Sex and Dementia: What Are Our Rights When We’re Not Ourselves Any More?

A recent Bloomberg article recapped an incident in a nursing home in which an employee walked in on two elderly residents, both diagnosed with dementia, having intercourse. The man was in his late 70s, the woman in her late 80s. The employee, a nurse, called for help and separated the two, but not without the woman clawing and screaming at them. It’s a delicate subject and the zone is completely gray. The incident led to the male patient being removed …

Ginny Johnson Not Given Enough Credit for Sex Study Contributions

Ginny Johnson’s death brings back a lot of memories. I remember, as a new Ph.D. and young professor, sitting around many living rooms with her and her even more famous husband, Bill Masters, talking about sex research, about women in the field, and about differences in opinions between the behavioral scientists (my group) and  the medical people (Bill’s and, to some extent, Ginny’s group). Ginny was Bill Masters’ partner in sex research. Starting out as a secretary in his office, she transitioned to the …

Virginia Johnson: She Helped Bring Sex Out of the Bedroom

In 1957, Virginia Johnson, a divorced mother of two, saw an ad for a position as a research assistant at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The job turned out to be working for Dr. William H. Masters, a gynecologist who’d begun to study a topic that was largely taboo: sex. Johnson took the job, and it was the start of a partnership that would change America. Johnson, who died on July 24 at age 88 in St. Louis, …

An Unexpected Test

Q: My age is 60. I am very active and energetic and would love to meet the perfect match for me, a partner for life. Dilemma: A few men my age or younger can no longer hold an erection. Thus, the protection of a condom no longer works because it comes off. However, men at this age are taken aback when I suggest that we have blood tests before having intercourse. I have received a lot of shocked looks, comments …

A Renewed Sense of Self After Cancer

Q: My wife lost a breast to cancer. Chemotherapy took six months, during which she basically lay on the couch and had no energy. It’s now 16 months after chemo and she’s still on the couch. I can’t get her to get up and do much of anything, including sex. We have no money to do any traveling since Social Security is all we get. Any ideas? Dr. Pepper Schwartz: She sounds as if she might be depressed. It is …

Making Sex Enjoyable Again

Q: My husband is 50. For some years he has been unable to have an orgasm during intercourse. He can get and maintain an erection for a reasonable amount of time, however. Neither of us get much pleasure from sex as a result, and avoid it because it ends with disappointment. Is there anything we can do to facilitate the orgasm? Dr. Pepper Schwartz: Yes, but you need to go to a doctor to find out exactly what is causing …