What do you imagine happens when a professional organization of sex therapists, educators, researchers, and professors spend a weekend together in Monterey, California? That’s right – they talk about sex, learn about the latest sex research, listen to presentations by masters in the field, network and share resources, and take copious notes.
I had the pleasure of being among them at the annual conference of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), June 5-8, 2014. (This is the organization that gave Naked At Our Age the 2012 Book Award!) The weekend was packed with information.
One of my favorite presentations was a spirited and savvy slide-show illustrated talk by Paul Joannides, Psy.D, author of the excellent self-help guide for young people, Guide to Getting It On! A Book About the Wonders of Sex. His presentation — usually given to college students — was entitled “I Wish My Clitoris Was Bigger, So My Boyfriend Could Find It.”
The title is, of course, ironic. Young people exploring sex may have heard that the clitoris has thousands of nerve endings, but they (and we?) have little understanding of the structure of the clitoris. It’s not just the little nubbin that’s erect and usually visible when aroused.
The bigger issue, of course, is how, when, and where to give the clitoris the attention it needs. Since every clitoris owner gets pleasure in a different way, it’s up to her to discover what works for her and convey it to her confused but willing partner.
- “No matter how many women you’ve been with, the first time you’re between the legs of a new woman, it feels like warm apple pie.”
- “He thinks, ‘I have no idea what I’m doing.’ She thinks, ‘I can’t tell him because he’s a guy and he’s supposed to know.’”
- “Even the best partners are clueless about your amazing vagina. It’s your job to teach him and his job to learn.”
- “85% of the women who have orgasms during intercourse need a clitoral assist, not through thrusting alone.”
- “The single most damaging aspect of porn is the expectation that the guy is supposed to automatically know how to please a partner. That’s a toxic idea.”
- “Because she’s having intercourse [in porn], and that part’s real, you forget that she’s faking the pleasure.
- “For some reason, porn actors do not have a gag reflex. That must be what they go to porn school for.”
- “When it comes to sex, we’re always a work in progress. We’re changing from the day we’re born until we’re really old.”
June has been declared Adult Sex Ed Month (#AdultSexEdMonth) by Ms. Quote
(@GoodDirtyWoman on Twitter) who blogs at A Good Woman’s Dirty Mind. This idea caught on, and this month, hundreds of posts designated #AdultSexEdMonth from sex educators and bloggers appeared all over the Internet. View the list with links here.
In my world — advocating for senior sex and educating about older-age sexuality — every month is Adult Sex Ed Month. This month has been particularly fruitful.
This month, I participated in a Huffington Post Live event titled “How Old Is Too Old To Have Sex?” with fellow panelists Ashton Applewhite, Walker Thornton, Sidney Schwab, and Ken Solin, hosted by Abby Huntsman. Of course the answer to the question in the title is obvious to us (though not obvious to Abby, until we raised her consciousness), but you’ll find the discussion interesting even though you know the answer! Watch it here:
The annual conference of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors
and Therapists conference always makes my brain swell with new information and ideas from sex educators who are trailblazers in the field. Counselors, therapists, sex educators in community or medical settings, and other people who care about your sexual knowledge and enrichment gather to learn from the leaders. Then people like me come home and spread it around – to people like you.
As always, it was impossible to attend all the sessions of interest, and there’s no way I can share all of the 25 pages of single-spaced notes that I took on my laptop, no matter how many blog posts I write. But here are some highlights and tips that are especially relevant to our age group:
- Some sexual issues are psychological; some are medical or physiological. But even when it’s a medical issue, a sex therapist can be important to help you work with whatever is going on. Medical sexual issues affect your sense of self and your relationship. “Any pharmacotherapy for sexual dysfunction should occur within the context of sex and relationship therapy.” (Ricky Siegel)
- One more good reason to quit smoking: Nicotine has been shown to decrease blood flow to the penis and increase venous outflow from the penis — in other words, less ability to get and maintain an erection. (Ricky and Larry Siegel)
- Women with vulvar or vaginal pain have a difficult time getting the pain diagnosed and treated effectively. Possible causes of pelvic pain are varied, and with the wrong diagnosis (or no diagnosis!), the wrong treatment follows. Look for a three-pronged approach: a sexual medicine physician, a pelvic floor physical therapist, and a certified sex therapist, such as used by the Summa Center for Sexual Health in Akron, Ohio. (Kimberly Resnick Anderson)
- Pelvic floor physical therapists are trained to do internal evaluation of the pelvic floor muscles — evaluating muscle function, strength, tone, and any points of tenderness. Regular physical therapists are not trained to do this. (Amy Senn)
- Men with low libido: Anxiety, mood, relationship, and religious factors affects libido. “First know what’s going on in the relationship before throwing medication at it.” (Larry Siegel)
- “Nerve sparing” prostate surgery is “a bit of a misnomer.” Erectile nerves on the outside of the prostate are very difficult to see and avoid during surgery. “The prostate is deep in the pelvis, and they go pushing around with stainless steel instruments. If cauterizing instruments are anywhere near nerves, it damages them for life. Nerves recover from the pushing and pulling – it takes a long, long time. Nerves go into shock and stop sending message to blood vessels to relax and let blood in.” (Anne Katz)
- “Sexual arousal requires healthy blood flow for everything else to work. Otherwise, nothing happens. Take a 15 minute walk with your partner before sex. It will prime the pump.” (Ellen Barnard)
- After treatment for female genital cancer, using a vibrating wand internally will reduce scar tissue. “Vibration directly to the scar tissue starts breaking up that scar tissue, allowing it to expand, become more comfortable, and allow penetrative sex if we want it.” (Ellen Barnard)
- After cancer treatment, start getting to know “what is”: “What feels good? What doesn’t feel good? What’s numb? What’s painful? How does arousal happen? What does it take? How does orgasm happen and feel? When during the day do I have energy?” (Ellen Barnard) You need to learn this for yourself before you can teach your partner. (JP: This applies to aging in general, also.) A Woman’s Touch has excellent educational brochures for both men and women online at no cost, for example, Healthy Sexuality After Cancer. Visit www.sexualityresources.com, see the Educational Brochures link in the upper left hand corner of the menu bar for a complete selection.
