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:

 77: How Childbirth Affects Men – Dr. Amy Gilliland | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3308

My guest is Dr. Amy Gilliland, Ph.D., ADVCD/BDT(DONA), CSE (AASECT). She is a doula, an AASECT certified sexual educator, and her work has been extensively shared and published in many prestigious academic journals on the subject of sexuality and various aspects of childbirth. This episode largely deals with men (with female birthing partners) and the influences that childbirth and post-childbirth time periods can have, not just physically but psychologically as well. Sexual attraction and desire might actually diminish after watching their female partner give birth, relationship dynamics can change, and there are a myriad more things to consider from the male perspective as well. This talk spans a wide array of very important facets of the subject–all of which is driven by Dr. Amy’s expert insight. Inspirations and Influences for Amy’s Involvement in the Work Amy says that she grew up in an environment that was largely women, so she never had a very concrete understanding of men. Due to her line of work, she was witness to this abrupt shift from men being absent from the delivery room to them all of a sudden becoming staples of labor support. This means that men were all of a sudden relied on to give steady labor support with no questions asked and no real training. So, as most males are wired to do, they are left with the difficult prospect of wanting to fix the pain of their spouse but are powerless to do so. That can weigh heavy on the hearts of most men. And not a lot of medical professionals have the time to ask crucial questions about how men are feeling during the delivery. Hormonal Differences in Sexes Pertaining to Childbirth Response As Dr. Amy states, there are some markedly different aspects between the sexes regarding hormonal response to childbirth. So, not only are there anatomical differences, but also hormonal differences. A woman will experience a rush of oxytocin to combat stress or labor, whereas a male partner will not. Dr. Amy talks more about this during the episode. Listen in! The Support System Needs Support Too! When looking at the research, a lot of fathers respond very well to support from a doula. And support, in general, is good for lessening the chance and effects of PTSD that can accompany afterward. In addition, Dr. Amy says that the more men are involved in the decision-making process surrounding birth, the more likely they are going to feel like they have some sort of control. This lack of control, as well as lack of answers during the chaos of childbirth, can adversely affect the physiology (stress response) but also the psychology of the male (PTSD). The Challenges of Asking for Help As Amy says, the medical world is largely patriarchal. But this is not so in the birth realm, which is largely matriarchal. Some men are comfortable within more female spaces and others are not. And on top of this, having to ask for help within a female-dominant place can make some men feel uncomfortable, so within the delivery room, men can feel very powerless. And of course, this powerlessness can manifest itself with PTSD and similar experiences. The Brain’s Response to the Invasive Aspects of Childbirth As Dr. Amy says, we are supposed to act like cervical checks are normal proceedings for our brains to comprehend. But for a male, it can be a strange experience to see multiple cervical checks by multiple doctors, not to mention the other invasive medical procedures on top of this. The aftereffects, no matter how common the practice, can still be traumatic for men, even if not felt in the most concrete ways. The Importance of a Doula Because men often feel like they need to be a protective role during labor, a doula can be essential for calming down and explaining to the male everything that’s going on. So often, it boils down to the man not knowing enough during birth. This lack of knowledge leads to anxiety and stress. A doula or knowledgeable friend is...

 76: Sexuality and Spirituality – Tina Schermer Sellers and Kamara McAndews | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2828

