Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast

SOBER SEX! Let's Talk About It Right Now ....

June 23, 2024 Isabella Ferguson and Meg Webb Episode 87
SOBER SEX! Let's Talk About It Right Now ....
Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast
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Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast
SOBER SEX! Let's Talk About It Right Now ....
Jun 23, 2024 Episode 87
Isabella Ferguson and Meg Webb

* This is not the best topic to listen to on speaker with your kids in the background!

** If the topic of sex is triggering for you, then perhaps hit pause and move to another episode

OK, SOBER SEX… Let’s talk about it. Why?! Because it comes up a lot. Discreetly and tentatively at first but it presents as a major issue often when alcohol is removed from your life. Also, if drinking has been part of your whole sexual history then you may not even know if you enjoy sex at all!  Does any of this ring true for you? Have you only ever had sex while under the influence? You and your partner met and bonded over drinking, drinking was part of the courtship, drinking and sex was a regularly thing, or you are freaking out about sober sex, like freaking out! Geez – I was… So again, let’s talk about sober sex! So… sober sex. Why is this important? Because it is about connection and we know how important quality connection is to sustaining an alcohol-free life. It’s the opposite to addiction. Moreover, quality connection and intimacy with your partner, the person that we are most close with in the world and the person we spend most of our time with is important. There are exceptions to this but if this is the case for you then listen on. Uncomfortable feelings created through lack of connection and issues with intimacy can feel stressful and can create urges to reach for alcohol. So best to address this head on. Let's do this....


MEG

Megan Webb: https://glassfulfilled.com.au
Instagram: @glassfulfilled
Unwined Bookclub: https://www.alcoholfreedom.com.au/unwinedbookclub
Sober Socialising workshop at Seadrift Distillery: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/confident-and-cozy-alcohol-free-socialising-for-winter-tickets-934198341387?aff=oddtdtcreator

BELLA

Isabella Ferguson: https://isabellaferguson.com.au
Instagram: @alcoholandstresswithisabella
Free 5-Day DO I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM? Clarify and focus series: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/doIhaveadrinkingproblemwithisabellaferguson
Alcohol Freedom Small Group Challenge - Register here: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/alcoholfreedomchallenge
The Alcohol Revolution 6-Week Program (Online or Podcast): ...

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

* This is not the best topic to listen to on speaker with your kids in the background!

** If the topic of sex is triggering for you, then perhaps hit pause and move to another episode

OK, SOBER SEX… Let’s talk about it. Why?! Because it comes up a lot. Discreetly and tentatively at first but it presents as a major issue often when alcohol is removed from your life. Also, if drinking has been part of your whole sexual history then you may not even know if you enjoy sex at all!  Does any of this ring true for you? Have you only ever had sex while under the influence? You and your partner met and bonded over drinking, drinking was part of the courtship, drinking and sex was a regularly thing, or you are freaking out about sober sex, like freaking out! Geez – I was… So again, let’s talk about sober sex! So… sober sex. Why is this important? Because it is about connection and we know how important quality connection is to sustaining an alcohol-free life. It’s the opposite to addiction. Moreover, quality connection and intimacy with your partner, the person that we are most close with in the world and the person we spend most of our time with is important. There are exceptions to this but if this is the case for you then listen on. Uncomfortable feelings created through lack of connection and issues with intimacy can feel stressful and can create urges to reach for alcohol. So best to address this head on. Let's do this....


MEG

Megan Webb: https://glassfulfilled.com.au
Instagram: @glassfulfilled
Unwined Bookclub: https://www.alcoholfreedom.com.au/unwinedbookclub
Sober Socialising workshop at Seadrift Distillery: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/confident-and-cozy-alcohol-free-socialising-for-winter-tickets-934198341387?aff=oddtdtcreator

BELLA

Isabella Ferguson: https://isabellaferguson.com.au
Instagram: @alcoholandstresswithisabella
Free 5-Day DO I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM? Clarify and focus series: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/doIhaveadrinkingproblemwithisabellaferguson
Alcohol Freedom Small Group Challenge - Register here: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/alcoholfreedomchallenge
The Alcohol Revolution 6-Week Program (Online or Podcast): ...

