Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Vibrant Nation, a marvelous online community of women over 50, asked me this question:
What surprised you most about sex after fifty?
Here's what I answered:
I was amazed at how hot it was!
I fell in love at age 57 with Robert, a 64-year-old artist and dancer who would inspire my book, Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty, and become my husband five years later. I couldn't believe how emotionally fired up for sex I was, how gloriously responsive to the kisses and touches of this vibrant man.
We were as lusty and giddy as a couple of teenagers, yet with the emotional and intellectual enhancement of age and experience. We knew, by now, who we were, what we wanted (in life and in a relationship, not just sexually), and how to talk about it. We had made plenty of relationship mistakes in the past, and now we were ready for the relationship we would do right. All of this heightened our sexuality and led us to express it joyfully and loudly.
Does that mean we were just like lust-crazed 20-year-olds with wrinkles? Not at all. My post-menopausal body was slow to arouse, although emotionally I was on fire from the moment I looked into Robert's blue eyes. But that turned out not to be an impediment at all, because Robert was not only willing, but elated, to take lots of time in foreplay (which I prefer to call "loveplay"). He said - and he was embarrassed when I quoted this in Better Than I Ever Expected - "I don’t care if it takes three weeks, as long as I can take breaks to change positions and get something to eat."
I know I had the fortune of loving an amazing man, but I think we are all capable of joy-filled, fulfilling sex at our age if we learn to express (gently) what we need and understand the changes in our partner and in our relationship as we age.
You can also read my response here on VibrantNation.com, where they're giving away five copies of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty to Vibrant Nation members who answer the question themselves!
If you're a woman over 50, I hope you'll join Vibrant Nation -- it's an interesting and supportive community filled with women sharing experiences, information, and ideas. I've been enjoying spending time there myself.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Cancer -- not a sexy topic, and not what you'd expect me to write about on Christmas Eve. But cancer knows no seasons and respects no holidays. Maggie, age 62, wrote to me:
Recently, I met a nice guy who after dating for a while, told me that he had surgery for prostate cancer 7 months ago. He went on to tell me all the bad news that the Dr. had told him about side effects. My question is, do you know any where that I can get some straight answers on what we are looking at, possibility wise? The information I have found online so far has been very negative, almost always putting the pressure on the woman if things were going to work or not. He advised me that he would never be able to have an ejaculation & that sex for him would never be the same. I got the idea that he would never feel the pleasure of having a climax again. My fear is that if this is true, what would be the point of him having sex? I am a very sexual woman & would just like to know if there is any chance that there can be a sexual relationship? Any guidance that you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
I sent Maggie's question to cancer and sexuality specialist, Anne Katz, RN, PhD. Here is her response:
There are a number of possibilities in this situation, some of them good and some of them not so good. Here are the facts:
1. Having surgery for prostate cancer (a radical prostatectomy or complete removal of the prostate gland) will result in significant changes in a man's ability to have an erection. Depending on what his erections were like before the surgery and the amount of damage done to the nerves responsible for erections during the surgery, the man may be able to have erections after the surgery but he is most likely always going to need some help (from medication like Viagra, Cialis or Levitra). These medications only help about 50% of the time but there are other erectile aids (the vacuum pump or penile injections) that can help too. Some men are able to have an erection but it may not last very long. Some men can only achieve a thickening of the penis and this may not be sufficient for penetration. Progress in regaining erections may continue for up to two years after surgery but what he has at that point is usually as good as it is going to get.
2. Orgasms are still possible, even with a flaccid penis. The orgasm will not be accompanied by ejaculation however (the prostate gland makes the fluid portion of the ejaculate and so when it is gone, so is the emission). Some men report more intense orgasms after this surgery; some say they are much less intense.
3. Libido (or sexual desire) is not affected by removal of the prostate but the mind is a very important part of a man's sexuality. Repeated failure to have an erection sufficient for penetration may cause him to lose some interest. Although some men just keep on trying and trying and trying - the human spirit is a powerful force and many men retain hope for many years despite little success.
4. Many couples find a way around these difficulties. There are more ways than just penetration for both the man and the woman to achieve orgasm and satisfaction and some creativity goes a long way. This may be challenging for a new relationship. But the lust and attraction in a new relationship may also provide more impetus than a 30 year relationship! There is no right way or wrong way in this; a lot depends on how you want to look at the situation.
5. If you read anything that you feel puts the onus on the woman (or male partner) to fix things, then stop reading! This is a couple's issue and both partners have to work on finding a solution. Communication is a very important part of sexuality. You should be able to talk openly about what works for him and what doesn't. You should be able to talk about what you want and what creativity you can both bring to sexual activity. In your letter you state that you "got the idea" - you will have to ask questions and not rely on innuendo to help you understand what is possible and what is not.
New relationships are challenging and exciting and inspiring and joyful. When illness or injury have occurred it puts a lot of pressure on this new partnership. Good luck!
