Better Sex show

Better Sex

Summary: Better Sex is focused on helping all couples create and enjoy their best possible sex life. Better Sex is hosted by Jessa Zimmerman who is a couples’ counselor and nationally certified sex therapist. Each episode will dive into one topic related to sex. Some will be devoted to addressing sexual concerns like sexual dysfunction, differences in sexual desire, and intimacy problems. Some will help you develop realistic and helpful expectations. And some will offer information and approaches that can just make your sex life better. The information and discussion on the podcast should not be taken as medical advice or as therapy. Please seek out qualified professionals for medical and therapeutic advice.

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Podcasts:

 65: Lara McElderry - Prioritizing Intimacy | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2007

My guest Lara McElderry knows all about the struggles of being married to a surgeon: the crazy hours, the extensive amount of time spent in training, and the toll it can take on any relationship dynamic. And in this episode, she offers up her time and provides some tips and advice for those who might be in the middle of a similar situation. It doesn’t matter if a medical related position or not, all careers have the potential to be disruptive to a relationship and there are ways around sacrificing the longevity and health of your love and sex life. Lara went to school for Family and Consumer Science and has a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Arkansas. And she lives in Missouri with her trauma surgeon husband and her children. Listen along and enjoy! Married to Doctors Lara begins this episode with some important details about her marriage and how despite the unique aspects of it and the stressful medical school, training, and moving that it entailed, that she still learned how to achieve the proper balance of intimacy with her husband. Now she now has a podcast called Married to Doctors and has learned some valuable things along the way about intimacy and relationships. The Challenges That Demanding Careers Can Have on Relationships When talking about her marriage with her trauma surgeon husband, the biggest challenge that she highlights is the difference in responsibilities that arise from different perspectives, careers, and work dynamics. Like many relationships, Lara was a stay-at-home mom and found it challenging to work with her husband coming home from work and wanting to spend intimate time with her almost immediately. But as she said, she soon realized that it was ok to leave the dishes dirty, and X and Y and Z unattended, even though she struggled with doing so. Especially because she grew up in a household where sleep was foregone if the dishes weren’t done or other responsibilities weren’t taken care of. In her husband’s eyes, there was only a small amount of time they got to see each other every day. Eventually, she grew comfortable with being a little more flexible, and they both met halfway. This type of flexibility to difficult to cultivate, but very, very important. For more on the challenges, listen along to the episode! Solutions for Prioritizing Intimacy and Sex Lara says that when you have a hectic, crazy schedule due to a career, or a big family that takes a lot of your time and energy, scheduling your sex life can be very beneficial. She understands that not everyone subscribes to the method, but it can be a really useful tool for prioritizing such an important part of the relationship. And this doesn’t mean formally setting up a designated time and place for sex but keeping a somewhat fixed idea of when sex is going to happen. Because your hours might vary widely, scheduling might be hard, but as Lara states, a loose schedule is useful. She also talks about the importance of teaming up with your spouse around the house to free up more time for sex. Doing things that help create situations having sex more readily available is a great strategy. Prioritizing the Relationship Finding things to do with one another is so important. And you can do things as a couple with the kids still around. As Lara states about the new things that she and her husband like to do together, to see each other anew on a consistent basis, they are vital for broadening and deepening the relationship. And it also has considerable carryover to a better sex life. And all of these activities don’t have to revolve around lavish excursions to exotic places; they can take place at home, through simple means and through simple acts of affection and connection. For much more on this beautiful idea, listen to Lara describe it. No Such Thing as Happily Ever After! Lara tells us that of course, we won’t suddenly stop facing struggles in our relationships, but if we can learn to...

 64: Stephanie Beuhler - Fertility Issues and Sex | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2406

My guest on today’s show is Stephanie Beuhler. She’s a licensed therapist, AASECT certified sex therapist, a graduate of UCLA and Pepperdine (among others), and a best-selling writer who has authored many enlightening books on sexuality and sex therapy, including intimacy in particular which her book Counseling Couples Before, During, and After Pregnancy: Sexuality and Intimacy Issues, touches on. She has also extended her prolific leanings with more academic-centered projects for textbooks and journals. And most important of all, she is extremely passionate and caring towards her patients regarding topics of sexuality, cancer survivors, and infertility issues. And this episode will dive into how infertility can affect couples and the many approaches towards mitigating the challenges that can arise. Stephanie Beuhler is an amazing guest and an even more amazing provider of insight and illumination on the topic. Enjoy! Some of the Manifestations of Infertility Issues in Sex Lives A lot of couples who are struggling with the issue of infertility usually complain about just how robotic the act feels. You go to a doctor, you track the most opportune times for conception, and you work on it. Stephanie says that sex than can feel like a ‘job’ for many people. Instead of sex being this freeing and liberating thing, it is largely a matter of sticking to a schedule and punching the time card. It can be very discouraging to have difficulties getting pregnant and then having the sexual issues poured on top of that. In short, the pressure to perform on demand can lead to erectile dysfunction in men. The stress that accumulates from peers who are having kids, from parents who want grandkids, all of those factors can have very detrimental effects on the quality of relationships. Fortunately, there are solutions and ways to manage these issues and approach infertility through a healthier lens. Same-Sex Couples and Infertility-Type Issues Stephanie states that it is a different dynamic between same-sex couples because they go into the process knowing that they will either be getting a sperm donation, a surrogate mother or adopting. But this also comes with its fair share of complications and stresses. Many times, it’s hard to know what choice is best for the couple. And the process for adoption can be a very time-consuming and expensive process. While talking on this subject, Stephanie shares a very interesting stat and trend for LGBT couples and birth rates--in fact, on birth rates in general. Listen along to hear her speak on the topic. The Most Common Sexual Problems for Women Stephanie talks of painful vaginal intercourse for women being of the many problems that can arise for women, which leads to a lack of possibility for pregnancy. And this is described and represented under the diagnosis of vaginismus. Vaginismus means that intercourse is not possible for women because of past traumas or often, there is no single distinguishing cause and can happen without any pattern or correlative reason. It can lead to extreme pain during sex, and even the insertion of tampons can become impossible for women with vaginismus. Stephanie goes into much more detail during the episode. And it is important stuff to be aware of. Sexual Problems for Men The problems for men usually range from low desire, premature ejaculation, to erectile dysfunction. And when talking about erectile dysfunction, it can be caused by the pressure of trying to get pregnant and just how crucial the timing can be. And maybe, as Stephanie states, it can even be the result of the ambivalence of the man who may be second-guessing having children in the first place. And even the financial aspects of having a kid can lead to erectile dysfunction. In fact, Stephanie states that it is one of the biggest reasons why many men develop erectile dysfunction, in general, is stress about finances. For this and more interesting facts, including some...

