Friday, December 21, 2012

Ageless Erotica coming soon!


I'm thrilled to announce that Ageless Erotica will come out at the end of February 2013 from Seal Press! In this groundbreaking anthology, 29 writers age 50+ write steamy erotica featuring sexy characters who are also age 50+.

This is not your usual erotica with a few wrinkles slapped on -- these are stories that show how hot sex can be at our age. This collection embraces the agelessness of sexuality while still realistically acknowledging the changes that accompany aging.

Some selections are tender and loving, while others are edgy and kinky. But whether characters are going solo, having spicy sex with partners they love and have loved for decades, or engaging in casual encounters, every story included in these pages aims to arouse and to rejoice in the sensual side of aging.

Ageless Erotica is a stimulating celebration of the many pleasures of “well-seasoned” sex.

Check out the contents:

INTRODUCTION Joan Price
TO BED Erobintica
SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLUE Nancy Weber 
DOLORES PARK Dale Chase
INVITATION TO LUNCH Donna George Storey
OTHER PEOPLE’S STUFF Susan St. Aubin
LADY BELLA I.G. Frederick 
HAND JOBS Kate Dominic
SMOOTH AND SLIPPERY Doug Harrison 
TONY TEMPO Tsaurah Litzky 
BETTER THAN VIBRATORS Cheri Crystal
AFTER TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS Dorothy Freed
MY NEW VAGINA Audrienne Roberts Womack
TRAIN RIDE Harris Tweed 
AT THE WANE OF THE MOON Bill Noble
PEAS IN A POD Maryn Blackburn
ENDLESS PRAISE, TIMELESS LOVE Linda Poelzl
THE HOTEL LOUNGE Skyler Karadan
COMING FULL CIRCLE Cela Winter
GEORGE Lorna Lee
IN THE MEANTIME Miriam Kura
MR. SMITH, MS. JONES WILL SEE YOU NOW D.L. King
JAGUAR DREAMS Evvy Lynn
TOAST FOR BREAKFAST Cheyenne Blue
BY THE BOOK Rae Padilla Francoeur
BLIND, NOT DEAD Johnny Dragona
AFTER DINNER EUPHORIA Peter Baltensperger
THE WACKY IRAQI, THE SHAMAN LOVER, AND ME Erica Manfred
BEYOND THE DOUBLE DOORS Sue Katz 
MORNING Belle Burroughs Shepherd
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
ABOUT THE EDITOR 

I'll share excerpts and tell you more about the writers soon. If you'd like to be emailed when Ageless Erotica is available for purchase, please email me with "Ageless Erotica notification" in the subject header, and I'll let you know the moment copies are available. You can also pre-order on Amazon.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sexy Seniors' Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Usually when I write a gift guide for you, I compile the best of the sex toys, books, and other items that I've reviewed all year. This year, I'm spotlighting some fabulous products that I haven't reviewed yet, along with some favorites of the year. 

I've tried a few different clitoral arousal gels, and they all provide a bit of a tingle. The new wOw Max O from Wet is a whole different species.

I've been using it for several months, and haven't reviewed it yet only because I can't figure out how to describe the sensation. It's more than a tingle -- almost a sting, but in a lusciously arousing, sexy way. It contains two vasodilators which bring blood to the surface of the skin -- important for arousal and orgasm -- and  peppermint creates the more-than-tingly sensation. It feels really, really good. (If you can figure out how to describe the sensation, please let me know.) If you like the idea of extra clitoral arousal, but you want a gentle assist rather than the power of the Max, Wet also makes a milder version, called wOw Gentle O. Although the tube looks small, Wet says women typically get 75 applications from one tube.

Wet also makes 14 different kinds of lubricant, depending on your preference, whether you're using it with latex condoms or silicone toys, whether you want thicker and slicker or more natural feeling. My favorite is the "Ecstasy Xtra Cooling Lubricant."


When Good Vibrations heard that I was doing a Gift Guide, they rushed to send me some new products. Many insertable sex toys are too girthy for some of my readers who prefer or require slimmer toys for comfort. These two will please, and they're lot less expensive than most of the vibrators that pass my review test! Both are hard plastic, use batteries, and have a dial at the end for intensity. (They're labeled waterproof, but I didn't test them this way.)

Silky G Waterproof G-spot Vibrator. This is a terrific vibrator for a woman who likes G-spot stimulation without girth. It's just 1.25" in diameter at its widest. We're all shaped a bit differently, but for me, the curved tip hit my G-spot perfectly. Yum.

Easy Glider Waterproof Vibrator.If your giftee wants a slim, insertable vibrator but doesn't care about the G-spot curve, this bright, translucent vibrator has bloops for varied sensations. At its widest, it's only 1-1/8", and the tip is much smaller for easy, gradual insertion.

If intense, diffused stimulation of the clitoris and much of the vulva is more important to you than size or silence, the Acuvibe has become one of my all-time favorite external vibrators. It's strong, really strong, and because it's rechargeable, there are no cords to get in the way while you use it. Yes, it's heavy. So worth it!


Let's say your giftee likes vaginal or anal sex toys and maybe even doesn't need them to vibrate. Tantus produces an astonishing array of dildos, vibrators, butt plugs, and some items that defy categorization. Some are phallic shaped, like the Vamp pictured here -- it's sparkly, which doesn't show in the photo, and the color and name whimsically call to mind a vampire's phallus (not that I've ever seen a vampire's phallus).

