Cannabis for Couples on 4/20

 

Dr. Jordan Tishler, MD, is a cannabis specialist. Today is 4/20 – so he is the perfect guest! Dr. Tishler graduated from both Harvard College and Harvard Medical School. What are some of the positive effects of using cannabis to enhance sex? There is a heightened sensitivity on emotional and physical levels. What about pitfalls? A small percentage of users consume too much and become dependent. When compared to overuse of alcohol, cannabis offers many health benefits. Alcohol can cause bleeding ulcers and cognitive decline, just to name two negatives. Dr. Tishler claims that cognitive function can get better with cannabis use, and there aren’t all the health problems associated with abuse of alcohol.

 

Any medical contraindications for cannabis use? Not many. If a man has heart disease and has pot and sex with someone other than his regular partner, he puts himself at a heightened risk for a heart attack. We discussed recommended methods and dosage for beginners. Also, how important is “set and setting” when using cannabis? A warm, safe place provides comfort because everything is amplified when high. The “stoner stigma” stereotype is gradually being replaced by healthier models.

 

More good news: the federal prohibitions on cannabis are likely to be eased under the Biden Administration. Dr. Tishler coaches people who want to dip a toe in the (cannabis) water. Go to www.InhaleMD.com where all appointments are virtual; Dr. Tishler helps patients around the world.  Additional cannabis information is found on my www.DearDrDiana.com website where you can sign up for a free BONUS CHAPTER “Cannabis for Couples.” Listen to the show because Dr. Tishler offers lots of information, and he knows that pot can make you silly, playful and can put you in the moment. Happy 4/20 Day everybody!

Helping Men Overcome Performance Anxiety

 

Much of sexual misery stems from mistaken beliefs. Can you become one of those rare men who actually knows how his body works – and how it can work better to pleasure a woman?  And what about performance anxiety, the leading cause of penis failure?

 

Dr. Hernando Chaves, MFT, PhD, and a human sexuality professor at Pepperdine Malibu University (www.DrHernandoChaves.com) joined the program to help answer these questions. But Dr. Diana and Dr. Hernando first spoke of penis size, the idea that bigger is better. This belief contributes to anxieties, and many have been influenced by the typical porn actor who is usually very well endowed. In the 1970s male porn star Richard Pacheco (aka Howie Gordon, also a past guest on this program) was “Mr. Average.” He was surprised that he kept getting cast in the films. Many producers allowed the women to choose their partners, and they often chose Pacheco because his penis didn’t hurt them. He joked that he had “the smallest dick to ever hit the big time.” Another porn star, Ron Jeremy, famous for his huge one, has said, “More women have gotten off on my tongue than my cock.”

 

Any type of anxiety—but especially performance anxiety—is the worst enemy of the penis, resulting in premature ejaculation, or its demon cousin, the lost erection. Dr. Hernando describes an exercise for couples: cuddle with a flaccid penis, feeling relaxed, comfortable, and practicing mindfulness. It is important to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Dr. Willian Masters had a humble definition of good communication in a relationship: “It’s the privilege of exchanging vulnerabilities.” Dr. Hernando reminds couples to discuss what is really stressing them out. Then listen … and really hear it. Premature ejaculation is one of the most common forms of sexual dysfunction, affecting more than 30% of men, especially younger men. Dr. Hernando addresses the mind/emotional aspects and gives behavioral techniques. Listen to the show – we want to banish stress from the bedroom and make sex fun again!     

Men, Porn, and the Controversy Surrounding "Sex Addiction"

This is the title of Chapter 51 in Michael Castleman's newest book Sizzling Sex for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Maximize Erotic Pleasure at Any Age. This is a comprehensive and easily accessible encyclopedia of sex, and it includes a whole lot you won't find anywhere else. Why focus on Chapter 51? After the spa killings last week in Atlanta, investigators are still trying to unravel the motivation. Michael Castleman and Diana Wiley both believe it was not anti-Asian racism per se, but rather it's likely that the shooter's sex negative, religious fundamentalist upbringing is at the root of his actions. He himself blamed it on his "sexual addiction."

