Therapists for Sexual Issues

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  • Male therapist for husband with sex issues

    (3 replies)

    I'm seeking recommendations for a male therapist in Berkeley or Oakland who can help my husband with sex issues in our relationship. Sex addiction is a possible problem - it's unclear at this point. The issues have led to a serious two-year-long betrayal (not cheating but equally serious) and now there is a loss of trust in our relationship. Husband has been in denial about the gravity of his behavior but is now expressing openness to working on himself. Not seeking couples counselor at this time, but someone who will work individually with my husband.  All previous relevant  recommendations on BPN are 7+ years old. Thank you. 

    My husband saw George Collins in Walnut Creek for many, many years for sex addiction. It sounds like the same type of thing...not cheating, but equally destructive behaviors. It looks like George now has a practice called Compulsion Solutions. (925) 932-0201


    Unfortunately I don’t have a therapist in the Bay Area i can recommend but Have your husband look onto the SLAA website. The Bay Area has a great sex love addict anonymous program and he can begin attending these meetings and get therapist recommendations there. Good luck!

    SAA deals more directly with compulsive sex issues. SLAA tends to be geared more toward love/romance addiction. 

  • I'm looking for recommendations for an experienced couples counselor who can speak gently and frankly regarding sexual and other communication issues--in Berkeley or Oakland. 

    Thank you.

    I would hugely recommend that you talk with Dr. Lisa Lancaster.  My husband and I saw her a few years ago and she was instrumental in helping us through some very difficult days.

    She is in Berkeley near the Oakland boarder.  510-845-2525

    I would recommend Karen Levine, MFT for couples counseling. She has a gentle and warm style. She is also practical, and offers insight as well as strategies you can actually use to make things better. Her phone number is 510-761-5303. 

    I recommend Joy Hillriegel ( very highly.  She is a sex-positive, poly and LGBTQ friendly and kink friendly LMFT based in Berkeley.   She mediated an amazingly smooth transition, under the circumstances, from partners to co-parents for my ex and I.  She is very empathic but still keeps everyone accountable and grounded in reality.  She focused on building consensus and trust and communication between us, based on making agreements and following through to take actions on those agreements.  This was very practical but also so gentle and compassionate.  I didn't work on any sexual issues with her, but I bet she would be amazing.  Hope this helps, and I wish you and your partner all the best.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Sexual Couples Help in near Berkeley

Oct 2011

This question has been asked before, but I need to ask again with my insurance company limitation in mind. We have the Blue Shield HMO, and we need, need, need to see someone who will directly address sexual issues, no shyness or sideways talking. We'd also consider a workshop or course, but we have small children and no ability to go to overnight retreats, or to pay for tons of childcare. We need to be guided through recovery from abuse and intimacy issues that have blocked our love life from the beginning. anonymous

We had a great experience with Laura Goldberger ( 510-665-7755). Although she didn't push our sexual issues until we brought them up, she then was totally comfortable and straight-forward discussing our sexual and intimacy dynamics, including long-standing difficulties (and even our kinky tendencies). She helped us understand the dynamics and clear out tension and start anew. She did take Blue Shield HMO. Wife with Much Better Sex Life

Therapist to deal with husband's sex addiction?

Sept 2011

This has been a thread throughout our 8+ years as a couple. He was having affairs and now has ''tapered off'' into chat rooms with women and men (he pretends to be a woman in these pornographic conversations with men).

He is sick and I am sick to my stomach and have just moved to the area. We have young children and he is starting to look for a therapist and attend sa meetings, but I am becoming unhinged and am a bad parent because I'm so upset about this.

I need to find a therapist for me in the Montclair/Temescal/Rockridge area. Female preferred.

Thank you. unraveling

I have been seeing Jerri Lee Young at the Living Arts Counseling Center for over a year for my own personal growth, and I have just started talking with her about my husband's work in recovery in SAA. I really appreciate her approach to life. She's very caring, warm, open, grounded, and spiritual, while also being very down-to-earth -- and she has a great sense of humor. She really helps me to zero in on things about myself and helps me to understand what my husband is going through.

I specifically went to Living Arts Counseling Center because of its emphasis on drama and expressive arts therapy, but if you're a person for whom that is off-putting, no worries; I end up just talking with her a lot of the time I'm there. She totally rolls with what you're wanting to do each time.

