Archive for the ‘Health and Body’ Category

Sex And OCD

In Dating, Health and Body, Mental Health, Sex on April 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Redefining fun, one move at a time.

Hi Yenta,

I have been with my boyfriend for nearly a year now, and it is better than I ever imagined a relationship could be. We live together, we have a cat, and we are both very happy. The problem is this: my OCD makes any type of sex impossible.

We are plenty intimate – we mostly pleasure each other by mutual masturbation – but I can’t even bear to be completely naked with him when we do this for fear of fluids. He is very patient and understanding, but I worry about how long that will last.

He wants to spend the rest of his life with me, but there is a very real possibility that it will be a very long time – if ever – before I am able to have sex, and I am afraid that he will eventually start to resent me for it. Is it possible to have a lasting romantic relationship without sex?

Thanks for your help!

-Keepin’ It Dry

Dear KID,

When you say “my OCD,” it sounds like, “my puppy,” or “ my favorite cat.”  If your OCD is held and coddled, it will snuggle you and remain with you.  I don’t know where you are in your healing process, but I encourage you to challenge your OCD threshold.

That is to say, how far can your disorder go until it runs your life?  Phobias are real, OCD is real, anxiety is real: but human beings have an even realer capacity for healing.  With proper time, care and attention one can reverse, or at least lessen these types of discomforts.

If you have not already tried, perhaps begin first by thinking outside the therapy box, and later, outside the sexual box.   Ie, instead of Psychiatry, dabble in the other healing arts for answers to your questions.  To every thing there is a season, and to every ailment, there is a root. Working with an acupuncturist, a cognitive behavioral therapist, sex therapist, massage therapist,  sexual surrogate, shaman or even a regular psychologist or clinical social worker could begin to address your fears of fluids from a new angle.  Other ideas: doctor-monitored herbal remedies, yoga, meditation, and/or drastic changes in diet.

On the flip side, you could also take another route.  That is the route of acceptance.  This means accepting you will never sleep with your man in the traditionally anticipated way.  You worry about him, and I worry about you.  Are you selling yourself short sexually by so quickly giving your OCD free rein in the bedroom?

If not, maybe this is your threshold.  Maybe this sex, at all, is your triumph in which case I congratulate you.  And the truth is that yes, sexless relationships are possible.  Especially in your case, where you are actually having sex, just not intercourse.  A lifetime commitment to mutual masturbation has happened before and can be a phenomenal way to explore the less-known regions of sexuality and sexual pleasure.

Click here for details on enhancing sex without intercourse.  Everything from new forms of touch and activity, to using other senses and forms, like talking, smelling, etc as means of enhancing your bedroom delights.

Other reads:

Sex Without Intercourse by Gerda Mundinger, a book of anecdotes from real people on how they enjoyed each other without “doing it.”

Let Me Count The Ways: Sex Without Intercourse by Marty Klein, Ph.D. and Riki Robbins, Ph.D.

I am all for you committing to and celebrating a non-intercourse-having existence, as long as that celebration is not a way of quitting and selling yourself and your partner short before reaching towards healing your phobias.  Our bodies are limitless in the knowledge and secrets they hold, you might need to grin and bare it and begin (again) the arduous process of exploring the underside of your OCD.

Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge

yenta yenta yenta

He Eats Like A Pig

In Dating, Health and Body on April 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

When you kiss a man, you are eating his breakfast with him. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear Yenta,

I just started dating someone about a month ago.  I really like him, we make a great match in a lot of ways.  But there’s one way in which we really don’t match up: food.  I’m a vegetarian, who loves good healthy food.  Food isn’t just sustenance to me, it’s culture, its experimentation, it’s nurturance.  Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemma is one of my favorite books.  There isn’t a vegetable out there that I don’t love.  Cooking is a very important thing to me, and in other relationships it’s been an important part of my connection to the other person.

This guy is exactly the opposite.  Not only does he absolutely hate vegetables, he doesn’t even know how to identify some of the very basic ones.  He’s in his 30’s, but when we go out to dinner, he might as well order off the kids menu– he eats pizza, grilled cheese, hamburgers (no tomato, lettuce, pickles, or onions, of course) and cheese omelettes.  The only color other than white and yellow on his plate is the occasional ketchup to go with his french fries.  Even with beer we don’t match up– I’m always looking for a fun new microbrew or craft beer, and he rarely strays from Miller Light.