An Intimacy that Includes Mind, Body, Heart, and Spirit My guests are Tina Schermer Sellers and Kamara McAndrews, and together they are sharing the important work of Gina Odgen who passed away last year. Gina herself was a sexual educator and researcher who explored the intersection of sexuality and spirituality. From it came the 4-D wheel of mind, body, heart, and spirit. In this episode, Tina and Kamara share their expertise in the 4-D wheel and gives many examples of its transformational power. Tina Schermer, Ph.D. is a marriage and family therapist, the author of Sex, God, and the Conservative Church, as well as an award-winning speaker and the founder of the Northwest Institute on Intimacy. Kamara McAndrews LMFT, CST is a certified sex therapist, the director of programming at the 4-D Network, an expert in teaching and spearheading wheel programs, and studied personally with Dr. Ogden herself. Gina Odgen’s Life and Mission As she is described during the episode, Gina was an amazing researcher in sexuality and devoted her life to her work. Her work began with studying women who were easily orgasmic, and it evolved into the connection between spirituality and sexuality. She also studied Native American spiritualism, which was the precursor for her developing the 4-D Network for Mind, Body, Heart, & Spirit. She was also one of the first researchers to ask these personalized sexual questions to such a large number of people. Her methodology was very narrative driven, and she noticed that the responses people were giving in their surveys all touched upon the 4 crucial aspects of the wheel model she pioneered. The 4-D Wheel To understand the 4-D wheel, we are told to imagine a square clock on the ground that has 4 separate quadrants: one for the mind, body, heart, and spirit. Both Tina and Kamara share just how versatile the wheel is, as well. It can be used for just about anything in your life. For instance, if you are stuck in any position, you can take objects that have certain representations and place them in quadrants. This works very well with couples’ therapy as well. And for those who have anxiety, it can function as a very powerful tool for handling it. This means you take an object that represents anxiety and move into the emotional quadrant or the mental quadrant. And then you take an object that represents the opposite of anxiety, like calm, and put it wherever you feel you need it most. This type of exercise is great for thinking about things from a creative perspective and for externalizing specific areas. Much more is said within the episode; don’t miss it! Sexually Specific Examples of the 4-D Wheel Tina said she’s had couples come in who were really stuck in their relationship. In one of these couples, there was trauma in the man’s life that had surfaced. They had seen 5 different therapists for addiction recovery, group work, and various individual counseling, and then they came to Tina. She did wheel work with this couple who had struggled for so long. They brought symbols with them about what it meant for each of them to move closer into intimacy with each other. And it was through the wheel work and the externalization and explanation of his struggles that led to an impactful realization between them. The female partner was able to see his trauma externalized, and it was eye-opening. Really awesome example and she says much more within the episode! Group Versus Individual Wheel Work There are a lot of differences between group and individual wheel work. One of these differences is that we all often feel isolated in our suffering. Even if we go to therapy, it can still be a very alienating experience sometimes. Group work, on the other hand, actually focuses on using triggers to get at the root of traumas and bring it out or externalize it. In the midst of a group, this can not only be effective but also powerful as well. This can apply to sexual issues of...

 75: Feminine and Fulfilled – Shazia Imam | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1965

My guest Shazia Imam works with women who are looking to access and unlock their deepest desires and power. She is very skilled at inspiring women to chase their desires once they have figured them out. Shazia does transformational life coaching, she worked as an engineer before shifting careers, and she has a great story to tell in this episode!. In this story, she talks about her incredible story of transformation: from living a life where she went through the motions and checked boxes off her list, to a life of deep fulfillment and intimacy, all because she chose to listen to her own desires and follow her own path. Shazia’s Desire to Curate a Perfect Life Shazia starts off this interview by stating that she grew up in a pretty normal household. She did extremely well in school as an engineer, and then she was hired at one of the most prestigious consulting firms in the world; but she soon started worrying about the next things to check off of her box, as she puts it. Soon she got married, became pregnant, but tragedy would strike as she lost the baby. She says that as a woman, losing a child is one of the most, if not the most, difficult things a woman can face. And then to add to the devastation, she was faced with yet another challenge that would continue to shift her mentality on “curating her perfect life.” Listen in for more. A Path Taken Alone When asked if Shazia had support from her family during this difficult time in her life, she says that she actually didn’t tell them the extent of her troubles. She believed it was important to take her path in life by herself. She tried everything she could to save her marriage, and it took years for the divorce process to be finalized. She kept the divorce from her parents until it was actually fulfilled. She said she was so worried about everyone else that she burdened the weight of these circumstances on her shoulders. Shazia admits that she even went homeless for a few months in order to hide the events in her life from everyone else. For more about this part of life, listen along. From Swimming Lessons to a Soulmate Shazia realized that her self-esteem was at an all-time low. Her low sense of self-worth was getting in the way of her liberation from the exacting circumstances in her life. Putting her problem-solving skills to work, Shazia wrote a list of things that she wanted in her life. From her desired relationship to wanting to take swim lessons. This was liberating. But a bigger moment of liberation came when she finally stopped clenching her fist and let go of trying to fix her marriage. She said that an unexpected wave of freedom and relief came whenever she walked out of the door and stopped clenching her fist tight on the relationship. This started the long, exhilarating process of discovering facets of her personality that she didn’t really know was there: like her sensuality, sassiness, and joy. And on top of that, she manifested her soulmate. Start Small, Start Somewhere The turning point in Shazia’s life was when she started doing things for herself. Once she got in touch with her desires and what she truly wanted, that was when she started manifesting things in her life in a positive way. Her advice is to start somewhere, 2-3 things. Even if all you want and need for the day is a hot shower, then take that shower! This will, of course, build into much more substantial desires and outcomes once you have sat with your thoughts and desires longer. Transparency Translates to Deeper Connection and Intimacy Shazia says in her past marriage, she didn’t have the opportunity to be intimate. Her needs were not being met. But with her soulmate, her intimacy is on a whole other level, as he puts it. So, because Shazia is now the person she wants to be, and because she has the willingness to share that without being afraid of being judged, it translates to her unlocking true intimacy in the bedroom....