Here's a link to info about her on their site:,%20MFT%20intern_25.htm Learning to support my husband

Therapists comfortable with alternative lifestyles

Sept 2009

I'm looking for 2 therapists, for individual counseling as well as couples therapy. I'm searching therapists who'd be non-judgmental about my sexual issues, past, and propensity toward non-conventional living and desire to explore the possibility of open marriage - who'd also combine great analysis with a sensitive and spiritual perspective! These are really difficult existential issues for me, so it's not only about being sex positive. I saw the previous recommendations in relation to sex work, but because that's not my particular history, I'm wondering if these wouldn't be relevant to me. Prefer East Bay or SF. Thanks! anon

I HIGHLY recommend Stacy Stoddard - 510.496.2733. She was fantastic & non-judgmental & open about our open marriage. And affordable, too. ANON

Hi I'd like to recommend Laine Demetria, MS, MFT Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Although she specializes in medical trauma, she embraces families, couples and individuals with alternative lifestyles. I love the way she deeply listens and addresses the issues at hand but always sees you as whole and perfect. She is bright, grounded, empathetic and spiritual. You can call her to see if she is a good match to you. 415.705.0776 hope this helps

My husband & I have a 4 month old son, and are also in an open marriage. We use a therapist named Lonnie Green-Tate & we love her. She is very open-minded, supportive & not 'cookie-cutter-mold-ish'. She really makes sure to understand where BOTH of us are coming from & what will serve BOTH of our happiness... Her phone number is 415-946-9751 Good Luck! Anon

Lyn Davis Genelli is your woman. Unconventional, amazing, frank, accepting (very) of alternative lifestyles, and does not pussyfoot around. Her spiritual well is very deep, and that's the first thing that drew me to her. Besides psychotherapy, she has a very committed intellectual spiritual practice as well as a deep background in yoga. She's a wise elder (in her sixties), an ass-kicker when necessary, funny and just capable of coming up with the most amazing insights. I have never walked out of her office without an ''aha'' moment. She does body-centered psychotherapy, so you don't just become a talking head. Her email address: lyngenelli [at] I know she works out of her home in San Rafael, and also perhaps in SF. Grateful Former Client

Hi there, I would highly recommend Jennifer Lieberman. I did couples counseling with Jennifer during a particularly hard life transition. My partner and I at the time were practicing an open marriage, and he is transgendered. Jennifer handled our situation with grace, intelligence and compassion. I always felt greatly accepted and gently guided towards my own truth and healing. Jennifer always focused on the issues at hand, healing a relationship, finding our personal truth and hopefully bringing the two together. Unfortunately that did not happen, but I did go on to work with Jennifer in individual therapy and that was transforming and deeply healing. She is located in the east bay and would be a wonderful guide through these difficult questions that you allude to in your post. Christine

Sex therapist for mid life couple

Sept 2008

I'm writing this for my best friend who is looking for a great sex therapist (or something) for her and her husband. Their situation briefly:Both in late 50's, married long time, kids grown, they've grown apart sexually, but are still compatible in many other together well, travel well, like the same things, get along, etc. He wants sex in the marriage, she isn't attracted to him sexually anymore and can't imagine having sex with him.....but she loves him and is willing to investigate. They are both in individual therapy and have been in couples therapy...but more is needed. Any great recommendations? anon

I would highly recommend Lisa Lancaster. She has been a great help to me and my husband. She is in Berkeley and her number is 510-841-2525. anon

I need a good couples sex therapist

July 2008

HELP! Does anybody have the name of a good sexual therapist out there? I feel so frustrated that I don't even want to try anymore, Even though I am over 50, I feel too young to be celibate for the rest of my life!! Sleepless in Orinda

We had great success with Dr. Deborah Caust in San Francisco. You can find her easily via google. She is a sexologist as well as an MFT with 25 years in private practice. We started seeing her primarily to jump-start our sex life and ended up also resolving couplehood issues I thought we'd be arguing about for the rest of our lives! Better living through therapy

I'd recommend Victoria Lee, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and Sex Therapist. She is located in Lafayette and can be reached at 510-882-2330 Anon

