The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Episode 77--Midlife Sexual Healing with Sex Therapist Cathy Saputo

December 21, 2022 Billy Lahr Season 6
The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Episode 77--Midlife Sexual Healing with Sex Therapist Cathy Saputo
Show Notes Transcript

In this week’s episode, Billy talks with Cathy Saputo. Cathy is a Licensed Counselor and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist providing sex therapy in Michigan. She works with individuals, couples, and other partner systems in the office and via telehealth. She is here today to discuss how sex and our bodies change around midlife.

Billy and Cathy discuss:
–The reasons why people seek out sex therapy
–How people have learned about sex throughout the years
–The ways in which parents can respond to their kids' questions about sex and sexuality
–What are some taboos about sex that are actually more common than we think?
–The meaning of “kink affirming therapist”
–The concept of Out of Control Sexual Behavior Model and the six principles that come with it

Want more from Cathy Saputo?
Check her out at
Saputo Counseling Services LLC and LinkedIn

A good resource for parents to utilize:
The American Sexual Health Organization

If you liked this episode, check out these episodes as well:
Episode 7--The Daddy Brain, the Little Boy Brain, and the Teenage Boy Brain
Episode 9--The Emotionally Mature Male Brain
Episode 13--The Mommy Brain, the Little Girl Brain, and the Teenage Girl Brain with Judie Goslin
Episode 14--The Pregnant Momma Brain with Michelle Pan
Episode 15-- The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman
Episode 16--Billy Gets Dating Advice from Dating Coach Sally Heart
Episode 18--The  Emotionally Mature Female Brain with Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Krista Margolis

All of our episodes are available at

Get a free week of BetterHelp using Billy's referral code!

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Billy: Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Cathy: The other thing I see with midlife is maybe those couples that, Hey, we've been together forever. It's been sort of routine. You know, our sex life is good, but we want to now shake it up. We wanna introduce different things, but we have no idea how to navigate this because bringing up these new things, I might now want, or even be curious about, how does that impact what we've been doing all along? Like now, what if I want to explore some type of kink play when I've never brought this up before to my partner? How do I start? Where do I go with this? Or if I'm wanting to potentially even open up the relationship in some way, like how can I bring that up without being hurtful or without ever really experiencing this before with the person I'm with? So I get a lot of that. It's like we're ready to try something new, but can you help us navigate how to do that?

Billy: Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. I'm your host Billy Lahr, an educator personal trainer, meditation teacher, and Overthinker who talks to experts who specialize in social and emotional learning. Mindfulness, physical and emotional wellness, cultural awareness, finances, communication, relationships, dating and parenting, all in an effort to help us better reflect, learn, and grow so we can live a more purpose-filled life. Take a deep breath, embrace the present and journey with me through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.

Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy Lahr. Thank you for tuning in wherever you are. The purpose of this show is to provide a platform that gives people the space and permission to share their expertise and life experiences in order to help others navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. Now, just to be clear, you don't have to wait until your thirties, forties, or fifties to apply this free and useful information. I know I would've greatly benefited from this information when I was younger. In fact, I'm sure people try to tell me stuff like this all the time, but you know, when you know everything, what's the point in listening to anybody? Right? Useful pride is an amazingly obnoxious thing that gets in the way of really reaching your potential, and no one showcased it more than me, and I feel very happy that I am transitioning out of that and providing some insight or at least finding people to provide insight for you, the listener.

So thank you for listening and thank you for letting this information register with you, especially if you are younger, especially if you are in your teens or in your twenties or in your thirties, and you're thinking to yourself, how does this really apply to me? Listen, all of these conversations are universally golden and will help people of all ages reflect, learn, and grow. So if you hear something that resonates with you in this week's episode, go back and check out some of the other episodes. This episode focuses on sexual health and addresses some of the misconceptions people have about sex, especially when it comes to getting older. We did dive into this topic a bit early on in the show's history when we covered the male brain and female brain books by Dr. Louann Brizendine. Those are episodes seven through nine in episodes 13 through 18.

If you wanna go back and check those out because when it comes to sex and midlife, it's not just lubes and Viagra, people <laugh>. Okay, so let's meet today's guest. Our guest today is Cathy Saputo. Cathy is a licensed counselor and AASECT-certified sex therapist providing sex therapy in Michigan. She works with individuals, couples, and other partner systems in the office and via telehealth, her credentials include a bachelor's degree in telecom and psychology from Michigan State University, an MBA from Pepperdine University and a master's in counseling from Oakland University. She also earned a certificate in complimentary medicine and wellness from Oakland University and completed the sexual health certificate program at the University of Michigan. She made a midlife career change to become a counselor and sex therapist after working for many years in the telecommunications field with M T V. Ah, I wonder if they were playing music, actual music back when you were working there. She is here today to talk about how sex and our bodies change around midlife. So welcome to the show, Cathy Saputo.

Cathy: Oh, thank you so much. And I'll answer that question. Were they playing music? Not so much. That was right when they started the Ozzie Osborne show.

Billy: Oh, they're making the transition their

Cathy: Favorites. Yeah, Nick and Jessica and all that. So it was kind of that time, but there was music. There was music too.

Billy: So wait, what was your role in telecommunications?

Cathy: So I was the director of telecommunications for our West Coast properties. Things like the video conferencing, technology, telephones, wiring for all of our buildings that we worked from.

