Category: Libido

Libido Workshop. Re-find your sexy self if you’ve lost that loving feeling.

Low desire in one partner is probably one of the top reasons why individuals and couples alike seek out sex therapy. People from all walks of life occasionally struggle to re-kindle low or missing sexual desire or libido.

Help is on the way!

Starting Thursday, July 25th, 2019 renowned Clinical Sex and Relationship Therapist, Sue McGarvie, M will be facilitating the ‘Libido & Desire Workshop’. This 4-week program offers participants the latest information on how to improve sexual desire physically, emotionally, psychologically and increase intimacy within relationships.

Are you spending too much time wondering where your libido has gone?
Are your relationships devoid of intimacy?
Do you find yourself reminiscing about the last time when you were easily sexually aroused?
Do you find yourself or your partner challenged by different levels of sexual interest?

If you’ve answered, “Yes” to any of the above questions, this workshop has been designed with you in mind.
This event is open to both Individuals and couples. There is limited enrollment for this program, so register now!
Cost is $200 for the four week course. Everyone is welcome. Four consecutive Thursday’s from 7-9 pm
Send an etransfer to

Bring Back that Loving Feeling! Low Libido and Desire workshop Starting Jan 20th 2018

Low desire in one partner is probably one of the top reasons why individuals and couples alike seek out sex therapy. People from all walks of life occasionally struggle to re-kindle low or missing sexual desire or libido.

Help is on the way!

Starting January 20, renowned Clinical Sex and Relationship Therapist, Sue McGarvie, M.A. will be facilitating the ‘Libido & Desire Workshop’. This 4-week program offers participants the latest information on how to improve sexual desire physically, emotionally, psychologically and increase intimacy within relationships.

Are you spending too much time wondering where your libido has gone?
Are your relationships devoid of intimacy?
Do you find yourself reminiscing about the last time when you were easily sexually aroused?
Do you find yourself or your partner challenged by different levels of sexual interest?

If you’ve answered, “Yes” to any of the above questions, this workshop has been designed with you in mind.
This event is open to both Individuals and couples. There is limited enrollment for this program, so register now!

Cost: $375/ individual or $500/ couple. This program is covered by most extended health care plans. Payment through PayPal portal.
Location: Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (267 O’Connor St., Suite 600, Ottawa)
Sign up here!

The realization that you need to be desired in order to be turned on.

Everyone wants to feel wanted. In fact I would even say it’s a basic need of sex to be desired by your partner. For women it’s especially important. Many women who can feel arousal (but not desire) meaning their bodies can be turned on but they aren’t emotional feeling into sex is common phenomenon. They need to be convinced or get their sexual energy from someone else. As Psychology Today reports recently.

“Most women, for instance, have a strong wish to feel sexually desired. Men also like to be desired, of course. But among the women I see in my office, it’s often much more of a “thing.”

Many women say they don’t feel any spontaneous desire for sex unless it’s stimulated by someone desiring them. As sex therapists, we would say their desire is purely “responsive.” Many women report that feeling desired is what turns them on the most.
Heterosexual human mating tends to be like traditional couples’ dancing. She needs him to ask her to dance. The dancing itself might be nice, but even more important is that he showed initiative and wanted to dance with her. 70% of men are different. They may enjoy it if their partner passionately wants to have sex with them, but they don’t particularly need to feel desired in order to get turned on. Their desire is more “spontaneous.”

But what about the 30% of men that do need their partners to express great desire in order to be turned on? I see men in my office every week who need explicit desire by their partners to get aroused.

A man like this is almost always brought to my office by his unhappy wife, who complains that he rarely, if ever, initiates sex—thus depriving her of the chance to feel turned on by his passion for her. And she’s bonetired of initiating.

He will tell me privately, that he wants her to start sex or he can’t get his mojo going.

“A heterosexual guy whose principal turn-on is to be desired finds himself in more difficult territory. Very few women are interested in consistently being the initiator.

A man like this usually learns to keep his responsive desire a secret. If he tries to explain it to a female partner, often the concept will be so foreign to her that she’ll have no idea what he’s talking about.”

It’s a challenge. 50 Shades of Gray sold millions of copies because it appealed to the very common female fantasy of being “taken”. The desire to be dominated safely is by far the most popular sexual model with women. And men who are responsive (are often the more thinking guys) feel frustrated and voiceless.

So what do you do to solve this? It starts with communication, acceptance and negotiation. And an understanding that sex isn’t “supposed to be a certain way”. Women have been chased around the school yard by boys wanting to pull their pigtails and we expect “handsy” men. It’s certainly not what we always want (nor is it appropriate outside of consenting adults), but it’s what we expect form men. Understanding that sex is play – adult play- and not always about pounding intercourse helps get this message through. As do signals (pull an earlobe or drop a secret word) to indicate interest so that neither one is being pushed away helps with the shut down of rejection of a partner who can’t figure out what you need to be turned on. And learning that your expectations of sex might be getting in the way.

