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Thursday, February 25,2010

Adding orgasm to health care reform

By Dr. Jenni Skyler

As Washington argues about our health care system, we citizens of Boulder can claim bragging rights for being one of the most happy and healthy cities in the nation. We have it covered when it comes to diet, exercise, mountains and meditation. However, we may have to periodically remind ourselves that highquality health also includes sexual health.

Last week’s column addressed sexual health and the importance of self-pleasure, with guidelines for creating an ideal ambience for masturbation. (To view a full ‘Recipe for Masturbation’, created with colleague Deb Rubin, visit www. theintimacyinstitute.org/intimacyMap. html.) But what if we took this one step further? What would our country look like if health care reform included affordable services for all people to be orgasmic? From a public health approach, we’d emphasize primary prevention of illness using orgasm as preventive medicine. This does not mean more hand-jobs on street corners. Rather, this entails sophisticated sexuality education about healthy and pleasurable sexual relationships with yourself and others. Then, perhaps, you can better your hand-jobs at home.

Because orgasm has several evidencebased health benefits, we would also save money in health care tax dollars. Endorphins released with orgasm relieve tension and stress, and help manage pain and headaches. (Yes, that means we can no longer use the excuse of having a headache to refrain from sex.) Orgasmic muscle tension also burns calories — not as much as a stationary bicycle class, but certainly more comfortable for your genitals. Post-orgasm relaxation supports better sleeping and helps curb cravings for junk food and cigarettes. Oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone, improves intimacy and bonding. This may be less than ideal for the one-night stand. However, for the 20-year marriage looking to add flames to the fire, more frequent and assorted orgasms may just be the perfect pill.

If you are asking what on earth are assorted orgasms, I will defer that answer to the Mother of Masturbation, Dr. Betty Dodson. Dodson claims that there are “tension orgasms,” what some call peak orgasms. The whole body builds toward higher levels of muscle tension until there is a sudden release of involuntary rhythmic contractions. The opposite entails a “relaxation orgasm,” whereby there is no buildup of tension. Tantric sex master Shree Rajneesh (Osho) labels these as valley orgasms. Deep relaxation from sexual stimulation allows the orgasm to eventually sneak up on you. We also have pressure orgasms, where pleasure and abandon are found from squeezing your legs together and rocking back and forth. Anatomically, this may be more problematic for men — in case that wasn’t obvious. Lastly, some lucky individuals are able to so fully melt into pleasure that they can experience multiple orgasms, nocturnal orgasms and/or a blend of all the above.

And if you still haven’t figured out what an orgasm is, that’s OK, our society has yet to agree on one perfect definition. Local sex therapist Deb Rubin calls orgasm “the balance between complete surrender to sensual stimulation and compete permission of pleasure.”

Local erotic sex writer Samatha Sade describes orgasm as “the very best tickle you’ve ever felt that starts in your toes and explodes through your entire body.”

A dear mentor of mine, sexologist Dr. Mitch Tepper, states that orgasm is not just about rubbing friction to the right parts. Also known as “The Prophet of Pleasure,” Tepper teaches that orgasm is about love and connection. Tepper, who has a spinal cord injury and has used a wheelchair for more than 20 years, has emphasized extra-genital orgasm and pleasure, inspiring people who don’t have a disability to learn from those who do.

Sarcastic yet serious, I believe it is feasible to heal our nation with orgasm. And Boulder can lead the way. We have the most alternative health practitioners and therapists per square mile, and host workshops such as Sensory Awakening, Becoming Orgasmic and the Art of Tantra — series one through seven.

Hear us, Washington. When it comes to health care reform, we’ll protest in the name of pleasure and orgasm!

Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., MSEd, is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist. She runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.

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