Others are shaped for anatomical pleasure rather than realistic appearance. Tantus has always taken a stand for body-safe, medical-grade, platinum-based silicone products, even when most sex toys used to be cheap and toxic. (FYI, the Vamp is too girthy for me -- 1.75" -- but I like to look at it. Tantus does make smaller toys, but I thought you might like to look at the Vamp, too.)

When I was planning this gift guide, I was going to introduce the Crave Duet here. But once I tried it, I enjoyed it so much that I decided it needed its own review, which I appears here. If the woman in your life wants strong, direct clitoral vibrations in a tiny, practically silent vibrator, the Duet makes an elegant gift. 


Playboy's Greatest CoversI've given you a lots of gift ideas for women, but how about the fellow in your life? If he's told you stories of hiding his copies of Playboy under his mattress when he was a boy, he'll appreciate this coffee-table size ( 9.4" x 12") book: Playboy's Greatest Covers, by sex, tech, and pop culture writer Damon Brown.
Tenga Egg Masturbation Sleeves - Click to enlarge


A man can't have too many eggs -- Tenga Egg Masturbation Sleeves, that is. "It provides marvelous sensations, comes in a wide variety of interior ribbing designs and as a bonus, is usable even by men suffering from erectile dysfunction, raves my male reviewer, sex therapist David Pittle. Read his review here.


A Joyful Pleasure glass toy is a lovely gift that will keep on giving. These look like works of art, but their purpose is vaginal or anal pleasure. Read my review of some of these glass toys here, or see the whole collection here.  


Blossom Organics makes smooth, body-safe, natural feeling lubricants so you can enjoy your sexual sensations with a partner, a toy, or your own fingers, even if your vagina doesn't lubricate easily any more. As the name implies, these are made from natural and organic plant-based materials that are gentle even for sensitive vaginas. Choose from natural moisturizing lubricant, warm sensation moisturizing lubricant, or warm sensation oil. (The oil is not latex-friendly; the others are.) Be sure and try the Pure Pleasure Arousal Gel for extra tingle!


I've been praising the Liberator Wedge for years. It's a sex cushion, just the right shape, size, and support for getting into your favorite sex position without stress to your (or your partner's) knees, hips, or back. No need to put it away between sex dates -- it's also a nice reading pillow! I like the 24", but for large-sized bodies or a greater variety of sex positions, you might want another size or shape or a combo.


Of course, my own books make great gifts, and they're available as paperbacks, e-books, and audiobooks:


What do you think of this year's selection? I invite you to add your comments. (Please, no retailers that I don't endorse trying to pull my readers to your sites.)

Please also enjoy my past gift guides:




Monday, December 10, 2012

He Danced into My Heart: Memories and Reflections

Tomorrow, December 11, is the 12-year anniversary of the day that I met Robert Rice and my life -- personal and professional -- flipped itself upside down. Robert walked into the line dance class I was teaching, and I tried to remember to breathe.

It was lust at first sight... on my part. He, I learned later, was just looking for a new place to dance.

I didn't know that night that I'd fall in love with this man. I only knew that his blue eyes and warm smile melted my world, and I had a sudden urge (which I resisted) to touch the chest hair that peeked from the V of his shirt. When he started to roll his hips, revealing a lifetime of dance and a self-assurance in his 64-year-old dancer's body, I felt my own hips strain to match his rhythm.  I kept forgetting the steps to the dance I was teaching.

It took nine months before I finally caressed that chest hair and our hips matched rhythm horizontally instead of vertically. I, whose motto had been "the only problem with instant gratification is that it takes too long," pursued a man who didn't believe in rushing anything. (Our complete story is in my first book about senior sex: Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty.)

Our first kiss didn't happen for nine months -- but once we started, we never stopped kissing.

I lost Robert to cancer on August 2, 2008 -- exactly seven years after our first kiss.

Today, I made myself coffee in the coffee pot that he had used, held my cup to my cheek as he had done. I thought of the post I had written in 2010  -- “I’m Going to Make You Coffee….”

I thought first that I would republish that post today. But another two-plus years have passed since I wrote that. As strong as the memories are still, and as freely as the tears flow at those memories, my grief has more layers of time cushioning it. The grief isn't so raw and I'm not powerless or joyless from it. It still floods over me, but not all the time, and when it does, I know how to swim to the top and breathe again. My muscles are strong from practice.

For those of you who have lost a loved one, I think it's important to share this with you: It does get easier. We all proceed in our own time frame. There's no "right" amount of time to grieve, and anyone who tells you, "you should be over it by now" should be educated (first I wrote "pilloried," but I changed my mind).

I've also learned that we can move forward and hold onto the memories at the same time. I'm listed with three online dating sites, and I'm enthusiastic about welcoming male company into my life. I still miss Robert every day. I am not looking to replace him -- couldn't be done even if I wanted to, and I don't want to. Any new man I get involved with will have to accept that I'm not going to take Robert's paintings off the wall or hide the urn that holds his ashes.

I'm 69 -- I bring my whole lifetime of experiences with me into whatever path I take next. That includes my memories of the man who taught me how richly I could love and be loved.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Crave Duet: a most unusual vibrator


The Crave Duet completely surprised me! I had seen photos of this unusual clitoral vibrator and read reviews, so I thought I'd like it -- but I had no idea I'd love it.