I teach a monthly “School of Sex” series done with humour, inclusion and fantastic speakers. It allows people to sit in the back row and listen to how other people in their community think about sex – without social conventions and limiting beliefs. Really hear what turns on the men and women that live in your neighbourhood can be powerfully healing to someone who feels sexually inhibited. It’s liberating for many people not to feel alone in how they feel sexually.

And as the author of the study succinctly summarizes;

If you’re a woman in a relationship with a man who doesn’t initiate sex as much as you’d like, you may want to keep in mind the possibility that he might need the same thing you do.

Low Libido and improving desire workshop starting this November 2017.

Low libido or decreased sexual desire is still the #1 thing seen by Sex Therapists in North America. In my office low desire certainly tops the list if issues. It’s followed by male sexual anxiety (with ED and PE), non-monogamy/infidelity and orgasm issues. Coming up with specific treatments for improving desire are as individual as the clients themselves. Improving libido can often feel like a measurement of millimeters.

Find that loving feeling. With the aim of focusing on solutions, I am running a Desire and Libido 5 week workshop for couples and singles in Ottawa started in November. It’s a pragmatic based approach with current research, humour, discretion, and concrete actions for re-kindling desire. It’s limited enrollment and is fully covered by workplace insurance benefits. Limited enrollment and I am starting to take pull together the group. Please send an email (sue at sex with sue .com) or sign up through the contact page.

It will run evenings, starting mid November for 5 weeks at 267 O’Connor Street, Suite 600. Cost will be covered by all group health insurance plans ad is $500 per couple or $300 per single.

This is the program that will increase the intimacy and desire in your relationship.

The Libido differences between couples. And research into how men are touch deprived

Much of my day as a Sex Therapist is spent talking about libido differences between couples. Opposite sex drives between partners are challenging. Not always, but often it’s men who seem to want sex all the time. With their exasperated partners having to push them away making everyone feel badly. Again not all but many healthy, adult men want sex daily or every other day, time permitting. But the expectation that men are all Neanderthals chasing their partners around the house all the time isn’t fair to the men I see. Many really want their partners to initiate. Or they see their sexuality as a dance rather than a conquest. Or the anxiety of performance makes them gun shy. Or they have lower testosterone and feel diminished. At times for the men I see it feels exhausting to always need to be “sexually on”.

As women we have had guys pull our ponytails in school, try and get us out of our jeans in High School and actively hit on us in bars. There is an exception that men will pursue. There is a great article about why men seem to pursue sex over and over. As the author Mark Greene says ” In our culture we believe that men always have a sexual agenda. We believe that, given the opportunity, men will collapse into the sexual at a moment’s notice. That men don’t know how to physically connect otherwise. That men can’t control themselves. That men are dogs. Yet, if we don’t trust men and touch where does that leave us as a culture? And where do men go for touch and connection?”

Men turn to sex for touch. When I ask men to talk about what intimacy means to them they think sex. When I ask them to describe something romantic it often has a sexual slant. Many men feel loved when they are touched and that touch is sexual in nature. And their partners who often want to simply cuddle find an erection poking them. Men haven’t been able to express their tactile selves. Unless it’s between the sheets on the sports field they don’t have a vehicle for nurturing touch.

As Mark Greene says “The lifelong lack of platonic touch in boys lives ultimately results in the loss for them of the clear distinction between platonic touch and sexual touch. Young men starving for touch seek it in the sexual realm, often exclusively from their partners. This makes frequency of sex a challenging issue for couples. Men key on sex in an attempt to bridge our way back to the gentle comforting touch of our distant childhoods, the pure first experience of touch in our lives that can never quite be recaptured or recalled. Sex takes on the role of fulfilling both sexual and platonic touch needs.

The result? Men background all other positives in our relationships, judging every interaction against the sexual pleasure metric.”

So you have generations of men who identify the need for physical affection as someone touching their penis. It’s not the only reason, male sexual urges can be daunting. As I tell my clients ” I’ve spoken to men for 25 years and I am still gobstopped about how horny guys can be sometimes”.

Separating sex and touch is one of the first things I do as a Sex Therapist. Mindful non-genital touch- even if it’s only 3 minutes each in a busy day can help separate sex from positive affection. And then both partners can calm down and truly see each other.

Mark outlines the issue for guys who are touch deprived.

