What Happens When We Say Yes to Sex?

intentions, consent, sex, sexualityAs many of you know, I’m the Sexual Health columnist for Midlife Boulevard. My most recent article, Learn To Say Yes and Make Your Sex Life Better, taking my word for 2015, YES, and weaving it into a story about how we show up for sex and give our fullest consent to it!

Learn to Say Yes and Make Your Sex Life Better 

I don’t make resolutions at the beginning of the new year, I set one word that will guide me for the year and use it to form intentions for my life. Last year’s word was intentional, this year my word is Yes.

Let’s look at Yes and how it might lead to a more fulfilling sex life—whether you’re partnered or solo. I am talking about consent in terms of putting ourselves in a yes frame-of-mind when it comes to sex. Not to say that you have to agree to sex all the time. The process of finding your Yes requires you to think about what you like about your current sexual activity and what you don’t like. Is there something you’re currently doing that you want to say No to? If you can’t articulate the “no” then you can’t fully say yes to sex, can you?


In 2013 I did some work with a sexological bodyworker, and as preliminary step we had a long Skype conversation. We talked about what I wanted to accomplish in our sessions. He asked me about my ‘No’, in order to get at what I was asking for, or saying ‘Yes’ to. He wanted me to be clear on what I didn’t want, as a way of clarifying what I did want. “If I can’t trust your No, how can I trust your Yes?” I wasn’t sure I really understood that at the time but as I’ve practiced this in various aspects of my life, not just sex, I’ve seen the power of being really present to what I am doing and what I want.

You’re the only one who can really know what this might look like for you, but here are a few examples of the process of finding your Yes:

  • I know my partner loves sex in the morning but I always feel uncomfortable about my waking breath and body odors. I want to get up and ‘freshen up’ first but it feels like I’m breaking the mood. I am more likely to engage and enjoy the intimacy if I can brush my teeth first.
  • My boyfriend wants me to watch a sexy video with him before we have sex – he thinks it will get me more excited. I’m not sure about that so I hesitate. Maybe I should say yes once, sharing my reservations, but being open to how it might make me feel. I can always say no thanks, even if we’re in the middle of watching the video.
  • My husband doesn’t understand that my dryness is partly due to a lack of arousal. He tends to rush straight into intercourse; I need more time to get ready.  Yes, I still need lube (and by the way-lube is a wonderful sex tool for all of us, dry or not) and I’d feel more aroused and interested in sex if I could tell him that I want more of _____________________ (fill in the blank).
  • Just once I want to tell my partner exactly what I want sex to be like. I want to describe in detail what my fantasy would be. How he/she would undress me, where I want to be kissed, stroked, and how slowly I want it to happen. I don’t always feel like the sex I’m having is the sex I’d like to be having.
  • I miss having sex but I don’t know what to do and I don’t want to find a partner just for sex. It feels a bit lame to self-pleasure myself but don’t I deserve to feel pleasure? Maybe I should try it out and see how it feels to be giving myself what I need.

If we could learn to speak about the things we want, to talk what works and what doesn’t, we would have better sex. Better sex in that we’re not holding back, or feeling uncomfortable. Better sex because we’re sharing the things that matter to us. Better sex because we found our voice and our partner listened and respected our needs. This is what consent, in this context, is all about.

We can’t really enjoy an activity if we’re not in full consent. We become unwilling participants, or slightly resentful, or we tune out because we don’t really want to be a part of what’s happening. Could it be as simple as articulating our wants and desires? What would happen if you found a way to share your vision of intimacy? If you could admit to your desires and stop doing things that don’t please you?


I’d love to hear what you think. Comment here or over at Midlife Boulevard.  And if you want to read my earlier article on my year of YES, it’s right here.


Male sexuality in the news

News on male sexuality

Here are a few recent news articles on male sexuality I thought you might find interesting. I am not endorsing anything you read here nor am I offering professional advice. Just a mix of entertainment and education.

  • Queen Elizabeth II Knights ‘Father of Viagra’, Dr. Simon Campbell- Dr.Simon Campbell worked for Pfizer for 26 years, working to develop drugs to help with high blood pressure. By accident, they developed what came to be known as Viagra. “Campbell co-wrote the preliminary research proposal but even that didn’t include a mention of erectile dysfunction as one of the conditions the drug hoped to take care of. He didn’t sulk about it either, saying he was in New York when Viagra was launched, right on his birthday in March 1998.”


  • Vitamin D Highlights: A Bedroom Boost- “In a study of 143 men, Alessandra Barassi, MD, of University of Milan in Italy, and her colleagues found that those with severe erectile dysfunction (ED) had significantly lower vitamin D levels than those with mild ED, and that deficiency was worse in those with arteriogenic ED than in non-arteriogenic ED.”