I originally planned to include it in my holiday gift guide 2012, but after testing it, I knew the Crave Duet deserved a complete review.  

The two-prong shape is the most unique quality of this delightful little vibrator. The dual motor makes each prong vibrate independently, and when the prongs surround your clitoris, it's a wild sensation indeed!

If you like strong, pinpoint pressure on your clitoris, you can pinch your clit with the prongs -- they open and close a little bit (do not force it to open more than pinky-width) -- if that's what you like.

Or, to stimulate a larger area and not pinch anything, you can nest it horizontally between your labia so that the prongs surround your clitoris and hug much of the vulva. This worked for me! This would also work during partner penetration when your clit needs an extra assist. 

The Duet is also unusual because it charges via your UBS port. Pull apart the silver part from the silicone, plug the USB in, press the center button, and Duet recharges in an hour or two. No cords or batteries needed ever.You can buy a version of the Duet that acts as a real flash drive, too, but why bother? Do you really need to carry your work files in your vibrator?

Before I tried the Duet myself, I read some early reviews. Some reviewers said they wanted to love the Duet, but they didn't because it either wasn't strong enough or, because the prong tips were practically touching,  they pinched their clits uncomfortably in the normal position.

Crave listened to reviewers and customers and resolved these problems admirably in the second generation Duet. Now there's an extra-strong "turbo" setting -- which is strong enough even for me! The shape has been redesigned with a wider gap, so it hugs instead of pinches, unless you intentionally close the gap.  (Anyone who bought the first generation may receive a free replacement -- now that's customer service.)

One con: The controls at the end of the shiny part are impossible to distinguish unless you're peering at them up close with your reading glasses on. The middle one is obvious: press for off, on, or to change patterns. But the "+" and "-" are easily confused, and you don't want to turn it down when you intend to turn it up.  (You can see the controls here -- I was unable to get a clear photo myself.)

My suggestion: Start with it on the highest "+" setting you might want, and leave it there, adjusting sensation by pressure. Either that or memorize which side the "+" button is on before you get started.

I don't usually discuss packaging in my sex toy reviews -- it's usually a "who cares?" aspect of a product. But the Crave packaging is laudable: instead of a big box with lots of plastic around the product, the Duet arrives in a tiny cardboard box, with a "quick start guide" printed right on the box.

A more detailed user's guide is online, and the URL is engraved on a tiny charm. The charm idea is cute but silly, because you can't attach the charm to the zipper pull of the case (I tried). So you'll probably just lose it unless you wear it on a chain as statement jewelry or put it on a key ring. Let me save you some trouble: here's the user guide: http://www.lovecrave.com/duet/support/.

The Crave Duet comes with a slim, discreet storage case that you can fit in a purse, pocket, or laptop carrier, making the Duet easy to carry with you should the need arise before you get home (nothing's that urgent for me these days, but your urges may vary!) or in case you anticipate an interesting date. I'll definitely carry the Duet on my next trip!

The business end of the Duet is silicone, so be sure to use water-based lubricant with it -- not silicone lube. The whole thing is waterproof -- just be careful that it's all the way closed so the seam is sealed before taking it into the tub with you or washing it. It's also very quiet!

I hope you'll try the Crave Duet and let me know if you enjoy it as much as I do. Happy buzzing!




Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Penis Power: Interview with Dudley Danoff

Urologist Dudley S. Danoff, MD, FACS, is the author of Penis Power: The Ultimate Guide to Male Sexual Health (Del Monaco Press, 2011). It’s an upbeat and even entertaining guide to the complexities, myths, facts, and vagaries of owning a penis (or, in my case, liking penises and being endlessly fascinated by them). Dr. Danoff covers how they work and what’s going on when they don’t work—psychologically as well as physiologically.

My male readers often write me with age-related questions about their penises: what’s a “normal” change with age vs. what’s a medical problem, how they can deal with erection difficulties, how to negotiate new needs and issues with a partner. “We are tragically ill-informed about the penis,” says Dr. Danoff, and he aims to change that.

 Although this book is not specifically aimed at our age group, all of it applies to us, and I guarantee you’ll say, “I didn’t know that” several times as you read, even if you’ve owned a penis for 50, 60, or 70 years.

I invited Dr. Danoff to answer questions that specifically address men age 60+ and the women in their lives. I welcome your comments.

Q&A WITH DUDLEY S. DANOFF, MD, FACS 

Q: What is your big message to our older men? 

A: Sex is good for you. It maintains overall physical strength and cardiovascular health, and most of all, it keeps you invigorated. A man’s penis is there to serve him from puberty to old age.

 Q: What are the most common misunderstandings that men age 60+ have about their penises or about their sexuality in general? What do you wish all men knew as they aged? 

A: By far, the most frequent complaint I hear from men is that they do not have the same level of sexual desire they used to have. It takes longer to get an erection, it takes longer to ejaculate, it takes longer to get aroused again after they make love, and their erections are not as firm. These conditions are all predictable changes that occur as men get older.

Attitude is the key to penis longevity. My super-potent patients tell me that sex gives them as much joy at 70 as it did at 20. Some say the sex is even better! Equal pleasure can be obtained from occasional, prolonged intercourse with one orgasm as with frequent, rapid intercourse with multiple orgasms.

