Monday, September 25, 2017

The Sexcation: The Vacation that Could Save Your Sex Life

The Sexcation: The Vacation that Could Save Your Sex LifeDuring a recent interview with an internet radio station, I mentioned planning a “sexcation” as a way to spice up your sex life. The host loved the idea! However, like a lot of people, he had no clue what exactly a sexcation entailed or how to go about making this happen. In this post, I’m going to talk
about what sexcations are, why people plan them, and how you can go about making one fit into your relationship. I’ve seen lots of couples have wonderful successes with them, and along with their therapeutic benefit, they’re just clean (or dirty!) fun.

A What…Cation?!

It’s simple. A sexcation is a vacation planned to focus on intimacy and sexual connection. You may find some people describe the sexcation as solely focused on having sex. And while that’s not
The Sexcation: The Vacation that Could Save Your Sex Life
completely unreasonable, it may not be what works for every couple. In fact, focussing too intently on sex can add a lot of pressure when pressure is not needed in the relationship. So I encourage clients to determine what they want to focus on and then create a plan around that goal. For example, do you just want to go at it like rabbits the whole time? Or, would you prefer to focus on getting to know your partner better and emotionally connecting? Like sex itself, sexcation involves a combination of physical and emotional connections, and figuring out a balance depends on the couple.

Making an Investment in Your Relationship

The sexcation is a way to invest in your relationship and make it a priority in your life. Many times, life gets in the way, and we have trouble prioritizing many things including our relationship and sex. A decrease in your investment is like weight gain: you don’t realize anything has changed until your clothes no longer fit! With relationships and sex, you might not realize it until it’s been several weeks or months without or with less frequent sex. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want to make changes.

Where Do We Start?

The Sexcation: The Vacation that Could Save Your Sex LifeMaking an investment takes, at least, a little planning. Spontaneous trips are great, though you might not get what you want from the spontaneity, especially for a goal-oriented vacation like this one. Therefore, finding your goal for a sexcation is key. This will help guide where you go and what you do during the time. You also need to find the time and schedule. Scheduling means asking time off work, putting it on the calendar, and arranging for childcare, pet sitting, work deadlines, etc. More often than not, if we don’t put something on the calendar, time goes by and it might never get done.

Does this sound a bit overwhelming, or do you have more questions? Well, you’re in luck! Sign up to be a part of my community, and you’ll receive the second part of this blog, “6 Steps to Planning a Sexcation”, which also comes with a planning worksheet! You can sign up on this blog site or by visiting my website.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Vibration is Good for Your Sexual Health: A Review of Intimina's KegelSmart

A KegelSmart Review

As many of my clients, readers, and listeners know, I am a HUGE proponent for pelvic floor strength. Your pelvic floor can be weakened both by atrophy and by a variety of medical experiences – for
women, pregnancy and childbirth are the most common, and it’s a seldom-discussed side effect of prostate issues for men. Strengthening your pelvic floor can help with recovery from procedures related to these issues and help prepare the body for birth. Perhaps the most desirable benefit is that, for both women and men, a stronger pelvic floor can intensify and lengthen orgasms. I also have personal experience with pelvic floor treatment, including kegel exercises (90 a day!), which can become monotonous and boring. When things become boring, we tend to stop doing the exercises, and this is how our muscles begin to atrophy.

Well, when I found out that my newest affiliate partners, Intimina, manufactured kegel exercisers, I jumped at the opportunity to test the product to see if this would help motivate me to perform my kegel exercises more often without getting bored. At a minimum, I was excited and impressed that this tiny device could measure the strength of your pelvic floor muscles and help me track my progress!

If Only Tampons Could Vibrate

The KegelSmart is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and is made of smooth, medical-grade silicon. KegelSmart is inserted into the vagina like a tampon and provides a vibration to
indicate when contract your pelvic floor and muscles and stops vibrating to allow for “rest” between contractions. For those concerned with removal, KegelSmart also features a looped string for easy removal. The KegelSmart also has an indicator light that not only shows the product is turned on, but also shows your current program level. Did I mention KegelSmart is also 100% waterproof, meaning you can perform kegels anywhere including the shower or bath. If you’re feeling daring, you could even take your KegelSmart to your beach vacation for even more excitement in the ocean. (Of course, please be aware of all public indecency laws before inserting and removing the KegelSmart or just proceed to the nearest ladies room for privacy.)

