Archive for the ‘Sexuality’ Category

What Do You Know About Sex?

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

     If you are a regular reader of this column you know that it is written to inform and invite you to greater awareness and knowledge in matters that elicit positive mental health and quality relationships. I do not shy away from topics that may be embarrassing or controversial to some. There is value in spirited discussion about things that matter. My research and clinical experience are motivators in trying to touch your life with depth, utilizing pragmatic studies, principles, and guidelines.

     Sex is one of the most discussed topics in my practice. Sex in its many manifestations is at the central core of our being. How we understand our own sexuality and share it appropriately and ethically is important  to our physical and mental health, as well as in our primary relationship. As fundamental as sex is in our life, it is amazing how shallow its understanding is by so many people.

     Sex Education in this country rarely is done well. Thus, lack of knowledge, poor communication, media distortion and expectations, low self esteem, addiction and other factors have contributed to this deficiency. Most people think they know more about sex than they actually do. Dirty jokes, giggles, embarrassment, braggadocio, all contribute to misinformation and distortion.

     SEX MATTERS FOR WOMEN: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO TAKING CARE OF YOUR SEXUAL SELF is authored by Sallie Foley, MSW; Sally Kope, MSW; and Dennis Sugrue, Ph.D.  These three individuals are highly distinguished Sex Education professionals. Their credentials are impeccable. This book is exceptional. It is written for women from teen years to twilight years. It also should be read by men because it has a very informative section on men, in addition to helping men understand a woman’s sexuality.

     Chapter topics include basic biology, conception, puberty, body changes over time, sexual response, reproduction, illness, disability, and pain related to sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, trauma, partnering, sexual nurturance, problems, low desire and arousal issues, orgasm difficulties, etc…

     The book concludes with a description of sex therapy and exercises to assist the reader with personal knowledge and practical guidance to enhance sexual capacity.  An exhaustive list of suggested resources gives the reader an opportunity to get into more depth in a particular area of interest.

     For further reviews of the book, Google it. I did and found rave comments from prominent  sex educators, mature women, and university students. It is the best book of which I am aware that concerns the sexual “facts of life” in a very informative and readable style. I hope that you read it and give it to your children when they reach pubescence.  Understanding your sexuality is an important part of knowing who you are and how you function.

      “The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

 

Are You Making the Necessary Sexual Adjustments in Your Marriage? Some Tips!

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

In a committed relationship there are many adjustments that need to be made over time for a growthful harmonious relationship.  This article focuses on some of the sexual adjustments that need to be made.  Each of these factors does not exist for every couple, but some do for all.

1. Dating and early marriage sex is different than sex later in marriage.  This is largely due to the newness of the relationship and the biochemical P.E.A. (Phenylethylalamine) in the brain. The P.E.A. “peters out” and if the endorphin chemical does not kick in, sex is not very good.

2. Presence of children in the home affects sexual activity.  For some people it is the fear that the kids will walk in and seecoupling.  Also, kids drain energy an rob you of sleep. Thus, your drive and capacity for sex is diminished.  And then there are the parents who focus too much on the kids and do no not nurture the romantic relationship, therefore, distance and resentments develop.

3. Marriage elicits an emotional vulnerability in you.  Your emotional wiring implanted by previous sexual experiences enters into your marriage sex.  Certain parts of the body are to be avoided or particular sexual practices become undesirable and taboo in the marriage relationship.

4. Aging, illness, injury all create their own sexual changes.  Loss of libido, sexual drive, and capacity to perform diminish as a result of these factors.  Male and females have unique idiosyncratic challenges is these areas.  In many cases there are remedies available to maximize a pleasurable sensual experience.  “Making love” takes on different meaning and form over the years.

5. Timing and mood are important factors in sexual activity.  Your time of day, month, or year may not be the same as your partner’s. Your mood may not coincide with him or her.  Communication and understanding are vital here.

6. How you react to being desired or rejected is important.  Who takes the risk, the initiative? Your partner many want you but youare not in the same place.  You may want
your partner and s/he is not accommodating.  How do you handle the feelings of being rejected?

