Category Archives: Sexual Performance Issues

Review: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner

Hey sex fans!

I have another swell sex-positive book to tell you about today. Anyone who frequents this site will already be familiar with my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Cheryl Cohen Greene. If ya don’t believe me type her name into the search function in the sidebar to your right and PRESTO!

Not only will you find the fabulous two-part SEX WISDOM podcast we did together, (Part 1 is HERE! And Part 1 is HERE!) you will find a posting about the movie The Sessions. You’ve seen it right? It’s the award-winning film staring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy. It’s the story of a man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity.  He contacts a professional surrogate partner with the help of his therapist and priest. Ms. Hunt plays Cheryl, the surrogate partner in the movie

Cheryl also contributed a chapter on sex and intimacy concerns for sick, elder and dying people for my book, The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying.

With all that as a preface, I now offer you Cheryl’s own story: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner. The first thing I want to say is this book is it’s not a clinical or technical tome. It is an easily accessible memoir. And that, to my mind, is what makes it so fascinating.

She writes in the Introduction:An Intimate Life

I started this work in 1973, and my journey to it spans our society’s sexual revolution and my own. I grew up in the ‘40s and ‘50s, a time when sex education was—to put it mildly— lacking. As I educated myself, I found that most of what I had been taught about sex was distorted or wrong. The lessons came from the playground, the church, and the media. My parents could barely talk about sex, much less inform me about it.

What follows is a candid and often funny look into the personal and professional life of a woman on the cutting edge of our culture’s movement toward sexual wellbeing.

Cheryl comes out of her conservative Catholic upbringing and her often tortured family dynamics with what one would expect—her own sexual awakenings as well as the conspiracy of ignorance and repression that wanted to stifle it. This is a common story, the story of so many of us.

Starting when I was around ten, I masturbated and brought myself to orgasm nearly every night. … If my nights began with anxiety, my days began with guilt. I became convinced that every earache, every toothache, every injury was God punishing me. … I couldn’t escape his gaze or his wrath. Sometimes I imagined my guardian angel looked away in disgust as I touched myself and rocked back and forth in my bed.

The miracle here is that this troubled tween would blossom into the remarkable sexologist she is today.

rsz_1greenecherylSome of the chapters in her book describe one or another of her hands on therapeutic encounters as a surrogate partner, but equally important and compelling are the chapters that describe Cheryl’s own sexual struggles as she moved to adulthood and beyond. Cheryl’s acceptance of her own sexuality enables her to build a career out of helping others do the very same thing.

Everyone has a right to satisfying, loving sex, and, in my experience, that most often flows from strong communication, self-respect, and a willingness to explore.

Despite the frank discussion of sexual topics within the book, there is no prurience or sensationalism. For the most part, Cheryl’s clients are regular people, mostly men, who have pretty ordinary problems—erection and/or ejaculation concerns, dating difficulties, as well as self-esteem, guilt and shame issues. Cheryl helps each of her clients with the efficiency and confidence of the world-class sex educator she is. Most of her interaction involves her supplying her clients with some much-needed information, dispelling myths, and giving them permission to experiment. As she says;

I continue to be amazed at how solid education delivered without judgment can eradicate much of the guilt and shame that turns life in the bedroom into a struggle instead of a pleasure.

Her most famous client, Mark O’Brien, the 36-six-year-old man who had spent most of his life in an iron lung after contracting polio at age 6, was the author of How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence, in which he writes about his experience with Cheryl. This, of course, was adapted into a film, The Sessions, which I mentioned above. For her part, Cheryl delivers a most poignant remembrance of Mark early in her book.

I explained Sensual Touch to Mark. Although he was paralyzed, he still had sensation all over his body, so he would feel my hands moving up and down. … I encouraged him to try and recognize four common reactions: feeling neutral, feeling nurtured, feeling sensual and feeling sexual.

An Intimate Life chronicles Cheryl’s life-long interest in human sexuality. Her life and sometimes-turbulent loves are on display, but in the most considerate fashion. She teaches by example. She’s even able to speak with great compassion of her time living with and through cancer.