The Pros

Did KegelSmart live up to my expectations? Well, I began looking forward to my kegel exercises and performing them more regularly. I also progressed in the programs as my pelvic floor strength increased. The KegelSmart is programmed with five levels suited to your current pelvic floor strength and aimed at increasing it from your starting position. In my opinion, this helps keep your muscles working and building strength without overworking the muscles. The program and vibration keep you focused on the exercises instead of becoming distracted and loosing focus on your goal. Oh, did I mention each routine only lasts five minutes!? Come on: we all have five minutes out of 24-hours a day to work our core muscles!

There's Always a Few Cons

I highly endorse this product, though, I do have to provide honest feedback about some cons of the device. KegelSmart requires a battery, which is not included with the product. This is clearly stated at – but who really reads the fine print? You can only imagine how disappointed I was to open my new toy to discover I needed a battery! As I don’t keep batteries in stock at home, I was very grateful to my physical therapy office for providing the AAA battery. Of course, they all got enjoyment from seeing this new toy as well.

Check with Your Doctor

Although KegelSmart is safe and will be effective for most women, I do caution women with less strength or experience in how to properly squeeze your PC muscles. It’s a skill that’s easy to learn, but that like many exercises takes some instruction from a professional and a bit of practice to get the hang of. The vibration routine provides only 5-6 seconds (at least from my count) for contractions
and rests. The short rest time may be too short for some women. Please check with your current medical provider that this product is safe for your current treatment before using. I also recommend testing KegelSmart in your hand before inserting it into your vagina. This will help you become more familiar with the vibration sequence, including the delay pulse provided while you insert into your vagina as well as the ending pulses for once the program is complete. Don’t be like me and lay for an extra minute saying to myself, “Is it done yet? Do I remove it now?” and trying to grab the user manual for answers!

There you have it! Now, go check out the KegelSmart and other women’s intimate health products including other pelvic floor conditioning products, the menstrual cup, and intimate massagers at

For more information about the pelvic floor, don’t forget to check out the Let’s Talk Sex podcast, “All About the Pelvis,” with Dr. Shelley DiCecco!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Therapy During the 40's and 50's: You Can Teach Older Dogs Newer Tricks!

Out with the Young...In with the Mature!

When we reach our 40s and move into our 50s, our lives change in ways that are often difficult to prepare for psychologically in our 20s and 30s. The projects we began in those years often reach fruition: we begin to pay off student loans and mortgages; children become more independent and move on to college; careers we’ve worked on for, at this point, decades may plateau; our parents age; we age. For those of us with other life trajectories, we encounter friends and families whose lives have moved in very different directions. For even the healthiest couples, these can be trying times, as patterns we’ve grown accustomed to begin to wear out and we look to make changes. Therapy during the 40's and 50's can address these years in a number of ways. Continue reading to find out how older dogs can learn new tricks!

Midlife Crisis or Therapy?

 Perhaps most importantly for those who’ve never pursued therapy before, it offers a space to talk about the life events and develop skills to better manage stress, as well as learning more about yourself as you figure out this new stage of life. If you’re contemplating a career change, a therapist can help you weigh the pros and cons from a variety of angles; some therapists even specialize in mid-life professional changes. If you’re dealing with family stresses, from growing children to aging parents, family counseling can be an excellent resource. As I discussed in earlier posts, children experience a lot of stress and anxiety with families as they enter their 20s and 30s, but there two sides to that coin: parents experience stress as their children grow. Similarly, counseling between aging parents and their children can be extraordinarily beneficial for all family members, as it gives children (who are now in their 40s and 50s) an opportunity to see what their parents’ lives are really like, as those children advance into caregiver roles.