Sexual activity between partners is all about “making love”.  It is not about performance. How, when, and where may change, but hopefully the “why” continues in some form or fashion – because “we love each other”.  And if you love each other you bring the best you can to your partner and willingly accept the limitations of your partner, knowing s/he is bringing his or her best to you.

These listed topics are but the tip of the iceberg in terms of adjustments needed for shared sexual activity in committed partners over periods of time.  I hope they have shed some light, caused you to address your sexual issues, communicate and do whatever is necessary to improve, if needed, your love-making.

Sex for the Middle Aged and Beyond: Don’t Read This if You Don’t Qualify. You May Be Shocked!

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

You’re getting “older” (a relative term to be sure).  Are you losing your interest in sex?  How do you compare to others of your age?  Do you even care?  How about your spouse/significant other?

What are the two most difficult topics for couples to discuss?  You’re right, sex and money. Some people get so defensive about this topic that they do not even want to read about it.  Are you still with me?

Making love, sex, is a topic that couples dance all around about. Why?  Try these labels:  vulnerability, rejection, embarrassment, anger, disappointment, capacity.  Any of these fit you?  Of course they do; you’re human and have sensitivities in these areas.

What do research studies indicate about seniors and sexual activity? Two reports are indicative of the findings:

1. NCOA (National Council on the Aging) “found that nearly half of all Americans age 60 or over have sex at least once a month and that nearly half wanted to have sex more frequently.”

2. AARP survey:“Among 45 to 59 year olds with sexual partners, some 63% said they had sexual intercourse once a week or more.  Among 60 to 74 year olds, 30% of men and 24% of women have sex at least once a week, as did more than a quarter of those 75 or older.

What are some of the experts in this area of research saying?  Dr. Stephanie A. Sanders of the Kinsey Institute, states, “There is no age limit on sexuality and sexual activity.” Dr. Walter M. Bortz, of Stanford Medical School encourages people to“use it or lose it”. … If you stay interested, stay healthy, stay off medications, and have a good mate, then you can have good sex all the way to the end of life. … People that have sex live longer…the more intimate the connection, the more powerful the effects.”

(Hot off the press is a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine: If you have twenty one orgasms a month you reduce the probability of prostate cancer by 30%!)  Dr. Pepper Schwartz adds this in regard to sexual activity and staying healthy: “You can almost tell who’s still having sex from the positive energy they project.”  (Look around you, people, what do you see?  For those of you not having sex, put on a smiley face. Fake it til you make it!)

So, what about those people who are not having sex?  There are legitimate reasons and there are excuse reasons.  Only you, dear reader, may know the true reason.

1. Health: thyroid disorders, diabetes, medications, libido strength and desire, menopause, testosterone loss, etc… can be serious deterrents to sexual ability. (Here it is particularly pertinent to remember that “it is the journey, not the destination that is important.”  Love-making not orgasm is what is most important.)

2. Psychological issues: depression, attitude, and capacity for intimacy factor into one’s sexual life. Oft times if your head is not into it, nor will your body be.

3. Relationship issues: being in a relationship and the emotional closeness involved directly affect one’s sexual activity.

4. Time:  having the time or prioritizing the time to be sure that this health benefit is a part of their regimen affects a couple getting together amorously.

The capacity for sex is an essential part of our being.  Mother Nature gave us this ability to nurture, procreate, and enjoy the pleasure of connecting sexually in a loving way. If this aspect of your life is not present enough for your liking (or your partner), explore options.  Examining your life, communicating with your spouse, seeking advice and remedies from a medical doctor and/or trained mental health professional could assist you in enjoying the health benefits that the majority of seniors experience.

 

Making Love: Are You a Good Lover? “Hot Monogamy” Will Tell You!

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

     Yes, you’re right.  This is about sex.  Prudish people, you probably will turn the page quickly to something less threatening.  Porno people, you will be disappointed. Voyeurs, nothing for you here.  This is about love-making between committed lovers. It is about enhancing the sensual expression between two people who love each other and want to share their lives in the fullest expression possible – a more complete union.

     Dr. Pat Love, a respected researcher and oft published author, has written a highly acclaimed book entitled HOT MONOGAMY. I would like to share its perspective with you in hopes that it may invite you to re-think, emotionally expand, and behaviorally connect in a deeper fashion that what exists in your present comfort zone.

