Lovehoney Sex Expert Interview: Pam Costa
Pam Costa, M.A. left her high-tech career at Apple and Facebook to found Down To There, to help the world talk more openly about sex.
Through her writing and speaking, she encourages deeper exploration of our sexual self and how that impacts our relationships. Pam is also passionate about raising awareness within medical and mental health communities about the positive impact of peer support on female sexual health, recently presenting her research on this topic at TEDx Palo Alto.
Tell us about your work on Down To There and about your coaching practice! What kind of disconnect have you seen in your clients between the mind and "down there"? What victories have you seen?
I love working with couples who are facing challenges in their sex lives. So often, these challenges are the result of the less-than-helpful social, cultural and religious messages we get about sex from a really young age. A few of us are fortunate enough to get positive messages, but most of us primarily learn that sex is dangerous and can lead to bad things like STDs or pregnancy. On top of that, we often learn that sexual desire should be spontaneous and that it is our responsibility to turn our partners on. In reality, what I find for many clients in long term relationships is that sexual desire takes cultivation, and is primarily an "inside job"... meaning it's up to me to learn what I want sexually and then communicate that to my partner.
What topics have you observed couples need more education around and why do you think that is?
I find many couples don't really understand how they work erotically. They have likely lucked into some good sex at some point in their life, but don't really understand the psychology behind why it was so good. So they attribute it to the act of sex, rather than the feeling of sex. Jack Morin wrote a fantastic book on this called The Erotic Mind that I use regularly with clients to dig more deeply into this concept.
How can incorporating toys into the bedroom help strengthen and increase the level of play in a couple's sex life?
I love this question! Of course toys can make sex feel great, but toys are also an excellent way to play with fantasy. For instance, maybe I want a toy that can be controlled remotely so I can play with the idea of being naughty. Or maybe I want a flogger for my partner to use on me so I can play with being powerful or submissive. Using toys to help me feel the way I want to feel with my partner can be incredibly bonding.
Tell us about your TEDx talk on Reclaiming Female Sexual Desire. For those who've yet to tune in, what are some practical steps women can take who are on their own journey of owning their sexuality and desire?
TALK ABOUT IT! Sex can be such a taboo topic, but research shows that opening up to girlfriends about sex can help you feel normal, empowered, and inspired. I feel so passionate about this that I provide free materials for women to start a discussion group with their friends, and also host a monthly online group for women to share their experiences with one another.
What's your favorite bedroom advice to give?
Give yourself permission! For me, this literally looks like a flirty conversation with my vulva. I imagine looking down at my vulva in my mind's eye and saying "Hey Girl..." Because I'm usually so busy and focused on my To Do list (which is definitively not sexy), flirting with myself is a great way to give myself permission to play.
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