I don’t claim familiarity with every cool sexuality product, organization, and site, but here are my personal favorites. If you know of others, please contact me and I’ll consider adding them.
Many fine lubricants are available over the counter at drugstores, but my favorite is Astroglide. It’s sensually slippery, water-based, not messy, and has a pleasant, subtle fragrance. Sexual lubricants are safe and inexpensive, and they instantly make lovemaking more comfortable and enjoyable at any age. For more on lubes, read my article, The Slippery Secret of Sensational Sex.
You can also get a FREE sample of Astroglide, here.
This lube-like gel does more for women than just lubricate lovemaking. Developed by a research pharmacist, its herbal ingredients make the clitoris a little more sensitive to erotic touch. The ingredients (borage seed oil, evening primrose oil, angelica root, and coleus extract) are rich in gamma-linolenic acid, which increases the skin’s synthesis of prostaglandin E1, which improves genital blood flow and nerve conduction. In the one study to date, 20 women used either a placebo or Zestra, and kept diaries of their reactions. Zestra significantly increased their arousal, genital sensation, sexual pleasure, and enjoyment of orgasm (Ferguson, D.M. et al. “Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Crossover Trial of the Efficacy and Safety of Zestra…,” Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy (2003) 29(s):33–44). “I’ve recommended Zestra to many patients,” says Chicago area gynecologist Elizabeth Baron-Kuhn, M.D. “In my experience, it works. It helps women have more enjoyable sex.” Check out Zestrahere.
Dozens of companies market sex toys, but my favorite is MyPleasure.com. The site is friendly, well organized, easy to navigate, and price-competitive with other toy marketers. But unlike most other toy sites, MyPleasure was founded by a sex therapist, Sandor Gardos, Ph.D., and the site contains a wealth of solid sex information—dozens of informative articles about sex toys and lovemaking. That’s why it’s GreatSexAfter40.com’s sex toy affiliate. Visit MyPleasure.com.
Film & Video
This is the best source of non-porn sexuality videos. Sex educator Mark Shoen, Ph.D. began producing sexual health films in 1974. Since then, he has produced 50 films and videos. His site offers all of his programs plus 200 more by other producers. Some are historical (interviews with Alfred Kinsey and Dr. Ruth). Others are amusing (instructional films from the 1950s on dating and marriage). Some are medical (sexual anatomy). Others deal with sexual preference and gender issues. And some are explicit and sensual but non-pornographic (“A Heterosexuals Guide to Sexual Pleasure”). Subscriptions allow access to all films starting at $14.99. Visit SexSmartFilms.com.
More than 25 years ago, X-rated actress Candida Royalle got sick of mainstream porn’s indifference to women’s erotic sensibilities. To remedy this, she launched Femme Productions and has produced 20 X-rated features that, compared with mainstream porn, include more playfulness, more developed relationships, and greater attention to women’s erotic needs. Femme videos are inspired by mainstream porn and use porn actors, so they have a porn feel, but they’re considerably more woman-friendly. Some women may object to Femme videos, but studies show that women clearly prefer them to standard porn. University of Connecticut researchers showed 395 college students (200 men, 195 women) either standard porn or Femme videos. Most men said they found mainstream porn and Femme videos equally arousing. However, by a considerable margin, the women preferred the Femme programs—and reported more lovemaking afterward. Visit candidaroyalle.com.
Ancient Secrets of the Kama Sutra: The Classic Art of Lovemaking
Produced with the help of noted Los Angeles sexologist Patti Britton, Ph.D., this 60-minute, lavishly erotic tour de force is a sensual, pulse-quickening take on the ancient Indian Kama Sutra’s eight stages of lovemaking: preparation (bathing), massage, ambiance (candlelight, music, etc.), seduction (undressing), kissing, lingual love (oral sex), intercourse (many positions), and union (spiritual merging during afterglow). Each of the eight stages is enthusiastically acted out by attractive, sexy lovers who are clearly enjoying themselves. Unlike porn and many instructional sex videos, Ancient Secrets of the Kama Sutra is beautiful to watch, a unique work of video art that combines education and entertainment in a loving, arousing package. For more on Ancient Secrets of the Kama Sutra, click here.
Erotic Massage Book and Video
Great sex requires sensuality, notably whole-body massage. Every square inch of the body is a sensual playground and whole-body massage makes genital sexuality feel all the more erotic and fulfilling. This book and video are a wonderful introduction to sensual massage—everything from a basic back rub to advanced genital fondling. The video and illustrated book complement one another. Together they teach lovers the art of intimate communication through the language of touch. Use the Erotic Massage Book and Video during a romantic weekend getaway, or any time you’re interested in extended sensual togetherness.
