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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Four Questions with Amy Cooper, Sex Enrichment Coach

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Sexual enrichment coach and clinical sexologist Amy Cooper usually spends her time working with individuals or couples in coaching sessions designed to overcome the shame, difficulties and challenges that many of us experience when it comes to sex. Right now, however, she's touring the country to facilitate workshops on enhancing your sex life, whether alone or with a partner. She recently took a jaunt through the Midwest, and I caught up with her afterwards to ask her advice for those who might want to add some spark to their sexual relationships.

What's the most common problem that you see in your work?

Low desire, primarily in women, is the biggest issue that I run into. The second one would be probably erectile difficulty in men. Low desire -- there's kind of a subcategory to that, which would be desire discrepancy. Couples come in, the man wants more sex, the woman would like to, but she just doesn't feel it and is too tired. Couples that have kids don't know what to do, because they're overwhelmed already with family and work. Women just want to rest and sleep. A lot of my work ends up being helping them manage their time, for instance, getting a babysitter so they can focus on each other, preferably in the middle of the day when they have some energy and feel like engaging with each other.

So, what do you think of the new drugs that are being developed to "treat" women's low desire?

I'm not a medical doctor, and I don’t prescribe medication. I say, as a last resort, that might be an option, but I like to see women deal with the issue through lifestyle changes. I recommend that they get more exercise, which naturally increases testosterone and will make it easier to have an orgasm. Eat better -- what you eat affects all the systems in your body. Also, see how you can work on the relationship piece, a sense of intimacy and connection, or being more playful with your partner…A pill isn't going to fix a lack of interest in your partner. Some people may need something like [medication] to jumpstart desire, and then they can back away and stop using it. Genital massage and pelvic floor exercises are a better way to jumpstart things, though -- getting the tissue really relaxed and juicy through touch.

As you travel through the Midwest, do you think there are any sex-related issues that are common in this area of the country?

Honestly, I don't think so. The issues are pretty much the same across the board. I thought [audiences in the Midwest] might be more reluctant to share, but that wasn't the case at all. There's an idea that people are more uptight in the Midwest, but when you get people together at my workshops, they're excited because they've found other people who want to talk!

What advice would you give to couples who are looking to add spice to a long-term relationship?

Get more playful! There are a lot of different kinds of behaviors that you can do to build heat or build arousal over time. Rather than saying, ok, we're going to have sex now, a lot of women have to have their juices building over a longer period of time. This can be done by flirting -- not necessarily with each other, but by allowing yourself to be flirtatious with other people. Dancing, by yourself or with other people, with each other, can be another great way. Bring your erotic juice to the dance floor! If you're in a club and you're dancing, no one's going to stop you if you start gyrating on the dance floor and getting yourself turned on. It can make for a really hot environment. Erotic energy is quite infectious. The more people do it, the more it's a "yes" for other people to do it.

Things like erotic talk are also helpful, being more sexy and juicy with your words with each other, suggestive about what you might do later with your lover, via "sexting," e-mail or phone messages. Drop little bits of erotic love bombs here and there! Lots of touch and massage is good too; finding ways of touching each other that are a little bit more sexy, nurturing and suggestive. Just bringing more touch into your daily life is important. Anything you can do to stretch out the time before you actually end up coming together to have sex is good.

Fantasizing is also important. Let yourself fantasize more, let your mind wander and explore what turns you on. Notice other people; watch a movie and think, "Wow, that's really hot" -- and then start sharing some of these fantasies with your lover.

Laura Anne Stuart owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.

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