As I inch toward seventy, I appreciate more and more how much I have to be grateful for and how fortunate I’ve been. I was lucky to find a wonderful career and to be surrounded by so many smart, adventurous, caring people. My personal sexual revolution auspiciously paralleled our culture’s, and in many ways was made possible by it. I am eternally grateful to the pioneers, rebels, and dreamers who made our society a little safer for women who embrace their sexuality.

There is so much I loved about this book, but mostly it’s the humanity I found in abundance. Cheryl’sdr.-cheryl-cohen-greene enlightened soul shines brightly from every page. Her no nonsense approach to all things sexual is an inspiration. And her perseverance to bring surrogate partner therapy into the mainstream is laudable.

…what separates surrogates from prostitutes is significant. When people have difficulties grasping [that], I turn to my beloved and late friend Steven Brown’s cooking analogy that I’ve so often relied on to help me through that question: Seeing a prostitute is like going to a restaurant. Seeing a surrogate is like going to culinary school.

Finally, An Intimate Life is the culmination of Cheryl’s life as a sex educator, her surrogate partner therapy practice being just part of that mission. I highly recommend you read this book. You will, I assure you, come away from it as I have, a better person—enriched, informed, as well as entertained.

Cheryl, thank you for being in my life and being such an abiding inspiration. Thank you too for this marvelous book; now you can be in the lives of so many others who need you so that you can inspire them along their way.

Be sure to visit Cheryl on her site HERE!

What’s a mother to do?

What we have here is an exchange I had with a woman and while I don’t know anything about her, not even her name, I can make some inferences. If I had to guess, she’s in her 40’s. She’s married and has kids.

You must talk to a lot of women in your practice and hear from a lot of women through your advice site. What would you say are the main sexual concerns of women over the age of 40?

Research shows that approximately 40% of women experience sexual problems. But a 2008 study out of Harvard suggests that only a few — 12% — are concerned enough with these issues to do anything about them. I find that not only surprising, but shocking! That suggests to me that sexual wellbeing is not a high priority for a good number of women.  What a bummer!sexual-Frustration

Low libido, diminished arousal, difficulties with orgasm, pain with sex or body image concerns all play a part. A lot of this is directly connected with having an ineffectual partner. I mean, I’d give up sex too if I was consistently frustrated and unfulfilled. But what about masturbation? Are sexually frustrated women seeing to their own needs through self-pleasuring? I don’t see any hard data, you should pardon the pun, on that topic.

We hear a lot about the horny dad and the tired mom, but what do you do if the “roles” are reversed – and dad is tired and mom is horny?

Curiously enough, I hear from way more men these days, who are exhausted, depressed or overweight and who have little or no libido, than I hear from women with the same problems. Sign of the times? You betcha!

But don’t sink to the lowest common denominator. Here’s one of my most popular tutorials, Sex Play — Tips and Techniques.

How can parents find common “ground” when it comes to when they might have sex (as in day of the week or time of day)? Does it always involve compromise? Can our internal clocks ever synch up?

Synching up schedules my not always be the solution. If we wait for that to happen, we could die waiting. The answer might be finding a middle ground. “I may not be up for full on fucking at the moment, but I’ll give you a fantastic hand-job.” Or “I can’t seem to get it up right now, but hand me your vibrator and I’ll send you to heaven!” I’m a huge proponent of mutual masturbation.

Another suggestion might be something like The MoodSign. We reviewed this very clever gismo awhile back. In fact, it was among our Best Products List for 2013. Check it out and see if something like this would help.

If parents are interested in kinking it up, what are some simple, not too scary ways to introduce it into the relationship?

Keep it safe and consensual. Always have a safeword. I developed a workshop called; The Gospel of Kink. I’ve also conveniently packaged this workshop into a workbook with the same title. You can find the book HERE!

GOK small cover

Both the workshop and book are designed to help people, like you, develop the skills they need to effectively communicate with one another and improve their problem solving skills. The workshop and book, as the title suggests, are specifically geared toward folks in kinky, BDSM, and alt-culture relationships, but even vanilla couples will find what I present very helpful.

Bondage games are always fun. And you don’t need anything beyond what you already have in your closets — silk scarves, belts, shoe strings, etc.

Nipple clamps, playing with sensations like ice cubes and hot wax, hair pulling, making use of blindfolds and gags

Discipline/Spanking is always fun too — a ruler, a hairbrush, a wooden spoon, a belt, rubber bands. See my tutorial: Spank Me, Daddy.

