Living with a Sex Therapist: What’s That on the Counter?

I know it’s been awhile since posting about Living with a Sex Therapist, but the BFF and I recently had a wonderful interaction that is a must-share! After several weeks of a male masturbation sleeve just sitting on the living room end table and no comment at all, the BFF sees my Magic Wand lying on the kitchen counter.

This Wand isn’t for Harry Potter

Living with a Sex Therapist: What's THAT on the Counter?Before we get to his reaction and our conversation, let’s review the Magic Wand and why it is totally awesome. The Magic Wand is a ‘personal massager’ with intended uses for general muscle aches and soreness as well as sexual pleasure. Granted, a majority of its use is, more than likely, for sexual pleasure. However, not pointing fingers (or using them!), some may use it for muscle soreness after leg day at the gym! More about that to “come”….

Now, why is the Magic Wand so amazing? If you listened to the Let’s Talk Sex Podcast, Episode 16: “Your Mindset on Masturbation,” then you heard Magnus Sullivan educating us about the technology behind the Magic Wand. The Magic Wand was designed to allow clitoral stimulation without over stimulating the clitoris’s 8,000 nerve endings, an unacknowledged problem with some stimulation devices. Overstimulation can cause sensitivity to the clitoral head, which can lead to premature orgasms or even discomfort that makes continuing intercourse unpleasant. Yes, gentlemen readers, this happens to ladies as well! By reducing sensitivity and slowing stimulation, we get more time for play! Seriously, check out the episode to learn more, and check out the Magic Wand at Manshop.com.

What’s THAT on the Counter??

Back to why the Magic Wand was on the kitchen counter. As I said, the Magic Wand can help relieve muscle soreness, which I was experiencing after a great squat session. I figured, why not test it out on sore muscles? My Wand has a cord and needs to an outlet to function, and I needed a chest-high outlet for maximum reach. This is beginning to make sense, right? Well, after my research, I left the Wand on the counter to go look at shoes online (totally reasonable, right?). Half asleep, the BFF emerges from his room, walks into the kitchen and says, “What is that on the counLiving with a Sex Therapist: What's THAT on the Counter?ter?” To which I respond, “A Magic Wand.”  

 

“What does that do?”

“You use it to massage your back.” He stands for a moment, shakes his head and just walks back into his room. After a second or two, he pops his head back out and says in a concerning yet hesitant tone, “It looks kinda…big.”  

“Yes, it’s external.”

 

I receive a dumbfounded look for a brief moment while he is processing this information. Then, his face contorts with disgust  (maybe?)and he goes, “Get that off my counter!” Hold up! He’s ok if a vaginal toy is on the counter, but not an EXTERNAL only toy??

 

Living with a sex therapist… the Magic Wand remains on the counter as I type this post.

How Therapy Benefits Emotional and Sexual Growth in Young Adults

A lot of anxiety and hesitation about beginning therapy is connected to a social stigma that expresses itself differently at different times in our lives but has a similar theme: “I should be ‘over’ this by now.” This sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. Because each of our psychological profiles is literally unique, there’s no time that’s too late to begin therapy; that’s like saying, “It’s too late to start exercising”. Not only does this sentiment lead people to delay seeking a therapist or ending therapy prematurely, but it also prevents people from solving problems in their lives. This delay can often lead to those problems getting worse.

For the next few weeks, I’m going to post about why starting therapy is beneficial for emotional and sexual growth at different stages of life, roughly defined by decade. So don’t worry: we’ll get to your age group soon! And if any of these situations describe you, feel free to speak out in the comments or to reach out to me personally. Without further ado, continue reading to find out how therapy benefits emotional and sexual growth especially during the 20s.

 

 The Twenties

Therapy Benefits Emotional Sexual Growth
Erik Erikson

During our late teens and early 20s, we begin to separate from our family and primary caregivers – we become our own individual people. According to Erik Erikson’s paradigmatic psychological model, we begin establishing our autonomy between 18 months and 3 years of age, and it is a process that continues as we become more psychologically mature, through adolescence and early adulthood. We might call this process ‘differentiation’, where we come to see ourselves as different from our families though still part of them.