Billy: So you didn't get to make any guest appearances on road rules or real rules or anything like that?

Cathy: No, <laugh>, but I get to meet a lot of different, fun people. <laugh> Sno Dogg dropped in a lot. Oh, that's awesome. Mother. Yeah.

Billy: Did you smoke some weed with Snoop Dogg? <laugh>? No comment.

Cathy: Oh no. Like I wish right <laugh>, that would've been awesome.

Billy: Oh, that would've been cool. That would be really cool. Yeah. Well, one thing that we like to do is we like to ask our guests what 10 roles they play in their life. So what are the 10 roles that you play in your life? Cathy?

Cathy: I'm a daughter. I can't think. That was like my first role. Wife, sister, aunt, friend, sex therapist, counselor, golfer, beachgoer, and a mindfulness practitioner.

Billy: And you also put mindfulness practitioner as something that you're looking forward to in the second half of life. Talk about what does your mindfulness practice look like? Why are you looking forward to that in the second half of life?

Cathy: You know, especially in the last few years, it's really helped me get through some things. So being a counselor in the pandemic was trying. I switched to telehealth a hundred percent. I did offer a little bit before the pandemic, but I switched to telehealth a hundred percent. I'm there. I was there for my clients every day. I had to be very present for what they were going through. But at the same time, I was going through my own stuff that was very similar to my clients. So that was the first time where I'm doing my counseling work and I'm also going through almost exactly what all my clients are going through. It was hard to separate the two versus regular counseling that I do, sex therapy that I do. I'm working on their problems, but now their problems are mine, right? So I had to really have a separation.

Mindfulness helps with that to be really present, intentional for where you're at in that moment. So it definitely helped with that. But it's also helped me with kind of the midlife and some struggles I've had personally around just transitions about midlife. So one of them is chronic pain that I go through my own anxiety and it's helped me in both those areas to just manage that again so I can kind of show up for everybody around me to tune in to what matters to me. To kind of tune out the noise too. You know, my own noise I create in my head as well as all the voices from all the people around me and media and all that kind of stuff.

Billy: I think that's one thing that we often forget about or take for granted is that, that mental health workers also need to take care of their own mental health. And it's great to hear that you prioritize that for yourself because I think a lot of people continue to pour from an empty cup, so to speak.

Cathy: It's crucial and, and it's just a, it's really a lesson also learned out of the past few years because before that I was very good at separating it out, but it, because the lines became so blurred, it was much more difficult and I needed more tools. So I, I, you know, I seek my own counseling. I'm in my own counseling and therapy, which is just also I think essential to be in this field for so many different ways. But so mindfulness will continue to be really important for me.

Billy: I just started using better help because it's a little bit more affordable and I got to work with a licensed therapist yesterday and I already like my licensed therapist. So you know, we always try to reinforce this idea of, if you need mental health support, it's definitely not a sign of weakness, especially for you guys out there. If you think that you don't wanna be vulnerable and talk about your emotions, like going all the way back to the beginning of this season where we talked about why it's important for men to talk about their mental health. Then we had Purdeep Sangha on talking about how, what it means to be a mindful alpha male. And we had Commander John Macaskill on the show talking about men talking mindfulness. And it's great to know that as a counselor, as a therapist, you also are working through your things too, because you're human, you've got 'em too. I imagine looking forward to being on the beach as you were looking forward to that in the second half of life. That probably brings about some calm. So when we say beach, are we talking the shores of Lake Michigan or are we talking somewhere else?

Cathy: I'll take any beach you wanna set me on <laugh> <laugh>. I love the beach. So I lived in California for 14 years and that's where I was a lot of my time. Walking at the beach, sitting at the beach, just being near the water. So just my place, my place to think, my place to process, to sit with friends. Just a lot of time spent there. I would say that's the biggest thing I miss from moving back to Michigan where I did grow up. I grew up in Michigan, but the Michigan beaches are awesome too. So reconnecting with those and just getting my time with the Great Lakes, that's pretty awesome. But we have so many other lakes in Michigan, so I think there was a quote I heard once. It was like, if you're within five or 10 miles of a lake when you're in Michigan, we have many, many beaches. And that's just my best happy place for sure.

Billy: As a Minnesotan with 10,000 lakes, I know exactly what you're talking about. And I have paddle boarded in Lake Huron off the coast of Port Huron and Lake Huron out of all of the Great Lakes, cuz I've paddle boarded in them all. Lake Huron is the clearest, it was spectacular in Port Huron is just a real nice quiet town. If people are looking for a quiet getaway, Port Huron, I strongly recommend it. It's not necessarily the fanciest place that you're gonna go visit, but it's a quiet getaway for sure. <laugh>.

Cathy: Well sometimes that's what you want, just a kind of quiet peace, calm, that's a good place for it.

Billy: And you're also looking forward to being a wife in the second half of life. So talk a little bit more about that.

Cathy: I am, I want to just continue to be a wife and get better at it cuz this is new to me. So I've been married for seven years, married in midlife and before that, never married. So to be a wife, starting in my forties, it was like, how do I kind of do this? I've been single for so long, I've been living on my own a lot. I haven't had to share a bet, like how do I kind of make room for somebody else? And then ongoing, how do you continue to bring everything, your best version of yourself there, but also like what they need? What? I don't know. There, it's a lot of work. It's a lot of work, but I'm loving it and it's a fun adjustment and it's perfect that it happened for me when it did. So I wanna just be the best I can there and keep working on it.