 74: Yes Brain in the Bedroom - Heidi Crockett | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2302

My guest is Heidi Crockett. She is a highly qualified sexual health educator and speaker on stress and sex. She is also the author of The Neuroscience of Dating and Caregiver Stress: Neurobiology to the Rescue. In addition, Heidi is a licensed psychotherapist and studied sexual health postgraduate at the University of Michigan. In this episode, Heidi takes on through the wide world of neuroscience, mindfulness, and sexuality. Some of the subject matter she talks about may sound technical, but Heidi explains it a clear and compelling way. Listen in and learn a ton about relational neuroscience, meditation, and even dating! Yes Brain in the Bedroom – it’s Relational Neuroscience It’s technically called interpersonal neurobiology, but because that’s even more of a mouthful than relational neuroscience, the latter wins out for this episode! It’s an interdisciplinary science, meaning that it spans across multiple scientific disciplines and schools of thought into an eclectic field. And at the heart of it is called ‘integration’. This means that a combination of differentiation and linkage lead to integration. In other words, if while listening to this episode, you actively start to notice your breath while you are listening to Heidi speak, you are differentiating her words from your internal experience. This is called ‘sifting’. Moving beyond this, once you move back to Heidi’s words and understand new terms she introduces, you can link back up within the context that she frames. For more on this and a breakdown of relational neuroscience, including how our brain relates to its outside environment, listen in! Heidi does a great job of explaining the science in a digestible way. Examples of Low and High Integration Using addiction as a framework for explaining the varying levels of integration, Heidi explains that low integration has more to do with someone who is reactive and impulsive. And by reactive, this means that they function on a trigger-action-reward basis as underlined by Judson Brewer in his book, The Craving Mind. High integration, on the other hand, has more to do with inhibiting those reactive and impulsive behaviors. So in the context of the bedroom, it is much easier to go on autopilot, as Heidi states. This means on average we all tend to be low integration in the bedroom, instead of inhibiting the trigger-action-reward state and work towards high integration practices. Much more within! The Power of Meditation Heidi says that the secret sauce for good sex has to do with kindness and compassion for others. She mentions Daniel Siegel’s book Aware as an inspiration for the power of meditation and the three pillars of awareness that he talks about; but she also mentions that meditation quiets down the Default Mode Network in the brain. The Default Mode Network has to do with the “I” part of the brain that is on in the background, and which we can usually relate to autopilot types of thinking. It is the baseline mode of consciousness. Meditation can quiet the DFN and lead to more awareness, which in turn leads to a present awareness in the bedroom! This is just a small portion of what Heidi talks about though. Check it out! How This All Applies to Sex When considering meditation and how this relates to differentiation, linkage, and integration, there are a number of exercises that can be utilized for better sex using these principles. For those who may feel pressured to perform, where touch escalates and the pressures of performance can lead to anxiety or a sudden lack of desire, mindfulness can help in a real way. When talking about a couple and each of their own unique means of arousal, Heidi says that the goal is to differentiate what turns each person on. A couple wants to be comfortable with their desire and ability to become aroused, independent of one another. The end goal is then to link those differentiated desires together, which will lead to high...

 73: Jim Fleckenstein – Consensual Non-Monogamy | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2489

