Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Joan on ABC Nightline 12/1/06: senior dating/ sex

(photo of Vicki Mabrey from ABC Nightline)

Air date update: The senior dating/sex segment ran December 1, 2006!

Tuesday, October 24, put me on a natural high that still makes me tingle. That's the day that ABC Nightline came to Sebastopol, CA to film an interview me for a segment about senior dating, sex, and sexual health.

First, the film crew met me at Coaches’ Corner, where I teach line dancing, and filmed my line dancers (who had assembled for a contemporary line dance demo) for an hour. It was both strange and exhilarating to dance with cameras literally in our faces, at our feet, everywhere we turned. I am grateful to our fabulous line dancers who kept their cool and kept on dancing and smiling.

The crew then drove to our house and settled in: moving furniture, asking Robert to move some of his paintings so the right color painting would be behind me, setting up lights in two different rooms, checking the lights and sound with me sitting, talking, typing. They filmed me typing and reading the Sex and Dating comments of my blog. (Thank you, those of you who commented!)

Next Vicki Mabrey, the 4-time Emmy award winning correspondent, and producer Talesha Reynolds arrived from New York. Fabulous women, full of spirit, they seemed to enjoy every word as they interviewed me for about 2.5 hours. We talked about many subjects related to seniors dating, loving, having sex. We discussed our culture's stereotypes of older people having sex as either ludicrous or icky. (You know how I feel about that!)

At the end of it all, Vicki and Talesha asked me to teach them a line dance, which I did with pleasure. We danced, shook our hips, and laughed together.

I’m thrilled about getting the opportunity to “speak out” on this important topic to a huge audience. I'll check in again here after the show airs.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Trying to comment?

I'm getting emails from people who would like to comment, but aren't sure what to do.

1. Click either "Comments" or "Post a Comment," whichever you see at the end of one of my posts.

2. Ignore "user name" and "password" (which only applies to people registered with Blogspot). Instead, check "other" and then type in the name you'd like to use, with your real age, if you don't mind. (No, you don't have to be over 60 to comment.)

3. "Word verification" : You'll see some weird characters and the instructions "Type the characters you see in the picture above." Do that. This prevents an automated comment inserter from spewing ads and worse at us. Only real human beings can read and replicate the characters on the screen.

4. "Preview" means you can see what you've written as it will appear, and you can edit it if it's not exactly to your liking.

5. Click "Publish" when you're happy with it and are ready to share it with the rest of us.

(If you'd rather, you can email me your comment and I'll post it for you.)

Thank you for doing this! I'd really like this blog to become a community of people talking about sex and aging!

-- Joan

P.S. If you have a website or a book related to the subject of this blog that you think we'd benefit from knowing about, feel free to include name or title and link with your comment. (No feeble excuses for blatent advertising, though, and no links to drugs or sites that I might consider questionable. If in doubt, ask me.)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Reclaiming Sexuality after Cancer

Lynn, age 50+, phoned to order several of my books and she told me her story of trying to reclaim her sexuality after cancer. I encouraged Lynn to share her story with you here:

I was diagnosed with cancer in my mid 30’s and was given a grim prognosis of 3-5 years to live. Thanks to medical research trials and multiple treatments, I have survived over 3 times that long. Through the years I have met other cancer survivors who are struggling to deal with their questions about sexuality after cancer.

Part of my cancer treatment was a stem cell transplant that involved both chemotherapy and radiation which put me into premature menopause. I had a medical condition which made me susceptible to blood clots, so hormone replacement in any form was not an option.

The resulting sexual problems were sudden and unexpected and left me with feelings of grief and loss that were hard to put into words. At times I felt like “You should just be thankful to be alive,” but I wasn’t ready to give up my sexuality.

I began to search for information. One cancer newsletter’s “Ask the Doctor” column confirmed that many readers had asked the same questions about sexual problems following this particular treatment. The American Cancer Society has a publication titled, “Sexuality and Cancer.” Both of these resources mentioned that there are many women who cannot take hormone replacement therapy and suggested that people should discuss “options for facilitating sexuality” with their doctors.

When I asked my oncologist for help, he was too embarrassed to talk about sexual problems and practically ran out of the exam room. He could have at least referred me to another medical resource. Although we passed the turn of the century, some medical providers are still in the “dark ages” when it comes to addressing the sexual problems of cancer survivors.

I went to a cancer survivor’s conference at a large medical center in another city. One of the sessions was about cancer and sexuality. I sat next to a woman who had been through treatment identical to mine and also had the same blood clotting disorder which ruled out HRT. We were both blessed with partners that did not walk out the door when the cancer diagnosis arrived, but we missed the giving involved in making love to our partner and meeting their needs for intimacy as much as the pleasure we had derived from it ourselves.

Some people came to the group session accompanied by their partners - the standard response from the partner without cancer was “I’m just glad my partner is alive,” but the cancer survivors were not content with that. They went on to express their deep emotions and struggles. “First I was diagnosed, then I had treatment - I’m thankful I survived, but I am still working through the loss of my sexuality.”