All men, as they age, deserve active, healthy sex lives as long as they remain physically fit. Do not expect to do at 60 what you did at 40. Adjust your sexual activities as your body changes, just as you adjust other activities. Look upon the adjustment as both a new challenge and a new opportunity.

As you age, learn to use your mind and imagination to make up in creativity what you may lack in physical strength. As long as you are able to breathe, move your extremities, maintain relative control over your bodily functions, remain alert enough to identify the date and day of the week, and sustain a positive mental outlook, you can continue to exercise your penis power indefinitely.

Q: What would you say to many men age 60+ who tell me that they don’t get good information or direction from their urologists when they report undependable or nonexistent erections? They are commonly told, “Well, you’re older now,” or “It’s ED,” without a medical workup to see whether some underlying condition is causing the ED.

A: Find another urologist who is knowledgeable about erectile dysfunction and is willing and able to thoroughly evaluate you. A comprehensive evaluation, including a full cardiovascular evaluation, by a qualified urologist is essential. Endocrine issues, such as low testosterone or unrecognized diabetes, can then be treated, and erectile dysfunction will improve. Knowledge is power. There are many treatments on the urologic menu for erectile dysfunction, but first you need a proper diagnosis to identify the underlying cause. Treatment is both available and effective in almost all cases and will result in satisfactory erections.

Q: Many men would rather sever their own leg than admit to a doctor that they are experiencing erectile difficulties. Why is it important to see a doctor before self-treating with drugs or other assists?

 A: Many serious medical conditions that are first manifested by erectile difficulties go unrecognized. It is absolutely essential to get a full evaluation by a qualified urologist in all cases of erectile dysfunction in order to determine the presence or absence of some serious (or not so serious) medical problem and treat it accordingly. For example, if low serum testosterone is found, testosterone replacement therapy can give spectacular results. Under no circumstances should a man self-treat his erectile dysfunction with over-the-counter preparations without first determining the presence or absence of an underlying medical condition that is correctable.

Q: How can women enhance their partner’s and their own sexual pleasure when erections and intercourse are not the main events?

 A: Most importantly, do not think old! Sexual pleasure is all about attitude. If your mind is strong and your partner’s mind is strong, intimacy and sex without vaginal penetration can be enormously pleasurable. The key is not to lament what you have lost. Be grateful for what you still have and make the most of it. Age is not a deterrent to great sex. Rather, it is a challenge and an opportunity.

If you keep your enthusiasm, you can compensate for or even delay the effects of aging. You do not stop having sex because you are old—you get old because you stop having sex! Talking candidly with your partner about aging is the best way to find a solution for maintaining a healthy sex life.

Q: What else do you want women to understand about their male partners?

 A: Older men are just as penocentric as younger men are, even though capacity may be diminished. I would encourage older women to become more “penis oriented.” Older women who are penis oriented have more fun and also have better marriages, more faithful partners, and greater personal fulfillment in all aspects of their lives. If you believe that each partner has the mutual responsibility to satisfy the other’s needs, then it follows that you will hold up your end of the bargain as a woman by making your partner’s penis one of your top priorities.

Being penis oriented does not imply a belittlement of female sexuality. It simply means learning to understand and accommodate an older man’s penis needs by approaching that task with all of the pride and skill that you would bring to any other endeavor. I assure the older woman that if you take the steps to become informed, you and your man will reap rewards you have only dreamed about.


Images are from Penis Power: The Ultimate Guide to Male Sexual Health by Dudley Seth Danoff, MD. ©2011 Dudley Seth Danoff. Reprinted by permission of Dudley Seth Danoff. Copies of the book are available at your local bookstore or may be ordered through Amazon.com.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Healing Painful Sex: Interview with Deborah Coady, MD


Many women in our age group write me that they’re experiencing pain with sex or avoiding sex because of pain. I consulted several experts for their advice in chapter 11 of Naked at Our Age: “When Sex Hurts: Vulvar/Vaginal Pain,” but reading that chapter is just the beginning of solving that problem. You need a diagnosis – vaginal/vulvar pain can be caused by a number of medical issues, and you need to understand why you’re having pain before you can get it treated effectively.  

I was happy to receive a review copy of Healing Painful Sex: A Woman's Guide to Confronting, Diagnosing, and Treating Sexual Pain by Deborah Coady, MD and Nancy Fish, MSW, MPH. This book is entirely devoted to sexual pain in women: the myriad possible causes, how to figure out which one or combination is yours, and what to do about it.

The authors are a power team: Deborah Coady is a gynecologist and a pelvic/vulvar pain specialist. Nancy Fish is a therapist with degrees in social work and public health, and she personally experienced chronic pelvic pain until Dr. Coady helped her resolve it.

I asked Dr. Coady if she would answer some questions that women our age often ask me:


Q. Many older women are reluctant to ask their gynecologists about sexual pain because a) they’re embarrassed, b) they think this is part of aging, and c) they fear their doctors will be dismissive. What would you say to these women?