My guest is Jim Fleckenstein. He is a coach and educator on sexuality. He is also a researcher who focuses predominantly on non-exclusive relationships and how they affect the individuals involved. He is an expert in consensual non-monogamy and a wellspring of knowledge and insight, which he graciously shares in this episode. Jim shares stats and information on consensual non-monogamy, how those who practice it are reporting an overwhelming amount of satisfaction and happiness, how emotional needs have a lot to do with those who are drawn towards it, and how these relationship structures are actually much more common than you may have realized. This is just the tip of the iceberg of this discussion though. Listen along and learn a lot about this interesting topic! The Three Main Divisions of Consensual Non-Monogamy To start the interview, Jim breaks down consensual non-monogamy into polyamory, swinging, and open relationships. Polyamory is separate from the others because there is a chance for a deep emotional connection to be reinforced. While the others are more reserved for sexual acts, polyamory is can delve into the emotional as well as the sexual components of a relationship. Jim says that swinging is probably the oldest of the trio. And for those who don’t know, it’s a couple-centric act where couples work hard to establish an emotional wall to prevent emotional developments. They also don’t have sex independently of one another. And in open relationships, partners are free to seek sexual liaisons outside of the primary relationship. Emotional connection is not established, and unlike swingers, they don’t participate in sexual acts together but do their own thing instead. Jim says much more within the episode. Listen along! The Reasons Why Certain People Prefer Consensual Non-Monogamy For the reasons why people go the non-monogamous route, Jim says it has a lot to do with the emotional needs of the person. He says the question of “what is it that I am trying to attain here?” is a great question to ask to evaluate your emotional needs. Your needs will determine which version of consensual non-monogamy that you gravitate towards and want to eventually practice–if you do end up deciding that your emotional needs warrant the lifestyle, of course. Jim also talks about the boundaries that are established and how respecting those boundaries is important for the healthy functioning of any consensual non-monogamous relationship. Tune in! How Many People are Practicing? Jim says that it’s difficult to have an accurate number or statistic for those who practice non-monogamous relationships. This is due to the fact that individuals can lose their jobs and their kids because of it, and in addition, it is still highly stigmatized in our country. This leads to a lot of people practicing in clandestine ways. So, because of these factors, it’s hard to trust the surveys and numbers out there. But according to the stats, Jim says that somewhere between 2-7% of all relationships are practiced through one of the three divisions of consensual non-monogamy. The Importance of Education Jim shares a lot of important information on how people learn about polyamory or swinging by attending educational events where people discuss consensual non-monogamy in a non-sexual environment. Often the trepidations that occur can be alleviated through more understanding. And as is brought up during the episode, some of the concerns of being pressured by a partner into swinging or an open relationship can be addressed once more information is processed. He also makes it clear this needs to be a mutual decision. Who knows, maybe all it takes is a couple of events and you will comfortable enough with shifting your relationship dynamic! Maybe it will confirm your anxiety. Becoming educated is key! It destigmatizes and demystifies. Go-To Resources for Jim He says that his favorite go-to book is Opening Up...

 72: Amy Lang – Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2952

Signs of sexual trauma in children My guest for this episode is Amy Lang: she has been teaching sex for over 25 years now with an emphasis on teaching kids about sexuality in an effective, healthy way. Amy has a Master’s degree in Applied Behavioral Science. She started her foray into sexual education as a hobby, but she soon made her own company once she realized how uncomfortable she was with talking to her son about sex. Amy’s company is Birds and Bees and Kids. Currently, she educates parents to properly communicate and teach their own children about sex. In this episode, we talk about educating children about sex. Specifically, we give a lot of attention to sexual abuse topics, noticing red flags in your child’s sexual development or behavior, and what to do if your child comes forward as a victim (or a perpetrator) of sexual abuse. These are heavy topics, but they are far too important to ignore. Normal Sexual Behaviors and When to be Concerned Amy says that typical sexual behavior includes what she calls ‘penis meetings’ and ‘vulva conventions’–or other types of behaviors that are based on natural anatomical curiosity between other children. This type of experimentation is normal for all kids. Ages 9-12 is when the experimentation ramps up and can get a little more serious, as porn is typical first viewed within this age range. And then as kids hit the 13-16 age range, Amy says that “all bets are off. They are pretty much doing everything.” Amy says that a way to assess if your child’s sexual behavior is something to be concerned about is just to listen to what they’re saying. If the language sounds adult-like and too established for their age, that is a red flag. And when it comes to self-stimulation, any age for children is normal to start. But it is a red flag if the child is self-stimulating in public on a consistent basis. She goes into much more detail and expands upon this topic within the talk, including a few anecdotes that clarify some of these red-flag behaviors. Our Compulsion to Report Sexual Abuse in Children As Amy points out, adults have a tendency to report any sexualized behaviors in children as a result of sexual abuse when that’s often not the case. Children commonly experiment and discover their bodies in very demonstrative ways, and this is natural. So, shaming kids that exhibit these natural behaviors can be very harmful. Yes, in a public setting, there are boundaries that should be upheld. But corrections that are made shouldn’t be done in a way that shames the natural expression of a child’s sexuality. Communicating in a clear, kind, and simple way is the best way. Of course, though, there are instances where sexual abuse does happen. Some of the red flags for sexual abuse are if the behavior is adult-like, if the behavior is repeated despite multiple corrections, and if the behavior is not between two kids of similar age–say a discrepancy of 3 or more years. For more on this, including red flags between siblings, listen along. Advice for Parents if a Child Discloses Abuse Your natural response would be to react emotionally and get angry if your child came forth and disclosed any sexual abuse that they experienced. Amy advises parents in this situation to stay as calm as possible after your initial reaction. And then ask the important questions in a calm manner: the who, what, when, and where of the abuse. Being gentle is key in this time. She gives some very valuable tips and advice within this section of the interview that everyone should check out, including information on therapy, what to do after sexual abuse, and the complications and confusions that can occur during an abuse. Handle Concerns Calmly There are aberrant sexual behaviors, and there is normal sexual experimentation between children. As a parent, it is important to educate yourself on the difference and to not victimize another child if they exhibit abnormal sexual behaviors....