Empty Nest Syndrome? Not in THIS Family!

Therapy can also be a place for couples to talk about the impact of stress and life changes on the
Therapy During the 40's and 50's: You Can Teach Older Dogs Newer Tricks!
relationship, as well as provide skills to prevent relationship crises. Because even the happiest families tend to develop routines based around the significant project of childcare, as children grow, become independent, and eventually establish their own lives, the remaining family members, particularly couples, deal with the difficulty of developing and adjusting to new routines. Habits as small as the division of household chores, to more professional work-home time distribution, even up to habits related to sex come under scrutiny and can become causes of stress that may be difficult to discuss. Learning how to discuss these issues together, whether as a couple or as a family, or how to think about them individually, is the facilitating role we should look to therapists for.

Sex Changes Too...

Therapy During the 40's and 50's: You Can Teach Older Dogs Newer Tricks!
With respect to sex specifically, I’ve worked with many couples who had sex lives that worked out well for both partners, until suddenly, with more time just for each other along changing sexual appetites, they faced a ‘sexual roadblock’. But because they’d had a mutually pleasing sex life for years, they were increasingly anxious about expressing to their partner a newfound dissatisfaction or desire for change. Therapy is a place that’s tailor-made for starting conversations like these. If you’re a couple that’s looking to stay in shape and enjoy sex even as you age, a qualified sex therapist can help you develop habits of talking (and acting!) that may seem foreign but that will eventually become second-nature, leading to, of course, better sex, but most importantly, closer and more satisfying relationships.

So, if you’re thinking about starting therapy and have questions please reach out to me in the comments. Even if I can’t help you directly, I have lots of resources for your particular issues and in your area that I’d love to share.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Coconut Oil as a Lube?

The infamous coconut oil is back the news! I’m not a coconut oil hater, nor do I believe the hype that its gazillion benefits are all fluff. On the contrary, I love coconut oil and use it for many things, including face moisturizer, hair wash, cooking, body lotion, massage lotion, and (we’re all thinking it!) lube. At least, I used to use it for lube until I started receiving information that coconut oil could change the pH level of the vajayjay, causing infections like bacterial vaginosis (BV) or vaginal candidiasis. So, before continuing to use the CO (coconut oil) as a lube, I needed to find out more about its connection to medical issues. But there’s still plenty of sexual activity that doesn’t touch the
Coconut Oil as a Lube?
vajayjay. In fact, the funniest story I have about lube has to do with a hand job.

That’s One for the Record Books

When I first caught on that coconut oil could be used as a lube, I was all about personal product testing. Around the time I started testing the CO, I had a new partner. As much as I’d like to think my skills at pleasing a man were in the Einstein levels of expertise, I don’t think I can take all the credit. Unbeknownst to this new partner, I pull out the CO and start testing my skills. With the look on his face, you would have thought a harem of porn stars had descended on him! By the time it was all over (and I mean all over everything), his rate of breath probably compared to Usain Bolt running for Olympic Gold! That's one for the books, IMO, though should we use coconut oil as a lube is the next question?

What the Studies Say

Coconut Oil as a Lube?Now, is the coconut oil hazardous to the lady parts? A 2013 study by Brown, et al., for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists sought to “estimate the frequency, distribution, and consistency of vaginal and rectal practices and products and their association with reproductive tract infections…” and the reported primary objective to “…estimate the risk of bacterial vaginosis and vaginal candidiasis in relation to intravaginal practices.” In other words, the researchers wanted to determine whether and how the products we use sexually create medical issues, including vaginal infections. Keep in mind that this study did not specifically focus on coconut oil, but rather on a variety of products, including vaginal washing, petroleum jelly, lubes, and oils in general. Also note that that only 141 women of various ethnic backgrounds enrolled and completed the study (Brown, et al). Although a significant number of women, about the size of a small wedding, this is an extremely small sample size compared to the number of women in the United States, much less the world.

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Coconut Oil as a Lube?