 

Throughout history, sex has come in three varieties: reproductive, relationship-affirming (relational), and recreational. Alfred Kinsey's scientific studies in the late 1940s discovered that most Americans engaged in recreational sex. Many religious fundamentalists claim that sex for fun is sinful, and if a man used pornography to masturbate, it means he is a sex addict. As Michael points out, it is a vicious cycle: shame creates stress, which leads to masturbation and porn, which leads to more shame, and so on. Dr Bradley Onishi grew up in a strict evangelical community and now he teaches religious studies at Skidmore College. The evangelical culture he was raised in teaches women to hate their bodies, as the source of temptation, and it teaches men to hate their minds, which leads them into lust and sexual immorality.

 

But sex-positive Christianity does exist. Rev. Beverly Dale co-authored Advancing Sexual Health for the Christian Client: Data and Dogma, which deconstructs potentially harmful Christian beliefs around sexuality to support clients stuck in sexual guilt, shame and fear. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can help a person reframe their sexual catastrophizing, which may include ideas such as “sexual thoughts and fantasies are sinful,” “only bad people masturbate,” and “porn is evil.”

 

Castleman is also a medical journalist, answering more than 12,000 sex questions throughout his career, both on his Great Sex Guidance website and on his "All About Sex" blog on Psychology Today, where he reviewed Dr. Diana's book Love in the Time of Corona: Advice From a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine. He also used to answer all the sex questions for "Playboy Advisor" column in the 1990s. No wonder he was able to write the most thorough sexuality guide ever produced! Find out more about his book at https://sizzlingsexforlife.com/ and then buy a copy! You’ll be glad you did.

Tantra meets BDSMLaurie Handlers, MA, explains how kink is connected to Tantra … and she does it happily! Yes, she is the author of Sex & Happiness: The Tantric Laws of Intimacy, an international bestselling book. Many people have sexual fantasies around power exchanges/alternative sex, but don’t really have the skills to act these fantasies out. Laurie and her partner Michael Gibson teach these skills and others in their workshops, covering things like boundaries, safe words, and how you want the consensual sex scene to play out—plus spanking training (scale of 1-10, 10 is STOP… 6,7,8 are the sweet spots). The idea is that certain wicked sensations, including pain, can enhance pleasure. Pain can also help with focus.

 

The science supports this: a University of Michigan study found that both pain and pleasure can trigger your brain to release dopamine, the hormone that gives you a thrilling rush. Trust must exist between the couple. When it does, sex can be sensational. One partner knows how to surrender and the other knows how to take charge. Tantra practices can be a great prelude to the BDSM scenes. In the Tantric yoga tradition, sex is the life energy that flows through the body. Two lovers can learn to channel this energy and ride it to maximum pleasure. Laurie teaches eye gazing where each one looks into the other’s left eye (the receptive, feminine eye accessing the right side of the brain). Another exercise involves touching hands and breathing in synchrony to merge the energy of the heart and pelvis chakras. She offers a variety of workshops, both online and (later) in person. Laurie knows how to move from bored to playful and passionate!

 

recent survey revealed that 38% of respondents in the U.S. said they would give up sex for a year if they could go on a trip. But what if you could go on a COVID-safer trip to sunny Jamaica where sex, sensuality, and pleasure form the centerpiece of the resort’s appeal? Dr. Diana’s guest on this episode, Dr. Nancy Sutton Pierce, has just returned from that resort, Hedonism. (By the way, hedonism is defined as “the pursuit of pleasure, sensual self-indulgence.”) This is Dr. Nancy’s fifteenth year as an ambassador, a teacher for these exotic lifestyle retreats. Hedonism is a place where you can be as mild or as wild as you like!