 71: Dr. Sheila Addison - When Your Partner is Transgender | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3161

This episode is a wealth of information. It is delivered by the expert guidance of guest Dr. Sheila Addison and covers many important elements of transgender and cisgender relationships, the transgender community in general, post-surgery sex, sex between cisgender and transgender partners, how identities are designated at birth, the psychology and complexities of gender identity, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Dr. Sheila has a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has a private practice where her client base is about as diverse as it gets, ranging from LBGTQ to Poly Friendly and more. She has an amazing mind and qualified to boot, and her message is absolutely, overwhelmingly important when considering the challenges that the transgender community face and what cisgender people can do to help! Transgender Versus Cisgender To start, Dr. Sheila reminds listeners that we have all been designated as a ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ at birth. This excludes a small number of people who are born as “intersex”, which means their genitals are ambiguous and thus difficult to determine definitively (Gender isn’t binary in any sense – whether you’re talking about genitals or chromosomes; maybe another episode on this later). But for the majority of people, the gender they are assigned at birth fits with their gender identity as they develop throughout life. If you fall into the category, you are cisgender. The ‘cis’ prefix corresponds to mean ‘same’. On the other end of the spectrum, if you haven’t positively identified with the gender that was assigned to you at birth, you are transgender. For those who are born without a clear designation of male or female, the gender identity process can be much more complex than the binary ‘boy or girl’ designations that normally occur at birth. Dr. Sheila eloquently explains the nuances during the talk. Listen in! The Importance of Furthering Education on Gender Identity Dr. Sheila stresses the importance of seeing cisgender and transgender as identities and not conditions. As the nomenclature has shifted and the identities have garnered more societal understanding, Sheila still wishes we that we all had more comprehensive learning opportunities for the cisgender/transgender relationship dynamic and everything the identity entails. Sheila states that an important place to start is being educated enough on the topic to know which questions to ask. And because it’s inevitable that transgender and cisgender individuals will become romantically and sexually involved, the sooner efforts are taken for a balanced understanding, the better. On a Cisgender and Transgender Relationship Providing comfort for a transgender individual is an important role for a cisgender person. This means that the cisgender person is not trying to process the challenges of being transgender so much, but just communicating and giving comfort. She talks about the importance of getting the guidance of a good couple’s therapist–one who can spearhead and direct the processing of certain emotions and feelings. In addition to this very important component, Sheila also devotes some time to discuss the importance of the social aspect of gender identity. She also talks about making sure you understand what your transgender partner is envisioning when they talk about transitioning, and so forth. Really, really important information within. Transgender Surgery and Sexual Expectations This is a rich part of the interview. There’s a lot of ground that is covered and listening along is a must. But to summarize a few important elements: communicating about physical expectations after surgery is very important for sex. There are many variations and options for each individual, so having discussions about expectations is crucial. And because genitalia will function the same after surgery, during a transition from cisgender to transgender, the individual going through that transformation needs support first and...

 70: DJ Burr [Personal Story] – Recovery Saved My Life | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2198