The “Oh” in Ohio
This obscure little independent feature film (with Parker Posey, Liza Minelli, and Danny DeVito) is the best vibrator-promoting movie ever. If your lover is reluctant to incorporate sex toys into your lovemaking, there’s an excellent chance The “Oh” in Ohio will turn things around. Cleveland ad executive Priscilla Chase (Posey) has a great job and a decent marriage, but she’s never had an orgasm. A friend assures her she can. Priscilla consults a women’s sexuality guru (Minnelli playing noted sex educator Betty Dodson), discovers vibrators, and starts enjoying “ohs” whenever she can, including at the most hilarious business presentation you’ll ever see. Sexological purists will find plenty to criticize, but as far as promoting sex toys is concerned, this romantic comedy is second to none. Mike says two thumbs up! To buy the DVD, click here.
Marie and Jack: A Hardcore Love Story
Pornography has become the leading sex educator of men, and it’s so internally consistent that many men think porn-style lovemaking is the way sex should proceed. Enter Marie and Jack, a married couple who are both porn actors. They speak from the heart about the MAJOR differences between what they call professional vs. personal sex. Their professional sex is standard porn—piston-like penises and women whose only jobs are to open their mouths and legs. But at home, their personal lovemaking is very different, much more playful and sensual, with more whole-body massage and much less genital fixation. This eye-opening film clearly shows that in their real lives, not even porn actors have the kind of sex that’s depicted in porn. Here’s the link: Marie and Jack: A Hardcore Love Story.
Hope Springs: A Comedy That Takes Older Sex and Sexless Marriage Seriously
In Hope Springs, Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) are a mid-sixties Omaha couple who never discuss their relationship, sleep in separate bedrooms, and can’t recall the last time they had sex. Kay wants to change that, and drags her reluctant husband to a marital/sex therapist (Steve Carell). Neither older sex nor sexless marriage get much media attention, but many studies show that most older adults want to remain sexually active, and that about 5 percent of couples— one in twenty—rarely or ever do it.
Kay’s longing for renewed intimacy—both physical and emotional—is achingly poignant. Arnold’s reluctance to rock their boat also rings true. And Carell plays the therapist realistically and compassionately. The script maintains a light touch, but clearly depicts what it’s like to fall deep into a marital rut and the difficulties of climbing out. But Hope Springs is much more than a case study for therapists-in-training. It’s a delightful comedy with scenes that are laugh-out-loud funny.
No matter how old you are or how frequently in infrequently you have sex, Hope Springs provides emotionally nourishing food for thought. It’s funny and tender, poignant and profound—and it accomplishes something no other Hollywood film has ever dared. It uses comedy to take marital sex problems seriously.
Erotic Games for Couples
The Info Library contains articles on my two favorite games, An Enchanting Evening, and Wildly Sexy Dares. The makers of the former, a husband and wife, have also created several other relationship-enhancing games, among them: To Know You Better, which helps dating couples learn more about one another; Fan the Flames, which helps preserve the freshness and fun in long-term relationships; and Two to Tango, an ingenious wish box that helps introduce playful novelty (both in and out of bed) into long-term relationships. Check them out at TimeForTwo.com.
This site is a valuable online support group for men struggling with erectile dysfunction. The information is excellent. The chat room is supportive. And the treatment information is current and easy to understand. Most men with ED eventually accommodate to erection loss, and for those who choose to remain sexual, there are plenty of ways to make love—and enjoy marvelous orgasms—without an erection. But for men who have not yet adjusted or for those who would like to share their experiences, FrankTalk.org is a wonderful resource. FrankTalk.org
Isadora Alman, MFT, is a longtime couples and sex therapist who writes a sex Q&A column syndicated by a number of alternative weeklies around the country. Her site is a rich source of sexuality information and advice. It includes an archive of all her columns, an extensive list of sexuality resources, and the Q&A Forum featuring her insightful, often witty replies and the responses of her members. AskIsadora.com
About.com is the huge, encyclopedic site that helps people accomplish everything from dealing with acne to joining an African safari. It also includes a marvelous sexuality section written by Corey Silverberg, a sex educator certified by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists. Silverberg has compiled an enormous amount of solid, well-researched sex information and advice written in an engaging style. Sexuality.about.com
Naked at Our Age, and NakedAtOurAge.com This book and Web site are the marvelous work of senior sex expert Joan Price, who is also the author of an excellent previous book, Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After 60. She’s a journalist who writes with authority, sensitivity, enthusiasm, and refreshing frankness about sex after 60. She also fell madly in love at age 57, and enjoyed many years of marriage and great sex until her husband passed away. Her new book, Naked At Our Age, deals with every aspect of senior sex and features vignettes about older lovers and sage advice from two dozen psychologists and sex therapists. Her site includes blog posts, reviews, Q&A, and a great deal of additional information of interest to older lovers. Nakedatourage.com
Sexuality and Aging Consortium. This program is based at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. Widener is one of the leading training programs for sexologists and sex therapists, and its outstanding staff have created an information clearinghouse about sex and aging, and informative programs for older adults and professionals who deal with sex and aging. Sex and Aging Consortium.