It’s Time to Fly! Wait…Don’t Let Go!

In family systems therapy, I view differentiation as creating physical and emotional independence while remaining part of a family system. As we grow and as our parents become conscious of our separating, it can be a difficult time for both parents and children, leading to conflict especially between parents and teenagers. The negative effects are especially notable in unhealthy family systems with poor boundaries. A healthy family system allows this process to naturally occur and its members are individually supportive of the process. An unhealthy system, such as one with poor physical and emotional boundaries, will try to prevent the process, leading to stunted emotional growth for children and unresolved conflicts. Unresolved conflicts and resentments between parents and children can last decades and have effects that are difficult to predict.Therapy Benefits Emotional Sexual Growth

Therapy benefits emotional and sexual growth of children raised with healthy or unhealthy differentiation systems.  But in either case, it can be vital to seek therapy in your 20s, because the process of differentiation often hasn’t ended yet, meaning that there is still time to improve how it concludes. For children from healthier family systems, this can mean working on communication techniques that allow children at the last stages of dependency on parents to transition to an adult-adult communication pattern that can be especially difficult for any family to master. Children from less healthy family systems often benefit from deeper psycho-analytic insights into why they continue to have significant conflicts with their parents, and why some of these conflicts may have negative effects in seemingly unrelated parts of their lives.

 Leaving the Nest (and have Great Sex!)

Therapy Benefits Emotional Sexual Growth

Emotional development and maturation in adolescence is related to physical and sexual development, as well, all of which is complicated by significant changes in our social, romantic, and sexual lives in our 20s. Sexual development begins during infancy through exploration of the body through touch. Infants and babies also explore other people’s bodies through touch as well. However, the shame and stigma associated with sexual development could stunt the growth of a sexual identity or create confusion in early adulthood, an issue (not surprisingly) related to how families discuss and think about sexuality. I work with many clients experiencing anxiety or confusion around sexual identity. Many of these clients are in relationships or marriages that are unconsummated or sexless due to lack of understanding the self, how to communicate about sex with others including a partner or spouse, and/or differing ideas and preferences about sexual activity. This is, yet, another reason how therapy benefits emotional and sexual growth.

Whether you come from a healthy or unhealthy family system, therapy in your 20s can support your growth as functioning adult and help you recognize the impact of your Therapy Benefits Emotional Sexual Growthfamily on your growth and relationships with others. The therapeutic work is different depending on each family, but this shouldn’t surprise you. Just like no two individuals are exactly alike, no two families are exactly alike either. Therapy can help you determine just how your family has helped (and hindered!) your growth, and how you’d like that process to continue into adulthood.

 

How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapy Part 2: Committing to Therapy…

Committing to Therapy…

In my practice, one of the biggest reasons therapy is not ‘successful’ is that people don’t commit the time or to making the process a priority. For many, this means attending the

Tips to Improve Therapy: Committing to Therapy
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

session as scheduled and reflecting on the therapy outside of session. My time recommendation for new clients is a weekly appointment, as this allows time for you and your therapist to learn about each other, to develop a rapport, and to begin the therapeutic process. If time or cost is a barrier, every other week is an option to discuss with your therapist. Once a client is established or has achieved the goals for initially seeking therapy, we discuss sessions monthly as “well-care” or as needed. I have many clients in my caseload who schedule as needed because they used therapy to develop skills to keep them healthy, one of which is understanding when they need a professional’s unbiased thoughts. In terms of “how long therapy will last,” I don’t put a timeframe. Again, therapy is your own personal journey, aimed at working with your psychology needs, and this journey may not have an obvious or definite end. That all depends on you and your goals – which can change as therapy progresses.

 

… the Therapeutic Relationship…

Another reason therapy doesn’t work out is a lack of connection in the therapeutic relationship. Although your therapist is not your best friend or family member, a potent bond still forms. This person may be one of the only people who knows the most intimate and vulnerable details of your life. It’s important to feel safe and comfortable with them! But therapists are still human, and this means we may not click with every other human in the world. It happens and it’s ok to be realistic about this and seek out a new therapist. Instead of ghosting on your therapist, have a discussion to properly end the relationship. In these cases, professional therapists will understand where the client is coming from and can recommend a colleague who may be a better fit.