A: These feelings and fears are completely understandable. Unfortunately, the medical profession has until now given too little attention to the sexual concerns of women as we get older. Women often are dismissed or rushed when they bring up their problems. And this is not the fault of the patients: A recent survey of gynecologists by Stacey Lindau, MD of the University of Chicago hints to their discomfort, as well as their lack of experience and formal training in this area of medicine. While 60% responded that they did ask about sexual problems at the first visit, only 14% asked about pleasure with sexual activity. It is often up to women themselves to be pro-active, ask the hard questions, and remember that they are entitled to medical therapy for this medical problem, or referral to an MD who can help.


Q. My readers sometimes report that after a long time without sex (due to lack of a partner or disinterest from a partner), they try to have sex again -- and they can’t: It’s too painful. What should a woman do about this?

A: On average, about 5-6 years after their last menses, most women develop thinning of their vulvar and vaginal tissues, often causing pain with sexual touching or intercourse, or with urination after sexual activity, or itching, burning and even surface bleeding after sex. This can occur even in women taking systemic estrogen therapy. As estrogen levels decline both the surface skin and underlying connective tissues thin, shrink, and lose elasticity. Most pain is actually located at the vaginal opening itself, rather than deep inside the vagina as previously thought. The good news is that since these tissues are exquisitely hormonally sensitive, even small doses of estrogen, with or without testosterone or DHEA, applied to the vaginal opening (the vestibule), can reverse these changes within 2-4 weeks, and then even lower doses can be used to maintain the improvement. Some women with severe loss of elasticity will also be helped by a course of pelvic floor manual physical therapy, to help normalize the connective tissue, and relieve the reflexive muscle spasms that some women develop due to their pain.

Q. I like your questionnaire (107-111) because women often don’t know how to pin down just where and what the pain is that they’re experiencing. I recommend that women scan or photocopy that questionnaire to show their medical professionals. Would it be a good idea to carry a copy of Healing Painful Sex to the appointment, too, in case the doc hasn’t heard of your book?

A: One of our missions in writing the book is that women would have it as a resource to get their gynecologists informed and up to speed on treating sexual pain.  Many patients have done just this, and their MDs have actually been grateful for the introduction to the book.

Q. If a gynecologist says, “You just need lubricant” or – worse! – “Well, at your age, you can expect that,” what should an older woman say to get diagnosis and treatment? I tell women to say, “If you don’t know how to help me, please refer me to someone who does,” but that might seem more confrontational than you would recommend! What would you advise her to say?

A: I would advise her to say exactly that.  We have to advocate for ourselves and we deserve up-to-date treatment for sexual pain.  A healthy sexual life is a basic human right, even defined as so by the World Health Organization!

Q. How can a post-menopausal woman weigh the benefits of HRT vs. the health risks if she’s experiencing vaginal thinning and tearing?

A: There is absolutely no evidence that the small amount of estradiol or estriol available for use at the vaginal opening is absorbed to any degree that would induce breast cancer. The doses are tiny compared to HRT doses that are meant to be systemic, that is, to go to all parts of the body. To help hot flashes the doses need to reach the brain in quantities much much higher than the topical estrogen will ever give. And with the evidence now showing that estrogen alone does not increase the risk of breast cancer anyway, women can be assured that topical therapy, especially if mostly applied to the vaginal opening, is safe. It is also now known that the thicker and more estrogenized the vulvar and vaginal tissues are, the less absorption into the body.  So a stable constant regimen is better than going on and off the topicals, with the tissues thinning again in between.

Q. How do we educate our medical professionals to stop being dismissive and take our sexuality seriously, whether we’re 60, 70, or 80?

A: This is a work in progress, but educational outreach through professional societies like NAMS, the International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS), and the International Society for the Study Of Vulvovaginal Disorders (ISSVD), as well as patient advocacy organizations, especially the National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) is helping. The websites of these societies all list health professionals by area to help patients find a knowledgeable MD. We also need to devote more time to formal education on sexuality and pain in medical schools and residency programs.


As always, I welcome your comments. If you’re experiencing pain with sex, I hope you’ll read both Naked at Our Age and Healing Painful Sex. Then please carry both books with you to show your doctor! 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Things You’ll Never Hear Him Say When He Sees You Naked

Photo by Ruth Lefkowitz
Women of our age: I hear all the time that you're embarrassed about your aging body to the point of avoiding sex with a new partner -- or you insist on sex in a darkened room, using the braille method of discovery. 

I discover it's not just single women: I had a conversation with a man about my age who is no longer having sex with his wife because she's too embarrassed about her weight gain to be naked with him.

Other men tell me similar stories -- that their wives hide their bodies, and the men miss the sex and the intimacy, but don't know how to ease their wives past their distaste for their bodies.

I'd like to talk to both genders here:

Women: By hiding your body, being embarrassed by it, you're buying into our youth-obsessed culture that says that only young, firm, fertile bodies can be sexy and alluring. Let's put that notion to rest right now!

Single women, imagine this scenario:

Finally, after meeting so many frogs (and not even tempted to kiss any of them), you’ve met a man who makes your heart flutter big time. You’ve flirted, you’ve gone on a few dates, you’ve talked half the night, you’ve laughed at his jokes and he at yours. On your last date, you kissed… and kissed. His hands went exploring, so did yours, and you know that on the next date, more than your lipstick will come off. You’ve even had the Condom Conversation.

But, your inner worrier keeps asking you, what if he sees your body and heads for the hills?

