At puberty, breasts jut out of most women’s chests. In vanilla thinking, this is just another biological event signifying normal growth.
In real life however, this innocent organ carries power that forever affects a woman and her sex partner’s lives. These are the thoughts that crossed my mind as I listened to Jackie and Joel at the Sexology Clinic.
The couple, in their early 30s, had been married for three years and had just had their first baby. Two months after delivery, they were struggling to resume sex. Their health providers did not prepare them for what they were going through. It is unfortunate that pregnancy care has not traditionally included sexual healthcare, and many go through struggles with their sexuality, not just after delivery but also during pregnancy.
“So, is it fair for my wife to refuse me access to her breasts, insisting that they are now only for the baby?” Joel quipped angrily.
“It is not a matter of fairness, Joel,” Jackie interjected. “The baby is not your competitor, allow him to breastfeed then you can have the breasts back after two years.”
For the time that they had been married, breast play was an important part of their intimacy. Joel was at a loss with the coming of the baby.
“I feel you get your fun when the baby is breastfeeding,” Joel said emotionally. “You should also consider my wellbeing.”
Jackie frowned and shook her head in disbelief.
“You are becoming irrational and that is not good,” she said. “I hope you do not mean that I get sexual pleasure when breastfeeding my baby.”
Well, that was a difficult discussion. About 15 per cent of women get sexually aroused as they breastfeed and can even get orgasms. Some feel confused and guilty about it. Not all women do have this experience, however, and it is not true that a woman would keep off breast play with her husband to get fun from her baby.
The struggle of this couple epitomises the importance of breasts in sexual relationships. Most women feel confident with the sizes and shapes of their breasts. A number, on the other hand, feel uncomfortable and some have had breast cosmetic surgery. The use of breast pads is another way some women make the shapes of their breasts comfortable for them.
The reason a woman worries about her breasts is because it is part and parcel of their beauty. Further, breasts are sex organs and improve sexual appeal. Many men are captivated by the appearance of breasts. They naturally yearn to look at and touch them.
“And that is why I am telling my wife to be considerate,” Joel said absent mindedly. “In our relationship, we also suck them.”
“And that is why I am keeping them away from you,” Jackie said. “Let’s preserve the milk for the baby.”
The important thing here is that couples must learn to adapt to the changing roles, shapes and sizes of the breasts. It is of value to allow the baby to enjoy breastfeeding without competition. There are opportunities that come with this: A chance for couples to explore alternative ways of enjoying their intimacy with minimal interference with lactation.
It is also important to note that breast sensitivity to sexual arousal changes quite a bit. There are times of the month when a woman may not want her breasts touched. In fact, there are women who do not enjoy breast play at all. That should not be a source of conflict in a relationship.
Then there are women who have had the unfortunate experience of breast cancer. Some have had their breasts removed surgically. Should they stop having sex? Definitely not, other ways of intimacy in the absence of breasts should still work.
A number of women spend sleepless nights worrying about the shapes and sizes of their breasts. Incidentally, there is not one perfect shape and size. As such, your breasts should not be the cause of your self-doubt, lack of confidence, or feeling inferior. As the adage goes, you are fearfully and wonderfully made and that includes your breasts.
“But doctor, I really think that you should teach men other ways of enjoying sex,” Jackie said with finality. “This obsession with a woman’s breasts to the extent of pushing away your helpless baby is not good.”
And yes, Jackie had a point. Couples need to bring variety to their sexual relationships. There is no limit to what couples can do sexually to satisfy each other. In the absence of breasts, there are still a thousand ways to enjoy the warmth of your partner. What each man needs to do is improve their sex skills.
Many people do not invest in understanding and improving their sexual skills. When they discover one thing such as breast play they want to stick there and do it forever and the elimination of that aspect of intimacy totally throws them off balance.