In this episode of the Better Sex Podcast, it is my honor to welcome DJ as he shares his personal journey with you. Having people come in and share the details of their life is one of the best parts of this platform! DJ is a therapist who works in the Seattle area. He specifically works with patients who are struggling with sexual addiction, codependency, and other process addictions. He is the best-selling author of I Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Sex and Love Addict, and his story is one of bravery, honesty, and hope. Listen along and learn more DJ’s story! Key Moments in DJ’s Life That Led to Realization As DJ shares early in the interview, it wasn’t until he moved from Georgia to Seattle that he began to realize the extent of his psychological hang-ups. Before, he had moved from place to place in an attempt to run from his problems, but he soon began to grasp his compulsions with more clarity. While DJ was in Georgia, he experienced relationship problems. As he says during the talk, “when you talk about being gay in the south, you don’t get a lot of support.” And on top of this, same-sex marriage was illegal at the time, so DJ and his partner decided to move to Seattle. At this point in his life, DJ was exhausted from his caregiving profession. Being a natural caregiver, DJ had always found ways to give more to others than himself. But that certainly sapped a lot of energy from DJ. He needed a break! Soon though, he realized he had been in a dysfunctional relationship with his husband from day one. Hear this part of DJ story in his own words. Listen along! Other Problems That DJ Faced at the Time He says that he struggled with poorly established boundaries in his relationship, as well as codependency that manifested itself in a ‘fix-it’ mentality for DJ. He states that fixing people and things are all he’s always known. And so his relationship made it hard for him to shake that compulsion. DJ also talks about how difficult it was to have a partner who stored porn on a hard drive and who viewed it regularly, sometimes sitting right next to DJ on the couch. This negatively affected DJ’s self-esteem and desire to be available for sex. His insecurities got so severe that he says he was drowning his sorrows in alcohol and porn himself. All of this after his partner started regularly meeting up with a porn star for dinner. DJ discusses more about this time in his life during the interview. New Relationship, Same Scenario Shortly after moving to Seattle, DJ tells us that he and his partner split up. This was just 2 weeks after moving, so DJ didn’t have a job and tried his hardest to get enough money to move out of the apartment he shared with his ex. He got a job and then found himself in a new relationship. But it soon became the same old relationship dynamic he had always known. After he got married again, that’s when his sex addiction showed up. DJ’s Sex Addiction Once he was married again and living in Seattle, he and his partner decided to pursue an open relationship. They both were curious about the dynamic, and from within that framework, they embraced the lifestyle. DJ said he was immediately hooked. He and his partner had originally pursed outside relationships together, but they soon branched off and did their own thing within the set of rules they had laid out. But coupled with a drinking problem and an increasingly growing sexual appetite, DJ started to realize that he was in trouble. This realization came from a shocking physical confrontation and his spiral out of control. DJ’s Recovery Process Once DJ’s partner agreed to go to treatment for his alcohol addiction, DJ realized his struggles and addictions. He says that when he filled out the assessment for Co-Dependents Anonymous, he checked off every single box on the sheet of paper. He also started attending Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meetings as well. In a similar manner, he found himself checking...

 69: Dr. Lori Brotto – Mindfulness and Sex | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2157

My guest is Dr. Lori Brotto. She works at the University of British Columbia Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Lori has a Ph.D. in psychology with an emphasis in psychophysiology. She is a practicing psychologist and also spearheads a lab, which focuses on mindfulness-based approaches for the sexual health of women. And within this episode, she talks specifically about mindfulness and its many powerful applications to sexuality, alleviating sexual dysfunction and performance anxiety, and overall increasing the enjoyability of sex in general. There’s so much to say about experiencing each and every moment. Listen along and enjoy! Defining Mindfulness As Dr. Lori states, mindfulness is derived from a larger form of meditation practice called ‘mindfulness meditation’. This discipline has deep cultural and historical roots of about 3,000 years. Mindfulness meditation practices are entrenched in Buddhist worldviews, but in the past four decades or so, mindfulness has undergone a secular shift, which explains its prevalence in the mainstream. In its most simple form, mindfulness means a present, non-judgmental awareness of every moment. Everything is just observed, as Lori states, meaning that any existing anxiety or insertion of judgment is cast aside for the experience of the now. Overlap of Mindfulness and Sex Lori states that something clicked during her work with women who were fundamentally disconnected from their bodies during sex. This means that a lot of women were reporting a lack of physical arousal and being present with physical sensation–which is a pretty common report after all. Lori was wondering if there was a way to apply traditional mindfulness practices with sex, as a way for women to reconnect with their bodies and thus experience sex on a much deeper, physical level. For more on the research, studies, and overall preparation and insight that went into these findings, Lori says more during the episode! The Many Applications of Mindfulness for Men and Women As Lori states, mindfulness is an extremely effective and important intervention because about a third of women are on the lower spectrum for sexual desire and interest; in fact, mindfulness has been shown to increase the levels of desire for most women. In addition, populations of women who experience heightened vaginal pain have benefited, as well as men who have survived prostate cancer. Because the majority of men who undergo prostate cancer treatments are subjected to permanent erectile difficulties, mindfulness can be applied with very beneficial results–not from a physical standpoint, but as a way to shift the understanding of sexual satisfaction and to discover new approaches towards a satisfying sex life. Listen along for more! Recommendations for Practicing Mindful Sex Lori says that she recommends that you first practice mindfulness outside of a sexual context. So, instead of just jumping in and trying mindful sex right away, practicing it at least 15 minutes a day is recommended. This means just being present in whatever moment you are in, being aware, and cultivating the necessary attentional skills. This can involve a ‘body scan’, where the participant follows along with an audio guide or through self-guidance. And after about 4 weeks of body scan practices, usually, a visual sensation is added into the practice with a mirror and to various body parts, noting and being aware of the various sensations. The purpose of all this being that the sexual side of the practice is gradually introduced. Listen along to hear more about this! Alternatives to the Body Scan When asked if there were other options beside the body scan, Dr. Lori provided plenty of practices that cultivate mindfulness just as well. You can practice ‘eating meditation’ or just mindful eating where participants eat food with a very deliberate awareness. Raisins are often used. And because most of us often pop multiple raisins...