Anne Katz, RN, PhD, is the author of the award-winning text book Breaking the Silence on Cancer and Sexuality: A Handbook for Health Care Providers . Dr Katz has also written three books for consumers: Sex When You're Sick: Reclaiming Sexual Health after Illness or Injury; Woman Cancer Sex, and Man Cancer Sex. She is the sexuality counselor at CancerCare Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she provides counseling to men and women experiencing sexual difficulties as a consequence of cancer and its treatments. Visit her website at http://www.drannekatz.com/.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I love memoir anthologies, and I have two marvelous ones to recommend to you. Both offer engrossing, well-crafted, personal stories from seasoned writers, many--maybe most--of them our age.
Face in the Mirror: Writers Reflect on Their Dreams of Youth and the Reality of Age, ed. Victoria Zackheim, features twenty writers looking themselves in the face. How did they see themselves when they were young and had their lives in front of them? What (usually bad) decisions did they make as they struggled to figure out their life direction and relationship choices? What have they learned since then, and who are they now? The writers are honest and intriguing, and the wisdom of age is affirmed in every story.
Sometimes the "face in the mirror" theme is literal: appearance, self-image. Other times these writers look at their upraising, their goals, their career choices, their relationship mistakes. The stark difference between where they thought they were headed and where they actually ended up should be a useful warning to young people fretting about their goals. Whatever you plan won't work the way you think. And that's usually a good thing.
Behind the Bedroom Door: Getting It, Giving It, Loving It, Missing It, ed. Paula Derrow, present 26 candid, often funny essays about sexual urges, preferences, experiences, longings, and embarrassments from women writers. Many are our age, reflecting on past experiences or celebrating current ones.
Some of these essays are sweet, like Hope Edelman's memory of 15-year-old sex ("Two people touching each other in all the right places, because there were no wrong places then, doing it for no reason other than it felt good and to keep doing it felt even better."). Some are full of erotic discovery, energy, self-assertion. Some may disturb you, like Abby Sher's essay about anorexia, cutting and a lover helpless to stop either, and Julie Powell's essay about her need for rough sex ("D was a perceptive lover, perceptive enough to know before I did that I wanted him to hit me, control me, hurt me.") All are powerfully written.
If you're still making gift-giving decisions, you can't go wrong with one of these books. For other recommended books that I've reviewed, click here.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I am reading your book Better Than I Ever Expected, and I am absolutely loving it. Although I'm a baby at 25, I'm ecstatic that someone has written such an honest, friendly, and educated book about sex in our later years. It makes me look forward to having new experiences at all ages! I also have suggested the book to my mother (age 64).
However, I was surprised when reading Chapter 9 to see that you threw away a drawer full of sex toys! Given you invite suggestions and comments throughout the book, I figured I'd send mine in:
Check it out: http://recyclemysextoy.com/
I have copied directly from their website:Help Your Planet
Now, when you get rid of that old, broken or unused sex toy, you will be helping our environment. You can feel good that you have done one more thing to cut consumer waste, reduce landfills and help eliminate the toxic chemicals that seep into our soil and ground water.
Be Rewarded For Your Good Deed
Not only do we make recycling your sex toys simple, we also offer a reward as an incentive. For every package of toys* you send in to be recycled, you will receive a $10 gift card (please allow 7 to 10 business days to receive) to use at one of our affiliate partners as well as some other goodies (when applicable) on your next order. So the more you recycle, the more you can play. Going green has never been this much fun!
So, not only do they give you an eco-friendly way to dispose of them, but they reward you for it! I urge you to use their services in the future and pass along the information to those who might also find it resourceful.
Thank you for again for the wonderful work you do.
Thank YOU, Danna! Yes, you're absolutely right that now we can recycle sex toys. Though it might make you cringe to read that I tossed a drawer full of sex toys in the trash in the past, realize that this happened ten years ago, and honestly, there was no place to recycle them. Now, of course, I know what to do! Thanks so much for the reminder that I need to tell everyone about this marvelous resource.
Readers, pass this along, please!
Friday, December 11, 2009
To my great delight, the nice folks at Natural Contours sent me seven personal massagers to review for you! (No, you can't have my job.) They're candy-colorful, smooth, quiet, strong, and beautifully designed for fit and function.
Natural Contours produces high-quality “designer vibes” designed to ergonomically fit the contours of a woman’s body. And they do fit our contours!
For example, the Petite Pink Ribbon (so-named because Natural Contours donates 10% of sales proceeds from to Breast Cancer Action), small as it is, packs quite a vibrational punch as it wraps around the vulva, sending sizzles to the clitoris and the whole, wonderfully sensitive, surrounding area. The Petite fits our contours so well, in fact, that you could just slip it over your hungry parts, hold it there by wearing panties over it, and sit comfortably at the computer writing your blog post with the Petite quietly buzzing away. Ummm.