“Many of us are also terribly prone to approaching sex mechanically, staring inward at our own flaring confusion instead of looking outward into the mysterious miracle of our partners. And in that moment, sex becomes another exercise in internalizing our experiences instead of surrendering to emotional interdependence, which we have never learned to engage. In relationship after relationship, romance withers. Sex falls off. But even as these relationships falter, we men remain willing to go to the well of cold mechanical sex, long after our lovers have lost their passion for it, because like everything else in our emotional landscapes, we have confused the mechanics of contact with truly connecting emotionally.”

I suggest getting a regular RMT massage therapist. It’s professional and therapeutic. Touch is a basic need. Finding a way to get hugs, physical connection, and positive physical interaction – in a non-sexual way is really good for your sex life. Read the whole article here.

Female Sexual Dysfunction – It’s more common than you think (low libido or arousal)

Guest medical write B, who has listed the discussion points about female sexual dysfunction or low libido. She does a great job outlining the reasons for female sexual dysfunction. The challenge is to supply solutions. In the next blog i have a checklist including blood tests and other troubleshooting ideas that you can bring to your doctor (or go through on your own) to figure out why you’ve lost your loving feeling.

I rushed in 7 minutes late, Bridgehead coffee in hand, inadvertently displaying to my tiny class of eight where my loyalties lie in the morning. Caffeinated and ready to go, I was expecting the typical Monday morning routine: hypothetical patient presents with a slew of symptoms. Discuss what you would ask in your history, which investigations you would order, and which imaging tests you would run. Diagnose and treat.
This morning’s case, however, was a little different than the typical chest pain or sore back. Patient: 30-something year-old female. Presenting complaint: low libido & loss of sexual interest. With more than one third of Canadian women experiencing low libido and sex drive, it is a real and pervasive issue that doctors must be trained to address. The reasons for which a woman might experience low sexual desire are complex and multi-faceted. To varying degrees, physical & psychological causes, as well as hormonal changes, and relationship problems can all contribute to a loss in a woman’s libido.

The female sexual response cycle is broken down into four phases: excitation, plateau, orgasm, and resolution, any of which can lead to low libido if disrupted. The excitation phase, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, occurs as a result of physical or mental erotic stimuli. Simply put, it’s in this stage where we start to get all hot ’n bothered. The plateau stage is basically a continuation of the same changes evident in the excitement stage. For those who don’t often achieve orgasm, this is the peak of sexual excitement. The orgasm phase is well, orgasmic. Knees weaken, heart rates shoots up, body spasms occur, and we get an overall euphoric sensation. This euphoria is caused by a rapid release of the feel-good hormones, oxytocin and endorphins. Finally, the resolution phase allows the muscles to relax, blood pressure to drop and the body to slow down from its excited state.
The are plenty of reasons why one or more of these stages could be disrupted; stress, fatigue, poor communication, and a lack of intimacy with your partner are among the top culprits. Surprisingly, while a glass of wine may relax you and make you feel more amorous, too much can actually spoil your sex drive. Also be aware of the effects of certain medications; anti-depressants, such as SSRIs, are notorious libido killers. There are also dozens of physical and hormonal causes that should be investigated as well. Women’s hormone levels fluctuate greatly throughout their cycle, affecting everything form their mood, to their appetite, to their sex drive. While less common in younger women, certain chronic conditions such as arthritis, coronary artery disease, anemia, and neurological diseases can also lessen a woman’s libido. As women enter menopause, their estrogen levels being to decline, resulting in decreased lubrication, and at times, decreased sex drive.

Female sexual dysfunction affects more than just a woman’s sex drive. It can have major implications on her relationship with her partner, as well as her overall wellbeing. While several drug companies have attempted to create the female equivalent of Viagra, the results have been underwhelming. Viagra acts as a vasodilator, increasing blood flow to the genitals, allowing men to sustain a longer erection. Drug companies have found that the male brain responds to medically induced physical sexual arousal with a corresponding increase in psychological sexual arousal, but the female brain does not. If a man is physically turned on, he will also become psychologically turned on. Women, however, seem to require more than just physical stimulation.

The question then remains – if there isn’t an easy fix like viagra, how do we address women’s sexual dysfunction problems? We must treat the cause. Women should work together with their their family physician or find a sex therapist to try and pinpoint potential causes. Since female sexual dysfunction is often complex and multifactorial, women need to be patient and understand that their problems won’t be solved overnight. Physicians may suggest an alteration of certain medications, a referral to a psychologist/sex therapist, or a detailed work-up for potential medical causes.

If you experience persistent, recurrent problems with sexual response, desire, orgasm or pain that distress you or strain your relationship with your partner, then do not hesitate to address this problem with your family doctor. This is a very common issue that affects more than 30 percent of women. Doctors are well-trained to deal with these issues and refer you to the appropriate services if needed.