I know it sounds like a trivial thing, but this mismatch has actually been pretty challenging for me in our burgeoning relationship.  It’s obviously not just about the food itself, it’s an ideological thing.  Am I overreacting?  Should I try to convince him to start eating like an adult?  Sneak veggies into his food like you do with little kids?  Help, Yenta!


Dear Foodie,

There are a few key points here.  1) You have been dating a month and he already annoys you.  That is not fly.  Month one should be easy and blissful.  2) He eats like a child.  You are what you eat.  There is nothing burgeoning about this relationship.  Get out, and get out now.

I strongly believe that you can decode a great deal about a man based on how he tackles his plate.  Go to a quick-paced eatery and watch one day with a notebook in hand.  Look at how some men gobble, others slice and chew slowly, others eat in small piles or leave flung chunks of food across the plate or the table.  In the way a man approaches what he consumes, you can detect a great deal about his interior choices.

Ie, does he waste food?  Does he care where it comes from?  Is he connected to the world beyond himself, or is food a frenzy, a moment of need rather than a moment of gratitude, consciousness and connection? Also, remember that what we eat affects our temperament.  If he is eating Ramen noodles, his nutrition is low which means his emotional stability is not being fed.  This translates across the board.

This sounds judgemental and absurd, but it is just judgemental.  What are your values?  List them.  Figure out what you need your man to understand, appreciate, be connected to.  He might not have to be a vegetarian to be your lover, but perhaps a conscious eater?  And consciousness can come in a million forms.  This bozo sounds like he is stuck in a fourth grade mentality and it shows in his choice to eat Wonderbread instead of spelt.

I don’t understand why women think it is too much to want someone to be evolved.  That is your god-given right, and really your obligation for the sake of humanity and generations to come.  You must hold high standards and seek a man who has progressed beyond fourth grade because fourth graders cannot rise up and grow to the potential you have inside of you.

Leave him, maybe send him a cookbook, and seek a better man elsewhere.  There may be nothing seriously wrong with this particular guy, but there is plenty wrong with this particular guy when it comes to dating YOU.  You HAVE to be picky because you CAN be picky because you owe it to yourself and to your community to find a man who raises you up, or at the very least, meets you where you are.  Why on earth would you want to spend your good energy educating a child-man on how to eat vegetables when you could be exploring life eye to eye with a man of your caliber, discovering new things and expanding daily.

You didn’t learn to eat well for nothing.  You are an evolved woman.  Onwards and upwards!

Other books to send him off with:

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman

Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship With Food by Jan Chozen Bays

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser

Ask Yenta!  E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

10 Ways to Help Japan

In Health and Body, Mental Health on February 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

Lady Gaga designed this bracelet to raise funds. Buy one at

Here is a list of 10 organizations and causes working to bring relief to Japan. Give to one, give to all. Do what you can, hug a friend, donate a billion – whatever it is, I believe it will help.

1) Searching For Loved Ones

For any who have loved ones abroad, Google has stepped up to help. Along with a tsunami alert posted on its front page, Google has launched the Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake to help connect people that may have been displaced due to the disaster. Google has also launched a crisis response page filled with local resources and emergency information.

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens living or traveling in Japan should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 or 202 647-5225.

2) Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and The Jewish Federation
Click on the links above to donate online now. You may also give by mail or phone: For Joint Distribution Committee – Check payable to JDC, please specify the program name. Attn: JDC, P.O. Box 530, 132 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017, (212) 687-6200.

Re: Jewish Federation, to donate by check, please make the check out to The Jewish Federations of North America and clearly mark JFNA Japan, Hawaii and the Pacific Relief Fund on the bottom of the check. The check should be sent to: The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268

3) The American Red Cross and Save the Children

The Red Cross has already launched efforts in Japan. Visit or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone. On those rare occasions when donations exceed American Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters.

Save the Children has also responded.
The organization is currently organizing efforts and donations to its Children’s Emergency Fund will support outreach.

4) International Medical Corps

To donate or learn about other ways you can contribute to its medical response, visit
Also, text MED to 80888 from any mobile phone to give $10.


The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund was launched at to garner funds that will be given to a variety of relief organizations helping victims of the earthquake. It has already raised over $100,000, particularly from concerned Twitter users around the world.

6) Salvation Army

Salvation Army personnel are organizing efforts in Tokyo and will soon send a team to help the severely damaged city of Sendai, Japan.
To contribute to earthquake relief, text ‘JAPAN’ or ‘QUAKE’ to 80888 to make a $10 donation or visit designate gift for “Japan Earthquake/Tsunami”
By phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY – designate gift for “Japan Earthquake/Tsunami”

Or by mail: send your check marked “Japan Earthquake/Tsunami” to The Salvation Army World Service Office, International Relief Fund, PO Box 630728, Baltimore, MD 21263-0728.