 63: Ellen Dechesne - Third Stage Sex | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2217

As my guest Ellen Dechesne relates during this episode, sex in your later years, what is defined as the ‘third stage’ of your life, is a very important and relevant topic to consider. A self-proclaimed late bloomer for hitting sexual milestones and other life events, sex has nonetheless been a very central part of Ellen’s life since her birth around the advent of the sexual revolution in the U.S. And very recently, Ellen was a baby boomer who was dating in her 60’s to go on and eventually find the guy of her dreams. And so, through listening to this all-important perspective on the sexual needs of older people, Ellen will teach you of the attention and awareness that needs to be given to this facet of life. And in fact, she offers a very encouraging testament to the longevity of sexual experience we can continue to have well within the later years of our lives. A Different Emphasis in the Early Years As Ellen states near the beginning of the interview, she didn’t necessarily reach or experience her sexual potential until she was in her later years. At first, she wanted to emphasize relationships and raising a family far more than being aspirational about sex. And despite acknowledging that she had plenty of opportunities to take more risks with sex and strive for something much more fulfilling, she didn’t actively seek it until later. Younger Men In her 30’s, Ellen talks about how she discovered the distinct joys of being sexually active with younger men, which she attributes to their enthusiasm to be with an older woman who knows what she wants. And Ellen wants to remind women who approach their 50’s and who are still single, to consider dating a younger man (even quite a bit younger). The older woman/younger man dynamic is fully supported by Ellen! Marriages, Children, and her Transformation She was married for the first time at the age of 39 and then again a couple of years later that led to her becoming the diplomatic wife of an economist. Her son was born when she was 41, and her daughter at 46. And it was after a sexless marriage that Ellen decided it wasn’t working and the marriage ended. Once she hit her mid-50’s though, part of Ellen’s transformation was spurred by her attendance at an erotica and film festival. And it was through these events and the people she met there that really opened her eyes to how one can still be sexually active despite being in your third-stage of life. She goes into much more detail within the episode. Check it out! Sex as a Self-Rescue Operation While all her peers were settling down and had already started raising children, Ellen found herself single and without children. She started pursuing erotic relationships as a form of self-rescue, as she puts it. That way she could stay fresh and invigorated and wouldn’t find herself resigned like some of the other middle-aged women she had encountered. And, this kept her from becoming depressed about how her previous focuses on motherhood and marriage had eluded her. And as experts have echoed, keeping sexual activity consistent makes it easier to keep pursuing erotic activities all your life. Ellen says she has reaped the rewards of that fact. Ellen Didn’t Call it Quits One of the most important concepts that Ellen echoes in this episode is that older women have to be resilient. If you find yourself single at an older age, don’t just give up. It may be tempting, but there is so much more sex to be had, as her actions have shown. Instead of quitting when she found herself single at 59, she went to the gym, invested money in a program that made sure she was as sexually vibrant as she could be, and found the man of her dreams shortly after. And she also provides some of the physical therapies and details on her diet and hormone replacement treatment that has helped her maintain her libido and vibrant sex life. Much more within the episode! How to Deal with Third Stage Sex Challenges When They Come Up Ellen...

 62: Mariah Freya - Conscious Sex | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2701

62: My guest is Mariah Freya, the founder of Beducated.com, which is a website and repository of online courses, resources, and tantric-infused concepts for more conscious sex. And today, Mariah stops by to share with you and demystify Yoni and Lingam massage, various aspects of how to have more conscious sex, and ultimately achieve what she calls ‘the final frontier of personal development’. This is important stuff to consider for a complete understanding of the potential of human sexuality, and so I invite you to listen along and learn. Please note that I am an affiliate for Beducated, and if you purchase courses using links provided, I will earn a commission. Thanks for your support! Conscious Versus Conventional Sex Simply put by Mariah, conscious sex has more awareness and present-ness. It involves partners who are fully engaged and in tune with every sensation and moment of the act, and not disconnected. It is, in essence, mindful sex. And what Mariah acknowledges the most is that many who have sex are just rushing through things, not so much consciously but out of fear and vulnerability. This makes it hard to actively seek to be present during sex, especially if you’re uncomfortable with your naked body and feel vulnerable. Conscious sex becomes less about quickly ‘achieving’ an orgasm and more so about experiencing the full engagement and sensation of your partner in a mindful, present way. Mariah devotes more time to explain within the episode if you want to know more. Reasons for Fear of Sex Mariah offers some explanations for the reasons why someone may detach themselves and not experience the act in a conscious manner. She states that it’s the act of being naked and shedding that layer of defense that we are so used to having. Because we are clothed more often than not, just the simple state of nakedness can make someone feel very insecure and as if something is not normal. That self-consciousness can detract away from conscious sex. Also, Mariah states that a lot of time because of some ethical benchmarks we have carried with us or translate into the actions we take, we can often feel ashamed of our sexual desires and thus suppress them instead of exploring them in a conscious manner. This is very common. And Mariah offers more examples within the episode. How to Have a More Positive Relationship with your Body Mariah says it’s about redefining what beautiful means. A lot of our own body image is negatively reinforced because of the beauty industry or porn--where anatomical facets are inflated and exaggerated for idealistic effect. In practice, this means faking it until you make it as far as positive body image goes. You can stand in front of the mirror and just notice all of the things about your body that you don’t like. You can then notice and acknowledge those feelings and work on reframing them in a positive manner. Ask yourself, ‘what do I like about my body? What do I really cherish?” Sexuality as ‘The Last Frontier of Personal Development’ Mariah truly urges you to rethink sexuality and how important it is for loving yourself and expressing yourself, especially in the personal development realm. If we never develop sexually, we are not realizing a very crucial aspect of our humanity and a powerful avenue for self-expression. Yoni and Lingam Massage Both terms respectively have Sanskrit meanings: Yoni for Vagina and Lingam for penis. And as Mariah expounds upon, both have deeper, more descriptive meanings: Yoni means ‘the sacred temple’, and Lingam stands for “the wand of light”. And to start, it is through the positive connotations and attribution of the genitals with these descriptions that can help remove some of the negative stigmas some carry regarding their genitalia. But Mariah also states that the Lingam massage is more than just a conscious hand job. It is spiritually healing and goes into a much more profound territory. And it was through these practices...