Low Libido Syndrome. Why men experience a decrease in desire for sex

The desire to get naked, horizontal and sweaty with our partners (potential partner or just a hand and some time alone) should be something that happens at regular intervals for everyone. Sex is the third most common physical need behind the need to eat and survive, and the need to connect and have a clan. You may not have the desire just after you have run a marathon or have the flu, but for most couples sexual desire and activity bubbles up in our bodies at least once a week.

If you are not feeling the urge to jump your sweetie, and are failing to feel the urge to be physically close it might be time to have a look at what’s going on. If you have a low desire for sex, especially if your relationship is strong and loving you might be suffering from low libido syndrome. I see lots of people who remember the sexy person they used to be. And their partners certainly remember that they used to be interested.

Low sex drive is a common problem and by far the most frequent issue I see as a sex therapist. It can get worse as we age. For women, there is an expression “that libido is never improved with menopause”. Oprah speaks often about low libido on her channel and mentions that “diminished libido impacts close to 30% of the North American population”. We understand that with female cycles, low libido is a significant female problem. The truth is that low libido impacts both genders. Many people have this belief that men want sex all the time. Although I speak to many men who could happily have sex every day, I also see guys who have lost that loving feeling.
Low sex drive or low Libido is present in a lot of men, but very few admit it. In my practice, I see 80% women and 20% men. But I do see a lot of men. This is because they have the opinion that it is not a male issue and that they should be all over the partners daily. Their sexual prowess and virility is directly linked to their confidence as a man. Low Libido in men takes place due to a number of reasons and causes. Some of them are listed below.

male libido
• Depression

Depression is a major psychological issue that can reduce your sex drive, especially if you are on the SSRI anti-depressants. Doctors may not tell you that there are often huge side effects with anxiety and depression medications. Anti-depressants also affect your ability to reach orgasm. The other issue is that depression leads to not feeling great about yourself and the biochemistry of serotonin and dopamine imbalances can leave you in a serious funk. You don’t feel like doing much, including having sex. There also might be something that has happened that is taking up tons of brain space. Work stress is a common cause. I see men with big jobs who find their interest in sex goes down when their work stress goes up. It’s why holiday sex happens more easily and is generally more erotic.

The truth is that you cannot attain the needed level of sexual attraction when your mind is stuck up with other issues.

• Alcohol and Drug Usage

All kinds of addictive substances increase the chances of low libido. Men who have been regular drinkers or drug users are rarely able to provide the needed level of satisfaction to their female partners. Smoking (especially the ones grown under grow lamps and rolled) has a serious negative impact on libido and erections. The warning on the cigarette package that smoking makes you limp is not a myth. If you are smoking dope stopping is a great first step. Get some milk thistle at the health food store and detoxify your liver. Have no more than 7 drinks a week and start thinking about abundant health.

• The low testosterone factor

Low Libido has been linked to the deficiency of testosterone. A number of diseases cause the deficiency of testosterone in the human body, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and excess of weight, diabetes and a lot of other health problems as well. According to medical research, there is a direct proportionality relationship between diabetes and low testosterone. People who have diabetes are more likely to develop the low testosterone issue. Similarly, people who have low testosterone are more likely to have diabetes in the future stages of their life. Sometimes low testosterone is caused by injury. I’ve seen a number of men who have had a hockey puck to their groin or a soccer ball in the testicles and who have then experienced diminished sex drive and low testosterone. Sometimes when you do blood work there are some men who have low testosterone and have no known reason. But they get what I call “the grumpy old man syndrome”. These guys are quickly turning into their fathers and grandfathers and lose their interest in sex, sports and become couch potatoes. If men are putting on belly fat, fall asleep after dinner and aren’t having the ambition they used to it’s time for a blood test to check the levels of testosterone and free testosterone. Adding testosterone (the best kind looks like hand sanitizer you simply apply to your forearms) can turn these problems around within a month.

• Low Libido can be a relationship issue
When I see men in my office who aren’t interested in sex with their partners I offer up a checklist to determine what might be the reason. Besides the physical issues such as low testosterone, men might be getting their sexual needs met elsewhere (too much porn or visiting the massage parlors etc.) or they might simply not be into their partners. Men think they should be interested in sex no matter what. I believe that men are as emotionally sensitive if not more so than women. If your partner has disappointed you, or you are fighting, then you simply might not be interested in being intimate. And although it might be hard to admit, there might be an attraction issue. As the sex therapist Esther Perel says, “fire needs air”. If you are busy raising kids together and feel like “friends that co-parent” you might need a little mystery put back into the relationship. Read my blog on date nights and spend some time doing the things you did when you first fell in love. The flames of intimacy needs fanning and attention sometimes. Spend some fun, sexy, and intimate alone time with your partner and see what comes up.