My favorites of the Natural Contours line are the Ideal and the Liberte. I like to use them together -- the Liberte vaginally and the Ideal clitorally. I like that the Liberte is slim with a bigger spot for G-spot stimulation, and the shape and curvature of the handle part make it easy and comfortable to hold while G-spot pulsing. The Ideal is very strong yet easy to hold because of the angle of the handle.
If you prefer, you can get your clitoral and vaginal vibrating going together by covering the head of the Ideal with the G-Plus, a rubbery addition that turns the Ideal into a dual-action vibrator.
I haven't covered all of these marvelous products (yet!), but I trust this review will spur you to take a look at the Natural Contours website and try one or more that you'd like to tickle your fancy. (Tell your partner or best buddy what you'd like as a holiday gift!)
If you'd like an erotic film to accompany your vibrator exploration, four films produced by Candida Royalle feature scenes with women a bit older than the usual young-and-perfect actresses you usually see in sexually explicit films. Not our age, you understand, but women we can relate to. Candida Royalle is well known for creating women-friendly erotic films featuring what women like to see, such as foreplay, realistic characters, and a story (imagine that!).
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Solo, Doc Johnson Remote Control Vibrating Egg is a great solution for the woman coping with arthritis, carpal tunnel, or other challenges that make wrist action with a vibrator problematic. With this vibrator, you insert the Egg, then hold the remote wherever it's comfortable, no wrist twisting or tweaking required. You don't even have to hold it at all once you've punched in your vibration level.(See? Isn't it useful to read a sex-toy reviewer who's 66 years old?)
If you are partnered, it could be fun to give the remote to your partner and let him/her control your vibrations in bed, out to dinner, during a visit from the grandkids, at the gym.... I'd love to hear how you use it. This would make a fine holiday gift, don't you think?
I was a little worried about this egg vibrator after my size difficulties with the Teneo SmartBall, but I was delighted to discover that the smooth silicone and the smart design of the Egg gave me no insertion problem whatsoever. The Egg is more oval than round and tapers into a smaller size (rather like an egg) at the inserting end. The other end is larger so it won't pop out with your voluntary or involuntary contractions. Nice design job, Doc Johnson.
The vibrations are pleasant and stimulating, strong but not super strong. You'll likely want to couple it with a clitoral vibrator. Thanks to the remote, you can pair the Egg with a large-head clitoral vibrator (e.g. the Hitachi Magic Wand, Miracle Massager, or Natural Contours Ideal) without your toys clunking and battling for real estate.
(FYI, if you have a cat, hide this toy. Between the rolling shape and the claw enticing loop, my cat was sure it was an early holiday gift for him. Fortunately, I rescued it in time.)
Saturday, December 05, 2009
This is Part II of my review of The Uno Smartballs Teneo Kegel Sex Toys from Fun Factory that Good Vibrations sent me.Read Part I here first.
I tried the Uno Smartball again last Thursday, making sure I was plenty relaxed and aroused before trying to insert it. It still hurt a lot, but I concentrated on relaxing instead of forcing, and it was easier than the first time.
Once in, the Smartball was comfortable, so I decided to take it for an outing. I drove into town and wore it through my Pilates class. I didn't even notice it, except when I intentionally added Kegels to my abdominal work, then it became something to grab onto, so to speak, while Kegeling.
Next I was meeting a guy pal for a walk and a restaurant dinner, so I wore it through the evening. I kept thinking I was supposed to feel the marble moving around inside the ball, or at least the ball moving in me, but I guess the Smartball fit so snugly that it didn't wobble and I didn't feel any motion. The only sensation I felt was irritation from the loop (sort of like a tampon string, but plastic/rubbery). The most entertaining part, actually, was trying to decide whether to reveal my secret to my walking and dining companion. (I didn't, and I assume he'll be surprised when he reads it here.)
Extracting the Smartball at the end of the evening was again uncomfortable to the point of pain, capping my decision that the experiment was over.
So what was the point? Did it remind me to do my Kegels? I guess so, but it wasn't pleasant enough to use again, and I certainly have no desire to try the Duo and submit myself to double the entry discomfort. I think these balls would be more effective if they were smaller and/or tapered -- a narrower nub facilitating entry --instead of abruptly round.
There are other Kegel exercisers, and I'll report on some of them later on. The Smartballs don't get my vote, sorry.
For a totally different take on these balls, read this amusing, barely English review here. Here's an excerpt:
He is deal for women with a reduction in the matrix or a matrix doubled backwards that wants, to make vibrate the musculatura of pelvis...Smartballs trains the vaginal musculatura and of pelvis and tries more pleasure in sex. Advised by matrons!
12/15 update: For contrast, please read Essin' Em's very positive review . One of the many values of these Internet sex toy reviews from real users willing to be candid is that readers can compare reviews. Older readers may identify with me; younger "Kegel athletes" will identify with Essin' Em. Many thanks to Good Vibrations for welcoming responses from a variety of reviewers.