Tips to Improve Therapy: Committing to Therapy
Image courtesy of everydayplus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Addressing Outside Factors…

Another reason I see clients reporting dissatisfaction with therapy (either with our sessions or past therapy with another therapist) is focusing on other aspects of the process. These can include costs or pricing, insurance issues, and rapidly switching therapists before change can occur or is about to occur. Yes, the cost of therapy is an important factor (we don’t want you going broke in order to grow or heal!) but is your growth and healing less important than finding someone with a lower rate or being able to use your insurance benefits? It’s important to answer this question in the best way for your situation, and also, to discuss this concern with your therapist.

In the past insurance plans were more consistent and changed less frequently than today. Now, the majority of plans could change in a year or a provider may leave your state or network. For instance, your employer may contract with company A this year though next year contract with company B, altering your network and your coverage significantly. Even private plans through the insurance company may change each year, resulting in a change of your benefits including mental health coverage. Before beginning therapy and choosing a therapist, I suggest exploring what is most important to you about therapy and then choose based on those options. If seeing a person with a specific niche or knowledge area is important, then choose a therapist based on those criteria. If using your insurance is most important, then choose a therapist who accepts your insurance with the possibility that this could change at any point during your treatment. And as always, discuss these issues with your therapist. He or she is invested in your success as well, and will often be able to find workarounds and compromises for insurance, coverage, and billing difficulties.

 

…And Embracing Unintentional Change

As I tell clients beginning therapy, be open to the process involving change you

How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapy Part 2: Committing to Therapy
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

aren’t expecting. Therapy is a journey and, at times, our path may take us down an unintended route. You may begin therapy with a specific goal in mind, but the could open other possibilities or provide insights you’d never considered. These can be some of the most moving and helpful sessions, even though neither I nor my client anticipates them when therapy begins. Much of my work with clients is not only symptom management but also helping clients learn about themselves (and learning along with them) and the systems impacting their development. Being too rigid with goals and expectations of therapy can lead to dissatisfaction and lack of growth. For those concerned about too much flexibility, a good therapist won’t let you flounder around and will help keep you and the process on track by reviewing the reasons you started therapy and reviewing the progress and change. And of course, therapy is grounded in communication: if you think your progress is slowing or something is not working for you, tell your therapist, who can help work out new strategies.

 

Tell us your thoughts about how you choose a therapist and what is most important to you…

 

Vibration is Good for Your Sexual Health: A Review of Intimina’s KegelSmart

KegelSmart Box

As many of my clients, readers, and listeners know, I am a HUGE proponent for pelvic floor strength. Your pelvic floor can be weakened both by atrophy and by a variety of medical experiences – for women, pregnancy and childbirth are the most common, and it’s a seldom-discussed side effect of prostate issues for men. Strengthening your pelvic floor can help with recovery from procedures related to these issues and help prepare the body for birth. Perhaps the most desirable benefit is that, for both women and men, a stronger pelvic floor can intensify and lengthen orgasms. I also have personal experience with pelvic floor treatment, including kegel exercises (90 a day!), which can become monotonous and boring. When things become boring, we tend to stop doing the exercises, and this is how our muscles begin to atrophy.

 

Well, when I found out that my newest affiliate partners, Intimina, manufactured kegel exercisers, I jumped at the opportunity to test the product to see if this would help motivate me to perform my kegel exercises more often without getting bored. At a minimum, I was excited and impressed that this tiny device could measure the strength of your pelvic floor muscles and help me track my progress!

The KegelSmart is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and is made of smooth, medical-grade silicon. KegelSmart is inserted into the vagina like a tampon and provides a vibration to indicate when contract your pelvic floor and muscles and

kegelsmart in hand_Fotorstops vibrating to allow for “rest” between contractions. For those concerned with removal, KegelSmart also features a looped string for easy removal. The KegelSmart also has an indicator light that not only shows the product is turned on, but also shows your current program level. Did I mention KegelSmart is also 100% waterproof, meaning you can perform kegels anywhere including the shower or bath. If you’re feeling daring, you could even take your KegelSmart to your beach vacation for even more excitement in the ocean. (Of course, please be aware of all public indecency laws before inserting and removing the KegelSmart or just proceed to the nearest ladies room for privacy.)