• Low Libido has physical as well as psychological reasons

Low libido can be due to physical reasons, psychological reasons or a combination of both as well. As an individual, you need to discover the reasons why you are experiencing a low sex drive. For instance, if you are facing this problem due to psychological reasons like depression, you need to consult a psychologist or a psychiatrist. However, if you do not have any psychological issues and you are suffering from a decreased desire have a look at some other factors including relationship problems, pornography usage, and food choices. If you are facing low sex drive, burying your head in the sand doesn’t help. What I do know about low libido is that it doesn’t magically get better. You may need help to drill down to the actual causes of the problem. By getting proper treatment, you can get that strong love back again. Consider an initial appointment either in person or by skype or phone. Usually I can diagnose the issue quickly and it often can be treated in one or two quick sessions. Send me an email at and we can tackle this issue in the next 48 hours. I care, and low libido is my specialty.

Low sex drive, the birth control pill, and why the diaphragm may make a revival.

I spend my days talking to women about low libido. Low sex drive is the number one women’s sex issue for therapists and doctors. Without exception all of the women have been on the birth control pill for a number of years and find their sexual desire disappearing. It isn’t a coincidence. Just like on the front of the cigarette packages that warn about lung cancer, I believe that a big red sign should be across the oral contraceptive pill that says LOWERS YOUR SEX DRIVE. The pill causes many women to lose their interest in sex.

The pill should be contraindicated for women who struggle with sexual desire issues. Couple the birth control pill with anti-depressants (and especially SSRI’s), a low BMI (think of those petite yoga/spinning girls, size 8 or smaller), and low iron/B complex and you get a perfect storm of missing sex drive. But there are some things you can do to get it back. I have a whole kit that I call “the start me up kit” to bring back that loving feeling. But it begins with getting off the birth control pill.

According to Ms. Magazine “last year’s combined sales of Yaz and Yasmin, the most popular oral contraceptives in the U.S., totaled $1.64 billion. Did you know the drugs are also the target of 1,100 lawsuits for potentially fatal blood clots? Did you know that an estimated 50 women have died from taking those contraceptives?
Despite such health risks, however, oral contraceptives remain an extremely popular method of birth control in the U.S., second only to sterilization. The Guttmacher Institute reports that whether a woman prefers the Pill or sterilization is largely a function of age, with women under 30 choosing the Pill and women over 30 choosing permanent methods. These trends have been fairly stable since 1982.”

So what’s a girl to do if she gets off the pill to keep from getting pregnant? The IUDs are a better choice than the pill for impact but most still have the hormones estrogen and progesterone in them. The hormones tend to be localized (beside the ovaries) and are less likely to kill your libido. But IUDs aren’t perfect. You have to get them inserted for up to five years, they can lead to a perforated uterus and can often increase bleeding. And they still have hormones that can impact libido.
Condoms are possible as a method for birth control. But condoms are greatly disliked by both partners as a long term play for preventing pregnancy. And then there is the high failure rate. 11 out of 100 women using condoms alone for a year will get pregnant.

diaphragmI am talking about the diaphragm to my patients as a viable solution to the pill or IUD. If the patient is a woman under 30, she generally has no idea what I am talking about. I think diaphragms are great. My diaphragm got me through high school, the university years and all through my 20’s without a mishap. Now that I have a tubal, I use my 25 year old diaphragm as a way to block my menstrual flow when I want to have sex during my period. The nice thing internal barrier methods offer (the sponge and cervical cap along with the diaphragm are all internal barriers) is that women control it. And the type of barrier can change depending on the kind of sex (one off, or weekend marathon) that you have.
It turns out my old tried and true Ortho diaphragm from the 1980’s has been discontinued. I feel old. However there is a new diaphragm called the Caya diaphragm out of Europe that you can now get without a prescription in Canada. The sizing is general for everyone and fairly forgiving if you change sizes (based on weight) unlike the previous diaphragms. It’s great that the new Caya diaphragms are kind of a one-size-fits-all. I don’t know if there are any doctors out there who would know how to size them if they weren’t. Head and Hands in Montreal’s west end (where I got my cervical cap in 1986!) are carrying the Caya diaphragms at cost! $60 Yay! I’ve seen them for $80 online otherwise.

Diaphragms are back, and better than ever!