I highly recommend Dr. Lisa Lancaster in Berkeley. She is fabulous! Her number is 510-841-2525. anon

Therapist who specializes in sexual issues

May 2008

I am looking for a marriage/couples therapist for my husband and myself who also specializes in sexual issues. The last time we did therapy together it was very successful, but in the end we both felt that the therapist we had was not a perfect fit for us. Since then, we have had a second child and it is time for therapy again! This time we would ideally like a woman who practices close to Piedmont Ave. in Oakland. Thank You! Everywoman

I'd recommend Elveyn Hoch, who has an office on Piedmont Avenue. We saw her for marriage therapy, rather than specific sex therapy, but I believe she has background in both specialties. (510) 547-3759 Good luck.

I have been extremely happy with Dr. Lisa Lancaster. She has seen me and my husband for about 6 months now and has really helped us be a happier couple and happier people. She is in Berkeley--510-841-2525 anon

A great help to our marriage was a psychologist in Berkeley, Hans Stahlschmidt. We were able to work through some tough sexual issues. He incorporates the approach by David Schnarch (recommended reading ''The Passionate Marriage'')and he has a deep understanding of the dilemma of attraction, desire and commitment in long-term relationships. Highly recommended. His office phone is: 510-8485347. anon

Therapist specializing in sex therapy

Jan 2008

I am looking for a recommendation for a couples counselor specializing in sex therapy, or the sexual relationship as an entry into deeper issues between us. I have read through previous recommendations on the website, but few mention sex therapy specifically. I think this would be the easiest way to enter into a discussion of the ways we relate to one another and it represents much of what I see elsewhere in our personalities. That said, I'm not looking for a counselor who only deals in sexual issues - I am guessing that our intimate relationship is how we manifest our other issues. Also, we are a hetero-couple, with few ''on the fringe'' relationship desires. We also have kids together and this would also be discussed. I am looking for someone in the Berkeley area (within about 10 miles is reasonable). Lastly, if you have more than one recommendation, that would be great since I have to match with our mental health benefit. Thank you!!!!! anon

She is not really a ''therapist'' but Danielle Harel is a sexologist who has helped me greatly. She has a Phd from the IASS in SF (the premier sexological academic instiiute) and she is an incredible person, very loving, very caring and very perceptive. She is a mother of two kids herself and she has an office in Berkeley. She has a master's in psychology. If you google her name you will find her details. ''Was troubled''

I highly recommend Dr. Hans Stahlschmidt in Berkeley. We had developed a very poor sex life in our marriage and he helped us to face some tough and painful issues. He focused on concrete sexual hang-ups as well as on underlying enmeshment problems. For the first time in our lives we found a way to talk about our sexual fears and dreams. Our relationship is now more realistic and loving. I definitely recommend that you check him out. I think his office number is 848 5347. Best of luck. anon

Therapist to help me be more sexually open

Sept 2006

I am in my early 40s and I am looking for a good therapist experienced in sexual issues. I am interested in exploring my sexuality and being more sexually open in my relationships. The rest of my life seems to be in order, but sexually I am a bit hung up. Can anyone recommend a therapist with experience in this area? frustrated mom

For sex (and other) therapy, I strongly recommend Dr. Johanina Wikoff -- . She works with couples and individuals (I've worked with her both with my husband and alone) and is wise, non-judgemental, very knowledgable, highly respected. She sees clients both in San Francisco and in Petaluma. She's made a great difference in my life. Happy Client

I highly recommend Isadora Alman, who used to be in the City and is now in Alameda. She is open, non-judgdmental and likes to do short-term therapy. She also gives good, sound advice. anon

''Sex-Positive'' Therapist?