Billy: I really resonate with that because 45, never been married, no kids. And I've lived with somebody for two years, but that's really the only time that I have ever shared a space with somebody. And even when I dated someone for five and a half years, we lived a mile and a half away from each other. So I just used to tell people we lived together, our hallways just a mile and a half long. But you know, she was never interested in living together. And we talked about it wasn't me that she didn't wanna live with, she just didn't know how to live with anybody. Just to be clear about that <laugh>. But it's funny to think about what kind of adjustments you have to make because if you got married in your forties, and I'm looking at like, if I ever do cohabitate with somebody, it's going to be in my mid to late forties. You have a lot of routines established, you just kind of know what you like and things go here. And this is your routine. I imagine that there were a lot of concessions or compromises and conversations that needed to be had in the first few years of your relationship. Are you still having those conversations because seven years you still say you're new to being a wife?

Cathy: I feel like I'm pretty new at it Still <laugh>. Yeah, I mean we're still having those kinds of conversations. So I moved into a home that he had. It would've been different for me, had it, somebody moved into my home, but I moved into there. So I think I was more flexible because I was moving into their space. I think if they had moved into mine, not, I would've been <laugh>, maybe a little more territorial, but it was moving into their space and a space that they had shared with their prior wife, their prior spouse. So adjusting to kind of the remnants of that was a lot in time. I repainted the whole house, you know, got rid of some of the pictures and things that were there. You know, moved things around, you know, reconstructed, that sort of thing to kind of make it my own. But my husband is not fond of change. So <laugh>, it's a sl, it's a slow, slow, turnaround there. But he's flexible and he's pretty good about just do what makes you happy, if that's what you need. Paint the wall a different color if that makes you happy. So I'm fortunate there. But yeah, there's still a lot to negotiate and work on and realize in seven years seems fresh and new to me still.

Billy: Well I imagine you utilize your roles as a therapist when you have those conversations. So let's do this. We're gonna take a quick break and we're going to talk more about this role as a sex therapist because this is a new role to me. I am very interested in having this conversation because I am unfamiliar with what a sex therapist does. And those of you out there, if you're unfamiliar as well and you're curious, what is sex therapy, stick around. We're gonna talk to Cathy about that. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. 

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Billy:  Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with licensed counselor and AASECT certified sex therapist, Cathy Saputo. You can follow her on Instagram at Michigan Sex Therapy. She's also on Facebook at Saputo Counseling. You can go to and yeah, we will put all of that in the show notes. Be sure to take a look at that. So as I mentioned before, Cathy, usually when I have a guest on it, try to pride myself in asking questions they've never been asked before. But when it comes to sex therapy, I really don't have much of an understanding of your area of expertise. Now, that's not to say that I don't have an understanding of sex, I just wanna be very clear about that, <laugh>. But in terms of sex therapy, yes,

Cathy: I'm sure you have a thorough understanding.

Billy: <laugh>, In terms of sex therapy, why do people seek out your services?

Cathy: Many different reasons. Probably some that are obvious and maybe some that are less obvious. I think some of the ones that maybe people are familiar with is maybe a sexual functioning issue. So maybe we're talking about Ed pe, some kind of diagnosed medical reason. You might see me. There's also a lot of relationship, premature ejaculation.

Billy: Oh, got it. Okay, thank you.

Cathy: Yep. And erectile dysfunction. So people might see me for, it's usually self-diagnosed. I would say that they'd conclude I have PE or ED or some kind of problematic sex situation going on. I would say most of the time it's not really truly a diagnosis, it's just maybe a dissatisfaction, a disappointment with what's going on for someone. And they say, you know, I have a problem and I wanna come in. Or maybe their partner has said something about how the sex life is going. But it's a lot of relationship stuff. It's a lot of like relationship loss, divorce, breakups, losses because of health issues, anxiety that plays into sexual health. So for example, with the PE, it might be, you know, an anxiety really about feeling you have to please a partner, feeling that you have to measure up to something you've read about or seen, just different kind of myths that you are trying to kind of believe in and play out.

Anxiety plays a big role. So I'm also talking with people about life changes, stages of our life that affect sexual health. Particularly I like to help people through perimenopause and menopause. That change that happens, you know, at midlife or sometimes for medical reasons, but there's a lot that comes with those changes that are kind of taken for granted, not talked about a lot. So in addition to like the physical symptoms of that stage, there's a lot of anxiety that comes up in that stage. Self doubt, depression concerns, you know, sexual changes that happen. So that's pretty heavy on everyone involved. You know, whatever the gender of the person that it affects kind of the system. So also I work and specialize in out control sexual behavior. So helping people through what they say feels out of control for them, whether it be like pornography use or just some kind of sexual behavior that they're engaged with. So a lot of different reasons that somebody would come to meet with me.

Billy: I understand why anxiety may cause erectile dysfunction. I don't understand why anxiety would cause premature ejaculation because like that just feels like a sensation sort of thing. So what role does anxiety play in premature ejaculation?