 #61: Dr. Valerie Rein - Patriarchal Stress Disorder | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2121

My guest for this episode is Dr. Valerie Rein. She is an author, psychologist, and in addition, founded Her Genius, Inc. Through her work, she has coined the term Patriarchal Stress Disorder to capture and reflect upon the historical dynamic of predominantly patriarchal power structures throughout time. And more specifically, how patriarchy has negatively affected women throughout the years, all the way up to the present. This has led to a suppression of femininity, of being expressive and celebratory about womanhood while in an open space and without fear. And because of recent understandings of genetics and inherited aspects of our recent ancestral roots, we can very well inherit traumas from certain groups. And yes, that supposes and is backed by evidence that women inherit patriarchal stress from ancestors who were suppressed and oppressed in previous generations. Both men and women can inherit certain traumas, but in this highly interesting episode, Valerie walks us through patriarchal stress in particular. You’ll really get a lot out of this one. A Missing Link to Better Sex After working as a therapist for many years, Valerie started noticing that there were underlying traumas that could be addressed in her patients which would lead to better sex in their sex lives, depending on the various levels of resolution or therapy work. But Valerie also started noticing that women who didn’t have any particular traumas to work on were still responding as positively to the therapy as those who did. She eventually realized that there was a correlation or causative link between these invisible traumas and the fact that society has been predominantly patriarchal. This coupled with genetic transmission led to the massive breakthrough. More Than Just Better Sex! But better sex wasn’t the only benefit to come out of these type of trauma therapy. Really, it changed everything in her patients in a good way: from money flow, to professional success, to relationship wellbeing, to other various aspects, all rooted in this trauma that had been inherited from previous ancestral oppression according to exactive patriarchal structures. She goes further into detail during the episode to explain the dynamic even more! Valerie was Suffering as Well As Valerie states, a very ironic part of this whole story and discovery was that Valerie believed herself to be untouched by the same trauma that was affecting her clients. And as she puts it, it led to a very acute suffering in her life, until she realized that yes, she was affected by the same Patriarchal Stress Disorder as the others. It took a lot of marriage counseling and the eventual end of a marriage to a very nice guy that she realized just how deeply she had been afraid to expect pleasure in a virtually sex-less marriage. She eloquently describes the situation and ties it to the disorder during the episode. Do check it out. How to Alleviate P.S.D. Through the Jailbreak System In the episode, Valerie talks about her 5-step process for breaking out of the jail that modern society has placed women in. To start, just waking up and seeing the walls that enclose you, is the important first step. And within that first step, recognizing that it’s not personal. You have inherited this world, the traits and reality from your ancestors. There’s just a traumatic setup that you have inherited from your pedigree. The next step is to resolve the feelings of constantly having to self-improve. Until women step out of the revolving door of second-guessing and feelings of inferiority that have been inherited, what Valerie calls the ‘prison security system’ will keep firing. This leads to hormone imbalances and a gamut of other disorders in women. The third step is that women often bribe the prison guards. Instead of overriding the prison defense system, women often feel it necessary to work with them. And for the rest of these steps, listen along to the episode. The imagery is...

 #60: Dr. Mark Schoen - SexSmartFilms | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2230