 

Dr. Nancy says your intimate relationship should feel like an oasis—a safe place where you can be heard and valued. This is what she teaches in her classes for couples. Many see it as a marriage reboot, a renewal. Dr. Diana spoke about laughter and play, which she also discusses in her book Love in the Time of Corona: Advice From a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine. Yes, sex is play! The Hedonism environment encourages playfulness. A singles event is coming up in June. If you have questions about Hedonism, Dr. Nancy offers an Adult Travel Concierge Service at (530) 638-0221 (or if you book directly, use this link: http://www.hedonism.com/?aff=R3687096). Different weeks have different themes and events, and she will guide you. Dr. Nancy offers good guidance about relationships and sex … always.   

Romance. We don’t talk about romance much these days. For many, it has yielded to more pressing priorities: the pandemic, health, children, financial survival. A longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Ava Cadell, is Dr. Diana’s guest and they both agree that Valentine’s Day this year is like no other. These sex docs also agree on how important it is to keep making deposits in a couple’s “love bank” so you don’t run out of currency (which in this case is romance and inclination).

Dr. Ava is the founder of Loveology University and perfectly poised to talk about – Yes! – romance. She has many suggestions for how to make the most out of Valentine’s Day. Love coupons are fun. Giving your lover a photo of your body in a love note is seductive. A new sex toy can provide lots of excitement and pleasure. Make some Valentine Vows—for example, “I promise to give you a sensual massage every week for a year.” Sensual foods and romance and love have long been intertwined, ever since Marc Antony first fed Cleopatra grapes. So, create a romantic dinner for two, perhaps even including some aphrodisiac dishes.

Experienced lovers know about the best aphrodisiac: words. Verbal seduction is the surest road to physical seduction! This seems to be especially true for women, who tend to be more emotional and like expressions of love in a card. Men often prefer sexual favors.

To facilitate all of these romantic, sexy behaviors, Dr. Ava is offering her “4-Packs for Lovers” at half price (use promo code DRAVA50). Also, view her series of meditations on You Tube. Dr. Ava’s latest e-book—Neuroloveology: The Power to Mindful Love & Sex—is being offered free to listeners. This book gives tools to make love last with plenty of fun! Here’s an erotic formula: sensual pleasure + playfulness = great sex!

Listen to the interview to hear more tips for a great Valentine’s Day!  Also, check out the free Sex Menu download from Dr. Diana’s book Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine. V-Day is a day to focus on love – and sex!

Hallie Lieberman, sex historian and journalist, was Dr. Diana’s guest on Dec. 29, 2020, when they spoke about her book, Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex ToyToday’s show concerns Hallie’s next book about the history of male escorts (including Rudolph Valentino). “Older woman with means seeks a young man – for adventure, connection, and sex.” What’s wrong with older women paying for sex?

 

In an Australian study from 2018, the women explained why they paid for sex: for therapy (medical and trauma issues); to learn (new types of sex play/experiences); for intimacy (touch affirmations); but overwhelmingly it was for pleasure – their own pleasure, not the man’s. We have a sex industry because we need and want one. Understanding the people in this huge industry is not helped by either idealizing or condemning them. Tune in for a lively conversation between Hallie Lieberman and Diana Wiley, who did research in 1992 on Japan’s “BoyToy” phenomenon and is also author of Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine.

Many have taken quarantine time to self-reflect, helping pave the way to healthier relationships. Folks are reporting more clarity into what they want in life. Life is short and at the end of the day, relationships are what matters most. Dr. Diana and her guest Dr. Nancy Sutton Pierce had so much to discuss, especially since they both practice what they preach!  Dr. Nancy is a sex and relationship author, podcaster, international speaker, and sensuality educator. She and her husband Mark, an M.D., co-host the Conscious Living Show. On a recent program they spoke of entertaining each other during quarantine and taking full advantage of their time alone. Dr. Diana’s book—Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine—highlights the same message. The docs spoke about playfulness and leaving judgements behind so that sex can be more adventurous! Spice it up!