 68: Rachel Keller & Beverly Dale – Sex Positivity in the Christian Faith | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2880

Sexual Health within the Christian Faith Starting with a little background on Rachel, she is a psychotherapist who works with clients who have experienced trauma and in sexuality in general. When considering her certification, she has been certified through AASECT and is a part of the American Academy of Psychotherapists. Rachel has long been equal parts fascinated and troubled by the suppression of sexuality from the church, and she looks to bridge the gap between a healthy practice and expression of sexuality and faith. Dr. Beverly Dale is a Reverend and received her Doctor of Ministry from the Chicago Theological Seminary. She is also the founder of the Incarnation Institute for Sex & Faith, which has the mission of bringing a positive perception of sex for all involved. Both Rachel and Beverly wrote a book called Advancing Sexual Health for the Christian Client which will be released soon! And in this episode, they both discuss the needless negative stigma that surrounds sexuality from a church’s perspective: both in doctrine as well as practice. They provide an analysis as well as solutions. Really impactful stuff that I know you’ll get a lot out of! Listen along. Their New Book! They both wrote to give a resource to those who might be tied up with their Christian faith and yet are facing seemingly insurmountable sexual problems. The book is a major step towards providing solutions for the sort of sexual gridlock that may occur. And the book wasn’t just designed with Christians in mind, but those who may have moved on from Christianity as well and are seeking sexual healing or are looking for answers to pressing questions. This is expanded upon in the talk where the distinction between a client’s belief and their faith is clarified. Listen in for that! Deconstructing Belief They approach their clients through the lens of showing that beliefs are separate from experience. Because the church teaches certain principles and gives commandments, a lot of time clients tend to equate the commandments with the faith experience, and both Beverly and Rachel are working diligently to shift perceptions. Without being able to separate belief from experience, healing in the sexual realm is much more difficult. Reconstructing the Christian Narrative Those with the most power tend to write history. And as Beverly states about the many forms of the Christian narrative and practice during the heyday of the Greco-Romans, Christianity used to be much more sexually oriented and positive. But because bodies were not as central to the Greco-Roman zeitgeist, conformity to a much less inclusive version of Christianity was a result. Beverly and Rachel look to remind people that the Christianity we have today is much different than it used to be. And in fact, one of the reasons that Jesus was so radical at the time was that he didn’t conform to the misogynistic culture of the Romans. A really interesting look into history. Check them out! Impacts of the Church’s Sexual Negativity The most common, which most of us have experienced, is sexual shame or guilt. And a lot of the work that Rachel and Beverly do is provide examples of how shame cycles and negatively impact lives. In addition, they aren’t spiritual advisors, they just add the necessary disruption to the normal narrative, meaning that clients are left with a little bit of cognitive dissonance on the whole subject of sexuality and the church instead of just adhering to the rules without analysis. Problematic sexual behaviors are discussed as well, especially for our youth. What often happens with the church is that young people are not given the information they need, and they spiral into porn addiction or shame and guilt that could have been prevented had they been properly sexually educated. Really listen along to this important information. A 4-Part Process for Sexual Shame and Guilt Rachel and Beverly utilize the theologian John Wesley’s methods of using reason and personal...

 67: Alice Little - Legal Sex Work | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2118

