Which is as it should be, considering this mom of two is also a sex therapist
When she was in high school, sex therapist Dr. Rica Cruz would often find her name scribbled on chairs and the doors of comfort rooms. “Rica Pokpok”, they’d write crudely. To think it all started when she was only 10 years old, after singing Colors of the Wind during a flag ceremony in a light blue Sunday dress. It was then her classmates started calling her “Pukehostess”, so she figured, she might as well own it.
She embraced being the girl who’d talk about sex in school, giving away condoms in college, choosing sex as her topic of choice for many a speech. “When I started talking about sex publicly, I had to go through hoops just to get my message across,” the sex therapist says. “People were doubting me and my credentials. Men thought I wanted to have sex with them, women thought I was just being a slut. Eh. I’m used to it.”
Fast forward several years later, she’s now one of the country’s most talked about sex therapists. She also has two podcasts, Conservative Ako and The Sexy Minds, as well as a co-hosting gig for Feelings. She’s also just launched Unprude, a space where women can be sexually unashamed, and shop for sexual wellness freely and openly. And yes, she’s also a mom to 10-year-old Caia and 2-year-old Keita or Kiki.
On being a mom
“Being a mother is difficult,” Dr Rica intimates. “but fun too! I enjoy spending time with my daughters. I see so much of myself in them and at the same time love seeing them grow into their own person. But I don’t enjoy the sleepless nights…”
In fact, those sleepless nights did take a toll on the former med student. When she was pregnant with her daughter Caia, she had to take a leave of absence because of a threatened abortion. “I decided not to go back to med school because I wanted to take care of her and breastfeed her, and be the one to raise her,” the mom of two says. “But because I chose to stop med school, I had to fulfill that dream through a different path. Then I found myself applying to get my Masters in Psychology, instead and eventually got my doctorate, making my dream come true.”
When your mom is a sex therapist…
“When I was taking my Masters, I would practice all my presentations on sexual behavior on Caia. Of course, I’d answer all her questions and give explanations too,” she shares. “She’d also come to the sex ed talks I’d give at universities and also sit in my classes.”
Needless to say, Dr. Rica’s daughters are growing up to be quite the sex experts. At just 8 years old, Caia already knew how to use condoms. She understood the concept of pregnancy as well as how STIs are contracted and yes, what sex toys are. In fact, Dr.Rica reveals that Caia came out to her and her husband as bisexual when she was 10 years old.
“Caia knows that when her dad and I lock the door or go on vacations, she needs to remind us to use condoms because she doesn’t want another sibling,” Dr. Rica laughs. Her younger daughter, Kiki, plays with condoms all the time, turning them into balloons. She even has a vibrating toy collection, because she thinks they’re cute. Dr.Rica adds, “In our household, sex is normal. There’s no shame or stigma, because that’s how it should be.”
Advice from Dr Rica
Of course, we couldn’t NOT ask Dr. Rica for advice about sex. After all, what better source than a sex therapist to give us guidance about such a touchy, embarrassing subject for most people. Here they are:
1. How do we talk to our kids about sex without being awkward?
Dr Rica: It’s actually very normal to feel awkward about these things with your children because we were raised to be shameful even guilty when we talk about sex. But, we need to get through the shame for our kids. We can start with showing our kids how normal it is for us to hug or kiss each other as couples.
When they ask questions about love, sex, and relationships, we answer them as factual as we can. We do not sugarcoat terms such as penis, vagina, vulva, sex, kiss. We stick to the Science and be as objective as possible. There are also resources in the internet that are great for kids and for parents to go through to learn more about sex.
2. Is not wanting to have sex normal, especially postpartum?
Dr Rica: Yes, it is. For my first child, it took me a year after I gave birth to her to actually have penile-vaginal intercourse again. And I remember, it was painful! And if I only knew back then, I would’ve been best friends with lube.
It was easier for my second child, as I gave birth through CS with her. So as soon as I felt ready, I was back in the game. But of course, you have the sleepless nights, the stress, the hormones, the excruciating pain of breastfeeding – all these things will really not make you want to have sex any time soon after you give birth. So yes, it is absolutely normal.
3. In your opinion, how has the pandemic affected married couples’ sex lives?
It’s make or break. A lot of couples found strength in each other to survive this ordeal, while some are realizing that they’re not as compatible as they thought they were.
4. Now that we’re stuck, spending all this time with our partner, how can we keep the fires burning?
Dr. Rica: Give each other space – literally and figuratively, but also have some time to truly and intimately connect with each other. Couples who are thriving in this pandemic normally have 10-20 minutes a day set aside to verbally and non-verbally communicate with each other without distractions (ie, the phone, tv, etc.). They hug, they kiss, they turn towards each other fully.
5. How can you kickstart an open, honest conversation about sex?
Dr. Rica: Talk about it outside the bedroom. You can bring it up during dinner, or while stuck in traffic. Ask how often you expect to have sex. If it doesn’t work, you can go to therapy to help figure it out.
In a society where sex talk is often shunned, Dr. Rica is the breath of fresh air we’ve needed. She reminds us moms, that despite all the societal expectations placed on us, we can prioritize having a healthy sexual relationship with our partners. There’s no shame in wanting intimacy or feeling satisfied in every avenue in our lives — we need to (literally) grab it by the balls — and own it. Thank you for all you’ve done, Dr. Rica!
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