Speaker 1:

Hello, I'm glad you've tuned in. This episode is a beauty. Today we're talking about sober sex. So two things crop up here at the outset. First of all, this might not be the best episode to listen to with kids around, so hit pause. Come back to this episode when you've got the opportunity. Second of all and this is a really important point to raise up front here I know from my counselling work that the topic of sex can be really difficult to talk about or to listen to. For some people there might've been some trauma there. So if this is you also, do hit pause and think about going to another episode. All right, disclaimers aside, let's talk about sober sex. Welcome back. All right, let's talk about this topic. Let's talk about sober sex.

Speaker 1:

The discussion in this episode is really directed to those of us who have used alcohol in any way, shape or form to mask insecurities with our partners, husbands. One night stands, whatever it looks like for you. Hell, alcohol might've been used by you to give you energy when you just don't have it, Like when the kids are young. You've cooked dinner, you just want to watch Kenneth Branagh on Wallander sitting on the couch. Now look, my husband's likely driving along right now. Sometimes he listens to these episodes and he might be veering very close to a tree. Darling, I promise no personal disclosures will be made. I promise, Do I? Yes, yes, no, look, I really do promise. I released a blog and a post about this topic a while back now and the hits, the emails about it, were substantial, to say the least. Also, sober sex comes up a lot in my one-to-one client sessions. So let's just say that all the information I've gathered here that I'm going to talk about is evidence-based. So back on the road, darling.

Speaker 1:

So why are we talking about this topic, Particularly when I am such a prude and can rarely talk about sex, even with my best friends, without turning beetroot red? Because it comes up a lot discreetly and tentatively at first, but it presents as a major issue in relation to the topic of alcohol. So here's how our sex life is impacted by alcohol. When you drink too much over years and years, particularly if you drink more than your partner, it throws the balance out years, particularly if you drink more than your partner, it throws the balance out when alcohol is removed from your life and you're finding yourself having to relate on an intimate level in an incredibly different way to one another. When you stop and your partner still drinks, or vice versa again, you really are not on the same page and you are just showing up completely differently in an intimate way, and it's like, well, what do I do now? Where do I put my hands? Also, if drinking has been part of your whole sexual history, you just may not have been connected to that part of you ever or in a long, long time, because alcohol has been there in some way.

Speaker 1:

So why is this important? Because it's all about connection, and we know how important quality connection is to sustaining an alcohol-free life. It's the opposite of addiction. So we know that to really succeed in being alcohol-free, you want to create a life that you don't want to escape from, you don't want to numb out, and we know from research, we know from that amazing TEDx talk by Johan Hari, that quality connection with those nearest and dearest to us is really important in achieving this. Moreover, quality connection and intimacy with our partner, the person that we are most close with in the world and the person we spend most of our time with, must feature really high up on that list. There are exceptions to this, but if this is the case for you then listen on.

Speaker 1:

Uncomfortable feelings created through lack of connection and issues with intimacy can feel really stressful. It can activate that nervous system, make you want to escape and numb out. It can actually create urges to reach for alcohol. So best to address this topic head on. Does any of this ring true for you? Have you only ever had sex while under the influence? Or you and your partner met and bonded over drinking? Drinking was a part of the courtship. Drinking and sex were a regular thing. Or you're freaking out about sober sex like freaking out about it right now. I mean I was. This was an issue that came up for me way back when, right at the start.

Speaker 1:

Let's start with some quick science-y facts about sex and alcohol. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, but it decreases your ability to become and stay aroused. Drinking reduces testosterone over time in both men and women. For women, low testosterone can mean hair loss, weight gain, depression, anxiety, broken sleep, and all of these factors mixed together can really contribute to reducing your libido. Alcohol messes with that part of your nervous system that's essential for reaching an orgasm, for feeling aroused. So alcohol can actually contribute to you having difficulties reaching orgasm.