The study found that lubricants in general “…did not find an increased risk for bacterial vaginosis among women reporting intravaginal insertion of commercial lubricants or oils.” On the other hand, the study did find a potential increase in Candida with the use of oils. Now, before you start throwing out all the CO in your home, keep in mind that vaginal infections or discomforts have many sources that can change the pH level of the vagina. This includes semen, soaps, or other existing medical conditions. If you do have vaginal symptoms, first check with your doctors for a diagnosis and treatment. I also suggest eliminating products used in the vaginal area and slowly adding one at a time back into your routine. This approach will help you and your doctor determine the possible cause of the symptoms. Coconut oil may not be the cause, but it could be a contributing factor. When you add the CO back into your routine and notice a return of or increase in symptoms, this may indicate your vajayjay does not welcome the oil into its sacred space. But, just as my partner would attest, it doesn’t mean you can’t find other uses for it!

No matter your decision about coconut oil as a lube, I highly recommend my affiliate, AloeCadabra, for other safe lubricant options. Check out pina colada for added flavor and fun or peppermint for just the right amount of tingle. Extra sensitive skin? No worries! They have unflavored as well! For an extra bonus, use code AFGETER at check out for free shipping and 25% off your purchase!


Brown, J. M., PhD, MPH, Hess, K. L., PhD, MPH, Brown, S., MD, Murphy, C., PGDip, Waldman, A. L., MPH, & Hezareh, M., PhD. (2013). Intravaginal Practices and Risk of Bacterial Vaginosis and Candidiasis Infection Among a Cohort of Women in the United States. Obstetrics and Gynecology,121(4), 773-780.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Why Women Don't Respond: Insults Part 2

My last post discussed how insults are one reason why women don’t respond to online messages. I shared my experience with Anthony. While Anthony was lucky enough to at least get a few hours of conversation, “Heisaswellguy” didn’t even get a response, as my immediate reaction to him was, “Girl! Run, run far away!”

Are You Not Aware How Unbecoming that Sounds?

In my experience seeking men (I’m curious if this happens for those seeking women?). I’ve never been more impatient than I have been lately. Countless times, men sent multiple messages if I did not respond immediately. Not only am I talking about a guy who apparently forgot that he messaged me
Why Women Don't Respond: Insults Part 2
Credit: ImageryMajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos
(that’s another post in itself) in the past, but I’m also talking about the men who can’t wait an hour before needing to remind me to respond. So, I added a statement in my profile that men who send more than one message will not get a response. It’s annoying, to say the least. Plus, it gives insight into lack of empathy or understanding that I am doing other things with my life than sitting around waiting for a man to message me. From the female perspective, it makes me question if this man will need an immediate response while dating or in a long term relationship?

Well, “Heisaswellguy” took offense to this and shared his thoughts with me:

“Regarding your last bit, are you not aware how unbecoming that sounds? If you aren't interested in a guy, simply tell him so instead of leaving him wondering, then eventually blocking him. Your entire profile screams mature, then you ruin it with that last line. You're in mental health, you should know that fucks with guys' heads in a way that isn't healthy.”

BOO! You Can't Ghost a Stranger

Why Women Don't Respond: Insults Part 2
Credit: Photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos

Sir, if I got a dollar for every man who sent a message and I was not interested, I’d get paid vacations Hey. Thanks for calling and leaving me a message though I think I’m going to pass on your service today.” Not responding to a complete stranger is not the same as ghosting a person with whom you formed an emotional connection. And more importantly, if you don’t like my profile, here’s an idea: don’t reply! Instead of assuming that I don’t understand what I wrote, why not try respecting me enough to take my words at face value. It doesn’t surprise me that with an attitude like that “Heisaswellguy” found himself reminding lots of women that they’d ‘forgotten’ to reply to him.
throughout the year! Would you call back every telemarketer to say, “
Why Women Don't Respond: Insults Part 2
Credit: cuteimage at FreeDigitalPhotos

When I first started online dating, I often took the time to respond, “Hey, thanks for showing interest, but no thanks.” But what else is the point of a semi-anonymous dating app if not for this kind of low-stakes window shopping? Constantly responding became overwhelming, and I spent more time ‘being nice’ than connecting with a man I was interested in. Also, if the guy does send a genuinely nice message and not just a “Hey,” I have to respond thanking him for the kind message though declining his invitation to further chat.