At this time, The Salvation Army is not accepting in-kind donations from the general public disaster relief operations in Japan as it is extremely difficult and expensive to ship in-kind donations overseas from the United States to Japan. The best way for U.S. donors to help Japanese disaster survivors is to make a cash donation.

7) Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is sending two three-person teams to the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in Japan.
To learn more about the organization’s efforts or make a donation, visit

8 Operation USA

Along with an appeal for monetary donations, Operation USA has also announced efforts to collect bulk corporate donations of health care supplies. If you are interested in donating bulk medical items, visit

9) PayPal

Judy Chang, head of PayPal’s nonprofit group, announced that transactional fees incurred by money transfers to US 501(c)(3) organizations (or charities registered with the Canada Revenue Agency) between March 11 and April 10 will aid relief efforts in Japan.

10) AmeriCares, ShelterBox and MercyCorps

Other relief organizations are also sending representatives to disaster sites, including AmeriCares and Shelterbox. MercyCorps is gathering donations for its overseas partner, Peace Winds Japan, which currently has personnel on the ground distributing emergency relief in Japan.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

Going Down With A Dental Dam

In Dating, Health and Body, Sex on October 24, 2010 at 8:15 pm


After a 5-year relationship I recently got back out on the dating market.  I try to be a good lover and as far as I’m concerned that means going down on the women I sleep with. That being said I am concerned about the threat of contracting STD’s this way.  What can I do to protect myself?


Santa Fe, NM

Photo © Betsssssy from

Dear Bryan,

I adore this question.  Why?  Because you are the ideal American lover: you love pleasuring your women and are conscientious about health in the process, a wise New Mexican, indeed.  The bottom line: unprotected oral sex does put you at risk for STD’s and yes, there are ways to protect yourself.

Via oral genital contact you are widely at risk for contracting trichomaniasis, genital warts, gonorrhea (which can cause throat cancer when contracted in the mouth) and a mouthful of other diseases.  HPV and HIV are also both contractable by mouth, and are more so a risk if you or your partner has open wounds or if she is on her period.  Try not to go down on anyone if you have cold sores, bleeding gums, or even if you just brushed your teeth.  These conditions leave your mouth more vulnerable to disease.

What to do to protect, both front and back nether regions?  Use a dental dam.  Originally a square section of latex used as a dental fluid barrier device, the dental dam has evolved as a means of preventing STD’s during oral sex.  Buy at, online or in person at  Toys In Babeland, at local sex shops, the dentist, etc.  If you don’t want to buy one, you can make one with a condom (click here for instructions).  Allergic to latex?  Click here. Also, saran wrap, the NON-MICROWAVABLE kind, is an option.  This, however, unlike the other two latex options, is not a proven defense against HIV.

According to Scarleteen: Sex Ed For the Real World in a post titled “Ode to Saran Wrap:”

Saran wrap is the greatest thing ever. For just $3 one could safely lick 200 square feet of woman (or man or any combination of the two) without worry of bad tastes, pubes, or STDs.

HOWEVER, there are a few things to be mentioned:

1- LUBE, if you do not somehow lube the other side of the saran wrap dental dam it will crumple up into a little ball, but lube tastes bad so don’t get it on the side that you plan to lick. The easiest way to do this is to lube the area to be covered and then put the saran wrap on top of it.

2-SIZE, I have no idea how a condom cut open is supposed to even begin to be big enough to serve as a dental dam. Rip off a HUGE 1.5 to 2-foot section of saran wrap, stick the top of it to their body (lower stomach, lower back, whatever is handy) so that it doesn’t go anywhere (don’t put lube on this part either, otherwise it doesn’t stick)and smooth the rest of it down over their genitals and anus. There should be extra left over, things shift around, you may need it.

3-ADJUST, and readjust. As aforementioned, things shift around, so keep readjusting and holding, if possible, the edges of the saran wrap so that they stay covering that which you do no want in your mouth (get the other person to do this for you if possible, tell them you need to concentrate, and they’re not doing anything with their hands anyway).