Speaker 1:

For men, alcohol can lead to difficulties maintaining erection. So a study resulted in rat's testicles decreasing in size by 50% when they were fed a steady diet of ethanol. Now, men out there, this is not something that you need to be overly concerned with, because it's highly unlikely that you've had a steady diet of pure ethanol over time. But what it actually shows is that alcohol causes dehydration, which increases a hormone that's associated with erectile dysfunction. It also decreases blood volume and it interferes with circulation, both of which can contribute to performance issues. So alcohol, in its impact to testosterone, can impact both men and women.

Speaker 1:

Now, also alcohol and this is for the women out there impacts your hormones. So, as a perimenopausal woman who's often feeling impacted by peri-symptoms and who also has the big, magnificent menopause fastly approaching around the corner, let's just touch on this really quickly. Your liver plays a massive role in balancing hormones. There's an important liver-gut pathway when it comes to our hormones and we know alcohol whacks our liver around and it impacts significantly the delicate balance to our hormones, to our hormones as women. In our 40s we have a significantly lower amount of a specific enzyme that we need to process alcohol, so our hangovers are worse. So every menopausal symptom is worsened when we drink, Mood, energy, sore joints, hot flushes, our ability to get restorative sleep, anxiety all of that has to impact on our libido too.

Speaker 1:

Right Now, very quickly. Also, when we are drinking lots of alcohol, it massively impacts on the delicate neural pathways in our system and on top of that, it significantly impacts on the delicate structure of our neurotransmitter production. So I'm talking specifically about dopamine, GABA, serotonin, melatonin. All of these very wonderful juicy transmitters that we need to fill our optimum best selves, to feel energetic, to get in the mood, to want to really connect, relate to our partner on an intimate level, are significantly impacted. And I know from my work with Jolene Park and in fact, my work with all of the wonderful women in my challenges, that we do this all test and when that tests the neurotransmitters that we are most efficient in, directly after giving up alcohol, GABA is significantly low. This increases our irritability, our anxiety. It actually increases our desire for alcohol. But you see what I'm saying the alcohol impacts the delicate balance of our hormones, our neurotransmitters, our libido. All of that can really impact our desire for wanting to have sex and also our anxieties and moods around it. All right, science, facts over. So why do drinking, why does alcohol and sex go hand in hand? Usually because we've always done it.

Speaker 1:

Awkward, tense sexual exchanges with partners and one night stands may always have been associated with alcohol. For you, If you drank a lot when you were young, then you might have been someone who lacked confidence, experienced social anxiety, was a little nervous in the first place, and alcohol numbed that. So you may have developed deep-seated beliefs that you need alcohol to have sex or you need alcohol to be good at sex. It really breaks down that nervous energy. It seemingly feels like it gives you confidence and these beliefs can really impact your self-confidence and connection to your own body impact your self-confidence and connection to your own body and now as well, a more mature adult. When you're deciding to ditch the booze, those deep-seated, limiting beliefs are still at play in the background.

Speaker 1:

Alcohol allows us to abandon ourselves emotionally and mentally. It impacts our prefrontal cortex. It really puts our logic and reasoning sectors of our brain offline and this breaks down those barriers. So we feel like we're more inclined to be ourselves, to let loose, to engage with others, but in fact let loose to engage with others. But in fact it's actually just making us numbed out and not present at all. So it allows us to abandon ourselves when it comes to sex, and it can facilitate you abandoning yourself physically too, and this sounds quite frightening, doesn't it? Certainly not something that we thought of when we were young. You may never have learned how to get comfortable with being sexually intimate, or just intimate generally, with another person without alcohol being present, and that's okay, because it's never too late to learn. But if alcohol was frequently present in your intimate moments ever since you became sexually active, then abandoning yourself may have become the norm in this specific sector of your life. So you may never have developed these skills, or they just might need some fine tuning.

Speaker 1:

So here are some things that I know to be true around this topic, and I think the main message here is sober sex really is way better than drunk sex, don't you think? Now, I thought and I do need a disclaimer here and perhaps it depends on your partner's skills in this department, Perhaps it depends on your partner skills in this department. Well, I think even bad sex sober is better than bad sex drunk. I'm sure I'll get some emails about this statement, but I think you know what I mean. So I'm talking about consensual sex with someone you have the hots for or love Again. You know what I mean. So you get to experience it all.

