Reclaiming Your Sexuality, Online Conference Transcript

Dr. Linda Savage is a licensed sex therapist and the author of "Reclaiming Goddess Sexuality: The Power of the Feminine Way." We discussed why so many women are apparently disinterested in sex in their long-term relationships, being sexually unhappy, sexual dysfunction, inability to achieve orgasm, sexual side effects of antidepressant medications, abuse survivors and sex, satisfying sex, and more.

David is the HealthyPlace.com moderator.

The people in blue are audience members.


David: Good Evening. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com. Our topic tonight is "Reclaiming Your Sexuality." Our guest is sex therapist, Linda Savage, Ph.D. Dr. Savage is a licensed sex therapist and author of the book, "Reclaiming Goddess Sexuality: The Power of the Feminine Way."

According to statistics, large numbers of women are reporting that they have little desire for sex in their long-term relationships. Our guest says a surprising number of women are plagued with varieties of sexual dysfunction and unhappiness.

Good evening, Dr. Savage and welcome to HealthyPlace.com. We appreciate you being our guest tonight. Why are so many women apparently disinterested in sex in their long-term relationships?

Dr. Savage: There are a variety of reasons that go from bad relationships to health issues and life problems. The most important thing women say is, they feel something is wrong with their sexuality.

David: And what, exactly, do they mean by that?

Dr. Savage: Most women have been raised to believe that sex equals intercourse and the goal is orgasm. That's a male model of sex. Since many women enjoy other types of stimulation besides intercourse and may take a long time to achieve orgasm, we have a situation ripe for dissention between partners.


 


David: One thing I'd like you to clarify. Sometimes we hear that in long-term relationships, the "magic" isn't there anymore or sex isn't that important in the relationship anymore. But when you say "women are unhappy," you're not referring to the relationship just "tiring," are you?

Dr. Savage: No, not necessarily. Many women feel that they love their partners but they do not respond well to the conditions under which sex occurs in their relationships.

David: Are you saying, that still in the year 2000, where men are supposedly more sensitive to their partner's needs, many women still are sexually unhappy? Or is it because women aren't speaking up enough and letting their partners know what they want?

Dr. Savage: Both. Most couples still do not know enough about what is truly satisfying and their sexual options, and they also do not talk about their needs. It's truly amazing that in the year 2000, most people do not talk frankly about sexual needs. They hint at it, and that's the worst think you can do because your partner guesses the worst.

David: But the other thing I noted on your website was that the statistics were also showing that women have "little desire" for sex? To me, that means they don't really want to have sex within, at least, their long-term relationship.

Dr. Savage: The women who report low desire would like to have satisfying sex within their long-term relationships. They are just as frustrated about it.

Men often think their partners will be looking for guys outside the relationship. Their jealousy just compounds the issue. What women want, is to feel the intimate connection before physical sex.

David: We have some audience questions, Dr. Savage, then we'll continue with our conversation:

Aporpoise: Can depression play a part in not wanting sex?

Dr. Savage: Depression is an important factor in low sexual desire. However, often the antidepressant medications given (which are important for recovery) make it more difficult to orgasm.

There are lots of options that will rebuild the intimacy in the relationship and, in fact, address some of the issues that lead to depression. I recommend that women never give up on their sexuality. There are always ways to reawaken the "coiled serpent."

David: We've had many medications chats here at HealthyPlace.com where the doctor states "sexual dysfunction" is a side-effect of certain psychiatric medications. Is it possible to achieve orgasm while taking antidepressants or other medications?

Dr. Savage: First, you can talk to your doctor about giving you a different medication that is less likely to have the sexual side effect.

There are also wonderful ways to experiment with your partner to achieve orgasm: vibrators, new oral sex techniques, finger play. All of it requires spending the time and communicating about it.

Keatherwood: I am an abuse survivor and taking several antidepressants. I've been happily married for 23 years, but have zero interest in any type of sex. I've tried changing medications with no luck. I find myself staying up until early morning to avoid sex. Is it normal to have no sex drive? I also had a total hysterectomy about 12 years ago and I am on estrogen.