July 2005

I have never seen a therapist before, but I'm long over-due. I have worked in the sex industry for years and I'm in an open relationship, so I am hoping to find someone who is positive about/open to unconventional life choices. I am afraid that I'll start seeing someone who will secretly be thinking, ''You did WHAT!? Well, there's your problem!'' I understand that good therapists should withhold judgement, but I still can't help feeling that if she believes/assumes that momogamous marriage is the best relationship and that sex work is always bad and harmful, it will impact my therapy experience. Any recommendations for me? Thanks

I have been working with Christy Calame, and can assure you that she has many clients who are sex workers or poly or just sex positive. Her office is off Grand Avenue at Lake a sex-positive mom

I haven't seen this person myself, but she came highly recommended by someone I trust deeply who lives an alternative lifestyle. You might give her a call and see what you think. Kathy Labriola. I went with someone else because some of my issues involved the very friend that made the recommendation and that didn't feel comfortable to me. Good luck!! Anon

My partner and I have what you might say is an ''alternative'' sex lifestyle and worked with Kirsten Beuthin . She was easygoing, and it felt safe to discuss our issues with her. I strongly recommend her. She is in Oakland and SF, and can be reached at 652-0990. I know this a sensitive area, so best of luck. anon

I recommend Charna Cassell. She is actually a somatic therapist, but she is well connected to the feminist, sex positive, abuse recovery and queer therapy communities. Her number is 415.999.2422. You can also try calling the Feminist Therapist Referral Network, 510.843.2949. Good luck! anna

I saw your posting and the first therapist that came to mind is my colleague, Lor Fjerkenstad. Given the concerns listed in your posting, I believe that Lor will be a very good fit for you. She has experience working with the issues that you've discussed - the sex-trade industry and open relationships. I find her to be a very compassionate, non-judgmental therapist. Michael

I highly recommend Isadora Alman in SF as a non-judgemental, very sex positive therapist. ANON

I'm a nurse and volunteer at St James Infirmary in SF, the only clinic in the USA dedicated to caring for sex workers. I'm also a SF Sex Information trained sex educator. I suggest you contact St James 415-554-8494) and SFSI ( for referrals. They can give you referral to sliding scale community services, and possible private practitioners if you have the income/ insurance for that. Being SF, there are many sex positive therapists here who won't blink an eye at your sexual history. Many of them taught the SFSI classes, and they're wonderful. You didn't post your email address; if you need further assistance please email me and I'll do what I can for you.

I have a recommendation for you. Joanne Long Howell. I know Joanne would be positive and accepting toward your life choices, and she has a lot of experience working with people in a similar situation as yours. Ann

Therapist for husband's sexual addiction

Sept 2004

My huband of five years has a sexual addiction problem. I finally threatened to divorce him unless he seeks counseling specifically for this issue. (Bascially, I have caught him 3-4 times using phone sex services, online porn, and online sex personals, which really upsets me. He admitted when confronted with specific evidence that last week, while we were in a fight, he saw a ''massage therapist'' who performed ''extras.'' I strongly suspect he is having an affair in addition to all this, because he lied to me about his whereabouts last weekend and he just ordered some Viagra sent to his office (definitely not to use with me)! Any recommendations? I checked the site but there was nothing in this particular area. I think my husband would respond better to a male when discussing this kind of thing.

How do I deal with the cheating issue if my husband vehemently denies he is cheating? He only responds to hard evidence and I only have circumstantial (but I have a LOT of it; I am convinced, but he knows I can't nail him so he just denies everything). Do I have to hire a private investigator to catch him in the act? We have two young children and I work; I can't be following him around....

Finally, for those of you who have asked your spouse to attend therapy by themselves, how will I know that he has actually gone to the appointments? How will I know if he is making progress? He is in complete denial that this is a problem. Thanks for your help. - Anguished Wife

My husband saw Dr. Charles King in Berkeley for therapy after I discovered his sex addiction problem. My husband was very willing to go to therapy. (He also tried going to an SAA (Sex Addicts Annonymous) meeting, and liked it, but found one on one therapy more appealing.) Our schedule at first was for him to go every week, but I accompanied him on alternate weeks so that we could do couples work to facilitate his recovery. After a year and a half or so we were able to taper off to two appointments a month, one with me, and one without. After a year of that my husband was recovered enough that we decided to just do couples work. And now after a year of that we are ''fixed''. But as a caution... therapy only works if the people involved are willing to change. Give therapy a try, but also be prepared to make some hard choices.

I found the following website helpful when I was investigating the topic:

I also highly recommend any book by Philip Carnes. His stuff is really good. It is hard to find books about the topic that aren't heavy handed in a religious way. Good luck. a surviving spouse

Hi. My heart goes out to you. Four years into our marriage, my husband admitted his sexual addiction to me. Like yours, it took the form of online porn, phone sex, and massage parlors. I felt like such an idiot, I had no idea he did it. I had sensed withdrawal, anger, and depression on his part, but to learn what form it took, and the shock of my ignorance of it, made me physically ill.

