ED GORDON, host:
I'm Ed Gordon and this is NEWS AND NOTES.
In today's busy world, for too many people, sex can seem more like a chore on your to do list than a pleasurable experience. Gynecologist and NEWS AND NOTES contributor Dr. Hilda Hutcherson has some helpful tips for women to make the most of their sex lives. Her latest book is called Pleasure: A Women's Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need, and Deserve.
The doctor spoke with NPR's Farai Chideya.
A quick note, this conversation contains adult subject matter. Parents, you may not want your children to listen.
FARAI CHIDEYA reporting:
What do find is the most common myth about sex?
Dr. HILDA HUTCHERSON (Gynecologist, Author, Pleasure: A Women's Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need, and Deserve): The most common myth about sex is that is has to be over the top every time. The problem that I find with women is that they often will measure their sexual experience against someone else's and more often than not, the person that they're measuring it against is giving them an unrealistic expectation of what sex should be like. For instance, I've had women come to me after watching a television program like Sex in the City, and saying, I thought I was happy with my sex life until I watched Samantha, and my experience is nothing like hers. And I, as a physician, have to tell them that that's a fictional character, and that not what real life is like. And that you should be happy with your own experience and honor it.
CHIDEYA: Well, one of the realities of everyday life is that you can, if you choose, and sometimes even if you don't, end up seeing a lot of depictions of sex or sexuality that can make you feel inadequate. So aside from telling women that, what are some tips for reconnecting with your own desires?
Dr. HUTCHERSON: Well, the basic foundation of great sex is to love your body and love all parts of your body. As a gynecologist, I meet woman everyday who are totally unsatisfied with at least one part of their body. So learning to love yourself, to look at your body, to really feel good about the skin that you're in.
CHIDEYA: You mentioned that one of the stressful points for women and presumably for men is after marriage or after childbirth when people's relationships, including their sexual relationships, can change. How do you talk to people who are in these transitions?
Dr. HUTCHERSON: Well, I like to talk to couples before they get married. And what I tell women is that there's one thing that is guaranteed and that is that sex will change after marriage. You know, there have been studies that show that after one year of marriage, people had sex 50 percent less than they did before they got married. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you know that this is something that normally happens in a marriage, you can take the steps that are necessary to make sure that this doesn't happen to you, and that is by always introducing novelty into your sex life.
Never letting your sex life become boring, making this a priority in your life. And therefore, if couples want to stay together in their relationship, it is important to have intimacy on a regular basis. I can't tell anybody how often they should be having sex. All I can say is it is important not to let this part of the relationship die.
CHIDEYA: Now, you're a mother of four. You're writing books; you're co-director of the New York Center for Women's Sexual Health at Columbia Presbyterian. How do you tell people that they have to make time for sex, when you yourself seem to be so busy? Do you identify with career women who are like, well, I've got a lot of other things going on?
Dr. HUTCHERSON: Absolutely. I always tell women, I pencil it in on my calendar. I put it on my palm pilot. And that doesn't sound romantic, but if you don't plan sex, you're not going to have sex. In my life, I say, okay, darling, on Friday night we're getting together and we're going to have a really good time. One of the other things that married couples can do is to leave the home and go check into a hotel. Even if it's just for a few hours, how exciting that is. But it's so important in the relationship that you have got to make it a priority and you have to plan it.
CHIDEYA: Final question, what tip then would you leave women with?
Dr. HUTCHERSON: I think the most important point that I can make is that sexual satisfaction is natural, it's normal, it's healthy, and every woman deserves it.
CHIDEYA: Dr. Hilda Hutcherson's latest book is, Pleasure: A Woman's Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve. Thanks for joining us, Dr. Hutcherson.
Dr. HUTCHERSON: Thank you.
GORDON: That was NPR's Farai Chideya.
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