Saran Wrap Dental Dam FAQ

Q. Doesn’t a dental dam get in the way?

A. NO. Absolutely not, not even a little, I swear.

Q. Really?

A. Yes, really. If you adequately lube the one side it will slip around and conform to every imaginable shape to fit every crevice you could possibly want to lick

Q. But what if I want to use my hands too and the dental dam really is inhibiting me?

A. Put on a glove, lube it so it doesn’t stick to the saran wrap, and reach under the dental dam.

Also, as gleaned from the advice of a Jerusalem lesbian Tzaddik:

The transition to safe sexual practice can be awkward, it is up to you to make it sexy.  In the process just be careful that a dental dam doesn’t slip.  It is all about the positioning and how you hold it.  Hold it with one hand, spread over the area, and then give the person head.  But I found that if I let go of the dam, I would get really into it and it would slip really easily.”

At that point, just a note, you are exposed to everything you had been protecting against.  It only takes a little contact to put you at risk for a lifetime of disease, so, if you haven’t been tested and aren’t certain of monogamy, practice before you plunge.

A final word on STD testing:

“When it comes to sex that’s the place where people tend to lie the most.  Not maliciously, but so much shame is often involved around sex, it’s often easier to lie about it and not tell the truth.  Even if in a relationship and I totally trust the person, I am going to err on the side of caution.

Even with a trustworthy person, people lie about things.  I am not going to put myself at risk based on the possibility that they may be telling the truth, I am going presume they are lying just to be safe.  Not only that, but sometimes a test is taken too soon, symptoms don’t show, etc.  Even a negative test can later show up positive.”

The moral of the story?  Saran wrap, a dental dam or a carefully crafted condom, some lube, a lover, your mouth, a long night and everyone is safe, happy and satisfied.  And remember, all of the above also applies to rim jobs.  Happy trails.

Ask yenta anything. Click here.

Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge

She Comes All Day Long

In Dating, Health and Body, Sex on June 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm

What's this crazy pleasure all about!? Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Hey Yenta,

My girlfriend comes so much.  I never know when it is enough.  I am happy she enjoys herself, but it feels like I could make her keep going for days.  How do I know when she is satisfied if she has nearly ten orgasms each time we get it on?

-Gifted in Bed?

Dear GIB,

Ah, yes, the secret age-old dilemma of the multiple-orgasming partner.  Men have, on rare occasion, come to me asking this same question with concern.  Why?  Because we focus so much on the possibility that a woman can’t come, that it seems almost baffling when she comes so hard and so long.

Multiple orgasms aren’t always what they seem.  Often they are a retriggering of a plateau of pleasure in quick succession, so that the orgasm, already brought into being, is retriggered again and again.  For some this is amazing, and for others just one mind-blowing orgasm does the trick.  Whatever floats her boat.

I can actually see how this could be frustrating for a lover, on a number of levels.  With one full-blown amazing orgasm, you know when she is satisfied.  With this many, on and on and on, one wonders what the driving force is, and what an orgasm means at all.  Right?  Because we thought it was meant to be one precious pop.

The limit to this kind of lovemaking does not exist.  It is a good test for you to work on lovemaking being a two-way street.  When her pleasure stops being your pleasure, at the 7th or 8th plateau, you can gently cease and desist.  There is no law that you must keep her pleasure in constant motion.  If the issue is more a wondering about satisfaction, maybe worry about this less and focus more on closely watching and witnessing your partner’s body virtually melt.  This is a gift to bear witness to, so focus less on the goal, and more on the ride.

If, however, you feel she is coming hard and leaving you out, be honest.  Talk about the orgasms, work to better understand her pleasure and voice your own.  At the very least you may gain an understanding of what is happening inside of her.  At most, you increase the connection between the two of you which makes that intense pleasure translate more towards you.

There is always the option of slowing down.  There are millions of ways of inducing orgasms, particularly for a woman like this, so work on that, bringing her to climax with a new rhythm or angle.  Work with her body to see its pleasure lengths and limits.  In the end “satisfaction” is complex.  She is clearly getting off, but to know how it makes her feel, you need to talk.  Communication is the number one ingredient for better and better sex.

For help with your own multiple orgasms, women click hereMen click here.

Also try How to Have An Orgasm….As Often As You Want by Rachel Swift

and Orgasms: How to Have Them, Give Them, and Keep Them Coming by Lou Paget.

Ask Yenta Anything!

E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

Acupuncture Addict

In Health and Body, Mental Health on June 12, 2010 at 11:53 am

Dear Yenta,

I’ve been going to acupuncture regularly for about 4 months as a way to improve my general health and boost my immune system. Really though, I got hooked thanks to the hazy, fuzzy kinda high feeling I got right after a treatment. What can I say? It’s a natural high!

