When Sex Always Hurts

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Few men understand how painful sex can be for some women. This isn’t pain from sex that’s rushed or rough. It’s more like when a Q-tip is pressed against a woman’s genitals and it causes her to flinch in pain. Or when intercourse with a gentle lover creates an intense burning sensation in her vagina or makes her feel like she’s being stabbed with a knife. Or when the muscles around the opening of her vagina are clamped so tight she can’t insert a tampon.

Fortunately, for plenty of women with sexual pain…

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The Khan Academy of the Cl*toris

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How do I make her want to have sex more often? What makes a woman have an orgasm? What do women really want in bed? As a woman, how can I really tell my partner about the secrets of my body? If your #1 resolution for the New Year is be better in bed, read on.

Partners have needed precise information about how to touch their female partner and women have needed unambiguous language to communicate their unique preferences for stimulation.  You would think a show-and-tell would be enough, but I listen daily to frustrated partners who say:

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STIs: Risky, Scary, or Just Stigmatized?

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We are notoriously bad at assessing risk. One problem is that we confuse ‘scary’ with ‘dangerous.’ Many scary things are not in fact very dangerous. Airplane flights are a good example of this. Many dangerous things, on the other hand, fail to scare us—think French fries and global warming.

Moreover, in weighing competing scenarios and the threat they embody, our brain is wired to privilege certain calculations over others. As Tversky and Kahneman(link is external) have shown in their Nobel Prize winning research, humans think in heuristics—mental short cuts—that, while often useful, contain built-in blind spots that may lead us astray.

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The Dirty Little (Sex) Secret of Therapy

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I’ve been a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist for 34 years—over 35,000 hours of therapy with men, women, and couples. I make a living from it. Most of my friends are therapists. Like most therapists, I’ve been in therapy more than once. I really, really believe in it.

Nevertheless, it’s time, once again, to critique the institution of therapy:

If the public knew how little most therapists learn about sexuality, they’d be stunned. While there are exceptions, here’s what most therapists (and social workers) in America learn about sex as they’re being trained:

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New Relationships and Sex after 60, 70, and 80

257937032_14920719b3_o“So I said to my father, ‘What do you mean you’re taking her out to dinner?’!” my energetic 30-ish bookkeeper said to me recently as we discussed how she and her sisters were dealing with their 70-something father’s decision to begin dating again. She went on to say that they were having some difficulty accepting Dad’s newly emerging (or perhaps more acknowledged) libido, and said they would be more comfortable thinking about his need for companionship. Most of all, they were somewhat anxious and not quite sure what to do or say.

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Come Again?

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There is perhaps no larger mystery in the science of human reproduction than the role of the female orgasm. Sensations of pleasure generally aren’t random and are usually the result of some evolutionary pressure driving us to engage in adaptive behaviours. When it comes to sex we know where babies come from, we know why mammals have breasts, and we know more than enough about erections and ejaculation but we can’t for life of us work out just what the role of the female orgasm is in all this.

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To Be More Intimate with Your Partner, Know Yourself First

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What do you think of when you contemplate being intimate with your partner?  Many would answer ‘sex’ or some variation on that theme.  But romance researchers tend to look more broadly at intimacy than that, and with good reason.  Good sex in long-term relationships rests upon a deeper, more full connection than ‘just’ sex, cuddling or romance.  One useful model for thinking about what generates strong intimacy between partners has been..

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Games to Cure Common Sex Problems

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Too fast or too slow (or not at all!) Premature ejaculation for men and anorgasmia (no orgasm) for women are the two most common sexual problems that plague a couple’s sexual experience. Anxiety is the root cause of both problems – the majority of the time.  Ironically trying to do exactly what the problem is turns anxiety around slowing him down and speeding her up.

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Good Enough Sex vs. Perfect Individual Sex Performance

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In movies, porn, and on the Internet, the message is that first-class sex involves spontaneous erections, intercourse, and orgasm, and is mind-blowingly wonderful. A great fantasy which has nothing to do with real-life couple sexuality. I tell my clients if they have Hollywood sex once a month, they beat 95% of American couples.

An intimidating expectation is that anything other than perfect sex performance (erection, intercourse, and orgasm for the man and orgasm, preferably during intercourse, for the woman) means there is something wrong with you or your relationship. By that definition there is something sexually wrong with most…

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Seventy Percent: A Statistic to Enhance Your Sex Life

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I just finished teaching an undergraduate Psychology of Human Sexuality course, filled with well over 100 interesting and interested college students. The vast majority of these students entered the course with a vast amount of misinformation about sex. In fact, a goal of my course is to help students evaluate the images and messages they have learned through the media (e.g., television, movies, and internet) against scientific information about sexuality.

Nowhere is the gap between media images and reality greater than in the realm of women’s orgasms. Media images (including porn images and mainstream movies) portray women as..

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