Cathy: What I find happens a lot is in the early part of our life, when we're experimenting with ourselves, with masturbation, with self-pleasure, our own bodies, lots of times that's done in secrecy, in privacy, we're hiding it, we're getting it over with us quickly as possible. We're not wanting anybody to know about it. We're uncomfortable. We don't even necessarily know what's going on for ourselves physically. We get in a habit of it, it being over with as quick as possible. So now we've got a partner and we wanna show up in the way that, you know, we believe is gonna be pleasing to them, that it's going to be pleasurable, that we can get engaged and connect in this way through sex and intimacy. And now there's anxiety involved because I've only been familiar with what happens behind my closed doors and now I gotta show up with a partner. So how do I translate what I've been doing for so long into this partnered relationship? So that's how I see anxiety coming up a lot. Also, the anxiety links into that just in the fact of shame. Shame covers a lot of what I talk about in sex therapy because it's not a topic that we really have a good grasp on yet.

Billy: Why do you think there's so much shame around the topic of sex? Why do you think there's so much shame around the topic of masturbation? Why do you think there's so much shame around kink, that sort of thing. Where does that come from? Why do we see that and why is that not healthy for a society to project that type of shame onto people?

Cathy: It comes from, oh, I mean a lot of different places comes from our culture that on the one hand, sexualizes a lot of things. But on the other hand kind of tells you, but don't be that yourself. So there's a lot of confusing mixed messages. Different religions can affect the way we feel about our relationship to our body, the way we get educated about sex, the way that we're told to behave sexually. So religion can have an influence in that way that makes us feel ashamed of our natural sexual selves, right? That are there since birth. But we're kind of told are now to be used for different kinds of ways, you know, as kind of a tool for intimacy or seduction or marriage even. Like don't engage in sex until we're we get married, right? But we're natural sexual beings who wanna explore and then we're not married and so we must be bad, terrible people is sort of some of the shame kind of messages that are received.

It could just be also through our own sexual experiences being made fun of by a partner, being having less education and having someone find out that we have less education and knowledge and being bullied or being made of fun of because of that kind of called out or embarrassment. But lots of different reasons that people are ashamed. And also what I find is, is just inexperience can also then lead to shame. Because I see a lot of couples that are reaching midlife, they've been only with each other or maybe had very few partners before they were with each other. They've been married a long time and they don't have the sexual experience except with their partner. And they're ashamed to investigate and look into other things that maybe they're curious about. They don't maybe wanna share that because it's been so long one way with this partner and now I'm maybe interested to explore something else, but I don't even know where to start with that. How to bring it up, how to talk about it. The comfortability of it is the uncomfortableness of is is shameful.

Billy: So from your experience, where do people usually learn about sex and what's the good and bad around that?

Cathy: Well, if we're talking about people in midlife, I feel like our education was pretty poor <laugh>. You know, it might have come from some things at home, but most of the stuff that comes from our homes growing up was don't do this. Or look at that person over there that's doing something and that's not good. So don't do that. Don't do like your older sister did. Don't do like the neighbor did down the street and got themselves into whatever jam they've got themselves, right? So it's mostly like don't do things, it's not really about correct anatomy, you know, information that's medically accurate information that's research based. It's just about kind of feelings, opinions, personal morals. That's kind of the education we got. Or it was a lot of education for movies like Porkies, the Fast Times at Ridgemont High, you know, all our midlife type movies that are nostalgic for us and what kind of education was that, right?

So that's what we know today. It's a lot more from pornography for a lot of people still your siblings kind of giving you the low down, but a lot of it comes from pornography, which is, you know, very inaccurate as far as relationally, how to engage in sexual contact with the partner you have. It's not very informative and realistic when it comes to how functionings going to be. Most of the time, pornography, everybody that shows up in pornography is ready to go. They don't show anything about the struggle to have the erection or maybe I don't wanna do this position, or maybe my leg hurts, right? Or maybe I got a knee replacement and I have to do it a different way cuz I'm at midlife, right? That's not happening in pornography. You know, we just get misinformation. It harms us because we're not confident in ourselves as a result.

And if we're not confident in ourselves, there again comes in kind of the shame, the doubt, the what if I've got a problem? What if I'm not normal? What if I don't know what I'm doing? Right? It just kind of plays into that. It plays into like lack of understanding relationally how to negotiate sex and intimacy. It's harmful because it's not educating us on potential threats to our sexual safety. If we're not really calling our body parts by their accurate names, then we may not know if someone's doing harm to us, if we're younger, right? If this, we're talking about younger people that may not really have knowledge about their bodies and have their own bodily autonomy. So we didn't get a great sex education. Most of us at the, you know, those of us who are at midlife now, I think we're starting to be better as a culture in that area. But you know, we still have a long way to go. There's mixed sex education that's going on out there.

Billy: And one thing you talked about before too is that there was essentially no talk of LGBTQ sexuality until we had like an AIDS or HIV crisis as well. So that whole demographic is left out of the conversation when we talk about sexuality.

Cathy: Yeah, definitely For us in midlife, it definitely was. And you're right, until kind of the crisis, which then we blamed or punished or called out gay males at that time. And certainly that's not the way to educate, that's not the way to educate is to blame. And again, kind of through judgment and morality decisions determine our sexuality. M much better at that now in inclusivity and reaching all demographics around our sexual health. But we still have a long way to go because actually in the United States, you know, our states, each individually have laws around teaching sex education and whether that's gonna happen in schools or not. And not all states have any type of directive as it relates to sex education in the schools. Some of the states that do have them also say that they don't even hold them accountable to being medically accurate information when they teach. So not that I'm saying it necessarily school's the best place, I'm just saying we just don't have these guidelines. Like there's not the space for it. So it's a tough conversation about sexual health and education.