The also sell the FemCap which is a modern, better fitting cervical cap (then the old rubber tire ones) and they have a 98% efficacy rate. Meaning if you use it correctly you won’t get pregnant on it, and those rates rival the pill. Here are the details:
“The FemCap is a reusable anatomically designed silicone cap you place over your cervix before you have sex.
The FemCap is *Non Hormonal *Latex free *Completely Natural *Reusable

The FemCap’s design simply prevents sperm from entering the cervix and womb. The FemCap was designed to conform to the anatomy of the cervix and the vagina to ensure maximum fit and comfort. The underside of the dome forms a bowl which covers the cervix completely.
The brim serves to form a seal against the vaginal wall and acts as a funnel to direct the ejaculate fluid into the groove. The FemCap is designed with a unique groove facing the vaginal opening. This groove stores the spermicide and traps the sperm.”

So don’t feel like you are out of options and only have to go on some kind of hormonal birth control method or condoms that are a real killer to sensuality to keep from getting pregnant. The only downside for some women was that they feared that the diaphragm and cap would be messy. Messy? Great sex is messy. In fact all sex is messy. With or without any kind of diaphragm or Femcap. That’s why I recommend disposable puppy pads for having sex. The mess gets on the pad and you throw them out. Given that both of these methods also let you have blood-free sex during your periods I think they should be in every modern women’s medicine cabinet.

Finally, I should give a shout out for the Cyclotest electronic fertility tester. The caution zone for getting pregnant is about 6 days a month. Those six days are roughly the day you ovulate and the five or so days before that. Sperm have been proven to live up to 5 days in the fallopian tubes. The challenge has been to figure out exactly when you ovulate. Over the last decade the ovulation predictors you can buy it the drug store (pee on a stick) have gotten better. But now we have an electronic predictor that keeps data month after month so you are far more likely to understand EXACTLY when that egg pops out. The Cyclotest tells you when you ovulate, you can plan your sex life around your fertile periods. Use a backup those days or skip the intercourse.

diaphragm1 You can always do things with other parts of your body besides your vagina. There is no reason for taking the pill if you are experiencing any side effects. Especially a decreased libido. It doesn’t magically get better. So take some steps to reclaim your lost sexual desire. You can find that bounce in your step again.





Spring courses, Why love is not enough, and new ideas to keep-it-hot

I interviewed Gretchen Rubin, the author of the Happiness Project and happiness expert a few years ago for my radio show. She offered advice like “make sure you make your bed” and “think about trying meditation” as small things you can do to increase happiness. Happiness needs health, career, and community in order to thrive. But before all of that most people define happiness “as directly related to the quality of their intimate relationships”. How many times have you heard the adage “happy wife, happy life” this summer alone? When you have a great relationship the sun shines brighter, food tastes better and we have a bounce to our step. The challenge is that intimate relationships take a ton of work. Hopefully much of that is fun to do. Gottman’s much quoted research about how to predict a couples eventual divorce with 96% accuracy suggests there are a few things not to do. Those include criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and disengaging. But he also suggests that what works is defusing the stress of the day.What’s the most powerful little exercise to improve a marriage? “Reunite at the end of the day and talk about how it went.” The goal is to bleed off stress from the day so it can’t negatively affect your relationship.

So call out your partner. My challenge doesn’t include a bucket of ice. It’s short, medium and long term work this fall. Make a 21 day commitment to check in with your partner at the end of the day NO MATTER WHAT. Do it by skype if you have to. Consider taking a relationship course. I’ve got the gentle “keeping it hot” PG-13 version as well as the x-rated version listed below. If not mine, then find a tantra, or salsa class you can take together this fall. Finally, commit to getting away for a weekend. Relationships absolutely require uninterrupted, intimate time. Your happiness depends on it.

Couples Workshop on intimacy, keeping it hot, and romance

The new workshop starting this spring

One of the most common questions I get asked from clients is how do you keep up the passion? Especially for people who have been together for a long time. Finding out what’s new in sex, and exploring things you may not have tried is the theme of this new workshop. So if you are asking questions like; What if we want to try something a little more risqué? or How do we try it with grace and integrity? then you may want to consider this workshop for singles and couples. Sex Therapist Sue McGarvie and her husband Blaik Spratt are presenting a 4 week workshop on outlining all of the mild and wild things you can do to create a smoking hot relationship- all without stepping on relationship landmines. This is for couples (and singles) that know they want to ignite the passion within and to learn about new sexual experiences in a safe, professional atmosphere. Sue McGarvie (sex with Sue) has been talking about sex in Ottawa for close to 25 years. Along with her husband Blaik, they can be your tour guides into what might be the best way to safely spark up your love life.