Speaker 1:

When you're sober physiologically, emotionally, mentally you're present, right, and this can feel a lot to deal with at first. It's like when you first go alcohol free all of your senses are awakened. You feel really vulnerable. You don't have your safety blanket, alcohol with you between you and the real world. But over time, as your senses awake, as you get more confident, it becomes better. Your brain, your nervous system, senses system, senses circulation, are all alert unimpeded.

Speaker 1:

When I was in my drinking cycle I never really remembered sex in detail the next day. Perhaps it was more of a performance rather than a real experience. Was it even really a genuine connection when we're partially mentally absent? It was an experience. That was just one of those things. However, without the alcohol and the numbing you're literally more in touch with your body and I think that's worth it in terms of communication around what you like, what you don't like, the connection, and that's what we're after. Your libido long-term also gets a boost because you're just not so bloody tired. You're not watching Wallander on the couch as much as I love Kenneth a lot, I'm sure he's got his own family.

Speaker 1:

Alcohol impacts your prefrontal cortex and you're, therefore your decisions around sex, your senses and everything all around it is absolutely dull. So it's got to be a whole lot better to just slowly start getting yourself back into the groove of sober. So hot, saucy tips. I really need to say that. Hot, saucy tips even as a phrase, well, I thought it would never pop out of my mouth ever. Excuse the pun, but I've started this chat on a podcast that's being broadcast out to the world and I need to finish this chat. Bring it home, so to speak. God, stop me with the puns.

Speaker 1:

If you are in the early days of sober sex and it is all just too daunting, then go easy on yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Easy on yourself, Cut yourself some slack. Postpone the moment until you are ready. You may very well be feeling fatigued, emotional and stressed, as it is trying to navigate life without alcohol, and we know that in those early days of going alcohol free, there's a dopamine deficit that you are maybe experiencing, and so you're not feeling necessarily quite in the groove quite like yourself just yet. But you will. So go easy, and maybe adding sex to the mix right now may be too much for you and this is really normal and understandable.

Speaker 1:

As you remove alcohol, you may be uncovering connection and communication issues in your relationship, also with your partner, that may have been related to drinking as you did in the first place. So often we mask frustrations, anger, boundary issues, communication issues in our intimate household with alcohol. So when we take alcohol away, it can sometimes show some issues with your partner which can present in, I know, some relationship topics that need to be spoken about, and you know it's complicated it can be. So sort these issues out. You need to feel comfortable Also when you're taking a break from alcohol. It's not just about alcohol. It's about landing back in our bodies, feeling comfortable in our skins again a rebirthing of sorts. Comfortable in our skins again, a rebirthing of sorts. So you may be relearning how to connect and go back into that feeling, back into the groove that you once had with each other. Wait until you're feeling relaxed, happy, connected, have faith. Your body will remember the moves.

Speaker 1:

You may have some fairly strong limiting beliefs around you, and alcohol and sex like here are some examples I can only have sex when drunk. I don't know how to have sober sex. I'm really bad at sex. Without alcohol. I'm not really sure I like sex, unless I am mentally offline or mentally in a fantasy world that's only induced with alcohol. I mean, these seem like some fairly intense limiting beliefs that can present as mental blocks between you feeling comfortable to well get back into this groove with your partner. Your brain and body may only have evidence to suggest that alcohol is needed for you to do this. So again, self-compassion by the bucket. Loads here, please, and sorry about this, you know me.

Speaker 1:

Rant, this rant that's about to come and this soapbox I'm about to stand on. But we have lived in an alcohol-soaked world in which alcohol and sex are marketed like well, they're lovers. Sex sells, Sex sells alcohol, and our subconscious has soaked this up since we were all tweens ads, movies, TVs Plus. If you're a Gen Xer like me, then we were culturally immersed in a self-sabotage culture, really that kind of sold sex as in a destructive, unemotional, numbed out way that involved almost blanking out with alcohol. Is it just me that believes this? I really need to do an episode on how, Gen X, we really were sold out by big alcohol when it comes to connection and intimacy. So off the soapbox, stand now.