Role play is always a delight. Don’t forget about phone sex.

There are tons of instructional videos at Dr Dick’s How To Video Library.

I always suggest that couples read erotica aloud to each other. That never fails to get one’s motor purring.

I’d also love to talk with you about the taboo of sex, particularly with the parenting set, and how parents, moms, and dads, can work to break stereotypes without feeling like a sexual “deviant.”

Really? What would be so wrong about being a deviant?

Good luck

Intimate Workout

Hello sex fans,

And now for something completely different… It’s Product Review Friday all right, but we’ve seen nothing like this before. Today I, Dr Dick, will do the honors and tell you about a unique product for men. It’s a brand new product that will, I believe, change your life for the better. And in the process we welcome another new manufacturer to our review effort, Adult Fitness Concepts.

The Private Gym —— Basic $59.99  Advanced $99.99

Dr Dick
There are a handful of things that I have been very passionate about throughout my long career as a sexologist. Each of my passions revolve around two simple principles: the importance of knowing and owning who we are as sexual beings and an knowing about how our body works. These are the basic building blocks of sexual health and wellbeing.

Sexual wellbeing means a whole lot more than simply being able to perform. It also means taking responsibility for one’s eroticism as an integral part of one’s personality and involvement with others. But being unfamiliar with the basics of how our body works will surely short-circuit even our ability to perform.

My aim has always been to provide information, guidance, and resources that will help people approach their unique sexuality in a realistic and responsible manner. That’s what Dr Dick’s Sex Advice and Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Reviews are all about. So when a representative of Adult Fitness Concepts contacted me via email to tell me about their new product (actually, it’s more of a program than a product), the first FDA registered Kegel exercise program for men, my interest was piqued. I was told that the Private Gym was created after 3 years in development with several leading urologists, physiotherapists, and sexual health experts.

I have been an avid proponent of pelvic floor musculature toning for both women and men for my entire career in sexology. I write and speak about this topic so often that sometimes I feel like a broken record. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself. Use the search function in the sidebar of either of my sites, Dr Dick’s Sex Advice and Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Reviews, type in pelvic muscles, and BANG!home_hero_image

Women tend to know more about Kegel exercises, the exercises that tone and strengthen one’s pelvic floor musculature because doctors encourage them to do their Kegels during pregnancy. But here’s a tip for all you guys out there who are reading this and rolling your eyes and getting ready to turn the page because you think this is some kinda Oprah — vagina moment. Listen up you monkeys; kegel exercises aren’t just for the ladies. Us men folk have pelvic muscles too. So pay attention, you’re gonna want to know about Kegels too.

What are Kegels, you may be asking. They’re muscle contraction and relaxation exercises designed help restore, tone, and strengthen the muscles that surround the opening of the urethra (see guys, we have one of those), vagina (ok, we don’t have one of those, but we do have a penis and we get erections), and anus (we sure as hell have one of those). Since this includes the muscle that you use to stop and start the flow of urine, you can check if you’ve identified the right muscle by testing your kegel technique while peeing — if you can stop the flow of urine when tightening, then you know that you’re contracting the correct muscle group. BTW, the main muscle is call the pubococcygeus muscle, or PC muscle for short.

There are several “toys” on the market that are designed to help women tighten and tone their pelvic floor muscles, Ben Wa balls, and all their modern incarnations, for example.  Now, thanks to the Private Gym us men folk have our own exercise program. A program that promises stronger, more rigid erections, a reduction in premature ejaculation, heightened orgasms, improvement in urinary control all while supporting prostate health.

I know what you’re thinking, if I can do Kegels on my own, why do I need a program? Good question. The best answer I can come up with is it will help you stray on track and achieve your goals. I mean, isn’t that the reason we go to a gym? Surely we can workout on our own, but the support and encouragement we get from being part of and involved in a program makes the effort more rewarding. It’s all about psychology, right?

PG-TrainingKitOnly-PromoThe Private Gym is the first interactive, follow-along exercise program that helps men strengthen the muscles that support and control our cock. As men approach age 30, the muscles that support erectile function begin to weaken. By age 40, more than 50% of men experience some form of erectile dysfunction and this number increases to more then 66% as men approach 60 years of age. And for all you bottoms out there, you know how important it is to keep anal muscles in tip-top, pardon the pun, shape.