Billy: As a former educator, I don't know that school is the best place for sex ed <laugh>. I almost feel like it needs to be something like a course that you take as though you would your driver's license, right? It should be hand in hand like you wanna get your license to drive. All right? You're also gonna sit through this sex therapy session as well as, so you learn about the birds and the bees. I know my college girlfriend, mm-hmm <affirmative>, her mom either took her to a doctor or a sex therapist to get the birds and the bees talk because the mom's like, listen, if you're gonna learn about sex, you're gonna learn about it from a professional. So I don't know that every parent is going to do that. So what advice do you have for parents out there when it comes to having the birds in the bees chat?

Cathy: Yeah, and that's interesting as you're saying that about going to a professional such as a medical provider, doctor, physician, maybe ob gyn. I hear from a lot of clients that have asked some of the same questions. They might ask somebody like me, they didn't really get answers there. They didn't get medically accurate information. Or medical professionals are also not necessarily trained in sexual health. They may have a course at some point, they may talk about a subject for side of their, you know, a few of their courses like on anatomy or something like that. They still don't have the relational aspect. They have the biology, they have the medical piece of it, but they don't have the real world application piece of it. So you'll still get kind of the anatomy lesson, but you might not get what you need to actually be in a sexually intimate experience with another person or even yourself.

So I think any parent, first and foremost, just listen, spend a little bit more time listening. And that's where maybe the mindfulness comes in. Be a listener, be intentional, be with your child. If they're asking particular questions, the child is curious and you don't have to have all the answers, but you can meet them where they're at in the question they're asking. And you don't have to elaborate and know everything about sex and sexuality, right? Because you probably don't anyway. But it's okay. You don't have to just start where they're at. And if you don't have that information, find it. Find that medically accurate information so that you can then both learn or offer to learn together. You don't have to be all knowing. So kind of humble ourselves up to the fact that, yeah, we probably don't know enough about this and we need to seek out those that do.

I mean, I, that's awesome for your friend that let's seek out somebody that actually has some of these answers. Then, you know, in addition, talk about bodily autonomy, talk about consent, pregnancy pleasure. Absolutely. Talk about sexual pleasure as being you. You know, one of the reasons we're gonna engage in this activity and deciding for yourself what is pleasurable and when to say no to something that consent piece inform your child. But you know, if you have no idea where to start with this, there's organizations out there that can help you to get that dialogue, to give you the information. One of the places I like to send people is to the American Sexual Health Organization. They have a great piece there for parents that gives you links to a lot of other resources to talk about gender, to talk about sexual orientation, to just talk and to address areas that maybe as a parent you don't feel comfortable addressing.

Billy: And that website is, so you can go there, we'll be sure to link that in the show notes too, because <laugh>, I can only imagine how awkward that conversation is, not just for the parent, but for the child too. And what's a good age to talk about sexual health with your child? What do you suggest to people? Is there a sweet spot?

Cathy: Well, I think, again, it's like whenever they ask a question is when you're gonna want to have an answer, right? And even if their answer is, I'm not really sure, but let's go find out. So some of these questions come very early. Some of it's just the child's looking down at their body going, wait, my body looks different than my sisters or my brothers or my other friend or whoever, right? Like, why is, why is this the case? What's going on? What is this? Call their body parts by their accurate names. Don't say down there, call it a penis, call it a Volvo. Just use the language that's accurate starting there. But again, it's not that you have to give all the information about sex because they're asking what's going on. It's just that's a starting point. And then we build. So you continue to kind of scaffold up as we go through our ages, but certainly when the questions are being asked, we definitely wanna answer them. If no questions are asked, y'all also wanna maybe get curious about like, how approachable are you to your kids asking these kinds of questions. They might feel they can't, and where are they gonna go then to find it out? They're gonna go online, they're gonna go to their friends. So sometimes it's like, maybe start that conversation and it can just be as easy as, do you have any curiosities about sex? What about your body, about intimacy? What are they? Let's answer some questions.

Billy: And I imagine for a lot of parents, just even saying the birds and the bees is,  intimidating because then it feels like you have to cover all of sexuality in that one conversation there, rather than having a chapter by chapter conversation maybe each week just checking in and saying, Hey, you got any questions here for us? All right, if you don't, here are some things that we wanted to share with you. Just kind of that back and forth a little, little bit just to kind of continue on with that conversation. But like I said, I don't know how many teenagers are interested in having that conversation either. But you make a good point that if you take an invested interest in it as a parent, you may find that your child opens up a little bit more and is curious with you and the two of you kind of seek things out together that is interesting about using the correct terminology. I just learned the word yoni <laugh> this week. Okay, good. You're nodding. And you know what I'm talking about. So do you wanna explain what the word yoni means?

Cathy: As far as I know it is about the penis. Right? About our penis. So,

Billy: Oh, and see, I thought it was the all-encompassing term for a woman's reproductive area because they have like, oh, okay, Joni steamers that you can order. And the reason why this whole conversation, yeah, the reason why this whole conversation came up is because in Korea you can go and sit on a pot and it has ginger steam coming out of the pot and you're wearing a moomoo. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And it's usually what pregnant women do after they've given birth because it heals the inside area. <laugh>, I don't know all the words, it heals the yoni and through steam and ginger of some sort. But then someone brought it up the other day and I went to Amazon. I was like, oh, they have things called yoni steamers right here, where women can sit on those and it blows steam up their woo-hoo <laugh>.

