Sex: Believe it or not?

Local Docs Peterson and Jaxson-Jäger bust open sex myths

By Melissa Markham

Photo: Carol Jaxon-Jäger and Frederick Peterson, both licensed psychologists and sex therapists, talk sex myths

Living in a culture utterly saturated with sex, it’s interesting to discover our knowledge on the subject comes nowhere near our obsession. We are not only ill-informed, but misinformed about sexuality and our bodies, believing utter lies about sexual performance and identity: bigger is always better, we should last all night, men must be ripped and women must be perfect to attract a partner, and so on.

Carol Jaxon-Jäger and Frederick Peterson, both licensed psychologists and sex therapists, offered to shed a little light on these subjects and show readers what it takes to be sexually fluent.

Let’s break it down by subject, and get rid of these assumptions one at a time.

You shook me all night long …or, the whole commercial break?

Studies show a shocking gap between the perceived length of the average sex session and reality. An article from New Republic cites Dr. Harry Fisch’s new book, titled “The New Naked: The Ultimate Sex Education for Grown-Ups,” which states 43 percent of all sex acts end in two minutes, with the average sex act lasting a little over seven minutes.

Likewise, a study by breaks down the length of the average sex session by state, with New Mexico leading the pack at an average of 7:01 and Alaska bringing up the rear with 1:21 (Ohio ranks at 41 with a time of 2:18).

The conclusion we should draw from this isn’t that everyone in the United States is a “two-pump chump,” but shorter sex is common, and it’s more about quality than quantity.

Keep in mind, these studies do not take into account situational factors such as the length of foreplay, whether the participants met that night or have been married for 20 years, or whether both parties reached orgasm – all of these factors come into play.

The bigger, the better

Ah, size. This is arguably the most prevalent and debilitating myth going around – if you aren’t packing seven inches or more, you should probably just change with the stall door closed. Penis size, however, has absolutely nothing to do with sexual prowess, duration or performance.

“Unfortunately, the biggest source of sex education in the United States is pornography,” Peterson explained, “which tells men to, ‘Always be ready, and always be big. Be ready to go for hours without ejaculating and hard enough to knock on the table.’”

Likewise, Jaxon-Jäger emphasized, “Size absolutely does not dictate the quality of sex.” There is no need for a gigantic penis to satisfy a woman. On the contrary, “The bigger it is, the more painful it can be,” Jaxon-Jäger said.

Size has become such an issue, men have made “enlargement” a multi-million dollar industry. Steven Warshak, creator of the drug Enzyte, (remember those “Meet Bob!” commercials?) was sentenced to 25 years in prison in August of 2008 for selling a faulty product, complete with falsified results and fake success stories to hook the audience. By preying on men’s insecurities, Warshak banked about $400 million before his arrest.

I have to be ____ to be sexy

The bottom line here is “sexy” is different to everyone, and not everyone out there is looking for Brad or Angelina in the flesh.

When asked about sexual attraction, both Jaxon-Jäger and Peterson agree, physical requirements (big penis, muscular build, small waist, slender figure) of the other person also have a lot to do with an overall lack of monogamy and intimacy in physical relationships, rather than a genuine quest for perfection. Though physical attraction is relevant, it is a strong emotional connection that produces a healthy sexual relationship. The stronger the connection, the less important superficial traits, such as size and body type, become.

“If they’re focused only on the sexual act without attachment, they might as well just do it themselves, since their partner isn’t important,” Jaxon-Jäger said.

“Sex is perfectly natural, but not naturally perfect,” Peterson echoed. “You achieve a strong emotional connection through communication, and the better you communicate, the better sex you are going to have.”

If your partner can’t come, it’s your fault

This sexual myth is perpetuated because women, as a whole, have a hard time achieving orgasm vaginally. In fact, 70 percent of women cannot orgasm vaginally, Dr. Jaxon-Jäger says, and it’s not because they are physically unable, but because they don’t know how. Jaxon-Jäger and Peterson conclude this self-discovery starts with self-stimulation.

“If you can’t bring yourself to orgasm, how can you possibly expect your partner to?” Jaxon-Jäger said.

“One of the biggest sexual myths out there is that someone else is responsible for your sexual gratification and your sexual nirvana,” Peterson said. “You have to know your own body and be able to actively participate and achieve orgasm.”

One of the main reasons this proves so difficult is because talking about sex is perceived as awkward or taboo.

“You have to be able to communicate sexually,” Peterson said. “If this is too awkward, it’s often something that has to be handled professionally, and starts with a conversation I have to facilitate. Couples have to stick together long enough to be comfortable around each other and be able to relax. I help people get to a level of sexual acceptance and shift the focus from ‘performing sex’ to ‘being sexual together.’ Being with a person, being who you are naturally with the other person and seeking pleasure together – that’s the key to sexual chemistry.”

Peterson strongly recommends the book “The Guide to Getting It On” by Paul Joannides for couples wanting to improve their sexual relationship. For women specifically (or, Peterson says, for anyone “who has a vagina or loves someone with a vagina”) he recommends “Read My Lips: A Woman’s Guide to the Vagina and Vulva” by Debby Herbenick and Vanessa Schick.

Reach DCP freelance writer Melissa Markham at

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