Did KegelSmart live up to my expectations? Well, I began looking forward to my kegel exercises and performing them more regularly. I also progressed in the programs as my pelvic floor strength increased. The KegelSmart is programmed with five levels suited to your current pelvic floor strength and aimed at increasing it from your starting position. In my opinion, this helps keep your muscles working and building strength without overworking the muscles. The program and vibration keep you focused on the exercises instead of becoming distracted and loosing focus on your goal. Oh, did I mention each routine only lasts five minutes!? Come on: we all have five minutes out of 24-hours a day to work our core muscles!

Although I highly endorse this product, I do have to provide honest feedback about some cons of the device. KegelSmart requires a battery, which is not included with the product. This is clearly stated at Intimina.com – but who really reads the fine print? You can only imagine how disappointed I was to open my new toy to discover I needed a battery! As I don’t keep batteries in stock at home, I was very grateful to my physical therapy office for providing the AAA battery. Of course, they all got enjoyment from seeing this new toy as well.

KegelSmartAlthough KegelSmart is safe and will be effective for most women, I do caution women with less strength or experience in how to properly squeeze your PC muscles. It’s a skill that’s easy to learn, but that like many exercises takes some instruction from a professional and a bit of practice to get the hang of. The vibration routine provides only 5-6 seconds (at least from my count) for contractions and rests. The short rest time may be too short for some women. Please check with your current medical provider that this product is safe for your current treatment before using. I also recommend testing KegelSmart in your hand before inserting it into your vagina. This will help you become more familiar with the vibration sequence, including the delay pulse provided while you insert into your vagina as well as the ending pulses for once the program is complete. Don’t be like me and lay for an extra minute saying to myself, “Is it done yet? Do I remove it now?” and trying to grab the user manual for answers!

There you have it! Now, go check out the KegelSmart and other women’s intimate health products including other pelvic floor conditioning products, the menstrual cup, and intimate massagers at Intimina.com.

For more information about the pelvic floor, don’t forget to check out the Let’s Talk Sex podcast, “All About the Pelvis,” with Dr. Shelley DiCecco!

 

 

Spice Up Your Sex Life

This blog is a spinoff from my Spice Up Your Date Night blog. For all kinds of reasons, any couple can get into a sexual rut. If allowed to persist, these ruts can lead to mixed signals in the bedroom, less frequent sex, sometimes even no sex at all! Here are few tips that have helped my clients revive their sexually struggling relationships.

 

Go to Bed Angry AND Get It On!

Angry sex is acceptable and enjoyable! Most people believe we “can’t go to bed angry” or “sex will make him/her think all forgiven.” False! Sex is a natural behavior for humans. The part of the brain that is triggered by anger is the same part triggered during sex. Therefore, it’s natural to want sex when angry even if you haven’t made up. Another benefit of angry sex is focusing a bit more on your own needs than your partner’s needs. As I discuss with many clients, it’s all right to be a little selfish in bed at times! Plus, during this moment, you might focus a little more on yourself, which is also acceptable.

 

That Old Trunk Holds WHAT?   handcuffs-1503841_1920

No one likes eating the same thing every night!  Wink wink.  One way to add variety and spice to your sexual diet is to be adventurous with different toys or activities. For example, create an adult toy box with your partner. Regularly add to the toy box, and replace when things get worn out. And no adult toy is pleasurable with dust all over it: don’t forget to use the toy box on a regular basis. Do you find yourself ‘forgetting’ about using those toys or feeling embarrassed talking about using the toys? Create a code word or system to let your partner know you’re excited to use a certain toy. I suggest clients put the toy on top of the toy box, on the bed, or another place to indicate to your partner you want to play!

 

Not Your Average Romantic Getaway

Not tantra-389099_1920into toys or curious about a more advanced activity? Find an adult workshop in your area such as a couple’s retreat to build more intimacy and closeness, a tantra workshop to tap into your inner sexuality, or a kink workshop to learn ‘the ropes’ of bondage.

