With her wisdom and humility, joyful enthusiasm, and deep commitment as a caring professional, Dr. Ruth Westheimer displayed the stuff of stardom in two public appearances last month in Montreal, with not a hint of being a prima donna.
On CBC’s Radio Noon with Shawn Apel, and at two major public conferences, the German-born and New York based psychosexual therapist, TV personality, journalist and radio talk show host offered advice where she felt qualified, and in response to some queries, conceded she didn’t have an answer because the issue was beyond her scope.
On the radio and at a conference sponsored by the McGill Office for Science and Society – part of its Longing for Longevity program, – it was Sex After 50 that attracted much of the attention. She was interviewed again by Shawn Apel the
following evening, at the Sha’ar Hashomayim Synagogue on sex and Judaism.
Her advice is down-to-earth and easy to follow.
She advises older couples to have sex in the morning because that’s when an older man has a stronger erection: “Go to the bathroom, have a little breakfast – not too much – get back into bed for sex. Testosterone levels for men are easiest in the morning, easier for him to have an erection. It’s good for the woman to have a night’s sleep. A man needs physical stimulation at an advanced age, either by himself or his partner.”
As for women, “it is very important to use lubrication because intercourse without it can be painful and then (the woman) says, ‘who needs it?’”
A single man in his ’50s says he’s alone and asks, “Is there hope?”
“There is always hope,” Dr. Ruth replies, and suggests that until he finds a partner he likes, he should masturbate while thinking of an enjoyable experience. Then he should go out to a bar, a lecture, or a concert. “If you find somebody, start a conversation.”
On female orgasms Dr. Ruth advises: “There is no number. Many women need a longer time to achieve orgasmic response and they have to be patient.”
To an older female caller who can’t have an orgasm, she suggests her male partner use a vibrator around her clitoris before he ejaculates and if he can’t do it, she should do it herself. If that doesn’t work, she should seek professional help.
Should you listen to music during sex? No… with an amendment. “Concentrate on the sensations during sex and your partner. However, if the two of you are hooked on music, use it. Don’t make it a tragic or sad song, like ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane,’ but a love song is good.”
On the G Spot: “No such thing exists, according to science. Some women are a bit more sensitive in certain spots in the vagina. Stop looking for the G Spot!”
Is it normal for a woman to have a very low sex drive? “See a gynecologist. Perhaps this has nothing to do with sex, perhaps not enough
lubrication in the vagina. The gynecologist might suggest masturbation while reading or watching something erotic.”
To a woman who asked how to handle men who say that sexually speaking she’s too needy or intense and about the long-term effect of having multiple sexual partners, Dr. Ruth says that she would never say it has a negative effect. While those who are traditional believe the best route is to get married, to have a partner and children, “not everybody thinks that way. People are different. It would be good to find a partner who understands your needs, and most important not have an unintended pregnancy.”
“The most important thing is to have a partner that smiles when you walk into the room, partner that waits for you, that you know you can rely on.” But she concedes she is “old fashioned and square” and that not everybody wants to be married. Her hope is that the sex life cements the relationship.
On dating apps: She approves because “I don’t want people to be lonely. I want people to have a partner. Use the name on the app, but never meet in a secluded place, meet in a public place so that if you meet somebody and you see that you are not interested, you can use a white lie. You can suddenly develop a headache or say you have some work to do.”
To an older woman who is alone, she suggested buying a vibrator, using it, and then going out to a concert or play and inviting someone who interests her to have a coffee. “But you have to be prepared for someone who will say no. You can’t sit in your living room waiting for a white knight to appear.”
How about Viagra for a 67-year-old? “I warn never to use Viagra or any of the other sex pills without a doctor’s prescription, because there could be other reasons for not obtaining or maintaining an erection.” She added that maintaining a healthy and mutually enriching relationship with a partner is much more than having a good erection.
Sex with a new partner you don’t know much about? “Use a condom!”
To a woman whose husband has lost interest in sex: “Make an appointment for both of you to see a urologist — because there might be a physical problem. Make sure the two of you take time.”