, the orgasm is more intense, but honest self report, they rated as more intense with a partner. Wow, Laura Petix 20:04 that is fascinating that psychological like social emotional connection with your partner? And is that specific to people who are in relationships versus like someone they just met kind of like a, you know, someone they don’t really have a connection with? Or they probably didn’t study that. I Speaker 1 20:21 don’t remember that part of the study. I’m going to guess it was with people in relationship. Yeah. But I don’t know the qualifiers of that relationship. Yeah. So I mean, so that’s really interesting, right? So. So in terms of physiological intensity, it’s more intense for you, it’s shorter time. But in terms of that social emotional connection, it is with your partner. And that comes back to that question of what is it that I need right now? And just because and so this goes for both men and women, just because you have an orgasm one night, or one hour? Doesn’t mean the next hour? You can’t have another one with a with a partner, if you so choose, right? Yes, Laura Petix 20:59 absolutely. Okay, so let’s say that for people listening, if someone came to you, and it’s this couple, they have a couple children, you know, in elementary school, so they’re older kids, and they want the one parent wants to increase intimacy. The other one is, like, completely burnt out like not there. How would you suggest they start? I know you have like, I think like a top five, like intimacy guide. If you could summarize that, then I could link it for listeners who want to learn more. Absolutely. Speaker 1 21:32 So that intimacy guide is not about you having sex sex defined as penis in vagina, or the end goal of orgasms. But instead, it is to increase our understanding of what feels good for us. Because the more we understand that, then the more we can understand why it is that we want to have sex with our partner, right? What is that about for us? So one of the exercises I recommend, so if if someone if mom particularly is burnt out, all the kid things, all the home things, the mental load, here’s what is so important is that you need intimacy with yourself. And that doesn’t necessarily mean touching. But it means you kind of find who you are, what fills you up, what is the moment in life where you’re out erotic, he talks about unicorn space, but what’s the part where you’re out, and you just feel filled up to your soul or to your gut to your core, that’s what you need. For some people who are writing those trenches of postpartum days, it might even just be a 10 minute bath with yourself, take the 10 Minute bath, and then that intimacy with herself is not just about connection with our minds and our bodies. But then it might also be about learning what feels good for you. So for people who do carry a lot of shame, that touching might be something that’s a bit more of a gradual experience, so doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re starting with your genitals. But maybe it’s just even like rubbing your arm one day and seeing how that feels good. Or maybe you are self stimulating. While you’re in the bathtub, those are all options for you to do. The other exercise that I really liked that I’ve gotten that guide, so I have a few conversations in there. But the the clinical name is called sensate focus exercise. And this is about you and your partner removing the pressure of orgasm, and 15 minutes. So you can do one person one day, the next person the other day, for 15 minutes, you are the receiver and the other person is the giver. The Giver touches your body in any way that they want to maybe they have a feather, maybe they use their fingers. Maybe it’s a massage, and they get to explore your body. And I recommend to start no genitals, no goal of orgasm. But but that’s a pleasure. And Laura, most couples come to my office and I say tell me what sex looks like. And they they’ll say, Well, we kiss you know, for plus or minus a minute and then someone takes their shirt off. And then we do this for like five minutes. And then it’s intercourse and then we’re done in seven minutes. And my question is, and is this fun? Do you like it? Laura Petix 24:16 Did you have a good time? Speaker 1 24:17 Do you have a good time? I mean, if we’re looking for just that release, yeah, you get the release, but is it pleasurable? Is it exploratory? Do you feel a sense of freedom within yourself? Right? Because it’s part of what sex is you get to explore and play but we lose that and especially when parents are under a time crunch. It’s like okay, baby sleeping just 10 minutes an hour and that you know that quickie might be functional, you know, have sex for the release. That’s fine. That’s really Laura Petix 24:50 how I defined it in my head. And so when you ask Was that fun? If there was no release, if we’re not talking about the orgasm and like the the feeling after where you’re both I was free and I feel so relaxed. If that if we either of us did it get there just the intercourse part. Isn’t that fun to me? So I feel like the the orgasm is what makes it fun, which is telling me that it’s less about connecting and it’s more about the really Yes. Is that what you’re saying? Yeah, Speaker 1 25:19 yeah. And that and it’s, and it’s okay. And I think the thing for couples to do is to actually talk about it, are we? Do we really desire something tonight where it’s like that intimate connection where we’re exploring each other’s bodies and trying something different and playful and fun? Or is tonight the like, let’s have a quickie, we both just need a release. And let’s also normalize something here. Research shows on average intercourse lasts between three to seven minutes. So you know, we often think that intercourse should last for longer than that it doesn’t. And then for women to have an orgasm with a partner. let’s normalize that time it could take 30 minutes much longer for women and and then to again and we talked about the size of genitalia, so you know