We initially sought out couples counseling. I balked at the idea of couples counseling at first, because I thought that, clearly, this wasn't a ''relationship'' problem, but a problem my husband had. I was right, but, equally, of course, however he and we addressed his problem -- and divorce was very much on the table -- it was something that we would probably need couples counseling on, so that's where we started, really for lack of a better place to start. The thing is, in making his admission to me, my husband had ''hit bottom'' in his addiction, and was at a place where he was ready to admit that he had a problem. He started going to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous Meetings, and worked the program. It's now been four years since he has acted out on his addiction, we're still married, have a loving (and sexual) relationship, and he's a different man -- or, he's himself again, the man I fell in love with in the first place.

But, what's the catch about SLAA? Yeah, the first step. He has to be ready to admit he has a problem, and from your message, it doesn't sound like he is. You might want to start with couples counseling. At least then you'll know he's there, and he will hear you talk about the pain it's causing you. You can also call SLAA yourself for more information --- (415) 979-4715. I'm sorry I don't have a couples counselor to recommend; I wasn't that impressed with ours, although he got us pointed in the right direction, which is something.

I wish you all the best in this. It will be a long journey. Still on the journey, but starting to enjoy it again

Your question asked for both recommendations and advice. I'm responding with advice even though this is the ''recommendations'' newsletter.

Your questions and your anguish point to a deep loss of trust in your marriage. Sure, you could obtain ''hard evidence'' with a private investigator or by devoting yourself to the task -- but you already know that he has deceived you. If the problem is his unwillingness to 'fess up, then hard evidence solves that problem -- for that moment in time. But it seems to me that the real problem is his untrustworthiness, and I don't think any trustworthy person deserves an untrustworthy spouse.

I'd like to suggest, gently, that you step back and think about what kind of atmosphere you want to raise your children in. An atmosphere of spousal deceit and distrust?

Think about whether counselling can change his untrustworthiness (regardless of its cause, sex-addiction or who knows what). Can any person overcome a problem that they are unwilling to acknowledge?

Then think about whether you deserve this life, and whether your kids deserve it.

Best wishes and good luck to you. Many of us have been in your shoes, but a lot of us have stepped out of those shoes and have found a better life. Happily Remarried

Marriage therapist good at sexual issues

April 2004

I married a man I love but for whom I have always felt little sexual desire. Ten years and two children later, I've had a purely sexual affair and realize that our situation is untenable. Could anyone recommend a marriage therapist who is very good with sexual issues? Thank you.

I would like to highly recommend Penny Schuchman in Montclair. She has training in both marriage and sex counseling, is very experienced, warm, professional, and helpful. And, she has a great sense of humor! Her phone number is: 339-0120. Good luck.

Sex issues therapist - Walnut Creek

Feb 2004

I am looking for recommendations for a therapist in Walnut Creek (Concord, Pleasant Hill, Lafayette okay too). I need someone to help me deal with current issues regarding lack of sex drive, as well as old issues of molestation that have been rearing their ugly head lately. I want someone who is sensitive to my ''stuff'' but will help me work through these issues and get to the core in a no-nonsense approach. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks. need to get back on the couch

Check out Ellen Walters. She is an MFC with special training and experience in issues related to sexuality. She is very smart and has a wry and wonderful sense of humor. Been There

Specialist for sexual problems in heterosexual relationships

November 2003

My husband and I are also looking for a sex therapist. We saw the recommendation for Heidi Berrin-Shankoff but would like to know if there is anyone else who might actually specialize in sexual problems in heterosexual relationships. Of course, we also need the therapist to be able to deal with the emotional part of the relationship. Has anyone had experience with Romika Raquel Weber who advertises in the Open Exchange? Thanks. anonymnous

Looking for the sex therapist.
First - I think it is great that you are looking for support around this issue.
Second - I have never heard of either of the Therapists you mentioned.
Third -If you could be more clear as to the nature of the issues, It would help you find the right referral. Is the issue low sexual drive? sexual addiction? Exploration? Sexual dysfunction? Is you or your partner a survivor of abuse or sexual trauma and is this impacting your intimate life?