MedHelp.org/forums/Sexuality-Relationships MedHelp.org/forums/Erection-Concerns These two wide-ranging Q&A forums are moderated by Janice Epp, Ph.D., a sexologist, teacher, and sex therapist affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. Epp answers questions succinctly, knowledgeably, and sensitively. medhelp.org/sexuality-relationships and medhelp.org/forums/erection-concerns
EDGuider.com This site is devoted to erectile dysfunction and how to cope with it. In addition to valuable information, it also links to Internet pharmacies that sell erection medications—the real drugs, not the fakes that many sites offer. EDGuider only lists pharmacies in the U.S. and makes sure they are trustworthy before listing them. Edguider.com
American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR), and the American Board of Sexology (ABS)
For people with mild to moderately problematic sexual issues, studies show that self-help materials including the kind of information/counseling I provide here help about two-thirds of people. But about one-third of sex problems require one-on-one sex therapy, which, studies show, helps about two-thirds of clients. Sex therapists practice in every major metropolitan area. For more on how sex therapy works, read my article, An Intimate Guide to Sex Therapy. These three sites both offer directories of sex therapists in the U.S., Canada, China, UK, India, Israel, Italy, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. Visit aasect.org or sstarnet.org, or americanboardofsexology.com.
Gina Ogden’s Expanding Sex Therapy. I’ve known and admired Cambridge, Massachusetts, sex therapist Gina Ogden for many years. Her approach is compassionate, woman-oriented, and more spiritual than most other sexologists. Her books are thought-provoking and relationship-enhancing. And she’s a sweet, down-to-earth person. If you’re interested in a more spiritual approach to sex therapy, check out her site.
If you’re interested in sexual civil rights, consenting adults’ right to play as they wish, this is the e-newsletter for you. Published by noted sex therapists Marty Klein, Ph.D,, author of America’s War on Sex and other books, SexualIntelligence.com keeps you current on a broad range of sexual-political issues. Visit SexualIntelligence.org.
Radio is a terrific medium for sexual issues because: Listeners can ask questions anonymously. Some hosts are very knowledgeable. Talk radio is open to a broad range of sexual topics. And compared with television, radio allows sexual issues to be discussed much more frankly. Here are my favorite shows:
- Sexy Stuff, hosted by sex therapist Lori Buckley, Ph.D, and Mark Phelan. This show is broadcast on LA Talk Radio, but if you’re not in the Los Angeles area, all the programs can be heard to over the Internet through iTunes.
- The Tiffany Granath Show on Playboy Radio Sirius/XM.
- Sex in Our Cities, hosted by Dona Caine Francis, N.P. (and sex therapist) and Robin Potter Kimball, RN.
- Love, Lust, and Laughter. This informative, entertaining program weekly on Internet radio is hosted by Diana Wiley, Ph.D., a prominent sex therapist.
There are dozens of great sexuality books, with more released every year. This list is idiosyncratic, but these books are among those I recommend:
- Porn for Women by the Cambridge Women’s Pornography Collective. Mainstream porn is a male sexual fantasy involving effortless sexual abundance without the burden of a relationship. I believe in freedom of fantasy, and if men want to use porn as a masturbation aid, that’s fine with me. Unfortunately, many men believe that porn-style sex is the way sex should proceed, that women like sex that way. Some do, but the vast majority do not. Men who believe mainstream porn is the way sex should be might realize the error of their ways by paging through Porn for Women, a collection of women’s erotic fantasies—photos of hunky bare-chested men who love to vacuum, and say things like, “Hey, tomorrow’s the Super Bowl. We should have no trouble parking at the crafts fair.” Hilarious and thought-provoking.