Cathy: Yes, yes. Yeah. So you know what? Yeah. So as you're saying this, yeah, there's another terminology for the penis. You're right. So it's not the yoni. There's another word that people use and I can't think of it right now. I am not necessarily gonna ever recommend the steaming of the vulva or vagina or any of your pelvic region. That's not really what I'm ever gonna tell you in sex therapy to do. But teach their own if they feel like that's what they want to engage in.

Billy: Well, I think that's a natural transition here to take a break. And then when we come back, we'll talk about what you do suggest to people when they come to you in therapy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis

SEGMENT BREAK 2:  Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. New episodes come out every Wednesday to help you get over the midweek hump. If you'd like to contact me or if you have suggestions about what you'd like to hear on the show, visit and click contact us while you're there. Don't forget to sign up for the newsletter to get free weekly meditations, as well as free resources from our Reflect learn Grow program. You can also click on the show notes for links to the articles and resources we referenced throughout the show. If you wanna check out my worldly adventures, follow me on Instagram at @mindful_midlife_crisis.  

My hope is that my trials, tribulations, and successes will inspire you to take intentional action to live a more purpose-filled life. And while you're at it, remember to show yourself some love every now and then too. Thanks again. And now back to the show. 

Billy:  Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with licensed counselor and AASECT certified sex therapist, Cathy Saputo. If you like what you're hearing so far, you can go to You can follow her on Instagram, at Michigan sex therapy, or on Facebook at Saputo counseling. So we kind of talked about the birds and the bees a little bit here. I wanna talk about more of this conversation that you have with people who come to you who are our age, right? And are seeking counseling for whatever it is that they're struggling with in terms of their sex lives. So as people get older, how do their perceptions and expectations around sex change?

Cathy: I think I see a couple of different things. So I'm kind of gonna just speak to when I see couples in my office. So, and I'm speaking to kind of the heterosexual couples, they're kind of in the one camp of, I'm trying to bring back what I've had prior. So the kind of sex, the frequency, the feeling of it. I want to keep that going and I wanna kind of rekindle that and bring that back. So it should be like, it's always been as kind of the attitude, which it can be. But a lot of times there's some other more realistic things happening, right? Our bodies have changed, our schedules have changed our circumstances, you know, kids are maybe in the picture, we're tired, we work different kinds of hours. We've been with this person for many years, so a lot of things are different, but yet, hey, I want it to be like it used to be.

So how does that work where all of your life has changed, but somehow your sex life's gonna be what it used to be back in at 25 or something. Kind of helping people through the conversation on that, right? Sex therapy, ultimately it's it's conversation, it's talk therapy. I might prescribe some activities to do outside of the office where you're gonna be touching and and doing things on your own. But you know, inside with me you're gonna be, it's talk therapy. The other thing I see with midlife is maybe those couples that, hey, we've been together forever. It's been sort of routine. You know, our sex life is good, but we want to now shake it up. We wanna introduce different things, but we have no idea how to navigate this because bringing up these new things I might now want, or even be curious about, how does that impact what we've been doing all along?

Like now what if I want to explore some type of kink play when I've never brought this up before to my partner? How do I start? Where do I, I go with this? Or if I'm wanting to potentially even open up the relationship in some way, like how can I bring that up without being hurtful or without ever really experiencing this before with the person I'm with? So I get a lot of that. It's like, we're ready to try something new, but can you help us navigate how to do that? And then the other thing I see is couples who they are now at midlife and you know, again, so much has changed with their physicality, with their schedules, you know, all the things around all the circumstances, and they've kind of lost each other in the shuffle. So life's happened around them and they've stayed together, but they're feeling like we've really disconnected, we're kind of living like roommates. How can we reconnect? How can we reconnect a sexual relationship for ourselves? Where do we sort of start or at least bring more of it back? So that's a lot of what comes into my office is couples just struggling at those different places.

Billy: I saw somebody post one time, the best birth control is having children because it's just difficult to maintain a sex life when you're worried about are you, are my kids gonna hear or are the kids gonna walk in at some point in time? Another thing that you brought up that I thought was interesting was working around an injury or just working around how our bodies change from 25 to 35 to 45, that kind of thing. And how that actually changes the physical act of sex. Not just our perceptions and our expectations, but we're not spring chickens anymore. So it changes the physical act of sex too. You brought up, you give people exercises. Can you give me some examples of some exercises that you might have couples do?

Cathy: Yeah, so some of what I might just have them start with is these conversations that are hard to have. You know, I'll elicit those conversations in the office, but I'll really assign them to make time for these kinds of conversations outside of the work they're doing with me, right? Because that's really where the therapy is, is happening, is not when you're one hour with me a week, but all the other time you're spending with yourselves. So you know, we kind of just start with like, how comfortable are we to use different language to describe different parts of our sex life that we wanna, you know, address. Sometimes, you know, people are really free and they'll use the language in the office and they're very open and other times they're more closed to that. So it's just really even starting some dialogue at home about that.

