- Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a psychosexual therapist. She launched the public-radio program “Sexually Speaking” in 1981.
- Since then, Westheimer says the most common questions she hears are about premature ejaculation in men and women with difficulties achieving orgasm.
- Westheimer thinks the problems are typically psychological and not physical.
“It’s so very rare to get a question that surprises me, though it happens.”
So says Dr. Ruth Westheimer — better known as Dr. Ruth — in her 2015 memoir, “The Doctor Is In: Dr. Ruth on Love, Life, and Joie de Vivre,” cowritten with Pierre A. Lehu.
Since she launched the public-radio program “Sexually Speaking” in 1981, Westheimer says she’s been hearing questions about the same two topics over and over again: “premature ejaculation or women with difficulties reaching orgasm.”
I spoke with Westheimer, now 89 years old, over the phone and she told me the only thing that’s really changed is that “people are asking questions with more explicit vocabulary.”
In “The Doctor Is In,” Westheimer writes: “You might think that since I and other advice givers … have answered these questions over and over that everyone would know the answers and stop asking them.” Westheimer suspects these questions keep coming up for two reasons.
One, “young people who begin having sex start out relatively clueless, and so there is a steady influx of new people looking for this information.”
Two, “as long as someone’s sex life seems to be working OK, they don’t bother learning the finer points. But as soon as they run into a problem, since they’re embarrassed to ask anyone else, they’ll turn to someone like me.”
Westheimer has said before that both premature ejaculation and difficulties achieving orgasm are typically psychological.
In 2014, she tweeted: “Premature ejaculation is a learning difficulty. Guys can learn how to control when they ejaculate. Helps to have partner.”
And in an interview with Glamour magazine, Westheimer said that difficulty achieving orgasm is rarely physical, and that “every woman can learn to have an orgasm.” She recommended fantasizing during sex — without verbalizing what you’re thinking about.
As for when to see a sex therapist, Westheimer told Motto: “Often men [experiencing premature ejaculation] who try, even those who read all about it and follow the proper procedures to the letter, end up failing. What they need is some coaching, someone like me to report back to and give them the confidence that they’re on the right track.”
Likewise, she told Motto, “Many women don’t know that a key to reaching sexual satisfaction is to continue stimulation even through a lull in the action, so to speak. A sex therapist can help convince a woman not to give up.”