- The Big Book of Masturbation by Martha Cornog. Everyone has done it, and most people still do, even those in happy, long-term relationships. But few talk about it, and even fewer take it seriously as a subject for in-depth investigation. This book is a veritable encyclopedia of solo sex: its convoluted history, its psychology, sociology, and religious/legal implications, the enormous number of slang terms for it (dating Madame Hand, tiptoe through the two lips), its treatment in literature (from Samuel Pepys to Erica Jong), and cool limericks, including this one sent to botanist Luther Burbank in 1920: A prissy old maid named Miss Hannah/ Wrote Burbank a note in this manner/ “Could you spare a few hours/ From your shrubs and your flowers/ To breed a pulsating banana?”
- Becoming Orgasmic: A Sexual and Personal Growth Program for Women by Julia R. Heiman, Ph.D., and Joseph LoPiccolo, Ph.D. This is THE book for women who have not learned how to have orgasms. It’s supportive and thorough—and the program it presents works, usually within a few months. The book has also been turned into an 84-minute DVD. For best results, read the book and see the video.
- Anal Pleasure and Health by Jack Morin, Ph.D. and The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women by Tristan Taormino. These are the best books on anal play. Morin is a respected sex therapist. Taormino is a lesbian journalist. Their books are the main sources for my article Anal Play Without Pain.
- Why We Love by Helen Fisher, Ph.D. Noted anthropologist Fisher investigates the fascinating neurochemistry of falling in love and long-term attachment. She makes this dry-sounding subject spring to life and sheds new light on the hormones and neurotransmitters that govern both falling madly in love and the comfortable attachment of being an old married couple. If you’ve ever agonized over feeling a strong attraction to one person while feeling committed to a relationship with someone else, this is the book for you. It’s the main source for my article, The Brain in Love.
- The Book of Love, Laughter, and Romance by Barbara and Michael Jonas. How can couples nurture the romantic spark in long-term relationships? The Jonases, creators of several great couple games (see above) include postcards in their products asking how their customers fan the flames of romance. They have received thousands of replies and turned them into this sweet book that’s full of simple, wonderful ideas for enjoying your honey’s romantic company. Romance is not about what you do, but rather, how you do it, how you invest energy in your relationship and make the other person feel special.
- The Clitoral Truth by Rebecca Chalker. The clitoris is more than the little nub nestled beneath the upper junction of the vaginal lips. Originally, the term referred to all of women’s sexual anatomy. Chalker discusses the fascinating history of the clitoris—how several ancient civilizations celebrated it, and how Victorian “science” denigrated and dismissed it until women rediscovered it in the 20th century. Eye-opening. This book is the main source for my article The Clitoris: New Insights.
- The Case of the Female Orgasm by Elisabeth A. Lloyd. This academic book explores why women evolved to have orgasms when they don’t seem necessary for species survival. But the book’s value to those interested in sex is its comprehensive investigation of 80 years of research dealing with women’s ability to experience orgasm during vaginal intercourse. Lloyd makes a strong case that only 25 percent of women are consistently orgasmic during intercourse, that 75 percent need direct clitoral stimulation. In other words, vaginal intercourse, while enjoyable is not the key to the vast majority of women’s sexual satisfaction, and the size of a man’s penis is less important than his ability to provide gentle, patient clitoral massage and cunnilingus. This book is the main source for my article The Most Important Sexual Statistic.
- The Technology of Orgasm by Rachel Maines. Written by a historian, this book explores the bizarre story of the invention of the vibrator by 19th century physicians who faced a parade of women complaining of “hysteria,” i.e. sexual frustration in an age when Victorians believed that women had no sexual feelings. Doctors treated hysteria by massaging women’s vulvas, i.e. by giving them hand jobs, which brought them to “paraoxysm” (orgasm). But so many women wanted the treatment that the poor doctors developed sore hands, and some enterprising physicians invented a machine to do the work for them. This book is the main source for my article, The Strange History of Vibrators.
- Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy by Sandra R. Leiblum, Ph.D. (ed.), Case Studies in Sex Therapy by Raymond C. Rosen, Ph.D. and Sandra R. Leiblum, Ph.D. (eds.), and Treating Sexual Desire Disorders by Sandra R. Leiblum, Ph.D. (ed.). These three books are foundation texts for people training to be sex therapists. For most people interested in having more fun in bed, they’re tough going, but for those interested in how sex therapists diagnose and treat sex problems, they’re invaluable.