The problem is that I’m not really getting high anymore- the buzz has worn off and my body is getting use to the feeling. Since I’m not going for any specific ailment, I can’t decide if that means I should stick with it or move onto the next “natural high” experience (bikram yoga, perhaps?). Have you ever experienced this kind of thing? What do you say?

– Poked and Prodded in New York

Acuptuncture is meant to bring out the you-est part of you. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,


I have experienced this kind of thing, and about ten to one-hundred varieties of this kind of thing. For some people it is normal to get all stoney-like after being treated. Acupuncture, when done well, should align you towards a more whole and balanced version of yourself.  For some, this alignment makes them feel euphoric.

They say that after a treatment you are supposed to feel into that natural high and remember it, because that state is your life goal or an experience of your purest and best self.  One girl I met at a co-op in Boulder would be so happy post-treatment.  It was really important to her not to drink or eat sugar or do anything that would alter that state for at least a day after her treatment, because she wanted to get acquainted with that higher self feeling.

If you are feeling less high but more inclined to continue seeking that high in ways like yoga, etc., I would say the acupuncture is working well.  You don’t want paid treatments to be the only way you achieve that sense of self, you want to be reaching for ways to integrate that high into your daily life.

There is no reason to walk away from treatment, unless financially it is too much.  Because if you can continue to afford it you will only continue to balance and move the body. One acupuncturist told me that he and his friends went daily in China for treatments. Everyone benefits from realignment. Period.

So now that the high has worn off, check in on your lifestyle. Chances are it has changed and maybe you are “higher” all the time, therefore not noticing the difference when stuck with needles. Try to let go of that old reaction that you enjoyed and just be with what comes after each treatment. The “non-high” is as important as the “high” and neither is better or worse, only according to what your mind has told you.

If, however, the treatments leave you feeling low, reassess from scratch. Sometimes too much alignment is too much to handle.  Other ways to balance your system include changing eating habits, changing drinking habits, learning to meditate, exercising more and/or finding a yoga studio nearby.  It is way easier said than done, so also seek a community to support your healthy new existence.  Advance according to your intuition, and according less to pleasure and more to whether you are suffering.

For more information on acupuncture, read:

The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine by Tim Kaptchuk

Between Heaven And Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine by Helen Beinfield and Efrem Korngold


Ask Yenta!  E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

Haunted By Ex’s Penis

In Breakups/Divorce, Health and Body, Sex on June 10, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Find a replacement, but be sure he is as good, if not better, than the old. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear Yenta,

When I have sex, I think about my ex-husband’s penis. My new lover is amazing, wonderfully caring, and very talented in bed (which my ex-husband lacked), but every time we are intimate, I see my ex-husband’s face.  I’ve come so close to calling out his name but caught myself every time. I am very upfront and honest with my new lover, but this is one thing I just don’t think he would understand. I miss my ex, I won’t lie, but at the same time, I am much happier without him. How do I get him out of my bedroom?!

-Mentally Cheating

Dear MC,

There are two things that you can do.  One: Leave this man and mend your heart, do the work to get over your ex, and then resume dating him or someone else.  Two.  Deal with it within the relationship.

Thinking about your ex-husband is normal, especially if you were with him for a long time and that time included having sex with him.  But thinking about your ex while in bed with the new guy, that’s another story.  It indicates an inability to be present with the man in front of you, replacing his face with the face of another.

You can look at this as an opportunity to learn.  When your husband’s face or memory comes to mind, stop for a minute, look around, and check in with yourself.  What, exactly, are you longing for that you are not experiencing then and there?  Could there be a lack of intimacy and trust with this new man, making you long for the old?

Also, is this new dude up to par?  This regression into old memories could be a sign that the new lover is not good enough for you.  After a bad or ended relationship we often choose sub-par lovers in fear of never loving again.  Set your standards high enough and follow suit.

Either leave him, or nurture the relationship with the lover.  If, though, he is just a “lover” then who cares?  Maybe he is just a filler for the old, in which case this haunting is a sign from deep inside of you reminding you that you haven’t let go of yesterday.  Choose.  Then or now, and if now is the choice, then work hard at making your present reality and your present relationship one that sates you.  Build the trust, expose the edges, and begin again.

My guess though, is that you need to dump the lover and cry by a river somewhere or something to purge the ex from your body.  Do what it takes to address and mend the hurt parts so you can love and trust again, ie, be present and satisfied with the man in front of you.
For help read these simple steps for Recovering From A Failed Relationship.