There's some different apps that I recommend that people can use. There's one from the Gottman Institute, which the Gottman's are couples researchers from starting back in the sixties and seventies, and they've developed a lot of good content. There's an app that they have, it's called the Card Decks. It's open-ended questions about sexuality, but a lot of other intimacy kinds of questions. And that's just like, like a conversation starter. I might also have them read a book, particular book about some sexual concern and have them then dialogue about, you know, what they've read to just get the conversation going. It's like, we've gotta talk about it to find the solutions, right? We've gotta talk about it in order to negotiate together what this is gonna look like. So the communication is so important. So those are some ways like that you might get started on just having a conversation.

The next thing I might have people do is actual physical touch exercises. So that may be not necessarily sexual physical touch, but it might be just getting a long hug in every day to really reconnect. It might be sitting closer on the couch together and laying on each other or giving back massages, shampooing each other's heads, you know, but getting some way to be more physically connected to each other. So all the homework, if you wanna call it that I assign is not mandatory. I'm not grading it when they come back. I'm not scolding them if they don't get it done. But I provide different suggestions to experiment with and to kind of see what sticks and to see like, are you a person that's gonna go read a book may, you know, maybe you are, maybe you are, maybe you're more of a podcaster, right? So I'm gonna have you tune into a podcast, I'm gonna have match whatever works for you. But I'm gonna find that out through kind of giving some assignments and seeing kind of what sticks,

Billy: What's something that is seen as taboo or completely misunderstood but is actually far more common than one might think?

Cathy: Well I think one thing is group sex. A lot of people might think that's kinky. That's not to be had threesomes, right? But really it's a very common sexual fantasy group. Sex having a threesome. It was the number one fantasy in some research that the Kinsey Institute did. So it's very common. But if we're not talking to our friends saying, Hey, I wanna go have some group sex this weekend, right? We're not really talking about it, but we're thinking about it. We're fantasizing about it and for some of us we're doing

Billy: It's interesting when these kind of conversations come up with people that I've even just gone on dates with or data for a short amount of time. How many of them have had threesomes or how many of them, like that's their number one fantasy. That's what they wanna explore. So it's very interesting that it seems to be a common fantasy, but again, it's rather taboo. You have something in here that really stunned me a bit here in terms of what a scene as taboo, but you actually have this conversation quite a bit with straight men who identify as straight, but they're having sex with other straight men. Can you talk about that?

Cathy: I don't know statistically like how much this is out there. One thing about sex research, right, is that we're not in your home observing your actual behavior. So when we cite sex research, it's almost always a self-report type of study. Somebody's getting interviewed and how much do you do this thing? How much do you fantasize about that? How am I, we're not necessarily getting the truth all the time, right? We have to understand that. We're not observing them in action, right? So this, I don't know the stats, but what I see in my office a lot is straight men who've either thought about or fantasized about or engaged in some type of sexual activity with another straight identified person. So how it happens is kind of like on the hookup sites, they might kind of put their profile out looking for couples. Let's say, Hey, I'm looking for a couple to have maybe that threesome with, so contact me and then the other person might contact them there.

Hey, I don't, I'm, you know, I'm not really in a couple right now, but I'm me, I can come by myself, right? And we can have some fun. It's really just about the release, the fun of the act, the getting into the action of the sexual behavior. But it's not an orientation, it's not an orientation that I'm sexually attracted or interested in falling in romantic love or dating or any kind of a relationship with. But that sexual acts appealing to me. I wanna get off, I wanna release, I want to have fun, I want an escape from my life. I want to just have some stress relieved. Um, and maybe I'm not getting something at home or maybe I am, but I still don't have the frequency I want. But for many different reasons. I do see men in my office tell me it's either happened for them that they've had sex with another man or they're interested in it. Is it pathological? I don't think so. It's not a pathological thing, it's just a biological thing and it's fun, it's pleasure, but they're not telling their partners about

Billy: It's interesting to me that it's same sex, that they're not pursuing someone of the opposite sex, but they're pursuing somebody or they're, they're trying to hook up with somebody who, or they have a fantasy about same sex. Is there more to that? What do they talk about? Or if you ask them about that, like what's the draw? What is the attraction to someone who's same sex? If they identify as straight

Cathy: Different answers to that, from what you know, the people I've talked to in my office, some of it is I am not having the kind of sex I would like at home with my partner, with my wife, and I still want to experience this kind of pleasure, let's say oral sex. And I, it's just not happening at home. But I love my partner, I wanna stay with them. I wanna keep my family intact. I don't wanna ruin what I've got. This is wonderful. I feel really great about who I'm with, with and where I'm at. But I want this other kind of sexual engagement. And this is a kind of no strings attached, easy to get off scenario where also most likely the other person wants to keep this quiet. I wanna keep this quiet. I'm not gonna upset my marriage by engaging in this.

So that's like one of the scenarios. The other one might be simple curiosity, kind of like, hey, I know how this is for me, but, but I kind of wanna see how this might be with the same sex. Like I know how I experience it, but I wanna kind of see if I can bring that pleasure to somebody else. So some of it's just like that kind of curiosity of that. Some of it is just really enjoying certain things they might not feel like they can do with their current partner they might not wanna bring up. So some of it's just like, hey, I've got this kinky side, whether it's, you know, some type of fetish or interest in B D S M or something like that. Like I can explore this over here because you know, bd s m does not necessarily have to be sexual interaction. It could be just more about, you know, the dominance, the control, the scene and the scenario. I want some of that, but I don't, again, my partner's like not kinky, not into that. So I'll go over here.

Billy: You've brought up kink a couple times here and on your website you say that you're a kink affirming therapist. I just need a little bit more understanding of what you mean by that. I'm guessing that you're saying like, Hey, it doesn't matter how kinky you are, you can let your freak flag fly here in my office. But what conversations are you having with people around kink? Kink

Cathy: Itself? You know, it can mean any type of really sexual relational expression that's kind of considered outside the norm or mainstream. Kind of how I might kind of joke about that is like, kinky is anything I wouldn't do, right? <laugh>, it's like that's kind of the perspective. It's right. It's like kinky is if something I'm gonna do, it's not kinky. If it's something you're gonna do that I wouldn't do, oh it's, and now it's kinky. That's part of it. From culture to culture, it's gonna vary what that looks like from person to person. It's gonna, you know, there's not one just this is absolutely kinky. It might be power dynamic play, it might be sensation play, it might be fetishes, age play, dominance control. Yes, in my office it's whatever you wanna bring without judgment. Now with that too, I'm fully aware that I ha I'm gonna naturally have my own history and my own bias that's gonna be there.

But I work really hard to understand to leave that at the door. You know, I work really hard to not bring my morals, my opinions, my preferences to my work. It's gonna be like, look, I've gotta leave that as a door to be here with you so that you have a safe space for anything you wanna bring up here. Because I don't wanna be another person in your life that's gonna shame you or or judge you or decide that something you're doing is icky or wrong. I wanna affirm you. And with that being kink affirming, it's also using the strengths of that kinkiness in our therapy together. What I mean by that is, you know, maybe somebody who does engage in, let's say a submissive relationship, maybe there's the submissive person. Okay, what strengths being a submissive can you kind of utilize in therapy, you follow directions?

Well, so I'm gonna give you some homework. It's likely you'll read the book. I suggest it's likely you'll find a podcast interesting that I suggest you'll follow through, right? So I'll know that, I mean, this is collaborative. This is something I work with them on. It's not my authority in the room with that. It's just that, hey, this is kind of a strength, right? That you do follow these rules. So let's establish some here so we can make this effective for therapy. It's bringing in that kinkiness as another asset and strength to what we can work on together.

Billy: And then I imagine that kink or if sexual behavior gets to the point where it's out of control, then you utilize what you call the out of control sexual behavioral model and the six principles here. So can you talk about what is that?

Cathy: Anybody that feels like any of their sexual behavior is out of control, you know, and it can be kinky things or it can be just any, anything. Lots of times it's masturbation and porn is like, I feel like I'm masturbating more than I should. Whatever that even means, right? But somehow this is affecting my life negatively. I perceive, and I'm seeking out help to manage this. So the outta control sexual behavior model, it's focused on a sexual health plan. It's working with that individual to develop their own sexual health plan. And it includes the principles of consent so that it's voluntary for all involved, that it's non exploitative. So it's not using coercion or power or status that they're protecting themselves from any STIs, H I v pregnancy. It's being mindful that if I may be in a relationship with someone else, that gets affected by my actions, right? So it wants to be protective. It's being honest with ourself and our partners. So honesty is a principle, shared values and mutual pleasure.

Billy: And I think that idea of mutual pleasure is really important when we talk about the conversations that need to be had. Because one thing that you stress over and over on your website is consensual relationships, consensual sexual connections.

Cathy: Yeah, it's important. I'm not here to ever coerce anyone into doing something they don't wanna do. So this will happen sometimes in my office where a partner sort of of got drug in here by another partner. I don't like what they're doing. Can you kind of help me convince them to behave the way I want them to type of thing. That's not what we're here for in sex therapy, right? We want this to be a mutually consenting scenario. No one's gonna feel coerced or exploited by being here.

Billy: Well, Cathy, this was a really fascinating conversation and I'm very glad that we got to have it. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us. If you want more from Cathy, you can go to Cathy is offering a group soon for people wanting to enhance their sexual pleasure using psychoeducation and a mindfulness. It's coming January of 2023. You said you're gonna do it mostly in office, but you're considering an online format too.

Cathy: Yeah, it'll be a workshop. So it may be offered online. I love that I'm back in my office after Covid and then the whole pandemic. I love that I'm seeing people in my office. I still see plenty of people on telehealth, but I love being here in space with people and I really wanna offer that workshop in person. I mean, obviously being respectful of safety and all of that. So we'll see where we're at at that time. The reason it's a little bit out in the future is just kind of some construction that we're doing here in our office space, but it could possibly move online too. So you could maybe find that.

Billy: We'll see. Yeah, so be sure to check it out there. You can also go to Instagram and give her a follow at Michigan sex therapy or on Facebook at Saputo Counseling. You can find her on LinkedIn too at Cathy Saputo. Cathy, thank you so much. I really appreciate your expertise.

Cathy: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Billy: Hey, if you enjoyed this week's episode, be sure to look in the show notes for all of Cathy's contact information. Also, I know Cathy and I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this episode with the people in your life who may benefit from her expertise and life experiences. As I said at the beginning of the episode, the purpose of this show is to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. So I hope this conversation provided you with some insight that will help you reflect, learn, and grow. If you find some value in this week's conversation, be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcast, so you never miss an episode. If you're an Apple listener, please consider taking a minute or two to leave a five star review with a few kind words. And if you're a Spotify listener, click those five stars under the show Art. Finally, you can check out the rest of our episodes at or wherever you get your podcast. So for Cathy, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy and loved. Take care of friends.