NJ Center for Sexual Wellness partner Melanie Davis, PhD, appears in a short documentary on older women and sexuality. The film, created by a video journalist Jenise Morgan, encourages women to enjoy and honor their sexuality. Watch the film.
If you want to increase your sexual knowledge, pleasure, or health, call us at 908-532-0144. We’re here to help teens and adult men and women.
What do adults want to know about sex? A new sexuality education website titled WhatTheyAreAsking.com knows. Born out of the experiences of professional educators, the site illustrates the importance of sex education throughout the lifespan. NJCSW partner Melanie Davis is a contributing sex educator featured on the site.
Every day, the website posts three question cards submitted anonymously during adult sex education lectures and workshops across the country. Site visitors can vote for the question they would like answered by one of the six educators who support the site.
Educators use anonymous cards as a way to help people ask questions about sex without embarrassment. The cards are collected, shuffled and answered so group or class members can learn from each other’s questions. The cards appearing on the site were all asked by adults ranging from college students to elderly people, medical students, and health teachers.
The cards represent the myriad concerns, issues and questions adults have about sex and sexuality. The questions illustrate the lifelong impact of traditionally poor-quality sex education in schools, which leads to sexually misinformed adults.
The educators involved in WhatTheyAreAsking.com hope the project will be used by policy makers as evidence of the need to advocate for comprehensive sex education within both primary and secondary school systems.
Another goal of the site is to help adults feel less alone in their need for information. Educators can provide information, resources, workshops and classes to build sexual knowledge, improve health and function, and increase confidence and pleasure.
The Sexuality and Aging Consortium at Widener University sponsored research last year that found that even very old adults can benefit from learning more about sexuality. The Consortium’s members offer workshops and programs for adults in mid- and later age. NJCSW partners Judith Hersh and Melanie Davis are members of the Consortium (Davis is co-president).
By Melanie Davis, PhD, CSE
One of my favorite activities as an educator is to host “Ask the Expert” sessions. During these programs, I collect questions that adults have written anonymously on index cards. I’d like to share some of the questions I was asked at a recent event attended by adult women.
- We tried a few things a couple of weeks ago that made my back and neck hurt. I feel bad for my husband. Can you help?
- Can herpes be spread when sores aren’t present?
- Can using a vibrator a few times a week numb or kill the sensitivity in the clitoris?
- Can men have an orgasm and not ejaculate?
- Does ejaculation occur through the anus for men and women after orgasm?
- Is it recommended to use librication at any age to avoid damage to the vaginal walls?
- I’m in my mid-40’s and date older men. Why do I notice their testicles sagging lower and lower as they age?
- If your period started early, will menopause start early? Does it matter?
- What’s the risk if you have anal sex followed by vaginal intercourse?
- What’s the name for when a woman wears a strap-on penis and penetrates a male partner?
- If you feel uninterested in sex but don’t want to use arousal gels or toys to get in the mood, what can you do to feel sexual?
- Is it normal for a vulva to get darker as time goes by?
- What if you have a guy who doesn’t want you to use sex toys because he’s insecure?
- What causes men to lose sexual desire, other than hormonal changes?
- Can I learn how to ejaculate?
- Sometimes my partner loses his erection during sex. Why?
- Two older partners have need it to grip my muscles tighter to hold them inside me. Is this caused by age?
- How can I prevent a huge penis from hurting my insides?
- How long can a guy wear a penis ring before it affects his desire?
As you can see, women are most curious about topics that affect them personally, and yet I have answered them in some form when speaking to other audiences. In other words, it’s normal to have questions about even the most basic topics. I will answer these questions in separate posts, and you’re welcome to submit your own questions. Or, you can visit me or our sex therapist or physician for assessment and in-depth consultation.
