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  • If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path
    If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path
    by Charlotte Kasl
  • Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes
    Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes
    by Tom Rath
  • Love's Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy
    Love's Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy
    by Irvin D. Yalom

3 Top Libido-Busters...and what to do about them: A love scientist’s guide

This blog post is compliments of guest blogger Duana C. Welch, PhD!

Has your sexual get-up-and-go gotten up and gone? Low desire is women’s top self-reported sexual problem—and the toughest to treat. Here are three top libido busters, and what to do if this is you.

What a shame

Shame—the deep sense that something is wrong with us—is not our friend; it undermines our efforts in many areas of our lives. A key area is our sexuality. Are you embarrassed by your body, and worried about a partner’s acceptance of it? You can’t focus on your bra size and your pleasure!

Instead, notice shameful feelings as they arise, and redirect your thoughts to something more reality-based: “I’m feeling ashamed of my body, but my partner wants me—I am desired and desirable.”

Another aspect of shame is your sexual beliefs. Do you think sex is something “nice women” don’t (or shouldn’t) enjoy? Do you think your genitals are disgusting, something nobody should want to touch? Low desire is often related to beliefs taught to us by parents and society. Unfortunately, in our zeal to keep girls innocent, we often convey ideas that won’t serve them well as adults.

The way to address this is the same as for body shame: notice and redirect. “I’m feeling shame about wanting sex, but it’s normal, natural, and healthy for a grown woman to want and enjoy sexual connection. I deserve sexual pleasure.”

Ghosts from the past

I’m sure it won’t surprise you that rape and sexual abuse can dampen a woman’s desire for years after. Yet most women apparently move through these issues without therapy. That said, if you need help, make sure you get it. Cognitive behavioral therapy is proven to help women overcome past abuses and get their groove back.  If you have insurance, choose a provider who offers it.

Partner problems

It’s been said that for women, everything our partner says and does is foreplay—and it’s true. Many women with low desire are having partner issues that include feeling low trust in, or low love and respect from, our mate.  If you and your partner need to get back on track with some great relationship skills, the top science-backed therapy is Gottman Method Couples Counseling. Whether you both attend, or you have to go it alone, you can find a therapist using this link.

There are many causes of low libido, and unfortunately, there’s no magic cure that deals with them all.  Ultimately, though, a little mental floss, and perhaps some therapy, can help deal with these top causes so you can get your groove back. 

[Duana C. Welch, PhD, is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do, releasing on January 7, 2015; read more and get a free chapter here.]

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, Sexologist, Sociologist, Sex Speaker


Terry Crews Redefines the "Man Code" to Embrace Feminist Ideals

When you think of a feminist, let alone a vocal feminist, you probably don't visualize a former professional football player. The hyper-masculinity of professional football encourages the opposite of feminist ideals. But athlete-turned-actor, Terry Crews, recently wrote a book called Manhood: How to Be a Better Man -- Or Just Live with One and is taking a stand to embrace feminism, and redefine masculinity.

No, this doesn't mean making men like women. It means cultivating vulnerability in men, to be able to say that they're scared, that they don't have an answer or solution, or that they feel weak. I believe that this is the definition of true courage, true strength. But mainstream maculinity, taught to many boys growing up, is that their emotional fears are shameful. If we want men to view each other and women as fully human, and deserving of respect, we need to allow and encourage men to develop a full range of human emotions and the ability (and safety) to express these emotions.

This is the kind of vulnerability that leads to true intimacy. Like Crews states in the video interview below, true intimacy is "to be known." I know that for most men and women, "to be known" is what they most desperately want, but most desperately fear.

We live in a world where an 23-year-old woman was attacked (and later died) in a fast food parking lot because earlier that day, she had the courage to defend two teen girls from male harassment. Crews' words are poignant and he takes on the challenge of being a role model. He states, "We're not battling individuals, we are battling a mindset." Yes. And mindsets come from cultural gender teachings. So what are you teaching to the next generation of boys? Respect for themselves (in all their strengths and weaknesses) with compassion for others...or something else?

(Photo of Terry Crews pulled from this webpage.)

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego -- Sociologist, Sexologist, Sex Speaker


The Best Sex She's Ever Had

A lot goes into great sex: Affection, attraction, anticipation, location, surprise, and much more. To spur your imagination, we spoke to seven women who shared their sexiest, most mind-blowing experiences, then asked experts to help us understand what you can learn from them.  

"Our coworkers could have caught us in the act."

