Meet Sex Educator Elizabeth Wood
For many years, I was a practicing sex therapist, dedicated to providing women and couples with the education and awareness needed to deepen intimacy and discover satisfaction. However, despite this work and my extensive training as a sex educator, I wasn’t as free and open as I empowered my clients to be. In my personal life, I harbored shame about my vulva.
I didn’t necessarily believe my vulva was “abnormal,” even though some medical literature would have labeled it that way. For the most part, I believed my genitals were healthy. I also believed that—in size and shape and color—they were different.
From high school locker rooms to magazines and movie screens, and even throughout my professional education, I hadn’t seen another vulva that looked like mine.
Of course, I hadn’t actually seen many vulvas in the flesh, or even heard many women talk about their genital appearance. With little to compare myself to, I felt embarrassed and carried a sense of shame that my vulva didn’t match those I’d seen on the models spread across the pages of men’s magazines. I didn’t want anyone else to notice the differences that were obvious to me.
In the changing room, I put on my gym clothes in private stall. When other girls and women walked around naked with what seemed like confidence about their bodies, I covered up. In later years, I went so far as to hide myself from sexual partners. Because of the shame I felt about my genitals, I was one of those “sex-with-the-lights-out girls.”
This shame followed me well into my adult life, right up to the moment I encountered specific teachings about genital diversity. I learned—and saw—that healthy vulvas come in varied sizes, shapes, and colors. For the first time, I saw different examples of what healthy, normal vulvas look like. I saw other vulvas whose size, shape, and color were different than mine. I also saw vulvas that matched mine.
I discovered my vulva is completely normal. It isn’t even really different. I began to realize like every vulva, mine is unique.
It turned out the problem had never been my body, or my intelligence, or even my self-confidence. The real problem was the enormous gap in my sexual education—and I was a sex educator! Even in my field, teachings about vulvas were lacking. They still are.
Looking back, I realized that I, along with everyone else I knew, had only been taught about one vulva. Textbooks showed, and continue to show, one size, shape, and color vulva. They don’t show vulvas like mine, and they probably don’t show vulvas that look like yours either.
Once I learned about genital diversity, I said, “No more.” No more misinformation about women’s genitalia. No more myth of one “normal” vulva. No more women hiding their bodies and not understanding their full capacity for pleasure.
I set out to become the sex educator I wished I’d had. In 2011, I made the decision to stop practicing therapy and start dedicating all of my personal experience, professional expertise, and tireless passion to a new goal: to help women understand and appreciate their genitals.
Knowledge Is an Antidote to Shame and an Invitation to Pleasure
Today, thanks to my holistic education and continued research, I adore my vulva. I love the pleasure my genitals give me, along with the pleasure they give my husband. I also distinctly remember what it was like to view my vulva as some sort of embarrassing secret. I know exactly how hard it can be to feel good in your body and to feel happy about all the parts you were born with, especially your genitals.
I also know how freeing it is to realize you are not alone—and that with proper education, you have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide. Learning that my genitals were healthy and normal helped end the shame and embarrassment I had long felt.
Now, I want to pass all I’ve learned and discovered onto other girls and women who may be feeling like I did. I am a welcoming, non-judgmental, non-shaming, and highly informative sex educator who brings humor and personality into the work I do. Sex is a serious matter, and shame is not something to treat lightly. However, if we can’t bring play, laughter, pleasure, joy, and humor into the way we talk about sex, then we can’t bring them into our sexual experiences either. At the end of the day, sex is about connection, pleasure, and joy. So, it’s only appropriate that I teach from a space of compassion, lightness, and fun.
Although I’m passionate about pleasure, I’m not here to tell anyone how to think or what to do. I am no one’s sexual guru! I offer people the awareness, insight, and tools needed to make informed decisions about their bodies and their sexual expression. I invite all my clients to engage with my teachings, consider how they apply, and then fly in their own unique directions. Everyone deserves a chance to embrace sexuality in whatever way works for them.
In my personal life, I am an immersive world traveler, dog lover, and skier. I also do whatever I can to help others, including using international vacations as opportunities to support underserved international communities. I’m also a member of the volunteer host team at a ski resort, guiding people, on and off the mountain.
Through it all, I am a wife, daughter, sister, auntie, and friend. I have always been surrounded by communities of strong, supportive women, many of whom were ahead of their time. Their care and conviction has inspired me to continue uplifting women through collaborative teamwork.
I am profoundly lucky to be working with Dee Hartmann, physical therapist and renowned expert in women’s sexual health. Throughout her career, Dee has done ground-breaking work to help women struggling with chronic pelvic pain, including pain with intercourse. Because I am focused on helping women step into pleasure, Dee and I make the perfect team. I hope you’ll read more about Dee here.
Elizabeth Wood holds a master’s degree in social work and was a sex therapist for many years. She is a member of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) and the Sexual and Gender Health Collaborative of the Front Range. She is also a certified member of the Somatic Sex Educators Association. In addition, Elizabeth is a Certified Tantra Educator through the School of Source Tantra. She completed her first training at the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic. She has completed all four levels of the Chuluaqui Quodoushka Spiritual Sexuality Teachings and received extensive training in the art and practice of women’s orgasm from Lafayette Morehouse, Orgasmic Providers, and OneTaste. With VulvaLove, she is excited to bring all of these teachings to women who wish to learn their unique path toward pleasure.