Listen to Part 1 here:
Listen to the second part of our conversation here:
Hi everyone, thank you for joining me on tonight’s Egg Whisperer show. I am so excited to have the one and only Dr. Renée Hilliard on to talk about the important topic of none other than, SEX!
Renée— thank you for joining us! Dr. Renée is not only a dear friend of mine, but she’s also an OBGYN and a sex love and relationship expert. My patients struggle with these issues daily.
For those watching or reading that don’t know you as well, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Yes! Thank you again for having me here.
I’ve been practicing gynecology for over 20 years. I’ve had so many patients that have had challenges around sex like not having the pleasure that they want during sex or experiencing pain during sex and not being able to communicate well with their partners. For some, this results in not being able to achieve orgasms. There are also challenges many experiences after menopause like vaginal dryness or pain that affects the quality of sex.
Statistics show that over 20 percent of people are in sexless relationships, but I think the figure is probably closer to 30 percent.
Many people have sex less than once a month and I’m sure you recognize that as well in your practice. I find that during fertility care many people start having issues around intimacy.
When a couple is going through fertility treatment sex can start to feel more like a chore and doesn’t have the pleasure that it once had. (That’s if they ever had a lot of pleasure from sex).
I’ve been able to develop tools that can help patients communicate better with their partners and tune into their bodies. Many are then able to experience pleasure in a more profound way. I’m really proud of couples and individuals that make that kind of progress.
Dr. A: I’m so proud of you for doing this. It takes someone that’s pretty bold to be able to talk about sex in this way and publicly.
Can you tell us more about your coaching program? It has an awesome name!
Yes, I developed a coaching program that I call Seriously Sexy and it’s really designed for the serious-minded individual who struggles with their sexuality. We think of ourselves as being in such a free and open culture as far as sexuality goes, but in many ways, we’re still pretty prudish.
Yet, I have no shame anymore when it comes to talking about sex.
Dr. A: That’s what happens. When you cross the age of 40 all of a sudden you’re like, “I can talk about anything and my mother doesn’t really remember anything I say anyway.” I’m just kidding! Hi mom!
Ha, yes. My parents are both still alive, but I’ve learned even for myself that we’re often given the message that we have to choose. Either we have to be a serious-minded individual who goes into a career and who stays mostly in her head. Or we can be an open sexual being. However, we are taught by society that we can’t be both. However, all of us are sexual beings and so it’s very important for us as humans to have sexuality.
When we struggle with sexuality we often feel like we’re alone because people don’t talk about it. They may talk about somebody else’s sex, but not their own. Even with our own partners, it’s very difficult to communicate your needs or to let them know if we’re struggling in certain ways sexually.
Dr. A: So teach us. How do we communicate better with our partners? If you can, please talk to us about both sides, from men and women.
Sure. For both men and women, it can be really difficult to talk about sex. Many men put pressure on themselves and believe it’s their job to bring pleasure to their partners. Sex is very goal-focused for many men. Many times in order to prolong sex men stay in their minds and check out of their bodies just so they don’t become too aroused. When they do this, their partners can feel this. But even more importantly, they themselves lose out on the pleasure of the experience because they’re so focused on the goal.
Dr. A: If I may ask a silly question, what is that goal?
For most of us we grow up we think that the goal is really orgasms.
So we walk around thinking we are broken because we cannot have as many orgasms as somebody else or are not able to have multiple orgasms. People may think that it’s not that easy for them to achieve orgasm or to surrender sexually.
This is especially true with our busy lives as often sex is kind of the last thing on our list of things to do.
Dr. A: Shaving my legs is last on my list of things to do.
Haha. Yes. Right above shaving your legs. A lot of times both men and women concentrate on whether or not an orgasm was achieved rather than if they enjoyed the pleasure of sex. So I try to get people more focused on the pleasure and dropping into their bodies to be able to feel their sensations more and be more attuned to that.
Dr. A: How do you do that?
It’s a process. I have practices within my coaching sessions where I have people learn how to drop into their bodies and name sensations that they are feeling.
Many of us are just walking around without a deep connection to our bodies. I certainly didn’t before I started some of this education. Getting people more focused on their sensations and plus I give them guided meditations to use at home. This helps them drop into their bodies more and to relax their pelvis. A lot of people walk around with a lot of pelvic floor tension and you can unwind some of that with guided meditations.
For instance, there are tools like deep breath work, yoga and sound that can help. Research from Harvard and Stanford show the power of these tool sand how they can help us connect with our bodies.
Being able to express sound during sex can help a lot with getting into the experience and feeling into the body.
Dr. A: When you say sound, do you mean something like moaning?
Yes, or growling or shouting. I used to actually be a very quiet person during sex. I had a hard time because I heard so many of the typical sex noises with pornography and it didn’t feel natural to me. I didn’t want to put on an act. I didn’t feel like I had the authentic sound that would come from me. But I’ve learned that there are authentic sounds that help to liberate energy in your body and make things more pleasurable when you’re kind of closed off and trying to keep sound repressed it can actually diminish your sexual experience. Breathing like in a Darth Vadar way can even help liberate sexual energy.
Dr. A: And you work on this both with men and women. Is that right?