There are two parts to the Private Gym program — 1) the Basic Training Program (available on DVD or through digital download) and 2) the Complete Training Program, which involves resistance training.

As we all know, resistance training is key to building strong muscles. Imagine doing bicep curls or a bench press without weights. The Private Gym Complete Training Program resistance equipment is basically a weighted high-quality, latex-free, nonporous, phthalate-free, and hypoallergenic silicone cuff for your dick. How amazing is that? You slip this puppy around your stiffy and do your Kegels. The cuff is also waterproof, so it cleans us easily with mild soap and warm water.

Just like all weight training, muscle contractions increase blood flow and increased blood flow to your johnson will…wait for it…produce harder, larger, and longer-lasting erections. Your pelvic musculature is also responsible for the strength of your ejaculation. Do you dribble instead of shoot? Well, my friend, you have some important exercisin’ to do.

While the Private Gym is a practical tool for any guy at any age, I have a few extra words for those men—friends, clients, and correspondents—who are living with and through prostate cancer. I get how difficult things can be after an invasive and life altering surgery. I also know that, for the most part, oncologists are not inclined to walk each of their patients through the emotional and physical minefield that is life after these often devastating medical interventions. But that doesn’t mean you have to sink to the lowest common denominator and shut down as a sexual being.

I believe that the Private Gym Basic Training Program can be helpful in regaining a sense of your sexual self after surgery and radiation. I’m currently working with two clients and we are using the Basic Training Program to rehabilitate their traumatized pelvic musculature. While it is too early to tell what kind of success rate we will have, I can say for certain that the effort involved in this program, as well as both of them knowing that someone really cares about their sexual performance issues, is making a huge psychological difference in terms of outlook and confidence. And that is huge!

My own experience with the program has been very positive. I’m 65 years old and I’ve been dealing with prostate issues, bladder control issues, and erection issues for some time now. I’ve also been doing Kegel exercises for decades, so I conclude that I am as functional as I am because of my efforts to keep my pelvic musculature toned and strong. The Private Gym is helping me be more conscientious about my workouts. And that is a real good thing.
Full Review HERE!

ENJOY!

Sobriety & Sex

Name: Gregg
Gender: Male
Age: 40
Location: Seattle
Since getting sober now almost 8 years ago I am very tense about sex and I feel as though I have lost my mojo. I am unable to relax and be intimate with a man and I am thinking I need an intimacy coach or sex coach, or something. Perhaps someone with tantra training who can help me find a comfort level with my body again and being touched and touching another.

Hey, thanks for your interesting question. Sadly, yours is not an uncommon concern. In fact, I just finished an 8-week group for men in recovery who were dealing with similar intimacy issues. A lot of the work we did together was helping one another reestablish a sense of trust.

legs & bootsSo many of us gay men start out our sexual lives with alcohol and/or drugs to help us overcome our inhibitions as well as a means of dulling some of the anti-gay messaging that comes to us from the world around us. Sometimes, the substances take hold of us and instead of we being in control the substances are in control. There was one guy in the group I just mentioned who is in his 5o’s, and he confessed to the group that before he got clean and sober, a couple years ago, he had never had sex sober. And he had been sexually active since his early twenties.

Substance abuse can rob us of more than just our dignity. It often effects our sexual response cycle in ways that diminish our ability to enjoy our sexuality. Men often report erection problems and women report arousal phase problems when they come off booze and or drugs. This, as you suggest, impacts on our comfort level in all intimate situations. If our parts aren’t working like we would want them to, we’d rather avoid intimate contact rather than be embarrassed. So, in other words, when we rid ourselves of the substances that once enabled us, we often need to relearn how to be ourselves, particularly in intimate situations.

Learning to trust others enough to open ourselves to others, even with our “brokenness,” is the key to regaining our sense of sexual self. We need to learn how to overcome our shame, which often gets in the way of reaching out to others. And if some of our shame is unresolved internalized homophobia, well then, we really have some work to do.tit bite

I think you’ve hit upon the perfect solution to your pressing problem. Working with a sex coach or intimacy coach is definitely one way to go. For those challenged, as you are, verbal therapy is great. But there is no substitute for actual hands-on therapy.