An intimate conversation with a legal sex worker My guest, Alice Little, works at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Nevada, which is a legal brothel and where she has worked for the last three years. And as she states during the interview, before she became a courtesan at the Bunny Ranch, she was a sex educator. In fact, she is still very much involved in combining sex and education together through her work, mainly because of how lacking sex education in her public schooling curriculum was for her. And when asked if transitioning from sex education to work was a difficult process, she stated that they were much more connected than she had originally expected. In fact, a lot of her guests are asking questions about how to gain sexual expertise and are looking for demonstrations that they can learn from for better sex. She estimates about 50-60% of her guests are in it for the education alone! For more on the interesting perspective of Alice Little and her expertise, listen along and enjoy! Our Phobia of Sex Alice states that the reason so many brothels are stigmatized is a result of our collective fear of sex and its many expressions. We have a phobia for pleasure and for being outspoken towards that pleasure. And as a result of this, there is a void in most conversations because people are afraid to express their sexuality. Couples Therapy from Alice Alice says that the most common reason for a couple visiting a legal sex worker is not to bring spice to the bedroom in the traditional sense! In fact, it’s often to learn new positions and to “spread the pleasure around to both partners” as Alice puts it, through the incorporation of sex pillows and other similar things. And really, the biggest reason for a couple to visit a legal brothel is to learn the communication skills needed to further and deepen their bedroom connection. What this means is that often couples have a hard time communicating what exactly they desire in the bedroom and can’t muster the courage to express it. A visit to a legal brothel often provides the necessary context, push, you name it, for that communication to take place. For much more on this, tune in! Possibility for Long-term Connection Alice states that there are many different dynamics that she experiences with her work. Sometimes she plays the role of a girlfriend, where she meets the sexual and connection needs of her guests. Other times visits are divided up into various stages of sexual development, where the guest satisfies a need, goes in as a couple to work on his and her pleasure and even dating skills between the said couple. Really, there are a wide array of reasons for visiting. The Hardest Part About the Work Alice states that the biggest challenge she has encountered through her work has been with social media and its one-dimensional nature. Her clients, in fact, are always very respectful, so she really doesn’t have any complaints about the difficulty of her job. But a positive experience with social media is by far the hardest facet though because of how limiting it can be, according to Alice. The Difference Between Legal Sex Work in Nevada and Every Other State In her opinion, Alice thinks that those in her profession have so much to offer as service people. With that in mind, it is regrettable that only Nevada offers sexual services in a legal capacity. And in regard to those who come to participate in legal sex from a brothel in Nevada, the intention is usually to seek education versus the rest of the country where that may or not be the case given the illegality of the act and the often shadowy stigma that pervades the profession. For Alice’s take on this subject, listen along! Sex Worker Stereotypes and Stigmas Alice makes it a point to be forthright about her profession. Honestly, it is inspiring to hear how strong her conviction is on the possibilities that sex work has. That despite the stigmas and stereotypes (Alice has a story about a doctor...

 66: Pam Costa - Women Talking About Sex | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2217

The Importance of Talking About Sex My guest, Pam Costa, spent a decade-and-a-half at both Apple and Facebook. After having a life-changing experience with a sex therapist during a session, she realized that a transition to sex therapy was where she belonged. Since that realization, she has founded Down To There (https://www.downtothere.com/) and has helped many couples reclaim balance in their relationship. She has done a talk at TEDx Palo Alto and is working diligently on raising awareness for female sexual health and peer support. Very recently she has presented and garnered support at the 2018 International Society for the Study of Women’s Health conference and is continuing to do very important work in the field. And in this episode, she shares her story and everything that she has learned on peer groups and desire discrepancy through her experience. Listen along and enjoy! The Transition from Tech to Speaking About Sex As most transitions into the sexuality sphere tend to be, Pam’s journey into her career came about unexpectedly. After going to a sex therapist with her husband to find a solution for their sexual desire discrepancy, her eyes were opened to the utility and value the profession brought to her relationship and could bring to many others. Ultimately, it sparked a curious streak inside of Pam’s mind that led to her switching from a career in the tech realm to that of a sex therapist! Always interesting to hear how various individuals end up in the profession, either the traditional route or from completely different camps. Listen in to learn more! Lessons She Learned from Sex Therapy As Pam states, her husband had easy access to pleasure within his body. Because Pam had yet to cultivate a more readily accessible wellspring of pleasure to draw from within herself, she would reject her husband’s advances and then feel guilty afterward. This patterning of advance and then rejection left the couple disconnected in this facet of their relationship. And immediately, one of the first questions that Pam was asked by her sex therapist was how she was raised to respond and internalize sex and pleasure in general. At first, the question made her scratch her head, but she soon saw the value in interrogating the way she was raised and taught to suppress sexual desire and not talk about it. Armed with the right questions to ask, Pam started unlocking the desire within herself; long before she had figured herself broken or not normal, but in reality, she was extremely normal and had ready access to pleasure and desire within herself. She learned much more things from her time with the sex therapist; she goes into more detail during the episode. The Start of Her Sex Therapy Practice What started as her having edifying talks about her sex life with a girlfriend once a week, turned into more and more friends meeting up and talking about important issues that all women in relationships should be having. Pam said she would supply book club-type prompts for every participant, and they would work through the topics and questions. After spearheading these meetings and seeing hundreds of women discuss their sex lives, she decided to “get some numbers behind it” and really see if she could quantitatively analyze the efficacy of the sexual talks. And yes, the numbers reflected just how beneficial it is to have girlfriends get together and talk about sex. What About the Men in This Equation? A lot of time men don’t get the attention they deserve when desire discrepancy comes up. And yes, men are in the position of not wanting sex as often. And so, as Pam states, after she started setting up the discussion groups, even her husband expressed interest in setting up his own group to discuss sexual aspects of his relationship. This does go to show the power of discussion and how despite stereotypes of men not expressing themselves or desiring to talk about their relationships, there are plenty representatives...

 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...

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