My guest is Mark Schoen. He is a prolific sex-education filmmaker--he has made over 50 of them!--and still very productive and skilled at his important work in the industry. As his focus attests, educating the general public about sexual topics is always necessary. We can never have enough sexual education throughout the world, so what Mark does is extremely important for making the world a better, more fulfilling, and more demystified place when we talk about sexuality and the whole spectrum of the subject. And although he originally thought he was going to be a hockey player, luckily for the world he realized his full potential in the sexual education sphere. He is the founder and organizer of SexSmartFilms and has been making sexual health films since 1974. In addition to the numerous awards he has won for his work, he is an AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator and an award-winning author. And this is just the tip of the iceberg! For an enlightening talk on his fascinating life, you would be hard pressed to find a better exemplar of how sexual education should be done. Great stuff! How Mark got his Start as a Sexual Educator As Mark states, his first encounter with the discipline was as a health educator. Soon it became required for him to teach a group of 12 and13-year-olds the nature of sexually transmitted diseases. But to his chagrin, the curriculum was presenting sexuality through the lens of disease instead of a more positive light. Alarmed by this frame of reference for the subject, Mark decided to appeal for a full class on sexuality that would frame sexuality in a much more positive light. In addition, the class would also be a thorough analysis of the subject and not a quick gloss over the mandatory details. Mark says much more on the topic near the beginning of the interview. Bellybuttons Are Navels As Mark’s career started taking off, in the pre-internet 70’s mind you, he started getting much more involved in the sexual health realm. Eventually, he wrote a very important children's book called Bellybuttons Are Navels, which explored the anatomical differences between a boy and a girl. A pretty radical concept considering that sexual education when Mark had just gotten started was basically anatomy 101 and didn’t explore the nuances and complexity of sexual development, function, and the psychological aspects of sex. Regardless, Bellybuttons Are Navels was published in 1990 and became the first children’s book to use the word clitoris. For more on this part of Mark’s career listen along to the episode! His Recent Films As Mark recounts, he was blown away by the reception and praise for his 2012 film Trans. And during the talk, he shares a completely heartwarming story of a parent of a transgender child and just how much the film changed her perspective on transsexuality. Mark also shares a scary statistic on the suicide rate of the transgender population, so films like Trans serve an extremely important function that can bridge the gap on loneliness in the community and increase understanding for the ready assimilation and integration of the trans-community. With more work like Mark’s, there will be less transgender people on the fringe, and more in the center. Really impactful stuff here! The Challenges of Films Becoming Outdated SexSmartFilms, Mark’s website, and enterprise is a repository of sexual education films and resources that are online and can be accessed like the Netflix of sexual health. But the problem with making movies in-house and really just filmmaking, in general, is that hairstyles go out of style, clothes go out of trend, and of course, even the camera quality and look of the entire film can quickly look obsolete. This becomes distracting for some people and can even detract from the overall trust that one places in the information presented. Who's to say that the information isn’t as outdated as the clothing styles, in other words? Mark talks about this aspect of the...

 #59: Carolina Vee [Personal Story] - Permission to Love Herself | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2450

My guest for this episode is Carolina Vee. She has an extremely important story to tell and we are so privileged to have her on the show. As a victim of sexual abuse, it took a long time for Carolina to untangle the knotted aspects of her life. She sought healing, self-forgiveness, absolution from self-directed blame, happiness, meaning, purpose, and eventually, through her inner strength, managed to come out of the other side of her difficult life very much still intact (and flourishing!). Now, she has found a healthy, functioning, beautiful relationship. Her journey has been full of tribulations and hardships, but through resolve and time, she has transformed into a version of herself that she can love. Always struggling to find love in herself, she has now found it. And that’s the most important aspect of her story; that through all of it, she now understands that it was never her fault. There was never any reason to blame or hate herself. With knowledge and understanding comes liberation and a separation of the self from past events. But instead of burying her past or completely severing any connective ties, she has chosen instead to share her story across multiple platforms. She talks about her personal story on her podcast, ‘The Way I C It’, and she regularly talks to others, in order to help. Listen along and get inspired by the strength and emotional resiliency of Carolina Vee. The Beginning Carolina starts off her story in a devastating fashion: her sexual abuse started with her grandfather. This all happened between the ages of 8-14. And it wasn’t until a few years into the abuse that her mother found out. Carolina, being just a little girl, didn’t know how to articulate the trauma. Her mother took her own father to court (Carolina’s grandfather) for the abuse. But the abuse would continue. Moved Out at Sixteen After taking her Grandpa to court, she was abused by three other family members. And at this point, one of the most tragic parts of her story is told: because she hadn’t known her grandfather was convicted of the abuse, and because no one had told her, she took the lack of legal reinforcement as a sign that nothing had happened. And this, in turn, meant that she stopped trying to report the three other instances she was abused by family members. In her mind, she didn’t see the point. By the time she had turned 16, she had moved out. Really, really powerful stuff. Listen along to hear it told in Carolina’s own words. Survival Through Disconnection At first, Carolina survived by disconnecting from her trauma. She then realized that we all can’t choose the cards we are dealt; but, we can choose how to play those cards. Yes, there were many aspects of her life that she wasn’t ready to deal with, and which she disconnected from unconsciously, but for the most part, she worked hard full time and school and work. She stayed out of trouble and escaped through the grind of hard work. Eventually, though, she ran into more obstacles. Locked In After suffering more non-consensual sex, this time at the hand of her high school boyfriend, she realized she needed to escape that situation. She was working way too hard and not getting any sort of support. Her boyfriend eventually ended up locking her in her apartment. When she had a brief opportunity to make a run for it, she did. Hear her tell the story, by tuning in. Turning Point! By the age of 23, she had reached a turning point. After having burnt herself out from partying and the constant need for companionship, she settled down for a year. She didn’t date anyone and basically kept to herself. All of the professed promiscuity and partying was necessary: she got it all out of her system and eventually needed to distance herself from that. And it was during this time that she arrived at a turning point in her development as a person. She had talked to therapists and opened herself up to change and it happened! Fairy Dust and Unicorns...

 #58: Steph Auteri - A Dirty Word | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1829