     What is the most difficult subject for a couple to openly discuss?  If your answer is not lovemaking than you are a member of a miniscule minority. To address lovemaking, Dr. Love (what a name for this topic; no it is not Dr. Strangelove) says a couple needs good communication, cooperation, maturity, and empathy.  Do you qualify or does work need to be done on these prerequisites?

     The book HOT MONOGAMY focuses on nine points:

1. COMUNICATION ABOUT SEX: the ease with which you talk about your sexual relationship.

2. SEXUAL DESIRE: how much physical desire you experience on a regular basis.

3. INTIMACY: your ability to share your thoughts and feelings with your partner on an ongoing basis.

4. TECHNIQUE: your skill at arousing yourself and your partner.

5. SEXUAL VARIETY: your willingness to add creativity and novelty to your lovemaking

6. ROMANCE: your desire to show love for your partner in concrete ways.

7. BODY IMAGE: your inner image of your outer self.

8. SENSUALITY: your willingness to relax and involve all your senses in lovemaking.

9. PASSION: your ability to combine intense feelings of arousal with love for your partner.

(Feel free to rate yourself, and your partner, on a scale of 1-100 in each category. P.S. Cover your answers, and no cheating!)

     Dr. Love also has a Sexual Style Survey with sixty three questions for you to rate yourself and your partner more specifically, for those interested and brave enough to get more personal in this awkward area of reflection.  The Survey may open your eyes to topics that you were not familiar with or seen as relevant.

     I am quite aware that the readership of this column is quite diverse, especially regarding age, number of years married, conservative or liberal, loaded or limited libido, open or closed minded, comfortable or not in addressing the topic of lovemaking, etc… My hope is that each person would examine his/her sexuality and how it is expressed and shared with the person you love.  This is not about performance, but rather about an intimate sensual connection with yourself and your partner.

     The research on the health benefits and personal happiness related to shared sensual connection is overwhelming.  Are you not willing to opt for the possibility of better health and happiness for you and the one you love

Your Sex Life: Who, or What, Is In Your Bedroom?

Monday, April 18th, 2011

     When I meet with couples for the first time I ask them questions to enable them to express their perception of the relationship.  Three of the questions are: (Each question is to be answered by a number from 1 (not happy) to 10 (very happy)

  1. All things considered, what is your overall happiness? 
  2. How happy are you in your marriage?
  3. How happy are you with your sex life?

The numerical answers speak volumes.  They facilitate further exploration into the dynamics of the relationship and how important the marriage relationship is to the overall happiness of each person.

     In discussing the low rating for number three, two typical issues come up which the couples often fight about:  television and/or pets in the bedroom. 

     Individuals have strong feelings about these conjugal disconnects – and rarely are ready to change or compromise.  Both TVs and pets are preferred to snuggling with their spouse.  A person may say differently but “actions speak louder than words”.  Cats, dogs, Desperate Housewives and Sports Center too often get prime billing in the bedroom.

     I remember one couple that had a dog-in-the-bed issue.  She asked him to get the dog out of the bed.  He said “no”.  I told him that she was feeling that the dog was more important than her.  He said he had the dog for many years and it is staying in the bed.  The wife left both the bed and the marriage.  “A man’s best friend…”

     The issue really is more complex than bedroom occupants, but television and pets are “defensible” defenses/barriers to avoid the closeness of sensual intimacy.  They offer plausible excuses and preoccupations. When I speak with each person individually the real issues keeping them sexually apart begin to unfold.  Blocking concerns usually center around lack of emotional closeness, past or present hurts, rejection, and performance inadequacy.

     If couples really want to rekindle some passion, express their love sexually, they may need to remove the television and pets from the bedroom.  With the diversions removed a couple can deal with the aloneness they have with each other and begin to bring down the barriers inhibiting emotional closeness and sexual sharing.

     Do you have a television or pet in your bedroom?  What number do you give to the quantity and quality of your love-making?  If it is below seven, move out the TV and pet so that you can couple sensually without distraction. I encourage you to read this article together at dinner and then discuss the evening’s “entertainment”!