Dr. Savage: You have several of the known sex drive depressors in your life. But I am a great believer in the miracle of sexuality, as a way to tap into your life force. Once you find the motivation for yourself to reawaken your sexuality, then the journey begins.

Do not assume that the ways you and your mate have approached sex are the ways you will continue using. It will take lots of communication and many of the techniques in my book are self-directed as well as couple directed. There is hope however. Please believe me.


David: How does one go about "reawakening" your desire to have sex?

Dr. Savage: First, women need to find within themselves the will to begin. Then you must Practice the Principle of Readiness with your partner (as well as yourself). This means taking the time to tease the energy with erotic message, non-demand touch and playful time spent together.

David: I need you to define some of these terms. What does "tease the energy with erotic message" mean?

Dr. Savage: Okay, in a nut shell, women need to feel that the touch they are receiving is a little bit behind their pace. That means that the partner must stay with a type of touch until she is ready to move on to a more intense type of touch. Let me give you an example:

It you touch your partner's neck gently and play with her hair lovingly, she will begin to arch her neck and move into the touch, then you may move to her shoulders. But stay with the gentle touch until she wants more.

David: And what is, "non-demand touch?"

Dr. Savage: Non-demand touch is different from erotic message. It came from Masters and Johnson's work in the 70's. It is touching the partner for the pleasure of touch, without the erogenous zones. Erotic message moves into the erotic zones after stimulating the whole body in very pleasing ways. Its intent is to arouse. I have very specific instructions in my book.

David: For women who have lost the desire to have sex, are you saying

  • first - reconnect with your partner
  • re-establish intimacy
  • and then take things slowly in terms of having sex again?

Sort of build up to it.


 


Dr. Savage: Yes, but even before that, many women must understand the context of a culture in which their desire has not been given chance to develop. We have only, in the last 30 years, given women permission to explore their sexuality, let alone represented the feminine way of sex. So many women must first get a history lesson. That's why I've written about the ancient Goddess cultures.

David: Here are some more audience questions, Dr. Savage:

waiting: Dr. Savage, in this age of cyber relationships, do you feel that the feelings of love that develop are real, and if so, do you think that because the relationship is based more on conversation at first, i.e. more time to get to know each other, that they have a better chance of becoming a long-term "real relationship" than the standard meeting at a party and sex soon type of relationship?

Dr. Savage: The issue of relationships that begin on the internet is very complex. Yes, I believe getting to know someone's "soul" by many talks is great. But many women have told me when they meet the man, there's no chemistry. So it's tricky.

bubbaloo: Dr. Savage, one of the greatest turn ons is the challenge of keeping a new partner. How do you keep that interest going in a long term relationship?

Dr. Savage: There is a great difference between the sparks of a new relationship and the passion of a long term relationship. In fact, it's like apples and oranges.

Sometimes, you must let the myth of the early sparks die and mourn the loss of the adventurous chase energy of the new relationship before you can really go deeper to find the passion from a long term partner.

hopedragon: I have no desire for having sex. I don't like it. And when I do have sex, after about 5-10 minutes, I get very bored. If I don't stop, sometimes I freak out. Do you have any idea what may be causing this?

Dr. Savage: If by "sex" you mean intercourse, you may be saying you don't really like this because it does not feel good to you. If you go to a banquet many times but cannot enjoy the food, why would you continue to go?

The feminine paradigm for "erotic encounters" (a different word for sex) is: Pleasure is the goal rather than orgasm, sensual touch is the vehicle, not genital performance and orgasm is multidimensional. So you may find you enjoy a lot of touch and stimulation but not heavy frictional intercourse.

David: Here's an audience member response:

Keatherwood: I understand what hopedragon is saying. I don't enjoy any type of sexual activity and feel like screaming when I'm just being touched. My husband is patient but I mostly just bite my tongue and put up with it when I have to. I don't see how I can get motivated to change when it is so repulsive.

seven: What about lesbian relationships, where one woman is more "aggressive" (like a man) and the other woman has a hard time meeting up to those expectations? Is it the same as a heterosexual situation?

Dr. Savage: Yes, whenever you are accommodating a partner, whether male or female, when you feel uncomfortable (more than a little) you are dousing your sex drive even more. But remember, your sexual desire is not gone, it just became dormant.