Don’t miss any of Courtney’s dating adventures or other advice about sex, love, and life! Subscribe now to get the latest posts sent to your mailbox!

Do you have a story where you were insulted by an online date? Share below! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

How Therapy Benefits Emotional and Sexual Growth in Young Adults

A lot of anxiety and hesitation about beginning therapy is connected to a social stigma that expresses itself differently at different times in our lives but has a similar theme: “I should be ‘over’ this by now.” This sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. Because each of our psychological profiles is literally unique, there’s no time that’s too late to begin therapy; that’s like saying, “It’s too late to start exercising”. Not only does this sentiment lead people to delay seeking a therapist or ending therapy prematurely, but it also prevents people from solving problems in their lives. This delay can often lead to those problems getting worse.

For the next few weeks, I’m going to post about why starting therapy is beneficial for emotional and sexual growth at different stages of life, roughly defined by decade. So don’t worry: we’ll get to your age group soon! And if any of these situations describe you, feel free to speak out in the comments or to reach out to me personally. Without further ado, continue reading to find out how therapy benefits emotional and sexual growth especially during the 20s.

How Therapy Benefits Emotional and Sexual Growth in Young Adults
Erik Erikson

The Twenties

During our late teens and early 20s, we begin to separate from our family and primary caregivers – we become our own individual people. According to Erik Erikson’s paradigmatic psychological model, we begin establishing our autonomy between 18 months and 3 years of age, and it is a process that continues as we become more psychologically mature, through adolescence and early adulthood. We might call this process ‘differentiation’, where we come to see ourselves as different from our families though still part of them.

It's Time to Fly! Wait...Don't Let Go!

In family systems therapy, I view differentiation as creating physical and emotional independence while remaining part of a family system. As we grow and as our parents become conscious of our separating, it can be a difficult time for both parents and children, leading to conflict especially between parents and teenagers. The negative effects are especially notable in unhealthy family systems with poor boundaries. A healthy family system allows this process to naturally occur and its members are individually supportive of the process. An unhealthy system, such as one with poor physical and emotional boundaries, will try to prevent the process, leading to stunted emotional growth for children and unresolved conflicts. Unresolved conflicts and resentments between parents and children can last decades and have effects that are difficult to predict.

Therapy benefits emotional and sexual growth of children raised with healthy or unhealthy differentiation systems. But in either case, it can be vital to seek therapy in your 20s, because the
How Therapy Benefits Emotional and Sexual Growth in Young Adults
process of differentiation often hasn’t ended yet, meaning that there is still time to improve how it concludes. For children from healthier family systems, this can mean working on communication techniques that allow children at the last stages of dependency on parents to transition to an adult-adult communication pattern that can be especially difficult for any family to master. Children from less healthy family systems often benefit from deeper psycho-analytic insights into why they continue to have significant conflicts with their parents, and why some of these conflicts may have negative effects in seemingly unrelated parts of their lives.

Leaving the Nest (and have Great Sex!)

How Therapy Benefits Emotional and Sexual Growth in Young AdultsEmotional development and maturation in adolescence is related to physical and sexual development, as well, all of which is complicated by significant changes in our social, romantic, and sexual lives in our 20s. Sexual development begins during infancy through exploration of the body through touch. Infants and babies also explore other people's bodies through touch as well. However, the shame and stigma associated with sexual development could stunt the growth of a sexual identity or create confusion in early adulthood, an issue (not surprisingly) related to how families discuss and think about sexuality. I work with many clients experiencing anxiety or confusion around sexual identity. Many of these clients are in relationships or marriages that are unconsummated or sexless due to lack of understanding the self, how to communicate about sex with others including a partner or spouse, and/or differing ideas and preferences about sexual activity. This is, yet, another reason how therapy benefits emotional and sexual growth.