you move a centimeter on a man’s penis and that doesn’t make much of a difference but on a woman’s clitoris moving a centimeter can completely throw everything off. Yeah. Laura Petix 26:22 Oh, that’s so treaded even think about that it is so sensitive to like, yes. Even to pressure as well. Yeah, like if you’re talking about like, softer, harder, it incrementally harder URLs, it’s so sensitive. Speaker 1 26:38 Okay, there’s one more piece that I have to share here claim. Yeah, this is like, so many people will say I Well, I’m not having me, female woman, I’m not having an orgasm while we’re having intercourse. So there must be something wrong with me. Very few as a percentage can have an orgasm, during intercourse without additional stimuli. It actually requires in some way your hips like your pelvis is of your partner, and your pelvis and the positioning of your genitals to hit each other at just the right way in the right motion. To add I’m for listeners I’m moving my hands are so Laura to let have that constant stimulation back and forth to reach the orgasm. Very few couples have that without additional stimuli. So if people are sitting there orgasming together, then there is likely to be additional use of the other partners hand, your hand or a toy. Laura Petix 27:37 Okay, so related to that, what is your recommendation when or if couples should bring in like external assistance in the bedroom in the form of you know, sex toys or pornography, and whether or not that helps their intimacy or if it actually like, distracts or hurt their connection? Speaker 1 27:57 I think that really depends on who it is. And this then requires you to use some really good communication tools. This is like the foundation right? Sex is not just putting bodies together. It’s about being able to talk and come together and understanding with curiosity, what what is important about that? What feelings or reactions do you have around that? So if you so yes, bring something in that you think could be fun and playful, and let your partner know, this is not a threat to you in any way. Right? Some people might feel it’s a threat. Some people might feel it’s a hit to their adequacy nope, not a hit to your adequacy at all, you are fine the way you are, I don’t want to play. And I want to find more ways to have pleasure. And let’s do that together. So that is really what that is about. But I think for couples to have that conversation around, I’ve been thinking about something that I would like to do. And this is what it is, before we bring that into the bedroom. I’d like to hear what your reactions are to that and any questions. And then maybe I can also help you understand why I want to bring that in. But then also understand any concerns that you have. And we can talk about and negotiate how we do this together. And that’s the same for pornography as well. So some people might want to watch ethical porn, and make sure they’re what kind of things are talking about and watching all of that fits in there. Laura Petix 29:23 So it always comes down to strong communication skills and being able to express your wants and your needs. And your end you have to feel safe with your partner to be able to do that, and not feel judged by what they’re going to say. And I know so many of us even myself, I’m here talking on this podcast, and there’s probably gonna be 1000s of strangers listening to this. And I would say that even speaking this way, I feel more comfortable than face to face just with my partner and being like, hey, I want to do this like I would feel very awkward even just the words leaving my mouth because it’s not something that we do, it’s really not something that we do. Speaker 1 30:04 That is everyone’s homework from today’s episode is to then express one thing to your partner that you either that really excites you, or to share a memory of a time that felt really good for you. And when you share the memory talk about what headspace you were in, what you were doing together, what headspace your partner was in or what was going on in your life. describe it that way. So that and Laura, you hit the nail on the head here, which is talking to someone like this. There is vulnerability to it. But it’s not as much vulnerability as turning to the ones we love, who we fear at times for many people being rejected, or having this thrown back in their face or something which is why trust in a relationship is so important. Such Laura Petix 30:55 a good way to end the episode that is a very important homework assignment. I hope everyone listens in and gets to try this Tracy Can you tell everyone where to find more if they want to continue learning from you? Speaker 1 31:07 Yes, grab my guide on my website, Dr. Tracy I have all of my resources there. But my most favorite thing Laura is when listeners come to me on Instagram, Dr. Tracy D. And send me a DM because I want to know what did you need to hear from today? What was your aha moment? What stood out for you send me a DM I’m social on social media and I love hearing from people. Laura Petix 31:30 I love that. Okay, I will put all of the links below if anyone wants an easy way to find that. Thank you so much for your time today. Dr. Tracy, it’s been lovely. I can’t wait for everyone to explore and find more pleasure in their daily life. Thank you Laura. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider rating it and leaving a review which helps other parents find me as well. Want to learn more from me. I share tons more over on Instagram at the OT butterfly. See you next time.




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Laura Petix, MS OTR/L

I’m an enneagram 6, so my brain is constantly moving. My OT lenses never turn off and I can’t “un-see” the sensory and other developmental skills that go in to literally every activity. I love taking what I see and breaking it down into simple terms so parents can understand what goes into their child’s behavior and skills.

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