An email is floating around the internet with a list of “old time” TV shows and links to popular clips. A friend who forwarded the email to me wrote that he enjoyed reminiscing about their wholesome and positive values. He asked for my perspective on today’s TV shows and their possible impact on teen viewers’ sexual behavior. My response to him may be of interest to our readers with children (or perhaps, readers who produce TV!).
While there were many positive messages in these old shows, there were many hurtful messages like racism, heterosexism, sexism, ableism, cultural elitism…the list goes on. Newer shows tend to be more diverse in terms of race, and there are increasing numbers of shows that portray gay and genderqueer folks in a neutral, if not positive light. Sadly, the other negative messages and sexual messages are awful. Nobody on TV discusses contraceptives or STI tests prior to sexual engagement. No one emphasizes that females have a right to be sexually assertive and males have a right to choose not to be sexually active. Few older adults are portrayed as being sexual without being “dirty old men/women.” The list goes on.
To your point specifically, thousands of studies (here’s one) have been done on the impact of sexualized TV messages on teen behavior. Yes, teens who see TV teens being sexually active (or talking about it) are more likely to have their first sexual experience at an earlier age.
Sexologists generally agree that it’s healthier to delay first sex as long as possible in order to respect developmental stages and to lower the lifetime total number of partners and, therefore, less exposure to STIs*. However, age of initiation is less of an issue for me than are the circumstances of the sex that’s taking place. Is it consensual and legal (in terms of age)? Is it enjoyable for both partners? Are the partners protecting themselves physically and emotionally? Are they absorbing messages from TV that sex should be values-free, affection-free (forget love and commitment!), and protection-free, while also absorbing all the ‘isms noted in my first sentence? Another issue is that teen sex on TV is almost always an all-or-nothing proposition, so young people aren’t supported in the idea that they can enjoy no- to low-risk sexual expression (making out, petting, massage, etc.).
*STI = sexually transmitted infection
Condoms can enhance sexual enjoyment or limit it — depending on the size and shape of condom you select. Dr. Paul Joannides, author of “Guide to Getting It On,” has posted a terrific video that explains the whys and wherefores of new condom shapes and sizes. Watch it here.
While Dr. Joannides’ video is about condoms for men to wear, keep in mind that condoms also can be used to extend the life and cleanliness of sex toys. For toy use, look for condoms without lubrication or spermicide on the inside.
What would it mean to you to have “better sex” than you’re having now? What would you need to do differently?
How about having sex at least once or twice weekly? There are health benefits to having sex. It gives your heart and lungs a workout, gets blood moving in your capillaries, and releases hormones that help you bond with a partner, among other benefits. An orgasm can even relieve some types of pain for up to 24 hours.
Simply having more sex won’t be healthy if the sex is unsatisfying or worse. To have better sex0, consider these questions:
- What do you consider “having sex,” and does your partner define it the same way? You may consider it sex no matter what the outcome, while your partner may consider it sex only if orgasm occurs.
- Are you and your partner equally interested in and satisfied with your sexual experiences? If not, the partner who is unsatisfied is unlikely to want more of the same.
- Can you and your partner speak honestly about your sex life and health status? Sex is usually better when you can speak freely about your needs, wants, curiosities, and concerns.
- Does your typical sexual experience leave you thinking, “That was great” or “Is that all there is?” If it’s the latter, what is missing?
- Are you easily distracted during sexual activity? If so, are you unable to focus on the pleasure of the moment because you’re concerned about privacy, body image, discomfort, or are you bored, angry or worried?
- After sex, are you worried about pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection? Taking steps to protect yourself and your partner first can help you enjoy regret-free sex.
- Does your sex life include a lot of rules about how, when, where, and what occurs, and if so, are you and your partner in happy agreement with the rules?
Having better sex in 2010 depends on a lot more than resolving to have more sex. Instead, resolve to understand specifically what better sex means to you and how you can make it happen.
The partners of the New Jersey Center for Sexual Wellness can help enhance your sex life, whether the help you need is medical, psychological, educational or nutritional.