Speaker 1:

But what I'm meaning to say here is two things. Your body and brain need to know new evidence. It needs to be presented with new evidence that shows you that you can have enjoyable sex without alcohol. And all of this comes over time. It becomes something that you're able to introduce over time, safely, slowly, and that's when you start to feel more confident. You're basically entering a new world If alcohol has been consistently there in your intimate life for decades. Another point here and I think this is an important one if you are struggling with your limiting beliefs around you and sex and alcohol, then consider seeing someone that might help you here, Some one-on-one work with a counsellor who specifically specialises in sexual intimacy.

Speaker 1:

This is not my specialty, but it is a thing and, I think, a wonderful niche out there that can help many. So don't be embarrassed or shamed about this. I think it's a really good topic to get into. It will enhance your life a lot if you need it. That is Because this topic is not all about connecting with your partner, is it? It's about connecting with yourself, also on an intimate level, feeling self-love, self-respect and good in your own skin. Easy Hell, no, it's really hard and it comes and goes. That feeling of comfortability with ourselves and our own skin, our confidence, but we all deserve to feel it.

Speaker 1:

Now, and this is just in brief, you may find that you're wanting sex but your partner is still drinking. So you might be drinking significantly less, or you might be alcohol-free, but your partner still hits it on occasion, and this is a demotivator for you. This is a really big topic that I talk about with clients. So when we stop drinking, we get better at knowing what we want. We don't feel like people pleasing as much. We don't feel like putting up with the same old stuff that used to get on our nerves, that we may used to have drink to kind of forget about or numb out about. We don't want to settle for mediocrity as much. This is a really good thing, but when you're not on the same page sexually, it's one that is best addressed by talking to each other. When you're not on the same page sexually, it's one that is best addressed by talking to each other. When you're both relaxed, happy, not in a judgmental state.

Speaker 1:

Broach the topic as you start to feel confident about communicating your wants and needs a bit more. Of course, you're going to have to talk about it. Look, listen, I love you. But you get the picture. Relationship counseling may also be the go if this is just an insurmountable topic for you. And look, I know that talking about sex with your partner may actually be something that you just don't do, never have, because alcohol might have been the thing you needed to give you that Dutch courage in this department. It may just not be something you've been very comfortable about broaching. If this is the case, then consider again getting that one-on-one counseling from somebody that specializes in this wonderful niche. But congrats on you for getting to this place where you know what you need and what makes you happy sexually. Finally, acknowledge this to yourself what it is. If it works for you and if you feel safe doing so.

Speaker 1:

Communicate your nerves with your partner. Say to your partner look, I've now really hit that point where I'm drinking less or I'm alcohol free. But what is coming up for me is the way that I feel a little bit nervous on an intimate level. So have that conversation. It's a new experience, potentially a sober first and Meg and I talk about sober firsts a lot on this podcast when you're doing something without that safety blanket for the very first time and we've spoken about weddings, 50th school reunions, concerts. Well, sober sex fits into this category. It brings up a lot of nervous energy, so it's going to feel uncomfortable initially, but you're going to get that groove back.

Speaker 1:

The purpose of this episode was really just to raise awareness of this topic, to get the discussion going, to let you know that you are not alone out there. If sober sex has become a bit of an issue for you in your household, know that you are not alone, both men and women. This issue is really important. It comes up a lot and it's about connection on a very intimate level with the people we care about the most, first and foremost, ourselves. That's it from me.

Speaker 1:

You're probably thinking, thank God, will this woman stop talking about sober sex? Let me know if you like this episode. Don't send me your intimate sexual stories, please, Please don't. But let me know if this resonates with you, because let's talk about it, but let's stop talking about it right now. I hope that you have a really good day out there. Enjoy the sun, Find a moment for yourself. See you later, Until the next episode. If you don't already know, in addition to our podcasting work, we are each sobriety coaches with our own separate businesses helping people to drink less. If you or a loved one want to take a break from alcohol, we invite you to have a look at our individual websites Meg's is glassfulfilledcomau, and Bella's is isabellafergusoncomau and Bella's is isabellafergusoncomau, so take the next step that feels right for you.

Navigating Sober Sex and Connection
Navigating Intimacy Without Alcohol
Exploring Sobriety Coaching and Support