The oncology professional who was the group facilitator listened, and could see that this was an important subject that needed to be given more attention in the future. I left feeling like at last we were heard, but I was still lacking practical information and resources.

I am now over 50 and my cancer is in a durable remission, but I was beginning to believe that I was probably “too old” to be hopeful about ever being sexually active again. I lacked the courage to ask another Dr. or medical professional for help to address sexual problems.

I’m so glad I found your blog - I read the post “a man asks about sex after prostate cancer” and was impressed by the personal interest you took in responding to his questions.

I went to your website to order your book and read, “Joy isn’t age-bound. Neither is sexuality or fitness.” Discovering that you have also faced challenges as a result of two car accidents and refused to give up was an encouragement to me. Your statement, “I had to get back to having a life”, really sums up where I am at currently. Your story inspired me with a “spark of hope” and I also found the resources that I need to begin working on regaining physical fitness and sexual function!

Lynn, thank you for sharing your experience and your thoughts. When you told me about your oncologist bolting out of the room when you asked about sexuality, I was shocked and outraged. Sexuality and intimacy are so much a part of what binds us to our partner and makes us fully human. How can doctors not understand this or help us reclaim that vital part of our being when we ask for help?

I know doctors get very little training in sexuality, and I've written about this here. Fortunately, there are some wonderful sex therapists and sex educators who are doing a great job in this arena, and I encourage you to find one of these in your area.

I am so happy that you survived cancer, and I wish you the best success reclaiming the joy of your sexuality. Please keep us posted about what you do and what you learn.


-- Joan

Too soon to be intimate with new man after spouse dies?

Susan, age 65, sent me this email, with permission to post it and respond here:

Joan, I found your website while browsing and really enjoyed it. I was widowed 5 months ago, and a friend of mine lost his wife shortly before my husband's death. We had known each other casually for 20 years.

A social event brought us face to face about a month ago and we both have been smitten since that night. We are both young for our ages; both being 65, good physical condition and both exercise daily. I am experiencing a lot of guilt from wanting to see him after such a short span of time since my husband's death. Although he has discussed me with his family and I with mine, I still have some guilt. I also, don't hear the "approval" from other members of my family.

However, at our ages, how long is considered appropriate? I am also experiencing whether or not this could become a moral issue with me. He is a wonderful man, who cared for his wife, who was ill for many years, as I did for my husband.

He has expressed to me that he may be impotent. He had not had sexual relations with his wife for many years before her death, nor had I with my husband. I did, however, use a vibrator from time to time. Although I am 65, I certainly have been experiencing strong sexual feelings toward him.

I guess my questions to you are:
1) what is the appropriate time frame?
2) Is sex outside of marriage a moral and/or guilt issue?
3) How do I get rid of trying to please everyone else?
4) Should we pursue sexual intercourse or just "play around"?

Thank you so much for your input and can't wait to get your book!

Susan, thank you so much for writing and for sharing these feelings.

I can't tell you what the appropriate time frame is for YOU. I'm not a therapist, but I've heard some therapists say that it's good to wait a year, because people need to grieve, then rediscover and reclaim who they are alone before they're ready to enter into a new relationship.

I've also heard from/about people who were caretakers of ill spouses and did much of their grieving while their spouses were alive. They then needed to reach out to someone who could bring joy and intimacy back into their lives.

I can't say what's "right" for you -- only you can know that. If you're questioning whether it's too soon, that maybe that's your own heart saying it is. If this relationship will be right for the two of you, it will be right if you wait a few more months, too.

Meanwhile, you can develop a friendship and enjoy each other's company. But do learn to enjoy your own company, too -- see who you are on your own in the world, what interests you'd like to pursue now.

Of course you still have sexual feelings -- glory in that wonderful gift, and let your fantasies roam. When you and your friend come together in that intimate way, if you decide to, you'll be good and ready for his tender touch.

You say your family hasn't expressed approval of your new relationship. Realize that they are still grieving your husband, too. Respect their feelings, and if/when you decide to go ahead with this new relationship, perhaps it would be best not to tell them until and unless they ask, at least for a while.

As for sex outside of marriage, that's completely your decision. I don't know your beliefs or your religion, or whether these values might be changing at this time of your life. You might find it useful to consult a counselor to get your own values and needs in perspective.

Your friend told you that he might be impotent. Please suggest that he see a urologist and find out the cause, and whether any treatment is appropriate. If he is inable to have erections, you can still have loving, intimate sex in other ways. I have more information about that in my book, in the chapter titled "when You or Your Partner Can't."

I'm sure that Susan would like to hear from others who have gone through this, and from others who have an opinion. I invite you to comment.

-- Joan

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Autumn of Love: "We are having hot, fabulous sex after 60"

Freelance writer Mark L. Fuerst wrote a terrific article based on an interview with me which has appeared in several newspapers, such as The Missoulian, Florida Today, and others. I thought you'd enjoy reading it:

Autumn of Love

Birds do it, bees to it, even educated older couples can, too. Here’s some straight talk about sex after 60.