 

Another Dr. Nancy show is Wild Women with Wine that she co-hosts with Karenlee Poter of Sex Talk With My Mom. Dr. Nancy’s counseling practice includes giving guidance and advice to singles for dating in a socially distanced world. There’s a new normal and the pandemic has rewritten the rules of dating. There may be a much longer courtship conducted over Zoom. Jotting down some conversation topics and questions in advance can help with nervousness: What have you learned about yourself? What would you love to do if there were no constraints? What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? Finally a couple meets and the first kiss could trigger thoughts of infection rather than infatuation. Or, they could progress to sex faster than usual – these people have already spent considerable time getting to know each other long distance. Dr. Nancy also discussed her Exotic Lifestyle Retreats, an intimacy oasis in Jamaica. Dr. Nancy’s openness, deep knowledge, and sense of fun adventure shines in this interview!

Love, Lust & Laughter’s last show of 2020 concluded on a high note (or should we say buzz?) with guest Hallie Lieberman, author of Buzz: The Stimulating History of the Sex Toy. Hallie’s book provides a fascinating history that tells the story of sex toys from ancient phalluses to 21st century vibrating rabbits. She also discusses the cultural controversies related to sexual pleasure and sexual rights.

Hallie Lieberman began selling sex toys at passion parties, and then got into a graduate program where she studied the history of sex toys. Her book includes profiles of many sex toy pioneers. Betty Dodson (1929-2020) believed that masturbation with a vibrator was liberating for women and essential to knowing their own bodies and responses. (See Dr. Diana’s tribute show to Betty Dodson with Dr. Mark Schoen, November 10, 2020.) Dr. Diana recounted her women’s sexuality groups in the late 80s and early 90s and the journeys women took to understand their sexuality and to reach orgasms after sexual trauma. Many of these women held the overly romantic hope that someday my Prince will come – and so will I!

Hallie and Dr. Diana also talked about Joani Blank (1937-2016) who opened the first Good Vibrations store in San Francisco in 1977, and Dr. Carol Queen who is the staff sexologist, historian, and curator of their Antique Vibrator Museum. (See Dr. Diana’s interview with Dr. Carol Queen, September 15, 2020)  Current trends include the huge increase in sex toys sales during the pandemic, and the recommendation by the New York City Health Department to masturbate as a way to stay safe. The author concludes that sex toys aren’t just about the amazing technology but about the meaning—that sex toys can mean so many things to so many people!

 

How do we make it through an already difficult time of year when many measures we have to take to slow the spread of the coronavirus—including sheltering in place and social distancing—exacerbate feelings of isolation and grief? Besides dealing with pandemic/holiday stresses, how do we safeguard a marriage against divorce? Brad Coates, divorce attorney and author of Divorce with Decency: The Complete How-To Handbook and Survivor’s Guide to the Legal, Emotional, Economic, and Social Issues (5th Edition), joined Dr. Diana to sort out these questions and more.

 

Beginning with COVID and the holidays, it is useful to set realistic expectations, including being flexible about factors beyond your control, and adopting psychological flexibility to help regulate your emotions. Step back and shift your perspective when things do not go the way you expect. Practice self-care by tending to your most basic needs, including sleeping, eating, exercising, and having sex. Yes, sex makes you happier (is a natural anti-depressant), increases immunity, and improves the relationship. (Dr. Diana’s book, Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex Therapist for Couples in Quarantine, has lots of suggestions for keeping things spicy during lockdown.)

 

We are usually stressed about the holidays because there is too much to do, so try to keep things in perspective. This year there is less busyness, perhaps providing more time for reflection and reminders not to take things for granted. By embracing your feelings, difficult conversations about hard decisions are facilitated, as are setting boundaries, being intentional and mindful.

 

Another important topic: ways to safeguard a marriage against divorce. For one guy it was too late: “My marriage had preexisting conditions, and COVID killed it … We weren’t a partnership, we weren’t working together.” If you want to avoid divorce, being a cheerleader for your spouse, with lots of support and encouragement, really works. So does having sex with your spouse or significant other. We all crave assurance—if not in words, then in body language—that we are still desirable to our partner. We don’t just want a partner who is willing to have sex with us, we want one who wants to have sex with us. If contemplating a divorce, remember that you had what it took to fall in love; it’s entirely possible that you have what it takes to stay there.

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