Find out how amazing your sex life could be this September with topics that include:
What turns you on?
Where are you on the sexual continuum? Where is your partner and what does it all mean?
What is your Love Language and how does your sweetie feel loved?
Sensual touch and Tantric sex.
Burlesque, body image and how to move in a sexy way.
Read More

Why simply being in love isn’t enough to make relationships stick

I tell my clients that simply “being in love” isn’t enough to fix all of their problems. Unfortunately, love doesn’t conquer all. With a 52% divorce rate in this country, couples need more tools besides love in order to make relationships sustainable. Things like attraction, similar interests and values, support systems, courtesy and acceptance. You can go to your grave loving someone but if you can’t live with them the relationship is doomed. So what can you do? There is a great article by Mark Manson talking about why this adage is oh-so-true.
Manson calls them three harsh truths about love:

1. Love does not equal compatibility. Just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good partner for you to be with over the long term. Love is an emotional process; compatibility is a logical process. And the two don’t bleed into one another very well.
Read More

The Ethical Hedonist 2. From Jealousy to BDSM The advanced workshop.

This workshop is for couples who wish to learn and understand the dynamics in enhanced sexual relationships. This course is also recommended for couples who want more information beyond an introduction to what is out there to experience. So if you are asking questions like; How do I bring up and possibly negotiate expanding our sex life to include new forms of play? and If we do walk that path, how do we maximize the experience while minimizing the risk?, then this may well be for you. (There is no requirement to take EH1 before EH2)
Find out how amazing your sex life could be this spring with topics that include:
Week 1 Jealousy, insecurities, anxiety about alternative sexual adventures. Negotiating sexual experimentation, and understanding interpersonal dynamics.
Read More

Sue McGarvie,



Why women still think that they may be frigid.

1950'sI picked up a 1950’s book at an estate sale a few weeks ago. Entitled

    A Doctor’s Marital Guide for Patients

, it was the book given to women about to be married in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The Table of Contents included chapters on The Facts of Life, Sex, Love and Reproduction, and Principles and Techniques of Intercourse. It also had a large section on “What is Natural Sexually”, and “Obstacles to Sexual Satisfaction”. I found it strange that they had a whole block on what our fallopian tubes look like. In all my years working in sexual health, no woman has ever asked me to describe her fallopian tubes. I doubt that has changed much since the 50’s.
I usually find these kinds of historical sex books interesting in a pioneering sort of way. But this one widely circulated by Canadian physicians simply made me sad. It taught a whole generation of women that not wanting to have sex made them frigid. And that their orgasms weren’t really that important. I hate the word frigid. To me it’s a word that says that it must be our fault if we don’t want sex. That we as women, are flawed in some way for having no sexual desire. The book defined frigidity as “a condition common to women in which there is a lack of responsiveness and inability to enjoy the sex act, and for some women, even to the point of suffering pain and revulsion.” The truth is that according to Oprah 31% of the North American population of women has lost interest in sex to some extent. That doesn’t make us frigid. My gynecologist says that women who don’t want to have sex are either uninspired, unfulfilled or have unbalanced hormones. I believe that sometimes it’s all three, physical, emotional/psychological, and lack of relationship intimacy. But somehow again it seems to need a label and assigned fault. I spend much of my day as a sex therapist helping women re-claim their authentic sexual selves. When women understand their sexuality and what turns them on its amazing how quickly their sexual desires come through.

I’ve come to believe that much of the reason we’ve lost that loving feeling has to do with stress. If sex is the second most powerful drive after food, then where has that drive gone? Evolutionary biology explains that if we stress out female mammals then they stop going into heat. Too many deer in Algonquin Park and there are fewer fawns. For women it’s the same thing. If our cortisol is elevated, our sex drive is in the basement. Think about how much better sex is when you are on holiday. With no commitments, no distractions and a clean, uncluttered hotel room you can often can kick-start a lagging libido. But besides a monthly holiday lounging on a beach with a cocktail, what can you do to find your sexual Zen?

I suggest five things to start. First get to bed earlier, and eliminate any ambient light in your bedroom. Our stress hormones decrease when we power down for at least 8 hours in total darkness. Secondly, seriously increase the amount of fish oils and Vitamin D you take. I recommend 5,000 mg of fish oils, and 3,000 mg of Vitamin D daily. But make your own decision about what works for you. Third, pick up a cortisol and adrenal supplement. I love the Signature Brand Supplements out of Nova Scotia but any high-end supplement will help significantly. Fourth, increase the amount of coconut oil you take. I have a teaspoon everyday at 3 p.m. mixed with cocoa and dried cranberries. Coconut oil, (along with decreasing the bad carbs and inflammatory foods), lowers our inflammation levels and helps manage those long term stress hormones. Finally schedule a weekly block of time to simply hang out with your sweetie. Make sure it includes touch of some kind and time to simply connect. The only rule is that you don’t talk about kids, work, or problems. Just be together and talk about current events, reminisce about old memories and work on feeling close. For women, talking to our partners increases our oxytocin levels and makes us feel better. And closeness for women leads us to thinking about getting horizontal.
So instead of frigidity and thinking you are broken, understand that you are a highly stressed, female mammal. We need to write the new book on sexual self-care that keeps us healthy and sexy.