My guest Steph has been writing about sexuality for more than fifteen years. She generally writes about sex education, rape culture, and perceptions regarding female sexuality. Her book A Dirty Word: How a Sex Writer Reclaimed Her Sexuality is an autobiography about the sexual abuse she was victim to, but it also encompasses a lot of the areas that she currently writes about in a journalistic sense. Stumbling upon the discipline by accident, she first started writing about sex during a college internship. This was shortly after Steph came out of both a physically and mentally abusive relationship. Using her recent experience and sensing an opportunity for a form of ‘shock therapy’ as she puts it during the episode, Steph learned how to reclaim her sexuality through her sex writing. This episode chronicles a marvelous woman with a remarkable story; listen along! After the Relationship Steph had trouble feeling comfortable with sex after her abusive relationship. Because of the things she was subjected to, the belittlement she faced, her whole outlook on herself and sex, in general, was distorted. Steph didn’t even feel like she could engage in sex in a way that was pleasurable to her. After she picked up an internship after college and was assigned to write about sex, the exposure to sexuality was very beneficial to her overall perception about it. Listen to Steph talk about it during the interview! The Book: Her Big ‘Me Too’ Story After gaining the experience and knowledge as a writer in the industry, Steph realized the healing power and clarity that comes from a healthy relationship with sex. She knew she wanted to write a book that people could relate to and be helped by. Steph wanted the book to be a way of broaching the subject of sex for people who were uncomfortable talking about it--it would be something to connect to despite the raging storm of discomfort inside. The Most Pressing Issues for Sexuality in Society When asked about some of the sexual ails of modern society, Steph starts with sexual education. She is wanting to press for earlier education in school. That means that Sex Ed is taught in earlier grades and that parents are also more involved in framing the important aspects of sex before they are sexually active. In addition, Steph also mentions what she considers to be the crux of the issue during the episode. Check it out! Her Largest Fear Her husband knew, her good friends knew the extent of her abusive relationship, but she completely afraid of the moment her parents read A Dirty Word because they were going to find a way to blame themselves as if to say that they couldn’t protect their daughter. For more, listen along. ‘Pretending to be the Cool Girl’ This is the title of her favorite chapter in the book, where she tackles the assumptions that people have towards her just because she writes about sex. Steph found out really quickly how many other people in her field could relate to the content of that chapter. And for her, it was the part of the book that she enjoyed writing the most. Messages for Steph’s Daughter Steph says she will instill in her daughter that she doesn’t owe anyone anything. It should be about what she wants, what she is ready for. Boundaries will be taught, sexual education will be accentuated and not glossed over like a lot of parents do, and her daughter will be repeatedly told that it is quite all right to not conform to sexual practices if they are not desired. The lessons and concepts bestowed will get more complex as she grows older, but starting young is so very important. Female Sexuality Has Been Demonized Steph reminds listeners of the all-important fact that a lot of things that females are told is wrong with them sexually is actually pretty normal. There has been a hyper-focused critique of the female sexual spectrum that breeds insecurities and pathologies that are so disconnected from the truth. It took some time, it took...

 #57: Stan Tatkin - We Do | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2450

Stan Tatkin is the founder of A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy®(PACT). He has worked with couples for more than fifteen years in his clinical practice. He teaches, he counsels, he writes, he does it all! Stan has authored a few very important books throughout his career, some of them including: Wired for Love, Your Brain on Love, Wired for Dating, and his latest and the driving point behind this interview, We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love. All in all, I am delighted to have Stan on the show. You are really going to get a lot out of this talk! The Difficulties of Cultivating a Cooperative and Collaborative Relationship Stan lays the groundwork for a secure-functioning relationship between couples. He says both participants in the relationship share power and mutually govern over each other to balance out the dynamic. Because we are perfectly imperfect as human beings, the dynamic is often skewed to one side. Collaboration is hard and positivity is just as difficult to maintain. To you who listen along, Stan will also take you down a fascinating neurological path when he explains our survival mechanisms and how the brain takes shortcuts. These facets of our development make it very hard to maintain secure relationships. Our states of mind, the many different perceptions we experience--of which Stan likens to a funhouse mirror--and our imperfect memories, are of many hurdles to overcome. For much more on this uphill climb, tune in. Threats and Shared Governance Stan reminds us that the small ‘threats’, the eyerolls, the tone laced with animosity, the cold shoulder, passive aggression, all of it, can compound and show up in a very real biological sense. After time, you will view your spouse as a predator. Not in any malicious sense, but because of self-protective tendencies we have learned over our development, our perceptions can certainly be skewed unknowingly. Our capacity or tendency to be threatened in ingrained within us naturally. It can also be a result of upbringing as well. Some of it is triggered merely by standing eye-to-eye with one another; In addition, the principle of ‘shared governance’ can cause threats. Stan describes shared governance as shared principles that both parties believe in that will protect one from each other. He also tells us that this is how society works: we share a similar mythology, an analogous narrative is followed that reflects shared sentiments of governance. Really check out this episode to hear Stan explain it in much more detail. Putting the Relationship First? Stan stands by this practice. He says a lot of breakdown in relationships hinges on differences in focus. If both of you agree to put the kids first over the relationship, Stan believes everyone suffers. He doesn’t condone neglecting the child, but just like well-worn maxim of taking care of yourself before others, so too everyone benefits if there's a strong foundation to work with. The Couple Bubble This interesting concept is described as two people protecting their relationship ‘ecosystem’. This system is built on accountability, that is, the push-and-pull of a symbiotic partnership where one action affects the other tangibly. Stan tells you to think of it this way: the couple bubble can either guarantee mutually assured destruction or mutually assured survival! Keeping the bubble in focus is extremely important. Much more is said. Do yourself a favor and listen along! What About Mutually Exclusive Needs? During the episode, the very crucial question of differing needs arise. What if there are instances, major or minor, where accommodating each other is very difficult. A job interview that necessitates a move, or simply a softball game that cuts into bowling night. Whatever the event, Stan stresses the need for win-win situations to be created. This compromise works well to keep couples engaged and actively working for each...

