Dr. Amie Harwick, MFT

Bio:
Dr. Amie Harwick, MFT is a licensed psychotherapist that specializes in issues related to sexuality. She is the author of The New Sex Bible for Women and is in private practice in West Hollywood, CA. You can reach her on her site www.DrAmieHarwick.com, or on social media @dramieharwick.

Ego Boost Q&A Session 1

1. Q: I am in my early 30s and I have started to occasionally experience inability to obtain and maintain an erection during sex with my girlfriend. I’m worried. Should I consider Viagra?

A: Erectile dysfunction, also called ED, is the inability to get and maintain an erection during sex. You are not alone in experiencing this, as about 40% of men struggle with ED at some point in their life. There are a range of causes for ED spanning from simply aging to psychological disorders. First, it is important to note that while culture and media reinforces that the role of a man is to be sex machine, or ready and willing to have sex with an erect penis at all times, that is simply not possible.  Just as women struggle with cultural, media sexual ideals and expectations, so do men. The reality is that there is a natural ebb and flow of an erection. Throughout the course of one sexual act, a penis may vary in it’s hardness. When do you know if this is an issue to be concerned about? If ED has been troubling you for about 30 days, it is time to take a look further into its cause and possible treatment.  Not treating ED may result in a negative impact on one’s relationship by means of quality of intimacy, lower self esteem, and sexual avoidance.  The first line of defense is a trip to your general practitioner or urologist to rule out a biological or medical issue. Medical conditions that may cause ED include kidney failure, neurogenic disorders, diabetes and issues with blood pressure. ED may also be impacted by the use of certain medications, including anti-depressants. Sometimes a prescription change can help decease difficulties with ED.  Once a medical issue is ruled out by a doctor, then we can look at both psychological and lifestyle factors. Psychological factors that may impact ED include anxiety and depression. Many men feel worry or fear about their sexual performance, body image, or have other thoughts about sexuality that make it difficult for them to focus on the moment with their partner. Seeking out a therapist that is sex positive may help you explore your ideas and beliefs about intimacy and the role an erection has in your sexuality or relationship.  Lifestyle factors that can play a role in ED include smoking, excessive drinking, and even eating habits. 

So don’t  worry yet, that might just add to the problem. Get checked out by your doctor, address your stress, and choose some healthier habits.

2. Q: My girlfriend asked me recently to spank her during sex. I am not opposed to it, but I want to make sure that it is sexy. What is the best way to do this?

A: One of the best ways to make sex more fun is adding in a little kink. Spanking can range from a casual slap on the butt to involved role-play of domestic discipline. The best sexual tool is communication. Your girlfriend communicated to you that she wanted to be spanked. You are a fortunate guy to date a woman that can verbalize what she wants as this will only make the sex better and more fulfilling for both parties. You can return the favor with asking her what exactly she means when she says spanking. Does she want a firm spank during sex? Does she want to be told that she is “bad” or “naughty”? Ask her how firm and how much she wants. Ask her to tell you her spanking fantasy. This can play into the eroticism that you share together and will also let you know what her expectations are.

Here are some beginner tips on erotic spanking. First, make sure that the spanking is consensual. Talk before getting down to business about if and how she wants to be spanked. Second, give your hands and arms a once over. Make sure to remove jewelry and to file the nails down. Third, play up the anticipation. Bend her over your knee or put her in a position for spanking that is comfortable. Expose her rear and caress it while you tell her what you are going to do to her. When you make the move to spank her, go towards the lower and more fatty part of the buttocks. Spanking too close to the spine or hip may cause injury or pain. Start lighter and ask her to tell you if it feels good. Ask her if she wanted it harder. Listen to your partner closely and respect her sexual boundaries. After the spank, caress the area to show affection. If you want to advance your spanking techniques, you can check out some of the tools of the trade, such as whips, flogs, crops, and paddles.

3. Q: How long is too long to stare at a girl in public? I mean, I am sure most women try to look good, but I hear girls complaining about men staring at them, even if they have makeup on and a revealing outfit. Where does acceptable turn into creepy?

A: Staring at anyone too long anywhere can be creepy for any person. Despite how sexy a woman looks when she is out and about, you should never assume that she is inviting any type of interaction or attention. We are all attracted to beautiful things, so a glance is harmless. If you want to interact, try a glance and a smile. If the smile is returned, look again or approach her. If you want to initiate conversation, ask her how her day is going, or give her a respectful compliment. If she seems open and friendly, keep the interaction going. If she avoids eye contact, responds with one word answers, or doesn’t seem to be responsive, keep on moving.

4. Q: How do I tell my girlfriend to shave down there? I am not a fan of “bush” and we are in the 21st century.

A: Let’s  start by looking at why you are more attracted to a shaved look versus natural body hair.  Cultural norms, media, and even pornography encourage women to shave these days. Body hair, like other forms of grooming can become fashion. Decades ago, large amounts of pubic hair were viewed as sexy and somehow down the line, the razor was used more and more until a bad pubic mound was desired by many.

It wasn’t until around the 1940’s that women started trimming their pubic hair to accommodate bikinis and lower hemlines that started to appear. In fact, in 19th century Victorian England, hair, even pubic hair, was collected from one’s lover as a keepsake. While it is more common for younger women to trim their pubic hair to some extent, it is ultimately up to her how she wants to present her body. The pubic hair has a function, to protect the vaginal area. If considering the functions and history of pubic hair don’t sway you to embrace hair, then you may start a dialog with your partner about hair. Ask her what she likes about her body and her pubic hair. Maybe having the hair arouses her or adds to some type of stimulation that she enjoys. You can always suggest in a curious way that she experiment with a new technique. If so, be prepared to be turned down and be able to cope with accepting her the way that she is and the way that she chooses her body to look and feel.