Modern sexuality is … complicated. And talking about our sexual health, even with a doctor, can be awkward – awkward enough that many of us will avoid it, even when we have a problem that needs solving.
Enter consultants like Bianca Palmisano, owner of Intimate Health Consulting, who’s helping doctors, nurses, and other medical and health care professionals speak openly and non-judgmentally to their patients about issues of sexuality.
genneve CEO Jill Angelo talked with Bianca about sex, sexuality, and why it's so darn hard to have those important conversations.
“Sex positivity” means understanding sex and sexuality as a normal, healthy part of life with a wide range of modes of expression. We asked Bianca if the notion of sex as a positive part of life is gaining some traction in a culture that has an often unhealthy approach to sex.
What are the trends out there when it comes to sex positivity and women in midlife? Bianca has good news for us – one, the medical profession is innovating on give women “more options in the toolkit” for treating menopause symptoms that impact intimacy, and two, more sex educators are talking about sex at midlife and helping women understand the physical and emotional changes at menopause.
So, if it’s a good idea to talk about these things with your doctor, how do we start the conversation? Bianca talks about how she provides both medical professionals and patients with strategies for starting, continuing, and finishing the conversation satisfactorily.
How can women get educated about healthy sexuality? The problem with a taboo subject is that …well, it’s taboo. So, not much info. Except there is. Bianca says you can look beyond your doc if that person isn’t someone you can go to, and she gives some ideas on places to look for answers.
So what is “sexual health competency” and why do medical professionals need it? “Knowing how to have conversations in a way that puts your baggage on a back shelf,” says Bianca. We all have ideas and opinions on sexuality and what we feel is “right” or even “normal” – how and why should you shelve those when talking with patients?
Why is good sex so important? Bianca talks about the dynamic between sex and relationships. But relationships can get thorny in midlife, given all the life-stage stresses and physical changes, so how do we stay intimately connected to one another?
How do women initiate conversations about sex with their partners? Probably not when pulling out the condoms in the 10 minutes before Johnny comes home from soccer practice, Bianca says. Hear her ideas on a better way to bring it up.
Women in midlife often experience some profound changes in their sexuality. Careers are solid, kids are grown, the house is settled on its foundations … are you? Bianca addresses how some women make important decisions and have major revelations about themselves, their lives, and their sexuality.
Bianca Palmisano is a sex educator and medical consultant serving the DC community since 2012. As the owner of Intimate Health Consulting, she specializes in training healthcare providers around issues of sexual health, as well as LGBT, sex worker, and sexual assault survivor competency. She also serves as the Community Outreach Chair for the Metro DC PFLAG Board of Directors.
Palmisano is the primary author of "Safer Sex for Trans Bodies," an outreach and education guide for the trans community sponsored by Whitman Walker Health and the Human Rights Campaign. She has been a guest lecturer at George Washington University, Johns Hopkins, and University of Chicago.
This podcast originally appeared on genneve, the solution for women in midlife and menopause. Join us for more great conversations, information, and answers.
Women can be awfully good at getting in their own way.
We have the skills, the knowledge, the drive, we’re ready to realize our dreams … and yet. We flail, we stall, or worst of all, we sabotage the success we so desperately want. How can we identify what we’re doing wrong and get on the path towards achieving our goals? Sometimes we just need a partner.
We found that partner in Lara Dalch. Lara is a health and lifestyle coach to "women on the rise" – women who crave practical tools for feeling healthy, confident, and powerful again so they can have the career and life they really want.
As a former entertainment marketing executive and busy entrepreneur, Lara understands the challenges of balancing good health with a busy schedule and is passionate about helping women harness the power of good health to fuel their lives through a practical, “whole life” approach to health
Lara is a regular contributor to popular health and wellness website MindBodyGreen and has been a featured speaker at Microsoft, Flywheel Sports, Orangetheory Fitness, the University of Virginia, and the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Virginia, is a Certified Pilates Instructor, and received her training to practice health coaching via the State University of New York and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Lara has had a very colorful and non-traditional career path. We asked her, how do you go from working at Comedy Central to health and lifestyle coaching? Perhaps not surprisingly, her own hectic lifestyle was the inspiration behind helping others get control of theirs.
Lara gives us a few more details on how her own improved life was her light bulb moment. “I stopped falling asleep at my desk!” Now she helps others be fully present – and awake – in their lives and work.
We wanted to know, how do clients know it’s time to seek help? If you’re saying things like, “I’m exhausted all the time,” or “My food is a disaster,” or if you feel like you’re just not “showing up” in work and life the way you want, you might need a Lara.
Lots of women (and men) undoubtedly fit the criteria of needing a Lara. What keeps us from getting the support we need? Lara says, “They’re afraid they’re not going to show up for themselves.” Hmmmm… having a great idea, getting all excited and prepped, then just not moving forward. Sound familiar?
Asking for help is often seen as a sign of weakness in modern times. But Lara says it’s one of the most courageous things a high-achiever can do. Lara takes us through the many ways we show we need support and the benefits of getting it.
On the surface, we should be getting healthier: we have more knowledge, more health care and treatment options…so why are we feeling so bloody awful? First, there is such a thing as “too much information” – Lara tells us how to stop looking outside your body when the answers lie within.
Lara sees herself as a “partner” in achieving optimal health and wellness – a partner to her client but also to the network of other supports in a woman’s life. Often we have tons of advice from lots of expert sources, but we’re missing the "practical know how" piece. It’s great to have a nutrition plan; even better if you know how to follow it.
Women over 40 have different challenges than their younger sisters, and they often seem much less doable in our 40s than they did in our 20s. According to Lara, there’s no reason to think you can no longer achieve your goals just because you’re older. The magic pixie dust that’ll get you there? Time.
Lara actually really enjoys working with women in the 40s and 50s. She gives us the low down on the special gifts women in midlife bring to the table.
We all know it’s true, even if we can’t seem to make it happen: women who are successful are those who are focused on integrating self-care into their lives. In her talk on the Five Powerful Habits of Women on the Rise, Lara details what successful women have in common. Here’s the good news: it’s all stuff you can have too. Lara shares the details.
Finally, we asked Lara what a woman should do if she’s considering finding herself a coach. “Be open to going a little out of your comfort zone,” Lara tells us. Openness to experimenting, tuning into your body in a new way, making the decision to move forward toward your goals, those are the beginning to your healthier, more fulfilled future.
Want more Lara? Get her free guide to discover your unique way of getting in your own way when it comes to eating healthier, exercising more, getting more sleep, and kicking the habits that have gotten you out of shape and out of sorts.
Thank you to The Riveter for lending us the space to record today’s podcast! The Riveter is a new collaborative workspace built by and for women. The doors of the first location opened on May 1, 2017 with more to come. A community that amplifies women’s big ideas through shared resources and innovative connections, The Riveter offers dynamic programming in beautiful, light-filled spaces and invites members to focus on self-care with daily yoga and meditation. In a culture that embraces the glorification of busy and ignores self-care, The Riveter is a new way to work. If you’re in Seattle, be sure to check it out!