 #56: Amanda Testa - Feminine Fire | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2024

My guest Amanda Testa is an expert in sex and love. She is the founder of Find Your Feminine Fire, which is a program that combines concepts from neuroscience and tantra. Utilizing her coaching experience and knowledge in the field, she aims to empower women to be more confident and sexually expressive. As Amanda states during the episode, before she was a Sex, Love, and Embodiment coach, she worked in corporate sales. But after her daughter was born, Amanda decided it was best to stay home and take care of her. Despite the neverending busyness of motherhood, Amanda was given more time to pursue her passions in health and wellness. Eventually, she became a personal trainer and spearheaded Stroller Strides classes to help new mothers stay active and confident in their skin. This was the crucial beginning that would soon unlock the potential she saw in herself, and which she knew other women deserved to unlock as well. This whole process is beautifully outlined in this episode, and it is absolutely worth your time and attention. Sexuality As a Magical Key to Unlock Yourself After having been a mother eighteen months or so, Amanda started to resent herself and her own sexuality. A common occurrence for mother’s, she was depressed, and was struggling with low self-esteem and that vicious cycle of negative perception. It was through sexuality that she found the empowering answers she was looking for: the magical key which unlocked that celebratory fire of femininity within her. Listen to hear her describe it in her own words! Defining Feminine Fire Amanda calls it a vibrancy, a radiance, energy that all women are born with. Sadly though, modern life always finds a way to distract women from tapping into that wellspring of femininity. Women are stifled, so busy with their everyday business, professional life, and intellectual growth, that for the most part, the fire is not stoked; it barely flickers. But Amanda wants to stress that this fire is not restricted to certain genders. This energy is within all human beings, but because she works mainly with women, her focus is largely on the feminine side of the fire. Interestingly though, Amanda discusses the sentiment of the Yin and Yang, and compares that to the feminine fire, stating that just like males have a percentage of the female Yang, so too do they have the feminine aspects of the “fire” within themselves. Much more is said about this during the episode. Really fascinating stuff! You won’t want to miss it. Signs of Energy Imbalance || How to Fix Them Being burned out, overwhelmed, rage, aggression, not talking to your spouse, or a mixture of emotions that tend to dominate the disposition on a consistent basis are all signs that your fire is out of whack. There are ways to fix this imbalance though, as Amanda lays out in the episode. Reconnecting to your desires is one of the biggest steps towards rekindling your fire. Amanda suggests just sitting down and writing your desires out. It does not matter if your only desire in the entire world is to have a cup of coffee, as long as you are writing it down and conditioning your mind to start reconnecting with your desires, that is all that matters. She suggests that you force yourself to spend 10 minutes with this exercise on a consistent basis. You will be surprised at how tangibly your desires are fleshed out before you. Another step is to reconnect with your senses again. Amanda suggests being mindful and purposefully spending the time to pay attention and to be present. By engaging the senses, you can deepen the connection between you and your fire. She says to try it for yourself: the next time you are eating, pay attention to the taste, the sensations, and derive as much enjoyment as possible from the act. This can, of course, be applied to the bedroom as well. She goes into more detail in the episode. It is really great stuff that you won’t want to miss! Fear Can Sit in the Backseat,...

 #55: Lisa Diamond - Female Sexual Fluidity | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1732

Today, Lisa Diamond tells us about her past and present research on sexual fluidity. Lisa M. Diamond is Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies at the University of Utah. Her research focuses on the development and dynamic expression of sexual identity and orientation over the life course, the influences of early life experiences on psychosocial and psychosexual development, and the biological mechanisms through which intimate relationships shape mental and physical health. Where it all began When Lisa Diamond first started graduate school, she was interested in studying lesbian and gay youth - a new field in the early 90s. Early on in her readings, she found a paucity of studies focused on young women. As a feminist and a new researcher trying to find a unique way to enter the field, Lisa posed the following questions: ‘where are the women and what are their experiences? Why have they been underrepresented?’ Sexual orientation: not so categorical after all Lisa describes her first study, an interview project, where she recruited young women that were non-heterosexual (in some way) to answer her questions. She continues to reveal how their patterns of attractions and behavior led her to conclude that sexual orientation is not as categorical as previously thought and that, although her study focused on the experiences of women, this is not a female phenomenon but rather “a human thing”. She is still following the women from this study (which began in 1995) and listeners can hear more about stories she has collected over the years that have surprised her. What is fluidity? According to Lisa, fluidity is “a capacity to respond erotically to a broader range of stimuli and people than are necessarily a part of your sexual orientation.” The distinction between sexual orientation and fluidity is still being figured out, but Lisa notes an important distinction is the difference in patterns between bisexual women and fluid lesbians or fluid heterosexuals. That is, bisexual women have a more consistent behavioral pattern whereas fluid individuals are much more sporadic in their attractions which are context dependent. Tune in to catch the entire discussion about fluidity and some interesting examples from her research. Why do we feel the need to categorize everyone? The conversation shifts slightly to talking about the human need to categorize and give everyone an (sexual) identity rather than being fluid. Lisa explains that the reason we stereotype or categorize in general is because our brain simply cannot process all of the information coming in from our surroundings. We need to categorize, and as long as we realize that our stereotypes are human creations and not natural types, it’s okay. Fluidity may be a generational thing Lisa returns to her 1995 (ongoing) study to explain that in the 80s and 90s it was important to find a community and to be able to connect with folks who had a shared experience. Identity labels were a way to do that and were necessary in a way that youth today do not experience. Lisa believes the younger generation of queer folk is more comfortable not having a label and thus not identifying as anything. What are the takeaways? To conclude, Lisa beautifully articulates several points. First, she contends that while there is a lot of talk about the stigma that (queer) people face, much of the stigmatizing and is done by ourselves: we project our own abnormal-ness onto ourselves. Furthermore, sexual fluidity teaches us about the incredible diversity of the human condition. Given that the hallmark of humans as a species is the ability to adapt, it should come as no surprise that humans are also flexible when it comes to sexuality, spirituality, gender, etc. Final words Lisa leaves us with the following statement: “If we can adopt an approach of being more forgiving of ourselves and one another when we don’t fit what we think is expected, it would make a lot of people a lot...