Drive or dysfunction issues need first to be ruled out by a medical doctor. Sexual addiction has it own specialists. The other issues could be understood as relational issues and for that there are a number of good therapists in the the Bay Area. Call one in your Area. All are bound to confidentiality and should be able to focus you in the right direction. Good Luck -Anon Berkeley therapist

Therapist with a focus on sexual issues

October 2003

Can anyone recommend a good sex therapist in the East Bay? I am in regular therapy and have also done couples' therapy with my husband. I would like to augment this by seeing someone to just focus on my sexual issues. I understand that obviously the larger issues overlap but I really want someone with a focus on sexual dysfunction. Anon

To the person looking for a sex therapist to augment couples counseling... My husband and I see a couples counselor who is fabulous at dealing with sexual issues within the relationship. You'll find many recommendations here for her as a general couples counselor, but it's worth pointing out that she has a strong touch with sexual issues as well. Heidi Berrin Shonkoff in Berkeley. Chris

This isn't a sex therapist - but rather workshops around sexuality. For a friend of mine, it was very healing and helped in her relationship - the Body Electric school in Berkeley - I wanted to say I think it's great that you are seeking out the help you need for yourself and your relationship - counseling, sex therapy, whatever it is! Anon

Therapist for painful intercourse

August 2003

For nearly five years I have been dealing with a vaginal pain disorder called vulvardynia. I have been seeing a highly regarded and competent specialist. Still, I have not experienced much relief from my mostly constant pain. I have begun to think that there may be a large psychological component to my pain. For example, it might be partly caused by tensing up emotionally during sex. I have been seeing a therapist who specializes in pain management whom I had hoped would be able to help me with this. Yet, my therapist has just recommended that I see a sex therapist instead. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations to sex therapists whom I could trust and who might have experience in working with women who have vulvar pain issues. I would also appreciate any advise on having pleasurable sex with my loving and supportive partner while dealing with a pain disorder. As a side note, most of my pain during sex is caused by friction and pressure no matter how lubricated I am and I find oral sex to be the most painful. no more pain please

Toni Ayres is a sex therapist in SF (or close by). She taught a sexuality course that I took to get my counseling degree and was wonderful. She is very experienced and also has a nursing degree--so she understands the physiology behind what is going on. I would also encourage you to look up Dr. Jerome Weiss ...

Try either Karen McClellan or Jeremy Gordon at the Berkeley Therapy Institute. Both are warm, pragmatic, and easy to talk to, and both have extensive experience and training in sex therapy. 510-841-8484. anon

I would also encourage you to look up Dr. Jerome Weiss, a urologist in SF. He employs physical therapists who work with people who have vulvodynia (which he believes is actually caused by pelvic floor dysfunction), as well as a woman who does biofeedback for this problem. He believes that the problem is actually a muscular one and that the internal cause refers pain to the vulva--causing painful sex.

I'm sorry to hear about the difficulties you've been having. Like you, I have had major sexual issues (severe pain and tensing up) due to some invasive medical treatments I had as a child.

My primary care physician in SF referred me to Dr. Jerome Weiss (also in San Francisco) at the Pacific Center for Pelvic Pain & Dysfunction. He and the people who work for him have changed my life. I NEVER thought that I'd have a normal sex life, but they have helped me so much. He's not a sex therapist, but uses biofeedback and myofacial techniques to recondition tensed and atrophied muscles. He and the people who work for him are very kind and realize that there are many emotional issues that go along with the physical side of our situtation.

The only difficult thing with Dr. Weiss is that he does not accept insurance. You can try to get an out of network approval for him (since there's no one else in the area doing what he does), but as you can imagine, there's a bit of red tape to muddle through. However, don't let this prevent you from seeing him. He's great and you deserve to lead a completely happy and fulfilling life. good luck....