Yes. Many men don’t make a sound during sex. Yet, one of the keys for men becoming multi-orgasmic (not multiple ejaculations) is through connecting to sound. I teach people that.
Dr. A: You mention porn. In a fertility clinic, it’s commonly in the collection room. Can you talk more about that and how you view it as a sex, love, and relationship expert?
I’m not in the business of telling people whether they can or can’t enjoy porn. But I do know that people do become habituated to porn where it becomes hard for them to become aroused unless they have porn. If they’re having a hard time enjoying a partner in sex I can help them unwind from using porn and connect with their partner with more subtle sexual stimuli.
Dr. A: What about sex toys? You talked about much more subtle stimuli. Do you talk to patients about using sex toys? Or when not to use them?
Yes, many patients contact me because they have a difficult time having an orgasm during partner sex and they might depend on a vibrator. Or they can only achieve an orgasm in a certain way with a sex toy or something. Sometimes what’s going on is because, possibly from shame around their sexuality, or just from the habit of sex toys — they become a little numbed out. That’s something people describe to me.
A lot of times what is going on is either from sexual trauma. (Which side note, one in three women has been through sexual trauma. One in six men has as well). Often because of those types of issues or having sex in the past when we didn’t really want to, we can have a lot of energy blockage in the pelvis. This means we don’t feel sensations as much. However, you can be trained to connect to subtle sensations in the vagina with tools, toys, and things like the jade egg.
The way that the jade egg works is that it’s a tool that’s placed in the vagina. This is not a new fade. It’s thousands of years old. It’s from the Taoist tradition in China. The egg has been used for strengthening the pelvic floor muscle and building sensitivity in the vagina. You can learn to re-wire your nervous system and connect to various subtle sensations inside the vagina which can help achieve orgasm during partner sex which a lot of women struggle with.
The other thing it can be used for is vaginismus which is an involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles where they have trouble with penetration which can be challenging even during medical exams or intercourse. Many people struggle with penetration because they have tight vaginal muscles. The egg can be used to teach people to relax their pelvic floor muscles in the same way that vaginal dilators can.
Dr. A: There is some controversy about the jade egg. What do you think about that?
Yes, recently it’s been in the media. Some of the claims are not substantiated. For example that it’s not hygienic or safe. I recommend washing with soap and water and not leaving it in for more than 4 hours — much like you’d remove a tampon after a certain period of time. Don’t use it on heavy period flow days. They can’t get stuck in there. That’s another thing people worry about.
Dr. A: Where do you get a jade egg?
https://laylamartin.com/shop/ Make sure it’s nephrite jade egg and not made of any other type of stone.
Dr. A: That’s pretty exciting stuff. I want to talk more about fertility patients and the stress and the five things to consider when coping with fertility treatment. Can we talk a little more about those?
Well, number one on your list is self-care. So tell me more about that.
Sure. As you know fertility treatment can be so stressful. I went through fertility struggles, as you know. You were my doctor during my fertility struggles! I’m in a high-stress field as a medical doctor, but fertility treatment was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever been through in my life.
One of the things that patients struggle with is that they have busy lives fertility care it disrupts their schedules. Many times they aren’t on the same page with their partners about aspects of their care. These types of stressors can impact your hormonal system. We know that stress impacts fertility negatively and you feel rotten when you’re under a lot of stress.
Self-care is really important in reducing stress hormone levels like cortisol. It can help to nourish the system to restore homeostasis in the body and some of the tools that you can use for self-care are so simple. Things like not overcommitting. Especially during fertility care, it’s really important to pull back and do things like daily meditation. There are some guided meditations that I offer my patients.
These meditations are available. If you’re reading this and would like them I recommend going to my website and submitting your name and email. In the message form please write “Egg Whisperer”. I’d be happy to send a specific guided meditation for your fertility patients or anyone reading this.
Dr. A: Number two on your list is “challenging your beliefs around the diagnosis”.
What does that mean?
When you first hear an infertility diagnosis. Many times you think you have plenty of time. When you first hear that infertility diagnosis, it can be devastating. Thoughts like, “I’m never going to be a mother or a father. My life is over.”
What does it mean to have this diagnosis? Does it mean I can’t be a parent? There are so many ways to achieve that, to be a parent.
Dr. A: Yes, your fertility diagnosis doesn’t define you.
For many women, it makes them question what it means to become a mother. What ways will they become a mother that were unknown to them before they started their fertility journey?
Okay, yes. And the rest of your list for coping with fertility treatment is:
#4 Stop feeding your stress
#5 If you’re in a partnership, strengthen your couple bubble.
So the full list of five things you recommend are:
- Challenge your beliefs about what becoming a mother may look like for you
- Accept your new reality
- Stop feeding your stress
- Strengthen your couple bubble
Can you please tell us more about where you are and how people can work with you?
Sure! My website is a great place to learn more about the work I do. There you can schedule a free discovery call to determine how coaching may help your specific issues.
As always, please comment below or send me a note if you have any questions about this show or if you have a suggested topic for a future show.
You can also catch more of me and topics like this through The Egg Whisperer Show. The episodes are live-streamed on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter and on Wednesdays at 7 PM PST. Subscribe to the podcast too!