I’m guessing I’m not alone in being fascinated by the topic of sexual health. For many women, the last time we learned about our female organs and what they do was in fifth grade, when our teacher told us, through stifled giggles, why our bodies were changing. Decades later, educators know so much more about sexual health, from the neurochemistry of libido to the science of sex-enhancing nutrition and exercise.
When I read the informative new book by one of America’s best-known naturopathic physicians, Dr. Laurie Steelsmith, cowritten with her husband Alex, I was fascinated—and genuinely surprised—by how much I didn’t know. In Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine (Hay House, 2012), Dr. Steelsmith helps readers, as she puts it, “discover the many ways in which sexual pleasure can be wholesome and profoundly healing.”
This is a smart, serious book for women who understand that healthy sexuality is essential to their well-being. Dr. Steelsmith covers the topic of female sexuality using the naturopathic approach, which considers every aspect that contributes to one’s sexual health, including medical, nutritional, environmental, mental, emotional, and spiritual factors. Her emphasis is on creating a holistic, healthy lifestyle, enhancing energy, and preventing illness.
She believes that great sex and great health are yours for the having—you can choose your way into both. All that you do—every choice you make on a daily basis about what you eat, how you exercise, and even what you think about—influences your capacity for both sexual fulfillment and abundant health.
The book is divided into two parts. Part I lays out a four-stage process to achieving balance—in terms of your mental attitude and spiritual state, your everyday lifestyle, the functioning of your sexual organs, and your hormonal health. It also includes advice and tips for regaining sexual self-esteem and feeling positive about yourself.
A big highlight of this book for me, though, was The Great Sex Lifestyle, a detailed and comprehensive section devoted to foods, exercises, supplements, and detox strategies that all work together to support and enhance libido and sexual health. The naturopathic way to achieve sexual health involves: removing the chemicals from your home, personal care products, and diet; eating foods and taking supplements that detoxify and nourish your body and support optimal organ function; toning your body inside and out with exercises that are both yin and yang, according to the ancient Chinese model of good health; and boosting your sexual function by balancing your hormones naturally. After all, if you’re super healthy, look great, and feel youthful and amazing, your libido and desirability will also soar. That’s the goal here.
Part II of the book is the section everyone will want to skip to. Here Dr. Steelsmith covers the fun parts of sex—natural aphrodisiacs, many of which I had never heard of; interesting sexual techniques and secrets to try out on your own or with your lover; some facts about male sexual health and how to “work” with your partner; and long-term strategies to maintain vibrant sexuality into old age.
Regardless of your age or sexual sophistication, I guarantee you will learn things about sex and your own body that you never knew. How reassuring and refreshing that this book is written by a physician, who brings a whispered-about topic out into the open and offers practical strategies to help her readers achieve more fun, satisfaction, and fulfillment in their lives—and become a whole lot healthier in the process.