Evelyn Resh

Sensual and sexual health and satisfaction for teens and adults

How much do you care about yourself?

dancing bodies-weight lossA very unfit and sexually underserved patient of mine recently told me that she had started exercising.  When I asked for details she said: I exercise 5 minutes a day now. My facial expression must have revealed my “Oh, please!” opinion as she quickly added: It’s more than I used to do! Well, not really. Being healthy, aging well, and remaining sexually engaged necessitates doing much more than a 5 min. work-out.
There are two important questions worth asking yourself on an on-going basis: How much do I care about myself and how important is it for me to be physically independent as I age? Giving short-shrift to either is destined to lead to two things: distant and diminished sexuality and an inability to get up off the toilet on your own long before you’re really old.
Embodying your flesh is essential to living and loving well. Thoughtful stewardship includes persistence with self-care practices which creates its own unique erotic charge.  Efforts towards improved health build self-confidence, which is the sexiest, most alluring thing of all.  Achieving this can only come from moving often and for extended periods of time in ways that challenge your heart, your muscles, and your will, eating foods that give you strength, AND pleasure, keeping company with kind and generous people, and being grateful for all you have in life. The specifics of these practices continuously evolve and shift as you change with age and increased self-insight.  But one thing remains the same: the more energy you expend on health the greater access you’ll have to emotional and physical pleasures – alone or with an intimate partner. There are so many times that I see patients whose health status and pleasure quotients are rock-bottom because their mantras are: Work. Eat whatever. Repeat. Little conscious thought goes in to how they’re treating themselves in the moment and what outcome will result in both the near and distant future.
Self-care practices are time consuming, tiring, not always enjoyable, and absolutely necessary if you want the most out of life. This is your body, your joy, your sexuality, your life. Don’t let them slip away.

If Sex is Boring, Maybe You Are Too…

couples
Clients 50 and older who come to me for sexuality counseling  with a chief complaint of decreased libido have often conclude before they arrive that their disinterest in sex is likely due to sexual ennui. This is especially the case if they’ve been in a long-term relationship. The assumption that the longer couples are together the more likely their sex life will be to lose its spark and appeal is a common misconception. In my way of thinking, when a person leads with: I have no interest in sex with my partner the first things I want to know are: Have you ever really enjoyed sex with him/her and, how have you changed as individuals and as a couple in the time you’ve been together?
A report of boring sex in the present is unlikely related to the longevity of the couple if great sex had been a part of their past. When I hear that someone is bored by their long-time mate it alerts me to look for signs and symptoms of stagnation in less obvious places, like the individuals themselves and/or the quality of their lives. Couples who have had good sexual chemistry from the get-go and maintain it over years are often individuals who embrace life’s challenges with more curiosity and resilience than fear and rigidity. When faced with disappointments and limitations they look for the lessons to be learned and are able to adapt by developing new and creative coping mechanisms. This is especially important as people age together. Those who still enjoy their sexual relationship tend to manage well with the duality of that was then and this is now. They don’t fall prey to melancholic revisiting of the past at the expense of experiencing joy in the present. And, when couples are sexually satisfied, occurrence rates are less likely to become an insurmountable sticking point.  The New Year is a great time for reflection.  If there is no siren song emanating from your boudoir, read this eblast over a few times and ask yourself these questions: What else am I feeling bored with and how have we both managed with life’s challenges?
If you need help finding the answers remember, I do house calls, work by phone and on SKYPE.

