“Warm apple pie”: wisdom from Paul Joannides, AASECT 2014 (part 1)

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 that I’ll share with you over a couple of posts.

Paul Joannides

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.


The dual goals of Joannides’s book and presentations are (1)
to educate college-age men about how to pleasure women, and (2) to empower
their female partners to discover what they need for pleasure and to
communicate that to their guys.
You may be surprised that this is necessary, 45 years (ouch)
or so after the Sexual Revolution that we worked so hard to create. While we of our generation (over 50, 60, 70 now) grew up with a lack of sexual information, our young people are growing up thinking that what they see in porn is “sex education” — and geez, it’s not. Just
because young people are having lots of sex and are pretty open about it
doesn’t mean they understand their sexuality any better than we did at their
age.
The issues are not the same, of course. While we were
repressed and lacked for information, they are deluged by the wrong kind of sexual misinformation!  Here are some bon mots from Joannides:
  • “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.”
If you have young people in your life — and who doesn’t? — Guide to Getting It On! A Book About the Wonders of Sex by Paul Joannides could be the gift that ensures that they do not limit their sexual selves and relationships with self-defeating and hampering kinds of sexual misinformation. Extraordinarily illustrated by Dærick Gröss Sr., Guide to Getting It On! is now in its 7th edition and almost 1200 pages. Although Joannides insists that it is still far from complete, there’s more here than you’ll find anywhere else.

Learn more about Dr. Paul’s College Talk here.

 #AdultSexEdMonth

Adult Sex Ed Month: HuffingtonPostLive, AASECT conference, and a new senior sex book


 http://agoodwomansdirtymind.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/adultsexedmonth-e1369184560239.jpgJune 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 ApplewhiteWalker 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.)

Report from a Sex Educators’ Conference

What do sex therapists, counselors, and sex educators do at a conference? No, they don’t hold orgies or kiss-and-tell or take off their clothes in public. They don’t snicker or tell off-color jokes. Rather, they learn, they teach, they keep themselves updated on new developments in their field, and they network — just like any conference. 
The difference is that every topic is related to human sexuality, and for everyone there, talking and teaching about sex is their day job. 
I just returned from the annual conference of the American Association of Sexuality
Educators, Counselors, and Therapists
(AASECT) in Austin, and I’d like to share some interesting morsels with you. 
Personally, the most significant moment for me was when I received the 2012
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!)?
Thank you, all the readers who sent stories and questions
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.” 
I had the pleasure of talking to Betty Mooney, an 86-year-old sex-ed university professor who received the Distinguished Service Award. (See a clip of her teaching her class here.) Betty told me, “I have no wish to retire. This is more than what I do — it’s what I am.” I get that.
The conference dealt with all aspects of sexuality, but I’ll
share just a few tidbits that apply to our age group.
Ellen Barnard is one of my favorite sex educators – you’ll
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
Barry McCarthy, Ph.D.Barry McCarthy, prolific author of Enduring Desire: Your Guide to Lifelong Intimacy (2011 AASECT Book Award winner); Discovering Your Couple Sexual Style: Sharing Desire, Pleasure, and SatisfactionSexual Awareness: Your Guide to Healthy Couple Sexuality, and Rekindling Desire: A Step by Step Program to Help Low-Sex and No-Sex Marriages talked about Sexual Desire Disorders. He explained that the “limerance” stage of a relationship — that initial romantic and highly sexualized time –typically lasts just 6 months to two years. The challenge is how to keep sexual
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.
There was so much more — but I hope this gives you a taste!
I wore my Naked at Our Age shirt quite a bit. One attendee
read my shirt and told me, “You sure look good for
– whatever age you are.” Struck me as funny!
I couldn’t write about sexuality and Austin without posting a photo I took of the Austin Motel. No, I didn’t stay there, but I did stare for a while at the sign (which was huge, if size matters)! 

Naked at Our Age wins AASECT book award

“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.

AASECT is The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, the primary professional organization of this field. As the website explains,

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.