You’ve got to trust me on this, he’s not going to say or even think any of the following:

  • “Oh, gee, you have so many wrinkles!”
  • “You’d be so pretty if you lost weight.”
  • “Huh—I thought you looked younger with clothes on.”
  • “I like firmer butts and perkier breasts.”
  • “Uh, I gotta go now.”

No, whether or not he voices it out loud or conveys it with a smile or melting eyes, here’s what he’s thinking:

 “Oh wow, did I get lucky! This is going to be wonderful.”

Partnered women: Does your husband have the same body as when you first dated? I doubt it. Realize that your man wants you, wants the bonding with you, wants the sexual pleasure with you. Instead of asking him, "Do I look fat?" try asking, "What do you find the sexiest part of my body?" His answer might surprise you, and I'll bet he'll be delighted that you asked.

Men: You may not realize how insecure we women are about our bodies. We need to hear from you that you find us sexy, alluring, beautiful. If you think our breasts are gorgeous, or our rear view turns you on, please tell us. Even an "I could gaze into your eyes forever" will make our hearts flutter. We need you to help us affirm our bodies. A hefty dose of romance does wonders for us, too!

We women are our own worst critics, always have been. Remember those teenage pimples? Those worries about our shape and smell? Let’s decide, once and for all, that our bodies are just right, capably of visually delighting a partner and of bringing us both great pleasure.

If we can’t do that at this time of life, when can we? Even if we don’t fully believe it, acting “as if” we’re proud of our bodies will help make it so.

So when it’s time for that get-naked date, prepare with some gorgeous lingerie, dim the lights if you feel the need, but don’t black out the view (candles are sexy and flattering), have lubricant handy, and enjoy.

I'd love to hear from both women and men about this topic! Please comment.

This post was originally published in a slightly different form 11/8/11. I expanded and updated it 11/20/2012.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

When the man no longer wants sex: guest post by Jason Kae-Smith

I often hear from readers of both genders who are unhappy about the lack of sex in their long-time relationships. Does sex have to go when we get older? What if it goes for one person, but not the other? 

We hear frequently about women losing the desire for sex in their relationships. Though not as commonly voiced, sometimes it's the man who stops wanting sex with his partner. 

When I read sex therapist Jason Kae-Smith's article in Contemporary Sexuality on this topic, I emailed him immediately to ask for permission to excerpt it for you here. Your comments are welcome!
-- Joan

He’s Just Not That Into It 
By Jason Kae-Smith, LMSW, CST 

Jason Kae-Smith
After months of his wife’s pleading and an eventual ultimatum, “Ted” (not his real name) found himself sitting somewhere he’d never imagined—the office of a sex therapist. The three-year journey leading up to this day was painful; a strained effort along a cumbersome path littered with resentments, accusations, and much confusion.

As Ted told his therapist, “I just don’t get it. I love my wife. She’s intelligent, she’s compassionate. She’s a wonderful mother to our children. She’s my best friend and I love hanging out with her. I just don’t want to have sex with her anymore.”

It turns out Ted isn’t alone. In the United States, there are an estimated 10 million men in sexless, heterosexual marriages. And while many would assume that women’s lack of desire is the main culprit, recent trends indicate that it is just as likely the men who have lost that loving feeling. Many sex therapists are seeing an increase in heterosexual men coming to them for problems with desire, some noting that the percentage of men with low desire now outweighs the percentage of women.

Calgary sex therapist David Hersh, EdD, observes, “When I first started and I would see couples with discordant desire, it was mostly the woman who wasn’t interested. Now about 55% of these couples are seeing me because the man has lost interest.” Several therapists queried confirmed a similar trend in their practices.

It’s not clear if there are actually more men experiencing low desire or if it’s just that more men are now seeking help. Hersh says he believes the latter is the case. “Now, men are more informed about the condition. Traditionally there was a double standard where ‘real men’ always wanted to have sex. But you’re not so strange anymore if you don’t want it.”

Ricky Siegel
Sex therapist Ricky Siegel agrees, stating, “I think there's little doubt that the most obvious factor to the issue of low desire in men is that ‘Real men are not supposed to have low desire!’ So where it has become an acceptable script for women, it’s one of the things that men suffered about in quiet shame.”

In 2008, Bob Berkowitz and Susan Yager-Berkowitz published the results of their survey of over 1300 men who identified as no longer having sex with their spouses. The respondents listed several reasons for their loss of interest in sex, some of which included emotional struggles with things like depression and anger. Others reported they began avoiding sex because of problems with sexual functioning and eventually lost interest in sex altogether. And while many men initially suspect their loss of libido might be a result of low testosterone, research findings, such as those reported by Sari van Anders in the May, 2012 issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior, continue to suggest this is more often not the case.

Despite his assertion that everything was okay, “Derek” told his therapist that he reluctantly agreed to a session because, “I love my wife and I will do this if she feels it is important.” Derek’s wife “Cindy” was concerned because recently Derek had stopped initiating sex with her, something that she said was “unusual” for him.

Derek said was likely due to stress or perhaps “getting a little older” but when Cindy was invited to talk about experiencing her own sexuality, a different kind of narrative began to emerge. Cindy stated that in the beginning of her relationship with Derek, “Sex was okay but I was never all that into it.” But she added, “Lately, something happened. And now it’s like I can’t wait to jump on this man.”