The huge news this month for me as a senior sex educator was an invitation from Cleis Press to write a book for them: The Ultimate Guide to Sex after Fifty! I’m thrilled to have a new book to write on my favorite topic, and I’m proud to be part of the fabulous Ultimate Guide collection of sexuality guidebooks. You can be sure you’ll hear more about my new endeavor as it unfolds.
Meanwhile, if there’s a topic you want to be sure that I cover in this new book, please either post it as a comment here or email me. I love to hear from you. I’m too busy to promise to answer all your questions in detail, but I try to acknowledge your email and point you in the right direction. I admit sheepishly that I have about 400 unanswered emails waiting. If one of these is yours, I thank you for your patience! (I do give private, educational consultations answering your questions by phone or Skype for a modest fee — email me for more info about this.)
Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) in Austin, and I’d like to share some interesting morsels with you.
AASECT Book Award for Naked at Our Age and I read the inscription on the plaque:
“For a major contribution toward understanding the sexuality of
seniors.” Can you tell from the photo how thrilled I was (and am!)?
and all the experts who provided answers and advice. This is not just my book –
it’s yours, also. Senior sex is
not only out from under the covers, it’s receiving major attention now. I loved hearing this from the therapists: “I bought your
book and love it. I keep it on my desk to show my clients.”
share just a few tidbits that apply to our age group.
find her savvy tips all through Naked at Our Age. Ellen, co-owner of A Woman’sTouch in Madison, WI, works with cancer survivors
to help them reclaim their sexuality. “Oncologists are there to treat your
cancer and save your life–it’s not within their job description to talk about
sex,” Ellen told us in her session on Sexuality and Cancer. So it’s up to people like Ellen to do the talking about sex. (Her PowerPoint outline
is available here.) A Woman’s Touch is a superb resource for sexuality topics, especially for our age group.
See the list of educational brochures here. You’ll learn cutting-edge information that your doctor didn’t tell you about Penile Rehabilitation after Prostate or Pelvic Surgery or Radiation, for example, and the complete Vaginal Renewal program that I referenced
several times in both Naked at Our Age and Better Than I Ever Expected.
desire alive and empowered in an ongoing relationship, focusing on pleasure and engagement rather than performance. “Sexuality is sharing pleasure in a team sport,” he said, giving several strategies for developing comfort, confidence, and connection.
read my shirt and told me, “You sure look good for
– whatever age you are.” Struck me as funny!
“Dear Ms. Price,” the email began. “It is my honor to notify you that your book, Naked at Our Age, was selected by the AASECT Awards Committee as the 2012 Book Award winner.”
The email listed the AASECT members who had nominated and endorsed my book, and continued,
This award is presented to the author(s) of a book that makes a significant contribution to AASECTs vision of sexual health and to the clinical and educational standards of the field. The nominated book can be written for a professional audience or for a general audience and must have been published in English in 2011.
In addition to sexuality educators, sexuality counselors and sex therapists, AASECT members include physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, allied health professionals, clergy members, lawyers, sociologists, marriage and family counselors and therapists, family planning specialists and researchers, as well as students in relevant professional disciplines. These individuals share an interest in promoting understanding of human sexuality and healthy sexual behavior..
Do you see why I’m thrilled by this award? These are the people I learn from at conferences and through their books and websites. These are the people who showed me the diversity of sexuality education and how much it’s needed at all points of our lifelong journey. These are the people who have chosen sexuality education as their life’s work.
And they have chosen Naked at Our Age as the best sexuality book of the year!
As proud as I am, I know it’s not just my book. It’s compelling because of your concerns and questions that comprise the 135 candid reader stories. It’s a solid guidebook to solutions for age-related sex problems because of the 45 experts — most AASECT members themselves — who graciously provided the answers to your questions. I’m also grateful to those of you who reviewed Naked at Our Age on your blogs, in publications, and on Amazon, so that potential readers learned about it.
I’ll receive this award personally at the AASECT conference in Austin next month — where I’ll also present a session on blogging about sexuality.
Thank you for making this book what it is, and for recognizing it with this honor.