 #54: Emily [Personal Story] - Asking for What You Want | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2377

Bi-Sexual Awakening As early as 10 or 11, Emily felt that she was bi-sexual. Listen as she describes her evolution of feelings, relationships, and sexual interactions. Coming of Age At the age of 16, Emily felt ready for sex. Listen as she discusses her life experience in a small-town community. This smaller atmosphere created a sense of little-to-no options for her first sexual encounter. Going to college, Emily was excited to find freedom for opportunities for relationships and sex. However, she describes her perspective as a return to her experience from her hometown, one of a smaller, closed group without many opportunities for a sexual partner. College Life An unrequited emotional infatuation places Emily in a difficult situation involving the pressures of feeling like a virgin and balancing the emotions within a “friends with benefits” situation. Hear Emily describe the evolution of this relationship as it develops and then abruptly comes to a close. Turning Point Self-reflection leads Emily to realize that her personal history demonstrates her inclination to pursuing relationships that would inevitably fail and at the same time help her avoid feeling a sense of rejection. Listen as Emily discusses the development of this personal realization and then works on the personal and emotional change to engage in more positive relationships while accepting the reality of rejection. Human Sexuality Class Brave new frontier encouraged by a human sexuality project. Emily’s essay assignment was to do something that was new to her within the realm of sexuality. While the assignment was open to development based on the individual, Emily chose to open a profile on a dating app for more alternative lifestyles. Emily identified as bisexual and was looking for a threesome. Listen as she describes the development of the relationship with a couple she connected with and met. While non-traditional, Emily was able to experience the deeper emotional relationships that develop between a couple and her own deeper emotional ideas of intimacy. Turning Point Honest and positive life changes came from Emily’s experience with the couple. Hear her describe how that non-traditional but honest experience she sought out helped her better understand the importance of pursuing relationships that are more emotionally rewarding and honest because they include the possibility of rejection. An App Experience Change in viewpoint, change in pursuits. While Emily had previously used dating apps in her college life, she never really took it seriously. However, after her threesome experience, she developed her intentions, commitment, and bravery to finding and pursuing what she really wanted. Underlying Insecurities Progress and emotional states, hear as Emily describes that while she has made progress with her personal relationships, there still exists some of her fundamental insecurities that she continues to work on. Sexual Understanding Listen as Emily describes her sexually open upbringing which provided her with a strong foundation and understanding of sex. She emphasizes that key emotional ingredients lie in the differences between theory and practice, or “smelling the food vs. tasting the food”. Developing the Hunger Healthy happy sex and developing relationships, Emily highlights the development of her understanding and desires of sex and relationships through her creative metaphor of food. The Lesson Emily summarizes that it is essential for personal development and relationships that it is necessary to“ask for what you want and put yourself out there.” And that risk is a necessary component of achieving your personal desires. More info: Book and New Course - https://sexwithoutstress.com Web - https://www.bettersexpodcast.com/ Sex Health Quiz - http://sexhealthquiz.com/ If you’re enjoying the podcast and want to be a part of making sure it continues in the future, consider being a patron....

 #53: Daniela Wittmann - Prostate Cancer and Sex | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1807

My guest Daniela Wittmann is an expert on prostate health and urology. In fact, she is a very prominent member of the Prostate Cancer Survivorship Program; in addition, she is an associate professor of Urology and Social Work in the University of Michigan Health System. In this interview, she informs listeners on prostate health and penile rehabilitation--particularly after surgery, radiation, or hormone treatment for males who have had prostate cancer. It is a very informative and important talk, and even if you aren’t currently going through the complications of prostate cancer, getting a jumpstart on learning about the subject is very important. Screening for Prostate Cancer As Daniela states, prostate cancer is asymptomatic, which means that symptoms don’t show up until well after it has already metastasized or shown up in the prostate. It is screened, if there are abnormalities caught in the screen then a biopsy is usually done and then a number of treatment options are available as a next step. Daniela goes into more detail during the episode. Treatment Options That Affect Sexual Functioning If non-aggressive and very localized, men can always go under ‘active surveillance.’ At this point, physicians simply monitor and watch to see if the cancer gets more aggressive. This treatment method has no sexual side effects. Another treatment is when the cancer is localized, so treatment typically centers around radiation or surgery. Side effects do occur with this type of treatment. For most men, after they do the surgery, they will experience erectile dysfunction because the nerves responsible for making the penis erect are damaged during surgery. In addition, urinary incontinence can occur as well. For more information on treatment options, as well as the side effects of radiation, Daniella provides a succinct breakdown of the treatment options. Men Resisting or Putting Off Treatment? Because there are considerable side effects like loss of libido, lower testosterone, and impaired erectile function, to name a few, some men choose to resist treatment. Daniela states that there are a number of studies which show that men choose not to get treatment because of how daunting the choice can be. Of course, one would want to treat cancer, but to lose sexual function is not attractive to anyone. Some men choose to only monitor their cancer and wait until it gets much worse. Things to Be Aware Of Among many other facets, Daniela stresses the importance of communicating concerns about loss of sexual function to your physician. But as she says, when it comes to cancer, many physicians downplay the importance of communicating sexual side effects because cancer is the far more serious factor at play. As a result, Daniela says that many men are often surprised by the side effects after treatment. Communication is key between patient and physician. Also requesting to the surgeon that as many nerves be spared as possible during surgery, is a very important thing to consider. What Does Penile Rehabilitation Look Like? Penile rehabilitation in this context means to protect the penile tissue from atrophying. Daniela highlights a number of strategies that are used to accomplish this: low doses of Viagra or Cialis to breathe oxygen and blood into the penis; another is penile injections which do the same thing, and stimulation of the nerves in the penis to maintain penile tissue. For erections, a vacuum pump can be used to maintain a hard erection as well. And all of this is used to maintain the ability for sexual function once the penis has been rehabilitated enough. For much more, tune in. Recommended Time Rehabilitating and The Frequency Although Daniela says that there is no conclusive time period that one should most effectively rehabilitate, the minimum amount of time should be about three-six months or so. “And the frequency,” you might ask? Although there isn’t an exact, prescribed standard that...