 It turns out that “something” was her reading the best-selling 50 Shades trilogy. Cindy’s sister had turned her onto the books and to Cindy’s surprise the books turned her on, prompting her to embrace and embody her sexuality like never before. After some contemplation, Derek finally conceded that Cindy’s sudden interest in sex had a surprising blanketing effect on his desire for her. “I don’t get it,” he said. “I mean, this is what I always wanted. But when it happened, and all of a sudden she’s wanting to go to the sex store and buy toys and try new things—I don’t know, I guess it kind of turned me off.”

When it comes to treatment, experts often recommend a physical examination (just to be sure) and then consultation with a sex therapist. But what can therapists do to help men get their mojo back? Fortunately, those who practice and write about clinical sexology are continually developing ways for therapists to think about and respond to requests for help. The traditional model is to look at problems in the relationship first. One of the current trends in therapy is to go right to the sex.

As for Ted, the specific course of his future sessions will be guided by the choices he and his therapist make as their therapy conversations unfold. Today’s session marks a turning point in his journey, a change of direction toward the possibility of getting out from underneath the weight of low desire.

“This was good,” he told his therapist at the conclusion of their meeting. “It feels good to get this off my chest.” He added, “I guess I feel a lot more hopeful, like this isn’t just the way it has to be when you get married and are with someone for a long time.”

 Jason Kae-Smith is a certified sex therapist with a practice in Grand Rapids, MI. Among other things, he is interested in ways people are able to give value to sexual pleasure throughout their lifetimes. The article from which this is excerpted first appeared in Contemporary Sexuality, the journal of American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors & Therapists (AASECT).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

LELO's GIGI: slim, smooth, sensual

This review was originally written in 2009. I just updated it November 2012. GIGI has become a favorite sex buddy, one I reach for regularly even though I have many dozen to choose from after reviewing sex toys from a senior perspective for four years!  

Sex-toy designers are catching on to the notion that sexual enhancement products (okay, vibrators) that work best for women's anatomy might not be in the shape of a penis (or dolphin, rabbit, and so on) but rather a design that actually fits the way we're shaped and makes contact with our hot spots most effectively. As we age, our bed buddy also needs to be pleasant to hold for an extended time without inflaming arthritic wrists or burning out before we do.

I've had the pleasure of testing the lovely GIGI "sensual pleasure object" from LELO. The rechargeable GIGI specializes in G-spot stimulation, and indeed the flared shape at the tip easily locates, stimulates, and hugs my G-spot. Great design! 

It's also dandy for clitoral stimulation. If you like both, just alternate placement, or use a clitoral vibrator while the GIGI is vaginally inserted -- which is what I do. The curved shape makes it easy to keep GIGI inserted and out of the way when you're using another vibrator on your clitoris.

 I love the shape and size -- not girthy (so helpful for post-menopausal vaginas), shaped for easy insertion, flared for the best sensation. The velvety silicone surface "tugs" a little when you move it in and out, a most pleasurable sensation.

 Choose from five intensities/modes, or vary as your arousal increases. I would have liked just one more, extremely intense setting, but for the size, it's amazing.

It's also quiet, in case the grandkids are in the next room. The part that does its magic is available in rose (pictured, though it's not as shocking a color as my point-and-shoot camera thinks), turquoise, or "petal pink" to match the decor or your lingerie, or make it easy to find in the toy box. A lovely product!
 
Use a water-based lubricant like Liquid Silk, Blossom Organics, or Wet Naturals. Don't use a silicone-based lubricant with silicone toys -- it can degrade the toy and make it tacky.

As you'll see from other recent sex-toy reviews, we now have a swell selection to choose from or alternate, if you like variety. Thank you, designers, and enjoy, dear readers!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Staying Sexy in an Aging Body: Joint Pain


You can’t ignore joint pain -- but don't let it push you into avoiding sex! When sexual positions and activities worsen pain, we can find props and positions that work for us so we feel the pleasure, not the pain. Julie Weingarden Dubin interviewed me about sex and joint pain for Grandparents.com, and the interview got me thinking about more tips I'd like to share with you. Here they are.

What can we do to minimize joint pain before and during sex?

  • Schedule sex! Spontaneity is vastly overrated when it comes to sex at our age! We get more pleasure if we plan for it, and that’s true for avoiding joint pain especially. Make a “sex date” in advance, whether you're newly dating or long-time partners. This way, you can both anticipate it and make time for it, which raises the pleasure and decreases the stress. Turn off the phone ringer, the computer, the gadgets, lock the door, and just enjoy each other.
  • Time your anti-inflammatory medication so it kicks in before your “sex date.”
  • Get some physical exercise before getting naked. This lubricates the joints and gets you in touch with your physicality. Dance, walk, cycle, do yoga -- whatever you like to do.
  • Get a supportive sex cushion (no kidding, they exist) to make any position more comfortable. For example, the Wedge by Liberator is terrific for assisting back, hips, knees. 