Many of my clients have also had success planning a sexcation: a vacation centered around sex and intimacy! Book a nice cabin in the woods or a ritzy hotel room for the weekend. Pack your favorite toys and sexy outfits (or no outfits at all!), leave your phone(s) and other devices off, and enjoy the time with your partner. To spice things up even more, plan your own spa times giving and receiving massages or facials! Who says you need to leave the room on vacation?

 

Kick Aging in the Butt!

You and your partner aren’t as young as you once were though that doesn’t mean your sex life has to suffer. Don’t let aging get in the way of your sex life! Talk to your doctor or sex therapist if there are changes in erectile functioning or if vaginal pain occurs. Yes, I know it’s embarrassing talking about these issues with your doctor, but it’s important! Although many causes of male and female sexual dysfunction are harmless, some sources could cause more long-term damage or chronic medical conditions. Especially as we age, it’s vital to stay on top of all medical issues, not just sexual ones, because we have a more difficult time recovering. Have you started a new medication and noticed a decline in sexual desire or function? Talk to your doctor as well. Making a small adjustment to a medication or trying a different medication is all it takes to resume a great sex life.

I work with many clients on embracing the present and learning a “new normal” for sexual functioning. Our bodies might not work like they did 10 or 20 years ago – but they still work! Embrace your age and change. Sometimes, it’s easier to accept the present than to try to replicate the past. After accepting the body’s new normal, many clients create a new and satisfying sex life with their partners and themselves!

 

Make Sex a Priority

Let the house stay dirty! Who wants to waste time and energy on boring chores when couple-731890_1920you can have sex?! We often get caught up in our daily routine that puts sex on the back burner. Before you know it, a month has gone by without sex! Of course, we need to take care of ourselves and our households, but sex is as important a part of a household being ‘whole’ as buying groceries, cleaning the kitchen, mowing the lawn. Indeed, sex is more important, because the intimacy that sex is part of is the whole reason we choose to have partners, to live and grow with them, in the first place. The chores will always be there, but time for sex may be limited, by schedules, children, medical conditions, or work. Even better, make a sexy game or reward out of the chores! The guests won’t know what really happened in the bathroom!

Hashtag Living with a Sex Therapist: When BFF is Gone, the Toys will Play

Last week, BFF went out of town on one of his many excursions. IMG_5226I’ve stopped trying to keep up with him. While that cat was making calls to local contractors for quotes on kitty play room, I was checking out my newest product to test. (That’s right! A new review blog is coming soon!)

After the dining room experience, BFF sarcastically asked if I was going to have a sex toy party while he was gone.  Therefore, I only found it fitting to place the newest addition on the table with colorful “rope” (aka the cat’s leash) and snap a picture. I sent the picture to BFF with the statement, “When BFF isn’t home…”

His response, “Hell, that happens when I am home.”  Does he realize how envious many men would be of him right now?

Yes, the toy still sits on the end table…

Hashtag Living with a Sex Therapist to be continued…

 

Photo:  Tantus Echo

How To Propose To Her: The Complete Guide To Proposing (And Blowing Her Away

For most men, meeting the right woman is an idea that’s nice in theory, but not top priority for quite some time, especially during your 20s when you’re building your career. But whether you credit meeting your girlfriend to the universe, chance luck, some online dating site or to nothing at all, when you reach that point when you’re ready to take it from Facebook official to legally binding — it’s a big step.

In fact, that one question is what’s so essential — and no, not the one you’ll ask her — ‘will you marry me?’ but the one you’ll be asking yourself: ‘how will I ask her to marry me?!’

While a spontaneous proposal has it’s merit, most men have to think carefully, do some research, examine their finances and ya know, make sure that it’ll be a special memory for their relationship, and a story to tell their families (and ahem, future children). Figuring out how to propose doesn’t have to be so anxiety-provoking that you take all the magic out of the once-in-a-lifetime moment, though.

Here, relationship experts and therapists give you their best advice on how to approach, plan and consider your game plan for getting on one knee and hoping for forever…

…To continue reading, click here!

 

Credit:  Originally posted at AskMen.com and written by Lindsay Tigar