Whether you come from a healthy or unhealthy family system, therapy in your 20s can support your growth as functioning adult and help you recognize the impact of your family on your growth and relationships with others. The therapeutic work is different depending on each family, but this shouldn’t surprise you. Just like no two individuals are exactly alike, no two families are exactly alike either. Therapy can help you determine just how your family has helped (and hindered!) your growth, and how you’d like that process to continue into adulthood.

Did therapy in your 20s help your life track? Wish you had therapy in your 20s and didn't? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments!

Check out Part 2 of the Therapy Through the Decades series, Now, It's Time to Learn to Adult: How the 30th Birthday Changes Everything

Now, It's Time to Learn to Adult: How the 30th Birthday Changes Everything

For many of us, our 30s is the time of life when we realize that adulthood is forever and that childhood is never coming back. It hits us that, now, it's time to learn to adult and that 30th birthday changed everything! The inevitable and frantic question that follows is: What the f*ck to do?! Most of us start families in our 30s, enter more stable careers and housing situations, and watch our parents begin to age. And while the uncertainty and freedom of the 20s shifts into stability, the 30s bring new worries: financial savings, marriage and family planning, career fulfillment, physical fitness, and the more general worry of “life satisfaction”. These new difficulties can add new stresses, straining physical and mental health, as well as the health of relationships, and dealing with these difficulties proactively is where therapy can help.

The Thirties: A Whole New World

The beginning of physical ailments is an inescapable part of aging and many of the ‘symptoms’
Now, It's Time to Learn to Adult: How the 30th Birthday Changes Everything
Taking care of your body is also taking care of your sex life!
begin in the 30s. You may notice that you can’t keep off or shed the pounds as easily as you used to. A softball game or long run may leave those knees aching in a way you weren’t expecting. And our sex lives begin to change as well: some of us notice decreased (or increased!) sexual appetites or longevity, sex in long-term relationships may begin to feel a little stale, and sex after childbirth – don’t get me started! A good sex therapist (like yours truly!) can help you and your partner talk through your ‘new’ desires and sexual attitudes and develop routines in a way that feels comfortable for you both. This can work in tandem with physical fitness therapy or simply a concerted workout regimen to help you (and your partner!) performing your best, for years to come.

Therapy: The Manual to Surviving the 30s

Physical changes aren’t the only thing you can work on in therapy. In general, a good therapist can help you talk any of the issues I’ve mentioned so far: how children can change a marriage or relationship so you’ll know what’s coming and how to plan for it, or how the decision not to have children can have stresses (and joys) of its own. One of the benefits of growth in the therapy profession is that there are therapists for many specialized types of issues. So, if you’d like to change your financial or professional habits—you’d like to actually start saving, you’d like to begin to set and meet savings goals, or you’d like to reconsider your career decisions—plenty of therapists specialize in these areas and address them specifically.

I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can...I KNOW I Can!

Now, It's Time to Learn to Adult: How the 30th Birthday Changes EverythingFinally, family relationships, in general, are always changing, and one of the most salient parts of moving into our 30s is how we begin to notice roles changing in families. Many couples are getting divorced at older ages, and while we often celebrate the new adventures that parents get to have who might once have felt ‘trapped’ by social conventions, we overlook that divorces like these can wreak havoc on the children, even if children are in their 30s. Inevitably, life changes for parents like this will cause feelings in the adult children, and having a therapist with whom you can address those feelings is invaluable. Another change is that, as our parents begin to age, our own family roles change: we may take on new family responsibilities, leadership, and even care-taking and end-of-life planning. A good family therapist can help families begin to work through these concerns, and even when families resist attending as a group, an individual therapist can help you work on communication strategies that make these transitions smoother and more stress-free for everyone.

You just read Part 2 of my therapy through the decades series. Don't forget to check out Part 1, How Therapy Benefits Emotional and Sexual Growth in Young Adults

What were the thirties like for you? Share your life changing story from your 30s in the comments below!