Ask Yenta!  E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

Caring for Cancer Caregivers

In Health and Body, Parents on June 1, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Dear Yenta,

This past year 3 friends I love lost their moms to cancer. In the middle of all the chaos I didn’t want to intrude or get in the way. I offered my full support but it never felt like enough to me. They were at chemo appointments & hospitals and I wish I could have been so much more helpful! There is a history of 6 different cancers in my own family, so this isn’t the first time I’ve watched people go through this and I want to offer more to those I love. So what do you give a caregiver who gives of themselves completely but doesn’t know what to ask for or how to ask for help themselves?

-Looking in from the outside


I went to a hipster meditation session once that seemed trivial until the leader asked everyone who had lost someone this year, or who knew someone who lost someone this year, to please raise their hand.  I would say 98% of the hands in that room went up, and the 2% were probably not paying attention.

Death is par for the human course, and is something everyone is dealing with, all the time.  Some, however, are doing so in excruciating, hands-on ways, and others more from a distance.  What do we do to help those braving the frontlines of mortality and illness?  We start with ourselves.  There is nothing more incredible than a friend with poise, calm and the ability to give, who arrives at a traumatic scene, a hospital, a chemo bedside, a funeral or a wake.

Humans are full of fear.  The fearless are the ones that comfort the needy without question.  We need to cultivate our own fearlessness so that when a friend calls us panicked, or a family member falls ill (God-forbid), or we bear witness to the horrible, our fearlessness somehow, through loving action, becomes contagious.  This is done through self-care, through facing our dark sides, through working on our own stillness so we may offer the same to others.

It is a balancing system.  The fearless care for those in need until depleted, then someone swoops in, someone like you, and holds the caretaker in their arms until a virtual rebooting takes place and they can continue the job of caring for the sick.  What you give a caregiver is a presence that says, “this is your time.”  For more ideas see:  How Do I Support Them Through Chemotherapy?

There are also admirable projects like “Care Chronicles,” a symptom management workbook for caregivers and patients.  Coined by a woman named Sarah Banks in memory and honor of her mother, this cancer management workbook is meant to help ease the difficulties of both the caregiver and patient.

“Caregiving for my mom,” writes Ms. Banks,  “was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life…  I’ve created this workbook, because I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what my family has gone through. I had an idea. A way to make my mom’s life a little easier. A way to feel a little more in control. Because after the chemo would make her sick, or when she’d fall out of bed at night, or we’d stay up till 4am at the ER, or she was so dehydrated she couldn’t pronounce a word…I had never before felt so helpless and out of control. I don’t want that for others.”

To support Sarah Banks’ campaign, click here.  She is raising money to self-publish packets to distribute to hospitals and doctors’ offices to offer answers to your precise question. There are only 27 days left to meet her $8k goal.  One thing you can do for your friends and family members as they go through this:  make a pledge to a cause like this one in their name, and tell them you just made a step towards easing the suffering of others.

For more information and help, check out:  Everyone’s Guid to Cancer Supportive Care: A Comprehensive Handbook fort Patients and Their Families by Ernest and Isadora Rosenbaum.

Ask Yenta!  E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

Sexual Surrogate to Treat Premature Ejaculation

In Health and Body, Mental Health, Sex on May 8, 2010 at 2:03 am

To Ms. Yenta,

I have a sexual question and it has taken me time to even consider asking this question but here it goes.  I have had a long term sexual problem (Premature Ejaculation) which I have not been able to cure.  I have tried the silly Kegel exercises and they cause me pain and frustration.  I recently have heard about sexual surrogates.  Surrogates being sex therapists who actually engage in sex with the patient in order to help their patients with their problems.  I’m wondering if you know anything about surrogates and if they are a good choice or just new age hookers?

*Thank you*

-from Stephen J

Honey, you'll be removing those goggles and uncrossing those legs soon enough. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your brave honesty!  For you, I learned about sex surrogates.  I am now a HUGE fan of this concept.  For those of you not aware of sexual surrogacy, it is a medical route to sexual assistance.  Ie, you go see a doctor who then helps you with your sexual self in a “triad” with a third person, the sexual surrogate.  This person actually assists you manually in learning how to be more intimate and sexually adept.

Prostitutes far and near often speak of their job as a sex worker as one of a sex therapist.  Depending on the hooker and depending on the John, this is a place for acting things out emotionally via sex, off the grid.  This work, for the happy hooker, can be really transformative.