There are wonderful ways to get it back. Sometimes you may need to leave a partner who is so insensitive as to push you into unwanted situations. But in the case where there is loving partners, begin with communicating what you'd like to change (I have some scenarios that take you step-by-step in the book). Then you will need to find your own way to sexuality for you. You may need the help of individual and couple therapy, specifically for sex.


David: Are there some people out there, Dr. Savage, who just don't enjoy sex? And is that okay?

Dr. Savage: Of course its okay, if the person is happy with their life. BUT keep in mind, many people who say this, also enjoy self sex, which is another enjoyable sexual outlet. So you see, we must broaden our understanding of the word to include lots of other pleasuring.

David: A couple of site notes here, and then we'll continue with the questions:

Here's the link to the HealthyPlace.com Sex Issues Community. You can click on this link and sign up for the mail list at the top of the page so you can keep up with events like this.

Dr. Savage's website is here: http://www.goddesstherapy.com.

And now, here are some more questions:

MaggieMae: What can help in the case of premature ejaculation in a 32 male with an average sex drive?

Dr. Savage: Rapid ejaculation, as we now call it, is one of the most treatable male dysfunction. The "Stop, Start" techniques can be practiced alone, so that he gets the control. It consists of stimulating self until you feel the urge to ejaculate (point of inevitability) and then calming down until the urge subsides. This can then be practiced with the partner. Anxiety is often a component of Rapid Ejaculation, so sometimes anti-depressant medications can be helpful, so consult your doctor or a urologist about this.

Finally, men can return to pleasurable touching after one orgasm and enjoy pleasuring their partners and get turned on again. Remember, the erotic encounter need not end with the man's first ejaculation. There's lots more fun to be had.


 


nattygee: I'm a woman, Dr. Savage. So what does it mean when you can't cum? Why can't I achieve orgasm?

Dr. Savage: You certainly can, you are just pre-orgasmic, If you've never had an orgasm with self-stimulation, the best way to learn about what feels good is to pleasure yourself. I have some specific suggestions in my book. You can also experiment with vibrators (the Hitachi magic wand is the best to start with) and find the feelings that are best. Then you can try it with a partner.

R2mny2nm: Being a survivor of extreme sexual abuse, I can't see how it is possible for me to have a healthy sexual relationship. I have never had an intimate moment that didn't end up in a flashback.

Dr. Savage: This is a very difficult situation for you and I have no easy answers. I hope you have considered therapy. If you have done a significant amount of work on the abuse issues, then you may be ready for a sex therapist. You can find a competent one in your area on two sites: aasect.org and sexology.org.

David: Dr. Savage's book is "Reclaiming Goddess Sexuality: The Power of the Feminine Way." You can view and purchase the book by clicking on the link.

bubbaloo: How does a woman slowly build intimacy back into a relationship when she is consistently pressured to move at a faster pace? His actions and attitude tend to kill the mood, and then just more complaints arise. Is there any way to avoid this conflict of interest?

Dr. Savage: Your must build your "guardian self" which will stand up for you and stop your partner's insensitivity, even in the face of his anger. If he is behaving like a bully or pouting, tell him so and withstand the urge to give in.

Men have gotten away with bad behavior and demanding sex for a long time. Now it is time for women not to give up on themselves (remember, sex is your life force) but to represent the feminine way of sexuality.

You must discover this for yourself and then make it clear to your partner that you want only the touch that feels pleasurable to you.

David: Thank you, Dr. Savage, for being our guest tonight and for sharing this information with us. And to those in the audience, thank you for coming and participating. I hope you found it helpful. Also, if you found our site beneficial, I hope you'll pass our URL around to your friends, mail list buddies, and others. http://www.healthyplace.com.

Dr. Savage: Thank you for having me.

David: Thank you again, Dr. Savage. Have a good night everyone.

Disclaimer: We are not recommending or endorsing any of the suggestions of our guest. In fact, we strongly encourage you to talk over any therapies, remedies or suggestions with your doctor BEFORE you implement them or make any changes in your treatment.

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Last Updated: 30 March 2017

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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