This new guy and I had been casually flirting on the job for a couple of weeks. We worked at a photo studio that shot models and clothes and lifestyle products. One of my chores was to manage the product closet. One day I was inside cataloging when my crush came by to chat. We started joking around ... and the next thing I knew he was kissing me. The closet connected to a conference room, so I quickly shut the door. It wasn't too long before our clothes started hitting the floor. He'd just peeled off my panties when I heard voices. We froze. My boss had come into the conference room with some coworkers, apparently for a meeting. The guy stared at me. I stared back. Trapped! So why not? We picked up where we left off. The thrill was insane: a new guy, a crazy new experience, the risk of discovery. Even better was trying to be quiet. When I was about to climax, he gave me his shirt to bite down on. It smelled like his cologne, and my orgasm was seismic.

The fear of being caught sends a gusher of adrenaline and endorphins through your system, heightening the passion, says Jenn Gunsaullus, Ph.D., a sociologist and intimacy counselor in San Diego. But there's a subtler kick too: Fooling around in secret makes you both feel that you're sharing a special bond—and that connection can linger after the act.

Click here to read the rest of this Men's Health Magazine article by Jennifer Miller.

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sex Speaker, Sociologist, & Sex Counselor


TEDx Talk on Sex & Female Sexual Shame

Discussing Sexual Shame in TEDxTalk on SexSexual shame impacts us all. I delved into sexual shame around the world, specifically for women, in my second TEDx Talk, presented on September 27, 2014, at TEDxPhoenixville in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I led the audience on a journey that explored global perspectives, their personal experiences, and how we all have a role in doing something different to improve female sexual empowerment. I really do believe that we're all in this together, and that compassion towards ourselves, our partners, our communities, and people around the world is vital regarding sexuality. Please spread the word!

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sociologist, Sex Speaker, Sex Counselor


Overcoming "Female Sexual Dysfunction"

There are a lot of women in America who struggle with some aspect of their sexuality. Nonetheless, I'm not a fan of the terminology "female sexual dysfunction." So the first step to "overcoming" this, is to let go of this pathologizing phrase. Women's sexual desire and experiences have a very broad range of "normal," so don't assume there's something dysfunctional going on.

Speaking about Female Sexual Dysfunction at the Women's Health Conversations Conference in Pittsburgh, PAWhen this terminology is used, it's generally referring to low sexual desire in women. In long term relationships, this is very common; so common, I would actually call it the norm. This is not problematic, in and of itself. Where it can be a concern, is if the woman misses her sexual feelings and desire, or if her partner is not feeling fulfilled sexually (which can then be related to not feeling loved or connected).

So if this is a concern of yours, what can you do about it? I think it's important to figure out the main factors at the heart of your low desire. Is everything else amazing in your relationship, but you just feel no drive? Then find out what does get your juices going, whether reading erotica, touching yourself, or fantasizing, and commit to doing that a few times a week to remind your body that you can feel desire.

Do you carry resentments towards your partner because you feel unloved or not nurtured? Take the 5 Love Languages Quiz and figure out how to ask for and get your needs met. Are you bored with sex and try to avoid it? Check out books like Getting the Sex You Want or Urban Tantra to reinvent your sexual landscape. Are you way too tired at the end of the day to even consider sex? Start scheduling "intimacy time" during mornings or weekend afternoons; just start with cuddling or Happy Naked Fun Time, and see what blossoms. Do you struggle like many women do, with thinking your body isn't attractive enough or perfect? Write a list of 20 things you love about your body and review that every day to retrain your brain towards appreciation.

Are you experiencing pain during sex? If so, it's no wonder you don't desire sex! Try to identify where the pain is located...is it deep inside? Then notice if certain times of the month and certain positions make a difference. Is it near the entrance? Perhaps a new thicker lubricant could help. Although there are some serious reasons why pain may be present (e.g., vaginismus), the most common reason is that the sexual interaction is moving along too quickly and your body hasn't had enough time to warm up and get blood flow and engorgement of your genitals. Women can take upwards of 20 minutes to be fully aroused, and that's even when you're enjoying what's going on! So ask your partner to slow things down.

And finally, are you giving yourself permission to be a fully sexual woman? Do you negatively judge a "very sexual woman"? Perhaps you're still carrying the heavy messages around being a "good girl" that you grew up with, and they are interfering with being present and having fun during sex. Write down all the traits that you think are part of enjoying sexual activity, and one by one start integrating them into your sexual interactions. You get to decide who you want to be as a sexual woman.

If you're experiencing low desire as a woman, you are definitely not alone! I hope this gives you a few new directions to consider in addressing this.

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sex Speaker, Sociologist