Ellen Cole likes to talk about sex. A lot. And it’s a good thing, too. She’s the only nationally licensed sex therapist in the whole state of Alaska.
A psychology professor at Alaska Pacific University, Cole knows sex isn’t the easiest thing for most Americans to talk about.
“Our society does such a weird thing with sex,” she says. “On the one hand, you’re not supposed to have sex till marriage. On the other, there’s all this cheesecake on television.”
It may not be easy, but to Cole, talking about sex is important. That’s why Cole accepted the UAA Student Health Organization’s invitation Feb. 2 to give a talk, “Spice up Your Sex Life.”
The first thing Cole did after introducing herself was to ask every one of the 50 students and members of the public in attendance to find a partner and brag.
“Self-esteem is the basis of a good sex life,” Cole said. “The thing I would say above all else, is practice feeling good about yourself first, and then share that with your partner.”
When a member of the audience suggested watching sex educational videos as a way to improve sex, Cole advised caution. They are not for everyone, she said, and should not be imposed on your partner.
“It’s very important to respect your own religious and personal values,” she said. “As a sex therapist, I have to make sure I work within my client’s values.”
For instance, 10 percent of sexually active adult women have never had an orgasm, but fortunately it’s easy to learn how. Although she recommended masturbation as a learning technique, she said she understands some religions forbid this, and she would never encourage anyone to do something that goes against his personal or religious beliefs.
Cole had a lot to say about exciting, inspired sex and less exciting sex as well.
“If your partner invites you to have sex and you feel negative about it, you should always say no,” she said. “You never want to pair negativity with sex. But having sex when you’re just feeling neutral is OK, and it’s even good for your relationship.”
To renew your sexual desire and awareness, Cole recommended taking time to explore your own body at a private time without interference.
“Learn your body all over again,” she said. “Generate your own sexual energy and be aware of yourself as a sexual being. After this process, then you transfer that sexual energy to being with your partner.”
Sex begins with connection and intimacy, she said.
Her advice: “View every day you see your partner as the first day you’ve seen each other.”