By Mark L. Fuerst
CTW Features

Society’s view of aging women as sexless is wrong. “Many of us are having the best sex of our lives. We are having hot, fabulous sex after 60,” says Joan Price, author of “Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty” (Seal Press, 2006).

Some 70 percent of sexually active women over 60 reported being as satisfied or more satisfied with their sexual lives than they were in their 40s, according to a 1998 survey of nearly 1,300 Americans aged 60 or older, conducted by the National Council on Aging, Washington, D.C.

“My experience certainly supports that,” says Price, who also is a dance instructor, fitness professional, speaker and health writer. “In my 40s, I was unnerved by the realization that my sex life was being affected by undeniable signs and feelings of aging. Now I’ve grown past wanting to hold onto to youth in the bedroom, and as a result I feel truly present with my lover and capable of intense satisfaction.”

Changes after menopause make sexual enjoyment challenging, but “we’re using our creativity, our personal power, the joy and intimacy of our relationships, and useful tools of all sorts — from sex toys to a sense of humor — to tackle those challenges,” Price says.

The book is mainly about her intensely up-front-and-personal story of hot sex with her 68-year-old lover, Robert, whom she married earlier this year, along with snippets of interviews with other sexually seasoned women about their experiences.

“Sexual response is in our brains. I’m in love with the man I’ve been looking for my whole life, whom I met when I was 57 and he was 64,” says Price, age 61 when she wrote the book. “We’re as turned on by each other as a couple of teenagers, but with the juicy addition of decades of life experience, self-knowledge, communication skills and a sense of humor. We’re also willing to experiment and stretch our boundaries.”

Kaycee, age 66, says, “Keep an open mind. Remember that there is always something new to try and so many men out there. Sex after 60 could be the best time of your life if you play it right.”

Price adds that “we overcome the physical challenges by being inventive and resourceful. We take advantage of the lessened urgency by slowing things down, taking more time.”

You call that ‘older’?

Unfortunately, society has not become more accepting of older-age sexuality. “One day I watched some television talk shows about the sexiness of older women. They dressed sexy, pole-danced, and taught the audience how to strip. But these so-called ‘older’ women were probably in their 40s! I’d like to see women who admit and look like they’re over 60 on these talk shows, rousing other older women to assert their sexuality. We need to accept that women can and do stay sexy through the decades, and it doesn’t stop when we no longer can hide the wrinkles or saggy skin.”

Claire, age 66, says, “I think my body is great. I have all the wrinkles and brown spots, and that’s fine, that’s who I am. And the body works better than it ever has. The woman I’m with thinks I’m the most beautiful woman she’s ever seen in her life, which makes me feel great. I wish women could just learn to love their bodies like I have done, and refuse to buy the social stuff that’s out there about youth and beauty. We are all beautiful.”

Phoebe, age 64, says, “Generally my life is easier, less driven, so sex is a part of it rather than a driving force. It is easier not being controlled by my hormones and sex drive. Also, I feel very self-confident about my sexuality and attractiveness, pleased that I am attractive to others, even younger men.”

One of Price’s major messages is that boomers are redefining aging and sexuality. “We’re the Love Generation; we practically invented sex,” she says. “We’re not about to shut the gates now!”

The article also includes my tips for keeping sex vibrant and fun as we age, which you can read here.

Many thanks to Mark L. Fuerst and to CTW Features for permission to reprint this article here.

-- Joan

Book Review: "Lighthearted, titillating and informative... inspiring... arousing...."

I was thrilled by the review of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty in the North Bay Bohemian, October 18-24, 2006, by Patricia Lynn Henley, who really understood (and enjoyed!) my book. Here's what she wrote:

Old age doesn't have to be dull, at least not according to 'Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty' (Seal Press; $15.95), the lighthearted, titillating and informative new book by Sebastopol fitness professional, dance instructor and health writer Joan Price.

This isn't a stodgy or academically oriented self-help book; it's a bright, witty, let's-get-the-gals-together-and-just-gab look at keeping the home fires burning when some of the parts have shifted or sagged. It's inspiring. It's a bit arousing. And it's definitely worth reading, either by women who refuse to believe their senior years have to be asexual, or by men who want to understand what's happening in an older woman's mind and body, as well as what excites and satisfies her.

Price shares her personal experiences along with thoughts and anecdotes from a wide range of older women who revel in their sexuality. The book covers the challenges of post-menopausal love-making together with creative and loving solutions.

"There's nothing hotter than sex between people who know their own bodies, are crazy about each other, relish taking lots of time and honor sex as extremely spiritual and physical," writes Price. "I just don't think people can get there without a whole lot of life experience and a hefty dose of relationship mistakes along the way!" --P.L.H.

(Reprinted with permission of The North Bay Bohemian)

You can order Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty directly from me for a personally autographed copy, or from Amazon.com using this direct link. Enjoy!

-- Joan