  • Have lots of warm-up/ foreplay/ arousal in a comfortable position. This way you’ll need less time in a less comfortable position when you get to it.
  • Use a sex toy to hasten orgasm, minimizing the time in a less comfortable position or action. For example, if your partner likes manual stimulation (and who doesn’t?), but that hurts your arthritic wrist or hands, use a sex toy to help out. A vibrating cock ring or masturbation sleeve for the man doesn’t require the partner’s wrist. For the woman, try one of the many vibrators that “rests” in the right position with no or minimal effort to hold it in place. I review sex toys from a senior perspective – which includes whether they’re easy on arthritic wrists! – right here on this blog. Look for the label “sex toys” or “vibrator reviews” in the right-hand column. See these reviews  for ideas. 

I've been asked, "What would recommend as the BEST sex positions for seniors?" I have to answer this way:
There’s nothing that “seniors’ in general will agree on, whether politics, movies, or the best sex position. We’re all individual in finding positions we find comfortable, and maybe your favorite position isn’t comfortable for your partner, or doesn’t do much for you sexually. It’s all a matter of trial and negotiation. Creativity and a lot of laughter help, too! 

Do you have any tips for avoiding joint pain during sex? Please comment!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vacuum Erection Devices



Guest post by David Pittle, PhD

For a man with erectile dysfunction, there are many options. Most ED in men below the age of 45 or so is psychologically based. The drug companies would like to sell these men Viagra, Cialis or Levitra, but the real solution is psychological counseling and/or sex therapy. 

But as men age, physical reasons cause more ED. Drugs for blood pressure, or type II diabetes, psychotropic medications like Zoloft, Prozac, Sertraline all carry the risk of reduced libido and also affect erections. So what are men in this situation to do? One great option is the vacuum device. 

Vacuum erection devices are designed to lengthen and strengthen the penis so that blood will flow into it. The best vacuum devices can create an erection hard enough for penetration for many men whose erections are no longer automatic. You can enjoy them as part of couple foreplay to heighten your mutual pleasure. 

I tested two vacuum devices: the Rapport Classic and the Encore Revive.


The Rapport Classic is a 2-½ inch clear plastic tube of good quality. The whole length is just over 8 inches. At one end is a manual pump to take the air out of the tube. At the other end is a part that fits snugly to the tube and for insertion of the penis. Surround the penis with a large amount of gel lubricant for a good vacuum seal.  (Both the Revive and the Rapport come with a tube of surgical gel lubricant, which works very well.)

Before inserting your penis, you use a supplied cone to load a cock ring onto the Rapport. Then insert your penis and use the manual pump to exhaust the air. This draws your penis up into the tube. At the same time, the extension of the penis creates an internal vacuum that forces blood into the penis, making it firm enough for vaginal penetration. 

When the penis is long and stiff enough—and before it begins to be painful and even damaging—you push the cock ring off the tube and down to the base of the penis. The cock ring is now holds the blood in the penis, keeping it hard. Press a button on the pump to release the vacuum, and take away the device. You are left with a good erection. 

This is all much more difficult to describe in words than it is to accomplish. The Rapport comes with a DVD video that makes the whole thing clear, obvious, and simple. The Rapport was provided to me by Uand Me Time


The Encore Revive is similar to the Rapport and works much the same way, with two main differences: The Encore Revive comes with both a manual pump which you use either one-handed like the Rapport or two-handed for more leverage, and with a battery powered pump. It also has a cock ring release that makes the final step almost automatic and releases the vacuum pressure at the same time. It also has a release valve if you decide not to complete the process.


This video shows how to use the Encore Revive and why it works:
.

Both the Rapport and the Revive are available online at a a wide variety of prices. (Links here to Amazon seem to have the best prices.) Both come with a large assortment of cock rings in sizes from very tiny to very large. A little experimentation will find your best size.

After trying both the Rapport and the Revive, my vote goes to the Encore Revive. But that is a very personal preference. I like the battery powered pump. Using the manual pump required more mental attention and I could not focus as much on the sensations in my genitals because of the manual effort to achieve a high level of vacuum. But, as they say, “That’s just me.” Another person may have a different reaction. Either one of these devices could really improve the sex life of a man who has tried simpler solutions and not been satisfied.

I’ve talked about these vacuum devices as though they are only to be used to lead to intercourse, but actually they also work very well for masturbation. The erections are strong and allow for a lot of pleasure.
Both of these are very different from the “fireplug” type of vacuum gadgets often sold in sex toy stores. The quality of construction and performance of these two devices is much better than the fireplugs, and not much more expensive. These items are, as the manufacturers like to remind us, “Medical Grade.” That means they are well constructed and will last much longer. Also don’t be afraid of the word “medical.” You don’t need a prescription to buy one.

There are several other brands of similar devices which I haven’t yet tested. The advertisements suggest that they all work essentially the same way but the pricing on the others was also quite a bit higher. None of these other manufacturers responded to my inquiries.

Vacuum erection devices are not the same as men’s sex toys that stimulate the penis by emulating the feel of a vagina, such as the Fleshlight or the Tenga Egg (which I reviewed here).


DavidM. Pittle, Ph.D., is a therapist in San Rafael, CA, who has been helping people with sexual issues for over thirty years. Many of his clients are age 50-80, when good sex is important, and dissatisfaction may lead to loss of shared intimacy that can threaten the total relationship. David specializes in helping women who are not experiencing sexual satisfaction and men with non-medical and medically-related erectile dysfunction or other issues. Visit his website here. Please see Dr. Pittle's review of the Hitachi Magic Wand and the Tenga Egg.