So you’re a little dry… What to do with vaginal dryness beyond the need to find a new bottle of lube.

drynessIt’s called the 7 dwarves of menopause. Itchy, bitchy, dopey, sleepy, leaky, achy and all dried up. It turns out that the all dried up part is really the first sign that peri-menopause is well established and you are traveling down the yellow brick road to full-on menopause.
Other symptoms include memory change, depression, insomnia, low energy, bladder control issues (peeing when you cough), dry mouth, aches and pains, and poor quality of sleep.

So what’s a girl to do?

A great lube helps. I like the silcone extra-slippery that doesn’t break down like a water based lube. A little Replens or other long-term adhering lubricant also helps. But the truth is you may need more than that.
Here are the rules beyond lube.
1. Masturbate when your body tells you to. It’s like a sneeze, it cleans out the vaginal cavity that regular discharge used to do. It’s even more important for those tissues as you get closer to menopause.
2. Find out your hormonal blood levels. Here is the list of test I usually request that gives me a starting point.:
Free Testosterone
Cortisol AM
High Sensitivity CR Protein
3. Decrease the carbs (especially the refined sugars) and increase the protein in your diet.
4. Get some liquid, green chlorophyl from the health food store. It will balance your PH levels and clean out your hoo-hoo.
5. Finally, call your doctor and don’t take no for an answer. It really won’t get better on its own, and if your progesterone and estrogen dip too low then you also will start having problems orgasming. Gasp! I know, that would have me pounding my head into a wall. If you need some help, I’ll see you in person, or by skype and will make a difference within three sessions.

Heal your metabolism, and improve your libido. 5 Tips.

One of the big perks of being a media shrink are the book review copies I get sent to me. Interesting new reads that come out just magically appear in my office mail compliments of all the mainstream publishers. It’s like Christmas. And I devour all the new material in the area of sex, relationships, intimacy and health. Given my lifelong struggles to keep my figure from blowing up and resembling the Micheline Man, I am always looking for new insights in the field of diet and weight management. So, without exaggeration I can honestly say that I have read 40% of all of the new health/weight loss books put out by major publishers in the last few years.

These books all have seem to have a sameness about them. I’m always excited to get a book with with new insights, or new information. So I was so happy to read Haylie Pomroy’s, The Fast Metabolism Diet. Pomroy a young, hip, California celebrity nutritionist has had fantastic results with her plan that claims to “lose 28 pounds in 28 days” healthy weight loss plan. Pomroy has had incredible word-of-mouth results because hers works. She’s even had the King of Jordan fly in for a consultation. What’s interesting to me is that she aims to heal wounded and broken metabolisms and in doing so can heat up other aspects of overall health. Including…your libido.

She outlines five tips that seem to work. I’m heading into week 3 of my 28 days and I’m down close to 10 pounds. If I continue to lose, I’ll start posting pictures of my svelte new body. Her information works in conjunction with my Libido Diet (which I use supplements and brainwashing to find your sexy self). The basic premise works on ways to stoke up your internal furnace.

Here are the 5 steps that my Libido Diet and Pomroy’s Fast Metabolism kick-start have in common. Get on them, get skinny and find your inner sex tiger/tigress.
1. No dairy, no breads, no peanuts, no rice, no sweets. No exceptions.
2. Eat 5 times a day. Even if you don’t feel hungry. You need fuel to keep the furnace burning.
3. Pomroy ‘s plan follows a 2 day moderate protein, moderate carbs, no fat. 2 days of no fat, no carbs but lots of meat and veggies, and 3 days of good quality fats (like nuts), low carbs (like beans and steel cut oats) and lots of fiber.
4. The Fast Metabolism Diet has you doing only moderate exercise for brief periods 3 times a week.
5. No wheat, corn, soy, no alcohol, no refined sugars, eat within 30 minutes of waking, eat every 3-4 hours when awake.

It sounds draconian but I admit to losing weight quickly. You need to stay the distance over 28 days. What’s interesting to me as a sex therapist is that if you rev your weight loss engine, your ‘hello Sailor” engine increases too. Start thinking of your body in one way and it will have added benefits. It’s time to look fabulous and feel sexy. Drop me a line and I’ll plug you into the group of us who are re-shaping our bodies and kick-starting our libidos.