  • Sex Question Friday: How Many Men Have Paid for Sex? – “…the most recent results suggest that about 1 in 10 guys today have paid for sex before. However, it is important to note that the odds of purchasing sex seem to be decreasing in each successive generation because the number of people who reported having ever paid for sex is even lower among younger guys than it is among older guys.”




Got any news stories you want to share?


Original image by mcconnors, Morguefile

How to identify sexy when we see it

sexy, sexuality, compatibilityWhat does sexy really look like? I’m not talking The Sexiest Man of the Year sexy–because that’s all about image and visuals. Though George Clooney…sigh. He’s my kinda sexy. But suppose he’s the worst kisser on the planet? Or one of those who thinks a quick ‘stuff it in and bang away for 2 minutes‘ is his finest hour?

I ponder this question when I’m at the gym. On the rowing machine. The rowers are up on the balcony with a bird’s-eye view of the track and everyone who walks in. I just got back from the gym, midday, when many of the folks there are older–retired. I’ve seen a man several times who reminds me of an old lover. (I’m going to use ‘lover’ to represent the whole range of gender and relationships so regard it to mean whatever works for you.)  He has the same white head of hair and beard and a similar body shape-big buddha belly and a rolling gait. My guy was introverted, a little shy, and often uncertain of himself–unless he was playing the Philosopher. We met on-line and were together for 3 years. If we’d passed on the street I would never have done a double take–he didn’t have that look I’m typically drawn to (see above image). But. We’re talking about sexy–this was a very sexy man.

 We can’t. We can’t identify sexy based on looks alone 

What made him sexy was his attitude towards sex–it wasn’t a game or a conquest. Sex was not a routine act or an obligation. Sex was an intimate moment, or a day, between two people. It was sensuous, a blend of giving and receiving. Seductive and teasing or lively and vigorous–there was room for all those things. He understood that women needed time to become aroused and he was proficient with the female anatomy-because he knew how much it mattered–to him and to his lover.

I don’t see that when I see his look-a-like at the gym, but it’s a good way to talk about how we define sexy. When I see the skinny young woman with a perky set of boobs drawing the attention of many of the men, I see what fits the stereotype of sexy. But what about the older woman with her conventional ‘old lady’ hair who wears sweats under her gym shorts? Is she sexy? Is she in tune with her body and what she wants when it comes to having sex?

Or the guy in his undershirt, wearing dress socks with his tennis shoes? He might give mind-blowing oral sex to his lover. The trim man doing hand stands over in the corner– clearly in good shape, but what’s his kissing style?

Sexy comes in all shapes and sizes and ages. It comes from caring about our lovers, from being open to new ideas and displaying a willingness to be vulnerable. To experiment, to ask for feedback. Awareness. Can we become better lovers after age 50? Absolutely, as long as we have a desire to improve, change, modify…whatever.

I’m less sure that bad kissers can be converted, however. 

I suspect that the older a man is, the more likely that he is a good lover. Which might be different from having the stamina of a young stallion–that’s not necessarily sexy or an indicator of ‘good’ sex.

I’m not sure if I’m writing this for the single reader who might be searching, or for those of you who want more in your current relationship. Maybe a bit of both. It’s a bit of a ramble as I am so fascinated by the humanity I see on the track and I wonder about each person who walks there. I wonder how many of them are happy with their sex life–giving and receiving in a way that is fulfilling.


The person who is in touch with their sexuality, in the way I want them to be (my bias is showing), understands the power of touch. They see kissing as a sensuous act–not just a prelude to grabbing a body part. They might reference intimacy, exploring, sharing and taking it slow. All key words that convey the understanding that having sex isn’t quite the same thing as creating an intimate encounter.

We judge too much on appearances–I guess that’s really what I want to say. I do. You do. It’s completely possible to be young, gorgeous, well-shaped and a great lover. And, it’s possible to be 65, a little out of shape and just a plain ole person who happens to be the most sensitive, bestest lover on the planet.

My message, while a bit vague, is to be more open when it comes to finding what you want. I don’t know what sexy looks like any more than you do. You have to be willing to step outside the box and embrace from instinct, not just because ‘the package’ looks perfect. There are no perfect people.

There is no perfect sex. It’s a messy business, at any age.

And, if you want to find that wonderful sexual moment, the mate for life, the person who makes your blood race then you better be open to a wider swath of humanity. Axe murderers and rabidly conservative Republicans excluded.


Private Gym-Program for Male Sexual Health

One of the challenges many men face in the aging process is diminished sexual functioning. Men who begin to have issues with erections want answers and solutions. The overwhelming market for male sexual enhancement supplements and pharmaceuticals bears witness to the problems—real or perceived. But what ‘they’ are selling isn’t necessarily the right answer. And, in some cases those dietary supplements that promise big things can be dangerous for your health.