 #52: Jessa Zimmerman [Soapbox] - Changing Your Mindset | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2028

In this episode we talk about changing your mindset about sex and about relationships. This episode will challenge your ideas about roles in a relationship and describe a list of new rules to follow that may replace some assumptions that could be getting in your way. A previous episode described the sexual avoidance cycle (quick recap: the circle of disappointment in sex, feeling afraid which leads to avoidance of sex and talking about sex thus inducing increased pressure on your sex life which is followed by a perpetual sense of disappointment). The disappointment portion of the cycle comes from unrealistic expectations. Today we learn where these expectations come from and what myths we buy into that set us up to fail. Two important questions are asked and answered: what do we replace these expectations with and what is sex really? What is sex really? This is an important question to ask because your definition will inform what you expect from sex. You will be challenged to think about your own definition. In the meantime, the following definition is offered: “Sex is the physical expression of our innate drives for love, intimacy and pleasure”. How can a definition change your mindset? While the internet may try to force us into adapting heteronormative definitions, that sex is “sexual intercourse, especially between a man and a woman” (whaaaat?) or “sexual activity including specifically sexual intercourse” (so biased!), consider what your own requirements are. The example you’ll hear in this podcast is a personal one. First, sex has to be inclusive and accessible to everyone. Furthermore, rather than focus on specific acts or body parts, it should focus on pleasure and connection. Lastly, it is based in consent. Consider a person who says they lost their virginity to rape. With this definition, because it was certainly not consensual, that was not sex. This mindset shift is explained in even more depth with a great analogy about how sex is like going to the playground... listen in to figure exactly what that means! Time for some new rules What assumptions and unrealistic expectations are getting in the way of a successful relationship? How does your definition of sex work in your relationship? Give this episode a listen for a full description of new rules to follow. In the meantime, enjoy some highlights below. Knowing what you want...and knowing that what you want is okay! That is, we are responsible for our own pleasure. Creating your own definition of sex means you know what you want; it’s not the other person’s job to magically know what you want to be an effective lover. Building on this concept, what you want is okay! There is nothing wrong with what you want and both you and your partner’s sexual desires are valid and important. No more blindsides What is safety in a relationship? Being fully accommodating of a partner’s feelings and thoughts is not safety. Real safety comes from honesty and knowing you’re going to tell it like it is (and vice versa). Being honest means no one will be blindsided by festering thoughts and opinions that eventually come out. Empathy in Communication During an argument or discussion, we are often building our defense or rebuttal when listening to our partner instead of really understanding what our partner is saying. Therefore, empathize first and then respond. Try to climb into your partner’s shoes and see things from their perspective. Addressing the interpersonal gap The interpersonal gap is the gap between what someone’s intention is and what the impact is on the listener. Empathy is important to both notice the gap and then to figure out what happened to cause the discrepancy. What were you trying to say and what did your partner hear? Thoughts and feelings - what’s the difference? Another important rule is to differentiate between thoughts and feelings. Feelings are emotions that fall into 4 basic categories: sad, mad, glad and afraid....

 #51: Emily Nagoski - Come As You Are | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2571

The Motivation for Come As You Are My guest today is Emily Nagoski, the acclaimed author of the best selling book, Come as You Are. As Emily relates, the motivation to write her best-selling book has a very prominent beginning. It was the first day of the semester and Emily was beginning her usual Anatomy class. A student raised her hand and asked if Emily would walk the students through the evolutionary origin of the hymen. Never having contemplated the question, she knew the semester was going to be a challenging but rewarding one. And during the final exam, when asking a question worth 2 points, she asked students to state one thing they had learned. The answer was far from what she expected. She found herself grading the final exams with tears in her eyes. Listen in to learn what most of her students’ answers centered on. We All Have the Same Parts Consider the scrotum. Yes, never before has someone provided an opening sentence like that, but stop for a moment and consider it. The central tenet to Come as You Are is that we all have the same parts, they are just organized differently. If you look at the center of the scrotum, there is a demarcating line that runs down the center; during gestation, all it took was a simple hormone and genetic difference that prevented the scrotum from becoming a labia. They are both stretchy and anatomical similar, but they become formed differently during birth. Through this type of thinking, Emily crafted the book to alleviate the stresses and insecurities of sex. With stress-free sex, with more comfort inside one’s skin and the anatomy that we have developed, we can become comfortable in the fact that we are completely normal. For more on this, listen along. Variance Should Be Celebrated Getting to know your own sexual parts, as well as your partner’s. There is no one-size-fits-all type of sexual practice. Some women, a minority actually, can experience orgasm through vaginal stimulation alone; the majority cannot. And all because of slight anatomical differences that can’t be controlled. So, the number one message communicated is to celebrate the inevitable variance between everyone! SES & SIS This is another extremely interesting section of the interview: Emily talks about the internal sexual excitation system and the sexual inhibition system in our brain that is constantly working behind the scenes. These two work in tandem to balance out sexual excitation with an inhibiting effect that prevents us from being sexually excited all of the time. For more on this dual-control process and how understanding it can help trauma victims, listen along. I am not doing it justice here! The Ramifications of Stress on Sexual Health Stress can make one’s body shut down completely when it comes to healthy sexual functioning. As the brain is highly reactive and conditioned through many facets of existence, a stressful situation can kickstart the sexual inhibition system (SIS) which will more often than not win out over any excitation. But again, variance shows up in this respect as well. Everyone is wired differently. Some people have an increased sex drive once stressed, and others don’t. It’s all a matter of preconditioning. But what do couples do when they are mismatched on this regard. Emily tackles the question with gusto. Tune in to learn more. Scheduled Sex Just because you schedule sex with a partner, doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen. But it is a very good idea if you don’t have a lot of sexual desire or have a partner who doesn’t, to schedule the opportunity for sex. Don’t have an expectation that it’s going to happen, just create the opportunity. Sometimes once in an environment that is conducive for sexual excitation, there can be adequate responsive desire. A no-stress desire! Emily discusses this further in the episode. Tips for Re-tuning One’s Sexual Response For the most part, all it takes is a simple change to retune your sexual response to...

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