Have you heard of physical therapy for your vagina? Where would you put a Magic Banana? These are some of the first few questions from the ‘SexABILITY Survey’ taken by 3,000 women and men to help Lauren Streicher, MD, pen Love Sex Again ($26.99, It Books).
As Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Dr. Streicher is an expert in menopause and sexual health. After her first book – The Essential Guide to the Hysterectomy ($16.85, M. Evans & Company) – was published, Dr. Streicher initially planned to write her next book for post-menopausal women. But she realized they’re not the only ones having problems with sex. “In fact, 40 percent of the population has sexual issues, including women in their 20s, 30s and 40s,” she says. “The more I researched and the more I talked to other women, the more I realized women of all ages have sexual issues.”
So after a year of writing about post-menopause, Dr. Streicher spent another seven months adding sections about sexual health. “You’d think it would be easy for gynecologists – who talk about [patients’ intimate details] all the time – to answer questions and give advice…but it’s not,” she explains. She found that most women are often afraid to bring up certain issues because they’re either embarrassed or feel their sexuality isn’t that important to discuss at their annual exam when there may be other health issues to tackle. “Sometimes a woman finally has the guts to bring it up but isn’t given much of a response. She’s not taken seriously, so she might not ever bring it up again. And that’s a problem. I’m certainly not the only [gynecologist] who knows about this, but the truth is typical OBGYNs don’t know much about sexual health. So even if you do bring it up, they often don’t have the ability to help and will change the subject. I wrote Love Sex Again because there are solutions, and women really need to know what’s available.”
Throughout this enticing read, Dr. Streicher leaves nothing to the imagination – much like an esthetician giving a Brazilian wax. And it just so happens that a later chapter focuses on ‘vaginal vanity,’ complete with descriptions of ‘hairstyles’ and ‘vajazzling’…“for the woman who has everything.” Dr. Streicher truly has heard and seen it all. And it’s this wealth of information that makes Love Sex Again an essential sexual road map for women (and men!). As stated on its cover, “A gynecologist finally fixes the issues that are sabotaging your sex life.”
Dr. Streicher covers pretty much everything you could think to ask your gynecologist, from lubricants to sex toys to libido-killing drugs and even the cardiac effects of sexual activity. After all, she notes that former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller died while having sex with his mistress. However, she admits that moving from one topic to the next was challenging. “I’d write about orgasms and say, ‘This will be easy.’ But then I’d think, ‘I could write an entire book on just orgasms!’ Someone who has diabetes might say, ‘Wait a minute – there are only three pages on diabetes!’ I could have written a book on every single topic.” In fact, Love Sex Again is longer than the publisher intended. “My first draft would have had another 200 pages,” she adds. “It just proves how much information is out there.”
On the term ‘sexability,’ Dr. Streicher laughs, saying, “I invented it! In it’s simplest form, it means the physical ability to have sex. Sexuality can refer to many different things: relationships, feelings, physical attraction. But sexability is about the ability to feel aroused. It’s essentially saying, ‘My body is functioning the right way; it has the ability to have sex.’” Dr. Streicher is then quick to point out that she doesn’t necessarily mean intercourse. “There’s homosexuality, heterosexuality and self-sexuality. There’s this notion that just because someone doesn’t have a partner it means they’re not sexual. But they are. And when they haven’t had an orgasm in five years – it’s a problem. Sexability isn’t about who you have sex with or how you have sex; it’s about the ability to have sex, however you define that.”
In the end, Dr. Streicher says it’s empowering for women to know they’re not alone. “Everyone thinks everyone else is having incredible, mind-blowing, orgasmic sex,” she observes. “But they’re not. When you read Love Sex Again, you realize what you’re going through is normal. Women will be surprised how common these problems are, how much of an impact they have on their lives and the difference it can make when the issues are addressed. Women are living much longer these days. They’re in second marriages; they’re continually sexual throughout life. And, all in all, I think women will be relieved at how much someone can do to make it better.”
John Reilly Photograph | Hair & Makeup by Emily Wolf