Let’s look at erectile dysfunction under the wider umbrella of male sexual health. And, what exactly does that mean? Simply put, sexual health for men is all about taking care of your stuff. Making sure you’re in good physical health, that things work properly (bladder, bowel, sexual function), and getting tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections. Exercising for sexual health means focusing on more than abs—did you know that men have the same set of pelvic floor muscles that women have? Me neither.

Dr. Andrew Siegel and cofounder, David Mandell have developed a research-based program to help men exercise their pelvic floor muscles, the Private Gym. (affiliate link)

I met David back in December and over drinks and dinner we talked about penises, sex and erectile dysfunction (I can only imagine what the waiter was thinking). I wanted to know how a former Chief of Staff of the FAA came to be involved in male sexual health. And why he was reaching out to me with his new venture.

Remember Smiling Bob? He was the guy in those cheesy ads for Enzyte, the male sexual enhancement product. Enzyte was one of the earlier dietary supplements developed to entice men with real or perceived erectile issues. There are plenty of supplements out there today that promise to give men bigger, harder, firmer erections—and none of them work. It’s a scam- I promise you. David was intrigued by the story and the culture that grew out of the Smiling Bob story—”Bob” eventually landed in jail, but that’s off topic. David started researching the topic, reaching out to medical professionals in the field, and the concept for the Private Gym was born.


Any good product development focuses on filling a need and clearly there is a lack of safe, scientific-based resources for men with ED. Men have concerns about their ability to perform sexually, at many stages of life. What is the best and safest way for men to fend off or deal with erectile dysfunction? Dr. Siegel, a urologist specializing in genital and urological health issues, and Mandell partnered to develop a comprehensive program of exercises designed to strengthen the male pelvis floor muscles.

“We exercise all parts of our body, but completely neglect the muscles that control our sexual function,” said Dr. Andrew Siegel, Cofounder of Private Gym And renowned urologist, surgeon, professor and author of Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health . “With Private Gym, men can now safely and naturally strengthen one of their most important muscle systems.”

The Private Gym Exercise Programs (affiliate link) strengthen a complex network of muscles known as pelvic muscles. These muscles surround the base of the penis, which extends deep inside the body. The pelvic muscles are responsible for causing a surge of blood flow to the penis that helps to maintain penile rigidity. When squeezed, the pelvic muscles force more blood into the penis and allow it to be held in longer, producing a harder, larger, and longer-lasting erection.”

It came as a surprise to me to learn that the men have the same set of pelvic floor muscles as women. And, just as women can use kegel exercises to tone and tighten, and improve bladder function, men can achieve comparable results. That’s the concept behind the Private Gym—a series of graduated exercises designed to tone and strengthen the essential muscles that constitute the pelvic floor muscles.

David Mandell was referred to me by a peer in the sexuality field; the timing coincided with my growing interest in writing for men. The conversations we’ve had about male sexuality have been so much fun. I’m excited about his work and delighted to be able to share it with you. I have received all the products from the Private Gym. I’ve watched the training videos for both levels of the exercise program and I’m currently reading Dr. Siegel’s book, Male Pelvic Fitness. The program is registered with the FDA and the results of the first clinical study were released on Monday.

I’m fascinated; I’m learning things about the penis I did not know. And I thought I was pretty familiar with the subject matter! Rather than try to explain, the video below is a great introduction to the exercise program.


So what’s the downside? None that I can see. Everything about the product and the underlying science is professional and based on solid medical knowledge. You have to be willing to commit to the exercise a couple of times a week for less than 20 minutes a day, they can be done in the privacy of your own home, your office, wherever.

I haven’t had the opportunity to see how the product works. I need to find a guy willing to try it out and let me see how it really works. Or do a before and after comparison!

The Private Gym exercise program won’t make you a sex god. If you’re looking to become a better lover we can talk about that at another time. But it has been my experience, as a sexual partner to a man with erectile issues, that men who feel confident about their erection show up more confidently in the bedroom. That’s a good thing for all parties. This is about sexual health and wellness. While the focus is primarily on erections there are other benefits to the exercise program–strengthening muscles helps to improve other aspects of male sexual health. Go check it out and let me know what you think. Questions you’d like to ask the guys at Private Gym? I can facilitate that, though they have a very thorough FAQ page.

*I’m not being paid for this review. I was given the products mentioned in hopes that I might write about the Private Gym. As an affiliate (I believe that strongly in the product) I will make a small amount if you purchase through a link in this article.

The scoop on Smiling Bob and why he landed in jail.