The difference, however, between a prostitute and a sexual surrogate is the medicalization and legalization of the practice.  One woman touching you and teaching you is usually illegal, whereas the other is sanctioned by a doctor with whom she works in conjunction.  For more on legit sexual surrogates, see IPSA, The International Professional Surrogates Association.

In his pulp novel, Counsel For The Damned, author Neil Montefiore Fleishman writes about how the first five hours of marriage make or break every union.  He has a theory stating that men are either born lovers, or aren’t, and that this shows in those few hours past the threshold.  Sexual surrogacy is a fabulous challenge to the notion that a man can’t learn to be a phenomenal lover.  Think about Footloose. If Kevin Bacon can teach that chump to dance, then anyone can learn to make love like a pro.

Sexual assistance is a practice we have often lost in our sexually repressed society.  We too easily forget how much is tied into a sexual release, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and so on.  More often than not, men are left without education surrounding the complexity of their own sexuality.  (For a granola take on healing male sexuality, click here.)  Free porn and abundant Victoria’s Secret catalogs have nothing to do with teaching people how to connect with other bodies subjectively.  Sex can be transcendent, uniting, complex, incredible, and so on and so forth, and many other cultures recognize this fact and train their young.

The brilliant Zora Neale Hurston wrote about this in Tell My Horse, how young women in one town were schooled by an elder on the art and importance of love making.  Shamanic healers have often been summoned for this work, to manually teach about how to sexually express oneself.  I don’t think there is anything shameful about sexual surrogates. If anything, I think using them is a wise choice.

Once at a classic Naropa party in Boulder, a man told me that the best way to overcome issues with sex is to masturbate in front of a close friend while they watch.  He also told me about doctors and schools where spiritual leaders manually bring people to orgasm to help release the energy, as well as to teach its redirection.  There are retreats all over (like this one), and gurus across the globe (like this guy) who can help teach you about sex from new angles, ie, tantra, kundalini, etc.  YouTube alone has tons of teaching videos on sex and healing.

For you, Stephen, I think sexual surrogacy is a medically sound way to treat your problem because it addresses both the physical and the emotional components of premature ejaculation.  With the “triad” of a doctor and a surrogate, you should, at the very least, learn a lot about your own body, which is great.  At best, you will learn to control your timing and attain new skills to better give and receive pleasure in the bedroom.  Not a bad bargain.

For a better idea of what it’s like, read this great article from  Follow the dude’s cue, and perhaps use the International Professional Surrogates Association to be sure your helper isn’t scamming you for cash.  Good Luck!

Book ideas:

The Illustrated Manual Of Sex Therapy Second Edition by Helen Singer Kaplan

Sacred Sexual Healing: The Shaman Method of Sex Magic by Baba Dez Nichols and Kamala Devi, or these manuals from

Ask Yenta!  E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

Do All Women Just Want To Be Ravaged?

In Health and Body, Mental Health, Sex on May 5, 2010 at 7:38 pm

There is a devil inside every woman. The question is, how to engage it without traumatizing her.

Help me Yenta!!!

This is a fairly general question but, WHAT DO WOMEN WANT IN BED!!!!!!!!!!!

I was reading about a book online called “Just f*#% her!”  Its basic concept is that women, even the sweet ones, just want to be ravaged, and screwed silly till they’re

Lifeless next to you.

IS IT TRUE?  I NEED TO KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!


Dear K,

Lifeless = dead.  So no, chances are women do not want you to kill them.   I am assuming you are referring to this document, “Just F*&#ing F*#$ me, already,” from The Best of Craigslist.

To answer your question I gathered four experienced women who happen to be farmers.  Farmers are in touch with themselves, the earth and as a solid byproduct, their sexuality.  We read the manifesto you are referring to and then discussed it.  Here, for the answer to your questions, are their replies:

Farmer 1: Men think they should know everything.

Farmer 2: Like how to please a woman.

Farmer 1: And they don’t think they should ask because that makes them seem inexperienced.

Farmer 3: And that’s the thing that makes them inexperienced.

Farmer 2: An experienced man knows to ask.

A mechanic told me that women get their cars fixed better than men.  Why?  Because most women walk in and say, “There was a clicking and humming on the left side of the car.”  Most men, however, come in saying something like, “My carborator is broken,” when really it is the exhaust or the brake pads.  The difference: the man wanted to fake like he knew, and ended up with a bad result.

Farmer 1: It’s not even a question, women want all different things.  It is going to change every day, you just have to talk to her.