I know several people who have been helped by a surrogate partner or a sexual healer. I applaud you for thinking so creatively. Of course, finding the right person to work with will be a challenge. And I should mention that other helping professionals, even some sexologists, do not always look upon these kinds of interventions as legitimate. That’s a pity, but what are ya gonna do.

As you know, there are loads of sex workers out there. Unfortunately, very few have the training needed to provide surrogate partner therapy, or understand the delicate issues that a trained sexual healer must deal with. I hope you find what you are looking for.

If you need someone to discuss this with further, give me a shout. You’ll find my contact information on either the ABOUT page or the THERAPY AVAILABLE page in the header above.

Good luck

And baby makes…four

Name: Dustin
Gender: Male
Age: 35
Location: San Francisco
I am a 35-year-old well-adjusted gay man. My husband of 6 years and I want to have a baby. Our best friend, a straight woman, also wants to get pregnant, but she wants to get pregnant the old-fashioned way, if ya know what I mean.
Unlike a lot of other gay men I know, I’ve never had sex with a woman. I’m like totally up for doin the deed, but let’s just say I haven’t a clue on how to begin. I feel like I’m in high school facing sex for the first time. Even though I’m gay, I don’t think vaginas are scary. I just don’t know what to do. You would think these things would come naturally to us all. I don’t want to appear like a bumbling fool on our conception night. I don’t have anyone else to ask about this. Can you give me a quick tutorial on how to proceed? Thanks.

This is so adorable; it’s like a real life episode of Modern Family, don’t cha know. And yeah, I do know what you mean when you say — “she wants to do it the old fashioned way.” I wasn’t born yesterday.father & son

It’s interesting to me that you make the analogy between your current situation and that of a guy in high school who is faced with, no pun intended, the prospect of gettin’ lucky for the very first time. It’s interesting, because it’s basically the same situation. And no, I wouldn’t agree with your assumption that this comes naturally to anyone. Just because the prevailing genders have complimentary parts, don’t make the coming together of those people or those parts naturally easy.

And it’s good to hear that you don’t have an aversion to vaginas as some gay men do. However, not having an aversion to and being attracted to something is certainly not the same thing. Most first time heterosexual coupling is awkward. Neither person is particularly familiar with the intimate workings of their partner’s parts. What they don’t have in experience; they do often make up for in passion. And that can and does cover a multitude of sins, so to speak.

lovers014

But even when there’s passion, most straight women report that their first full-on fucking sexual encounter was a major disappointment. They report that their partner didn’t take the time to warm them up properly; they didn’t get off, like their male partners did; and the whole blasted thing ended much too quickly.

There’s a lesson in this for you, Dustin. I’m glad that you are, as you say, “totally up for doin’ the deed.” But one would hope that there will be more to this conception than you just doing your duty. Wouldn’t it be grand for both of you if you actually knew how to pleasure a woman before you jumped your best gal-pal’s bones to plant your seed? The same is true for her. Wouldn’t it be grand if she knew what buttons to push on you to raise the flag and get your juices flowing, so to speak, as it were.

I suggest you do some homework. Take all the time you need to educate yourself about the female anatomy before you take your ride. My I suggest that you spend a whole lot of time on one of my favorite sites that deals with female sexuality — Clitical.com. You will be amazed by how much you can learn by paying attention to what women tell each other about their sexuality.makin' babies

And then, even though you may be all boned up, so to speak, on female sexuality in general; you’re gonna need to spend some time with your gal-pal discussing her particular sexual response cycle. There is absolutely no substitution for first-hand knowledge. Why not ask her to take you for a little tactile tour of her pussy and all the truly amazing points of interest therein and around. Ask her how she likes her sex. I guarantee you that she does have a preference. This oughtn’t be a whole lot different than if you were talking to a new prospective male partner. All the things you might ask him about what he likes and what he doesn’t are much the same things you’ll ask your gal-pal. By the way, this show of interest will surely take the edge off your first encounter.

Finally, I wish to add that you will probably find that your first attempt to get pregnant won’t be successful. You may discover that it’ll take several pokes to get the “job” done. To give yourselves the best shot at impregnation I suggest you guys turn your attention to:  Gettingpregnant.com.  This is your one-stop resource for everything you need to know about getting knocked up.

Good luck

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