Getting somatic about sex




Dear Dr. Jenni,

I have been smoking marijuana for more than four years. I recently got engaged, but I’m starting to lose my hard-on during sex, and sometimes I lose pleasure, too. This is making me really depressed. Do you think I need to quit smoking?

—Burning It Down on Both Ends

Dear Burning,

I’m curious if you have fear or anxiety around your recent engagement?

Emotions sometimes manifest somatically, and for many men, erectile issues can be a somatic manifestation of suppressed fear.

When a man struggles with erectile issues, he may become anxious and/or depressed, further aggravating a situation. Because of this, you do want to be careful with marijuana. Though it may help you relax and take that anxious edge off when it comes to sex, it is also a depressant. So yes, you may want to consider limiting your smoking, at the very least.

While marijuana is helpful for relaxation, see if you can find other supplemental venues to create a natural state of relaxation and pleasure. Perhaps carve out time for date nights where you explore non-genital touch, sensuous massage, mutual showers and other fun activities without the expectation for genital arousal and intercourse. Once you feel like you have fully mapped each other’s bodies, move to the genitals. Remember, though, don’t rush.

The objective is to relax and expand your horizon of potential pleasure without forcing an erection.

And don’t forget to have a conversation with your fiancée, and/or with a counselor, about what feelings are cropping up for you around getting married.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is where the real exploration lies.

Dear Dr. Jenni,

When my wife and I have sex and she’s about to orgasm, she tells me to stop. She claims she’s too sensitive down there. How do I make her get past this and orgasm? I try and try and can’t seem to get anywhere.

—Stuck at Second



Dear Stuck,

A woman’s orgasm is hers to own.

Your wife must give herself permission to feel these peaks of pleasure. Whether alone or with a partner, orgasm is about surrendering — about letting go and allowing an orgasm to naturally emerge.

Surrender requires trust, in oneself, and in the relationship. If there is little to no emotional safety, then it can be hard to surrender physiologically.

So while you can’t “make” your wife have an orgasm, you can certainly be her co-pilot.

Your first goal is to help her trust the experience.

Initiate a conversation around what she needs to feel relaxed, safe and comfortable.

Do sensual dates where you engage in pleasurable activities without the goal of orgasm. During dates, play with changes in rhythm, tempo and pressure. She may need you to slow down and touch her clitoris indirectly. She may need her cheek caressed and to hear you say, “I love you.” She may need you to speed up and seize her in a carnal fury of passion.

I also suggest taking intercourse off the table during your first few dates. This allows you to focus on the world of touch. Take turns exploring new erogenous zones, all the while communicating what feels good. If talking is tough, try using simple code words like: cold, warm, hot.

Once you both feel more comfortable with these exercises, try out a few sessions of mutual masturbation. Again, this can be erotic while also allowing you both to have a learning session to determine what feels good and how different body parts need to be touched at different points in the arousal process.

Send questions for Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., to Skyler is a sex therapist and boardcertified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www. Send questions for Jenni Skyler to