Farmer 2: Yeah, ask.  Ask her.

Farmer 3: Yeah, that’s the best sex advice ever, just talk.

Farmer 2: You have to be a little bit ballsy, and if you ask, it pays off.

Farmer 1: If you don’t ask then it is either bad, or you don’t ever see that person again because they weren’t satisfied.

Farmer 4: I would say that women are the same way.  We wonder, “I wonder if he likes it with teeth,” but are often too afraid to ask.

Farmer 3: And that’s what makes a bad blow job, not seeing what he likes.

So nugget number one: ASK.  Always. If she likes it rough, so be it, but the only way to not ride the line of raping and murdering your lover is to communicate with her so that you understand the nuance and difference between “it hurts so good” and “you just mauled the woman you love to death.”

Farmer 2: Yeah, rough sex requires a high level of trust because usually the man is physically more powerful than you… and then suddenly you are like, oh shit.

Farmer 1: It depends on the woman and how long you have been dating her.

Farmer 2: It turns from fun to scary pretty quick.  And you can’t always communicate that in the moment.

Farmer 4: Just ask, even if you are in the middle of it.

Aha.  Yes, communication and rules can be set up before the act so that freedom reigns.  For more read “When Is Rough Too Rough?.”   On setting safe rules for rough play in the bedroom read “Doing It Rough, Safe,” or “He Ignores My Safe Word.”

I once had a friend who was annoyed about catering to women, “What am I supposed to do,” he asked, “treat every woman I sleep with like she is the survivor of rape and incest?”  The answer: Yes.  How do you treat a survivor?  With respect, listening to her cues.  That shouldn’t be so hard.  Every woman you sleep with is a potential survivor of abuse.  Does that mean she wants to be cuddled and coddled?  Maybe.  And maybe not.

One man I knew in college was so sensitive that he treated his girlfriend with extreme care. Years later she took me aside and complained, angrily, about how he was so tender all the time, that he wouldn’t listen to her actual wants and needs.  She liked it rough and he liked treating her like a fragile delicate flower.

Farmer 1: An ideal lover is someone capable of both being able to communicate and ask, while still being masculine, being a leader.

Farmer 3: I am really turned on when a man takes control.

Farmer 4: Take charge can mean, “does this feel good?”  It can be as simple as taking charge through questions.

We concurred that a good lover is like a good dance partner.  He takes charge, but it is a symbiotic relationship.  Ie, for him to take charge, you have to give the reigns.  It is mythical power, a structure in place for the sake of leading towards a goal.

Farmer Yenta: They are leading you, but you are still fueling that dance.

Farmer 1: It is about creating a safe space for expression.

A few other things that came up: a real loathing of obligatory sexual exchange.  Ie, when a man gives to receive.  Penises are charged with meaning for women everywhere, and depending on the nature of the sexual exchange, to want to service that body part needs to come about organically.  If there is any sense of force or obligation, a woman often begrudgingly and sadly delivers.

Farmer 1: Give because you want to give, never expect anything in return.  If you go down, do it because you love it, not because you want more of it.  Giving to receive ends in resentment.

Farmer 3: Yeah, just don’t give at all if you don’t enjoy it.

And a word on expression.  The craigslist article reads: “It’s OK for you to make noise. Otherwise, we feel like we are f*#$ing a ninja.”

Farmer 4: I looooove when men make noise.

Farmer 3: It’s men’s excitement that drives to much of it.  Their passion for you – that has to come out.  If they are excited to rip my clothes off, then I get turned on.

Top farmer sex read:  The Guide To Getting It On! by Paul Joannides

Finally, our favorite nugget from this “book” you read online:

“Ohmyf*#!ingg-d, please learn to respect the clit. It’s different for every woman, so ask what she likes. Do not, I repeat, do not just wiggle your fingers around her pussy like you’re trying to tickle her. Do not drum your fingertips against her vulva like you are impatiently waiting at the Sears Tire Center for your receipt. Do not push the clit like it is a doorbell at some house that you need to get inside of. Start by using all four fingers with firm yet gentle pressure against the outside of her pussy. Do not charge in with a single finger and start jabbing at things. And if you really don’t know what to do, ask her. Just ask. “How do you like it?”. It’s a simple question, and most women will answer straight out. If she’s being all coy, ask “Do you like pressure? Is it sensitive?” The clitoris is a varied item, indeed. Treat each one as though you have never encountered one before. Forget everything that your last partner liked.”


Ask Yenta!  E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta