Let's talk about sex

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First aired on Q (04/04/12)

When media personality, author and sex expert Dr. Ruth began her groundbreaking radio show Sexually Speaking three decades ago, the general attitude toward sex and sexuality was quite different from what it is today.

"Jian, when I started there were people from NBC in three-piece suits, attorneys, sitting with the engineer, worrying about what I would say," she told Q host Jian Ghomeshi during a recent interview.

Back then, Dr. Ruth's frank but enthusiastic discussions about our reproductive organs (and the activities we enjoy doing with them) was considered bold. But thanks to sex experts like her, who focused on education and not shock value, people (and young women especially, she says) learned to be more comfortable with, and responsible about, their bodies. 

"What certainly has changed in the United States, and I don't have scientifically validated data about Canada but my hypothesis is that in Canada it's the same, [is that] there are less unintended pregnancies ... We still have too many, but less."

dr-ruth-175.jpgShe's also seen a cultural shift in the past few decades in which more women are taking charge of their "sexual satisfaction," by appreciating their own desires and teaching their partners what they find pleasurable.

"Jian, even the best lover, even one trained by me, can't bring her to orgasm if she doesn't permit herself and doesn't teach him."

Dr. Ruth has seen a lot change during her time as one of the most famous personalities on the planet, but she still sees a need for sex education, which is why she felt it was a good time to publish a new book. The title is a play on her first radio show, and in some ways, Sexually Speaking: What Every Woman Needs to Know about Sexual Health, is a book that suggests her career has come full circle.

In fact, many of the basic health tips (e.g., use protection) she started giving to young people in the 1980s have more relevance than ever to older people today. Recent studies have indicated that modern seniors are more sexually active than previous generations. They're less concerned about pregnancy and are not using condoms, and because of that, rates of sexually transmitted diseases have risen sharply. Dr. Ruth is also concerned about the young people of today and how indiscriminately and frequently they're "hooking up."

Even after 30 years, it appears that this sex expert's work is not done.