I don't know about sex therapists, but I have had years of experience with uncomfortable sex. No gynecologists helped, but I had an exam from an N.P or P.A or something like that who gave me advice that is finally making a difference. She noticed how dry my vagina was and recommended a product called REPLENS, which is a vaginal moisturizer that works over 2-3 days. It is not and does not replace lubricants used during sex. It seems to make the tissues around the opening of the vagina less irritated and more comfortable. She also said that many detergents and especially panty liners use baking soda, which can also cause problems to the tissue where it touches. She suggested I stop using the panty liners. I didn't believe either of these pieces of advice, having sufferred for many years with vulvar problems, but I tried them anyway for the last several months. Sex hasn't hurt lately, so I'm going to continue doing this. Maybe it will help you? anon

For temporary relief during intercourse, I would suggest getting a prescription of 2-5% Xylocaine (from any physician/NP) to apply to the vulva before sex. It only takes a tiny bit to be effective (and may burn a little when you first put it on). It wears off after about 20 minutes. For oral sex, however, be warned: this ''caine'' will numb your partner's mouth! Also, a really good lubricant is Astroglide. I was able to find this at Safeway. There are many women with this problem but the causes and cures are difficult to find. These are the best I have come up with so far. Also, know that for many women this problem ''goes away'' after giving birth--more evidence for the possibility of a muscular disorder. Although I am not cured, I have found relief in these temporary solutions--and with a very understanding partner. I hope this is helpful and you can find some relief, too. Empathetic

I'm sorry that you've had to go through so much. Would it help to see an M.D. who specializes in chronic pain, as opposed to a therapist? I think U.C.S.F. has a chronic pain center; there may be others. Could your pain possibly be muscle tension? In which case Kegel exercises, along with a muscle relaxant, such as Flexerill, or a short course of Valium, might be helpful. I've also heard that cognitive behavioral therapy can be useful in dealing with chronic pain; there's a center for Cog Beh therapy in Oakland, and a therapist there specializes in chronic pain. Hope this is helpful. Don't give up. anon

Self-help book to improve our sex life

Sept 2003

After seven years together and a less frequent love-making schedule after the arrival of our child, I am considering getting a sex guide to help my partner and I get some new ideas. Does anyone have suggestions for good books that are instructive without being too pedagogical and straightforwardly sexy without being smutty? Is Joy of Sex trite (on-line reviews make later editions sound a bit clinical)? Also, I automatically assume books will contain the information I seek, but maybe there are other options out there that are less ''intellectual?''

Good Vibrations in Berkeley has all sorts of books, from technical to smutty, also videos, tapes, and toys, and the place is very friendly and, well, wholesome. I would recommend going there with your husband as a place to explore and see what tickles your fancy. They also do mail-order. I've bought x-rated comic books and tapes there, and mailed them at odd intervals to my husband at his office.

>From the self-help section of the regular bookstore, Passionate Marriage, by a man named Snarch, has a lot of insight in to how to get out of your own way (and out of your partner's way) when you're a bit stuck. It's by no means smutty, but it's very direct, and when my husband and I read it out loud to each other, we often ended up making love.

Scheduling sex, ghastly as it sounds, can help a lot, and leads to more spontaneity later. anonymous!

Good Vibrations puts out a great book called _Good Vibrations Guide to Sex, The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever Written_. It is great! Nice drawings, nice anecdotes from normal people, and some of it is downright erotic without being smutty at all. I would recommend you take a trip down to the store (San Pablo and Dwight) and check it out. Good luck and have fun! Anon

Check out The Guide To Getting It On. It is a great book, it may have more information than your after but it is very good, written with a sense of humor and covers sexuality from A to Z. anon

You should look into the books 101 Nights of Grrreat Romance and 101 Nights of Grrreat Sex, both are on or at Barnes and Nobel. They are not so much sex manuals. They give ideas on how to spice up the relationship. The format is that there are 50 envelopes for her and 50 envelopes for him. One night you open up an envelope and do what it tells you (He can't peek at it first) then the next time he opens up an envelope. Then there is one extra envelope that you open together. Fun!Fun! anon

I recommend 101 Nights of Grrreat Sex: Secret Sealed Seductions for Fun-Loving Couples by Laura Corn

My husband and I have been having a good time with them. Together you choose sealed pages, one labelled his and one labelled hers (by the titles and icons indicating about how much money you'll have to spend, if you'll have to go somewhere, etc.) then you promise each other that you'll make that scenario happen. She has you drop hints or leave messages about what is going to happen later to create anticipation. Each one has a small technique or guidelines on how to make it work. Mostly it gets you thinking about each other and planning on having a good time together anonymous