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Inspiring Women’s Summit: The Pleasure-Health Connection

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Inspiring Women’s Summit: The Pleasure-Health Connection

Dr. Christiane Northrup
Dr. Christiane Northrup More by this author
May 10, 2010 at 08:57 AM 0 comments

During the first week of May, I took part in a live teleconference that was part of the Inspiring Women Summit, a global gathering of over 26,000 women from 117 countries. My topic was the pleasure-health connection, and I participated in a conversation on this subject with Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., Elayne Doughty, and Regena Thomahauser (a/k/a Mama Gena).

We all talked for 20 minutes before going live. Our moderator suggested that we entertain the question Why don’t women allow themselves more pleasure? My friend Regena instantly took the conversation in a more pleasurable direction by saying, “We all know why women don’t allow themselves pleasure. We’re conditioned to serve others from birth. How about we instead explore all the wonderful ways that each of us is including pleasure in our own lives, and then take it from there?”

Great idea—we all agreed. Then each of us reported in on what we were wearing. Regena had on red satin tap pants and 5-inch stiletto heels. Joan was in sweat pants, having just finished a day of work on her latest book entitled Fried—all about burnout. I was in yoga pants and a tank top, but then donned my tango shoes just for the fun of it. 

Happily laughing, we started the call. Our first question was What is the science behind the pleasure/health connection and why is this important for women? I began by talking all about nitric oxide as the molecule of life force. Nitric oxide is produced by the endothelial lining of each blood vessel of our bodies, increases circulation, and is also the “uber” neurotransmitter, which balances all the others, including serotonin and other feel-good hormones. I also talked about an observation I had while teaching at Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts. I noticed that when women had the courage to make pleasure a deliberate pursuit in their lives, they would heal from physical ailments. Joan Borysenko, a cell biologist, also talked about the fact that nitric oxide is increased in all states of love and appreciation, whether that’s appreciation of nature or animals. 

After we had established the scientific basis for pleasure, we all dove in and shared our own approach to pleasure. Mine includes taking a bath each night before bed and reading. I also dance regularly. Joan talked about how her dog made a trip to the garbage can a wonderful event, which was fun to be part of. And Regena and Elayne talked about the fun of dressing up and creating “costumes.”

We had a ball on this call. And we all reveled in the idea that our conversation was then taken up by small groups of participants and has also been recorded and is available free to all women. We loved the idea that women in Egypt, Lebanon, France, Canada, and all over the world have access to this kind of celebratory information. And Elayne, who works with Eve Ensler in the Congo—where women are routinely raped and beaten—also shared that these women, despite everything, still have a huge amount of joy in their lives.

Pleasure is a game changer. And understanding its importance can save your life.  Really.

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