Class dismissed

resh nov. 2015

For the past two years, I have been amongst the many professionals in today’s workforce who have been forced back to the classroom, despite years of field experience, for a professional “upgrade.” I already had a Master’s Degree in Public Health, but insurance reimbursement for my billable services now hinges on my having a Master’s Degree in Nursing. OMG! After considerable thought, I obliged the almighty insurance companies and am now happy to report that I am done with school and liberated from academic assignments. This leaves me free to go back to spending my writing time pairing words and phrases with flare and wit instead of writing dry, factual content and substantiating it in APA format. With enthusiasm and a flight of ideas I arrived at my desk the other day only to find that my creative voice had been shushed for so long that I could barely hear it. Two years of writing papers for school had stolen my MoJo.  My creative and humorous pith had all but vanished. Faced with feelings of a loss of identity and a desperate need to relocate my sense of self as a writer, I decided to go back in time to my humble beginnings as an avid correspondent. My passion for writing letters to friends and family from a young age led to my love of writing in general. Eventually, personal writing turned into authorship and the rest is history. I do use email, of course, but people I meet and those I love have for years been randomly selected as recipients of notes and cards throughout the year.  I also remain amongst the stalwarts that send yearly holiday cards (sin the often uninteresting and tedious “family-update” letter) and Thank You  notes.  Recipients tell me I am a modern-day curio and that one day soon I will end up in a museum. Perhaps, but it is clear their commentary is heavily adorned with abiding appreciation for the “real mail” they receive from me.
Today and tomorrow I am off of work.  I have lovely sheets of vellum, beautiful cards, decorative stamps, and my address book next to me on my desk; a sensual feast for my eyes, hands, and heart. With a bit of luck, my writer’s voice will emerge one letter at a time and I will be back on track sooner than later.
Copyright E. Resh, 11/2015.

The teen is not the problem, it’s her mother..

Mesmother daughter2sages from mothers calling on behalf of their teen daughters are commonplace in my work day. Mother’s phone to report problems their daughters’ are having like irregular bleeding, nausea in pregnancy, and vaginal irritations. Many  are women I know as I was their midwife years ago when I delivered their daughters who are now my patients. This is sweet for me and brings my midwifery practice full-circle in a community I have been devoted to for over 20 years. But, regardless of history and the eternal bonds women forge through their childbearing experiences, having a conversation about someone’s symptoms and health via proxy is only reasonable if the patient is developmentally delayed or in a coma. When the patient is awake, sentient, and available after third period English I neither encourage nor recommend it. Further, pre-existing acquaintance with the midwife doesn’t give mothers a free pass on calling.

When I was a teenager, the last thing I would have wanted was my mother joining me in a discussion about birth control and sex – with anyone!  Nor would I have agreed to her calling my GYN practitioner with a related question.  Teens in my generation created as much distance between themselves and their parents where sex was concerned. And mothers helped by claiming their daughters were virginal until being proven otherwise when birth control packs accidentally fell out of their purses.  This approach had its drawbacks and share of bad outcomes.  But the pendulum has swung too far over to the other side now. Today’s  mothers believe it is necessary and normal to stay involved in every aspect of decision making when it comes to their daughter’s sexual health.  From my vantage point this is a serious mistake.

When a teen comes to see me for care – with or without her mother – I make it clear that she is my patient and my loyalty is to her first and foremost. I am her unyielding confidante and resource person, willing and capable of helping her safely explore her sexuality. I do not feel that the majority of sexually active teen girls I see are promiscuous or lack the capacity to make sound and informed choices. In fact, most girls understand and will follow my advice when given a chance to think it through. When mothers are in the exam room (instead of the waiting room), girls abdicate their power, won’t speak honestly with me, and become unmoored in their thinking. When mothers are so actively involved, I can’t help but wonder under what auspices – parent, friend, or envious (and sometimes) seething middle-age interloper?

When a teenager is sexually active her mother’s support and watchfulness is most helpful when maintained from a distance. Should a daughter tell her mother: I am having problems with my birth control then all that’s necessary is a suggestion: Sounds like you should give Evelyn a call. Expecting a daughter to call on her own behalf helps her practice self-advocacy skills, fosters a relationship with a health care provider, and conveys a mother’s confidence in her daughter’s abilities to make good decisions with advice from a reliable adviser. Last I knew this was what growing up was all about.

Sexuality has inherent risks for people of all ages – broken hearts, embarrassments, and method failures. This goes with the territory. At the risk of sounding glib, mothers should stay out of their daughter’s sex lives and foster their maturation by referring them back to their skilled health care provider. Keep the boundaries well-defined and suggest she put my office number on speed-dial.

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